Do you remember your first classes where you had a vague sense all the cool kids sat at the Bernie Sanders table? You highlighted aspects of your beliefs that signaled you weren’t a racist, sexist homophobe. If you’re a young man you might have let everybody know you were aware of your male privilege and alert other men to their own.
We are the children of World War II baby boomers, for whom capitalism was synonymous with freedom and socialism was synonymous with government enslavement. We began to sympathize with ideas we never thought of before. Like how the white capitalist hetero-patriarchy continuously reconstructs itself to suppress uprisings against it. We feel compelled to join the fight because we are told there is no neutrality in situations of injustice.
Much to the surprise of our parents, we came home during break with a critical Marxist analysis of society from an English gen-ed. It’s because we finally realized how blindness to our privilege has aided in maintaining oppressive power structures and now we have a lot of repenting to do.
Although I am left of center in my voting style, I am concerned about the intellectual bigotry which forms in an echo chamber, where our perception of leftist orthodoxy becomes restricted to a narrow corner of the political spectrum and certain ideas become heretical. College is a place where young people should be free to develop their viewpoints without beguilement or bullying from professors or students.
I’m talking about when people test your allyship so you feel compelled to join political causes for which you have no genuine conviction. So you avoided the social suicide of speaking up and being labeled as racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted. This is how any ideology can resist honest vetting and become naturalized into an environment like Ithaca College.
There are many ways to learn which don’t relegate you to a certain identity politic. These ideas should be critically vetted in a college institution—after all, it’s your time, your money and your college experience; nobody gets to make up your political mind for you.
Conservative activists like Pat Buchanan and Jordan Peterson believe the liberal university indoctrinates young people into communist, anti-Western dogma, an idea that is laughable to the accused professors and students. No one thinks of their viewpoints as just another partisan ideology but as a code of ethics that has transcended partisan politics to academic righteousness.
If nobody challenges the fundamental assumptions of our worldview, we cease to become free-thinking liberals but high-priests of political dogma as we submit ourselves to mob rule. We become bigoted ideologues, urging the “sheeple” to wake up to the democracy, all the while being herded ourselves. Like the hero of a Greek tragedy, we become the very thing we set out to defeat.
Conservative activists like Pat Buchanan and Jordan Peterson believe the liberal university indoctrinates young people into communist, anti-Western dogma, an idea that is laughable to the accused professors and students.
There is a twist of irony to the integration of critical theory in classes in the humanities and social sciences. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paolo Freire described an egalitarian model of learning which rejects European traditionalism and frees students from its “banking model”. Originally intended to liberate students from the western bourgeois mentality, critical Marxist theory has itself become a constraining dogma.
I suggest we get back to the core foundations of critical analysis and to continue to question the status quo of the academy in all its complexities.