Sunday, May 23, 2004
Immediately below this post are two substantial articles on Leftist elitism. Leftists do sometimes however fervently claim not to be elitists. That is much less true of Greenies. They are fairly outspoken elitists. They often say quite openly that they want to get rid of much of the world's population -- with the implicit sequel that they will then be left in sole command of a pristine planet. They are emphatic that they know best. Just to give substance to that generalization, however, it seemed worthwhile to gather below just the most recent posts on "Greenie Watch" and "Dissecting Leftism" that record Greenie attitudes of that kind
GREENIE ELITISM AGAIN
Tibor Machan: "It's been a while since I have addressed in print the rank lobbying of my local environmentalist crowd. It's now time to speak up again.
Not only do they - the Canyon Land Conservation Fund is the name they have chosen for themselves - place their announcements on the local U.S. Postal Service's bulletin board (a definite no-no - it's a government facility and isn't supposed to be used for partisan political purposes). They are also unashamedly urging everyone to "walk or run to rescue one of Orange County's last rural beauties and preserve it for future generations," as the flyer puts it.
Here is the trouble with this shameless plea: What someone who holds to these ideas ought really to do is move out of the canyon, raze his or her own buildings and restore the land to its wild state, not demand that others stay out of the canyon. That would be holier than thou in spades. Instead, we get this unabashedly self-indulgent walking or running, for what? To keep things for themselves alone.
It is for this reason that I have decided to create a bumper sticker and have placed it on my vehicle, reading in beautiful green: "Share the Canyons!" Because these people of the conservation fund and all their cohorts have no hesitation about displaying bumper stickers that read: "Save the Canyons," as if somehow they alone had the divine right to live there, everyone else having to imagine it all from afar."
(Registration is required to view the full article but it may save you some hassle if you log in as "rationalreview" with the password "rationalreview")
The prosection against Greenpeace just launched in the USA is a very token effort. It is so poorly based legally and the penalties for guilt are so slight that it obviously just a warning shot. But the reaction of Greenpeace shows their elitist mentality. They obviously think that they have a RIGHT to break the law. They are outraged that the prosecution might force them to behave legally, like everyone else. Winning their causes by lawful, democratic methods has obviously not occurred to them.
"The environmental group is accused of sailor mongering because it boarded a freighter in April 2002... Sailor mongering was rife in the 19th century when brothels sent prostitutes laden with booze onto ships as they made their way to harbor.
Greenpeace says the decision by the U.S. Attorney's Office to prosecute the organization rather than just the activists who boarded the APL Jade freighter is a sea change in policy, and a conviction would throttle free speech everywhere..... The case is unprecedented, not just because of the bizarre nature of the crime. Six Greenpeace activists were charged after the 2002 protest in choppy waters off Miami, pleaded guilty and sentenced to time served -- the weekend they spent in jail. If convicted, Greenpeace could be placed on probation, and pay a $10,000 fine.
"It's ominous," said attorney Maria Kayanan of law firm Podhurst Orseck, which worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) on a "friend of court" brief to back a Greenpeace demand that the government reveal who ordered the prosecution. "It will be very chilling because advocacy groups whose members chose to engage in acts of protest which happen to violate the law will be loathe to act at all."
MONBIOT, THE INEXPERT
A Greenie gloat about the low birthrate in the developed world
Amazing: The original Moonbat has escaped from the Guardian and now has an article in the Spectator. He's still not taking his pills, though. He writes about population economics as if he knew something about it -- and his conclusions are predictably misanthropic and wrong: "The world will be a happier and better place with fewer people". See here for a better-informed account of the matter.
MORE ON GREENIE MISANTHROPY
I have on a number of occasions referred to Greenies as people-haters. I thought therefore that it might be useful to reproduce here some excerpts from an article that appeared late last year in "Spiked" that gives some detail of their jaundiced view of humanity
"Britain's most famous naturalist, David Attenborough, is backing a campaign to reduce the UK population by half. He claims that if population control doesn't become government policy, nature will do the job for us - and the poor will suffer most.
