Friday, August 07, 2015

A University Re-Education

(Warning: It's The New York Post. Caveat lector...)

   I'm seeing more and more evidence that a lot of the liberal/leftist indoctrination that seems to be happening at many universities is coming from orientation and residence life staff rather than faculty. Needless to say, there's nothing wrong with actual discussions of lefty concepts like "rape culture" and "privilege" in classes, so long as the professor remains at least minimally objective. The problem with many of the programs in question is that a certain not-at-all-clearly-true theory is being pushed on unsuspecting people who aren't even yet college freshmen. A cluster of extreme, flawed theories is being presented--or so it seems--as if they were obviously true and uncontroversial. If we're getting an accurate picture here, what's going on is leftist brainwashing. My naive younger self thought that liberals and university professors were the kinds of people who were against all brainwashing... There's no doubt in my mind that campuses would explode if right-wing brainwashing were to be implemented... But it seems to be rather difficult to incite any outrage about lefty brainwashing. My cynical older self is starting to think that liberalism may not be what I thought it was... 

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The political element here is just window dressing. I doubt very much that the para-faculty running these things are anything like true believers, but they have developed a reliable strategy for keeping their budgets in place: Run a series a seminars that amplify everyone's late teen sensitivities and resentments to the point that there will be a steady, slow stream of incidents on campus that justify the existence of the seminars. Think of it as the TSA model: under color of safety, devise a wringer just obnoxious enough that people will comply, but imperfectly and resentfully. Point to the compliance to prove success, point to the resentment and minor resistance to prove the need.

Campus leftism, such as it is, flares up when the academic jobs problem is especially acute. Since traditional academic jobs appear to be going away, expect it to get worse.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Holy crap, A, that's very interesting. Of course I'm skeptical... But it's a kind of explanation I never thing about/in terms of... If this is right, I'm basically blind to this kind of phenomenon...
I *will* say that I'm inclined to believe that many of these folks really *are* political true believers though...so I'm pretty skeptical of that bit...
Anyway, thanks for this.
Is there some general description of this type of explanation? Something more specific than just "sociological" or "institutional"? Not even really sure how to ask that question very precisely...

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about a specific term... Institutionally constrained reasoning maybe? Professional heuristic? I mostly picked up this way of thinking about this type of issue from reading Veblen, and history likes to label him an "institutionalist economist".

As for whether most participants in the academic left scene are true believers, well that depends on what degree of belief gets you to true. My cynicism here has less to do with my judgement of the actors than of the ideas: Like the puritanism it resembles, the ideals aren't really livable. Just keeping on guard for microaggressions (on either the giving or receiving end) would quickly exhaust any normal person. Since the need for steady, minor failure is part of the ideal, it must be unlivable and the need for low level hypocrisy is also baked in.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Veblen...haven't read any of him since undergrad days...thanks...

Again, a very interesting point (about true believing).

But it seems to me that an alternative theory of such people (e.g. puritans) is something like: they are fine with their own failures to live up to their theory, because their own irredeemable wickedness/inevitable failure is part of the theory. They seem to revel in their own sinfulness/corruption. And often their spirits are buoyed by their self-perceived superiority to others... They may be wicked, but they're holier than *thou* at least... The theory *can* be lived with when there's no real hope of living up to it...
But that's just kind of shooting the shit...uh...off the top of my head...or whatever...

1:01 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

There seems to be some pleasure for folks who think poorly of themselves in convincing others that they, too, should think poorly of themselves.

Misery loves company, I suppose.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there are some true believers who do take a sort of perverse pleasure in their own wickedness under the terms of the theory. There are definitely a some of the the undergraduates that are attracted to the PC style of thought by the opportunities it creates for confession. But, I think these be greatly outnumbered by the careerists, or the group would die out like the Shakers.

1:48 PM  

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