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Whatever happened to the conservative Michael Gove?

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IT’S hard to believe the same lockdown-enforcing Michael Gove, peddler of China virus alarmism, acting like a Third World dictator repressing liberty and freedom, is the same conservative-minded Michael Gove who was elected to Parliament in 2005. 

Astonishing though it must now seem, in 2006 Mr Gove wrote a book entitled Celsius 7/7, in which he details the emergence of the culture wars from a conservative perspective.   

He observed that whereas classical Marxism defines the revolutionary struggle in terms of the workers overthrowing capitalism and taking control of the means of production, neo-Marxism focuses on what has come to be called the culture wars.  

He describes the association between the rise of neo-Marxism and the establishment of Germany’s Frankfurt School in the 1930s by a number of academics who realised the West’s workers would never be interested in taking to the streets and storming the barricades. 

Gove wrote that ‘the thinkers of the Frankfurt School revised Marxism as primarily a cultural rather than an economic movement.  Instead of anger against traditional capitalism, scorn was directed at the reigning value systems of the West.’ 

The emergence of cancel culture involving identity politics and victimhood, where whiteness must be abolished and personal agency is replaced by structural racism and structural sexism, can be traced to the culture wars beginning all those years ago. It is ironic indeed that Michael Gove is now part of a government that genuflects to so many of these new orthodoxies.  

Central to the Frankfurt School is the emergence of critical theory; a theory that argues the most effective way to overthrow capitalism is to infiltrate, take control and subvert the institutions on which capitalism depends for its survival. A process exemplified by the expression ‘the long march through the institutions’ associated with the German student activist Rudi Dutschke and inspired by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci.   

Such institutions include schools, universities, the media, family, church, government agencies and intermediary organisations like trade unions and professional associations.  

These bodies and organisations form what the Marxist Louis Althusser terms the state ideological apparatus that conditions citizens to accept their position in society even though they were being oppressed by an inequitable and exploitative capitalist system. 

Gramsci uses the expression ‘cultural hegemony’ to describe this process whereby women, for example, who are happy and fulfilled being wives and mothers, are in fact being exploited by a patriarchal, capitalist society where men exert domination and control. 

During the late 1960s, critical theory was reborn with the emergence of a rainbow alliance of cultural-Left ideologies including post-modernism, deconstructionism and feminist, gender, queer and post-colonial theories.   

While often in disagreement, all embrace a liberating and emancipatory view of the world directed at overthrowing capitalism and the evils associated with Western civilisation. 

The long march through the institutions is best illustrated by the way universities are no longer dedicated to the ideal of education being impartial, balanced and based on rationality and reason.  Instead, for many years now universities have been captured by cultural-Left academics committed to teaching politically correct ideology and groupthink. 

In the UK, a research paper by the Adam Smith Institute entitled Lackademia: Why Do Academics Lean Left? concludes: ‘Individuals with Left-leaning views are overrepresented in British academia.  Those with Right-wing and conservative views are correspondingly underrepresented.’ 

As evidence, the study draws on a number of surveys by Times Higher Education (THE) detailing voting habits of university staff.  In relation to the 2015 UK election, 44 per cent said they would vote for Labour while only 11 per cent nominated the Conservative Party.  This compares to 50 per cent of the public who voted Conservative at the same election. 

In relation to leaving the European Union, a second THE survey found that compared to the majority of the British people voting Leave, 89 per cent of those academics who responded supported the Remain campaign. 

Research by two American academics, Sam Abrams and Amna Khalid, published on the Heterodox website and entitled ‘Are Colleges and Universities Too Liberal?’ reaches a similar conclusion to the UK paper. 

Based on a number of surveys of staff, administrators and students, the paper concludes the data ‘unequivocally shows that liberals (defined as those left of centre) are considerably overrepresented on university and college campuses’.  One survey that was referred to showed ’60 per cent of the faculty identified as either far Left or liberal compared to just 12 per cent being conservative or far Right’. 

While no comparable surveys of academics’ political leanings are readily identifiable, based on anecdotal evidence it is possible to conclude that Australian universities, especially Arts, History and Sociology faculties, are also Left-leaning and heavily weighted towards cultural-Left-inspired critical theory. 

Academics including Pierre Ryckmans, John Carroll, Ross Fitzgerald, Merv Bendle, Jennifer Oriel and Barry Spurr, all with years of experience in academia, are all convinced the cultural-Left now dominates universities across the nation. 

The parlous state of higher education is best illustrated by Pierre Ryckmans when he states in his 1996 ABC Boyer Lectures: ‘A true university is (and has always been) anchored in values.  Deprived of this holding ground, it can only drift at the caprice of all the winds and currents of fashion, and, in the end is doomed to founder in the shallows of farce and incoherence.’ 

How sad that Michael Gove, a man who understood the processes of neo-Marxism so well, has stayed so silent on the role of the education system – that he once tried to reform – in Britain’s cultural revolution.  

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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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