The campaign is organised by the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), a group set up in 1991 by environmentalists and population campaigners, whose current patrons include Paul Ehrlich, Norman Myers and Jonathan Porritt.
In the 1960s, Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, which claimed that 'the battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.. Population control is the only answer'. In 1969 he said: 'If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.' Three years after doomsday, we're still here.
According to OPT, 'failure to reduce population is likely to lead to a population crash when fossil fuels, fresh water and other resources become scarce'. But do its arguments stand up to scrutiny?
Even if Earth gets much warmer, increasing development will allow us to cope with such climate changes. Rising living standards and rising populations go hand-in-hand. The solution could be, not to reduce the population, but to speed up development so that more of the world can live comfortable lives and cope with change.
A classic Malthusian argument: population will outstrip food supply, leading to shortages in the future. Yet this has simply not been the case in the developed world. Indeed, current panics claim that we are eating too much. The average number of calories consumed per head in the West has risen steadily over the decades. About half the world's cultivable land is not used to grow food at present. If we used the best technology available today, a population of 32billion people could be supported on just the land available in the developing world.
'UK sources of oil and gas are likely to be almost depleted by 2050.. Britain will become dependent on imports of oil and gas from foreign sources.'
You would have thought that Ehrlich and co might have learned their lesson about resource shortages. Known reserves have tended to go up, rather than down, over the past 30 years. As for energy, there is no problem - Britain could easily replace imports with nuclear power if it needed to....
The list goes on: road congestion, an ageing population, urban crime - you name it, there isn't a social problem that, apparently, could not be solved by controlling population growth. OPT has its fingers on the pulse of Britain's fears and panics. Every one of the concerns it raises is the subject of handwringing in Whitehall and Westminster (apart from the imports thing - they gave up all hope for British industry decades ago).
The reason that these have become big concerns is an underlying outlook that views people, especially too many people, as a problem. Human beings are seen as greedy, rapacious and destructive, and the solution is apparently to cut our numbers. In truth, the fact that six billion people can live on Earth - while living conditions continue, in the main, to improve - suggests that people are the solution, not the problem
GREENIES ARE MISATHROPES (ANTI-HUMAN)
Excerpts from an article in the April 22 edition of Front Page Magazine
"Earth Day dawns on us today, and with it a grave danger faces mankind. The danger is not from acid rain, global warming, smog, or the logging of rain forests, as environmentalists would have us believe. The danger to mankind is from environmentalism. The fundamental goal of environmentalism is not clean air and clean water; rather, it is the demolition of technological/industrial civilization. Environmentalism's goal is not the advancement of human health, human happiness, and human life; rather, it is a subhuman world where "nature" is worshipped like the totem of some primitive religion.
In a nation founded on the pioneer spirit, environmentalists have made "development" an evil word.... Nature, they insist, has "intrinsic value," to be revered for its own sake, irrespective of any benefit to man. As a consequence, man is to be prohibited from using nature for his own ends....
The ideal world of environmentalism is not twenty-first-century Western civilization; it is the Garden of Eden, a world with no human intervention in nature, a world without innovation or change, a world without effort, a world where survival is somehow guaranteed, a world where man has mystically merged with the "environment." Had the environmentalist mentality prevailed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we would have had no Industrial Revolution, a situation that consistent environmentalists would cheer--at least those few who might have managed to survive without the life-saving benefits of modern science and technology.
The expressed goal of environmentalism is to prevent man from changing his environment, from intruding on nature. That is why environmentalism is fundamentally anti-man. Intrusion is necessary for human survival. Only by intrusion can man avoid pestilence and famine. Only by intrusion can man control his life and project long-range goals. Intrusion improves the environment, if by "environment" one means the surroundings of man--the external material conditions of human life....
