Classic EssaysWilliam Pierce

Shakespeare and Democracy

Our Culture is Not Being Passed On to Future Generations

by Dr. William L. Pierce

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE is out. Maya Angelou, Frantz Fanon, and W.E.B. DuBois are in. I’m talking about fashion at American universities.

There’s been some discussion in the mass media recently about the fact that American universities are phasing out Shakespeare and the other creators of our European culture and replacing them with non-Whites of various stripes, such as the three Black writers I just named. The impression is left by the media discussion that this is some sort of fad, which, hopefully, will pass soon. The discussion was sparked by a decision on the part of the faculty at Georgetown University, the prestigious Jesuit school in Washington, to drop the requirement that their English majors study the works of at least two authors from among Chaucer, Milton, and Shakespeare. Now Georgetown’s English majors can graduate without ever having read anything by Shakespeare. I’m not talking about Georgetown’s basketball players or her business majors. I’m talking about the students who are seeking degrees in English literature. An acquaintance with Shakespeare is no longer necessary. Nor is an acquaintance with the writings of any other dead White European males, or “dwems,” as they are referred to contemptuously by the Politically Correct elements at our universities these days.

And this is not a fad, nor is it restricted to Georgetown University. After Georgetown made its move, a survey was conducted among the top 70 universities in America by the National Alumni Forum, and it was found that two-thirds of them have made similar moves. Instead of studying Hamlet or Julius Caesar or Macbeth. . . or Milton’s Paradise Lost or Il Penseroso or the works of any other great writers of English literature . . . students of English literature are studying the scribblings of miscellaneous non-White non-entities, or they are taking courses in such pop-culture topics as “The Gangster Film,” which is now offered to English majors at Georgetown in lieu of Shakespeare, or “Melodrama and Soap Opera,” which Duke University offers to its English majors instead of Milton and Chaucer.

Other universities have courses on comic books or checkout-stand tabloids or rap ditties. The ones with real pretensions to seriousness have scraped together English literature courses which actually require the study of books written in the English language, so long as they were not written by a White male — at least, not by a White male who has been dead for a long time. Jewish males, of course, are A-OK, and so the students spend plenty of time with the works of J.D. Salinger, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Herman Wouk, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, and scores of other Jews. Unfortunately, the students are taught that the books of these Jews constitute serious English literature. It was a little harder to convince students of that when they also studied Shakespeare and Milton and could compare their writing with that of the aforementioned Jews. Now it will be easier.

As I said, this is not just a passing fad, something very trendy and liberal to suit the Clinton era. It is the outcome of a campaign which goes back more than 30 years. In the 1960s, when I was a university professor myself, anyone who had suggested that Shakespeare should be phased out of university teaching would have been thought crazy — at least, he would have been thought crazy at the university where I was teaching, which was a bit more conservative than some. But even at my university there were faculty and administration people pushing for more democracy and more “diversity.” They were promoting the idea that universities were too White and too elitist, that we needed more “diversity” among students and professors and that we should give the students more of a say in the running of the university and not leave it all to the professors.

It was really very subtle. It wasn’t until they had established their idea about the need for more democracy and more “diversity” that they moved to the next phase and began suggesting that the traditional courses in history and literature were actually a bit . . . ah . . . racist and needed to be, well . . . cleaned up a bit.

And then a few years ago you had groups of the more trendy students marching around on some campuses and chanting, “Ho, ho, ho, Western culture has got to go.” They wanted the traditional courses in Western civilization to be replaced with courses which treated all cultures equally, instead of focusing primarily on European culture. And, of course, all along Shakespeare was gradually being eased out the door. It’s just now that a few people have noticed it and raised the alarm.

And even now the anti-alarmists are telling us that it’s all much ado about nothing: that English literature students still can study Shakespeare if they want to — and that some universities still require their English literature majors to study Shakespeare — so stop worrying. And, of course, that is true: students still can study Shakespeare if they want to — but there’s no denying the trend. There’s no denying that Shakespeare actually is being eased out the door, and that the curricula at our universities are being filled with courses which at best are worthless and at worst are destructive of the central purpose of a university, which is the training of an elite to carry on and enhance the cultural traditions of our people. Our universities actually have been subverted. They actually are being turned against us and used as weapons to destroy the civilization of which they used to be a part.

