I've been reading David Horowitz's book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, in my continuing search to get a grip on the fact that in a couple of years my son will be going off to college and entering a milieu that I know (from personal experience and current reading) is in many ways a risky and unhealthy one for young people, especially those unprepared and unforewarned. As a parent, I want to both warn my children of the pitfalls to avoid in college life, and I want to be sure our hard-earned money is going to pay for a quality education of the mind, not four years of fluff, aberrant socialization, political indoctrination, and non-stop propaganda.
Horowitz's book treats on the subject of the leftist bias and the politicization of higher education now evident in US. academia, where in most colleges and universities across the U.S. the ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the faculties (for this is how such things have been objectively approximated) usually falls somewhere between 12:1 and 30:1 (yep, that's Berkeley). For all the fashionable (actually patronizing and prejudiced) talk of "diversity" being a virtue and a goal on campuses, ideological diversity and the free exchange of ideas is clearly not a part of the picture at many institutions.
It is the introduction to the book that I found most interesting. In "Trials of the Intellect in the Post-Modern Academy," Horowitz sums up how the mission of many, if not most colleges and universities in the U.S. has morphed over the last 30 years from an educational one--the pursuit of knowledge and truth--to an activist one--the conscious endeavor to "change" society toward leftist ideals, through political means. This distinction may seem on the surface to perhaps be a subtle one on intellectual planes, but there is nothing subtle about the activism of the radical and distinctly "unprofessional" professors highlighted in this book, who want and work to indoctrinate students instead of educate them to think.
One passage in the introduction offered some history I didn't know [my bold]:
Are these disparities [many more Democrats and leftists than Republicans or conservatives teaching on campuses] the result of political discrimination? There is considerable reason to believe that they are. Certainly the rationale for such an agenda has long been a staple of radical thought. The political activists who flooded university faculties in the early 1970s were encouraged by their own theories to regard the university as an instrument for social change whose levers of power it was important for "progressives" to manipulate and control.
Academic radicals self-consciously drew their social strategies from the writing of the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci around whom an academic cult formed in the 1970s, just as they were ascending the tenure ladder. Gramsci was an innovator in Marxist theory, whose ideas focused on the importance of acquiring cultural "hegemony" as the fulcrum of revolutionary change. Gramsci explicitly urged radicals to gain control of the "means of cultural production" to further their ends. Foremost among these means were the universities and the media. The considerations that led Gramsci to these conclusions would certainly have also encouraged faculty activists to seek institutional power within the university by acquiring control of its hiring and tenure committees.
Herbert Marcuse, a professor at Brandeis and a veteran of the famed "Frankfurt School" of European Marxism, was another figure whose writings flourished with the new radical presence on university faculties. His famous essay on "Repressive Tolerance," written in 1965, is a justification for the suppression of conservative speech and access to cultural platforms on the grounds that the views of right-wing intellectuals reflect the rule of an oppressive and already dominant social class. Marcuse identified "revolutionary tolerance" as "tolerance that enlarged the range and content of freedom." Revolutionary tolerance could not be neutral towards rival viewpoints. It had to be "partisan" on behalf of a radical cause and "intolerant towards the protagonists of the repressive status quo." This was a transparent prescription for not hiring academic candidates with conservative views. In this view, a blacklist was a potentional tool of "liberation."
According to Marcuse, normal tolerance "granted to the Right as well as the Left, to movements of aggression as well as to movements of peace, to the party of hate as well as to that of humanity...actually protects the machinery of discrimination." By this logic, repression of conservative viewpoints was a progressive duty. Evaluating conservative academic candidates on their merits, without regard to their political and social opinions, was to support discrimination and oppression in the society at large. Marcuse's "dialectical argument" exerted a seminal influence in academic circles in the 1970s and provided a powerful justification for blacklisting conservatives in the name of equality and freedom. The same argument would also justify the exclusion of conservative texts from academic reading lists, which is an all too common practice on liberal arts campuses.
Today senior conservative professors (and most conservative professors are now senior) find themselves regularly excluded from search and hiring committees, and a dwindling presence on university faculties....
Why do I keep thinking of George Orwell's Animal Farm
(a satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism
) and the "doublethink" of 1984
(mourning a totalitarian government bent on total manipulation
) whenever I read about the ludicrous polemics of these persevering dinosaur Marxists?
