The Corner

Does This Sound Like a Liberal?

Here are two extracts from what Bloom wrote in National Review in 1982. This one is how he opened his essay:

“I begin with my conclusion: students in our best universities do not believe in anything, and those universities are doing nothing about it, nor can they. An easygoing American kind of nihilism has descended upon us, a nihilism without terror of the abyss. The great questions–God, freedom, and immortality, according to Kant–hardly touch the young. And the universities, which should encourage the quest for the clarification of such questions, are the very source of the doctrine which makes that quest appear futile.”

The essay was basically an attack on cultural relativism (that sturdy pillar of conservative thought), as this graf makes clear:

“Schools once produced citizens, or gentlemen, or believers; now they produce the unprejudiced. A university professor confronting entering freshmen can be almost certain that most of them will know that there are no absolutes and that one cannot say that one culture is superior to another. They can scarcely believe that someone might seriously argue the contrary; the attempt to do so meets either self-satisfied smiles at something so old-fashioned or outbursts of anger at a threat to decent respect for other human beings.”

So there you have it: Allan Bloom, hero of 21st-century liberalism, in his own words, penned for that famously left-wing magazine called National Review.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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