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Foreign Policy Analysis
Professors, politicians, and public policy (1977) | ARCHIVES

Professors, politicians, and public policy (1977) | ARCHIVES

Announcer: From the nation’s capital, the American
Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research presents “Public Policy Forums,” a series
of programs featuring the nation’s top authorities presenting their differing views on the vital
issues which confront us. Today’s topic, “Professors, Politicians, and Public Policy.” Peter Hackes: Most American presidents going far back into the last century have sought advice
and council from the nation’s colleges and universities. Many presidents have appointment
prominent professors to high government positions. Many members of the academic community have
served in either the house or the senate. In more recent days, presidents have called
on advisory groups of college and university experts to lend their expertise in trying
to solve the nation’s problems. College professors frequently testify before congressional committees
the pros or cons of proposed legislation. Over the years, what has been the impact of
universities on public policy and what exactly is the proper role academia should play in
government, if any? In short, what is or what should be the relationship between campus
and government? In recent years universities have become, in many cases, the center of
adversary culture. What is the importance of academia as an attitude-generating body?
How do ideological undercurrents at universities affect our society? Welcome to another “Public Policy Forum,”
presented by AEI, the American Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, research
and education organization. Our experts will be discussing the topic, Professors, Politicians,
and Public Policy. Appearing on our panel are: S. I. Hayakawa, Republican Senator from California.
Senator Hayakawa is familiar with both academia and politics, having taught at four colleges,
and most recently having served as president of San Francisco State University. Senator
Hayakawa is known worldwide for his writings on linguistics and semantics. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Democratic Senator
from New York. Senator Moynihan is also at home in both worlds having been a Harvard
professor for many years and having served in a cabinet or subcabinet position with Presidents
Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. He has been a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
and ambassador to India. Robert Bork is Chancellor Kent professor of
law and legal history at Yale University and a recent resident scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute. He was solicitor general of the United States from 1973 to 1977. Mr.
Bork is the author of a detailed study of the political activities of colleges and universities. Irving Kristol is a senior fellow of the America
Enterprise Instate and Henry R. Luz professor of urban values at New York University. He
is co-editor with Nathan Glazer of “The Public Interest” magazine. Long prominent in the
world of ideas, he has been an editor of “Encounter” and “Commentary” magazines and is a member
of the board of contributors of “The Wall Street Journal.” Moderating the discussion is John Charles
Daly, former news correspondent and analyst at both CBS and ABC. He is former director
of the Voice of America. Now, here is Mr. Daly. Mr. Daly: This “Public Policy Forum,” part
of a series presented by the American Enterprise Institute is concerned with the basic relationship
between academia and government. The discussion alliteratively entitled “Professors, Politicians,
and Public Policy.” Our panel is a splendid mix, professors all with two now serving as
United States senators, another former solicitor general of the United States, and the fourth,
an editor who has described himself as, “A journalist, at best a man of letters.” We
established a broad base for the dialog. Gentleman, will you in turn address briefly the question,
“How deeply has academia affected government policy?” First, Senator Moynihan. Sen. Moynihan: Sam and I agreed ahead of time…he’s
decided that we say “academia.” Mr. Daly: I knew I was going to have that
problem. Sen. Moynihan: And you can remember that by
thinking of academia nuts. A brief proposition, it may not be that we’re the best people to
ask. I think of that occasion when Oscar Wilde was taken to view Niagara Falls. He stared
a moment and turned and said, “You know, it would be more impressive if it flowed the
other way.” And I think maybe the audience would be a better judge. Academia has influenced
policy in the whole experience of government in the West, from the times of the church
fathers to…Adam Smith was a professor. I think what we’ve seen in our time is the way
academia has affected the personnel of politics. I was a member of the cabinet of President
Ford, a solid, sensible, serious man. The only time I ever doubted him, I think, was
I was sitting at…we had a cabinet meeting one morning and I looked around and what did
I see in that rather small table of 14 chairs, but 6 professors. The secretary of state was
a professor, the secretary of defense was a professor, the attorney general was a professor,
the secretary of labor was a professor, the secretary of agriculture was a professor,
and the U.S. permanent representative at the United Nations. This is new, and I think it
affects the way people think about politics and it’s the big change from the long hegemony
of lawyers in American political life. Mr. Daly: All right Professor Kristol. Prof. Kristol: Back in the 19th century in
the frontier towns of the West, a professor used to be defined as the man who played the
piano in the bordello. And if you watch old Western movies in the late,
late show you’ll still see a cowboy coming into the bar and telling the player to play
something and address him as “Professor.” This seem to suggest that at that time Americans
did not have a particularly high opinion of professors when it came to doing serious things,
though they obviously had skills, say at the piano, that the average American did not have. I think that has changed radically in the
past century or century-and-a-half. Today, professors are, together with their satellite
group, the media, the only sector of our society which claims the right to define the public
interest. Every other sector in the society is now defined as a special interest. Professors
are the ones who know what the public interest is and have gained credibility in terms of
their power to define it. Mr. Daly: Senator Hayakawa? Sen. Hayakawa: It often seems to me, to take
the matter outside of our own country, that one of the problems of communism is that it’s
a dictatorship of intellectuals, and mostly professors, that is insofar as a nation is
governed by ruling ideology whether Marxism or any other ism, it is essentially a dictatorship
of people who have read the sacred books, know the answers to all problems of public
interest, and therefore, are able to define what is good for everybody far better than,
let us say, the hardware man, the blacksmith, the accountant, or the realtor. Professors
really know their way around in the world of ideas and the world of moral values. Now, in this country we have not gone as far,
by any means, as the Communist nations in elevating the ideologue, the ideologist, theoretician,
to a lofty place in society. But when Pat described President Ford’s cabinet I thought
we were getting their pretty fast. Mr. Daly: Professor Bork? Prof. Bork: Well, I guess I think it’s arguable,
indeed I will argue, that professors are probably the single most influential class in terms
of public policy in the United States, and that’s not only because they man administrations.
