by: David Marotta
“Looking Backward 2000-1887” was a socialist utopian science fiction story written by Edward Bellamy and published in 1888. John Taylor Gatto describes its influence in “An Underground History of American Education” writing:
The three most influential books ever published in North America, setting aside the Bible and The New England Primer, were all published in the years of the Utopian transformation of America which gave us government schooling: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly (1852), a book which testifies to the ancient obsession of English-speaking elites with the salvation of the under- classes; Ben-Hur (1880), a book illustrating the Christian belief that Jews can eventually be made to see the light of reason and converted; and the last a pure utopia, Looking Backward (1888), still in print more than one hundred years later, translated into thirty languages.
In 1944, three American intellectuals, Charles Beard, John Dewey, and Edward Weeks, interviewed separately, proclaimed Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward second only to Marx’s Das Kapital as the most influential book of modem times. Within three years of its publication, 165 “Bellamy Clubs” sprouted up. In the next twelve years, no less than forty-six other Utopian novels became best sellers.
The story consists of a Bostonian man who falls into a deep sleep and then awakens 113 years later in the year 2000 to find the United States has become a socialist utopia.
On Tuesday, December 10, 2019, David John Marotta appeared on Radio 1070 WINA’s Schilling Show to take a closer look at the liberal control of Academia.
Listen to the audio here:
Those who want to craft a socialist utopia usually believe that education is a key part of the work that needs to be done. If a child’s nature is to be successfully shaped and molded, we cannot leave the job to be corrupted by the biases of the parents or historically corrupt institutions. Indoctrination, although that term has negative connotations, is necessary in their view to overcome historical biases and produce the necessary utopian attitudes. Utopians assume that the evils of society are the result of a lack of knowledge, not a product of human nature.
Looking Backward describes the universal education system key to building a socialist society. One section in particular describes the cost of universal education. The main character, Julian West, in conversation with Dr. Leete marvels at the education system saying:
“The cost must be very great,” I said.
“If it took half the revenue of the nation, nobody would grudge it,” replied Dr. Leete, “nor even if it took it all save a bare pittance. But in truth the expense of educating ten thousand youth is not ten nor five times that of educating one thousand. The principle which makes all operations on a large scale proportionally cheaper than on a small scale holds as to education also.”
“College education was terribly expensive in my day,” said I.
“If I have not been misinformed by our historians,” Dr. Leete answered, “it was not college education but college dissipation and extravagance which cost so highly. The actual expense of your colleges appears to have been very low, and would have been far lower if their patronage had been greater. The higher education nowadays is as cheap as the lower, as all grades of teachers, like all other workers, receive the same support.”
In other words, Bellamy’s solution to keeping the cost of higher education low is to pay all teachers the same salary regardless of education level and cut out any spending which is deemed extravagant by the central planners.
Liberal control of academia
Free education for all is a theme often promoted today by those who lean socialist. One of the tenants of a utopian socialist view is that human nature is basically good and that problems are easiest solved through the process of education. Those who believe this assumption often go into education or the media. As a result, universities as well as the media have an overwhelmingly liberal bias. This liberal bias is not on account of some grand conspiracy, it is simply self-selection. Liberals go to journalism school and conservatives go to business school. Liberals tend to teach while conservatives tend to do.
The liberal bias in academia is so overwhelming that it is near indisputable. Yet liberals often refuse to accept the data and dismiss the evidence. They call everyone else biased and pretend that they are the neutral centrists from which everyone else is biased.
The debate about the liberal control of academia is hardly a new debate. In 1951, the recent 25-year-old graduate of Yale William F. Buckley Jr. wrote “God and Man at Yale; The Superstitions of ‘Academic Freedom’” In the book, Buckley criticized Yale for forcing Keynesian, secular, and collectivist ideology on students and breaking down the religious beliefs of students through an overt hostility to religion.
