Civil War for Truth: Academia
The Long March Through the Institutions
Academia is one of the most worrying institutions to break down because the education system is the basis for everything that will happen in the future. Children, teenagers, and young adults can be molded easier into an ideology because the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25.1
All ideological systems have tried to indoctrinate the youths into their belief systems, even the democratic ones. But the harm emerges if these ideologies are not based on truth and facts, glorify the collective, teach obedience to the state, weaken the resilience of mind and body or stir up hatred against parts of the population. The Nazis did this with their Hitler Youth, the Maoists did this with their Red Guards, or African dictators do this with their child soldier armies.
Give me just one generation of youth and I’ll transform the whole world.
The modern universities in Western countries are breaking down due to something the Marxists coined as
The long march through the institutions. It is a Marxist long-term plan to change society from within over many generations by indoctrination of the education system.
Large parts of the Western intelligentsia were (and are) in favor of socialist ideologies. Between the 1950s and 1970s, the crimes and failure of Marxism and Socialism could no longer be denied. Dissident writers like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago) wrote in length about the horrors of those totalitarian regimes. The death tolls of Stalinism and Maoism became public.
It is estimated that Stalin killed more than 20 million people,2 between 3 and 5 million died as the result of the destruction of the Kulak class, which resulted in massive famine. More than 1 million were executed and an unknown number of people died through
forced labor, deportation, famine, massacres, and detention and interrogation.3
Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward policy killed in 4 years (1958-1962) an estimated 45 million people,
making it the biggest episode of mass murder ever recorded.4
Confronted with these facts, many academics moved in the direction of post-modernism, a philosophy Gad Saad calls
Post-Modernism is the granddaddy of idea pathogens because it removes the most fundamental epistemological premise of reality, which is that there are universal truths we can regularly count on. That’s the whole premise of science. There are natural laws that we are trying to discover. Post-modernism says, there is no absolute truth. Everything is shackled by subjectivity, by personal biases, by relativism.
In the 1970s, a group of poststructuralist French philosophers developed a radical critique of modern philosophy. They included people like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and others. They developed relativist ideas like deconstructionism (there is no reality outside language, language creates reality) which gave birth to a huge amount of related ideas and ideologies like social constructivism, cultural relativism, gender studies, radical feminism, critical theory, and a cultural phenomenon which is today summarized as “Social Justice Activism,” “Identity Politics,” or “Wokeness”.
Slowly, over the next 40-50 years these ideologies spread, foremost in the humanities departments of many universities. While those ideas pathogens often start with a noble premise like
we should not discriminate against …, once they develop into a field of study they spread like cancer.
The problem arises when domains that should be reserved for the intellect are hijacked by feelings. This is precisely what plagues our universities: what were once centers of intellectual development have become retreats for the emotionally fragile. The driving motto of the university is no longer the pursuit of truth but the coddling of hurt feelings.5
Relativism produces cultural relativism, which brings forward ideas that all cultures are equally right, and that we should not judge other cultures’ customs and traditions. This weird form of multiculturalism accepts the horrors of other cultures (like female genital mutilation, child brides, and honor killings) and
fetishize[s] all Muslims as inherently noble, peaceful, and kind, a new manifestation of the myth of the Noble Savage, writes Gad Saad in his book The Parasitic Mind.5
This leads to the idea that cultural artifacts are holy or “taboo” and using or developing them further would be “Cultural Appropriation,” and this idiotic idea. Not only is it nearly impossible to identify a founder of a cultural phenomenon in most cases, but additionally cultures develop the same idea independent of each other multiple times (for example Dreadlocks in African tribes and Vikings), and culture mixes and builds new cultures on each other.
Obsession with Power, Language, and Knowledge
The activists of these ideologies
are obsessed with power, language, knowledge, and the relationships between them. They interpret the world through a lens that detects power dynamics in every interaction, utterance, and cultural artifact—even when they aren’t obvious or real. This is a worldview that centers on social and cultural grievances and aims to make everything into a zero-sum political struggle revolving around identity markers like race, sex, gender, sexuality, and many others, write Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay in their book Cynical Theories.6
This leads to more and more fields of studies like Critical Queer Theory, Critical Fat Theory, and Critical Race Theory.7 These ideas leaked into public consciousness in the last few years. It is the reason parents have to fight at school board meetings against CRT (Critical Race Theory) or gender ideology, to remove it from the curriculum.8910 It is the reason we see fashion advertising with morbidly obese models,11 trans-athletes crushing biological women in nearly all sports,12 trans-men getting moved to female prisons (by self-identifying as female) where they rape and impregnate inmates,13 or why we have now a pregnant man emoji on our phones. Ideology has real-world consequences.
