The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 81/No. 11      March 20, 2017

(lead article, editorial)

Debate politics at Middlebury, don’t attack
political rights!

The Socialist Workers Party urges all supporters of free speech and the rights of working people to unequivocally condemn the March 2 actions by over 400 students and professors, middle-class leftists and a group of thugs at Middlebury College in Vermont to prevent conservative author Charles Murray, who wrote The Bell Curve, from giving a lecture on his most recent book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.

Socialist Workers Party members from Albany and New York City, along with Alyson Kennedy, the SWP candidate for president in 2016, are on their way to Middlebury to debate a working-class course toward revolutionary change and the importance of expanding political rights today. They will go on campus and to workers’ doorsteps in Middlebury and surrounding working-class neighborhoods.

In the course of the event, campus officials and the meeting’s organizers were forced to cancel the public meeting and move the talk to a private room, where it was broadcast by video. Murray had to be protected from physical assault, and the professor who moderated the talk was attacked and injured, requiring emergency medical treatment.

Working people need the political space to organize and debate out the road forward, and advance the fight against the effects on us of today’s slow-burning capitalist economic crisis. This is the road to unite our class, win allies and chart a course to take political power.

In these conditions, the propertied rulers are coming to fear our class and are looking for ways to close down political space. Many now argue that workers are too stupid to be allowed to vote.

The organized goon tactics of those who slandered Murray as a “white nationalist and racist” and chanted “racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away,” helped the rulers.

A golden opportunity was missed to publicly debate and expose The Bell Curve’s class biases and the anti-working class fears of the capitalist rulers and their meritocratic backers like Murray.

The Bell Curve is taken up and taken apart in the 2016 Pathfinder Book Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege and Learning Under Capitalism by Jack Barnes, National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party.

“The book is a retread of discredited views, but not primarily scientific or pseudoscientific ones about IQ, genetics, and so on. It has some of that too, but that’s not the main point. The book is subtitled ‘Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.’ That is what it is about. It’s about social class above all, even more than it is about race. It’s about the fear that the majority cannot be conned — and cannot be ‘lightly’ policed — forever.”

“What’s at issue is the attempt to defend the wealth and class privilege of a so-called meritocratic layer — the ‘cognitive elite’ is the euphemism chosen by Murray and Herrnstein.”

Murray goes on to describe what they fear. “An increasingly isolated cognitive elite. A merging of the cognitive elite with the affluent. A deteriorating quality of life for people at the bottom of the cognitive ability distribution.”

They fear the conditions that are breeding what Hillary Clinton called the “deplorables,” who today are searching for a way to fight their “deteriorating quality of life.”

The next issue of the Militant will report from Vermont on how this political debate is unfolding, a debate with high stakes for working people everywhere.  
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