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Studying the Right:

The New York Times reported this week on the creation of a new research center at the University of California at Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Social Change: the Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements.

"This is unique," said Paola Bacchetta, an associate professor at Berkeley and an editor of the collection "Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists Around the World." "There are no other centers that I know of."

Scheduled to open in the fall, the new center, which Lawrence Rosenthal will oversee, is affiliated with Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Social Change. "Part of the motivation is that it is an understudied area," Mr. Rosenthal said. . . .

From which political direction the financing for this latest effort is coming is masked. The donor's request for anonymity may be more to ward off requests for other contributions than for political reasons. The donation, $777,000, is relatively small, but enough, Mr. Rosenthal said, for the center to sponsor lectures, conferences and colloquiums; offer fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students; and publish papers.

The story claims that "little effort" has been made within the conservative movement to study its on history. I don't think this is true. In my experience, conservative institutions are intensely interested in understanding their history and studying the intellectual roots of their ideology. There are many books by conservatives writers and historians examining the growth and development of the conservative movement, most notably George H. Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. Among those sponsored by various conservative institutions are Jeffrey Hart's The Making of the American Conservative Mind, the American Conservatism encyclopedia, and Lee Edwards' The Conservative Revolution and Bringing Justice to the People. And then there are other recent works like Stephen Teles' The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement, Ann Southworth's Lawyers of the Right, and Kim Phillips-Fein's Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan, as well as recent works on libertarianism, including Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism and the Encyclopedia of Libertarianism.

From the story, it seems the real niche the new Center will fill is "comparative" studies of "right-wing" movements in various countries. I am skeptical of such work, particularly insofar as it tries to draw links between modern American conservatism and European fascism. The mainstream American conservative movement is grounded in the classical liberal tradition, and thus is quite distinct from "right-wing" or "conservative" movements in many other places.

The story also compares this center to those that already exist throughout academia to study left-wing political and social movements (e.g. labor, feminism, etc.). What the story omits, however, is that most academic efforts to study left-wing political movements are quite overtly sympathetic to the subjects of their study, and are often as engaged in activism as rigorous academic inquiry. It is unlikely the same could be said here, however, as I doubt those at Berkeley's Center will be particularly sympathetic to conservative and libertarian movements, nor particularly eager to advance their cause.

Sid Finkel (mail):
While I am certain Mr. Adler is sincere in his concerns, I would think that most conservatives fear a rigorous academic study of the ideology because of the signficant contradictions between conservative thought and conservative actions.

Unlike liberalism and other movements, conservatism considers itself a specific ideology with basic principles that define what a conservative is. However, post WWI history shows that when conservatives are in power they largely abandon these principles.

For Example:

1. Conservatives believe in a balanced federal budget, yet conservative administrations have generated the largest post war deficits (until now) and balanced budgets have only been achieved by liberal democrats Johnson and Clinton.

2. Conservatives believes government should stay out of the lives of ordinary citizens to the extent possible, yet conservatives strongly support laws which prohibit or criminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults. One can be a conservative and be against homosexual activity, but it is hard to see how a conservative can advocate using government to enforce his or her moral views.

3. Conservatives believe that power should devolve to the states, yet when states enact laws such as physician assisted suicide, which has no effect other than to confirm an individual's right to end his or her life, conservatives want to use the federal government to prohibit those actions.

4. Conservatives believe that the Constitution is almost sacred, and that it should be followed in a strict sense, yet conservatives in the past administration argued that the President can pretty much ignore the Constitution when he wants to, and that even the basic protections of the Bill of Rights do not apply if the President says so. No where does the Constitution say that the President can issue a signing statement saying he does not have to obey and uphold a law passed by Congress, yet that is what the past conservative administration supported!

The true test of a person who subscribes to an ideology is whether or not they support the policies of that ideology when those policies go against their personal belief. The late Senator Goldwater would passs this test, but unfortunately many conservatives will fail this test, and that is what I believe those conservatives fear will be exposed when the movement is studied.
3.29.2009 10:05am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Mr. Finkel,
Ref. #2. I believe you are conflating SSM with consenting sexual activity.
Ref. #4. If conservatives believe the Constitution says the president can act with little check in a given area, then allowing the president to act with little check in that area is not in conflict with belief.

But, you're right. This report filled me with dread. My day will be ruined. All will be exposed.
3.29.2009 10:20am
PersonFromPorlock:
Hmm. Southern Western Poverty Law Center, anyone?
3.29.2009 10:31am
Oren:

I doubt those at Berkeley's Center will be particularly sympathetic to conservative and libertarian movements, nor particularly eager to advance their cause.

I doubt it too. Then again, I don't see anything wrong with a hostile analysis of political movement. If they turn out credible work, I'll read it. If they go on an unsubstantiated hatchet job, I'll ignore it.

All part of the marketplace of ideas, no?
3.29.2009 10:40am
Chairman121:
@ Sid Finkel:

Oooh, let's have a contest to regurgitate Allan J. Lichtman's "White Protestant Nation"!
3.29.2009 10:43am
therut (mail):
I suppose this would be like Bob Jones University studying leftist movements in the US and worldwide. Oh I can not wait to see what they have to say about Conservatives!!! I'm sure I will be surprised. NOT!!!!!!!! Regurgitation by left wing adherents again......YAWN. Another waste of money.
3.29.2009 10:53am
zywtokowitz:
If they turn out credible work, I'll read it. If they go on an unsubstantiated hatchet job, I'll ignore it.

All part of the marketplace of ideas, no?


More likely to be part of a govt-funded echo chamber consisting of academia, the k-12 education system, federal agencies, and the MSM.
3.29.2009 10:58am
MarkField (mail):

The mainstream American conservative movement is grounded in the classical liberal tradition, and thus is quite distinct from "right-wing" or "conservative" movements in many other places.


"Mainstream conservatism" doesn't include the religious right?
3.29.2009 10:58am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
The purpose of this "center" is to create "studies" that conservatives are stupid, fascists etc. Then the NYT and LAT can quote these "studies" in the articles they already run that conservatives are stupid, fascists etc.

