Monday, February 23, 2004

LRC pick
Why are universities dominated by the left?
2. The "society as classroom" theory: Robert Nozick, in his essay "Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?" suggested that the explanation we are seeking may lie in the formative years of the average intellectual. He is typically the sort of person who, in school, did well academically and not so well socially. That is, he was rewarded for his exemplary compliance with the directives of a central authority (the teacher) who implemented a comprehensive plan (the curriculum) within a regimented social setting (the classroom); he was not rewarded for any contributions he tried to make to the decentralized, unplanned sphere of voluntary interactions that constitutes the life of a young person outside the classroom (the playground, parties, dating situations, and so forth). He thus naturally tends to think the first sort of setting more reasonable and just than the latter, and in generalizing (perhaps unconsciously) to the level of society as a whole, will accordingly tend to favor policies that involve centralized planning by governmental authorities rather than the unplanned results of free interaction by citizens in the marketplace. Related to Nozick's theory is:

3. The resentment theory: Not only in their preparatory years, but also in carrying out their life's work, intellectuals are bound to see themselves as treated unjustly by their peers. As Ludwig von Mises emphasized in
The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, the higher monetary rewards accruing to businessmen, athletes, and entertainers in a capitalist society -- to, we might note, the very same sorts of people who, in youth, would have been more popular on the playground and at parties than the nerdy bookworm -- are resented by intellectuals, who see their own, less lucrative work as being of far greater importance. If P. Diddy's latest album sells millions of copies and Prof. Doody's magisterial five-volume history of Liechtenstein sells precisely 106 copies, all of them going to university libraries, Prof. Doody begins to wonder whether a free market is the fairest way of distributing economic rewards.

Now someone could, of course, prefer Doody to Diddy and yet fail to see how it is
unjust (as opposed to just tough luck for Doody) that his fellow citizens do not agree.

Of course it's outrageous that entertainers such as athletes are so overpaid but I see Nozick's point too, especially because of my vantage point. When one has a disability such as Asperger syndrome and - this is very important - goes through life 'flying blind' not knowing s/he has it - one then understandably falls into the bad habit of blaming all one's problems on other people. I fell into it during my 30 years of 'flying blind', used to know people who did the same thing and of course still see it.

(Readers who use or are familiar with the Byzantine Rite, consider that my простите меня - mea culpa - as that rite begins the observance today of what it calls Great Lent - universal this year as the Roman and Byzantine Easters are in sync.)

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