Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Left-leaning lecterns?

I previously noted this conference, described (somewhat) in this article. I can’t find the papers that allegedly have been released, but I’m familiar with Dan Klein’s previous work, some of which was criticized in this study, described here. I have no doubt that, if you cast the net widely enough, and include disciplines that aren’t directly involved in "forming the culture," so to speak, and institutions that may enroll lots of students (but typically don’t train our future leaders or generate--directly or indirectly--lots of Ph.D.s), you can paint a picture of the academy in which the ideological tilt of the professoriate is less pronounced than if you focus on elite institutions and on the humanities and social sciences. I’m also willing to concede that there are lots of folks--among them, many of my colleagues--whose voting behavior doesn’t affect their teaching. (I count such people as some of my best friends and closest colleagues at my institution.)

To the degree that there can be and, indeed, is a separation between professorial political predilections (say that quickly three times) and classroom behavior, it behooves the honest brokers out there to join the chorus in criticizing those who do abuse their positions to promote their political positions. Let’s not simply dismiss accounts of bias; rather, let’s uphold the independence of the academy by focusing our critical attention on the "anecdotes" and offering "bipartisan" criticism from both ends of the spectrum. That way, we can isolate the anecdotes.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to book the AEI press release promises.

Update: Papers are posted here.

Discussions - 1 Comment

Call me a coward, but I suspect that those who have written their dissertations from an allegedly "liberal" or "left" perspective were doing what was necessary to get their degree. Who knows what their politics are?

As one who mentioned the name "Leo Strauss" in his dissertation proposal, and as a result, was shot down immediately by the committee, I suspect that other writers of dissertations were smarter than I was.

Nowadays I teach at a community college with a bunch of 60s leftists. On the other hand, I suspect that these guys who "contribute" "original" scholarship to their field know how to tow the line. They get to teach at relatively prestigious universities towing the line by writing between the lines.

For myself, I kmust say that my colleagues still think I am a Marxist because I know Marx better that they do.

You could say that I am the coward, but this is what must be done for me to keep a job at the moment. Noone wants to hear a contrary opinion to the chorus of "diversity" and "justice for all." So I suspect that careerist PhD's know how to talk the talk of diversity and social justice. I wouldn't worry about Leftist dominance, except in the sense that Vaclav Havel speaks of ordinary shopkeepers putting posters of the leader in their shopwindows. It resembles the tyranny found in the film "The Lives of Others"--except there are no others these days (except for this wonderful blog).

At my school I must teach what is PC, but I still teach Aristotle, Locke, Constitutionalism, the Federalist, Lincoln, etc. But I also teach the problems of Marx--as well as Wilson, Beard, Dewey, and Croly. No one I work with seems knows the difference anyway. Nonetheless, I fear a student of mine who actually understands what I say will have the guts to challenge the history professor who uses Howard Zinn as his text in his class. Thus far it has not happenned. When it does, I know I will have been a good teacher. This student will have thought for himself (I've been trying for over six years now though).

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