09 Apr 2019

The Closing of the Millennial Mind

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Rod Dreher

Over the weekend, I met a friend in Cambridge, Mass., for lunch. He’s a foreigner studying at Harvard. He told me that his experience there has been quite an education in how the American elite constructs its worldview and reproduces itself. In fact, that is perhaps the most important lesson he has learned from his experience at the top US university.

I’m writing this with his permission, but I want to be careful about what I say, to protect his privacy. In general, he said it has been a real shock to him — and to the other foreign students in his circle — to observe how “coercive” (his word) the intellectual atmosphere at Harvard is, at least in the areas he’s been studying. He explained that it is quite simply impossible to discuss certain things, and ask certain questions, because of the ideological rigidity of the American students and their teachers. My friend made clear that this is the consensus view of the foreigners he knows there, whether they are on the left or the right.

My lunch companion said that the elites formed by this most elite American university are people who have set up a world in which they never have to encounter an idea, or a person, that they don’t already endorse or embrace. We were joined at the table by a third person, a left-wing Baby Boomer who works in a very liberal Boston institution (I’ll not name it to protect his privacy), and who said that he finds the ideological rigidity of Millennials and the generation behind them to be insufferable. Such joyless, humorless, incurious people, he said. The foreigner, though a Millennial himself, agreed.

On our way to the restaurant, I had mentioned to my foreign friend something I’ve heard from several of you readers of this blog who are conservative academics: that as long as old-school liberals remain in charge of faculties and academic institutions, there will be a place for right-of-center scholars. But when the Jacobin-like younger generation moves into leadership, that will be the end. He agreed, and brought up several examples from academia and academia-adjacent institutions (e.g., publishing). He told me one story about a left-liberal scholar he knows who has been turned into a non-person for questioning out loud some of aspects of au courant progressive dogma. I’m not easy to shock about things like this, but this particular story — my foreign friend named names — was for me a sign of how advanced the ideological militancy has become.

It recalled in fact an e-mail conversation I had last week with a liberal journalist friend who hates to see this closing of the left’s mind. My journalist pal said that he’s seeing on the left a moralistic refusal even to consider ideas, people, and data that contradict these leftists’ moral code. Understand: it’s not that this new breed of progressives disagrees (though they do); it’s that they believe, and believe strongly, that even to confront information that contradicts what they prefer to believe is intolerable.

Said my friend: “No wonder these people are always shocked by the latest developments in politics. They refuse to see the world as it is.”

RTWT

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JK Brown

They aren’t even original

“Purges are the necessary consequences of the philosophical foundation of Marxian socialism. If you cannot discuss philosophical differences of opinion in the same way you discuss other problems, you must find another solution—through violence and power. This refers not only to dissent concerning policies, economic problems, sociology, law, and so on. It refers also to problems of the natural sciences. The Webbs, Lord and Lady Passfield, were shocked to learn that Russian magazines and papers dealt even with problems of the natural sciences from the point of view of the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism. For instance, if there is a difference of opinion with regard to science or genetics, it must be decided by the “leader.” This is the necessary unavoidable consequence of the fact that, according to Marxist doctrine, you do not consider the possibility of dissent among honest people; either you think as I do, or you are a traitor and must be liquidated.”

von Mises, Ludwig (1952). Marxism Unmasked



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