Elon Musk and the Peril of Free Thinking

Joy Reid and Anand Giridharadas took to the MSNBC airwaves to condemn exemplary US citizen Elon Musk, the successful African-American engineer who just purchased the social media platform Twitter for $44 billion, characterizing his play as motivated by fear of “a future of abundant, equitable speech.” Giridharadas told Reid, “This future in which there would actually be more abundant and equitable speech terrifies the crap out of people like Elon Musk.” Giridharadas did not explain how he knew Musk was terrified or what the term “equitable speech” meant. The author of the 2018 Winners Take All instead went on a rant about all the awful things that might happen now that Twitter is in the hands of capitalist elites—as if it wasn’t before Musk bought out the company.

MSNBC’s Musk Twitter graphic

Progressives are so paranoid and biased—so sure they have the truth—that they’re asking questions about Twitter now after being purchased by Elon Musk that they could have asked about Twitter before Elon Musk bought out the social media platform (like “They might rig elections!”), but didn’t ask because Twitter under old management was doing for their side what they think Elon Musk is going to do for his side now that he owns the company—whatever his side is. To clarify, I am not saying questions they did not think to ask. Grievance-operated human woke machine Sunny Hostin filled in the missing information, telling the audience of The View that Musk bought Twitter for “straight white men.” As I will show in a moment, the concept of “equitable speech” informs Hostin, as well.

Back over at MSNBC, Nicolle Wallace deployed the Hitlerian term “the big lie” to reframe vote rigging in the 2020 presidential election to segue into a rant about “disinformation,” reporting that Musk, with his “more expansive views on speech than Twitter’s current management, has sent shock waves through much of the anti-information political universe.” She warned about the “power and peril of rampant disinformation,” citing examples provided by The New York Times, namely the 2016 US president election, in which the wrong candidate won, and the Brexit vote that same year, which resulted in the wrong choice being made. These bad outcomes occurred because, according to the Times, social media companies opted not to “wade too deeply into what people say on their sites.” What people said on their sites polarized the American and British electorate and caused them to make bad choices.

The Trump experience, which the establishment nobly disrupted from start to finish, and COVID-19, which failed to convince the masses to demand Chinese-style totalitarianism, had social media companies realizing that, for the sake of the agenda, they had to fix the problems of open systems, reframed by the Times as “anger, lies, distortions and division that left some people feeling exhausted and cynical about the world around them,” “some people” referring to those who make bad choices. Wallace cites the elation on the right and the panic on the left as the metric determining the degree of horror in the moment, already determining for her listener what is evil and what is good, her empathic voice clearly identifying which side she is on. Wallace laments (with a touch of snark) that, even if Trump is busy with Truth Social, the social media company he established to get around his Twitter ban, his wicked followers will make good use of Twitter and this, she more than implies, is a terrible thing because it enables Trump.

This is partisan sides-taking in superficial terms—Democrats versus Republicans, progressives versus conservatives, left versus right. But this not about that. It’s about democratic-republicanism and liberalism versus technocracy and authoritarianism. The point is not whether capitalist elites own Twitter. This is a capitalist society managed by the institutions they control. It is what it is. The question is whether we want elites owning Twitter who believe in the core Western values that make us free and independent people, such values as cognitive liberty and critical discourse, or, over against that, elites owning Twitter who despise those values and use exclusive control over information networks to dismantle Western civilization. The project of managed decline of the American Republic proceeds by disrupting free and open spaces. To be sure, it matters which class is in control. But it also matters which capitalists are in control. The capitalist class is not a monolith. It’s fractional.

For the establishment, it’s not really the fear that Musk will do to them on the new Twitter what progressives did to liberals and conservatives on the old Twitter. Free speech advocates are rarely hypocrites even if they warn about authoritarians making whips for their own backs. The smarter progressives know this. And that is what scares them; it is precisely the promise Musk has made to allow Twitter users to do now what they were not allowed to do before, and that is to speak more freely.

This is why the European Union moved quickly to remind Musk that the peoples of Europe do to enjoy the same levels of cognitive liberty and free expression Americans do. Musk must comply with EU regulations on policing online content or face severe penalties. In an interview with the Financial Times yesterday, Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, told Musk that Twitter must cooperate with the EU’s rules on content moderation, including the pending Digital Services Act, which will require large tech platforms to remove illegal content, such as “hate speech” (see The Guardian). This situation should alert everybody to the inherent problem with globalization: if a US-based corporation in charge of an effective public utility is required to bow to European Union rules, and these rules concern fundamental rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, then the rights of Americans are potentially violated by an outside entity. Are you still unclear about what motivated the pro-Brexit vote?

Here’s what is at stake for corporate state elites. The establishment needs to control the narrative in order to control the population in order to perpetuate the conditions that perpetuate the status quo—the status quo that protects their power and privilege. Perpetuating the status quo requires censorship because knowledge of how the system works raises awareness about whose interests the system serves. If you want people to stand in line for vaccines that don’t confer immunity but generate billions for pharmaceutical companies that make the big media buys, then you don’t need people on social media talking about how vaccines don’t confer immunity and generate billions for the pharmaceutical companies that make the big media buys.

We were provided an example of this in today’s news. National Public Radio (US state media) reports that antibody studies have confirmed what I have been saying for months now: Most Americans have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. However, “CDC officials stressed that people should still get vaccinated, because vaccination provides the strongest, broadest protection against getting seriously ill.” There is evidence to this effect, but the reporting skirts the central problem with the vaccine narrative, namely that the vaccines do not confer immunity. They are not, in fact, vaccines, but anticipatory or prospective therapeutics. Those who consult scientific work ignored by the establishment media and actively censored by social media platforms have known this for more than a year. But most people don’t make the effort to consult scientific work that lies beyond that which is selected for them by the corporate state. As a result, they are unaware that the vaccines do not confer immunity (but they are starting to become suspicious). Without this knowledge, many do not reach the logical conclusion: why are business firms and governments mandating vaccination if these vaccines do not confer immunity? It’s not that there is no public health interests in products that reduce risk of severe illness. However, metabolic disorder (obesity, etc.) is the single greatest risk factor for severe illness and business firms and governments are not mandating strict diets for fat people.

Capitalism is not intrinsically illiberal (capitalism is a liberal value). But capitalism in the grip of progressivism is like an animal with a parasitic infection of the brain; it means the thing is not acting right. Progressivism is the antithesis of liberalism; it stands opposite to liberalism’s chief values, among these autonomy, humanism, and individualism. And progressives have never been more authoritarian than they are right now. They don’t even try to hide their disdain for freedom; today’s progressive openly portrays liberal values as racist and rightwing. Very bad people believe in free speech, they tell us. Free speech makes bad things happen—like Trump and Brexit. Yet it’s the woke demagogue who is zealously committed to realizing in practice the anti-democratic ideology of the corporate state. We cannot trust woke elites with our freedoms precisely because they reject the very foundation upon which those freedoms stand.

The woke today are coding their need to censor and cancel speech with which they disagree as virtue promoting “equitable speech.” What does that mean? Greenwald is right that it is a euphemism for “content moderation.” But it goes deeper that this. It hooks up censorship to the greater social justice enterprise. The equitable distribution of some thing presumes that the present distribution of that thing is unfair. In the world of social justice that means that somebody because of skin color or some other demographic characteristic has something somebody else doesn’t have because of that demographic characteristic. Insert the progressive stack and asymmetrical power relations here. The corollary of equitable speech is “inclusive speech,” which presumes that some speech can make some people feel excluded, and so speech must be constrained by the feelings of others. Not just any others, but others who have been shorted in the distribution of some thing or another. Equitable and inclusive speech seek one thing: to murder diverse speech. Substituting diversity of skin color, gender identity, etc., for diversity of thought and expression, the social justice logic confuses rights with privileges.

Not that the organizers of social justice campaigns are confused. They want stuff. But not everybody can have the stuff the woke influencers claim for them. It is a capitalist society, after all. The influencers instead mean to get the attention of the corporations who need influencers to do the street-level work of securing hegemony for corporate rule so they can get the stuff for themselves. So when we’re instructed to go look up the meaning of woke in the dictionary (Sunny Hostin tells us to do this), the expectation is that we will find no more than a word describing concern for injustice and oppression. Who is not for that? But woke is not about awareness of injustice and oppression. Woke is about shaping mass opinion and perception to disrupt class consciousness and worker solidarity and justify ever greater technocratic control over people’s lives. Manufacturing grievances is a means to these ends.

The woke progressive is the new fascist. He does not want a free and open society where people have access to ideas good and bad, right and wrong. Fascists do not trust the masses. To the fascist mind, people are the problem. The fascist seeks to order a tightly-managed network of systems that control what people think—that align the public mind to a narrative beneficial the central authority. The fascist does not genuinely care about the normative order that sustains the traditions of a free society. That he loathes traditions and norms in obvious in his actions. He decouples institutions from that order and turns the major institutions of society into weapons to advance his political-ideological agenda. Societal institutions—culture, family, etc.—are seen only in those instrumental terms. This explains what you see happening all around you.

Do we have a popular social movement to overthrow this fascist power? No. Not yet. Probably not for a while. But we do have Elon Musk. He’s no savior. (Who needs saviors?) But right now, he may be the best we got. At the very least, the ability to speak freely will allow us to help other see what we already see. And building mutual knowledge—while disrupting the prevailing narrative—is essential to building the mass-based movement necessary for overthrowing corporate rule. This is why elites fear and loathe Elon Musk. They cannot trust him.

Obama for Commissar—to Save People from Dying

“What does still nag at me though was my failure to fully appreciate at the time just how susceptible we had become to lies and conspiracy theories, despite having spent years being a target of disinformation myself,” Obama said during a speech at Stanford University on the dangers of disinformation.

It is not the role of executives to determine the truth of information or theories. These are determined over time in the open dialectically or in courts of law where people adjudicate facts. Consider Alex Jones and his theory concerning the role of inter-dimensional demons in world affairs. Is this false? I think it is. Is it crazy? No more crazy than thinking a man hung on a cross rose from the death and will save all those who declare their faith in him from eternal torment. I think that theory is false, too. But do we really want the government to declare Christianity disinformation or a conspiracy theory and remove it from social media platforms?

This desire to combat disinformation is troubled by a very basic truth that Freud noted a century ago. When one person believes something that can’t be true, he is delusional. If he alone believes he talks to an entity no one else can see or hear, then he is crazy. But if millions of people believe something that can’t be true, that the man who talks to an entity they cannot see is really communicating with a spirit, then they are experiencing an illusion. The individually real, which is subjective (and sometimes disordered), becomes collectively real with others and orders things. It becomes what French sociologist Emile Durkheim called a “social fact.”

