Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why the university is dominated by the Left

The explanation excerpted below is pretty close to my own explanation. "We know better" is a rumbling subtext in most conversations about the world among academics. Humility is notably absent

In his classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), the economist Joseph A. Schumpeter sketched in a brilliant "Sociology of the Intellectual." Things have not changed much in sixty odd years. The intellectuals he has in mind are distinguished by "active hostility to the social order." Their job, as they see it, is "to work up and organize resentment, to nurse it, to voice it and to lead it." Not everyone who receives a university schooling ends up an intellectual, but a university schooling is nearly universal among intellectuals. The common training provides a common cause. Or, as Schumpeter phrases it, "the fact that their minds are all similarly furnished facilitates understanding between them and constitutes a bond."

That is why, on the academic Left, "read Foucault" passes for a refutation. It is not merely that all university-trained intellectuals share the same references and citations, but what is more important, they accept the same auctores. Their lives have been changed by the same books. Small wonder that they progress rapidly "from the criticism of the text to the criticism of society," for as Schumpeter observes, "the way is shorter than it seems." It is shorter especially for those who read their favorite authors, not as literary critics nor as critics of the philosophical tradition, but as social critics.

Schumpeter traces the history of the intellectual from the monastery, where he was born, to the rise of capitalism, which "let him loose and presented him with the printing press." Similarly, the patron slowly gave way in the last quarter of the eighteenth century to that "collective patron, the bourgeois public." Although the intellectual conceived his role to ‚pater the public, he found, much to his delight, that flabbergasting sells; the public would pay for his "nuisance value."

The major change in the twentieth century was the expansion of the university-the emergence of Clark Kerr's multiversity. The trend only accelerated in the years following the first edition of Schumpeter's book. From 1930 to 1957 college enrollments in the U.S. more than doubled, and between 1960 and 1969 they doubled again, rising to over seven million. The faculty expanded along with enrollment.

The trouble is, as Schumpeter notes, the enormous expansion of the university created the conditions of what would now be called underemployment. "The man who has gone through a college or university," he writes, "easily becomes psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work." What is such a man to do? He "drift[s] into the vocations in which standards are least definite," like journalism, literature, or scholarship, thus "swell[ing] the host of intellectuals. . . ."

The economic conditions breed discontent-the intellectual feels underappreciated and underpaid-and discontent breeds resentment toward the social order which does not recognize the intellectual's genius and unique value. Add to this the fact that the system of emoluments seems capricious, rewarding some who are no more talented or accomplished than those who are deprived. Fern Kupfer, a four-book novelist who teaches at Iowa State University, fully understands the precariousness of her position:
When one of the graduate students in my [writing] program-looking longingly at my office, my piles of books, the few office hours posted on my door-confessed, "When I graduate, I want to do what you do," I wanted to tell him: "You can't. Because I'm already doing it."

Not "You can, through hard work and literary achievement", but rather, "Back off, boychik, I got here first". What are the chances that such an attitude, such a reality, will breed resentment in the longing student? ...

So too with the modern university intellectual's pose of social hostility. It does not arise from a rational analysis of the American order, but as a distortion of one's own personal circumstances. I should make better money; I should get the social recognition of a doctor or lawyer (my education is equal to or greater than theirs). To conceal the neurosis of this resentment from myself, I generalize it, transforming it into a social ideal. Why should a businessman make more than a teacher? (If a plumber thinks he can earn $250,000, however, he's a joke.)

Thus personal resentment and feelings of superiority are translated into an idealized image of social concern and responsibility. The humanities or social science professor, hating society, sees himself as the better man. And only wishes to associate with those who share his ideals-that is, those with equally idealized images of themselves.

More here

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ELSEWHERE

"Spengler" on Mumbai: "Several readers have asked me to comment on the terror attack on Mumbai in November. I will do so with great caution, given the absence of accurate information. I have good reason to believe that the Indian authorities lied about the attack. India claimed that 10 shooters were involved, because nine were killed and one captured. The actual number is closer to 30, I am reliably informed, not counting support personnel in Mumbai who arranged safe houses with extra ammunition and explosives months in advance of the attack. It was not a suicide attack at all, but a new kind of urban terror assault, in which the participants had a reasonable expectation of survival, and the majority did in fact survive. That is an important wrinkle, for a better class of combatant can be recruited for missions in which survival is at least possible. No analyst I know has answered with confidence the question, cui bono? To whose benefit was the attack? It has been suggested that al-Qaeda diverted a Pakistani military intelligence team from Kashmir to Mumbai, in a demonstration of power against India. But there may be another dimension. The Mumbai attack has been a test of a different kind of warfare, the kind that emanates from failed states: the tactics of the Somali pirates"

On government regulations again: "Opposition to government regulation should not be based on some imagined absolutism, namely, that each instance of it will necessarily result in regrettable consequences. No opposition to this and any other coercive public policy ought to rest on grounds of its injustice, on its perpetration of prior restraint! In broader terms, government regulations treat people as if they were experimental tools that may be used as decided by government officials. Something seems (though hasn't been proven) to be hazardous, so then those doing it may be forced to desist. This attitude, of enforced paternalism toward adults, is wrong even if once in a while acting on it will produce good results."

News flash -- FDR didn't fix the economy!: "The New Deal did not end the Great Depression. This statement will come as no shock to FEE supporters, but it will to the many people who never encountered it before. Now people are encountering it -- in newspaper columns and news-talk shows. Why, after years of being taught that Franklin Roosevelt's economic intervention saved the country from disaster, is the general public now being told -- by FDR fans, not critics -- that this is not the case?"

Britain and computers just don't get on: "One of the worst blunders ever seen on Whitehall saw a 'cost-cutting' computer system end up spouting answers in German and leaving taxpayers with a bill of more than 80million pounds. A damning report from MPs today accuses the Department for Transport of 'stupendous incompetence' in its management of a multi-million pound efficiency drive. Workers were left struggling with an IT system that issued messages in German, wrongly recorded that staff were off sick and randomly confiscated staff holidays. Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP who chairs the public accounts committee, said: 'The Department for Transport planned and implemented its shared corporate services project with stupendous incompetence. 'Department for Transport staff do not trust the system, which is hardly surprising when we hear that on occasion it took to issuing messages in German.' Tory MP Richard Bacon, another member of the committee, said: 'We saw the failure to test computer systems adequately with tax credits and with the Passport Agency. 'These were well-known bear-traps but the Department for Transport blundered straight into them. It is way past time that Whitehall learned to stop making the same old mistakes again and again.' "

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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2 comments:

Democurmudgeon said...

I will hand it to you. Your work is extensive and detailed.

Your bottom line though: To many people are getting a college education, and not picking up a trade in the manual labor market (a market outsourced to India and China).

Intellectuals complain. Isn't it strange you or your researcher never mentions the object of their complaints. They must have a reason for protesting.

Look, just the idea that intellectuals are college educated, and some stay in academics, is no reason it shouldn't be encouraged.

Republican/conservative anti-intellectualism lost the presidential election of '08. You don't have to have a college education to learn from that.

Robert said...

Not so much conservatism or anti-intellectualism cost Republicans in the election as the declining social mood. When social mood is becoming increasingly negative, they tend to get rid of the politicians they associate with the negative feelings. That's what happened in 2008 - a "Throw the bums out!" election. And as the negative wave in public mood seems poised to continue through 2014 or 2016, we can expect to see a few more "Throw the bums out!" elections in years to come.