I know that Pat Moynihan has manned the last half dozen administrations in this country.
But it’s because they’re verbalists. They are skilled in ideas and they’re quite articulate.
And that happens to be a very intimidating and very influential style in this society.
And I think it’s demonstrable, maybe we’ll get into it later, that our foreign policy
would be quite different were it not for the influence of the professoriate. The outcome,
I suppose, of Vietnam War probably heavily influenced by the attitude of the campuses.
And domestic policy, I think we have been moving in directions that the professoriate
has wanted us to move for a long time, most scholarly work and speaking pushes in that
direction. Mr. Daly: All right, Misters Ladd and Lipset,
authors of “The Divided Academy,” quote President John Adams as saying in 1798, “I really begin
to think, or rather to suspect, that learned academies not under the immediate inspection
and control of government have disorganized the world and are incompatible with social
order.” Well, now that we are 200 years old as a nation, does our history show that to
be true? Sen. Moyhihan: If I can say there’s a transition
in what John Adams was saying because he was speaking of the universities of clerics. And
the role of the cleric, from the Middle Ages and the Christian and Hebraic tradition, was
an academic intellectual one, and Sam, that’s a problem for you. In what way was the 17th
century different from the 20th century in terms of the influence of people whose main
interest was ideology and whose normal focus locus was in the university, Cambridge University
in the 17th century? Sen. Hayakawa: Well, it seems to me that we
have often had government by soldiers as a ruling class. And certainly, we had a very,
very different quality of government in those times. And then, of course, landowners have
governed in other times of world history. And sometimes there were combinations of landowners
and soldiers and farmers. What Professor Bork says about the culture being predominantly
verbal and one in which the verbalist has perhaps more than his due share of influence
as opposed to the, say, seafarer, or the aviator, or the engineer, or the physician, people
who do things with something other than words, in addition to words. I’m not sure that it
is an entirely good thing for a culture. As a semanticist, which is me as I have spent
pretty much my professional career in the study of words and their influence on human
affairs, I really have come to distrust those whose lives are exclusively preoccupied with
them. Prof. Kristol: I think the big difference
between the academy today and what we might call the clerisy of yesterday is the convergence
that has taken place over the last century between the world of thought and the world
of action. The clerisy of yesterday, the professor of a hundred years ago, was assumed to be
a scholar and a teacher who lived pretty much in an ivory tower. And, in fact, he was supposed
to live in an ivory tower. It was assumed that he had great knowledge of certain things
but that this knowledge was not necessarily a good guide to practical action. So that
no one turned to them, or rarely were they turned to for guidance on matters of public
policy. They were moralists, they were philosophers, they were influential in general terms, as
Adam Smith was, but it really wasn’t until quite late in the 19th century that they begin
to be taken seriously as “experts.” Now, in our day, of course, professors are
taken very seriously as having matters of tactical import on public policy. Every professor
of the United States is convinced that his opinions ought to be sought out on matters
of public policy, that they are relevant to matters of public policy. If you tell a professor
these days he lives in an ivory tower then he becomes very indignant and will explain
to you that he doesn’t live in an ivory tower at all. If you suggest to him that he ought
to live in an ivory tower, he thinks you’re mad. They have come out of the ivory tower.
And what we have now in this country are some 600,000 professors, some of whom are genuinely
interested in teaching and scholarship, a considerable number of whom who happened to
be teachers and scholars or happened to hold university positions, but their major interest
is in worldly affairs and they want to help run the world. Prof. Bork: You know, if you are gonna discuss
the question of how has the academic world changed and why does this influence changed,
I supposes the single largest factor would be simply the explosion in size of the academic
world. There was a time when the professor was, and the university was small enough so
that it didn’t feel itself to be a class with special interest of its own and influence
of its own. Now, the number of professors and the number of students, the size of universities
has increased so much that we have a critical mass, which feels itself to be a distinct
group with distinct interest of its own, attitudes of its own, which it now offers to society
and indeed presses upon the society with a suggestion that the society which does not
accept their ideas is morally deficient. Sen. Moynihan: I think Bob Bork has said something
important about presumption of academics and professors, that they know something other
people ought to accept, and it’s a kind of a play on word, professor-profession. There
is a very different…there’s a problem in democracy when a large number of persons who
would define themselves as professionals are in positions of leadership, because we have
not paid much attention to the profession and their development. There is a move to
professionalize everything, I mean undertakers want to be a profession and things like that.
But the real professions are able to look somebody in the eye and say, “You think you
know but you don’t know, I know.” And that’s what it says here on the wall, “I know, you
don’t know.” That’s not a relationship of a democratic politician to a democratic citizen.
