I was so naive when I went to Cal. I didn’t realize that, in my history and English classes, the material we read was either created in the first instance by Marxists or, if it predated Marxists, was first run through a Marxist analytical filter either before or immediately after we read it. All I knew was that I thought the material was nonsensical and, because of their adulatory prosing about it, that my professors were idiots.
It says a lot about the quality of education at Cal that, simply by parroting the teachers’ stupidity back to them, I managed to graduate from Cal Magna Cum Laude. I even still have my little Phi Beta Kappa key hanging from a nail on the wall in my office. I offer these snippets of academic accomplishment not to boast, but to denigrate both the material used and the quality of teaching at Cal. My academic accomplishments are an embarrassing symbol of Cal’s deficiencies as an educational institution. To the extent I consider myself an educated person, I attribute that to my being an autodidact, hungry for knowledge, not to being a high level graduate of one of the world’s top universities.
Law school, at least, had the virtue of being nothing more than a fancy trade school. I had decent professors, wonderful peers, and enjoyed myself there. I managed for the most part to avoid indoctrination. Interestingly, in a setting in which I actually had to learn stuff and think, as opposed to just parroting back cant, I was a good, solid graduate, rather than a top one. My sub-stellar performance also resulted from the fact that I was quite ill during part of my time there, which proved to be a drag on my GPA. (And yes, my ego demands that caveat.)
When I left law school, I vowed never to go back to a formal education system, a promise I’ve kept to this day. I find it exhausting merely to attend Open Houses at my kids very fine public schools. I have to fight against the urge to run out screaming when I hear the nice teachers lecture the nice parents about the topics and methodology they use when lecturing our nice kids during the school day. As the old hippie would say, “That’s not my scene, man.”
Although I vowed never to return to school, I have been in a variety of book clubs over the years, purely for social reasons. All of them have been run by nice young or middle-aged women who trust in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and high-end fashion magazines to tell them what they ought to read. That’s how I ended up having to read two authors I’d successfully avoided during my formal education: Gabriel García Márquez and Nadine Gordimer.
To say that I loathed the Márquez and Gordimer books is to speak in delicate understatement. I hated their writing style; I hated their topics; I hated their values — I hated everything from cover to cover. As my well-intentioned friends struggled to find meaning in the books, I kept saying that the books were poorly written, boring, and unreasonable, and that their principles and conclusions were wrong.
I did not say back then that Márquez and Gordimer were Marxist because, back in the 1980s, I did not know that they were. In any event, as a nicely indoctrinated party-line Democrat, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to criticize anything on that particular ground.
I just knew that I hated reading these much-lauded books in exactly the same way I hated reading Supreme Court opinions (this was back in the late 1980s) by the liberal wing of the Supreme Court. I knew that I ought to admire Marshall and Stevens and Brennan, and that I should hate Rehnquist and Burger, but the fact was that the former group wrote complex, unintelligible, illogical opinions, whereas the latter (as well as all other conservative justices but for the flopsy, wobbly Sandra Day O’Connor) wrote tight, well-reasoned, easy to follow opinions. I eventually concluded that, because Marxism doesn’t work in the real world, any writing advancing Marxist principles must be muddled, vague, and unreasonable to hide that fact.
Now Márquez is dead and, while an individual’s death must always be a tragedy for his family and close friends, I feel no sense of loss. Instead, I agree entirely with the DiploMad, who has no problem speaking ill of the Marxist dead:
One of the great phonies and bootlickers of leftist dictators has passed from the scene. Those who love freedom can only be grateful.
I will speak ill of the dead. It is hard to exaggerate the damage that GGM has done to the image of Latin America and Latin Americans, portraying the region and the people as some sort of quasi-magical place, a place filled with ethereal, mystical beings without logic, common sense, and ordinary human emotions and foibles. For all his “magical realist” vision, he could not or would not see, for example, the horrors brought to Cuba and Cubans by the Castro brothers. On the contrary, he had an enormous house in Havana provided by the regime, with servants and cars at his beck-and-call, and a ready chummy access to the bloodstained brothers and their rule of terror. He convinced generations of gringo academic Latin American “specialists” that the region could not be understood in conventional terms; that supply-and-demand economics did not work there; and that ordinary people did not want individual liberty and political democracy. He helped perpetrate and perpetuate a horrid stereotype of Latin America, one in which the atrocities of leftist regimes could be ignored because the region operated on another level of consciousness, one beyond our poor powers to comprehend. Good riddance to this poseur and his unreadable sentences! An enemy of freedom is gone.
Hear! Hear! Yes! Absolutely. The DiploMad is correct in every respect. I knew then that I couldn’t stand Márquez’s loopy, unhinged prose, nor his loopy, unhinged ideas. Thirty years later, I not only understand the problem (Marxism), I have the pleasure of reading someone who gets it and states it better than I ever could.