The graduate

"The graduate" Continued...

Issue: "Summer of '68," Aug. 9, 2008

Did I really believe this? I look back from four decades later and wonder-but that's what I started to argue at the time.

I can see now that my movement toward Communism grew out of my warped psychology, which created soil for the poisonous plants growing out of the atheism I had clutched at age 14. Marx himself had worried that the concept of creation by God was "an idea very difficult to dislodge from the popular consciousness." He tried hard by declaring that we had "irrefutable proof of [man's] self-creation": Man suddenly emerges as man once he attains the consciousness of man by working as man. What man was before he picked up the first tool, and how he got there, Marx skipped-and so did I.

Why didn't I ask obvious questions about the origins of the universe and of man? Because I didn't want to. The responsibility is mine, particularly because my first attempts to become a Marxist were so stumbling-yet I persevered. Example: Another student and I saw a notice in the Yale Daily News about a meeting on socialism to be held that evening in one of the university classrooms. We showed up on time to find ourselves the only ones in the room except for a solemn man precisely arranging on a front table piles of publications from the Socialist Workers Party, also known as the Trotskyists.

Nearly four decades later I can still picture the comrade: Saying not a word to us, he focused on squaring each stack and having the distance between each stack exactly the same. The other student and I took one look at each other and bolted the room, heading down the stairs as the comrade, jolted from his reverie, hurried after us yelling, "Wait, wait." We didn't wait and that student later sought gay liberation, but I began to think that Trotskyists were soft: The hard-core Communists might have a way to transform all of society by bringing to power those who could eliminate war and poverty from the world.

Adults should have told me I was nuts, but instead they tended to applaud. I started to build a "worker-student alliance" by making one of the college janitors an honorary Yale fellow: Life magazine ran an affectionate article about the bemused proletarian and me. An urban studies professor gave me course credit for propagandistic columns about New Haven's inner city and ethnic areas that I wrote for the Yale Daily News.

I learned the fine art of saving time by mimicking leftist views. After spending an hour in an elementary school I wrote that it was promoting frightened obedience. After spending an hour in a state prison I wrote about innocent inmates condemned through racism. After spending an hour interviewing bocci players in the Italian area of town I wrote about white racism.

I was ready to go hard-core. But that's another story that takes us into the early '70s.

Read other episodes in this multi-part biographical series.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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