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America’s Cultural Revolution

Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2024
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by Walter Samuel
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18 Comments
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AMAC EXCLUSIVE

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It is hard not to look at the recent scenes from Columbia and recoil in horror. Protests demanding Jewish parents pick up their frightened children “go back to Poland.” Slogans like “to the scum of nations and pigs of the earth” and “paradise lies in the valley of the swords” litter the quad. How did we come to this?

Answering that question is key for understanding where higher education, and in fact all American education must go from here, as well as what awaits our society if we fail to rise to the occasion. We now have a generation that views not just anti-Americanism, but actual sociopathy, as legitimate. Increasingly, they have embraced the former because it enables the latter.

For conservatives, the answer looks easy; DEI. Left-wing indoctrination that has now spread to the elementary school level has raised a generation of young Americans to hate their nation. Dissenters, not just conservatives but even centrist and old-style liberal faculty, have been driven out of universities, as the new generation of militant left-wing academics and their pupils have pursued an ideological agenda above all else.

One just has to look around to understand that conservatives are correct in their analysis of the education system. Racist, offensive, anti-American material which would make the Russian and Chinese education systems blush has made its way into our schools.

Having taught in China myself, it is shocking to contrast their relatively anodyne treatment of American history with the American left’s embrace of a universal theory of racial determinism as the universal truth guiding history. American schools are not merely teaching socialism, but arguably national socialism, to quote the term Hitler used for his ideology. The belief that politics, power, and morality are determined by wealth is socialism. The conviction that they are mere proxies for “whiteness” or “Zionism/Jewry” is national socialism.

Conservatives, however, are too sanguine in their belief that a simple metaphysical off-switch exists. As the problem is so obvious, the solution, too, they expect must be equally simple. Because the social crisis of Generation Z is the result of indoctrination rather than any sort of organic economic or societal forces, merely removing the sources of indoctrination will resolve the problem. Some conservatives even dare to believe that if the left can pull off this stunt, so can they. If they can not only remove leftwing materials but replace them with equally cringe-worthy right-wing variants, somehow they can turn the far-left drones into obedient conservative foot soldiers.

The error is a simple one. They assume that just because children are told something by figures in authority, they believe it. Almost any teacher can testify that the greatest struggle in the classroom is not to convey information, but to convey why the listeners should care. Otherwise, it is in one ear, out the other.

In reality, the problem is not merely what children are taught, but how they choose to use that information. In the case of DEI, the ideology is attractive not because it is necessarily convincing, but because it is empowering to the actors in society who care most about wielding power and are largely indifferent to what they use it for. When it comes to DEI, students are merely following in the footsteps of their elders within American corporations and institutions.

One reason DEI relentlessly advanced in corporations was that it enabled a self-serving alliance between HR offices that pushed the ideology and executives who could champion it. Any attacks on the executives who championed DEI could be redirected as a failure to properly tackle issues of racism, homophobia, transphobia, imperialism, etc. Those executives secured advancement, while DEI departments secured ever-increasing funds as they now functioned not as bureaucrats but at the commanding heights of corporate power structures.

DEI has proved so pernicious not merely because it is being forced on children in the form of nigh-unreadable texts, from underpaid teachers who otherwise elicit so little respect they have lost control of their classrooms. No—the worst part is how it has been embraced because it has proved so useful in internal power games. Did a girl receive the editorship of a school paper you sought? Point out that she is white, or failing that, “cis-gendered.” Is a teacher trying to discipline you? Are they of a different race, gender, or religion, or have they ever voiced doubts about woke orthodoxy? Then counter with an accusation of heresy against DEI principles.

DEI has also spread because it is “empowering.” When DEI initially arose, most liberals and even many conservatives dismissed the threat, comparing it to the 1990s phenomenon of political correctness, whose excesses were checked by mockery.

What they miss is that modern DEI has learned the lessons of earlier failures, and learned them from Mao Zedong. Mao understood that an orthodoxy imposed from on high was stifling for the youth. By contrast, an ideology that allowed young people to believe they were empowered to force it onto their parents, teachers, and society would be rapidly embraced. Hence his Cultural Revolution was directed not by the party, but by mobs of young Red Guards.

The irony then is that the ongoing protests are reminiscent of the events of 1960s America. They just echo those of China’s Cultural Revolution, rather than America’s anti-war movement.

Modern DEI cannot be separated from the process of weaponization – against teachers, administrators, parents, and society. Weaponization is central to its appeal. It gives unpopular students a weapon against the popular, unpopular, and inefficient faculty a weapon against distinguished peers, and the mass of students a weapon against anyone who stands out. For a generation that grew up being told they were powerless and learned that the hard way when COVID-19 forced the closure of their schools, DEI gives them power. The students at Columbia, Emory, and USC have brought not just their campus administrators to their knees, but invoked panic in the national political elite.

That is why mere repression cannot work on campuses when sending police in to arrest the anti-Jewish mobs provides the videos that fuel the social media and social credit these protestors are after. It is also why merely changing the textbooks is insufficient.

The entire incentive structures have to be changed to punish those who take advantage of weaponizing identity politics. This is why suspensions will not matter unless they are followed by genuine career consequences. These students live in a capitalist society, and in a sense, their behavior is a testament to that. They are making a capitalistic calculation that they stand to gain greater status from an arrest than from quietly conforming.

If we fail to change this incentive structure, we can look forward to something far worse than mere socialism. Mao successfully raised the Red Guards, but he proved unable to control them. The same dynamics that drove them to gain social credit by canceling enemies was addictive, and raised a generation that knew how to gain social status only by canceling enemies. When they ran out of external ones, they turned inward looking for heretics.

