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In 1951, a twenty-five-year old Yale graduate published his first book, which exposed the extraordinarily irresponsible educational attitude that prevailed at his alma mater. This book rocked the academic world and catapulted its young author, William F. Buckley Jr., into the public spotlight.


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In 1951, a twenty-five-year old Yale graduate published his first book, which exposed the extraordinarily irresponsible educational attitude that prevailed at his alma mater. This book rocked the academic world and catapulted its young author, William F. Buckley Jr., into the public spotlight.

30 review for God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of 'Academic Freedom'

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    Not to be missed, the famous debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tek9... ============= What is often forgotten is that the National Review began as a racist publication. In an infamous editorial published in 1957, Buckley fiercely defended segregation.... "The central question that emerges… is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it do Not to be missed, the famous debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tek9... ============= What is often forgotten is that the National Review began as a racist publication. In an infamous editorial published in 1957, Buckley fiercely defended segregation.... "The central question that emerges… is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes— the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race......National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct…. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority. Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way; and the society will regress; sometimes the numerical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence." Stevens, Stuart, It Was All a Lie, 2020 ----- "In 1951, Regnery Books agreed to publish William Buckley’s "God and Man at Yale," the book that secured the role of both Regnery’s publishing house and Bill Buckley in the coming conservative wars. God and Man at Yale became a New York Times best seller, and Buckley followed it up with a defense of Joseph McCarthy written with his brother-in-law Brent Bozell, "McCarthy and His Enemies: The Record and Its Meaning." Like his defense of segregation in the National Review, the McCarthy book is a reminder for those who today, in the age of Trump, like to cast William Buckley as the lost soul of true conservatism: that for all his well-crafted sentences and love of language, Buckley was often a more articulate version of the same deep ugliness and bigotry that is the hallmark of Trumpism." Stevens, Stuart, It Was All a Lie, 2020, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. =========== I read God and Man at Yale many years ago and something I was just reading reminded me of it. A critic described Buckley's outlook in this book as Manichean, meaning that all of reality is divided into good or evil, light or dark, black or white, involving no shades of gray. I agree this was true about Buckley. Also he never made much effort to defend his positions as he did in attacking those who did not share his strident worldview. And let us not forget he published a book defending Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism. I grew up in a GOP household. My father was a WW II veteran and very hawkish supporter of the Vietnam War. (As was William F. Buckley). It wasn’t until I saw the eye-opening and highly informative Vietnam War documentary by Ken Burns that I realized the extent to which my father and the rest of the U.S. were consistently being lied to about the War, not only by Nixon, but also by LBJ. WFB was a presence in our household in the form of National Review Magazine and the Firing Line TV show that my father and older brother liked to watch. Although my father, a general practice medical doctor, often commented on how out of touch Buckley was from real people. My main point is that I know all about Buckley and what he stood for. But it wasn’t until last year that I watched the famous 1965 Oxford debated between Baldwin and Buckley. Buckley’s main argument was: if black people only worked harder they could succeed like European immigrants. He quoted a sociologist named Nathan Glaser (who later reneged on this position) So he's telling Baldwin, and others from a slave heritage, that they need to work harder. WTF? Their labor is what made the Southern economy, as the Confederate states themselves argued after the Civil War. The slavery legacy is what most black people live with in America. They’re not immigrants from Europe, who have been able to escape oppression. I think Buckley's delusion comes from the myth of individualism that is so sacred to white people. I'm a white Boomer male who is the most privileged species of person in the U.S. I am part of a white group that has inevitably shaped my outlook on American society, as it did for Buckley or any other white person. Until a white person understands this, they will never come close to seeing how the lives of non-whites in America have been radically different than theirs. More insight on this from this book..... https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jason Goetz

    This is a marvelous expose by Buckley and one I wish I had read before writing my own university-slammer, The Bubble Boys. Buckley's main concerns are that under the guise of "academic freedom" many faculty at Yale in the early 1950s were pushing ideas which were consistent with totalitarianism--against which the United States was at war then, against Korea, as it had been for half the preceding decade against Germany and Italy--and antithetical to the old American values of individualism and Ju This is a marvelous expose by Buckley and one I wish I had read before writing my own university-slammer, The Bubble Boys. Buckley's main concerns are that under the guise of "academic freedom" many faculty at Yale in the early 1950s were pushing ideas which were consistent with totalitarianism--against which the United States was at war then, against Korea, as it had been for half the preceding decade against Germany and Italy--and antithetical to the old American values of individualism and Judeo-Christianity. He cites specific courses and instructors across several departments whose lectures were inappropriate or simply pointed students in questionable directions, both as regards religion and economics. He also explored how the textbooks used in basic economics classes were universally Keynesian and pushed towards collectivism, and how social clubs which were ostensibly Christian in nature were beginning to have leaders who were atheist, pushing the fervent believer to the margins. He explored the fact that Yale's alumni--donations from whom made up a goodly portion of Yale's financial subsistence--were opposed to this kind of teaching, and, while encouraging them to withhold money from the institutions, explained that too many of them did not take these matters seriously enough. He points out that the administration at Yale, while claiming they were opposed to the doctrines preached in the classroom, refused to interfere on the grounds that they would thereby be violating academic freedom. What would initially appear to be a simple extension of academic freedom, however, Buckley exposes to be a ludicrous tool used by academics when it suits them and to their own advantage. Buckley points out that an instructor who held views on the supremacy of the Arian race would not be accepted on a university campus--not be "academically free"--which implies that academic freedom lies within certain bounds. Buckley then argues that when a careful distinction is made between the profession of the scholar and the profession of the teacher, academic freedom should be restricted within much narrower bounds, not extended to wider application. He goes beyond this to even argue that if one's scholarly interests are in topics that are not conducive to teaching ideas which are consistent with what has been shown to be the best truths in practice, he may find a place elsewhere, but should not be teaching at Yale, since it is too likely that his interests will pervade his teaching. Buckley's reasoning is that democracy and the ideas beind Judeo-Christianity have proven to be the best possible institutional foundations, and that to teach Communism and collectivism, both of which had proven to be terrible in various manifestations through history, was not to pursue truth under academic freedom but to encourage error through carelessness. Buckley's argument is extremely compelling and, bluntly, he is right. The loss of individual spirit in this country has done more damage and will continue to do more damage for the foreseeable future. The loss of religion as a binding factor in American culture is also proving to be dangerous. Since Yale alumni bear a disproportionate role in leading the world relative to their numbers, one has to consider that many of the social trends of the past half-century are due to exactly what Buckley describes here. This is easily one of the best books I've read in some time. It is concise and written with the hand of a maestro. Oddly, I must admit, it has increased the likelihood that, should I get into Yale and the University of Chicago for graduate school, I consider Yale. THis is because the quality of education presented here--though it bears criticism and negative attention--is so far better than the quality of education at public schools in the state of California, which is at the forefront of the collectivist and anti-religious trend, that it is almost sickening.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Speaking of bias: the hoity-toity Mr B was a white supremacist in the 50s and 60s. What a guy !

