U.S. Intellectual History Blog

U.S. Conservative Thought and Anti-Intellectualism

Last week, Russell Jacoby wrote a column reviewing David Gelernter’s recent conservative jeremiad America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats). Gelernter’s argument seems very familiar: since the 1960s, radicals have captured America’s universities and, as a result, patriotism and family have been destroyed and we find ourselves governed by “Obamacrats.”  What Gelernter calls “PORGIs” (“post-religious, globalist intellectuals”) are responsible for this ruin. Their vanguard was provided by American Jews, who entered the academy en masse as students and professors in the second half of the twentieth century.*  Gelernter’s book appears to be a very fat fish trapped in a very small barrel and Jacoby has no trouble shooting it.

But Jacoby is interested in making a larger argument about conservatives and anti-intellectualism, a topic that this blog has addressed on numerous occasions


* As Jacoby himself points out, this bracingly old-fashioned bit of antisemitism is perhaps mitigated by the fact that Gelernter is himself Jewish…and the entire project might be partially excused by Gelernter’s status as one of the victims of Ted Kaczynski.