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Friday, September 25, 2020
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The Left’s long march through literature

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THERE’S no doubt that the cultural-Left’s cancel culture and political correctness movement is rampant in the West’s schools and universities intent on indoctrinating students with its neo-Marxist inspired ideology, especially when it comes to identity politics involving the new trinity of race, gender and sexuality.

The way the literary canon and literature in general has been subverted and destroyed over the last 20 to 30 years provides a clear example. Instead of literature being valued for its moral and aesthetic character and whether it has stood the test of time, the definition has been exploded to include graffiti, SMS messaging, students’ own writing, movie posters, video games and multi-model and digital texts.

As argued by Frank Kermode in An Appetite for Poetry, such has been the impact of cultural-Left ‘theory’ that literature has been relegated ‘to a position of one among an inexhaustible and indiscriminate array of other texts: in short, to save it is to destroy it’.

Particular literary texts, instead of being valued as examples of their art, are deconstructed and critiqued in terms of power relationships and politically correct ideology.

A recent Australian example involves an evaluation of texts set for senior school English by the University of Melbourne’s Alex Bacalja and Lauren Bliss titled What counts? Inclusion and diversity in the senior English curriculum.  After analysing set texts over a ten-year period, the academics conclude that they are guilty of promoting ‘white consciousness’ and of being ‘heteronormative’.

For those who are not woke, ‘white consciousness’ promotes racism and prejudice against ‘people of colour’. Being heteronormative is also a crime as it describes the overwhelming majority of women and men who are happy with their birth sex.

In opposition to literary classics by novelists such as Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens and Patrick White, the two academics argue there must be a greater focus on texts embracing a ‘diversity of sexualities’, ‘by Indigenous Australians’ and those ‘outside the Western world’.

They are not alone. The Australian Association for the Teaching of English argues that the English classroom must focus on ‘questions of gender and sexuality’ as the existing selection of texts unfairly privilege ‘heterosexual and cis-gender identities as the norms against which to define the other’.

Forget literary merit and whether the works selected have something profound and enduring to say about human nature and the world in which we live. Identity politics and victimhood rule, so if you are LGBTIQ+, indigenous or Asian you jump to the head of the list.

As outlined in Mark Lopez’s forthcoming book School Sucks: A Report on the State of Education in the Politically Correct Era (Connor Court Publishing), even Shakespeare is not immune from being criticised and condemned for promoting white supremacism and racism.

At a training session for English teachers, the academic presenting compared Shakespeare to a neo-Nazi skinhead, arguing that both are racist and guilty of imposing white colonialism on resentful black people.

Lopez also presents a scathing and forensic analysis of how for years now the works chosen embody a neo-Marxist, postmodern agenda, calculated to impose sterile and doctrinaire groupthink.

The United Kingdom is not immune from the cultural-Left’s long march through schools and universities. As a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, ‘woke’ politicians and academics are increasingly arguing that subjects such as English and history must be cleansed of imperialism, racism and white supremacism.

BAME authors and writers are centre stage and the school curriculum must be rewritten to acknowledge British imperialism and the exploitation and slavery of millions. Much like original sin, the crime can never be forgiven as structural racism and unconscious bias run riot.

Those wishing to know why great literary works are now critiqued as cultural artefacts guilty of reinforcing capitalist, misogynist and racist ideology need look no further than Louis Althusser’s concept of the ‘ideological state apparatus’.

Althusser differentiates between a capitalist state’s repressive apparatus and an ideological one; the second involves institutions associated with religion, the education system, family, and political, legal and cultural systems.  Taken together they enforce the ruling ideology by conditioning citizens to accept as natural or beneficial what is oppressive and exploitive.

Add the heady mixture of postmodernism, deconstructionism and LGBTIQ+, feminist, gender and postcolonial theories and it’s understandable why literature as a subject no longer exists and why students are being served a weak and insipid gruel guaranteed to promote cultural-Left, sterile groupthink.

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Dr Kevin Donnelly
Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of A Politically Correct Dictionary and Guide (available at kevindonnelly.com.au)

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