Michael Bérubé and Me

I was just hopping along the intertubes when i came across this critique by Bérubé (mmm, smell the Frenchiness) from Tuesday, which hits some of the same notes as my post last weekend (even weirdly the “not so much” parenthetical phrase, which means I must get less cliched material). This gives me a chance to hack again at Lilla’s suggestion that we teach Irving Kristol. Read this NYTimes piece, which is enough to make you realize that he should never be taught except in a history or sociology course, and that comes from an obit. (Two tidbits: he admits lying about economics to make a political point; another, he admits that he just didn’t have the intellect to write a whole book, but again, go teach him, Lilla says.) In any case, Bérubé notes…

Mark Lilla argues in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education that academe should take the intellectual history of conservatism more seriously, and of course I agree.  Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that what’s most annoying about David Horowitz is that “he has a point,” and of course I wouldn’t trot out Ye Olde Dinner Party Anecdote either (this one involving “a dinner in Paris in the late 1980s with a distinguished American historian of France who had gathered her graduate students for the evening,” no less!), for pretty much the same reason that I refrain from nailing down my arguments by adducing any of the millions of taxi drivers who see the world precisely as I do.  But yes, of course I agree that liberal and left academics (and their students) would be better off if they engaged seriously with conservative intellectuals, so long as the conservatives in question are actually intellectuals (Edmund Burke yes, David Horowitz not so much).

Why, just yesterday I read Jon Chait’s essay on Ayn Rand in order to understand why all the Objectivists I’ve known seem to believe that they are Super Geniuses. 

via Michael Bérubé – Chávezian Airspace.