Barbecue Shacks, Palmetto Groves,rnand Other SchoolsrnBetting on the Hedgesrnby Donald W. LivingstonrnThe smog of political correctness hangs heavilv o er mostrnAmerican colleges and universities. Since the politicallvrncorrect are intolerant, support onlv their own shle of research,rnand hire and tenure onK- their own kind, this condition ma-rnwell he with us for two generations. This has led some to despairrnover the fate of higher cducahon in the humanihes. Butrnsuch despair takes the universities entireK too seriouslw hlumanernlearning has not aluas had its source in established educationalrninstitutions. The origins of tiie Western uniersih- liernin the rhetorical and philosophical schools that sprang up in ancientrnGreece, and as these institutions degenerated into tiie sterilerneclecticism of late anti(:|uit, new sources of learningrnemerged from small Christian communities seeking to interpretrnthe gospels witiiin the framework proided b” Plato andrnAristotle. These communities gathered up the remnants fromrnthe wreckage of pagan Greek and Roman cixilization, eentuallyrnbuilding the great universities of medieal Europe. Thesernflourished for four centuries before hardening into tiie academicrnself-absorption of late sehola.sticism, against which what werncall modern thought rebelled.rnThe most influential modern philosophers were found almostrnexclusivelv outside the uniersitics: Montaigne, Machiavelli,rnBacon, Hiobbes, Pascal, Descartes, Spino/.a, Leibniz,rnMandex ille, Locke, Berkelc-, Hume, Rousseau, Montesquieu,rnMill, Niet/.sehc, iLirx, Kierkegaard. The occupied not the positionrnof professor but of lens grinder, gentieman, secretary,rnstatesman, librarian, government official, corporate eccutie,rnand even beggar. The writings of this “republic of letters” becamernrile canon of modern unixersities. 1 he lesson is plain; In-rnDonakl W. Livingnton is a professor of philosophv at Emor’rnLhiiversih’, author of Philosophical MelanehoK’ and Deliriumrn(Vnirersit)^ ofCliicago Press), and director of the League of thernSouth Institute for the Study of Southern Cuhure and Histor)’.rnstitutioiis of higher learning, over time, become self-absorbedrnand decadent. When that happens, it is necessary to secedernfrom those institutions and to seek new venues for learning.rnSecessionist tendencies toda’ are found evenwhere, but thernoften take a peculiar form. Building new universities is desirable,rnbut too expensive; serious reform is not possible in thernforeseeable future. Po.stmodern, politically correct fundamentalismrncontrols the administration and the fiiculh-, but it doesrnnot control the students. They belong to families and coniniuiiitiesrnwhich often lia’e strong religious and regional identities.rnKLiii students find the tone of postmodern fundamentalismrnnot onh’ morally absurd but boring. The ritual is the same e-rnerwhere: traditional American socich’ is racist, sexist, classist,rnliomophobic, and the chief obstacle to a global universalist civilization.rnMain’ students have sufficient virtue from their upbringingrnto sense that tiie are surrounded bv something proloundK’rndistorted and dehumanizing, but they do not hae thernintellectual resources to understand precisel}’ what is wrong.rnTo meet fliis need, a great number of “institutes” of higherrnlearning ha e .spontaneouslv emerged to educate students outsidernflic uni ersit” in summer schools, conferences, and seminars.rnStudents meet scholars of national and international reputationrnwho open to them avenues of learning thev are notrnlikel- to find in flieir normal course of study. Armed with newrnt|uestious and insights, students are able to put the resources ofrnflie uniersit to better effect, engaging in serious intellectualrndebate w ifli their teachers and classmates.rnOne of riiese is flie League of the South (LS) Institute for thernStud’ of Southern Culture and History. 0er 50 scholars inrnhigher education have signed on to the histitute’s mission to recorner what T.S. Eliot called “the permanent things,” as the- arernreealed in the Southern tradition. This tradition has prox’idedrna searing criticjuc of the spiritual and intellechial pathologies ofrnmodern socieh*. This criticism flows from a long line of Soufli-rn18/CHRONICLE5rnrnrn