What C.S. Lewis points out in his Narnia stories-witches never die, they just come back in other forms-holds true for all kinds of evil talkers and doers, including those who inhabit that last refuge for intellectual escapism, the American university.
Remember how at May Day celebrations in Moscow and other Communist-occupied capitals up to a decade ago, tanks rolled through the streets as Party leaders applauded? Did you think that with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later, America's academic Marxists would straighten up and fly right? Well, look again: As colleges prepare for their commencement exercises this month, neo-Marxism is showing its blood-red flag.
Here's a very brief lecture: Marxism, y'all will recall, emphasized class identity. Bourgeoisie (the middle class) and proletariat (the working class) could never see eye to eye. Their consciousness was fundamentally different, Marxists declared. Everyone was stuck in his socioeconomic class identity. (Marxist leaders had a loophole: They often had middle-class backgrounds but somehow claimed an ability to transcend those sordid pasts.)
This notion of class consciousness ("It's a proletarian thing, you wouldn't understand") has now been discredited all over the world, not only by the failure of socialistic practice but by observation of individual beliefs. Attitudes vary widely among workers, as they do among people of any particular race. Marxists tried to account for such variance by saying that some workers identified with their bourgeois oppressors ("false consciousness"), but that game grew old.
So, are we now given permission at universities to see people as individuals? Are we allowed to understand that the key differences among people are theological? No way-because that would amount to making ideas paramount, and such a notion cuts against materialist doctrine. Besides, anyone who makes theology the queen of the sciences once again is logically driven to recognize the central importance of church-and that's something from which many academics run as fast as they can.
So, enter neo-Marxism: Just as Marxism emphasized class identity, neo-Marxism emphasizes x, y, and z-race, sex, and sexual preference. The theory is twisted predestinarian: People think as they do because of their x, y, or z and are unable to change, since a specific consciousness goes with membership in a particular group.
The social advantages of neo-Marxism are great. Neo-Marxists can maintain traditional left-wing values by thundering as their Marxist fathers did about oppressed groups of people. Marxist diatribes can be recycled: Just substitute "people of color" for the working class, "angry white males" for the bourgeoisie, and "homophobes" for any other oldtime villains. Marxist music also gains new life: Songs about "the wretched of the earth" are relevant as long as they demand, "Arise, ye people of color."
Ludicrous, yes; as Karl Marx wrote in one essay comparing the mid-19th-century Napoleon III with the original Bonaparte, what emerges the first time as tragedy may come back years later as farce. But farces can be serious. For example, "critical race theory"-the view that there are competing and irreconcilable racial views of reality-played a role in O.J. Simpson's criminal trial, where lawyers successfully swayed a jury to ignore evidence and acquit a man who suddenly became not a murderer but the victim of a racist police force.
The jury in that case ignored important facts-but, as University of Virginia Professor Alex M. Johnson Jr. argued, the "voice of color ... rejects narrow evidentiary concepts of relevance and credibility." Prof. Paul Butler of the George Washington University Law School even proposed that blacks automatically acquit black defenders in nonviolent drug crimes, and probably also acquit any black person accused of stealing from a white. (Don't you see, this is how the oppressed takes back from the oppressor what is rightfully his?)
Bottom line: Blood is thicker than truth. If you've read about gang warfare in some inner-city areas, you're familiar with two famous gang names, Crips and Bloods. There's a parallel division at many universities: Gangs of scholarly Bloods emphasize collectivities (x, y, or z) and a few Scrips-people who read Scripture and recognize that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek-stand against them.
Some conservatives talk about ignoring any group status and treating people totally as individuals. That's an improvement over liberal lumping, but Scrips go deeper: Scrips talk not about ignoring man's divisions but transcending them. Scrips understand that God makes distinctions not by man's blood but by Christ's. God separates people into two groups: those who place Christ's blood on their doorposts and those who do not.
The battle of the 21st century may center on how we group ourselves-racially, ethnically, and sexually, or theologically. As always, the central question will be, who's in charge, Man or God?