Exactly what we would expect from Berkeley.

And why not identify the donor? If it was a conservative, he certainly would not have donated it to them. So, its a left winger giving money to left wingers so they can hire more left wingers. As I said, part of the left wing circle jerk.
3.29.2009 11:02am
Oren:

The purpose of this "center" is to create "studies" that conservatives are stupid, fascists etc. Then the NYT and LAT can quote these "studies" in the articles they already run that conservatives are stupid, fascists etc.

And we can go read those studies to determine whether or not they are scholarly work. You can then evaluate them on their merits.

Of course, some folks are so smart they can evaluate a work before it is even written. I'm not that smart, I prefer to read it first, then decide about the content.
3.29.2009 11:15am
Richard A. (mail):
Sid writes: "even the basic protections of the Bill of Rights do not apply if the President says so."

The first president to indulge heavily in that area was Lincoln, hardly a conservative. Wilson of course followed and by the time he was done there wasn't much left to the idea of a bill of rights if the president coud work the people into enough of a fervor.

This is why so many paleoconservatives are so skeptical of Lincoln. So that would be a fun area for discussion in those coffee shops on Telegraph Ave.
3.29.2009 11:27am
Richard A. (mail):
But Barry Goldwater clearly agreed with Sid that the religious right is not conservative.
3.29.2009 11:53am
PersonFromPorlock:
The religious (or just moralistic) Right is a descendent of puritanism, as is the Liberal movement: different versions of virtue, but both at bayonet's point. Conservatives and small 'l' liberals come out of the 'liberty' tradition and aren't all that far apart, the main difference being liberals' willingness to use government to protect people from private actors and conservatives' presumption that people should protect themselves.
3.29.2009 12:12pm
jim47:

The first president to indulge heavily in that area was Lincoln, hardly a conservative.


Both points with legitimate arguments behind them, but not indisputable. For all the paleocon skeptics of Lincoln, there are other noteworthy paleocons who champion Lincoln. The debate rages on quietly to this day.

And that's just one example of why it is ridiculous to think that conservatives don't care about their intellectual history, because you can have people who agree on 95% of things with bitter enmity toward each other because they disagree on the legal status and political ramifications of actions taken in the 1860s.
3.29.2009 12:14pm
rick.felt:
This could be worthwhile, but it won't be, because the scholarship is guaranteed to be grounded on begging the question.

Q: What does right-wing/conservative government look like?
A: Whatever Mussolini did. For example, X, Y, and Z.

Q: How do we know that Mussolini was a right-winger/conservative?
A: Because he did X, Y, and Z.

What you will see: a lot of bashing of the left's favorite "right-wing" bogeymen for committing genocide and violating civil liberties.

What you won't see: recognition that the left's favorite "right-wing" bogeymen committed genocide and violated civil liberties with the goal of applying leftist principles.
3.29.2009 12:14pm
Pro Natura (mail):
Sid Finkel: Please apply for a job with the new center. Berkeley is anxiously awaiting your application.
3.29.2009 12:19pm
frankcross (mail):
I think you're a little too optimistic about mainstream conservativism in America. It has a defined militarist element, like the traditional right of Europe and now a defined religious element.

The more libertarian aspects make America's right relatively more appealing, but the right over here can still be pretty authoritarian.
3.29.2009 12:24pm
Oren:

This could be worthwhile, but it won't be, because the scholarship is guaranteed to be grounded on begging the question.

I'm amazed you know in advance, before the center opens, what their scholarship, not yet written, will be grounded on.

You should play the lottery.
3.29.2009 12:47pm
rick.felt:
The religious (or just moralistic) Right is a descendent of puritanism, as is the Liberal movement: different versions of virtue, but both at bayonet's point.

Certainly some elements of the Religious Right are interested in poking you with a bayonet, but not all. The percentage that fixes bayonets and charges 7-11 for selling Hustler is a proper area of academic inquiry, but I'm not going to guess the proportion that are engaged in that sort of thing. I tend to think the most estimates will be higher than the actual proportion, because the loud moralizers are, well, loud.

I'm probably on the religious right, depending on how you define it. I'm a conservative and I'm religious, but I tend to agree that virtue compelled is not virtue at all. I also strongly believe that giving government the power to enforce my principles creates problems when the wheel of fortune turns and I'm no longer the one deciding which virtues are rewarded and which vices are punished. And I'm keenly aware that, at least in terms of Christianity, state involvement in religious matters tends to result in irreligiocity.

Am I atypical of the religious right? Perhaps. Will the Berkeley crowd care to do an honest investigation? I doubt it.
3.29.2009 12:47pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

And we can go read those studies to determine whether or not they are scholarly work.


How many people read the underlying "studies"?

The procedure always is:

1. NYT quotes biased study.

2. The TV networks and CNN have stories based on the NYT story

3. Story runs in other papers with supporting quotes from other leftist academics and Democrat progressive activists.

4. Study now part of left wing conventional wisdom.

5. Repeat.

The only proper response is complete scorn. Not a matter of being smart or not.
3.29.2009 12:48pm
rick.felt:
You should play the lottery.

I have, actually. Won a few million back in the late 90s. Lost about 20% recently. Fortunately I'm diversified.
3.29.2009 12:49pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Sid, Obama has already issued a signing statement. Just like most of the other presidents. Many conservatives oppose same-sex marriage, but do not support laws to criminalize homosexual activity. The House controls spending, and it was the Republican who controlled the House in the 1990s. Bush did not try to prohibit suicide in Oregon. He merely argued that suicide was not a "legitimate medical practice" within the meaning of the Controlled Substances Act, and lost 6-3 in the Supreme Court. From this you argue that conservatives have no principles? You have a silly straw man attack.
3.29.2009 12:51pm
MarkField (mail):

The religious (or just moralistic) Right is a descendent of puritanism, as is the Liberal movement: different versions of virtue, but both at bayonet's point. Conservatives and small 'l' liberals come out of the 'liberty' tradition and aren't all that far apart, the main difference being liberals' willingness to use government to protect people from private actors and conservatives' presumption that people should protect themselves.


