Legislatures: It’s Time to Defund Universities

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Epoch Times on May 5, 2021 and is crossposted here with permission.

Our universities have been uniformly corrupted by neo-Marxist political ideology. They no longer teach the great wealth of knowledge of Western Civilization, or engage in research to advance that knowledge. Instead, they indoctrinate their students in “postmodern” nihilism, postcolonial anti-West vilification, and identity politics of sexism and racism.

Postmodernism teaches that there is no Truth objectively reflecting the nature of the world and its inhabitants. Rather, it teaches that all ideas are subjective, so that each person can have his or her “own truth.” This allegedly being the case, the academic requirement that ideas be supported by logical argument and by demonstrable evidence is no longer applicable.

Postcolonial theory teaches that the world was a lovely, friendly, and fair place before evil Western imperialists spread around the world to conquer harmless peoples, enslave them, and oppress them. All the problems of the world and its peoples thus derive, so says postcolonial theory, from the ill deeds of Western imperialists and colonialists. For example, the United States and Canada have no legitimacy as states or societies, because they stole their land from indigenous people and engaged in genocide against indigenous people. That’s why “anticolonial” struggles should undertake to return these countries and everything that their inhabitants built to the indigenous peoples.

Slavery, now taught as having been invented by the evil United States in 1619, is a special evil that now requires that the country be turned over to “people of color,” especially the great, great grandchildren of slaves, and even those who aren’t citizens but who illegally flood into the country over the open border. The genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of people of color are the double sins of the United States, which must be viewed as entirely illegitimate, and must devote itself entirely to recompense for people of color.

“Social justice” theory require “equity” for justice, with “equity” being defined as equal results in education, occupation, economics, and office holding, for collective genders, races, sexualities, and ethnicities, although greater than equal results are fine for preferred categories. “Critical race” theory shows the way by adopting the Marxist “class struggle” theory and dividing the world into oppressive races and victim races, oppressive genders and victim genders, oppressive sexualities and victim sexualities, and oppressive ethnicities and victim ethnicities.

I don’t want to keep you in suspense about who is who: whites are oppressors and people of color are victims; males are oppressors and females are victims; heterosexuals and those clinging to their birth sex are oppressors and LGBTQ++ are victims; Christians and Jews are oppressors and Muslims are victims. According to “social justice” theory, who is good and who is evil is very clear: oppressors are evil and victims are good.

This is what is taught in universities today, and only what is taught. There are no alternative perspectives allowed. Universities have a monoculture from which students and professors may not deviate. Every university has scores or hundreds of “diversity and inclusion” officers who enforce conformity to “social justice” ideology and punish deviants. “Academic freedom,” we are told, must be limited to supporting “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” No one is hired or promoted without having declared loyalty to the trinity of “social justice.”

As there’s no longer a search for Truth, and everyone is deemed to have their “own truth,” no evidence is ever demanded to support these neo-Marxist ideologies. For example, many of the claims of “racism” refer to statistical disparities, i.e., the greater number of members of one category in a particular job, or admitted to university, or having a higher salary. The inference is then made that any disparity must be the result of gender or racial discrimination, and this assertion must be taken as absolute Truth (even though they don’t believe in Truth). But no evidence of such discrimination is ever presented, because there is no such discrimination.

Statistical disparities can be explained by many other factors: differences in personal preferences; differences in levels of educational achievement; differences in family structure, such as two-parent families; differences in community cultures in regard to education; and differences in crime and social pathologies.

“Social justice” theory claims that American and Canadian societies are “systemically racist” and “patriarchal.” This claim, originally by race activists inside and outside universities, has now been adopted by the American Democratic government and the Canadian Liberal government, the heritage and mainstream media, big tech platforms, business and industry, the K-12 school system, and the military. The cause of this racism and sexism is alleged to be “white male supremacism,” which suppresses and oppresses all females and “people of color.” Inside and outside of universities males and the “white race” are vilified, thus demeaning and condemning the supermajority of citizens of the United States and Canada.

It’s puzzling, in terms of this “white male supremacism” account, how it is that for 50 years females and black citizens have been given preferential treatment and special benefits under government policies of “affirmative action.” And under “diversity, equity, and inclusion” mandates from the government on down, not only do females and people of color receive special consideration, but so do LGBTQ++, Hispanics (designated by the wokerati “Latinx”), Muslims, and, in the many sanctuary states and universities, illegal aliens.

