The Left Is Threatened by Those Who Tell the Truth

COMMENTARY Progressivism

The Left Is Threatened by Those Who Tell the Truth

Jan 16, 2024 4 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Mike Gonzalez

Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow

Mike is the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
Then-Harvard University President-elect Claudine Gay is seated during the 372nd Commencement at Harvard University. Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Our cultural institutions have made a mistake in enforcing the view that all of life must be seen through the power dynamic of the “oppressed vs. the oppressor.”

Gay and the rest of the cultural Marxist Left are now putting us on notice that they are the new hegemony and we unwashed are running a subversion.

This new hegemony is thus unmoored from reality, from natural law, from eternal truth, and the shaky institutions built on them engender their own cynicism.

Are conservatives plotting to subvert American institutions? Tucked inside the op-ed that Claudine Gay published in the New York Times the day after she stepped down as Harvard president, she included this bold assertion. 

Gay made the accusation twice in her op-ed, so it was not a passing fancy. She devoted a full paragraph to the idea, which deserves quoting in full: 

The campaign against me was about more than one university and one leader. This was merely a single skirmish in a broader war to unravel public faith in pillars of American society. Campaigns of this kind often start with attacks on education and expertise, because these are the tools that best equip communities to see through propaganda. But such campaigns don’t end there. Trusted institutions of all types—from public health agencies to news organizations—will continue to fall victim to coordinated attempts to undermine their legitimacy and ruin their leaders’ credibility. For the opportunists driving cynicism about our institutions, no single victory or toppled leader exhausts their zeal. 

Further on in the op-ed, Gay added that courage was needed “to stand up to those who seek to undermine what makes universities unique in American life.”

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This contention is at first blush paradoxical. Many people, especially those in the center and the center Left, are belatedly coming around to agree that our cultural institutions have made a gigantic mistake in enforcing the view that all of life must be seen through the power dynamic of the “oppressed vs. the oppressor.” But those of us who have been writing about this for years have made the case that to get power over these institutions, the Left first had to undermine American norms and institutions.

This is the heart of what is known as “cultural Marxism.” It is not always possible to settle economic scores and overthrow regimes through violent and bloody revolutions as Karl Marx wanted (and the bloodier they were, the more Marx liked them), so a better approach is to infiltrate the institutions and indoctrinate the population, especially the young.

In the lingo of the cultural revolutionaries, this is called replacing the existing “cultural hegemony” with a “counterhegemony,” or engaging in “consciousness raising” with those who have “false consciousness” because they, wrongly in this view, identify with the oppressor class.

Your average woke professor may call false consciousness being “white adjacent” because our present-day cultural Marxists have racialized cultural Marxism. If you have ever taken a graduate seminar or debated one of these pinheads, you are sure to have heard these phrases.

But what is known as the Left’s “March Through the Institutions” (their term) has been so successful that Gay and the rest of the cultural Marxist Left are now putting us on notice that they are the new hegemony and we unwashed are running a subversion that wants to impose a counterhegemony.

Some might call it a quiet insurrection, though let’s not give them any ideas.

We saw an element of this exactly a year ago when an NHL player born in Russia, Ivan Provorov, refused to wear an LGBT “pride” jersey during warmups, citing his Christian Orthodox religious beliefs. An ESPN commentator, E.J. Hradek, said if Provorov couldn’t “assimilate” to American ways, he should go back to Russia.

“If this is that much of a problem for him, to maybe assimilate into his group of teammates, and in the community and here in this country, that’s OK. Listen, you can feel any way you want. But the beauty is if it bothers you that much, there’s always a chance to leave, go back to where you feel more comfortable,” Hradek said.

Except that, the immense changes the cultural Left has wrought (and yes, they have been immense) have been accomplished in a very few years. There is still more than folk memory of how things used to be.

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While many people have come to accept gay marriage, for example, the Supreme Court only judged it constitutional less than a decade ago. Many other people continue to see marriage as society recognizing the species’ reproductive strategy and government’s sanction of it based solely on its interest in regeneration. And there’s even less consensus on the T in LGBTQ, especially concerning grotesque medical procedures on minors. 

What is truly un-American is demanding that anybody affirm anything against their belief system or leave the country.

It is ludicrous for Hradek therefore to claim that Provorov is not assimilating “in the community and here in this country,” just as it is for Gay to claim that conservatives are undermining “pillars of society” and “expertise” because these tools enable society to see through propaganda.

This is true only if you accept the cultural Marxist charge that reality is not real, that man’s perception of the natural world cannot be relied upon because it is comprehended only through a conceptual superstructure that can be built, torn down, or replaced.

This canonical belief in man’s power to deconstruct reality only produces the ideological morass that prevented Gay from rejecting genocide categorically at a catastrophic congressional testimony on Dec. 5. Her “expertise” consists only in the ability to speak this lingo—to share, as she so self-incriminatingly put it at one point, “her truth.”

This new hegemony is thus unmoored from reality, from natural law, from eternal truth, and the shaky institutions built on them engender their own cynicism. All critics have to do is tell the plain truth to undermine it.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner

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