“This is the unraveling of civilization, if we allow for the full-scale corruption—political and ideological corruption—of our knowledge-producing sector,” says James Lindsay.
Lindsay is the founder of the website New Discourses, author of “The Marxification of Education” and “Race Marxism,” and co-author of “Cynical Theories.”
He’s also one of the minds behind the “Grievance Studies Affair” or “Sokal-squared Hoax,” in which they managed to get a number of fake papers published in critical-theory-based journals. The story is detailed in Mike Nayna’s new documentary “The Reformers.”
We discuss the corruption of education and the evolution of Marxism to the new variants we see today.
FULL TRANSCRIPTJan Jekielek: James Lindsay, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
James Lindsay: I'm always excited to be here, Jan.
Mr. Jekielek: James, there's a whole bunch of reasons I want to have you in this seat right now. We have this new film by Mike Nayna about the Sokal Squared Hoax. You were one of the three who created it some years back. It opened my eyes to a whole crazy reality that I wasn't fully aware of. You have a new book, The Marxification of Education, about Paulo Freire and his role in why our education system is the way it is.
Finally, you gave this amazing presentation to an EU political party about the genus of Marxism. We're going to talk about all this. Let's start with the film and the Sokal Squared Hoax. People will remember there were these hoax papers. Please remind us what it was.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, 2017 to 2018 is the timeline, just to place everybody where we were in time. Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose, two colleagues of mine and I decided that one of the best ways to expose the corruption academia and to credential ourselves as people who can criticize the corruption coming out of academia, would be to get a large number, as many as we could, of academic journal papers written and published in leading academic journals; feminist theory, feminist philosophy, gender studies, critical race theory, and education journals.
We took a year, and we wrote 20. Seven of them were accepted for publication, and four of them actually got published. It's a slow process. All of the seven would have been published. One of them was given an award for excellence in scholarship. The Wall Street Journal figured out what we were up to, caught us, and we came clean.
In October of 2018, they broke the story. Our project came to a screeching halt. The final scoreboard is; seven accepted, seven still under peer review, and six that we decided we hadn't succeeded with and retired. How many of those other seven would have been accepted? The sociologist suggested either four or five of them would have been. In other words, we cracked the code.
We were aiming to expose that the scholarship, upon which we build our knowledge base, our public policy, our journalism, and what we think is real in society, is suffering from a tremendously fatal political corruption, to the extent that we could make up fake articles with just ridiculous conclusions that were, of course, politically fashionable. Some of these things were very funny, and some of them were very heinous, upsetting, and disturbing. We got them through the peer review process and they were regarded as genuine academic literature.
Mr. Jekielek: You basically figured out that if you put certain keywords and structured the logic in a certain way, you would get in. Because basically anything with that logic, structure, and concepts that sounded good would get in. Is that the idea?
Mr. Lindsay: Yes. The six that failed showed us that there's a learning process. In fact, those were the first six that we wrote. At some point we started to get the hang of it and started asking, "What are the peer reviewers looking for? What do the journal editors believe is the way that the world actually operates? How do we phrase this? How do we dive into the existing body of sham literature to back up those ideas so that the scholars would consider it real?"
We became very successful at this, to the point where, near the end of the project, apparently I'm on camera saying that we had in fact cracked the code and we could get anything we want published at that point.
It's not to say we could publish anything. It has to follow certain things. Some of the papers that didn't get all the way through were under the review process. One of them is very prescient for our time because it was saying that we need to—and this is meant to be funny—be very wary of advanced artificial intelligence. Rather than allowing artificial intelligence to be guided by masculine bias, which will end a calamity that destroys the world, we need to make an interactional feminist. We argued for a feminist AI.
We could dip into artificial intelligence research and just contribute nonsensical garbage based off of the book Frankenstein and other silly things, because we knew how to write it in a way that would flatter their stylistic and political biases.
It's really almost a culture, and a certain language that they speak. We convinced ourselves that we had actually succeeded in doing this. We can speak their language and articulate it their way. More than just replicating it, we can think the way that they think.
Mr. Jekielek: Who are they?
Mr. Lindsay: In this case, we're talking about feminist theorists, gender studies scholars, and critical race theorists. But in more broad terms, we're talking about what the kids call woke these days—the woke scholars and the critical theorists who have taken off into these various domains of identity politics.
Mr. Jekielek: What you did was prescient, and it was remarkable. At the time, it was very valuable to me personally. Then, we met a few years after all this had happened. I remember seeing this, and realized there had been this very specific ideology that had even created entire disciplines of knowledge.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: It was a mind-blowing concept.
Mr. Lindsay: That is the concept behind it, too. They call it constructed knowledge. This is why it's so relevant. We had a filmmaker, Mike Nayna, who we told about this very early on. He started working with us about a month after we started. He's following us around with cameras all the time, asking us impertinent questions. But they are actually probing questions, which is a better way to phrase it. He was getting inside of what was going on behind the scenes and trying to learn for himself the same thing that you're asking, "What in the world is going on here?"
It took him four years due to Covid delays and different issues that came up, plus the industry pushback. The film industry wouldn't let the final product come out. He could get no support whatsoever within the industry. He had to figure out a different way to organize it and distribute it. Also, he had to recut it because he had been cutting it to satisfy the unsatisfiable editors, and now he was free to do what he wanted.
It was delayed. But it's almost fortuitous that it was delayed. Because honestly, the Grievance Studies Affair or the Sokal Squared Hoax Affair, the two names for it, have never been more relevant. I mentioned AI and that we saw this down the road, but every vein of relevant academic literature is now being touched by it. People are much more aware now than five years ago that this is an issue of the scale that it is.
It's one thing to say that we got a feminist theory journal to believe in feminist AI. But these same kinds of articles are now regularly being published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That's a very concerning issue. We've talked in the past about the idea that our medical system is going toward this ideological capture, this medical Lysenkoism that I refer to, a kind of Sovietization of our knowledge production.
There are the right answers and they say, "If you don't agree with them, we're going to get you out of the academy. We won't publish you. You won't be able to get tenure or a career, or worse, we'll hound you out of your academic position if you have the wrong conclusions."
You might think, "That's happening in all these stupid humanities journals.” I shouldn't call them stupid, but they are in this case. But when it's happening in medical journals, or if it starts creeping into engineering journals, we now have some serious things to consider.
When we look at what the Biden administration and the Democrats and Congress are saying and doing repeatedly, they're building off of this set of ideas. For example, the CDC will be informed by the things that are coming out of the New England Journal of Medicine, which has now imbibed this same political philosophy. I have zero doubt that I could have papers published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
I'm not a doctor, and I don't know three things about medicine. I could write these articles for the New England Journal of Medicine starting today. Other than checking my credentials at the door, there is nothing they could do to stop me from completely polluting that literature. That's a very concerning problem.
Mr. Jekielek: Because you understand how the ideology works?
