Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Next Revolution

The generation gap at Harvard
Posted: March 23, 20061:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2006

There is a generation gap at Harvard University. The students are far more conservative than the faculty. The aging radical professors haven't enough to do, so they nitpicked their president's words and pressured his resignation. The students are dismayed.

President Larry Summers' resignation last month followed a "lack of confidence" vote by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In a poll released March 13 by the Harvard Crimson, 66 percent of surveyed Harvard students claimed to "disapprove of the way that members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have handled their relationship" with President Summers. Only 15 percent agree with the faculty's handling of grievances.

The faculty is dominated by left-wing '60s radicals, all of them aging despite their former fantasies. It is perhaps from the realization that the sands of time are sinking and a new generation is rising on campus at odds with the values of the '60s that makes the Faculty of Arts and Sciences so desperate. Because they know their days are numbered and that their establishment is uncertain, they sought their president's ouster. Even left-wing Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz calls it an "academic coup d'état by … the die-hard left of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences."

Summers pushed aggressively for progress in science and technology programs, and he developed friendly teaching relationships with students.

Summers also conflicted with noted African-American Studies professor Cornel West, for which West left Harvard. Summers expressed his strong support for the ROTC program, which had been excluded from the campus for decades. For appearing to align opponents of Israel with anti-Semitism, Summers was accused of hampering dialogue. And when Summers dared suggest that differences between men and women cause a disproportionate representation of the sexes in the sciences, the faculty panicked and reckoned upon the advance of Armageddon. Professors met several times and decided to assert their no-confidence vote.
Now, the students of Harvard have no confidence in their left-wing professors.

One editorial in the Crimson headlined, "No Confidence in 'No Confidence.'" Despite that the FAS is one of nine faculties at Harvard, its radicalism is loud, and it must be held accountable, the editorial urged. "As much as discontented Faculty members may lack confidence in Summers, we would modestly submit that, at this point in time, we lack confidence in them."

After Summers' resignation, Pieropaolo Barbieri wrote in the Crimson that "there is a world beyond FAS." Summers should not have resigned, Barbieri said. "Unlike the Faculty's foggy qualms, Summers' achievements keep materializing on campus and in students' lives."

Another Crimson editorial stated, "Whatever satisfaction was today enjoyed by the elements of unrest in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, it is unrepresentative of the sobering sense of emptiness that now pervades Cambridge's streets. Harvard's loss is real." The Crimson staff registered their agreement with Summers' vision, a vision that was perceived as a threat by "too many of today's entrenched interests" on the faculty.

The day Summers resigned, students repaired in mass to Harvard Yard where they joined in unison, "Five More Years!"

When Summers first spoke publicly about his resignation, undergraduate students flocked to Massachusetts Hall. Summers didn't know whether they were there to cheer or boo him, but when he began shaking their hands it was clear which side they took. They shook his hand warmly. As the Crimson editorial said, "Students believe in Summers' vision."

It is more than a passive belief; it is a belief of action that runs against almost every revolutionary stronghold of the aging professoriate. As Ruth Wisse writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Student response to the ouster suggests another long-term outcome. Although the activists of yesteryear may have found a temporary stronghold in the universities, a new generation of students has had its fill of radicalism. Sobered by the heavy financial burdens most of their families have to bear for their schooling, they want an education solid enough to warrant the investment.

Chastened by the fallout of the sexual revolution and the breakdown of the family, they are wary of human experiments that destabilize society even further. Alert to the war that is being waged against America, they feel responsible for its defense even when they may not agree with the policies of the current administration.

"If the students I have come to know at Harvard are at all representative, a new moral seriousness prevails on campus, one that has yet to affect the faculty members because it does not yet know how to marshal its powers."

Here is hope. Even at Harvard, bastion of the left, there is a revolution underway. Not since the professors had their revolution 40 years ago has there been anything like it. Only this time, there is a return to that little word on the Harvard logo that is its motto: "Veritas." By the generation most counted upon to finally reject truth, truth is welcomed, if yet undiscovered. And even if Larry Summers will no longer preside at Harvard, his legacy is just getting under way.

Hans Zeiger is an Eagle Scout, president and founder of the Scout Honor Coalition and a student at Hillsdale College in Michigan. His new book, "Get Off My Honor: The Assault on the Boy Scouts of America," can be purchased from ShopNetDaily.


At March 23, 2006 9:00 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

This is how history happens.

Forty years ago, the young overthrew the entrenched and remade society in its image -- and now they are the old and entrenched, and want to ensure their own permanence at the top of the pecking order. History, evolution, progress -- doesn't happen that way, with the entrenched few allowed to ensure their own survival at the expense of the greater society's.

A great part of the quandary of these times is that with the union seniority system, a lot of the venerable institutions only have the leaders of the past who are now merely clinging on to life and their glorious past -- and the new and the young, the vital engine of society, is largely shut out. Meanwhile, as time moves on, the entrenched become older and more enfeebled, more cut off from the youthful because they are more threatened each day -- and cannot compete with the new. So it is just a matter of time before there is the first breach and then all the institutions that defined a previous era begin to fall -- more likely evaporate.

The most visible are the media, schools, universities. With the newspapers, readership and now advertising is falling with no relief in sight. So there is a shrinking or at least stagnate pool and seniority rules require that they keep those who are paid the highest, do the least, and are the most incompetent. In many of these union jobs, although 10 people are hired to perform a job -- one guy does all the work while the other 9 "supervise" in some "administrative" or titular capacity.