It’s different, isn’t it? Mr. Daly: Well, now, Professor Kristol, I
think you defined an intellectual as a man who speaks with general authority about a
subject on which he has no particular competence. Does that fit in with what…? Prof. Kristol: Well… Sen. Moynihan: Now, wait just a second. [inaudible
00:17:12] And the competence of professions is very real, but in any event the important
thing is the society has accepted that the idea of their competency. Society accepts
the idea that only a dentist can tell a dentist, and you should be a dentist… Prof. Bork: Pat, I think you’re missing something,
though, which is that a professional with a degree on the wall, which says he is qualified
to talk to you about law, because he is a professor, will talk to you about everything
else but law and expects you to listen to him anyway. And we’ve got linguists who know
all about the war in Vietnam and we know we get…the one I was referring to isn’t here
this evening. Sen. Moynihan: No, he’s not. Prof. Bork: And we got economists who know
all about moral values and they’re listened to because they’re professors even though
it’s not their… Sen. Moynihan: Bob, we used to have…the
primal profession in our society was the clerisy, the church. It gave way to the lawyer, and
the lawyer spoke on a wide range of subjects. Prof. Bork: That is surely justified. Prof. Kristol: No, no. I think you’ve touched
on an important point, Pat. The lawyer was not given credibility as an expert in these
matters because he had studied law books, but because it was assumed that the practice
of law had brought him a great deal of worldly wisdom. He knew a great deal about the affairs
of men, and above all, he knew how to adjudicate quarrels, which is what the essence of politics
is after all. Prof. Bork: More than that. There was a time
when the knowledge professions that have proliferated recently did not exist and the only profession
of verbalists were the lawyers. Prof. Kristol: But, you know, we’re touching
here on something terribly important, which is the…I want to return to it…the convergence
of the realms of thought and the realms of action. In the United States today, any professor
of international relations, let us say, well, that’s not fair, most professors of international
relations genuinely believe that they know how to run American foreign policy. And most
professors of economics believe that they know how to run the economy and would very
much like to have the chance to do it, to show that they can do it. The university of
yesteryear did not have such people for the most part. For the most part, it had people
who thought they were educating. Now, they might want to educate public opinion in certain
ways, but they did not have the feeling that somehow they were peculiarly suited to run
things. Prof. Kristol: There is a terribly important
point here, namely that when you’re in the hands of professionals who, in fact, don’t
know what to do but nevertheless have the professional…the only professional authority
to do it. I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said that prior to…that the history…it
was only after 1905 that doctors started to do more good to their patients than harm.
In other words, it is possible though… Sen. Moynihan: No, no. Prof. Kristol: Wasn’t it George Bernard Shaw? Sen. Moynihan: No, that’s not Shaw. That’s
[inaudible 00:20:32]. That is a very careful research about…and it’s a dispute in medicine.
At what point in time did the random patient meeting the random doctor with the random
disease turn out to be better off than otherwise? And some say 1910, others say 1921. They learned
a lot from their mistakes, though. They did. But what Shaw said in “The Revolutionist’s
Handbook and Pocket Companion,” in “Maxims for Revolutionists,” he said, “Those who can,
do. Those who cannot, teach.” And that’s your problem, you don’t like it. You think…you
agree with Shaw. Prof. Kristol: No. Nevertheless, doctors were
a profession prior to 1905, and the fact that they may have done you more harm than good,
on a randomized basis, did not stop them from being doctors with a certain claim to expertise.
Now, if you’re talking about economists, I have a dreadful feeling that we may be at
1903 or 1893. That is, they are the only experts we have but I’m not at all sure that they
are doing more good than harm. They have a lot of theories and they are sure their theories
are worthwhile and important, and I’m not so sure the world has improved all that much
since we began governed by people’s economic theories rather than by men of experience
using some common sense. Sen. Moynihan: Come on, Irving, that’s not
so. Would you like to work at the average hourly wages in the garment industry of 1903?
No. Now, all right, there are two things here. Prof. Kristol: Does that have to do with economic
theory or no? Sen. Moynihan: We are talking about the advance
of knowledge, which has shaped our whole lives and the fundamental phenomenon is technology
and the great mistrust about technology has come out of academia and some measure of managing
has also come with it. And let’s be, I think, clear that there are nuts among the professoriate,
but much the greater number are people who have, just because they are a profession,
or in fact, have the security of tenure, as it were to say…as a matter of fact, we don’t
know anything about that. And you know the people, Bob and Sam, I mean most of your best
colleagues when you ask them really difficult questions say, “I don’t know.” And who began stating that the things in economics
were not known? Herb Stein, when was chairman of the council. He’s an impeccable academic.
He said, “You don’t know.” A couple of years later, Arthur Burns, you know, Chairman of
the Federal Reserve Board, went before the committees of Congress and put it in a nice
sort of indirect way. He said, “Things aren’t working the way they used to work,” which
is to say… Prof. Kristol: The question is whether they
used to work the way they used to work, but never mind. No, look, I mean I understand,
Pat. We’re not talking about our friends. I mean they are the good academics, right?
They don’t go around saying they know things when, in fact, they know they don’t know.
