Reblog: academic freedom

Given DrBill’s recent post, my earlier musing on what people mean by “academic freedom” may be of interest.  The relevant part:

Things academic freedom does not mean:

  1. Profs allowed to say whatever they want in class lectures.  They largely do have that freedom, but only because neither the department, nor the college, nor the university give a rat’s ass what goes in in classrooms.  Faculty exist to publish papers and bring in grant money.
  2. Profs allowed to write what they want, protected from having their careers hurt by tenure.  This is closer to the truth, but it’s not really what academics mean by their “freedom”.  It’s not too hard to put pressure on a tenured professor.  He still has to worry about funding, committee assignments, and promotions.  Being labeled a crackpot would be devastating to him.

Actually, it seems to me that “academic freedom” means something different in the natural sciences and in the humanities/social sciences.  For most of us natural scientists, it’s inconceivable that a department or funding agency would try to dictate our results to us.  Academic freedom for a scientist means the right to work on whatever problem he wants.  Not everybody has this freedom.  Postdocs (the one’s not on fellowships) don’t have academic freedom; they have to spend most of their time working on the problem the professor who pays their salary wants them to.  In theory, a tenured professor who was hired as a biophysicist can decide to start doing research in solid state physics, and he can’t be punished for that.  Of course, there are practical difficulties with such branching which makes it uncommon.

In the social sciences/humanities, there obviously are restrictions on what claims one can make.  Deviation from PC brings terrible retaliation–“hostile work environment” for minorities and perverts, and all that.  How do they square this with their purported commitment to academic freedom?  Perhaps JMSmith can help me out on this*, but my impression is that, in the social sciences and humanities, “academic freedom” refers to the department, or perhaps the field, as a whole.  Society at large shall not retaliate against sociology as a discipline or against any particular sociology department because of sociologists’ work to delegitimize that society.  The discipline’s internal policing is an entirely separate matter.

* For interested readers, here was JMSmith’s reply:

With respect to publication, academic freedom in the social sciences exists for any cabal large enough to control some funding streams and a couple of “peer reviewed” journals. And for many sorts of “research,” all that is needed is a journal or two. An eccentric social scientist will be unable to publish his work, and so has no effective freedom, but an eccentric group of social scientists can get along very nicely. Practitioners of “queer theory” would be an example.

Academic freedom is more often mentioned when questions are raised about course content. Sometimes this is a cover for ideologically biased courses, but it is more frequently used to defend an idiosyncratic syllabus. I don’t have a problem with a somewhat idiosyncratic syllabus. In most of the social sciences there are many things one may teach and few things one must teach, and professors teach best when they are interested in the material.

One could argue that crackpots are a majority in many social sciences. These are, after all, people who believe in the labor theory of value, contact theory, and the idea that sex is a social construct. But I think what you’re describing is what I call the “wild man.” A wild man is either embarrassingly passionate or embarrassingly angry (often about his own professional disappointments). His hair is often wild, his dress slovenly, and he is known for shouting at professional meetings. All of this is in very bad taste. An academic is expected to be serious, not passionate. And if he gets shafted, he must never mention it.

As I understand it, the concept of academic freedom came from the German universities, where it meant that professors were not subject to religious or political tests. One didn’t have to belong to the ruling party or the state religion in order to teach, say, chemistry at the university. So academic freedom was originally a means to ensure that academics was a meritocracy, not a patronage system. It was not a license to do as one pleased.

34 Responses

  1. I read a book on academic freedom a while ago, edited by Louis Menand – and the idea there was that academic freedom was in historical actuality more like ‘benefit of clergy’ – the right of academics to be self-governing wrt academic matters (e.g. wrt appontments, promotions, organization of courses). i.e. it had and has nothing to do with individual/ personal freedom, but was a matter of group discipline or guild autonomy.

    “In theory, a tenured professor who was hired as a biophysicist can decide to start doing research in solid state physics, and he can’t be punished for that. ”

    One of the most disappointing things in my life has been the fact that not only are people punished in multiple ways (including sacking by roundabout legalistic ways) for doing non-departmental-interest research, but that this is done with the approval of the large majority of academics (especially senior ones); and perhaps worst of all, that virtually no academics would even want to do anything other than the officially-sanctioned research.