My father, George Marotta [icon color=”#ce4464″ icon=”kt-icon-document” size=”14px”], was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution on the Stanford Campus starting in 1975. After Ronald Regan was elected President in 1980, several of the research fellows left the Hoover Institution to take positions in Regan’s administration. This caused many of the liberal Stanford professors to rail against the supposed political bias of the Hoover Institution. As reported in the New York Times on May 24, 1983:
Liberal faculty members at Stanford are offended by the reputation of the Hoover Institution as a politically conservative center for research on social and economic issues. It has become nationally known as a font of conservative thought, serving the Reagan Presidency as the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank, served the Kennedy Administration.
Liberal Stanford professors accused the Hoover Institution of being filled primarily with conservative scholars. Interestingly, this was an accusation which was easily demonstrated to be false.
In California, voters declare their party affiliation when they register to vote. Such declarations are public knowledge and can easily be researched. Of the 25 Hoover Institution senior fellows, there were at the time “11 Democrats, 10 Republicans, 3 political independents, and a foreign national.” Given that Ronald Regan had won California 52.7% to Jimmy Carter’s 35.9%, this ratio seemed fairly representative of the state as a whole.
My father, along with my mother’s help, began looking up the party affiliation of the faculty members who were complaining about the conservative bias of the Hoover Institution. In Stanford department after department my parents overwhelmingly found that the complaining faculty registered Democrat. In some departments, there were more faculty registered Communist and Socialist than Republican. The notably balanced exception was the Geology department.
I recount this story primarily to show that academic liberal bias, although denied by many liberals, is undeniably supported by the facts. I also recount the story because my parents were attacked simply for showing that the bias exists and showing that the accusations of the Hoover Institution as a right-wing think tank were not justified. The scholars at the Hoover Institution represented a reasonably balanced political spectrum of the country while the Stanford professors doing the criticism did not.
In 1983, the White House proposed and requested that the Hoover Institution care for a proposed Regan Presidential Library, but Stanford tried to gain control of it instead. After failing to gain control, Stanford voted to reject having any public affairs center of the Presidential Library associated with Stanford in 1984. As a result, Stanford lost the Regan Library which is now in Southern California.
The attack on the Hoover Institution by liberal faculty lasted for the entire Regan Presidency. By 1988, there was another attack, this time demanding the director of the Hoover Institution, W. Glenn Campbell, be ordered to retire. My father again sought to defend the Hoover Institution to exist. In one letter to the editor of the Stanford Daily, he wrote:
Fifty-seven Stanford professors signed the current petition. They want to bring the semi-independent Hoover institution under their control. Failing that, they would like to divorce us from the University. It is interesting to note that of the 57 professors who signed the petition to protect Stanford’s nonpartisan image, 94 percent are registered Democratic, 2 percent Republican, and 4 percent independent. …
Academic freedom is at stake. A campus such as Stanford should tolerate and welcome all points of view.
My father was noted in the New York Times on July, 1, 1988 regarding this second attack in which they wrote:
One Hoover fellow, George Marotta, retaliated against the faculty petition by doing research into the voter registration of the 57 faculty members who signed it. He found that all but three of them were registered as Democrats.
It is ironic that the New York Times described my father’s actions as “retaliated against.” Here was a group of 57 faculty members, nearly all of which were registered Democrats (with a few “Independents” who were probably socialists) attacking the director of the Hoover Institution and trying to get him fired simply for not being a progressive. It was as though they were saying, “Non-progressives don’t have a right to exist on the Stanford campus.” My father wasn’t “retaliating.” He was defending the right for non-progressives to be employed within an independent organization on the Stanford campus. Such vitriol against conservative thought within academia and the media has been common for the past 50 years, even though it is morally indefensible.
Campbell was forced to “retire” by the Stanford Board of Trustees.
During my undergraduate studies at Stanford, I found the Physics and Engineering Departments sanely to refrain from political bias and teach objective truth. Their politics, probably better balanced than the rest of the university, were kept to themselves. Other departments felt free to teach biased opinions as though they were settled fact. I’ve personally seen the liberal bias in multiple academic institutions.
My parents’ seminal work in the early 1980s formed a blueprint for demonstrating liberal bias that many other researchers have followed. Democrats pervade our colleges and universities in numbers that do not reflect the diversity of political thought that represents the country as a whole.