This argument is just like those Prof. Volokh criticized the other day for using etymology to define the "real" meaning of the word. Even assuming you're right in everything you said, it's irrelevant to the conservative movement as it has actually existed over the last 50 years (say). For a significant portion of that time, the religious right, including its more authoritarian proponents, have formed a part of conservatism. Prof. Adler's post and some of the comments try to downplay that, but any good history has to account for it.
3.29.2009 1:04pm
OrinKerr:
Professor Bacchetta's earlier book on comparative studies of conservatism, "RIght Wing Women," is here on Google books, so you can see what she has in mind. Based on the Chapters, it looks like Bachetta's notion of consverative groups and cultures are the Nazis, the Pinochet regime, the KKK, Mussolini's Italy, andt he Afrikaners of South Africa.
3.29.2009 1:15pm
one of many:
Not sure about how this will play out, but it might be quite surprising.


What amused me most (and bemused M. Alder) was the lack of study of right-wing movements, the quote (not from the NYTimes) I have from M. Rosenthal (lead researcher of the new center) reads: ""There is a general point of view that the right wing is under-studied" ... "(it) tends to be studied in individual instance and not in a larger contextual point of view." Goodness have none of these people even bothered to read Hayek, or even Burke?
3.29.2009 1:26pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Unlike liberalism and other movements, conservatism considers itself a specific ideology with basic principles that define what a conservative is. However, post WWI history shows that when conservatives are in power they largely abandon these principles.

"unlike liberalism"?

In what universe?
3.29.2009 1:31pm
Oren:

How many people read the underlying "studies"?
...
The only proper response is complete scorn. Not a matter of being smart or not.


So, the problem is that no one reads the studies in order to evaluate their methodology and reasoning, instead substituting their political preference. Your propesed response is ...drumroll... not to read the study and to substitute your own political preference.
3.29.2009 1:44pm
Visitor Again:
conservative movement as it has actually existed over the last 50 years (say). For a significant portion of that time, the religious right, including its more authoritarian proponents, have formed a part of conservatism.

Yes, some of us remember the exact moment it started, when ministers all over the land declared that showing Elvis Presley's swivelling, gyrating hips on national TV would lead to the destruction of western morality and civilization. Time, of course, has proven them right.
3.29.2009 2:31pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Bob from Ohio says: The only proper response is complete scorn.

That's hardly an effective response. When doing things like discussing MSM articles about misleading studies, I do things a bit differently. Others, however tend to do things in the ineffective way; one component of the right wing blogosphere at least is that they seem to be unable to figure out how to do things in an effective way.
3.29.2009 2:32pm
Random Commenter:
"So, the problem is that no one reads the studies in order to evaluate their methodology and reasoning, instead substituting their political preference. Your propesed response is ...drumroll... not to read the study and to substitute your own political preference."

Oren, I appreciate your enthusiasm for the "marketplace of ideas", but that hardly describes academia. As we have seen elsewhere, the sole purpose of this "research center" will be to produce a stream of anti-GOP propaganda that can be approvingly and uncritically cited by the NYT and others as scientific evidence that conservatives are irrational or deranged. Conservatives will be perpetually cast in a defensive role debunking this stuff, and I seriously doubt they will get support from a "research center" at Berkeley doing the same favor by the "progressive" movement. The objections to this as a publicly funded project should be obvious.
3.29.2009 3:09pm
RowerinVa (mail):
Jonathan, please make sure you don't utter a sentence such as "draw links between American Conservativism and European Fascism" without making clear that these are on opposite sides of the spectrum. I know you know this, but lots of people don't: the Nazis were "National Socialists" (their actual name) and were statist and very much a product of the same class-and-predeterminism intellectual muck that spawned the communists. It drives me nuts that the left gets a free pass in claiming that Nazis and Communists are the extremes of opposite ideological wings, when in fact the left owns both of them.

The argument that they must be opposites because they fought in WWII is ridiculous: who fights whom gives you no sense of ideology, and in any event it switched during the war. At the beginning of the war, the Nazis and Communists were allies; at the end, the West and the Communists were both fighting the Nazis. You just can't figure out ideology from those muddled facts.

Again, I know that Jonathan knows this. But it isn't said often enough. Were the Nazis in favor of a small and delimited state, and freedom in moral, religious, and economic spheres? Hardly. Communism, Soviet Communism/socialism, and German-Italian National Socialism are small variations on a leftist statist theme. Don't ever miss a chance to point this out and correct the terrible slander that is the claim that Nazis are "rightist."
3.29.2009 3:12pm
Oren:

As we have seen elsewhere, the sole purpose of this "research center" will be to produce . . .

For heaven's sake, the center isn't even open and already you know what they are going to produce?

If they produce garbage, I will revile them for producing garbage. If they produce good scholarship, I will applaud them for producing good scholarship. In all cases, it is absolutely unjustifiable to do either until you have actually read any of the work in question.

This is a pretty basic tenet of the concept of western scholarship, evaluation of each work on its merits. What you've proposed here, not only to evaluate it based on circumstantial evidence surrounding its creation, but before the work is even committed to words is just beyond the pale.
3.29.2009 3:21pm
MarkField (mail):

Jonathan, please make sure you don't utter a sentence such as "draw links between American Conservativism and European Fascism" without making clear that these are on opposite sides of the spectrum. I know you know this, but lots of people don't: the Nazis were "National Socialists" (their actual name) and were statist and very much a product of the same class-and-predeterminism intellectual muck that spawned the communists. It drives me nuts that the left gets a free pass in claiming that Nazis and Communists are the extremes of opposite ideological wings, when in fact the left owns both of them.


