Friday 28 May 2021

The Rise, And Fall, And Rise, Of The Revolutionary Left.

"Call Me Tania!" The revolutionary demands and rhetoric so vividly on display in the capture and radicalisation of Patty Hearst in 1974 only appeared to have disappeared in the  Neoliberal era. The truth is, they have simmered away continuously on the Left for more than 40 years. In the 2020s, having completed their "long march through the institutions", the bearers of those revolutionary ideas are now in a position to put their theories into practice.

“THE LOST TAPES” is an excellent documentary series, re-telling pivotal events through the original media footage recorded as they happened. One of the most fascinating programmes in the series examines the 1974 abduction and “radicalisation” of the newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. Of particular interest is the ideologically charged language of Hearst’s captors, the revolutionary urban guerrillas of the “Symbionese Liberation Army” (SLA).

Given the era, it is hardly surprising to hear the Police and other authority figures referred to as “pigs”. More compelling, by far, are the messages recorded by the brainwashed 19-year-old for her wealthy parents. These were littered with references to “white privilege” and the urgent necessity of breaking free from the all-pervading racism of “Amerika”.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the Age of Thatcher and Reagan, the unhinged radicalism of groups like the SLA was derided by conservatives as the last futile flarings of the Youth Revolt of the 1960s. They were supremely confident that America, and the world, had swung away decisively from the ideas of such revolutionary and “counter-cultural” figures as the “Frankfurt School” Marxist, Herbert Marcuse; the revolutionary educational theorist, Paulo Freire; and the celebrated author of Rules For Radicals, Saul Alinsky. Events suggested they were right. By 1991, “actually existing socialism”, at least in its Eastern-European and Russian iterations, had blipped-off the screen entirely, and Francis Fukuyama was announcing (prematurely) “The End of History”.

But, the conservatives were wrong. The ideas and slogans of the Left, which had jostled with each other for global headlines in the 60s and 70s, only appeared to have vanished. Within the Left itself they remained very much alive. Indeed, just about all of the jarring ideas “mainstream” audiences are currently struggling to come to terms with around the world, and the bitter debates they have spawned, were played-out across the Left more than 30 years ago. For leftists of a certain age, it is very much a case of “been there, done that, burned the T-Shirt”.

It’s an interesting factoid that “Political Correctness” – the term so over-used by conservatives everywhere – was coined originally by nonplussed left-wingers who detected in the ideological stridency of their comrades behaviour all-too-reminiscent of Chairman Mao’s Red Guards.

Which meant that while the attention of the ordinary person in the street was focused elsewhere, most particularly on the wonders of modern technology and the celebrity culture it nurtured, the left-wing students of the 1970s were becoming the teachers, journalists, trade unionists and public servants of the 80s, 90s, Noughties and beyond. Certainly, it was rare to hear them talk any longer about “offing the pigs”. But, in deploying such phrases as “ending white privilege” and “fighting white supremacy” they were saying much the same thing.

The Left’s “long march through the institutions” has carried it, and the revolutionary anti-capitalist/anti-racist ideas drummed into “Tania” (Hearst’s nom-de-guerre) by her SLA “comrades”, to positions of real power and influence.

If you doubt the reality and efficacy of its revolutionary power and influence, try reading American journalist Christopher F. Rufo’s chilling article “The Child Soldiers of Portland”, published in the Spring 2021 edition of City Journal. Now, Rufo is a well-known conservative writer, but even allowing for his right-wing views, the picture he paints of a city and state education system “training children to become race-conscious revolutionaries” is deeply disturbing.

And worryingly familiar. Because it’s not just in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, that parents are reluctantly becoming familiar with a school curriculum based on “equity and social justice”. To get some idea of what the new and compulsory New Zealand history curriculum is like, a friend of mine recently told me to: “Imagine Keith Sinclair’s A History of New Zealand with 90 percent of the pages torn out.”

Most New Zealand parents will have paid little, if any, attention to their local school board’s formal commitment to “indigenisation” and combatting “systemic racism”, and even those who have are unlikely to have registered the slightest misgivings. Supporting Aotearoa’s indigenous people and fighting racism are worthy goals – surely?

Indeed they are – but not at the cost of making our children hate themselves and teaching them to despise the achievements of their ancestors.

Patty Hearst eventually recovered from her months of abuse and brain-washing at the hands of the SLA, but not before joining them in robbing a bank.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 28 May 2021.


greywarbler said...

I think this point from Slavoj Zizek's book In Defence of Lost Causes might be relevant:

...The message of the French "no" to all of us who care about Europe is: no, anonymous experts whose merchandise is sold to us in brightly-coloured liberal-multiculturalist packages will not prevent us from thinking. It is time for us, citizens of Europe, to become aware that we have to make a properly political decision about what we want. No enlightened administrator will do the job for us.

(As can be ascertained, the French had disagreed on some basic matter, I think about the Constitution. I think his point is that they went about it in a roundabout way, questioning enough things to stymie its forward movement, and enabled further discussion amongst the Members rather than just accepting a package rolled out for them by officials. If 'citizens of Europe became ... of New Zealand, his thoughts would well apply here.)