  4. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    I read a lot of Buckley back in the day, but had never read this one, the book that put him on the map. Reading it now, I can certainly see why it put him on the map. Good stuff.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Reading this book is primarily for historical value. It is William F. Buckley, Jr.'s first book that he wrote while a student at Yale (published after graduation). In it you will find all the major themes of modern American conservatism that have shaped American politics since Goldwater. Following graduation, Buckley would go on to found The National Review magazine, which would be the standard bearer for the American conservative movement until the late 80's, when Rush Limbaugh becomes the stan Reading this book is primarily for historical value. It is William F. Buckley, Jr.'s first book that he wrote while a student at Yale (published after graduation). In it you will find all the major themes of modern American conservatism that have shaped American politics since Goldwater. Following graduation, Buckley would go on to found The National Review magazine, which would be the standard bearer for the American conservative movement until the late 80's, when Rush Limbaugh becomes the standard bearer. The themes that Buckley brings to Yale in this book include: Highest goods: 1. Christianity as the surest ground for ethics. 2. Capitalism over socialism. Criticisms of Yale: 1. Homogeneity in the ideology of the faculty (anti-Christian secularism or naturalism, socialism). 2. Faculty response to criticism with the shibboleth of "Academic Freedom". It is sort of back to the future, because these are the same things that the left-wing-turned-right-wing activist David Horowitz and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have been critical of since 2000. Buckley was writing in ca. 1950.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    While dated this book is a good place to start in examining the premise it puts forward in comparison to the situation as it exists today. The names in the book and the specific examples listed come (1951 but continuing through)1970s. The "changes" that are presaged by the situation Mr. Buckley goes into have continued through to the present. The examples of instructors (professors) in the religion classes who are irreligious or even outright hostile to religion compared to what the alumni and pa While dated this book is a good place to start in examining the premise it puts forward in comparison to the situation as it exists today. The names in the book and the specific examples listed come (1951 but continuing through)1970s. The "changes" that are presaged by the situation Mr. Buckley goes into have continued through to the present. The examples of instructors (professors) in the religion classes who are irreligious or even outright hostile to religion compared to what the alumni and parents of the students might think is only one area of examination. How much influence should the alumni and/or parents of the students have over the tenor of what's being taught. Does academic freedom of research equal an implication that the "teachers" should also have absolute control over that tenor. Exactly how hostile to "religious thought" are modern "scholars"? This book revolves around Yale in the 1950s and 70s (it has been revised since 1951) but the implications and evidence present are definitely applicable to the situation as it exists in most institutions of higher learning today. The attitude of superiority over anyone who actually believes in God. The ridicule that is applied when actual argument won't work, it's all still there and today even, "more so". In considering all this I'd say this is a good place to start. In planing to send a son or daughter off to college this is also a volume one might want to read as it looks at the phenomenon of institutes of higher learning (Yale here) getting paid by parents to destroy the morals and values in their children that those parents have spent the perspective student's childhood building. It deals with and looks at what has led to the "abuse of" or possibly "perversion of" what is termed "academic freedom". Look at the situation in our "institutions of higher learning" today when a class can be taught by an undergraduate while a tenured professor leads protests against conservative speakers and publishes books and papers declaring things like "9-11 was an inside job and there were no planes involved". How did we get here? This book remember is from 1951, think about it. Thinking is so unusual today anyway.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    It's rather sad to see just how much of an arrogant tosser Buckley was even as a young man, one more suited to the reactionary world of Metternich than the post-war 1940s. Reading Buckley's early work, it's easy to understand the anti-communist witch hunts of the 50s. The motto of the so-called New Right? Don't engage intellectually, simply ban, fire, and excoriate anything that doesn't conform to your tidy WASP world view. (and full disclosure: I tend towards conservative politics myself, but s It's rather sad to see just how much of an arrogant tosser Buckley was even as a young man, one more suited to the reactionary world of Metternich than the post-war 1940s. Reading Buckley's early work, it's easy to understand the anti-communist witch hunts of the 50s. The motto of the so-called New Right? Don't engage intellectually, simply ban, fire, and excoriate anything that doesn't conform to your tidy WASP world view. (and full disclosure: I tend towards conservative politics myself, but still found Buckley's writing distasteful)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert Papas

    You can sometimes judge the effectiveness of a writer or that writer's work by the visceral reactions they generate from those who hold an opposing view. This book is a shining example of that effectiveness. Even as a young man, when he wrote this book, Buckley showed a superb command of the language and its intricacies, and his simple premise -- that academia, which is supposed to embrace free thought, speech and expression but in fact is skewed toward a particular world view -- is more true tod You can sometimes judge the effectiveness of a writer or that writer's work by the visceral reactions they generate from those who hold an opposing view. This book is a shining example of that effectiveness. Even as a young man, when he wrote this book, Buckley showed a superb command of the language and its intricacies, and his simple premise -- that academia, which is supposed to embrace free thought, speech and expression but in fact is skewed toward a particular world view -- is more true today than it was when Buckley wrote these words. To the true free-thinker, "God and Man at Yale" should serve as a warning. However, as is so often the case in today's political discourse, many critics do not review the work on its merits but rather the perceived personal qualities of the author. Oppose Buckley with the facts, if you can. Show that academia, or more specifically the Eastern Ivy League establishment, is not in fact biased toward the American Left. Simply calling Buckley an idiot won't feed that bulldog. In the meantime, open your mind and read one of the cornerstones of modern American conservatism. It's an excellent work, well-organized, plainly spoken and direct. In order to have a reasoned debate, don't you at least want to attempt to understand your opponent's position?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Downward

    Here WFB sets forth with the primary thesis that alumni, being both customers and donors to Yale University, should be able to dictate the values that are taught at that University. This is a reaction to the belief that Yale had, at the publishing of this book following WFB's tenure as a student there, had moved away from their core values of individualism and christianity, toward a collectivist and atheist agenda. There are lots of problems with Buckley's ideas here, the most obvious being that Here WFB sets forth with the primary thesis that alumni, being both customers and donors to Yale University, should be able to dictate the values that are taught at that University. This is a reaction to the belief that Yale had, at the publishing of this book following WFB's tenure as a student there, had moved away from their core values of individualism and christianity, toward a collectivist and atheist agenda. There are lots of problems with Buckley's ideas here, the most obvious being that Yale and other schools like it are and always have been primarily interested in maintaining the class structure that allows them their elitism; Buckley's strident opposition to Marxism being presented in any way that isn't an outright condemnation speaks to his extremism and keeps him from seeing that Yale (and universities like it) are wholly engines of the status quo. As a wealthy white Christian, any worldview that doesn't neatly fit into his own is automatically an affront to decency. But Buckley acquits himself because he argues well and his prose is beautiful. The first two chapters of this book run near irrelevance these days because they rely on naming professors he finds particularly offensive and quoting heavily from texts used in their classes - but he's honest about the subjectivity of his exprience and motions towards the idea that of course people have the privilege to disagree with him if they're doing so honestly and addressing his concerns, as he is doing for them. Overall, I think Buckley's ideas are bad ones. Sort of real bad. That said, this book is verrry compelling as a historical document and a pleasure to read on not only a sentence by sentence basis, but as the first real important work by someone who became an influential thinker of the 20th century.