There is little tolerance of political diversity. As reported by the Chicago Tribune:
Democrats dominate most fields. In religion, Langbert’s survey found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 70 to 1. In music, it is 33 to 1. In biology, it is 21 to 1. In philosophy, history and psychology, it is 17 to 1. In political science, it is 8 to 1.
The gap is narrower in science and engineering. In physics, economics and mathematics, the ratio is about 6 to 1. In chemistry, it is 5 to 1, and in engineering, it is just 1.6 to 1. Still, Lambert found no field in which Republicans are more numerous than Democrats.
Departmental bias does matter, confirming what I found in my own experience. The harder the science, the smaller the liberal bias.
The commentary piece “U.S. public schools: Progressive indoctrination camps” by the legendary Chuck Norris cites two other studies:
Dr. Jim Nelson Black, founder and senior policy analyst of the Sentinel Research Associates in Washington, D.C., wrote an excellent book, “Freefall of the American University.” In it, he documents the clear biases pervading our public academic settings. Among that lopsidedness is the intentional training of students to disdain America, freely experiment sexually, forcefully defend issues like abortion and homosexuality, as well as become cultural advocates for political correctness, relativism, globalization, green agendas and tolerance for all.
One of the primary ways these educative platforms are spread is by recruiting and retaining faculty members who reflect and teach them. For example, citing from the polling firm of Luntz Research, Dr. Black notes that the 57 percent of faculty members represented in our most esteemed universities are Democrats (only 3 percent Republican) and 64 percent identify themselves as liberal (only 6 percent conservative). Moreover, 71 percent of them disagree that “news coverage of political and social issues reflects a liberal bias in the news media.”
These studies suggest both a strong liberal bias as well as how that bias clouds their judgement on other objective issues such as the political bias of the news media.
The academic political bias serves to aggravate the distrust of scientists among conservatives. As described in the Washington Examiner:
One such study by University of Oxford researchers found that conservatives have a “right to be skeptical of scientists,” suggesting that skepticism of scientific establishments is valid due to a long and proven history of “scholar activism” in fields like sociology and political science. After all, there is no shortage of examples when it comes to professors teaching their opinion in the classroom and taking part in political activism on campus.
Scientific skepticism rightfully exists among conservatives because progressive scholars use the findings of science far beyond their reasonable implications. In climatology, progressives now use the small finding that climate change is happening and it is at least partly caused by human activity to justify the unrelated goal of abolishing the free markets. In contrast, they hear the statement that prosperity is happening and it is at least partly the result of free markets and progressives become free-market deniers.
We need the more balanced perspectives of organizations like the Hoover Institution. Progressives should welcome these perspectives to help find common ground rather than silencing and trying to erase them.
Recently, the analysis that my parents did has been continued by Samuel J. Abrams, another research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
In 2014, Abrams found that nationally, colleges and universities had a six to one ratio of liberal to conservative professors. In New England, the figure was 28 to one.
Being represented less than 4% in New England colleges and universities have a great effect on how liberals and conservatives view higher education.
The elitism of the left
Bellamy had a very low view of those who were not educated. In his utopia, eliminating the uneducated was necessary for the educated to enjoy society. In Chapter 21 of Looking Backward, Dr. Leete, the tour guide of the book, sets out to explain the educational system of the socialist utopia to Julian West saying:
“To borrow a phrase which was often used in your day, we should not consider life worth living if we had to be surrounded by a population of ignorant, boorish, coarse, wholly uncultivated men and women, as was the plight of the few educated in your day.
Such snobbery and elitism regarding education is a mainstay of liberal discourse publicly and even more vicious in private.
The left has long reveled in the idea that they are the educated elite and conservatives are the brutish Neanderthals.
There are many examples of the disdain that liberals have for orthodox Americans. They are callously called “far-right” or “ultra-right.” They are labeled “racist,” “sexist,” or “homophobic” so often as to make those accusations meaningless. They are accused of being mentally unstable.
