Professor Arthur Eckstein’s fine review of Pete Collier and David Horowitz’s Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties (August 1989) calls attention to the fact that the revolutionaries of the 60’s turned themselves into the professors of the 70’s and the deans of the 80’s. Why? Because the universities in the 1960’s were expanding. So the academy provided not only a great public square for revolutionary theater but also afforded a fine living for the actors. The same good folk who disrupted Columbia and subverted Stanford and Berkeley, like the Christian missionaries to Hawaii, did rather well by doing (what they thought of as) good. Well paid by the very institution they both subverted and used for their subversion of society, they prospered.

True, the universities paid a heavy price: the destruction of public confidence, delivery into the power of an anti-academic administration in the corporate model, and loss of shared goals and acknowledged educational purpose, not to mention nearly two decades of steady-state faculties, with little movement in or out or up. But the tenured and secure self-styled prophets and troublers of the public order got paid at the end of the month, and never mind the rest. That explains the left-wing bias of the softer social sciences (sociology, not economics) and the ideologization of the mushier humanities (literature, not classics), scripts for the second act of the revolutionary play. True, the audience has long since walked out; even the media lost interest. But the now-respectable revolutionaries retain control of the theater, and, alas, require the succeeding generations to form the audiences for their courses.

What is to be done? Not a thing. Just wait. Time not only heals, it also corrects. The youthful vision of the 60’s, now the lost dream of a disappointed and bitter generation of ruined and barren intellectuals nearing old age, describes no world known to the new generation, defines no use of young lives, offers no goals, sets no grand tasks. Two decades of young people have passed through the classrooms controlled by the idiot-left and now form the phalanx of a genuinely conservative youth. America has survived even the ruin of the academy; people came and learned what was useful and illuminating and dismissed the rest, and the next generation of the academy is in the process of repudiating the discredited past. It is time for renewal.

        —Jacob Neusner
Member, The Institute for Advanced Study,
Princeton, NJ
University Professor, Brown University,
Providence, RI