Mr. Lindsay: Yes. I also recognize that the gatekeepers at the journals who should have been keeping these fake things out are captured as well. Maybe they agree, or they know that they must flatter, or they must kowtow to this way of thinking about the world, this identity politics that is ultimately derived from neo-Marxist thought. It's so overwhelmingly hegemonic within the academic universe now, that for whatever the reason, either agreement or fear, it's certain that we could get these papers straight through the gate over and over and over again.
Mr. Jekielek: I remember in 2020 when the virus was raging and the BLM riots had begun. Everyone is supposed to be at home and sheltering in place. Suddenly, there are 1200 medical professionals signing a letter saying, "The real health emergency is racism."
Mr. Lindsay: Racism, yes.
Mr. Jekielek: People keep coming to me and saying, "This was the moment that a light bulb went off in my head and the world changed and I realized something really terrible was happening."
Mr. Lindsay: That's easily the most common moment that I have pointed to. People tell me, "The moment I realized was," and it was exactly that time you just mentioned. This is exactly what the Grievance Studies Affair was trying to throw up a red flag and warn about. We tried to do it by getting attention on how absurd these papers were.
For example, the most famous of these papers chronicled this particular idea. The original idea behind it, and this is covered in Mike's film, is that we were going to train men the way that we train dogs because of feminism. Men are bad behaving, they're out causing rape culture and whatever else. If we get dog obedience manuals and train them like dogs with leashes and treats, then we can get them to desist from unwanted behaviors.
This kind of just exploded from there. Peter and I were trying to figure out, “How do we structure this?” He goes to the dog park with his dogs every day in Portland. I said, "Just work in some of your stuff from the dog park." He wrote me this draft that was mentally deranged with just insane stuff about things dogs were doing.
The whole paper became focused on that rape culture is a serious problem in society. You could have an implicit bias test by seeing how people reacted to watching dogs have sex with each other at the dog park, or sexually assault one another. The peer reviewers were worried about things like, "How did you respect the dog's privacy while you're watching them do this? How do you know if the dogs are male or female?"
We said that we inspected their genitals. They said, "How did you respect their privacy when you did that? We don't want to get the dogs embarrassed or something. How do you know when a sexual assault with a dog is wanted or not wanted? You're not a dog, so how do you know?” So, we put, "As humans and not as dogs," in the paper. It is absurd that this is in academic literature.
It really did get a lot of attention, because we said, "This proves that human beings act differently, depending on if the dogs are both male, or one dog is male and one dog is female. They react differently. This proves that men are homophobic. Somehow, that means there is rape culture, and that they condone rape, and therefore we have to train them like dogs." This is the paper that was given an award. This is so absurd that it's difficult to even sit here and describe to you this paper without thinking, "How on earth did anybody ever think that this was something real?"
We famously wrote a chapter of Hitler's Mein Kampf as intersectional feminism. In chapter 12 he says, "Our movement needs to do this 13 point plan." He's talking about the growth of Nazi party before it becomes the Nazi party and says, "Our movement needs to know half-measures," this, that, and the other thing. Everywherethat it said "our movement" we would just scratch that out and put in intersectional feminism. We started making all the language work, and weaving in scholarship in between. We changed a lot of wording around without changing the meaning, so it wouldn't get caught by a plagiarism detector. A feminist social work journal accepted this chapter of Mein Kampf.
It's obviously not Nazi ideology that it was being written about specifically, but it's the totalitarian impulse that's being written about and how to organize a movement for it. That's what they saw in themselves, and we held that mirror up to them. They saw themselves reflected in totalitarian writing without realizing that's what it was, and accepted it into a social work journal.
What do we see today in 2022 and 2003? We defund the police and we send in the social workers, again and again. I can give you those examples. Peter and I talked about writing a paper for a medical journal. If we could figure out how to get through the credentialing, we were going to do a rewrite of the Hippocratic Oath, “Do no harm,” to actually say that we should redistribute harm. We should do harm selectively, so that we create health equity. Doing no harm is not possible at a level of first principles, so we're going to throw that out.
The origin of that phrasing, do no harm in medicine, we pinned it to a book that was written by a doctor in Britain in the 1850s, where he has a story in the book about how he dealt with the so-called savages when he went to India in the colonial times. We said, "Obviously, he’s racist. The whole program is racist. We have to get rid of the Hippocratic Oath and the whole concept of, do no harm."
What did we just see? It was big in the news where in a medical school admission process they had the students recite a new replacement to the Hippocratic oath, and it's exactly the things that we were talking about.
This is why that silly dog thing or this horrifying Mein Kampf thing is in social work, but now we also see this in medical journals. This is why this is so important. It's zero surprise for people like me when they came out in 2020 and said, "Racism is a real public health threat," because the critical race apparatus would say that. That's exactly what they would say.
They would say, “What do we have to do? We have to,” as we said in the paper that we never actually submitted anywhere, “redistribute harms. We're going to stack the medical system to favor certain types of outcomes for certain types of people, whether it's by race, by sex, or by gender.” With the transgender issue, you see the new standards of care coming for these so-called gender-affirming care surgeries.
This is Lysenkoism. I invoke the name of Trofim Lysenko again. A lot of people don't know who he was. He was an agriculturalist for the Soviet Union. He had an absolutely crackpot Soviet biology that he had more or less invented. It didn't work, and was based on incorrect theories of genetics. It was based on Soviet ideology, in order to displace the western bourgeois ideology.
He believed that you could convince seeds and plants to be comrades and to share resources and grow better, or to transform from a lower type of plant like oats, to a higher form of plant, like rye. He was famous for remarking that given enough time he could teach oranges to grow in Siberia for the people. Of course, this is all preposterous.
But Stalin did not think he was preposterous, or maybe he did and didn't care because he was a tool for power. Stalin implemented Lysenkoism in agriculture and starved tens of millions of people in the Soviet Union. Then, Mao comes along and says, "That's Soviet biology, so that's what we're going to use," even though it was a disaster in the Soviet Union. Mao starved tens of millions of people in China using these failed theories.
When I say that we're dealing with a Lysenkoism in the medical field, we have to start wondering about this reprioritization of care, the so-called affirming care that's not actually care. It's a very aggressive treatment protocol for an issue that we are not even clear what it is, a mental illness or otherwise. It's not a conservative protocol to start people on puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, mastectomies, and genital surgeries.
These are very serious interventions. It's a very serious pathway of care to adopt. This is a Lysenkoist model though, because if you disagree with it, you will lose your medical license. If you wanted to prescribe ivermectin during Covid, you might lose your license to practice medicine. If you disagreed with the official word about Covid, you might lose your license to practice medicine. This is the same story. This is Lysenkoism in medicine. We'll see it in other fields that get touched by this.
It's a very alarming problem. The reason I do what I do now, studying this Marxist or neo-Marxist phenomenon, telling people about it, traveling all over the world talking about it, is because in the middle of the Grievance Studies Affair, one of these papers we wrote got feedback from the peer reviewer.
I was so shocked by the way they endorsed some of the worst ideas that we had written. They downplayed the idea of using compassion while applying the thumb screws, not literally, while abusing students in the classroom to overcome privilege. They said, "You can't do it compassionately, because you'll rescind the needs of the privileged."
