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Leftism of intellectuals

Evolution of political views of scientists

Leftism of intellectuals

Evolution of political views of scientists

Excerpts from

my 15 years at iki by mike gruntman

My Fifteen Years at IKI, the Space Research Institute:

Position-Sensitive Detectors and Energetic Neutral Atoms Behind the Iron Curtain

Interstellar Trail Press, 2022. ISBN 979-8985668704

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Chapter 6. Boundary Conditions of Life and Work

Visitors in the land of real socialism (pp. 110-113)


I was usually very open with visiting foreign colleagues about the peculiarities and realities of life in the country. Interestingly, some, but not many, West German colleagues understood perfectly well the Soviet system because of the recent history of their country. Many elements of administrative bodies, institutions, and practices of ideological siblings, National-Socialist Germany and the communist Soviet Union, exhibited similarities -- two sides of the same radical socialist coin.

Foreign guests had diverse ideological views. Many, but certainly not all, visiting Western European and American scientists self-described themselves as "left-of-center" politically. A few adhered to solidly illiberal socialist political orientations. The latter fraction has been growing under the influence of systemic leftism in the educational system in the West.

A British novelist and scientist, Charles P. Snow, observed in his famous lecture at the University of Cambridge in 1959 that "pure scientists still, though less than twenty years ago, have statistically a higher proportion in politics left of center than any other profession: not so engineers, who are conservative almost to a man."[2] Already by the early 2000s, common sense and rationality had departed some of my old friends and colleagues, particularly in Europe. They then experienced acute Bush[3] Derangement Syndrome. This irrational condition and accompanying intolerance markedly worsened when President Donald J. Trump took office in 2017. As for engineers, they have also been shifting to the left since Snow's assessment of the late 1950s.

Today, statistics reveal that "[p]arty voter registration of faculty in many professional schools [in American universities] is tilted overwhelmingly left ... in a country with the electorate evenly divided between the two main political parties."[4] On average, the Democrat-to-Republican registration ratio usually exceeds a factor of ten in elite colleges and universities. Hard sciences such as physics, mathematics, and chemistry fair a little better with "only" 5-6 Democrats for every Republican on the faculty. Engineering still stands out with the estimated 1.6 registration ratio.[5]

IKI 15 pages 110-113

The non-hard-sciences and non-engineering fields such as "ideological" liberal arts and humanities are especially extreme in this imbalance (see page 252), which inevitably degrades the quality of scholarship and replaces education with destructive indoctrination. The environment is becoming more intolerant and illiberal. A recent report by a U.S. President's Commission observed that the colleges in the United States had been peddling "resentment and contempt for American principles and history alike" and advanced "deliberately destructive scholarship."[6]

At the same time, a certain fraction of scientists and engineers always embraced and continue to support individual freedoms, a market economy, representative democracy, and human rights. Political and military leaders, the statesmen in the free world, valued and appreciated their contributions.


Meeting visiting foreign colleagues provided an excellent vantage point to observe the leftward transformation. Already in the distant 1980s, the Western mainstream media was turning increasingly partisan left. Consequently, the Soviet Union did not look evil in the eyes of many of our guests, and some viewed socialism with sympathy and admiration.[9] My factual descriptions of the realities of life resonated with some and did not fit into the ideological preconceptions of others. A few visitors also expressed particularly hostile and hateful, bordering on antisemitic, views of Israel commonly propagated by the radical political left worldwide.

Some guests liked to concentrate on the shortcomings of their own countries. Criticism of the free world and self-loathing remains prominent today among intellectuals in democracies, especially on university campuses and in the media. Lack of perspective became a defining trademark of “progressives” and socialists. It originates in the failing educational system and leads to increasing ignorance and intolerance.

Similar to the prerevolutionary Russian intelligentsia, the intellectuals in many countries helped undermine and bring down their non-perfect political systems. They strived to replace them with a more just, as they believed, order. And similar to the Russian historical experience, the new regimes physically liquidated them and their families later, after they had served their purpose. Only a lucky minority succeeded to flee abroad where some would continue to advance the worldview that had brought the demise of their countries and their personal destruction in the first place. Such developments repeated themselves throughout history again and again in China, Cuba, Iran, and other places with devastating consequences and horrific human costs.


Another belated discovery awaits today’s university professors enamored with hard-left orthodoxies: consistently implemented socialism does not tolerate academic freedom or recognize the privileges of the tenure. Many colleagues in academia have failed to notice this obvious inherent feature in the historical experiences of Russia, Germany, and China in the 20th century. Have they heard about the principle of karma? This is a rhetorical question.

Many years after reaching the United States, I attended a lecture by one American physicist who would be awarded a Nobel prize. He talked about his cooperation with a physics group in Moscow during the Soviet times. On one of his visits, he met a junior Soviet scientist who did not share the left-leaning worldview of the American guest. The condescending description of this young Moscow physicist who faced existential threats at that time, in stark contrast to the comfortable life of the visitor, struck me as particularly disgraceful. It displayed a combination of his political ignorance, arrogance, and lack of elementary empathy for the human condition.

Some like to explain such attitudes away as well-meaning naivete and gullibility. Facts do not support this generous assessment. A faculty member at a leading institution of higher learning in the free world cannot claim ignorance as an excuse.


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