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Stalinism lives — in the CSULB Women’s Studies Department
November 21, 2008
The Women’s Studies Department at California State University–Long Beach finally put out a statement on my work. I say “finally” because a long list of other departments put out statements last Spring, culminating in a resolution by the CSULB Academic Senate that quotes from these statements.
After awhile, the statements by the departments have a familiar ring. The general plan is something like: We strongly believe in free speech and academic freedom, but we deplore MacDonald’s shoddy scholarship and his bigoted, racist, anti-Semitic conclusions.
The Women’s Studies statement is in line with this, but it does depart a bit from the script. It is worth commenting on because it reveals quite a bit about the state of the academy.
The statement starts with an unabashed assertion that the purpose of the Women’s Studies Department is leftist political activism:
The field of Women’s Studies is committed to the creation and promotion of research and teaching that challenges racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and related bigotries that undermine the possibility for all populations to exist free from discrimination, deprivation, hostility, violence and marginalization. Women’s Studies is dedicated to analyzing and critiquing social institutions that support or promote oppressive conditions against any targeted populations. Informed by feminist methodology and feminist theory, the core mission of Women’s Studies is to promote positive social transformation that eradicates the full range of bigoted institutions that prevent people from realizing the highest possibilities for their lives.
The media has at times pointed out the tendency for professors to be on the left. But this goes well beyond that. Their whole purpose is social transformation in the direction of a leftist utopia. (See also their webpage.) This is Antonio Gramsci’s march through the institutions with a vengeance. And it shows that people like me who see value in the traditional peoples and culture of the West have a very long way to go. The culture of the radical, transformational left is thoroughly ensconced in the university, dominating entire departments in the social sciences and humanities.
This culture of the left is constantly spouted in classrooms by professors such as those in the CSULB Women’s Studies Department. At the same time that students are inundated with politically correct propaganda from the left, every attempt is made to silence professors who have different points of view. My troubles on campus began when the SPLC pressured the university about my writing and associations. A major concern was that I was teaching things in my child development course that contradicted the SPLC’s positions on issues like race differences in intelligence. It didn’t matter that my views and what I taught were entirely consistent with mainstream research and with what my textbook says. Their point of view was that MacDonald should not be teaching any course where he might be spouting opinions disapproved by these arbiters of truth.
And the university went along with the SPLC: I had to agree to stop teaching race differences in intelligence or they would not allow me to teach the course. And no one at the university from top to bottom had any problem with that. Leftist hegemony indeed.
The Women’s Studies statement goes on as follows:
Further, Women’s Studies rejects any claims to a natural, biological or essential basis for social hierarchies that impute lesser or greater social value to designated populations. As such, the mission of Women’s Studies and the ethical and political impulse of feminism stand in direct contrast to the fields of socio-biology, evolutionary biology and by association, the work of Professor Kevin Macdonald.
In other words, they know the truth and are entitled to act on the basis of this knowledge. It’s the same philosophy as the Spanish Inquisition or Stalin’s show trials for intellectual deviation. Such a statement should be astounding in any academic environment, but there’s nary a peep from my colleagues. When I went into academic research I was under the naïve impression that truth is not supposed to be assumed but sought after. What we find now is that entire fields are rejected out of hand because they might yield inconvenient results. If the results conflict with their political agenda, they can be safely rejected out of hand. No research needed.
This should be underlined and repeated. The Women’s Studies Department is not really going after me. They are going after any academic discipline that they see as producing or likely to produce inconvenient results. Indeed, they go on as follows:
Challenging Professor MacDonald’s work in isolation from the fields of study that grant him legitimacy runs the risk of individualizing him and his research as exceptional and unsupported by the academy. This is not the case. Professor MacDonald works in fields that are considered to be legitimate by academic standards, and unfortunately, research into the genetic basis for the social value of racial and ethnic groups, women and homosexuals continues under the auspices of many fields of study.
The problem is not "shoddy research." The problem is that the research has academic legitimacy and continues to appear in scholarly journals and in books published by academic publishers. Obviously, this must not be allowed to continue. They conclude by asking a series of questions:
What are the social, political, intellectual and academic conditions that enable racially supremacist research to be conducted, funded, and legitimated in today’s academy? What do we do in our fields of study to counter racially supremacist ideas? How do we shape our research and teaching to undermine the social conditions that make racial supremacy possible? How does our work contribute to transforming the academy and the larger society to counter racial supremacy and bigotry?
Their last question is key: “How does our work contribute to transforming the academy and the larger society to counter racial supremacy and bigotry?” In their ideal world, entire academic disciplines would be proscribed—expunged from the academy—if they produce results that conflict with their dogmas.
It’s just like in the USSR. When the results of genetic science conflicted with Lysenkoism, so much the worse for genetics. Purge the academy.
The academic left is now in charge. When the left was on the defensive during the McCarthy era, they were strong advocates of free speech and academic freedom. Now that they have the power, there’s a very different tone. Indeed, as noted in a TOO editorial, the left has been strong supporters of “hate speech” laws in Europe and Canada, and these same forces have advocated getting rid of tenure at universities. When that happens, I’ll be the first to go. And no one at the university—least of all Women’s Studies—will lose any sleep over it.
Kevin MacDonald is a
professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.