Hillary Clinton called those who did not support her a “basket of deplorables.”
Emmett Rensin in a Vox article entitled, “The smug style in American liberalism” chronicles the many measures liberals use to revel in their superiority:
Today, a liberal who finds himself troubled by the currents of contemporary political life need look no further than his Facebook newsfeed to find the explanation:
Study finds Daily Show viewers more informed than viewers of Fox News.
They’re beating CNN watchers too.
NPR listeners are best informed of all. He likes that.
You’re better off watching nothing than watching Fox. He likes that even more.
The good news doesn’t stop.
Liberals aren’t just better informed. They’re smarter.
They’ve got better grammar. They know more words.
Smart kids grow up to be liberals, while conservatives reason like drunks.
Liberals are better able to process new information; they’re less biased like that. They’ve got different brains. Better ones. Why? Evolution. They’ve got better brains, top-notch amygdalae, science finds.
The smug style created a feedback loop. If the trouble with conservatives was ignorance, then the liberal impulse was to correct it. When such corrections failed, disdain followed after it.
These studies seem to confirm every liberal’s dream of superiority. But even these studies are ripe with difficulties. Classical liberalism is currently called libertarian and is accompanied by a strong support for economic freedom. Classical liberals now called libertarians are the smartest of all. Alas, libertarians are often thrown out of the studies as outliers or bad data because they refuse to identify themselves on the “Democrat” or “Republican” scale provided.
Other studies found that the smartest people say they are liberal but hold conservative views. As Time Magazine reported in “Study: Are Liberals Smarter Than Conservatives?“:
Kanazawa found that more-intelligent GSS respondents (as measured by a quick but highly reliable synonym test) were less likely to agree that the government has a responsibility to reduce income and wealth differences. In other words, intelligent people might like to portray themselves as liberal.
Given today’s political environment and Twitter’s Reign of Terror, it is no surprise that the smartest people may engage in just enough social signaling as to protect themselves from being targeted by leftist social media terrorists. Here at Marotta On Money, we have experienced first hand that the media storm surrounding our own advice can get nearly every fact wrong.
Insults directed at working class Americans have resulted in the working class leaving the Democratic party. Emmett Rensin describes this shift in “The smug style in American liberalism“:
Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the working class, once the core of the coalition, began abandoning the Democratic Party. In 1948, in the immediate wake of Franklin Roosevelt, 66 percent of manual laborers voted for Democrats, along with 60 percent of farmers. In 1964, it was 55 percent of working-class voters. By 1980, it was 35 percent.
The white working class in particular saw even sharper declines. Despite historic advantages with both poor and middle-class white voters, by 2012 Democrats possessed only a 2-point advantage among poor white voters. Among white voters making between $30,000 and $75,000 per year, the GOP has taken a 17-point lead.
The consequence was a shift in liberalism’s intellectual center of gravity. A movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves. Minority voters remained, but bereft of the material and social capital required to dominate elite decision-making, they were largely excluded from an agenda driven by the new Democratic core: the educated, the coastal, and the professional.
This shift in the Democrat party from union halls into universities and major press outlets has also been accompanied by a shift from those who believe in the benefits of free markets to those who blame free markets and want a socialist-controlled economy.
Systematic discrimination against conservative or religious prospective faculty
The discrimination against religious or conservative views within academia has a long history with many examples, including many here in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia. In 1995, the christian student publication “Wide Awake” was the subject of a 1995 Supreme Court case. Wikipedia summarizes the case:
Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819 (1995), was an opinion by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding whether a state university might, consistent with the First Amendment, withhold from student religious publications funding provided to similar secular student publications. The University provided funding to every student organization that met funding-eligibility criteria, which Wide Awake, the student religious publication fulfilled. The University of Virginia defense claimed that denying student activity funding of the religious magazine was necessary to avoid the University’s violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The university tried to withhold funding. The students sued and ultimately won with the Supreme Court ruling that the university could not discriminate against a religious point of view.