How did that happen, and why did it happen? There still are many bright people, as well as honest and well-meaning people, on the faculties of our universities. How could they let anyone subvert their institutions without noticing what was happening and opposing them?

First, I’ll give a very brief answer, and then I’ll go back and explain it in detail.

Our universities were subverted without any effective opposition because, first, the subversion was done very gradually, over a period of more than three decades, and it was done by a very clever group of very determined and very well organized people who already had infiltrated our university faculties and administrations. Second, the people who should have opposed the subversion already had been morally and ideologically disarmed, so that they could only fight tactically, but not strategically. They could oppose the details of the subversion, but they could not oppose the overall campaign of subversion — and in particular, they could not attack the subverters themselves. They were fighting the subversion, in other words, with both hands tied behind their backs.

Now I’ll explain this answer. Before this century, our universities more or less served their two basic purposes, one of which is to train scholars in a technical sense — the mathematicians, the chemists, and the physicists — and the other of which is to instill in a leadership elite of our young people an understanding of and a sense of commitment to our civilization, so that they can maintain that civilization and add to it. The civilization that our universities were a part of was unmistakably and unapologetically Western, which is to say, European — or if you prefer, White.

This fact did not suit some people. In particular, it did not suit the Jews, a people of Semitic origin with quite different traditions and a quite different way of looking at the world. To them our universities were an obstacle which stood in the way of their penetration and domination of our civilization. And so they set about eliminating this obstacle, in their usual very carefully planned way. They were very unobtrusive at first, just infiltrating themselves gradually into university faculties and more or less behaving themselves, trying hard to convince the people at the universities that they were harmless. They worked to get rid of the restrictions the better universities had to limit their numbers, and they very cautiously pushed such ideas as democracy and equality.

It was only after the Second World War that they really came out of the closet and began pushing hard for the changes they wanted in the universities. The Second World War, after all, had been fought for the sake of democracy and equality, we all were told. We had killed millions of people in Europe in the name of democracy and equality and had turned half of Europe over to Bolshevik butchers to kill millions more after the war. After that, how could we oppose democracy and equality in our universities? We needed to open the doors of our universities to everyone, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, et cetera. We not only needed to open the doors, we needed to reach out and pull in hundreds of thousands of young people who before never would have thought of attending a university.

Of course, there was some opposition to all of this. Some university people expressed concern about the lowering of standards required to accommodate all of the new students, especially the Black students. And they were assured by the proponents of democracy and equality that standards would not be lowered: that the universities could absorb Black students and all sorts of other students without lowering their standards at all. To suggest that they couldn’t was tantamount to racism; it was tantamount to claiming that Black students could not graduate in significant numbers unless standards were lowered. And this was where the people who should have defended our universities against the subverters were stuck. They didn’t want to admit to racism, so they really couldn’t fight effectively to maintain standards that clearly worked to the disadvantage of Blacks. And they didn’t want to admit to anti-Semitism, so they couldn’t really take off the gloves against the ringleaders of the subversion. So they retreated, step by step.

Of course, pretty soon many more people than the original Jews were involved in the subversion. As the number of students at the universities increased enormously, many empires were built and many vested interests established. The salaries of many people at the universities have become dependent on how many students they have. Professors who teach courses in basket-weaving or golf or the-comic-book-as-literature become fiercely defensive and can give you all sorts of reasons why their courses are important. And there has been a growing tendency to cater to the desires of the students: not to teach them what the professors know they ought to be taught, but instead to teach them what they think they want to learn. For young people raised on television and permissiveness, what they often choose are fun courses, trendy courses, trivial courses, and what they often neglect are the serious and more demanding courses. Universities, instead of scholarly institutions, have become to a large extent economic enterprises: that is, commercial institutions selling education, and the customers all too often are assumed to be right. Sometimes when a university offers a huge assortment of Mickey Mouse courses, it’s hard to separate the economic motive of wanting to keep the customers coming in the door and lining up at the cash register, from the ideological motive of wanting to be democratic by having curricula that will be easy enough for everybody.