    In sum, the disappointment is that modern academics are by now (although this was not so universally the case thirty-plus years ago in England), as a species; unimaginative, careerist cowards who have pathetically squandered their past freedoms and opportunities and are now resentful but dutiful drones… that has been a *great* disappointment.

    But it is too late now to do anything about it., since there is an inadequate proportion of good people left in academia to serve as the basis for reform.

  2. I agree with Bruce. Academic freedom is primarily the freedom of the Academy as a whole, not freedom for individuals in the Academy. It is the shield with which the Academy protects itself from unwelcome interference from the State, and in days of yore, the Church. I say shield and not “wall of separation” because it can be, and is, lowered when the interference is welcome.

    We can see what academic freedom really means when we see that the opinions of academics are largely nonconformist in relation to the general population, but largely conformist among themselves. The conversation of professors dining at the faculty club will diverge sharply from the conversation of business men at the country club down the road, but compared with one another, the professors are peas in a pod.

    The Marquette case might appear to be a case where the academic freedom of the Abbate was being defended against interference from a McAdams, but it is not. If she had been recorded saying something that displeased people with real power, her teaching position would have been taken away, probably without explanation. So she had no freedom. She had the backing of authorities who approved of what she said, and who were themselves free from any interference from the Church or the public at large.

  3. “But it is too late now to do anything about it., since there is an inadequate proportion of good people left in academia to serve as the basis for reform.”

    The only thing left to do is to retreat and form our own academia, it seems.

  4. “Academic freedom is primarily the freedom of the Academy as a whole, not freedom for individuals in the Academy.”

    On the contrary, the CUA was censured for firing a heretic.

    Academic freedom isn’t about protecting any specific group, it’s about protecting the sort of people who believe in academic freedom. If academics were to en masse see the light and start telling everyone how awful liberalism is, we’d never hear another word about academic freedom.

  5. “The only thing left to do is to retreat and form our own academia, it seems.”

    I don’t think that’s feasible. Firstly because retreating hardly ever brings victory, and secondly because liberals would invade any alternate academia. The best solution, IMO, would be to try to go on the offensive* and fill academia with as much conservatism as possible.

    *This of course has very little chance of succeeding, but nothing has much of a chance of succeeding in regards to beating back liberalism.

  6. “Firstly because retreating hardly ever brings victory, and secondly because liberals would invade any alternate academia.”

    Oh, they do. But there are still enough legal protections for religious schools, especially in tertiary education, that they can quickly take care of liberal invasion. There already are conservative schools that do this. Of course, these protection might be gone in a matter of a decade or two (sooner is unlikely as the Supreme Court has reaffirmed and expanded the ministerial exception).

    As far as retreat, think of it more as a strategic withdrawal. The goal wouldn’t be, necessarily, to leave academia altogether, but to sneak in through the backdoor that remains open. While these liberal schools know conservative “fundamentalist” schools right off the bat, they will ignore them if an acceptable intermediary is in there for graduate school. There are lots of academically respected conservative seminaries around. Sneak into academia through those, and then move into Philosophy Ph.D programs after seminary. The Philosophy department is really the only one with a wide backdoor that remains slightly open. Maybe history too.

    However, you still need a place for the masses of ordinary foot-soldiers will go for education, and that’s the conservative undergrad institution that must spend every waking moment purging itself of left-wing infiltration.

    Also, there needs to be (unofficial) student organization on leftist-dominated campuses.

    Anyway, I’m just ranting about my delusions of retaking academia at this point.

  7. You make some good points, but I’m still of the mind that “offense is the best defense”, when dealing with extremely virulent pathogens like liberalism.

    Plus (and I may be biased here), it seems to me that retaking academia would be the most likely of vehicles for a (extremely unlikely) reactionary counterrevolution.

  8. We don’t have the human resources to retake academia or to form a parallel system. It sucks to have the cognitive elite against you, but that’s where we are.

    At least, it is good for us to maintain a few intellectuals in the sort of environment where they can do their distinctive sort of work. It keeps us from having to fight our battles intellectually blind.

    Religious schools are worse than useless. At least at a nonreligious school, you know they’re the enemy and you can counter-organize. Go to a public school with a strong program in your degree area and an active and orthodox Newman center.