Shortly after losing his podcast, Obama addresses Stanford University

Obama, would like for particular illusions—Christianity, Islam, Judaism—to prevail (even if he believes in none of them) over other illusions. Those illusions are useful to power. Other illusions not so much. And so these constitute disinformation and conspiracy theories. But it is a conflict of interests to allow the very real entities who wield cultural, economic, political, and social power, i.e., the state and the corporation, to decide for us which illusions we are allowed to have and which are to be censored and cancelled.

Obama said, “You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage. You just have to raise enough questions, spread enough dirt, plant enough conspiracy theorizing, that citizens no longer know what to believe.” But what is sewage or dirt to Obama may not be sewage or dirt at all. It is Obama’s opinion that the things with which he disagrees are sewage or dirt. His concern that citizens no longer know what to believe is that they may come to believe as he wished they would not. His example is COVID-19 vaccination. “Around one in five Americans is still willing to put themselves at risk and put their families at risk rather than get vaccinated,” Obama said. People are dying because of “disinformation.” Indeed, individuals submit to vaccination after being told they are safe and effective and then suffer death or injury caused by the vaccine or contract and spread the virus on the basis of a false believe the vaccine confers immunity.

“In recent years, we’ve seen how quickly disinformation spreads, especially on social media,” Obama tweeted. “This has created real challenges for our democracy.” What Obama is channeling is the spirit of technocracy. He is not defending democracy. He does not believe in democracy for the masses. He is an elitist. It’s not that elitists believe the masses are too stupid to choose for themselves the illusions that will guide them. They do. But more importantly, they believe that, left to their own devices, the masses will choose the illusions that threaten the power of the class he represents, the corporate class. For the illusion may in fact be truth. And truth can be very dangerous for those whose power and privilege depends on lies.

Freedom means that people are allowed to manufacture and believe illusions that they desire as long as they do not impose these illusions on those who do not or cannot consent to them. Mature consenting adults can be furries together. To compel others to believe with them that they are what they say they are, which is the work of the state and corporate power, is tyranny. Let furries be furries. Let others disbelieve in spirit animals and admit this without fear of consequence—and freely share their thoughts on social media.

The Threat of Compelled Speech to Free and Open Societies

CNN carried this headline today: “A public university in Ohio will pay a professor $400,000 after disciplining him for refusing to use a transgender student’s pronouns.” The case involves Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State, who objected to a 2016 policy requiring the use of a student’s pronouns to match gender identity. Meriwether argued the policy violated his religious beliefs, which are protected by the US Bill of Rights, and filed a lawsuit in 2018 against the university. Meriwether had attempted to compromise with the university, offering to use any name the student requested instead of titles and pronouns. In response, the school opened a Title IX investigation against the professor that concluded that Meriwether’s failure to use the desired pronounces created a “hostile environment.” The dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences recommended placing a formal warning in Meriwether’s personnel file. If Meriwether persisted in his refusal to use the desire pronouns, he could face suspension without pay or even termination.

Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Shawnee State has agreed to pay the professor 400 thousand dollars to compensate for the disciplinary action taken. The settlement means that Meriwether will not be required to use certain pronouns regardless of a student’s request. Rather than admit wrongdoing in settling the case, Shawnee State claimed that, since the lawsuit was filed, “it became clear that the case was being used to advance divisive social and political agendas at a cost to the university and its students.” The assumption in the university’s statement is that disagreement with a policy to compel an employee to speak in ways that violated his conscience represents a “divisive social and political agenda” that was costing the university, students, and the community. In fact, a policy compelling employees to violate conscience by speaking required words, a right protected by the First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights (Meriwether also argued that his due process rights were violated) represents a socially divisive action pushed by a political agenda.

“As part of the settlement,” according to a release by Meriwether’s attorney, “the university has agreed that Meriwether has the right to choose when to use, or avoid using, titles or pronouns when referring to or addressing students.” The release clarifies that Meriwether will never be mandated to use pronouns, including if a student requests pronouns that conflict with his or her biological sex.” Shawnee State rationalizes the settlement as an “economic decision”: “Though we have decided to settle, we adamantly deny that anyone at Shawnee State deprived Dr. Meriwether of his free speech rights or his rights to freely exercise his religion.” The statement continues: “In this case, Shawnee State followed its policy and federal law that protects students or any individual from bigotry and discrimination. We continue to stand behind a student’s right to a discrimination-free learning environment as well as the rights of faculty, visitors, students and employees to freely express their ideas and beliefs.” With this settlement, the university is agreeing that the professor’s freedom of conscience is not a form of discrimination. Indeed, it isn’t. It may be bigotry, but so what? What constitutes bigotry in the contemporary sense of the word is entirely subjective.

Amir Vera of CNN writes, “The ruling comes as schools across the nation grapple with balancing the inclusivity of transgender students and the religious beliefs of some teachers.” Have you noticed how the word “inclusivity” is Orwellian speak for exclusivity? That, in order to promote “inclusion,” there are identities and opinions that must be disallowed? Have you noticed the trend that diversity of identity is used to suppress diversity of thought? Disciplining or punishing an employee for his identity and opinions necessarily transgresses the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of individuals to not only speak and be heard (given time and place restraints), but to not be compelled to speak in a way a public institution wishes him to, whether he is an employee, a student, or a visitor.

Source: https://ccla.org/major-cases-and-reports/free-speech/

The attack on Meriwether’s right to his conscience is an attack on the liberal values of cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity, which, along with personal autonomy and privacy, comprise the foundation of a free and open society. This attack is informed by the postmodern instantiation of critical theory, represented by critical race theory, queer theory, and other illiberal ideologies, which holds that transgressing prevailing social norms is necessary in order to liberate marginal groups from cultural, legal, and social structures of oppressive individualism. But it is the mark of an oppressive situation to see a man compelled to speak in ways he would not otherwise but for the threat of discipline and punishment. I delve deeply into this issue in my recent essay Science Politics at the University of Wisconsin—Deliberate Ignorance About the State of Cognitive Liberty and Viewpoint Diversity on College Campuses.

Shawnee State tried to compel Meriwether to speak in a manner that affirmed an ideology with which he disagrees. He refused and they punished him. It took four years for Meriwether to finally see the penalty rescinded and his fundamental rights to conscience and expression affirmed. The struggle to once and for all affirm these fundamental rights for all of us will take many more years. The illiberal force of identitarian politics is powerful and persistent and enjoys the backing of the corporate state. Resisting this force will take many more people standing on principle and defending the liberal foundation of a free and open society. The Enlightenment is at stake.

The Continuing Media Campaign of Disinformation about Race and Violence

When I search Google for Waukesha is Scheduled to be Memory Holed, my blog concerning the terrorist actions of Darrell Brooks Jr., who, in 2021, allegedly drove his Ford Escape through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, swerving side to side in an intentional action targeting people, injuring at least fifty people and killing six people, I find that it has been memory holed. I have to open my WordPress account and search for it there to copy the link and share it. My own blog has become evidence in the case I make about the media disinformation campaign about race and violence in America. Hence the importance in sharing it.

Frank James, arrested by patrol officers in Manhattan’s East Village.

Why would Google do this? I think the fact that Brooks is black has something to do with it. It has become clear to me that the media plays down violence by blacks because the demographic reality of violence is inconvenient for the political-ideological narrative that insists that it is whites—especially white males—who represent the gravest danger to public safety in America. I think this is also the reason Google News excludes headlines about the Brooklyn subway shooting perpetrated by Frank James. James, reportedly wearing a gas mask, is alleged to have set off smoke grenades on a crowded N train traveling toward the 36th Street station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, then fired a handgun 33 times into the travelers leaving 29 people injured, including ten with bullet wounds. You have to actively search to find stories about James. Had a white man done this, it would likely be the top story in the new aggregator service. Very likely.

I am sure you have noted a pattern emerging in recent mass killings/shootings. They are not being committed by white men. Brooks and James are only two of a spate of mass violence events that have raged across the nation over the last few months. Six were shot to death in a mass killing in downtown Sacramento on April 3, the alleged shooters brothers Dandrae and Smiley Martin and associate Mtula Payton, three black men. Over Easter weekend, Jewayne Price, a black man, injured 14 people at a mall in South Carolina. As the racial identity of these mass killers/shooters has come to light, the media has again been trying to obscure the phenomenon of mass shooting. Their own propaganda caused them to relax their guard. They had been doing a find job until recently in hiding the racial demographics surrounding crime and violence in America.

For years now, I have been telling readers of Freedom and Reason that the memes and stories about mass shootings that portray these events as a conservative Christian white male phenomenon are false—and that using this falsehood to distract from the significance of actual patterns is not only subterfuge, which includes a campaign to undermine the rights of gun owners, but a reflexive expression of anti-white male prejudice widespread in the academy, culture industry, and corporate media. Beyond the hegemonic apparatus, rank-and-file progressive silence in the face of the racial profile of the latest string of high-profile mass killings/shooting not perpetrated by the despised demographic is deafening.

Recall Rolling Stone’s sarcastic take on mass shootings in the August 2019 op-ed White Nationalist Violence has Nothing to do with White Nationalism. White nationalist violence does indeed have something to do with white nationalism. Does black nationalist violence have nothing to do with black nationalism? In the face of all the evidence I have seen, officials in the Brooks’ case deny this was a terrorist event. Recall Naaz Modan’s October 2017 op-ed, published by CNN, “How America has Silently Accepted the Rage of White Men.” Modan’s take is typical. We might ask her a related question to the one implied by the Rolling Stone piece: Is America silently accepting the rage of black men? Clearly the corporate media and progressives are. Even more than this; they are promoting it. (See my blogs Whites Not Overrepresented in Mass Murder and Everything Progressives Say About Mass Shootings is Wrong…and Racist where I debunk these notions and demonstrate that the disinformation is rooted in ant-white male prejudice.)

In recent blogs (e.g., Stop Making Excuses for Violence and How to Misrepresent the Racial Demographics of Mass Murder), I confirm the facts indicating that the misrepresentation of racial demographics of mass murder is deliberate and political. To summarize this content, black men are less than six percent of the population overall, but in raw numbers commit more than half of all homicides in America annually. Moreover, contradicting the assumption that interracial violence is largely whites persecuting blacks, black men are more likely to kill white people than the other way around (see Why are there so Many More White than Black Victims of Interracial Homicide?). One would not know these facts from the media coverage of violence in America.

