In this great book The Demon In Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, the Polish intellectual Ryszard Legutko discusses how under communism, the whole of life became politicized. He writes:
At the peak of communist domination, when culture was in the grip of the doctrine called socialist realism, it was officially proclaimed that nothing in the human world would not have an ideological dimension. … Anything that existed, not only materially, but also as thought or a seemingly harmless folly of imagination, could be non-mistakenly identified as correct or incorrrect, bourgeois or proletarian, revolutionary of counterrevolutionary, socialist or antisocialist, materialistic or idealistic, progressive or regressive. This practically put an end to any form of intellectual argumentation. No one argued, but either accused someone of ideological treason or defended himself against such a charge.
If all of life is to be brought into harmony with socialist ideals, then it followed that the state would need servants to spread the ideological message, and ensure compliance. Legutko writes:
The atmosphere the system produces is particularly conducive to engendering a certain type of mentality: that of a moralist, a commissar, and an informer rolled into one.
Ah yes, you can make a lot of money at American universities as a diversity commissar. Yesterday I posted the text of a job listing at a Catholic university that’s seeking an Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence — such a perfect Dunder Mifflin job title! — to oversee its efforts to spread the ideology of diversity and ensure the ideological soundness of all on campus. To show you that they’re basically hiring a commissar, I have reproduced the job description below, but have substituted for words like dignity, equitable, diversity, inclusion, and inclusiveness the word “socialism” and its variations, as well as other Marxist terms, as applicable.
Here we go:
In accordance with our University of St. Thomas mission of advancing the common good and convictions of socialism, the university seeks to create and sustain a socialist community. Reporting directly to the President, the Associate Vice President for (AVP) for Inclusive Excellence will lead the development and implementation of a proactive socialist strategy, which will support St. Thomas’s mission and strategic priorities.
The AVP for Inclusive Excellence is a high-level management position reporting directly to the President and serving as a member of the President’s Cabinet. The AVP for Inclusive Excellence will lead the development of a vision and effective strategy that champions the importance and value of a socialist university environment. Annual university-wide goals and strategies will be developed by the AVP for Inclusive Excellence to bring together various constituencies across the university. Tapping into a broad array of existing university resources, the AVP for Inclusive Excellence will also engage faculty, staff and students to build a socialist culture at St. Thomas.
Key to success in the position is the ability to establish effective and productive relationships with other university leaders in ways that are developmentally supportive and productive.
The AVP for Inclusive Excellence will design and implement training initiatives on Marxism-Leninism and other topics designed to increase awareness and support of socialism, and maintaining compliance with applicable laws. The position serves as a key advisor and resource person for leadership, faculty and staff in the areas of socialist thought and practice.
The AVP for Inclusive Excellence will implement an ongoing strategic “action plan to combat imperialism” designed to activate the university and infuse inclusive practices across the institution.
This position is the nexus of socialism efforts at St. Thomas. It is a non-academic, professional staff position that does not have a research requirement. The work performed will require being accessible to constituents and present on campus approximately 90% of the time. The primary areas of accountability include strategy, support, coordination, and education.
TYPICAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Collaborating with university partners, lead the development and oversee implementation of a vision and related strategy and action plan that advances university priorities and champions the importance and value of a socialist environment. Comprehensively assess university culture and make recommendations about campus climate, and student socialist consciousness; and employee outcomes related to socialism. Engage with university leadership, faculty, staff and students to build a socialist culture at St. Thomas.
Plan, guide and advise university leadership on socialist matters. Collaborate with leadership to create, implement and monitor programs designed to ensure a socially just treatment of students, faculty and staff.
Create strong partnerships throughout the university to advance socialist goals and objectives. In partnership with Human Resources, Enrollment, Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, assess potential barriers and develop strategies focused on recruiting and retaining a socialist workforce and student body. Participate in and advise on St. Thomas’s recruitment and retention of comrades from the fraternity of peoples. Work with Human Resources to reach out to communities of professionals dedicated to fighting bourgeois cosmopolitanism and develop recruitment strategies that attract comrades from the fraternity of peoples.
Coordinate the design and delivery of training initiatives on alienation, dialectical materialism, false consciousness, proletarianism, and other topics designed to increase awareness and support of socialist values, and maintaining compliance with applicable laws. Oversee the development and implementation of campus-wide training and events to promote Marxism-Leninism, internationalism, peaceful fraternity of peoples, and an overall climate of socialism. Partner with Student Affairs, Human Resources, Faculty Development and other departments that provide training and development on topics related to socialism.
Influence socialist outcomes by collaborating, coordinating and supporting socialism-related efforts occurring across the university.
Work with the campus team that responds to counterrevolutionary incidents on campus and coordinate the campus response and students support efforts.
Promote St. Thomas’s commitment to a climate of socialist fraternity through interaction with individuals inside and outside St. Thomas, including the Board of Trustees, senior staff and cabinet, faculty, staff, students and community leaders.
Gather, research and analyze data for use in decision-making with respect to campus socialist initiatives. Develop measurable goals and outcomes related to St. Thomas’s socialist efforts.
Manage the socialist consciousness budget, including developing budget proposals, justifying expenses, and monitoring accounts.
Performs other related duties as assigned.
