American conservatives have always been skeptical of centralized power and government authority. Today, conservative leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump are challenging these notions.
Since the days of President Ronald Reagan, Republicans have relied on free market forces and an emphasis on constitutional rights as key tenets of their platform. At the same time, Democrats were not afraid to wield government power to achieve their end goals, whether it be in government, universities, or the media. A one-party and increasingly singular pervasive ideology has resulted, and it has chilled free speech, inhibited progress, and led to cultural and economic stagnation.
But a shift in Republican strategy is now underway. A new generation of Republicans is keen on using the power of the state to roll back the left’s takeover of major U.S. institutions by replicating a strategy foundational to the modern left.
Some argue that conservatives should create their own media outlets and cultural and business institutions—take, for example, private businesses like The Daily Wire or Black Rifle Coffee—to counter the influence of the left, utilizing the free market instead of using the left’s tactics against them. Others believe it might be advantageous to adopt the left’s strategy of taking over societal institutions. Some believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Using the left’s ideas to defeat them
In the 1960s and ‘70s, American left-wing activists began their “long march through the institutions.” It’s a technique based on Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s (1891-1937) “war of position,” through which anti-capitalists aimed to gain influence in key societal institutions in order to promote their ideas and values. After gaining control and winning the “war of position,” a Marxist revolution could take place almost seamlessly and without violence.
Institutions are the systems that create and bind a society’s customs, values, and structures, like universities, nonprofits, corporations, and the press. The institutions that the Left aimed to take over did not just encompass government organizations. Similar to Marxist movements in Europe, the American Left’s march through the institutions aimed to revolutionize society as a whole. **
Some 50 years since this march began, a steep **decline in values Americans once held dear—like faith in God, patriotism, and contributing to one’s community—proves that the left has been largely successful, according to new polling released this week.
To better understand how this ideological march through institutions worked, let’s consider the state of American universities in three key areas—admissions, professorships, and bureaucracies.