Carol, in response to your post, I have to disagree that the “only answer is strongly and consistently to challenge the false ideas upon which the whole edifice is based.” Certainly, such a challenge is a large component of the answer, but I think you might underestimate the impact that a free market in labor — by itself — can have on the university culture. Truly free markets have proven historically resistant to ideological control (absent strong coercive measures which obviously render the market something considerably less than “free”), are more likely to embrace change, and provide for a greater degree of experimentation.
Tenure, on the other hand, has proven to be very good at insulating the entrenched elite from even the most persuasive ideological (and even evidence-based) challenges. Because of tenure, reform-minded presidents and trustees can come and go without having any discernible impact on the “permanent” employees of the university.
You are absolutely correct that adjuncts often mirror the radical ideologies of the tenured ranks, but the distorting effect of tenure shares the blame for this as well. If academia creates this amazing job benefit (a job benefit shared by virtually no one else in the entire economy) and then bestows that benefit at an astonishingly disproportionate rate on the more radical members of the community, what kind of attitude and actions has it incentivized? If radical politics are no more or no less likely to grant long-term job security than conservative politics, then I predict you would see less radicalism and more conservatism.
There’s no question that academic reform is going to be a long, slow process requiring efforts across a variety of fronts. And you are absolutely correct that we should always, always fully engage in the battle of ideas, but I can’t help but think that the diminishing numbers (and, consequently, influence) of the truly entrenched elite is going to ultimately have a profound effect on our university culture.
Rather than continuing to bang our fists on a closed club door, might we consider dismantling the club entirely?