It’s not just skin color that Brooks and James share in common. They also share a common ideology: specifically black nationalism and more broadly extreme anti-white prejudice. Both were prolific in sharing social media postings expressing a profound hatred and loathing of white people, sentiments informed by the arguments pushed by the progressive stack. How could constantly telling blacks that their situation is due to white privilege and white supremacy not have something to do with blacks targeting white people for homicide and other crimes? How many of these interracial crimes are in fact bias crimes that go unrecorded as such in the FBI statistics? Is the media, hyper-vigilant about white supremacy to the point of imagining things, really telling us that race plays no role in target selection in black-on-white crime? Reparations, retribution—these have been admitted to with respect to rioting. Is it not also obvious in the rampant and audacious acts of theft in stores across the country? Why not violent actions? Why deny this when it is obvious, as in the case of Brooks?

I write in Stop Making Excuses for Violence: “The media cannot wait for the next mass murder committed by a mentally ill white person so it can hypostatize white supremacy. But where is the reporting of the routine mass murder committed by gangs in America’s inner cities? Do the children caught in the crossfire of gang violence not matter? Do bystanders in drive-by no matter? Apparently not, because the left wants to defund the police.” I further write, “If you know anything about gang violence, you will know that mass murders occur routinely in America’s inner-cities, and the perpetrators are not often white, and these crimes are rarely reported.” 

According to The Guardian, statistics show that the vast majority of high-casualty events occur in impoverished, disproportionately black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Roughly a third of the incidents with known circumstances were drive-by shootings or identified by law enforcement as gang-related. The authors of the article, led by Champe Barton reports “that many victims and community activists believe that the dearth of coverage of particular shootings owes, at least partially, to the race of the victims.” Barton and associates continue: “In 2020, mass shootings disproportionately occurred in majority-Black neighborhoods. But even the highest-casualty incidents received limited national media attention.” According to a study published in the journal Sociology of Race and Ethnicity about shooting victims in Chicago found that blacks killed in black-majority neighborhoods received roughly half as much news coverage as white people killed in majority-white neighborhoods.

The fact is that whites are consistently underrepresented either or both absolutely and proportionally in the most serious violent crimes. So why is the public being subjected to memes either blaming white males for violence or scolding the public for the imaginary act of making excuses for white violence? The progressive establishment is working racecraft to delegitimize the American republic, which it equates to whiteness, a manufactured characteristic further reduced to white supremacy.

I write in Stop Making Excuses for Violence, “Crime by whites is amplified or manufactured, while crime by blacks is downplayed or ignored. The truth is flipped. The memes are designed to present an inverted truth. They make this about race to dissimulate and drive the dismantling of the nation.” I write further, “Anti-white propaganda is a corporatist strategy to ingratiate the capitalist elite to minorities by manufacturing a fake enemy and making the machinery of liberty and democracy appear as oppressive tools of white supremacy. Identitarian education and training is designed to make minorities feel like their exploiters care about them and see their comrades as their adversaries. The corporatist propagandist manufactures an enemy—this time white people—to distract from the real adversary, namely the corporate elite who exploit minority labor and control their life chances.”

The disinformation concerns not only the domestic situation, but the situation at the southern border. You may have noticed that, with the return of a Democrat to the White House, mass illegal immigration has returned with a vengeance. Two million illegal immigrants crossed the border last year. In March of this year, more than 200,000 illegally crossed, a record for illegal crossings in a single month. Even when Trump was President and the tide of illegal immigration largely stemmed, the problems associated with the thousands crossing the southern border demanded the attention of an objective media. But that’s not what happened.

In Stop Making Excuses for Violence, I write, “The media loves a good story about the lone white person committing a heinous crime, but where is the reporting about the cartels operating north and south of our border murdering people on a daily basis? Have you been following the reality of the transnational trade in human beings supported by the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church?” Have you? Do you know about the crisis of overdose deaths due to the cheap fentanyl pouring across the border? The situation is as bad as it has ever been. Yet the rank-and-file progressive continues to portray public concern over immigration as nativist, racist, and xenophobic.

Science Politics at the University of Wisconsin—Deliberate Ignorance About the State of Cognitive Liberty and Viewpoint Diversity on College Campuses

I don’t think I need to tell readers of Freedom and Reason that woke is suffocating comedy. In this clip from Real Time with Bill Maher, the acerbic comedian does a superb job of documenting the problem of cancel culture in the comedic realm. One particularly troubling aspect of the cancel culture surrounding the professional practice of humor is the situation on college campuses, where Generation Z requires a sanitized form of comedy, one that does not poke fun at the various groups woke politics has deemed off limits—the “oppressed” and “vulnerable” (see the work of Jonathan Haidt for a comprehensive analysis of the social psychology of the Gen Z cohort). It has become so bad that many comedians have opted to avoid the college circuit altogether, a fact that Maher is thankful George Carlin never lived to see.

The woke effect on comedy extends more broadly to free speech generally. This is why it is troubling, as the Wisconsin State Journal reported last week, that the University of Wisconsin System, a sprawling institution spanning thirteen universities and twenty-six campuses, as well as managing a statewide extension network with a footprint in every country, a force educating some 165 thousand students every year, has delayed a free speech survey scheduled for Thursday, pushing out its administration at least until the fall semester.

UW-Madison Bascom Hall. Source: Wisconsin State Journal

Shortly after the announcement, Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) released the final version of the survey, Student Perceptions of Their First Amendment Rights, Viewpoint Diversity, and Self-Censorship. This move, and the manufactured controversy surrounding the survey, may effectively scuttle the project altogether. We can expect opponents will claim, if the survey is administered in the fall, that the controversy renders the survey invalid, that its findings are biased and unsound. Moreover, funding for administering the survey does not carry over to the fall. Without alternative sources of funding, postponing the survey makes its implementation improbable.

Why was the survey effectively scuttled? The Wisconsin State Journal story, by Kelly Meyehofer, reports that the opponents worried that the findings may reflect badly on a particular political-ideological persuasion—obviously progressivism, an ideology that has captured public education in Wisconsin—and help conservatives at the polls. “The delay comes in response to mounting concerns from campuses this week about potential politicization of results ahead of the November election,” Meyehofer reports, as well as “questions about the research protocol process and allegations of political interference.”

Concerns one and three in Meyehofer’s list are essentially the same thing, which is the subject of this blog, as well as the state of free speech on college campuses across the nation that necessitates survey of this sort—precisely the reason progressives seek to cancel or compromise the survey. However, the way in which the human subjects review process is being politicized in this case puts complaint number two in the bucket with the other complaints, so I will say a few things about that before moving to concerns one and three.

Concern two is, on substance, a bogus issue. I was the faculty member at my institution who, as chair of the institutional review board (IRB) in the early 2000s, reconstructed the board, bringing it into compliance with federal law, as well as standing up the institutional animal care and use committee. I understand how these things work inside and out. The survey, if in need of an IRB-sanctioned protocol at all (overkill, in my view), does not rise to the level of full board review. I would have signed off on the protocol without hesitation.

The claim made by individuals on the Whitewater campus, that their institution hadn’t approved sending out the survey, (intentionally, I believe) misunderstands the process of establishing a research protocol. I am routinely asked to participate in surveys organized by scientists from across the country. The institution from where the survey hails approves the protocol and, on that basis, the researchers are good to go and I am free to participate. The research team that developed the survey in this case did in fact receive approval from UW-Stout’s IRB (the Wisconsin State Journal has the documentation). The project received “an exemption from full review,” the same destination I would have awarded the survey had the protocol come before me. The decision is an easy one—that the survey is “low-risk to humans” is an overstatement.

(Does this survey even meets the definition of human subjects research in the federal code? If I develop and administer a survey in my courses to determine student attitudes for use in course administration and development, as long as the findings are not intended to produce generalized knowledge, a key element in determining what constitutes research sui generis, but rather pertain as a practical matter to policy or instruction, there is no need to seek IRB approval. The survey is essentially a climate survey, and element in a self-study. These are administered routinely in schools across the country.)

Additional complaints have emerged in the aftermath of the survey’s effective scuttling. The survey is too long, is poorly constructed, and deploys leading questions are some of the items that have been listed. As to the question of whether the survey is too long, I provided the link to the survey above. You can judge for yourself whether it is too long, but I have an opinion. Professors routinely administer examinations that are more involved. Moreover, the questions are interesting and the survey is likely to find a majority of participants eager to thoughtfully answer them. Indeed, I would expect high levels of conscientiousness and engagement among participants. As we will see, students have concerns about cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity on college campuses.

As for the instrument’s format and items, I can report as a professional social scientist with more than a quarter century experience in designing and administering surveys (I have now taught college-level research methods across several programs for more than two decades), the people who put this together know what they’re doing. This is a well-constructed essay, its protocol (again, perhaps unnecessarily) approved by the human subjects review board at the university where the research project was developed.

The project’s research team includes UW-Eau Claire psychology professor April Bleske-Recheck, a specialist in research methods who studied under Terrie Moffitt (a globally-recognized leader in research design); Eric Kasper and Geoff Peterson, both at UW-Eau Claire, both political scientists, the first a constitutional law scholar, the second an expert in research methods; Tim Shiell, a philosophy professor at UW-Stout; and Eric Giordano, executive director of Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service and a nationally-recognized expert in citizen dialoguing and rural community development. 

Moreover, the Wisconsin State Journal reports that survey questions were vetted by an advisory board that includes, among others: former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske; UW-Madison law school professors Franciska Coleman, a constitutional law scholar, and Jason Yackee, an adviser for the Federalist Society; Sean Stevens, a senior research fellow for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); Rick Esenberg, the president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty; and former Supreme Court associate justice Tricia Zunker.

There is neither ethical nor scientific justification for holding up this survey. The objection is political. It is typical of progressives to take the object of their politics and define it as the political object. This is unacceptable.

* * *

Given the intellectual weight behind the survey and those who vetted it, the integrity of the survey itself, and the need to assess the state of free speech on college campuses across the UW System, one might expect from me an expression of surprise at the controversy. I am not in the least surprised (disappointed in my colleagues, but not surprised by their actions). Disregard for the norms of science has become itself normative on college campuses.

Paul Diesing’s excellent How Does Social Science Work? Published by the University of Pittsburg Press

In my research methods class, I assign a chapter on science politics from Paul Diesing’s excellent How Does Social Science Work? Reflections on Practice. The assigned chapter (chapter 8) is aptly named “Science Politics.” Diesing, a political scientist, distinguishes “democratic science,” wherein researchers place emphasis on the needs of communities in realizing their democratic interests in a free society, from “technocratic science,” wherein science is to serve the needs not of the people but those institutional actors in a position to direct the conduct and application of research. In technocratic science, gatekeepers are not merely content with advancing their own elite interests, but exercise power to prevent research that advances popular interest.

