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10/07/2007

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RBL

Just admit the while the intent our economic policies and laws are to promote business investment, they actually give major corporations more control over citizens' will and lifestyle. Simple put, the market will serve the market and companies will sustain whatever hold they have for as long as they can regardless of society's needs.

Historically speaking, the Detroit machine's actions against the railways in the mids 20th century (buying and closing local transit systems) coinciding with the rise of the airline industries and expansion of the interstates, shaped the last 50 years of American growth ie wasteful sprawl.

I don't think we ever voted for that. Our natural inclination to do what's best for our health was thwarted by companies would needed us to do something else for there survival.

ctw

"Somehow, those who claim to be conservatives like to dash off a straw man of what a "liberal" favors, as does Rafal."

re the answer to my question in the comment above, you're getting very warm.

- Charles

Daniel Klein

I am a classical liberal economist at George Mason University. I have published a great deal of research on the ideological profile of faculty.

If I had been on the Stanford faculty, I too would have signed the petition against the university having any affiliation with Rumsfeld.

A shame that Gary Becker plays in the "liberal vs. conservative" groupthink. He is a smaller man than Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman.

Timz

I never understood why a university is seen to endorse a speaker's point of view to have him or her speak. Isn't it a tremendous educational opportunity to see Ahmadinejad -- one of our key national foes -- open his mouth and spin a strange web of lies? Shouldn't universities invite speakers of all positions?

As for Rumsfeld, I think he should be kept from the Hoover Institution not because his philosophy is far-right, but rather because he has been proven to be massively incompetent. Why would Hoover consider him a "thought leader," especially when he never admitted to learning a single lesson from his mistakes.

ctw

"Becker plays in the "liberal vs. conservative" groupthink"

Just a nit, but the point of my exerpted quotes above is that it's really more "conservative vs. liberal". Not to suggest that the "groupthink" game is unilateral, but at least on the blogs I read there is an unmistakable asymmetry: self-labeled liberals seem more likely to criticize specific people/groups for specific policies/actions (eg, the fifth quote) while self-labeled "conservatives" seem more likely to criticize the nebulous entity "left/liberals" (eg, the other five), a supposedly homogenous group comprising the naive, envious, ignorant, anti-capitalistic, unpatriotic, pacifistic, etc, etc. Sometimes it's an adjunct to specific criticisms, but often it's in lieu of any specifics, ie, just name calling. Eg, in the comments in this thread the ratio of comments using "left/intellectual/academic" et al as nouns to those using "right/conservative" et al is at least five-to-one despite the proportion of substantive comments with an arguably rightward slant being less than half.

- Charles

Rafal Smigrodzki

I appreciate the comments to my post but let me provide a bit of background: I definitely do not see myself as a "conservative", and my characterization of what I believe is the modern meaning of "leftist" is not a right-vs-left attack. I am a radical anarchocapitalist (i.e."wingnut" in mainstream political terminology) and I find myself equally distant from the stereotypical leftist and his all-out conservative counterpart.

The format of a blog comment page is not the optimal medium for addressing the remarks about some specifics I mentioned (this would require too many pages of disambiguation and digression), so I'll revisit only the generalities here:

I do think that the cardinal elements of "leftism" are indeed egalitarianism, statism, pacifism and atheism. Could a leftist be all warlike, godfearing, anarchist and elitist? Can anybody claim that the academia primarily attracts aggressive, dominant individualists with a mystical bent? Unless the answer to both questions is yes, my analysis does capture a bit of the truth.

Rafal

ctw

"Could a leftist be all warlike, godfearing, anarchist and elitist?"

But that's not what you seemed to be saying before, viz:

"in the end we have what makes a leftist nowadays - egalitarian, pacifist, statist, openly atheist, all concentrated in the academ[y]."

The first is essentially:

L = not(notA AND notB AND notC AND notD)

while the latter I assume to be:

L=A AND B AND C AND D

You do understand that these are not logically equivalent, right?

"Can anybody claim that the academ[y] primarily attracts aggressive, dominant individualists with a mystical bent?"