While congratulating itself on its supposed tolerance, it is a widely accepted fact that conservative or religious prospective faculty face systematic discrimination in most departments. Given the fact of Stanford professors suggesting that the moderate Hoover Institution is biased and its director should not be allowed to be employed, think how Stanford must treat junior professors seeking tenure.
Joseph F. Baugher described the situation well in “Thoughts on Academic Tenure“:
Some of the objections to tenure are basically political in nature. Certain right-wing individuals (most prominently the activist David Horowitz) feel that university faculties, especially in the humanities and social sciences, are very heavily-stacked with left-leaning professors who are unaccountable to anyone because they are protected by tenure. Sometimes derisively called “tenured radicals”, these leftist professors use their absolute job security as a base to attack fundamental American political, economic, religious, and moral values, or so the argument goes. Accusations are made by conservatives that these tenured radicals, in collaboration with compliant administrators and naïve students, enforce a Stalinist regime of “political correctness” at their institutions, one in which a totalitarian conformity to a set of Marxist or leftist political philosophies is required of both students and faculty, or an attitude is enforced that favors individuals on the basis of their race, ethnic origin, sex, or sexual orientation. Conservatives charge that these tenured faculty members have created a whole bunch of new and trendy departments and study programs–e.g. women’s studies, black studies, postmodernist literature, or gay/lesbian/transgender studies–which are little more than leftist propaganda and indoctrination mills rather than serious intellectual disciplines with a recognized core of knowledge, an extensive peer review process, and an approach of academic freedom. Conservative political or religious thought is effectively silenced at such institutions and it is virtually impossible for a conservative to receive tenure or even to be appointed to a tenure-track position, or so the detractors claim.
Now, I certainly don’t think that every tenured faculty member is a flaming radical leftist, since I have known quite a few who have been rather conservative, and there are academic departments that are dominated by conservative ideologues (such as the Hoover Institute at Stanford or the economics faculty at the University of Chicago), but it cannot be denied that university faculty members do tend to be more liberal than the general populace at large. However, I don’t think that the presence of large numbers of leftists in colleges and universities is the result of some sort of conspiracy, since it can be argued that colleges and universities are by their very nature humanist institutions that attract people with a liberal bent, just as corporations, businesses, the military, and the police tend to attract people with a more conservative frame of mind.
It is interesting that Baugher uses the Hoover Institution as an example of how tolerant progressives are since as I have described it is an example of exactly how intolerant they are. I assume that Baugher is simply misinformed about the decades of attempts of liberal Stanford faculty to control or eliminate what they perceived as the conservative scholarship being done at the Hoover Institution.
I agree with him that there is no conspiracy other than that nearly all of those currently in academia agree with the progressive perspective. No conspiracy is needed when conservatives represent 17% or even just 4% of professors. For those seeking a teaching career being rejected based solely on political or religious bigotry is disturbing and disheartening.
Dr. Graham Walker describes, “My experience convinces me that, claims to the contrary notwithstanding, Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences harbors a culture of intolerance toward disfavored religious or ideological orientations or at least toward one, that of the believing Christian whose views can be branded ‘conservative,’ especially if he is male and white.”
Ken Elzinga, celebrated as perhaps one of the best teachers at the University of Virginia, has many personal stories of the bias against conservative or religious professors at the university. In “Inside Higher Ed: Christian Academe vs. Christians in Academe” he writes:
As an assistant professor, I once tried to schedule a room in the student union for a faculty Bible study and was told no. I asked if I could schedule a room to discuss the writings of Karl Marx. No problem. But the gospel of Mark: that was apparently off limits to discuss on grounds.
Ken Elzinga’s courage in persevering came from his own experience deciding between tenure and following his conscious. He has described the experience and the liberation it brought not to worry about the persecution he would face as a result. Here is that story from Christianity Today:
At age 26, Ken Elzinga joined the faculty of the University of Virginia. After a tenured colleague warned him that being explicit about his faith could hinder his career, Elzinga was stunned to see a flyer with his face on it placed at a prominent campus location. A campus ministry had posted it to advertise a talk he had agreed to give. A relatively new believer, he worried. Would fellow professors think less of him? Might this harm his tenure chances? He experienced a dark night of the soul returning to campus and secretly taking the poster down.
