Conservatives Need to Recapture Institutions Subverted by Neo-Marxists: Author

The right needs new leaders who are unwavering and willing to take risks for the public good, Christopher Ruso asserted.
Conservatives Need to Recapture Institutions Subverted by Neo-Marxists: Author
Christopher Rufo, senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute, at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 1, 2021. (The Epoch Times)
Ella Kietlinska
Jan Jekielek

American institutions heavily infiltrated by Marxist ideology can only be recaptured by new leaders who are unwavering and willing to take risks for the public good, researcher and author Christopher Ruso has asserted.

To counter the subversion of American institutions, “new ideas, new platforms, new campaigns, new policies, new think tanks, new education programs, and new universities” need to be created, said Mr. Rufo, senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute and author of the new book “America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything.”

“These are not going to be found springing up from the ground,” Mr. Rufo told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” on Aug. 13.

They are going to be conceptualized by talented, motivated, high-capacity people with strong backbones and with a high tolerance for risk and confrontation, the researcher explained.

“Those are the kinds of people that we need to be cultivating, that we need to be training and recruiting, and that we need to be putting into positions of leadership if we're going to have a chance to create the institutions that are going to do justice to the people.”

Such leaders need to be elected to Congressional and presidential offices, he said.

Congressmen are elected by citizens in their districts to lead the districts. The president runs a campaign to convince the entire country of over 300 million citizens to support his program and vision for the country and, once elected, chooses 4,000 people to staff the country’s administration.

How to Recapture Institutions

Mr. Rufo holds that people “have been lulled to sleep by libertarian fantasies” that gave them the false impression that a good moral choice is to remove governance and “to opt out of institutions.”

These theories condemn the government as something that must be diminished in size and does not merit people’s active participation.

“This is insanely destructive," Mr. Rufo said.

To recapture the institutions, conservatives need to summon the spirit of governance and statesmanship, Mr. Rufo argued. “We need to actually have the strength, the confidence, and courage to govern.”

Society needs people who are going to run the functions of government, companies, universities, and colleges, Mr. Rufo added.

If people really want to have things like artificial intelligence or tech companies that are consistent with their values, they have to start new venture capital firms and found new companies; they have to pass new laws and speak out more loudly, Mr. Rufo said.

“Conservatives cannot merely retreat to private business, private life, and think that they're going to have a country that reflects their values. Conservatives have to get out of the corner.”

Mr. Rufo believes that the greatest problem for the right is not the left but the right itself. “It's only self-limitation that is our ultimate limitation,” he explained.

 Los Angeles Unified School District's teachers are encouraged to obtain badges, “pronoun pins,” and LGBT history posters from the district’s Human Relations, Diversity & Equity office. (Screenshot via Los Angeles Unified School District)
Los Angeles Unified School District's teachers are encouraged to obtain badges, “pronoun pins,” and LGBT history posters from the district’s Human Relations, Diversity & Equity office. (Screenshot via Los Angeles Unified School District)

Vulnerabilities of the Left

The modern left that has deranged American institutions in recent years has two critical vulnerabilities, Mr. Rufo asserted.

“One is that whenever these ideas gain power, their practical consequences are visibly counterproductive or visibly yielding negative results.”

For example, when Black Lives Matter's demands to defund the police, reduce police forces, or release prisoners are implemented, they bring negative outcomes in the form of crime, mayhem, and fear, Mr. Rufo said.

When the public feels that these ideas do not work, that creates an opportunity, Mr. Rufo explained.

The second vulnerability is that “these ideas are often not obtained democratically,” he said.

The changes and policies that disrupt institutions were achieved undemocratically, in an extra-parliamentary manner, Mr. Rufo pointed out.

Mr. Rufo gave the example of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy in public universities in Texas to illustrate his point. “The voters have not approved this. They have not asked for this.”

He believes that “savvy conservative politicians” will address this discrepancy between the desires of voters and the ideology of the bureaucracies that are supposed to serve the public interest.

“They will marshal the majority and democratic sentiments, translate it into the legislative language to reform these institutions,” and get rid of left-wing ideologies such as critical race theory and DEI bureaucracies within public institutions.

“In a republic, the people decide what the public institutions will be doing ... through their duly elected legislators.”

Cultural Revolution

Many Americans intuitively sense that the country’s institutions are off-kilter and the culture is under attack from ideological forces, but it is very hard for most people to describe what it is and where it came from, Mr. Rufo said.

Mr. Rufo believes that America is undergoing a cultural revolution, alluding to the Cultural Revolution that took place in communist China under Mao Zedong in the 1960s.