This seems to be intended to equate pacifism with non-aggressiveness, egalitarianism with non-individualism, atheism with non-mysticism, and - by default - statism with being "non-dominant". IMO, the first three are not equivalent, and since I have no idea what "dominant" means in this context, the last is (for me) meaningless. Ie, the question seems irrelevant to your position.

So, to essentially repeat an earlier query, why is it so important for you (and others) to characterize what you call "the left"? Why not just pick some issue of importance to you and argue your position? Eg, if you feel strongly about anarchocapitalism, I - being almost perfectly ignorant of it - would be happy to hear your views and thereby get some insights. But I frankly don't give a rat's ass about your (or anyone else's) ideas on what constitutes a "leftist", IMO a meaningless and therefore useless label.

- Charles

Rafal Smigrodzki

Answer to Charles: The debate is about leftists in academia - isn't it then useful to define what one means by the term? We could discuss themes close to my heart, like non-violence but this would be the wrong forum. If one should truly "not give a
rat's ass" about our hosts' ideas on this subject, then commenting on them would be
pointless, wouldn't it?

Now ad meritum: Of course, I do not equate such complex notions as "pacifism" or "nonaggression", I merely point out that certain psychological predilections can make you more likely to espouse some beliefs and choose certain environments. For example, the desire to dominate may contribute to the belief that a war may be just while a more passive frame of mind may lead you to the opposite conclusion.

What I would really want to know is: Do you take issue with my claim that academic environments, as opposed to business environments, tend to attract persons likely to be egalitarian, statist, pacifist and openly atheist? I cannot quite understand from your comments if this is indeed what you are objecting to.

ctw

This
is
a test.

-c

ctw

"The debate is about leftists in academia - isn't it then useful to define what one means by the term?"
If I thought that the term had a useful definition, perhaps. But since I don't (and see nothing in the feeble attempts herein to alter that opinion), I consider the original post and the more "on-topic" comments to be worthless (at best).
"the desire to dominate may contribute to the belief that a war may be just while a more passive frame of mind may lead you to the opposite conclusion."
Again, perhaps, but that's psychology, and either knee-jerk reaction could lead to egregious error. My interest would be in whether or not there is a convincing argument one way or the other. Rightly or wrongly, I thought the attack on the Taliban justified; rightly or wrongly, I thought at first that the invasion of Iraq was also but by the time of the invasion was certain it was not; rightly or wrongly, I consider an attack on Iran under the present conditions would be criminal. So, am I of the left or the right? And what conceivable difference could it make vis-a-vis that issue?
"Do you take issue with my claim that academic environments, as opposed to business environments, tend to attract persons likely to be egalitarian, statist, pacifist and openly atheist?"
I consider the terms to be too ambiguous (eg, what kind of "academic environment" or "business environment") for the question to be meaningful and frankly don't understand why it's even of interest. Let's take the one parameter in which I might have some remote interest - atheism. Even assuming we agree on the meaning of the word (not as easy as you may think), why should I care? Now if a particular state-supported school decides that among all petitions for supporting funds either an atheist club or a religious club will be denied, then I become massively interested because I follow 1st Amendment freedom and establishment clauses jurisprudence. But the distribution of faculty religious preference? Again, I give not a RA unless those of one preference are proselytizing that preference. And even then, it seems that whether the offenders comprise a majority or a minority shouldn't affect my position.
- Charles

ctw

Sorry - let's try again. For some reason, I have formatting problems on this blog system.

"The debate is about leftists in academia - isn't it then useful to define what one means by the term?"

If I thought that the term had a useful definition, perhaps. But since I don't (and see nothing in the feeble attempts herein to alter that opinion), I consider the original post and the more "on-topic" comments to be worthless (at best).

"the desire to dominate may contribute to the belief that a war may be just while a more passive frame of mind may lead you to the opposite conclusion."

Again, perhaps, but that's psychology, and either knee-jerk reaction could lead to egregious error. My interest would be in whether or not there is a convincing argument one way or the other. Rightly or wrongly, I thought the attack on the Taliban justified; rightly or wrongly, I thought at first that the invasion of Iraq was also but by the time of the invasion was certain it was not; rightly or wrongly, I consider an attack on Iran under the present conditions would be criminal. So, am I of the left or the right? And what conceivable difference could it make vis-a-vis that issue?