  9. @Bonald “We don’t have the human resources to retake academia or to form a parallel system.”

    Completely true! – the reality of the situation would be something like one or two academics turning-round an institution of one or two thousand – in a context when the large majority of those one or two thousand would up-front have to acknowledge themselves as incompetent and/or corrupt.

    If we can find one, three or a half-a-dozen like-minded people to work with (in our vocational-field), by personal contacts essentially outwith the formal communication systems, then we are very fortunate.

  10. One of the most disappointing things in my life has been the fact that not only are people punished in multiple ways (including sacking by roundabout legalistic ways) for doing non-departmental-interest research, but that this is done with the approval of the large majority of academics (especially senior ones); and perhaps worst of all, that virtually no academics would even want to do anything other than the officially-sanctioned research.

    In sum, the disappointment is that modern academics are by now (although this was not so universally the case thirty-plus years ago in England), as a species; unimaginative, careerist cowards who have pathetically squandered their past freedoms and opportunities and are now resentful but dutiful drones… that has been a *great* disappointment.

    This seems exactly right to me. Over the course of my career so far, I’ve seen good people in my discipline go from a significant minority to a nearly invisible minority. The old guys tell me they were once a majority (in, say, the early 70s).

    I wonder what did it, though. One possibility Bruce has mentioned is gigantism—the press to make the academy bigger necessitated both drawing in many more people and paying them more. This led to uncongenial selection of the kinds of people who enter (careerists instead of scholars). Another possibility is women. The push to increase their numbers has necessitated subtle but very significant changes in what academics actually do and especially in how they are promoted.

    Another possibility is the completion of the transition to liberalism. As they came fully into power, they realized (not realized perhaps, but an emergent quality similar to realization) that they needed an established Church with clergy, blessings, ceremonials, etc. We, the academy, are what they have. Thus, we have been pressed into service. But being a priesthood requires that we act like a priesthood. We don’t get publicly to question doctrine or aggressively to challenge the state. And, since the elite does not actually believe (or may not actually be conscious of the role they have imposed), they find it easiest to rule by making whatever they happen to want today into doctrine. This necessitates a certain intellectual flexibility on our part.

    A phenomenon Bruce does not mention (I think) but which clearly operates in my field is the retreat of the good people into technically very difficult subfields. Maybe this is not a phenomenon in medicine? Anyway, the strategy of devoting your energies to problems your colleagues don’t (and can’t) understand seems to allow good people to survive. Furthermore, the subfields like this progress quite rapidly (unlike the more popular fields which seem in a state of stasis). Unfortunately, they are not much of a benefit to anyone. Making real progress on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is, in its way, exciting and, in its way, pointless.

    On the other hand, I kind of think this mechanism does operate to some extent in the biomedical field. When I talk to med school faculty, I rarely get the feeling I’m talking to a real scholar. On the other hand, when I talk to some biochemist who spends his days cutting open mice to see what the stuff he has been feeding them has done, I more often get the feeling I am talking to a real scholar. The actual cutting seems to be important though. The guy who runs the lab is basically always an administrative drone.

  11. @AR and Bonald

    “You make some good points, but I’m still of the mind that “offense is the best defense”, when dealing with extremely virulent pathogens like liberalism.

    “Plus (and I may be biased here), it seems to me that retaking academia would be the most likely of vehicles for a (extremely unlikely) reactionary counterrevolution.”

    I agree. Well, aside from infiltrating the military, possibly. I am also biased in that I went to a conservative religious school and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Not to say it didn’t have its issues, but at least being to the right of someone wasn’t a thought-crime, unlike my experience at a leftist state college.

    “We don’t have the human resources to retake academia or to form a parallel system. It sucks to have the cognitive elite against you, but that’s where we are.”

    We don’t right now. But we don’t have the human resources to do much of anything right now, other than be internet gadflies. The point is to take them. I tend to be more sympathetic to the ordinary conservative than most in this reactionary corner of the internet, though. I mean, I’ll admit to still voting Republican however pitifully silly that is.

    “At least, it is good for us to maintain a few intellectuals in the sort of environment where they can do their distinctive sort of work. It keeps us from having to fight our battles intellectually blind.”