The reflex to stop a survey to determine the state of cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity on college campus is a function of technocratic desire. Corporate power has captured what is now “the neoliberal university.” In Gramscian terms, the traditional intellectual has been replaced by the “organic” one, professional “thought leaders” subservient not to the values of the Enlightenment but to the needs of the corporate class. (The organic character of the professoriate reinforces a point I often make on Freedom and Reason: progressives are not liberals; they are technocrats.) If it is perceived that a free speech survey will find the institution falling down on its traditional liberal guarantees of cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity, and that reforming the institution will harm the interests of the technocracy, which lie in part in advancing the doctrines of woke progressive ideology, then the survey must be altered or derailed or discredited.

We will get to the more conscious-level political objections in a moment, but the subjectivity produced by the social logic of the extended state apparatus, rationalized by the false belief that progressivism represents a left-of-center and forward-leaning philosophy of enlightened values, is the deeper structure that moves many influencers across the system to oppose an action that one might have thought would be highly desirable given matters to which progressives pay lip service. Of course, progressives say other things, as well. They code illiberal ideas in the language of equality and freedom, ideas such as “diversity,” equity” and “inclusion.” In fact, many progressives portray free speech as a Trojan horse used by conservatives to smuggle bigotry and hatred onto university campuses

A Knight-Ipsos report, which I turn to in a moment, suggests that the UW System survey would at least yield similar findings. But it is more than the neo-liberal caused trepidation I describe above that inspired the aggressive effort to prevent the survey from being administered. Here we come to the more conscious-level political objection. After all, the survey was organized by the UW-Stout’s Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovations. That Center was seeded in 2017 with a donation from the Charles Koch Foundation. The Menard family is a major donor to the Republican Party. The Charles Koch Foundation is a right-wing libertarian organization.

Progressive hostility towards conservative and libertarian influence on college campuses is palatable. To be sure, the Menard family and the Koch Brothers are attached to corporate power but, unlike the professional-managerial class, where progressivism lives, a class that was long ago fully integrated into the corporate state system and subservient to the Democratic Party (especially in the colleges and programs of the humanities and social sciences), conservatism and libertarianism still root in the heartland—the farmer, the white proletariat, and the small entrepreneur. In other words, conservatism and libertarianism continue to be the home of small “d” and “r” democratic-republicanism, liberalism, and populism. So when a number of years ago the Charles Koch Foundation approached other campuses (before UW-Stout accepted their money contingent upon establishing the Center) there were a flurry of administrative and faculty meetings across the system to discuss the matter, with most campuses rejecting the offer on political-ideological grounds. I know. I was there.

Trying to save the survey by appealing to good intentions, Shiell acknowledged the political concerns to The Chronicle of Higher Education. “It might help people to understand the center for me to say I’m a liberal professor being funded by a conservative donor to run a nonpartisan center.” I don’t know what Shiell’s politics are for sure, but what Shiell doesn’t seem to understand is that liberalism is dying on college campuses. He is surrounded not by liberals but by progressives (whatever they call themselves). Progressives do not believe in free speech as an overarching value. For them, free thought and expression is a throating-clearing device. You’re familiar with the sentence that starts, “I believe in free speech, but….”

The same is true for many college students, especially those who make it into leadership positions. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that “Tyler Katzenberg, a spokesperson for UW-Madison’s student government, said ‘pretty much every student government was blindsided’ by the survey and not consulted. He said free speech is important but he’d prefer to focus on what he said were more pressing diversity problems, such as students of color feeling unwelcome on campus.” Why does a survey on free speech on campus interfere with these other diversity concerns? It doesn’t. But this sentiment confirms what I was earlier talking about concerning the interpretation of the free speech right (and comedy) as harmful for minorities. Diversity in viewpoint is not the sort of diversity that concerns those who live by the edicts and expectations of identitarianism.

One characteristic of those socialized in technocratic values is that belief that individuals cannot be trusted to make their own judgments. For example, Madison student MGR Govindarajan, legislative affairs chair for Associated Students of Madison, told reporter Will Kenneally of Channel 3000 that the survey questions could be misinterpreted. “The way the questions were laid out, people will see what they want to see and that’s going to lead to faulty results, which lawmakers can use to justify faulty policies,” the student said.

People seeing what they want to see is otherwise known as expressing an opinion, which is the point of opinion survey. Indeed, when you administer a survey you want participants to provide their opinion not the opinion of others (unless they are asked to speculate on the opinion of others—but then the response is still ultimately their opinion). One can see in Govindarajan’s opinion that the concern with frank expression of opinion is that, if the opinion expressed is one not shared by Govindarajan, then this could lead to policy choices with which Govindarajan disagrees. Govindarajan is saying the quite part out loud: Govindarajan opposes the survey because Govindarajan knows it will reveal problems with cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity in the UW System and that could lead to reforms that would break the hold progressives have on the institution.

You might detect that the possibility that the survey may help Wisconsin state Republicans is not something that keeps me up at night. As a liberal (a real one), my concern is traditionalist: preservation and rejuvenation of the foundations of a free society. Cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity lie at the heart of that foundation. Indeed, the question of free speech could not be more central to the diversity concern, as viewpoint diversity is foundational to the university experience. That Katzenberg does not grasp this is the failure of the university he attends to enlighten him as the point of a university education. If Republicans are fighting for the cause of liberalism, and Democrats oppose even determining whether free speech is in jeopardy on college campuses in the state of Wisconsin, then the strategic choice of allies is obvious.

* * *

The crisis of free speech on college campuses in America is so well-established that the need to present a lengthy dissertation on the topic feels unnecessary. But I don’t want to be accused of ducking the issue. In this section, I present findings from a recent national survey (only a few months old) similar in form and substance to that effectively scuttled by progressive Democrats in the UW System. The survey reveals troubling perceptions of free speech on college campuses. The good news is that the poll, released in January of this year by Knight-Ipsos, “College Student Views on Free Expression and Campus Speech 2022,” finds that college students place a high value on First Amendment principles. The bad news is that they “feel uneasy” (Knight-Ipsos’ characterization) about free speech for a variety of reasons.

The Knight Foundation commissioned Ipsos to conduct a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 students ages 18 to 24 who were enrolled at different types of colleges. The survey finds that 84% of college students say free speech rights are extremely or very important in our democracy. The survey also finds that 83% of students believe the First Amendment protects people like them. This is reassuring. However, digging into the numbers, a troubling picture emerges. For example, only five percent of black students feels the First Amendment protects people like this a great deal. There are many problems like this one.

URL: https://knightfoundation.org/reports/college-student-views-on-free-expression-and-campus-speech-2022/

More than half of student respondents (59%) said college campuses should let them be “exposed to all types of speech,” even if students find the speech offensive. This number may also seem promising. But, really, it should be more robust. That more than four out of every ten students do not believe that students should be exposed to offensive speech threatens the legitimacy of a free and open society. This is because the value of free speech lies is in major part in the function of speech to offend.

For example, a Muslim student may find offensive an honest account of the role of Islam in oppressing women, but this account may help liberate that Muslim’s mind from the power of dogma in rationalizing the mistreatment of women. Yet, today, because teachers worry that they may offend Muslim students by speaking frankly, or that in offending Muslim students they may incur the wrath of administers who depend on a flow of immigrants from Muslim-majority students to fill the gap in tuition created by neoliberal policies, they hold their tongue. Moreover, many teachers I encounter, having internalized postcolonial and postmodernist notions of oppressive eurocentrism, have convinced themselves that Islam promotes women’s rights. The problem is thus not only self-censorship, but also cognitive dissonance. Such cognitive dissonance makes it difficult consciousness raising around this issue, an important feminist concern.

Part of the reason that number is not as robust as it should be is because it is dragged down by white progressives and especially black and brown students who believe the prevailing narrative concerning the oppression of black and brown people at the hands of the white establishment, a narrative promulgated everyday by teachers and student organizations on college campuses—a narrative students bring with them for high school. In fact, Republican students now represent the liberal faction on college campuses, with 71% in favor of maximal free speech as defined above. With the Republican Party the home of America’s conservatives, perhaps it is surprising that the percentage is that high. However, support for maximal free speech among Democrats (55%), blacks (47%), and Hispanics (45%) is alarmingly low.

Diving into the cross-tabs reveals troubling patterns and an awareness among Republican students that the university has become a place hostile to cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity. The percentage of students who said freedom of speech is secure today is marked by a partisan divide. Reflecting a sober read of the situation, only 27% of Republican students said freedom of speech is secure or very secure. That is down from 52% recorded in a poll from 2019. Among independent students, 46% said freedom of speech is secure or very secure. This figure stood at 59% in 2019. Unsurprisingly, Democrats, who enjoy an environment aligned with their political assumptions (I know, I live it everyday), reported perceiving little change over the intervening period; 61% reported freedom of speech is secure or very secure versus 63% in 2019. This perception is also held by their teachers, who, again, are disproportionately Democrats. These are the same folks holding up the UW System polls.

On the question of self-censorship, up from 54% in 2016, almost two-thirds of students agreed or somewhat agreed that the climate on their campuses prevented people from saying what they believe because others might find their views offensive. That’s up from 54% in 2016. Less than half of students expressed comfort voicing disagreement with their instructors in class. Just over half expressed comfort disagreeing with peers. Part of the discomfort at speaking frankly at an institution where frank speech is necessary to advance knowledge is awareness of the perception of racial, ethnic, religious, and other minorities who let the public know they feel unsafe on campus because of things people say, not necessarily to them, but generally. The number of students who express feeling unsafe is approaching one in five. As Frank Zappa emphasized on his notorious Crossfire appearance: “Words. We’re talking about words.”

* * *

Those of us who believe in the liberal values of cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity must redouble our efforts to make college campuses safe from both external and internal forms of censorship. By internal censorship, I mean self-censorship. Researching the matter over many years, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has found that far too many student self-censor. As Cherise Trump writes Newsweek, “Student self-censorship on college campuses shows how we are preparing the next generation for a fear-based society.” Teachers self-censor, as well. In today’s climate, uttering basic scientific truths can lead to reputational damage, social marginalization, and loss of professional opportunity, if not disciplinary action. It is also quite possible that teachers who would secretly like to see the survey go forward openly oppose its administration to conform with the sentiment of those around them. (Another problem is compelled speech, an issue I have address on Freedom and Reason.)

Derrick Jensen contemplates the problem of self-censorship

The time to deal with these problems is now, not when majority opinion turns against cognitive liberty and free expression. Today, we stand on the knife’s edge. We need more surveys to determine the extent of the problem. As I noted at the outset, by releasing the survey and distorting its character and purpose, it will be hard to administer the survey later because perception of bias and intent will be used to dismiss the results. Clearly, a lot of people don’t want the public to know about the state of cognitive liberty and viewpoint diversity at Wisconsin colleges and schools and wish to corrupt the survey if they cannot stop it. They are openly telling the public that they believe the findings will make their side look bad and help the other side. They’re probably right.

