“A Leninist cannot simply be a specialist in his favorite branch of science. . . . He must be an active participant in the political leadership of his country.”
—Slogan of Moscow University
Substitute “professor” for “Leninist” and the quotation would appear almost a cliche to many American academicians. Yet such corollary Leninist themes and variations have become a commonplace in the American university. They are not put forth by the U.S. government, university boards of trustees, or university presidents. They are practiced by members of the academy themselves. There are professors at reputable universities who insist that merely teaching Marxist radicalism is not enough—the teacher must also be “an active participant” in the oncoming revolution.
Professor Howard Zinn argues that “to be a radical and not an activist is a contradiction.” Then he adds that only activists can write the best “history” and that “the binding power of social action itself” will bring about “value-directed history.” Professor Zinn claims that “in a world where justice is maldistributed, there is no such thing as a ‘neutral’ or representative recapitulation of the facts. . . . Truth must be shaped by present conditions and future requirements.”
Another example of the New Campus Politics is an article by Richard Lewontin, a Harvard biologist. After asking, “What does Marxism have to ofFer the bourgeois university?” Lewontin replies: “preferably, nothing.” He explains:
That is, Marxism can do nothing for the university: the real question is what can Marxists do to and in the university. . . . For the natural and social scientist the answer is very clear. The university is a factory that makes weapons—ideological weapons—for class struggle, for class warfare, and trains people in their use. It has no other leading and important function in the social organization.
Lewontin goes on to say:
The social university is not primarily concerned with the abstract pursuit of scholarship, but with the utilization of knowledge obtained through scholarship to obtain social change. There, it does not recognize the right of its members to do anything they wish under the name of academic freedom: instead it assumes that all its members are committed to social change. To give an example, a course in riot control would simply be declared out of place in such a university, while a course in methods of rioting might be perfectly appropriate.
How much longer can non-Leninist, non-Marxist, non-Communist academics continue to ignore this jihad within the university, against truth, knowledge, and the fundamental ideas of academic freedom? Doing his best to establish a system of Marxist “adversarial education,” as Professor Balch and London call it, former professor of French literature at Yale now at Duke University, Frederic Jameson writes:
To create a Marxist culture in this country, to make Marxism an unavoidable presence and a distinct, original, and unmistakable voice in American social, cultural, and intellectual life, in short to form a Marxist intelligentsia for the struggles of the future—this seems to me the supreme mission of a Marxist pedagogy and a radical intellectual life today.
Nobody would suggest that the majority of American academics are radicalized Marxists. But the non-Marxified academicians are doing little to resist a widespread and relentless Marxification which seeks to subvert our academic institutions. Sidney Hook writes, “The enforcement of the academic ethic must rest with the faculties themselves.”
At a recent convention of the American Political Science Association in Chicago, the Marxist-Leninist Michael Parenti extolled the superiority of Soviet trade unions over the U.S. variant. There was nothing remarkable in Parenti’s pro-Soviet position; he is as candid about his Stalinism as Angela Davis is about hers. What was remarkable is that the non-Stalinist members of the panel, all distinguished academics, plus the audience of several hundred political scientists listened to Parenti’s propaganda without a murmur. Had another speaker suggested, say, that trade unions in South Africa (which actually do exist) were superior to those of the United States, let alone to those of the Soviet Union, he would have been booed off the platform as an extremist, and the panel would have led the booing.
Perhaps the political scientists who allowed this Marxist-Leninist schlock to pass unchallenged at a scholarly meeting believed that the Marxist academics are losing the battle everywhere and needed no rebuttal. Unfortunately, while the Marxist academics may (debatably) be losing in the world beyond the academy, they are most definitely not losing their war to establish a Marxist infrastructure in the social sciences and the humanities.
