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Rudi Dutschke may have come up with the slogan “long march through the institutions” in 1967, but the concept predated the Sixties.
Former Trotskyist Peter Hitchens offered an earlier example which he found in one of historian Peter Hennessy’s books. In 1945, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), Harry Pollitt (1890-1960) told his members who were studying at Cambridge University that “the Party required them to get Firsts and to secure high positions in the State”. As far as these left-leaning intellectuals were concerned, promoting the Daily Worker and fraternising with the proletariat were now passé.
The concept of an elite group of intellectuals that would dominate society was advocated by an Italian Marxist named Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). He anticipated that “the great masses of the population” would consent to such an arrangement. Anyone who demurred, however, would be subject to “The apparatus of state coercive power”.
For Roger Scruton, looking back at his student days during the 1960s, Gramsci outshone the likes of Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, and Stalin as a “revolutionary hero”, because
He convinced his following that…learning equals wisdom and that wisdom equals the right to rule.
If intellectuals were to steer society in a certain direction, universities were the obvious place to find them. That is why Rudi Dutschke, Peter Camejo and others encouraged radicalised students to take the long view and subvert society from within, once they were in positions of power.
But did this strategy ever move from theory into practice? In other words, did any of those Sixties students go on to become top dogs in society, exploiting their elevated status to undermine the system they opposed? Without any direct evidence available it is impossible to say for certain. All we can do is look at the radical changes that have emanated from the top down over the last half-century or so and ask ourselves a simple question: how else could they have happened?
Peter Hitchens is in no doubt. The transformation of Britain over the course of his life, “especially in sexual and moral matters”,
was done mainly by the revolutionary veterans of the 1960s, finally climbing into the seats of power in politics, culture, broadcasting, education and law.
But is this really a left/right issue - a Communist plot to subvert the West? Or is the “long march” strategy an expression of something deeper – and older?
In The Communist Manifesto published in 1848, Karl Marx presented his view of history as a “class struggle” between “oppressor and oppressed” that the latter could yet win “by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions”. What Gramsci and Dutschke did in the 20th century was to propose a more indirect way of achieving the same goal.
Who are these “oppressors”? Bourgeoisie? Capitalists? Tyrants? Marx may have defined them as such, but if he had been genuinely interested in unearthing the roots of human oppression he might have found a more accurate term - predators, for instance. Predators hunt those weaker than them, irrespective of their political leanings, status in society, or their wealth, in what is commonly referred to as the “law of the jungle”.
To pursue this idea further we must leave Karl Marx behind and enter the realm of metaphysics and the spiritual. For Marx, God had no part to play in resolving the “class struggle”. His perspective was a materialist one, without any acknowledgement of life’s spiritual dimension. So it is hardly surprising that he made no reference in his Manifesto to mankind’s submission to, what Jesus called, “the ruler of this world”. Marx identified the enemy as capitalism, not Satan.
Now, as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, success is finally in sight for those who would enslave us. An elite cadre of “experts” and “intellectuals”, in medicine, politics, and the media, have persuaded the vast majority of people to fear a mythical threat. Whether that threat was concocted in a Chinese laboratory or dreamt up in a Manhattan boardroom doesn’t really matter. Those behind it want us to trust them, and only them, to deliver us from the illusory danger they have created.
In doing so I believe that mankind would be consenting to its own captivity.
In 1949 the author of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, wrote this to his former pupil, George Orwell.
The lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.
But isn’t there a snag? What if, instead of listening to and obeying our potential oppressors, we the people turn for salvation to someone infinitely more powerful than “the ruler of this world”?
 Mail on Sunday, 23 Sep. 2018.
 Peter Hennessy, The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War (London 2002), p. 22.
 Quintin Hoare & Geoffrey Nowell Smith (eds.), Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (New York 1987), p. 12.
 Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (London 2016), pp. 198-9.
 Mail on Sunday, 23 Sep. 2018.
 Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, A.J.P. Taylor, ed. (London 1985), pp. 79, 120.
 John, 14:30.
 Letters of Note [https://lettersofnote.com/2012/03/06/1984-v-brave-new-world/], 27 Feb. 2021.
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