In response to: What Worlds Have They to Conquer?: A Higher Ed Dystopia
Ever since economists failed to predict the Great Recession of late 2007 to 2009, a growing number scholars in the field have added a greater historical and philosophical sense to their empirical research. It is no surprise that these economists are mostly of the Austrian school or influenced by it, since that school’s founders—Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, and F.A. Hayek—viewed economic data with suspicion. Their heirs in America include Russ Roberts, Michael Munger, Deirdre McCloskey, and Tyler Cowen.
On National Review Online’s “Corner”, Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, discussed the nature and origins of recent campus disinvitations and disruptions, such as the Black Lives Matter intimidation of Heather Mac Donald at University of California Los Angeles. The essay has two parts. The first provides a narrative history of how American campuses embraced anti-free speech disruptions, and the second half offers policies to end them. Kurtz’s piece offered the now familiar complaint that tenured radicals are at the root of campus disruption, and Republican majorities in Congress should reform the Higher Education Act to force universities to protect speech and, if possible, rescind tenure. Professor Peter Augustine Lawler, the Dana Professor of Political Science at Berry College, critiqued Kurtz’s piece on two grounds. This first is that administrators are now in charge and have pushed faculty to the margins of decision-making. The second is that legislation is precisely the opposite of the proper solution, because federal regulation of various kinds has facilitated the erosion of the true diversity of American colleges.
For many Republicans, the presidency of Barack Obama felt like a Babylonian exile. America was in ruins, and Donald Trump surveyed them—seeing, as he said in his inaugural address, “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation” as evidence of a broader “American carnage.”
With today’s honoring of Martin Luther King, Jr. come new skirmishes in the turf war over his legacy.
Tradition holds that radicals on the Left own it. Because the civil rights leader was most radical near the end of his life, that King allegedly proved to be the truest. The King of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign is deemed to be better than the younger, greener, and more obviously Christian King of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. He engaged in acts of civil disobedience, including boycotts, demonstrations, sit-ins. He went to jail to demonstrate the violence at the heart of the white supremacist state. He also vocally opposed the Vietnam War. King sought to relieve the racially and economically dispossessed by way of government programs that would redistribute wealth from the richest Americans.
In the preface of James Madison and Constitutional Imperfection, Jeremy D. Bailey mentions in an aside that he will not speak of Madison’s theory of religious liberty; yet the entire text that follows is taken up with a discussion of Madison’s religion. I do not mean that Bailey scours Madison’s corpus for evidence of Christian faith or that he seeks, to the contrary, to prove once and for all that the Founders were religious skeptics. He makes no inquiry of the sort. Rather, he investigates what I consider Madison’s political religion. He points, using Madison’s language, to the U.S. Constitution as…
In his 1936 short story “The Verger,” W. Somerset Maugham provides a parable for how economic liberty rewards the canny, intrepid owner of a small business no matter how humble his origins.