Why does the academy lean left in terms of politics? In this essay, I offer a hypothesis.
In general, wherever creative individuals receive incomes without having to worry about the “business aspect” of their organizations, you have freedom without responsibility…
When we see leftist ideology statistically predominant among college professors, news reporters, or open-source software advocates, what we are seeing is self selection. What Richard Florida dubbed The Creative Class is a self-selected group that seeks freedom without responsibility in their professional lives. Thus, we should not be surprised that their ideological bent is toward modern liberalism, which translates this personal preference into a political platform.
I would add that those disciplines that are farthest to the left tend to be those where knowledge is obtained through introspective insight, such as literature or philosophy. Where knowledge involves thinking about systemic interactions, professors may be less hasty to translate their personal experience of the good life into an economic and political program for society as a whole.
This issue has received some attention recently. For more on the discussion, see Stephen Karlson’s roundup.
For Discussion. in the essay, I argue that under socialism “rewards start to accrue to the most ruthless and effective political operators.” Are there mechanism to prevent this from occurring in non-market systems?