Lefty professors and students love their Marxist theories, so why not apply a theory from one of their favorite dead commies to the academic left itself?
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Antonio Gramsci.
Gramsci is one of Marxism’s numerous martyrs, having died in prison under Mussolini as a political prisoner. He’s also become a very popular figure among the academic left, largely because of his theory of cultural hegemony. Basically, Gramsci’s theory is that the ruling class imposes its values through things like coercion and force, but also through the culture, which makes the oppressed classes think that they’re enjoying themselves. Think bread and circuses.
It’s a great theory for campus lefties because it allows them to see oppression in every day things that people like, giving them a cookie-cutter framework to be scolds and buzzkills. It works especially well in the “Studies” majors (i.e. Women’s Studies, Chicano Studies, African American Studies,) because there will never be an end to cultural minutiae to be examined in the light of the evil white male Patriarchy.
The thing about Studies degrees is that they’re pretty useless unless students want to go to graduate school in order to perpetuate the existence of Studies departments, thereby perpetuating cultural Marxism. Most people do not enjoy reading obscure Marxist and poststructuralist theory for four years, though, so the Studies departments have to give students an incentive to endure dense reading, mandatory diversity workshops and speech codes. That incentive is self esteem.
The Studies degree is an exercise in narcissism, which many college students have in spades. In effect, it tells students that their existence is worthy of study because of an accident of birth, whether racial, sexual or otherwise. Since victimhood is now the academic pinnacle of validation, the Studies departments sell victimhood to the students who will be paying (or borrowing) tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that are becoming increasingly inflated and useless.
Afterward, some stay on for a few more years to obtain their doctorates in order to become members of the ruling class.