Academia- colleges and universities- are viewed as a bastion of liberals and a place of deep bias against conservatives. Some view it as a brainwashing mill intent on eliminating a student’s religious and moral beliefs. Perhaps the most definitive study on this was done by sociologist Neil Gross of the University of British Columbia in a survey of American professors. The results speak for themselves, but it is the analysis that is truly mind-boggling.
He found that greater than 50% of college professors consider themselves “left or liberal” which would put them at odds with American society at large. Only 8-9% would be classified as “far left or radical.” Economic conservatives comprise just 4% of academia while social conservatives are 23% of academia. He found that where conservatives are found, they tend to cluster in certain fields like accounting, computer technology, marketing and engineering.
The oddest part about the study was the analysis: academia IS liberal because conservatives attack it as being liberal. He claims it is a form of self-selection where liberals gravitate towards academia and conservatives away from it. But, that makes no sense. Look at the fields where conservatives cluster: accounting and marketing (business administration), computer technology and engineering. These happen to likely be the largest departments at any college given the job market demands in today’s economy. A better analysis would be that conservatives gravitate towards fields that contribute and do while liberals gravitate towards fields that pontificate and complain.
Yet another reason proffered is that conservative solutions are just too simple-minded to have any place in academia. This elitist mindset is likely what drives conservatives away from fields dominated by liberals in academia. In fact, in certain fields if you happen to question climate change from a strictly scientific angle, you have no place in academia.
So when did this start? Surely, this was not always the case and the story starts in the 1920’s with an Italian named Antonio Gramsci. His main argument was that traditional values had to be obliterated in order to free oppressed social groups. He called for eliminating social decorum in order to destroy the Western middle class so that it would collapse from within. Among the targets were the media and entertainment, education, religions and financial institutions.
Gramsci did not fare too well and was imprisoned by Mussolini, but his writings extended beyond Italy and found a home among the intelligentsia at the University of Frankfurt in Germany. The so-called Frankfurt School sought to explore oppression not only in terms of class and economics, but also race, religion, gender and families. Simple economics, they realized, could not divide and conquer Western nations; they needed more. Unfortunately for the Frankfurt School and the rest of the world, the rise of Hitler put these academics on notice and they fled to various points. In the US, ground zero was Columbia University.
Enter Herbert Marcuse who adopted the weapons of “change” within the educational establishment. Their influence spread beyond the ivory-covered walls of Columbia to other colleges. Today, we see their continued influence through their progeny. At the time and now, their main weapon was political correctness whose goal is to control discourse on culture and politics and to hush debate on their unspoken goals. We see it even today when small government Tea Party activists are branded “racists” even though small government has nothing to do with race.
Their progeny filtered out from their incubators and today include such notable “academics” as Bill Ayers (who bombed the Pentagon), Alfie Kohn (who has a thing against homework), Noam Chomsky (an “intellectual” who hates America), Van Jones (admitted Communist) and George Lakoff (a linguist who sees a capitalist pig behind every curtain). In short, they, their theories and their pablum have created the vast collection of spoiled, pampered, politically correct college brats that perpetuate their fascism on the rest of academia.
When this happened is quite obvious. Until the arrival of these Frankfurt refugees, academia was a center of learning, debate and a search for truths wherever that path led. Afterwards, academia slowly became a training ground for social justice which today has translated into repressive intolerance of anything that rocks their worldview. Yesterday’s advocates of campus free speech are today’s speech fascists.
Nowhere is this more evident than in two areas: third wave feminism and education. The ultimate goal of Marcuse and others was the eradication of the individual and individualism. In effect, they seek to centralize everything. Enter the third wave feminist. Feminism today is not about equal rights and equal opportunity for women. Instead, it now incorporates any gender-related issue such as gay rights, race, immigration, economic inequality, etc. If you are an activist for equal rights regardless of sex, religion or race, you are an egalitarian, not a feminist and woe to he or she that gets in the way. They have become the sole proprietors of all social issues.
The second area is education where instead of classics which have been a hallmark of education in our history, we have replaced them with gibberish books about social justice, the environment and man’s rape of it, climate justice, moral relativism, multiculturalism that manages to ignore or denigrate Western culture, diversity and moral equivalence where there are no absolute truths anymore. All these movements in education derive from Marcuse and the Franfurt School to some degree. They are the accountability-killing approaches of Dewey, Ayers, Kohn and, ultimately, Marcuse.
But there is hope. At the academic level, a changing job market is having effects. Colleges are moving away from full-time tenured positions and replacing those positions with part-time and adjunct professors. This has intensified the competition for those tenured positions that remain and competition tends to “conservatize” individuals. Today, graduate students are taught to be careful what they say on social media lest they rock any boats that may cost them a job.
Unfortunately, private universities are immune to market pressures and they seem content to see their professors achieve celebrity status by perpetuating “controversial” issues and writing in their elitist publications. Hence, one sees more and more today the vast majority of Leftist professors concentrated in Ivy League schools or their equivalents elsewhere.
For the teaching profession, the majority this writer ventures are actually traditionalists that happen to follow the herd. More and more teachers lament the fact that traditional classics have been eliminated from the curriculum and that new modes of teaching are attempting to re-invent the wheel. Although they teach Common Core “because they have to,” their disdain of it is becoming palpable. That is because they are being fed a load of bologna that ignores time-honored methods. In fact, it denies individuality in their manner of teaching and turns them into educational automatons.
Parents who truly care about their child’s education have suspected that something has gone terribly wrong in education. Many cannot help their children with homework anymore. And the Left fights back regardless. When parents express their frustration, they run into fear of being branded intolerant, judgmental, mean, or (God forbid) “traditionalist” or conservative.
Finally, there may be a growing mood on college campuses which is starting to question the orthodoxy in academia. The Internet has been a major tool in publicizing the sins of professorial censorship. Some professors, of course, are fighting back against these collections of captured audiences through threats. But the real heroes are those college students showing the world what they are learning in today’s college classrooms and by whom. Professors live in a cloistered world of ideas, not the real world. In the real world, consumers are the boss and the producers take orders. This is academia upside down and academics do not like it.