regarding Herbert Marcuse
by Harold Marcuse
Introduction by Harold Marcuse
David Horowitz, born in New York in 1939 to left-wing parents, became a prominent member of the New Left in the 1960s, edited the influential radical magazine Ramparts and published (among other things) a trenchant critique of US foreign policy in the Vietnam era:The Free World Colossus: A Critique of American Foreign Policy in the Cold War (1965, 1971).
The Wikipedia David Horowitz page (August 2006 version) had this to say about the beginning of his conversion from a strident leftist to a rabid right-winger:
By the 1990s his activism had begun to focus on critiquing what he considered a "left-wing bias" at many US universities. In this context he began pushing for what its supporters call an "Academic Bill of Rights," a call for hiring more professors who would push a right-wing agenda. The vilification of left-wing professors in The Professors is part of this agenda.
Horowitz's claim (below) that Herbert's essay coining the term Repressive Tolerance (full essay) is a "justification for the suppression of conservative speech" twists Herbert's argument 180 degrees. This essay actually points out that a rhetoric of "tolerance"--equal opportunity for speech--is a farce in the face of unequal power and access to the media that make that speech audible. By masking the fact that the speech of the oppressed is inaudible, the rhetoric of tolerance conserves existing inequalities. Marcuse does not ultimately call for the suppression of conservative speech, he merely (!) exposes how "tolerance" is a rhetorical device used by the powerful to repress the speech of those without access to institutional and inherited power. The institutionalized professors criticized by Horowitz draw his ire for acting as spokespersons for the oppressed, while Horowitz attempts to argue--unsuccessfully, as the exposés in the links below reveal--that they are suppressing the speech of oppressed conservatives.
In Marcuse's own words, from the 1968 postscript to his 1965 essay Repressive Tolerance:
In any case, I think Horowitz's text below makes very clear why many conservatives hate Marcuse's essay on Repressive Tolerance so vehemently: It exposes their clamoring for greater representation as an attempt to conserve the "status quo of inequality and discrimination." Horowitz's The Professors is an attempt to intimidate and suppress individuals who voice the concerns of those with little or no access to power.
| [p. xxxv] In a survey of 1,643 faculty members drawn
from 183 colleges and universities, the authors concluded that "over
the course of fifteen years, self-described liberals grew from a slight
plurality to a five to one majority on college faculties, while the ratio
of liberals to conservatives in the general population remained relatively
Are these disparities the result of political discrimination? There is considerable reason to believe that they are. Certainly the rationale for such an agenda has long been a staple of radical thought. The political activists who flooded university faculties in the early 1970s were encouraged by their own theories to regard the university as an instrument for social change whose levers of power it was important for "progressives" to manipulate and control.
Academic radicals self-consciously drew their social strategies from the writings of the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci, around whom an academic cult formed in the 1970s, just as they were ascending the tenure ladder. Gramsci was an innovator in Marxist theory, whose ideas focused on the importance of acquiring cultural "hegemony" as the fulcrum of revolutionary change. Gramsci explicitly urged radicals to gain control of the "means of cultural production" to further their ends. Foremost among these means were the universities and the media.
The considerations that led Gramsci to these conclusions would certainly have also encouraged faculty activists to seek institutional power within the university by acquiring control of its hiring and tenure committees.
Herbert Marcuse, a professor at Brandeis and a veteran of the famed "Frankfurt School" of European Marxism, was another figure whose writings flourished with the new radical presence on university faculties. His famous essay on "Repressive Tolerance," written in 1965, is a justification for the suppression of conservative speech and access to cultural platforms on the grounds that the views of right-wing intellectuals reflect the rule of an oppressive and already dominant social class. Marcuse identified "revolutionary tolerance" as "tolerance that enlarged the range and content of freedom." Revolutionary tolerance [p. xxxvii] could not be neutral towards rival viewpoints. It had to be "partisan" on behalf of a radical cause and "intolerant towards the protagonists of the repressive status quo." This was a transparent prescription for not hiring academic candidates with conservative views. In this view, a blacklist was a potential tool of "liberation."