    I tend to think a strong core academic institution, even if it is only one tiny liberal arts college nestled in some mountain village somewhere, is a good place because it will be relatively free of leftist pressure. Sorry, but being (seemingly) the only right-winger in a Leftist institution is intimidating for even the bravest of souls. Without a strong outside network, it will be debilitating.

    “Religious schools are worse than useless.”

    Sorry, but this is baloney. Faux-religious schools and nominal Christian institutions are worse than useless, but a genuine conservative redoubt is hardly “useless.”

    “At least at a nonreligious school, you know they’re the enemy and you can counter-organize.”

    That’s intimidating for a lot of people. Who wants to be surrounded by hostile people? It’s certainly not a very pleasant existence. I suppose some thrive on it, but that’s a rare breed. Many who have an ounce of desire to fit in with their peers, which is nearly everyone normal enough to be useful to any social movement, will need a built-in support group. To even setup small ones at the, say, 25-50 largest schools in the country will require as much, if not more, human and financial resources as building your own school.

  12. Bonald and nathanjevans,

    We lack the human resources to do anything, but trying is the only way that could even possibly change.

    I also sympathize with ordinary conservatives, as I argued here, if reactionaries could establish ourselves in the public mind as an (or preferably the) alternative to liberalism, we could have success, at least relatively, but possibly even absolutely.

    Thus it is important to attempt to infiltrate the elite, so that we could have reactionaries as public figures. It’d be impossible for us to so infiltrate the material elite, since they are always going to support economic liberalism unless pressured otherwise externally, so academia is the only possibility.

  13. “We lack the human resources to do anything, but trying is the only way that could even possibly change.”

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    “I also sympathize with ordinary conservatives, as I argued here, if reactionaries could establish ourselves in the public mind as an (or preferably the) alternative to liberalism, we could have success, at least relatively, but possibly even absolutely.”

    This is the key. There hasn’t been a genuinely conservative public intellectual in the United States since Russell Kirk. Pat Buchanan is to some extent, I suppose, but he is getting less influential as his age is starting to show in some of the rather silly comments he makes. Furthermore, if we cannot win over even heart-conservatives, then we really don’t have much of a prayer and the best we can do is hope we survive the coming collapse of civilization (if that is the result of outrageous leftism) in order to rebuild. I went to Liberty University, and my standard would be that if we cannot even get a school that is dedicated to opposing the secularization and liberalization of society like that, then what temporal hope is there? If we can build such an opposing force, then there might be hope that things will turn around and the enemy may yet be defeated before all is lost.

  14. One other quick point: I already tend to think that conservatives are becoming a bit more reactionary these days. More and more realize that liberals are hostile, their values genuinely evil, and that, perhaps, solutions once thought “radical,” “fascist,” or one of the other liberal bogeyman are necessary. Libertarianism is also on the decline amongst American right-wingers, I believe. Maybe radical libertarianism is growing, but many who once tolerated soft libertarianism no longer do. Also, I think a Francoesque military coup would be welcomed by a good proportion of conservatives.

  15. Yep, if we’re to win, we must become the accepted opposition to liberalism.

  16. Nathanjevans, being a former conservative myself, I can attest that there is growing discontent among conservatives about the failure of their ideology to make any political headway. Many are tired of having to fight both their enemy and then other people who are supposedly ‘conservative’. The entire game is rigged. Expect the paleocons to start peeling towards Reaction sooner rather than later.

  17. I wonder if this is true. The bigger, more observable trend is for moderate conservatives to embrace sodomy.

    I used to think that the Republican party was only a decade away from final collapse, following which people might recognize a genuine Right. Now it occurs to me that the Democrats will make sure this doesn’t happen. The inner party needs the outer party, to use Moldbug’s terminology. Liberals must hide the reality of their hegemony both from themselves and from others. Hence the need for a harmless opposition. If the Republicans become too unelectable as the Mexican invasion continues, the Democrats can just move hard Left, eventually pulling the Overton window with them, but initially driving enough people into the Republican camp to keep it viable.

  18. “The bigger, more observable trend is for moderate conservatives to embrace sodomy.”

