Why Professors Believe Weird Things: Sex, Race, and the Trials of the New Left BY NORMAN LEVITT

The crux of the matter is a kind of free-floating leftism, sometimes rigidly doctrinaire, sometimes sentimental, sometimes loudly proclaimed, sometimes elaborately disguised. I pick on campus leftists with a combination of amusement, bemusement, and despair. If there’s a serious problem here it’s certainly not that the universities are going to turn out vast armies of Marxist-feminist-deconstructionist eco-freaks to ravage the sacred institutions of modern capitalism. The danger, soberly speaking, goes the other way. The tradition of social criticism from the left, already desperately marginalized, is likely to disintegrate altogether as it is morphed into a species of academic silliness.

“Left scholasticism” is perhaps the best term for this phenomenon. It is no accident that it has lapped up theories deifying “the text” and recognizing no reality outside of language and narrative. Only this kind of atmosphere will support the strange notion that theory-spinning can remake the world. Left scholasticism is trapped in the desperate illusion that the mighty tetragrammaton of “theory” will save it. It practices a kind of sympathetic magic. It believes that solemn incantation can overturn the order of the social universe, if only the jargon be appropriately obscure and exotic, and intoned with sufficient fervor.


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