Welcome to The Valve
Login
Register


Valve Links

The Front Page
Statement of Purpose

John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Advanced Search

Articles
RSS 1.0 | RSS 2.0 | Atom

Comments
RSS 1.0 | RSS 2.0 | Atom

XHTML | CSS

Powered by Expression Engine
Logo by John Holbo

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

 


Blogroll

2blowhards
About Last Night
Academic Splat
Acephalous
Amardeep Singh
Beatrice
Bemsha Swing
Bitch. Ph.D.
Blogenspiel
Blogging the Renaissance
Bookslut
Booksquare
Butterflies & Wheels
Cahiers de Corey
Category D
Charlotte Street
Cheeky Prof
Chekhov’s Mistress
Chrononautic Log
Cliopatria
Cogito, ergo Zoom
Collected Miscellany
Completely Futile
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
Conversational Reading
Critical Mass
Crooked Timber
Culture Cat
Culture Industry
CultureSpace
Early Modern Notes
Easily Distracted
fait accompi
Fernham
Ferule & Fescue
Ftrain
GalleyCat
Ghost in the Wire
Giornale Nuovo
God of the Machine
Golden Rule Jones
Grumpy Old Bookman
Ideas of Imperfection
Idiocentrism
Idiotprogrammer
if:book
In Favor of Thinking
In Medias Res
Inside Higher Ed
jane dark’s sugarhigh!
John & Belle Have A Blog
John Crowley
Jonathan Goodwin
Kathryn Cramer
Kitabkhana
Languagehat
Languor Management
Light Reading
Like Anna Karina’s Sweater
Lime Tree
Limited Inc.
Long Pauses
Long Story, Short Pier
Long Sunday
MadInkBeard
Making Light
Maud Newton
Michael Berube
Moo2
MoorishGirl
Motime Like the Present
Narrow Shore
Neil Gaiman
Old Hag
Open University
Pas au-delà
Philobiblion
Planned Obsolescence
Printculture
Pseudopodium
Quick Study
Rake’s Progress
Reader of depressing books
Reading Room
ReadySteadyBlog
Reassigned Time
Reeling and Writhing
Return of the Reluctant
S1ngularity::criticism
Say Something Wonderful
Scribblingwoman
Seventypes
Shaken & Stirred
Silliman’s Blog
Slaves of Academe
Sorrow at Sills Bend
Sounds & Fury
Splinters
Spurious
Stochastic Bookmark
Tenured Radical
the Diaries of Franz Kafka
The Elegant Variation
The Home and the World
The Intersection
The Litblog Co-Op
The Literary Saloon
The Literary Thug
The Little Professor
The Midnight Bell
The Mumpsimus
The Pinocchio Theory
The Reading Experience
The Salt-Box
The Weblog
This Public Address
This Space: The Fire’s Blog
Thoughts, Arguments & Rants
Tingle Alley
Uncomplicatedly
Unfogged
University Diaries
Unqualified Offerings
Waggish
What Now?
William Gibson
Wordherders

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Donald Lazere on Funding Foundations

Posted by Jonathan Goodwin on 07/20/05 at 10:15 AM

Lazere makes several points worth your attention about the politics of the academy debates and the role of outside foundations in them in his Inside Higher Education article.  He notes that the radical leftist--someone with strong views about the necessity of political change and who acts on them--is both rare and marginalized in the academy. I’ve always thought that they are easily outnumbered by members of organizations such as the NAS, and they exhibit a broader spectrum of thought on diverse issues because of the rich intellectual heritage of the left. The culture warriors here take the vaguely centrist and mostly self-interested politics of many academics and designate it as a leftist hegemony. From the perspective so created, subscribers to Radical Teacher would have no role in civil discourse, etc.

Our editor has already implemented his final suggestion, however.


Comments

The meaning of “here” in “the culture warriors here” is ambiguous.  Is “here” suppoed to mean The Valve?  Because I haven’t seen anyone writing on The Valve claim a leftist hegemony; on the contrary, the leftist attack on Theory made by Chomsky among others has been much discussed.

