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Why University Politics Matter By: Robert Locke
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, September 03, 2002


It is no secret that the vast majority of American universities are dominated by the left, particularly in subject areas that affect society. Unfortunately, some people still don't think this really matters. So let us review the reasons why it does:

  1. Universities serve as a vast training and recruitment system for political activists and Democratic Party activists. They systematically expose all young people to leftist ideology, show them a community and a culture they can join, select out the most promising ones, and plug them into a network that can give them a political career. And of course, they show them how this system works, enabling it to be replicated by the next generation in perpetuity.

  2. Universities finance the development of leftist ideology. A political movement that aspires to run the whole of society must have answers about everything. It must have books and experts on every area of policy. In an intellectually sophisticated nation like the United States, this requires a large amount of trained academic labor. Best yet, the fact that "progressive" politics are fashionable means that people volunteer to do this labor for free or for very low salaries.

  3. Universities impose leftist propaganda on the average student. Even where they do not convince people of the truth of hard-left ideas, they redefine where the center is by making extreme ideas seem normal. After all, that nice professor says so. They also make leftism cease to seem shocking to educated people by sugarcoating it with the naivete and warm memories of their college years.

  4. Universities place the prestige of some of the most revered institutions in our culture on the side of the left — think of such controversial issues as impeachment, abortion, capital punishment, gun control, global warming and missile defense. If Harvard believes X, then X is respectable opinion, even if not actually true. Universities help form a social matrix in which liberal views are part of the required characteristics for social acceptance and prestige. They establish the tacit equation that "educated" means left ("liberal") in advanced social and political circles.

  5. Universities employ large numbers of leftwing intellectuals. Many of these people would be unemployable otherwise, and would have lost interest in ideology. Many of them use their university employment not only as a venue for developing leftist ideas, but as a financial base for extra-curricular leftist activities and as a resting-spot between stints in Democrat administrations. Universities also serve the role of credentialing and identifying the key liberal intellectuals so leftists know who to follow.

  6. By offering academic employment to the left only, universities encourage scholars of other political dispositions to become left-thinking. They discourage conservatives from pursuing scholarly careers.

  7. Academic leftism that does not have to contend with conservatism is free to assume a much more virulent form than it would if checked by the need to compete with a visible alternative. Ironically, to some extent this helps conservativem, as it causes leftism to pervert itself into the Rococo form of political correctness, which is so loony that it turns the public against it.
University administrations are responsible for a situation that is discriminatory and unfair. It undermines the democratic process when one side is subsidized by massive government inputs. It's time to change this. Our fundamental effort should be to restore fairness and inclusion to these institutions, which are now politicized in a partisan way, so that they can return to their mission of education. Any reform bill should be called the "Academic Freedom and Fairness Act."



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