To save mankind requires the wholesale rejection of environmentalism as hatred of science, technology, progress, and human life. To save mankind requires the return to a philosophy of reason and individualism, a philosophy that makes life on earth possible".
GREENIES SHAFT MINORITIES
They would prefer all non-elites to die, basically
"While outsourcing is a term that's on everyone's lips, there's little concern over something called "environmental justice." It's a policy advocated by elite environmentalists, and it is killing job prospects in minority communities. If outsourcing is considered bad, environmental justice is much, much worse...
In 1996, Shintech Inc. -- a Japanese chemical company -- wanted to build a $700 million facility in Convent, Louisiana to make the polyvinyl chloride that is used in building materials, upholstery and clothing. Shintech promised to hire hundreds of area residents for the construction of the plant and provide $500,000 in local job training. After the plant was built, it would employ 165 people with salaries beginning at $12 an hour - twice the average wage area residents made working in the region's sugar cane fields.
Shintech was never able to build the plant in this poor, job-starved community. Despite strong local support among residents, politicians and the NAACP, EPA officials in Washington, D.C. -- at the urging of environmentalists -- denied Shintech a permit based on concerns about environmental justice.
Environmental justice policies are supposed to keep businesses from inflicting a "disparate impact" on minority communities, but this vague definition does not weigh the costs against the benefits of introducing a job-producing industry to a poverty-stricken area. To the elitists in the environmental movement, it's a black and white issue where businesses are guilty until proven innocent. In reality, it's about black and white jobs. Those people who need jobs the most often find their prospects gloomier after environmental justice concerns are raised.
Former Detroit mayor Dennis Archer has complained that the EPA's environmental justice policies are "so vague and so broad that it nullifies everything that we have done to attract companies." It seems activists are willing to make an issue out of just about everything. When a formerly blighted neighborhood in Harlem was cleaned up and a Home Depot that created 400 area jobs moved in, it was criticized by environmentalists because it wasn't a "clean industry" like a school and increased area truck traffic..."
AMAZING: THE NYT TALKS SENSE ABOUT DDT!
DDT was of course the original Greenie hate-object -- with Rachel Carson's totally unfounded "Silent Spring" claims
The New York Times has an article called "What the World Needs Now Is DDT": "DDT is a victim of its success, having so thoroughly eliminated malaria in wealthy nations that we forget why we once needed it. But malaria kills Africans today. Those worried about the arrogance of playing God should realize that we have forged an instrument of salvation, and we choose to hide it under our robes." But if millions of Africans and other poor people die for want of DDT, what do the Greenies care? They welcome it! Unlike Leftists, they don't even pretend to "care".
More elitist trash from the Green/Left: "In Growth Fetish, Hamilton admits that, in the past times of scarcity, growth was beneficial - but he argues that in today's era of superabundance development no longer leads to subjective wellbeing. To support his argument, he quotes opinion polls showing that people in prosperous societies are often unhappy with their lives... There is a nauseating undertone of elitism in Hamilton's work. In his view, the marketing industry, including advertising, plays a key role in shaping individual desires. He refers to 'gullible consumers' and goes on to argue that 'today's average consumer may be an everyday victim of foolishness and feeble-mindedness in their consumption behaviour' .... Whatever people's subjective sense of wellbeing, there remains a huge amount to be done to raise living standards, even in the more developed countries. For instance, we are constantly being told that there is a demographic problem that means that the elderly cannot expect a reasonable standard of living. But with greater economic growth it will become possible for the elderly and others not able to work to have higher living standards." I wonder how many working people today share the judgment that we are living in a world of "superabundance"? Only a "limousine liberal" would think so.
