Blogs > Liberty and Power > More on Why Academic Leans Left

Feb 17, 2004 8:52 am

More on Why Academic Leans Left

Here's another unhelpful piece on why academia leans left. If I were a left-leaning academic, I would find this one rather insulting myself. Maybe it's just me, but suggesting that academics live in a world of "freedom without responsibility" and that the one responsibility we have, teaching, is one we are constantly trying to reduce at all costs, is both insulting and wrong. Once again, people are generalizing about "academic life" from a picture that holds true, at best, at Research I schools, when the vast majority of academics, including those who lean left, work in very different institutions. In those institutions there are people actually committed to teaching and serving the institution, and producing scholarship too, who also are to the left politically. Not to mention those of us who have carved out academic careers as libertarians or conservatives who have somehow risen above the fray and overcome the structural incentives of "freedom without responsibility." How can Kling explain the lean to the left of faculty at primarily teaching institutions, where said faculty often are more than willing to take on responsibility for the institution? What explains all the left-leaning deans all over the place if all people want to do is explore their pet French post-structuralist du jour? Explanations of this phenomenon are going to have to do better than this.

Anyone who wants to write about this issue should at least have spent some serious time among the natives, and should do so in a variety of their differing communities. And they probably ought to start with something a little more subtle than his two-part political quiz.

One good point: the small picture of Hayek with the "oy vey" look on his face with Hitler, Lenin, and Marx in the background is now my new wallpaper.

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