  10. 4 out of 5

    D.

    A very good analysis of academic freedom and the Communist threat to higher education. I am not one to disparage a work of such a great man. However, I find the book is a product of its times, people, and events of a particular place, and this itself is a weakness.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Jones

    Do not be fooled by the title. Buckley's book has very little to do about Yale. It serves merely as a backdrop for his arguments against the concepts of academic freedom and for individualism (conservatism). William Buckley is a renowned political conservatist, and apparently this book kicked off his life's work. He wrote it two years after graduating Yale in 1951, and his immature, overly flatutent writing style is evidence of a young writer. Nevertheless his arguments are well thought out and Do not be fooled by the title. Buckley's book has very little to do about Yale. It serves merely as a backdrop for his arguments against the concepts of academic freedom and for individualism (conservatism). William Buckley is a renowned political conservatist, and apparently this book kicked off his life's work. He wrote it two years after graduating Yale in 1951, and his immature, overly flatutent writing style is evidence of a young writer. Nevertheless his arguments are well thought out and persuasive regardless of your political leanings. I think it is important to read this book in the context of the times in which he wrote. Written not long after the Great Depression, I think it is safe to say that America was swept away with Roosevelt concepts of bigger government, etc. It was anathema to think otherwise. Buckley swims against the tide in this book, and presents a counterview that many have gone onto to say fomented the current liberal vs. conservative nature of American politics. You couple that with the fact that in 1953, the ineffectiveness of communism hadn't completely shown itself, and many academics were still espousing its merit even in America. Buckley weaves these huge topics almost accidently into his bigger point that professors should not be completely insulated under the umbrella of academic freedom. Rather they should be accountable to teaching students in accordance with certain principles (e.g. capitalism vs. socialism). All interesting stuff regardless of your political views. I think it is about 160 pages. It seems a little longer because of Buckley's writing style, but nevertheless a very interesting read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Prooost Davis

    In the second semester of my freshman year, I was slightly taken aback by the assignment of a book called Literature from the Bible. I had spent my life in church, and the idea that the Bible could be studied as something besides "the word of God" was a radical idea, indeed. But, as time went on, I became a textbook example of the student who is corrupted by those liberal professors. William F. Buckley, Jr., as a recent graduate of Yale, still had not gotten over the liberalism of the professors In the second semester of my freshman year, I was slightly taken aback by the assignment of a book called Literature from the Bible. I had spent my life in church, and the idea that the Bible could be studied as something besides "the word of God" was a radical idea, indeed. But, as time went on, I became a textbook example of the student who is corrupted by those liberal professors. William F. Buckley, Jr., as a recent graduate of Yale, still had not gotten over the liberalism of the professors there, and saw fit to write a book that he hoped would act as a corrective. For Buckley, there were three things that made America the success that it is: Christianity, free enterprise, and individualism (as opposed to collectivism)."I therefore looked eagerly to Yale University for allies against secularism and collectivism." What he found instead were teachers mocking belief in God, and economists teaching from Samuelson's Economics, which was way too enamored of central planning. In Buckley's view, a private university should inculcate (his word) the values that its administration and alumni profess to believe in. So-called Academic freedom was a hoax. (Having gleaned from things written about the book that Buckley thought that the alumni should dictate what was taught in college, rather than the experts in the various fields seemed, and still seems, ludicrous to me. But Buckley made his arguments, and I'll try to cover them as best I can.)"I myself believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level." As an atheist myself, I agree that it's an important battle, but Buckley and I are on opposite sides. It's also interesting to me that Christianity, which is mostly expressed collectively, should be analogous to individualism. But Buckley wanted to grant individualism a religious imprimatur. Buckley lamented that impressionable freshmen were being indoctrinated with ideas that he believed the alumni and the administration would find inimical to the good of society. He doesn't ask himself why many of these classes and teachers are so popular with students. (I'll come back to this later.) He gives examples in two chapters of Yale's treatment of religion and individualism and finds them wanting. Buckley sought "intellectual and inspirational support for his faith," and didn't find it. He complained that students could substitute philosophy or history credits and bypass religion altogether if desired, thereby denying religion "equal status" with other subjects. (To me, this merely reflects that Yale and the world had left Buckley behind in some previous century.)"Almost all the books assigned dealt with religion wholly as a cultural phenomenon, of no greater or lesser interest than ecology or diet." Buckley made an attempt to differentiate facts from values, but was unwilling to admit that values might be informed by facts, and that things change. Buckley held the opinion that unfettered capitalism equalled freedom, and that help from the state was slavery. Now, this is the expected belief of a member of his social class. But he never asked the questions, "Freedom for whom? Prosperity for whom?" To Buckley, any degree of socialism just led to communism. But, to me, communism's two great flaws are its pseudoscientific trappings and its "kill the bosses" attitude. Socialism, to me, springs from a compassionate attitude of the well off toward the less well off, and the realization that lack of regulation leads to Gilded Age abuses of laborers. The ruling classes do not automatically appreciate the value of labor to their enterprises. God and Man at Yale was Buckley's plea to alumni and administrators to care as much about these values as he did, and as they said they did. But he found them disappointing. The alumni seemed only interested in the collection of money for Yale, and not at all in the "inculcation of values" that Buckley considered the greatest goal of education. I found Buckley's dedication to these ideals touchingly childlike and naive, much like my surprise that the Bible could be something other than holy. They shored up the world of his parents, and, not incidentally, the status quo of the class system in America. Buckley called "academic freedom," as most people know it, a dedication to what he called laissez-faire education (laissez-faire not being a good word in this case). He himself saw education as an economic transaction: the people who "buy" an education deserve for it to be what they want it to be. They pay for a product, and that product should please them. If a teacher will not teach the values they already believe in, he should find a job at another school. Education should be agreeable to the purchaser, and validate his beliefs. Buckley's own version of what academic freedom should be is "the freedom of men and women to supervise the educational activities and aims of the schools they support." Nothing about the consumer of education as coming into the transaction as the relatively ignorant seeker after as-yet-unknown truth was to Buckley's liking. Buckley talked a lot about individual freedom, but, interestingly, he referred to alumni, parents, and administrators the overseers of education. Buckley normally chose his words carefully, but I wonder if he was even conscious of the charge that the word overseers carries? Buckley looked forward to a time when there would be "no market" for socialist teachers."If the people are to retain their sovereignty, the cannot relinquish their right to impose unemployment upon the trader in commodities or ideas for which there is no market." But, in Buckley's time, as I mentioned earlier, the courses he reviled were some of the most popular on offer at Yale.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gina Long

