The Peoples Republic of Academia

When I visited Eastern Europe recently, friends there told me all about how they had ousted the Communist officials. They ousted Church officials, too--ones who had collaborated with the Communists. They especially mentioned one notorious Lutheran bishop. But--one man told me with a sly smile--the worthy bishop is not unemployed. Not at all. He's been hired by a prominent American seminary, to teach a course on Marxist-Christian dialogue. So what the pundits say is true. Marxism is collapsing in Eastern Europe; socialist parties around the globe are moving to the right. Ironically, one of the "last bastions of Marxism," in the words of one sociologist, is the American university. It's got to the point where a well-known political writer in France has said, "Anymore, when we want a Marxist for a debate over here, we have to import one from an American University." It's difficult to quantify precisely the Marxist influence on American campuses. Business Week estimates that radical campus caucuses total more than 10,000 members, with more than a dozen Marxist journals in print. But though the numbers are estimates, the trend is clear: Many of the radical students of the 60s moved into university careers in the 70s. One historian says, "Marxism is more strongly adhered to now than at any other time in U.S. academic history." Now, the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe puts all these American Marxists in a rather awkward position. It seems that every time Marxism is actually applied, it turns out to be oppressive, totalitarian. The people of Eastern Europe have just dramatically repudiated the very doctrines Marxists teach. In defense of their position, American Marxists do the only thing they can do: They insist that the Marxism in the Soviet Union wasn't real Marxism. Real Marxism, they say, fosters tolerance and democracy. But does this defense stand up? Is there a Marxism--pristine and pure--different from the Soviet system? The answer is no. Soviet policy was completely consistent with what American Marxists believe. For example. American Marxists believe human beings are shaped by economic conditions. The Soviets believed that, too. That's why they tried to control the people by controlling the economy. They took away the right of citizens to make any independent economic decisions. American Marxists believe art and literature are just tools to justify the social order. The Soviets believed that, too. That's why they required artists and writers to glorify the Soviet state in their art. If they didn't, they were sent to the Gulag. American Marxists despise religion. You know the classic phrase: religion is the "opiate of the people." The Soviets believed that, too. That's why they persecuted Christians and turned churches into museums of atheism. American Marxists who try to disassociate themselves from Soviet Communism are being intellectually dishonest. Their own beliefs were fleshed out and expressed in the Soviet system. Now that Marxism has been discredited around the world, let's hope it meets its deserved fate here in American, too. And that liberation will finally come to the People's Republic of Academia.


Chuck Colson


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