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I want to expand on this a little more.I think the terms conservative and liberal are a little inaccurate-at least as applied to a college community.Some of my friends and I refer to Fuzzies and Techs for knowledge based vs. non knowledge based fields.Both of these groups tend to be pro choice,tolerant of gay union/marriage and not have any idea of how to fire a gun but split on issues such as affirmative action(itself a very fuzzy term).It's of utmost importance for a fuzzy to" know how not to know",hence the firestorm for poor Dr.Summers.A questionaire or"Fuzzy Quotient"test,a friend and I did a couple of years ago found education majors were 18 times as likely as hard science majors to believe a female athlete had run a sub-4 minute mile.(Social science majors had the second highest FQ scores).I really don't fault President Summers for his Galilean response because under no conditions would I expose myself to the invective (at least )that would follow a frank discussion of group preferences .Although,I would like to think he murmured to himself ,"But it still moves".


Even if it is true that the world "actually
operates" the way the intellectual conservatives
view it, why is conforming or resigning oneself to that fact considered virtuous or praiseworthy?

1. Being able to understand the world is the first and primary purpose of science. Now I realize that many people also like to change the world, not only understand it. But you cant change the world to the better if your views are false. To give a simple example: The academics like Frisch and Galbraith who traveled to India after independence and advised them to adopt central planning and strangle the private sector probably didnt mean to be evil, they wanted to change the world to the better. Meanwhile Friedmans advice was ignored. Since they used junk-science the reason was 40 years of almost zero growth/capita in India. After India started liberalizing its economy in the midd-80 the standard of living finally began to increase rapidly.

Would you agree that the conservative intellectual who understood the parameters did more good than the equally well-meaning left-winger? Who has helped more people, Marx or Adam Amith?

2. Of Chomsky and the intellectual bankruptcy of the radical left

Chomsky has claimed that the US supported Hitler. He has claimed that the US was intentionally conducting a silent genocide of millions of people in Afghanistan. He called the reports about Pol-Pots genocide in Cambodia American propaganda. Chomsky specialty is blind hatred towards America, making up historical facts and a complete lack of understanding about even simple economic facts and relations. For this he has become the most influential academic in the US.

This tells you a lot about the American left, especially those in humanities and social sciences. Their purpose is not to understand the world, in which case they would give more care to facts and logical consistency. It should for example be extremely easy to debunk idiotic claims such as

1. That global poverty and global inequality increased in the 80s and 90s
2. That our wealth comes from exploiting the third world
3. That free trade and free markets cause poverty
4. That socialism benefits the working class.
5. That America was the largest slave importing nations
6. That it was the US that armed Saddam
7. That oil is economically important enough to make the US go to war
8. That there was genocide of millions of Native American in present USA.
9 That the colonialism of Africa was profitable
10. That the New Deal saved the American economy

I could go on and on, but you get the point. These childish views not only survive, but are considered the very foundations of knowledge suggest that most study of humanities and social sciences is not about learning actually facts (investment), but a form of consumption.

A large enough share of young people derive pleasure from a form of leftwing moral consumption. They want to reinforce their own emotional views that capitalism is bad, that the west is evil and that the poverty and misery across time and space is due to bad capitalism, evil west and worst of all bad evil America. Most importantly you want to know that now you have understood society, and be able to feel like a good person when opposing these injustices.

This emotional worldview is much more valuable if the consumer also can convince herself that there is solid intellectual foundation for it. Here is where the left-wing academia comes in. Just get teachers like Ward Churchill or Hamid Dabashi to teach the kids the Marxists garbage of Zinn, Chomsky, Said etc.

Thankfully this is usually quite cheap. Since these views have little to do with reality few people are ready to pay for them in the market. A left-wing education in humanities is not a production good, it is consumption good. So the wage to the teachers is low, and more importantly they are willing to pay a huge premium if you let them teach their religion of hate.

While this teaching is heavy on moral self-righteousness, it is light on fact and logic. Therefore you must make sure you insulate yourself from these patriarchal western tools of oppression. Now it suddenly makes sense that the share of Republican professors is below 10% in many faculties. And after you come out you are convinced, like our fiend here, that conservative intellectual is an oxymoron bla bla bla.


If I have misstated conservatism please provide an alternate definition for purposes of discussion.

You seem to take the term conservative literary, but these are old word whose literal meaning have little to do with todays ideological struggle. Liberal and conservative may still have some marginal meaning when discussing family and religion, but are completely obsolete when it comes to almost all other political fields.