More evidence in favor of Hugh Everett III.
3.29.2009 3:55pm
Mark Jones (mail):

What you've proposed here, not only to evaluate it based on circumstantial evidence surrounding its creation, but before the work is even committed to words is just beyond the pale.


How is it "beyond the pale" to state what you anticipate (based on your experience of other, similar programs) will be the end result? Are we not allowed to say what we think the result will be?

Sure, once they start churning out reports, it would be reasonable to look at them and see if our pessimism (or optimism) is justified. But at the moment all we have to go on is what we've seen of similar projects in the past. And based on that, I think Bob from Ohio is probably right about what we can expect.
3.29.2009 4:00pm
BT:
Is there a Center for the Comparative Study of Left-Wing Movements somewhere in academia? Something tells me no.
3.29.2009 4:38pm
Dan M.:
The thing that I don't like about links between the right-wing and fascism is that people don't know anything about fascism itself, they just think that the police state in and of itself is right-wing. In that way they frame any expansion of the police state in response to statist policies as the right-wing response to those policies and not the natural result of those policies.
3.29.2009 4:54pm
PersonFromPorlock:
rick.felt:

Certainly some elements of the Religious Right are interested in poking you with a bayonet, but not all.

You're right, of course, and I suppose I'm guilty of overemphasizing the bayonet-pokers on both sides. But there really is an element of Puritanism in the more extreme elements of both Left and Right and it's worthwhile pointing out that they're complements, not opposites.

Oren:

Shame, shame... 'Beyond the pale' is an ethnic slur against the Irish, who lived beyond the stockade ('the pale') surrounding Dublin and were stereotyped as savages by the English within it.
3.29.2009 5:06pm
Oren:

How is it "beyond the pale" to state what you anticipate (based on your experience of other, similar programs) will be the end result? Are we not allowed to say what we think the result will be?

The statements here were presented as fact, not predictions. For instance, Rick writes "...the scholarship is guaranteed to be grounded on begging the question...", which doesn't sound like he thinks he's making a prediction.


Sure, once they start churning out reports, it would be reasonable to look at them and see if our pessimism (or optimism) is justified. But at the moment all we have to go on is what we've seen of similar projects in the past. And based on that, I think Bob from Ohio is probably right about what we can expect.

Except Bob advocates "complete scorn", not measured evaluation. Complete scorn does not allow for changing your opinion based on the facts -- he advocates quite clearly that we discount the works a priori.

Look, I'm not discounting the possibility that it turns into a Ward Churchill-esqe vomitarium -- I just think that scholarly work deserves, at minimum, that we withhold judgment until it is actually produced and evaluated on the merits.
3.29.2009 5:23pm
Random Commenter:
"But there really is an element of Puritanism in the more extreme elements of both Left and Right and it's worthwhile pointing out that they're complements, not opposites."

Yes. Other than in the objects of their dislike they are often indistinguishable.

"Oren:

Shame, shame... 'Beyond the pale' is an ethnic slur against the Irish, who lived beyond the stockade ('the pale') surrounding Dublin and were stereotyped as savages by the English within it."

It's also just dumb to try to squelch debate with a phony lecture about the purity and political neutrality of the academic enterprise.
3.29.2009 5:25pm
Oren:

Shame, shame... 'Beyond the pale' is an ethnic slur against the Irish, who lived beyond the stockade ('the pale') surrounding Dublin and were stereotyped as savages by the English within it.

Some quick google-fu suggests that this is not the case:

The expression has often been claimed to originate in one or other of these pales, most commonly the Irish one. However, the first example known to the Oxford English Dictionary is in a work by Sir John Harington, The History of Polindor and Flostella, written sometime before 1612 but published in 1657: "Both Dove-like roved forth beyond the pale / To planted Myrtle-walk." This is rather late if the Irish Pale were the source. Moreover, this example used the word in the literal sense of a boundary or enclosure, not the modern figurative one, so that there's no conceptual link either.


I was always taught that it simply meant "beyond the boundaries of acceptable behavior", which is what I meant.
3.29.2009 5:27pm
Oren:

It's also just dumb to try to squelch debate with a phony lecture about the purity and political neutrality of the academic enterprise.


I made no such claim. I continue to make no such claim.

My only claim is thus: complaints about the impurity or political bend of a particular academic enterprise ought have the decency to wait until that enterprise has at least had one opportunity to engage in such nefarious activities.
3.29.2009 5:29pm
Random Commenter:
"The statements here were presented as fact, not predictions. For instance, Rick writes "...the scholarship is guaranteed to be grounded on begging the question...", which doesn't sound like he thinks he's making a prediction."

Please. I would have thought it pretty well known that very positive language is often used by people making safe predictions. Unless you're conceding that Rick might have a time machine I think it's time to move off from this.
3.29.2009 5:29pm
New Pseudonym:
The center's name says it all. Who can expect objectivity from a center that says up front it is for studying right wing [sic] movements? As soon as it studies [sic] a movement, it makes a judgement. No pretense or hiding under euphemisms, though.

How about a Center for the Study of Godless Commie Movements? Anybody believe it would produce objective studies?

With a name like this judgement before they even issue a study seems entirely appropriate to me.
3.29.2009 6:02pm
pmorem (mail):
Perhaps Oren is right, and they'll actually be able to move beyond their prejudices. Who knows, they might actually learn something.

Looking at the people involved, though, it seems unlikely.
3.29.2009 8:51pm
PlugInMonster:
White man's burden Lloyd, white man's burden...
3.29.2009 9:35pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

I'm a conservative and I'm religious, but I tend to agree that virtue compelled is not virtue at all. I also strongly believe that giving government the power to enforce my principles creates problems when the wheel of fortune turns and I'm no longer the one deciding which virtues are rewarded and which vices are punished. And I'm keenly aware that, at least in terms of Christianity, state involvement in religious matters tends to result in irreligiocity.
Am I atypical of the religious right? Perhaps.

I think you can go with a full "Yes" there.
3.29.2009 9:38pm
pmorem (mail):
I think you can go with a full "Yes" there.

