Category Archive 'Gramscian Long March Through the Institutions'
10 Jan 2022
Everywhere you look the Left appears to have won the culture wars and owns the Establishment. The universities are full-on bastions of Marxism and Critical Studies. Even Science and Math are being “de-colonized.” The NFL and NASCAR piously preach the Black Lives Matter Party Line. Corporate America is on totally board, too. Amazon bans books questioning the Transgender Movement. Big consumer brands have purged Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, and the Land of Lakes Indian maiden. The Social Media giants routinely enforce Politically Correct Speech, “fact checking” and even banning dissenters. Even the US Military is adding indoctrination against “extremism” to its basic training.
But Joel Kotkin notes that the Progressives’ triumph remains limited to the Institutions, and their conversion is visibly costing them in terms of prestige and credibility.
Over the past several decades, the progressive Left has successfully fulfilled Antonio Gramsci’s famed admonition of a “long march through the institutions”. In almost every Western country, its adherents now dominate the education system, media, cultural institutions, and financial behemoths.
But what do they have to show for it? Not as much as they might have expected. Rather than a Bolshevik-style assumption of power, there’s every chance this institutional triumph will not produce an enduring political victory, let alone substantially change public opinion.
20 Feb 2020
Rod Dreher notes that, within many of our most elite institutions, like Yale, the fanatical revolutionary Left has already won.
Last year, I spoke to a Soviet-born scholar who teaches in an American public university. Iâ€™m using a quote from our discussion in my forthcoming (September) book, Live Not By Lies. This morning, she sent me this e-mail, which I reproduce here with her permission:
I know from your blog that the work on your new book is going well and Iâ€™m glad because, boy, itâ€™s so needed. Iâ€™m observing some disturbing developments on my campus, and we are really not one of those wokester schools for spoiled brats one normally associates with this kind of thing.
This academic year Iâ€™ve had an opportunity to work with some early-career academics. These are newly-minted PhDs that are in their first year on the tenure-track. Whatâ€™s really scary is that they sincerely believe all the woke dogma. Older people â€“ those in their forties, fifties or sixties â€“ might parrot the woke mantras because itâ€™s what everybody in academia does and you have to survive. But the younger generation actually believes it all. Transwomen are women, black students fail calculus because there are no calc profs who â€œlook like them,â€ â€˜whitenessâ€™ is the most oppressive thing in the world, the US is the most evil country in history, anybody who votes Republican is a racist, everybody who goes to church is a bigot but the hijab is deeply liberating. I gently mocked some of this stuff (like we normally do among older academics), and two of the younger academics in the group I supervise actually cried. Because they believe all this so deeply, and Iâ€™d even say fanatically, that they couldnâ€™t comprehend why I wasnâ€™t taking it seriously.
The fanatical glimmer in their eyes really scared me.
Back in the USSR in the 1970s and the 1980s nobody believed the dogma. People repeated the ideological mantras for cynical reasons, to get advanced in their careers or get food packages. Many did it to protect their kids. But nobody sincerely believed. That is what ultimately saved us. As soon as the regime weakened a bit, it was doomed because there were no sincere believers any more. Everybody who did take the dogma seriously belonged to the generation of my great-grandparents.
In the US, though, the generation of the fanatical believers is only now growing up and coming into its prime. Weâ€™ll have to wait until their grandkids grow up to see a generation that will be so fed up with the dogma that it will embrace freedom of thought and expression. But thatâ€™s a long way away in the future.
Iâ€™m mentoring a group of young scholars in the Humanities to help them do research, and Iâ€™m starting to hate this task. Young scholars almost without exception think that scholarship is entirely about repeating woke slogans completely uncritically. Again, this is different from the USSR where scholars peppered their writing with the slogans but always took great pride in trying to sneak in some real thinking and real analysis behind the required ideological drivel. Every Soviet scholar starting from the 1970s was a dissident at heart because everybody knew that the ideology was rotten.
All of this is sad and very scary. I never thought Iâ€™d experience anything worse, anything more intellectually stifling than the USSR of its last two decades of existence. But now I do see something worse.
The book you are writing is very important, and I hope that many people hear your message.
Folks, Americans are extremely naive about whatâ€™s coming. We just cannot imagine that people who burst into tears in the face of gentle mockery of their political beliefs can ever come to power. They are already in power, in the sense that they have mesmerized leaders of American institutions. Iâ€™m telling you, that 2015 showdown on Yaleâ€™s campus between Prof. Nicholas Christakis and the shrieking students was profoundly symbolic. Christakis used the techniques of discursive reason to try to establish contact with these young people. None of it mattered. They yelled and cursed and sobbed. The fact that he disagreed with them, they took as an assault on their person.
And Yale University caved to them!
10 Nov 2019
Hunter Hearns argues trenchantly that winning some elections is not enough, if the Left continues to consolidate control of the Culture.
Republicans have controlled the presidency for 32 out of the last 52 years, a time during which they have appointed 15 of 19 Supreme Court justices. In the last 25 years, they have controlled the Senate for about 15 of them, and the House for 20. For a party to be so remarkably successful politically while losing on practically every issue requires a deep rethinking of where things have gone wrong.
Conservatives for two generations now have worried that immigration was turning the country more liberal. Yet even while it has continued, the massive leftward shift of college educated white women has emerged as much more electorally significant in the short term. In 2016, President Trump won the election and had both houses of Congress, yet his only legislative accomplishment of note before losing the House was tax cuts.
