Phil Sandifer sent me a copy of Neoreaction A Basilisk, because this is the internet and shouting a lot is a viable strategy. I don’t know, man. But it’s an opportunity to get this blog up to an average of one post per day.
Indeed, there’s actually a significant leftist intellectual tradition that can fairly legitimately claim to be completely suppressed by the American media and education system, and that’s well-known for observing that revolutions and transitions between ideologies generally come down to people with material power protecting that power. …
Marxism, especially in its good old-fashioned “a spectre is haunting Europe” revolutionary sense (which is a much larger body of work than Soviet Communism, and indeed one that contains countless scathing critiques of Leninism and Stanlinism) is absolutely one of the positions most completely excluded from the Cathedral, its use in Anglophone politics restricted to a derisive term slung about in the way that “fascist” is applied to Donald Trump, only with less accuracy.
It’s certainly true that that’s the way “Marxist” is used in Anglophone politics—but is Marxism “completely suppressed” by the American media and education system? Given that the sitting president of the United States of America was a no-shit Marxist-Leninist in college, this is somewhat hard to believe.
According to the Open Syllabus Project, the Communist Manifesto is the third most-assigned text in college syllabi, with 3,189 citations—behind only Plato’s Republic, with 3,573 citations, and The Elements of Style, with 3,934.
I didn’t have to read the Communist Manifesto in college, but I did have to read it in high school. Right before Animal Farm, admittedly, but Orwell was a socialist, and we certainly weren’t reading Mises. When I went to college, one of the department heads was an outspoken pro-Cuba Communist, another was an ex-anarchist who had recently and reluctantly converted to Rawlsianism, and I was assigned to read Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre, various texts on applied Marxism which I can’t remember because I never showed up to that class (because the professor made it obvious that anyone who turned in the papers and pretended to agree with Marxism would get at least a B), something by Robert Paul Wolff which I also can’t remember, some critical legal studies, and a chunk of Capital. The only author I was ever assigned who could be classified as a rightist, aside from the Fascist Manifesto (by a professor who hated Hegel, because he hated Hegel), was Nozick, who hardly counts.
I also took a class on activism taught by a team of self-professed Trotskyists who worked for the Democratic Party, so.
Back to the Open Syllabus Project. Marxists are not commonly assigned, but Marx is squarely within the canon. The Communist Manifesto is the third most frequently assigned book in college syllabi. The Communist Manifesto is more frequently assigned in colleges than Aristotle’s Ethics (#6), Leviathan (#7), The Prince (#8), Hamlet (#10), The Odyssey (#11), Orientalism (#12—yes, really), Canterbury Tales (#16), On Liberty (#19), Foucault’s Power (#26) On the Origin of Species (#27), Augustine’s Confessions (#28), Walden (#31), and The Wealth of Nations (#35).
Marx shows up again in the top 200 with Capital (#44) and The German Ideology (#158). Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed comes in at #99, and Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth at #115. Scrolling down a bit, Adorno’s Culture Industry ranks #207.
An EconLog post links to a survey that finds that 11% of professors are ‘radicals’ and 3% are Marxists, but the survey went out to all professors, and one would not learn Marxism in a chemistry class. In the humanities, 5% are Marxists (but 19% are ‘radicals’); in the social sciences, 18% are; in liberal arts colleges, 12% are; and in sociology, 26% of professors are Marxists.
Also, the Harvard Crimson endorsed the Khmer Rouge, Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer for Stalinist apologia, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, personally requested that Warner Bros. make, under close collaboration with the federal government of the United States, a movie based on a former US ambassador to the USSR’s pro-Stalin memoirs, which movie was of course itself pro-Stalin.