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God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of "Academic Freedom"

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God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of "Academic Freedom" is a 1951 book by William F. Buckley where he argues that Yale University is indoctrinating students away from free-market capitalism and Christianity and into skepticism, collectivism, and liberalism. Given that Buckley is considered one of the most important thinkers of the post-World War Two conservative movement, and this (his first book) was the book which made him famous, it should not surprise you to learn that much of the modern right-wing complaining about "liberal colleges" began here. Conservative Lee Edward even went as far as to write, "The publication of God and Man at Yale marked the birth of the modern American conservative movement."[1]


As mentioned above, Buckley attempted to prove that Yale is anti-Christian and anti-individualist, however, his standards for what it means to be either of those things are so specific that essentially everybody would fall into these categories. One critical review of the book published in The Atlantic noted that "on Mr. Buckley's strict definition of a Christian such men as Jefferson, Emerson, Lincoln, and Yale's own William Howard Taft would fail to qualify."[2] (In spite of this, Buckley lists Jefferson alongside Adam Smith and Jesus Christ regarding men he believes college students should be taught to unconditionally worship.[3]:181 Said conflation was called "humorless, or else blasphemous" by one reviewer.[4]) In the same regard, Buckley's definition of "collectivist" would include the 'radical communists' Herbert Hoover, Aristotle, and Robert Taft.[2]

Regarding economics, all of his arguments come down to little more than red-baiting — except instead of "communism" he says "collectivist," and hopes the reader will treat those two terms as interchangeable (and agree with Buckley's skewed definition of both of them), what amounts to a motte and bailey fallacious argument style. In response to one textbook saying that increasing income tax rates might not decrease productivity, Buckley wrote, "This is an important argument of the socialist."[3]:59 despite making no attempt to debunk it.