American Samizdat

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. *
David Horowitz and the Attack on Independent Thought

Horowitz’s mission is clear: to attack critical work in the academy, especially critical work that does not restrict itself to the classroom, but sees intellectuals as having a necessary public role. Visible public outreach is A-OK for Milton Friedman, Stephan Thernstrom, the neo-conservative crowd, and denizens of the right, but strictly off-limits for liberals and the left.

For these reasons I would imagine that principled conservatives will run from this book faster than they would run away from a line-up for a voluntary IRS audit. But the book is important and requires a response that goes beyond pointing out its sloppiness and incoherence; we need to put what Horowitz is doing in a broader context. In my view, the best way to make sense of the book and what it represents is to see it as part of the broad attack on the autonomy and integrity of institutions and individuals who conduct independent and critical thought. It is this type of independent and uncorrupted inquiry – work that is not under the thumb of powerful political or commercial interests -- that is mandatory if viable self-government is to succeed. The space for this type of inquiry has to be fought for and preserved, and it is always considered with a certain amount of suspicion by those in power, who prefer minimal public interference with their exercise of power.
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:15 PM
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