According to Marcuse, normal tolerance "granted to the Right as well as the Left, to movements of aggression as well as to movements of peace, to the party of hate as well as to that of humanity ... actually protects the machinery of discrimination." By this logic, repression of conservative viewpoints was a progressive duty. Evaluating conservative academic candidates on their merits, without regard to their political and social opinions, was to support discrimination and oppression in the society at large. Marcuse's "dialectical argument" exerted a seminal influence in academic circles in the 1970s and provided a powerful justification for blacklisting conservatives in the name of equality and freedom
Today senior conservative professors (and most conservative professors are now senior) find themselves regularly excluded from search and hiring committees, and a dwindling presence on university faculties. A typical case was reported to a visitor to the University of Delaware in November 2001, who asked a senior member of the history department, and its lone conservative, how a system worked that had made him such a solitary figure. The professor answered, "Well, they haven't allowed me to sit on a search committee since 1985. In that year I was its chair and we hired a Marxist. This year  we had an opening for a scholar of Asian history. We had several candidates among whom the best qualified was from Stanford. Yet he didn't get the job. So I went to the chair of the search committee and [p. xxxviii] asked him what had happened. 'Oh,' he said, 'you're absolutely right. He was far and away the most qualified candidate and we had a terrific interview about his area of expertise. But then we went to lunch and he let out that he was for school vouchers. And that killed it."
The bitterly intolerant attitude of the current academic culture towards conservatives is inevitably a factor in the exclusion process. In the spring of 2005, the Skidmore College News published an article called "Politics in the Classroom," which quoted anthropology professor Gerry Erchak to this effect: "In the hiring process you'd probably be wise not to mention your political views. If you say, 'Oh, hey, I really think Reagan was great,' or, 'I'm a Bush guy,' I can't say a person wouldn't be hired, but it's like your pants falling down. It's just horrible. It's like you cut a big fart. I just don't think you'll be called back."
Faculty prejudices reflected in Erchak's comment are a pervasive fact of academic life. In the same spring, Professor Timothy Shortell  was elected by his peers to the chair of the sociology department at Brooklyn College. His election became a news item when it was discovered that he had written an article referring to religious people as "moral retards" and was on record describing senior members of the Bush administration as "Nazis." The recent eruption of the Churchill controversy had made Shortell's extreme attitudes newsworthy, but apparently had not impressed his department peers as the least bit unusual when they elected him.
As in the case of Ward Churchill, the public airing of Shortell's prejudices generated a reaction strong enough to persuade [p. xxxix] the president of Brooklyn College to block his appointment to the departmental chair and avoid further embarrassment to the college. But left to itself, the university process would have placed Shortell in a position to determine the composition of faculty for a generation to come. Departmental chairs at Brooklyn College exercise veto powers over faculty hiring decisions. Is it reasonable to think that someone with views like Shortell's would approve the hiring of a sociology candidate with religious views or Republican leanings?
According to the survey of seventeen hundred academics by Professor Daniel Klein and Andrew Western, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in sociology departments nationwide is 28-1.
Criminology professor Michael Adams of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, has reported an incident reflecting similar prejudice. A colleague on a search committee for the Criminology Department remarked to him that a candidate they were reviewing should not be hired because he was "too religious." Too religious to study crime? Among his search committee colleagues, only Adams thought this peculiar.
The prejudice against conservatives is so ingrained and commonplace that academics do not see it as a problem at all. To them it is just the order of things. When an anthropology professor at Rollins University, an elite private school in Florida, was asked whether he was concerned that there were no conservatives in his department, he explained: "Anthropology is the study of other cultures and requires individuals who are compassionate and tolerant."
Even when it was brought to his attention, the professor was completely oblivious to the intolerance of his own statement.
David French, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and a graduate of Harvard Law School, spent two years as a lecturer at Cornell Law School: "During my second interview with the director of the program I was applying to join, she asked the following question: 'I note ...
[p. 115] Professor Angela Davis (back to top)
University of California, Santa Cruz
Angela Yvonne Davis is a tenured professor in the "history of consciousness" program at UC Santa Cruz. She has also taught at UCLA and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is a former Black Panther and was an active member of the Communist Party until 1991, when she was expelled for opposing the coup against Gorbachev. She then formed the "Committees of Correspondence," to carry on the Communist mission with other Party members, including Bettina Aptheker, also a professor at Santa Cruz,
Her professorship is in the history of consciousness program at the University of California, Santa Cruz--a program that awarded a doctorate to her Black Panther comrade--rapist, crack addict, and murderer Huey P. Newton. (The "Dr. Huey P. Newton Papers" are archived at Stanford.) Professor Page Smith, the eccentric creator of the history of consciousness program, told an interviewer inquiring about Newton's degree that he had created the program
"to demonstrate that PhD is a fraud."  In this endeavor, he was only half successful, since the program is still going forward.
