We are in the West fast approaching the precipice of a civilizational collapse. Exactly how far out we are from this precipice is a matter to debate. But, our speed and direction of travel are very clear.
I say this apocalyptically. But not, I think, hyperbolically. For, there has been incubating, growing, and spreading in the West for several decades a mental cancer bent on breaking down and destroying the basic logic of civilization — bent on destroying truth and reason, individualism and freedom.
This cancer was spawned in continental Europe, spread to the Americas, and long festered in our universities. It has slowly grown into other organs of our society — the courts, the tech sector, even healthcare. Periodic rounds of chemo have thus far kept our civilization alive and relatively healthy as we’ve dodged systemic metastasization. In recent years however, this cancer has spread into America’s schools. As it works to overtake the national education system, this mental cancer increasingly jeopardizes the ability of our society to produce antibodies to fight back in other institutions. Without urgent action to exorcise this cancer from America’s schools, we will soon face the certain death of the host, and a coming apart of Western civilization.
This mental cancer is called “leftism.” While the left/right dichotomy means different things to different people, here I’m referring to those individuals and groups espousing cultural Marxist ideologies and using postmodernist theory as a rhetorical and political weapon to help drive their cultural Marxist agenda.
Now, when people hear the words “cultural Marxist” or “postmodernist,” many tune out the rest of the discussion. These phrases strike many as gobbledygook; complicated sounding words that serve as a stand in for ‘I don’t like what those people are saying or doing, but I can’t articulate why.’ So, before proceeding, let me lay out some definitions. It has been said most debates could be resolved at the outset by simply coming to an agreement on the definition of terms.
Cultural Marxism refers to socialist theory that moves beyond classical Marxism’s emphasis on class-based exploitation in capitalist societies to a broader paradigm in which not merely capitalism, but Western society more generally, is built upon the systematic exploitation and oppression of various marginalized race, gender, class, and social groups. To ameliorate and pacify these marginalized groups, so the theory goes, modern Western society has developed an intricate system of cultural control — including churches, civic organizations, schools, mass-media, the arts, entertainment, etc. — without which the entire society would erupt into destabilizing race, gender, class, and social conflict.
“To extend the base of the student movement, Rudi Dutschke has proposed the strategy of the long march through the institutions: working against the established institutions while working within them, but not simply by ‘boring from within’, rather by ‘doing the job’, learning (how to program and read computers, how to teach at all levels of education, how to use the mass media, how to organize production, how to recognize and eschew planned obsolescence, how to design, et cetera), and at the same time preserving one’s own consciousness in working with others.” — Marcuse, Herbert (1972). Counterrevolution and Revolt. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 55–56.
Whereas classical Marxism saw capitalist societies reaching a revolutionary apogee in which the proletariat rises up and overthrows the capitalists and ushers in a working-class utopia, so the cultural Marxists see the revolution as impossible as long as the major cultural institutions of the West remain oriented towards domination and control of marginalized identity groups. The cultural Marxists aim then, not for a moment of revolutionary change, but for what has been called a long march through the institutions. As part of this long march, leftists make it their avocation — and often their vocation — to infiltrate the major cultural institutions of the West and upend their foundations from the inside by “awakening” the population to their supposed exploitation and oppression. Once all the principal cultural institutions of the West have been conquered, no revolution will even be necessary. The mental cancer will have metastasized. Western civilization as we know it, will go out, not with bang, but with a whimper.
Postmodernism refers to the school of philosophical theory premised on the explicit rejection of the Enlightenment principles upon which modern Western civilization is built — reason, objectivity, individualism, and liberal capitalism.
Philosophy, as an intellectual discipline, concerns itself with five core questions.
- What is the nature of reality?
- How do we know the things we know?
- What does it mean to be human?
- How should I live my life? and
- How should we organize society?
Philosophy divides itself into five sub-disciplines, each concerned with addressing one of the core questions above. These disciplines are metaphysics, epistemology, human nature, ethics, and politics, respectively. To understand postmodernism, it is easiest to start with pre-modernism and work our way forward.
The pre-modernist philosophical tradition in the West goes at least as far back as ancient Greece. Conceptually, it may be easiest to think about pre-modernism in terms of the Christian theological philosophy which dominated in medieval Europe.