In fact, some of us are making a profession out of explaining how much we and others don’t
know. That’s known as critical sociology. Mr. Daly: I’m not sure we’ve gotten down to
the specific. Would you try to draw your picture? Prof. Bork: No, I was thinking that we’re
leading up in a way through this discussion of the economist, a majority of the good ones
say they don’t know and, of course, how many good ones there are at that point because
relevant. But I think we may be leasing up to the question of whether the professoriate
has characteristic viewpoints, whether there is a general outlook of intellectuals and…I’m
not gonna try that word, academicians as a class. Mr. Daly: I wish I hadn’t. Prof. Bork: Which leads public policy in particular
directions, and that’s wider than economics and it’s wider than law. And I supposed the
book by Ladd and Lipset, to which Mr. Daly referred, shows what we all know from common
observation that, in fact, the professors at particularly the most prestigious universities
tend rather strongly to be left liberal and to have preferences for more government regulation
in economics as in social matters. And I think foreign policy matters tend to be less aggressive
or less likely to defend aggressive American actions overseas. And that may be more important
than the assumption of verbalists to have expertise they may not have, the fact that
the pressure, the outlook, the verbalization is primarily in one direction. Mr. Daly: The one conclusion, I think, in
the “Divided Academy” was in a sense against that particular train of thought. They, I
think, made a conclusion that discipline, a specific field of intellectual activity,
differentiates faculty political orientation to such a high degree as to make questionable
the wisdom of references. They noticed the difference between social studies and engineering,
for instance. Sen. Moynihan: I mean there’s a hierarchy…well,
you can scale people. I mean if you want a real conservative, find a geologist. If you
want a next most real conservative, find an agronomist. If you’re looking for the other
end, find a sociologist. And we know that about each other. We’re good at… Prof. Bork: No. We know that but the interesting
thing is that… Sen. Hayakawa: Well, it seems to me that this
deals with the fundamental distinction among human beings that I love to play with. There
are the people whose lives, the whole meaning of their lives revolves around the handling
of symbols, words. They are the intellectuals, they are the preachers, they’re the lawyers,
they’re the media people, they’re the people who speculate in grain futures without ever
harvesting a bushel of grain, but they are verbalists. Then there are the people who,
I shall say, these are the symbol handlers. Now, there’s the other people who are, I should
say, the thing handlers. They can be engineers, because whatever words or diagrams they produce
ultimately has to validate itself in a bridge that stands up, in a building that sustains
its own weight, and so on. So I would say that both class has used words and symbols.
There’s one class whose words are ultimately validated in a nonverbal event as in the case
of a farmer or an agronomist or an engineer or geologist. And then there are those like
philosophers, sociologists, English majors like me, and lawyers like you
whose words do not come under the discipline of that load in the truck that shifts without
you knowing it. Now, so your truck turns over it. Your words are not subject to the discipline
of the great steamship that wanders off course because the fact is you didn’t talk about
in your lecture on navigation. Now, this is the great division, and if there’s
something wrong with our culture and our whole general direction is not just academia, it’s
the whole class of symbol manipulators who rule the world. Now, William Rusher was sort
of groping for this when he said that the world is divided into producers and non-producers.
And, of course, as a verbalist himself, he had to classify himself as non-producer. But
he classified among the non-producers, the intellectuals, and media people. And if there
is any amelioration of the condition under which so many of us suffer from the barrage
of windbags all over the place and I refer to ourselves as well as the media people.
The people who handle symbols, it seems to me, will all require this discipline in rooting
our ultimate experience in the nonverbal world. And so this is why I’ve always felt that all
of us in the verbal professions ought to take up something nonverbal… Sen. Moynihan: Sam, how can you say that?
The only things that matter are symbols. Everybody knows that. Sen. Hayakawa: I know, I know. Sen. Moynihan: What does the bible say, “In
the beginning was the word?” Mr. Daly: Professor Kristol, you have the
floor. Prof. Kristol: I want to elaborate on what
Sam Hayakawa was saying because I think he has put his finger on it exactly. If you would
ask what is that one thing that professors and intellectuals…and by the way, it’s interesting
that we seem to be using the two terms interchangeably. As Bob Nisbet once pointed out, 75 years ago
if you wanted to criticize a professor, you called him an intellectual. And if you wanted
to criticize an intellectual, you call him academic. They were two different worlds.
