Spend much time thinking about how to advance a conservative vision in the world, and eventually you’ll encounter a structural problem that we have. When progressives want to create incentive for people to follow their approach to government and society, they take over government agencies and use them to directly fund their allies, or they take over other institutions, like news organizations and universities, and only hire or otherwise advance those who espouse their views.
Deep in the bones of conservatism, in contrast, is the principle that we shouldn’t do those things. Oh, individuals differ, and we all prove to be human when facing specific decisions, but as an ideological reference, conservatism precludes confiscating people’s money just to give it away to allies. It also tends to encourage debate and diversity of viewpoints within organizations, where those viewpoints aren’t inimical to their mission. That is, if your news organization or university isn’t sold explicitly as a conservative offering, then it oughtn’t exclude writers and teachers who don’t hold conservative views.
This state of affairs leaves us having to rely more on principle and personal encouragement in order to recruit and support those who share our perspective, even as the Left seeks the power to destroy our careers and engages in strategies of personal vilification in order to overwhelm the support we may have. For a case study, read this Catholic World Report essay by Michael Rubin, a former student of embattled Providence College professor Anthony Esolen:
… there was no better example of PC’s inability to recognize its real treasures than the way it completely ignored Dr. Esolen. Not once during all my time at the school did I hear Dr. Esolen praised or even mentioned by the administration, even as his list of best-selling publications continued to expand. As a result, mentioning Dr. Esolen’s name at Providence College was usually met with a blank stare, and occasionally a dismissive remark from more liberal students. The only exceptions were people who actually knew Dr. Esolen personally or had taken one of his courses, and they of course spoke favorably of him. …
In all justice, Esolen should have won the Accinno Teaching Award at Providence College the first year it was established, or at least once in the fourteen years since then. But, despite being nominated almost every one of those years by students like myself, he never won it, and no doubt never will. A friend and colleague of Dr. Esolen’s informed him years ago that he should never even bother applying for it, such was the disdain that members of the selection committee had for him. Again, a revelation that only confirms what I have long suspected.
I came across Professor Esolen’s name some years ago via some national Web site, and I remember being surprised that I didn’t know Rhode Island contained such a man. The problem is that we’ve precious few channels by which to celebrate his like, around here, even when Rhode Island Esolens are able to find some way to make a living that doesn’t require their silence.