As for DiscoverTheNutwork, it’s a great joke, yes, but someone needs to do it seriously.  It’s like when Michael Bérubé complained about ABOR.  He wrote:

“Three.  If I were a crafty SOB like Horowitz, and wanted to throw a spanner in the local right-wing works, I’d go after the most nebulous clause in paragraphs (1)-(3), the one that asks whether “students have an academic environment, quality life [sic] on campus and reasonable access to course materials that create an environment conducive to learning.” I’d begin gathering statements from gay, African-American and other minority students about whether their quality of campus life creates an environment conducive to learning.  I’d flood the legislature with complaints about College Republicans and their little “affirmative action bake sales,” which are patently obvious attempts to insult and belittle black and Hispanic students.  I’d make H.R. 177 a referendum on investigating incidents of racism, sexism, and homophobia throughout the State-related and State-owned colleges and universities of this fair Commonwealth.  It would be a terrible mess, and it would lead to all manner of strange allegations.  But that’s what I’d do if I were a crafty SOB.  Just saying.”

Which might actually be a good response, but which doesn’t work if it’s read as a witticism.  Someone needs to do the extensive political organizing that would be necessary.  Obviously Bérubé can’t, without playing into Horowitz’ hands, but still, the phrasing is not really calculated to drive some student group to do this seriously.

By on 07/20/05 at 12:51 PM | Permanent link to this comment

"Here” refers to “members of organizations such as the NAS” in the sentence preceding.

By Jonathan on 07/20/05 at 01:02 PM | Permanent link to this comment

If you add up the money that conservative and libertarian foundations and think tanks dole out each year, the total is a drip compared to the waterfall of funds given out by Leftwing foundations. MacArthur, Ford, and Annenberg alone dwarf them all.

And as for diversity of thought: at major AEI symposia, at least one dissident voice is included on the panel.  The same goes for NAS meetings. At the 2003 meeting in DC, one of the keynote speakers was Todd Gitlin.

By on 07/21/05 at 10:44 AM | Permanent link to this comment

"Leftwing founcations?” From what perspective? Do they give out money to Radical Teacher?

Again, my point that the majority of academics in the humanities (crucial point--none of this applies to commerce, law, engineering, etc.) occupy the vague center, tilting Democratic only because many of their universities are dependent on state funding that Democrats traditionally have supported more. Equating this with leftist bias is blind or, more likely, cynical.

By Jonathan on 07/21/05 at 11:16 AM | Permanent link to this comment

"one dissident voice”?

Wow. That is diverse.

By gzombie on 07/21/05 at 12:21 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Sorry, that was too snarky. (Or as Tom Cruise might say, “Gzombie, Gzombie, Gzombie...you’re glib!")

Do we only have diversity of thought when conservative voices are included?

What if there are a range of voices from the center to the far left? That’s diverse, but I don’t think it would satisfy conservative critics of higher education.

Is diversity of thought really the issue at stake, or is it the marginalization of conservative points of view in academia?

By gzombie on 07/21/05 at 12:39 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Check out Ford’s grantees on its website. It funds many nonpolitical groups and activities, and many Leftist groups and activities (such as Media Justice Network and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Inc.), and no conservative, paleoconservative, neoconservative, or libertarian groups.

As for the diverse voice at AEI, I meant that one of a panel of 3 or 4 people is on the other side. Those numbers are better than anything you’ll find at an MLA, AHA, OAS, ASA, . . . meeting.

By on 07/21/05 at 04:57 PM | Permanent link to this comment

The Ford Foundation grantee list is filled with apolitical causes. Is helping to prevent AIDS in Africa a left-wing political cause?

Are you asking us to believe that the American Enterprise Institute is a more diverse body than those professional organizations, some 30,000 strong, that you mention? It’s hard for me to understand why you keep repeating this claim.

By Jonathan on 07/21/05 at 05:05 PM | Permanent link to this comment

"Those numbers are better than anything you’ll find at an MLA, AHA, OAS, ASA, . . . meeting.”

Let me ask a question that is not meant to suport or undercut a particular position, but that addresses methodology: how does one go about proving or disproving the above claim in a way that would be persuasive to others?

“I meant that one of a panel of 3 or 4 people is on the other side”

I figured out what you meant after I posted my uselessly snarky comment above. Your comment makes me wonder if it’s accurate to say that there are (or should be) only two sides to every panel and if the level of disagreement should be measured according to the liberal-conservative political spectrum.

I realize that the experience of one individual is only worth so much when trying to talk about general, academia-wide trends. However, I’ve seen panels all the time at conferences where the panelists do not agree with each other. I would not characterize their disagreements as falling along neat culture war lines, but that does not mean there’s not intellectual diversity.

