Much has been made of the “unholy alliance” between the imperial left and a triumphalist Islam in advancing the cause of the modern totalitarian project. The left wants to see a top-down socialist utopia supplant the international order as we know it and militant Islam is determined to impose a Shariate upon the world. Indeed, as Norwegian scholar Hege Storhaug documents in But the Greatest of These Is Freedom, there is a brisk migration “from left-wing totalitarianism to religio-political totalitarianism.” The totalitarian mind is identical with itself, so to speak, differing only in the accidental content of its doctrines.
No less important, however, than this deep symbiosis between superficially implausible collaborators is the potent tutorial relationship that has been established between the patricians of the left and the emancipated youth of the contemporary West. Such an alliance, conducted under the aegis of the so-called “liberal” academy, is equally unholy. As with the German universities of the 1930s, modern universities throughout the “free world” have become factories of political indoctrination in which history is reinterpreted as a chronicle of infamy and the young are conscripted into the army of those who promise the advent of a golden millennium.
Palpably, the democratic West is becoming less democratic by the day. The rewriting of history linked with the virulent assault against the palladium of traditional liberalism — now better known as conservatism — has captivated the sensibility of the West and a resurgent authoritarianism once again marches into the future. The venerable impulse to restructure the world along the lines of a theoretical blueprint for universal salvation may periodically sink into abeyance, but it always re-emerges in one form or another, whether theocratic or secular. Today the movement has assumed massive proportions, uniting disparate cultures once thought to be immiscible and, as we have noted, even resolving the immemorial conflict between the generations.
The cultural stereotype of youth rebelling against the progenitor generation no longer holds, at least not in the West. Instead, what we are observing is the tightening bond between the clichéd antagonists of old. The generation of the Sixties, controlling the levers of power, has embarked on an intensive recruiting campaign among its epigones to ensure the eventual victory of what we might call the Fourth Reich, a grim collectivist world governed by the presumably enlightened benefactors of all mankind. I am not referring here to Robert Van Kampen’s biblical fantasy in his novel The Fourth Reich or to Jim Marr’s thesis of the rise of Nazi-oriented secret societies and corporations in his similarly titled book, a belief that in my estimation smacks rather more of conspiracism than of fact. I have in mind the undoubted rapprochement between two separate temporal cohorts in the pursuit of a grand political design, with the modern university as the crucible in which the fusion occurs.
This latter development, the melding of the generations into a bichronic demographic, is the key to the program adopted by the utopian left in taking command of the institutions of learning. Ideas concocted in the insulated laboratories of the ivory tower and powered by an amorphous longing for a “we are the world” paradise predicated on the dissolution of the rigors of educated thought have become the reigning ideology of the era. Roger Scruton in Modern Culture reminds us of the two disreputable options that tempt the meretricious prof: “pretend to the students that pop culture is the same [as high culture], and join them in their blithe distractions; or show the students how to deconstruct their heritage, and reassure them that it is a burden that they have done well to discard.”
A new Jacksonianism has prevailed. The staunch defender of the democratic West Henry Jackson, whom Daniel Patrick Moynihan, citing a Judaic tradition, called one of the 36 just men who sustain human existence, has given way to the self-indulgent and characterless Michael Jackson, who co-wrote the lyrics to “We Are the World.” And it is a world whose central and defining ideals, properly speaking, must be placed in inverted commas: “equality,” “peace,” “democracy,” “freedom,” “individualism,” “tolerance” now connote the opposite of their original intent. The perversion of language plainly goes hand in hand with the distortion of the historical record and the projection of an oracular depravity upon the political future.
These we-are-the-worlders are to be found everywhere among us, especially among the young enamored of revolutionary “heroes,” self-proclaimed “martyrs,” “epic” but largely fictive personalities, “valiant” jihadists, all professing to be fighting for liberty and justice and representing an infallible enticement to the inchoate sensibilities of those who rush to join what they conceive as the “great struggle” for the redemption of humanity.
Yet it is not a “great struggle.” It is a great debauch relying on the standard tropes of intellectual evasion — the natural goodness of man corrupted by institutional constructs, the colonial aggression of a guilty West, and the Jewish manipulation of world finance and thirst for world domination. (Case in point: The University of Toronto, where the scandalous Israel Apartheid Week originated, has just renewed the contract of a professor who instigated a faculty “Jew count” in support of students who protested against “old Jews because they are rich.”) So it goes. And this historical aberration may finally succeed in achieving its aims, thanks to the wholesale seduction of the rising generation, the phalanxes of the young globally inducted into the service of a ruinous ideological regime.
Clearly, there is a camelopard of factors that would explain the demonstrable decline in the ability to think critically and to stoutly resist the subversion of the mind: the misguided self-esteem movement that robs accomplishment of its meaning, the exiguous home environment, the pejorative consequences of the entitlement industry, the spread of techno-digital distractions and Netware compulsions. But the degenerate academy functioning as a propaganda mill is surely paramount. “The methods of education are extremely important,” writes Erich Fromm in Escape from Freedom, “in so far as they are mechanisms by which the individual is molded into the required shape.”
This is well understood by the current crop of sociology, political science, Middle East studies, and liberal arts professors who have applied their version of the old Jesuit maxim, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” They are the exemplars of what Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions calls the “unconstrained vision” of human nature, which urges “dramatic solutions” rather than “prudent trade-offs [for] promoting social improvement.” Many of these pedagogic Gauleiters, aware of their professional sway and committed to the destructive romance of a post-historical organon among the peoples of the world, have no compunction in forcing this “vision” upon their charges.
And they are extremely effective in realizing their objective. Youth, of course, is easily solicited and mobilized by unscrupulous elders who take advantage of the simplistic, binomial view of the world, coupled with undifferentiated energy seeking an outlet, which characterizes this volatile constituency. We were all there once, at least for a time, before some of us providentially came to our senses. But many have remained and grown grizzled in an ongoing effort to enlist the impressionable to the cause of a specious humanitarianism. And the young almost invariably fall for it. As their academic “handlers” are well aware, their minds are always open to being closed.