I believe that says everything about you that needs to be said.

Perhaps if you stepped away from your prejudices you might see things a bit differently. Alternatively, you can wrap yourself in hatred for "the other".

For the record, I'm definitely not a member of the "religious right".
3.29.2009 10:06pm
RPT (mail):
"How about a Center for the Study of Godless Commie Movements?"

Heritage Foundation? Competitive Enterprise Institute? American Enterprise Institute? Club for Growth? Hudson Institute? Manhattan Institute? Anything connected with Ralph Reed, Paul Weyrich, Grover Norquist, etc? And so on.
3.29.2009 11:56pm
zywotkowitz:
Perhaps Oren is right, and they'll actually be able to move beyond their prejudices. Who knows, they might actually learn something.

Looking at the people involved, though, it seems unlikely.


This Oren fellow is likely to be over 50 and sympathetic to the 20th century notion of scholarship which today appears sadly naive.

Orin Kerr linked to Prof. Bachetta's previous work, which confirms the suspicions of the cynics.
3.30.2009 2:49am
zywotkowitz:
Heritage Foundation? Competitive Enterprise Institute? American Enterprise Institute? Club for Growth? Hudson Institute? Manhattan Institute?

These are privately funded thinktanks, not publicly supported university programs.
3.30.2009 2:51am
Oren:


This Oren fellow is likely to be over 50 and sympathetic to the 20th century notion of scholarship which today appears sadly naive.

In my 20s, active research scientist in computational biophysics.

This thread is an interesting exercise in 'iterative confirmation bias'. Everyone here is convinced that the UCB researchers are not capable (or willing) to objectively assess the evidence in the face of their preconceived notions about the topic, which leads to them forming their own preconceived notions in advance of their own assessment of the UCB work.
3.30.2009 10:16am
SeaLawyer:

This thread is an interesting exercise in 'iterative confirmation bias'. Everyone here is convinced that the UCB researchers are not capable (or willing) to objectively assess the evidence in the face of their preconceived notions about the topic, which leads to them forming their own preconceived notions in advance of their own assessment of the UCB work.



Paola Bacchetta has already proven that she is not capable of objectively assessing evidence.
3.30.2009 10:43am
road2serfdom:
Oren,

What kind of odds, based on the track record of the peple involved, including Orin Kerr's link to Prof. Bachetta's previous work, and to the department in general, do you give that the resulting research will be objective and scientific, in other words without any sign of an anti-right agenda? What kind of odds do you give that it will have a pro-right agenda?
3.30.2009 10:54am
Bob from Ohio (mail):

complaints about the impurity or political bend of a particular academic enterprise ought have the decency to wait until that enterprise has at least had one opportunity to engage in such nefarious activities.


Why?

What do we owe these people? They are our proven ideological opponents. They don't deserve the benefit of doubt.

As for "iterative confirmation bias", guilty as charged. But unlike this new center, I'm not pretending to be objective on this matter.
3.30.2009 11:00am
zuch (mail) (www):
zywtokowitz:
More likely to be part of a govt-funded echo chamber consisting of academia, the k-12 education system, federal agencies, and the MSM.
Part of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, eh? They forgot to send me my membership card.... :-(

Cheers,
3.30.2009 11:11am
Oren:

What kind of odds, based on the track record of the peple involved, including Orin Kerr's link to Prof. Bachetta's previous work, and to the department in general, do you give that the resulting research will be objective and scientific, in other words without any sign of an anti-right agenda? What kind of odds do you give that it will have a pro-right agenda?

Predicting what will happen is likely to cause me to highlight evidence confirming my prediction and discount evidence contradicting my prediction, thus weakening my ability to objectively evaluate the work. Therefore, I'll pass on predicting the odds and just assert that it's possible there will be valuable scholarship and it's also possible that it will be ideological garbage.


What do we owe these people? They are our proven ideological opponents. They don't deserve the benefit of doubt.

Perhaps you are right about everything, but on the off chance that you are fallible like the rest of us, you might want to consider other viewpoints at face value. If you are so calcified into your ideology that there exist no facts or arguments (even in theory) that could dislodge that ideology, then there is really no sense in discussion is there?

Western epistemology is based on dialectic reasoning, I see no reason to throw out that bedrock foundation just to make it easier to flush out the Ward Churchills of the world (even as they exist and churn out garbage labeled as scholarship).
3.30.2009 12:08pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Bob from Ohio:
The procedure always is:

1. NYT quotes biased study.

2. The TV networks and CNN have stories based on the NYT story

3. Story runs in other papers with supporting quotes from other leftist academics and Democrat progressive activists.

4. Study now part of left wing conventional wisdom.

5. Repeat.
You misspelled "Dick Cheney". This was SOP the preceding eight years.

Cheers,
3.30.2009 12:11pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Roger Schlafly:
Bush did not try to prohibit suicide in Oregon. He merely argued that suicide was not a "legitimate medical practice" within the meaning of the Controlled Substances Act, and lost 6-3 in the Supreme Court.
With what end in mind? Or was this some new-found interest in "bare and untarnished scientific Truth&trade'" (as "legitimate medical practise" is defined ... by a bunch of Congresscritters)?

Cheers,
3.30.2009 12:26pm
wfjag:
Now, now, SeaLawyer. Perhaps Oren is right. Perhaps Prof. Bachetta's project will be to identify the artist responsible for Our Lady of Guadalupe and link the same to a trans-national "right-wing" movement.
3.30.2009 1:09pm
zuch (mail) (www):
RowerinVa:Jonathan, please make sure you don't utter a sentence such as "draw links between American Conservativism and European Fascism" without making clear that these are on opposite sides of the spectrum. I know you know this, but lots of people don't: the Nazis were "National Socialists" (their actual name)...And the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea, for those of you that haven't see it from the hills of Seoul) is truly a "democratic" "republic". It even says so in their name....

Can we ask that people give this canard about the Nazis being "socialist" a rest?

