Let Them Eat Ivory: Vol. III
The plague of radical Leftism has so thoroughly poisoned our discourse, it’s a nearly Herculean task to even begin to figure out where the damage is greatest. The cult of critical theory’s takeover of the university is in full swing. The university finds itself in existential crisis, whether it realizes it or not. For the tidy price of about $65,000 a year, you can send your daughter to Wellesley College, for example, where she can major in Women’s and Gender Studies, learn all about censorship under the guise of stopping “hate speech,” and participate in an anonymous Facebook campaign to abstain from voting for a “masculine-of-center, gender queer” student running for the position of Diversity Officer so as to not support the white male patriarchy. In strictly economic terms, this is a terrible return on investment. What skills will your daughter learn to prepare her for success in the job market, much less be able to recoup the costs of a quarter-of-a-million-dollar investment? How to attack unsuspecting women wearing Make Bitcoin Great Again hats? How to shut down discourse? How to vilify anyone who doesn’t share her point of view and politicize everything?
These dogmatic ideologues find it appropriate to destroy your livelihood because you don’t have the correct viewpoint, and even more galling, often cannot articulate why they believe you are wrong. Thought is secondary to emotion for them. We seem to have entered the era of extreme subjectivity and relativism. The far Left (which unfortunately is claiming more and more of the political “pie” in the West) has so thoroughly altered the linguistic and moral landscape, it’s been rendered terra incognita. The rot is pervasive, and if we have any hope of combating it, of speaking in frank and realist terms again, we’ve got to first understand the philosophy underpinning this ideology. This exercise will prove crucial in identifying and calibrating the obscured, coded, and forcibly silenced. The portrayal of unease with aspects of a state—or the elevation of the “Other” in opposition to it—invariably must engage with the dominant discourse, even if using it as a point of departure that will ultimately give way to expanded possibilities for non-dominant groups, and interrogate binary oppositions; ironically for Leftist ideologues, however, compromise is therefore a deviation from their own kind of bi-modal thinking. Nationalist myth-making is based on stereotypes; it must be. There are said to be intrinsic qualities that make someone “better,” and yet, those in power are often held in relief against what they are not to justify their position.
This is only one of many points of contention, as the Left views borders and boundaries as both physical and ideological tools employed in colonial and imperial practice for purposes of marginalizing the Other in an attempt to solidify the dominant group’s position, an idea that originated in post-colonial theory. Notions of space and dimensionality in the dominant discourse, as well as the representation (or lack thereof) of women and the Other, are intended to perpetuate the inhabiting of certain white and/or male voices, where the intent to critique or work against accepted roles and expectations became maybe the defining characteristic of “progressivism.” The problem is that, as Jonathan Bowden says, “Without the concrete that is underneath your feet you’re lost and aimless and atomized.” Put another way, to quote the psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, “Are your convictions founded on anything of value?” In continuously pushing to de-construct and “problematize” Western culture, what in some cases began as a very legitimate movement for equality, such as early feminism in terms of women’s suffrage and eventually equal pay, has morphed into something grotesquely unlike the original intent of the movement. Indeed, feminism has accomplished its original goals, and now the quixotic neo-feminists are finding new windmills to chase.
The best way to ensure material comfort is not by tearing down the One Percent, but by raising the floor, so everyone’s standard of living is improved, even if there is a wealth disparity. Let me put it this way: 92% of Americans live at or above the global middle class standard—this even with the artificial caps and over-regulation of the Obama administration that made doing business in America brutal. “Red” states outpace “blue” states in economic growth by about double. In states like Maine and New York, over-regulation and over-reach based on faulty premises make them the two worst states in the union to do business. Much of this is due to concern for the environment, a noble goal, as we certainly do not want to damage and pollute our pristine wilderness, but most of the environmental legislation on things like carbon emissions and landfills are based on either inconclusive (at best) science, or a gross misunderstanding of the protections already in place for something like a landfill. A suggestion: perhaps people produce less waste and recycle more instead of screaming about landfills and trying to block something that would provide needed jobs and tax revenue to ailing, rural communities.