In fact most opinions that are considered conservative in the US would be called liberal in Europe. If you are an extreme conservative and want to dramatically change society they call you neo-liberal. Even in the US the proponents of market liberal policies are conservatives, and opponents are called liberals.

In Australia the Howard is the head of the conservative Liberal party. In Denmark the priminister is a ideological conservative, (tax cutting, opposing big government, pro-american). Therefore in Europe they say that he is a liberal. The name of his party is Venstre, the left party.

Clearly the policies of Reagan, Friedman, or Newt Gingrich had nothing what so ever to do with conserving the existing order, and much to do with radical change and expanding individual liberty. Conversely American Liberals are mainly running on in preserving todays order and resisting change. Look at Social Security or Bushs Foreign policy.

I think Hayek offers the best explanation for these differences in terminology:

In Europe "Until the rise of socialism, [conservatism's] opposite was liberalism. There is nothing corresponding to this conflict in the history of the United States, because what in Europe was called 'liberalism' was here the common tradition on which the American polity had been built: thus the defender of the American tradition was a liberal in the European sense.

Incidentally, this Blog and its participants and contents are direct counter-evidence to the idea that "the left" has a stranglehold on the academy.

Incidentally, your comment is a direct evidence that many on the left even after an academic education do not have seem to learned not to rely on anecdotal evidence.

Most truths are statistical truths. The point is not that there are no conservative academics, but that there are few compared to their weight in the intellectual debate and in society at large.

To illustrate, allow me quote an actual empirical study by Stern and Klein 2004, with a sizable sample.


They studied Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology.

The results show that the faculty is heavily skewed towards voting Democratic. The most lopsided fields surveyed are Anthropology with a D to R ratio of 30.2 to 1, and Sociology with 28.0 to 1. The least lopsided is Economics with 3.0 to 1. After Economics, the least lopsided is Political Science with 6.7 to 1."

They suggest that the lower bound of the share of Democrats in Social Sciences and Humanities is 87%. Diverse my a**.


Frankly I think that any attempts to reform the academy short of legal coercion will be futile.

The parties currently pursuing Summers explicitly reject the sorts of rational and ethical precepts necessary to promote such reform. The post-modern left is nothing more than a well organized vendetta. Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that these are honest disagreements.

So what's the solution ? Take a page from harassment law and enable the anti-harassment codes governing student and faculty conduct to be applied in civil actions. That is, if an institution wants to enforce anti-speech codes predicated on ill defined and arbitrary standards, then hold them accountable to these same standards in the courts. Allow students and faculty to sue these institutions for violations of these standards as written. I suspect that this change would provoke an immediate revision of such codes to accommodate a more 'balanced' treatment of such complaints.


Wow, I hit a nerve eh?

Look, I understand the way the terms liberal and conservative have evolved over history. I understand the conceptual underpinnings of neo-con economic philosophy in the writings of John Locke. I have read Hayek, Coase, and many of the rest of the Chicago school. I see our Rebublican leaders looking to folks like Epstein and Posner and the fun folks at American Enterprise Institute to reaffirm their lassiez-faire ideologies. I understand how personal responsibility theory works as a justification for keeping massive wealth private in the face of deprivation all around.

And yes, I even understand the historical background of my own anarcho-syndicalist views. I understand the unfortunate racism of the Midwestern populists of the 1930s. I have studied what happened in Barcelona in 1936, and the myriad avenues for misuse of Marxist revolutionary zeal. Let me ask you then... have you read anything written by Chomsky? Did you read "A People's History"? What about Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia"? Dostoevsky? Jurgen Habermas?

You people are so self-satisfied in your views that you assume anyone who might reject them must be mistaken or ignorant. How could someone read Hayek and still be a radical leftist? You are willing to dismiss entire systems of thought that contradict your own based on the most extreme out-of-context quotables of the most prominent proponent of that system. As if the propensity of Chomsky to make extreme statements has ANY bearing on the question of how much American wealth depends on access to cheap unregulated foreign labor. I think that you should consider the extent to which defending your worldview seems to (in practice) require ad hominem distractions from the substance of arguments, labeling counter views as "childish", and making bare and obviously counter-factual assertions that, for example, the New Deal didn't help America.

Classical liberalism is an OLD doctrine, it is a doctrine of prime attraction to people who already possess money and priviledge and bargaining power. Adherance to it in the face of centuries of social and technological change represents "conservatism" in the literal meaning of the word.


