David Thompson
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March 25, 2013

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Joan

And it’s worth bearing in mind the objectionable nature of quite a few teacher-training programmes.

Jesus, that's mad. It's blatant indoctrination.

I bet most parents have no idea.

dicentra

The more critics expose liberal indoctrination and intolerance, the more they reinforce the image of academia that makes young conservatives shun it. As Gross puts it, "Decades of antiprofessorial rhetoric have made academia seem an even less desirable home for young conservatives than it would otherwise be."

Maybe, but only to a degree. At Cornell I had a few conservative profs who had obtained tenure long ago, and yet they kept their heads down because the Lefties are NOT interested in sparring with them, only in discrediting them and shouting them down. Many students, unfortunately, are happy to join in with the witch-hunt.

Left-wing profs play dirtier than the conservatives, because they are preserving their primary power base, their "left-wing seminary," as Dennis Prager calls it. (Do note the projection: "Another liberal theory holds that conservatives attack academia out of 'status anxiety,' that is, the feeling on the part of a heretofore-dominant group that its power is fading.")

Conservative profs are as welcome in the Humanities as a Jewish prof in a Muslim university. IOW, they WILL make that person's life hell one way or the other, unless the conservative keeps a low profile, that is, unless they know their place: the token conservative who's kept on the plantation to prove their "tolerance."

You don't need to have listened to the "antiprofessorial rhetoric" outside academia to decide to opt out: for me (and for Jeff Goldstein), it was being in academia that provided the evidence that I would NOT be happy working among them.

Damn right I'm happy to be making more money outside of academia. But more than the money, it's the fact that my work product is directly useful that keeps me from going back.

David

dicentra,

Do note the projection: “Another liberal theory holds that conservatives attack academia out of ‘status anxiety,’”

Quite. It’s hard to think of a professional group more acutely status-conscious than leftist academics teaching subjects of limited market value. Professor Surber being an obvious example.

David

dicentra,

…for me (and for Jeff Goldstein), it was being in academia that provided the evidence that I would NOT be happy working among them.

I doubt you’re alone in that. The ideological litmus test is getting quite hard to miss, as shown above and here. And the political uniformity, the air of fiefdom, looks likely to get worse:

These [data] strongly suggest that the university of tomorrow will virtually exclude political or social perspectives that are not left of centre. Attempts to stop this trend, or even to draw attention to it, are dismissed as partisan. Campus liberals are too comfortable with the status quo to worry about a problem that seems to trouble only people unlike themselves. What will happen when the world of academia has finally taken an ideological shape completely unlike that of the world beyond the campus gates?

That David Horowitz has to campaign - in the face of vehement opposition - for educators to follow their own supposed terms of employment tells us quite a lot.

carbon based lifeform

"Only in Obamaworld can tripled energy costs be considered efficiency."

http://www.jammiewf.com/2013/obama-energy-nominee-we-need-a-carbon-tax-to-triple-the-cost-of-energy-or-something/

JuliaM

"And it’s worth bearing in mind the objectionable nature of quite a few teacher-training programmes."

Teaching them what 'in loco parentis' means might be a start...

Anna

Jim Carrey gets spanked on twitter by Dana Loesch.

rjmadden

Matt Yglesias sounds like one of the anointed.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Vision-Anointed-Self-Congratulation-Social/dp/046508995X

David

Matt Yglesias sounds like one of the anointed.

Well, Yglesias graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in philosophy and he seems to pride himself on his ‘philosophical’ and ‘theoretical’ approach, lofty as it is. And somehow this Great Thinker has only just realised – dimly and with considerable bemusement - that the policies he champions do in fact make starting a business much, much harder. Just like those evil right-wingers had been telling him for years. Whether this belated realisation will have any impact on his pronouncements is unclear. He seems awfully busy cheering the idiocies of Occupy and telling us that doctors, bankers and people in other professions (excluding leftwing journalism) are “overpaid.” Which makes his $1.2 million townhouse seem a little… conspicuous. Though he’s following the standard pattern of our egalitarian overlords. Your claim to your own property is based on a “myth.” His, not so much. And like so many of his peers, Mr Yglesias is more interested in redistributing other people’s wealth, thereby flattering himself, rather than understanding how it’s created in the first place, often by people much less lofty than himself.