On matters of metaphysics (the nature of reality), medieval scholars conceived of both a natural and a supernatural realm, with humans and animals on earth, God and his angels up in Heaven, and the devil down in hell.
The existence of these other realms, and their otherworldly inhabitants was a matter, epistemologically speaking, of faith and mysticism. Indeed, it was for many Christian theologians a contradiction in terms to speak of supernatural events such as miracles in terms of objective, verifiable facts.
On the question of human nature, medieval scholars conceived of man as being created in the image of God, comprised of an earthly body and an otherworldly soul or spirit. Man is fallen from Grace and born into original sin, with — to quote a much later scholar — “the line dividing good and evil cut[ting] through the heart of every human being.”
Ethics in the pre-modern tradition were collectivist and altruistic, with people owing an obligation morally to their community, their church, their God, and often to the ruler in their town or country.
Politically, the pre-modern period in the West was organized around feudal estates, with local kings lording over serfs in exchange for protection from attack by the armies controlled by kings from other areas. Ethical justification for this system of political organization was the domain of the priestly class, which made various religious arguments for the rule of the king over the common man.
Then, over a period of roughly 170 years starting from 1620, European scholars, mostly from Great Britain and the colonies in the New World, revolutionized Western philosophy. By the time the American Constitution was ratified in 1791, all of the five major questions of philosophy had a radically new answer.
At the heart of this Enlightenment philosophical revolution was the modernists’ epistemological commitment to reason and objectivity over faith and mysticism. In other words, a commitment to the premise that universal truths exist, and that these truths may be realized through logical and empirical inquiry. This epistemological shift led to a rejection of the supernatural and an embrace of the natural world as holding the key to understanding reality. Reason and objectivity applied to questions of human nature led to the concept of tabula rasa, the premise that people learn through experience and perception, rather than being born with certain in-built knowledge owing to the existence of the soul in a supernatural realm prior to birth. Collectivism gave way to individualism in ethics, with each human being having autonomy, sovereignty, and moral agency. The individual rather than the collective as the unit of ethical value led to the development of the concepts of individual rights and private property in politics and economics. From there, Constitutionalism, Republicanism, and Capitalism all naturally follow.
Enlightenment epistemology applied to studying nature gave us modern science. The practical applications of science gave us engineering and technology. Science applied to human beings gave us medicine.
The entirety of modern civilization owes its existence to this marvelous philosophical revolution.
But not everyone was thrilled about the Enlightenment project. Many devoutly religious thinkers viewed the Enlightenment’s rejection of faith and mysticism, and embrace of reason and objectivity, as a threat to the long-term viability of the faith-based worldview of Christianity. Starting in the 1780s, religious philosophers in continental Europe, mainly in Germany and Russia, began to push back against the Enlightenment. As the Enlightenment project expanded in Great Britain and the New World, back in the Old World the anti-rationalists worked to develop new dogmas expressly aimed at rescuing faith from the clutches of reason. Postmodernism is the end result of roughly 170 years of counter-Enlightenment philosophy.
Postmodernism emerged as a unified philosophical discipline in the 1950s. Postmodernism is the rejection of the modern, and the Enlightenment is modern philosophy. Thus, on the five core the questions of philosophy, the postmodernists are anti-Enlightenment.
On matters of metaphysics, the postmodernists are anti-realist. They don’t conceive of a natural or a supernatural reality, instead dismissing as a waste of time any questions about an independently existing reality.
On epistemology, postmodernists reject both the faith of the pre-modernist tradition and the objectivity and reason of the Enlightenment. There being no independently existing reality, there is no objective knowledge to be had. Everything being subjective then, there is no better or more superior way of knowing.
Human beings are not sovereign and independent. Instead, group identity is paramount, and individual identity, to the extent it exists, is primarily a function of group membership. Being anti-rationalist, postmodernists conceive of group to group interactions primarily in terms of conflict, resulting in imbalances in power dynamics between groups.
Ethically, postmodernism is collectivist and egalitarian, emphasizing support for the oppressed and marginalized in mankind’s inevitable inter-group conflicts.
