What are we seeing media tell us-----students and families are moving away from 4 year university and hating tenured professors. Americans being primed NOT to want higher education 4 year degrees.
Far-right Clinton/Bush/Obama neo-liberalism always seeks to paint the academic as the one causing the woes of the underserved. As today---it is the corporations and rich taking over our universities and filling them with profit-over-people staff that make it look that way. I was a academic during the socially progressive century of universities and I was writing and producing data just as I am now-----academics have for the most part been leaders in protecting citizens and their rights. DON'T BUY THE ANT-ACADEMIC AS ELITE----it is the Wall Street global corporate think tanks making these policies.
From a friend:
'Think! While it is still legal. Being smart is good.
" There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.
Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a dis-junction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism. "'
Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America
There is a growing anti-intellectual dumbing down of our culture
Posted Jul 07, 2014
There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.
Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, says in an article in the Washington Post, "Dumbness, to paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has been steadily defined downward for several decades, by a combination of heretofore irresistible forces. These include the triumph of video culture over print culture; a disjunction between Americans' rising level of formal education and their shaky grasp of basic geography, science and history; and the fusion of anti-rationalism with anti-intellectualism."
There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have been infused into America’s political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said: "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
Mark Bauerlein, in his book, The Dumbest Generation, reveals how a whole generation of youth is being dumbed down by their aversion to reading anything of substance and their addiction to digital "crap" via social media.
Journalist Charles Pierce, author of Idiot America, adds another perspective: “The rise of idiot America today represents--for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power--the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is an expert.”
“There’s a pervasive suspicion of rights, privileges, knowledge and specialization,” says Catherine Liu, the author of American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique and a film and media studies professor at University of California. The very mission of universities has changed, argues Liu. “We don’t educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs.”
Part of the reason for the rising anti-intellectualism can be found in the declining state of education in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries:
- After leading the world for decades in 25-34 year olds with university degrees, the U.S. is now in 12th place. The World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. at 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly 50% of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are foreigners, most of whom are returning to their home countries;
- The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public school students. A surprising 77% didn't know that George Washington was the first President; couldn't name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence; and only 2.8% of the students actually passed the citizenship test. Along similar lines, the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix did the same survey and only 3.5% of students passed the civics test;
- According to the National Research Council report, only 28% of high school science teachers consistently follow the National Research Council guidelines on teaching evolution, and 13% of those teachers explicitly advocate creationism or "intelligent design;"
- 18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, according to a Gallup poll;
- The American Association of State Colleges and Universities report on education shows that the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of the population aged 35-64 with a college degree, but 19th in the percentage of those aged 25-34 with an associate or high school diploma, which means that for the first time, the educational attainment of young people will be lower than their parents;
- 74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world;
- According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading when they graduate;
- According to a 2006 survey by National Geographic-Roper, nearly half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 do not think it necessary to know the location of other countries in which important news is being made. More than a third consider it "not at all important" to know a foreign language, and only 14 percent consider it "very important;"
- According to the National Endowment for the Arts report in 1982, 82% of college graduates read novels or poems for pleasure; two decades later only 67% did. And more than 40% of Americans under 44 did not read a single book--fiction or nonfiction--over the course of a year. The proportion of 17 year olds who read nothing (unless required by school ) has doubled between 1984-2004;
- Gallup released a poll indicating 42 percent of Americans still believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago;
- A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously.
John W. Traphagan ,Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas, argues the problem is that Asian countries have core cultural values that are more akin to a cult of intelligence and education than a cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community. There is suspicion and even disdain for the work of teachers that occurs in the U.S. Teachers in Japan typically are paid significantly more than their peers in the U.S. The profession of teaching is one that is seen as being of central value in Japanese society and those who choose that profession are well compensated in terms of salary, pension, and respect for their knowledge and their efforts on behalf of children.
In addition, we do not see in Japan significant numbers of the types of religious schools that are designed to shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history--such as evolutionary theory or the religious views of the Founding Fathers, who were largely deists--which are essential to having a fundamental understanding of the world, Traphagan contends. The reason for this is because in general Japanese value education, value the work of intellectuals, and see a well-educated public with a basic common knowledge in areas of scientific fact, math, history, literature, etc. as being an essential foundation to a successful democracy.
