The ‘Right’ in Right Scholarship

by rightscholarship

St. Thomas Aquinas

This blog is meant to appeal to scholars of the political right, but its larger goal, as grand as it may sound, is to inspire and aid in the “righting” or right ordering of academia. Since the advent of Theory, and even long before that, our universities and the intellectual environments they once protected have undergone a great process of leveling. The simple idea that power and knowledge are inseparable (based on Michel Foucault’s idea that knowledge is just power hiding behind a cloak of ‘truth’) has made it possible for the practitioners of Theory to portray any intellectual discipline or scholarly approach as a manifestation of political power. These Foucauldian academics have, despite the audaciousness of their claims, managed to entrench themselves within the humanities, as representatives of a new academic anti-order with its own fluctuating anti-canon consisting of the works of like-minded thinkers. The panoptic, nihilistic gaze of Theory is directed at everything except its own simplistic and uncompromising politics of liberation.

This is old news for many academics of the right, but it is still painfully relevant. Unfortunately, the only alternative for rightist academics has been the world of neo-conservative scholarship, and teaching positions within the Great Books programs that Allan Bloom once championed. While these programs are an excellent alternative for scholars and students alike, they exist under a shadow of Straussian elitism, which I have discussed elsewhere. They introduce students to the great ideas of human history, but in doing so, they risk instilling a sort of jaded trans-historical cosmopolitanism in young minds. Right Scholarship has little in common with neo-conservative scholarship, save for its openness to the thought of the past.

Right Scholarship recognizes the legitimacy of the God-given standard of truth passed from Aristotle through St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic Church and into the intellectual wasteland of the twentieth century, where it is currently under attack. It calls for the reintroduction of the spiritual and moral dimensions of Western thought into academia. It calls for a right ordering of thought in accordance with Natural Law, a concept of which Aquinas is the most prominent spokesman. In this sense, it has more in common with neo-Thomism than Straussianism (and it is no coincidence that Aquinas is the thinker that, arguably, repelled Strauss the most).

Rejecting the left/liberal academic hegemony is useless if you can not propose an equally uncompromising alternative. Right Scholarship is uncompromising but not simplistic, and it recognizes a truth which exists outside of power. Indeed, this truth is now forced to defend itself against the attacks of the reigning academic regime.