It Has Come to This: Academic Samizdat

We have come to the point where even liberal academics in good standing will feel the wrath of leftist orthodoxy if they depart from the party line. So what to do? Imitate the late Soviet Union, and start a samizdat literature.

I heard several months ago that this new initiative was in the works, but now it is official. A group of scholars from across the political spectrum is launching the Journal of Controversial Ideas, which will publish pseudonymous peer-reviewed articles in a wide range of disciplines, so that authors can write candidly. It is significant, I think, that one of the prime movers behind this is philosopher Peter Singer. Let this sink in a moment—a tenured professor who has advocated the most extreme positions in favor of animal rights and even infanticide thinks academic discourse is stifled by a leftist orthodoxy. When you’ve lost Peter Singer. . .  (Many of the other editors identified so far are left-leaning, though Princeton’s Robert P. George will be on the editorial board.)

Naturally the campus left is not pleased. From the Chronicle of Higher Education today:

Here Comes ‘The Journal of Controversial Ideas.’ Cue the Outcry

These days, a paper that’s deemed offensive can unleash an online mob and turn an academic’s career and life upside down. It can also cause a journal editor to tiptoe away from a potentially important paper or a scholar not to put fingers to keyboard in the first place.

That’s why a group of scholars is creating The Journal of Controversial Ideas. . .

One of the proposed journal’s editors, Peter Singer, is certainly no stranger to controversy. Singer’s views on disability and abortion have led to protests and calls for his ouster from Princeton, where he is a professor of bioethics.

“I favor the ability to put new ideas out there for discussion, and I see an atmosphere in which some people may be intimidated from doing that,” Singer says. “The idea is to establish a journal where it’s clear from the name and object that controversial ideas are welcome.”

I might actually have a paper idea to send them.

Chaser: Nice profile of Claire Lehmann, impresario of Quillette, in Politico. 

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