Moreover, the Marxist academics are today’s power elite in the universities, and by the magic of the tenure system they have become self-perpetuating. Instead of a proletariat to be liberated, we today have a professoriat which has already freed itself from the academic mandate. It has also successfully substituted Marxist social change as the goal of learning, instead of a search for objective truth. The influence of the Marxist professoriat and their New Campus Politics extends to other sectors of the “New Class”: opinion leaders and institutions, the radio and television networks, and the prestige press. In the face of such domination the life of the anti-Marxist or conservative faculty member without tenure is Hobbesian: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
Among the social scientists first to recognize the intrusion of the “adversary” culture into the university was Dr. Evron M. Kirkpatrick, former director of the American Political Science Association. He summarized the position of the left arrayed against contemporary political science by saying that the “new critics” were taking for granted that nonleft political scientists had accepted “the false gods of reason, objectivity and freedom.” The nonleft political scientists were condemned by the New Campus Politicians “for making understanding, not action, the goal.” As far as Kirkpatrick was concerned, the “new critics” were opposed to “scholarly inquiry.”
Professor Bertell Oilman of New York University’s Institute of Marxist Studies is quite correct in saying that “[a] Marxist cultural revolution is taking place today in American universities. More and more students and faculty are being introduced to Marx’s interpretation of how capitalism works. . . . It is a peaceful and democratic revolution, fought chiefly by books and lectures.” The field of American history, says Professor John P. Diggins, “has come to be dominated by Marxists and feminists. . . . What killed liberal historiography, whether political, intellectual or diplomatic was Marxism.”
At Harvard we have a strange situation. Professor John Womack, chairman of the university’s history department, has said publicly, “In politics as I was ten years ago, so I remain—a Communist. This keeps me busy.” Harvard President Derek Bok said Womack’s political loyalties didn’t trouble him so long as Womack didn’t “seek to indoctrinate his students.” This would be fine in a world where the left played fair, but how can indoctrination be avoided when the index of taboo subjects is added to almost daily?
It was not so long ago that Harvard Professor James Q. Wilson was arguing that what passes for a liberal education today is inconsistent with liberalism and its traditional values: civility, free speech, equality of opportunity, and “the maintenance of a realm of privacy and intimacy from the constant assaults of the political and the societal.” Writing in 1972, Wilson said:
In the last two or three years, the list of subjects that cannot be publicly discussed there [at Harvard] in a free and open forum has grown steadily, and now includes the war in Viet Nam, public policy toward urban ghettos, the relationship between intelligence and heredity, and the role of American corporations in certain overseas regimes . . . to be specific: a spokesman for South Viet Nam, a critic of liberal policies toward the ghettos, a scientist who claimed that intelligence is largely inherited and a corporate executive who denied that his firm was morally responsible for the regime in South Africa have all been harassed and in some cases forcibly denied an opportunity to speak.
In May 1987, Asst. Professor Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School defended a student blockade which prevented a South African diplomat from speaking on the campus by saying that “Toleration has its limits.” Professor Kennedy, who is a board member of the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union and a black, was asked how he would respond if a lecturer he didn’t like was beaten or killed during a protest. He replied: “It’s a close call, something I’d have to think deeply about.”
In the 1950’s, the New School of Social Research graduate faculty and the general faculty adopted a statement which they probably would not adopt today:
The New School knows that no man can teach well nor should he be permitted to teach at all unless he is prepared “to follow the truth of scholarship wherever it may lead.” No inquiry is ever to be made whether a lecturer’s private views are conservative, liberal, or radical, orthodox or agnostic: views of the aristocrat or commoner. Jealously safeguarding this precious principle, the New School strictly affirms that a member of any political party or group which asserts the right to dictate in matters of science or scientific opinion is not free to teach the truth and thereby is disqualified as a teacher.
