The Corner

Education

Propagandists Who Masquerade as Scholars

Owing to the intense politicization of American higher education, we now find many faculty members whose “research” amounts to nothing more than statist polemics.

In this essay, Phil Magness looks at this nasty phenomenon, focusing in particular on Lawrence Glickman’s book Free Enterprise: An American History.

As Magness demonstrates, the book is an unscholarly hatchet job that’s meant to discredit opponents of government economic control.

He writes, “In Glickman’s telling, that attack amounted to a ‘one-sided war’ upon the New Deal by business interests and other defenders of ‘free enterprise,’ all rooted in the aforementioned myth-making. While he offers a moderately interesting etymology of the phrase and its diverse political claimants dating back to the nineteenth century, the core of his myth-making narrative suffers deeply from the epistemic distortions of the book’s ideological hostility to its subject.”

Rather than trying to elucidate the arguments that proponents of free enterprise made against the New Deal — and subsequent government incursions into the functioning of the economy — this book would have readers condemn them as the products of a terrible conspiracy against good governance. It’s MSNBC stuff dressed up as academic research.

Read the whole thing.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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