"Do you take issue with my claim that academic environments, as opposed to business environments, tend to attract persons likely to be egalitarian, statist, pacifist and openly atheist?"

I consider the terms to be too ambiguous (eg, what kind of "academic environment" or "business environment") for the question to be meaningful and frankly don't understand why it's even of interest. Let's take the one parameter in which I might have some remote interest - atheism. Even assuming we agree on the meaning of the word (not as easy as you may think), why should I care? Now if a particular state-supported school decides that among all petitions for supporting funds either an atheist club or a religious club will be denied, then I become massively interested because I follow 1st Amendment freedom and establishment clauses jurisprudence. But the distribution of faculty religious preference? Again, I give not a RA unless those of one preference are proselytizing that preference. And even then, it seems that whether the offenders comprise a majority or a minority shouldn't affect my position.

- Charles

Jake

Good heavens. This was such a respectable blog.

Nowadays the posts read like a "From the Left" AOL chatroom, circa 1996 or so.

Get real, Leninists.

Jack

The thread seems to have evolved to wrestling over college faculty being "leftist" but began with "Intelletucals, Free Speech and Capitalism"

To which Becker leads with:

"Posner's examples offer strong support for the sharp limits on free speech in American universities."

....... Assuming that today's very diverse group of university faculty were to be found guilty of being to the "left" of some marker (as set by business? international capitalists? other objective groups with no agenda?) would it create such fear that free speech be sharply limited? Muzzle the voices of intellectuals? To save the nation?

Supposing a "leftist" faculty had the power to limit speakers to leftists only for the few years that 25% of our young people are on a campus, would they not soon lose their credibility and become irrelevant artifacts? If there exists any imbalance is it not more than offset by the corporate financed production of books and speakers of The Heritage Foundation and other well funded propaganda mills of the right?

Instead of "sharp limits" on free speech in our universities if we believe in democracy we should hear from many voices and trust that students and others can find the truth or their truths from the cacaphony.

If I wanted to worry about limiting free speech I'd be more concerned about the hours of right wing talk radio being pumped out on Clear Channel's 1100 radio stations at a much more vulnerable audience and not so much for their universal beliefs that a revisionist version of Reaganism represents the perfection of our time, but for their intellectual dishonesty and cowardly refusal to interrupt the continuous stream of propaganda delivered on our public airwaves with anything remotely akin to the honest debate that we need.

Rafal Smigrodzki

Charles, you say (again) that you don't give a "rat's ass" about the subject, that the terms used in the discussion are more or less meaningless and in general you imply that we are all wasting our time here. Please forgive me if I should henceforth disdain to answer your comments.

But since the question of why bother talking about free speech in academia has been raised, here is my take: The urge to suppress the opinions of others runs strong in all of us. Even I see it in the darkest reaches of my motivational system. Most humans, in any part of the political spectrum, will happily let this urge run rampant - and the only protection that I know is political diversity sufficient to preclude the formation of strong majorities. That's why having a university full of leftists is bad, just as bad as having a congress full of bible-thumpers, or a justice department full of neo-cons.

Rafal

David Hoopes

Why are markets so scary? Some things (liberal) academics get wrong: http://organizationsandmarkets.com/

Greg

Sec. Rumsfeld shouldn't be a fellow of the Hoover Institution because he is, without a doubt, the worst Defense Secretary since Robert McNamara. He has been consistently wrong on nearly every major decision he has made since December 2001, and he has fostered a culture of sycophancy and close-mindedness in the Pentagon that matches anything at a leftwing US university. He has, furthermore, acquiesced to blatantly illegal behavior (ie. torture) that is banned by US statutes.

And yet, after this litany of failure, you would have him be presented with what is, more or less, a sinecure at one of America's top research institutions.

Professors, his political allegiences and high position in the Bush administration are not what make Rumsfeld overwhelmingly unworthy of such an honor. His incompetence, stubbornness, and dereliction of duty, however, in a less high profile figure, would automatically disqualify him.

Jack

Rafal sez:

"Most humans, in any part of the political spectrum, will happily let this urge run rampant - and the only protection that I know is political diversity sufficient to preclude the formation of strong majorities.

