Monday, September 26, 2005

University Ideology

I was pointed to this article in the Weekly Standard about campus ideology. I almost didn't read it, expecting another tired article about tenured radicals, but instead I found his history of the university interesting in that he interprets the divide as being between liberal and left rather than liberal and conservative.

I'm not sure whether I buy it, nor what the implications may be if true, but it is interesting nonetheless. I wonder how much of the article is driven by the neoconservative drive to reclaim the word "liberal" to mean what "classical liberal" now means -- reversing the current odd situation in which "liberals" offer apologia for fascists and "conservatives" pursue a Wilsonian foreign policy to overthrow theocracy and fascism.

More and more, I am unable to describe my political beliefs with any of these terms without heavily slathering on the irony, so I find myself saying things like, "Well, you know, I'm a medievalist, so I take my views from Plato and Boethius..."


  1. What is most intriguing about the Standard is the fact that Kristol is no bomb thrower. He masks his neo-conservatism well by often criticizing the Bush administration, all the while really sharing the same agenda. I almost admire his ability to seem objective, but be the most partisan person in the world.

  2. Tal,

    I think you've got it backwards. Your reply suggests that Kristol is a partisan who adopts the Bush administration's agenda. I think it would be more accurate to describe the Bush administration as having adopted Kristol's agenda (after 9-11 anyway), so that his criticisms of the administration are not a mask, but rather an expression of where they have not adopted his own agenda.

    In other words, when 9-11 occurred, the Administration sought out paradigms to explain it. They seemed to feel that neither traditional conservatism, nor traditional liberalism, nor Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism" had the legitimacy of neo-conservativism. Kristol was one of the definers of that school of thought, and as such, has mixed revues of an administration that imperfectly applies it.

    But this isn't a political blog, so who do I know?