I decided that this kind of logic unravels civilization. It ends in millions of deaths. I asked my wife, "Can I quit my job?" People say I'm a coward sometimes. Talk about courage, just go to your wife and ask if you can quit your job because you think that the world's going to end if you don't. Now, see what she says to you. See if you have the nerve to ask your wife that.
I said, "Honey, I think that this ends in a genocide. Can I please quit my job and dedicate my life to telling people about this full-time?" A practical woman, she says, "Can you make money doing that?" I said, "Well, I don't know."
She gave me an 18-month runway. She's the hero of this story, really, because it took 16 months to write a modest check. But it's that serious. At the time I was doing this to expose something and largely to have fun. It turned very serious because this is the unraveling of civilization if we allow for the full scale political and ideological corruption of our knowledge producing sector.
Mr. Jekielek: You are actually a mathematician by training?
Mr. Lindsay: Yes. It's been a while, but yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you know what this reminds me of? There are so many Babylon Bee joke articles that also seem to come true after a while. There's something analogous in these hoax papers to those articles as well.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, Seth Dillon and I have actually spoken about that on a number of occasions. We have a camaraderie where we're going to be a little nerdy like Legolas and Gimli saying, "How many stories have come true for you?" It’s like a competition, where they're counting the Orcs they're shooting in the Lord of the Rings, "Oh, you got one. Oh, I got one. Oh, you got one."
Because these things are coming true. We're actually identifying the way they are processing information about the world and warping it to fit their ideological worldview, which is quite simplistic once you get past the complicated academic veneer. You can very easily see down the road as to what kinds of things that they will eventually think.
This is a very common thing. Satire is effective because it stretches reality. We're getting technical about a field that's adopted a completely social constructivist view of reality. They think that everything is a political contrivance designed by the people in power to continue their own power. It's not based in reality at all. It's just a political contrivance built by the people in power to keep their power.
When you've adopted that, the only reason not to stretch reality further is that you have a political reason for saying enough is enough, in other words, maintaining the status quo. Their slope is always slippery. With satire, if you stretch reality, all you're doing is really telling what's coming in some undetermined time in the future days, months, or maybe years.
Mr. Jekielek: I love the film that Mike made, and it took me back to that time. I've thought about how much has changed since then, and how much came true since then. Is there a moment in the film that stands out for you? Maybe we'll show a quick vignette, because this is a film that I want people to watch.
Mr. Lindsay: Oh, gosh. It was an experience watching it, because Mike didn't allow us to see any of this since back then. It's been all these years and all of a sudden I'm thrown back there. There's a moment that stands out with this very famous guy, Tim Pool. We did this event at Portland State University in February 2018.
In February 2018, Tim Pool showed up at this event. He just happened to be in Portland and wanted to see what was going on and cover it for his little show. It was little back then, but it's big now. He sat in the back quietly listening, and he asked this question, "They've captured all the institutions," and this is more pertinent today, "They've got the government, they've got the media. They've got this, and they've got that. They got the universities and the institutions. They've got it all. How do you stand up to them?"
I was shocked to see myself answer, "Galileo stood up to the church, didn't he?" That's exactly what I said. I said, "We have to stand up, we have to have that courage, and we have to take it on." I said they were setting people on fire back then for standing up to the magisterium.
They have erected a new, very woke academic magisterium that's gone political and infested our institutions. The only thing we can do is stand up and drag it back toward truth. We've got to take the truth as our armor and take this moment. That scene is in the third part of the film. Ironically, within an hour of Tim Pool asking us that question, our first paper got accepted, unbeknownst to us.
Tim Pool: Social media networks are siding against you.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes.
Tim Pool: They tend to err on the side of intersectionality.
Mr. Lindsay: That's true.
Tim Pool: Businesses and brands tend to. It even seems that the school has also done this by shrinking the room you were given access to by not listing your event. How are you expecting to combat it at all?
Mr. Lindsay: While we were doing that event, we were not thinking that the dog park paper I described earlier was being accepted, maybe not while Tim Pool was asking the question. But while we were in that room in that other scene, it turns out that's exactly when our first paper got accepted. It proved to us, "Oh my gosh, we can do this." It was really a pivotal moment, and a pivotal evening that was depicted.
Mr. Jekielek: What is the big lesson of the Grievance Studies Affair or the whole Sokal Squared Hoax?
Mr. Lindsay: Everyone has the keys to say, "This is what's true and this is what's false." Everybody should be able to determine for themselves with their senses, their eyes, their ears, and their own experiments to say, "This is the scientific or enlightenment or liberal or free ideal." Everybody has the keys to go out and understand the world around them and to offer their arguments and hash it out.
But if those are locked behind an ideology, a catastrophe is coming. Undoubtedly, the lesson is that those at the highest level of the information and knowledge generating apparatus of Western civilization are now locked behind a door held by a very ideological contingent. They have a very clear agenda of transforming the world into what they want it to be, rather than what it is.
Mr. Jekielek: I've been reading, The Marxification of Education. This is a stark reminder that Marx viewed ideology exactly as you just said, and that Marxism was the answer to getting rid of all of that. Marxism was the lack of ideology somehow. But ironically, it's perhaps the most potent ideology.
Mr. Lindsay: Right. That's how Marx framed it. He said that this is the only non-i ideology. It is the end of ideology. We hear this argument all the time. Antifa is anti-fascist, how could it possibly act in a fascist way if it's antifascist? Anti-racism is anti-racist, how could it possibly be racist if it's anti-racist?
Marxism is the end of ideology. How can it be an ideology itself if it's meant to end ideology? But what if his ideology was actually something different, that it's what the powerful in society create in order to maintain their power? I call this the iron law of woke projection. Because every time communists take power, what do they do? They create a bunch of ideological excuses for why they need to continue to keep power.
I call this projection, and it’s very Freudian. That is what they're doing when they say these things. They are confessing that this is how they believe the world works. They believe the world works by people taking power and shutting everybody else out of power.
What do you think they're going to do when they get power? They're going to take power and they're going to shut everybody else out, because they think that's how it works. Then, they clothe that with good intentions. But at the end of history, as Lenin put it, when the dictatorship becomes absolute, the state will wither away. It will go away, and we won't need it anymore.
That's the magic moment. If you look at the Greek Pygmalion myth, he carved this woman out of ivory because he saw the prostitutes and he got angry and said, "Women are awful." He says, "I'm going to be a sculptor," and he carves a woman out of ivory and he falls in love with his own statue. He asks Aphrodite to give him a woman like the statue. He comes home from his trip to the temple to the statue, he kisses it, and it comes to life.
That's the magic moment—when it comes to life. They carve away at the existing society to get to their ideal, by deciding which nitty-gritties of life they hate. They carve away at the existing society, just like carving Pygmalion from a block of ivory, carving it down into the image of a perfect woman. But that's not a woman, it's a rock.
Then, God intervenes when it's perfect, he satisfies his wish and it magically comes to life. This is what Lenin was actually talking about, "We're going to carve away at the society by chipping away everything we don't like. We're going to chip and chip and chip away until everything is in ashes, except the perfect thing that we envision.
