The one place that Marxism has succeeded is in conquering academia in Europe and North America.
One of the great lessons of the 20th century, paid for with the suffering and blood of hundreds of millions, is that communism was a failure in both economy and governance. This was demonstrated repeatedly with the fall of the Soviet Union, the switch in China from communes and central planning to capitalism, the vast slaughter of the Khmer Rouge, the breakdown of the Cuban economy, and the starving prison house that is North Korea.
The one place that Marxism has succeeded is in conquering academia in Europe and North America. Marxism-Leninism is now the dominant model of history and society being taught in Western universities and colleges. Faculties of social science and humanities disguise their Marxism under the label "postcolonialism," anti-neoliberalism, and the quest for equality and "social justice." And while our educational institutions laud "diversity" in gender, race, sexual preference, religion, national origin, etc., diversity in opinion, theory, and political view is nowhere to be seen. So our students hear only the Marxist view, and take it to be established truth.
Postcolonialism is the view that all ills in the world stem from Western imperialism and colonialism. The hierarchical caste system in India, that disenfranchises half the population as "untouchables," is, according to postcolonial analysis, and invention of the British while they governed India. So too with tribes in Africa, allegedly invented by the British colonial authorities to "divide and conquer" the native African, who previously had all mixed together happily with no divisions and no conflicts. So too in Central Asia, where, thanks to Soviet colonial authorities, "formerly fluid hybridities and contextual identifications were stabilized, naturalized, and set into a particular mold that gave each group a definitive history, physiognomy, mentality, material culture, customs, language, and territory," according to one postcolonial author. Apparently, according to the postcolonial view, history and culture in India, Africa, and Central Asia started with the arrival of outsiders in recent centuries.
The West is threatened not by materialist decadence, but by academic-fostered self-hate.
In the Middle East, problems and disorder began, according to postcolonialism, with the Sykes-Picot arbitrary boundaries imposed by the West after WWI, and the imposition of the "foreign and colonialist" Jews on the "indigenous" Palestinians. Unnoticed by postcolonialists are the Persian, Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mongol, and Ottoman imperial conquests that made up much of Middle Eastern history, or the unending tribal conflicts beyond the control of imperial authorities. Once again, for postcolonialists, local and regional cultures were benign, and history began with Western imperialism in recent centuries.
The dirtiest word in the Marxist vocabulary is "neoliberal," which stands for an economy based on capitalist principles and processes. Students have learned that "neoliberal" is equivalent to evil. Two students, independently, recently said to me that "we need to replace capitalism," although they had no suggestions about what to replace it with. That half the world tried to replace capitalism in the 20th century, with disastrous results, they apparently had no idea. That capitalism has brought unparalleled prosperity, if not peace and happiness, is unknown to students. They have been taught that the only products of capitalism are exploitation and oppression. Globalization is taught as the expansion of exploitation and oppression worldwide. The great economic developments in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, and the economic progress in Africa, is terra incognita to students, taught only problems but no successes.
Students are taught that the primary value is equality: not liberal equality of opportunity, but the equality of result idealized in Marxist theory. They are not taught, and give no thought to complementary values, such as freedom and prosperity. Equality of result is advocated under the guise of "social justice," which means redistribution of wealth. Students rail against the "1%," unaware that most members of that category are salaried doctors, lawyers, and businessmen who earn their top wages. Nor do they understand that stock ownership is widespread in Western societies, by both private individuals and public institutions, such as pension funds and universities.
The Marxism taught in colleges and universities is anti-Western, seeing the West as no more than a source of conquest, oppression, and exploitation. Consequently, non-Western cultures are upheld as purer, more decent, and fairer than Western culture. The alliance between Marxist politics and Islamism as seen in the support of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood follows logically. Students now see themselves as defenders of Islam, along with all other non-Western cultures, although they know little about these other cultures and their histories.
It has been imagined that the West would fall through materialist decadence; but now it appears that the West is most at risk from self-hate, fostered by the treason of the academics.
Philip Carl Salzman is a professor of Anthropology at McGill University and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.