I’m often asked how Marxism took root in the American university system. I’ve never been fully satisfied with my standard answer to the question. Given my background in psychology, I sometimes seek psychological explanations to the exclusion of broader historical explanations. But I do believe there is something different about the mind of the man to whom Marxism appeals.
The Marxist is less willing to compete with others. He is content living in a world where everyone is similarly situated. He relinquishes the prospect of success for the assurance that he cannot fail. The same mentality is often found among those who seek refuge in the academy. There is little chance that the academic will find fame or fortune. But a few years of hard work will be rewarded with promotion and tenure and all of the security that comes with it.
Marxism was once the dominant philosophy in higher education – at least within the social sciences and humanities. But one would be hard pressed to make the case that Marxism remains the dominant philosophy on college campuses today. That title now belongs to postmodernism – although the two philosophies cannot be divorced from one another. Marxism is an economic and political philosophy. Postmodernism is a broader worldview. But postmodernism could not have achieved its rapid ascent without Marxism.