Listening to the Left

Have you ever noticed that lecturers almost invariably are leftist, activist types? Chances are you've not been willing to generalize,
By Roger M. Klein

Have you ever noticed that lecturers almost invariably are leftist, activist types? Chances are you've not been willing to generalize, since you probably don't go to whole lot of extra-curricular lectures, and you almost certainly don't read this column often enought to know. In fact, I'll give you tenured faculty to teaching fellows that is but one hardy soul who reads this column well enough to say that most lecturers are liberals. And that's me.

Seing as I've established myself as an expert on lecturers, I think I'm justified in saying that almost every lecturer lingers on the left hand side of the political spectrum. I'm not talking about the lectures the Med School on "Cytoplasm and Enzymes Within Revolutionary Cells" and the like; lecturers of this ilk tend to obscure their political leanings as well as they do their general train of thought. What I'm talking about is your standard, intended-for-the-layman, issue-oriented lecture, by someone who can draw crowds.

Enough of this undirected philosophizing, I hear you saying. Put your money where your mouth is, and then remove it and somehow paste it onto this page so the readers can read it. The headline catcher this week is Phillip Berrigan. Berrigan first stepped into the limelight as an anti-war activist of particularly strong beliefs, although this week he will rail against nuclear arms and nuclear energy. Or take Harvey Wasserman, a leader of the Clamshell Alliance, the group that staged the demonstration at the Sea brook nuclear power plant site, and Sidney Lens, a peace and labor activist, who will give a teach-in about a topic very similar to Berrigan's. Or John Kenneth Galbraith, whose writing defines liberalism in certain circles, will talk about poverty.

If you have a theory, people want a justification for it. Despite my status as an authority on lectures, I am baffled, frankly, and also miffed and perplexed, in addition to stymied and uninformed, about why lecturers lean left.

Left with some empty space in this column and the general propensity to expound, however, I will venture some guesses. One is that audiences are lefties. They are lefties because no one but a bunch of intellectuals and students would go to hear someone else talk. Lecturers don't like to get hissed, so only lefties lecture.

Another theory is that most lecturers don't get paid so well; this places them in the lower classes of society; this orients them toweard the working-class point of view. It's true that most lecturers aren't paid well, if at all. But there are notable exceptions, mainly those people who are regulars on the lecture circuit-- people like Ralph Nader. Galbraith, comfortably enconsced in his Gstaad chalet, doesn't fit; this mold either.

Another theory is that smart people lecture, and anyone who's smart is liberal.

Lectures for this week follow.


John Kenneth Galbraith will lecture on "The Nature of Poverty" at 8 p.m. on November 3, 9 and 10. Call 495-8600 for ticket and location information.


Phillip Berrigan will give a keynote address at a teach-in on "Nuclear Arms and Energy: Security or Insanity" at 7:30 p.m. in Campion Auditorium from 10 to 4. Both buildings are on the main campus of Boston College.

Another teach-in on nuclear power and the world arms race will begin at Tufts at 7:30 p.m. in Goddard Chapel. Speakers at this teach-in will include Sidney Lens and Harvey Wasserman. The teach-in will include workshops on Saturday in Eaton Hall at Tufts; topics for the small groups are disarmament strategy, military conversion, nuclear power and health hazards, and the economic aspects of President Carter's energy plan and solar and wind power.


Teach-ins on nuclear power continue at Tufts and Boston College.


F. John Adams will present the second in his series entitled "Beethoven: A Personal View" with a lecture called "Wrestling with Chains" at 8:30 in the Leverett Small Dining Hall.

Israeli author Yoran Kanuik will talk about "The Emerging Jewish Identity of Israelis" at 8 in the Adams Upper Common Room.


Teacher Musa Eubanks will speak and present a slide show about his three trips to Africa, one of which lasted for more than a year, at the Community Church Center in Copley Square at 7:30.

"Muslim Minority Educational Policy in China" will be discussed by Professor M. Mobin Shorish, in the Bowie Room of the Center for International Affairs, 6 Divinity Ave. at 4 p.m.


"Individual Differences in Intelligence, or, We Know Who Knows, But Why?" will be the topic of a discussion by Earl B. Hunt, professor Psychiatry at the University of Washington, in 1550 William James Hall at 4 p.m.

Emily Morison Beck will talk about the editing of "Sailor Historian: the Best of Samuel Eliot Morison," a new book, the the Junior Common Room of Lowell at 8 p.m.


"Most-Favored Nation Agreement and Centrally Planned Economies" will be discussed by Edward Hewett of the University of Texas in Room 217 of Coolidge Hall, 1737 Cambridge St. at 4 p.m.

"Comets from Head to Tail," is the topic of Fred L. Whipple, Phillips Professor of Astronomy, in Science Center B at 8 p.m.

Charles Stark Draper of M.I.T., and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory will give one of a series of Cambridge Forum lectures on "Great Vocations." His talk is entitled "The Engineer" and will be given at 3 Church Street in Harvard Square at 8 p.m.