Cheers,
3.30.2009 1:16pm
road2serfdom:
The Nazis were socialists because they impemented government control over the means of production. That they called themselves socialists is not proof that they were not socialists.
3.30.2009 1:51pm
zuch (mail) (www):
road2serfdom:
The Nazis were socialists because they impemented government control over the means of production.
No, they didn't.

Cheers,
3.30.2009 3:33pm
Anti-statist:
Some thoughts on the Nazis-as-left/right debate:

1. Whatever the results are, it seems to me the process for those arguing either side is to do this:

a. define the essential characteristics of left and right in 50 words or less, without reference to the Nazis or Italian Fascists or anyone under debate.

b. explain how the group in debate, e.g., Nazis, fits better under one than the other.

So if you say right is all about "miltarism and invading neighbors," then show the Nazis did that, fine. Then your opponents know that the disagreement lies in step a, re essential characteristics of Right-ism, as opposed to "did the Nazis do X?" It at least narrows things.

2. In some circumstance, one is best off ignoring the left/right labels, and just refers to the Nazis as overly Statist. In that sense, the Nazis, Communists, and Fascists are all guilty of being "too Statist," regardless of whether one sees their different flavors of Statism as incidental details or essential differences that mark them as opposites to each other.

3. Whatever one thinks of the Nazis as right/left, at a minimum, it seems oddest when the Left uses the "Nazi" tag to criticize the Right not on grounds of militarism or racism or so, but specifically in areas where the Left thinks that the Right is being too libertarian or not statist enough. For example, I recall hearing some criticize Reagan or Gingrich "Nazi" for allegedly cutting welfare payments. Calling Bush 43 Nazi for tapping gphones, whatever. But "damn those Nazi-like Republicans for cutting the State!" never made much sense to me. (Similarly, it would be odd for the Right to rip on the Left as Nazis for alleged sexual libertinism, as opposed to statist economic control or such. But I don't think I've heard that flavor or criticism.)
3.30.2009 4:44pm
Anon1111:

road2serfdom:

The Nazis were socialists because they impemented government control over the means of production.


zuch

No, they didn't.

Cheers,


Brilliant argument. I like it. Of course it fails if we think that "implement[ing] government control over the means of production" would mean things such as centrally planned agriculture, the Reichswirtschaftsministerium telling plant managers what to buy, what to make and what to sell, fixing profits and creating cartels (thereby determining which industries would receive investment and which would not), and nationalizing companies that didn't follow government production and investment directives.

Cheers,
3.30.2009 5:04pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Anon1111:

Cites/links, please.

I'd note, FWIW, that socialists aren't the only ones to exert "control" over industry, so any measures of that are hardly dispositive.

In wartime, it's hardly unusual of any country to take some measure of control over certain industries.

But anyone that thinks that "government control over the means of production" is the hallmark -- the sine qua non -- of Nazism is just missing the boat.

Cheers,
3.30.2009 6:51pm
Desiderius:
zuch,

"In wartime, it's hardly unusual of any country to take some measure of control over certain industries."

For the Nazi's, every time was wartime. Don't think I've heard the libertarian Nazis take before - but by all means, flesh it out for us.
3.31.2009 1:12am
Desiderius:
The American "Right" is only "right" in the sense that it is anti-left, and in that case because of the illiberalism of the left. To the extent it tries to be a European-style militaristic and/or religious and/or privilege-protecting right, it fails miserably.

This doesn't stop the American Left from trying to construct the Euro-style right boogeyman its continental philosophy tells them must be there, however. Unfortunately, the proposed Institute seems destined to follow in that tradition.
3.31.2009 1:18am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
desid:

To the extent it tries to be a European-style militaristic and/or religious and/or privilege-protecting right, it fails miserably.


This statement of yours is itself an admission that "it tries to be a European-style militaristic and/or religious and/or privilege-protecting right." Which is helpful to know, whether or not it's been failing miserably. It's been failing miserably at all sorts of things.

This doesn't stop the American Left from trying to construct the Euro-style right boogeyman


Since "it tries to be a European-style militaristic and/or religious and/or privilege-protecting right," pointing this out has nothing to do with any "boogeyman."

Unfortunately, the proposed Institute seems destined to follow in that tradition.


You seem destined to follow in your own tradition: making statements that don't add up.
3.31.2009 8:47am
zuch (mail) (www):
Desiderius:
zuch,

"In wartime, it's hardly unusual of any country to take some measure of control over certain industries."

For the Nazi's, every time was wartime.

And?....

Were [any] such takings an essential component of Nazi doctrine? Or just means to an end or incidentals....

Was Truman in essence a Nazi when he wanted to grab the steel mills?

Cheers,
3.31.2009 11:43am
road2serfdom:
Zuch, is this what you mean?

Truman was a socialist
Nazis were socialists.
Therefore Truman was a Nazi.

Something is not quite right about your logic but I can't figure it out...

And for the record no one is claiming "Socialists are Nazis" we are claiming, correctly, that "Nazis were socialists."
3.31.2009 1:30pm
Oren:
zuch &r2s, you need to distinguish between necessary and sufficient conditions.

This thread jumped the shark ever since we stopped actually talking about the Berkeley center.
3.31.2009 2:23pm
zuch (mail) (www):
road2serfdom:
Zuch, is this what you mean?

Truman was a socialist
Nazis were socialists.
Therefore Truman was a Nazi.
No. No one seriously claims Truman was a socialist. So taking over (or attempting to) industries, even if true, would hardly make the Nazis socialist (despite your apparent claim/inference that such is true):
[road2serfdom]: The Nazis were socialists because they implemented government control over the means of production.
And, as I pointed out, "socialism" -- even if that is one [alleged; you haven't provided any cites] attribute of the Nazis -- is not the sine qua non of Nazism.

But nice "straw man" attempt.

Cheers,
3.31.2009 3:08pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Oren:
zuch &r2s, you need to distinguish between necessary and sufficient conditions.
Why do you say I haven't been? But FWIW, there's sufficient and necessary ... and then those things that are incidental and neither of the first two. That you left out.