    The book is well-reasoned but dry as an old dishcloth. Buckley's conservativsm was the genteel philosphy carved from very basic axioms. Not the most interesting book but it has held out well in the last 50 years for its disdain of the muscular fascist conservative cousin now masquerading as genuine politics today. The book is well-reasoned but dry as an old dishcloth. Buckley's conservativsm was the genteel philosphy carved from very basic axioms. Not the most interesting book but it has held out well in the last 50 years for its disdain of the muscular fascist conservative cousin now masquerading as genuine politics today.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Corey Wozniak

    GAHHHH that was dull. DNF at 50%. The book was mostly just excerpts from various economics textbooks. WFB has a reputation for being a sparkling wit, a firebrand, and an iconoclast, but this was a snoozer. Is there a better intro to WFB?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I wonder who is writing the updated version of this based on the issues of academic freedom under attack today.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Well, this was exhausting. I picked this up after reading Nicholas Buccola's excellent The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate Over Race in America earlier this year. (A book which I loved, took copious notes on, and, for some reason, have never gotten around to reviewing.) Buccola asserted that Buckley reaches for a form of relativism in God and Man at Yale, and it was that particular accusation that I wanted to investigate for myself. So far as accurately repr Well, this was exhausting. I picked this up after reading Nicholas Buccola's excellent The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate Over Race in America earlier this year. (A book which I loved, took copious notes on, and, for some reason, have never gotten around to reviewing.) Buccola asserted that Buckley reaches for a form of relativism in God and Man at Yale, and it was that particular accusation that I wanted to investigate for myself. So far as accurately representing what Buckley said, Buccola was entirely fair. I'm just not sure about the relativism part. John Chamberlain explains Buckley's position in his introduction: that Yale ought to teach ("inculcate the values") of Christianity and the free market, not because they are true, but because those paying for Yale (students & alumni) believe them to be true, and, as consumers, ought to insist on the teaching that coincides with their own values. Of course, Buckley believes that both positions are true, though he chooses not to argue for them. His aim is purely political: activating a base of Yale alumni to pressure the school. So it that relativism? Probably not. It's not a relativism to encourage consistency between belief and behavior, and reading Buckley in good-faith, I think that's how he would have seen his project. But all the same, in assuming the truth of his claim and making the issue what the Yale alumni and trustees *wanted* taught, Buckley shifts from a pursuit of truth to encouraging those who have a degree of power to determine what's worth teaching, and that posture is troubling, especially in hindsight. It implies an epistemic gulf between "conservative values" and, well, everyone else, in a way that's politically savvy, but that discourages good-faith discussion and contributed to what Tom Nichols has called "the death of expertise." Buckley, at least, did it with intelligence, but many of the conservative commentators, who are both his heirs, and often, imitators, have doubled down on it, usually with less giftedness. As I wrote in a note on The Fire Is Upon Us, the result of their "refusal to justify conservative principles to those who do not already hold them results in a movement that gradually grows less intellectual and more tribal as time passes, and similarly, in failing to consider the intellectual basis for its own beliefs, closes itself off to the possibility of reform." I don't want to overstate my case; I'm not suggesting that you can draw a direct line from Buckley for Trump; history could have taken a different path, there are absolutely other factors, and plus, that would probably be crediting Buckley with too much influence. But I do think it's possible to see Trump and the current QAnon conspiracy, and our desperate polarization, as possible futures latent in Buckley's rhetorical move, possible futures we were unlucky enough to realize.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marty Mangold

    This book seemed fundamental to better understanding this writer: his first mega-hit book, written just out of college. This audio book (read beautifully by Michael Edwards) is the 60th-anniversary edition, with a long introduction by the author. I've served enough time in academia to be interested in Buckley's long scold of his alma mater. He sees a battle for Yale's soul going on, between atheism and socialism vs. religion and capitalism. To start, WFB puts the faculty on trial for their relig This book seemed fundamental to better understanding this writer: his first mega-hit book, written just out of college. This audio book (read beautifully by Michael Edwards) is the 60th-anniversary edition, with a long introduction by the author. I've served enough time in academia to be interested in Buckley's long scold of his alma mater. He sees a battle for Yale's soul going on, between atheism and socialism vs. religion and capitalism. To start, WFB puts the faculty on trial for their religious views, coldly classifying particular people as Christians or non-believers, practicing Catholics or that other kind. He reminded me of The Church Lady on Saturday Night Live, with a better vocabulary. He moves on to economics, and here he's in a strong area. The economics faculty and the authors of the required books were espousing wealth inequality being addressed by capital gains taxation, income taxes, death and inheritance taxes, yet wealth equalization would ultimately weaken Yale’s financial structure by eliminating wealthy donors. His analysis of the four core economics textbooks was compelling, concrete and enjoyable. The third topic was teaching, and its balance of teaching to research, the value of a consolidated mission of a school vs. "academic freedom," a term sees covering a multitude of sins. He thinks Yale should have, pretends to have, yet lacks an actual academic mission, and its goals are completely disconnected from administration, hiring and teaching. He says that a strict values test for faculty "would make me restless and unhappy." A nice phrase, but then, what is the point of this book? He quotes Howard Lowry's book, The Mind's Adventure, which came out in 1950, the year WFB graduated and one year before GAMAY (that's Buckley jargon for this book): I am left with a suspicion that WFB set out to mimic Lowry from his own perspective, and that makes me restless and unhappy. His final topic is Academic Freedom, and the role of alumni. He confronts the realization that commonly comes with graduation: we paid our money, took some courses, and now we are dismissed to make room for others. His news flash is that alumni don't make academic decisions (well, duh!). He thinks alumni participation is fundamental to Yale, maybe to private colleges everywhere. This was a stretch for me: I attended a private school for graduate work, and it never occurred to me I'd have any influence as an alumnus. He thinks we can encourage people to think for themselves in a way that guides them to reach the conclusions we ourselves hold. I think he was pretty well ruined for professorships by this book, and that's a good thing. I look forward to following his later works, and did enjoy this book even while considering that it contains a lot of hot air. A nice romp for the mind.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    This book reads like a "strongly worded" letter to the management of Yale. My general impression is that Buckley was disappointed that his Yale professors didn't think as he did and that they ought to. I've read a lot of William F. Buckley Jr, and this early work feels like just that, an early work. Additionally, I don't think the experiences of a student at an Ivy League school in the 1940s really tell us much about academic freedom in the present. There are some themes of the early modern cons This book reads like a "strongly worded" letter to the management of Yale. My general impression is that Buckley was disappointed that his Yale professors didn't think as he did and that they ought to. I've read a lot of William F. Buckley Jr, and this early work feels like just that, an early work. Additionally, I don't think the experiences of a student at an Ivy League school in the 1940s really tell us much about academic freedom in the present. There are some themes of the early modern conservative movement but, again, this 1940s early Cold War perspective is all a bit dated. The 1960s youth movements entirely upended many of his arguments about individualism and "collectivism" as he calls it. I don't identify as a conservative so I feel giving this book any sort of rating would be misleading. That said, if I were to rate it, it would be poor since it was difficult to glean larger ideas about conservative thought and modern higher education from a long diatribe from a former student towards his alma mater. That said, and perhaps this is the privilege of Buckley, he seems to have been successful, well-liked, given a good education, and given tools for a life of success as a conservative public intellectual from the very same school he felt the need to pan in this strongly worded long form letter to the manager.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roblee