So yes, Mr Yglesias sounds like exactly the kind of person that Thomas Sowell warns against.

Dry end of the Titanic

There is a quiet revolution in academia underway that is growing exponentially and will decimate the ‘Anointed’ class very soon. It is called Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC). Two examples that I have used are Coursera and the excellent KhanAcademy(Look at the TED talk by Sal Khan on that link). A single inspired teacher can give the lecture once, put it online and it never has to be done again. Or as Sal puts it, “If Isaac Newton had bothered to put his ideas up on YouTube, I wouldn’t have to”. Now subjects like Chemistry, Biology and Engineering will always require lab time to make the principles stick. Comparative Gender Studies, not so much.

With the accelerating deflation of the Higher Education bubble in the US and the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees in the UK, more and more students will forego traditional universities for MOOCs. Imagine an 18 year old student considering doing Economics at the LSE. The tuition fees over 3 years will come to £27,000 and accommodation and expenses near the same again. The online Distance Learning option costs £3,807 with invigilation fees and books maybe £1,200 more. So do you choose to go to college for 3 years and come out £50k in debt, or spend maybe 4 years to do the exact same course, while holding down an entry level job and come out at the end debt free with exactly the same degree?

As Joseph Schumpeter put it: - “The process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism”.

David

*** [ The TypePad spam filter is still twitchy. If anyone has trouble with comments not appearing, email me and I’ll poke them free with a stick. ] ***

pst314

"Left-wing profs play dirtier than the conservatives, because they are preserving their primary power base..."

True, but the most fundamental reason that they play dirtier is that leftism is inherently dirty.

sackcloth and ashes

Talking of unintentional chuckles, I found the spectacle of Ken Loach praising the Labour government of Clement Attlee (1945-1951) to be an absolute hoot.

The Loaches of the late 1940s absolutely hated Attlee, Bevin and other leading Labourites. They saw them as sell-outs who were insufficiently socialist, condemned them for their efforts to keep the British Communist party (CPGB) from infilrating Labour, and saw the government as lackeys of the American imperialists. When the Labour government raised defence expenditure in April 1951 the Loaches of the time went absolutely ballistic, screaming that Attlee et al were helping the USA to wage WWIII rather than spending money on domestic welfare.

So let us sing the praises of Clement Attlee. The man who helped found NATO, sent British troops to fight in Korea, introduced national service, committed the UK to fight Communism in South East Asia, and who gave Britain the bomb.

Come on Ken, aren't you going to open that Bollie? ...

David

sackcloth and ashes,

Loach has never been big on consistency. (Or humility, or logic, or factual accuracy.) Though such details don’t seem to inhibit his more devoted cheerleaders. To date, the Guardian has run no fewer than 12 pieces on Loach’s latest film. In fairness, two were less than enthusiastic, but there was plenty of uncritical gushing and readers were left in little doubt that a Ken Loach film is a major cultural and intellectual event, of which all good-hearted people should be made aware. Loach, we’re told, is “bravely” asking the questions that “no-one is better qualified” to ask.

Jeff Guinn

Here is some of the latest from those who are mired in the front trenches of liberal studies (my son's History 105 class, "The Roots of Contemporary Issues"). Here is the prompt for his next paper:

Some pundits, academics, and politicians often talk about the “unintended consequences” of global capitalism (Joyce Appleby uses this phrase in the final assigned section).  Others argue that there is nothing unintended about capitalism’s consequences – that those in power are fully aware of the potential results, including financial crises like the one that shook the global economy in 2008 and continues to plague people’s of all nations (Naomi Klein makes such an argument).

In a succinct, clearly written, three-page double-spaced essay that uses multiple historical examples from not only Appleby but from other readings, lecture notes, and discussion notes, answer the following question:

Why has the capitalism/socialism debate been so divisive?

Use the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing global recession as a starting point for a discussion of the historical and very contentious “consequences” of and responses to capitalism – arguably one of the most defining historical processes of the modern era.