The attempt to endow the American university with a corporate identity has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its fomenters. The mutation of the academy has been going on openly for a long time, with little opposition to those who are transforming it into Marxist revolutionary theater. John Kenneth Galbraith was boasting almost 20 years ago that “it was the universities . . . which led the opposition to the Vietnam war, which forced the retirement of President Johnson, which are leading the battle against the great corporations on the issue of pollution, and which at the last Congressional elections retired a score or more of the most egregious time-servers, military sycophants and hawks.”
How did this coup against the traditions of the university begin, and why has Marxism become the driving motor of this coup? At a time when Marxism has over and over again demonstrated its failures on every level in the U.S. and British social sciences, it is more influential than ever.
The Marxist professoriat has reached its pinnacle of power particularly in the social sciences—the willingness of modernist intellectuals to serve the interests of power that promises drastic societal change is both a long and an old story. A.J.P. Taylor described the revolutionaries of 1848 as those who believed in “movement: therefore only those elements who desired change were democratic [and] since movement and democracy were synonymous, only those who desired socialism were the people.”
But there were later intellectuals, in the 1920’s, who found reaction and the early fascism congenial because like socialism, fascist doctrines seemed to afford an opportunity for them to establish their preeminence as custodians of morals and culture. The antidemocratic nature of these doctrines made them particularly appealing to an extraordinary number of leading artists and writers. In the U.S., there was a surprising degree of support for Italian fascism among American intellectuals. The New Republic in the late 1920’s was urging “a sympathetic hearing” for Italian fascism because it promoted “national cohesion and national welfare.” As it later waffled on Stalinist terror, TNR even justified fascist violence as a necessary means to end internal strife and disunity.
What we have seen in this half-century is not only a crisis of authority but a crisis of authority in relation to mind and “the right exercise of its mental powers,” as Lionel Trilling put it. The power of the university is such that academic “Freudo-Marxist” left has contributed to the alteration of perceptions and ideas of opinion-makers—there has almost been a Marxist fellow traveler takeover of our powerful media institutions. The print and airwaves are replete with double standard judgments on sociopolitical issues of the day.
In recent years former U.S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick has talked a good deal about the concept of “moral equivalence.” This concept seeks to prove that both superpowers are equally guilty, immoral, and ominous, both scorpions in a bottle. Unfortunately, “moral equivalence” is a rhetorical device to demonstrate the moral superiority of the Soviet Union over the United States: What the U.S. does is unforgivable; what the USSR does is understandable.
George Orwell noted this double standard among British “pacifists” at the end of World War II:
Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States.
Contemporary examples of the double standard are numberless:
* When Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega buys several dozen eyeglasses on a visit to New York, the media treats it as a venial oddity. But when it is learned that the Marcos family stored vast quantities of shoes, furs, jewels, perfumes, and other baubles, it is regarded as a mortal sin. We can assume that the Marcoses looted the Filipino treasury. Has anybody checked to see who pays for Ortega’s and his wife’s purchases?
* The U.S. is always, so goes the cliche, propping up unpopular dictators. The Soviets never prop up unpopular dictators whether in Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, or Nicaragua. It is certain that General Jaruzelski could not win an honest election in Poland. He is most assuredly being propped up by the Soviet Union, yet to accuse the USSR of such a transgression is to interfere in the internal affairs of the Polish people.
* Oliver Tambo, apostle of violent revolution, ally and stipendiary of the Soviet Union, is a left culture hero, but Jonas Savimbi is a Western stooge. Why Castro, “si,” Pinochet, “no”?
* Nobody ever emerges from Chile, South Africa, or South Korea with hope for the existing government and its “reform” program. People are always coming back from the USSR or Poland touting their reform programs. Soviet leaders are always becoming more enlightened. Afrikaner leaders are always becoming more benighted.
* Fidel Castro has the respect of men like Senators Dodd and Weicker even if there are no elections in Cuba. But Napoleon Duarte is suspected of rigging El Salvador’s election even though the impartial observers declared it was a fair election. There were predictions of a small vote because the Salvadorans would be intimidated into not voting. But there was an unexpectedly large turnout; naturally, the people were intimidated by the military and forced to vote. There hasn’t been an honest election in any Communist country from the day of takeover, but only in El Salvador or South Korea is there an election problem.
