Scott Morrison is right to describe Muslim schoolkids walking out on the national anthem as pathetic, but he is wrong to point the finger at teachers. The problem does not begin with schools but in universities where budding educators are encouraged to embrace profound antipathy towards the West.
In universities across the Western world, students training to become teachers are commonly taught critical theory or postcolonialism as a part of arts degrees in education. Both subjects inculcate in students deep hostility to the Western world, its culture, creed and citizens. They were inspired by neo-Marxism, whose forefather Herbert Marcuse was a key figure leading the revolution against Western civilisation in universities and manufacturing the rise of radical minority groups to censor non-leftist thought in public life.
The most celebrated educational theorist in teaching or pedagogy, Paulo Freire, was inspired by neo-Marxism. The foreword to his seminal work Pedagogy of the Oppressed lists Marcuse as a key influence. Freire founded critical pedagogy, a theory that denounces the primary purpose of education, to teach students how to think, and replaces it with activist education where students learn what to think. Freire’s technique reduces the teacher to the level of a student and both are instructed to become revolutionaries against the oppressor class, whose chief feature appears to be anything that resembles worldly success. Freire regards education not as the pursuit of objective truth but as an instrument of “cultural revolution”.
Teachers should “commit themselves to the people” by means of a profound conversion; a “rebirth” that requires them to take on a “new form of existence”. They must use the classroom to foment revolution against the core values of Western education: celebration of individual genius and achievement (individualism), freedom of intellectual inquiry, and the pursuit of objective truth.
Like Freire, the chief architect of postcolonialism, Frantz Fanon, believed education should be used to foment leftist revolution. He celebrated Islamism as a revolutionary activity, advocating a combination of militant socialism and neo-Marxist minority politics to provoke war against the West. Fanon did not seek only the end of colonialism but the destruction of Western civilisation by a sustained attack on its core values. In The Wretched of the Earth, he dreamt of a revolutionary climax where: “All the Mediterranean values — the triumph of the human individual, of clarity, and of beauty — become lifeless … individualism is the first to disappear.”
Recent research shows postcolonialism is increasingly embraced in universities across the West. From 2004 to 2014, the number of Australian universities offering postcolonialism as a subject increased from 15 to 21. Among 34 universities surveyed by the Institute of Public Affairs, postcolonialism/imperialism was the third most commonly offered history subject.
Australian students learn to become teachers in the cultural context of neo-Marxism made manifest by critical theory and postcolonialism. Many graduate into a public school system regulated by laws that confer a superior status to state-designated minority groups, also consistent with neo-Marxist ideology. Federal anti-discrimination legislation and state-based vilification laws pose a significant risk to any teacher who may wish to buck neo-Marxist dogma and celebrate Western values. The risk increases when the teacher faces a state-protected minority group.
Even if she had wanted to promote social cohesion by requiring all students to sing the national anthem, the principal of Cranbourne’s Carlisle Primary School, Cheryl Irving, would face social, legal and possibly financial risks in doing so. The Victorian Labor government’s support for Muslim students walking out on the anthem shows how real the risk of advancing Australia fair in the face of minority rights remains.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino backed the principal, and in a statement, the Department of Education framed the decision in terms of religious and cultural inclusivity. Next year, a new curriculum will be introduced with subjects such as: “world views and ethical understanding, helping to build more inclusive schools and communities”.
Until our educational and legal systems are reformed to promote the values that sustain the free world, budding teachers will continue to be taught the values of neo-Marxism, and students will continue to believe walking out on the anthem is an expression of cultural inclusivity. The upside-down world of neo-Marxist minority politics and its corrosive effect on public life must be understood and confronted if we are to bequeath the bountiful legacy of Western civilisation to future generations.
Jennifer Oriel is a political scientist and commentator.