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.
It is unfortunate, as George Bernard Shaw complained, that youth is wasted on the young. There is nothing to be done about that. But it is doubly unfortunate that the youth of today has fallen casualty to the untenanted idealisms of a species of mentorial irresponsibility that refuses, in Storhaug’s words, “to take care of the future.” Devoid of traditional standards of conduct and learning, living in a society emptied of history, suffering a long fugue of inner dispossession, and disgorged by an educational institution that has betrayed its mandate to preserve the memory of the past and teach the protocols of independent thinking, they have been transformed into a callow, revolutionary proletariat.
And at the root of this monstrous evolution is the modern university which, as Victor Davis Hanson asserts, “is one of the most politically illiberal and prejudiced institutions in America.” In the same vein, Patrick Poole points to the extent to which prestigious American universities “are actively colluding with Islamic foreign governments” in their aim to criminalize (a non-existent) “Islamophobia,” thus putting them “in direct opposition to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protections.” Coming at the matter from a different though related angle, Roger Kimball focuses on affirmative action, the “suite of politically correct attributes” that significantly determine university admission. Kimball argues that college administrators have learned from the racial policies of Reich Minister Alfred Rosenberg who, we may recall, was appointed head of the Hochschule, the future German State University. The fact that Rosenberg and his peers, says Kimball, “favored a different population is neither here nor there. The goal is racial and ethnic purity.”
Any way we look at it, the totalitarian contagion radiates across the academy and the “escape from freedom” is in high flood. The pressure of affirmative action privileging students on the basis of lineage and color rather than merit and the insidious effect of Islamic money on the syllabus and university policy are undeniably warping elements that need to be countered. But the greatest peril remains the connection between a disaffected professoriate and its suggestible wards. Like their teachers, the young have no experience of what it is to live under real oppression, but they are even more corruptible owing to their jejune and cloistered idealisms. As to be expected, student groups propagate across the academic spectrum in support of their professors’ anti-democratic agenda. The same is true, mutatis mutandis, in Europe, as it is in America. Operating in a cultural vacuum, the university capitalizes on the bone-deep ignorance and susceptible condition of those it purports to educate.
It worked in the 1930s and looks likely to work again. What the German authorities called Gleichschaltung — the “coordination” of a curricular mission to enforce uniformity of beliefs and attitudes — is once more the shaping principle of the “liberal” university. The professional associations which govern parietal life, such as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Historical Association (AHA), and the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), vigorously oppose sensible reform and insist on maintaining patently discriminatory hiring and grading practices.
Meanwhile, the next generation twists in the throes of its ideological deformation and many will graduate to occupy the seats of influence and power. Many others, of course, will be left by the wayside, the vast number of students who are ill-equiped for university studies and, as historian Clayton Cramer contends, are the victims of government grants and loans “for the overproduction of degrees.” Students in the social sciences and liberal arts will have difficulty finding remunerative jobs upon graduating, their diplomas being useless and a faltering economy unable to fully absorb them. They will have to concentrate on merely getting by and paying off their student loans.
But the remnant is sufficiently robust in both numbers and conviction to eventually carry out the task for which they have been groomed. They will become professors, government bureaucrats, politicians, lawyers, judges, public officials, civil servants, community organizers. They will be animated by the dream of unreason and infatuated by the siren of collective salvation. They will find their vindication in the delirium of an exalted purpose that envisages the end of history and a reborn mankind. Applying their seminarian training, they will pledge allegiance to the transnational empire that their syndics and preceptors aspire to. And they will unleash a carnival of destruction, turning once again on the Jew as the bearer of a dangerous intelligence and a despised moral heritage.
Barring something like a miracle — the recognition among the general population of the socialist dystopia in the making and the brainwashing of the young needed to bring it about — the prospects for the West will be unrelievedly bleak. Recognition is the prerequisite for action; for example, the implementing of David Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights as laid out in his Reforming Our Universities, the abolition of tenure or the cashiering of those whom Kimball identifies as “tenured radicals” on the grounds of dereliction of duty, or, in extremis, the selective defunding of the liberal academy, which may be appositely described as a funded liability.
In the latter event, apart from those institutions capable of passing a genuine fairness test, only the hard science, technology, medicine, business, and some professional faculties would be retained. Wise leadership and legislative oversight will be required to restore the university to its original purpose. But if the political will is lacking to effect such changes, whether comparatively moderate or necessarily drastic, we will have no choice but to accept the inevitable. The paradigm of the ideologized universities of the German 1930s will have been transplanted into the new century.
This is how the Fourth Reich, however different in its political origins and existential particulars, rises from the cinders of the Third.