The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind
a book by Bruce Bawer
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that Respected author, critic, and essayist Bruce Bawer—whose previous book, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within, was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist—now offers a trenchant and sweeping critique of the sorry state of higher education since the campus revolutions of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
The victims' revolution is a toxic narrative that has labelled every group a victim except white males
In The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, Bawer incisively contends that the rise of identity-based college courses and disciplines (Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Gay Studies, etc.) forty years ago has resulted in an impoverishment of thought and widespread political confusion, while filling the brains of students with politically correct mush. Timely, controversial, and brilliantly argued, Bawer’s The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind is necessary reading for students, educators, and anyone concerned about the contemporary crisis in academia—a serious and important work that stands with other essential books on the subject, like The Shadow University by Alan Kors, Illiberal Education by Dinesh D’Souza, and Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind.
Bawer tells us " . . . in a world where violent intergroup enmity and conflict have been the rule rather than the exception, America found a way for increasingly diverse groups of people to live together not only in peace but with a strong sense of shared identity—an identity founded not on ethnicity but on a commitment to the values of individual liberty, dignity, and equality articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. America, as envisioned by its founders and understood by the overwhelming majority of its citizens, was, in an international context, and in a now outdated sense of the word, a supremely liberal conception."
Here the Founders established the United States of America—an amazing gift to the American people and, eventually, the world
Mark Lilla, in The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics bemoans the identity politics that are rotting the American spirit. Many formerly loyal Democrats are withholding their votes from the Party, in large part due to its surrender to identity poltics. High schools and universities are pushing identity politics and political correctness rather than required civics classes that would explain and teach the tenets of civics. The result is that students are culturally ignorant, citizenship challenged, and barely even American, since they have no clue of what this means, or why they should be grateful for their opportunity to be an American citizen.
Our nation's liberals are so saturated with PC identity politics, that they have lost civic pride, community pride, American pride, and deep gratitude to have a Constitution that is the supreme law of the U.S.A. and that affords us amazing opportunities for freedom, employment, justice, community, and creativity. The Constitution's first three words—We the People—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments.
The Constitution's first three words—We the People—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens (and we've got a bridge to sell you, too, if you still believe it's doing that)
As Bawer put it, "The most disastrous by-product of the civil rights movement was multiculturalism, a philosophy that teaches, as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. put it, 'that America is not a nation of individuals at all but a nation of groups.'" This new ideology— identity politics and political correctness, as author Schlesinger recognized, represented a betrayal of true liberalism, a rejection of the idea of a sensible center, and a profound danger to the sense of unity that had made America uniquely strong, prosperous, and free. He warned his fellow liberals that the looming cult of victimhood, while posing as a liberal crusade, was actually an anti-liberal virus that threatened to destroy the very foundations of American democracy. Schlesinger himself might not have put it this way, but what the new academic groupthink really represented was nothing less than the closing of the liberal mind.
What the new academic groupthink really represented was nothing less than the closing of the liberal mind
The new academic elites simultaneously balkanized and politicized the study of society and culture and utilized an impenetrable jargon that only they could understand. They were deaf to traditional liberals and they held conservatives in utter contempt, and the feeling was mutual. The elites' multicultural dogma dispersed throughout American society, transforming the way people think, speak, and act on a wide range of issues. Next came the abandonment of their shaky commitment to free speech in the name of multicultural sensitivity.
The academy is the receptacle of the deceitful and untrustworthy multicultural idea and the setting in which it is implanted into the minds of American youth
Schlesinger made an insistent point of the fact that grade schools and high schools, by instilling basic civic values in students, were a crucial element in the perpetuation of a shared national identity. Allan Bloom, in a pathbreaking book, The Closing of the American Mind, (“the first shot in the culture wars”), warned us that "the intellectual relativism that was taking over the academy—and that claimed to represent greater openness—was, in fact, leading to what he called the closing of the American mind," as Bawer puts it. Intellectual relativism was actually a cover for amoral—or nonexistent—values. They lead to "openmindedness" about whether Hitler's treatment of Jews was evil or not. The nonjudgmentalism and political correctness in our culture has gone about as far as it can go. Teachers are beginning to find students that cannot find immorality in even the Holocaust.
