Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The NAS, ISI and Student Therapy

I was able to attend the twelfth conference of the National Association of Scholars only on Friday, November 17 because I teach on Saturday and Sunday. The part of the conference that I was able to attend was among the best academic conferences that I have ever attended. On Friday, the keynote speaker was Senator Hank Brown, who is now the president of the University of Colorado. Senator Brown talked about strategies that he has employed in cleaning up Ward Churchill's mess. Churchill had been promoted to department chair even though he lacked a Ph.D. and had not produced a meaningful body of research. As chair, he claimed that the victims of the 9/11 attacks were "little Eichmanns", implying that their murders were justified. Hearing about some of the steps that Mr. Brown and Colorado are taking to improve things suggested hope.

Other Friday speakers included included Candace de Russy (SUNY), Anne Neal (ACTA), Tom Lucero (Colorado), Mike Ratliff (Intercollegiate Studies Institute) and Todd Zywicki (Dartmouth). Neal is the head of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni; Rafliff is vice president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute; and de Russy, Lucero and Zywicki are trustees. On Saturday, de Russy was awarded the Barry R. Gross Memorial award.

The day before the NAS conference I had addressed a group of students who have established an Intercollegiate Studies Institute club at my college. I am the club's faculty advisor, so they suggested that I lead the first meeting's discussion. The students had read Roger Scruton's excellent book The West and the Rest, which I discussed. After a brief lecture, I asked the students to each describe their thoughts on Scruton's ideas and I also asked them what brought them to the meeting.

Attendance at the ISI event was excellent. Many full-time students also work full time, so it is difficult to get good attendance at extra-curricular events. Nevertheless, 30 students attended.

As each student discussed his or her views, one mentioned that an English professor at the college had sent around an e-mail saying that ISI should be prevented from meeting and that the students should not be permitted to set up an ISI group at the college. At the college, the "collegiality" of conservatives has been fetishized while intolerance is reflexive from the campus's left wing. The left's intolerance recrudesces when anyone, student or faculty, has the temerity to question its tired theories.

Several students at the meeting mentioned that all of their professors espouse extreme left wing views and that the assumptions of all class discussions in the social sciences and humanities are steeped in Marxist theory. Given the fixation on Marxism, it would appear that much social science has become, like pharoah worship, a fossilized religion.

I made a point of asking these students whether the constant repitition of left wing ideas has affected them intellectually, and several replied that it has. Even though they know that the left's ideas are erroneous, the constant propagandizing that occurs at universities has had a brainwashing effect, according to the students. In effect, the students imply that university attendance serves not to open the mind intellectually, but to create psychological imbalance.

One issue that the NAS program did not address is whether the political correctness that the NAS has combatted for twenty years has influenced America's ability to defend itself, for example against terrorism. Based on my students' responses, I suspect that it has. Responding to a quote often attributed to the Duke of Wellington, George Orwell wrote in his 1941 essay "England Your England" that "probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there."

Since the left supports terrorism and allies itself with America's foes, the left's dominance on college campus seems likely to have crippled our ability to think coherently about defending our nation. That diverse disciplines, journalism, inteligence, and political, have been incapable of thinking coherently about how to eliminate terrorism, suggests some common ground for the intellectual vacuity. The common ground is the poor job that universities have done.

There are two psychological effects of university brainwashing: narcissism and sociopathy. I have previously posted about the Shrinkwrapped blog's discussion of the liberal borg's narcissism. The left is sociopathic, or lacking in conscience, as well as narcissistic.

Let's review some of the characteristics of sociopathy:

I. Grandiose, deceitful
2- Lack of remorse and empathy
3- Lack of goals*
4- Poor behavioral controls; antisocial behavior (anti-social personality disorder is a component of sociopathy).

It seems to me that although Robert Godwin's point about the narcissism of the left is totally right, it needs to be supplemented with a separate sociopathic complex. The left amply demonstrates each of these sociopathic traits. Its practitioners imagine themseleves smarter than others; they are proud of their manipulative skills; and they are often highly emotional and disruptive.

For example, Saul Alinsky, a radical activist, wrote Rules for Radicals in 1971 in which he argues that deception is a characteristic strategy of left-wing radicals. Likewise, left wingers often lack behavioral controls and are highly disruptive, as we have seen in the antics of Ward Churchill and numerous similar cases. The left may be characterized as the sociopathic movement of the twentieth century, and for that reason I would characterize Nazism as a left wing ideology.

The chief trait of sociopaths is lack of remorse or conscience. It is here that the views of the left come into clearest sociopathic focus. The left has been responsible for more murder than any religious or ideological movement in history. More than the Romans, more than the Ku Klux Klan, more than radical Islam, and more than Nazism. Yet, unlike the Germans, who have mostly disowned Nazism, the left continues to advocate its murderous, bloodthirsty ideology without apology. The tens of millions whom Mao and Stalin killed are meaningless statistics to the conscienceless left.

Hence, The Intercollegiate Studies Institute can be viewed as a form of therapy. During the meeting, a student said that he supported alternative approaches to financing public higher education. I mentioned that Milton Friedman had suggested the idea of tuition vouchers in his popular classic Capitalism and Freedom. The students said that they might be interested in a meeting to discuss this book. Friedman, who had been born in Brooklyn in 1912, had died the same day, November 16, 2006, at age 94. But his spirit is very much alive.

Let the therapy begin.

*The left's lack of goals can be seen in its willingness to ally itself with radical Islam without grasping the implications of such an alliance. Similarly, the American labor movement allied itself with slave owners in the 19th century; and the American communist party allied itself with Hitler in 1939. Now that communism has completely failed and only buffoons can advocate centralized economic planning, the left has no goal or model to advocate. Its only role is disruptive and critical. It has nothing to construct. It is at this point in history that the sociopathic nature of the left comes most clearly into focus, and the role it has played in the mass murders of the twentieth century comes into sharp relief.

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