A new program at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro will balance out academia by introducing students to right-of-center political philosophers.
Usually, academia consists of left-wing professors who despise capitalism. Their lectures and their required readings reflect that hatred.
At MTSU, at least, Karl Marx and other left-wing philosophers will make room for other kinds of thinkers, such as Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, among others.
No, it’s not April Fool’s Day.
Just Google the Political Economy Research Institute at MTSU.
This is real.
And, as PERI Director Dan Smith told The Tennessee Star this week, it’s not about one political philosophy reigning supreme over another at a college campus.
That’s not what academia, in theory, is about.
Academia, Smith went on to say, is about balance.
“This is about a well-rounded perspective. For a long time the academy has chased conservative professors or libertarian professors off the campus and there are small numbers, especially in some disciplines, completely unbalanced. This is a disservice, even to the people on the left,” Smith said.
“Otherwise how are you going to learn to actually believe in your own ideas unless you’re actually confronted with the best ideas on the opposing side? You have to know the opposing ideas extremely well and know the best arguments. It teaches them how to think critically. This is what businesses need, and this is what people need in the voting booth.”
PERI, according to its website, is a joint venture between MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business and the University Honors College, established with $3.5 million in seed money from the Charles Koch Foundation.
That money is supposed to last for four years, Smith said.
The program will consist of readings of not just Karl Marx, as is often the case, but Adam Smith and people who represent a variety of perspectives, he added.
5“The students involved will come together on Saturdays and discuss those texts amongst themselves,” Smith said.
“Students will debate. We will have public debates to discuss immigration and protectionism.”
This reading group does not count toward a grade and only counts as extra-curricular activity beyond the classroom, Smith said.
Former Vanderbilt University Law Professor Carol Swain, speaking about PERI at an event in Nashville this week, said there is no better time for this program.
“Young people are brainwashed when it comes to socialism, and it’s been indoctrinated into them that capitalism is something that is harmful to our nation,” Swain said.
“They don’t know enough to know the difference between socialism and communism, and that threatens the nation that our forefathers built. You think about this generation and how susceptible they are to the ideas and the lure of socialism. Because of that it is important to have institutions like the one being founded at MTSU.”
Smith said he only wants a program that isn’t one-sided.
“I don’t care what perspective the students end up walking away from. If they end up quoting either Adam Smith or Karl Marx then, at the end of the day, I’m happy,” he said.
– – –