27 January 2009

When Did Academia Go Left?

I've been re-reading Paul Johnson's A History of the American People, with a keen interest in Johnson's perspective on the Great Depression. This morning, I came across this passage:

"Thus impoverished, writers and intellectuals generally veered sharply to the left in these years. Indeed, 1929-1933 was a great watershed in American intellectual history. In the 18th century American men of ideas and letters had been closely in tune with the republicanism of the Founding Fathers. In the 19th century they had on the whole endorsed the individualism which was at the core of the American way of life--the archetypal intellectual of the mid-century, Emerson, had been himself a traveling salesman for the spirit of self-help in the Midwest. From the early Thirties, however, the intellectuals, carrying with them a predominant part of academia and workers in the media, moved into a position of criticism and hostility towards the structural ideas of the American consensus: the free market, capitalism, individualism, enterprise, independence, and personal responsibility."

Many of Johnson's observations regarding the Great Depression are quite fascinating as we see this same phenomenon continuing and, with the current economic downturn, growing. And we continue to see hostility toward many of the founding principles of our republic. We're trading free market capitalism for a socialist-style "managed" economy, individualism for group-think, enterprise for handouts, independence for dependence, and personal responsibility for whining and finger-pointing. More excerpts and comments on Johnson's excellent historical analysis later.

Also, I have what I trust will be some very interesting posts coming up this coming weekend. One of these posts will be about Robert E. Lee and the ridiculous notion that his persona was "manufactured" by Southerners. Another one will be about one of my great-great grandfathers who was a carpetbagger (for those who think they know more than they actually do). That post will be of particular interest to one person in particular as it involves the readjuster movement in post-war Virginia.

And speaking of General Lee, I've been approached about working on a documentary about Lee in the near future. More as that develops. But until the weekend, I may not have any more posts as I have to go out of town on business Wed-Fri.


Charles said...

It was also the case by the late 20's and thirties that all the mainline denominations seminaries shifted over to "higher criticism". The consequence of this was that the person of Christ was degraded from being both fully God and fully Man to being just a good man. This was a heresy that had been gaining momentum since Newton embraced it. Its first incarnation was back in the 4th century with the Arian Heresy for which which the Nicean creed was written.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Good point Charles. Of course, my post focuses on politics rather than theology, though I realize there is a close connection.

As Kuyper noted, "Culture is religion externalized."

Barry said...

Pelosi will next advocate "Two free chicklets to every person" as a way to infuse the economy with cash! It is obvious that free mental health is not a benefit to those in D.C.

13thBama said...

Sorry for the mispost. It was obviously meant for the story below. To get back on topic, what will it take to bring Academia back to the middle? So many of the press is far left and therefore it is difficult to get a true, unspun view of any topic.