The elitist Greenie people-haters: "An old Chinese curse goes, 'may you live in interesting times.' Well, these happen to be interesting times for the Sierra Club. A small chunk of its membership is worried about what it calls 'impact of mass immigration on the environment and quality of life for future generations' of Americans. These dissidents want the Club to promote public policy that will restrict America's future population growth." Immigration control is perfectly reasonable but the Greenies just want to stop immigration altogether as part of their usual anti-people attitude. Conservatives, on the other hand, think SOME immigrants are OK. Immigration is after all an historic American and Australian tradition. But Greenies dislike all immigrants equally. Both Greenie and Leftist ideology is too simplistic to differentiate between different types of people -- though Leftists and Greenies certainly do plenty of differentiation in their personal lives. How many Greenies and Leftists marry blacks, for instance? Equality is for other people, obviously.
Friday, May 14, 2004
WHY ELITES TEND LEFT
Elite psychology generally
Why is a man as privileged as John Kerry on the Left of politics? Why are people who are rich, well-organized, well-paid and successful in life often Left-leaning? Surely they should be thankful for the system that gave them their success instead of wanting to tear it down? The answer is really quite simple. If your life had made you feel superior to most people wouldn't you want to be treated in a superior way too? More importantly, wouldn't you feel that your inferiors should be got out of your way and told what to do? Wouldn't you feel that they should be herded onto public transport and thus leave the roads free for you to drive where you want without being held up by traffic jams? That is EXACTLY how elite Leftists think. Only they cannot say that out loud of course. To say it out loud would not only be obnoxious but it would also achieve nothing. So our elites are smarter than that. They know they have to cloak their oppression in the mantle of a claim that "It's all for your own good". And knowing how rich, clever and well-organized they themselves are, they are confident that they will be able to escape the limits and confines that they put on other people. Even high taxes are no worry to them when they already have most things that money can buy. So regulate, regulate, regulate is their cry. And regulating and controlling others is what Leftists have always got 1,001 reasons for -- with the most extreme form of control being exercised in Communist regimes.
A classic example of Leftist elitism was pre-Thatcher Britain in the 60s. The British Labour party had nationalized practically all the hospitals leaving only a very small and expensive private sector. And the nationalized hospitals were of course overcrowded and gave inferior service in various ways. Britain's "Red Queen" at the time was Barbara Castle, a minister in Harold Wilson's Labour government. She was famous for saying that it was "obscene" for anybody to "carve their way to a hospital bed with a chequebook": Good propaganda. But what did she do when her son got sick? Being very well-paid as a government minister, she got him admitted to a private hospital, of course, under a false name. When the press got wind of it were any on the Left upset by her actions? Not really. They understood what she was doing and why. Harold Wilson ended up making the obscene one a Baroness, in fact. Leftist elites WANT one law for the rich and another law for the poor. That is why the British Labour party let a small private medicine sector survive in Britain. They knew that they might need it one day: No grotty public hospitals for them. Public hospitals are only for "the people".
And not much has changed since then. Below are some excerpts from The Spectator of 6th. December 2003 about Britain's current Leftist elite not practicing what they preach. Like the Soviets, what they give the worker is apparently not good enough for them:
"It has become obvious that, in progressive circles, there has been one law for the political elite and another for the people. The most glaring recent example has been Hackney MP Diane Abbott's decision to send her son to a fee-paying school, after a lifetime campaigning for the abolition of private education....
For decades, Labour activists campaigned against the evils of apartheid in South Africa, but when Robert Mugabe embarked on a murderous policy against white landowners, barely a squeak was heard from these supposed crusaders against racial injustice....
Environment minister, Michael Meacher fulminated that 'housing is not, and should not be a status symbol, an object of conspicuous consumption or a source of market power and wealth. Too many people have second homes or too large homes for their needs, while too many others are homeless or over-crowded.' Meacher's words might have carried more weight if he had not been the owner of no fewer than eight homes himself.....