There being no independent reality, no objective truth, and no universal ethics, the postmodernists see themselves as being free to use whatever means available to advocate on behalf of the dispossessed in the interminable power politics of human existence. As Duke University professor and postmodernist literary critic Frank Lentricchia explains, postmodernism “seeks not to find the foundation and the conditions of truth but to exercise power for the purpose of social change.”
Postmodernism has many derivative fields of study, from law to tech to art and literature, each with its own associated theories and premises. But the postmodernist answers to the five core questions of philosophy provide a good starting definition for understanding the movement.
“Leftism” then refers to the combination of cultural Marxist ideology with postmodernist rhetorical and political weaponry. These two intellectual movements began maturing in obscurantist wings of academia in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a response to mounting evidence of the abject failure of the socialist project and the indisputable success of liberal capitalism.
Events during the two decades immediately following World War II blew the lid off Marxist claims for both the impending failure of the liberal capitalist project, and the ongoing success of the international socialist project.
Western nations experienced multi-decadal expansions in the size and wealth of the middle and upper classes, and a correspondent shrinkage in the size of the lower class, even as the lower class too was growing wealthier. Class consciousness never materialized, and the possibility of a proletarian revolution grew increasingly faint.
Meanwhile, behind the Iron Curtain, the death of Stalin, and Khrushchev’s subsequent consolidation of power, brought revelations about the economic failures, and systematic totalitarian oppressions of the Soviet regime against its own citizens. These revelations destroyed the ability of the Champagne socialists in the West to further indulge the fantasies and fairy-tales to which they had long been treated in the Soviet Union’s Potemkin villages.
Faced with this reality, socialism’s adherents in the West faced a stark choice, abandon socialism, or abandon reality. Many of socialism’s adherents did indeed abandon that failed ideology. Academia did not.
For the socialists in academia, the answer was to abandon reality. When the scientific socialism of classical Marxism proves unworkable, embrace cultural Marxism. If the poor are growing richer rather than poorer, claim it is on the backs of women, and racial minorities. When these apparently marginalized women and racial minorities reject such a characterization of their lot, push propaganda until they change their minds. Whatever you do, don’t give up the fight.
Postmodernism became the rhetorical and political weapon of the new socialist movement in the West. If socialism’s claims were irrational, they would reject rationality itself. It their claims were immoral, they would reject notions of a universal human morality. If their claims were illogical, they would reject logic itself. The cultural Marxists were now able to effectively deflect and dismiss claims of their dogma’s immorality and irrationality, while conveniently distracting socialism’s detractors with outlandish moral and epistemological claims, leaving the socialists to pursue their project unmolested.
As college attendance grew, a sort of intellectual affirmative action helped these ideas flourish in the emerging “studies” departments. Meanwhile, as the radical activists of the 1960s earned their degrees and settled into teaching positions in history, education, and law, leftism spread across the campus. University students of the 1970s and 1980s began taking these lessons into their post-collegiate careers.
Postmodernist and cultural Marxist theory found a particularly welcome home in the universities’ education departments. Thus, as these radical belief systems overtook the universities in the 1960s-80s, they then moved on to the high schools in the 1990s and 2000s.
Occasionally, a leftist teacher will jump the shark, and their TDS-driven tirade will get captured on a student cell phone and catch fire on social media. In late January, an Arizona high school came under scrutiny after a photo surfaced online showing a whiteboard from a history class with what appeared to be a diagram of associations between American conservative values and “fascism.” The words “2nd Amendment,” “pro life,” “no immigration,” and “patriotism X 10” were scrawled and circled on the whiteboard with links drawn to the word “fascism.” The word “nationalism” was then listed above the sub-bullets “we’re the best,” “suppress ‘lesser’ people,” “kill them,” and “genocide.” According to one parent, the teacher “drew comparisons between Adolf Hitler and today’s American Republican Party, stating that Hitler’s political views were “Right Wing” and “Conservative” and the he only claimed to be Socialist to “throw people off.” Corey DeAngelis of the Reason Foundation shared a version of the photo to Twitter. Charlie Kirk of Turning Points USA and Donald Trump Jr. retweeted the story, and Breitbart wrote an article about the affair.
I'm not a nationalist or a Republican,
But this is ridiculous political indoctrination.
