Right-wing pundits and writers have argued for decades that the increasing cultural influence of leftist academics would have a deleterious impact on Western society. The numbers speak for themselves.
According to a study by the Carnegie Foundation, more than one-fourth of university professors were conservative in 1969, but that number had dropped to just 12% just three decades later. Furthermore, political scientist Samuel Abrams conducted his own research, which found that the ratio of leftist to conservative professors has skyrocketed by roughly 350% over the past four decades.
Most of the time, such fears are immediately shot down by mainstream media sources and self-styled progressives as conspiracy theories or hyperbolic exaggerations.
In one case, however, an author who dismissed such conservative concerns more than 35 years ago is now starting to recognize the error of his earlier judgment.
According to a recent article by University of California Los Angeles history professor emeritus Russell Jacoby, he is willing to rescind at least some of the arguments he made in his 1987 book “The Last Intellectuals.”
The primary theme of that book was to counter the contemporary complaints of conservatives regarding the rise of Marxism and related ideologies in the nation’s institutes of higher education.
“I argued that the conservatives should awake from their nightmare of radical scholars destroying America and relax; academic revolutionaries preoccupied themselves with their careers and perks,” Jacboy wrote.
Any influence such far-left academics wielded, he contended at the time, “were confined to the campus pool.”
Over the course of subsequent decades, however, Jacoby has witnessed the decline of available positions in universities, which has resulted in what he called “the dawning takeover of the public sphere by campus denizens and lingo.”
Many of the progressive professors that he assumed in 1987 would be satisfied advancing their careers in universities have since been forced to find jobs in the real world, he explained.
“The hordes who took courses in critical pedagogy, insurgent sociology, gender studies, radical anthropology, Marxist cinema theory, and postmodernism could no longer hope for university careers,” Jacoby wrote.
It is this cultural shift, he argued, that has led to the “ballooning diversity and inclusion commissariats that assault us with vapid statements and inane programs couched in the language they learned in school.”
Various “buzz words,” such as diversity, inclusion, and microaggression, were once bandied about almost exclusively on university campuses, Jacoby wrote, but now they have taken root in the larger society and in workplaces of all types.
Other prominent academics seem to agree with his basic argument, even if they do not necessarily believe he offered any real solutions to the problem.
Concluding his review of Jacoby’s article, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne wrote: “And, indeed, given that the ‘studies mills’ are still grinding out students who can’t get academic jobs and will thus infest university administrations and the media for years go come, I’ll have been long underground when and if this movement dies out.”