By gzombie on 07/21/05 at 05:44 PM | Permanent link to this comment

</i>"If you add up the money that conservative and libertarian foundations and think tanks dole out each year, the total is a drip compared to the waterfall of funds given out by Leftwing foundations. MacArthur, Ford, and Annenberg alone dwarf them all."<i>

Wasn’t this argument specifically refuted in the linked article? “Liberal” foundations are not liberal the way conservative foundations are conservative. The conservative foundations are conservative action groups, while the liberal foundations are general-purpose, and only weakly liberal. I don’t think that Annenberg is liberal at all.

That comment verged on trollish.

By John Emerson on 07/21/05 at 06:35 PM | Permanent link to this comment

John Emerson, Mark makes a more extended and better-argued version of his argument in the fourth comment down from Lazere’s article:  it comes out as an interesting mini-essay, containing an attempt to find common ground over some of its assertions.  I suppose it “verged on trollish” to the extent that, in the form it appears here, it’s not a serious contribution to the argument, but it surely comes as no suprise that Mark’s role on the Valve is sometimes to serve as its resident right-wing-talking-point-reiterator.  Gzombie has consistently shown, here and on his own blog, that some of the points in question can be engaged fruitfully in discussion.  And even the Bauerleinian statements that patronize his opponents or make no sense as part of an attempt to persuade them provide useful information that contributes to my understanding about how it feels to perceive oneself as part of an embattled rightist minority in the academic humanities.  So in the sense of “a hostile attempt to attack the poster and/or divert attention from the topic,” I don’t think “trollish” works.  But if members of the Valve were in the habit of trolling each other’s posts, it’d sure make things interesting!  I wunna see Burstein versus Davis, myself. 

My experience is Goodwin’s and Lazere’s:  real-live Leftists are rare in the academy and are sometimes punished by administators for their activism.  There are, by contrast, lots of “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” types and an increasing number of Lieberman Democrats.  Like Todd Gitlin, such people expend a good amount of energy denouncing the Left.  A couple of my mentors in grad school drifted in that direction during my time there, with one going farther and becoming a real neocon-with-libertarian-features.  Kept me honest, as I could not take Left pieties for granted in my writing.

By on 07/22/05 at 07:04 AM | Permanent link to this comment

No, that argument was not “specifically refuted” in the article. What Donald said was that the liberal foundations have a philanthropic portfolio while the conservative foundations have a propagandistic portfolio. In truth, the conservative foundations lean heavily toward Right wing causes, but they also fund apolitical projects. Look at Bradley’s site to see how much money it gives to cultural institutions such as the Milwaukee symphony and to universities. Conservative foundations are much more than “conservative action groups.”

John is right, though, that Annenberg is more centrist than I noted. I meant to say Pew (which has connections with the Annenberg School of Journalism), and whose president has stated her intention to “reinfuse the idealism of the Sixties into our work.”

As for panel diversity, all I meant was that at conservative and libertarian meetings one often finds invited guests from the Left and a respectful hearing given to their views. I have never seen the same at a meeting of the MLA, etc. It’s not about diversity of personnel, which I don’t really care about--it’s about diversity of ideas.

By on 07/22/05 at 09:56 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I did uses the word “verges on”. This statement still seems wildly wrong:

“The total is a drip compared to the waterfall of funds given out by Leftwing foundations. MacArthur, Ford, and Annenberg alone dwarf them all.

I think that “The Left” was granted the English Departments and other liberal arts areas as a sort of booby prize. I can hardly think of a worse vantage point for political action. Most college students don’t major in liberal arts anyway, and they tend to admire their professors much less than they seem to when they’re sucking up for a grade.

I think that the Horowitz-Coulter attacks are a mopping-up action. Obviously, if there are any liberals or leftists at all, unless they’re evenly distributed throughout the society (and societies don’t work that way), there will be areas of concentration where they are actually in control. What the right-wing critics object to is that there are any leftists anywhere.

My own experience since 1980 or so has been that when my leftist friends entered PhD programs, they moved toward the canter and became liberals (which to people like Horowitz is really just as bad). Others who I knew less well got into cultural politics of a sometimes ultra-left, but basically apolitical, sort.

By John Emerson on 07/22/05 at 12:25 PM | Permanent link to this comment

"It’s not about diversity of personnel, which I don’t really care about--it’s about diversity of ideas.”

If you care about diversity of ideas, then I would imagine you’d be pleased to know that people on the left have all sorts of disagreements with each other at academic conferences and in print. Right? But I don’t really think that’s the issue concerning most conservative critics of higher ed.

“As for panel diversity, all I meant was that at conservative and libertarian meetings one often finds invited guests from the Left and a respectful hearing given to their views. I have never seen the same at a meeting of the MLA, etc.”