Cheers,
3.31.2009 3:10pm
wfjag:

And, as I pointed out, "socialism" -- even if that is one [alleged; you haven't provided any cites] attribute of the Nazis -- is not the sine qua non of Nazism.

But nice "straw man" attempt.

You want a cite Zuch. Sorry, but you asked for it -- possibly the worst written book in history -- the Nazi bible:

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler,
Volume One - A Reckoning
Chapter II: Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna

***
By my twentieth year I had learned to distinguish between a union as a means of defending the general social rights of the wage-earner, and obtaining better living conditions for him as an individual, and the trade union as an instrument of the party in the political class struggle.
The fact that Social Democracy understood the enormous importance of the trade-union movement assured it of this instrument and hence of success; the fact that the bourgeoisie were not aware of this cost them their political position. They thought they could stop a logical development by means of an impertinent 'rejection,' but in reality they only forced it into illogical channels. For to call the trade-union movement in itself unpatriotic is nonsense and untrue to boot. Rather the contrary is true. If trade-union activity strives and succeeds in bettering the lot of a class which is one of the basic supports of the nation, its work is not only not anti-patriotic or seditious, but 'national' in the truest sense of the word. For in this way it helps to create the social premises without which a general national education is unthinkable. It wins the highest merit by eliminating social cankers, attacking intellectual as well as physical infections, and thus helping to contribute to the general health of the body politic.
Consequently, the question of their necessity is really superfluous.
As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in z social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people's health.
Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.
To eliminate the causes of such a development is to do a service to the nation and in no sense the opposite.
Let no one say that every individual is free to draw the consequences from an actual or supposed injustice; in other words, to leave his job. No ! This is shadow-boxing and must be regarded as an attempt to divert attention. Either the elimination of bad, unsocial conditions serves the interest of the nation or it does not. If it does, the struggle against then must be carried on with weapons which offer the hope of success. The individual worker, however, is never in a position to defend himself against the power of the great industrialist, for in such matters it cannot be superior justice that conquers (if that were recognized, the whole struggle would stop from lack of cause)-no, what matters here is superior power. Otherwise the sense of justice alone would bring the struggle to a fair conclusion, or, more accurately speaking, the struggle could never arise.
No, if the unsocial or unworthy treatment of men calls for resistance, this struggle, as long as no legal judicial authorities have been created for the elimination of these evils, can only be decided by superior power. And this makes it obvious that the power of the employer concentrated in a single person can only be countered by the mass of employees banded into a single person, if the possibility of a victory is not to be renounced in advance.
Thus, trade-union organization can lead to a strengthening of the social idea in its practical effects on daily life, and thereby to an elimination of irritants which are constantly giving cause for dissatisfaction and complaints.
If this is not the case, it is to a great extent the fault of those who have been able to place obstacles in the path of any legal regulation of social evils or thwart them by means of their political influence.
Proportionately as the political bourgeoisie did not understand, or rather did not want to understand, the importance of trade-union organization, and resisted it, the Social Democrats took possession of the contested movement. Thus, far-sightedly it created a firm foundation which on several critical occasions has stood up when all other supports failed. In this way the intrinsic purpose was gradually submerged, making place for new aims.
It never occurred to the Social Democrats to limit the movement they had thus captured to its original task.
No, that was far from their intention.
In a few decades the weapon for defending the social rights of man had, in their experienced hands? become an instrument for the destruction of the national economy. And they did not let themselves be hindered in the least by the interests of the workers. For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient sheeplike patience on the other.
Something which in this case was true of both sides


By the turn of the century, the trade-union movement had ceased to serve its former function. From year to year it had entered more and more into the sphere of Social Democratic politics and finally had no use except as a battering-ram in the class struggle. Its purpose was to cause the collapse of the whole arduously constructed economic edifice by persistent blows, thus, the more easily, after removing its economic foundations, to prepare the same lot for the edifice of state. Less and less attention was paid to defending the real needs of the working class, and finally political expediency made it seem undesirable to relieve the social or cultural miseries of the broad masses at all, for otherwise there was a risk that these masses, satisfied in their desires could no longer be used forever as docile shock troops.
The leaders of the class struggle looked on this development with such dark foreboding and dread that in the end they rejected any really beneficial social betterment out of hand, and actually attacked it with the greatest determination.
And they were never at a loss for an explanation of a line of behavior which seemed so inexplicable.
By screwing the demands higher and higher, they made their possible fulfillment seem so trivial and unimportant that they were able at all times to tell the masses that they were dealing with nothing but a diabolical attempt to weaken, if possible in fact to paralyze, the offensive power of the working class in the cheapest way, by such a ridiculous satisfaction of the most elementary rights. In view of the great masses' small capacity for thought, we need not be surprised at the success of these methods.
The bourgeois camp was indignant at this obvious insincerity of Social Democratic tactics, but did not draw from it the slightest inference with regard to their own conduct. The Social Democrats' fear of really raising the working class out of the depths of their cultural and social misery should have inspired the greatest exertions in this very direction, thus gradually wrestling the weapon from the hands of the advocates of the class struggle.
This, however, was not done.
Instead of attacking and seizing the enemy's position, the bourgeoisie preferred to let themselves
be pressed to the wall and finally had recourse to utterly inadequate makeshifts, which remained ineffectual because they came too late, and, moreover, were easy to reject because they were too insignificant. Thus. in reality, everything remained as before, except that the discontent was greater.
Like a menacing storm-cloud, the ' free trade union ' hung, even then, over the political horizon and the existence of the individual.
It was one of the most frightful instruments of terror against the security and independence of the national economy, the solidity of the state, and personal freedom.
And chiefly this was what made the concept of democracy a sordid and ridiculous phrase, and held up brotherhood to everlasting scorn in the words: 'And if our comrade you won't be, we'll bash your head in-one, two, three ! '
And that was how I became acquainted with this friend of humanity. In the course of the years my view was broadened and deepened, but I have had no need to change it.