Odysseus said...

Brilliant commentary Chris. We now have documentary proof that "white privilege" is being taught in New Zealand schools, thanks to the release of a recording made at a Ministry of Education approved workshop for teachers. This comes despite Ardern's denials. Does she know or even care what her government is actually doing? Teaching young people to hate themselves and their forebears because of the immutable characteristic of their race is wickedness itself. It has no place in a civilized society and must be stopped in its tracks.

Graham Hill said...

I enjoyed this article very much having read Mr Rufo's piece earlier in the week. I am pleased you have picked it up. The issue has become a contentious one with US School Boards facing angry parents, e.g Plam Beach County this week ha a stormy meeting and the chic Louden County in VA where a Balck American Mother decried the inception of CRT. It is a moving address as her final words are "Look at Me!" The clip is on I sent the article to several educated people but its significance seemed lost. You are correct to point out that the left did not sleep and David Horowitz attests to that.

Keith Sinclair's History of NZ was a standard, albeit in the Whig Tradition when I was at University. I am told that the latest edition of the Oxford History of NZ is virtually unreadable to the extent undergraduates struggle with it, so much so that a lecturer refers them to the earlier narrative editions. When the institutions are colonised-and Neo-Marxism is a colonising force, which is lost of the decolonisors- the output of books and articles is also captured by CRT. Activism trumps education.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I have no idea what's in the new history curriculum, but if indeed it is Keith Sinclair's book with 90% of the pages torn out, that is quite possibly a good thing. Sinclair was a man of his time, somewhat sexist, somewhat disparaging of civilisations other than Western, but to be fair his claim to fame is simply the writing and studying of New Zealand history in New Zealand rather than as was the case before him pretty much, the study of England and Europe. There were still hangovers of it when I did my first degree at Auckland University in the 1960s. I studied the "Eastern Question", and Tudor England for Christ's sake. Nothing wrong with them, but thank God for Prof Tarling and his Southeast Asian studies (albeit pretty much from a colonial point of view), and Keith Sinclair – because there were a few New Zealand offerings. But nothing – absolutely nothing from a Maori perspective. I think my copy of Sinclair's history of New Zealand has gone, but I am pretty sure that if I looked at the bibliography there would be few Maori sources beyond maybe some of the Maori newspapers. Those that were published in English. I might stand corrected on that, but even so, I'm pretty sure Sinclair didn't speak Maori, and I know he had little respect for oral traditions – if it wasn't written down he really didn't want to know. And that cuts out a lot of what we might know about New Zealand history.

John Hurley said...

I was just watching a video starring Anjum Rahman and Paul Spoonley. Spoonley admires Tina Ngata and Laura O'Conell Rapira. Anjum thinks our Westminster system is no longer appropriate. They completely ignore Ranginui Walkers views on immigration, preferring those in on it like Ngai tahu (the property developing Corp)..
Spoonley studied "Karl" (Popper) but strangely misunderstands him. Anjum frets that when you make filters for appropriate content what has happened is that it is the whites who have made most complaints to the HRC - you need to adjust that to those who are harmed.
The media aren't the problem it is "alternative sources".
Winston stopped Labour on hate speech laws.

swordfish said...

Just saying the other day that the Upper-Middle Woke put me in mind of Baader–Meinhof & the Italian Red Brigades (Children of the Establishment ... elitist Uni-Grad Fantasists, divorced from day-to-day social reality, pursuing Maoist Cultural revolutionary aims through deeply authoritarian means) ... though possibly even more of a striking resemblance to The Young Ones' narcissistic Beret-wearing meticulously-posturing but ultimately morally-fraudulent Rik (the ID Politics Cadre appear to have taken The People's Poet on as a role model to be revered & emulated rather than a satirical figure to be mocked}.

Doug Longmire said...

Well said Chris,
I have real concern for what I see in the curriculum for teaching my grandchildren.
Firstly - there is the "State of Fear" re climate change, where the indoctrination of apocalypse soon will cause widespread terror and mental health problems. (This has already happened in the U.K)
Now we have the full on racist indoctrination, directing children, I repeat CHILDREN, into seeking and finding (their) white privilege, feeling guilty about how the Maori have been downtrodden by white colonists.
Add to this the revisionist Treaty interpretation which purports to say that the Treaty gave a partnership with Queen Victoria.
Add to this the ludicrous notion that by signing the Treaty, the Maori were not ceding sovereignty.
Add to this the (government backed) plan to destroy democracy in New Zealand and replace it with an apartheid, separatist regime.
These are very worrying times.

Unknown said...

All this rain and a route to follow tomorrow. So comforting to know "Waka Kotahi" is there for us!
Thanks Jacinda
You sure know your priorities.

Nick J said...

