HumanitiesIn case you hadn’t heard, UCLA recently told Western civilization to go to Hell. This of course caused barely a ripple, actually none at all, among America’s cultural commentators who are not conservatives; they would of course applaud burying those dead white males upon which the greatest civilization in the history of the world was built. How did this happen? Heather Mac Donald writes in City Journal:

Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton—the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements and replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent as to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton, or Shakespeare, but was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”

This of course has happened throughout the modern academia, but UCLA is significant because it was one of the last holdouts to require English majors to study the great works of Western literature. No more. As Mac Donald puts so well:

The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilization of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.

Such a reductionist view of history and life captures well the poverty of the progressive worldview. Human beings are not individuals, but part of some artificial category that defines them, that determines them, out of which they cannot escape.  Determinism of such a kind is a logical consequence of a materialist view of reality; if we are not souls created with a transcendent purpose then we are slaves to colliding atoms, and beyond freedom and dignity.

Read the rest of Mac Donald’s piece. She makes a great case that dead white males are a great foundation upon which to build a glorious civilization.