The Words Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean
The problem is that the activists use sophistry. The words they use don’t mean what most people think they mean. This ideology is sometimes called DIE, because of its core principles of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.
At first glance, these ideas sound nice, don’t they? But this is because of assumptions we have about what they mean, which are not shared with activists. In their opinion, Diversity never means diversity of thought (or race or gender). Inclusion doesn’t mean including all people. It means bringing in more people of the same ideology under the guise of diversity and inclusion. This is the reason people that share a preferred race, for example, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) or sexual orientation, as LGBT+, but not their ideology, are viciously attacked. Larry Elder, a black conservative radio moderator who ran for the governor position of California, was called
a Black face on White supremacy.14
Equity is even more worrying because it stands for equality of outcome. It means that if you see any difference in gender, sex, race, or any other attribute, the reason is always a systemic underlying condition that holds people down. It ignores preference, interest, merit, diligence, hard work, genes, or luck as contributing factors. Ironically, gender activists try to reduce a multi-level problem to a binary in this case.
This all resulted in a prominent victimhood culture at the universities, where trigger warnings are now necessary before you read Shakespeare or listen to a Standup comedian or philosophical talk. It produced a culture that invented the concept of Microaggressions and sees those in statements like
Merry Christmas or
Women bear children, and believes that
Words are Violence.
Gad Saad coined the term
Collective Munchhausen for this faux-victimhood mentality.
Rather than feigning a medical condition or inflicting an injury, sufferers of Collective Munchhausen seek attention, sympathy, and empathy by advertising their supposed victimhood status (or piggybacking on the victimhood of others, Collective Munchhausen by Proxy).5
How crazy this victimhood culture can be observed by watching the Democratic Socialists of America National Convention 2019. I do not recommend watching the full convention, it might cause permanent brain damage to the viewer.
Diving into the understanding of this ideology is like being Alice following the rabbit into Wonderland. The amount of invented words by these activists is mind-blowing: Ableism, Acting White, Ally, Birthing Person, Black Lives Matter, Body Positivity, Critical Race Theory, Cisgender, Deadname, Decolonize, Demisexual, Diversity, Equity, Fatphobia, Gender Pronouns, Hate Speech, Healthism, Healthy at Every Size, Intersectionality, Latinx, Oppression, People of Color, Privilege, Queer, to name a fraction. James Lindsay started collecting and describing these terms in his Social Justice Encyclopedia with the activists’ own words.
This ideology brooded for years inside academia, but the internet made it possible to spread them easier around forums, boards, and social media platforms.
In late 2016 and 2017 three major events happened that catapulted the craziness inside the universities into the global consciousness.
Jordan Peterson Against Compelled Speech Laws
On September 27, 2016, Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, released the first of three videos speaking out against political correctness and Bill C16. Peterson was purposely mischaracterized as transphobic by activists and media because he objected to the introduction of a compelled speech law in Canada, which would force people to use the preferred pronouns of a trans person or face a criminal investigation for a hate speech crime. The controversy lasted nearly two months and included multiple rallies by activists against Peterson and a debate between Peterson, law professor Brenda Cossmann, and UBC Educator Professor Mary Bryson.15 Jordan Peterson and Gad Saad gave full testimony on Bill C16 in May 2017 at the Canadian Senate.
Forced into the public sphere, Peterson used his media presence in a calm, polite, and relaxed way to make the public aware of the problem at the universities. His breakthrough was an interview on Channel 5 News with Cathy Newman. Newman tried to attack him repeatedly and misinterpret his words, but was defeated and ridiculed by Peterson’s calm argumentation. The Jordan Peterson debate on the gender pay gap, campus protests, and postmodernism has nearly 38 million views (2022) and is something everybody should watch.
Ironically, the vicious attacks on Peterson made him more popular and catapulted him into the position of one of the most influential intellectuals of our time.