The Chinese Cultural Revolution was a decade-long political campaign considered in some regards the most destructive of the Mao era. Its objective was the violent replacement of traditional Chinese culture with communist party culture.

In America and the West more broadly, “in the 1960s, the radicals of the West took that idea of cultural revolution from China, and they appropriated it and retrofitted it to fit the conditions and the politics of the West,” said Mr. Rufo.

“They believe that you first have to go after the culture of a country like the United States, and then only then can you change the politics of the country.”

Mr. Rufo said that to counter the cultural revolution happening now in America, a political movement, which he calls “a counter-revolution,” needs to emerge that takes the cultural revolution seriously and conquers it with a solution that matches its scope, scale, and force.

It is not enough to merely oppose the cultural revolution of such scale with incremental reforms, small policy changes, or a single election, Mr. Rufo pointed out.

 Activists march on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death in Los Angeles on May 25, 2021. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Activists march on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death in Los Angeles on May 25, 2021. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Ideological Basis

The ideology underlining this cultural revolution that culminated in the 2020 George Floyd riots originates from the neo-Marxist school of thought, Mr. Rufo said. He believes that four prominent thinkers of that school—Herbert Marcuse, Angela Davis, Paulo Freire, and Derrick Bell—influenced American society the most.
Herbert Marcuse, a German–American philosopher, was the leader of a neo-Marxist school of thought known as the Frankfurt School, which was first associated with the University of Frankfurt in Germany and later with Columbia University in New York.

Marcuse was also the grandfather for the so-called New Left, which was a coalition of activists among students, Black Panthers, and Communist Party members that were gaining in power and influence in the late 1960s, Mr. Rufo said.

Angela Davis, a political activist, scholar, and author, was a graduate student of Marcuse, and an active member of the Communist Party USA and the Black Panther Party. She has advocated for the abolition of prisons.

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher, and is best known for his work “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” Freire's work was focused on applying neo-Marxist ideology to education, Mr. Rufo said.

Freire applied in his theory the Marxist archetype that divided the world’s people into two groups: the oppressor and the oppressed. According to Freire, the oppressed should reject their education, be awakened to their oppression, and be spurred to rebellion.

His education ideology is implicitly followed in graduate schools of education that train school teachers, Mr. Rufo said.

“[It] trickled down into the pedagogies and curricula in many K through 12 systems around the country,” Mr. Rufo said, providing an example of California's model ethnic studies curriculum, which directly recommends teachers using excerpts from Freire’s work in the classroom.

“Using excerpts from Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, students will study and identify contemporary issues of oppression or threats to identity in order to become advocates for their community,” stated the ethnic studies curriculum approved by the University of California for San Diego Unified School District.

Derrick Bell was an American legal scholar and one of the founders of critical race theory, an outgrowth of critical theory developed by some prominent members of the Frankfurt School, including Marcuse.

With the exception of Ms. Davis, these scholars are now deceased, “but their ideas live on with our institutions,” Mr. Rufo said. “[They are] the hidden rulers of American life.”

Destroy to Build Utopia

“Today's cultural revolutionaries in the United States and in the West more broadly understand this: you have to dissolve something before you can replace it,” Mr. Rufo said, adding that Mao and Marcuse wrote about it.

Mr. Rufo said that Marcuse asserted that all of those institutions that keep the status quo in place needed to be disrupted, dismantled, and destabilized, and this relates not only to the economy but also to law, the family, manners, morals, and sexual habits.

“He believed that you should be freeing yourself even from all inhibitions on sex,” Mr. Rufo said.

“The idea [was] that you first have to destroy in order to yield a utopia beyond,” Mr. Rufo summarized, noting that “their utopia was unattainable; their theory of human nature was unrealistic.”

The radicals of the New Left “first captured the faculty lounge in the social sciences and humanities—the soft places of the university where they were able to gain entry,” Mr. Rufo said.

“They next captured the graduate schools of education that train all of the K through 12 teachers.”

Then they infiltrated government and corporate bureaucracies through HR departments and later smuggled their ideology through the newly created diversity, equity, and inclusion departments, Mr. Rufo continued.

It was made possible by exploiting all vulnerable points in American institutions, Mr. Rufo said.

“They captured them, they dominated them, they saturated them with ideology, and then they imposed their will on the other individuals and other programs and processes of these institutions.”

The institutions were unable to resist because “the radicals of the New Left train themselves in the streets with knives, guns, bombs, disguises, sticks, and batons,” Mr. Rufo explained. “These were tough people, they had been trained for Marxist–Leninist revolution.”