* If the United States brings evidence of the use of chemical or biological warfare against the people of Laos, Kampuchea, or Afghanistan, it is disbelieved. However, when the Soviet Union accused the U.S. of introducing AIDS as part of biological warfare, Dan Rather, on 30 March 1987, played this smear as news but offered no evidence. Soviet disinformation was all the evidence he needed.
* Under the Brezhnev Doctrine, all Communist countries are off limits to any Western democratic influences. However, under the doctrine of Marxism-Leninism, the West and non-Marxist Third World are a free-fire zone for Soviet penetration and subversion.
* Why are “wars of national liberation” or “liberation” movements only legitimate against non-Marxist countries and illegitimate and counterrevolutionary if directed against Soviet colonies? A liberation movement in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, or Poland, or by Kazakhs or Uzbeks is illegitimate, but the Moscow-Cuba-Nicaragua Axis can marshal significant U.N. support on freedom for Puerto Rico.
* Senator Alan Cranston and other Congressmen insist that no aid be given to El Salvador until the government starts to negotiate with the Communist guerrillas. Nothing is heard about stopping aid to Poland unless General Jaruzelski starts to negotiate with Lech Walesa and Solidarity. The El Salvador Communist guerrillas are legitimate for Cranston and his allies because they have the support of the Marxist-Leninists. The contras in Nicaragua have no such legitimacy because they are fighting Marxist-Leninists. Imprisonment of Communist guerrillas in El Salvador is a violation of human rights, while jailing or killing Nicaraguan anti-Communists or sentencing critics of Castro’s dictatorship to 20 years in solitary is protecting a constitutional regime.
* To call capitalism “the focus of evil in the modern world” would be sound Marxist analysis to be heard on any American campus. But similarly to characterize Communism demonstrates political irresponsibility and a desire for an imperialist war.
* Why do “death squads” always signify right-wing terrorists and “junta” right-wing militarists? Are there no left-wing “death squads” or left-wing juntas?
* How come Marxist academics who claim they aren’t Communists always support Soviet foreign policy and are always against U.S. foreign policy? To cast doubt on Soviet good faith is to be a cold warrior; to cast doubt on U.S. good faith is understandable realism. If a summit is on the horizon, criticism of the Soviet Union for whatever reason means opposition to the summit. Criticism of the U.S., however, means support for a summit.
* It is easy to ignore an open letter by 30 Soviet scientists and physicists now in the West who say the USSR is researching Star Wars; after all, they’re disaffected èmigrès, and how would they know what’s going on back in Russia? However, the writings of any ex-CIA officer, like Philip Agee, are always credible. The mere accusation of alleged CIA wrongdoing, as in Bob Woodward’s latest book, is probative evidence of guilt.
* The Soviet Union can, it seems, do anything: from shooting down a passenger airliner to using napalm or biological warfare against the Afghan freedom-fighters. Whatever the atrocity, an immediate cry for understanding is heard in the West—”You know the Russians are paranoid about their borders” or “it was an act of self-defense” or “the CIA was involved, you know.” However, the U.S. has no right to be paranoid about its borders, especially the Rio Grande, and it certainly has no right of self-defense. When the U.S. bombs Libya or successfully invades Grenada, we are bullies, terrorists, imperialists, fascists, militarists, and warmongers. The inhabitants of the Kremlin are paranoid: that’s why they had to build the Berlin Wall. But that’s life among the paranoiacs.
* Reports of Soviet massacres in Afghanistan are, to the left, always false because the American media does not assign permanent correspondents or camera crews to the battleground. So the atrocities don’t exist because the reports come from Afghan refugees who have no film anyway. On the other hand, reports of atrocities by Nicaraguan contras are always true because correspondents and camera crews are permanently assigned to the Sandinistas.