    Difficult, dry, and dated in most respects. Buckley examines the institution and influence of Yale in the late 40s. Some of the issues, such as academic freedom, free speech on campus, protests, and attitudes toward politics and religion are particularly relevant today.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Rush

    Even more frightening (and pertinent) that it is now more close to the 65th anniversary of this work, unsurprisingly Buckley's book is necessary, enlightening, and apropos. Buckley's introduction to the 25th anniversary reveals his growth as a critic, thinker, and writer (the writing is much better than the book itself, which should not be surprising, considering he doubled his life experience and honed his writing output in the meantime). It is more enjoyable to read than the book, but the book Even more frightening (and pertinent) that it is now more close to the 65th anniversary of this work, unsurprisingly Buckley's book is necessary, enlightening, and apropos. Buckley's introduction to the 25th anniversary reveals his growth as a critic, thinker, and writer (the writing is much better than the book itself, which should not be surprising, considering he doubled his life experience and honed his writing output in the meantime). It is more enjoyable to read than the book, but the book itself should be read, if for nothing more than the reminder, especially to collegians today, the only thing colleges want from their alumni is their money. What will perhaps come as an "I should have seen that coming" notice to us all is the litany of colleges, especially akin to the league of ivy-covered universities, during the '50s that eschewed private enterprise and the free market in favor of government intervention and control (often called "socialism") in economics courses. Thus, all the decision makers in government who went to college since the 1950s have been weaned on Keynesian economics - no wonder we are in the state we are in today: all of them think they are doing the right thing. Buckley's discussion on the inefficacy of religion on Yale's campus is thoroughly disheartening, especially considering the Decision Makers' decision to prevent Buckley from giving his cautionary speech to the alumni under the abused, hypocritical claim of "academic freedom." Buckley's trenchant discussion of both the passive destruction (and sometimes overt) of religion on campus, and the mythical trope "academic freedom" are likewise necessary reading, especially since the atmosphere at more colleges are even worse than they were when he first wrote this book. We certainly are in a bizarre academic world when ideas like Intelligent Design are blackballed from the very public schools that claim to espouse "academic freedom." I especially enjoyed Buckley's refutation of the notion Yale (and thus all, especially private, educational enterprises) must present all ideas in an unbiased way to the students and thus allow the students to weigh and decide for themselves what is true (or worthwhile or pragmatic or whatever) - as if the classroom is suppose to be an intellectual buffet. Indeed, this is not the case: classrooms and teachers/professors, especially at private institutions, wholly have the obligation to stand for something - to proclaim what is true and encourage the students to believe what is true. Certainly this does not mean they should avoid the thinkers and ideas contrary to what they believe, not must they only discuss them superficially or derogatorily, but such inferior ideas should be refuted in the classroom. Anything less is not an education. That Buckley and his friends are not popular today should be enough reason for you to read this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cliff

    A reviewer said of this book that it would have been remarkable had a Professor read it, let alone a 25-year-old recent college graduate. He was right, of course. Buckley's analysis of the culture, politics, and ideology of Yale in the late 40's/early 50's was spot on, which of course is why it struck such a nerve and won him so many enemies, as well as friends. His analysis of the situation is flawless, particularly given the benefit of hindsight, and he was not only right about Yale, but (as h A reviewer said of this book that it would have been remarkable had a Professor read it, let alone a 25-year-old recent college graduate. He was right, of course. Buckley's analysis of the culture, politics, and ideology of Yale in the late 40's/early 50's was spot on, which of course is why it struck such a nerve and won him so many enemies, as well as friends. His analysis of the situation is flawless, particularly given the benefit of hindsight, and he was not only right about Yale, but (as he suggests might be the case but admits he lacks the ability to judge) the whole academic elite. It was, and is, collectivist, it was, and is, aggressively secular and usually anti-christian, even at ostensibly private religious universities, and the idea of "Academic Freedom" remains, at best, a badly misunderstood doctrine, at worst, a piece of propaganda for those with a particular point of view to defend the indefensible. It sounds like freedom but in fact is a dissent squelching defender of an adopted orthodoxy of a group whose values are out of step with the majority. Perhaps that orthodoxy is defensible, but the dishonesty by which it is sold, is not. Buckley's exposure of it, I think, is the biggest service this book provides. Buckley's conclusions about what ought to be done remains questionable. I remain a skeptic, although not necessarily an opponent, of what he proposes, to enforce a sort of traditional orthodoxy (as opposed to a liberal orthodoxy, which he correctly views as already imposed under the guise of freedom, not because of it) visa vie the alumni, not because I view such a move as somehow wrong, but because I question the ability of it to be done by artificial means at all without killing the patient, as it were. But of course, since it was not done, at Yale or anywhere else, its hard to judge the outcome of such a move. What we do know, with a great deal of certainty, was that he diagnosed the issue perfectly and exposed pretensions and flimsy, dishonest arguments for the status quo. To what degree is this book still relevant? Well, that's hard to say. Everything he says is still occurring, in spades. Yet it has been so well accepted, by those who hold the orthodoxy, and so widely believed and more-or-less acquiesced to,, by those who don't, that it's difficult to say just what this book means today. If nothing else, it informs us that we were warned, and that there was a time where such things were seen as remarkable and shocking. Perhaps Frogs can be reminded that the water was once much cooler. I think Buckley could live with that outcome.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mykolas Lozoraitis