That's why having a university full of leftists is bad, just as bad as having a congress full of bible-thumpers, or a justice department full of neo-cons."

Rafal: It's hardly been established the the colleges and universities are "full of leftists" or lacking in political diversity. My own guess at what constitutes "leftists" in academia is the professors irksome practice of exposing the often unsupported canards of today's "conservative movement" to the intellectual questioning and debate that they do not receive anywhere else.

With college students roughly approximating the upper 25% of high school grads and our next generation it's hardly a forgone conclusion that any political bias in the few courses most take where political bias has any relevance at all is likely to have any lasting effect on the student body. An indicator? Those who went to college in the "liberal" 60's and 70's lean far more "conservative" than those who went to college in the 40's and 50's. They/we have elected either conservative or "conservative" presidents since 1980, and I'd include Clinton as being no more "leftist" than a moderate Republican and on par with Nixon and Ike. They also ended a 35 year run of Democratic majority in Congress and gave us a dozen years of a Republican majority. (and massive debt?)

As for "leftists" on university faculty being as bad as "a Congress full of bible-thumpers" or a heavily politicized Supreme Court "full on neo-cons" the word hyperbole hardly serves; as we've seen the latter have direct control of issues such as approving war if only by default, and deciding a Presidential election, while the advise and opinions knowledgeable experts in academia were utterly ignored by the small band of the ideologically driven neocons you mention who happened to be near the levers of ultimate power.

I find it honest of you to mention the urges to suppress the voicing of opinions you don't like and hope you develop more trust in the exercise of free speech and democracy. As for achieving diversity, we're far better served by an open system of a wide variety of voices than one choked down to only those voices that are "acceptable" as Becker seems to prefer. Surely the appearance of Ahamdinejad has inspired much beneficial discussion and debate.

ctw

Rafal:


I am willing to passively read a discussion of whether there is bias (presumably liberal) on college campuses, a topic on which I have nothing to say, not having been in that environment in decades.


I am less inclined to passively read people defining "liberals/leftists/whatevers" as collectively having inclinations which are extreme, manifestly ridiculous, or otherwise indicative of mental defect, an assertion which is obviously insulting. Despite echewing labels, if I have to accept one it would be some variant on "liberal", and my positions on those few issues about which I consider myself sufficiently informed to have an opninion, are neither extreme, ridiculous, nor indicative of mental defect. Hence, my simultaneously hostile and dismissive demeanor.


It appears to me (the post was not a masterpiece of coherence, so I'm not quite sure) that Prof Becker has (implicitly) chosen to equate "left", "liberal", and "intellectual", and then to suggest that this group is characterized by opposition to capitalism, an accusation that I consider to be firmly in the second category. Several comments in this thread also fall into that category.


You have proposed a definition of leftist which (to me, at least) is not particularly insulting (I'm not quite sure what a "statist" is, and I have my doubts about the rationality of pacifism, so I don't know whether to be insulted or not). So, although I don't see what benefit accrues to tryng to shoehorn an inevitably hetrogenous group into a stereotype, I'm willing to address your attempt to do so. If in the process I offended you, I apologize - it wasn't my intent. If I thought your comments were "worthless", I wouldn't bother to respond.


As to free speech, if I were convinced that the fact that a substantial majority of academics vote for/contribute to Democratic candidates suggested a threat thereto, I'd be with you. But I'm not. IMO, recent events raising the issue don't tell us much about the state of free speech in academia. IMO, AhmadiNejad shouldn't have been invited to speak at Columbia (because he predictably had nothing very interesting to say) but once invited should have been treated politely; I don't know the details of the Summers-UC flap, but unless there's something beneath the surface, I'd say disinviting him was inexcusable; and although Rumsfeld should be allowed to speak wherever he's willing to do so, I don't have a problem with the petitioners' challenging his appointment to Hoover.


But again, given these positions, would you label me "left" or "right"? And whichever you choose, what would be added to a discussion by choosing either?


