Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

"It was liberalism gone mad."

Good piece in the--can it be??--New York Times this morning about the decline and fall of Antioch College:

Antioch College became a rump where the most illiberal trends in education became entrenched. Since it is always easier to impose a conformist ethos on a small group than a large one, as the student body dwindled, free expression and freedom of thought were crushed under the weight of ultraliberal orthodoxy. By the 1990s the breadth of challenging ideas a student might encounter at Antioch had narrowed, and the college became a place not for education, but for indoctrination. Everyone was on the same page, a little to the left of The Nation in worldview.

Much of this conformist thinking focused on gender politics, and it culminated in the notorious sexual offense prevention policy. Enacted in 1993, the policy dictated that a person needed express permission for each stage in seduction. (“May I touch your breast?” “May I remove your bra?” And so on.) In two decades students went from being practitioners of free love to prisoners of gender. Antioch became like one of those Essene communities in the Judean desert in the first century after Christ that, convinced of their own purity, died out while waiting for a golden age that never came.

Good riddance.

Discussions - 9 Comments

You make a great point. I agree, orthodoxy does indeed squelch freedom of thought and expression. The left is no more susceptible to this than the right, middle, up or down. The problem with orthodoxy is that it blindly rules out alternative courses of action and beliefs (never taking left hand turns for example). I agree with you that the “sexual offense prevention policy” is a ridiculous distortion of a healthy sense of sexuality, much like creationism/I.D. is a ridiculous distortion of a wonderful story that has come down to us through history. Critically examining dogma is vital to a healthy democracy, unfortunately for our society those who most often do the examining are often only pretending in order to collect a pay check.

But the popular culture of today supports liberal orthodoxy more than it supports (and to be fair, it doesn't seem at all to support) conservative orthodoxy. To be truly counter-cultural, one almost has to ally oneself with conservatives. Individual groupings of conservatives can and do mire themselves with orthodoxy to the point of wearing blinders. But it is quite difficult to do this today--you have to become the political equivalent of the Amish in order to keep it going. So Abbie's right in a sense: to the extent that conservatives and liberals share the same human nature and frailties, conservatives are every bit as susceptible to this phenomenon as liberals are to it. But we're not discussing human nature in the abstract or suggesting that there is some kind of moral superiority in conservatives that exempts them from this intellectual pitfall. We're not living in a vacuum. In the world we inhabit, this is a particular problem of the left. Rush has always been right about this: he is equal time. Good article about Antioch. Every parent of a student off to college in the fall should read it and beware.

I grieve for Antioch the way I grieve for the hope of 1968 washed away in a tide of self-inflated rhetoric, self-righteousness and self-indulgence.


The hope of 1968 WAS futile because it was full of self-inflated rhetoric, self-righteousness and self-indulgence, though I would have put self-indulgence first in the list. The unhappiest folk on my campus are those of the left. They cling to that futile hope and think someone did a bait and switch on them, which all becomes part and parcel with the first Gore/Bush election. They preach the same sermon from 1968, but their heart is in the vacation home on the beach that they can't afford and they blame conservative America for stealing it from them.


Yet, to me, it looks like they won the culture debate and I cannot see what they have to complain about. We are living in the logical result of their dream as it met and mixed with reality. This is not what they had in mind, but if Antioch College and what it became is not the apotheosis of their hope, maybe we can hope it exemplifies the end of the 1968 dream.

If your interesting about what is going about Antioch please checkout AntiRecord which is following the on going news.

You know, I don't think that yazz's comments were truly finished, but I think that it is appropriate as is.

Antioch COLLEGE is a minor casualty. Antioch UNIVERSITY survives, with 5 campuses (SoCal, New Engl., OH). Antioch has not died; it has, like a cancer, developed drug resistance and metastasized even as the original malignancy necrosed.

Yep, even liberalism can go too far. Still, I'd rather lose my right to date then my right to habeas corpus.

If I wasn't already married, I might think differently.

I'd rather lose my right to date then my right to habeas corpus.

Good news then. You have not lost your "right" (actually your privilege) to habeas corpus. Feel better now?

You have not lost your "right" (actually your privilege) to habeas corpus.
Oh, so the provisions of the Magna Carta are also "quaint", eh?

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