Evergreen State College Incident
The second event catapulted two
deeply progressive professors at the Evergreen State College into public consciousness. Bret Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying, both with a Ph.D. in biology, fell victim to a campus mob that labeled them as “racist” and “white supremacists” and both professors lost their tenured jobs at the university.
The controversy started when in May 2017 for the first time white people were asked to leave the campus on the yearly “Day of Absence.” This yearly day allowed people of color to stay away from campus for one day to bring into consciousness how important diversity is. In 2017, the voluntary absence was changed into a mandatory absence for white people. Bret Weinstein, who merely questioned the event was made an example of and after massive riots, the students even took teachers hostage and hunted them on the campus property.
A three-part documentary (1, 2, 3) by filmmaker Mike Nayna documents the insanity that happened at the college with a mix of real-time video footage uploaded by activists and interviews. It shines a light on how a progressive college destroyed itself with ideology. The documentary is deeply disturbing and leaves viewers baffled and speechless. Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying worked since the incident, self-employed on their fantastic DarkHorse Podcast. Bret Weinstein testified to Congress about the free speech crisis on US college campuses.
The Evergreen State College experienced a 27% drop in enrollments after the riots, got into financial problems, and continues to decline.16 The former president of the college, George Sumner Bridges, who collaborated with the protestors resigned in 2021 and the college was unable to find a successor yet.17 Evergreen State College is a sad example of ideology destroying an institution of higher education.
The Grievance Studies Affair
In 2017 and 2018 a group of three authors, Peter Boghossian, James A. Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose started a project to expose the political corruption in several academic fields. They wrote and submitted bogus papers to academic journals in cultural, queer, race, gender, fat, and sexuality studies to see if they could pass peer review. They wrote 20 articles that had purposely absurd ideas. One of the most famous papers investigated rape culture in dog parks, another one investigated how transphobia could be reduced by penetrating men anally with sex toys, one proposed Fat Body Building, and one study rewrote Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf in feminist language.18
The team failed with their approach at first and decided to understand and study the ideologies to write more effective hoax papers. Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay worked their insights into the ideologies into a book on the topic. They both started projects to fight corruption in Academia. Helen Pluckrose started Counterweight, a project to reduce political polarization that is threatening science and James Lindsay started New Discourses, a magazine, podcast, and education platform on post-modernist and Neo-Marxist ideology.
By the time of the reveal 4 papers had been published, 1 paper won a prize, 3 had been accepted, but not yet published, 6 had been rejected and 7 were under review. Filmmaker Mike Nayna produced a short documentary about the Grievance Studies Affair.
Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay were guests on Joe Rogan’s Podcast to talk about the project.
The incident is at the same time funny and terrifying but revealed how corrupted Academia is. It might be beyond repair.
One could ignore what happens in Academia, but unfortunately, it is not
What Happens in Academia, Stays in Academia. Scientific papers are written by scientists that work in Academia. Their ideologies will reflect in studies and have real-world consequences.
Another consequence is that students don’t stay students forever, but are released into the labor market. They bring their ideologies into corporations, media, and politics. We see this in social media companies and the tech industry, which are saturated with progressive-left activists. Most of those companies, like Netflix (99.6%) or Twitter (98.7%) have a left-biased workforce.19
Media companies have a strong cultural influence with their hegemony on movies, TV Shows, news articles, and social media influence. This leads to problems I discussed in previous essays of this series regarding censorship, bias, echo chambers, and political division.
But more and more of these ideologies find their way into HR departments of traditional companies, which create policies that affect all employees.
A few recent examples show what can happen if ideology destroys the workplace.
Wokeness Harms Company Culture
Spotify got repeatedly into troubled water since its acquisition of the Joe Rogan Experience on its platform. Employees staged multiple walkouts and had tearful breakdowns every time a guest on Joe Rogan talked about a controversial topic such as Transgender, COVID-19, or politics in general. But for now, the profit was more important to the company than pleasing the grievances of triggered employees.20
Another recent example is the resignation of the Jewish opinion writer Bari Weiss in 2020 from her position at The New York Times. The harassment she had to endure on internal Slack channels for her center-left positions became unbearable.21
Coinbase was one of the first companies that drew a line for activists in 2021 because it started to affect the company negatively. Employees got the instruction from their CEO Brian Armstrong to keep their activism out of the workplace and do it in their time.22
The small software company Basecamp with its 57 employees was troubled in 2021. In 2017, the company signalized how important they thought the topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity were and allowed a new hire to work on the topic. Roughly one-third of its employees took part in working on DIE issues on a dedicated company message board. This was a major mistake. As we learned earlier, the core premise of the ideology is to problematize everything and find grievances in every small thing. This small thing was a list of funny customer names that floated around the company.
