The Long Game of the New Left
“After the Vietnam War, a lot of us didn’t just crawl back into our literary cubicles; we stepped into academic positions. With the war over, our visibility was lost, and it seemed for a while–to the unobservant–that we had disappeared. Now we have tenure, and the work of reshaping the universities has begun in earnest.”
So wrote one professor in The Chronicle of Higher Education, quoted by Roger Kimball in The Wall Street Journal. Kimball's article is an excerpt from his book Tenured Radicals: How Politics Have Corrupted Our Education.
If you’re wondering how we got to a place where college students throw a tantrum over Halloween costumes at Yale—or why the move towards “safe spaces” on campus is all but eliminating free speech—the decades-long takeover of Academia by the New Left is the reason.
But the corruption is much deeper than mere politics: it results from an entire philosophy of thought and life most sharply encapsulated in New Left philosopher Herbert Marcuse’s work.
The professor quoted gives us just one piece of evidence about the New Left’s long game to change the culture. There are plenty of others, such as radical terrorist Weatherman Bill Ayers' ascension to Distinguished Professor of Education, overseeing teacher credentialing at the National Education Association.
And Howard Zinn's shaping of student minds through his People’s History of the United States (“People’s” anything is New Left code for a collectivist-leftist slant). This book has sold over 2 million copies in 20+ years of use at high schools and colleges—and is the source of the “1 percent/99 percent” grievance ideology.
You see, philosophy has long-term consequences, especially if actively promoted. The New Left’s ideas and agenda were taught to the young in the '50s and '60s in the philosophy of Herbert Marcuse. The students who absorbed and adopted his ideas tried to change the culture towards a radically collectivist/socialist agenda with their violent protests in the '60s and '70s. But it didn’t take in the U.S., with its deeply embedded individualist culture.
So they changed their strategy, and took over Academia. They knew that, in the long game, shaping the minds of the young from grade school to graduate school was the way to change the culture.
Their molding of young minds into fearful, ignorant, emotion-driven nightmares who can’t reason—who consider reason and objectivity something to be reviled as expressions of the “privileged” classes—is experiencing many victories today. The suppression of free speech, the physical intimidation of those who disagree, and the sacking of administrators and teachers who stand up to them are but a few of the consequences.
They’re similar tactics to the Brown Shirts in 1930s Europe, and equally chilling.
And yet more evidence for why those who want reason, individualism, and freedom to flourish need to support independent education institutions such as The Great Connections Seminar and our efforts to create a new and independent college. Then, students will be given a real educational alternative, where they can learn the full range of ideas, how to reason well, and make up their own minds.
Marcuse’s reign as the pre-eminent philosopher of the New Left signaled a strong turn towards irrationality and violence among younger Leftists. "Marx, Marcuse, and Mao" became the new trinity and the slogan to rally under. As was proclaimed on a banner of students involved in closing the University of Rome: Marx is the prophet, Marcuse is his interpreter, and Mao is the sword.
Many in the new generation listened attentively and sharpened their swords.
Excerpt from Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault by Dr. Stephen Hicks, Advisor to the Great Connections