Today’s article on cultural Marxism in the university was written by Professor Garrett Ward Sheldon, who has written numerous articles for this conservative blog before. Enjoy learning about the problem of cultural Marxism in the university! -Gen Z Conservative
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Professor Sheldon on the Problem of Cultural Marxism in the University
When I taught the Classics of Political Theory, I used to introduce Karl Marx as “the least funny of the Marx Brothers”. But as I mentioned in an earlier piece in this site, “What Made American Academia Great and How It Was Destroyed”, this failed comedian’s ideas have infiltrated American Universities to the detriment of true learning.
The core of Marxist ideology is economic class conflict (owners vs. workers; slaves vs. masters; capitalists vs. proletarians). Because of the social mobility in the American economy, this core Marxism never really took hold in our country. It was a joke in the 1930’s, at the height of American Communism, that more dues were paid to The Party by FBI informants than actual members!
But CULTURAL Marxism succeeded in the American Left by casting everything in forms of “group conflict” (race, gender, religion, ethnic, etc.). In Chapter 13 of the textbook, THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL THEORY: Ancient Greece to Modern America, this “dialectic” of opposing but connected opposites leads to economic and political revolution, as in Russia, China, Cuba, etc.
In its cultural form, it leads to revolutions in all aspects of society: family, community, education, personal relations and everything else. This invaded the University in transforming the Humanities (History, English), Social Sciences (Government, Psychology, Sociology), and even Natural Sciences (Meteorology, Medicine. . .) from studying all perspectives and teaching the “best” to presenting the “conflict” between traditional subjects and radical perspectives.
Shakespearean literature went from being studied for its brilliant expression and insights into human nature (pride, envy, ambition, love, misery) to being ridiculed and dismissed as an English privileged, white male, with all his oppressive prejudices, who probably exploited his wife, maid, gardener, and stage director.
All subjects in the Marxist University became about “oppressors and oppressed”, the “exploiter and exploited”. The collection of extraordinary leaders that founded the enduring American Republic became privileged, bourgeois, slave-owning monsters who should be forgotten as soon as possible.
So, the American University went from being an educational institution based on an open, free, diverse study and debate of all subjects and all perspectives (“intellectual objectivity and detachment” or Academic Freedom) to workhouses of ideological indoctrination.
All content was judged by whether it advanced or offended the oppressed groups (nonwhites; women; LGBTQTMOUSE, non-Americans, etc.). This approach was weaponized from 2014 to just recently under an expansion of Title IX law that punished “misconduct” and “harassment”, including speech that wasn’t liked by the Oppressed.
Current “Inclusion” and “Diversity” rules force hiring and promoting only from Oppressed groups. White Males Need Not Apply . . . . This cultural Marxism in Academia has extended to “scholarly” journals and publishers, major Awards and Endowments. A major history journal (which I won’t name), after soliciting a book review from a scholar in the field, then refused to print it because it was critical of the ideological slant of the book.
The former great old universities, foundations and titles, awards and Professorships have largely been corrupted in this way. The old Liberal Art ideal of teaching the best of Western Civilization (what we call “The Greats” at Oxford) in Literature, Religion, Philosophy, Art, Music, History (Shakespeare, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Locke, yes, Marx, Freud, etc.) in a critical but reverential way.
In my year long course on The Classics of Political Philosophy, we studied the “Major” – that is influential thinkers of our past. This didn’t mean they were always “good”, just important and influential (affecting history and millions of people). This included studying all major schools of political thought: Ancient Greece and Rome; the Middle Ages, Italian Renaissance (Machiavelli – always a student favorite!); Fascism; Communism; Liberalism; Conservatism; Libertarianism; and on and on. And we studied them in the John Stuart Mill “Liberty” of examining each theory at its most persuasive before critiquing it.
This caused us to learn all ideas but also how to compare, contrast, think, reason, argue, debate, discuss. As Thomas Jefferson said of the University of Virginia he founded, “Here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error, so long as reason is left free to combat it.” That academic ideal led to not only progress in knowledge, but progress in economics, technology, ethics, politics and personal life. In place of this lively, exciting, vibrant academy, we have a dead, boring, yes, oppressive system of indoctrination!
Cultural Marxism has impoverished education as economic Marxism impoverished whole countries with Socialism.
What’s the solution? Freedom! Return to the truly diverse, open investigation and debate that distills the best of the past ideas and practices. In terms of Policy: School Choice, Competition, mixing public, private, home, religious, community, online, onsite schools. It may take a while, but overthrowing oppressive Cultural Marxism will lead to greater education and happiness.
By: Professor Garrett Ward Sheldon
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