But despite the economic factors and other factors which have degraded American universities, the motive to destroy our culture and undermine our civilization continues to provide a powerful driving force for subversion. Political Correctness was born at our universities, and it reigns supreme there. University professors must toe the party line on race, on equality, on history, and on matters relating to sex and sexual orientation. And the party line is anti-White, anti-European, anti-Western. It is strongly influenced by the interests of feminists, homosexuals, and Jews.

One factor which obscures the seriousness of this problem is its uneven effects. It has devastated some academic disciplines and left others relatively undamaged. If one wants to become a mathematician, for example, there are many universities which still offer top-quality mathematics curricula. The Red Guards have not yet gotten around to applying the canons of Political Correctness to mathematics. It helps, of course, that most basketball players don’t care much for math.

But if a young person is interested in literature or history, he is likely to be badly shortchanged at most American universities. These are subjects on which the Red Guards have left their mark, and it is easy to understand why.

History is an inherently racist subject, although I can hear the gutless wonders who try to teach it squealing in protest at that verdict. History is racist because, in the first place, it involves the study of what various peoples and individuals have actually done, not what the theorists of democracy and equality would like us to believe they have done. History gives us a continuing proof of the fact that there is no equality in the world. It is a record of heroic accomplishment and outstanding virtue on the part of some, contrasted with chronic ineptitude and appalling iniquity on the part of others.

In the second place it provides the indispensable basis for a sense of peoplehood, a sense of rootedness, a sense of racial identity. It is not something you want spread around when you are trying to reduce a population to a mass of rootless, cosmopolitan, interchangeable human atoms.

Finally, history gives us some very inconvenient truths, especially about the origins and conduct of the two world wars in which we have participated in this century. Perhaps the undergraduates will sit meekly in their classrooms and soak up whatever lies the professor dishes out, but it’s still dangerous because some of the students may develop a real interest in the subject and do some reading or real research on their own, and there’s no telling what sort of Politically Incorrect things they may discover.

And literature . . . well, that’s at least as dangerous as history. Who can read the Iliad without his blood beginning to race and without feeling a connection to those ancient people and events? Who cannot be moved by the same spirit which moved Homer? And that spirit has nothing to do with the sickly spirit of democracy and equality. Dangerous stuff, indeed!

And then there’s Shakespeare! There was never a man who observed the human condition with truer eye than he. He stripped away every pretense and showed us as we are, the good and the bad — but hardly equal! The great danger in literature — in real literature, in great literature — for the democrats and the egalitarians is that it helps us to understand ourselves and to place ourselves in the context of our people. It helps us to complete ourselves and to become whole. It expands our horizons, helps us to see the big picture. It gives us ideals, models — and those ideals, in our literature, are not egalitarian ideals. Nor are the models Politically Correct: in fact, they are much more likely to be heroes than democrats.

And the people who run most of our universities these days are frightened by that prospect. In their view it is much better to feed our young people the sick, Semitic, anti-heroic blather of a Bellow or a Malamud or a Mailer than to let them get carried away with the dangerous, undemocratic ideas of Homer or Shakespeare.

And so our universities have become what they have become. And the people who should have stopped it from happening didn’t, because they were afraid to deal with the fundamental issues. They were afraid to deal radically with the problem.

And now, looking at the situation objectively, it is still possible to study hard and to learn at our universities — at least, in most curricula. That is undeniable. But it also is undeniable that the average graduate of our universities is seriously deficient in the arts of civilization. And that’s the way the subverters of our universities want it.

It’s a serious problem. We have a job to do at our universities someday which will make Hercules’ cleansing of the Augean stables seem like good, clean fun. Let’s hope that we can begin that job before Shakespeare has disappeared completely down the Memory Hole.

Free Speech – March 1997 – Vol. III, No. 3

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Source: National Alliance

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