    At first this topic seemed primitive and bureaucratic, but when I began to be reflect on it, it‘s really not. No one better than Christians see the collapse of universities. Even if we presumed that today’s Western universities are rising to new heights of perfection, no one doubts in it stronger than Christians do. Their thoughts on their place in the university today can only cause laughter, as the current universities belong to atheists and agnostics. Since these are not satisfied with the un At first this topic seemed primitive and bureaucratic, but when I began to be reflect on it, it‘s really not. No one better than Christians see the collapse of universities. Even if we presumed that today’s Western universities are rising to new heights of perfection, no one doubts in it stronger than Christians do. Their thoughts on their place in the university today can only cause laughter, as the current universities belong to atheists and agnostics. Since these are not satisfied with the universities they have created, Christians must leave their silent reflections unspoken. Society continues to show the usual indifference to Christians. According to tradition, eleven of the twelve apostles died by martyrdom. Christians don‘t experience death ad bestias, but the university continues to be a place of "cognitive dissonance" for them, as described by sociologist Jürgen Habermas. A man is divided by cognition and faith, but in universities only cognition remains left. To understand how modern Christians feel at university, it is necessary to find the answer to two questions: 1) What is the modern science? 2) What the modern studies are about? Since the first question has already been answered many times and scientists tend to have little interest in what science actually is, just automatically work on it, we should start from the second question. It must be said that Christianity is not a scientific discipline, it is understood as a way of human life. Ancient Greek thinkers also understood philosophy as a way of life. Christians are like philosophers, but their way of life is based not only on the mind but also on the faith. When university student comes into the Christian community, he comes into the community of students, not teachers. His teachers are moral authorities, not people with narrow professional interests. Neither of Jesus' followers nor any of the twelve apostles were scientists. They were fishermen, customs officers, traders, doctors, and other professions that had nothing to do with the academy of science. For sure Jesus could not teach in a modern university because he has no publications. This means that the biggest spirit creator in the Western world today is doomed to stay behind the university. Christian students, unlike scientists, who want to manage all areas of human life, understand that they cannot have greater social and political claims because of their Christian beliefs. Every sober-minded Christian today realizes that Christianity is a little-needed thing in Western social life. If offered to choose either Christianity or science, the citizens of today’s democratic society would probably choose science. In the current type of universities Christians live like Pontius Pilate – in a small ghetto. Christians have become a minority that respects pluralism. They have no missionary fever, meanwhile academic life has its economy. When liberals and the left once again take the opportunity to mock Christians, they are taking a step that is politically unacceptable and democracy-destroying. They still believe that Christian churches are still powerful and influential social force. It‘s an approach that has no basis. Current Christianity critics need to understand that they represent the majority now and that Christians are a minority. Liberals have become too much into their own political performance and most of the times begin to create comedy. We have been living in a liberal world for a long time already, but still they keep on continuing to portray themselves as dissidents, somewhat rejected and misunderstood. In today's universities Christian students don‘t understand the concept of progress because they don‘t think that scientific and technical progress is a key factor in defining human development. The best part of society by them are the saints, not scientists, therefore the Christians must be condemned for conservatism, traditionalism, and backwardness. If there are still those who haven‘t done it, this can be done quickly in the internet. In today’s universities, Christians are not even asked if they can prove the existence of God. This is usually required to do by methodological rules established by researchers and scientists who doesn‘t care about the fact that Christians are guided by the unscientific conception of truth. A Christian seeks something that is scientifically impossible. His whole life is not just content of articles and books written in beautiful encyclopedias. Representatives of the natural sciences today care about the conquest of nature, technology and power, not the truth. With Christianity leaving the university, the idea of truth will be replaced by the concepts of "new inventions", "new theories" and "new scientific productions". Scientists keeps on using the word „truth“ concept, which in fact was not even invented by them. It‘s not difficult to notice that current scientists are not interested in the truth, but rather in a new move in the language game of some specialized science. To them novelty is more important than truth and new technologies are more important than life. Scientists are no longer searching for the truth, but only developing new hypotheses based on nothing. In today‘s university Christians are shocked by the intolerance of scientists. It‘s a no secret that modern scientists want to connect all areas of human life to the standards of scientific thinking. Christians don‘t have similar totalitarian claims long time ago. Those who try to force conversion to Christianity are evil Christians. However, no one calls scientists who turn the scientific understanding of the world into bad scientists. These are dealing with statements that don‘t require grace to understand and acknowledge, it‘s just enough to seat young people on a school and university bench. From the first years of life, children are accustomed to the scientific worldview. In this respect, there is no difference between the Soviet Union and the Western world. In both cases materialism that is inseparable from scientific thinking continues to dominate. At today's Western university, we will surely find a unit dedicated to the study of religion, which is intended to be „a gift“ from Christians and other believers to atheists and agnostics. Religious studies is probably better than scientific atheism, but theologians don’t really care what’s important to Christians. They care about the scientific methods of cognition of religion, not the truths of the faith, its confession and implementation. When God is being interpreted by theologians on the basis of the circumstances of society, economy and culture, the order of interpretation and understanding of the world is immediately destroyed. God is certainly not a society, an economy and a culture. Christians believe in God because it exist, not because sociologists and psychologists have proven that believing is scientifically beneficial. Unlike Christianity, science cannot provide spiritual renewal. At least after the end of scientific research, the scientist cannot say that he has stopped to be prone to pride, greed, impurity, and wickedness. According to today’s universally accepted methodological belief, science is value-neutral and therefore can serve both God and the devil. Christians can‘t afford similar universality. They perfectly know that people, who are thieves, greedy, jealous, perverts, who surrendered to human pride will never inherit the kingdom of God. The method of scientific cognition allows more than the Christian code of morality. American sociologist Eric Anderson is tirelessly trying to prove that marital infidelity is not only permissible but also scientifically based. In his words, a distinction needs to be made between sexually and morally important things and in the case of conflict, sexual desires must be given priority. The reality is that Christianity is not as tolerant as Mr. Anderson. People have read many recipes for happiness written by similar type of scientists, but ultimately it turned out to be unsuccessful. Offering recipes for life is an inconsistency of scientists, because they are unable to talk about the meaning of life. One of the principles of modern science is not to have some sort of meaning, but to know the facts. Some scientists today already say that the main purpose of human life is self-protection. This means that man does not really have a purpose, because the purpose of nature cannot be the goal of a being with moral self-awareness. Beavers, squirrels, cats, sparrows, and camels are unaware of their moral obligation. According to the theory of natural evolution, it‘s impossible to prove human moral abilities. Based on a purely scientific view of the world, man can be turned into a random object. If scientists really took over the nature, personality would be destroyed and only the natural cause mechanism would remain. What scientists call natural causes, Christians often perceive as flaws and sin. Even more impressive is the liberation from morality in the work of contemporary artists. There is no stupidity that could not be described as modern art. Since modern artists and scientists can‘t recognize the truth, for a Christian student it‘s difficult to understand why is that what the Church says is called irrationality, meanwhile what scientists say is recognized as truth. If moral thinking was overpowered by cognition based principles of scientific methodology, humanity would end up in a catastrophe. There would be no personality, no freedom, no moral duty. They would be replaced by government-funded science determinism and managerial manipulation. Christians working and studying at the university today must hide their biggest shame - faith in God’s free intervention in world events aka miracles. A student, who has entered university studies based on the strict principles of scientific determinism must be ashamed of his prayers for the health of his ill loved ones. He must hide that by praying he believes that not only doctors, but also God has intervened in the chain of causes of illness. In the same way, a university student can only secretly ask God to help to become a better person. In the classrooms Christians can‘t be taken seriously if they talk about soul and conscience, because it‘s not proven by empirical methods. Everyone in the university must behave etsi Deus non daretur. Only when they return home or go to the Church they can quietly thank God for the given grace. Similar behavior people used to call hypocrisy. Now it‘s an every day life in Western universities. A person who doesn‘t believe in God is perceived a priori as better than a believer. The current university is based on pedagogy alien to Christianity. The pedagogy of today's universities is based on the model of consumer goods production. By the end of academic year, a product must be manufactured. This is unacceptable to people of Christian moral beliefs. Their path of education never ends as it meanders through endless errors. Christians want to form a personality, not a professional. They know that even without being able to become good professionals, students fight for their personality and soul. Human education cannot be planned scientifically. That would be the scariest thing because a person would turn into a machine. Today‘s university scientists talk about „scientific production“, meanwhile humanities and social sciences are between God and Mammon. Modern science has done many great works and without it the modern world is unimaginable, but at the same time it‘s distorting man and society. The world is not just what current scientists say about it. Today it‘s necessary to listen to the voice of Christians, who have been expelled to their ghetto. Only Christians can say that many things important to human life are way closer to religion than to science. Christians are right by saying that some important areas of human formation need to be taken away from scientists. Today it‘s clear that Christianity, which has been mocked by scientists for centuries, has maintained way more humane view of a human than science did. When a person makes a lifelong confession at the end of his life, it‘s way more meaningful human act than a diagnosis written by a doctor. It‘s just as much more humane to ask God "take me" than to demand Dutch euthanasia. It‘s much more humane to believe that God, rather than the disputes of scientists ensure the moral identity of personality.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I can see why people like McGeorge Bundy called this book "fascist" at the time, as Buckley seems to delight in throwing rhetorical bombs and tweaking the academic establishment. But it really is nothing of the sort and relies on fairly basic principles: - The customers of a private university are its alumni and donors, who should be able to expect that the university will inculcate their values in instruction. - We should be comfortable with private universities inculcating the values of individu I can see why people like McGeorge Bundy called this book "fascist" at the time, as Buckley seems to delight in throwing rhetorical bombs and tweaking the academic establishment. But it really is nothing of the sort and relies on fairly basic principles: - The customers of a private university are its alumni and donors, who should be able to expect that the university will inculcate their values in instruction. - We should be comfortable with private universities inculcating the values of individualism and Christianity, in opposition to the growing ascendancy of collectivism and atheism. - Research should be unbiased, but there is no reason why research and instruction should be inexorably related. - Alumni are shielded from what's actually going on in universities because universities fear losing their donations. - University instruction will influence the beliefs of many students. - Parents shouldn't be paying for their kids to be indoctrinated in ideologies contrary to what they believe. I enjoyed this a lot. I don't agree with all of it, but it is astonishing how correct many of Buckley's predictions were.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy M