You see? The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic university, so it would have made more sense if the institution hired an Associate Vice President of Catholic Excellence, whose job it was to make sure that an authentically Catholic sensibility was being inculcated throughout the university’s life. Had such a position been proposed, it would surely have met with intense opposition from faculty and staff, who would have seen it as a threat to freedom of thought and speech. One can certainly understand that. My point is simply that the idea that a Catholic university should seek to be authentically, integrally Catholic is all but unthinkable today. The idea that it should be integrally organized according to the ideology of diversity reveals what the true religion of academia is.
Legutko writes that Communism had to destroy all strongholds of opposition to its total control of society. Any form of resistance had to be exposed and rooted out. Communism trained people to believe that as long as there was any opposition, no matter how minor, to Communism, the world would be intolerably unjust. It was not hard to expose and destroy these ideological traitors. When they would object to some proposal, you simply said, “So, are you against socialism?” They didn’t dare say no, not only because everyone knew that in their society, one did not oppose socialism, any more than you would have opposed the Reformation in Calvin’s Geneva. As Legutko points out in the material I quoted above, this put an end to real intellectual argument. You were either for socialism, or against it — and if you were against it, well, you get what you deserve.
As an update to yesterday’s post about the job, a reader wrote:
I have worked for 10+ years as a faculty member at a public university. I have watched the diversity bureaucracy expand until it now looms over just about every aspect of our working lives. I’ve gone through semesters in which *every* committee meeting is taken up by some initiative sought by the diversity office. Endless amounts of money are thrown at it because everyone is intimidated into silence. The “bias reporting system” our own diversity office administers is run like a little Stasi. All of the anonymous reports of “microaggressions” (yes, you can report your fellow students or your colleagues for “microaggressions” — we’ve been told this explicitly) are shared only with the president and a tiny cabal accountable to no one.
Might this power be abused? Does the university need to host at its own expense the fifth speech this semester by a non-binary professional activist? By what authority can the diversity office write our curriculum, tell us how we should teach our classes, or determine whom we should hire for faculty positions? Do we really need to write a full page to our chairs at the end of *every year* about what we’ve done to advance diversity? Does the dean of diversity really need an assistant dean of diversity and an assistant to the assistant dean of diversity, especially when we’re always being told that the campus has no money? How does it make us appear to the public that the website of the diversity office features materials extolling the dignity of “sex workers” and BDSM? Are these “training sessions” the diversity office pushes really anything other than ideological reeducation? No one dares ask any one of these questions in any public setting. I suspect that I have colleagues who resent these developments as much as I do, but no one will say so explicitly.
The diversity bureaucracy is both a jobs program for Gender Studies majors and a tool of surveillance and repression. It is purely ideological. Cut out this tumor and there might be something like the free exchange of ideas again. Getting rid of this monster should be legislative priority one for anyone who cares about higher education.
Everyone is intimidated into silence. Again, take a look at how I reframed the diversocrat job posting in terms of socialist ideology, as if this were Karl-Marx Universiteit looking to make a high-level administrative hire. That should make it very clear that diversity is a ruthless political ideology.
It will never, ever go away as long as those within the system who see it for what it is stay silent.
UPDATE:A reader in academia writes:
A few years ago, at a previous institution, we had Title IX training for faculty at the beginning of the school year. In one session, the administration had one of the school’s lawyers present to us about reporting instances of harassment/discrimination. We were told to always be on the lookout, and to report anything, no matter how minor or trivial-seeming or how it might appear out of context. The reason: so the administration’s lawyers could use bits of information like that to see if they established a “pattern of behavior.”
That is literally how it was sold to us, in those words. As faculty members, the lawyer’s theory went, we might not know that one minor, stupid joke, heard in passing, made by some random student we have never met on a campus of several thousand, is really a sign of a culture of harassment and so we should report it just to be safe. They could be offending people all the time and we wouldn’t see the whole picture, so better to just report them. And after all, if that student isn’t a serial harasser, he has nothing to worry about, right? I’m very sure this rule was not remotely followed by faculty, but I’m equally sure most of them thought it was well-intentioned and harmless. Someone could write a book about this kind of thing. Those particular kinds of rules have been relaxed with a new US Education Secretary, but we’re unfortunately just one administration away from seeing them come back, with vengeance.
UPDATE.2: Reader SB, whose name I know, and who works for a large private university that some would consider conservative, comments:
You want a concrete example of how my university seeks to intimidate faculty into silence? Here it is:
Inside an email to all faculty asking them to fill out an online survey concerning their preferred committee assignments (“Which do you prefer: University Libraries Committee, Hellenic Council Committee, Academic Calendar Committee”), there is the following concluding paragraph:
“If your response indicates a violation of ______ University’s Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Interpersonal Violence Policy, your response will be forwarded to the Title IX office and they may contact you…”
This is striking, isn’t it? How could my response to an online survey “indicate a violation”? Most of the survey is checking off boxes. The only opportunity I can think of for a “violation” would come at the one place on the survey where a faculty member could enter text: the concluding “Comments” section.
But as you say, all life, all existence, must be demonstrated as being either orthodox or heterodox. My response to an online survey cannot be construed as merely informational; it must be interpreted by my employer as “correct” or “incorrect.” And the implications for lack of correctness are pretty clear…