The Corner

‘Stalinism without Stalin,’ Cont.

Lately, and not necessarily by design, I’ve been writing about the latest explosions of leftism on campus — and virulent explosions they are. But they are not necessarily new.

I was interested to read something in the latest volume of David Horowitz’s collected writings, which I posted about below. Get a load of this:

The transformation of the liberal arts divisions of the academy into crude indoctrination platforms and recruiting centers for the crypto-Marxist left has been described bluntly by Harold Bloom as “Stalinism without Stalin.” All of the traits of the Stalinists in the 1930s, observed Bloom, “are being repeated … in the universities of the 1990s.”

David wrote those words in 1998. Hang on, I’ll find Bloom’s words in the original, and give them to you. Here you go:

Criticism in the universities, I’ll have to admit, has entered a phase where I am totally out of sympathy with 95% of what goes on. [Bloom is talking about literary criticism.] It’s Stalinism without Stalin. All of the traits of the Stalinist in the 1930s and 1940s are being repeated in this whole resentment in the universities in the 1990s. This intolerance, the self-congratulation, smugness, sanctimoniousness, the retreat from imaginative values, the flight from the aesthetic.

Bloom was giving an interview, in 1991.

He teaches at Yale, and, not long ago, I visited a university nearby: Brown. There, I interviewed a student who set up a secret Facebook group whose purpose is to allow students to speak freely. In other words, they have to go underground to say things they ought to be free to say above ground, but can’t (because of leftist militancy, in short).

I wrote a piece called “Underground at Brown,” whose Web version is here. For the piece, I interviewed two students: the founder of the secret group, Chris Robotham, and another member, Marie Willersrud.

One thing that many students on our campuses like to claim is that they are “oppressed.” I’m not talking about the students who are shut up by the militants. I’m talking about the militants. They claim not merely to be oppressed but “systemically” so. That is certainly the case at Brown.

Allow me to quote from my piece:

Oppressed! Systemically! I point out to Chris and Marie that Brown students, whoever they are, are among the luckiest people on the face of the earth. “In human history,” says Chris, correctly. What ingrates they are, I continue: to be at this renowned institution, on this beautiful campus, at the tippy-top of American society. Millions of people around the world would trade places with them in a heartbeat! “You can’t marginalize their suffering,” Marie chides me, with a twinkle.

This weekend, I was quite moved to read something in a piece by Eliot A. Cohen: “The Middle East as It Will Be.” Obviously, the piece is about the Middle East, and I was surprised — and, again, moved — to read the following in Cohen’s final paragraph:

Meanwhile, on the beautiful campuses of our oldest and wealthiest universities, mobs of the luckiest young people in the world are whimpering belligerently because they believe themselves to be victims — an obscene notion, if you think about their Syrian and Iraqi contemporaries.

Yes. Yes. As readers may know, I’ve interviewed a fair number of dissidents over the years — former political prisoners, people who have been tortured almost to death. When I hear pampered brats talk of themselves as victims, it’s almost too much to take.

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