The emerging alternatives are the bloggers, the electronic forums, all the creative energy not just doing it for the money but because they just want to -- indicative of their passion and talent for doing so, because that's what they were meant to do. They're an unstoppable force. That's the first arena for this cultural change that is well underway and already a foregone conclusion -- because in a war or revolution, you cannot lock out the talent and energy on the outside, and not expect that they will not beat down their doors and blow away whatever resistance can still be mustered.

The schools and universities are much more institutionalized and because they are much more protected enclaves, have even less survival skills to compete in a free and open market that does not ensure their government protected monopoly. Most of these people were not there on the leading edge bringing about the revolution forty years ago -- but were quick to move in once they recognized that the old no longer existed. They were merely opportunists.

So in the next revolution, they cannot recognize all the signposts of how fundamental change comes about -- and will repeat the mistakes of the previous revolution.

At March 23, 2006 9:18 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

We already see it happening at the University of Hawaii -- where a very vocal, demanding minority (liberal studies) wants to rule the university and impose their own interests on the others, who are going about their business doing research or teaching classes. But the radical, leftist fringe wants to impose their political correctness on all the others. It’s not the first wave but the last gasp -- of the ‘60s revolution; that’s how far they’re behind -- one generation. The next revolution is not simply a repeat of the last revolution. It is something entirely new. So these self-appointed “leaders,” are not the leading edge of the next revolution but the tail end of the last, soon to be obsolete revolution. And that’s why such people hope that history always repeats itself -- because they are fully prepared and in position, to be the new leaders in the last revolution.

At March 24, 2006 2:13 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are even coming up with studies showing how “confident, resilient, self-reliant kids,” grew up to be just like themselves -- while “whining, insecure” kids, grow up to be people questioning their authority to place themselves at favorable positions at the government trough.

At March 25, 2006 11:06 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The newspapers like to bemoan the fact that people are reading newspapers less -- as an indication that people are reading less, when most are actually reading much more -- but less of the newspapers, or newspapers less as a percentage of their total reading volume.

The same is true of schools: learning has increased dramatically, as one notices with every purchase one makes requiring some assembly and directions, but the percentage of learning done formally or institutionally, has decreased, and in the best of learners, is done minimally under formal instruction. The best of academic scholars have always done it under those conditions -- of learning the new without someone else teaching it to them. Those are the creators of knowledge or the new, which virtually everybody is now in a world of the constantly created new. Those are the revolutionaries in every field.

That kind of capability has now reached into the realm of most people -- just as many products formerly available only to a few, are now available to virtually everyone. Some people don’t like that because it undermines their position of status in a society in which they wish to remain a permanent entitlement of privilege over all the others.

What is ironic is that many who call themselves “democrats,” are the very ones who wish to make such inequalities permanent -- now that they are in those positions of advantage. In order to do that, they have to use the institutions that information and communications that everything that is false is true, and vice versa.

In Congress right now, there is legislation seeking to regulate the Internet (freedom of expression) because it is such a threat to the established order, controlled by a few. The major newspapers have played with the idea of offering blogs but find it very problematical to regulate -- which is a large part of their problem. The audience they have retained are those who similarly want tohe power and ability to control everybody else’s thinking -- which is anathema to the quintessential blogging spirit. Meanwhile, traditional media is all about control and manipulation -- and they cannot deal with a universe in which they are merely one of the voices, rather than the owner of the medium.

It’s like the bravery of those who own all the guns -- and so are brave; once everybody else also owns guns, or everybody doesn’t have guns, we find out who can stand alone and those who can’t, and have only does as well as they have with a big bully behind them. And so one will note in their blogs -- in which they stand alone and only speak for themselves, that there is considerable lack of confidence in doing so. Their eminence is due entirely to their association and status with some greater, more powerful entity.

So in blogging, much fewer can write with a voice of authority -- which is a great filter for those who have something original and unique to say, and those who are merely repeating what has been said by everybody else already, and they think their audience hasn’t heard it before. And that means of course, that their audience are those who are the last to know -- rather than the first to know, which is how the reporter learned about it.

Is there still a market for old news and information? While “blogging” may not sound pretentious enough, it’s very succinct -- letting the writing speak for itself, or not.

At March 25, 2006 11:21 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

So a lot of newspaper editors, university professors, etc., are very brave at attacking the President of the United States, because they can assure that they themselves cannot be criticized in their own publications/forums -- in which they can censor, suppress, distort, manipulate, retaliate, punish, demean, ridicule -- as their own freedom of speech. However, they should not claim that such biased partisanship is “objective.” No blogger making that appeal would ever be taken seriously. Journalists are no different.

While their objectivity should be recognized as their own subjectivity -- that doesn’t justify and legitimize biased partisanship. One must be aware of that bias -- as the major objective of an inquiring mind serious about the truth. Without that understanding, one IS the problem of society.

At March 25, 2006 11:23 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Yesterday's Ph.D. is today's common sense.

At March 25, 2006 11:28 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Many people stop learning once other people stop rewarding them for doing so.

At March 25, 2006 11:41 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It’s a transition from the 20th century to the 21st century personality. The new personality is genuinely democratic -- rather than authoritarian, though many called themselves “(D)emocrats.” They were just a little more democratic than the previous, more authoritarian personalities of an earlier generation. Among the old personalities, abuse, control, manipulation are commonplace features of their relationships -- and the way they view society.

So when we read about what is going on in the Legislature and how the committee chairs control their fiefdoms with absolute authority and control -- that is not democracy but autocracy. It is no wonder therefore, that their sympathies should lie with Saddam and other tyrants -- because that is what they really are, no matter what they call themselves, and what labels they give themselves.

If the pecking order at the local newspapers weren’t even more autocratic, they could recognize that.


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