Synopses & Reviews
An eye-opening critique of the identity-based revolution that has transformed American campuses and its effect on politics and society today.
The 1960s and 70s were a time of dramatic upheaval in American universities as a new generation of scholar-activists rejected traditional humanism in favor of a radical ideology that denied esthetic merit and objective truth. In The Victims Revolution, critic and scholar Bruce Bawer provides the first true history of this radical movement and a sweeping assessment of its intellectual and cultural fruits.
Once, Bawer argues, the purpose of higher education had been to introduce students to the legacy of Western civilization—“the best that has been thought and said.” The new generation of radical educators sought instead to unmask the West as the perpetrator of global injustice. Age-old values of goodness, truth, and beauty were disparaged as mere weapons in an ongoing struggle of the powerful against the powerless. Shifting the focus of the humanities to the purported victims of Western colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism, the new politicized approach to the humanities gave rise to a series of identity-based programs, including Womens Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, and Chicano Studies. As a result, the serious and objective study of human civilization and culture was replaced by “theoretical” approaches emphasizing group identity, victimhood, and lockstep “progressive” politics.
What have the advocates of this new anti-Western ideology accomplished?
Twenty-five years ago, Allan Bloom warned against the corruption of the humanities in The Closing of the American Mind. Bawers book presents compelling evidence that Bloom and other conservative critics were right to be alarmed. The Victims Revolution describes how the new identity-based disciplines came into being, examines their major proponents and texts, and trenchantly critiques their underlying premises. Bawer concludes that the influence of these programs has impoverished our thought, confused our politics, and filled the minds of their impressionable students with politically correct mush. Bawers book is must-reading for all those concerned not only about the declining quality of American higher education, but also about the fate of our society at large.
"Postmodern academia's cult of race-class-and-gender victimization is oppressing the rest of us, according to this feisty j'accuse. Literary critic Bawer (A Place at the Table) mounts major assaults on once trendy, now entrenched university humanities programs in feminist studies, black studies, Chicano studies, and queer theory, along the way savaging Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Michael Eric Dyson, and other intellectual grandees. He pillories these disciplines for being anti-capitalist and anti-American; their ever more baroque subcategorizations of victimhood (he's incensed that queer theory lumps gay white men like him in with the oppressors); their knee-jerk defense of Muslim cultures steeped in the sexism and homophobia they otherwise deplore; the stale jargon and rote clichÃ©s they substitute for original scholarship; and their vision of society as a tapestry of balkanized groups rather than discerning individualism. Bawer scores lots of entertaining points against the insufferable posturing and unreadable prose that pervades identity studies, but his critique seldom engages seriously with the intellectual content of the field; mostly he denounces the idea of dragging politics and sociology into the hallowed precincts of the humanities. Bawer's is a lively, cantankerous takedown of a juicy target. Agent: John Talbot, the Talbot Agency. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Respected author, critic, and essayist Bruce Bawer—whose previous book, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within, was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist—now offers a trenchant and sweeping critique of the sorry state of higher education since the campus revolutions of the late 60s and early 70s. In The Victims Revolution, Bawer incisively contends that the rise of identity-based college courses and disciplines (Womens Studies, Black Studies, Gay Studies, etc.) forty years ago has resulted in an impoverishment of thought and widespread political confusion, while filling the brains of students with politically correct mush. Timely, controversial, and brilliantly argued, Bawers The Victims Revolution is necessary reading for students, educators, and anyone concerned about the contemporary crisis in academia—a serious and important work that stands with other essential books on the subject, like The Shadow University by Alan Kors, Illiberal Education by Dinesh DSouza, and Allan Blooms The Closing of the American Mind.
About the Author
A native New Yorker who has lived in Norway since 1999, Bruce Bawer has written several influential books on a range of issues. A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society (1993) was named by columnist Dale Carpenter as the most important non-fiction book about homosexuality published in the 1990s; Publishers Weekly called Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity (1997) “a must-read book for anyone concerned with the relationship of Christianity to contemporary American culture”; While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2009) was hailed by Booklist as “immensely important and urgent." He has also published several collections of literary and film criticism, including Diminishing Fictions and The Aspect of Eternity, and a collection of poetry, Coast to Coast, which was selected by the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook as the best first book of poems published in 1993. He is a frequent contributor to such publications as The Hudson Review, City Journal, The American Scholar, Wilson Quarterly, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and has reviewed books regularly for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and Wall Street Journal.