Sunday, February 3, 2019

Swampier Than The D.C. Swamp?

Friends, I attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and I did so partly because the institution had a reputation for conservatism.  As a whole, of course, academia leans left.  That's a truism that we have all come to accept.  "Leans" may be an understatement, though, because in recent years conservatives have become even rarer on college campuses, especially at elite institutions.  W&L is part of that elite.  It's ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.  Happily, it still educates many aspiring conservative leaders, but the faculty is almost uniformly liberal.  This article, in W&L's Spectator magazine (to which I contributed in days of yore), proves the point:

The bias is not a slight one either, as you can see.  Now, there are two obvious problems here.  First, academia thrives on debate and broad-mindedness.  How can colleges and universities foster a vigorous, freewheeling discourse on the issues of the day, though, if major belief systems are excluded?  Academia is always bragging about how much it embraces "diversity".  Figures like these make this claim laughable.  Modern academia seems at least as dedicated to exclusion and it does to inclusion.  The second problem with academia's leftist bias is more serious, though.  One might reasonably ask: how are conservatives to survive and prosper in America if they are excluded from, or at least marginalized by, higher education -- not to mention elementary and secondary education, Hollywood, the media, government bureaucracies, corporate America...and the list goes on.  Sad as it is to admit, the dominant culture these days is LIBERAL.  We conservatives are part of a counterculture -- a besieged, despised, and probably shrinking counterculture.  It is very hard for us to get our message out, and nurture the next generation of conservatives, when so many powerful cultural institutions regard us as contemptible and dangerous.

My view is that the flagrant leftist bias in academia, and in many of these other institutions, simply CANNOT stand.  If it does stand, and if we conservatives tolerate it or get used to it, we will, sooner or later, go extinct.  The stakes really are that high.


  1. Dr. Waddy: Why is professional academia so overwhelmingly leftist? Social sanctions, both informal but ominously increasingly formal and even legal, account for some of it, I'm sure but cannot explain all of it. The baleful influence of the boomers, which I've lamented at length at your indulgence, is now entering upon its third generation and is a major factor too. But what else is it about intellectuality as a vocation which is at work here? Is it perhaps that because advanced degrees are required and that perhaps the increasingly focused and specialized nature of such study has something to do with it?Is it that persons with advanced degrees and the continuing research expectations often attendant upon them consider themselves (to some extent plausibly) as privy to superior understanding of social, cultural and political phenomena and that conservatism , with its high regard for tradition and its popularity among less educated people, is seen as by definition poorly informed? Is it that because human progress, coincident with increased general levels of education, is thought by them to credit the new and discredit the settled? This might , for example, partly explain the rise, in leftist legal thinking, of doctrines rejecting the value of precedent.

    I still think that if you were to catalog the views of all adult Americans on say, ten key issues, that the majority would evince recognizably mostly conservative views even though many of them would not see themselves as conservative.

    The desireability of true, rigorous academic freedom is the product of an applied value judgement clearly rejected by the academic left no matter how much they may express disingenuous devotion to it. The left sincerely believes in the essential injustice of modern western society and the paramount importance of the devotion of all institutions to fundamental correction , and has murderously demonstrated its conviction that coercion and official bigotry are necessary and eminently justifiable; devotion to that principle is, again sincerely seen by many on the left as a virtue and resistance to it as a consummate evil and as this belief is transmitted through generations it becomes an increasingly unquestioned and established "truth".

    I think the American academy is irretrievably lost and that its isolation is the key to its disarmament.If an humanities and social science education is commonly seen for the indoctrination, incipiently forceful, of the young in scorn for our traditions, progress and culture that it is, then its increasing expense may cause it to be seen as unjustified. The promotion of the vocational education which is of so much more real value to so very many of the young, may help. So too would another American spiritual "Great Awakening", affirming the precious nature of much of our tradition. A college education would not be needed for full appreciation of that enlightenment.

  2. Hi Jack. I certainly agree that a college education has very little to do with one's attainment of virtue or wisdom, but sadly it has a lot to do with one's ability to succeed in life (for which neither virtue nor wisdom is required). The cream of society will continue to seek higher education for that reason. And if the cream of society is indoctrinated by leftists, well, that's hardly good news.

    WHY has academia drifted so far to the left? I ask myself that same question, and I struggle to answer it. As you noted, academia is elitist, and it's hard to conceive of any ideology more elitist and self-satisfied than modern leftism. Arguably, extremes thrive in the sheltered environment of academia too -- but then why doesn't extreme conservatism find a place there? My guess is that the main factor in the academy's leftist bias is that bias itself, by which I mean that over time higher ed has become steadily more unwelcoming to conservatives, so they have steadily voted with their feet and found greener pastures. It's a negative feedback loop, if you will.

    The extraordinary thing to me is that the conservative movement persists, and in some ways prospers, when so much of our political, social, and economic elite despises it. We conservatives are plucky!

  3. Dr. Waddy: I should have said that not all academics think themselves unquestionablely better informed and that not all humanities and social science regimens teach cynicism about our culture. At Red New Paltz I was fortunate enough to have taken English History from an eloquent conservative; I took much of what he taught with me on my recent trip to that elegant land. I urged my kids to major in whatever they wished and they both enjoyed the liberal arts. But that said, the obvious and increasingly totalitarian takeover of American academy faculty, administration and student bodies is harrowingly ominous and could be catastrophic. I think we conservatives are fighting for the very life of this, on balance, worthy country.