As for “white supremacism” oppressing “people of color” to maintain their control and “privilege,” how do we explain that the most successful people—educationally, economically, and professionally—in the United States are Asians? And that African and black Caribbean immigrants are as or more successful on average than whites? The evidence refutes the claim of “systemic racism.”

Neo-Marxist ideological poison spreads from university graduates to schools via radical departments and faculties of education, from university graduates to the media, high tech, business, and beyond, from law and medical schools to the professions, and finally arrives in legislatures and government officials, as we see today in America’s Democratic and Canada’s Liberal administrations. From the poisoned well, all of our institutions are polluted.

Our most representative institutions are state and provincial legislatures. They’re closest to the citizens, and tend to be most sensitive to public opinion. Citizens generally don’t agree with claims of systemic racism, and disagree with policies based on race-hate and gender-hate, and disagree with fighting imagined discrimination with real discrimination. State and provincial legislatures are the funders of public universities and school systems, and subsidizers of private universities. They’re in a position and have a duty to be the antidote to the poison that has infected our institutions. Universities, which are past reform, should be defunded until they return to their educational mission. State and provincial departments of education should be revamped to ensure diversity of opinion. Schools should be defunded until they are rid of racist and sexist ideologies. Our future depends on state and provincial legislatures proactively providing the antidote.

Image: Karolina Grabowska, Public Domain


  • Philip Carl Salzman

    Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Past President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

11 thoughts on “Legislatures: It’s Time to Defund Universities

  1. Public universities in many states are constitutionally mandated so they can’t be defunded. This idea might seem appealing and be seen as a way to get revenge on the crazies who are now in charge of the asylum at most universities, but it is bound to backfire badly. In the case of my own state, the governor imposed drastic cuts on the university a few years. This resulted in eliminating functional programs and consolidating power in the hands of fewer and fewer administrators. It provided a ready excuse to get rid of any vestiges of moderation and to impose ever greater ideological conformity.

  2. I strongly suspect legislatures will be too spineless to do what is necessary. As always, it will fall to “We the people,” in this case, parents, to stop sending our kids for indoctrination. We need to understand that sending kids to public schools, or colleges of most any stripe, is child abuse.

  3. Finally, someone sees the reality of the rot in higher education and has the right solution. Thank you Professor Philip Carl Salzman. He joins Jordan Peterson, the late great philosopher, Roger Scruton, and a few of us advocating defunding of government funded public Marist schools now reaching the entire spectrum K through University. Here’s what I published in 2019 on this topic:

    THE SOLUTION: Defund all public-school education of tax-payer subsidies and “… let them sort themselves out.” according to Jordan Peterson. Schools that wish to continue indoctrinating their students imposing the postmodern curriculum will still be free to do so. They just won’t get a dime from taxpayers. Professor Peterson advocated this in Canada by suggesting the solution is to cut the budget of public universities by 25% until and unless they institute the only ‘diversity’ that really matters to a university, the diversity of ideas. Sir Roger Scruton recommends, and Jordan agrees, we should de-fund all tax-payer funded schools and let them sort the transcendent classical wheat from the nihilist postmodernist chaff. This is a watershed moment in global education.

    But this will take time to apply politically. Most tax-payers are still unaware of the problem; and such a solution will appear ‘madness’ to them even though they see the destruction of their traditional principles and values in their own culture every day.

    So, is there anything that can be done now, right away to defrock the postmodern priests and priestesses masquerading as educators? Yes. All of us, and any of us, can simply stop using the postmodern dictionary. Ransom and recover their sinfully stolen words crafted from their insipid ‘feelings’. Use their own emotional sacraments against them to recover our hijacked words. Since there is no ‘truth’ according to them, then any word can mean anything that anyone ‘feels’ it means. ‘Feel’ that words mean what they mean and not how they have been hijacked to mean in today’s culture. Use the proper meaning and not the hijacked meaning.

    — Mark McIntire
    Professor of Philosophy
    Santa Barbara City College, Retired

  4. It’s time to defund Philip Salzman.

    Seriously, this kind of polemical article is no use as a criticism of trends in the modern university. “Neo-Marxist ideological poison”? Understatement is sometimes more effective.