But the next morning, Elzinga put the posters back up. After hours of soul searching, he concluded that his life was not about career ambition but about faithful discipleship. Being private about his faith was not an option for him.
In the four decades since, Elzinga has been named professor of the year multiple times and is still a speaker in high demand. He will be the first to tell you that serving only one master has been liberating for him. And why is that? Because pleasing an audience of one makes us less anxious, less sensitive to criticism, and more courageous. Because in doing so, we become more secure and compete less for our own honor.
Since that soul searching day of prioritizing success within the university environment and his own commitment to his faith, Elzinga has continued to seek how best to serve students and faculty within the university environment. For those seeking to emulate his example, here is a talk he gave on “Being Open About My Faith Without Turning People Off” which is filled with practical advice about how prioritizing his faith makes him better within the university environment.
In the 2010 book “Liberty and Civilization: The Western Heritage,” Roger Scruton writes about an incident in which a faculty member of the sociology department at the University of Virginia was denied tenure specifically because of his conservative religious and moral opinions. Scruton writes:
Earlier this year, the department of sociology at the University of Virginia voted against granting tenure to an outstanding young scholar of family sociology named Bradford Wilcox. Despite his extraordinary record of intellectual achievement and distinguished teaching, Professor Wilcox was punished for his conservative religious and moral opinions – opinions that his politically correct opponents were foolish enough to mention freely in discussions prior to the vote on his application for tenure. Although Wilcox’s tenure denial was initially upheld by university administrators, the university’s president, John T. Casteen, reviewed the case and reversed the decision. Wilcox has been granted tenure.
The mistake made by liberal professors in the University of Virginia’s Sociology department was in freely mentioning their opposition specifically to Wilcox’s conservative opinions. Had they kept their biases hidden, it would have been business as usual. Even so, it was a surprising development to have university president John Casteen reverse the decision.
Once hired, conservative faculty face an additional hurdle of publishing their research.
Matthew Woessner describes his experience in “Rethinking the Plight of Conservatives in Higher Education” in which he writes:
Again, while I remain reluctant to consider my own academic career in an effort to understand the plight of conservatives, I must confess that the ease with which my own work moves into print appears inversely proportional to its potential support for conservative policy positions. A journal referee’s propensity to fixate on seemingly trivial methodological flaws seems to increase dramatically if my conclusions undermine a leftist policy position. This observation is not a criticism of liberals in academia. An institution dominated by conservatives would be just as likely to scrutinize unfriendly findings more closely than sympathetic ones. In a field where the number and prestige of academic publications are key factors in tenure and promotion, this potential bias has important real-world consequences. The accusation of bias in the publication process was recently raised in Econ Journal Watch by David Gordon and Per Nilsson. Focusing on the 494 books with an ideological thesis, the researchers found that only 2 percent of Harvard University Press publications had conservative or classically liberal perspectives. While we don’t know the proportion of conservative manuscripts submitted for Harvard University Press’s consideration, it seems improbable that 98 percent of the requests had a left-leaning thesis. …
Conservative scholars are in some fields at a real disadvantage.
Perhaps it could be summarized that the chance of publication is inverse to the amount of conservative position. This bias against conservative positions being accepted for publication is why conservatives are rightly skeptical of “evidence” for liberal positions. Liberal-accepted evidence can only be sourced from the nearly entirely liberal-dominated publications. It is equivalent to saying, “All liberals hold liberal policy positions.” The statement is true but does not help debate of the issues.
Discrimination against students of different viewpoints
Robert Maranto, Fredrick Hess, Richard Redding describe some of the headwinds faced by conservatives in their book, “The Politically Correct University: Problems, Scope, and Reforms” in which they write:
We have observed the following firsthand:
- A senior professor urges a non-tenure-track political science professor to delete from his resume work on a Republican campaign, speculating that this “botch” might explain the younger man’s failure to land a tenure-track job.