But the hypocrisy works on an even deeper level. For when leftists go private or offshore, they are trying to avoid the very problems they have created through their own socialist policies. They wilfully advocate measures that lower standards or destroy wealth, then run away from the consequences... For a socialist to complain about our shambolic education system is like an arsonist complaining that a building which he set alight has burnt down. Wealthy left-wing parents cannot tolerate the schools they have created, so they .. turn to the private sector they despise"
And Leftist elitism even explains the current Leftist war on "obesity":
"Medical and public health authorities have determined a BMI of 25 or above is hazardous to a person's health. This belief, however, is not supported by the available evidence... In almost all large-scale epidemiological studies, little or no correlation between weight and health can be found for a large majority of the population... "overweight" people actually had a lower overall cancer mortality rate than "ideal weight" individuals.. Even massively obese men and women do not appear to be more prone to vascular disease than average... deaths from heart disease have been plunging at precisely the same time that obesity rates have been skyrocketing... on average, poor people in America are fat and rich people are thin. The disgust the thin upper classes feel for the fat lower classes has nothing to do with mortality statistics and everything to do with feelings of moral superiority"
What I have just described are Leftist elitists and most people who occupy elite positions in society do appear to lean Left in at least some important ways. But there are some people in elite positions who are NOT Leftist, of course. People in elite positions are not all the same. Different people can respond differently to the same situation. Not all elite people respond to their circumstances as dismally as the elite people I have described so far. The the division of society into strata has only ever been approximate and is rarely strongly predictive of anything. There are different types of working people, different types of middle class people and different types of elite people. The most reliably Leftist elite group is of course the teaching profession and the most reliably non-Leftist elite group is the self-made businesspeople.
As David Brooks says:
"It's been said that every society has two aristocracies. The members of the aristocracy of mind produce ideas, and pass along knowledge. The members of the aristocracy of money produce products and manage organizations. In our society, these two groups happen to be engaged in a bitter conflict about everything from SUVs to presidents. You can't understand the current bitter political polarization without appreciating how it is inflamed or even driven by the civil war within the educated class. The percentage of voters with college degrees has doubled in the past 30 years. As the educated class has grown, it has segmented. The economy has produced a large class of affluent knowledge workers -- teachers, lawyers, architects, academics, journalists, therapists, decorators and so on -- who live and vote differently than their equally well-educated but more business-oriented peers."
Peter Berger takes up a similar theme at great length so it would be superrogatory to go into great detail about it here. Very briefly, Berger sees that a powerful and numerous university-educated "knowledge class" (teachers, bureaucrats, social workers and "experts" of all kinds) emerged in the latter half of the 20th century which largely superseded the old production- and commerce-based middle class. He says:
"Within the service sector, there is a sub-sector that provides services of a very particular kind; that is, non-material services based upon knowledge: “human resources,” “corporate image,” “social justice,” “quality of life,” and so on. The persons employed in this sector constitute an immense army present in all levels of education, in bureaucracies, in the communications media, and in the therapy industry: from professors of psychiatry to sex counselors for the elderly. They all have in common the rather vague criteria on the basis of which their competence and performance are evaluated. The most important criterion is the certification of an officially recognized scholastic career. Higher education thus becomes the main way of access to this world.....
A very large percentage of the "knowledge class" is directly hired or subsidized by the government; it thus has an interest in the expansion of those public functions that furnish it with employment and subsidies, and also with power and status. The "knowledge class," therefore, is favorable toward the reinforcement of public programs. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that its constitutive interests push it toward leftist politics.... there is a clash between those whose principal interest is production and those whose principal interest is redistribution; the latter common interest is deep enough to sustain within a professor of English a sense of affinity with the young people of the lower classes."
(From "A Far Glory. The Quest for Faith in an Age of Credulity", New York, The Free Press, 1992. Some excerpts here)
But even that generalization does not of course explain all the cases. There are in particular many wealthy people who are Leftist and who do not rely on a livelihood as "knowledge" workers. And there are of course conservatives among knowledge workers too. Many conservative bloggers, for instance, would appear to work in knowledge industries -- particularly programming and other work to do with computers.