Notice how the teacher linked Republican values to facism and genocide. pic.twitter.com/4OZKsZLfem
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) January 25, 2020
The school district initially denied the claim the teacher had drawn an explicit association between conservative values and fascism. The district then shifted the narrative to say that while the teacher had in fact drawn such associations, she was merely “documenting student input on a white board.” The district ruled that the teacher’s instruction had been within the bounds of the curriculum. Further, parents were told that if they disapproved of such lessons, they could request to have their children moved to another class. While such stories make great grist for the mill in the conservative media outrage machine, coverage is usually shallow and fleeting. This instance was no different in that regard. Within a few days, media interest had blown over, and the teacher was apparently “welcomed back to school… with flowers.”
Such stories are also largely a distraction. Over the past decade, the leftists have established themselves in the elementary school system. There, the infiltration is far more insidious, far more subtle and opaque, than the occasional dramatic outbursts of neo-Marxist teachers, leaked via cell-phone video, momentarily spilling into the public consciousness via social media, and captured in headlines on Fox News or buzzed about on talk radio.
Let us take for example the increasing prevalence of epistemological relativism in education theory and school curricula. We can start with the case of Professor James Scheurich. Comments by Scheurich made headlines in right wing media circles in mid-2017 after he told a group of academic conference goers that “research” is a “colonial, white supremacist, elite process.”
After the brief period of obligatory performative outrage which follows such headlines as surely as night does day, right-wing pundits and conservative critics went on with life. But, Scheurich’s were not one-off remarks, in-artful articulations of a reasonable critique, out of context, or misrepresented. His CV is filled with journal articles with titles like:
Toward a white discourse on white racism;
The continuing struggles for social justice; and
In the United States of America, in both our souls and our sciences, we are avoiding white racism.
And Scheurich has been at this game a long time. More than two decades ago he published a academic article titled Coloring Epistemologies: Are Our Research Epistemologies Racially Biased?
For leftist academics, to ask such a question is to answer it. In the article, Scheurich argues that the modern Western epistemological tradition rooted in objectivity, rationality, reason, and logic is racist. “Our epistemologies — not our use of them, but the epistemologies themselves — are racially biased ways of knowing,” he writes. According to Scheurich, this is so because there is, in fact, no universal way of knowing. Different races and cultures have different ways of getting at the truth, different conceptions even of the meaning of the word truth. “Each civilization,” Scheurich writes, “constructs the world differently for its inhabitants: Not all people [i.e., civilizations, in this case] ‘know’ in the same way.” Objectivity, rationality, reason, logic — these are mere artifacts of white Western society, little more than “historically evolved social constructions.”
Here Scheurich is directly channeling his Foucault. A name certainly foreign to most Americans, the French philosopher Michel Foucault is among the preeminent postmodernist intellectuals of the 20th century, and he is an absolute rock star in many wings of the humanities (Scheurich himself cites Foucault extensively throughout Coloring Epistemologies). When Foucault offers up the assertion that “The deepest strata of Western civilization… are once more stirring under our feet,” it is to Enlightenment epistemology that he refers. For Foucault, Enlightenment ways of knowing are no less arbitrary, and hold no stronger claims to objectivity or truth, than do the epistemologies of earlier philosophical eras in the West, or those of other cultural traditions. “There is no Knowledge; there are knowledges. There is no Reason, there are rationalities.” Logic and reason are mere linguistic artifacts of a particular epoch in Western intellectual history. For Foucault, “It is meaningless to speak in the name of—or against—Reason, Truth, or Knowledge.” To believe otherwise constitutes a sort of insanity. Foucault writes of the “marvelous logic of the mad which seems to mock that of the logicians because it resembles it so exactly, or rather because it is exactly the same.” Reason, writes Foucault, “is the ultimate language of madness.”