- Charles

Hank


I don't see how so many people can suggest that universities do not in fact have a 'liberal' bias. Seriously, I don't fault Posner for not providing stats in this case. The fact couldn't be more obvious. Honestly. But to prevent further time being wasted on this silly point, I cite:

http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/%7Engross/lounsbery_9-25.pdf

Which indicates that 77.6% of professors voted for Kerry in the 2004 election. With the tendency to vote democratic being considerably higher in the humanities and social sciences, fields in which professors are most likely to have the opportunity to incorporate their political views into the curriculum. Although we may note that preference for Kerry over Bush was roughly 3:1 in economics departments and 2:1 in business departments. So even these bastions of 'conservatism' were more 'liberal' than the population at large.

I scare quote liberal and conservative in the above discussion because, for my own point, I would like to argue that the very concept of left and right, liberal and conservative, is of dubious utility. The fact that the natural equilibrium of our American political system is that of a political duopoly seems to have lead to the de facto assumption that it is reasonable to express the universe of possible political viewpoints as consisting of a one dimensional spectrum. The implicit assumption being that each party represents a bundle of political views and that all other viewpoints can be defined by some linear combination of these two bundles. I would be surprised to find any educated person trying to support this assumption explicitly, but I wish acknowledge the absurdity of this common mode of thinking and abandon the entire concept of left and right in favor of a consideration of individual issues on their own merits.

The disutility of such linear thinking can be seen clearly in the above 'discussion'. The absurdity of creationism, or the misguidedness of the American invasion of Iraq, have no logical bearing on the merits of policies in health care, or energy. Yet representing political possibilities linearly allows one element of a bundle to taint the entire set of preferences and thus is expected to force reasoning individuals toward the opposite end of the spectrum.

In the spirit of this argument I will close by saying that I think that academics are biased in favor of socialistic policy. While I will not dispute that professors disagree with many elements of the republican platform for reasons that are merely logical, and that in this way the correlation is driven by their high level of education inspiring them to be more discerning than the general population, in the case of academic favor for socialism I see an ingrained bias. My disagreement with the policies of socialism stems form various empirical and theoretical economic considerations. I merely consider them inexpedient techniques, even if one were to aim primarily at the reduction of inequality and unfairness. I believe that a majority of economists would agree with this judgment, to one degree or another. But I believe that many professors in the humanities and social sciences provide an interpretation of their field that is skewed in favor of an interventionist, or planned approach to economics. Indeed, the above linked paper indicates that 17.6% of social science professors would self identify themselves as Marxists (with 24% identifying as radical liberals, and a ratio of 14:1 voting democrat). That such a large number would make so strong a statement suggests to me that many more lean toward such ideas with slightly more moderation. It is my belief that this preponderance of socialist thinking is perpetuated by biased presentation of course material in the above fields and by the pressure of seeking peer acceptance in scholarly circles. I do not mean to say that these professors are not firmly convinced of the correctness of their view, merely that their conviction is the result of irrational processes.

I think that Posner's post implies that it is those attempting to support such biased illogical views who are forced, due to the inadequacy of their reasoning and argumentation, to resort to tactics such as politically ostracizing those whose conclusions (or even hypothesis) conflict with their views.

Jake

Daniel Klein's post above prompts several reactions. Let me quote some of Klein's statements below and respond to them.

"I am a classical liberal economist at George Mason University."

Don't hold your breath waiting on my contribution to my alma mater to fund an endowed chair for you to sit on.

"I have published a great deal of research on the ideological profile of faculty."

Now there is a really important topic concerning really important people addressed by a really important author. Scholars studying what other scholars think and do evidently is an important form of scholarship these days. No doubt it beats having to get and hold a real job.

"If I had been on the Stanford faculty, I too would have signed the petition against the university having any affiliation with Rumsfeld."

Another Lilliputian.

"A shame that Gary Becker plays in the 'liberal vs. conservative' groupthink. He is a smaller man than Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman."

Prof. Becker is a "smaller man"? What an unbelievably cheap statement by someone who poses as an economics scholar. Klein, please give up blog commentary. It detracts from your vigil by the phone awaiting word from the Nobel Committee that will never come.