I find it interesting that some conservatives, who claim to be marginalized and even silenced by the academy, have used this space to call those who dare disagree with them childish, silly, out of touch with reality, intellectually bankrupt, and even totalitarian and fascist. If anyone feels "silenced" by political correctness, they should by all means stand up for their right to speak. Judge Posner, for instance, has not shied away from his views. But slinging ad hominems at the other side is no way to gain respect. Maybe it sells lots of books for Ann Coulter, but it does not contribute one iota to the exchange of ideas.

Just to play fair: the same goes for liberals who think that "Bush is stupid" (or 20 years ago, "Reagan is stupid") is a form of argument..


First of all you have to decide what angers you. Is it poverty or wealth? I know that socialists think that the two are the same thing, but a simple look at the facts shows that the opposite is true. The US has the largest and most prosperous middle class in the world, and the largest numbers of billionaires. Similarly with Japan and Western Europe. The capitalist system allows creation of wealth by those who create value, and has enabled historically unmatched prosperity for the people. That this system also allows the creation of massive wealth if you create great value is one of it's advantages. Unless of course you really don't care about the standard of living of the folks, but are mainly driven by hatred and envy for the rich.

Also noting that non-capitalist nations like Cuba, Haiti or those in sub-Saharan Africa are poor just reinforces my point. Many 'intellectuals' seem to think that if Michel Dell is rich and Angola is poor it proves that Michel Dell is rich *because* Angola is poor. That is simply childish, I am sorry but have no other word for it.

The other day I opened up a college text book by a public policy student where it was stated as a matter of fact that world poverty had increased because of globalization and "neo-liberalism". The share of the planet that lives on less than a dollar/day has approx. halves since 1981, from 40% to 20%. What other word can I find to describe this other than "silly, out of touch with reality, intellectually bankrupt"? Tragic may be one.

You ask "how much American wealth depends on access to cheap unregulated foreign labor". The answer is of course "very little". The wealth of America comes from how efficient you are at production, not stealing stuff from Africans. There are a number of ways I could try to prove this to you, but let me just choose a simple one. The total export of the US to all third world nations was 3% of your GDP in 2002. (note that almost half of this is Mexico and China alone. Trade with Africa, the region with the "cheapest labor", is 0.1% of US GDP). Even if we assume that this was somehow done at the barrel of the gun with no gain to any of the trading pratners it is no where enough to explain Americas wealth.


Interesting that you change my sentence about the new deal: from "saved the economy" to a much weaker "helped America". In order to stick with the original point, which is commonly believed, that the New Deal got the US out of the depression. The beginning of the ND with The First Hundred Days was early 1933, at which point unemployment already had peaked. But by 1939 unemployment was still over 17%! It only dropped by one forth during 6 years of the supposedly wonderful New Deal. AS Cole and Ohanian note, "private hours worked were 27 percent below trend in 1933 and remained 21 percent below trend in 1939". The facts clearly show New Deal did NOT save the US economy, and if anything was likely to have prolonged the depression.

Classical Liberalism may be old, but so is progressive Marxism. The only difference is that one has succeeded in delivering wealth, democracy and prosperity, while the other one has failed miserably. Guess which one the "free thinking" academic left is sticking with.

Carey Stronach

You claimed Galileo was persecuted for not agreeing that the Earth is flat. This is not correct. Even in Galileo's time it was common knowledge that Earth is spherical.

Galileo was persecuted for saying that Earth moves in an orbit about the Sun, not vice versa.

Cogliostro Demon


There is an old story, probably not true, that after Galileo promised, to relinquish altogether the said opinion that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable and that the Earth moves, he stood up and said, under his breath, Eppur si muove.

This phrase, means, But it still moves! Lincolns joke was funny, even if the joker confused the beginning of the story. But, and more importantly, the meta-joke. Lincoln posits Galileos trouble with the Church as the archetype for the historical relationship between science and religion. Bush = Urban. Those Crit-Legals are nothing if not funny. After all, who does expect the Spanish Inquisition?

Mark Nicodemo

Pity that Larry Summers had to learn the hard way that he lives and works in an intellectual gulag. If this is the response that one gets for daring suggest that women and men simply have different natures, then the purpose and fuction of the university has failed utterly.


Tino, your numbers are silly, the number of people making less than a dollar a day has been halved? So half of them got a raise to $1.25 eh? Of course, even with that, due to inflation they would be making less than they were in 1981. They are all still impoverished.

Why don't you go outside, give a homeless guy a quarter, then come back and turn it into a statistic in support of trickle-down economics.

The size and prosperity of the middle class says nothing about the size and poverty of the slave class. If you would read Zinn you could anticipate my point that the middle class has operated politically since its beginning as a buffer between the truly wealthy and the pitchforks of the starving.