Scheurich’s work brings together the postmodernist and the cultural Marxist. By taking for granted that logic and reason speak to a superior way of knowing to that of, say, the faith and mysticism of premodern societies, or to the feelings and opinions of the contemporary left, white Western civilization is marginalizing the ways of knowing of other races and other cultures. According to Scheurich, this “epistemological racism comes from or emerges out of… the civilizational level — the deepest, most primary level of a culture of people.” Because Enlightenment epistemology believes there to be an objective, knowable, truth, it by definition favors epistemological methods that attempt to discover that truth, thereby disregarding — or marginalizing — ways of knowing that embrace subjectivity and relativism. “All of the epistemologies currently legitimated in education arise exclusively out of the social history of the dominant White race.” It is racism at the level of philosophy, racism at the level of civilization.
This is a race-baiters check-mate. Your civilization may be premised on the idea that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. Your society may abhor racism, and socially ostracize racists. Your society may be guided by the principle that men be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Laws may be passed, and vigorously enforced, which seek to stamp out racial discrimination, even unintended or so-called “institutional” discrimination, in employment, housing, and commerce.
Since your civilization is also premised on the idea that truth exists, that truth matters, and that truth can be known through logic and reason, your civilization is racist.
It’s not racist, you say? And you can prove it? Well, that sounds like a truth a claim, more of that racist white Western epistemology.
Check-mate. Your civilization is racist.
And, if you yourself are white, you too are racist. That is not to say that you personally are actually a racist. You may abhor racism. Again, no matter.
You believe in objectivity and reason, don’t you?
And if, by chance, you don’t believe in objectivity and reason, you are still racist. Because you aren’t really you. You are merely a representative of your racial identity group, which, as we have already established, is racist.
Check-mate. You’re a racist.
Scheurich summarizes the argument:
“By epistemological racism, then, we do not mean that the researchers… are overtly or covertly racist as individuals. Nor do we mean that epistemological racism is a conscious institutional or societal conspiracy in favor of Whites. Epistemological racism means that our current range of research epistemologies… arise out of the social history and culture of the dominant race, that these epistemologies logically reflect and reinforce that social history and that racial group (while excluding the epistemologies of other races/cultures), and that this has negative results for people of color in general and scholars of color in particular… The critical problem — for all of us, both Whites and people of color — is that the resulting epistemological racism, besides unnecessarily restricting or excluding the range of possible epistemologies, creates profoundly negative consequences for those of other racial cultures with different epistemologies.”
The philosophical foundations of the society are racist. The society itself is therefore racist. Its members are also all therefore racist. Only by destroying the civilization itself — that is to say, only by undermining and destroying its philosophical foundations — can the West hope to rid itself of its racism. To get started on this civilization-destroying project, Scheurich asserts, we must embrace other ways of knowing. Scholars “need to support the emergence and acceptance of other epistemologies that are derived from different racial or cultural social histories.”
One such way of knowing Scheurich proposes is what he calls the “Afrocentric Feminist Epistemology.” This new epistemology is explicitly race- and gender-based, apparently standing on the premise that there are immutable racial and gender differences that prevent people from different groups from learning or experiencing reality in the same way. This new epistemology is based on what are referred to in the article as four “contours” or characteristics. They are:
- “concrete experience as a criterion of meaning”;
- “the use of dialogue in assessing knowledge claims”;
- “the ethic of caring”; and
- “the ethic of personal accountability.”
Imagine this epistemological method used to determine the veracity of claims about global warming. The Enlightenment epistemology would default to the scientific method as the best way of getting at the truth of the matter. Observations of the weather are made, which lead people to ask questions about long term climate trends. Scientists research available climate data, leading to competing hypotheses about the weather phenomena observed. These competing hypotheses are then tested by further researching available weather data, and observing future weather patterns. Certain of the hypotheses are shown to be invalid and are discarded. Test results narrow down the number of potentially valid hypotheses. Information is reported and shared. Other scientists conduct similar tests and further research to validate or invalidate the results. The process continues until a scientific consensus can be reached.
Compare that against the postmodernist epistemology offered above. Step one, concrete experience as a criterion of meaning. It felt hot outside to me today. Must be global warming. Step two, the use of dialogue in assessing knowledge claim. I talked to other people about how hot it is outside. They also mentioned how hot it has been lately. Step three, the ethic of caring. I care about people and the environment. I don’t want people to be hot. I don’t want the earth to overheat. Step four, the ethic of personal accountability. It feels hot to me. Other people I talk to seem to agree. Those that disagree obviously don’t care, so they are contradicting my truth and I can disregard their opinion. And finally, individuals must be held personally accountable for global warming. Therefore, I must believe in global warming and must punish those who don’t.