The intellectuals were not in universities, they were out in Greenwich Village or somewhere
out there, ones supposed to be in universities. But there has been a merger in that academicians
have taken over the attitude of intellectuals, and of course, intellectuals are now located
on campuses. But the one thing I think that is true are
both professors and intellectuals of the world today is that they are rationalists. They
believe that…put it this way, that if you know the right theory, you can back the right
cake. And that practical experience in baking cakes is not all that important. They think
if you have the right theory of politics, practical wisdom about the governance of men
and woman is not so important. This is what Michael Oakeshott calls the rationalist’s
fallacy, that if you know the theory of it you also know the practice of it. But the
world of fact, the world of reality is a very recalcitrant world, recalcitrant to theory,
and you know, it reminds of the famous story of the Israeli young man who tried to volunteer
for the Navy and he was interviewed and they asked him, “Can you swim?” And he said, “No,
but I know but I know the theory of it.” There is a difference, and many of the important
things in this world cannot be learned systematically. They can only be learned by practical experience,
by having a sense, as a cook has a sense, of just how much to put in, how much not to
put in. Sen. Hayakawa: Exactly, exactly. Prof. Kristol: Government is a practical art,
not a theoretical art, and one of the problems we suffer from at the moment is the infusion
into government of political science, political theory, and the… Sen. Hayakawa: Sociology. Prof. Kristol: …sociology, and the extrusion
of practical wisdom. Sen. Hayakawa: That’s right. Sen. Moynihan: Government is altogether a
theoretical art. It deals fundamentally with symbols and it’s the only thing people really
care about. It’s the only thing they’ll die for. It’s the thing they most live for. And
that troubles you, and I don’t blame you for being troubled but it is the truth, Irving. Prof. Kristol: Yeah. But when they come… Sen. Hayakawa: It’s very beautiful what you
say, Pat, you know, that you have a theory of housing for the poor, and we have lots
and lots of wonderful theoreticians who have lots of theories about housing for the poor
and that’s why we still have a housing problem for the poor. Mr. Daly: Professor Kristol. Prof. Kristol: Well, no, I agree with you,
Pat, that, no, the symbols of authority are in some ultimate sense of ultimate importance,
but the symbols of authority are not the same thing as governance. That is acceptance of
the symbols of authority permits you to govern, but then once you have that permission you
have the job to do. Sen. Moynihan: That’s right. Prof. Kristol: And I do think that one of
the things that has happened in all of our…it’s not just the United States, it’s happened
in Western Europe, it’s happened in Africa, it’s happened in Asia, is the infusion into
the world of practice of various theories and the depreciation of practical wisdom,
of traditional wisdom. You know, it’s no longer good enough to say, “The reason we should
do it this way is we have always done it this way and it seems to work.” That’s no longer
acceptable as a reason for doing something, and yet it probably is the best reason for
doing something in the world. Prof. Bork: No, but I think Pat’s point may
be that unfortunately reality can only be perceived often through theory and symbols,
and you have to try to perceive that reality, as in economics. And somebody, the practical
cook, may produce disasters. And the question is who’s the best theorist? Now, the difficulty
is, in the symbol world and in the verbalist world, there is no external discipline. The
senator points to that the building doesn’t fall down or if it does fall down you can
explain that it’s due to some other factor or that it’s due to the fact that you didn’t
take my theory far enough. But there’s no escape from using theorists and verbalists
in these matters I should say. Prof. Kristol: Now, theorists and verbalists
do have a function. I don’t mean to ridicule them. They have a very important role to play
in shaping our general way of looking at the world. But that’s different from actually
intervening and shaping public policy on particular issues or in particular spheres. Obviously,
if you’re an educator you educate people to view the world in a certain way and professors
and intellectuals have that function. Whether they execute it well or not is another matter,
but that no one can take away that particular function from them. They teach our children
and they teach our children how to look at the world, and that’s their job, and I think
they should be doing it better than they are doing. On the other hand, that is not the
same thing as the governance of men or the governance of affairs. Prof. Bork: We’re talking about a class of
people which we seem to agree is quite important and which we seem to agree has problems because
it’s not subject to external discipline as it should be. But I wonder if it isn’t true,
or maybe it isn’t, that it forms a class of people who have distinctive public policy
biases, and therefore, tend to mover our public policy in a particular direction. Sen. Hayakawa: I believe this does tend to
move public policy in certain directions. It moves people in the direction of often…and
being enchanted, over enchanted with, let’s say, a body of theory so that they go in the
direction of what Karl Popper calls utopianism. So you draw a mental picture of a beautiful,
beautiful world that you’d like to move reality to. And it seems to me that insofar as we
have utopian elements in our social planning and social planning itself involves a certain
kind of utopianism, even a limited one. Insofar as we do this, we try to impose a map on the
territory and try to make the territory conform to the map rather than the other way about.
Gosh, I’m talking like a general semanticist. Sen. Moynihan: Well, now, look, I’ll tell
you what you’re talking like. You’re talking like a professor with one of a range of views
professors have about how to run government properly, which is, “Don’t do too much.” Who
do you cite, Sam? You cite Karl Popper. I studied with him in the London School of Economics.
You know, the English have a verb, which is conjugated, “I am Oxford. You are Cambridge.