As I have written about extensively on this blog, there is an agenda that has taken root in established American institutions to generate a subjectivity and manufacture consent around the goals of corporate power, multiculturalism, and transnationalism. Dominated by progressives, the academia, especially in humanities and the social sciences, but also in the administration and elsewhere, rises in opposition to conservative, nationalist, and populist politics where liberalism remains a force.

Sending young adults into the world with the assumptions that benefit the corporate state agenda requires the systematic suppression of contrary ideas. Liberalism threatens neo-liberalism in the same way that Marxism is a threat to neo-Marxism. One sees this in the hegemony of such cracked albeit entrenched theories, describing themselves as “neo-Marxist,” as critical race theory and those underpinning gender and sexuality studies, doctrines targeting young people and portrayed as radical and revelatory—doctrines forming the basis of faculty and staff training programs, as if these are the only ways to look at the world and not the worst ways to look at the world.

In the face of rhetoric about academic freedom and freedom of thought and expression, faculty and students routinely portray free speech as right-wing cover for hateful ideas—a stealthy device enabling those who truck in racism and heterosexism. The values of liberalism, of the Enlightenment—humanism, individualism, rationalism, secularism—are not only routinely represented as expressions of white supremacy and the patriarchy, the ideology of Western colonizers—but programs and policies are constructed and instituted to render the impression that this rendering is the established truth. This objective nonsense is already delegitimizing higher education.

I’m sure I didn’t have to tell regular readers to this blog that suspicions that college campuses in Wisconsin have been doing a poor job of promoting or protecting viewpoint diversity are not without merit and that a survey confirming those suspicions would hurt progressives and the technocracy that makes possible lifetime employment and compensation locating professors at the top of the nation’s income earners—and advantage Wisconsin Republicans politically. That so many progressives worked (and continue to work) so hard to derail and discredit the UW System survey tells you that they fear, whether they are fully in touch with the source of those fears, that the findings will call into question the practices of the UW System, thereby potentially harming its ability to serve the interests of the corporate state, which depends on woke progressivism for competitive advantage and the disorganization of its workforce.

Whose Spaces Are These Anyway? Political Advocacy in Public Schools

NBC News ran this headline yesterday: “A Texas teacher faces losing her job after fighting for gay pride symbols in schools.” The first paragraph reads “The school year at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, began last fall with the administration scraping off rainbow stickers that had been posted on campus, prompting hundreds of students to walk out in protest.” The story goes on to tell of the plight of teachers pushing the LGBTQ agenda at MacArthur.

The controversy was triggered when teachers posted rainbow stickers outside their classrooms to show students that they were LGBTQ allies. In August, the administration told teachers that the stickers would have to come down. The reason? School officials told NBC News that decorations in classrooms, hallways, and offices must be “curriculum driven and neutral in viewpoint” to “ensure that all students feel safe regardless of background or identity.”

A straight pride flag from a march in Washington DC in September 2019

To get some perspective on the matter, imagine a heterosexual teacher posting a straight flag on their classroom door to signal to heterosexual students that the teacher was a straight ally. I know there are people who will object to the analogy. Straight pride, like white pride, is bigoted and hateful. “Heterosexuals have not suffered discrimination. Homosexuals have.” However, this is an irrelevant objection. Heterosexuals may suffer discrimination, but that does not entitle a teacher to hang a straight pride flag in a classroom.

Consider Black Lives Matter banners in classrooms. What would be the reaction to the Confederate battle flag hanging in a classroom? I disagree with both BLM and those who fly the Confederate flag. Except for school-related banners and the American and state flags, I wish to see neither banner nor flag in public school buildings. Even if I supported BLM, I would oppose the presentation of a BLM flag in a public school by administrators or teachers. Public schools are not appropriate venues for political advocacy.

I am aware of the problematic character of viewpoint neutrality, as symbols often bear multiple and deeper meanings. For example, symbols indicating the appropriate restrooms on the basis of sex not only guide students in a sex-segregated society, but also indicate the contemporary political controversy surrounding sex segregation. But, if we were to argue instead for viewpoint diversity, then we would have to accept straight pride flags in public school classrooms. A public institution cannot determine which views are acceptable and which are not. If you think removing gay pride stickers is controversial, just imagine teachers hanging straight pride flags in their classrooms.

Los Angeles high school classroom decorated with anti-police posters, Black Lives Matter, Pride, and Palestinian flags. Whose space is this? The teachers? Or the publics?

In January, Education Week ran the headline “Pride Flags and Black Lives Matter Signs in the Classroom: Supportive Symbols or Propaganda?” The article poses the question this way: “Should a teacher be allowed to place a Black Lives Matter sticker on their desk to let students know they oppose racism, or hang a Pride flag from their door to let their LGBTQ students know the classroom is a safe space? Or are those actions another way for teachers to politically influence and divide students?” This is the wrong way to pose the matter. The question should be: “Whose spaces are these? The teacher’s? Or the public’s?”

There is a presumption that, because progressive educators embrace a cause, that it is okay to adorn a classroom in flags and stickers or rehearse slogans with students advocating for that cause. It is often pitched as the teacher’s free speech rights—sometimes even as speech protected by academic freedom. As I noted in a previous blog (The LGBTQ Lobby Sues Florida), teachers do not have the right to impose their political view on students in public schools. Teachers are hired to deliver a curriculum. These spaces are the public’s and are designated for a specific purpose—and that purpose is not to propagandize children. Academic freedom is a right enjoyed by teachers in higher education. It is not a right available to k-12 teachers.

The principle here is actually quite simple and age-old. It is a fundamental element in liberal thought. Review the First Amendment and case law to clarify or refresh your memory. If a teacher wants to wear a cross around his neck, stretch a scarf over her head, or affix a fish patch to a briefcase, fine. That’s a personal right protected by the First Amendment. But teachers cannot hang crosses on the walls, asks students to wear scarfs, or post fish stickers on the windows of public school buildings. This violates the rights of students. The First Amendment protects individuals from compelled speech as much as it protects their right to make speech, and situating captive audiences in a sea of propaganda could possibly only be more compelling if the captives were explicitly punished for resisting ideology. Never underestimate the power of authority and peer pressure in forcing unwelcome opinions upon the impressionable.

K-12 classrooms should not be the domain of a teacher’s politics. But if it is to be that, then be prepared for the presentation of banners, flags, and slogans that you will find offensive and hateful. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, comrades. The free speech right does not depend on whether you think the messages is good or bad. The state can have no position on that in a free and open society. So come one, come all.

It’s either viewpoint neutrality, in which case you can complain to your heart’s content about what’s missing knowing that it doesn’t matter what you want because it’s not your space to do whatever with, or viewpoint diversity, in which case you will have to put up with a lot of things you don’t want your kid to see and hear and read because now it is declared a politicized space open to all opinions without consequences. That means a space where parents can enter and propagate their messages.

Why should it be that administrators, social workers, teachers, and the local Chambers of Commerce should be allowed to propagandize children in those spaces but not parents with contrary views? Are you ready for Confederate flags? Don’t Tread on Me? Straight Pride?

Here’s an idea. If you want your kid to be indoctrinated in religious or other ideologies, then find a private school and put them there. I am sure there are private schools that proudly display Christian, Palestinian, BLM, and Pride flags on their walls. Put your money where your politics are and keep your doctrines out of public schools. That strikes me as the best arrangement for everybody.

If QAnon is Not a Deep State Construct, It Certainly Functions that Way

Update (April 9, 2022 h/t Christopher Rufo): In January 2014, the GAO published a report, “Federal Agencies Can Better Support State Efforts to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Abuse by School Personnel,” warning about child predators in public schools. The report advised administrators to monitor teachers for grooming behaviors that could lead to sexual misconduct and sexual abuse. Note the signs of grooming behavior. Note also what constitutes misconduct and abuse. Sexually explicit items, pamphlets, books, and videos are among the signs.

Source: https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-14-42.pdf

That parents are being maligned for their concern about such materials in their children’s classrooms is suggestive to many of them that an organized effort is afoot to misdirect the public in order to preserve the status quo. Christopher Rufo, who has studied this problem in depth, tweets today: “It’s amazing that, in 2014, CNN knew Disney that had a ‘child sex predator’ problem and the GAO knew that public schools had a ‘groomer’ problem—and now we’re supposed to believe that both are ‘QAnon conspiracy theories.’” Then there is this:

This blog concerns one of the mechanisms used to dismiss parent’s concerns. Readers should not dismiss parent concerns out of hand. Remember the Catholic Church. Why are public school teachers to be presumed any more innocent than priests? Predators know where to find children. The investment in time to work ones way into the position to take advantage of a child is not that great. And in the case of public schools, there are official and organizational-normative rationalizations for the presence of sexually-explicit materials.

* * *

I don’t like having to reassure readers about my intent before writing something. However, because of rigid manichean style of today’s politics, and the apparent need to find offense and outrage, I sometimes feel I have no choice. Nothing I write here should be perceived as indicating any opposition to homosexuality. I have no problem with homosexuality. I do not merely tolerate my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, but embrace them.

This blog concerns the practice of public school administrators and teachers talking to children, especially young children, about sexuality and gender identity—heterosexual or whatever—and the gaslighting of parents who are concerned about it. It’s not the role of teachers to involve themselves in the sex lives of students except where they detect abuse (in which case they should alert the appropriate authorities), and parents have the right to object to such an instruction by a public employee.

I went to public schools most of my life (my parents enrolled me in a private school for kindergarten and ninth grade). I never once encountered an administrator or a teacher who I believe was qualified to talk to children about human sexuality. My fifth grade teacher believed the degrees on a globe marked regional temperature and made me cover the nipples of a mermaid I painted during art period. In high school, a teacher threw away a sculpture (my sculpture) because she believed it represented a phallus. I have put two children through the k-12 system and there were no administrators or teacher there who were qualified to talk to children about human sexuality. I appreciate the work teachers do. I am a supporter of public schools in principle. But administrators and teachers are, as a lot, even if we supposed it was appropriate for them to do so, simply not up to the task of steering the sexuality and gender identity of our children.

I agree with Tulsi Gabbard that parents should raise their kids, not the government. Consult my blog The LGBTQ Lobby Sues Florida to get a sense of the range of things I believe are inappropriate for public school instruction. Even things I believe in are not appropriate for classroom instruction.