We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation.
Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times argues that the anti-intellectual elitism is not an elitism of wisdom, education, experience or knowledge. The new elite are the angry social media posters, those who can shout loudest and more often, a clique of bullies and malcontents baying together like dogs cornering a fox. Too often it’s a combined elite of the anti-intellectuals and the conspiracy followers – not those who can voice the most cogent, most coherent response. Together they forment a rabid culture of anti-rationalism where every fact is suspect; every shadow holds a secret conspiracy. Rational thought is the enemy. Critical thinking is the devil’s tool.
Keller also notes that the herd mentality takes over online; the anti-intellectuals become the metaphorical equivalent of an angry lynch mob when anyone either challenges one of the mob beliefs or posts anything outside the mob’s self-limiting set of values.
Keller blames this in part to the online universe that “skews young, educated and attentive to fashions.” Fashion, entertainment, spectacle, voyeurism – we’re directed towards trivia, towards the inconsequential, towards unquestioning and blatant consumerism. This results in intellectual complacency. People accept without questioning, believe without weighing the choices, join the pack because in a culture where convenience rules, real individualism is too hard work. Thinking takes too much time: it gets in the way of the immediacy of the online experience.
Reality TV and pop culture presented in magazines and online sites claim to provide useful information about the importance of The Housewives of [you name the city] that can somehow enrich our lives. After all, how else can one explain the insipid and pointless stories that tout divorces, cheating and weight gain? How else can we explain how the Kardashians,or Paris Hilton are known for being famous for being famous without actually contributing anything worth discussion? The artificial events of their lives become the mainstay of populist media to distract people from the real issues and concerns facing us.
The current trend of increasing anti-intellectualism now establishing itself in politics and business leadership, and supported by a declining education system should be a cause for concern for leaders and the general population,one that needs to be addressed now.
As I fight to educate about the misinformation on Clinton/Obama neo-liberals as not being center-left but far-right neo-liberalism I have this year been educating on the next phase of Clinton/Obama neo-liberalism----the global corporate campus socialism I call Libertarian socialism. Libertarianism is far-right----the same as Clinton neo-liberalism. The difference is the political leaders for decades under this category have been called Libertarian Marxists----
I wanted to include a discussion of this transition on my FB page today-----
Cindy Walsh Feingold in Wisconsin is now again running as a Democrat as he is the biggest Wall Street global corporate neo-liberal -----spent his time out of Congress working to secure the fresh water rights of an African nation to global corporations.Like · Reply · 2 · 3 hrs
Cindy Walsh What's happening to Wisconsin who led the nation in public education policy----worker's rights and unionization -----
Like · Reply · 3 hrs
Grace "There used to be a quip that the United States was a one-party state with a business party that had two factions: the Democrats and Republicans—and that used to be pretty accurate, but it’s not anymore. The U.S. is still a two-party state, but there’s only one faction, and it’s not Democrats, it’s moderate Republicans.
Today’s Democrats have shifted to the right," -Noam Chomsky http://www.alternet.org/.../chomsky-todays-democrats-are...
Chomsky: The Majority of Today's Elected Democrats Are Moderate Republicans
Cindy Walsh No, they are far-right Republicans----Clinton was sold back in the 1990s as a moderate Republican but we have tons of research and articles written on Reagan/Clinton tied to far-right Ayn Rand/Greenspan politics. Both Chomsky and Nader are now telling Democratic voters to vote for Libertarians ---because Chomsky is a Libertarian Marxist---
Cindy Walsh Libertarian Socialist is the rebranding of Clinton neo-liberalism----it is global corporate campus socialism and yes, the far-right loves that kind of socialism ----it is not left-leaning. Chomsky from Ivy League MIT has always been sold to students as left-leaning-----but he is not. He has good socialist stances while tied to far-right Libertarianism. Remember, Libertarians call themselves the ultimate civil rights party because they do not like any government interference.
