has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. Take
a look at the recent catalog of Duke Univeristy Press, once a prestigious
publishing house. Today it features third-rate, race-obsessed, sex-obsessed,
solipsistic tirades masquerading as scholarship.
take a peek. In Between Jesus and the Market: The Emotions That
Matter in Right-Wing America, Linda Kintz puzzles as to why
"so many women are attracted to" conservative Christianity since
it is "an antiwoman philosophy." And she criticizes the left for
"underestimating the power" of public menaces like militias, Rush
Limbaugh, and groups that promote "Christian entrepreneurship."
revealing as Kintz's treatise must be, it is surpassed by Jane Lazarre's
Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness. This is her "memoir of
coming to terms with" the reality that, though her father is black,
her mother is Jewish, and her husband is black, she is not black
but white, or so her biracial son reveals to her. This "painful
truth" informs her "powerful meditation on motherhood and racism
got a comrade in Katya Gibel Azoulay, who has written another classic,
Jewish, and Interracial: It's Not the Color of Your Skin, But the
Race of Your Kin, and Other Myths of Identity. This worked
is praised as a "brilliant analysis" by Michael Eric Dyson, author
of Between God and Gangsta Rap. Think of both as companion
volumes to Displacing
Whiteness, edited by Ruth Frankenberg, which in turn is
praised as "excellent" by David Roediger, author of Towards
the Abolition of Whiteness.
there's the emerging classic Novel
Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction edited by Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick. The contributors "explore queer worlds of taste, texture,
joy and ennui, focusing on such subjects as flogging, wizardry,
exorcism, dance, Zionist desire, and Internet sexuality." At 520
pages, the publisher suggests it is "essential for all literary
it may be, which is all we need to know about literary criticism,
and the modern academy. It is possible, these days, for a student
to blast through undergraduate and graduate school without being
required to know the first thing about American and European history,
constitutional law, Western literature, economics, or political
to the proliferation of elective-based academic ghettos within the
university, students can isolate themselves into a host of phony
fields. And the message in each is one of malice: hate bourgeois
civilization and the ideas and literature that spawned it. Spin
that thought out, and you'll get an "A" most of the time. Ironically,
the more prestigious the school, the more malevolent the teaching.
can we account for the crumbling of the liberal arts education?
It is not, as many conservatives critics suggest, due to a mysterious
evaporation of the canonical texts. Such a problem might be easily
dealt with by gimmicks like "national standards." The problem has
deeper roots in three institutional shifts that afflicted the academy
from the New Deal to the present: democratization (1930-1960), affirmative
action (1964-1985), and polylogism (1987-present).
was a staple of American economic life, from the founding until
quite recently, that each generation would be better off than the
previous one. The level of education each generation could achieve
was a reflection of the growing prosperity that capitalism made
possible. But in time, cause and effect were reversed: instead of
seeing how prosperity generated a better-educated public, it was
widely believed that education by itself created prosperity.
education myth took hold as the Great Depression hit, as parents
aspired to put their children through college as a way out of lower-class
living standards. On the face of it, this was an absurd assumption.
Education is among the most economically costly activities a person
can undertake. The student leaves the workforce during what would
otherwise be some of his most productive years. He graduates with
ratified knowledge which may or may not help him. Only some can
why, from ancient Greece until this century, higher education was
reserved for the wealthiest and smartest segments of the population.
Capitalism made the wealthy segment much larger, but it did not
erase and could not erase distinctions between social and intellectual
classes. Even in the freest societies, there has always existed
a marked separation between an educated class and a working class,
a separation that only violent intervention in the market could
destroy it, it did. Academic standards began to unravel as early
as the mid-1930s, with the growth of centralized, tax-funded higher
education, and the democratization of elite private institutions.
Cultural critic Albert Jay Nock saw this early on. He wrote in the
Atlantic Monthly, much to the shock of readers, that academic
standards would continue on their downward path so long as we embrace
the idea that everyone is equally educable. The curriculum would
be watered down to shore up that mythology.
received a huge boost after the Second World War, as the G.I. bill
poured government aid into universities in unprecedented amounts.
The purpose was not, as is assumed, to give soldiers academic training
for civilian life. Government planners had wrongly feared the consequences
of so many new entrants into the workforce. The purpose of the G.I.
bill was to keep as many as possible out of the workforce, thereby
restraining unemployment. In fact, a growing and recently unshackled
economy was able to absorb all of them almost overnight. However,
government control followed government money, as it always does,
and one G.I. bill legacy was the virtual nationalization of accreditation
boards and thus the centralization of educational standards. By
the time of the civil-rights revolution of the early 60s, universities
would become instruments of federal race policy and its affirmative-action
subtext. Quotas in admissions followed, and over the next decades,
what was left of academia's high standards was pushed aside to accomplish
was only a matter of time before egalitarian standards invaded the
composition of the faculty itself. Special interest groups argued
that it is as unjust to have predominantly white faculties as it
is to have predominantly white student bodies, whether merit was
involved or not.
imposition of multiculturalism where affirmative action
professors guide affirmative-action students to degrees in the glories
of affirmative action was merely the mopping-up operation.
Of course, the publishers joined forces to produce specialized books
for these classes. One result is the Duke book catalog, not atypical
for an academic press these days.
key to understanding multiculturalism is Mises's 1957 classic Theory
and History. He identified a central assumption of Marxist
social theory: polylogism, the view that standards of reason are
not independent of person and place.
as early as 1949, Mises, writing in Human
Action, had seen how the left would apply this menacing
doctrine to race theory. Racial polylogists nod in agreement with
the Nazis who said there was a specifically "German" way of thinking
that is valid in its own terms. The members of racial groups, too,
have different structures of mind, and so all judgments regarding
valid and invalid forms of reasoning are either arbitrary or an
expression of group self-interest.
practice, this results in the exaltation of irrationalism and the
demand that any theory that asserts the universality of logic and
truth meaning practically all Western thought is to
be done away with. In modem academia, where polylogism reached its
wits end, there is only one invalid and even evil way of looking
at the world: with Western eyes using Western concepts such as truth
faculty and students have been subject to a terror campaign on behalf
of this new and perverse orthodoxy. Faculty conduct their classes
as best they can while avoiding conflicts and lawsuits; and students
suffer through periodic Pol-Pot style re-education camps in the
aftermath of any political flare-up.
non-leftist faculty have been forced to drain serious, systematic
thought from their presentations, for fear of the polylogist thought
police. And students have been forced to suffer in silence as their
dream of true learning turned into a politically correct nightmare.
the social sciences, economics remains one of the few disciplines
that has not been seriously damaged by the new polylogism. The profession
has its share of feminist economists, who claim there is a specific
woman's way of theorizing, but it has remained largely untouched
by this nonsense. It has its own problems positivism, unreal
modeling techniques, and the planning mentality but the student
who likes economics is mostly spared the polylogism of the modern
just as it is possible for students to take only PC courses and
read only Duke-style books, it is also possible for the conscientious
student to avoid them. This is what the good student must do, or
risk wasting years of his life.
for a complete education, it is not enough to take classes only
in fields that have yet to be bowdlerized. Wilhelm Ropke once commented
that an economist who knows only economics can never be a good economist.
To be thoroughly understood and intelligently applied, economics
needs disciplines like history, philosophy, and the history of ideas.
In short, economists need a liberal arts education of the sort that
and Bohm-Bawerk had.
where are they going to get it today? Every summer the Mises
lnstitute holds an intensive program that attempts, in a small
way, to make up for the deficiencies of modem education. The students
who come our way are interested in economics in part because it
has been spared the multicultural mania. And though they
are among the brightest students in school today, they too have
been denied an opportunity to root economics ina wider and more
systematic world view.
faculty provide this, and we see our summer university's value appreciating
each year. This is expressed in the student evaluation forms, which
praise the faculty's fearless approach above all else. These students
typically continue on in their studies and obtain the requisite
credentials for entering academic life themselves, all the while
carrying on separate reading programs to give them the grounding
in serious thought that the modern academy has denied them.
to the pessimism of many conservatives, there is no reason to despair.
Our programs are reinforced by dissident faculty and curricula in
independent-minded colleges and universities across the country.
This dissident force, and their students, is growing larger by the
day, and it displays a warrior-like courage.
signs of success are all around us. The left is no longer reproducing
itself, even at the academic level. The best students no longer
believe the nonsense they are force-fed. A new generation is being
raised up amid the excesses of egalitarianism, determined to reverse
the long run, ideas can't rule by intimidation alone. When a new
generation of brave and well-educated teachers has the lion's share
of intellectual passion on its side, their opponents can be toppled.