When that becomes absolutely perfect, it will come to life. We'll have communism and we don't need a state anymore." It's the exact same belief in a magic that's just not there. Lenin didn't make it up. He got it from Marx. This is actually the idea.
We see this repeated with the 20th century Western Marxists. Marcuse says, "We can criticize the parts of society we don't like, and then the future that is contained within the present might emerge. The ideal future that's contained within the contaminated present might emerge if we merely criticize away all the other parts."
But there's that same issue, at what point does the idol become a God? Which is at the bottom of what this is. They've created an idol of what society is meant to look like. They believe that if they're sufficiently pious or powerful they will attain it.
Mr. Jekielek: Which is actually their version of pious.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, it is. Then, they will be rewarded by Aphrodite or God, and the idol will become God. This is the religious mind behind this whole program. It's no surprise that it's wholly negative. It's chipping away and destroying what it doesn't like, and supposed to create something positive out of that. It never works because it's just destructive. What you're left with is a mutilated idol that won't come to life. There's no magic that is going to make that happen.
Mr. Jekielek: You've argued that this is the follow-up to the Gnostic heresy.
Mr. Lindsay: It's the same story, yes. This is the Gnostic heresy, where you have looked inside of yourself and understood your lived experience in a way that only you can understand. It's hidden esoteric knowledge about the true meaning of you and your life that you can now actualize into the world, and by doing so, create salvation.
But it's an inherently collectivist ideology that Marx derived from Hegel before him, that the state is the perfect embodiment of the deity bestriding the earth. It is inherently collectivist in its nature. It works when we all agree on the social conventions of society, whether it's from Rousseau, Hegel, or Marx.
When the social conventions all accept this same idolatrous view of the perfected society, then we have our salvation. That's when true communism, the true transcendence of private property, human self-estrangement, as Marx phrased it, that's when that arises out of the iron fist of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Mr. Jekielek: When you gave your speech at Identity and Democracy, you explained that Marxism is really at the root or genus level, and then, it has its various species. It has the original Marxism, which focuses on class, but then there are all these other variants.
Mr. Lindsay: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: We can jump into talking about the education variant.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, the education variant. There's every variant you can imagine.
Mr. Jekielek: Please lay it out for me.
Mr. Lindsay: I wanted people to understand, because it's a very frequent discussion point that I have. I receive two primary arguments against my claim that what's happening in the world is fundamentally, in the West at least, a communist revolution that has Western characteristics. I was thinking, "How can I communicate this?"
One primary objection is, "It uses corporations, so it can't be Marxism," and I have an answer for that. The second one is, "I don't think it's Marxism at all, because it's talking about race, it's talking about sex, it’s talking about gender, and it's talking about education. This is culture. It's not talking about economic class and material conditions. It's not Marxism at all."
I was trying to figure out how to explain this. The picture in my head while I was there in Brussels was that it has evolved. I was trying to work through, "How do I communicate that it's evolved?" I said, "What happens in evolution is you have speciation, but a species is derived from a genus."
You have some earlier ancestor and then the ancestor speciates, and then all the things that came out of that ancestral at whichever level are within a single genus, and then, there's families and orders and phylum above that. My taxonomy is limited, but I got the idea of the genus species picture.
What I said is that somewhere there is a genus of cats. Maybe we have to go to Panthera, I don't know where it's, but there's cats. We all know what cats are. We can do this kind of biblically with different kinds of cats. We know what cats are. Some cats are lions, some cats are tigers, some cats are house cats, and some cats are pumas or clouded leopards. But if you shine a laser pointer, it doesn't matter if it's a tiger or a house cat, it chases it. They have very similar characteristics, but they're also very different. Lions and tigers are not the same animal. They're distinct species from one single genus of animal. Marxism works the same way. We can take a step back and say that Marx was creating agnostic theology and a practice of that theology which applies very broadly. It's the seizure of the means of production of man. If you say that's at the heart of this, then it's a seizure of the means of production of society and mankind.
That's the essence of Marxism, through conflict and the whole dialectical materialism, this whole thing. We could summarize it, but you can take a step back and say that's what Marxism is at a big picture, genus level.
Then, we start looking at different species. Marx believed that your economic conditions, looking at industrial capitalism in the 1800s, were not the best circumstances. Also, if you are not wanting to get a job and therefore conditioned by the idea that, "I could do whatever I want if I didn't have to get a job," it was that kind of mentality. "Economic conditions determine who you are as a person." Man is produced by his economic conditions. Therefore, you get the species we call classical Marxism or materialism or economic Marxism.
Mr. Jekielek: But now the oppressed have to seize the mechanism of production.
Mr. Lindsay: Exactly. They seize the means of production and turn the system over to benefit themselves and to liberate everybody from the system of oppression. It's Gnostic, by the way, because whoever has the means of production to begin with operates like a demiurge, the creator, the evil demon that actually structures the world and entraps human beings in the material reality, instead of freeing the divine spirit that we actually are.
Marx sees it this way, and the underclass gains the Gnosis, which is socialism in his words. Man realizes that all along he has been a species who has the capacity to create history, to change history, and to be history. He seizes the means of production and produces man to become socialist man, at which point everything will become increasingly socialistic.
But you could interchange out where you think the means of production are. If you're a critical race theorist in the 70s or '80s or '90s in the United States, and you're very obsessed with the ways that race has contoured life in America, you might say, "Race is actually the primary producer of the condition of man," and the whole thing falls out. Critical race theory just lands in your lap. It's an exact replication of this same idea.
Now, you've gone from a lion to a tiger, two different species of the same kind of animal. But then, you could be a queer theorist, one of these feminists that started with the line of Simone de Beauvoir, "One is not born but becomes a woman." In Hegelian German it would be, “a woman in herself.” What does it mean to be a woman outside of the patriarchal construct of women which forces women to be helpmates to men?
She has this pathway that goes from her to Foucault, to Judith Butler and to these other queer theorists. They're sitting there and thinking, "Who in the world gets to decide what's normal? Not me. My life is not that good because I'm not a normal woman." If you're Judith Butler, you're a bit of a butch lesbian. You say, "Okay, I don't fit the mold, so I'm not normal. There's a problem. Somebody else is in charge of that."
But it’s the same model though. If we seize the means of production of what's considered normal versus queer, then we can have a revolution and liberate people in terms of sex, gender, sexuality, and other factors to have to do with their personal characteristics. Queer theory lands in your lap from the exact same architecture.
The speciation is that maybe economic conditions produce what it means to be a person or who you are, maybe it's race, maybe it's normalcy, maybe it's which they call normativity, maybe it's fat status, ability status, maybe it's whether or not you are considered valid as a knower. Maybe your interpretation of your lived experience should be considered more valid than whatever the knowledge producers at the university or the school say it is. That's when we get to Freire.