    Such is not happening on a massive scale. That’s a fad amongst pseudo-intellectuals populating places like The National Review. It’s also relentlessly promoted by the folks running the leftist media. Talk radio is where the average right-winger is at still, and those folks have tens of millions of listeners and are still there on the social issues. Even if all the big names embraced sodomy or other liberal social causes, I tend to think this will merely drive their audiences away (if nothing else, nobody besides economists and policy wonks cares enough about the budget to talk about endlessly for hours on end every day).

    “I used to think that the Republican party was only a decade away from final collapse, following which people might recognize a genuine Right.”

    They still might be. It’s getting harder and harder for them to get their base out for elections. They won in November merely because the Democrats were that much less concerned about the election. It will probably come down to how the Presidential Primaries turn out. The only way the party can continue in its present state is if they nominate the economically liberal union buster, but still acceptable to (most) social conservatives, Scott Walker.

    “Now it occurs to me that the Democrats will make sure this doesn’t happen.”

    I’m not sure they have that much control over the situation, or even if they know who exactly they’re dealing with. The half-wits running the Democratic Party don’t even realize that the Russians would rather eat wood and get their water from Siberian permafrost than surrender to their little cabal. Similarly, I think they are liable to provoke civil war with conservatives if they continue at the rate they have under Obama. I think they believe the cat’s in the bag, but it isn’t yet. There are still too many heart conservatives populating the wilds of Middle America for them to attempt final takeover, which is what it seems they are in the process of attempting.

    “Liberals must hide the reality of their hegemony both from themselves and from others.”

    It gets harder everyday to ignore that they run everything, and more and more conservatives are serious about abandoning ship. At this point, it’s mostly financial, but it will get worse for the liberals running the RNC if the DNC doesn’t let them throw their base a bone. The average conservative hasn’t gotten a single bone over the course of the Obama administration. Conservatives are becoming like a dog who hasn’t been fed in a while.

  19. “Talk radio is where the average right-winger is at still, and those folks have tens of millions of listeners and are still there on the social issues.”

    Limbaugh and Beck are for civil unions.

    If you’re right about masses of ordinary conservatives being substantially behind the right elite, then that makes the need for a reactionary political elite to spring up even more pressing, as populism can’t work, and given long enough the left will get behind beastiality, incest or some other abomination and drive those masses back into the arms of the right-liberals.

    Another practical problem is that any reactionary state would have to profess a specific religion, and consequently any particular reactionary “party” would have to support a specific religion as the true one, which would be problematic here.

  20. “Limbaugh and Beck are for civil unions.”

    Beck I think now populates the fringes. Limbaugh certainly doesn’t, but the embrace of civil unions by right leadership is a sign of the conservatives having to accept some liberal premise in order to argue against the larger liberal assault.

    “If you’re right about masses of ordinary conservatives being substantially behind the right elite, then that makes the need for a reactionary political elite to spring up even more pressing, as populism can’t work, and given long enough the left will get behind beastiality, incest or some other abomination and drive those masses back into the arms of the right-liberals.”

    There has never been a riper time for reaction, at least since the Marxists took over Russia.

    “Another practical problem is that any reactionary state would have to profess a specific religion, and consequently any particular reactionary ‘party’ would have to support a specific religion as the true one, which would be problematic here.”

    This is certainly a problem. However, we might have to take a vanguard approach here. At first, the party can push for generic Nicene Christianity. Then, once inside, people will naturally drift to harder lines.

  21. “the embrace of civil unions by right leadership is a sign of the conservatives having to accept some liberal premise in order to argue against the larger liberal assault.”

    And the acceptance of such liberal premises pushes everyone to the left, which is the problem.

    “There has never been a riper time for reaction, at least since the Marxists took over Russia.”

    I hope you’re right.

    “This is certainly a problem. However, we might have to take a vanguard approach here. At first, the party can push for generic Nicene Christianity. Then, once inside, people will naturally drift to harder lines.”

    The problem with that is that it involves pushing a position that no one actually believes in (no one is a generic Christian, we (at least those of us who are reactionaries) all believe in some specific type of Christianity), which would naturally cause indifferentism.

    It would seem the best approach would be for there to be different reactionary movements which could work together on issues of general agreement.

  22. “Another practical problem is that any reactionary state would have to profess a specific religion, and consequently any particular reactionary ‘party’ would have to support a specific religion as the true one, which would be problematic here.”