December 21, 2012
Chomsky on Civil Liberties, Obama and the Future of Progressive Politics
by Steven Durel
Linguistics professor Noam Chomsky has been America’s premier political dissident since the Vietnam War. As a vocal critic of US foreign policy, the self-described “libertarian socialist” has been beloved by generations of students and activists. In the wake of the recent presidential election, I scaled Mount MIT to pose questions to the academic Yogi.Like · Reply · 3 hrs
Cindy Walsh It's like Wall Street Clinton neo-liberals calling SOROS----the billionnaire, left-leaning because he donated to social issues but his goal was social transformation to International Economic Zone structures----which is far-right.
Like · Reply · 3 hrs · Edited
Cindy Walsh As you see below-----all the groups in the Democracy Alliance are part of the NGO -----Wall Street Development non-profit system filling our US cities since Clinton Administration and I have shouted for years groups like Sierra Club, Emily's List, ACORN, Center for Community Change, Reseach Group PIRG, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, People for the American Way-----these are the non-profit groups always telling citizens to vote for Clinton/Obama Wall Street neo-liberals and are the source of the neo-liberal policies filling our US cities while building the US International Economic Zone structures. So, please do not allow media tell us who are populist or left-leaning----------------------------
George Soros’s Democracy Alliance remains a potent force in the 2014 elections
October 6, 2014 / CRC Staff
The Democracy Alliance funds many key institutions on the Left. One of them is Catalist LLC, formerly known as Data Warehouse. This for-profit company was created by Clinton aide Harold Ickes and Democratic operative Laura Quinn to help leftist groups get out the Democratic vote. It describes its mission as providing “progressive organizations with the data and services needed to better identify, understand, and communicate with the people they need to persuade and mobilize.” The chairman of Catalist is Democracy Alliance member Albert J. Dwoskin, a Virginia-based real estate developer. (For a complete profile of Catalist, see Organization Trends, November 2012.)
The Democracy Alliance has also funded staples of the left-wing activist community including People for the American Way, EMILY’s List, ACORN, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Progressive States Network, Center for Community Change, Sierra Club, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, and the (now defunct) Secretary of State Project, which helped elect left-wing candidates to be the chief electoral official in at least nine states (these little-noticed officials become critical when vote fraud occurs).
This of course has been the Erhlich/O'Malley policy agenda for two decades and now Maryland's universities are all extremely corporate with University of Maryland College Park trying so hard to join the Ivy League public universities tied directly to Wall Street.
Below you see what Americans are hating about universities as Republicans and Clinton/Obama neo-liberals are creating the environment to hate academics and thinking 4 year universities are elitist.
23 hrs ·
· "Wisconsin professors simply do not want research limited by the whims of 18 people appointed by a governor with an openly stated anti-education agenda. And you shouldn’t, either. Think university research doesn’t affect you? You’re wrong. Hundreds of technological and social advances that you depend upon have been made thanks to the research of some brainiac at some university somewhere: what kind of cities to plan; how (and where) to alleviate poverty and hunger; what kind of diseases to treat; what kind of drugs to invent (or make obsolete); what kind of bridges and roads to build (and where). If professors are not protected from disagreeing with the agenda of their “bosses”—whether that be Dow Chemical, Gov. Walker, or President Trump—the consequences will go far beyond one person’s paycheck." What's happening in Wisconsin represents a trend and should concern us all!
Some places in the US do not have IVY LEAGUE universities like Johns Hopkins now receiving all the Federal research funding since they are now corporate R and D product mills.
The End of Research in Wisconsin UW–Madison spent $9 million to keep top faculty from being poached, but the damage has been done.
By Rebecca Schuman
Is spending money to retain brainpower a bad thing? Above, Science Hall at the University of Wisconsin's flagship campus in Madison.John Kees/Wikimedia Commons
This past June, American academia went into an uproar over Gov. Scott Walker’s new budget in Wisconsin, which not only cut $250 million from higher education, but also severely weakened shared faculty governance and effectively destroyed professor tenure at state universities. Specifically, any professor in the system—tenured or not—could be dismissed or laid off by the 18-member Board of Regents using maddeningly vague criteria: “when such an action is deemed necessary due to a budget or program decision requiring program discontinuance, curtailment, modification or redirection.”
This, when combined with the faculty’s diminished role in governing the university—and thus determining such things as which programs should continue, be curtailed, or get modified—basically meant that these regents—16 of whom were appointed by Walker--could fire anyone, at any time, for any reason.