Mr. Jekielek: This is also what I found so fascinating reading The Marxification of Education, because I've been learning a lot over the past few years about this current very, very bizarre and intense cultural moment we're in. This book is helping me put together a whole bunch of pieces of disparate knowledge. For example, this idea of lived experience and how this idea is core to Freire's ideas, but it's also core to so many of these other species.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes. Freire thinks that’s the dynamic of this particular species—if you live in the world, you already know. You're already a knower and your knowledge is the favorite word of the day. We hear this from the woke all the time. You notice they don't talk very often about true and false, they say it's valid. "Your knowledge is valid, your feelings are valid, your emotions are valid, and your anger is valid."
Mr. Jekielek: They don't believe in true and false.
Mr. Lindsay: Right. But they do believe valid and invalid is what gets counted.
Mr. Jekielek: Correct.
Mr. Lindsay: In this case, you already know things. You're a peasant working in Brazil, you don't necessarily have a good life, and you are fairly oppressed. Here in Brazil in the 1960s, the government is corrupt. You've been colonized and decolonized and recolonized and the government keeps going back and forth, from a Marxist thing to a proto-fascist reaction thing. It's not great, and you're probably uneducated.
But then, South America starts to industrialize, starts to commercialize, and you know how to farm. All of a sudden, you're just a hick. You're just a redneck. You're just a bumpkin from the peasant class in your knowledge. Yes, you think you know how the world works, but you don't really know how the world works. You can't even read.
Freire is looking at this and he says, "There are people who have called themselves knowers, and these knowers are saying that other people's knowledge doesn't count. The lived experience that you have as a peasant living and working in the world, which Freire calls it the concrete knowledge of your experience and existence, doesn't count.
They've set up this aristocracy that has to be overthrown. They are the ones who know and, "You are the one who are absolutely ignorant," as Freire phrases it. He says, “That's crap. You are a knower, you are a historical figure, you are going to change history, you have the capacity to move history as a historical agent.”
We need to awaken in you what he calls a critical consciousness, which is an idea of Gyorgy Lukacs, a Hungarian Marxist from the '20s and '30s. It is what Lukacs or Marx called class consciousness. We need to awaken in you a critical consciousness, which is an extension of class consciousness, into the idea that everything in society needs to be criticized, because it's actually dehumanizing.
As he says, it’s domesticating, and it keeps you in your lane. It keeps you submerged so that you have no possibility of understanding or rebelling. He says, "No, we're going to help you understand the truth about this political context. We're not going to teach you actual literacy until we teach you political literacy."
He teaches this literacy course in Brazil to get them to be politically literate, to understand the context in which they live, and to see themselves as knowers. Because he says, "If you're a knower, then you can utter the word. When you can utter the word or speak the word, you can change or create the world," and the religious overtones there are obvious.
This is an obvious mimicry of God in the first Book of Genesis, who spoke the world into existence. Freire's project is the same thing. It’s the dynamic of have versus have not, and oppressor versus oppressed. It is those who get to decide what counts as true knowledge, and those who don't get to decide what counts as true knowledge.
Lived experience is in fact not your truly lived experience—it's not really your actual experience. You go down the street, and you have an experience, but it's not lived experience until it's been run through the critical consciousness filter.
When somebody says, "It's been my lived experience that I have racism," what they mean is, "I've experienced things that may or may not have been racially tinged, that I've run through a racial consciousness filter, provided largely by CRT, critical race theory, that has led me to interpret a system of racism, and that has made me color that."
That is lived experience. It's not of your actual real experience or knowledge. Lived experience is when it has been politically conscientized, as Freire calls it, and then it becomes king. That is better than the official knowledge, because it's the knowledge that the powers that be in society don't want you to know, and that they don't want you to have. That's your saving Gnosis, your being set free, or your salvific, really. It is the knowledge that gets you out of the trap of submersion and oppression.
The Gnostic elements are very clear, and the Marxist flavor is very clear. But instead of it being material conditions now, it's access to being considered a knowledgeable person, or to knowing, or to even setting the conditions of knowledge.
When we look at the woke literature, when we talk about the Grievance Studies Affair that we just were discussing, immediately you see the primacy of lived experience, which is a phenomenologically interpreted coloring through the critical consciousness of experience. We immediately see, though, how it's always whose knowledge is valid versus whose knowledge is invalid—your truth versus my truth. If you don't understand the power dynamics behind the construction of truth, then you can't possibly have anything to say.
Everything we've experienced coming out of this woke movement in the past 10 to 15 years, longer than most people realize, is colored by this elevation of the oppressed. By virtue of their oppression, they hold a greater knowledge, a superior knowledge to what Hegel might have called first stand or understanding.
Mr. Jekielek: You've provided a framework to understand something that undergirds all of these other critical theories, or cynical theories, as you call them in your book, theories. By the way, I'll just comment on that. It was incredibly valuable to understand why you called your book with Helen Pluckrose, Cynical Theories, because the worldview is cynical. It imagines that everything is a power play. This is an incredibly important concept. Please reiterate that for me here.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, it is. When they say the world is socially constructed or race is socially constructed, or gender is socially constructed, what they're saying is that there is a power dynamic that has set up our understanding of that concept in that particular way, and it has imposed it upon the lower class for the advantage of the upper class. This is intrinsically a conflict-oriented, stratified society kind of thinking, just like Marx adopted. But I also insist it's intrinsically Gnostic, where you have the creator class, which is analogous to the demiurge of Gnostic philosophy or religion that sets up the terms of the world.
You can literally take, as the Christian gnostics did, Yahweh in the Book of Genesis to be the demiurge, and that there's a actual genuinely high God behind that who you can obtain knowledge of and save yourself from the trap of the evil imprisoning of mankind in garden, and then in the world. If you actually see that the people who own the means of production of society and man as a demiurge in the world, rather than one that's spiritual, what you actually see is the transition.
With Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, and Marx, this is really the big contribution that became romanticism and German idealism as mystical structure. The only way that they can interpret the world is through this negative thinking. The gnostic belief is that the demiurge is an evil demon posing as God who has created a holy, bad world to trap the holy, good spirit of man in a fallen world as a prison.
Everything that you see is actually this horrible, sinful, mundane, impressed upon your truly glorious divine self. The goal is to be wholly negative about what you see, wholly negative about the world around you, and to constantly, as Marx phrased it, "Give ruthless criticism of all that exists." This is exactly what you see being done.
Then, if I have an interaction with you or somebody of another race or of another sex, there's always some cynical interpretation for what went on. Maybe I would talk to a woman and we just have a conversation, then we go our way. Nothing happens. It's just, "Hey, how are you? Oh, it's good to see you, nice to have run into you.” But then, she goes off and has a cynical interpretation, "But he probably wanted to get me in bed," or something like that. It's very cynical. Perhaps I had no such idea.
There's even a meme about this. The man and the woman are lying in bed together, and she's thinking, "He's probably thinking about another woman." He's actually wondering, "What if I were to put ham and turkey on the same sandwich?" It is a very cynical interpretation. These philosophies feed the most cynical interpretations of the alleged empowered class, the demiurge class, and the bourgeois class—all synonymous with the oppressor class.
It’s the most cynical interpretation of all of their motivations and actions possible. Thus, we call it cynical theories instead of critical theories, because when they're doing their criticism, it is a ruthless criticism of all that exists. It is cynical criticism of the power motivations behind every possible thing that happens.
