Can We “Long March” Back through the Institutions?

Recently, a San Diego school district superintendent attempted to explain the overall good educational performance of Asian students by highlighting these students’ alleged rich immigrant backgrounds. She said: “people who’re able to make the journey to America are wealthy.” Once her bigoted comments were exposed, the superintendent first apologized and then doubled down and advocated for more diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming. Confronted by parents calling for her resignation, said education leader then absolved herself of any responsibility, accused the dissenters of public lynching, and threatened legal action. The woke mentality is unapologetically invasive.

The firm conviction that DEI presents an unquestionable model for success and virtue reflects a bigger, national quagmire—America has become obsessed with race, captured by dressed-up fringe ideologies and paralyzed by the urge to equalize outcomes. The current state of affairs is a result of deliberate institutional changes, which have step by step hijacked liberal designs of individual rights, equal opportunity, free speech, and critical thinking. Teachers unions inject political agendas and activist demands into normal education policymaking through collective bargaining and terrorizing non-conforming members. Higher education programs such as education colleges produce ideologues rather than free thinkers by promoting invasive new pedagogies, such as critical race theory (CRT) and culturally responsive teaching. A major American political party is so smitten with the dogma of DEI that most recent federal policies, whether on national defense or homeland security or banking, have been tinged with its pursuit.

It seems that the strategic vision of a “Long March through the Institutions,” shared by Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci, and Mao Zedong, has come alive in America in the 21st century. The logical follow-up question is obvious: can we long march back through the same institutions, originally designed as part and parcel of the longest uninterrupted experiment of liberal democracy, to undo the damages? If so, how? Let’s consider three possible routes in turn.

Vote the Radicals out

Perhaps the most straightforward route, this approach draws on the growing energy of constituents to produce quick results at the ballot box. Until recently, this tactic seemed unrealistic: All politics is local, but low voter turnout in local elections reached a crisis proportion over the last several years. According to the “Who Votes for Mayor” project, fewer than 15% of eligible voters turn out for mayoral elections in 10 of America’s 30 largest cities. School board elections, outcomes of which can largely influence the overall landscape of local education, fared even worse, with a devastating range of 5 to 10 percent in voter turnout between 2014 and 2019.

Luckily, since 2020, more and more voters have been showing up at local ballot boxes, energized by education issues such as political indoctrination and school reopening. In addition, more electoral contestation has taken place to effectively challenge incumbents. For instance, San Dieguito Union High School District held a special election in November 2021 with a 19.1% voter turnout. From 2018 to 2021, the percentage of unopposed seats in 3,319 school board elections decreased from 40% to 24%, and seats won by newcomers challenging incumbents increased from 39% of the total available seats to 49%. This upward trend must continue if we want to balance the decision-making power, redistributing it from centralized, ideology-driven actors to decentralized stakeholders such as parents and taxpayers.

The end goal here is to empower education leaders who will represent their local constituents and promote core goals of a democratic public education system by truthfully informing voters about the ideologues and woke industry insiders who are overrunning our schools. Challenges to accomplish this come from the woke industrial complex and the internal collective action problems that result from information asymmetries, political infighting, and idiosyncratic differences. Over time and with strategic calculations, collective action problems can be solved or alleviated by better coordination and information-sharing.

1776 Project PAC, a national political action committee founded by Ryan Girdusky, is sharply focused on helping anti-CRT school board candidates win in local elections. In 2021, the organization flipped 18 school boards and won 42 individual races out of 58 in which it invested, even in progressive areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia. New grassroots organizations such as No Left Turn in Education and Moms for Liberty are actively recruiting and training local parents to become more politically sophisticated in an effort to counterbalance union operatives and woke propagandists who have monopolized the education bureaucracy. My group, Californians for Equal Rights Foundation, has had success educating local candidates and constituents about the prevalence of DEI and CRT in progressive California through public advocacy campaigns and policy monitoring.