It’s just this kind of frank realism—about race, about economics, about crime—the Left wants to obfuscate. Read any academic journal and most of the jargon is incomprehensible, the logic circular, the theses hyper-specific yet oddly abstract. There are inherent contradictions built in to the model, insofar as you can call it a model. Ironically the one identity that Leftist identity politics holds as static—interiority, the sense of self, your essence—is not fixed; it is fluid and is subject to revision and re-evaluation with each new interaction or experience you have, with each new idea or concept you encounter. Identity politics, which has become so central to Leftism (“I identify as…” may well be the most toxic phrase in the English language), is wholly tethered to the material world, trafficking in externalities and defined by adherence to groupthink and categorical “census-taking.” A proper understanding of race should be based on scientific, quantifiable fact and historical reality—the frank realism and honesty the Left wants to marginalize—but simply being of an identity group very obviously does not pre-determine your viewpoints, which comes as a shock to any dyed-in-the-wool Leftist. What, a libertarian lesbian!? Not possible!
And yet, their insistence on categorization belies the central claim that gender and sexuality exist on a spectrum, that their inherent fluidity is straight-jacketed by social constructivism. If race is merely a social construct, then doesn’t something like affirmative action only, well, affirm society’s bias? You are “born this way” in terms of sexuality, and yet hetero-normativity is a social construct. Does this hold true for measurables like IQ, aptitude, performance, and the like? Does any of this seem contradictory, even incoherent? Good, we’re just getting started.
Imagination and creativity from outside the bounds of the controlling group represents a threat to that dominant ideology. Expounding upon the methods of social control and the enforcement of a rigid social code, modern Leftists exploit big-government minority proclivities the same way Marxists in the 19th century criticized capitalists for exploiting cheap labor. The irony of their current practices falling lock step in line with “big labor” is likely not lost on the reader. Any group endeavoring to control the populace must view behavior and ideas without a strict economic (or voting bloc) purpose with extreme discomfort. The fear of many commentators from the Industrial Revolution onwards has been the potential for the extinguishing of creativity—a prevailing concern given that industrial and post-industrial societies continue emphasize uniformity not only through the education system, but through the all-encompassing mechanized cog-in-the-machine Sisyphean nightmare that’s morphed from the harsh, sooty landscape and utilitarianism the Industrial Revolution stamped across the West and into the globalist multi-cultural shopping mall ideology, which has done far more damage to creativity, individuality, and cultural and national identity than anything I can think of. The failure of communism in any number of contexts, from modern to post-modern, industrial to post-industrial, First to Third World, should have long since killed the application of Marx and Engels’ ideas, yet they continue to find new life by assuming any number of different monikers: social justice, neo- or Third Wave feminism, Cultural Marxism, post-modernism, re-distributionism, socialism, democratic socialism, liberalism (the term has been co-opted), multi-culturalism, and many more.
Society in neo-Marxist terms is portrayed as a giant mechanized structure, where all social classes and racial groups are expected to fulfill their roles, performing them like gears in a machine, a machine that seems intent on maximizing profit margin at whatever the human and environmental cost. There is an overt sense of doom permeating some of these ideas, suggesting that if left unchecked this “functionality” of economic existence could well spell the end to the creative side of man, and thus of any sort of individuality; the mechanization of society would be complete. There’s a sort of Luddite fear of technological advancement, where people would be rendered little short of robots with heartbeats, but once again, what has in fact proven to be the greater danger to creativity and individuality—authoritarian globalist multi-culturalism or industrialization né capitalism? The march of progress stops for no one, the many dimensions of a society serving the ultimate purpose of supporting the bourgeoisie.