Rafal Smigrodzki

Charles,

It looks like we would easily agree on many particulars, like the opinions about inviting Ahmadinejad, disinviting Summmers, or the utility of the war in Iraq. I am glad to see you noted that my definition of a leftist is not particularly insulting, describing the stereotypical leftist as an egalitarian, statist,pacifist atheist. From my observations, these actually are frequently accepted by many individuals as a package, which is why I use them to define this distinct political identity. I am a radically anti-war atheist myself, and if anybody were to call me a "liberal" because of these views, I would be proud of this epithet. However, it would be a misnomer, since I am also completely indifferent to the question of equality of outcomes, and I am loath to authorize the initiation of force on my behalf. I am especially serious about the latter issue, and it forms the cornerstone of my moral and political thinking. Unfortunately, a very large number of academics seem obsessed with the issue of equality of outcomes (which they call "fairness" but I call egalitarianism) and are always ready to clamor for the application of the brute force of the state to advance their causes (which many of my persuasion call statism). I hope you will agree that egalitarianism and statism are in fact more common among academic than among business elites. Among some disciplines, in the humanities, such views have an almost monolithic following. These two, in my opinion, wretched and destructive tendencies, are what worries me about academic leftism. Of course, there is a whole lot of other social phenomena that bother me - xenophobia, the rise of the police state, the never-ending state of war, politicization of natural sciences, environmentalism, erosion of the separation of church and state - but these are something to be discussed when Judge Posner writes a post on "What's wrong with conservatives", or "The Green menace".

So, to summarize, I strongly disapprove of a large part of the package of ideas that many modern American academics believe in. I am sad that these ideas and attitudes are so common. I hope that the progress of science, one retirement at a time, will eventually make them obsolete.

As to the question of whether you, Charles, are a leftist, I don't quite know the answer. Do you support forced trade unionization? Is FDR one of your heroes? Do you think that Title IX is the pinnacle of fairness in gender relationships? If your answer is no to all, probably you are not.

Rafal

Rafal Smigrodzki

Charles,

It looks like we would easily agree on many particulars, like the opinions about inviting Ahmadinejad, disinviting Summmers, or the utility of the war in Iraq. I am glad to see you noted that my definition of a leftist is not particularly insulting, describing the stereotypical leftist as an egalitarian, statist,pacifist atheist. From my observations, these actually are frequently accepted by many individuals as a package, which is why I use them to define this distinct political identity. I am a radically anti-war atheist myself, and if anybody were to call me a "liberal" because of these views, I would be proud of this epithet. However, it would be a misnomer, since I am also completely indifferent to the question of equality of outcomes, and I am loath to authorize the initiation of force on my behalf. I am especially serious about the latter issue, and it forms the cornerstone of my moral and political thinking. Unfortunately, a very large number of academics seem obsessed with the issue of equality of outcomes (which they call "fairness" but I call egalitarianism) and are always ready to clamor for the application of the brute force of the state to advance their causes (which many of my persuasion call statism). I hope you will agree that egalitarianism and statism are in fact more common among academic than among business elites. Among some disciplines, in the humanities, such views have an almost monolithic following. These two, in my opinion, wretched and destructive tendencies, are what worries me about academic leftism. Of course, there is a whole lot of other social phenomena that bother me - xenophobia, the rise of the police state, the never-ending state of war, politicization of natural sciences, environmentalism, erosion of the separation of church and state - but these are something to be discussed when Judge Posner writes a post on "What's wrong with conservatives", or "The Green menace".

So, to summarize, I strongly disapprove of a large part of the package of ideas that many modern American academics believe in. I am sad that these ideas and attitudes are so common. I hope that the progress of science, one retirement at a time, will eventually make them obsolete.

As to the question of whether you, Charles, are a leftist, I don't quite know the answer. Do you support forced trade unionization? Is FDR one of your heroes? Do you think that Title IX is the pinnacle of fairness in gender relationships? If your answer is no to all, probably you are not.

Rafal

St. Darwin Assisi's cat

Well written, thought provoking comments by Professors Becker and Posner. The intellectual left are not opposed to living right ... they are opposed to the Holocaust or any future activities mimicking Holocaust thinking, imperialist ambitions creating a nuclear war (i.e. the US igniting WWIII) ... they may be jealous of the CEO paychecks commanded by current war profiteers such as Haliburton, Cummins Engine, Blackwater but oppose the manner in which these companies make their money ... and the 'beat goes on' ... which came first the chick or the egg....