Grey, great to see that you are watching Zizec, once you get past the language barrier he is very interesting. I watched his discussion with Peterson, billed as a show down it was polite, respectful and an exchange of opposite views. No ad hominem nonsense, great value for viewers wanting informed debate. A few ideologues could learn from them to debate the issues and not the person.

Tom Hunter said...

The indoctrination of children only worked in Nazi Germany, Japan circa 1930-145, and Communist nations like Mao's China and the USSR because they were also embedded in a society that reinforced all that "education".

While it might sound like a cool idea to the Far Left, especially considering how successful they've been in US universities, the reality is that American society still reflects the need and desire for money, which gets in the way sooner or later.

In the case of the "trained Marxist" founder of BLM, it happened early on to Patrisse Cullors, who now owns four nice pieces of real estate in LA courtesy of all the sweet, sweet moolah that BLM have gathered in. No wonder it's now tagged as Buy Large Mansions.

Same with the kids, as I pointed out in this post - Children of the Privileged Revolution the most Far Left kids are rich little snots who are protected from consequences by Mummy and Daddy's wealth.

Nick J said...

Sinclair was on my reading list a decade after you GS, it was and is a valid account of our history. Fortunately future accounts add to the story, times change and we get a fuller picture. It doesn't diminish Sinclair, maybe we look at his version as an artifact that says a lot about his times. I got lucky, my uni years coincided with Maori history becoming recognised and included. The real job is for all NZ cultures to study all accounts to understand who we are.

John Hurley said...

Guerilla Surgeon said...
I have no idea what's in the new history curriculum, but if indeed it is Keith Sinclair's book with 90% of the pages torn out, that is quite possibly a good thing.
Who decides what's a "good thing"? You?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Who decides what's a "good thing"? You?"
Trained historians, of which I am one. Not amateurs who have an axe to grind. A racist axe in many cases.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh not the stupid far left in American universities bullshit yet again? When your eejit hero Jordan Peterson was asked to name all these "cultural Marxists", a Nazi term incidentally, he could only think of about five. That doesn't seem very successful to me. And he continually names people like Derrida – which means he understands absolutely nothing about Marxism, and incidentally nothing about post-modernism either. Christ on a crutch whatever happened to the education system in this country after I left school? Someone who is so interested in it as Tom Hunter should be able to name hundreds surely? You can't just rely on Spoonley for the rest of your life.

greywarbler said...

NickJ at 18.00
Here is a vid of Stephen Fry and Jordan Peterson chatting, listening, thinking imaginatively.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Guerilla Surgeon at 15:17

Oh no you don't, GS. You don't get to use a pseudonym AND pull academic rank on other commentators. If you want to do that, then use your own name and supply your academic credentials in the accepted fashion.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Chris – then cut out the "of which I am one". My statement stands – that the syllabus should be and certainly will be vetted by trained historians. Even if I wasn't one. And to be honest I'm not likely to be asked to do it – but there are plenty of people out there who could – and hopefully will. Whoever decides, it shouldn't be people like Hurley.

Nick J said...

Interesting discussion Grey, Fry challenges very strongly with emoiricism. Both dont assume that they are correct or possess the whole truth which is very healthy.

Tom Hunter said...

Oh not the stupid far left in American universities bullshit yet again?


GS gaslighting Marxists again by attacking other commentators on the subject on a post where Chris writes the following:

The Left’s “long march through the institutions” has carried it, and the revolutionary anti-capitalist/anti-racist ideas drummed into “Tania” (Hearst’s nom-de-guerre) by her SLA “comrades”, to positions of real power and influence.

Sounds like dominance to me, but then I recall that GS lambasted the professor booted from Evergreen University as not being Left-wing at all, which would likely bemuse a man who has promoted countless Left-wing ideas, even if he fell short of being a full-blown Marxist.

But instead of hundreds, let's try and get the definitions right first, as all good trained historians are wont to do, by starting with just one example.

Is Patrisse Cullors a Marxist? If not, then why not?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Gosh Tom, you can name one – and of course not a New Zealander. The problem is you people throw around this idea of Marxist without bothering to define it, or just thinking of it as "Communist". I've no idea what she meant by "trained Marxist" but in my lexicon it means someone who uses Marx's form of analysis to try to understand society. That's the definition I use, and I think it probably is better than whatever yours is which you haven't actually stated yet. I mean – I can't for the life of me distinguish between the right-wingers on this site, because their posts tend to be almost identical – but was it you that called me a communist? And then slunk off when asked for proof?
I come across this all the time and I am constantly asking conservatives to provide me with a conservative thinker who has the predictive ability of Marx. After all, how did "The End of History" turnout?
Marx predicted predatory global capitalism. Automation. The necessary boom and bust of capitalism. Consumerism. Increasing monopoly. Low wages and huge profits. Rising inequality.
Christ, even the Harvard business review agrees.

The rest of your post/s I fail to understand as usual. I suspect there is a conversation somewhere in your own mind in which you understand them, but you could do with some lessons in clarity.

sumsuch said...

Appreciate your academic knowledge, GS. All I can say is I tort I ted tumthing here.