Allan Bloom was not a natural conservative:
- “In electoral politics he was a moderately liberal Democrat, and more liberal still in personal and social matters… He was no fan of the free market or the heedless getting and striving that it encourages.”
But 25 years ago he published a landmark defence of cultural conservatism entitled The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students.
Writing in the Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson encapsulates Bloom’s central argument:
- “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.”
Allan Bloom died in 1992, aged 62; but, had he lived, it is doubtful that the last twenty years would have changed his mind.