To seriously attempt to interact with reality in this manner is deranged, and deranging. Consider attempts to use this epistemology in place of double blind testing in medical research, or due process in the courts, or even in attempting to answer basic math problems. In field after field, Enlightenment epistemology under-girds our civilization.
Coloring Epistemologies closes with two calls to action. To the those skeptical of postmodernist epistemological claims, Scheurich invites attempts at refutation. “Let these scholars join the discussion,” he writes. “Let them lay out their arguments in public debate. Let us have a fierce row over this.”
To his leftist colleagues, Scheurich delivers a rather different call to action. “Those of us who teach methods courses must begin to study, teach, and, thus, legitimate” these alternative ways of knowing.
Thus, while the Enlightenment folks are distracted with attempts to refute the postmodernist epistemological claims, the cultural Marxists can continue on their merry way subverting the foundations of Western civilization.
When Scheurich’s spicy comments circulated online several years ago, what made barely a passing mention was the fact that he is not just a professor, he is a professor of education, teaching this relativist and subjectivist garbage to future teachers and school administrators. He has taught at the University of Texas A&M, Indiana University, and UT Austin. He has chaired more than two dozen doctoral committees, and sat as a member on nearly 100 more. He is an accomplished education researcher, with 166 scholarly articles to his name, and nearly 10,000 citations as of early 2020, thus helping ensure these ideas are able to replicate themselves within the university system. 
Scheurich’s article, Coloring Epistemologies, was published in 1997. Since then, leftist educators have made a lot of headway ‘legitimating other ways of knowing.’ Thanks to the intrepid work of professors like Scheurich, postmodernist and cultural Marxist dogma made its way out of the research wings of the education schools and into the standard curriculum for future teachers. Teaching to Transgress by education professor bell hooks, originally published in 1994, is now among the most assigned university textbooks in any field. Hooks too echoes Foucault when she asserts that traditional Western “ways of knowing” are “forged in history and relations of power.” As a result, she writes, “the traditional role of the university in the pursuit of truth and the sharing of knowledge and information” serves to “uphold and maintain white supremacy, imperialism, sexism, and racism.” To remedy this, “professors and students have to learn to accept different ways of knowing, new epistemologies, in the multicultural setting.”
By the early 2000s, this epistemological relativism began showing up in supplementary resources and non-standard student workbooks in K-12 classrooms throughout the country. Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers calls out “traditional” math instruction as “immoral in a world as unjust as ours.” Traditional math is said to be “bad for students and bad for society.” Among the immoral and problematic features of “traditional” math, according to the text, is the curriculum’s “fetish” for “the right answer” (with the phrase “the right answer” appearing in scare quotes in the original text). Math problems with “clearcut solutions give a false picture of how mathematics can help us ‘read the world.’” Traditional math — with its fetish for the right answer and obsession with clearcut solutions — is said to be a “white man’s thing.” It is instead through “dialogue and collective action,” not logic and reason, that students should learn math. “Students will thereby develop an appreciation for the diverse ways different cultures understand and perform mathematical tasks.”
To that end, Rethinking Mathematics is filled with hundreds of pages of multicultural math lessons. In one week-long lesson, under the guise of teaching about graphing and networks, students are shown a picture of a doodle drawn in the sand by an African tribesman, purportedly illustrating a Genesis-style origin myth. Students then spend the next several days tracing over the picture and making up similar doodles of their own. The lesson is, according to the text, intended to be “open-ended,” which is teacher-speak for ‘there are no objective grading criteria. Let the kids draw whatever they want and give everyone a gold star.’
“The task I set the students was to trace the given networks and to determine which designs were traceable: that is, could be drawn in one sweep of the pencil, without either lifting the pencil or going over the same line segment more than once.” — From Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers
In another, similar lesson, students are shown some handmade rugs from a Native American tribeswoman. The goal of the lesson is for students to “learn to appreciate the degree of mathematical knowledge required to weave” rugs “with no pattern and no specific instructions to follow.”