Some enraged Wisconsin faculty expressed their ire in public, and possibly the most vocal of these was education policy and sociology professor Sara Goldrick-Rab. She found herself in the middle of a brief kerfuffle in the conservative media, in fact, after she dropped in on a Twitter hashtag for excited incoming Wisconsin freshmen and told them many top professors were going to leave. “We don’t want students 2 waste their $,” she wrote. “We are all leaving. No joke.” (“Who are you lol” was a typical response.)
When I covered the #FutureBadgers controversy back in July, I got an email from a reader concerned that Goldrick-Rab deliberately spread misinformation about the coming faculty exodus, and should have been punished for doing so. Well, dear Sir, I can now say that you were mostly wrong but also sort of right. Goldrick-Rab was speaking truthfully on her own behalf—she has since accepted an offer at Temple University. And, according to a wide-ranging investigation into public negotiation records by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she’s joined by at least five other high-profile tenured faculty members who were likewise poached.
However, it’s also true that they did not “all” leave. The Journal Sentinel reports that at least 40 of UW–Madison’s superstar faculty entertained other offers but eventually decided to stay in Madison—thanks, in no small part, to a $9 million effort to keep them.
No, they didn’t each get a $225,000 raise—although that seems like a pretty fair trade-off if you can get fired at any time for research or actions that your overlords deemed unacceptable (before they coincidentally decided to “reorient” your program). Instead, raises accounted for $726,436 altogether, and ranged from 4.34 percent to 49.68 percent.
The rest of the retention money came in the form of research grants: “research assistants, equipment, labs and other items that support faculty research programs and graduate students,” according to the Journal Sentinel. For their $9 million, the university gets to keep the $18 million in grants those stars would take with them if they left. “I can’t afford not to” retain that faculty, Chancellor Rebecca Blank reportedly told the regents in February.
So, what’s the problem here? Is spending money to retain brainpower a bad thing? Obviously not. However, as long as tenure remains so weak in Wisconsin, the regents will have to keep doling out cash to stave off poachers if they want to remain a top research university.
But how they’ll recruit new superstars to a university that can’t promise proper tenure to anyone remains a mystery. Make no mistake: If anyone thinks that these professors’ jobs are anything but gilded hollow husks of their former selves, they are deluded. (For their part, even many of the faculty who decided to stay told the Journal Sentinel they were “still nervous about the flagship university’s future.”)
Professors do not want research limited by the whims of 18 people appointed by a governor with an anti-education agenda.
What’s at stake here is the total loss of the public research university. Anyone with functioning eyes and a pulse knows that most U.S. states barely fund their universities anymore, relying instead on ballooning tuition and big donors, both private and corporate. The institution where my husband works (and where I used to work) has an academic building named Express Scripts Hall.
But the situation in Wisconsin is worse than your garden-variety corporatization. You might assume it’s no big deal for superstar researchers to be competed for, hired, and fired like executives—and for everyone else to “just get a better job” if they don’t like what they’ve got. That might be how it works at your job, if you are lucky enough to have one. I understand this impulse to look around at your own likely weak labor protections, and wonder why those obnoxious hoity-toity professors think they deserve better than you.
But academics don’t want tenure because they think they’re better or smarter than you. Academics, whether they have it or not, want some form of tenure to exist to protect the integrity of the knowledge that is produced, preserved, and disseminated.
Wisconsin professors simply do not want research limited by the whims of 18 people appointed by a governor with an openly stated anti-education agenda. And you shouldn’t, either. Think university research doesn’t affect you? You’re wrong. Hundreds of technological and social advances that you depend upon have been made thanks to the research of some brainiac at some university somewhere: what kind of cities to plan; how (and where) to alleviate poverty and hunger; what kind of diseases to treat; what kind of drugs to invent (or make obsolete); what kind of bridges and roads to build (and where). If professors are not protected from disagreeing with the agenda of their “bosses”—whether that be Dow Chemical, Gov. Walker, or President Trump—the consequences will go far beyond one person’s paycheck.