- An undergraduate psychology student, a conservative, says he feels “alone with my views amid a sea of liberal graduate students and professors” – so much so that he doubts his ability to be successful in his chosen profession.
- A graduate student in the social sciences cites the frequency with which psychologists “write or say demeaning things about people with conservative political or religious views” without ever considering the views of their audience.
We maintain that the relative absence of conservative, libertarian, and neoliberal thinkers and thought from the academy is part caused by discriminatory academic personnel practices. Further, we see this discrimination against conservatives as having four chief costs to academia and society.
First and most importantly, the lack of diversity in academia limits the questions we ask and the phenomena we study, retarding our pursuit of knowledge and our ability to serve society. …
A second, related problem is that limiting “critical” conservative or libertarian thought serves to delegitimize academic expertise and the academy in general among large swaths of voters and policy makers. …
Third, a range of insightful critics, including Allan Bllom, Martin Anderson, Josiah Bunting II. C. John Sommerville, and Richard H. Hersh and John Merrow, has questioned whether universities as now constituted serve to make students more capable people and citizens. …
Finally, such critics as Martin Anderson and David Lodge argue that our ideological monoculture makes universities intellectually dull places where careerism and profit seeking prevail and the energy of contending ideas is absent.
Both this experience of conservatives within the university environment and the four costs to academia and society are well expressed.
Stefanie Pousoulides writing for the Duke Chronicle in an article entitled, “For each Republican faculty member in Pratt and Trinity, there are nearly 13 Democrats. Is this a ‘crisis’?” explains the impact on students with a quote from Michael Munger, professor of political science, a registered Libertarian, and the 2008 Libertarian candidate for North Carolina governor:
“Not all students have such an opportunity to defend a perspective other than their own. Students on the right ‘learn how to argue,’ but students on the left ‘just get patted on the head,’” he said.
Matthew Woessner wrote an interesting article for the American Association of University professors entitled “Rethinking the Plight of Conservatives in Higher Education.”
In our July 2006 PS: Political Science and Politics article, “My Professor Is a Partisan Hack: How Perceptions of a Professor’s Political Views Affect Student Course Evaluations,” we found that when students perceive a gap between their political views and those of their instructor, students express less interest in the material, are inclined to look less favorably on the course, and tend to offer the instructor a lower course evaluation.
Interestingly enough, Woessner found that conservative faculty tended to be successful, happy, and prosperous. He also found, “Only 7 percent of Republican faculty believed that discrimination against those with ‘right-wing’ views was a serious problem on their campus, compared with 8 percent of Democratic faculty who expressed concerns about discrimination against those with ‘left-wing’ views.” And he found that Republicans were more likely to be satisfied with their career choice of becoming faculty.
Woessner mistakenly assumed that the lack of unhappiness showed that there was little effect to the liberal bias in academia. But the fact that liberals worry about a bias against those with “left-wing” views in an environment which is predominantly left-wing shows that the two perspectives are not equivalent. It could simply be that conservatives are more likely to have an attitude of gratefulness that causes them to consider themselves successful, happy, and prosperous. They may also have an internal locus of control that refuses to concede their satisfaction to external discrimination. Similarly, liberals may have an external locus of control that tends to fixate on victimhood more than is objectively appropriate.
Woessner describes his own academic experience:
Looking back at my own experience, I remember how, as a young conservative, I tailored my own course selection to the subjects and professors I found most agreeable. I recall that as a naive sophomore I enrolled in an introductory sociology course and was surprised that the professor was an avowed Marxist. Concerned that our ideological perspectives might ultimately affect my course grade, I tried unsuccessfully to lay low. However, noting that I cringed as she denounced Reagan’s economic policies, the professor asked if I had a different take on the issue. Somewhat reluctantly, I offered a defense of Reaganomics. To her credit, she listened attentively and, as far as I could tell, took my novel ideas seriously. In light of the fact that, by her own admission, she had never heard a spirited defense of conservative economic policies, it became clear to me that sociology was an ideological minefield. I never enrolled in another sociology course for the rest of my academic career. …
While the experience in one or two introductory courses may be a poor proxy for the ideological tenor of a major, it seems probable that conservative students use this type of snap judgment in charting their academic course. Indeed, our findings in The Politically Correct University that conservatives gravitate toward minimally ideological majors are consistent with this explanation. Whereas liberal and conservative students express similar levels of satisfaction with their college education, right-leaning students show greater dissatisfaction with their social science and humanities courses. Predictably, they gravitate away from majors in these fields and toward the more professionally oriented disciplines. While the underlying preferences of conservative students for “practical” fields contribute to their selection of majors, the extent to which the politics of the professoriate also influence these decisions is a question worthy of serious scholarly attention.
