Dr. Bruce Frohnen has written a strikingly topical article in The Imaginative Conservative. It is titled, “History, Hate & Hysteria: The Unhinging of the Academic Left,” and it should be read by all educators, especially those in history and the social sciences.
In it Professor Frohnen examines the current state of academia and of higher education, in particular the history profession. And he finds that by and large the profession, and academia, generally, have become a fetid cesspool for unbridled cultural Marxism. Indeed, perhaps even that terminological description does not go far enough, for although “cultural Marxists” advance variants of the positions now so dominant on our college campuses, increasingly the narrative we find pushed hard is even more extreme.
I would suggest that what is occurring is a kind of “second generation” cultural Marxism which is both ultra-revolutionary and also destructive of the historic social bonds that once held society together. The views of the dominant university faculty (and many of their students) on most college campuses these days would make even Josef Stalin blush…and probably not with envy, as “Uncle Joe” and Soviet Communism would not have put up with the wild amorality, same sex marriage, transgenderism, and other aberrations now advocated. Stalin demanded hard-working traditional families, he persecuted homosexuality, sent transgenders to Siberia, and suppressed demonstrations (unless, that is, organized by his agents in Western countries).
This second wave of cultural Marxism can be denominated as “Progressivist Left,” emanating from an older Trotskyite internationalist Marxism, but also incorporating an essential narrative of original anti-colonialist, anti-white “liberation,” and a belief that our inherited political and cultural structures and traditions are inherently oppressive, and, thus, must be destroyed. In a real sense, it owes much to black Afro-Caribbean revolutionary Frantz Fanon (e.g., his TheWretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks) and, later, to the distillations of Saul Alinsky, and the development of a cultural Marxist and critical theory narrative which pervades higher education.
Admittedly, even that description doesn’t completely describe what Professor Frohnen documents. We have gone far beyond the time of Communist-sponsored agitators; we have gone far beyond the old-fashioned Socialist Left and its push for what it deemed “social justice” through evolution or “soft” revolution. This second generation Marxist variant combines a distinct revulsion against any traditional standards, favoring an almost anarchic view of historic social and familial bonds, while simultaneously strenuously supporting authoritarian and suppressive speech and activity codes through which it seeks to enforce by an iron hand what can and what cannot be said, written, or taught.
And thus in nearly all our centers of higher learning terms like “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “classism,” “white oppression,” and so on have become the symbolic by words on which instruction and action are based. Woe to any student or professor who violates the new codes.
In reality, our universities and colleges, and increasingly our secondary schools, have been turned into semi-autonomous hothouses for radical and frenzied social, cultural, and political experiment and revolution.
This should be quite obvious to even the most brain-dead Republican office holder. Yet, overall the GOP has responded to this glaring state of affairs, especially on the state level, by simply aping the political Left and calling for more funding of these same institutions, more pay for Progressivist professors, teachers, and their “centers” and cancerous advocacy, and fundamentally a hands-off approach to the deeper meaning and focus of higher education. Perhaps it is out of fear of being labeled racist, anti-feminist, or anti-education, but the results are the same: the continued support for well-funded podiums for socio-political operatives intent on brainwashing our children and radically transforming what is left of our society.
One hundred and forty years ago the prescient Southern author Robert Lewis Dabney debated Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, William Ruffner, over state control of education. In a series of well-presented essays in the Richmond Enquirer (1876), Dabney argued that education was a familial responsibility, basing his arguments in natural law and history. “General and free education seek to impose an unnatural equality on all. Providence, social laws, and parental virtues and efforts, do inevitably legislate in favor of some classes of boys. If the State undertakes to countervail that legislation of nature by leveling action, the attempt is wicked, mischievous, and futile.” Public education is subject to politicization and control by those Dabney termed “demagogues, who are in power for a time, in the interests of their faction.” And state-sponsored education inevitably becomes radically secularized, to the detriment of the country’s basic religious traditions.
Dabney’s prophetic nightmare has become a painful reality. We see before us the utter train wreck of American education. Other than immigration and birthright citizenship, it may be the major domestic issue we now face. If we are truly serious about genuine reform, then that reform must begin by a close and hard-nosed re-appraisal of what I would call “the cult of education.”
Our eventual goal should be privatization of most public education, with perhaps certain agreed-upon basic standards during the early years (e.g., proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics, basic science, etc.), with the widest possible variety after, for instance, the sixth grade. Just as in other areas of social endeavor, let groups of parents (with vouchers) or organizations or corporations take over, at the least, the middle and high schools and compete for students. If the NRA wishes to support schools dedicated to more conservative views, or if the ACLU wants to sponsor schools advocating its world view, well and good: let them compete and let the parents choose between them.
Then let us turn to state colleges and universities: state legislatures desperately need to completely reconfigure boards of trustees as a first step. Then, those ideological courses and various “centers” for revolution need to be suppressed or let loose on their own, without taxpayer subsidization. While privatization of our public universities may not be completely practical all at once, campus reform and accountability, are.
This nation’s future depends on education, and currently education is in the hands of those who wish to eradicate the traditions, the beliefs, and the social bonds that actually created the country. Whether President Trump can reform Obamacare, make better trade deals, or bring back American jobs….all those efforts, domestically, pale in comparison to the burning need to address the “Education Question.”