I have to disagree a bit with Chuck here. I don't know about all the social sciences but I have a good feel for economics. There are very few job openings today for a lefty in economics. What is the last time that the major economics department has hired a leftist?
I don't want to push this too far. I once spent a sabbatical in Paris. It was 1978. Leftists were everywhere. On television, in academia, and in the government. So if politics had been determined by the intelligentsia, France would have been socialist.
Let me clarify my rhetoric. I was educated within a very liberal and enlightened academic environment that was attempting to push itself close to the ideal of being a critical forum from which to illuminate the ills of society, and provide possibly progressive solutions. Although I started to seriously doubt this ideal during the political movements of that era. But it all melted down in slow motion during the 70s and 80s. By the 90s that same physical plant had almost completely transformed itself into a blatant instrument of state---becoming the very political instrument it used to claim it resisted.
I'll use art, since that was my field, before I discovered my only future in art turned out to be an endless series of blue collar shop jobs. Painting from about the 30s-50s was dominated by various movements ending in abstract expressionism and part of their signature of authenticity was a hands on, blue collar ethic of craft and expression, as opposed to a managerial world of slick professionalism and mechanical artifice. With the arrival of Pop Art and other movements in the 60s, blue collar true grit, drinking and painting your guts out was a cartoon of integrity to be laughed at, and everything was all polish, finish fetish, no hands, professional, slick, ironic, etc. In short the art world became what it had claimed to resist, nothing more than a designer accouterment to the corporate world. Art is now entirely wedded to developing an never ending parade of interesting and wonderful imageware for the visual expression of the wonders of capital: everything you associate with the word Logo or Brand. It is interesting to notice that many art students decamped this program and form part of the new wave in political movements like the anarchists and street theater crowd.
In any event these turns in the art world lead me to wonder was art ever a virgin? Certainly the mother of all whores, must be a whore.
It has taken the humanities and social sciences a decade or so to catch up with art and then follow a similar arch from anti-establishment critique to whole sale sell out, right on down to pure instrument, as in sex slave.
Essentially I agree with you about what should be.
It is just that I have fallen from romantic illusion to bitter hopelessness to seething hostility and finally into raw aggression.
I have arrived to the point where I think that any intellectual class as such a critical forum has to be formed outside the academy. I don't know how to do this and I have certainly failed to do so on personal level.