Re: What Would Happen If the Academic Bureaucracy Levelled With Itself?
15 Nov 1996 23:41:45 GMT

cynthia gage wrote:
> In article <>, wrote:
> > We object to PC because we've heard it all a thousand times, we've
> > had to live under it all our lives, and not a damned bit of it ever
> > WORKS.
> I'm sorry, but it seems to me that the only place I've heard "PC" is
> you. What is the "it" that "not a damned bit of ever WORKS"? Instead of
> talking in generalized fad acronyms why don't you talk about what you
> think composes the so-called "PC" ideas or better yet, specifically what
> you think is not working and what you think would work instead?
> :)
> Cynthia

On another thread I accused Bob of never defining what he means by P.C. I
seem to stand corrected, or I will at least treat the below as if it is
such a definition, albeit not a succinct one. It is, at least, a set of
topics which can be adressed, which is all I really wanted.

. What we call academe today is a multi-billion-dollar,
.self-perpetuating, self-selected bureaucracy.

It is not a single 'bureaucracy', it is a bunch of individual
bureaucracies which we know as colleges and Universities. This is an
important distinction, because Bob is arguing that academia is somehow
monolithic, which it is not.

Self Selecting? If he means by this that there are certain requirements
to, say, teach at a University, I would have to agree. If he means that
it selects its members by some acid test of allegiance to some sinister
and highly specific code of beliefs or orthodoxy, it does not -- at least
not as a"whole". If he insists this, he needs to show it, not assert it.
More on this later.

. The difference between the academic bureaucracy and any other
.self-selecting bureaucracy is that academe claims, as its sole product,
.objective, unbiassed, balanced truth. It has no other reason for

Very few acadmeics are deluded enough to think that they have reached a
point of total objectivity. Many in the liberal arts would not even agree
that this is the goal -- how can one be objective about a painting, a work
of literature, a symphony? Some parts of 'Academe' are self-proclaimed
subjectivists -- including a rather large school of post-modern

The object of science in general is to achieve verifiable results as
objectivly as possible. Objectivity is a goal, not a claim.

As for other products, I think we might consider educated citizens. The
vast majority of students who pass through Universities and Colleges are
on their way to non-academic jobs. You might disagree with some of the
"social theories" they are exposed to, but I bet you're glad that the
engineer who designed the bridge you drive over was required to take a few
classes somewhere.

. Is the academic bureaucracy actually the first self-selecting
.bureaucracy in history to produce anything approaching objectivity, or
.is its product simply a predictable result of its biasses?

See above. If you say that some academics claim objective results and are
wrong, I can hardly disagree. But the "product" is hardly uniform in any

. Start with the big question: nurture versus nature.
.Academe produces solutions for our social ills in the form of social
.theories which lead to massive social programs spending hundreds of
.billions each year.

I'll assume Bob means the social sciences exclusivly here. There are two
problems with the above statement:
1. It assumes that all academics get together and decide on a uniform set
of social theories to force congress (or soemone) to enact. The fact is,
that I've never been in a department in which argument about basic
theoretical issues wasn't given and constant. Beyond the departmental
level, anthropologists and sociologists fight like cats and dogs, and
both attack and are attacked by political scientists and psychologists.
Meanwhile, the hard science people laugh at us all. There are more
paradigms and theories out there than you can name. If you want, I can
name a lot of them, though. In anthropology we have cultural materialism,
practice theory, sociobiology, French structuralism, ecological
anthropology (a neo-functionalist school) -- well, I could go one for

2. Acadamics don't set national or state political and spending agendas --
elected officials do. From the above-mentioned vast milleu, politicians
select what they want or they think people will buy. Usually this means
economic theories (again, whichever appeals to them) ans sometimes
sociological. Anthropologists are rarely consulted at all.
Bob, if you want an academic theory justifying white supremecy, I know you
can find it somewhere in academic literature.

. To conclude that a problem is a result of genetics is to
.put the problem to
.beyond the reach of social programs. The predictable result in the
.case of a self-
.selecting bureaucracy would be a solid and fanatical resistance to
.anything that smacked of favoring nature over nurture.
. By an amazing coincidence, the Politically Correct position is
that any
.attempt to blame a problem on heredity makes one anti-intellectual.

Does this hold true for geneticists? It certainly doesn't hold true for
sociobiologists in anthropology, who explain human behaviour in
biologically reductionist terms. A great deal of Psychology reduces to
evolutionary and biological imperitives. There are any number of
intellectual ways to approach "the big question" and these viewpoints are
all out there as we speak. I also think that you can found one hell of a
social program and the idea that the "problems" are hereditary. In fact,
a number of such social programs have already existed in the U.S. -- such
as the eugenics movement early in this century. I won't mention certain
German social programs of the same sort earlier in this century, because
you sem to to be sensitive about those -- and no, I am not accusing you of
holding with Genocide, Bob. It's just that any explanation about why
people do what they do can lead to social policy.

. Remember that the academic bureaucracy does claim to be objective.

.That is why we give them money and the right to indoctrinate our young
.people. Their reaction is that of any bureacracy, but their claim is
.that they are unique.

Over and over, the PC types insist that all points of view are
.in academe.

Not all, I suppose, but a very great number. It's the old "marketplace of
ideas". Some ideas fail to keep many supporters because, wheras Truth may
be elusive, some things are demonstrably false.

. But what I have seen is that Politically Correct positions
.are spo predictable in terms of academic interests that no one would
.fort a second claim any other bureaucracy would be objective in pushing

If this is supposed to supply a definition, it is circular here. Which
came first, PC or Academia? Academics are PC to get money when the
government implements social programs? But I thought Acadmia created PC?
Very clever of them.

If you are saying that some academics do what it takes to get funding, I
guess I agree -- but that goes for the chemist who does research to
benefit Exxon as equally as it does for the sociologist who creates a new
social program for Ted Kennedy, or the economists who push supply-side for
Republicans.. You have very selective vision, Bob. Again it boils down
to theories you don't agree with being given credence.

. The reaction against Political Correctness( so strong that now
even the
.most Politically Correct insist they aren't) comes from a growing
.recognition that today's acadmic bureaucracy has become just one more
.bureaucracy. They use the cry of academic freedom and billions in
.public money and control over young minds to provide what amounts to a
.system of religious seminaries pushing their favorite doctrines.

Who are "they"? Can you name the High Priests of this religion, by name?
Any of them?

. The
.PhD's and claims of objective intellectuality intimidates an ever
.smaller group of people.

. All bureaucracies claim to be objective, of course. Most doctors
.tellyou their position on socialized medicine is objective, and tehy
.believe it. Businessmen also claim to be objective, and they believe
.it. But the difference is that other groups exist to provide us with
.services, such as medicine or, in the case of business, with goods nad
. But the academic bureaucracy exists only to provide us with

No, it exists to provide a discourse, a protracted conversation about what
is likely and reasonable. Science tries to do this as objectivly as
possible, but particularly in the social scieces this is known to be

. It could admit it is a self-perpetuating and examine
.itseelf mercilessly in this light, or it could do what any
.self-selecting bureaucracy would do its case: use its claim of
.objectivity and intellectualism to push its interests. They believe the
.former, they are doing the latter.
. If anyone bothers to comment on this, please include some reason
.you think this particular bureaucracy has performed the unique result of
.being objective.

I've answered that. You still haven't defined what PC is except to
suggest that it is the dynamic collusion of Academia with itself to stay
in business. Is this your definition?

--Greg Keyes