September 16, 2005

Wouldn't That Be Ironic?

"When asked about the left-wing biases of his Harvard colleagues, the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick once hypothesized that most professors are socialists because they consider themselves far smarter than boobish businessmen, and therefore resent the economic system that rewards practical intelligence over the own (ostensibly superior) gifts." - Ross Douthat
In Ross Douthat's Privilege, he wonders if this resentment might be combined with a lack of confidence in the "inherent value of a liberal arts education...Many professors came to believe, however subconsciously, in the cultural voices that whispered to them that what goes on in the classroom is far less important than what happens later, out in the 'real world.'" He continues:
Then there is economics, the new queen of the sciences: a discipline perfectly tailored for the modern-market-driven university, and not coincidentally the most popular concentration during my four years of college. It's no coincidence, too, that economics was the only department at Harvard where the faculty tilted rightward - on issues of regulation and taxation, at least. To tilt right is, in some sense, to assert a belief in absolute truth, and the only absolute truth the upper class accepts these days is the truth of the market.

In this sense, the antinomian left-wing professors who crowd the humanities, are unwitting servants of the very market their socialist dogmas claim to disdain. Their decades-long wade in the marshes of postmodernist academic theory - where canons are scorned, books exist only as texts to be deconstructed by eager theorists, willfully obscurantist writing is championed over accessible prose, and every mention of "truth" is to be placed in sneering quotation marks - amounts to a tacit acceptance of capitalism's ruthless insistence that only science is important, only science really pursues truth, because only science only has tangible, quantifiable, potentially profitable results.

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