We see this process on campuses. Having long since driven genuine conservatives out and silenced traditional liberals, the campus protestors have turned on each other. “Zionist” like “Trotskyist” or “Rightist” has taken on an ever-shifting meaning. Having once meant support for Israel, it soon became a label for anyone supporting a two-state solution rather than the complete destruction of Israel.

More recently, “Zionist” accusations have been levied against anyone who suggested Israel had some right to self-defense against Hamas, then against anyone condemning Hamas, and now against anyone who does not outright endorse Hamas. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s visit to the Columbia encampment brought denunciations of her as an opportunist. Student activists have concluded they have more to gain by attacking AOC than posing with her.

If she were wise, AOC would take that experience to heart. The Revolution always devours its children. Jealousy, not loyalty, is the coin of revolutionary politics, and it is all the motive left-wing rivals require to send her to the proverbial guillotine.

Ultimately, however, her fate is her concern alone. She has chosen to ride the tiger, and if it devours her, she will bear the responsibility. The danger to every other American is that a Cultural Revolution does not end until it runs out of enemies, and it is coming for us all.

Walter Samuel is the pseudonym of a prolific international affairs writer and academic. He has worked in Washington as well as in London and Asia, and holds a Doctorate in International History.

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PaulE
PaulE
18 days ago

The article is fine as far as it goes, but it misses the mark in terms of root cause and why things have been allowed to fester unrestrained for as long as they have. The socialist / Marxist movement has been alive and well in this country for a century. Most people today still don’t associate the term progressive with socialism, so they continue to be blind to those walking amongst them in plain sight. All while the far left, most notably embodied by the Democrat Party, its allies and financial backers, but also some well-placed RINOs continues to systematically dismantle and change the country into what they all hope will be a mirror image of communist China today.

The far left used to live in the shadows and be very careful how they carried out their work, but thanks to decades of inaction, apathy and endless procrastination on the part of what used to be the so-called silent majority, the left no longer needs to mask their intentions anymore. They can act openly and no longer fear either discovery or push back from what has become a rather docile and submissive public. Today the United States more closely resembles many aspects of late 1930’s Germany or Communist China in the mid to late 1960’s just the so-called cultural revolution was taking off, than the United States envisioned by our Founders.

While it is true that people like AOC, Schumer and many, many others will ultimately be discarded by the new order, once they have outlived their usefulness to the cause, that will of course be of cold comfort to the millions upon millions of ordinary people in this country that will find themselves living in the new Marxist reality. Ask anyone who lived through the rise of Hitler or Mao’s cultural revolution if it mattered to them on bit that many of the useful idiots that advanced the cause of Marxism were ultimately consumed by the very authoritarian regime, they worked so hard to advance. Most ordinary people were simply focused on figuring out how they would just make it through another day and staying off the radar of the regime in power.

Deb Rockwell
Deb Rockwell
18 days ago

The Leftists are fools that cannot be reasoned with at all. They have no concept of reality or consequences (until it’s too late). I wish we could divide up the nation and give the fools their portion of it. It wouldn’t be long before they’d want to come running back. (Not that we’d take them.) If not, I fear we will all go down with the ship.

miyako
miyako
18 days ago

Citizen Americans should do their homework. communists in America are here and have been very active since the end of WW-2. Look up who the major players were and now. I have. The ‘tribe’ is in America’s Congress and Senate.

anna hubert
anna hubert
18 days ago

America only knows being America The dangerous fools think it still will be America only better because they can’t imagine anything beyond America These dangerous fools have no idea how the rest of the world really lives and many of them are in the leading positions How far left have we swerved and how messed up the voters are No brains

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
18 days ago

You think its bad now, wait until these ppl start running for office. They’ll make AOC look “moderate”! America is not just dying, its being murdered from inside. TG (hopefully) I’ll be dead before I see it. Hope Democrats enjoy what they birthed!

John Riley
John Riley
18 days ago

Academia is reaping their bitter harvest.

Lieutenant Beale
Lieutenant Beale
18 days ago

Years ago, college used to be fun. Now it’s a real riot. 🙂

Elaine
Elaine
17 days ago

Here we are again!
Destruction of property by young (and not so young) paid vandals under the guise of a “peaceful protest”! It seems this has become the way for our enemies to break any semblance of law and order. This goes back to the earlier riots of defunding the police. Now that people are beginning to wake up to the lies that ALL of the police are the BAD GUYS. There were no consequences or responsibility for the property destruction, the taking away of public property, that is not “FREEDOM OF SPEECH!”.
NOW make a difference, arrest the trespassers, criminally charge each, and have them make restitution for the prpperty damages. Clean up their trash and mess, repair the lawns and own up to their and trespassing. Learn how to legally stage a protest and write their Congressman and become a productive responsible citizen. Arrange a meeting to let your know why you are protesting.

Barbara Charis
Barbara Charis
17 days ago

The Seat of Consciousness is the Pineal gland. It has been slowly destroyed over the last sixty plus years by the ‘vaccine’ injections, which school children had to take to enter school. The Medical Industry depended on research that was done by profiteers who had no regard for the recipients of these shots. Parents were not informed of the items that were being injected… Aluminum, mercury and formaldehyde and many other equally noxious items. I knew back in the 1950s how toxic these items were and would never have permitted my children to get these shots. My dad had sent me an clipping from St Catherine’s Press in Ontario, Canada…..How aluminum CAUSED brain damage. I threw out a brand new set of aluminum cookware. I also knew in high school about Mad Hatter’s Disease cause by the mercury used to stiffen brims…The women in the Hat Industry making hats went crazy. Who didn’t know that formaldehyde was used in embalming corpses? I was appalled, when I learned what was in these shots my children had to take, in order to go to school.

Let the people know
Let the people know
18 days ago

I was under the impression you guys liked cultural revolutions. Just ask every woman who wants an abortion lol

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