Fair enough. But while the organizations you cite have stated conservative orientations and goals, I don’t think stated political orientations and goals have been made by the other organizations you cite (e.g. MLA, AHA).

As I’m sure you know, conference panels frequently feature someone in the role of respondent, whose job it is to synthesize the ideas contained in each of the papers as well as to pose provocative questions challenging the ideas that have been presented. And audience members usually do not hesitate to ask pointed questions that can get to the heart of the weaknesses of a panelists’ paper. This happened to me and my fellow panelsts at SHARP 2004. It’s not a pleasant experience, when you’re a panelist, but it represents intellectual diversity.

But let’s consider what an official voice of dissent might look like:

If there were a panel at MLA on, say, ways to teach poety, then how would one go about inviting someone to provide a “dissenting view”? Find someone who doesn’t believe we should be teaching poetry? Or perhaps someone who hates poetry?

Or consider panel 655 from MLA 2004 (a panel I blogged here):

655. Sounds in the Eighteenth-Century City

Program arranged by the Division on Restoration and Early-Eighteenth-Century English Literature
Presiding: Jonathan Brody Kramnick, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

1. “Mother Shipton Speaks: Sounding Oracles in Eighteenth-Century Print Culture,” Laura E. McGrane, Haverford Coll.

2. “Pope, Print, and the ‘Wond’rous Pow’r of Noise,’” Paula J. McDowell, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick

3. “Sounds in the Theater,” Paula R. Backscheider, Auburn Univ., Auburn

I don’t think we’d even be able to recognize a “dissenting voice” on this panel if all we were doing was trying to gauge how liberal or conservative the papers were. The work of these scholars just doesn’t track that way.

McDowell’s paper was the one that really resonated with me, but (if memory serves) there was quite a different approach taken by all three panelists. That, to me, is intellectual diversity.

Similarly, I remember a paper Martha Nell Smith gave at MLA 1996 in which she argued that we should conceive of Emily Dicksinson’s relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson, as one of collaborative authorship. I also remember quite well that a woman in the audience argued against this point of view quite vehemently. In that argument, who was the conservative who was the liberal? You tell me. Doesn’t this exchange represent intellectual diversity?

Are you saying that diversity would only be present if someone who self-identified as conservative were invited to one of these conferences argue with panelists?

By gzombie on 07/22/05 at 02:01 PM | Permanent link to this comment

^"who was the conservative and who was the liberal?”

By gzombie on 07/22/05 at 02:03 PM | Permanent link to this comment

By the way, Mark, I was glad when you came to Kansas City to discuss the Reading at Risk report, and I thought you gave a great talk and did a good job during the panel discussion.

[Sorry for the third comment in a row.]

By gzombie on 07/22/05 at 02:19 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Thanks, gzombie. The report documented a serious trend among young adults, and it’s going to affect humanities professors more than they realize in the coming years.

About diversity: of course there are shades of disagreement at academic gatherings, but from an outsider’s perspective they would mark a pretty small segment of the ideological spectrum. The problem right now is that on the Big Issues there is too much conformity and consensus among the professorate. Affirmative action, the war on terror, etc. are contested issues in the larger public, but near absolute consensus holds among profs.

Finally, I’m not sure how the Left “was granted” liberal arts departments as a “booby prize.” I agree, though, that in the wake of the 1960s the Right won the political war and the Left won the culture war (in that left-of-center figures dominate higher ed., K-12, the art world, the mainstream media and publishing--though that is crumbling).

By on 07/22/05 at 03:45 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Again, are commerce, law, and engineering faculties part of the professoriate? I’ve always thought so. Pretty big chunk, come to think of it. If you agree that they are, you have to admit that your claim of “absolute consensus” does not apply. First of all, it doesn’t apply among any faculties anywhere, at least not in absolute terms. What do you mean by claiming that the “war on terror,” in particular, is not contested? I seem to recall a lot of words being exchanged between people who were on different sides of the Afghanistan invasion, not to mention the Iraq war.

Actually, the first thing was different. There were two professors in the entire country, more or less, who spoke out against the Afghanistan war, both retired. So I agree with you to that extent about the consensus on the war on terror

By Jonathan on 07/22/05 at 04:05 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Finally, I’m not sure how the Left “was granted” liberal arts departments as a “booby prize.”

