Thriving In Leftist Universities (2024 Feb)

by Barry A. Liebling

Young people in college today are immersed in a harsh environment. Leftist zealots dominate higher education. Most of the teachers and administrators are enthusiastically on-board with the woke agenda. The good news is that you can find a sprinkling of excellent educators and students in nearly all schools, but you have to look carefully because they are vastly outnumbered and bullied by the “progressive,” anti-Western-Civilization, nihilist cabal. Tragically, the most influential and prestigious universities have the strongest commitment to the Neo-Marxist world view.

Jason D. Hill, a professor of philosophy, is aware of the terrible state of affairs. He argues that it is too late to reform the existing institutions. Instead, new centers of higher learning need to be established that are committed to their proper role. He writes, “The new university will have to be the breeding ground for a new type of rational individualist who also loves the human species – a humanist – with an heroic view of him – or herself that gets transmitted to the world at large.

Dr Hill is essentially correct. Bad actors who are nihilistic and intent on trashing the best ideas of the Enlightenment have a firm grip on the universities. The professor goes on to suggest that young people consider going into vocations that do not require a college degree which can be lucrative and are not sullied by the leftist educational establishment. Again, he makes valid points.

But consider the fate of high school graduates who have the interest and ability for a career that requires a college and graduate or professional degree. At best, it will take many years for an abundance of new universities to be established that perform properly. Should these bright students postpone their schooling until there are institutions that are inspired by the right philosophical principles? Are there ways for students to get a valuable education from schools – especially the most famous and renowned schools that deliberately shun rationality and independent thinking?

The short answer is yes.

If you are a parent of a young person who can benefit from higher education you can provide this student with advice on how to survive and thrive in what has become the leftist jungle of colleges and graduate schools. Here are some principles that students should employ and what you should tell the young people you know.

Tell them to pay attention to everything their teachers and fellow students say and do. But realize from the start, that some of behavior and opinions will be correct and some will be entirely wrong. The job of a good student is to evaluate critically everything and sort things out. Understand that there are bad actors everywhere who deliberately attempt to subvert the educational process.

There are signs neophytes should notice that higher-education-material is on the right track or is definitely flawed.

Explain to your young student that individual human beings have agency and have rights. And every individual has the same natural rights. That is the valid Enlightenment principle of equality. Corrupt educators deny this. To Neo-Marxists, groups (based on ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual preference, and more being invented all the time) are important, but individuals count for little. Furthermore, every group is designated by the leftist elite as either an oppressor or oppressed. Oppressors and oppressed have mutual animosity – forever. To leftist “intellectuals” benevolent sentiments are off the table.

Emphasize that in the real world there is truth, and a student’s important task is to discern what is true and what is not. If the neophyte observes events and uses reason this can be sorted out. Everyone makes mistakes, but smart people take efforts to correct their mistakes, and can succeed. Bad educators deny this (and consequently disqualify themselves from making any judgments). To Neo-Marxists who dominate higher education truth is a social construct which depends on what oppressor-oppressed groups you belong to. Bad educators will insist that their pupils accept any assertions handed down to them from the woke elite.

The term “politically correct” originally referred to surrendering independent judgment and complying with political bosses (usually communists). In fact, a student in higher education should question and evaluate everything. Urge those you advise to listen to their teachers and read the assigned literature. Learn what the messages are. Perhaps they make sense, perhaps not. Tell your advisees to actively figure things out for themselves.

Urge students to get good grades in their classes. If they are compelled to take a course that is riddled with fallacies, they can write exams and papers with prefaces such as “according to the book” or “as the professor has asserted.” To perform well in the university students have to show that they know the material. As independent human beings they have the right to agree or reject it (privately for sure, publicly perhaps).

Of course it is not easy to be strong and resist the woke indoctrination that is endemic in higher education. It takes effort and resolve. But it can and should be done. Many years ago I was an undergraduate and then graduate student at two elite universities. Most (but not all) of my teachers were zealous leftist partisans. Their haranguing – certainly to their disappointment – increased my interest and commitment to individual liberty. My message to students: If I was able to thrive in a leftist ocean so can you.

*** See other entries at in “Monthly Columns.” ***

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