Increase the Transactional Costs of Going Woke

In the meantime, the woke industrial complex must be dealt with promptly. Entrenched special interest groups, which advance non-educational objectives such as DEI programming, anti-racist initiatives, and social justice activities, present an existential threat to our public education system. One potent vehicle to make the woke pay is through effective public and legal advocacy campaigns that interrogate the substantive destructions and procedural errors of shaping societal norms through the prism of superfluous human characteristics. In the opening case of this article, the disgraced superintendent reckoned that she would not have been targeted if it was a closed meeting, while her lawyer brazenly argued that she did absolutely nothing wrong. They are both right. Race baiting, stereotyping, and other unacceptable behaviors are condoned and even encouraged when little to no public scrutiny is applied.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Is it more legally questionable to treat students differently on the basis of race than to bring incidents of woke racial animus to the public’s attention?

In the open marketplace of ideas, the absurd idea that intersectional identities of power and privilege explain discrepancies in educational outcomes can’t stand intellectual or logical cross examination. The majority of Americans, regardless of color, creed, or political persuasion, simply won’t accept a race-based system as a practical solution to our social issues. The vocal woke minority will not face the sheer unpopularity of their proposals until they are confronted and made accountable to the public. When everyday folks learn about the rampant oddities of anti-racist early education, DEI statements for science professors, ethnomathematics, or woke medicine, many begin to apply critical thinking and probe further with meaningful questions. What does it mean to disrupt racism? Why should preschoolers be obsessed about different skin tones in a coloring activity? Why do we need to label children white or BIPOC and teach systemic racism as a universal fact?

In certain egregious instances, such as when a biracial student received a failing grade for refusing to deconstruct his power and privilege, or when public school students would be propelled to chant repetitive affirmations to Aztec and Mayan deities, or when students were segregated into affinity groups on the basis of race, legal actions are warranted to blunt thought indoctrination. Winning in the court of law works hand in hand with succeeding in the court of public opinion.

Build Dynamic Coalitions to Reinstate Good Values

Politics is downstream from culture. To long march back through the institutions, we also must be committed to playing a long game to sustain the first two routes. Cultural institutions, shared ideas, and commonly held norms and practices all have the capacity to revitalize society if they are activated in our public conscience. Is America still a union striving for perfection? Are we more similar than different? Is the melting pot of natural diversities better than the fashionable salad of identities? Why should equity overtake equality?

The movement against hard-left ideologies has untapped potential for appealing to a broadened base of conservatives, libertarians, and classical liberals, especially when the focus transcends immediate political scores. My work building an alliance against CRT, for instance, has become a unifying project that has brought together a diverse group of civil rights leaders, academics, community activists, and ordinary citizens from vastly different racial, ethnic, and political backgrounds. Albeit different in many aspects, the members of the coalition are united by “our common values and shared identity as Americans… committed to promoting values of equal rights, equal citizenship, individual merit and liberty, against the divisive invasion of critical race theory in every aspect of our public life.”

Coalition building with likeminded professors and academics can help detox a dangerously illiberal addiction to tribal identity politics on American campuses and break the isolation for heterodox thinkers in hostile academic environments. Free thinking and merit must be vigorously defended in higher learning, where future leaders are trained and molded, amidst an extreme leftward turn in recent decades. Earlier this year, the Independent Institute led an open letter initiative opposing California’s new equity-centered, anti-merit mathematics framework, which generated over 1,200 signatures. The majority of the signers were STEM professors from prestigious American universities. The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal published a model bill called the “End Political Litmus Tests In Education Act,” which would prohibit schools from requiring faculty DEI statements in an effort to preserve academic freedom. The culture of critical thinking must return so that intellectuals can freely discuss diverse perspectives and contested ideas about the human condition and our scientific advancements without fear.