So why would some elite people NOT be leftist? The most surprising reason, perhaps, is genetics. As has now repeatedly been shown, political orientation is to a large extent (around 50%) genetic rather than being the result of any event or events in your life. There is a genetic disposition to be Leftist or conservative that environment will sometimes modify and sometimes not. Being in an elite position is one of those environmental influences but it will not always be decisive. Some elite people are just BORN conservative (cautious etc.) and stay that way regardless. It must be stressed, however, that genetics can only provide a predisposition. If the predisposition one way or another is weak, what the person believes will mainly be a function of the influences and arguments that he/she has been exposed to. If the predisposition is strong, however, argument will be largely irrelevant to what the person believes. In the case of the Stalinist Left (who are still numerous on university campuses) reality as a whole will not matter to them.
Clearly, however, psychological and genetic factors operate only within a historical context. Factors external to the person will often influence a person's views as well. And something that must be turned to at this stage is the apparent fact that elites have not ALWAYS been Leftist. Were not elites once conservative? As this writer notes: "The Democrats are the party of the elite. Consider Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In a 1948 student poll Thomas E. Dewey [R] beat Harry Truman [D] by 2 to 1. In 2000 Al Gore [D] beat Bush [R], an Andover alumnus, by nearly the same margin, reflecting the Democrats' historic capture in 2000 of "professionals," a group well-represented among the parents of Andover students. Next to African-Americans, the most reliable Democrats in the electorate are women with post-graduate degrees".
This small slice of history is of course far from decisive. Although the conversion of the U.S. Democrats to a wholly Leftist party was almost complete at the time of writing in 2004, it was not always so. For most of the 20th century, there was substantial conservatism in the Democratic party -- particularly in the South. So the Truman/Dewey contest was far from being a purely Left/Right contest. So it is not as easy as it may at first seem to identify historic changes in elite political loyalties. Certainly the Cambridge spies (Kim Philby etc.) of the 1930s and the Fabian Webbs of roughly 100 years ago were earlier examples of clearly elite people who were far to the Left both by the standards of their own day and by the standards of the present day.
Nonetheless, it is hard to avoid the impression that the elites of yesteryear were more conservative than they are today. And it is not hard to see why that might have been so. Both in the late 19th century and most of the 20th century everybody lived under the threat of Marxist class war. And the hostility of Marxism/Leninism to existing elites was undoubtedly ferocious. So elites were under clear threat from a very influential form of Leftism at that time. It is therefore no wonder that many elite-group members saw virtue in conservatism! With the implosion of the U.S.S.R., however, Marxism is essentially dead outside the universities and the Leftist program of today has much more in common with Mussolini's Fascism than with Communism, so elites now have essentially nothing to fear from the Left and are free to do as their instincts tell them.
One very important elite group
I have written a whole monograph on the various other influences that push people towards the Left so I will not repeat any of that here. I will instead in the remainder of this article concentrate on just one elite group in particular: Teachers, particularly teachers at the college and university level. People who are born with leftist proclivities (weak egos etc) tend to find certain occupations more attractive than others and teaching is very definitely one of those. Anybody who doubts the overwhelming presence of the Left in the high schools and universities will have any such doubts rapidly set at rest if they read through the many reports of Leftist bias and tyranny in the schools and colleges that are frequently recorded on Political Correctness Watch.
So why are teachers -- particularly at the university and college level -- so overwhelmingly Leftist? It is pretty simple. Whether or not they are very good at it, Leftists would like to be dominant and to boss other people around -- and that is very much the teacher's role. It is an elite role. Even a social misfit can get to rule the roost in teaching (and I don't think many people who know the universities well will have any trouble naming a lot of oddballs and misfits there). So teaching will tend to attract Leftists in the first place.