Answer: Because Orwell typed these creatures to a T. And it is most startling to realize that Horowitz has put his finger on a process that may be exactly what's happening with the mainstream media as well,
where a similar Democrat-to-Republican ratio exists among journalists, editors and publishers, along with a similar self-stated mission among so many journalists to not just inform people of the news, but to "change the world." The injection of Marxist values, goals, and methods throughout academia has had a couple of generations now to trickle down and permeate society. In connection with this "mission," watch out for the majority-Democrat Congress's revival of the Orwellean-named "Fairness Doctrine."
I, for one, see the similarities among all of these movements. Where the left achieves a majority and hence, power, the left seeks to crush dissent and not just tell people what to think, say, or believe, but to actively reduce their fellow citizens' access to alternative views.
It is almost too absurd to believe that the failed philosophy of Marxism still has adherents, let alone that they can succeed in grabbing any "cultural hegemony" in our society, particularly by using such lame rhetoric and crude, aggressive methods. You would think true liberals and real "progressives" (some of those among those majorities of Democrats?) would stand up against blacklists and prejudice of any kind--but I guess you would be disappointed. The chance to wield unquestioned power and push people around, even unfairly, and insularly, must be too sweet an enticement, even for an educated intellectual who should know better.
When "revolutionary tolerance" really means scorning and blacklisting conservatives in hiring, appointments, or acceptance to supposedly "diverse" groups--and a crushing of dissent and free inquiry--matters have grown serious. In the realm of academia, where are the faculty members, trustees, presidents, staff, alumni, and students who still remember and will stand up for the rights of individuals to follow the sacred tradition of free inquiry? Where are those who will stand up for the rights of conservatives to learn, study, and talk about ideas without being bashed, intimidated, excluded, or blacklisted by politically-correct, self-appointed "superiors" who allow only themselves the right to define who is the "party of hate"?
Take note, all you high school students looking toward college. Do your homework well. Choose an institution you can trust will not waste your time or money by giving you only half an education
. Parents, don't subsidize institutions that are doing a poor job.Bonus question
: So what universities and colleges in the U.S. actually do take as their proud mission the task of educating their students, not re-socializing or indoctrinating them along politically-correct lines? I'm starting a list, but I'm no expert; please add your comments, hints, or nominations in the comments, not just for me, but for the kids who want to know. Mike S. Adams
, remarkable for being one of the few conservatives in academia willing to publicize his views and experiences there, has been running columns on colleges to avoid
, and Thomas Sowell offers vital advice on choosing a college
. The ISI Guides
offer advice for the student on how to evaluate and negotiate a college curriculum to maximize its educational value. But which colleges and universities are doing a good job today? My guesses thus far:
The University of Chicago
George Mason University
UPDATE: Maybe this book would help parents and students
UPDATE: A must-read: "Free Inquiry? Not on Campus" by John Leo
has more good discussion about the systemic suppression of ideas on our campuses today, including this excerpt:
Confusing speech and action has a long pedigree on the PC campus. At the time of the first wave of speech codes 20 years ago, Kenneth Lasson, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, argued that “racial defamation does not merely ‘preach hate’; it is the practice of hatred by the speaker”—and is thus punishable as a form of assault. Indeed, the Left has evolved a whole new vocabulary to blur the line between acts and speech: “verbal conduct” and “expressive behavior” (speech), “non-traditional violence” (Lani Guinier’s term for strong criticism), and “anti-feminist intellectual harassment” (rolling one’s eyeballs over feminist dogma).
Campus censors frequently emulate the Marcusian double standard by combining effusive praise for free speech with an eagerness to suppress unwelcome views. “I often have to struggle with right and wrong because I am a strong believer in free speech,” said Ronni Santo, a gay student activist at UCLA in the late nineties. “Opinions are protected under the First Amendment, but when negative opinions come out of a person’s fist, mouth, or pen to intentionally hurt others, that’s when their opinions should no longer be protected.”
Fascist. Haven't these people ever studied the U.S. Constitution? Don't they recognize that their beliefs are essentially fascist when they seek to suppress through violence or force any criticism or opposition to their own views? How monstrously egocentric can people in a free society be?
All I can say is, the more we expose this nonsense to the light of day and common sense, the more we can hope for a return to free speech and free inquiry for all, even and especially on the "peoples' republics" of college and university campuses.
UPDATE: Powerline notes that applications to Yale have fallen 10 percent
since its last scandal. Maybe parents of prospective students are internet-savvy, aware of the news, and wising up about where they want their children to spend their time and where they want their money to go.