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Marxism in the Classroom

December 28, 1985

Scott Warren must be making a jest in his article, "Marx and the Student Mind" (Editorial Pages, Dec. 18) when he portrays Marxism as a lively, questioning jester versus the stodgy, dogmatic "priests" who demand orthodoxy. Anyone the least bit familiar with the views of social science professors today knows that this priesthood is, as a whole, far closer in spirit and mode of analysis to Marx than to any other single thinker.

Warren himself gives us an example of such priesthood thinking and how it can lead to political and moral disaster. To portray the difficulty of achieving "ideological balance," he contrasts the small number of hours his students spend in his Marxism class versus the huge number they have existed. He thus betrays a typical social scientist's blunder straight out of Marx's "Capital," or some other putative jester literature. After all, don't his students read books or discuss ideas outside the classroom? More to the point, isn't the quality of those experiences of greater significance than the number of hours involved? Ignoring such obvious considerations, Warren, given his logic, might have advocated intensive "re-education" summers for students, a crash-course in hours equalization, as it were. And in fact Marxist-dominated countries follow such brutal logic, so Warren, a Dean at Pomona College, should not be dismissed as a poor joker of a jester. Truly "radical, critical, and subversive" (to use Warren's words) would be a social science professor who took the views of the Founding Fathers on natural rights, equality, and consent of the governed as seriously today as they did then. But the current academic priesthood, scarcely amused, would march such a revolutionary to the wall, deal him the fate of Socrates, and then wave its jester batons.

KEN MASUGI

Montclair

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