* No socialist country enjoys academic freedom, for Marxism-Leninism precludes it. So where, as far as the Marxist left is concerned, is academic freedom endangered?: in the United States, the only country in the world which allows academic freedom to be used to subvert academic freedom. How many faculty protests were organized after a PEN Congress announced that the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Turkey are the three countries with the highest number of writers or journalists in prison or some form of detention?
* Why are feminists as desperate about the allegedly low status of women in our society as they are opposed to U.S. foreign policy, so unconcerned about the status of women in socialist societies, especially in the Soviet Union? How many women are there in Communist politburos?
* Why is it that when we argue with Third World intellectuals and their Western Marxist admirers on behalf of democracy, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights or the Rights of Man or the British constitutional order or the efficiency of the free market, we are told that we should not try to impose on Asian, Latin, or African peoples our Western political culture because it is alien to their values? Yet it is perfectly proper to hawk Marxism in the Third World, though Marx is as much in the tradition of Western philosophy and political theory as are Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, or James Madison.
How are we going to stop this Third Marxist Invasion of the American university? (The first wave began in the 1930’s and continued through the mid-1950’s; the second began in 1968 and intensified in the 1980’s.) Academics of goodwill stood on the sidelines in spring 1968 and said the revolutionary whirlwind couldn’t last and would blow itself out in a few days. They were wrong. As Professor Werner Dannhauser observed: “I am a political scientist and the safest generalization about the predictions of political scientists is that they are always wrong.” The same, unfortunately, could be said of sociologists and other social scientists.
The least we can do is encourage associations like the University Center for Rational Alternatives and Accuracy in Academia to broaden their activities and to keep the spotlight on the enemies of academic freedom. We cannot expect the AAUP, the National Education Association, or even the professional organizations in the social sciences and the humanities to resist the Marxification process. They are trapped because any left extremist must be mantled by the ethics of academic freedom. In practice, however, this does not cover conservatives whose sociopolitical positions are defined by campus Marxists as racist, warmongering or counterrevolutionary. Academic freedom should not be a faculty comforter only; its principles should also benefit students.
Moreover, alumni associations must be brought into the campaign against the subversion of academic freedom. Obviously, alumni who provide revenue for their alma mater have a stake and an interest in their university. They must be kept informed.
The work of the Institute for Educational Affairs in subventioning and sponsoring pro-democratic and anti-Marxist campus newspapers is of crucial importance and should be encouraged and broadened. A dissident voice in the age of campus Marxist conformity is a sine qua non in beating back the Marxist tide. Wherever possible, the dissident campus newspaper should be sent to the families of students so that the situation would be known to them.
Wherever possible, a campus guide to faculty and courses should be published as an aid to incoming students in selecting their programs.
Studies of grading, particularly in graduate school departments, should be undertaken, with outside help if necessary, to see whether non-Marxist students are being penalized for opinions expressed in classroom work. Notes taken in class, syllabi, and reading lists should be analyzed and discussed by students to see if the teacher is using the classroom as a “bully pulpit.”
If the university is a state institution, get in touch with state legislators and keep them informed. The dissident campus newspaper should be mailed to legislators.
Keep in touch with the local newspaper, television and radio stations and the reporters who normally cover campus affairs.
Run for campus offices.
Also, organize (with faculty help where possible) serious academic symposia on sociopolitical issues (e.g., homelessness in America, what to do about the Persian Gulf crisis, disinvestment in South Africa, supply-side economics, the 1988 presidential campaign). Try to get all sides and viewpoints represented. Watch for attempts to break up such meetings. Have a telecamera ready in case of trouble.
Inevitably many faculty members and the university administrations will be hostile to such campus reform movements. The cry of “invasion” of the classroom will be heard on the campus. University administrators, cowed by a powerful faculty, will rush to the rescue against the students seeking academic freedom. But what else is new?