    The second-edition introduction to this book is skillfully written. Unfortunately, the original body only remains interesting for showing the specific offending progressive or atheist views that many younger readers presume were expounded in lectures in the sixties but were in fact already heard by Yale students by the early fifties. On the issue of economics, the tone of the book is threatening, while on the topic of religion the author sounds more like he's grieving. A journalist once remarked The second-edition introduction to this book is skillfully written. Unfortunately, the original body only remains interesting for showing the specific offending progressive or atheist views that many younger readers presume were expounded in lectures in the sixties but were in fact already heard by Yale students by the early fifties. On the issue of economics, the tone of the book is threatening, while on the topic of religion the author sounds more like he's grieving. A journalist once remarked that this title was the only one by Buckley that would stand the test of time. I have to wonder how many readers today would be drawn to this book by any impulse other than a loathing of Keynes or a hatred of atheism. Yet non-conservative readers will also be drawn to this artifact that reveals a bygone era when conservatives could cast doubt on the changing intellectual climate without sacrificing their own standing as intellectuals.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    So specific to Yale at a point in time just after WWII that it's hard to believe some revere this as a classic with wider implications, even to reader very interested in the cultural implications of higher education. If you want a professor by professor rundown of those whom a recent graduate deems properly committed to individualism,this is your book. Hut the wide-ranging and insightful Buckley of later years is shackled by the precision of author as young researcher. SECOND READING: Definitely So specific to Yale at a point in time just after WWII that it's hard to believe some revere this as a classic with wider implications, even to reader very interested in the cultural implications of higher education. If you want a professor by professor rundown of those whom a recent graduate deems properly committed to individualism,this is your book. Hut the wide-ranging and insightful Buckley of later years is shackled by the precision of author as young researcher. SECOND READING: Definitely more engaging this time. Still limited by the extent to which he focuses on particular professors on campus, long dead and forgotten, but he does speak to the ages now and again.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Atchisson

    The blueprint for the modern conservative movement. Brilliant, and quite simply one of my favorite all time books!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul D. Miller

    Strictly of historical interest, except the chapter on academic freedom, which is suitably provocative.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Giorgi Odoshashvili