The nonjudgmentalism and political correctness in our culture has gone about as far as it can go. Teachers are beginning to find students that cannot find immorality in even the Holocaust
American students have been trained to reduce the rich complexities and ambiguities of human life to simple formulas about oppressors and oppressed, capitalists and workers, Western imperialists and their non-Western victims. Such reductionism rarely creates understanding or insight—it just disseminates ignorance and disinformation as it makes the student feel successful for having parroted the dogma so accurately. They are like computers that only get to utilize memory chips, but never their central processing units (their brains). The liberal narrative cannot be questioned, so the teachers insert PC "knowledge" into their programming, and they are not allowed to question it. This technique is used in fascism, but should never be allowed in a democracy.
Our kids are choking on misinformation: their educations just disseminate ignorance and misinformation while it makes the student feel successful for having parroted the dogma so accurately
The humanities had been, above all, human—but now, in the name of the dreadful project known as postmodernism, they were replaced by something dehumanized, artificial, mechanical. Old-fashioned analytical philosophy, which had viewed itself as a search for truth, became cursed with the following idiocy from the pits of relativism Hell: there in no such thing as objective truth. Although Trump and his minions seem just as comfortable with alternative truth as real truth, most people consider truth as real and important and the post-truth era as an abomination.
As Bawer says, "As the traditional modes of contemplating the meaning of life were abandoned, moreover, they were replaced by New Left politics and by a relativistic, nihilistic mode of thought that denied the very reality of aesthetic merit and objective truth. The very values that the humanities had previously exalted were now disparaged as weapons in an ongoing struggle by straight white Western males to retain power, preserve oppression, and keep capitalist, imperialist, and colonialist systems in place." Neither Bawer nor ourselves have much patience for this pathetic victimization context that has taken education by the neck and shaken the life out of it until all that is left is a few hollow, toxic, self-important dogmas. PC dogma "is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," to borrow from William Shakespeare. Macbeth said it as he learned of his wife's death, we say it as we learned of the death of education, sacrificed on the PC altar of the liberal narrative.
The main lesson the liberals teach is victimization dogma and the main expectation they have of you as you hear their insidious lesson is conformity—NEVER question the liberal narrative!
This explains why the main lesson the liberals teach is victimization dogma and the main expectation they have of you as you hear their insidious lesson is conformity—NEVER question the liberal narrative or you'll face re-education brainwashing or expulsion. If you question them, it means you are trying to think for yourself, which they'll view as the moral equivalent of watching child porn. The liberal narrative with its victimization dogma is from the enlightened, the "woke." All of us too smart to fall for this pathetic dogma are the haters and racists and sleepers who have not yet gotten the memo about life. Or so they think. (Gag.)
ALL ideas that question the liberal narrative are motivated by hate and oppression, so let's fill our young with PC dogma and set them free to become thought police who scathingly rebuke every slightest slip in other people's language or actions (ironically, while they style themselves liberators and champions of free thought, speech, and diversity!)
