Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Countering the Left


In an important two-part essay at Minding the Campus, Robert Weissberg offers a plan for countering the leftist dominance of universities. His essay is well worth reading, although he somewhat undercuts his points by the nomenclature he chooses, and he is a bit divisive when he criticizes other approaches and complains about lack of support for his. But perhaps I cavil.

In a nutshell, Weissberg recommends what he calls a “covert CIA approach” which “takes its inspiration from the agency’s work to undermine post-WW II European communism.” (The difficulty here is his choice of words — the CIA is a government agency, but Weissberg is talking about philanthropy, not government — and, really, many individuals, forces, and entities contributed to the downfall of European Communism. But don’t be too distracted by that.)

The content is this: To be successful, academic scholars must publish, and today’s universities promote, subsidize, and nurture mostly leftist, statist, and nonsensical scholarship. He asks philanthropists to support conservative/free-market research by: supporting individual scholars (the Earhart Foundation is an example, but it is “sunsetting”), subsidizing books and journals, funding academic conferences, and networking through a central website that includes links to many opportunities for the conservative or free-market scholar. “It is a familiar sports farm team model: cultivate young talent, often on the cheap,” says Weissberg.

Great ideas. Philanthropists are already doing some of them, and others are worth exploring. I don’t see why this policy has to be covert, though. Perhaps someone will tell me. 


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