  5. It sounds like the author is about to blow a gasket. Good luck with this program! Not going to get very with nonsense like:

    “Our universities have been uniformly corrupted by neo-Marxist political ideology. They no longer teach the great wealth of knowledge of Western Civilization, or engage in research to advance that knowledge.”

    My undergraduate alma mater has had 13 Nobel laureates who were alumni or long-term current faculty since 2010. 9 of them in the natural sciences. The mRNA vaccine that is protecting me and millions of others from covid was developed out of research done in academia in the mid-2000’s. Whatever one thinks of the universities, the notion that they “no longer engage in research to advance knowledge” is simply preposterous. This does not just apply to the sciences. The number of people actually doing stuff like critical race theory is pretty small. Actually defunding the universities would be stupid because of the enormous damage it would do the coming generation, to say nothing of the entire society. (Professor Salzman, you and I may need medical care someday that may be provided by some of the hundreds or thousands of students the local university trains each year in health-related fields.) Defunding wouldn’t hurt emeritus professors who no doubt have nice pensions that won’t be touched.

    Whatever the answers for American and Canadian academia will have to come from focused, surgical type interventions. The trustees and legislatures could do a lot, if they wanted to, and if they exercised some intelligence and judgment, which seem to be in short supply.

    The kind of nonsense presented here is not going to help.

    1. Jonathan, thank you for your comment. However, I have doubts about your statement that “The number of people actually doing stuff like critical race theory is pretty small.” Do you really think that all of the social sciences, all of the humanities, education, social work, and law make up a “small” number of professors? A more reasonable estimate is that the majority of professors are teaching neo-marxism and critical race theory.

      My colleagues in science are facing a “diversity, equity, and inclusion” crackdown from both within and outside of the university. From within, they are under pressure to make political statements allying with “anti-racism.” Recruitment into the sciences is now restricted to “racialized minorities,” “females,” “handicapped,” and “indigenous natives.” If you doubt this, read the ads. The granting agencies demand proof of heavy contribution to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” before they will even consider the scientific merit of an applications. I am afraid, Jonathan, you are living in the past.

      1. Professor Salzman,
        I am confident there still are many people doing valuable research in colleges and universities and just as confident there are many doing research that is worse than worthless. Whether the valuable research being done would still occur if it weren’t for government funding, I am uncertain. I admit not being sure that a majority of professors are “teaching neo-marxism and critical race theory” but the support for Critical Race Theory is overwhelming. As for “some intelligence and judgment,” the sad reality is openly challenging or criticizing Critical Race Theory constitutes bad judgment if the standard for that judgment is whether one keeps their job or gets fired. There is a serious hostility to viewpoint diversity on college campuses and it is a threat to our liberty.

    2. 1. No one is going to de-fund the universities. However there is an easy way to bring about the changes needed.

      2. We can take control of about half of our universities and that will be sufficient.

      3. We can demand an Alternative Core Curriculum. We can demand a choice-which is a hard thing to deny us at this time

      4. The alternative Core will have 2 semesters of Western Civilization and 2 semesters of English where English will be taught and one 250 word essay will be demanded every week.

      5. The Students will fight to get in to this core because it will contain that a demand that students earn a Emergency Medical Technician certificate. This will make the parents happy and the students can be honestly told that they are now equipped to “play it forward.” The taxpayers will be happy because their tax money will produce lots of people who can help them should they fall down in public.

      Ask anyone who is about to go to college if they will take this core if it is available. Ask your own children.

      It is a sure winner and will instantly change everything.

      1. I am often skeptical when I hear someone say there is an easy way to change a serious problem. If defunding is off of the table, how exactly do you propose we take control of half of our universities?

  6. Evergreen State College in WA state (a public college) had three finalists for their president position opening show up recently for on campus interviews. After interviewing with students, faculty, staff and alumni, all three suddenly withdrew their applications. A spokesman for the board of trustees said they were “surprised and disappointed”.

    These colleges still don’t get the message. They think they can continue pushing radical, leftist agendas and everything will eventually work out. Defunding is an excellent way of showing them the error of their ways.

    1. Since this is the college that featured guilty-as-sin cop murderer Mumia Abu Jamal as a commencement speaker when he was on death row–his sentenced has been changed to life in prison–maybe Evergreen State can make Mumia the college President. Apparently, Critical Race theory has no intention of making white students feel “included.”

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