Having ten more billionaires does not make "the people" better off. It is absurd to measure an economy in aggregate and then conclude that poverty is not related to wealth just because you got a big number. At any given point in time there is a fixed amount of money in an economy, and there is a distribution of that wealth. You can plot that distribution over time and see how it is affected by various social policy movements. Over the last century, income disparity was at its lowest in 1967, I believe it is at its highest point now.

Nor does the export percentage of the GDP say anything about the effects of globalization. First off, it is exports, and there is a huge trade imbalance. The dollar amount of trade with impoverished countries is low BECAUSE we are exploiting their cheap labor. An Indonesian is given 24 cents to make a pair of Nikes, which is shipped to Los Angeles and sold for $70 to a member of the middle class. This is not really trade anyway because there is a Nike sign on the sweatshop in Indonesia. I believe something like half the "trade" with mexico is entirely intra-corporate. That is, GM shipping parts to Mexico to be assembled into goods which are shipped back here for sale.

Michael Dell is not rich at the expense of Angola because Dell computers are not produced in Angola. Michael Dell is rich because of the availability of cheap mass production of slightly outdated technology in China, a successful non-capitalist country with a huge involvement in the American economy.

You can call me childish, and you can continue using billionaires as evidence that Capitalism works. And if you work really really hard, sacrificing your enjoyment of life to the will of your corporate masters... you will be a billionaire too, I am sure of it.


Over the last century, income disparity was at its lowest in 1967, I believe it is at its highest point now.

Having ten more billionaires does not make "the people" better off. It is absurd to measure an economy in aggregate and then conclude that poverty is not related to wealth just because you got a big number. At any given point in time there is a fixed amount of money in an economy, and there is a distribution of that wealth.

In 1967 the median income of someone in the bottom fifth was $7,496 in 2001 dollars. In 2001 it was $10,686. Ill give the benefit of the doubt-it says Change in data collection methodology suggests pre-1993 and post-1992 estimates are not strictly comparable-so in 1992 it was $9,291.

The income disparity increased. So did the average earnings of poor people, along with the average income of every segment of society.


which is all the more remarkable considering the influx of impoverished immigrants during those decades - remarkable that they keep coming to such an oppressive country, but also that these statistics arent just tracking people who lived, saved earnings, and advanced in the U.S. job market, but the surge of people who were poor to begin with. Yet these numbers still increased.

Poor people jump in life rafts to cross the Caribbean to come to the U.S. They cross 3,000 miles of desert to do it. At the same time, our poor arent exactly fleeing to Cuba, or Canada or [insert the name of a country whose economic system an historian like Harold Zinn wishes wed adopt].

have you read anything written by Chomsky? Did you read "A People's History"? What about Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia"? Dostoevsky? Jurgen Habermas?

Yeah, I still dont think you have a firm grasp of conservatives though. Really, its not a plot against the poor. We dont meet in a Masonic lodge and join the Federalist Society in a grand plot to oppress the under class-honest.

Classical liberalism is an OLD doctrine,

Belief that the Earth is round is at minimum at least 500 years old by now. It does not change its relevance to geography any more than the age of an economic theory determines its applicability to running a modern economy.


DATE: 02/09/2005 01:09:39 AM


All you apologists for GREED: How about a definition for conservatisim? Corey asked, you never delivered.


Hmmm. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from mathematics at Harvard. I am female. Being of a scientific bent, I am of course willing to entertain the argument that there may be innate differences. The ability to do math at a high level certainly seems to have been coded in me at birth.
But I have three observations regarding your wrap-up of comments: first, I think it's important not to jump to the conclusion that it's a bell-curve or that this talk of variances and standard deviation has any relevance. It could just as easily be a series of on-off switches that, through genes, proteins, etc., expresses itself as fully on X percent of women and Y percent of men (where X may well be less than Y). This is is an important if technical hypothesis, because if the variances are shifted bell curves, than given how narrow the tails are, we really can't expected any tenured women in math at a place like Harvard.
Secondly, I fully appreciate the strength of your observation that there's no reason to believe, just because there have been a few more women in math and science in the last few years, there's no reason to assume that trend will lead to further proportional advancement. (Actually, *tons* are getting PhDs in biologically, we're really just talking math, physics, and computer science as lagging -- see Prof. Howard Georgi of Harvard's statistics on this.) But I guess we have to be mindful of the other side of the coin: there's no reason to assume the contrary, either, and the experiences of many women in math and physics at its higher levels indicate that there may be more barriers to be torn down.
Finally, thank you oh thank you for saying that really, when discussing academic diversity and affirmative actions, women in science at Harvard is at the bottom of the list. (I surely am entitled to say this. I was driven by nature to pursue math, the obstacles can be frustrating in terms of going on to get a PhD. I tested a perfect score in the GREs math achievement and turned down some very good math doctoral program offers: I loved math so much but found it was all twinged with my increasing annoyance with people not getting over the fact that I wasn't a boy. Now, can someone like me pick up the pieces and do well in another profession? You betcha. I've been repeatedly honored to appear before you, Your Honor!)
Harvard was a great place to study math, but it's just one place. The elephant in the room is of course race: there's no scientific evidence regarding differences in brain function for spacial imagery based on race, and at many places, not just Harvard, some races are radically underrepresented. Who knows, we can all have our hunches, but I certainly would not assume that reflects any natural equilibrium point. Meanwhile, I commend to you all a great particle physicis, Prof. of Physics Howard Georgi, who has spent a number of years thinking about women in physics, to good effect (having served as chair of the dep't): there are plenty of tenured women in the Harvard Physics Department compared with peer schools! Google him and learn how he did it. Wasn't rocket science.