    Not at all! Because you are assuming there will be but one Reactionary state. My prediction is, if conditions arise that allow for the creation of even one Reactionary state, even if only a city state, then the conditions will be upon other regions shortly thereafter to facilitate the rise of more and more Reactionary states.
    This is not so dissimilar to the French Revolution eventually destroying all Traditional governments in the west.

    Nathanjevans presents a very likely option as well. You may have an initial transition period before the institutionalization of ecclesiocratic authority. We don’t know what kind of timeframe we will be looking at here when the world’s conditions deteriorate to the desired level. A lot is speculation at this point.

    For example, one very necessary condition we need to see is the collapse of global international cooperation. Essentially, globalism’s fall. Looking at movements around the world with various ideologies that have come close to toppling unstable regimes, the meddling of outside nations has often helped snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Even in the situation where we have the conditions in any given region to seize power, the chief concerns is going to be interference by out-of-state actors. One can hope general global chaos might provide cover under confusion, but you should always be wary that the regime may have foreign armies rise against you.

  23. “The problem with that is that it involves pushing a position that no one actually believes in (no one is a generic Christian, we (at least those of us who are reactionaries) all believe in some specific type of Christianity), which would naturally cause indifferentism.”

    Nicene Christianity isn’t entirely generic, though. It is a fundamental point of orthodoxy. It’s just enough content to be more than mere rhetoric about “Christian Civilization” (or, puke, “Judeo-Christian Civilization”), but broad enough to gather a coalition in the initial phases of the “counter-revolution,” as it were. Sure, eventually Protestants and Catholics (and, eventually, the different types of Protestants) would split off to form their own little movements, but hopefully we will have significantly undermined liberalism by that point so that we are free to squabble about the finer points of orthodoxy.

  24. While reactionaries of different religions could work together on issues, I don’t see how they could plausibly form a single organized political group.

    @Mark

    I was referring to specific reactionary movements, as in within a single country.

    I’d also note that there are several countries in the world today which could very reasonably be called reactionary. They’re just not Christian. I think we can all agree that countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia should be supported in their struggles against liberalism, but we wouldn’t form a ‘generic Abrahamic” reactionary movement.

    @Nathan

    It’s not entirely generic, but it’s just enough generic as to require adherents to such an ecumenical reactionary movement to have to set aside goals which are of extreme (eternal life/death) importance, which tends to promote indifferentism.

  25. Beck I think now populates the fringes.

    Right. That’s why he was invited to give Liberty University’s 2014 Convocation. The same place you seem to think is brimming with potential reactionary recruits. The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people at Liberty University would condemn the Orthosphere as Catholic-Fascists, if they were ever made aware of it. Evangelicals at places like Liberty University, Wheaton, Hillsdale and Patrick Henry College would sooner join forces with Mormons, especially the Beckian-Americanist variety over any kind of authentic anti-liberal traditionalism. This was made abundantly clear when Billy Graham removed Mormonism’s cult-status in some pathetic attempt to shore up support for the abysmal Mitt Romney campaign.

  26. “The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people at Liberty University would condemn the Orthosphere as Catholic-Fascists”

    heterofascists

  27. “That’s why he was invited to give Liberty University’s 2014 Convocation.”

    The student body and the administration have been at odds over Beck since he spoke at Commencement. How do I know? I was actually there and heard the murmurings about “why are we inviting the Mormon again?” BTW, Convocation isn’t necessarily an endorsement of anybody’s anything. Terry McAuliffe (the fmr. Clinton stooge turned Governor of Virginia) is speaking this semester in convocation. You think they like him? Sure, they probably like Beck more, but the point still stands.

    “The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people at Liberty University would condemn the Orthosphere as Catholic-Fascists, if they were ever made aware of it.”

    My rather radical right-wing opinions (perhaps not Orthospherean, but close enough) weren’t exactly secret. I was never shunned as an evil fascist for them. Perhaps not embraced, but I hardly argued for them considering I had other priorities at the time (I still regret not debating a teacher about her bashing of monarchy and ignorant assertion that the Israelite Monarchy is not mentioned in the Law of Moses).

    “The same place you seem to think is brimming with potential reactionary recruits.”

    You have a better place to find them? You know, other than in internet comboxes lambasting Protestants for all the world’s ills every chance you can find.

