Kahane, trans.Foreword by Friedrich A.
I listened to students—young women, again, who considered themselves strong feminists—talk about how they were afraid to speak freely among their peers, and how despite its notoriety as a platform for cyberbullying, they were grateful for YikYak, the social media app, because it allowed them to say anonymously what they couldn’t say in their own name. Above all, I heard my students tell me that while they generally identified with the sentiments and norms that travel under the name of political correctness, they thought that it had simply gone too far—way too far. Everybody felt oppressed, as they put it, by the “PC police”—everybody, that is, except for those whom everybody else regarded as members of the PC police.
Includes essays by Fritz Machlup, Israel M.
. This is particularly true of the leading Soviet conservative, former Second Secretary Yegor Ligachev, who has publicly recognized many of the deep defects of the Brezhnev period. ()
What falls between the two is nothing less than the core purpose of a liberal education: inquiry into the fundamental human questions, undertaken through rational discourse. Rational discourse, meaning rational argument: not the us-talk of PC consensus, which isn’t argument, or the them-talk of vituperation (as practiced ubiquitously on social media), which isn’t rational. But inquiry into the fundamental human questions—in the words of Tolstoy, “What shall we do and how shall we live?”—threatens both of the current campus creeds: political correctness, by calling its certainties into question; the religion of success, by calling its values into question. Such inquiry raises the possibility that there are different ways to think and different things to live for.
Power, class, and the new campus religion
The post-historical consciousness represented by "new thinking" is only one possible future for the Soviet Union, however. There has always been a very strong current of great Russian chauvinism in the Soviet Union, which has found freer expression since the advent of glasnost. It may be possible to return to traditional Marxism-Leninism for a while as a simple rallying point for those who want to restore the authority that Gorbachev has dissipated. But as in Poland, Marxism-Leninism is dead as a mobilizing ideology: under its banner people cannot be made to work harder, and its adherents have lost confidence in themselves. Unlike the propagators of traditional Marxism-Leninism, however, ultranationalists in the USSR believe in their Slavophile cause passionately, and one gets the sense that the fascist alternative is not one that has played itself out entirely there.
The Christian RegisterIdeas and Opinions,
Sociological studies (e.g., Ecklundt 2010) have probed the religiousbeliefs of scientists, particularly in the United States. Theyindicate a significant difference in religiosity in scientistscompared to the general population. Surveys such as those conducted bythe Pew forum (Masci and Smith 2016) find that nearly nine in tenadults in the US say they believe in God or a universal spirit, anumber that has only slightly declined in recent decades. Amongyounger adults, the percentage of theists is about 80%. Atheism andagnosticism are widespread among academics, especially among thoseworking in elite institutions. A survey among National Academy ofSciences members (all senior academics, overwhelmingly from elitefaculties) found that the majority disbelieved in God’sexistence (72.2%), with 20.8% being agnostic, and only 7% theists(Larson and Witham 1998). Ecklund and Scheitle (2007) analyzed responsesfrom scientists (working in the social and natural sciences) from 21elite universities in the US. About 31.2% of their participantsself-identified as atheists and a further 31 % as agnostics. Theremaining number believed in a higher power (7%), sometimes believedin God (5.4%), believed in God with some doubts (15.5%), or believedin God without any doubts (9.7%). In contrast to the generalpopulation, the older scientists in this sample did not show higherreligiosity—in fact, they were more likely to say that they didnot believe in God. On the other hand, Gross and Simmons (2009)examined a more heterogeneous sample of scientists from Americancolleges, including community colleges, elite doctoral-grantinginstitutions, non-elite four-year state schools, and small liberalarts colleges. They found that the majority of university professors(full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty) had some theistic beliefs,believing either in God (34.9%), in God with some doubts (16.6%), inGod some of the time (4.3%), or in a higher power (19.2%). Belief inGod was influenced both by type of institution (lower theistic beliefin more prestigious schools) and by discipline (lower theistic beliefin the physical and biological sciences compared to the socialsciences and humanities).
The result, David Graeber suggests, is that:
The struggle between two opposing systems is no longer a determining tendency of the present-day era. At the modern stage, the ability to build up material wealth at an accelerated rate on the basis of front-ranking science and high-level techniques and technology, and to distribute it fairly, and through joint efforts to restore and protect the resources necessary for mankind's survival acquires decisive importance.