Stripped to its essence -- i.e., stripped of all the argle-bargle -- this is the professor really said:

Why has the capitalism/socialism debate been so divisive?

Use the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing global recession as a starting point for a discussion of the historical and very contentious “consequences” of and responses to capitalism.

Why do I suspect that the correct answer to this question is three pages of "because capitalists don't realize how evil they are."

Then there is the question which this assignment goes down on its knees and begs to ask: Why are progressives such horrible, leaden, and convoluted writers?

Rafi

we care more about controlling people than about dollars

Fixed.

David

Jeff Guinn,

At many universities, the loaded questions come thick and fast. And this is called “critical thinking.”

Bart

"Some pundits, academics, and politicians often talk about the “unintended consequences” of global capitalism. Others argue that there is nothing unintended about capitalism’s consequences – that those in power are fully aware of the potential results, including financial crises like the one that shook the global economy in 2008"

Academics and pundits also argue to what exent the Holodomor was an "unintended consequence" of international socialism's economic policies. Or whether those in power knew what they were doing.

Now which one would you rather live through?

sackcloth and ashes

@ David,

Loach made 'Cathy Come Home' and 'Kes'. Everything else is the same old hackneyed crap which the Guardianistas praise, but no one actually watches.

As for the 1940s generation, I would love to be able to briefly summon Ernest Bevin from the dead so that he could have a TV debate about Labour values with dear old Ken. It would be comedy gold to see a genuine working class hero subject Loach to the same verbal flaying that he applied to George Lansbury.

Sam

To date, the Guardian has run no fewer than 12 pieces on Loach’s latest film… readers were left in little doubt that a Ken Loach film is a major cultural and intellectual event,

It's one of those major cultural events that no-one besides a few thousand Guardian readers gives a shit about.

David

Given that almost all of his films lose money, quite a lot of money, it’s a wonder he feels entitled to carry on. Must be that socialist lack of ego the Guardian bangs on about.

JeremiadBullfrog

Jeff Guinn:"Then there is the question which this assignment goes down on its knees and begs to ask: Why are progressives such horrible, leaden, and convoluted writers?"

Pseudo-intellectual obfuscation. If they wrote clearly, everyone would know what they're really about, and the game would be over. In other words, it's the PhD version of the cunning high school student who didn't do the reading and consequently writes a crabbed, meandering double-length essay that occasionally mentions all the buzzwords from class and so appears to be thoughtful and thorough. Besides, how many teachers are going to take the time and effort to judge otherwise, esp. if such students are already primed for progressive-style activist-oriented rebelliousness?

Rob

The Left fight dirtier because for them it is all about winning. Not the issue, not the real world consequences, but WINNING. Doublethink, selective memory, lockstep opinion and shouting down opposition are all tactics towards this end.

David

Not the issue, not the real world consequences, but WINNING.

Regarding the willingness to play dirty, this seems worth repeating. It’s from Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society, in which he highlights the asymmetry of leftist and non-leftist worldviews, particularly with regard to display and self-flattery:

If you happen to believe in free markets, judicial restraint, traditional values, [etc.]… then you are just someone who believes in free markets, judicial restraint and traditional values. There is no personal exaltation resulting from those beliefs. But to be for “social justice” and “saving the environment” or to be “anti-war” is more than just a set of beliefs about empirical facts. This vision puts you on a higher moral plane as someone concerned and compassionate, someone who is for peace in the world, a defender of the downtrodden… In short, one vision makes you somebody special and the other vision does not. These visions are not symmetrical.[…] Because the vision of the anointed is a vision of themselves as well as a vision of the world, when they are defending that vision they are not simply defending a set of hypotheses about external events, they are in a sense defending their very souls – and the zeal and even ruthlessness with which they defend their vision are not surprising under these circumstances.

At which point, the word Occupy popped into my head.

dicentra

Pseudo-intellectual obfuscation. If they wrote clearly, everyone would know what they're really about

I read a Marxist literary theory text that claimed that slogging through the obfuscation was the only way to replicate the thinking process that leads you to the author's conclusion.

Which, if the author's thinking process does indeed consist of byzantine sentences laced with buzz-words and soul-sucking boredom, no wonder academia is in this shape.