    Being persistent to the values and taking into consideration that freedom of choice is something unique, sooner or later you will realize that thinking is moving, not standing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    If someone can make it thru Yale with their faith in God and moral value system still intact, and their love of country, capitalism, and the Constitution undiminished, they are all the more impressive. This is not only true of Yale, but of an ever-increasing number of public and private colleges and universities. The problem with ignoring religious principles in education: "They [our schools and colleges] simply ignore religion. They look on it as a minor amusement to be practiced by those who fin If someone can make it thru Yale with their faith in God and moral value system still intact, and their love of country, capitalism, and the Constitution undiminished, they are all the more impressive. This is not only true of Yale, but of an ever-increasing number of public and private colleges and universities. The problem with ignoring religious principles in education: "They [our schools and colleges] simply ignore religion. They look on it as a minor amusement to be practiced by those who find it fun, to be neglected if one desires. Obviously this outlook is quickly communicated to the young. If a child is taught in school about a vast number of things—for 25 hours a week, eight or nine months of a year, for ten to sixteen years or more—and if for all this time matters of religion are never seriously treated, the child can only come to view religion as, at best, an innocuous pastime preferred by a few to golf or canasta." (p. 30, quoting Canon Bernard Iddings Bell, from the October 16, 1950, issue of Life magazine). "We have become accustomed to writing nobly of American ideals without either the historical accuracy or the common candor of recognizing that these ideals grew largely out of a mind and conscience that believed in God and in some eternal standards. Almost our subtlest form of self-deception is our amiable habit of talking about our “cultural heritage” with the main inheritance left out." ~ (p. 37, quoting President Howard Lowry of Wooster College). "Marx himself, in the course of his lifetime, envisaged two broad lines of action that could be adopted to destroy the bourgeoisie: one was violent revolution; the other, a slow increase of state power, through extended social services, taxation, and regulation, to a point where a smooth transition could be effected from an individualist to a collectivist society. . . . It is a revolution of the second type, one that advocates a slow but relentless transfer of power from the individual to the state, that has roots in the Department of Economics at Yale, and unquestionably in similar departments in many colleges throughout the country." (pp. 42-43). My high school history teacher liked to teach this very point -- that the national debt, in the form of treasury bonds sold to US citizens, is not a problem because "we owe it to ourselves.": "[T]he collectivist shrugs off as naïve any concern about financial burdens imposed on future generations. And it is not surprising that he should do so, for to the collectivist, individual ownership of bonds, which represent claims to future production on the part of other persons, poses no problem whatever. For to him the individual means nothing; he pauses only to consider society as a whole, and thus he can generalize that internal debt is no burden, for “we owe it to ourselves.” (p. 66). 2018 News Flash -- Nothing has been done: "If the alumni wish secular and collectivist influences to prevail at Yale, that is their privilege. What is more, if that is what they want, they need bestir themselves very little. The task has been done for them. There remains only a mopping-up operation to eliminate the few outspoken and influential figures who stand in the way of real unity in Yale’s intellectual drive toward agnosticism and collectivism. "Let me add something else: if the present generation of Yale graduates does not check the University’s ideological drive, the next generation most probably will not want to. I should be disrespectful of Yale if I did not credit her with molding the values and thinking processes of the majority of her students. Many of these, of course, withstand Yale’s influence even while living in her cloistered halls for four years; and many more, in the course of future experience, learn to be first skeptical and then antagonistic to the teachings of some of the college professors they once revered. "But my contention that the values and biases of the University linger with the majority of graduates is surely not controversial. It is basic to education and to human experience that this be so, and I have no reason to doubt that it is so. If Yale alumni come to be dissatisfied with the international, national, and community influence of the forthcoming generation of Yale graduates, they can only do so with the irrationality of the Scotsman who complained that his new Dictaphone had the worst Aberdeen accent he had ever heard. "And so I repeat: unless something is done now, or soon, by collective or individual alumni action, nothing in all probability will be done in the future about Yale’s predominant biases, because these will be in full accord with the wishes of the next generation of alumni." (pp. 103-104).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Canaan

    Wanting it to not be true of me that I, a liberal, never "read books from the other side" or "engage with ideas I disagree with," etc., I've set myself to read some of the conservative and libertarian greatest hits. Growing up in a politically and theologically conservative evangelical home, I've always had some familiarity with what I'd call the mainstream conservative worldview, but reading some of the conservative classics has given me greater understanding of what I grew up with. This book, Wanting it to not be true of me that I, a liberal, never "read books from the other side" or "engage with ideas I disagree with," etc., I've set myself to read some of the conservative and libertarian greatest hits. Growing up in a politically and theologically conservative evangelical home, I've always had some familiarity with what I'd call the mainstream conservative worldview, but reading some of the conservative classics has given me greater understanding of what I grew up with. This book, which Buckley calls Gamay in the introduction, is #44 on the National Review's best non-fiction of the 20th century. George Gilder says of it: "Still correct and prophetic. It defines the conservative revolt against socialism and atheism on campus and in the culture, and reconciles the alleged conflict between capitalist and religious conservatives.” Some observations: In its focus on curricula and the role of education, it reminds me of another great conservative text, C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man. Gilder's comment above is really quite interesting. In the 1977 reissue introduction, Buckley emphasizes that Gamay's observations and critiques are pertinent only to his time at Yale in the 40s, and that he couldn't speak to conditions at Yale or other campuses at any other time. Yet Buckley's book is taken as definitive of the entire "conservative revolt" against campus culture and culture generally. To me it seems that this revolt has persisted in full force, often unmoored to real conditions or experience; or, in other words, that it has taken on a life of its own. It is necessary for the specter of socialism and atheism (or cancel culture, political correctness, radical leftism, etc.) to exist and to be an existential threat so that the conservative revolt may continue. Hence the air of unreality and histrionics of (it seems to me) much conservative critique of culture, on and off campuses, which one finds, for example, in the latter day pages of Buckley's magazine. For me, the most surprising thing about this book was Buckley's argument that Yale's alumni can and should control the curriculum, who teaches, and which ideas and values are amplified/respected (or dampened/discarded). Buckley has no problem with atheistic or socialistic doctrines being taught at Yale per se; his problems come in when those teachings are at odds with the religious and political views of Yale's alumni and leadership, which he's convinced they are. It was surprising to find this argument here because it seems to me that it, or a close version of it, can be handily used to deflect many of the critiques brought by Buckley's intellectual heirs against PC and/or cancel culture, i.e. amplifying some and dampening other views/ideas to conform to the (student, alumni, faculty) groups' values. That itself is an exercise of freedom (speech and association) that Buckley champions here. Another relevant irony has to do with Buckley's complaint that he, a conservative, won't get a hearing with Gamay. The litany of responses to Buckley's work cataloged in the 1977 introduction, and the stir it caused -- the debate, the exchange of ideas, the action -- belies this complaint, as it seems that many contemporary complaints to the same effect are overwrought, or are issued in the context of highly public disputes in which the conservative has an influential standing. In sum, this is an interesting, if (because of its focus on Yale in the late 40s) somewhat dry read. It’s helpful for getting into the conservative mindset.

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