Thursday, August 21, 2003

Conservatives in academia, again 

Frank at Financial Aid Office sent a note to me to look at this discussion at CalPundit. I'm afraid it's fouled my mood. You'll need to take the time to scroll through the comments, because they are quite revealing. The dismissiveness that the Left displays to our concerns doesn't shock me at all. And there's no interest in discussion, just posturing that some right-wing so-and-so is "100% full of shit", a "whiner" or whatever.

I think there's one confusion that needs to be cleared up, however. Yes, there are areas of academia where conservatism might be more popular (though it's far less prevalent in economics than it appears those outside the field believe -- see my earlier post on this). In my department the arguments are not over Friedman vs. Marx and only a little more Friedman vs. Keynes. It's more like Friedman vs. Hayek (to most leftists that's a distinction without a difference, but I beg to differ!), or Friedman vs. strong-form rational expectations, because that's largely where the profession has gone. (There aren't "pro-labor economists", as one commenter asked, because economists of all stripes are fairly agreed that unions cause unemployment, and nobody seems to be in favor of that). And while my experience is that most scientists tend to believe in some form of socialism (I have explanations for why, but that's another post) I am willing to believe those who claim that ideology plays a very minor role in hiring, tenure and promotion in the natural science departments.

But that misses the point of the argument (or at least my argument) that inter-departmental battles on campuses tend to be dominated by the left. They organize more, and are more interested, in controlling committees on general education, curriculum, diversity education, etc. Nobody is permitted to oppose them as they take control of faculty email lists. Most of those conservatives cited by the leftists in CalPundit's discussion choose not to take part in the battle. They are quiescent, and in their quiescence they allow the leftists to influence the administrations on their campuses unduly. When it does happen, like Larry Summers taking the presidency of Harvard, the results are predictable: The left gets its panties in a bunch.

Thankfully, the students are responding themselves. I'd hope that would embarass all these right-wing academics the left thinks are lurking in the halls. I'd hope it would inspire them to speak on discussion lists, show up at mandatory (or not) diversity training and speak the truth to lies, join discussion groups on what's happening on our campuses, etc.

But I'm just a whiner and 100% full of shit, right? Fine, but I also follow Rule #1 (as many salespersons I know say): Outlast the bastiches.