In a lesson called “the mortgage project,” students are shown an article from the Chicago Tribune purporting racism in mortgage lending standards in the city. The three-week math lesson revolves mainly around the writing of essays about the issue of racism in home-mortgage lending and culminates with students reading their essays to the class. The text dissuades teachers from pushing students towards “simplistic ‘all-or-nothing’ solutions,” and instead to encourage students to be “comfortable with ambiguity.”
And on and on it goes like this, the slow drip of brain-destroying relativism and subjectivism. Then school boards and administrators are shocked when districts fail to meet standardized testing benchmarks and students finishing high school with top honors find themselves in remedial math at university. Children, especially young children, learn through modeled behavior more than pedantic lecturing. This goes for language. Children learn language by listening to adults speak and by having parents engage them in conversation. This goes for ethics. Children learn not to hit by having parents and caregivers who negotiate with them rather than whip out the belt at every mild disagreement. This goes for epistemology. Children learn to think objectively and rationally by having teachers who do likewise, and by being given math lessons which instill logic and reason. A student need not ever have heard the name Joseph Scheurich or the phrase “epistemological racism” for their ability to think critically to be undermined or their grip on reality to be weakened by multicultural math lessons.
The first run of Rethinking Mathematics hit American classrooms in 2005. Back then, most leftist teachers were still sheepish about flaunting the use of cultural Marxist and postmodernist pedagogical resources in the classroom. The authors of Rethinking Mathematics foresaw the potential opposition and helped arm radical activist teachers with the rhetorical weaponry they would need to defend themselves against the sane and the rational. “Occasionally, a teacher needs to defend this kind of curriculum to supervisors, colleagues, or parents,” the text explains. “One approach is to survey your state’s math standards (or the national standards) and to find references to ‘critical thinking’ or ‘problem-solving’ and use those to explain your curriculum.”
Since then, education organizations across the country have worked to normalize this leftist dogma. The massively federally subsidized Teach for America is among the organizations at the forefront of these efforts. Teach for America’s main activity is the placement of recent college graduates in temporary teaching assignments at under-performing schools across the country. The outfit also moonlights as a developer of leftist continuing education courses for in-service teachers. In 2017, the organization developed a training course for middle-school math teachers titled “Teaching Social Justice Through Secondary Mathematics.” The major themes of the course will, by now, sound very familiar. The lesson on “Mathematical Identity” informs participants that knowing how to “quickly complete algorithmic calculations” is the domain of “Western white males.” Math instruction must move beyond this. Students must instead develop their “understanding of mathematics via a very different route.” The lesson on “Ways of Knowing” explains that in “western mathematics, our ways of knowing” place too much emphasis on “formalized reasoning or proof… leaving little room for those having non-western mathematical skills and thinking processes.”
The National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) have also been active in normalizing radical leftist curriculum in the education system. NCTM is the nation’s largest organization of math educators, with more than 80,000 registered members, over 200 affiliates, nearly 100 full time employees, and an eight-figure annual budget. NCSM/NCTM helped lead the charge to implement common core standards during the Obama era. In a 2016 statement, NCSM declared that “Mathematics teachers and leaders must acknowledge that the current mathematics education system is unjust and grounded in a legacy of institutional discrimination based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender.” NCTM’s curriculum framework aims at infusing leftism into K-12 math instruction and calls for schools to “dismantle inequitable structures,” embrace “equitable teaching practices,” and challenge “spaces of marginality and privilege.” Through multiple annual conferences and numerous education trade publications, these organizations have helped normalize radical leftist pedagogy across the country.
Leftist educators have now begun the formal takeover of entire school districts. In 2019, Seattle Public Schools unveiled their “ethnomathematics” curriculum framework, as part of “the district’s broader effort to infuse ethnic studies into all subjects across K-12 spectrum.” One of the four major themes of the framework is called “Power and Oppression.” According to the framework, certain unnamed “individuals and groups” are perpetrating an oppressive power play against “people and communities of color.” This power play is being done in order to “define mathematical knowledge so as to see ‘Western’ mathematics as the only legitimate expression of mathematical identity and intelligence.” Or maybe they mean that defining Western mathematics in this way is itself the power play? It’s not entirely clear. The section, and indeed the entire framework, is written in that style emblematic of postmodernist prose — extremely precise and overwrought, while at the same time, vague and highly suggestive. In any case, the framework goes on to explain that this oppressive Western “definition of [mathematical] legitimacy is then used to disenfranchise people and communities of color” and “erase the[ir] historical contributions.”
