(2) George Orwell, c. 1939:
In a prosperous country, above all in an imperialist country, leftwing politics are always partly humbug. There can be no real reconstruction that would not lead to at least a temporary drop in the English standard of life, which is another way of saying that the majority of left-wing politicians and publicists are people who earn their living by demanding something that they don't genuinely want. They are red-hot revolutionaries as long as all goes well, but every real emergency reveals instantly that they are shamming. One threat to the Suez Canal, and ‘anti-Fascism’ and ‘defence of British interests’ are discovered to be identical.I wonder the extent to which this insight would apply to legal academics, assuming for the moment that internal attempts at reform were to get to a point where they appeared to be threatening the current standard of living of law faculty? (Needless to say at present this is a purely hypothetical situation, but even as a hypothetical it's disturbing enough to the status quo to engender hysterical denials when anyone suggests that genuine structural reform is necessary).
In other words any sensible reform of legal education would lead to law faculty working more, or at least working more in ways that actually lessen the cost of legal education, such as teaching more classes, while getting paid less. Since as a matter of short-term self-interest no individual faculty member desires these obviously horrifying outcomes, the only ways to get law faculty to consider implementing such changes are to appeal to longer term self-interest (accept somewhat painful reforms soon or have more painful ones -- such as unemployment -- imposed by external economic forces later), and to moral suasion, by pointing out that our self-interest is currently at odds with our ethical obligations to our students.
(3) I had a long chat last week with a journalist for a national publication regarding this blog. She was curious about, among other things, what inspired me to start the thing in the first place, what I was trying to accomplish, and how long I planned to keep going. She assumed I had planned the blog for some time before launching it, when in fact I started it an hour after getting the idea. This piece of information seemed to take her aback a bit, and she asked me if I ever regretted starting this blog.
The answer is that of course I regret starting this blog, at least a couple of times every day. This blog certainly isn't good for my "career" in conventional terms, to put it mildly. And then it struck me that the only reason I've ever written anything worth reading is because I've never bothered to think strategically about whether it was a "good career move" to say this or that in print. This has led me, inevitably, to say things in print that I later regretted for their tone, and even occasionally for their substance. But I'd rather make those sorts of mistakes than spend my life censoring myself on the basis of whatever career fantasy I had at the moment. How many legal academics have kept their mouths shut over the years because they considered how X would sound to the ears of this or that hiring committee, or worse yet to the Senate Judiciary Committee? (The fantasy of a federal judgeship, or in its most florid form a SCOTUS appointment, is a very common one in our little corner of the world).
The intellect of man is forced to choose
perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story's finished, what's the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day's vanity, the night's remorse.