He is the London School of Economics.” I studied with Popper but may I cite that, you
know, in the end the important things really are big questions where you’re gonna end up
asking professors about them. Prof. Kristol: I think Sam Hayakawa has uttered
a keyword, utopianism, because one of the phenomenon…I would not say that it’s inevitable
but it certainly has been a historical product of the explosion Bob Bork referred to of the
modern academy…has been a strong element of utopianism in our society. And we had a
wonderful instance of this when the president of the United States said on television that
life is unfair. Now, I don’t know any taxi driver in the United States who would disagree
with him. Nevertheless, an awful lot of college graduates got very upset because he said that
life is unfair because they have it figured out that life is not supposed to be unfair,
and by God, if given the chance they’ll see to it that it’s not unfair. Mr. Daly: Professor Bork, you raised this
issue, as Professor Kristol has just noted, the spread of education. Now, I think a basic
question lies therein, turning the coin around, has the spread of education, particularly
university education, decreased or increased the acceptance of our society’s institutions? Prof. Bork: I think it’s arguable and, in
fact, I think it’s true that it probably has decreased the authority, the moral authority
of the institutions of the society. The intellectual class generally tends to be highly critical
of traditional institutions and tends to, as somebody said, actively unfit the students
for their future environment. In fact, some of them think that is their function to make
them dissatisfied with their future environment as somebody else, as Trilling said, “It’s
not only an adversary intention, it’s also a subversive intention.” And I think you can
observe a flattening of the American institutional landscape, in part because of the attitudes
inculcated in the university and carried on to the university’s allies, which are the
media and the clergy to some extent. And in that sense I think the influence has been
quite harmful to traditional institutions and values. Sen. Moynihan: May I ask that Lionel Trilling
wrote his essay on the adversary culture in 1947? Prof. Bork: About then, yeah. Sen. Moynihan: All right. Now, are we in a
cycle or are we in a fixed condition, a stasis? I mean if you think of the academic who has
had the most political influence in our age in this century surely was Woodrow Wilson.
Professor Wilson became president, and surely, in the most extraordinary way, he confirmed
the basic American ideas of the time. He was scarcely hostile to what was established.
His intention was not subversive, much less adversary. Need we continue in the phase from
the 1903s on? Academe was very much supportive of institutions until the Great Depression
and the movement of ethnic groups outside into them. May they not now cycle into a celebratory
or at least, you used the word, “establishment?” What is the brightest think-tank in Washington?
The American Enterprise Institute. Radical, it is not. Subversive, certainly, no. Prof. Kristol: Yeah. But I think this has
to be said as an addendum to Bob Bork’s point, which is essentially correct that it is one
of the functions of education and of intellectuals to alienate students from their society. I
mean that’s what education means. You gain or are supposed to gain a certain detachment
from your society, but it is supposed to be an intellectual detachment. Sen. Moynihan: Now, Irving, that’s not so.
Schumpeter laid it down, right? What did Schumpeter say of capitalism? “That which you most admire,”
and he said, “What is the whole process of capitalism? It is a process of creative destruction.
And it destroys the usefulness of last year’s automobile, as well as last year’s idea.”
This particular role of the academia, which I think some of you tend to dissociate from
the larger culture and see it in adversary mold, I think Schumpeter would say, “Never
was there more capitalist institution on the anti-establishmentarian, anti-establishment
university.” It is the essence of the capitalist mode. If you don’t like that, try feudalism,
try socialism, but don’t try enterprise. Don’t try enterprise because enterprise keeps saying
otherwise. Prof. Bork: No, but…I’m sorry, go ahead.
That’s a good point. Sen. Hayakawa: I just want to catch Pat on
this, but Woodrow Wilson had many, many other characteristics of the intellectual. And the
worst one of all that he had was exactly this utopianism we’re talking about. And he drove
the world towards an unrealizable dream and was terribly, terribly disillusioned when
he found it was unrealizable and it is sort of a characteristic tragic story of a… Sen. Moynihan: Of professors or of Presbyterians,
which? Sen. Hayakawa: Well, yes, all right. No, perhaps
both. Mr. Daly: Professor Bork? Prof. Bork: Irving said, and I guess some
others have said, that it is the characteristic function of the professor or the intellectual,
which is a wider class, to question the status quo and to produce alienation, intellectual
alienation in students. If that were true, if that were the only explanation of the attitudes
we see in professors then I would expect to see, for example, the universities severely
questioning the welfare state, severely questioning the regulatory state, and undercutting what
is today’s status quo. I don’t think that’s that case. Prof. Kristol: They don’t do that, no. Prof. Bork: They are not opposed to the status
quo, they are opposed to particular institutions. Prof. Kristol: Now, I was saying there is
some propriety in saying that a good education has an alienating consequence of a kind. I
want to defend the notion that education should liberate the young person to understand the
limitations of this society as compared with previous societies and so you can go home
and read the Greek authors and understand that they were greater than any playwright
we have had in our century. But that was intellectual liberation, a private liberation for your
private consumption. It was not assumed in Harvard in the 1880s that this liberation
would then send you out into society to overturn it. On the contrary, the assumption was… Sen. Moynihan: Irving, that was what they
did in that decade. At Harvard in the 1880s, all they thought was going out and Christianize
America at last. There was a great revival. Prof. Kristol: I don’t think that was changing
society. Sen. Moynihan: Now, I want to speak up for
academia because I’ll never get back and I long for it. I miss it. They do preserve.
They preserve Aeschylus and they preserve Plato, and they preserve Trilling. And they
go, “Tell me one damn thing General Motors has ever preserved?” I mean every year there’s
a new world begun, and everything past is over, it has to be changed, got rid of. Prof. Bork: You want General Motors to preserve
the car model of 1910? What is it you’re… Sen. Moynihan: I thought 1925 was a good year.
