The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, December 11, 2004

US colleges as the People's Republic of Academia

In the Founding Fathers' house are many mansions: whilst Bush and his conservative friends have taken over some (via the K Street Project and talk radio, for instance), others are in the hands of his ideological opponents [1], in particular, college faculties.

This one reads not on Rush Limbaugh's site but in a piece Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual in the Chronicle of Higher Education by one Mark Bauerlein, described as
a professor of English at Emory University and director of research at the National Endowment for the Arts.
Not your average Dittohead, then.

Bauerlein's piece looks at how the bias is sustained: a club that recruits new members based on how well they will fit in with the existing membership; something like Japan's 1635 Closed Country Edict keeps the ideology pure; the False Consensus Effect allows MLA-Speak-spouting Marxists to suppose that they represent the true interest of the People; the Law of Group Polarization skews the views of this closed coterie towards those of the most extreme of its membership.

Bauerlein does not show how the Left managed the takeover of academic institutions; it clearly wasn't in charge during the 1950s when it was fellow-travellers, not Republicans, who were were liable to be purged. Perhaps it was the Vietnam generation whodunit, and the story is too well-known for him to summarise.

The other question - not within Bauerlein's remit - is how the Marxist takeover of American college faculties could have coincided with a rollback of the left in the wider society: the atrophy of the unions, for instance, the lack of whose GOTV abilities the Democratic Party so grievously feels.

Generations of students have imbibed at the multi-culti fountain, yet many go on to vote Republican: how does that happen? (Clearly, pace Janeane Garofalo, GOP electoral success nationally cannot entirely be attributed to the crackers.)

Bauerlein has no solution: quite rightly, he rejects affirmative action for conservatives. But surely, in consumerist American, it's up to the customers to make their views felt. If conservative faculty are few and isolated, conservative students are many and able to organise: they should be mad as hell: perhaps when they are, we'll get some movement.

[The Bauerlein piece I got from the folks at Crooked Timber - who are, some of them, no mere kibitzers of the game. It's a whole big thing - even George Will gets in on the act.

A lot more erudition on the subject at CT - without the offer of an actual solution.

Perfect meta, in fact.]

  1. The share-out is the despair not only of Left Bank intéllos and Hamburgers on a state-funded rest cure: how it should be that both left and right in the US should each have fashioned such a noxious combination of policies and attitudes from the material available is baffling to kibitzers everywhere.

    For instance, the constitutional queer-bashing on the one side (rather successful at the state level on November 2, of course, and supposedly Bush's return ticket), and, on the other, the poke-in-the-eye nonsense of the Massachusetts Supreme Court endorsement of homo-marriage and the San Francisco Summer of Love retrospective. All of it apparently more important than, say, the 45 million Americans without health insurance or the 9,000 who have come home with bits missing from Bush's illegal Iraq war.

    The race thing I get: slavery on home soil was bound to take its toll (one can easily underestimate the cleansing effect on British politics of Lord Mansfield's famous 1772 judgement in the case of Somerset v Stewart - online, much to my surprise). The South should have accepted Lincoln's offer of grandfathering the status quo whilst barring expansion, but there can be little surprise that it was refused: a similar idea, I see from the Stennis piece I noted yesterday, was entertained over schools desegregation.

    But where did the homo-obsession come from? I can't recall that, at the acme of its influence, the second Ku Klux Klan bothered much about homosexuals: Negroes, Catholics, Jews, yes: queers, not so much. Is it a surrogate for race-hate that can no longer speak its name?

    Surely, most Americans - in the time-honoured phrase - don't want to have it shoved down their throats. Which is precisely what both sides appear intent on doing!


Stennis to SC legislator William Winter following Brown I (p7):
I still believe there are many counties in Mississippi, including your own and my own, in which the white people and the colored people could meet and work out a plan satisfactory to both. This agreement plan would perhaps work for 15 or 20 or 25 years in many of these counties.

Fanciful, once the Brown bombshell had been unleashed. But - in the counterfactual I suggested yesterday, with a Chief Justice Vinson rejecting the Dred Scott approach in favour of continuing to plough the separate but equal furrow, some sort of gradual emancipation might have been a runner.

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