ESCHEW OBFUSCATION

dicentra

Ace smacks down some serious (and this time public) academic misconduct:

But it's even more retarded in thought than that. Consider, there might be some kind of a bracing Kill Your Assumptions/Smash Your Symbols experience were a Christian to stomp on the name of Jesus. (Just roll with the hypothetical for a moment.) In that particular case, the Christian would, arguably at least, be learning (or at least being subject to) some kind of lesson that The Word is Not The Thing and The Symbol Is Not the Signified and also various Question Your Beliefs type kindergarten horsehshit.

But does a Muslim learn that lesson from stomping on the name Jesus? No. How about an atheist? Again, no. How about a gay guy who hates "Bible Thumpers"? No. How about a feminist who hates the Patriarch and considers patriarchal religion to be the most important perpetuator of Male Privilege? Again, obviously not.

...

...[I]f you wanted to teach all students something along these lines, you'd ask each to smash the symbols of something personally/psychologically important to himself or herself. How on earth is a committed Patriarchy-hating church-hating feminist learning about smashing her own symbols by trodding on the symbols of the Other? In that case, she learns no lesson at all, except "You're awesome and people who disagree with you suck."

This isn't about teaching people to question their assumptions; it's about teaching people whom to hate, about who needs to be destroyed before paradise can be attained.

After all, you have to be carefully taught.

JeremiadBullfrog

Dicentra: "the only way to replicate the thinking process that leads you to the author's conclusion"

So...is that an admission that the goal really IS to have everyone think alike? So much for independent minds...

Furthermore, it's a pretty convenient formulation, no? The only way to *understand* the author's conclusions is to have reached them in EXACTLY the same way as the author. So if you happen to disagree with the conclusions, all it takes is a simple demonstration that you as an individual don't think EXACTLY like the author, in order to substantiate the claim that you didn't understand the conclusions.

What a crock!

David

This may amuse. One of the Socialist Unity bloggers receives a polite but rather important factual correction, which is promptly denounced as a “veracity bomb.” Then the psychodrama kicks in. As an illustration of projection, it’s quite entertaining.

dicentra

Is that an admission that the goal really IS to have everyone think alike?

No. It's an assertion that the ideas contained in that text are such special little snowflakes that only those who are initiated into the esoteric workings thereof, by enduring the hazing of trying to digest the indigestible text, can possibly grasp the gnosis of it all.

No pain, no gain, in other words.

Because simplicity and clarity are phallic and patriarchal and We Can't Have That.

rjmadden

One of the Socialist Unity bloggers receives a polite but rather important factual correction, which is promptly denounced as a “veracity bomb.”

Bad facts!

David

Bad facts!

Heh. It reminded me of Zoe Williams and her “ambient truth,” which is to say, a self-flattering fantasy that didn’t actually happen but which gets repeated anyway.

The people at Socialist Unity do seem to get terribly annoyed when anyone disagrees with them, even to correct a simple point of fact. It’s as if they can’t quite believe that anyone would dare. When it comes to pathological unrealism, Socialist Unity sets the bar high and it’s never been what you’d call a happy place. I’d imagine it’s a result of the inherent arrogance of socialism. If you spend so much time feeling entitled to other people’s earnings, and entitled to bend them to your will – if that’s the basis of your politics – then you’ll tend to spend a lot time feeling thwarted: “Why won’t people just shut up and do as we say? We know what’s best for them!”

People not obeying can be so exasperating.

sackcloth and ashes

'It's one of those major cultural events that no-one besides a few thousand Guardian readers gives a shit about'.

Indeed, and as David has noted (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2012/05/no-ego-whatsoever-just-an-urge-to-control.html) Loach wants to compensate for the fact that he makes unwatchable and mediocre films by scrabbling for a subsidy.

It strikes me that other directors have made films which (a) get the punters in and (b) have a political message. Steven Soderbergh did it with 'Traffic', Paul Greengrass did it with 'The Bourne Ultimatum', Spielberg did it with 'Munich'. But Loach can't do it. He can only turn out the kind of hackneyed crap which gets a Guardianista (200,000 readers and declining) the horn, but which leaves Joe and Joanna Public buying tickets for a film they can actually enjoy. So much for Loach's ability to empathise with the masses.