Mr. Jekielek: It even allows you to hate.
Mr. Lindsay: You must at the end, not necessarily at the beginning. The philosophy maybe doesn't call for that, but eventually it will. The ideologues with enough power will openly call for it. For example, Mao openly taught the masses to hate the enemy. First, they're the people, and then they're the enemy. The enemy is not part of the people. He absolutely taught that you must find ways to support and help and be on the side of the people to resolve contradictions among the people.
A very famous speech he gave in 1957 was on resolving the contradictions among the people. Then, he immediately gives the so-called friend-enemy distinction that is more famously attributed to the Nazi jurist, Carl Schmitt, which is getting a resurgence now in the reactionary right, tangentially speaking.
He gives his friend-enemy distinction immediately. He openly taught that there is an enemy class. If you talk to Xi Van Fleet, Lily Tang Williams, or any of these survivors of the Cultural Revolution who are now speaking up here in America, they will tell you, "We were taught to hate the enemy class."
Maybe not at the beginning, when it's just distrust, paranoia, and cynicism. At the end of the road, it's going to be an absolute hatred of the people that you believe are holding you back from the liberation you feel like you're entitled to receive.
Mr. Jekielek: We saw something like this with the unvaccinated being demonized in all sorts of ways.
Mr. Lindsay: Deplorables, unvaccinated. It's always, "Those are the people preventing society from," as Mao phrased it, "Achieving unity on a new basis."
Mr. Jekielek: It's hard to imagine. There have been these clips compiled now of what people said, whether it's about deplorables or the unvaccinated, people with full-throated denunciation. It is really reminiscent of the struggle sessions during the Cultural Revolution in China.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, virtually identical. That's the model I just alluded to. Mao said, "Unity on a new basis." That was actually the third part of his three-part formula to transform society. He bragged that he had created it in 1942. I've read, but I don't know for sure and haven't tracked it down, that it was actually an import from Stalin. Mao and Stalin actually didn't like each other. Stalin didn't trust him. Ironically, he thought he was a country bumpkin. As it turns out, Mao was a country bumpkin.
At any rate, it may have been a program that he imported from the Soviet Union, or it may have been his own invention, but the formula was called; unity, criticism, unity. It's a three-part strategy. The first unity means inculcating the desire for unity. "Don't we all want to have a space where we feel like we belong? Don't you want this to be a welcoming and inclusive environment?" That's the modern parlance.
The second stage is to enter into criticism, which then leads to self-criticism and struggle. He even says that the method of criticism is struggle. What that says is, “We can't have a welcoming space if Jan is transphobic.” Trans people cannot feel welcomed and that they belong in a space where there is transphobia. Therefore, Jan has to change himself. Then, we'll have unity on a new basis where transphobia is completely not allowed.
This is actually his totalitarian formula of how we're going to purge society of the undesirables and bring everybody into a new political basis. Those were his exact words, “Unity on a new basis,” which he called socialist discipline. Today, we use words like sustainability, equity, and inclusion. But this is the same model. This is why you see the same things.
They say, “We all could have had unity. We could have ended Covid in two weeks, if we all just would have worn our masks and stayed home and everybody got vaccinated. It would've ended.” Joe Biden was standing up there saying, "It's going to be a severe winter of sickness and death. We have a pandemic of the unvaccinated."
We would have been in unity, which was another campaign the Biden administration pushed right after the election. "We would be in unity, if not for all of you people who won't get on the program, all you deplorables, and all you unvaccinated. If you would just do what you're supposed to, we would have unity and we'd be able to move forward into a glorious new future.”
“But you won't, so you're the ones who need to be criticized, and you are the ones who need to be denounced." Mao and Freire both denounced that which they didn't like, so they could have unity on a new basis and move forward together. They said, "You are the problem. You are the thing holding us back." That's the mentality, and that's the message.
That's why you can see this carbon copy—whether it's Covid, whether it's critical race theory, whether it's trans-affirmation, whether it's environmentalism with fighting emissions, and the Green New Deal. It's the exact same formula. It's the formula to force everybody to scapegoat and attack and hate everybody who won't get along with this new program that's been proclaimed from on high as the only true path forward.
Mr. Jekielek: Let's jump back to Freire. You make a case that there is a Maoist impulse in Freire's teachings.
Mr. Lindsay: Just to be very clear, in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which is Freire's magnum opus from 1970, in a footnote at the beginning, he says his method of education is based on what he has observed in Mao's revolutionary high schools and colleges in China. Yes, it's derived from Mao's educational program, or at least from the rumor Freire heard of how it was working.
Mr. Jekielek: How important is Freire’s thinking to the current educational system?
Mr. Lindsay: It’s central. There's a book that was written in 1992, The Critical Turn in Education, by a Marxist professor, Isaac Gottesman, from Iowa State University. He gives a historical view from the mid-1960s up to 2015, and asks, “How did education change?” Literally, the first sentence of the book is, "Where did all the '60s radicals go? Not to the religious cults, and not to yuppiedom, but to the classroom." That's his first sentence.
He goes on to explain, and he says that Paulo Freire's work is really the pivotal work. By 1992, it had achieved its place and could be found everywhere. By 1992, our colleges of education were completely enthralled with Paulo Freire's work. I just had a discussion with some Brazilian academics, and they said that it's been very impactful in Brazil, but it's been much more successful in the West, and in particular, North America.
Freiren education is about how we are taught. Actually, the child is going to lead the classroom. This whole thing about the young people being on top is like Mao's Youth Revolution. “They are going to tell us what they need to know." Because, of course, they're pure, like Rousseau believed that they are born pure, and then society corrupts them. We're going to let them decide what they need to learn and how they need to learn it.
The teacher then subjugates themselves from the role of teacher to facilitator and co-learner. They learn from their students what the kids have going on in their life. We call this culturally-relevant teaching, which was created by Gloria Ladson-Billings in 1995. She said she was packaging Freire's critical pedagogy into the critical race context. She wrote three papers in a single year, two on culturally-relevant teaching and one called, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education.” It's just repackaging.
We call it culturally-relevant teaching today, which says, “We're going to find out where the kids are culturally, socially, and emotionally.” Social and emotional learning is the big rage now. “We're going to use what we find to figure out what we're going to teach them, but we're really just going to facilitate them. But we will facilitate them,” as Freire indicates, “into political knowledge. The lesson, whether it's mathematics, whether it's reading, or whether it's history, is a mediator,” he says, “to knowledge. And true knowledge is political knowledge.”
If they become politically conscientized or awakened, or in today’s world, woke, then they will want to learn the math or the reading for the sake of being able to transform the world. We're going to radicalize the kids first, and being radicalized, in theory, will make them want to learn enough to transform the world. That's the model. But you ask, “How central is it?” Since 1992, according to their own internal historians, he has been the central figure in academic education theory. Virtually everything reflects off of him.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you think most teachers; high school teachers, grade school teachers, and kindergarten teachers today, understand that their educational method has this logic?