* * *

If QAnon is not a construct of the deep state, it certainly functions as if it were one. If a parent is concerned that the desire of teachers to speak with their children about their bodies and their sexuality may signal grooming behavior (why wouldn’t this desire raise suspicions?), they may be reticent to speak up because they risk being linked with an alleged political conspiracy theory positing the existence of a cabal of Satanic cannibalistic sexual predators operating a global child sex trafficking ring. Concern over child sex trafficking is similarly dismissed as QAnon conspiracy theory.

Notwithstanding the horrors of the Catholic Church, where children were groomed by employees of a trusted institution that covered up the abuse for decades, there appears to be a concerted effort by progressive elites to misdirect the public on the question of child sexual abuse by the professional-managerial class by gaslighting and smearing those who are concerned about the safety of children. As with the church, the angle is that there is nothing to see here. The misdirection play is effective. Few people want to be labeled a “conspiracy theorists.” If there were no conspiracy theory to mock, then it would be beneficial to manufacture one.

Among the attendees of President Trump’s rally in Florida in the summer of 2018 were people holding up signs promoting an online right-wing conspiracy persona who’s been targeting movie stars and the Democratic Party.

The Washington Post ran an editorial Tuesday suggesting that US senators who questioned Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about her leniency in sentencing child predators at her Senate confirmation hearings were employing QAnon “catchphrases.” Indeed, the fact that Republicans didn’t mention a single thing about QAnon during the proceedings was, for author Donald Moynihan, a professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, all the evidence one needed to know that the line of questioning pursued by Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, and Joshua Hawley concerning Judge Jackson’s record emanated from that conspiracy theory. High-ranking Republicans are secretly Q was the take away.

“Republican senators questioning Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson at her Supreme Court nomination hearing didn’t explicitly mention QAnon or its putative oracle, Q,” writes Moynihan. “They didn’t mention the child sex trafficking ring run by a global cabal of Democratic politicians; financial, media and Hollywood elites; medical establishment professionals; and the satanic pedophile Hillary Clinton. They didn’t mention the Storm, the day these cabalists will be rounded up and executed. And they didn’t mention QAnon’s North Star, former president Donald Trump, who is secretly dismantling the pedophile ring.” “They didn’t have to,” he continues dramatically. “QAnon, a sprawling set of baseless conspiracy claims, is built on nods and winks, which has allowed it to move from the fringes to the center of American politics without toppling the mainstream conservative politicians who are courting its adherents. All Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) had to do to set the stage for the hearing was allege in tweets beforehand that Jackson’s record on sex offender policies ‘endangers our children.’”

Moynihan wraps everything he can in the list of claims associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory—the association of establishment political and entertainment figures in the Jeffrey Epstein affair; the work of doctors pushing cross-sex hormones and gender affirming surgery on children; Disney and other entertainment corporations developing and pushing out programming for children that disrupts organic understandings of gender. Any concern one might have about what he is detecting about the sexual grooming of children may be dismissed by evoking the QAnon conspiracy theory. It follows that concern for the sexually-explicit books on the library shelves of public schools must come from a place of unwarranted paranoia. Etcetera.

Parents are not only concerned about pedophilia. They are concerned about a range of ideas they believe may endanger their children. They worry that the desire of teachers to speak with their children about their bodies and their sexuality may represent not only grooming behavior but also reflect an agenda to disrupt the normal psychological development of children, to confuse them about their gender. A boy may for a day show an interest in feminine activities, clothes, or toys, a fancy he will exchange for pretending to be a dog or a T-rex tomorrow. A woke teacher will take note and encourage the boy to explore his gender identity. Maybe he is really a girl born into the wrong body. Parents hear stories like this and ask questions. They will find their concerns scoffed at, ridiculed: “Don’t you know that ‘endangering children’ is a catchphrase of QAnon?”

We see the same thing happening with concern over antiracist instruction and curricula based on critical race theory. Deploying antiracist programming in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion, teachers tell children that the world is divided between “perpetrators” and “victims.” The white kids learn that they are the perpetrators and that their victims are their black classmates. White children are taught to feel guilty over things their ancestors did, to atone for a sin they did not transgress. The black children are taught that white people—all of them—are privileged because of their skin color, that any advantages they appear to enjoy are ill-gotten. Black children are taught to resent their white peers and their parents.

Parents—black and white—learn about this and complain. They don’t want their kids taught to feel guilty or to resent others on account of race. They are met with gaslighting. These things aren’t really happening, they are told. Critical race theory is not taught in schools, officials and the media insist. It’s a “racist dogwhistle,” a moral panic drummed up by conservative Republicans who pray on the fears of parents for electoral advantage. Likewise, parental concern over instruction in sexuality and gender identity is portrayed as bigotry. Opposition to such teachings are expressions of “homophobia” and “transphobia.” Not only are parents buying into hate, but their complaints further that hate, endangering the lives of LGBTQ children.

If you’re paying attention, you will have likely noted the contradiction: that it’s okay to accuse others of endangering children, if you are a progressive. Progressives truly care about children (that’s why they’re still masking them in Head Start). As progressives, they are obviously rational and in the know; they could not possibly believe in conspiracy theories. Moreover, because they are immune from paranoia, their claims about what conservatives are secretly up to, what the right really means with its “dogwhistles” and what-not, must be true. The progressive worldview is informed, sure, and true. Conservatives are crazy, hateful, and stupid. Why else would public school administrators and teachers have to keep from parents key curricular and pedagogical elements? Because progressivism shapes the nation’s institutions, progressives are able to amplify this portrayal of themselves and their opponents. There is no agenda. Only paranoid mouth-breathers in fly-over states.

The agenda of indoctrinating young children in extremist ideology, in gender theory and critical race theory, has gathered around itself a forcefield of canceling, censorship, mockery, ridicule, and shaming, all aimed at belittling, dismissing, marginalizing, and destroying those parents who raise questions about social studies curricula and the paradigm of social and emotional learning (SEL). Parents read and share such articles as “What are social and emotional learning and culturally responsive and sustaining education—and what do they have to do with critical race theory? A primer” and suspect that SEL is a Trojan horse designed to smuggle into public school curriculum extremist ideas about gender and race.

One must understand these concerns in the context of the culture war that lies at the heart of the transnationalization project. Americans may not comprehend the full context, but they have picked up on its effects and are pushing back. Circumstances have found parents in the vanguard of the resistance. They can see the assault on Western values—of assembly, association, free speech, individualism, privacy, self-determination, transparency in government, the nuclear family and parental rights. There is a need to bring the greater public to the recognition that the culture war is an ideological step in a program to alienate the individual from traditional institutions and reincorporate him in a new world order. The corporate state is replacing the family with government agencies, public schools being the most obvious institution for the immediate and comprehensive cultivation of future consumers and political actors for these purposes. Schools have our children for the better part of the day, a situation imposed by the structure of the working day and the necessity of both parents to work in industrialized society. Medicalizing, racializing, and sexualizing children are key elements of the strategy. COVID-19 exposed the program. The corporate state is desperately trying to put the cat back in the bag. If you know anything about cats, you know they have a real task before them.

The Truth About Gun Violence

The men who allegedly perpetrated the mass shooting in Sacramento that left six dead and many more injured have been arrested. They are Dandrae Martin and Smily Martin. They are bothers. I suspect the character of the coverage of this even will shift now that the race of the suspects is known. We saw this with the disappearance of the Waukesha terrorist, as I predicted (Waukesha is Scheduled to be Memory Holed). (In fact, Google has removed my blog entry on Waukesha from its searchable index.)

Dandrae Martin, aged 26, and Smiley Martin, aged 27, are suspected of perpetrating a mass shooting in Sacramento, California.

There is a lot invested in manufacturing the perception that mass shooting is lone white male phenomenon. In fact, white males are underrepresented in mass shootings. See my April 2021 blog on mass shooting on Freedom and Reason to understand this dynamic (you can still find this one using Google searching): How to Misrepresent the Racial Demographics of Mass Murder. This is a big lie told for political purposes.

Obscuring the demographics of homicide not only conceals the fact that most perpetrators of homicide in the United States are black men, but it also conceals the fact that most homicide victims in the United States are black, as well (mostly black men). In light of the fact that black men make up only 6 percent of the US population and blacks only around 12-13 percent of the US population overall, these are shocking truths.

Black men are no more naturally inclined to murder than white men. Mass murder is a sociocultural phenomenon. I refuse to believe there is nothing society can do to stop black-on-black violence. But until the problem is recognized for what it is, society cannot take the necessary action. Why is so much energy expended to keep the public from recognizing the reality about murder in America or shaming those who do?

Media distortions furthermore obscure the fact that violent crime is largely concentrated in the most impoverished neighborhoods of big cities run by progressive Democratic governments. Therein lies a big part of why the media distorts perceptions of violence. The corporate media is prepared to systematically warp the reality of violent crime—a distortion that perpetuates the large-scale death of mostly young black Americans (thousands killed annually)—not only to maintain a false narrative about guns, but to keep American cities under the thumb of the Democratic Party.

Numerous editorials are out today telling the public that the problem is guns. The Los Angeles Times tells opines that “Gun Violence is America’s way of life—and death.” Until the summer of 2020, homicide in America was at historic lows. It started declining rapidly after the mid-1990s and remained low for decades. Meanwhile, gun ownership was steady. Violence started rising with the depolicing movement pushed by BLM and progressive Democrats. It’s not guns. It’s culture and politics.

The LGBTQ Lobby Sues Florida

April 1, National Public Radio carries the headline: “LGBTQ groups sue Florida over the so-called ’Don’t Say Gay’ law.” At least NPR has enough integrity left to let readers in on the secret that the title of the law is not “Don’t Say Gay,” misinformation that saw a lot of activists and allies obnoxiously repeating “Gay!” on social media and wherever they could find a camera to peer into. On March 28, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 1557, its actual title “Parental Rights in Education,” affirming parents’ fundamental rights to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children. The tag “Don’t Say Gay” was designed to obscure the real title of the bill.

HB 1557 prohibits classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for children kindergarten through third grade, as well as other instruction that is not age appropriate for students. Recognizing that the family is the basic unit of the social order, the law also requires school districts to adopt procedures for notifying parents if there is a change in services from the school regarding the emotional, mental, or physical health, or well-being of their children. With global corporate power at its back, most notably Disney, which has banished the words “boys” and “girls” and “gentlemen” and “ladies” from its scripts, the LGBTQ lobby has moved to stop the implementation of the law.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis displays the signed Parental Rights in Education, aka the Don’t Say Gay bill, flanked by elementary school students during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Whatever your view on matters of gender identity and sexual orientation (my own, consistent with my left-libertarian beliefs, is to tolerate wide diversity in these domains), the challenge filed in federal court in Tallahassee on behalf of Equality Florida and Family Equality (EFFE) gets the free speech right profoundly wrong. This is crucial, because it is upon this right that the lobby seek redress. In fact, the free speech right actually works against their argument.

