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To: "H-HOAC-ED-JEH" <email@example.com> Sent: Friday, November 19, 2004 3:29 PM Subject: 'Left' professorate? If it only were... There are relatively few "conservatives" among the faculty. But his is not because of discrimation against them. Rather, it is mainly due to the influence of class, indirect as it always is, yet like the tides, very strong. Ideologically, most college faculty are trained to use evidence, and to entertain and discuss differing viewpoints. This is congenial to "liberalism", and even more so to to Marxism, but not to certain dogmatic strains of thought, and modern "conservatism" is among the latter. During the past 30 years or so the limits of acceptable opinion in the American academy, especially in the humanities and social sciences, have been greatly expanded. This in turn has meant that graduate students have been increasingly exposed to viewpoints that were formerly considered "taboo.” It also means that subjecting traditional beliefs to scrutiny and doubt is far more common in higher education than it was a generation ago. This is itself a "liberal" ideology. Most college faculty feel threatened by those who show any inclination towards censorship, especially in teaching. Those who advocate various kinds of censorship these days are overwhelmingly "conservatives." Economically, most college faculty are just hanging on in the "middle class." For example, I make $75K a year after 35 years in college teaching, and live in the Greater New York Area with one of the highest costs of living in the country. I'm not complaining, just pointing out something. I -- and my colleagues -- are tremendously dependent upon government-sponsored social welfare benefits, such as medical and dental plans. I teach at a state college -- government-supported -- and my pay and benefits are far greater than those of faculty at the private colleges in NJ (except for Princeton, with its huge endowment). This is true nation-wide. We are unionized, and unionized college teachers fare much better economically than non-unionized college faculty. Relatively few college faculty, as a result, are anti-union, and many are strongly pro-union. That in itself is a "liberal" ideology. Social welfare and redistributive programs are, by definition, “liberal,” while opposing them is “conservative.” It would be self-defeating, therefore absurd, to expect that faculty members should be “equally divided” over questions that touch their own material existence. Taking the long view: Liberalism has proven itself to be a far superior ideology in co-opting and defeating socialism and communism. Remember Bismark, who outlawed the German Social-Democratic Party in the 1880s (the party founded by, among others, Marx and Engels), and then instituted government-sponsored and -guaranteed medical insurance to "outdo" the socialists? For that reason, and at least since the New Deal, the major American elite (I'd say, more accurately, "ruling-class") institutions have been "liberal". Given all this, it's hardly surprising that college professors are "liberal" overwhelmingly. It'd be very surprising if they were not. BTW, pretty much the same argument can account for the overwhelming "liberal" views of reporters and editors (though not of publishers, who are not really 'journalists', but businessmen). In my experience, there is considerable prejudice among academics against certain ideas that are strongly associated with the Republican party -- to its shame, I may add -- and so could be called “conservative.” Support for racism – the Republican Party depends upon racism for success in national elections; support for dogmatic religious beliefs; for strongly authoritarian views of almost any kind, including “my-country-right-or-wrong” jingoism; for naked, unbridled exploitation; for knee-jerk anti-radicalism and anti-communism; in culture, for “tradition for the sake of tradition” -- these attitudes and ideologies, all of which are strongly associated with conservatism and the Republican Party, are rightly abhorred by most academics, who have excellent material reasons to identify with the “little guy.” Just as we would never be surprised to find that millionaires and businessmen generally tend strongly to be Republican and "conservative", it should not surprise us that college teachers and journalists tend to be "liberal." It is irrational to expect anything else! And the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are themselves highly ideological. Lots of blue-collar workers would call themselves "conservative" if asked certain questions (e.g. about war, patriotism, homosexuality, etc.), but would have to be classified as "liberal", in fact, "radical", if asked about social policies (whether public employees should have the right to strike; about 'right-to-work' laws; the desirability of minimum-wage laws, etc.). Therefore it should never be thought for an instant that people who vote Republican in a given election are “conservatives”, for the vast majority are not. And there are plenty of Cold-War, elitist, pro-imperialist liberals of the Zbigniew Brzezinski type as well. The Vietnam War, much admired of conservatives, was largely fashioned by “liberals.” So colleges and universities do not need a single additional “conservative.” And they have plenty of “liberals.” What they do need, and would much benefit from, is more Marxists, radicals, leftists – all terms conventionally applied to those who fight against exploitation, racism, sexism, and capitalism. We can never have too many of these, just as we can never have too few “conservatives.” Grover Furr