P.S. Oh, one little side note. I have lots of friends in the physics and math community, and I have to tell you -- I'm sure I won't earn any friends here saying it -- a lot of them are laughing at the fact that an economist weighed in on this. Most people in math and physics are well-aware of what an exciting time this is in biology. The idea that it's the sex hormone expressed as masculinity and feminity -- Pres. Summer's reference to daddy and baby trucks -- that would be the biological mechanism for innate differences is pretty hilariously uninformed. I mean to say -- and there are *tons* of email jokes about this floating about -- that anyone who has spent some time why physicists and mathematicians knows that, with some exceptions, they're not the most masculine group of people. Poor Larry Summer's girl can be as feminine as she wants to be and still might fit in very well culturally in math!
Well, the point is neither here nor there. I guess I just observe that in the physics and math community, even people that agree with the hypothesis (which Pres. Summers was not directly embracing) pretty much (a) resent a non-physicist/biologist weighing in and (b) think the idea that masculinity is a dividing point is pretty darn funny. Ah, well, economists: they're near cousins to philosophers when it comes to building castles on the flimsy foundation of assumptions. Never met many mathematicians that had much use for loose, wishy-washy assumptions. Baby trucks. LOL. Now *really.*


(sorry for my spelling, I have no word today)

I call you childish because you do not understand things like the fact that:

* Those figures are already controlled for inflation...

*. The total earnings of the

* The trade of the US with the third world already INCLUDES the profits firms like Nike make...

*. The trade figures of the US with Mexico and all other nations also already includes intra-corporate trade...

* The combined profit of all american firms are less than 10% of GDP anyway, with the overwhelming part being earned in the US and not abroads...

* The 70 USD dollar cost of shoes is not mainly profit, it is the wages of designers and advitersiers, ie American factors...

* The earnings workes in the third wolrd make working for Nike in their small export sectors is higher that what they earn in the rest of their economy (refuting the point that they are exploited)

*. That China in fact used to be an impovrished socialist economy, but has liberalized it's economy since the late 70s. The share of the private sector of the economy is now about two thirds, wheras it was almost nothing during Mao.

*. The MEDIAN growht in income in China was almost 70% from 1990-1999. Median means the person who is poorer than half the country. This is not unique, but in fact standard for countries that have economic growth.

* You make the revissionist claim that that the massive decrease in poverty did not happen, yet you offer not no data, proof or logic what so ever...

If you are serious about understanding society and the economy you should look to data, not only Marxist naratives. The fact of the matter is that capitalism gives prosperity to the masses, not only "billionares". The correlation of economic growht and the income growth of the poorest 20% in historic data has been around 1.

Furthermore, it is extreamly rare that the standard of livign of the poor fall if the country is growing. This didn't happen in China, India, Indonesia or any of the other nations where the market has helped save people from starvation and misery. Even in modern US the standard of living of the poor has increased, countrary to myth. That inequality increases sais nothing about standard of living of the poor (if you have growth, which we have).

If you want to maintan that Africans are poor because we exploit them as a "slave class" you have to show that there is a massive movement of goods from Africa to the US for which the african workers are not proprely compensated. It so happens there is no such flow. Africa is poor because they produce very little, not because they produce a lot which America steals. (this is in turn due to the fact that clueless intellectualls like yourself and their upper classes have colluded to keep the capitalism our of africa)


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Thank you, you always get to all new and used it



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