Monday, March 06, 2017

The Free Market Is Only Free When It Does What I Want It To (Academia Version)

The American right wing loves the free market. Listen to literally any of them talk for more than three sentences, and it's all but guaranteed that not only will they mention the free market in glowing terms, they will have also suggested it as the solution to whatever you're discussing. Taxation? Free market. Income inequality? Free market. Hang nail? Free market.

Except when the free market doesn't do what they want it to, that is. This is, of course, why we have socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. The actual consequences of an actually free market only apply to the lessers of the world.

Take, for instance, the latest in the cottage industry of "libruls are ruining universities!!11!1!!1!" pieces that seem to run in the Chronicle of Higher Education pretty much every day. (Don't judge: the Chronicle is my favorite hate read. It's like an slightly more sober but significantly more niche Breitbart).

This piece was written by one of the interchangeable jagoffs who writes these things, most of whom typically hold some sort of position with "freedom" in its name, and who are always ironically complaining that conservatives in academia are oppressed and never given a platform while never noticing the irony of themselves being a conservative academic with a prominent platform. But my point is not their individual hypocrisy (though there's plenty of it!), but the larger issue of them suddenly and completely abandoning the singular solution they offer to everything else.

Because if the professorate has been drifting ever leftward (though the evidence always offered for this is, to put it lightly, incredibly suspect, but again, not the point) despite the fact that students have not (as the linked article claims), and if this is truly a problem in that students are being denied the viewpoints they so desperately crave, then the question becomes obvious: why hasn't the free market stepped in and solved this?

After all, if our universities were truly dominated by a rigidly leftist ideology with little-to-no variety in thought, then shouldn't the market be supplying an alternative? Shouldn't there be a cadre of conservative professors rising through the ranks, with their classes swelling past capacity as students flock to the ideologies they've been so cruelly denied all these years? Shouldn't individual departments and colleges, not to mention entire universities, note this market inefficiency and recruit conservative faculty members so they can capitalize on this woefully underserved market?

I find this incredibly interesting because I hate-read pretty much every article I can find about how universities are the worst examples of rigid group think and ideological orthodoxy, and yet I've never once seen the argument made by conservatives that the free market will solve it. Which, again, is quite odd, as these same folks hold that the free market will cure literally everything. And yet, the free market has had literal decades to solve the "problem" of academic ideology, and yet according to these same people, the problem is actually getting "worse!"

Now, of course, you and I and every person who has the ability to reason beyond the level of 6 year old knows this is because markets don't and never have operated in such a simplistic manner. But then you and I and every person who has the ability to reason beyond the level of 6 year old have not suggested the market as the cure to every social ill.

Of course, none of this is to address the fact that said ideological orthodoxy does not actually exist, but even if it did, wouldn't that mean the market has spoken and said that this is what the people want? And who the fuck are we to disagree with the omnipotent brilliance of the free market?

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