There is a specter haunting the Umass Boston Campus--  the specter of Communism. The one quite frequently symbolized by the glowering visage of Karl Marx himself. Actually, “haunting” implies too much subtlety. Wherever you go on the school’s grounds, you are likely to be met with a poster, flier, or newspaper embossed with Marx’s classic scowl declaring with severity the “crisis” or “death” of capitalism and delineating the egalitarian solutions.

It is difficult to go a few days without being accosted by a member of a radical left-wing organization like the Eastern Service Workers Association or the Revolutionary Communist Party. The most active political group on campus, or at least the most prolific distributor of material, is the International Socialist Organization. Even professors adorn their offices with slogans such as “Marx was Right”, or “We Are the 99%”.

It is unsurprising that the politics of Umass Boston lean to the far left. Marx would certainly expect such. The school represents the confluence of two traditional adherents to his ideology; academics and the working class. The majority of universities in the country foster far-left views. Academia is the last true bastion of Communist ideology after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  What is troublesome is not the prominent leftist thought, but the lack of any sort of challenge to this kind of thinking. The political spectrum at UMass Boston ranges from apathetic to radical left, with a negligible conservative faction among students and no discernible tendencies among the faculty that would break from the norm.

This is a problem for two reasons. First, the default view of an otherwise politically neutral uninformed student is decidedly left-leaning. Ask a random student what the biggest problem facing our country is. The response will likely be something about income inequality or the malfeasant “one percent”. Never mind that the top percentile of income earners pays forty percent of all taxes. Or that more than half of all individuals earning in the top percentile in 1996 had moved to a lower income group by 2005. They might also fail to mention that during the same time frame, more than half of all individuals in the lowest quintile of income earnings had moved to a higher group.

Inequality of income is not in of itself an economic problem, as total wealth does not have a fixed amount and the gains of one group need not be precipitated by the losses of another.

It fits into the leftist paradigm of greedy capitalists abusing the worker for his own gain, so it is repeated constantly by the socialist groups that dominate the campus and by the professors who adhere to such ideology until it becomes ingrained in the minds of the impressionable. Another example of this is how the term “neoliberal ideology” is used widely  and disparagingly in campus rhetoric, commonly in reference to policies deemed unfair exploitative.

However, the “neoliberal ideology” of capitalism in the United States has produced the greatest standard of living and level of upward social mobility that the world has ever known. Consider the fact that the poorest 5% of Americans are wealthier than almost 70% of the rest of the world’s population, and tell me how terribly unfair capitalism really is.

Secondly, the preeminence of the left discourages any sort of political dialogue or debate. An ongoing discourse on topics ranging from the quotidian to the metaphysical is one of the proudest aspects of the university system. Schools should encourage intellectual debate and foster a climate conducive to competition of ideas. Certainly, some level of this sort of discussion occurs at UMB, but it is for the most part intramural.

Leftist assumptions generally go unchallenged, and students who might otherwise be inclined to contest these notions remain silent, unwilling to contradict what is, or seems to be, an overwhelming majority. I suspect that there are many people at this school, among students and faculty, who are disappointed with the one sided political culture, but it seems that the mantra of the left is too deeply ingrained for this to change.

(4) comments

The article I linked is written by James Pethokoukis, one of the most well respected economists active today. Don't accuse me of bias while posting clearly partisan material from Cal Berkeley, one of the most left wing universities (and that's saying a lot) in the country. Maybe students at UMB lean left because they're inundated with propaganda.

In reply to lmc850:

Nice job there, using an American Enterprise Institute (notorious right-wing think-tank) webpage as a reference. I also like how you bring back the 1950s-era Red Scare rhetoric as well.

Maybe students at UMass Boston are left-leaning because they've lived through a decade of war and economic devastation while the rich get richer? (Yes, the rich have indeed gotten significantly richer: and pay less in income tax:

Glad to see right-wing students like you on the defensive!

-The RCPA is a self described Maoist organization. Obviously these groups generally don't want to advertise their ideologies as those of Pol Pot, Ortega, Stalin et. al, but the actions of these despots are in fact the logical conclusion of extreme leftism.

-If you read my earlier article, you will note that the youth vote has generally gone to democrats, with the older vote leaning republican. This has less to do with messages of "progress" then with the ideological nature of youth. The same 18-25 age group that voted for Lyndon Johnson and George McGovern is now an aging population voting for George Bush and Mitt Romney.

-Karl Marx is a communist. My first line is a quote from the communist manifesto, which he wrote. Socialism, in its original form, is communism. The two have come to mean different things, but the central idea of workers owning the means of production is integral to both.

-The idea that 1% of people control 42% of the wealth in America is patently false. In fact, wealth distribution is more egalitarian than income distribution.

-The wealthy in this country pay for a far higher percentage of total revenue than any other industrialized nation, and their money is being used to fund social programs that encourage people NOT to work. That's the real travesty

While I am on board in agreeing with the author's desire for a more well rounded debate, the unfortunate fact is that we are at a public university in Massachusetts and most of the students here are, by default, "lefty leaning". That being said, I think the "bombardment" speaks greatly to the ability of those who lean lefty to successfully organize on a grassroots level (see elections circa 2012) and begs the larger question of why there is a lack of such activism amongst conservatives, both locally and nationally. I think the real discussion here is more about the rift between the two parties, with conservatives playing more of the role of parents, thwarting progress and losing touch with the average American (see elections circa 2012) and liberals transmitting a message that is being received and internalized, especially by those who are college aged. I also think that the author's characterization of these lefty organizations as Communist is inaccurate at best, as I believe the majority of the organizations operating identify as Socialist (thus Karl Marx, the father of that movement). I have not seen any literature prominently featuring Stalin, Lenin, Mao, or Pol Pot, who are in fact Communists and brutal dictators. The conflation of these two movements is as inaccurate as it is dangerous and serves only to foster partisanship and stifle the discussion the author laments the lack of.

Finally, on a technical note, the "the rich pay 40% of the taxes" speaks more to the unequal distribution of wealth than it does to the burdens faced by the extremely wealthy. If I make $2bil, but am taxed at 12%, I still pay a much larger overall share than someone who makes $40,000 but is taxed at 22%, but how does that make sense? The fact that the 1% of Americans who hold 42% of the wealth only pay 40% of the taxes at tax rates LESS than the other 99% is a travesty. As Clinton said at the DNC, "It's simple arithmetic".

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