The curriculum framework is only four pages long, but manages to pack in virtually the entire contemporary leftist agenda. Among the framework’s Learning Targets, “SWBAT [students will be able to] identify how math has been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color,” explain “how technology and/or science have been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color,” and “ identify the inherent inequities of the standardized testing system used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color.” Much is taken for granted in the framework. Many highly debatable and (one would think) contentious claims are treated as foregone conclusions. It is not a question of if, but only how math, science, technology, and standardized tests are used by the white majority to oppress and marginalize minorities in this country.
Once Seattle students have grown thoroughly suspicious of the logic and reason of the “Western” mathematical tradition, they are next introduced to alternative ways of knowing. Since math problems with clearcut solutions are part of that oppressive Western tradition, the framework’s “Learning Targets” instead emphasize “oral, symbolic, and written expression.” Students learn to “extract mathematical concepts in stories and problems that aren’t traditionally seen as mathematical.” Then, through “dialogue and debate” students learn to “justify their mathematical thinking.” Among the “Essential Questions” students must confront, “How important is it to be Right?” Again, for the left, to ask such a question is to answer it.
The claims of leftist educators about instilling an appreciation of other cultures are a thin veneer covering a deep-seated hatred of the West. The end-state of the left is not the replacement of Western culture with a preferable foreign alternative, but merely the destruction the existing order of things. They have no foreign cultural or philosophical heritage which they would prefer to see rise in the West. Cultural Marxism and postmodernism are themselves uniquely Western contrivances. This war is an internal one. The wounds are self-inflicted. The civilizational death will be a suicide.
Skeptics of my apocalyptic tones will say, ‘Well, it’s just one district. This anecdote can’t possibly represent all schools, or even most schools.’ Wrong. Seattle Public Schools may be first, but they are far from the only district heading towards a full takeover by radical leftist educators. Don’t take my word it. Here is what the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Robert Q. Berry III, has to say about the matter, “Seattle is definitely on the forefront with this… Seattle’s framework reflects ideas and practices” championed by the NCTM. “What they’re doing follows the line of work we hope we can move forward.”
Last summer, San Francisco’s school board introduced a resolution to “implement an ethnic studies framework district wide, in all subject areas and across all grade levels.” Across the country — from Los Angeles to Philadelphia — individual schools have already adopted this leftist approach to math instruction.
For those that think this won’t hit “red” states, or “red” districts, wrong again. In America, conservatism has long been progressivism 10 years late to the party. In the schools, the leftists start with the social studies classes, before moving on to the rest of the institution. So it is in places like Texas. In 2018, the Texas State School Board approved the first state-wide course in ethnic studies. Just as with California and Washington, there are always a few districts ahead of the state authorities with this stuff. The same week the Texas State School Board approved one high school elective in ethnic studies, Fort Worth announced it had contracted Texas Christian University’s Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies Department to devise a plan to “infuse” ethnic studies into the core curriculum for all K-12 students in the district. It starts with an ethnic studies elective in the social studies department. It starts at the high school level. Then expands to the middle and elementary schools. Eventually it creeps out of the social studies department into the rest of the curriculum. It is not a question of if, but when. Because ethnic studies isn’t the goal. It’s just a pretext. The leftists’ long march through the institution does not stop at the door leading out of the social studies classrooms.
As the leftist takeover of the education system advances, we will begin churning out entire generations of race-obsessed, America-hating, epistemological and ethical relativists. And so, we are approaching the precipice of a civilizational collapse. As the philosophical foundations of modern civilization give way, the entire structure caves in on itself.
America cannot survive as a self-loathing and internally divided country that has rejected truth and morality. Such derangements are the foundation stones of a coming dark age.
This article was originally published on Medium.
 Most of this discussion of postmodernism is drawn from the work of Stephen R. Hicks. For more information on postmodernism, and in particular, information on the intellectual history of the movement and its antecedents, see Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault by Stephen Hicks.
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