Mr. Lindsay: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I can go back to Gloria Ladson-Billings. She wrote these three papers in 1995, including, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education.” The second one is something like, “Toward a Theory of a Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” or something like that. With the third one, sometimes they give these cute, but very descriptive titles. Sometimes they give a quote or a cute title.
In our Grievance Studies Affair papers, the title of the rewrite of Hitler's Mein Kampf was, “Our Struggle is My Struggle.” That was the title of the paper. So, it was a cutesy kind of thing. For her, it was actually a quote that she took from one of the teachers she was studying. “But That's Just Good Teaching,” is the title of the paper. Then, there is the subtitle, there are the descriptions, plus lots of academic words. The title of the paper is actually, “But That's Just Good Teaching.”
Your average person has gone through a program that at least since 1992, started to heavily infiltrate our colleges of education. This started in 1984, when Paulo Freire's Politics of Education started to transform that space. There are other things preceding that as well. Certainly, since 1992, that has been called good teaching and best practices, just like we're having doctors now learn that it's just best practices to do gender-affirming care.
No, I don't think the vast majority of them have the slightest idea what ideology they're supporting, what logic they're participating in, and where it even comes from. Many of them have actually heard of Paulo Freire. But what they're being taught is that this is the most sophisticated way to create engagement—that's the buzzword—engagement with students. This is the big problem, the kids won't learn because they're not engaged. If we get engagement with students, then they're going to have learning. This is just the best way to teach kids.
They might hear some of the origins of the philosophy that are cited sometimes. But primarily, this is what it means to teach. If you actually read Freire, he very rarely cites anybody at all. He just gives his description of what he thinks teaching should be. Now, he does rely and lean on Lenin, Marx, and occasionally on Stalin quite explicitly. Che Guevara was a big hero of his.
I don't think your average teacher has the slightest idea that this logic of student-centered learning, this idea of using generative methods to increase engagement, or culturally relevant teaching is anything other than just the contemporary best practices in education. They believe that a century of the science of learning—another one of their buzzwords—has led us to realize it is the best way to teach kids. But that leaves them frustrated and puzzled, and thus radicalizable, because the kids aren't learning to read, and they're not learning to do math.
In fact, their academic achievement scores are so abysmal that it's shocking when you hear the percentages. Nationally, 40 percent of American students are achieving at grade level in math or reading. In certain districts, like I cite in the beginning of the book, Providence, Rhode Island, we're talking about single digits.
Six percent of the students are learning mathematics at grade level in Providence, but they are some of the most politically active students in the country. If something happens in Texas like a school shooting, every kid is out of the Providence schools and onto the State House steps doing a demonstration that afternoon. The teachers know that political activism is very engaging, and it's just good teaching.
Mr. Jekielek: You make the case that the teachers have been replaced by activists. That's how you describe it in the book. But activist implies that the person knows what they're doing, doesn't it?
Mr. Lindsay: The thing is, some of them do. Some of them do, but not all of them. But what they're teaching is activism. They are actually facilitators of activism. If they've adopted the idea that we should be raising critical consciousness, whether they realize they're doing activism or not, they actually are, in a sense. Because they're bringing a particular political view of the world and actively trying to instill that in other people, so that they can see the world according to the political perspective.
There are definitely some activists because we catch them sometimes. For example, sometimes we just know they go on TikTok. Our friend, Chaya at Libs of TikTok exposes them saying, "I'm going to transform the kids and I'm going to raise this, and I'm going to do that." Sometimes we catch them explicitly. Sometimes there are hidden cameras.
The South Carolina Freedom Caucus caught one of their large consultants. They did a secret little project, very tough old style, James O'Keefe-style sting on this consultant for the education department. They caught her saying, "One of the things we do is we get some of the teachers who are activists to become co-conspirators, to bring it in against the law, whether it's CRT or whatever." They know it's against the law, but they're going to bring it in anyway.
We know there are some activists, and we know that there's this ideological capture. Then, there's this general, not exactly blameless, but mostly faultless ignorance of what's being participated in. Those things all align in one direction. You can think of it like it's a string and it's being pulled by the deliberate activists, who can be very small in number, but their goal is to turn kids into activists.
The goal in the more radical parts of colleges of education is to get the teachers to understand, in the phrasing of Paulo Freire, which is now an ubiquitous thing you hear in education circles, that teaching is a political act. If you have embraced the concept that teaching is a political act, you are an activist the second you set your foot in a classroom. If you actually believe teaching is a political act, you're an activist the second you set foot in a classroom.
They are making activists in the teacher's colleges. Some of them are, and some of them aren't. They're making activists in the teaching trainings, and in the continuing education professional development courses. They're emphasizing the importance and the necessity of this. Then, they're using that to make activists out of the students. Most teachers are not actively complicit in this program, they're just trying to do the best they can to teach. But some are, and it doesn't take everybody to do this.
Mr. Jekielek: In a sense, these other courses or classes are incidental to the true purpose. The true purpose is to create that activism and that conscientization, that consciousness of activism.
Mr. Lindsay: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: It's no surprise that people can't do things at that level, because indeed, that's not the ultimate purpose. It's a side purpose.
Mr. Lindsay: Right. The teachers have been sold. If they are activists, they're just going to do it. But if they're not activists, they've been sold that this is the best way to increase student engagement. You've got to get the kids interested. You got to be them to learn it.
I'll give you an example of what Paulo Freire describes as generative themes, which is how you use a concept to generate the opportunity to have a political conversation that will conscientize, or awaken, or or wokify, or politically radicalize the kids. He said, “The content of the academic lesson itself is a mediator to the political conversation."
Here is a true example that shocks people. I put it out very often. If people have heard it before, my apologies. This is a real example from an Indiana teacher professional development training and social-emotional learning from just a couple of years ago.
They were doing second grade mathematics as an example, and given a word problem. Johnny is riding in the car with his mom and dad on the way to the amusement park. The amusement park is 50 miles away from their home. They have already traveled 30 miles. How much further do they have to go?
The students are panicking, and they don't know if they can answer the math question. Obviously, the goal in a math pedagogy sense, as a former math instructor myself, would be to teach them to take the words to set up the subtraction problem, 50 minus 30, to arrive at the solution of 20, and to re-articulate the solution in words, 20 miles to go. That would be the goal of the exercise as a second grade problem. It's subtraction, it's not difficult, and it’s getting kids to be able to take a paragraph and turn it in. This isn't what happens.
In the teacher training professional development courses, they are taught this. With kids, you need to get them engaged. That's just good teaching. You need engaged students. "Kids, raise your hand if you've ever been to an amusement park." Of course, there's seven who have. Some kids have, and some kids probably haven't. Some raise their hands, and some kids don't. The teacher says, "Some of you have and some of you haven't. Why would that be?"
Now, the mediator has happened. The generative theme is the amusement park. That's the excuse to do what we're going to do next. "Who's been to an amusement park?" That's the bridge. Once we've taken the bridge, that's what Paulo Freire calls a codification of your conditions. Then, you can start to decodify it. "Why have some of you been to an amusement park and some haven't?" They're taught to continue to ask one kid after another until somebody says, "Some kids can't afford it."