[p. 116] Born into a middle-class family in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944, Davis attended segregated elementary schools in that city until she was selected for a special life of radical privilege, going to live with Communist Party leader Herbert Aptheker's family in New York and attending the Little Red Schoolhouse and Elizabeth Irwin High, both institutions of the Communist left.
In 1961, Davis enrolled at Brandeis University, where she majored in French and came under the influence of Marxist Herbert Marcuse, author of the theory of "repressive tolerance.'' Widely influential in the academic left, this theory held that conservative thought should be repressed wherever possible because it expressed the view of the dominant class. In 1968 Davis was hired to faculty at UCLA. As Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to crush the "Prague spring," Professor Davis joined the Communist Party,
In September 1969, Professor Davis was fired from UCLA when her membership in the Communist Party became known. This resulted in a celebrated First Amendment battle that made Angela Davis a national figure and forced UCLA to rehire her.
In 1970, Professor Davis was implicated by more than 20 witnesses in a plot to free her imprisoned lover, fellow Black Panther George Jackson who was awaiting trial on a murder charge. The plot involved hijacking a Marin County, California courtroom and taking the judge, the prosecuting assistant district attorney, and two jurors hostage. Professor Davis supplied a group headed by Jackson's younger brother with a small arsenal of weapons she had purchased two weeks earlier. In an ensuing gun battle outside the court building, Judge Harold Haley's head was blown off by a sawed-off shotgun owned by Professor Davis. Three other people were killed. To avoid arrest Professor Davis fled California, where she used aliases and changed her appearance to avoid detection. Two months later the FBI apprehended her in New York City.
At her trial, Professor Davis could not be cross-examined, since she acted as her own attorney. She presented a number of witnesses, almost all Communist friends, who testified that she bad been with them in Los Angeles playing Scrabble at the time of the Marin slaughter. Witnesses who placed her in Marin were dismissed by Professor Davis and her attorneys as being unable to accurately identify blacks, because they themselves were white. A friendly jury acquitted her. Following the verdict, juror Ralph DeLange faced news cameras and gave the revolutionary clenched-fist salute. He laughed at the justice system,
While she was still a fugitive, Angela Davis was an official hero to her first loyalty, the Moscow dictatorship, which had imprisoned tens of millions in the Soviet Union without trial, whose only crime was to be out of step with the regime. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the author of the Gulag Archipelago who spent eight years in Stalin's concentration camps and chronicled their suffering had this to say about Professor Davis in a speech he delivered to the AFL-CIO on July 9,1975 in New York City:
In 1979, Professor Davis was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize (formerly named the International Stalin Peace Prize) by the Soviet police state. Professor Davis ran for vice president of the United States on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984.
Angela Davis is currently a "University Professor," one of only seven in the entire University of California system, which entitles her to a six-figure salary and provides her with a research assistant. This income is supplemented by speaking fees ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 per appearance on college campuses, where she is an icon of radical faculty, administrators, and students, and invariably presented as a "human rights activist." The speaking bureau that represents her describes her as "known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad." A lounge is named in her honor at the University of Michigan.
Professor Davis opposed America's war against terror in Afghanistan, and during the months preceding the 2003 war in Iraq, she was a frequent guest speaker at anti war rallies She is also the leader of her own movement against what she calls the [p. 119] "Prison-Industrial Complex," claiming that all minorities in jail are actually "political prisoners" and should be released. Says Professor Davis, "My question is, 'Why are people so quick to assume that locking away an increasingly large proportion of the U.S. population would help those who live in the free world feel safer and more secure? ... how difficult is it to envision a social order that does not rely on the threat of
A political apparatchik through and through, Professor Davis has never really made a scholarly contribution or written a serious academic work, despite the expansive university honors she has received. Her political tracts include: If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (1971) Women, Race, and Class (1981); Violence Against Women and the Ongoing Challenge to Racism (1992); Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in US. Culture (1996); Global Critical Race Feminism: An International Reader (1999); Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003). Yet she is a "University Professor"--a very prestigious post in the California system, normally awarded on the basis of extraordinary contributions to scholarship.
also: Professors Aptheker, Davis, Furr, Marable, Targ