“Wherever brutal minds get the upper hand, they destroy, they dumb down, they homogenize, and, if necessary, they stamp the face of opposition with the jackboot of outright repression.”
That’s how Stanley K. Ridgley opens his new book, Brutal Minds: The Dark World of Left-Wing Brainwashing in Our Universities, exposing readers to the dark undercurrent of violence and repression in American higher education. Many of us who have gone through the once-vaunted academic halls of America’s universities feel something is off — badly off. Finally, Ridgley, a professor at Drexel University, gives an in-depth explanation of how we fell into this putrid rot that has corrupted so much of academia and the next generation of Americans.
Leftism in Student Affairs
Being a professor, Ridgley makes clear that not all universities or university professors are engaged in tearing down students and brainwashing them into a parasitic ideology of self-destruction that leads to civilizational destruction. “Most faculty,” he writes, “do not engage in the brainwash.” Although “a significant minority does,” the real barbarians running amok, ruining students, and destroying universities are the administrators, counsellors, and workshop leaders “ensconced in a bureaucracy called student affairs.” This is very much what I recall from my education, both at the undergraduate and graduate school level, from a small liberal arts university in Ohio to the halls and walls of Yale.
Most academic faculty have left-leaning sensibilities, and it is easy to detect their biases in their language and rhetoric. But it is often the world outside the classroom that enforces the new “world of intimidation, psychological manipulation, [and] co-opted peer pressure.” The campus workshops and activist lectures militantly manifest the real brutalism and indoctrination on campus. The guest speakers, the endowed lecture series, and the freshly minted psychology administrators who staff the counseling offices were the most nauseating people I generally encountered. They spoke all the buzzwords that have risen to cultural prominence today.
We all know that “Social justice educators are the chief practitioners of the brainwash in the university.” But what, exactly, is “the brainwash” that is indoctrinating students and destroying Western civilization?
The Principles of Brainwashing
The attempt to answer this question is where Ridgley’s work is most illuminating. The word brainwashing has entered common usage, but its origins come from the 1950s in describing communist “reeducation” ideology — mainly from Maoist China. Ridgley gives a brief history of how this dark psychological operation works and how it seeks to destroy the sense of self. Once the process has obliterated individuality, it then molds the human soul into a collective morass of enslavement and servitude to a totalizing ideology.
Ridgley identifies eight principles that the brainwashers use to break down individuals and convert them into foot soldiers of their ideological cause:
- Milieu control (information control)
- Mystical manipulation (self-importance)
- Demand for purity (either/or mentality)
- Cult of confession (public declarations of allegiance)
- Sacred science (absolute agreement with worldview)
- Loaded language (reinterpretation of language)
- Doctrine over person (enslaving yourself to the cause)
- Dispensing of existence (determining who is good, who is bad, and who gets to be a member of the good and bad groups in the world)
These principles serve to form the basis for the “ideological totalism” that now runs rampant among the student body and the businesses, offices, and organizations the “true believers” staff and operate.
Brainwashing’s Bolshevik and Maoist Origins
These principles, Ridgley goes on to show, come from Maoist totalitarianism. They work as an “assault upon identity” to break down the individual into an admission of guilt. The fear of a penalty is lifted by becoming a devoted member of the sacred science and doctrine, which reestablishes a sense of self and stability. This leads the broken individual to a “rebirth” as a new person who now lives devoted to the doctrine that has offered new life. This type of totalitarianism is a counterfeit and diabolical theology.
For those who are familiar with Soviet and Chinese communist propaganda and ideologies, this is nothing new. The whole ideologies of Bolshevism and Maoism rested on a condemnation of the masses and their old world and identities in order to convert them into the “new man” of socialism. Simply replace socialism with anti-racism and social justice and you have “the brainwash” of the modern left in American and Western politics:
Social justice faculty and facilitators attack students to break down their sense of self and compel them to confess that they are oppressors, if they are white. Black students and other persons of color are instructed that they are actually the victims of systematic oppression and that the white students in their classes are their oppressors and complicit in a system of oppression called white supremacy.
We often forget that nonwhite students are also brutalized by this parasitic ideology. If you’re not white but agree with individualism, meritocracy, and the political liberties of the Constitution, then you have internalized racism and white supremacy! By loving Dante, reading Shakespeare, and quoting T.S. Eliot, you reveal yourself to be a pawn of the oppressor class and its values. Nonwhites must also be broken down and destroyed to be remade as a servant-soldier of the cause. “The brainwash” destroys everyone and turns everyone against each other.
Don’t Take the Black Pill
It would be easy to get depressed and dejected after reading Ridgley’s book, but he ends on an optimistic note. What can be done? Can we save ourselves and our once-great institutions of education and learning? Yes!
Looking at the dissidents — students, teachers, and even politicians — who stood up to Soviet totalitarianism in Eastern Europe (like Václav Havel), Ridgley encourages all to stand up and “refuse to live within the social justice and critical racialist lies.”
“We can revel in the liberation that Havel experienced as he rebuked authoritarian bureaucrats, too many of whom corrupt our own universities today,” Ridgley writes. This will not be easy, but the fight for liberty, justice, and civilization never is.
We may take comfort in knowing that while totalitarian regimes have always attempted to create their version of paradise on Earth, none have ever succeeded. Brutal and inhumane as they always are, they have always failed. That is a hopeful thing to always remember.
Perhaps the tide is turning. As more and more people become fed up with violence and the destruction of the sacred ideals of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the self, the opposition to the lies of the new totalitarianism grows. “Live not by lies” is a good philosophy to embrace for oneself. After all, “the truth shall set you free.”