Friday, January 02, 2004


I put up a link recently to one of Thomas Sowell's articles about how business, profit and commerce generally seem to be decried and scorned by the intelligentsia. And having spent much of my life in academe, I often noted myself the scorn many academics express for the world of business. Why that enmity? I think it might help if I note that this is not exactly a new phenomenon. For hundreds of years in Europe there was always a "Town and Gown" rivalry -- where "Gown" meant the students and academics of the local university and "Town" were the ordinary businesspeople of the city. So at least in part it is yet another version of the natural group prejudice that I have been alluding to recently in my comments on America's "hegemony". People like their own group best and are suspicious of outsiders. People who live very different lives develop different values and do usually consider their own values to be the best. Academics are "prejudiced", in short (horrors!).

Another obvious factor is that old green-eyed monster again -- envy. Lots of people in business make lots of money but few academics do. And since academics tend to consider themselves to be better in all sorts of ways, what is that usually going to lead to? Rage and hate of course! Childish but all too common, I am afraid. I suppose I should be glad that I have never had that conflict. I am one of the few who have been successful in both business and academe. I preach capitalism and I practice it too. And the realities of practicing it are a pretty good innoculation against the impractical nonsense of the Left.


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