I know exactly this was done, Mark. I have a 120-page piece ready for publication revealing the existence of a secret international Booby-Prize-Awarding committee dominated by Opus Dei, the Knights of Malta, and the Bavarian Illuminati. Unfortunately I can’t reveal the full details at this time.

As I said, the issue here is the existence of any Left at all, anywhere. Not any of the pretext issues that are being raised.

By John Emerson on 07/22/05 at 04:38 PM | Permanent link to this comment

"The problem right now is that on the Big Issues there is too much conformity and consensus among the professorate. Affirmative action, the war on terror, etc. are contested issues in the larger public, but near absolute consensus holds among profs.”

I would define a Big Issue as something that is central to my classroom and to my scholarship.

Thus, how we teach poetry is a Big Issue in the discipline of literary studies. Affirmative action is not.

How we conceive of authorship is a Big Issue. The war on terror is not.

How and if we should study the role of sound in history is a big issue. Afghanistan is not.

Concerning these three Big Issues, there is a great deal of disagreement among the professoriate. That’s intellectual diversity.

As for politics, if the professoriate were not interested in fostering the development of diverse points of view, something like The September Project would feature no university participation.

I can’t speak for any other host from last year, but at my own university, we had a problem finding conservative student groups, conservative professors, or conservative community activists who were interested in showing up to share their views with others and to listen to the views of others.

By gzombie on 07/22/05 at 05:51 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Picking up on what Jonathan said: the liberal arts are self-selected for a degree of dissidence because going into the liberal arts is not a good practical career choice.

A normal optimistic, success-oriented, ambitious American in search of the good life—and that’s almost all mainstream Americans—would never get a PhD in English, anthropology, history, Art History, or any of the other humanities. Not only the professional schools, business schools, and engineering schools offer better careers, but also economics and some of the sciences.

Even a successful tenure-track humanities PhD doesn’t do especially well by middle-class standards, and humanities PhDs also have an extraordinarily high rate of unsuccess: not enough good jobs —not even enough crappy adjunct jobs.

Many PhD tracks have backup careers (e.g., lab techs with strong skills can make $50,000+). There really aren’t backup careers in most of the humanities—you can’t teach high school or go into journalism, for example (they’re now separate specialties).

So humanities people will be alienated from American society, almost by definition. Some might be apolitical aristocratic eccentrics with trust funds who have devoted themselves to “the higher things”, but others will be social critics, leftist and otherwise.

I really think that it is a mistake to be fair-minded and reasonable about these attacks. As I said, it’s a mop-up operation. The humanities are the last rathole where the potential opposition forces have taken refuge, and the monopolar triumphalists want to exterminate that opposition.

(This may seem to conflict with my assertion that tenured radicals tend to become less political and less radical, but not really. )

By John Emerson on 07/22/05 at 06:46 PM | Permanent link to this comment

John:

In my experience, a majority of the PhD candidates in the Humanities were of the normal mainstream variety.  It can cost a lot (both in terms of tuition and opportunity costs) to get a PhD.  People from more economic precarious backgrounds have a lot more incentive to go into a more practical field (law, medicine, engineering, business) because of the larger and more immediate returns.  People from more comfortable backgrounds, whether they have trust funds or the support of wealthy parents, have a greater luxury to pursue a Humanities PhD. As a result, liberals in the Humanities are more likely, I think, to be interested in social issues than economic issues in their politics. 

I think you overestimate the alienation gap in the Humanities.

By on 07/22/05 at 07:10 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I’m not in touch, blah, so maybe.

However, most normal Americans from well-off families want to make even more money. It’s not just poor people who want to be upward mobile.

If you’re right, then my “some might be apolitical aristocratic eccentrics with trust funds who have devoted themselves to “the higher things”" is the more accurate part of what I said. This would mesh with the “elite trust-fund liberal” smear.

Listening around, I hear tremendous distress from unemployed, underemployed, and abused humanities PhD’s. Perhaps a degree of alienation is the result, rather than the cause, of enlistment in the humanities.

The mere fact of working that hard for a not-very-valuable credential, however, does show a considerable separation from normal American values and procedures, where jobs are chosen mostly for their earning power. The idealist thing of “wanting interesting work” or “wanting to make a contribution to something higher” is, in itself, a form of alienation from the practical, optimistic, ambitious way of life. (Some conservative Christians also feel this alienation.)

I suppose that the argument might also be made that simple thoughtlessness about job markets is the real cause here.

By John Emerson on 07/22/05 at 08:03 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Add a comment:

Name:
Email:
Location:
URL:

 

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below: