Campus Che Guevaras

3 01 2008

Mark Bauerlein has a great explanation for anti-Bush groupthink that equally applies to anti-Howard public intellectuals and academics in Australia:

The Adversarial Campus Argument… says that the campus must contest the mainstream, that higher education must critique U.S. culture and society because they have drifted rightward. For the intellectual and moral health of the nation, the professoriate must drift leftward.

Unfortunately we cannot picture the academia drifting rightward to adjust to the win of nominally left-wing Labor. It seems they are only capable of drifting one way, and it starts with “L”. Bauerlein wonders along the same lines:

Several points against the Adversarial Campus Argumetn spring to mind, but a single question explodes it. If Democrats won the White House in 08 and enlarged their majorities in Congress, and if a liberal replaced Scalia on the Supreme Court, would adversarial professors adjust their turf accordingly? Would Hillary in the White House bring Bill Kristol a professorship or Larry Summers a presidency again?

Hardly, and it goes to show that the Adversarial Campus Argument isn’t really an argument. It’s an attitude. And attitudes aren’t overcome by evidence, especially when they do so much for people who bear them. For, think of what the Adversarial Campus does for professors. It flatters the ego, ennobling teachers into dissidents and gadflies. They feel underpaid and overworked, mentally superior but underappreciated, and any notion that compensates is attractive. It gives their isolation from zones of power, money, and fame a functional value. Yes, they’re marginal, but that’s because they impart threatening ideas. The powerlessness they feel rises into a meaningful political condition.

We often argued that it was the conservatives like Bush and Howard that reinvigorated the academia by making them feel like rebels fighting against the system. This is of course a delusion. During the hight of Howard’s era left-leaning newspapers, TV channels and book stores were full of anti-Howard venom. Hardly a week went by without some academic or public figure denouncing the “evil regime”. Yet in the minds of public intellectuals such as David Marr, their free speech was suppressed and censored. In reality there was no evidence of government censorship nor suppression. Yes, the intelligencia were marginalised but not by Howard’s “attack dogs”, but ordinary people who stopped listening to their shrill arguments often divorced from reality. Ascendancy of Christian Conservative Labor leader Kevin Rudd only shows how far out of touch the campus Che Guevaras have become.

via David Thompson

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