The freedom to speak and be heard, as well as to associate with those with whom one wishes, where it does not exclude others from exercising their right to the same, are indeed key pieces of First Amendment protections. Central to fully realizing this right, and without oppressing others, is freedom from compelled speech, as well as freedom from being forced to be part of associations and programs based on doctrines not established in the law. As a free person, I do not have to receive instruction in Islam. Nor do I have to participate in its rituals. I have only to tolerate it where it does not interfere with my freedoms. In other words, public school instruction is to educate children not indoctrinate them.

Children in public schools are captive audiences and hence especially vulnerable to indoctrination. I recognize the desire among progressives to politicize public schools, to develop and implement curricula and pedagogies that advance their political agenda, but this is entirely inappropriate in our public institutions (and should be in most of our private ones as well). The same is true with instruction in critical race theory, an openly political-ideological project to change the way individuals think about race relations and justice in America (see The Fight Against Compelled Speech). As earlier alluded to, there is no substantive difference between instruction in gender theory or critical race theory and religious education.

I am aware of the idea that getting children when they’re young, years five through eight being most crucial, is the most effective way of installing assumptions in them that make thought control easier to accomplish later in the life. The philosophy here is what is sometimes referred to as automatism, its goal to make a way of thinking habitual and reflexive. It works the same way as the civilizing process of imparting manners to the unwashed. However, whereas manners are innocuous customs (interaction rituals) that facilitate social life in a myriad of ways, political ideologies have a very different function. Political ideologies are particularly problematic when they are administered by unelected officials in government agencies.

As I recount in my 2011 blog Junior Achievement—Relevant Bits of the Letter I Wrote the Principal, I opposed the Junior Achievement program “Our Community” being taught to elementary school students. I removed my seven-year-old from class for that period when I failed to stop its implementation. I hesitated taking this action because I did not want him to feel ostracized. But what was I supposed to do? Have him sit there while propagandists from the business class teach him how to maximize profits by rationalizing production and why that was a good thing? I made the best decision I could. But I should never have been put in that position.

I want to be crystal clear about this matter. I don’t care what the ideology in question is. I’m a Marxist (what I wrote a moment ago likely gave that away). If there was curriculum in second grade instructing students about the materialist conception of history, I would oppose it as vigorously as I opposed the presence of corporate propaganda in my son’s classroom. This is not a matter of where you stand on a particular issue. It’s a matter of civil rights.

The EFFE lawsuit states, “This effort to control young minds through state censorship—and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality—is a grave abuse of power.” First off, there is nothing demeaning about not talking to children about gender identity and sexual orientation. There are all sorts of things teachers don’t discuss with children at that age. That line is there to short-circuit reason by appealing to emotion. More substantively, indeed what is really at issue here, the effort to influence young minds through state indoctrination is the actual grave abuse of power. Any instruction concerning sexuality should be reserved for later in life and circumscribed by public health concerns—not the conception of public health corrupted by political ideology (e.g. “systemic racism as a public health concern”), but public health in terms of reproductive awareness add hygiene. (I don’t want anybody getting the idea that I think that teaching safe sex to teenagers is a bad idea. Quite the contrary.)

The EFFE lawsuit goes on to say, “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that LGBTQ people and their families are at home in our constitutional order.” This is true. It is also true that heterosexual people and their families are at home in our constitutional order. That constitutional order protects all children from compelled speech apart from gender identity and sexual orientation. The US Bill of Rights is for all people.

“The State of Florida has no right to declare them outcasts, or to treat their allies as outlaws, by punishing schools where someone dares to affirm their identity and dignity,” the EFFE lawsuit continues. I have reviewed the law. But maybe I missed something in that review. I would appreciate somebody showing me where in the law the state of Florida is declaring anybody outcasts or outlaws. But I don’t think I missed anything. In fact, I know I didn’t. What is clear in this legal action is an objection to a law asserting two fundamental rights: the right of children to be freed from ideological indoctrination and the right of parents to raise their children in a manner they believe is best for them.

As for this claim that HB 1557 transgresses the freedom of speech of administrators and teachers, public school teachers, university professors excepted, do not enjoy academic freedom. Public school teachers are hired to deliver a curriculum. Administrators are hired to organize and manage teachers for that task. Teachers work for the community they falsely presume the right to shape. It is the parents who are ultimately in charge of their children’s education. I have been a stalwart supporter of public education all my life. However, developments over the last several decades have shaken that support. Frankly, had I to do it all over again, I would likely home school my children. It pains me to say this, as I believe very much in the ideal of public education. But it has become corrupted by political agendas.

Administrators, teachers, and their unions will deny that they are pushing any agenda. They appear oblivious to the character of their practices. You will note that they are almost uniformly progressives. Why does it seem not to occur to progressives that pushing particular theories of gender and race instruction in public schools is indoctrination? Why would administrators and teachers even consider circumventing the wishes of parents by, for example, hiding curricula (the purchase parents gained by being able to see curricula and pedagogy under COVID-19 lockdown conditions is what opened up all of this) or keeping from parents information concerning their children’s emotional, mental, or physical health, or well-being? Understanding this is the deeper matter. The corporate state, the extended state apparatus that includes the culture industry and educational institutions, is trying to get our children.

One must understand that progressives are not liberals. They are neither democrats nor republicans (note the small “d” and “r”). If they were any of these things they would insist public schools impart knowledge that prepares children for a successful life in pursuit of self-actualization with an awareness of their civic responsibilities as citizens of a free republic. They would insist on instruction in logic, math, and science, as well as mastery over the written word, all the while insisting that it is not the role of educators in public institutions to shape community life, but to deliver a service that empowers individuals to develop an independent mind and shape their communities on their terms.

Progressivism is the subjectivity of the professional-managerial strata—the middle class. It is the conscious and practical expression of the corporate state, of government bureaucracy, of the technocratic order that serves the power elite. The same power that drives Junior Achievement into schools is the same power that drives gender theory and critical race theory into that institution. It is not in the interests of the powerful for children to develop independent minds that possess the capacity to analyze situations objectively and in terms of individual situations and class interests. The corporate state desires the indoctrination of children to more completely create and integrate docile bodies with the control structures that make the lives of the proles serve the ends of the party. There is no room in this scheme for civil liberties. Hence the First Amendment can be bent out of shape with apparent oblivion.

The Behemoth Returns: The Nazis Racialized Everything. So Do CRTs.

Franz Neumann tells us in his landmark 1942 work Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism that, because National Socialist law, in decoupling law from the normative system emergent from organic social relations, eschewed generality, it is difficult to say there is any law at all under totalitarian monopoly capitalism. At least not in Nazi Germany. Rather than reflecting and defending the organic social relations that gave meaning and purpose to it, the law became an instrument of radical social change directed by institutions subservient to a political ideology. But not only in Nazi Germany.

The denial of generality changed the law from a universal system representing the liberty and rights of all individuals to a system of differential protection where, depending on status, privileges, i.e., special rights, stood in the place of civil and human rights. “Absolute denial of the generality of the law,” Neumann writes, “is the central point in National Socialist legal theory.”

Franz Neumann’s Behemoth, a theory of totalitarian monopoly capitalism, first published 1942, revised 1945.

Following millennia of practice, the term “nation” meant for National Socialists something other than nation-state; it meant ethnicity, a people, which Nazis conflated with race. This is how German Jews came to be recognized as something other than German. What Nazis sought was a society in which the law privileged ethnic Germans, the “Germanic race,” believed the dominant national spirit in its territories; Jews and other inferior and subhuman nations were naturally subordinated to the superior races.

This is the meaning of National Socialism. It is “socialist” in the sense that individuals are subordinated to the corporate state, their personal identities disappeared into the collective. This is a specification of socialism unique to its totalitarian form. However, Nazi Germany remained an industrial capitalist society. A major purpose behind the establishment of National Socialism was to respond to the crisis of capitalism during that period, to restore the rate of profit by disciplining labor, undermining the movements for the democratic socialism and communism, which the Nazis portrayed as a Jewish cabal, and expanding the scope of the corporate state, first to Europe, then to the world. The corporate state found useful the Nazi project of replacing class consciousness with identitarian politics.

Configuring society along racial lines is the “national” piece of National Socialism. Under conditions of totalitarianism, individuals are depersonalized, deindividuated. The deindividuated are organized into racial groups, or nations, which already existed as ethnicities since capitalism and the nation in its civic sense (the nation-state) had not yet fully developed and detribalized society. The Nazis promoted the idea of the Volksgemeinschaft, or “people’s community.” What were becoming individuals became personifications of abstractions, hierarchically ordered, rationalized by a scientism that biologized society. Retribalization was (and is) a strategy of control.

The hierarchy of races was an abstraction of nineteenth century racial theory, developed initially by Joseph Arthur De Gobineau, who theorized that there was a natural hierarchy based on skin color and other phenotypic markers. This is the atavistic character of Nazism, its pretense to science not withstanding. Indeed, race science is anti-scientific; it’s ideology. This idealist scheme was applied to the world; Nazis used race science to forge alliances beyond the German territories.

Because of the superficial understanding of the character of German fascism, surprising given how vital it is to grasp the nature of an existential threat to freedom and equality, at least if one is honest about “never again,” the branding of the ideology of that period confuses many people, leading them to falsely equate Nazi Germany with the goals of socialism generally. We see this confusion most often on the political right, but it must also exist on the left; the authoritarian and illiberal character of progressivism goes unrecognized by the rank and file.

Ethnic Germans asserted their right to race privilege in part on a claim that they had been wronged by the Jewish race. Seeing the world through the lens of race, it was not just the Jewish fraction of the capitalist class that had wrong them. Social segmentation was not to be viewed through the lens of social class. That was Marxist trickery, and therefore Jewish. Jews, whether bourgeois or proletariat, were to be dealt with by what was truly common to them: their national identity. That is, their race. Because race was an objective and natural thing, the Jewish identity did not depend on subjectivity. A man was Jewish even when he did not see himself as such.

Nazis used this alleged wrong to institute a program of reparations wherein Jewish property was brought under state control and then appropriated. In the end, dispossessed of property and legal protections, Jews were marched to concentration camps where they lost everything.

A presumption in National Socialism, then, indeed the “ideological technique of the new legal theory,” as Neumann puts it in Behemoth, is that “freedom and equality are cloaks behind which exploitation is hidden.” Freedom and equality are the virtues of liberal capitalism, the political economic system Jews developed and used to amass great stores of wealth at the expense of ethnic German and and other workers of the superior races. The goal of National Socialism was to negate individual liberty and the principle of equality before the law and subsume persons under the total institutional authority of the extended state apparatus—this in order to right the world. For Nazis, this was social justice.

