Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The academic left, left behind

Former SDS-er Todd Gitlin reviews three books about the academic left, offering the following conclusion:

Professor Brennan is right that the academic left is nowhere today. It matters more to David Horowitz than to anyone else. The reason is that its faith-based politics has crashed and burned. It specializes in detraction. It offers no plausible picture of the world. Such spontaneous movements as do crop up in America — like the current immigrant demonstrations — do not emerge from the campus left. Neither do reformers’ intermittent attempts to eject the party of plutocracy and fundamentalism from power, to win universal health care, to protect the planet from further convulsions, to enlarge the rights of the least privileged. If more academics deigned to work toward reforms, they might contribute ideas about taxes, education, trade, employment, investment, foreign policy, and security from jihadists. But the academic left is too busy guarding the flame of nullification. They think they can fortify themselves with vigilance. In truth, their curses are gestures of helplessness.

While "theory" is ultimately anti-political, the partisans of leftist purity simply seethe in their impotent rage. Perhaps the blog survey is correct.

Hat tip: Stanley Kurtz.

Discussions - 6 Comments

"The partisans of leftist purity seethe in their impotent rage," while you guys seethe in contempt and arrogance.

Also, if the academic left has been "left behind" and they are "impotent," then why do you all fret so about their dominance on college and university faculties? If your evaluation is correct, they won’t be making much impact...

If your evaluation is correct, they won’t be making much impact...

And, it seems, they don’t. I can’t count how many times I have seen students who have just left a particularly left-leaning professor, shaking their heads, discussing in the crude manner of college students without educations what "crap", among other things, that was.

I have had students approach me with horror stories of gun control or drug legalization or Iraq war "discussions" (aka rants by their professor) during Business or communication classes.

I think the Right’s outrage at the academic left isn’t because of the positive damage they cause, but because of the negative damage caused by failing to educate the students in one’s charge. The Left’s post-modern worldview is transparent to even the least-engaged college student so long as they look at the world where the academic left’s tenets are proved false everywhere.

The difficulty lies in encouraging that unengaged student to become engaged and to push those active students to push their own inquiry further.

Most conservative educators (all dozen or so of them I know) have no problem with liberal edcuators who encourage inquiry, but they do have problems with the would-be indoctrination engaged by many on the Left (which would be equally unacceptable by the Right if given a chance).

Mike, your comment is both naive and unimaginative.

The Left has a stranglehold on our secondary education. It prevents students from hearing ideas which seriously challenge their hegemony.
It prevents them from being taught their Western heritage in any serious manner. Always? Of course not. But more often than not. It also puts a damper on non-leftist scholarship.

Gitlin is wrong to say that they are impotent. He would have done better to say that they are "impotent to contribute constructively to our society’s debates," or some such.

Gitlin makes my skin crawl. That the piece is in The Journal of Higher Education (which I don’t read) makes my skin crawl all the more... this is what they’re reading? God help us all.

Let the book-burning begin! With the Leader’s numbers in the tank, and the debacle in Iraq taking on exponential momentum, oil prices topping 70 dollars per barrell, the anti-intellectual Right resorts to bashing the brainiacs, again. Always couched in politeness:

" Always? Of course not. But more often than not," according to David. We don’t mind those "Factinistas" when they stay in their place, but when they say stuff out loud, it’s hard to drown them out, and do my Intelligent Design Color-By-Numbers!

I think that to get the personal loans from creditors you ought to present a firm reason. However, once I have received a term loan, because I was willing to buy a house.

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