Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why Academics Lean Left

The demographic studies have always troubled me -- education and leftism are strongly and directly correlated.

What's the causal relationship there?

The Left traditionally explains this in one of two ways -- either education teaches you that Leftism is true, or smarter people choose to be both academics and leftists.

The Right, at least to my knowledge, has never explained it, except from small pockets of anti-intellectually that don't appeal to me for obvious reasons.

So why?

Today, as I was walking back to work, it occurred to me -- Leftism is, at its heart, alienation from and anger at the marketplace. They don't trust the marketplace. They instinctively blame businesses when things go wrong, even when some other fact is to blame -- reactively, angrily, anti-market.

Why?

Perhaps it comes down to alienation. Academics are typically smart, diligent, hardworking, motivated people. Yet they find themselves underpaid and impotent in the marketplace because academia teaches us lots of theories, but very few marketable skills. In fact, you learn your marketable skills in the marketplace, not in school, because marketable skills simply aren't for sale in school. Teachers, for one thing, typically don't have any to pass on.

So let's look at the life of the original and consummate leftist, Marx. Now there was a guy alienated from the marketplace and from real life. He couldn't do anything useful. He couldn't even keep his family clothed and fed. Yet he was smart. And he knew it.

How is an intelligent failure-at-life to explain the problem? One of two ways, really -- some fault in him, or some fault in the "real world."

Many people (myself included) see the problem in ourselves. We recognized when we graduated from school that we were essentially worthless in the marketplace, and needed to learn a whole new set of skills to survive and thrive in the real world.

But suppose someone were to take a different approach, and blame the market for being "unjust" and "immoral." Suppose an intelligent, idealistic young man chose to blame the world for the fact of his uselessness, instead of his own failure to learn anything useful?

Why then you'd have a leftist. Someone who is instinctively, reactively, anti-market at every turn.

Perhaps this explains why academics -- particularly at the highest levels -- tend to be leftist. they're smart, and they know it. yet they cannot compete in the marketplace, and cannot make money. They think they know how the world should be run, because of their extensive study of social science (developed by other academics alienated from the market). Yet business has no use for them. How short a leap to blame business, rather than their own failure to engage in the useful activities demanded by business.

Academia and Leftism share one key similarity -- alienation from the daily business life of the world. Perhaps that alienation is the causal force that drives their correlation.

3 comments:

The Adventures of Super Obama said...

I completely agree with your observations, and want to add a few more. I think you have laid the foundation for why it started in this direction, but as time moved on and we (for the above mentioned reasons) evolved toward a bunch of leftist teachers, this enforced the perceived dogma of "the more educated your are, the more left your will be". Leftist teachers influeance students to become leftist students, and the cycle runs full circle.

ungtss said...

Good point.

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