Identity politics was a major ideological component used to accomplish this goal on a mass level. Crucial to its success was working this way of thinking into common sense. Everybody had to think primarily in terms of race. Everything had to be about ancestry. Everything was tribal. This worldview had to be established as what Antonio Gramsci conceptualized as hegemony: those who opposed the new world order had to be canceled; everybody else accepting the worldview as just and virtuous. The Nazis did this by establishing control over the dominant institutions of society—marching their ideology through the universities and colleges, the mass media, etc., demanding its inclusion everywhere in the curriculum, in the reporting, etc.

When you hear rhetoric telling you that “freedom and equality are cloaks behind which exploitation is hidden” it is imperative that understand what lies behind this rhetoric. This is why it is so important to understand the character of National Socialism. This is a lesson from history. The survival of liberties and rights depends on recognizing the problem of identity politics and stopping it in its tracks.

Consider the demand we hear today to replace equality with equity. Equality before the law, the argument goes, leads to unjust outcomes for certain groups because it does not take into account the different circumstances these groups face. This is even true of equality of opportunity, since not everybody is in a position to take advantage of the opportunities out there. Equity, on the other hand, takes account of the different circumstances of individuals and groups and allocates resources in a manner that achieves equal outcomes. It supposes a social injustice that needs repairing. Somebody has something they came by wrongly and they need to make amends.

Marx’s slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (from his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Programme), often identified as the principle of communism, where each individual has access to capital, goods, and services, is held up as a statement of equity. However, it also a statement of equality, as under communism each person has equal access to capital, goods, and services. Moreover, there is an expectation that each individual will contribute to society to the best of his ability. And, crucially, Marx’s slogan concerns individuals. It does not concern groups—not even social class (under communism there will be no social class). Equality and equity become sharply differentiated when applied to abstract groupings and in a way antithetical to Marxism, as well as liberalism.

The principle in operation at the founding of the American Republic was equality before the law. This is a liberal principle. Equality is central to the logic of Enlightenment, the normative order associated with the development of capitalism in Europe. Even though the law under capitalism reflects the structure and imperative of that mode of production (this is a general principle of the relationship between political economy and the law), normative social relations were such as to demand of the law the same protection of liberties and rights for the proletariat enjoyed by the bourgeoisie. To be sure, this arrangements served to keep the bourgeoisie in power, but it also meant that the individual proletarian was afforded due process and the right to seek redress of grievances through the law.

One may cynically theorize this as a hegemonic move, but the effect is very real. The abolition of race-based chattel slavery, exploitative relations developed during Islamic hegemony in the Mediterranean world-system inherited by European civilization, a legacy of the mercantilist period, was the result of the resolution of the contradiction between freedom and slavery that the principle of equality made possible. In time, the principle of equality—that each individual was to be judged without respect to the color of his skin—resulted in the abolition of segmented systems based on race.

The Amazon blurb: “Why did the president of the United States, in the midst of a pandemic and an economic crisis, take it upon himself to attack Critical Race Theory? Perhaps Donald Trump appreciated the power of this groundbreaking intellectual movement to change the world.”

However, for the critical race theorist (CRT), as with the National Socialists, “freedom and equality are cloaks behind which exploitation is hidden.” Both movements (countermovements really) organize their politics around race. Obsessively so. While CRT may not explicitly biologize race in the way National Socialism did, it nonetheless essentializes it in a way that renders it indistinguishable from the Nazi appeal to biology. CRT does differ from National Socialism in its appeal to a second-order simulacrum of Marxism, where it is allegedly held that the freedom and equality promised by bourgeoise legal order is an illusion.

But the communism of Karl Marx and the proletarian movement for which he served as master theoretician was not about destroying freedom and equality, but rather transforming economic relations such that freedom and equality could be fully realized in practice. Marx was a dialectician who sought higher unity in the system of liberal values by abolishing capitalist social relations. The higher unity that required overthrowing the contradiction between the private control over capital (the source of alienation) and all the other rights and liberties promised by the Enlightenment.

Marx never conceptualized individuals as mere personifications of abstract social categories save one: the material system of social class segmentation, not only under capitalism, but under every economic system since the original position of man was overthrown, i.e., primitive communism. Politics based on Marxism, if they are true to premise, do not seek a return to the original position of primitivism, but instead to achieve communism at an advanced stage of technological development, one in which necessary labor is eliminated (inevitable with rationalization—mechanization, automation, and so forth), with distribution of goods and services necessary based on need. Marx would never suppose that individuals are personifications of ideological categories. That would return Marx’s dialectic to Hegel, where it was standing on its head. CRT is antithetical to Marxism.

As I write in Critical Race Theory: A New Racism, “CRT treats individuals, materially concrete entities, flesh-and-blood human beings, members of the same species, as personifications of racial categories, as projections of ideas, an act of reification, i.e., making an idea out to be a real thing, while treating group-level disparities, i.e., statistical abstractions, as the actual circumstances of concrete persons. CRT thus commits two fallacies: (1) the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, i.e., treating abstractions as if they are real things, and (2) the ecological fallacy, i.e., drawing conclusions about individuals from group-level statistics.”

CRT perversely uses these fallacies as “truths” in a project to establish a new system of racism, one where individuals are not judged before law without respect to race or ancestry, but judged precisely on the basis of race and ancestry. Society and its justice system are to be organized on the basis of race.

This is not a future state of affairs. The project has already been substantially imposed. A black individual, regardless of economic standing or other advantages or disadvantages, enjoys the same race privilege in college admissions or consideration for employment over against every individuals who is assigned whiteness. Here, equality and equity are radically different things. In this scheme, whites as a group suffer systemic discrimination on the basis of race.

Blacks as a group are typically referred to as the “black community.” Increasingly, and in many places as a matter of style, the racial designation is capitalized (sometimes only for blacks). Thus we have witnessed emerge over the last several decades, the notion of the Volksgemeinschaft, or “people’s community.” The practice of defining a demographic category as a “community” conveys common interests and values. As a member of a monolithic group, each black individual is supposed to share interests contrary to those of whites.

If, on the other hand, racial ordering is abolished, and all individuals are treated as such, insisting on equity, i.e., equality of outcome, even if imperfectly achieved, would represent an attempt to achieve substantive equality. Not just for this or that group, but for everybody. Failure to achieve substantive equality would not necessarily make the formal equality principle unjust. Shouldering the burden of proof, the person claiming an injustice would be required to demonstrate his claim empirically and without reference to his group identity (with a few exceptions, such as disability).

Generally speaking, an individual is not a stand-in for an abstraction except where his position is physically or materially determined, such as in the cases of disability, sex differences, and societal class. Race is neither physical nor material. Neither is religion.

Surely you have you noticed the fetish rank-and-file progressives make of race in equity discussions while saying little or nothing about social class? Indeed, white proletarians are the subject of scorn by leftwing identitarians. They are the lot of them white supremacists. Have you also noticed how the rights of girls and women, heretofore based on sex differences, which are objectively real and scientifically determinable, are being dismantled and biological males are taking their place? In these cases, material and physical realities are denied and capitalism and patriarchy preserved, even more deeply achieved, while subjective categories that disrupt consciousness of these realities are elevated.

We have seen that the call for more reparations has gone out in America. Even before the program has been formalized, we see reparations in kind perpetrated in cities across America. But the formal system is coming along nicely. A task force in California is divided on which black Americans should be eligible for compensation as atonement for a slave system that officially ended with the Civil War. But there is a task force.

Since no living black person in America (with the exception of some African immigrants) was ever a slave, the choice is arbitrary. Why not run with CRT logic and treat every black person as a personification of a murky abstraction? The more difficult questions are (1) which white people do you make pay for something they could not possibly have done (go with CRT here and blame all white Californians) and (2) how do you separate out the black money from the white money to avoid blacks paying themselves reparations? A more thoroughgoing system of segregation is the solution for (2). We see the signs of resegregation everywhere.

I am not arguing the critical race theory and National Socialism are identical. There are many differences one may catalog if he wishes. I leave that to those who are interested in muddling matters. What I am arguing is that in form and substance the similarities represent two forms of fascist race thinking, both occurring in the context of totalitarian monopoly capitalism. That the present totalitarian order is, as Sheldon Wolin told us, inverted only makes the actual character of our circumstances a bit more difficult to recognize. But not impossible. (Indeed, as I argue in From Inverted to Naked Totalitarianism: The West in Crisis the totalitarian character of the present movement becomes more bold with time.)

The core marker of fascistic racism is a pervasive preoccupation with race and the existence of a corporate state organizing social life around that preoccupation, chiefly accomplished by shifting law from a focus on individual liberties and rights, emphasizing equality before the law, to a focus on group privileges and equity based on primitive notions of collective guilt and punishment. Both National Socialism and CRT seek to overthrow the Enlightenment and the modern nation-state and return human society to its tribal forms in the context of a world neo-feudalism governed by corporate states.

At the time he was penning Behemoth, Neumann could see that “[t]he principles [of the new legal order] are not fully developed. The law is still in a state of flux, the judiciary not yet fully synchronized.” One can see flux happening in real time. But you have to have the correct theory. In 1945, the Allied victory put an end to the transformation of German law into a system that denied the reality of human social relations, that sought to negate freedom and rights for individuals and subordinate them to institutional control.

While Nazi Germany was defeated, the spirit of the corporate state survived and found a new angle. This new angle is what I am calling the New Fascism. We find ourselves at back at essentially the same moment, where freedom and equality, indeed the entire normative order, are cast as the forces of oppression and the law and the judiciary, and this false characterization is being used to realign the political-juridical system with an antithesis that threatens to destroy reason and progress. The West is in an existential crisis.

There’s a lot more to the New Fascism than CRT. I invite you to spend some time on Freedom and Reason to learn more about what confronts us (see, for example, Totalitarian Monopoly Capitalism: Fascism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow). One of the most striking things I will mention here is that in both National Socialism and progressivism generally is the fact of rank-and-file support found in the middle class, the professional-managerial strata; key elements of the voting base common to both are engineers, government officials, journalists, physicians, school teachers, scientists, and students.

As a college professor, I am a member of the professional-managerial class. I chose my line of work because it’s interesting to me. Teaching was a calling. Although unintended, it puts me on the inside where I hear what elites really think about working people. For these elites, those in the heartland constitute a bunch of mouth-breathing neanderthals. They see them as an inferior breed. But I do not identify politically with that class or the class it supports, namely the corporate class. My choice of comrades is the working class. I’ve been there. I have dirtied my hands. And not just in my flower garden. That choice and experience, in addition to knowing the fate that awaits us if we do not act, guide my politics.