The Nam Legacy and the Liberalization of American Universities

How did our universities get so liberal? Some say 90% of faculties and more are Left Wing.

At one time, U.S. university faculties had their share of conservatives and moderates to go along with the liberals. And, there was a diversity of thought and a tolerance for the other side.

Enter the 1960’s and the War in Viet Nam. Back then, you could get a deferment from the Draft as long as you were in college.  Most young men who were opposed to the War happily went to college or stayed as long as they could in order to avoid military service.

As the War dragged on, those with deferments finished their undergraduate years and, once again, faced the Draft. Those still opposed to the War found a way out. The Draft regulations made doctoral degree study eligible for deferment, too. So, Draft avoiders applied to PhD programs, and universities, not wanting to consign them to possible death on the battlefield, accepted them with sometimes less than doctorate-worthy credentials.

Six years later, these schools began turning out PhDs in great numbers, many of whom (being draft avoiders) were far left thinkers. Chiswick, Larsen and Pieper (IZA, 2010) found that in 1972 alone, an additional 4,000 PhDs (12% increase) can be attributed to the War (in contrast, the Korean War resulted in a decrease of 2,700 PhDs – suggesting greater patriotism of college-age men of the time).

Then, those newly-minted PhDs needed jobs. Many shunned the corporate world and that left only one place for them – university faculties. The problem was that there were too few jobs at the best schools, so these newcomers took what jobs they could get in lesser known universities and state and community colleges throughout the country. And, they began to teach their liberal slant to students everywhere.

Young liberal professors formed increasing faculty majorities. They gained power as they were promoted to the highest ranks. It should not be surprising that they put together liberal courses and hired and promoted their own kind, thereby completing a “vicious circle” of left wing indoctrination.

Today, that first wave of liberal faculty is retiring. One might think that their impact on student attitudes is retiring with them, except that they have now instilled their leftist attitudes in the next generation of professors.

Whether or not the Left is successful in maintaining its stranglehold on American universities will likely be determined in the social struggles between government control and free market solutions. What is not in question is the legacy of draft deferment policy and the War in Viet Nam in growing and consolidating liberal social policy through higher education.


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