In the early 1980s, I attended graduate school at Brown University. Then, only two Soviet-born and raised students were at Brown. I was from Kiev and Boris was from Odessa, both cities of the former Soviet Union. I was a graduate student in the anthropology department and Boris was a graduate student in the math department.
Boris and I were a novelty and an enigma at Brown. Our Eastern European accents and mannerisms set us apart from other students and, not surprisingly, we were questioned frequently by Brown students about our country of origin and upbringing. Follow-up questions were somewhat parochial and usually included: “Alexander, are you a Marxist?” And my usual response to the question was, “No, I am an anthropologist.”
It was understandable that I was in the position of frequently having to answer such questions. At the time, the West and the Soviet Union were in the heyday of the Cold War; every Soviet–like presence was “put under the microscope” by the U.S. authorities and the American public in general.
What was surprising was that, in spite of sincerely embracing Marxist teaching, the post–graduate students at Brown, one of the oldest and leading Ivy League universities in the country, seemed to know very little about Marxism. Contrarily, during my college years in the former Soviet Union, I was well–versed and educated in the Marxist–Leninist subjects: historical and dialectical materialism, scientific communism, scientific atheism, history of the Communist Party and history of the labor movement.
On various occasions during our discussions, I had to explain to my fellow classmates that the communist, Karl Marx, rejected utopian socialism in favor of what he coined “scientific communism.” Marx claimed that changes in the economic structure of the society of his time were the result of class conflicts or class struggles between the capitalists (bourgeoisie) and the workers (proletarians). For Marx, social classes were defined and structured by the relations concerning: (1) work and labor and (2) ownership or possession of property.
Today, the traditional or classical Marxist economic model and definition of classes are no longer applicable to our modern and developed industrial societies. Our present-day definition of classes and social stratification is no longer linked to a mode of production.
Today, classes and social stratification are defined according to income level and wealth, regardless of their occupation and social status — lower, middle, upper middle, high or oligarch class. Thus, plumbers, carpenters, farmers and educators, regardless of their occupation, can belong to any class that reflects their income and level of wealth.
I also pointed out to my classmates that in his book, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” published in 1848, Marx stated: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
In other words, Marx was not seeking natural or moral laws for guidance; he was turning to the lessons of history and revolutionary uprising against ruling class of the time.
In post-WWII America, there have been several far-left scholars and academicians who have advanced Marxism. As a result, they have influenced millions of far-left and progressive Americans as well as advocates of neo-Marxism.
In looking at present-day society, the salient question becomes: “What are the connections and similar patterns between Marxism of the 19th century and so-called neo-Marxism as well as far-left activism in America today?
Evidently, “white privilege” and “critical race theory” doctrines are ideological platforms and guidelines for the neo-Marxist rhetoric of “systemic racism,” “collective justice,” “Black Lives Matter” and today’s “Antifa.” The “white privilege” and “critical race theory” doctrines claim the existence of a social or class division in society that is based on race conflict, race struggle, race warfare and race advantages between naturally born white people and other people of color.
The rhetoric and missions of “systemic racism,” “collective justice,” “Black Lives Matter” and today’s “Antifa” are a logical and direct outgrowth from the “white privilege” and “critical race theory” doctrines, with the purpose of threatening opposing ideologies, politics and lifestyles. They are the tactics and methods designed to implement “white privilege” and “critical race theory” doctrines and the notion of “systemic racism” into our system of governing and to undermine our constitutional freedoms, especially that of all races being treated equally.
To promote “white privilege” and “critical race theory” doctrines and the notion of “systemic racism,” neo–Marxists and far–left progressives advocate for the complete destruction of Western democracy and capitalism — what these advocates describe as the “socio-economic system of oppression.”
On the positive note, in response to those who lost their hope in democratic America, we may not succeed in saving traditional America and its Judeo–Christian values, but if we don’t try and fight for its preservation and traditional continuity then we certainly lose.
George Washington in his Farewell Address stated: “Virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” In other words, if a society is to remain free, self-government must be vested to individual citizens governing their own behavior. This is the most critical foundation of American exceptionalism since its inception.
As a prominent American sociologist Charles Murray noted in his book “Coming Apart: The State of White America,” 1960-2010: “America will remain exceptional only to the extent that its people embody the same qualities that made it work for the two centuries of its existence. The founding virtues are central to that kind of citizenry.”
• Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He has earned numerous degrees and worked as an educator abroad and for the University of Alaska Southeast. He has lived in Southeast Alaska since 1985.