Now, you have an excuse to say, "Why is it that some people can't afford it? What could we do about the fact that some kids haven't gone because they can't afford it? Let’s make it free. Maybe rich people could pay for it." All of a sudden you have a dialogue about the concepts of socialism, doing it with second-graders, instead teaching them to set up and solve a math word problem.
The word problem became a mediator to a political conversation. But there are dozens of opportunities in that one simple, completely innocuous word problem, the amusement park. You have the money thing. It might be a differential, and maybe more white kids than black kids raise their hand. Now, you're going to have a CRT discussion through that correlation.
But then, you have not just the amusement park. What about, "Do all families have a mom and a dad?" Now, you're having a conversation about single parenthood or feminism, or now you're having a conversation about same-sex parents, then on to sexuality. What about the idea of riding in the car? Now, you can have a conversation about environmentalism. "Is it really a good idea to ride in a car just to go have fun? Couldn't we do it with public transit? Couldn't we all ride on a train together?"
You can see how you can create this primrose path, being a Pied Piper and leading them into a political conversation. You can facilitate the kids into thinking about political issues in a particular way. You took something very innocuous and used that as the mediator to create the opportunity for generating political knowledge. That's the Freiren method actually put into practice.
That's a genuine example from a social-emotional learning teacher training. It was a professional development module that was being done in Indiana a few years ago. It’s a genuine example given to actual teachers in the profession.
You can see how it works, and you can see how insidious it can be. You can see how invisible it would be. That's why I wrote the book, because parents can't figure it out. They know the school is doing CRT. They go to the school and say, "Don't do critical race theory." The school says, "Oh, we're not." Maybe they give you the curriculum, you look at it, and you can't find it. Because that's how they're doing it, through Gloria Ladson-Billings' culturally-relevant approach, "Let's make the amusement park relevant. Why is it that some kids can go, and some kids can't?" You get the picture.
This is a very insidious method where they have stolen education by transforming its mechanism. The mechanism isn't to set up a word problem to solve anymore. The mechanism is to use the word problem as an excuse to facilitate kids into a particular political understanding of the thing depicted in the word problem. It's pretty amazing.
Mr. Jekielek: We just didn't realize that all this was happening. For the benefit of many, you have been combing through insane amounts of very difficult-to-read literature. Any final thoughts? We've covered this new film by Mike Nayna, and I want to encourage everyone to watch it. You'll see a little more of James, Peter Boghossian, and Helen Pluckrose.
Mr. Lindsay: The film is pretty funny, actually.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes, that's what I remember. Those initial videos that Mike published years ago caught my attention with you guys laughing and saying, "I can't believe this." We looked at this other presentation and we're going to link to that, too. It's such an amazing concept, the genus species distinction. There's a whole bunch of great concepts there. Finally, who would have guessed that our whole education system has these Marxist underpinnings today? There were hints of it, but any final thoughts?
Mr. Lindsay: The sad truth is when we have a high trust society where we feel like we can trust the teachers to do teaching things, and we can trust the police to do police things, and we can trust businessmen to do business things in the interest of their shareholders, we don't need to keep our eye on everything with the vigilance that was referred to by the Founding Fathers, just to keep this as a very iconic American statement. In Russian, it's closer to trust but verify.
When you have a high trust society, sometimes you forget to verify. We went to sleep and stopped verifying. For those who are trying to subvert for whatever political end, and in particular communists are famous for this, subversion is their preferred methodology while they are not in power. They are not very subversive, and they don't tolerate subversion after they get power.
Hint, hint, hey woke kids, it’s up against the wall for you in a couple years when they won't need you. I like to remind them of what the communist societies do with the subverters and the destabilizers after the revolution. Mao said, "There's different needs at different stages of the revolution." We needed a lot of destabilization with the youth. We got rid of Liu Shaoqi, my primary political opponent. The Red Guard was too radical, so off to the countryside with them.” The PLA chased them out of town. But it's not going to go well.
The fact of the matter is that when we have a high trust society, it's easy to forget to verify, and we have forgotten to verify. We have to start verifying virtually everything, because our business people have been captured by this ideology through ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance], literally an extortion racket. Maybe they're just thinking, "This is corporate best practices, and this matters. We're going to make a difference. I want to do good in the world, and not just make money." Whatever it is.
Our teachers have become corrupted by this political ideology because their schools got corrupted. The long march through the institutions laid out, and Rudi Dutschke articulated it in 1966, based off of what Mao did in the Cultural Revolution, and based off of what Gramsci described in his prison notebooks in the 1920s and '30s.
With this whole long march through the institutions, Marcuse explicitly called for it in 1972 in his Counterrevolution and Revolt. He says, "We have to go into the fields, and we have to bring the thought with us." The one main point he makes is, "We have to go into education at all levels." So, they have infiltrated the school. The teachers and the lawyers and the doctors are increasingly beholden to an ideology because, "That's just good teaching, that's just good engineering, and that's what I learned in school."
They have corrupted that center of knowledge production, which brings us back to the film. The Grievance Studies Affair has never been more relevant. The academic scholarship is not particularly relevant to the average person on the average day, at least not in a way that they can recognize. It trickles out through the mechanisms of advanced societies to affect your life every day in meaningful ways, but you aren't thinking about it.
You are in a university. Courses are designed around the latest research, courses are designed around who's publishing the courses, or the people who have strong publication records. The tenured professors, the admitted professors are the ones who have strong publication records. This corruption of scholarship creates an entire Lysenkoist artifice that poisons the whole enterprise.
Let's pretend the Biden demonstration is on the up and up. They're on the straight and narrow, and they're legitimate. They're doing the best job they possibly could do for the American people, but they happen to be big believers in academic scholarships. They say, "What are we supposed to do about this issue or that issue, race, gender, sexuality, or trans?" They turn to the academic literature, and then it's an executive order from the White House. It's a rewrite of Title IX.
It's one policy after another to where now you have to tolerate a man swimming in a women's swimming pool and in the locker room with the women changing before and after the meet, and beating them in the meet and taking the victory that they train their whole lives for in girls' sports. But in fact, the girls that complain are now guilty of a Title IX violation and could be possibly expelled from school or lose their scholarships.
This is the kind of twisted perversion you get when the knowledge generating enterprise gets completely corrupted. With the Grievance Studies Affair, the film about it is called, “The Reformers,” by Mike Nayna is a must watch. You have to understand that this has never been more relevant. As time goes on, and until the corruption goes away, it's only going to get more relevant.
This is a story that has happened before. We can point to Lysenko, we can point to Mao, we can point to these characters in the darkest chapters of the 20th century history, and we know where this story goes. We can make good predictions about where the story goes. I urge people to take it seriously and say, “We've got to start asking very hard questions. We can't simply trust, it has to be verified.”
Mr. Jekielek: James Lindsay, it's such a pleasure to have you on again.
Mr. Lindsay: Thank you, Jan.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining James Lindsay and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I'm your host, Jan Jekielek.
This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.