  4. Hear hear! We conservatives need to stop being passive/intimidated and speak out. In other words, more people need to follow OUR sterling example, Jack. As usual, we light the true path. :)

  5. D. Waddy: That path , I am convinced, is one blazed and informed by the truth of the measured (what other is possible? Marxists tried out the summary route and proved it to be, by definition, murderous and totalitarian) and incipient ascent to higher human well being embodied in Western History, for which extensive documentation and examination exists.

  6. I would go even further, Jack: the lesson that you and I are embodying is one that transcends even the West. "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

  7. Dr. Waddy: We were afforded inspiration by the President's great speech in which he affirmed his confidence in our country's essential soundness and justice and resolutely defied incipient American totalitarianism. I'm developing this theme in my next post.

  8. D. Waddy: Also, we who appreciate Western history are especially sensitive to the threat its hard won and, on balance, positive legacy faces now from the inhuman and blissfully ignorant left. We know those who think us alarmist WILL NOT continue in that tragic illusion should the left achieve the totalitarian power it craves. But then it would be too late; how do we convince those of good will of this certainty, which promises calamity beyond measure and is proven historically by the dolorous history of the 20th century? What more do they require to rally them to affirmation and material defense of our incalculably precious heritage?

  9. Excellent questions, Jack. I don't think the average voter has a clue about how weighty the choices before us are...or how badly things can go off the rails when democracy degrades and demagogues take control. As I've said before, the Left may be brimming with malice and borderline lunacy, but it's extremely hard to make the masses understand that, when the media is determined to cover it up. What will persuade "those of good will"? Perhaps nothing, except the very disaster you and I seek to avoid. I think the truth is, and I hate to admit it, that we need some help from the Left itself to keep leftism in check. In other words, in the short term, we need them to choose a flawed, self-destructive candidate in 2020. I feel reasonably confident that they'll oblige us!

  10. Dr. Waddy: I fully agree with you; they will, though it may be in the form of an assured radical heir apparent to a caretaker Biden, ready to force upon a recalcitrant America unwanted and unjustified change... .

    Chekov's play "Uncle Vanya" portrays relatively well off and, by their lights "progressive", Russians of the late 19th century unaware, as well the author may have been, of the impending deluge. Can this be a plausible analogy for the America of the near future?

    Consider: The requirement that substantial financial transactions of any kind at any level(eg real estate or investments) be submitted to examination and subsequent and of course prolix, arbitrary approval or disappointment, by a noxious Federal agency dominated by doctrinaire leftists . The demonstrated destructive and unjust principle of "affirmative action" can be applied in many settings. "Apparently you did not show your home to a satisfactory representation of minority buyers! Transaction denied!" "Your child is denied admission due to his enjoyment of male and white privilege". "You have provided insufficient proof of the necessity of your being granted access to fossil fuel energy sources" " You are ordered to appear at the present pleasure of the Inquisitor to answer for your hate filled criticism of politically correct preferences. You are strongly advised to settle all your earthly affairs prior to this audience".

    That we have in our country ample prospective cadre to carry out such outrage is certain and their numbers, given the ever increasing number of those miseducated so, will probably advance apace.

    The real America has in it the resolve and power to successfully resist this possibility, if only, at least in its spacious hinterland, if it is sufficiently aroused and motivated. Since most of it is gainfully employed, it is difficult for it to find the time and the energy to consider and to enact resistance. But the increasingly reckless left, may, in its apparent present chutzpah, provide sufficient warning of its fell intent.

    Already, one of its exemplars, Prince Cuomo, runs amok in New York with dictatorial mandates he delights in forcing upon the considerable faction of his "subjects" who object. Infanticide, second class citizenship for gun owners, unbridled license to accuse anyone one wishes of heinous abuse, with the assumption that accusation is tantamount to conviction, contemptuous compromise of the institution of marriage - all of these he enacts now and with a vengeance! Take heed America!

    The Dem party openly embraces an imminent conversion to unbridled far leftist advocacy, birthed in baby boomer dorm rooms and embraced by too much of a subsequent generation ignorant of the 20th century's infernal Marxist chaos. The protests of older Dems who have endured decades of preparation for their totalitarian takeover are feeble and ingenuous.

    These phenomena are, if tellingly revealed to the real America, especially by this gutsy President and by an admission by his conservative detractors that he is all our cause could ask for, sufficient to mobilize the real America to its redemption. and the continued progress of our, on balance, worthy land, to soundness.

  11. I hope you're right, Jack! It's always a bit of a mystery what stirs the long-dormant potential voter to action... That there are tens of millions of Americans who think as we do is certain. That there are tens of millions more who are sympathetic but too disconnected from politics to be bothered to vote is equally certain. Now, Republicans are getting better and better at reaching them. 2014 to 2018, we turned out ten million additional voters. Bully for us! The Dems, however, turned out an extra 25 million. That's problematic.

    Since victimology seems to work so well these days, maybe we need to do a better job of showcasing the victims of political correctness, illegal immigrant crime, high taxes, etc. etc. etc. We aren't inveterate whiners like the liberals, but sometimes the issues of the day have to be personified and personalized. It would be a start...

  12. Dr. Waddy: Ditto, ditto. Our canny President has put them on the defensive for their incipient radical degradation, on their celebration of abortion and on the emergence of overt and unrepentant antiSemitism in some Dem office holders (Dem apology for and tolerance of Sharpton, Farrakahn and Hillary for this ancient hatred is of course a given already). He can be exemplary in raising awareness in the real America of the outrages you cited and convincing a decisive majority of the threat posed by an ever more openly far leftist Dem party, to everything we value, to life as we enjoy it.