Episode #11: The Case for Freethinkers with Bruce Gilley

National Association of Scholars

Bruce Gilley was at Oxford when the Berlin Wall fell. It shocked his professors who believed Eastern Europe’s socialist structures to be durable. To Bruce, it was an eye-opening realization of the “dogged ability” of free societies to cast off authoritarian powers.

After Oxford, Bruce spent ten years as a journalist in East Asia, writing for Dow Jones. Then he went to Princeton, got a Ph.D., and became a professor of political science at Portland State University.

Bruce and I talk about why intellectual freedom matters. Bruce has his own experience with the forces of conformity after he faced tens of thousands of angry petitioners and a trumped-up misconduct accusation following the publication of his article, “The Case for Colonialism.” We talk about what that article says, and whether he still stands by it. (Yes, he does.)

We also talk about what the Nixon Library can teach us about pluralism and tolerance, and why so many academics today believe truth is a monopoly to be protected, not something to be sought and debated. And we touch on the ethics of hoax articles, as Bruce’s colleague Peter Boghossian faces disciplinary proceedings for co-authoring satirical research papers for journals focused on social justice.  

Bruce is the president of NAS’s Oregon chapter, which finds itself regularly in the local press as a leading defender of intellectual freedom. This year, Bruce is also launching the Oregon Campus Freedom Awards in an effort to expand intellectual diversity. You can read more about the awards and contribute here.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Peter Wood

P.S. Keep an eye on the NAS website and YouTube channel in coming weeks. Bruce Gilley spoke at our California conference last week, and we’ll publish the video of his talk soon. 

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024


Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024


A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024


The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

May 12, 2017


Harvard Prepares to Host All Black Graduation

Is Harvard's all black graduation a benign trend or a step backwards? ...