For years, higher-ed watchers have been warning against the corporatization of the American university. Students as “customers.” Amenities over academics. Loan debt of $250,000 for a transcript full of courses whose A’s no longer mean anything. For the most part, these warnings have been met by dismissal, scorn, or glee. Will anything change now? What’s happening in Wisconsin is a worst-case scenario come to life, and $9 million will do nothing to stop the demise of the integrity of research produced there—and everywhere else, too, if we don’t start electing lawmakers who actually value research.
Please educate on this next phase of neo-liberalism----the extreme wealth of Europe was held by global merchant families like Medicis. During that age the rich set the stage for grand art cultures----they were centralized to higher-education with all knowledge flowing to only the elite. This was a great time for expanded culture and growing intellect---but is was contained to the rich. The Enlightenment was a great period for both arts and science----but is was the European revolutions after this Age of Enlightenment---when the people were sick of LET THEM EAT CAKE French royalty---that the benefits of the Age of Enlightenment was brought down to the people.
What Wall Street global pols both neo-liberals and neo-cons----who are the same political groups working to restore this extreme wealth ---are now selling as ENLIGHTENED LIBERALISM----is this movement back to only the rich having control and access to high culture and education. This is what Clinton/Bush/Obama policies are installing as we see Obama dismantle all avenues to higher-education for the working/middle class, and poor replacing it with vocational K-career college.
SOROS and Chomsky were always far-right political people given the label of left-leaning. SOROS because he created the non-profit system designed to change societies to this extreme wealth LIBERAL ENLIGHTENMENT---the International Economic Zones----and Chomsky who embraces the same only he has been very outspoken against war and colonialism.
Look from where these folks hail and spent their lives----this Journal of Politics comes from the most neo-liberal university after Harvard----THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO----home of Obama.
AMERICAN BECAME THE LAND OF THE FREE-----PEOPLE ESCAPING THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT WITH EXTREME WEALTH AND CONTROL BY GLOBAL MERCHANT FAMILIES. YET, THEY WILL SELL THIS AS BRINGING BACK SOCIAL DEMOCRACY----
Now, instead of artists, musicians, and artisans being their own business people working towards a strong middle-class or affluent gaining of wealth---they would return to being left at the whim of the rich for projects only experiencing the wealth as invited party-goers. This has tied our liberal arts communities to the rich in the past---but modern cultural arts do not want to return to begging patrons while living a desperate lives. Third world poverty is far worse than today's American artist warehouse as artist loft. If you read the 1% policies this is what they are telling Wall Street global corporate neo-liberals to sell as progressive posing.Enlightened Liberalism---
NO WE THE PEOPLE UNTIL AFTER THESE REVOLUTIONS
AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT---
French historians traditionally place the Enlightenment between 1715, the year that Louis XIV died, and 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution. Some recent historians begin the period in the 1620s, with the start of the scientific revolution. The Philosophes, the French term for the philosophers of the period, widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons
Please Google this article to see the jargon they are creating around this liberal enlightenment. I simply posted a clip here today. What this discussion focuses on----and my friends who are beginning public policy folks will find all this difficult----is the transition from Catholicism as the only religion in Europe to a broad Protestantism during Reformation----this is what liberalizing religion means in this article. The new liberal enlightenment is Wall Street global corporate pols trying to move a predominately Christian America----towards opening to multiple religious dominance with the coming of US International Economic Zones. Flooding the US with immigrants will not only kill the predominance of white citizens----or the predominance of Latino as the only real immigrant group---which by the way are mostly Catholic or Protestant----to that of Asian and African societies have very many different religious groups---not only Muslim, Hindi, and Shinto----but hundreds of religions. This is what Wall Street global pols are now calling the coming Liberal Enlightenment----moving the US from being heavily Christian. Now, keep in mind these are far-right politicians who are tied to Libertarian beliefs----and religion is not tops on Libertarian agenda----that is why they are moving to MARXISM.
MAKE NO MISTAKE---EXTREME WEALTH TIED TO GLOBAL CORPORATE POWER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LEFT-LEANING POLITICS.
Can Liberalism Lose the Enlightenment?