"Assessing a statement not on the basis of its truth but on its potential offensiveness to a specific group has become a way of life fostered and developed by practitioners of identity studies. As Mr. Bawer puts it in his opening comments: 'The sad truth is that the triumph of identity studies—and of the dogmas on which these studies are based—diminishes our sense of human possibility, and threatens to further impoverish our already diminished culture.' . . . Mr. Bawer points out the falsehoods that define and are endemic in these assertions—especially in black and Chicano studies. He asserts that both groups teach a history that holds up some mythological past great civilization supposedly superior to the present’s. He shows that there is no evidence for such a civilization in African countries. . . . What is the solution? Mr. Bawer ends on a somewhat pessimistic note. He sees changes taking place, but is not overly optimistic about further progress. He encourages parents to be more aware, even in [and about] the top universities. Starting new programs (and new schools) may be a way to turn things around. The eventual solution may be economics. With more and more students graduating with high student loan debt and worthless degrees, students and parents alike should ask the hard questions about what exactly is going on in higher education." (Source: The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind , Donald F. Calbreath PhD, NY Journal of Books)
With more and more students graduating with high student loan debt and worthless degrees, students and parents alike should ask the hard questions about what exactly is going on in higher education
"Postmodern academia’s cult of race-class-and-gender victimization is oppressing the rest of us, according to this feisty j’accuse. Literary critic Bawer (A Place at the Table) mounts major assaults on once trendy, now entrenched university humanities programs in feminist studies, black studies, Chicano studies, and queer theory, along the way savaging Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Michael Eric Dyson, and other intellectual grandees. He pillories these disciplines for being anti-capitalist and anti-American . . . Bawer scores lots of entertaining points against the insufferable posturing and unreadable prose that pervades identity studies, but his critique seldom engages seriously with the intellectual content of the field; mostly he denounces the idea of dragging politics and sociology into the hallowed precincts of the humanities. Bawer’s is a lively, cantankerous takedown of a juicy target." (Source: The Victim’s Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, John Talbot, the Talbot Agency, Publishers Weekly)
"And as an openly gay man with a background in the humanities, Bawer is ideally suited to criticize these fields. It’s not that he doesn’t 'get' these areas of study, it’s not that he has no sympathy for victimized groups, and it’s not that he thinks higher education should be nothing more than career training. Rather, his extensive experience with identity studies has led him to conclude that they should be deeply reformed, at the very least, and he presents his case in full detail and with a reasoned tone. This is exactly what the debate about identity studies needs." (Source: Grievance Class, Robert VerBruggen, National Review)
Liberals' pathological fixation on group identity, as well as a preoccupation with the historical grievances of certain groups, has replaced education with indoctrination
The Russians have held a very zero-sum perspective about America's democracy and political system for decades. They want to bring us down to make themselves feel more "up." But they have no appetite for conflict or warfare so they use cyberattacks and misinformation to undermine us politically, socially, and economically. One cannot draw a direct connection between identity politics and Russia but we can notice liberals' pathological fixation on group identity, as well as a preoccupation with the historical grievances of certain groups (slavery, native Americans, gays, women, etc.) combined with a virulent hostility to America, which is consistently cast as the prime villain in the histories of these groups and the world at large. Liberals seemed to have invented an ideology capable of utterly destroying the America of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the melting pot.
Russia has hostility to America as well, because we flourished while the USSR self-destructed. This created jealousy and a desire to see us fail. The PC identity politics disaster operates like it is a tool planted here as an act of sabotage to wreck the U.S. The right hates it and the left foolishly obsesses over it while Russia is laughing its ass off as the liberals in our nation make fools of us. And then this PC identity politics disaster spread like a virus to Europe. Russian interference in the 2016 election was obvious to everyone in the world—except for Donald Trump, who had many reasons to not WANT to see it. So, could the PC identity politics disaster be the result of more subtle Russian interference beginning decades ago? If so, they covered their tracks well.
Today's college students have been trained to parrot anti-American jargon, to regurgitate bullet points about Western imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism—and to think that this is what it means to be educated. It's as if their education was focused on Marxism and/or communism. And all of this is delightful to Russia. We'll never be able to hold our nation together is our young are taught to despise it, as opposed to celebrating the America of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the melting pot, and the great opportunity our country gives them.
Let's say that Russian agents have been disseminating just such anti-American propaganda here for decades, using agents to do the job. Liberals seemed to soak up such dogma and ask for more. We cannot prove that they did this, but no one can disprove it either. If the entire new anti-American ideology, identity politics and political correctness, which Schlesinger recognized as a betrayal of true liberalism, represents a tremendous success of Russian agents in undermining democracy, America, and our social system, doesn't it also represent a tremendous failure of the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI to detect their sabotage and to protect our citizens from it?
At first blush, the Russians lost the Cold War; but what about our self-destructing status since the PC identity politics disaster—doesn't that represent our Cold War loss?