'Bad facts!'

Can we also acknowledge that it is a leftist website that drew attention to this legerdemain on the part of John Wight - who also gets his facts on the Holocaust from CODOH.

David

Loach wants to compensate for the fact that he makes unwatchable and mediocre films by scrabbling for a subsidy.

More than that, even. As the market for Loach’s films is so small – barely detectable – he wants the taxpayer to subsidise an entire chain of “independent” cinemas in which his films, and those of his friends and peers, can be shown, regardless of whether any viable audience exists. And by “independent” he means those empty, taxpayer-funded cinemas should be “programmed by people who care about films,” which is to say, by people like himself. Yes, a Potemkin cinema in every town. Despite his repeated failures and history of losing other people’s money, the man’s self-regard is quite boggling:

Those of us who work in television and film have a role to be critical, to be challenging, to be rude, to be disturbing, not to be part of the establishment. We need to keep our independence. We need to be mischievous. We need to be challenging. We shouldn’t take no for an answer.

You see, Mr Loach won’t take no for an answer because, being a socialist, he’s entitled to other people’s earnings. And so he expects to be given your money not through voluntary ticket sales, as is generally the custom, but with the force of government and taxation. That being what independent, challenging, anti-establishment types do.

And for this the Guardian crowns Loach the “least egotistical of cinema directors.”

sackcloth and ashes

@ David

When it comes to the gulf between 'acclaimed' film directors and their actual appeal, I am reminded of Sergei Eisenstein, a film-maker of considerable talent who (like Leni Riefenstahl) put his talents to the services of totalitarianism. Directors now pay tribute to his genuinely innovatory style of cinematography - Brian de Palma paid 'homage' to the Odessa steps massacre in 'The Battleship Potemkin' in 'The Untouchables', and Terry Gilliam parodied it in 'Brazil'. And yet Eisenstein (even with the CPSU behind him) was not exactly a popular film-maker in his own land. When 'October' was released in 1927 it was far less popular than 'Robin Hood' (the 1922 version with Douglas Fairbanks, which was judged to be sufficiently proletarian for a Soviet audience and was shown in the USSR five years after its original release). Even when your cinema audience is a captive one, you aren't necessarily guaranteed high ratings.

As for Loach, 'Cathy Come Home' raised awareness of the problems of homelessness, and inspired the establishment of the charity 'Crisis' - this perhaps being the only contribution our Ken has actually made to people's welfare. 'Kes' is still a powerful and moving film. But after that Loach just turned out boilerplate stuff which played well to his demographic (the Farringdon Massive and their overseas counterparts) but which left the vast majority of cinemagoers unmoved. And as noted above, other directors have made films which are both politically charged but which are also popular and entertaining.

In another life, he would have flourished in a Cold War-era 'People's Democracy' as the stalwart of the Artists Union, making 'social realist' films which kept the party happy, and also being sure to help the commissars and the chekists to ensure that his fellow artists remained 'reliable', ensuring that less politically-reliable but more talented rivals would be 'disciplined' if they spoke and thought out of turn. Meanwhile, he could turn out his turgid crap for Brezhnev/Honecker/Husak/Zhivkov (delete as appropriate) and take the prizes and honours the system awarded him for kissing arse, even if in practice his films were shunned by the proletariat in favour of whatever Hollywood movies happened to make it past the censor. But in this case, the role of sustaining and puffing his output is confined to Guardianistas and fellow luvvies.

Even with all this in mind, Loach can still act as if he has the 'vanguard of the proletariat' behind him. He is allowed to be an arrogant, egotistical prat because no one in the British arts establishment will challenge him. When he sought to block Tali Shalom Ezer from the Edinburgh film festival in 2009 the organisers should have told him that art transcends national boundaries, that the republic of letters and images welcomes all, and that if he was going to take exception to someone participating in the festival because of their nationality and ethnicity then he should fuck off and join the BNP, and no Mr Loach we don't really need your participation in our festival, thank you very much. But he was allowed to get away with his actions due to a combination of moral cowardice and hypocrisy.

And so he thrives as a big fish in a very small pond.

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