FortierJeremyaaUniversity of Texas at Austin
RECEIVED: July 24, 2008
ACCEPTED: Jan 18, 2010Abstract
- Go to
Political Liberalism asserts that liberal politics can and should be conducted without engaging debates about the truth of its theoretical foundations. This paper argues that political liberalism is in fact far more concerned with questions of truth than Rawls was willing to admit. Once political liberalism’s relation to truth claims is understood more clearly, it becomes evident that political liberalism is closer to its Enlightenment predecessor than Rawls claimed, and that affinity with the Enlightenment enables a reevaluation of political liberalism’s position on the place of religious argument in political debate.
Surveying contemporary liberal theory, one is left with the impression that liberalism’s well-being depends on its ability to do just that. The situation may be summarized in the following terms (cf. Dryzek, Honig, and Philips 2006, 23–25): in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, liberals successfully developed theoretical resources with which to challenge orthodox forms of Christianity; contemporary liberals, however, are pessimistic about their ability to replicate that success, in view of multiculturalism at home and globalization abroad. In that context, many liberals have concluded that the safest way to advance their goals is to downplay liberalism’s theoretical content for practical purposes: thus, liberals have become less inclined to challenge any particular religious doctrine, and more interested in demonstrating liberalism’s compatibility with a broad range of such doctrines. This development has led to the suggestion that liberalism would be best served by abandoning its theoretical foundations altogether—or, at least, conceding that its metaphysical claims are neither more nor less valid than the religious claims that it once opposed. Indeed, many have concluded that, in the later stages of his career, John Rawls—the most influential contemporary liberal theorist—adopted just such a view. This paper argues that the standard reading of Rawls is misguided and that a reconsideration of his work actually suggests that liberalism cannot separate itself from its Enlightenment origins as easily as some have supposed.
In Political Liberalism Rawls argued that democratic politics could be conducted under conditions of peaceful stability only so long as a society’s primary political actors spoke in the language of “public reason”—that is, a language which refrained from claiming a basis in truth for any particular political position. Political liberalism therefore disassociated itself from the philosophic claims characteristic of Enlightenment liberalism; as a practical matter, however, Rawls was most concerned with the threat to political stability that he associated with religious claims to truth, and so the most prominent consequence of his position was to circumscribe the place of religiously informed argument in political debate. The latter restriction inspired a series of critics to charge that political liberalism imposes an inequitable burden on religiously motivated citizens, a burden which may have the effect of excluding them from public life altogether (Greenwalt 1988; Stout 2004; Weithman 2002; Wolterstorff 1997). On the other hand, it has been argued that political liberalism’s thorough-going metaphysical neutrality makes it ideally suited to the task of integrating Muslim immigrants into Western societies (March 2008). But, as we shall see, neither Rawls’s critics nor his defenders have sufficiently understood the practical implications of his position, because neither has attempted to understand that position specifically in contrast to the position which Rawls identifies with Enlightenment liberalism—although it was precisely in terms of such a contrast that Rawls defined political liberalism, emphasizing that whereas Enlightenment liberalism justified itself in terms of philosophic claims to truth, political liberalism is distinguished by abstaining from such claims altogether
Thus, the implication of Rawls’s position is that liberal politics cannot do without liberal political theory, because the appeal of liberal politics rests on something greater than a rigorous insistence on the state’s metaphysical neutrality. Liberals should not assume that, having declared “comprehensive doctrines” outside the boundaries of “public reason,” it will suffice to simply ignore illiberal opposition: rather, if Rawls’s analysis is correct, liberals must also be able to show why their opponents’ convictions are substantively wrong. In the case of illiberal groups within liberal states, Rawls points to public education as an instance where the truth claims of the latter can be asserted against those of the former. In the case of predominantly illiberal—and specifically theocratic—societies, Rawls suggests that liberals argue that traditional texts have been misunderstood or misrepresented by orthodoxy: liberalism will then be so far from metaphysically neutral that it will actually rely on some sort of liberal theology. In the final analysis, then, the legitimacy of political liberalism, like its Enlightenment predecessor, rests not only on its compatibility with a broad range of comprehensive doctrines, but also on the contention that the liberal understanding of how politics ought to be conducted is the true understanding.
Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to conclude that a direct line can be drawn from Enlightenment to political liberalism, for reasons which should already be evident from our discussion of reforming religious traditions. As we saw, in the Enlightenment the critique of orthodoxy involved asserting the ability of reason to judge those traditions, including with respect to the interpretation of Scripture. Rawls, by contrast, consistently insists—in full agreement with Rorty’s “postmodern liberalism”—that philosophic arguments and religious beliefs are to be collapsed into the category of “comprehensive doctrines,” and then bracketed alongside one another. This bracketing strategy may suffice with respect to beliefs that have already been liberalized: in that context, Rawls can adopt his “owl of Minerva” guise and simply appeal to a preexisting overlapping consensus. But Rawls also admits that, where a liberal historical transformation has not yet occurred, illiberal claims will have to be countered more directly. To that end, he endorses a proposal for reinterpreting Islam in a manner similar to that by which Enlightenment philosophers liberalized Christianity. But such a project could hardly be carried out as long as liberal philosophy equates itself with orthodox theology, and then brackets itself out of political debate (as just one among many “comprehensive doctrines”): for when arguments from history are admitted to be insufficient, but philosophic claims have been bracketed, then liberals will be left without the intellectual resources which Rawls recognizes are necessary for launching a critique of orthodoxy. Thus, the logic of Rawls’s argument suggests that if and when liberals are forced to counter the challenge of illiberalism, they will have to make stronger truth claims than political liberalism permits.
Rawls’s liberalism, it may therefore be concluded, is not so much Enlightenment liberalism in disguise as it is characterized by a tension between “political” and “Enlightenment” tendencies. The tension is concealed so long as Rawls is addressing himself to a context in which religion has already been largely liberalized: under those circumstances, he can suggest that liberal theorists ought to do no more than itemize the various ways in which their society’s diverse comprehensive doctrines contribute to an “overlapping consensus.” And yet Rawls remains aware that where an overlapping consensus does not exist, or where it is challenged, liberals will have to aim at actively creating that consensus by openly challenging illiberal beliefs, in the manner of their Enlightenment predecessors. In view of this tension in Rawls’s thought, it becomes clear that, in the absence of a stronger assertion of its own theoretical foundations, political liberalism will only amount to a sort of stillborn liberalism: not so much a third way between Enlightenment and postmodern alternatives as an uneasy vacillation between the two.
Here is where we see neo-con and neo-liberal converge in this coming rebranding -----neo-conservatives say the Reformation was conservative---this is the movement towards Protestantism---- remember, all these new political definitions are moving forward to prepare for US International Economic Zones and the societal changes to American cities. The religious right has been most at odds against Bush neo-cons---and this is one of the reasons----they are creating the situation to make Christianity less the majority in the US. You will see neo-cons shouting and saying this is the Clinton/Obama godless neo-liberals----but that is not the goal---remember, the rise of the global corporate merchant-class during the Renaissance ---like the Medicis----set the stage for those global rich businessmen to get rid of royalty and a Catholic Church dominating European culture. The article below suggests this is a very conservative Republican thing to do----protecting and empowering corporate power and wealth. So, Wall Street global pols are finally getting rid of all the progressive left-leaning posing and coming out as far-right----Libertarian Marxist.
THIS IS VERY CONFUSING FOR FOLKS NOT LOOKING AT PUBLIC POLICY BEFORE---BUT THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING----
'Can Liberalism Lose the Enlightenment?
aUniversity of Texas at Austin'
'Why is the Reformation Considered "Conservative":
The Reformation and The Age of Enlightenment: understanding how a conservative/authoritarian religious movement lead to liberal democracy'.
What this discussion focuses on----and my friends who are beginning public policy folks will find all this difficult----is the transition from Catholicism as the only religion in Europe to a broad Protestantism during Reformation----this is what liberalizing religion means in this article. The new liberal enlightenment is Wall Street global corporate pols trying to move a predominately Christian America----towards opening to multiple religious dominance with the coming of US International Economic Zones. Flooding the US with immigrants will not only kill the predominance of white citizens----or the predominance of Latino as the only real immigrant group---which by the way are mostly Catholic or Protestant----to that of Asian and African societies have very many different religious groups---not only Muslim, Hindi, and Shinto----but hundreds of religions. This is what Wall Street global pols are now calling the coming Liberal Enlightenment----moving the US from being heavily Christian. Now, keep in mind these are far-right politicians who are tied to Libertarian beliefs----and religion is not tops on Libertarian agenda----that is why they are moving to MARXISM.