In K-12, curriculum experts, policy practitioners, community advocates, and parents need to turn the table from defending against progressive pedagogies to proactively offering superior alternatives. Not all ideas are equally good. The 1776 perspective on American founding needs to be provided to kids alongside the 1619 Project. Writings from Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and John McWhorter should be assigned in conjunction with Derrick Bell, bell hooks, and Ibram X. Kendi. Equality-rooted policy solutions that explore sociocultural factors behind disparities must be considered in comparison with equity-based politicking. I have compiled a list of curricular alternatives to CRT, critical ethnic studies, and DEI, which can and should be disseminated through a growing national network of anti-woke thinkers and doers.

With patience and tact, the long march back through our political and cultural institutions can be accomplished.


Image: Cooper Baumgartner, Public Domain

Wenyuan Wu

Wenyuan Wu is Executive Director of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation. Twitter: @wu_wenyuan

19 thoughts on “Can We “Long March” Back through the Institutions?

  1. A problem is that the radicals dominate the votes in faculty hiring and promotion/tenure committees – and courts tend to defer to those committees, while in many states statutes exist limiting recourse on decisions. Here in Indiana, for example, all university employees are employed on an “at will” basis, and hence it takes an extraordinary offense (like violation of racial discrimination statutes) to create an actual tort to litigate over hiring and P&T decisions. Since faculty committee recommendations AGAINST tenure are essentially never reviewed at the Dean, Provost, President, or Trustee levels, this gives radicals a chokehold to prevent institutional reform.

  2. Use your enemies tactics against them.
    Now, what was it that Mao said about power coming from the barrel of a gun?

    1. And an army marches on its stomach.

      The nice thing about double-digit inflation, which we now have, is that mere level funding becomes a de facto budget cut.

      1. No.

        The teacher unions, the Never Educate Anyone and the All For Teachers, will step into the void.

        They’re already trying to do this.

  3. No.

    First, it is not in our nature. We lack the vitriol, the meanness, the fanatical will to destroy of the leftoxenomorphs and the will to dedicate our lives to slowly and patiently gnaw at the hive of a triumphant emerging religion that leftoxenomorphism is.

    We are not termites.

    The leftoxenomorphs are poisonous termite-like maggots that instead of wood go for human civilization and gnaw at it relentlessly infecting everything in their path, taking over human institutions, destroying them from the inside and then wearing their dead skins pretending to be human, to further their cause, imprinting new leftoxenomorphs out of the human babies that humans in an incredibly display of stupidity and self-defeatism send to them to “educate”
    The human “education” system is 100% in the hands of leftoxenomorphs, at its first stages especially in the hands of feminazis.
    Feminazism is a cult and an order within leftoxenomorphism.

    Second, the leftoxenomorph Long March Through The Institutions has been carried out so effectively that they now occupy and jealously gatekeep all their gains and there’s not a chance in hell they’ll let one of us either enter or try to activate anything away from leftoxenomorphism.

    Third, a Long March Through The Institutions requires time without limit and we don’t have it. Remember the sacred and fundamental truth: slowly at first, then suddenly. We don’t have time for the “slowly” while the leftoxenomorphs are giving us their “suddenly” No time.

    We crush them or they eat us alive.
    Literally: we crush them or the bugs will eat us.
    They are gnawing at us, right now.
    What is “cancel culture” but their eating an enemy alive, excreting his remains and moving on?
    With the added benefit to the leftoxenomorphs that they cow other humans into submission by the severity and the swiftness of the punishment.

    They are coming in force. We win in pitched battle or we go into extinction. We can win. But we need to find our balls that we seem to have misplaced in the way to today.

    Our only chance is in what cultural-marxism renounced when they gave up on revolutionary-marxism: kinetic confrontation and the physical destruction of the enemy agents until we run out of targets.

    Leftoxenomorphs are poisonous bugs and they need extermination.

  4. There are some very good ideas here, but I think it misses the tactical mechanics of how the Long March was accomplished in the first place. The process of infiltration, subversion, politicization, and capture involves a series of individual and institutional maneuvers, some planned and some reflexive. They operate on multiple levels at once: legal, procedural, personnel, PR, organizational problem-solving and mission-pursuing rhetoric, financial, and more.

