The crisis was—is—a crisis of confidence in the principle that serves as the premise of liberal education: that reason, informed by learning and experience, can arrive at truth, and that one truth may be truer than another. This loss of faith had consequences and causes far beyond higher ed. Bloom was a believer in intellectual trickle-down theory, and it is the comprehensiveness of his thesis that may have attracted readers to him and his book. The coarsening of public manners, the decline in academic achievement, the general dumbing down of America—even Jerry Springer—had a long pedigree that Bloom was at pains to describe for a general reader.Professor Bloom did not write his book as a political manifesto, and yet Jennifer Rubin suggests it might have diagnosed a failing in political thinking.
“The crisis of liberal education,” he wrote, “is a reflection of a crisis at the peaks of learning, an incoherence and incompatibility among the first principles with which we interpret the world, an intellectual crisis of the greatest magnitude, which constitutes the crisis of our civilization.”
In sum, the left systematically has dumbed its side down, to the point where supposedly well-educated elites are untrained and unaware of our country’s history and constitutional traditions. The left thinks words have no fixed meaning (health care and health insurance, are close enough, so they insist we can define the latter to be the former.) The liberal elites have a poor grounding in market economics so they swallow the idea that health-care insurance is “unique” because others’ purchases affect your cost of goods. (Surprise: all markets operate this way.)Although Mr Ferguson embellishes the cultural-decay hypothesis at length, an observation elsewhere in his article, suggesting that the United States of today is in many ways richer than the country of 1987, raises the possibility that people don't have to work as hard at thinking about Big Ideas now as they did then, as the cost of not thinking is no longer as great. That is, if the country is, in fact, richer.