MAKE NO MISTAKE---EXTREME WEALTH TIED TO GLOBAL CORPORATE POWER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LEFT-LEANING POLITICS.
The Reformation and The Age of Enlightenment: understanding how a conservative/authoritarian religious movement lead to liberal democracy.
English 258: Literature of Western Civilization Homepage
Masterpieces reflecting development of Western thought and culture, 17th Century to Present.
Why is the Reformation Considered "Conservative":
a) Anti Neo-Classical/Scholastic: Opposed to Scholastic application and study of Greco-Roman texts. For example: Anti-Copernicus: should read the bible, not the stars and Aristotle (a Greek), to understand the nature of the universe (Note that Catholic church was teaching Copernicus' (1473-1573) mathematical methods, despite their geocentric implications, but by the time of Galileo (1564-1642) the Church responds to conservative criticism of Scholastic principles); should find all Truth thru Faith, not Reason.
b) Anti-Neo-Classical/Humanist or Anti “Neo-Paganism”: Opposed the re-emerging Greek belief the actions of the body naturally and properly expressed the humanity of the soul (see Michelangelo for example; anti humanist original goodness of man (vs. original sin).
c) Anti-Franciscan poverty: Opposed to the emerging Franciscan-Catholic belief that adherents should imitate Christ and avoid worldly possessions. Instead see wealth as evidence of God's favor. (note that the Vatican was also of course opposed to this radical idea; all of Francis' original followers were burned alive; yet the idea could not be so easily squelched)
d) Pro-Aristocracy and Anti-Egalitarian/Democratic: While Protestants challenged traditional Catholic power structures, the movement normally also maintained close allegiances to relevant national powers; power is not taken from the Papal Church-State to be given to "the people" but rather it is given to emerging Protestant Church-States. Henry VIII is established as the head of the New, Anglican church, Luther will align himself with the German aristocracy, and Calvin will establish an actual Puritan theocracy, (serving as the model for soon to emerge Puritan/pilgrim colonies).
Why Did This Have Liberal/Democratic Consequences?
a) Individual Relationship to God: Protestants believe man finds god without the intermediary of Church: direct/personal relationship to God...and thus to all the word "God" (and the word of God) implies: Truth, righteousness, morality. Luther argues for the inherent freedom of individuals to choose their own faith (this freedom will be seriously curtailed by Calvinism).
b) Economic Liberty: Protestants believe usury no longer a sin. (historically, charging high interest for loans was a crime or sin among Romans; this belief was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church). This leads to an explosion in modern economic institutions. Calvinist believe God will reward the devout with worldly riches.
c) Capitalism, Colonization: Economic Liberty (modern economic institutions) in turn makes colonization possible, and takes colonialism out of the hands of church and aristocracy. Distance breeds freedom, as evidenced by the American revolutions.
d) Rise of Independent Merchant Class: b and c change economic distribution of wealth and thus the distribution of power within the society; rise of non-aristocratic merchant class. This class in turn will want a voice in governance. (strongest example: Dec. of Independence and the American Revolution). NOTE: All of these also led to the downfall of Spanish and Papal Italian economic domination and led to a vastly more powerful Northern Europe and Britain.
e) Gutenberg bible and literacy: If man can find God without the church and If man finds God thru the study of Revelation, Then man should read the Bible. If man should read the Bible, all men (and women?) should learn to read.
The advent of the printing press (1450) makes this possible.
Consider the implications of a literate society.
f) Revolution: Although authoritarian in nature, Anglican, German church and nation and Calvinism all established thru revolution against authority (Papacy) (consider relationship to Declaration of Independence)
g) Theological Diversity: Dissolution of single Christian religion spawns diversity of views within the emerging nation states, thus leading to civil wars and persecution and economic stagnation...Toleration (esp. as codified in our Const.) will be a DIRECT response to this.
h) Resulting Civil and Internecine Wars: Dissolution of single Christian religion spawns era of immense Christian-on-Christian violence, and this leads to the colonization of America by religious dissenters, who then must find common ground in order to form new nation (aka USA). See: English Civil War