When America won the Cold War, did we perhaps let down our guard too soon? Did no one notice that they merely continued this war in sneakier ways? While U.S. military was running around the world making fools of themselves losing obscenely expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, were we so distracted by what was happening OUT THERE that we failed to notice what was happening IN HERE? Given the new anti-American ideology, identity politics and political correctness, isn't what's happening right before our eyes a confirmation that America lost the Cold War and sneaky 'ol Russia WON the damn thing? Just saying.
Our young have been mercilessly indoctrinated with a new anti-American ideology, identity politics and political correctness, and they were never given the chance to think for themselves, criticize, or present alternate scenarios. This was not education, it was indoctrination, and the teachers needn't have been Russian agents. They were liberals. But the EFFECT is the same as if they had actually been Russian agents. Perhaps some were! Anyway, both Russia and the USA teach anti-American ideology to their citizens, but the Russians have the good sense to omit the identity politics and political correctness horse pucky that we throw in as a toxic bonus.
“What these radicals blandly call multiculturalism,” wrote Irving Kristol, "is as much a 'war against the West' as Nazism and Stalinism ever were. Under the guise of multiculturalism, their ideas—whose radical substance often goes beyond the bounds of the political into sheer fantasy—are infiltrating our educational system at all levels. . . . The Left found its answer in an identity politics that grew out of anti-colonialism. Marx’s class struggle was reformulated into an ethno-racial struggle—a ceaseless competition between colonizer and colonized, victimizer and victim, oppressor and oppressed. Instead of presenting collectivism and central planning as the gateway to the realization of genuine freedom, the new multiculturalist Left turned to unmasking the supposed power relations that subordinated minorities and exploited third world nations. . . . Under the new leftist dispensation, the study of English became the application of critical and literary theory to disparate texts so as to uncover the hidden power relations they concealed. The study of history became the study of social history or “people’s history,” the record of Western Civilization’s oppression of various groups. And popping up everywhere were new departments of “studies”: African-American Studies, Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, Chicano Studies, Gender Studies, and so on." (Source: The Problem of Identity Politics and Its Solution, Matthew Continetti, Imprimis)
The suffering victim on the cross behind the podium is African-American! This epitomizes the mind-set of the new PC religion of whites as victimizers and blacks as victims—The Church of Political Correctness
The delicious yet bitter irony of the Left cobbling together multiculturalism and identity politics out of anti-colonialism is that liberals wanted to be the heroes in the power struggles of colonizer and colonized, victimizer and victim, oppressor and oppressed, and yet multiculturalism and identity politics and political correctness is how liberal elites have gained power in colleges, Hollywood, the media, and Silicon Valley until THEY HAVE BECOME THE OPPRESSORS, forcing unwanted dogma down the throats of resisting students, Democrats, and the public at large as well as Trolling and Doxing anyone who questions their dogma. But we (80% at last count) are not liking it or buying it in spite of their brainwashing of students and the mainstream media with the toxic liberal narrative in which they pretend it is racists, sexists, xenophobes and homophobes that are the oppressors, but it's all a smokescreen for liberal elites' oppression. Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture.
The condescension of liberal elites toward the white working class, evangelical Christians, gun owners, and supporters of immigration control and cultural assimilation can be summed up in Hillary Clinton’s writing off of so many voters in 2016 as belonging in a 'basket of deplorables'
The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind is a very good book, giving not just an essential pro-American view of the new anti-American ideology, identity politics and political correctness, but also Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, Chicano Studies and more. He ends with a consideration of the question of whether there is hope. Highly recommended. Also recommended:
- The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics
- Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus
- The Coming Civil War
- Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past
- Death of a Nation: Plantation Politics and the Making of the Democratic Party
- The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture
- Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment
- Making Sense Of Multiculturalism
- Barbarians: How The Baby Boomers, Immigration, and Islam Screwed My Generation
- The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School
- Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream
- 'Don't Make the Black Kids Angry': The hoax of black victimization and those who enable it
- Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes
- Antifa: What Americans Need to Know about the Alt-Left