The greater insight I gathered into the external character of Social Democracy, the greater became my longing to comprehend the inner core of this doctrine.
***


Please don't bother to tell me that Hitler rambled and was far from a deep thinker -- or even especially logical. However, in Vienna he latched onto socialism as his way of restoring the greatness of the German Volk.

FYI: While both Peron and Tito were also socialists (Peron of the quasi-Nazi variety and Tito of the quasi-Marxist variety) -- neither had much theoretical background, either (possibly less than Hitler had). It is not necessary for a political leader to have a theoretical background or understanding of socialism to employ it as the economic basis for a dictatorship.
3.31.2009 4:19pm
zuch (mail) (www):
wfjag:
Please don't bother to tell me that Hitler rambled and was far from a deep thinker -- or even especially logical. However, in Vienna he latched onto socialism as his way of restoring the greatness of the German Volk.
Oh. So then, you already know that. Then why bother quoting this babble? But what do trade unions and the bourgeoise capitalists and their ideological/power struggles have to do with socialism, as distinguished from Hitler's perception that this was, open to him because the trade unions had missed it, a road to what we may see here was his ultimate aim: "power"? Hint: when he talks about the "working class" here, he's interested in them not for advancing their ends, but as a tool towards his own. He called his movement "the National Socialists" to try and sap stength from the communists and socialists of the time, but was hardly a "trade unionist" himself, much less a socialist. No, he had better ideas ... albeit somewhat confused and confusing. Those that quote Mein Kampf as legitimate political observations and discourse ought to know better.

Cheers,
3.31.2009 5:07pm
zuch (mail) (www):
I'd note that the RW has more than its share of totalitarians/dictators, not counting just the Nazis (who were unarguably opposed to the Communist and socialist movements in Germany).

In the name of The War Against Gawdless Communism (and coinkydentally to the benefit and at the behest of Big Bidness), the U.S. has supported and installed dicatators and thugs throughout Latin America (see, e.g., Stephen Kinzer's "Overthrow"). Almost all of the dictatorships there have been ardently anti-Communist RW regimes ... since communism and socialism have been movements popular with the peopl... -- umm, peasants and working class in Latin America. And the U.S. has supported them all, to a 'T'.

I'm more that willing to fess up to the the record of abuses and failures of erstwhile (or nominal) "Communist" regimes (such as Stalin, et al..) but I think it's time for the RW/capitalists to take "ownership" of their own regimes and the abuses they've perpetrated. Class struggle still proceeds apace, and has been waged on rather violent and extreme terms by both sides. And the RW is perfectly willing to remove democratic movements BAMN when that gets in the way of Capitalism (see, e.g. Chile). They almost have to resort to such tactics in many countries, as the mass of the people, left to their own devices and democratic processes, will toss da RW bums out.

Cheers,
3.31.2009 7:32pm
ReaderY:
I think the give-away is the claim that the subject has never been studied.

What it brings to mind is a "university" where various faculty do nothing but study each other, bringing in students with videocameras and field gear to spy out each others' offices, cocktail parties, and homes to rigorously study each others' work, social, and mating habits. Each groups' jargon would of course be so dense that no group could understand any other, and one could imagine student papers attempting to decipher rudiments of each others' language. Each group would have various psychological theories about the causes of the other groups' peculiar behavior.

Academia isn't quite there, but seems to be getting closer every year.
3.31.2009 7:36pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):

In my 20s, active research scientist in computational biophysics.


In other words, your job, place of work, and salary are most likely funded by taxpayers.

When are you going to get a real job, in the private sector and stop suckling from the public teat?
4.1.2009 2:29am
Leo:
Re; Hitler a socialist. See here.
4.1.2009 2:41pm
Leo:
http://jonjayray.110mb.com/hitler.html
4.1.2009 2:42pm
Oren:

When are you going to get a real job, in the private sector and stop suckling from the public teat?

As soon as you stop suckling from the the public roads, sewer, power, safety and emergency services. And don't even think of going to the public library!
4.1.2009 5:51pm
Oren:
PS. I'm funded by HHMI -- bonus points for being wrong and pointlessly insulting.
4.1.2009 5:52pm
Desiderius:
"I think the give-away is the claim that the subject has never been studied."

Agreed.
4.1.2009 7:22pm
Desiderius:
JBG,

"This statement of yours is itself an admission that "it tries to be a European-style militaristic and/or religious and/or privilege-protecting right." Which is helpful to know, whether or not it's been failing miserably. It's been failing miserably at all sorts of things."

An admission? That conservatives are human? Who knew? "To the extent to which" are of course weasel words that admit no such thing, but anyone can see for themselves that conservatives are drawn to that particular fire and are burned whenever they hit it. What many, such as the folks who are the topic of this thread, and, evidently, you, miss is that this isn't ultimately what the American "right" is about, which is closely connected to what it is they do when they're not failing miserably.

Likewise it could be said of the American left that to the extent to which it attempts to ape the continental left by stirring up Shrumbersome class resentments or chasing after abstract utopias (instead of, in the former case, working to make class irrelevant or passe, say through increasing opportunities for meritocratic social mobility, or, in the latter, capitalizing on the common sense of the common man - the American left's true constituency) it too fails miserably.

What exactly is "helpful" about knowing that? Do you imagine I'm some secret operative from deep inside the Rovian cabal finally forced by your scintillating intellect and dogged persistence to spill the beans about what the vast Rightwingconspiracy is finally after?

Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not, and it, conspiracy or no, ultimately isn't.
4.2.2009 1:14am
zuch (mail) (www):
Leo:

We have web sites too.

Just FWIW, back in 1998 while visiting India, I noted with curiosity the swastika in the Hindu temples in Delhi, but found out that the "broken cross" or swastika is a symbol of ancient origin. That the Nazis appropriated it after others had used it doesn't make others Nazi. And that's just one of the many errors on that link of yours.

Cheers,
4.2.2009 12:27pm

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