    Some recurring themes: pretextual vs real motivations in decision-making, inter-institutional ideological alliances, “stealth ideology”, calvinball judicial/managerial policies, coerced resignations / personnel changes. In other words, routine deception about motives, a politics-above-all mentality, and careful use of legalism and abuse of process.

    The how is way more important than the what. A wave election won’t help vs an entrenched and largely unaccountable civil service. Legal and publicity-driven pressure won’t help when so much of Left, Inc. is two or three degrees of separation from the scandalous decision. Activism alone won’t drive a culture shift, especially when speech controls prevent groups from forming and politicized law enforcement shuts down anybody who gains any traction.

    The Long March worked for three reasons. First, because it took advantage of civil liberties, even augmenting them with expanded social definitions. Second, it exploited organizations which were non-political, and then politicized them. Third, it preyed upon the basic high-trust organisational cultures of most of these institutions: that managers make the decisions they do for the reasons they cite, in pursuit of the goals they say they are pursuing. The system presumes honesty and has trouble dealing with chronic, persistent dishonesty in its members. All three of these vulnerabilities don’t exist in a typical, fully subverted Woke institution. New vulnerabilities must be found, new tactics developed. That’s difficult when so little is understood about the tactics which got the Left all the way to this point in the first place.

    In my mind, this is a case where broad strategy is fairly clear. We have to direct our minds and energies in an unpleasant direction: development of tactical best practices for operating in and undermining Woke institutions. Liberating them where possible, replacing them where necessary. The problem is that such tactics almost by definition won’t lead us back to the largely politically neutral pre-long march system we’ve mostly lost.

    Thought-provoking article from an author I wasn’t familiar with, but I’m afraid it’s yet another example of “Step 2: TBD” mentality that pervades the Right.

  5. “America has become obsessed with race,”

    No, it hasn’t. Why concede the Marxist their premise?

  6. No, we cannot long march back. Our institutions allow for dissenters, including radical opponents, to dissent. We support freedom of speech and thought. The radical left’s institutions do not offer this; they actively cancel freedd so on of speech and thought. They have not yet completed their takeover but if they do it sill require samizdat and more to dethrone their tyranny.

  7. It is instructive that you think that voting will fix it. The point being, that the institutions that nominally serve useful purposes, have been perverted to serve the purposes of the Left. Real people would like to stop them, but lack the power. Unfortunately, that will always be true while they control their own funding. When parents control funding, they will control the institutions. But this will only be possible if there are competing institutions, not controlled by the criminal and evil Left, to which funding can be diverted.

    1. These institutions were not subverted democratically. No one voted for school board members on the basis of their CRT advocacy. Hence, they most likely will not be corrected democratically. You can’t vote your way out of what you were not voted into. It’s a bitter pill for many to swallow.

  8. These Leftists, often Blacks, want equal outcomes. Over 70% of Black American
    babies grow up without a father in the home. Fix that problem first then I’ll listen to your claims of RAYSISM.

  9. These people cannot be reasoned with and cannot be appeased.

    The only way to get them to stop their behavior is to make its continuation prohibitively expensive and painful.

    Sue, sue, sue. Insist on punishment and substantial redress. Every dime they have should be attachable by the thousands of people whose civil rights, including the right of being treated as an individual citizen (not a member of a “group”), they have destroyed. The optimal solution is to make all these people unemployed, unemployable, living on the streets, and eating dog food.

    The long march back is not enough. If the nation is to survive, we must drive a stake through the heart of the left and destroy it for all eternity.

  10. Ever since the civil war, we have had alternating big & small generations which has caused education to expand and contract – higher ed contracted in the 80s & early 90s, and it’s contracting now.

    In the Gulf of Maine, we have tides – the water level rises & falls 12 feet twice a day. The way you move a heavy mooring block is to fetch up all the slack at low tide and then let the tide lift it.

    The left quietly organized in the 50s & 80s, building it’s bench and being ready to move in when things expanded.

    We didn’t do that in the 50s, we didn’t do it in the 80s, but we need to do it now.

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