I hope so. Prof. Bork: Your argument might lead to the
conclusion that General Motors has moved on from 1925, but the academic role hasn’t. Sen. Moynihan: Optimalism [SP] is destructive. Prof. Bork: They’re still producing that old,
bad model up there in Cambridge. Sen. Moynihan: I went to the City College
and Irving Kristol did too and we don’t have to apologize for that. But I’m telling you,
you are in the vortex of the destruction of values, to it, whatever you had last year,
you must be dissatisfied with and get nothing new. Prof. Kristol: I think that’s a very valid
point. I mean capitalism is destructive of values. And it is no accident that the kind
of criticism that professors, for instance, make of their society and the kind of recommendations
they make for public policy never end up with a suggestion that a policy be instituted which
results in less power or prestige or authority for professors. I mentioned at the beginning
the question of the public interest. The way…and here I’m sure the two senators know more about
it than I do. The way our conflict of interest laws are now being defined, it becomes almost
impossible for a businessman to take a job in government, almost impossible for a trade
unionist to take a job in government. The one group who can take jobs in government
are professors. They can take a job in government. They come right back to the university. There
are no conflict of interest. Now, is it an accident that this is the way the conflict
of interest laws are being promulgated? Sen. Moynihan: May I offer an illustration?
I wonder if Sam would agree with me. We just went through a draconian institution of restraints
on how much money any senator could earn outside from consulting, from lawyering, from doctoring,
and so forth. One exception, what was the exception, Sam? Sen. Hayakawa: Books, yeah, it’s books. Sen. Moynihan: Yes. Sen. Hayakawa: Book royalties. Sen. Moynihan: Book royalties are accepted. Prof. Kristol: You know, Robert Hutchins of
the University of Chicago once tried to institute that at the university. He said, “We are an
academic community, therefore, there should be no conflict of interest. All royalties
earned from your textbooks or from your outside lectures or your outside consultantships will
go to the university and we’ll pay professors much better than they had been hitherto, but
all professors will be paid alike regardless of how popular their textbooks are. And the
faculty of the University of Chicago was not about to have that. Prof. Bork: Well, they had a good point, you
know, that you do get more scholarship if you allow some return from it, unfortunately. Prof. Kristol: The capitalist [inaudible 00:48:09]. Prof. Bork: Yes, it’s capitalist [inaudible
00:48:10]. Sen. Hayakawa: Well, I don’t understand what
you mean when you say, “Capitalism destroys values.” Could you elaborate on that, anyone?
You talked about destroying old automobiles but like what values are destroyed particularly? Sen. Moynihan: This is Schumpeter’s analysis,
that the capitalist spirit appears in the world, and it appears characteristically in,
well, not least in universities, as a rejection of the established and presumably immutable
systems of the Middle Ages, and says no. Change, question, argue, and it proceeds to de-legitimate
the authority of church and Lord and such things like that and creates its own…by
a process of de-legitimating, it created itself. But, says Schumpeter, “It can’t stop there.
It will then go on to de-legitimate itself. And that the vanguard of this will always
be the intellectuals.” And says he, “The capitalists will support them, provide for them, pay for
them, nurture them,” because… Prof. Kristol: Because they think of the Ford
Foundation. Sen. Moynihan: …he sees in them the essence
of his own being and it’s sort of sad that he knows he’s doing it to himself, but he
will go on until it’s all over. And when it’s all over, they’ll be quiet again, and God
have mercy on them. Sen. Hayakawa: Well, thank you, Pat, you’ve
made me awfully glad I’ve never read Schumpeter. Prof. Bork: No, but I think…one thing that
you said about that and that is I think you’re quite right and Schumpeter is quite right,
the capitalist spirit does, being intentionally rational, tending to quantify things, tending
to doubt things, it does destroy traditional values. The difficulty is, I think, that people
don’t do awfully well without some transcendental values to believe in. And the one they tend
to turn to now is the secularization of the spiritual values, which turns out to mean
the equality of man, it turns out to mean socialism and social reform, which is probably
what will undo the desire for those transcendental values coming out in that way is probably
what will undo capitalism. Mr. Daly: I think it’s time to open the question
and answer session. May I have the first question please? Peter: Peter McPherson. I’m a tax lawyer here
in town. My question is particularly timely because Professor Bork has several times raised
the question of bias in the academic community. And since I gather everyone agrees that they
are very important community it seems to me that the panel might want to spend some time
trying to figure out why that bias is there and if the current bias is a long-term one. Prof. Kristol: I don’t like the term bias.
It’s the wrong word. What we’re talking about here is an intellectual tradition going back
well over two centuries, perhaps three centuries, an attitude toward the world, which is the
attitude today, which used to be the attitudes not of the professor so much but of the intellectual
class. It is an attitude, which is rationalistic, which is in favor of planning as against individual
freedom, let us say, in favor of centralized government as distinct from decentralized
government. It is utopian, I think, in the sense that Sam Hayakawa used that word because
they believe that a better world can be made out of the present world and that they know
how to do it because that’s their specialty. So the word bias bothers me. Now, if you’re
simply saying that the academic community has a way of looking at the world, which predisposes
them to what we call liberalism, neoliberalism, whatever term you wish, the answer is yes,
of course. There’s no doubt about that. Sen. Moynihan: I would give you the thought…I
would like to see what Sam thinks about it that the changing meaning of the word “liberal.”