But that is not the end of the story. As well as Leftists being drawn to teaching, the experience of becoming a teacher is itself Left-making. Even if not much in the way of social skills is required for one to become a teacher, intellectual ability is still pretty heavily selected for (among university teachers at least) so professors will normally have considerable realistic grounds for feeling that they are an intellectual elite and will tend to feel that they should therefore ride high in the world and tell others what to do. And that expectation is NOT normally fulfilled. Teachers are a FRUSTRATED elite. The people who get the big monetary rewards are the businessmen (and do academics hate THAT!) and the people with the power are the politicians and top bureaucrats. So it is no wonder that academics are so keen to overturn such an "unjust" (unjust to them in their view) system! And wanting to overturn the system by hook or by crook is Leftism. Leftism becomes just a gut-feeling for most professors. They feel that the world is stupid and that they are superior to it. Robert Nozick has more on that and the much acclaimed Eric Hoffer of course drew similar conclusions long ago. As the "Wikipedia" article on Hoffer says:
"Academics, he believed, most of all craved power; but they were denied it in the democratic countries of the West (though they were not in totalitarian countries, which Hoffer saw as an intellectual's dream). So instead, he believed, they chose to bite the hand that fed them in their quest to feel important".
And it is of course the professors who teach (and indoctrinate) the teachers lower down in the hierarchy (i.e. the Grade school and High school teachers) so Leftist values are passed down right throughout the educational system. So even those lower-level teachers who were not initially inclined towards Leftism will tend to become Leftist (unless, of course, there is some other strong influence at work on them -- such as a genetic predisposition to caution or Christian beliefs -- that keeps them conservative). Thus the whole educational system is geared to promote Leftism and those who spend most time in the educational system (i.e. the professionals and bureaucrats generally) are therefore most likely to be pushed Left in their views. So any elite that depends on education for its elite postion (i.e. most elites) will tend Left.
In summary, then, academe both attracts people who want to be in an elite position and gives people in it the feeling that they ARE an elite -- but a frustrated and therefore potentially revolutionary elite who pass on their jaundiced thinking far and wide.
But surely jaundiced thinking would not be very persuasive? Can personal dissatisfaction be easily transmitted to others?
Of course it can -- particularly where alternative thinking and information is suppressed. There is much to criticize in our society and a person who for his own reasons is dissatisfied with it will have no shortage of unsatisfactory things to point to and denounce. Add to that some false but superficially plausible explanations of why society is that way plus a deliberate suppression of deeper and more accurate explanations and you have contemporary Leftism. Again, you will not have to read much of what is reported on Political Correctness Watch to see how zealously conservative thought and the alternative account of the world that it offers is excluded from contemporary academe. Leftist explanations (e.g. their characteristic denial of the importance of genetics) just cannot stand the light of day so students have to be prevented from hearing such alternative explanations.
In other words, Leftist academics abuse their position of authority to pass on as gospel their own miserable, jealousy-motivated perspective.
Once people leave academe and go out to make a living in the real world, of course, they find that the theories they have been taught don't mirror reality -- which is a major reason for the way many people's views drift rightwards as they get older.
My discussion above should not of course be seen as making the simplistic claim that there is only one reason why an academic might tend Left. I think I have identified the basic reason but other reasons undoubtedly play a part too.
Edward Feser lists several of them. One extra reason that Feser misses, however, is in my view fairly significant: From my observations, Leftist academics are basically second-rate thinkers. Originality is the Holy Grail of academe but most academics in fact have nothing new to say at all -- so they say silly things just in order to appear different. They use perversity to create a false impression of profundity. Leftism is their substitute for originality. It was precisely because I DID have something different to say during my academic career that I got so many articles published in the academic journals. Even though my articles generally undermined Leftist views, their having that all-important originality got them published. And how my fellow academics hated me for it! In most years I got more articles published than the rest of my university department put together. That I could do easily what they found so hard to do was real heartburn for them.
So feeling superior and being indoctrinated by the educational system are both major influences in causing people to have Leftist views. And since a prolonged education and success in life are strongly associated with one-another in our society, the two influences tend to reinforce one-another. Elites both incline naturally towards Leftism and tend to get more indoctrination into Leftism.