In other words, Woessner’s findings are that conservative students shy away from the most liberal department majors. And these majors are the least practical, requiring advanced degrees and often resulting in no employment other than teaching.
Woessner is willing to accept that “conservatives have few complaints about unfair treatment based on their political views.” His study suggests that fewer than 2 percent of the faculty reported being the victims of unfair treatment based on their politics. My own experience has all too often seen unfair treatment to be so accepting. Perhaps his study has a selection bias. Perhaps only those faculty who experienced little bias were able to become faculty while those who did experience bias never received teaching positions. Woessner’s study discounts the graveyard of teaching careers killed by the selection process of liberal departments or the self-selection of student majors and higher degrees.
As if in support of this hypothesis, Woessner describes his own decision to pursue teaching only after sitting under more moderate professors:
While at UCLA I discovered a number of politically moderate professors, including political scientists like Leo Snowiss and John Petrocik, whose approach to the subject matter seemed largely nonideological. Feeling that political science was a discipline that was relatively tolerant of diverse political views, I elected to pursue a graduate degree and join the professoriate.
Woessner became a professor only after “feeling that political science was a discipline that was relatively tolerant of diverse political views.” And he concludes, “The mere perception that higher education is hostile to conservative values probably contributes to the Left’s dominance within higher education.”
The results on America
With the increasing liberal drift of academia comes an increasingly large block of voters who have a net favorable view of socialism. In a Reason-Rupe poll from August 2014, only college age millennials had a net favorable view of socialism. But each subsequent graduating class since my own class of 1982 seems to have an increasingly positive view of socialism. Aging Baby-Boomers (65+) also seem to have a slightly more favorable view of socialism than my demographic.
College students often do not understand what is meant by “socialism.” Neither do they understand economic science, unintended consequences, or the dangers of collectivism. This series of articles is an attempt to persuade a generation which has sometimes never heard a different point of view.
Given the universality of progressive thought within academia, you would think that they would be able to implement their own socialist utopia at least within their own scope of power.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average salary at public 4-year doctoral institutions is skewed with male professors earning an average salary of $102,837 and female professors earning just $82,877. This bias toward male professors is similar when extended to any type of higher educational institutions.
Although Blacks represent 12.4% of the population, they represent just 5% of all tenured faculty and just 3% of all full professors. Even so, 22% of Black faculty are segregated in historically Black colleges and universities.
To the liberal, universal education is an essential part of the work of shaping and molding each generation to fit into the socialist whole. Since the 1960s, conservatives and libertarians have become increasingly rare in academia while the percentage of Democrats within a department or college can average between 83% to 96%.
Conservative students avoid institutions and disciplines which are staffed by overwhelmingly liberal faculty. Partly as a result, conservative students do not peruse PhD level education as often as liberal students. Some conservatives are never accepted into tenure track positions. Some conservatives are denied tenure on account of their conservative or religious perspectives. The few conservative faculty in academia have a more difficult time getting their idea published in academic journals.
This lack of diversity in academia limits questions asked, studies done, and conclusions reached. This lack of diversity risks a liberal university education failing to make students more capable people and citizens.
Conservatives are rightly skeptical of “scientific finds in academic journals” on account of the overwhelming liberal bias in such journals. On account of the lack of diversity, universities become intellectually dull places where careerism and profit seeking prevail and the energy of contending ideas is absent.
The increasing monoculture within universities pushes, at least slightly, each graduating class more toward favoring socialism.
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This piece originally published here.