Well, academics have always been liberals. A century ago, a liberal meant impractical
government policy, almost the opposite of what it means today. A century ago, liberal
academics were saying, “Reduce the influence of government.” A century later they’re saying,
“Increase the influence of government.” The same intellectuals are doing it all the time,
and holding on to that word. But I think also, sir…I would make this one question to the
gentleman, attorney, this one point that you mustn’t overlook the diversity in academic
opinion. And we know, we have a sociology of knowledge, it is kind of stable. And we
know that a physicist tends to be radical in his politics and an engineer will tend
to be conservative. And that reflects something very fundamental to the kinds of work they
do, and it’s interesting about government and politics itself, why are your politics
the way they are presented? Sen. Hayakawa: The engineers don’t tell the
government how the world should be run, whereas intellectuals do. And engineers don’t classify
themselves as intellectuals but as practical men. There’s a real difference in psychology
there. Sen. Moynihan: All right, we agree on that. Sen. Hayakawa: And so the ultimate ends of
society are determined by whom, you know, maybe the philosophy department or the English
department, social science department, but there are the other kinds of professors who
do arrogate themselves the privilege of asking the question, “What is the world for? What
is society for?” To what end should we direct the society as a whole?” And this is where
we get into this utopianism. For once class to say, “We are the people who have the ultimate
answers,” that’s the typical, let’s say, liberal arts, social science arrogance and I’ve been
fighting that as a professor for a long, long time. And that is our great, great weakness
as professors of philosophy. Now, why is it, for example, that in the average English department
in a large university you have 59 Democrats, 1 Republican, and 40 Maoists? Mr. Daly: Well, Professor Bork? Prof. Bork: Yeah. Senator Hayakawa raised
the point that I wanted to. Senator Moynihan is talking about the diversity in the academic
world. That diversity does not exist in the departments that have to do with policy in
the most prestigious universities. And, in fact, I have had the conversation that followed
from your point, Senator Hayakawa, when I once said that I was dubious about a Maoist
and the answer I was given was, “But we have to have a Maoist to balance the Stalinist
we already have.” There is, in the policy sciences and in the
professions, in the law schools, for example, you do find 40 Democrats and 2 Republicans.
Now, that’s a rough proxy for something else, I understand, but still it reflects something.
In recruitment, it is heavily skewed. Now, I think that has implications both for domestic
policy in the sense that the academic world in the policy sciences and in the law schools
is heavily in favor of increasing governmental intervention in the society and its processes,
usually in favor of greater equality and redistribution of wealth, which I think has long run implications
that are not too favorable for the preservation of capitalism and for the preservation of
free society. We haven’t mentioned the other aspect, which
is the influence of intellectuals or the academic world upon foreign affairs and foreign policy.
And I would throw out…remind you that George Orwell wrote about this subject. He said,
“Towards the end of World War II when it was quite plain that the Nazis were going to lose
and that England was going to win, the intellectual classes remained more defeated in England
than any other class and talked about negotiation peace or finding some resolution with Germany,
rather than carrying the war to a continuation.” Orwell suggested, and much or our experience
may suggest, that academics and intellectuals, as a class at least, have less staying power
in world contests unless perhaps faith in the fact that this kind of a society is ultimately
a better kind of society than those nations we are in a contest with. If that is true
then that has long-run serious implications. Sen. Moynihan: But Orwell also said, did he
not, that this was because they have more imagination? Prof. Bork: Well, whether or not it’s because
they have more imagination… Sen. Moynihan: Which is what they’re good
at, that’s their trade, having imagination. They can imagine defeat where people with
less imagination couldn’t, thank God. Prof. Bork: No. Not if you’re saying that
they could imagine the pains one would have to go through to arrive at victory and, therefore,
were less willing to put up with it. Sen. Moynihan: Both. Yeah. Prof. Bork: But what I was trying to say is
that if that is their characteristic for whatever reason and if they are a terribly influential
class, then that has implications for our ability to conduct, over a period of decades,
a rivalry, and a contest with the Soviet Union. Mr. Daly: All right. I think this concludes
another “Public Policy Forum” presented by the American Enterprise Institute for Public
Policy Research. On behalf of AEI, our heartfelt thanks to the distinguished panelists and
experts in the audience for their participation. Peter: This “Public Policy Forum on Campus
Influences on Our Political System” has brought you the views of four leading experts in the
field. It was presented by AIE, the American Enterprise Institute. It is the aim of AEI
to clarify the issues of the day by presenting many viewpoints in the hope that by so doing
those who wish to learn about the decision-making process will benefit from such a free exchange
of informed and enlightened opinion. I’m Peter Hackes in Washington. The “Public Policy Forum” series is created
and supplied to this station as a public service by the American Enterprise Institute, Washington,
D.C. For a transcript of this program, send $2 to The American Enterprise Institute, 1150
17th Street Northwest Washington, D.C. 20036.

5 comments on “Professors, politicians, and public policy (1977) | ARCHIVES

  1. Lol, I know it is a bit odd, but this video immediately called out to me because I was born in 1977 ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This discussion occurred over forty years ago, and it is just as relevant today as it was then. The Leftist slant has only grown more extreme and entrenched in our educational institutions, and the academics have regressed in their well established and profoundly meager skills in practical governance. In other words, never call a professor when your toilet is clogged (unless you want a two hour dissertation on the epistemology of toilet paper).

  3. "Capitalism is destructive" ahh the good old 70's where you could still believe socialism was superior to capitalism… We know better now, well except for lefties and antifa… but who cares about those idiots.

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