Jack

Hank sez:

Which indicates that 77.6% of professors voted for Kerry in the 2004 election. With the tendency to vote democratic being considerably higher in the humanities and social sciences, fields in which professors are most likely to have the opportunity to incorporate their political views into the curriculum. Although we may note that preference for Kerry over Bush was roughly 3:1 in economics departments and 2:1 in business departments. So even these bastions of 'conservatism' were more 'liberal' than the population at large.

.......... I'd suggest the 2004 election wasn't much of an opportunity to test whether professors lean sharply to the left. First there'd be the natural rejection by those who've invested much of their lives working very hard toward becoming educated, of one who spent much of his adult life as something of a wastrel who never prepared himself for high office.

Also, after the first 4 year preview both the economists and business profs would be quite concerned as the Bush policies based upon something other than accepted economic principles had wrought just what we all feared, along with an ill-considered and poorly executed war. There seems little there for a knowledgeable voter be they "Right" or "Left".

Speaking of which! I truly enjoyed Raf's litmus test!

Do you support forced trade unionization?

............ "Forced??" Ha-ha! In a nation where the foundations of the labor movement were gutted during the Reagan era of a quarter century ago? Read up a bit on what constitutes "good faith bargaining" by the corporation. ie. showing up at the meeting. Period.

Is FDR one of your heroes?

......... Yup! Details available.

Do you think that Title IX is the pinnacle of fairness in gender relationships?

.............. Ooh! "pinnacle?" Perhaps IX would have to yield to sufferage, but is there a general belief, on the "right" that, "in fairness" women should be discriminated against in school programs funded with Federal dollars?

If your answer is no to all, probably you are not.

.......... Geez Raf not one question about paying our bills when they come due? or cutting spending to approximately match revenues? Not getting unnecessarily entangled in costly foreign adventurism? If there were some traditional conservative qualities in your test I'm sure I could get an honest C+ instead of flunking completely.

ctw

Rafal:

Oh, despite our spirited exchanges, I had no doubts that we were broadly aligned in positions on issues.

"these actually are frequently accepted by many individuals as a package, which is why I use them to define this distinct political identity."

And this is really where we diverge somewhat. I agree that positions tend to come as a package. And I agree that some positions (eg, atheist, egalitarian, and pacifist - although in its weak sense) are more likely to be found in someone arguably of the "left". However, I infer that you are equating "egalitarian" with believing in "equality of outcomes". The dictionary.com definitions don't help, so I'll just say for that for me - and I think almost all of my "liberal" friends - we would define it as "maximum equality of opportunity within practical limits". Of course, this doesn't help much because of the qualifier "practical", but the point is that it's an aspirational belief, not a program of action.

I also infer that your concept of "statism" is roughly that of dictionary.com: "concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty". Again, neither I nor my friends would sign on to that. I do support redistributive taxation because that is an inevitable consequence of implementing any approach to "equality of opportunity" that I can envision (if it could be done for free, what conceivable opposition could there be?). But I don't support a planned economy (which I believe was the actual target of much of Hayek's work - even he acknowledged the need for some assitance to those incapable of competing in the free market), and to the extent I understand it, I could support Randy Barrett's libertarian interpretation of the 9th Amendment. Although I believe in the vesting of political power in the people, I believe in vesting it via the founders' vision of representative democracy via representatives who - Madison hoped - would be of "the most attractive merit". Unfortunately, I think it's pretty clear that hope is not currently being realized.

Once again, there is a tendency in the post and some of the comments to drift between "what characterizes a "liberal/leftist" and "what's wrong with academics/intellectuals". To repeat, I have nothing to say about the latter. As to your specific questions, as think I said earlier I don't take positions on topics of which I am ignorant, and all those qualify.

On a personal note, what is your ethnic background (or more to the point, the source of your names)? My wife is Polish, so I am pretty familiar with "-ski" names, but I haven't encountered "Rafal" before.

- Charles

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