Higher Indoctrination

Doug French

Anyone who has spent any time on college campuses knows that most college faculty members are left-leaning and likely vote Democrat, if not Green or Socialist.

So when a study recently found 91 percent of the UNLV faculty is liberal, it was not exactly earth-shattering news. Although the study’s finding—that UNLV is slightly more liberal than even UC Berkeley—does give one pause.

By and large, the type of person attracted to cozy government work at a college campus believes that more government is good and that capitalism and free markets are evil. We’re not talking about swashbuckling, risk-taking entrepreneurs here. These people are fine with a steady paycheck, miniscule teaching schedule and infrequent office hours. Throw in the chance to ogle a few attractive coeds, and these guys are good to go.

How does UNLV political science professor Ted Jelen explain why so many liberals are teaching on campus? “Liberals are smarter.” The good professor went on to tell City Life that he and his liberal buddies “are more willing to give back to the community in an academic setting.” Since when is teaching giving back? Professors are supposed to facilitate the learning of their students. The profs trade their time and talent, and in exchange the students (or their parents) pay tuition to the university, which in turn pays the profs. Unfortunately, taxpayers are also compelled to participate in this trade. But the point remains: Teaching is not charity work.

Just why are the vast majority of professors liberal and antagonistic toward capitalism? Ludwig von Mises addressed the issue in his book, The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality. College professors and other intellectuals resent the success of entrepreneurs. But it would be bad form to openly express such envy and resentment toward individuals. Thus, the intellectual “must swallow down his mortification and divert his wrath toward a vicarious target,” wrote Mises. “He indicts society’s economic organization, the nefarious system of capitalism. But for this unfair regime his abilities and talents, his zeal and his achievements would have brought him the rich reward they deserve.” 

Liberal university professors like Jelen believe that it is the birthright of all to have a share of “what nature has to offer.” Thus, they believe that capitalism is unjust. But, as Mises wrote, “nature is not bountiful but stingy.” He continues: “Man’s survival and well-being are an achievement of the skill with which he has utilized the main instrument with which nature has equipped him—reason. Men, cooperating under the system of the division of labor, have created all the wealth which the daydreamers consider as a free gift of nature.”

In 2002 the American Enterprise Institute reported that 80 percent of the nation’s college employees are registered Democrats. The study correctly pointed out that instructors who are not liberal comprise only a small minority on campus, are isolated and face significant obstacles for career advancement. 

UNLV economics professor Hans Hoppe is a prime example. Notwithstanding the fact he is the world’s foremost economist in the Austrian school, it took a petition of his students for Hoppe to be granted tenure.

Plus, no university will allow more than one or two free-market economists to teach in a department. UNLV is no exception. When the renowned Murray Rothbard and Professor Hoppe were both at UNLV, they attempted to recruit fellow free-marketer Walter Block to the UNLV economics department—forming what would have been the premier Austrian school economics department in America. Block’s addition would have insured that the department attracted economics students from all over the globe. But the leftist department chair at that time nixed Block’s potential hiring immediately.

Professor Hoppe now believes that the only chance of assembling a free-market super faculty is at a foreign university hungry for students and revenue. 

Extreme leftist Hal Rothman, who chairs the history department at UNLV, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he believes that his colleagues are teaching from a balanced perspective. Adriana Jawel, a political science major and co-author of the UNLV study disagrees: “Instead of a broad base of ideas, we are given only one side of every issue.”

The only place where socialism is alive and well is in the classrooms of America’s colleges and universities. If one wonders why government on all levels continues to grow, a look at academia provides the answer. The arrogant Mr. Jelen is the poster boy for Nevada’s taxpayer-subsidized institutions of higher indoctrination.

Doug French is executive vice president of a Southern Nevada bank and a policy fellow of the Nevada Policy Research Institute.