Many Trump supporters were motivated by his taking on political correctness and the collection of myths about identity-related issues that distorts practically every political debate. Yet social media censoriousness continues unabated, so much so that the sense of urgency to actually deal with the issue has faded away. And now banks have gotten into the act too, recently cutting ties with companies that support ICE in its mission to detain illegal migrants, and even with individuals who violate PC orthodoxy. This level of oppression would have been unthinkable in the McCarthy era, and yet the best we can hope for in any particular case of censorship from our â€œFlight 93 Presidentâ€ is an ineffective tweet.
Trump may squeak by another electoral college victory in 2020. Yet even if he does, there is little actual hope that he will fundamentally change the trajectory of the country. Conservatives thought that they might take their nation back in 2016; that hope is now gone. Electing more Republicans means at best getting a few-years-long reprieve until the next time Democrats control Washington. At which point we will see universal healthcare, the release of violent criminals, open borders, the stamping out of religious liberty, and a government that sees its citizens less as the American founders did, and more as communist leaders who divided the population into classes of oppressors and oppressed for purposes of implementing policy.
In other words, in the Flight 93 election, the passengers seized control of the plane and it crashed anyway. Why are things so hopeless? If the mistakes of the past are not to be repeated, we need a clear-eyed understanding of the American conservative movement of the last several decades.
I am a social scientist by training and have never been involved in electoral politics. Yet when I look at the American conservative movement, what I am struck most by is what an oddity it is from a historical perspective. Practically every significant movementâ€”whether ancient or modern, religious or secular, totalitarian or liberalâ€”knew that to succeed in the long run it needed to gain control of the institutions that manufacture public opinion. Yet from this perspective the American right has not simply failed in its efforts to build a more conservative society; it has not even tried.
There is nothing mysterious about its lack of long-term success. It was predetermined given the ideological commitments and priorities of movement leaders. One does not need to read ancient or modern philosophy or social science to understand what practically all political theorists throughout history have agreed on: most people do not have the time, motivation or inclination to think deeply about political and social issues. They will take the opinions that have been prepared for them by higher status individuals and institutions. If these opinion shapers are liberal, the public will be liberal, and this includes intelligent people naturally inclined to live in accordance with moral ideals.
Gramsci famously promised that society would change through his â€œlong march through the institutions.â€
He’s not wrong.
13 Mar 2018
The leftist nincompoops have captured another cultural landmark.
This month, Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg, accompanied by a specially-hired-for-the-occasion academic racial-grievances-mongerer with some Yale degrees, apologizes for the magazine’s traditional historic function: purveying photos of topless native girls in a respectable venue for men and boys to peruse while trapped waiting for their appointment in the doctor or dentist’s office.
Just listen to this crap:
[The black academic consultant] found… a long tradition of racism in the magazine’s coverage: in its text, its choice of subjects, and in its famed photography.
“[U]ntil the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers,” writes Goldberg in the issue’s editor letter, where she discusses Mason’s findings. “Meanwhile it pictured ‘natives’ elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savagesâ€”every type of clichÃ©.”
Unlike magazines such as Life, “National Geographic did little to push its readers beyond the stereotypes ingrained in white American culture,” Goldberg says, noting that she is the first woman and first Jewish person to helm the magazine â€“ “two groups that also once faced discrimination here.”
All of which strongly suggests that previous hiring policies were a lot wiser and better.
To assess the magazine’s coverage historically, [the racial grievance specialist] delved into old issues and read a couple of key critical studies. He also pored over photographers’ contact sheets, giving him a view of not just the photos that made it into print, but also the decisions that photographers and editors made.
He saw a number of problematic themes emerge.
“The photography, like the articles, didn’t simply emphasize difference, but made difference … very exotic, very strange, and put difference into a hierarchy,” Mason tells NPR. “And that hierarchy was very clear: that the West, and especially the English-speaking world, was at the top of the hierarchy. And black and brown people were somewhere underneath.”
For much of its history, the pages of National Geographic depicted the Western world as dynamic, forward-moving and very rational. Meanwhile, [the professional race warrior complained], “the black and brown world was primitive and backwards and generally unchanging.”
How did the obviously true magically recently become “problematic”?
One trope that he noticed time and again was photographs showing native people apparently fascinated by Westerners’ technology.
“It’s not simply that cameras and jeeps and airplanes are present,” he says. “It’s the people of color looking at this technology in amusement or bewilderment.” The implication was that Western readers would find humor in such fascination with their everyday goods.
Then there’s how the magazine chose its subject matter. Mason explains that National Geographic had an explicit editorial policy of “nothing unpleasant,” so readers rarely saw war, famine or civic conflict.
So the depiction of insufficiently flattering reality in the old days was just plain wrong. People of color, even if living in the Stone Age techologically, ought to have been touched up editorially into sophisticated and superior Wakandas, and the old family magazine ought to have been delivering a steady ration of Marxist agitprop supporting Third World revolutionary movements in every issue. Right!
Left-wing idiots screw up everything they get their hands on. With the old National Geographic transformed into Whining-About-Discrimination-and-Bitching-About-Western-Civilization-While-Arguing-How-Not-Only-Equal-But-Downright-Superior-People-of-Color-Everywhere-Are Geographic, my prediction is that it’s going to be a lot less pleasant to read and circulation is going to tank.
Who the hell wants to read a bunch of Virtue Signalling sermons on Intersectionality and Oppression, the Evils of White Privilege, and the Historical Crimes of Europe and America, while waiting for one’s root canal? That sort of thing simply gratuitously deepens and extends the whole root canal experience.
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