There was a huge internal discussion where people claimed the company would be riddled with “White Supremacy.” Basecamp’s head of strategy, Ryan Singer, questioned the existence of “White Supremacy” in the company but was forced to resign.2324 As a result, CEO Jason Fried introduced new rules banning political discussions from internal message boards.25 A severance package was offered to employees wanting to leave the company and one-third of the employees left. Now, that the dust is settled it doesn’t look like the company has taken any long-term harm, they announced to expand into their second project massively, HEY. Basecamp made the grave error to give activists an inch. They always take a mile.
The problem of universities breaking down and releasing activists into the public is here to stay with us for a longer time. But high tuition fees that produce massive student debt and useless degrees like “gender studies,” creating employees who are too fragile to withstand a normal day in the working place or contribute to the success of a company, is not a viable long-term business solution.
The only way this can be stopped is when more companies stand up against activists that threaten their companies. You don’t kowtow to the mob. The companies that understand this will survive this phase, the others won’t because the majority of people are fed up with woke shit and will stop buying and consuming those politicized products.
Tony Cox and Sandra Aamodt (2011): Brain Maturity Extends Well Beyond Teen Years, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141164708. ↩
Robert Conquest (1968): The Great Terror, NY Macmillan. ↩
Cynthia Haven (2010): Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?, https://news.stanford.edu/2010/09/23/naimark-stalin-genocide-092310/. ↩
Illya Somin (2016): Remembering the biggest mass murder in the history of the world, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/08/03/giving-historys-greatest-mass-murderer-his-due/. ↩
Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay (2020): Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity - and Why This Harms Everybody, Pitchstone Publishing. ↩
Jessica Chasmar (2021): Newsom rally speaker calls Larry Elder ‘a Black face on White supremacy’, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/newsom-speaker-larry-elder-black-face-white-supremacy. ↩
Kaitlyn Simpson (2016): The Explainer: Timeline of the Jordan Peterson controversy, https://thevarsity.ca/2016/11/21/the-explainer-timeline-of-the-jordan-peterson-controversy/. ↩
Sara Weissmann (2020): Two Years After Protests, Evergreen State College Works to Boost Enrollment, Retention, https://www.diverseeducation.com/students/article/15106098/two-years-after-protests-evergreen-state-college-works-to-boost-enrollment-retention. ↩
John Sexton (2020): Evergreen State College president George Bridges is leaving…next year, https://hotair.com/john-s-2/2020/02/26/evergreen-state-college-president-george-bridges-leaving-next-year-n310139. ↩
James Lindsay, Peter Boghossian, and Helen Pluckrose (2018): Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship, https://areomagazine.com/2018/10/02/academic-grievance-studies-and-the-corruption-of-scholarship/. ↩
Rani Molla (2018): Tech employees are much more liberal than their employers - at least as far as the candidates they support, https://www.vox.com/2018/10/31/18039528/tech-employees-politics-liberal-employers-candidates. ↩
Isobel Asher Hamilton (2020): Spotify is reportedly fighting with employees about hosting episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast that some consider transphobic, https://www.businessinsider.com/spotify-report-joe-rogan-transphobia-fight-employees2020-9. ↩
Pete Pachal (2020): Coinbase Has Drawn a Line in the Sand for Its Activist Employees, https://www.coindesk.com/coinbase-has-drawn-a-line-in-the-sand-for-its-activist-employees. ↩
Nick Monroe (2021): REVEALED: Basecamp employees cried, threw tantrums after boss rejected woke culture, https://thepostmillennial.com/revealed-basecamp-employees-cried-threw-tantrums-after-boss-rejected-woke-culture. ↩
Matt Ruby (2021): I was employee #1 at Basecamp. Here’s my take on the recent blowup there., https://mattruby.substack.com/p/i-was-employee-1-at-basecamp-heres. ↩
Jason Fried (2021): Changes at Basecamp, https://world.hey.com/jason/changes-at-basecamp-7f32afc5. ↩