  28. Convocation isn’t necessarily an endorsement of anybody’s anything

    Are you saying that inviting Beck not once but twice* to give speeches at major events doesn’t constitute some sort of endorsement? Seems to me Beck is not at the periphery. In fact he seems to be right at home in a religious landscape washed in subjectivism, emotivism and faddish diversions.

    Perhaps not embraced

    Well, there we have it.

    You have a better place to find them?

    Absolutely, I could give you a dozen Catholic Institutions that do not shill for the civic religion and where real traditionalist thinkers like Bonald and De Maistre are taught in the classroom unlike the idiotically named Liberty U. Some of these institutions were founded by you know real reactionaries, not some snake oil salesman. Rest assured we do not have some bible thumper half-wit give our commencement speeches either.

  29. “Absolutely, I could give you a dozen Catholic Institutions that do not shill for the civic religion and where real traditionalist thinkers like Bonald and De Maistre are taught in the classroom unlike the idiotically named Liberty U. Some of these institutions were founded by you know real reactionaries, not some snake oil salesman. Rest assured we do not have some bible thumper half-wit give our commencement speeches either.”

    Really? That surprises me. Could you name some of them, I figured institutions like that no longer existed.

  30. “Are you saying that inviting Beck not once but twice* to give speeches at major events doesn’t constitute some sort of endorsement?”

    I wouldn’t call convocation a “major event,” necessarily, though some convocations have more fanfare than others. It happens three days a week, after all. In any case, I didn’t say they weren’t endorsing Beck to some extent. I said they didn’t necessarily endorse anything in particular about him. Furthermore, my main point was that Beck has lost his popularity amongst mainstream conservatives because of his general fruitcake demeanor. He has his dedicated cult-like followers, and lots of people read his news site, but there are lots of personalities with much larger audiences.

    “In fact he seems to be right at home in a religious landscape washed in subjectivism, emotivism and faddish diversions.”

    Liberty University has plenty of problems. Believe me, for anyone who has an ounce of respect for traditional worship of any variety, convocation is torturous, and the foot-in-mouth disease of many speakers doesn’t help. However, take a moment to dig beneath the surface and you will realize it’s not all hollow megachurchism.

    “Absolutely, I could give you a dozen Catholic Institutions that do not shill for the civic religion and where real traditionalist thinkers like Bonald and De Maistre are taught in the classroom unlike the idiotically named Liberty U.”

    I can think of one, maybe two that might teach anything reactionary. Perhaps there are a dozen, but I doubt all dozen would equal half of residential enrollment at Liberty.

  31. @ISE

    I second ArkansasReactionary’s inquiry.
    Please tell us of some of these instituitions! I could really use that kind of information for both myself and family members.

  32. I suppose it is fitting as it gets back to Bonald’s original point:

    University of Dallas, St. Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Christendom College, Ave Maria University, Belmont Abbey College, Wyoming Catholic College, St. Mary’s Academy and College, Benedictine College.

    Both University of Dallas and Christendom were founded by monarchists. To my knowledge they are really the only two schools in the US who can claim that.

    Granted on their own, none of these schools come close to the number of students and resources found at a larger school. I find that to be a positive aspect. They are really the best and only places to my knowledge where one would get exposure to anti-liberal thinkers in the classroom (among other benefits like daily Mass and finding a spouse). These schools are also growing at a very fast rate. Many of their graduates get married and have big families or even better, join traditional religious orders.

    Outside of the aforementioned schools I guess there is Hillsdale, but that school strikes me as being way too right-liberal. Some other places can be hit or miss. Notre Dame is on the whole awful, yet it still boasts having prominent illberal Catholics like Alasdair Macintyre and Patrick Deneen. I suppose if one were willing to cough up a considerable amount of money in tuition to attend Notre Dame one could make it worthwhile. I have also heard that Catholic University of America’s graduate program is one of the best and is very orthodox.

    Bonald, as a professor you should try to work at one of these institutions and thereby skirt the problem of liberal censorship!

  33. […] previous discussions of academic freedom, JMSmith, Bruce Charlton, and I pointed out that the freedom in question has always been understood […]

  34. […] previous discussions of academic freedom, JMSmith, Bruce Charlton, and I pointed out that the freedom in question has always been understood […]

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