For the Left, the broad idea of dimension invariably evokes notions of direction and linearity. Even the notion of circularity (as in historical circularity and repetition) is purposefully undermined in several ways by bringing relativistic theories into provocative opposition; it is therefore helpful to consider direction and space in their wider implications. A discussion of direction necessarily includes verticality. Phrases such as “the height of the Roman Empire” occur frequently in historical discourse, and work to imply that empires—as a genus—move in one direction along a curve, either to a summit or a base. There is no stasis; if an empire is at its height, it will continue to move forward, the trajectory eventually flattening out and falling. Retroactivity is not part of the discourse (this is highly troubling if we look where we’re trending now in the United States and across the West). The Left seeks to further complicate fundamental conceptions of time, progress, and movement, and since upward movement implies adherence to the traditional slope archetype of progress, represented by the Conrad-Demarest Model of Empires, the Left seeks to dispense with the discourse of empire (another inherent contradiction, as the Left portrays itself as “progressive”—as in, progressing toward the socially harmonious utopia).
For Marxists, the traditional nuclear family is central to the bourgeoisie. Loyalty radiates outward in concentric circles (think Dunbar’s Number) with the familial unit being foundational. Parents establish values and character examples for their children, and the complementary parenting styles of the mother and father provide a child with a healthy balance of compassion and discipline. Adherence to many of Christianity’s precepts often aids in providing a pillar of support and model of behavior, though this is certainly not a prerequisite to living a moral, fulfilling life. I emphasize Christianity here as the Constitution is an outgrowth of Age of Enlightenment philosophy and, by extension, the Christian tradition. Additionally, a sense of community, duty, and patriotism often provides an individual with another pillar of strength, where they may feel they are living for something greater than themselves, and adds additional “circles” of loyalty. The Left’s multi-pronged attack on Christian mores, American values, and hetero-normative behaviors (ie-building a family, striving for work-life balance) strips an individual of a sense of meaning and signals an abdication of responsibility. Into the void, then, steps the fervent Left with its all-encompassing ideology, commanding the damned prostrate themselves before the altar of Progress—complete with self-flagellation and hair shirts. The State becomes all.
How does this all tie in to the proliferation of radical Leftism in the academy? Well, for one thing, cowardly professors and administrators can hide behind speculation and theory, and real-world failure does not have repercussions for those that espouse it by losing their jobs. They do not actually have to figure out the logistics of implementing their utopian ideal. Bad investments, for example, would have a stock broker out on the street very quickly. Another is that the power dynamic publicly abhorred by many Leftists is readily exercised in order to either indoctrinate or silence students with dissenting viewpoints, or even to prevent the advancement of faculty who may differ in their worldview. Some students have morphed into a kind of Stasi, not understanding in their crusade for social justice the repercussions of going above a professor’s head with accusations of intolerance, instead of approaching the professor directly.
The chain of command, so to speak, is of course “problematic” (problematic is a code word for “something we don’t like but aren’t smart enough to offer a solution to so we’ll just critique and call attention to it”) in the Leftist worldview, unless it serves the would-be totalitarian, and thus the student must circumvent the individual whose viewpoint is different and endanger their livelihood by running to an administrator to solve their problem, much like a child on the playground, but with far more dire consequences. Proper adult behavior is to open a line of communication with the individual you disagree with, and engage in a productive dialogue. This will usually alleviate concerns with a common understanding, but if not, or the professor is legitimately engaging in inappropriate or harmful conduct, then an administrator should naturally be sought. These basics of conflict resolution should be learned at a very young age, but normal developmental patterns have been so thoroughly disrupted that many students arrive on campus with minimal self-sufficiency. This is exacerbated by policies that further infantilize the students by protecting them through the widely-covered array of safe spaces, trigger warnings, et cetera. A great many millennials enter adult life ill-equipped and emotionally stunted, and their extended adolescence precludes healthy relationships and productive lives of meaning. We are doing students a tremendous disservice by coddling and catering to them in the academy, when this should be a time when young minds are challenged and identities are shaped in a healthy way.