Identity Politics on College Campuses Is Destroying Self-Reliance


There is a trend that has come to dominate in recent years that proves an exceedingly dangerous social syndrome: the complete abdication of self-reliance. This syndrome underpins the entire economic, social, and political agenda of the far-left.

The desire to lift all expectation of responsibility off of the individual and place it entirely on the government is contradictory to the very American creed of individual liberty. It has fostered a movement that jeopardizes the republic beyond any other political or social evolution.

Is this too drastic an assertion? Many conservatives certainly find the left’s pushing of secular norms and the abandonment of traditional morality the gravest concern, but Rome stood for a millennia and their pagan code of morality would make even a 21st century leftist blush. However, as argued by famed historian Edward Gibbon, Rome ultimately fell due to a decline in civic virtue among its citizenry.

What happens to an individual’s sense of civic virtue when they believe that they should rely on themselves for absolutely nothing, but rely fully on the government for everything? The question asked by many has very clearly become “what can my country do for me?” despite the admonishment of a particular 20th century president.

A contemporary trend that clearly demonstrates this motivating factor among the left is that of social justice movements. Whereas a necessary civil rights movement once worked towards mitigating bigotry, in recent years a perpetual victim mentality has taken hold that is not only relegated to specific minorities, but is embraced by almost every self-affiliating group.

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The notion that everyone remains a victim of the system is a form of self-reliance abdication. If you are victimized then certainly any failed aspirations are not your own fault, but the result of systemic racism, bigotry, or other bias. In fact, if you are a perpetual victim, why strive for personal betterment at all? Only the government is capable of providing for you if the current system is stacked against you to such an extreme.

This is the underlying reason for the dissent and flat out intimidation and violence used by far left factions on contemporary college campuses. Any guest who would give a speech that might in any way insinuate that systemic discrimination does not exist is met with violent demonstrations in an attempt to silence such voices. Free speech is great, unless it threatens victim status or other far-leftist ideology, which in turn imposes an expectation of self-reliance.

The social justice movements that have taken contemporary campuses hostage is systemic of the broader march towards socialism that is the hallmark of leftist politics, something that college students have long been susceptible to. It is often held that college students, just starting out in life, look at the capitalist moguls with envy. Wealth redistribution is appealing for such a demographic, but the Ivy League schools, populated by some of the most privileged individuals on earth, tend to be the greatest proponents of socialist mentality. Does envy or deluded notions of class equality account for this? Hardly. Rather, socialism, in all of its machinations, proves a system that removes the expectation of self-reliance from the individual.

Identity politics is ultimately a tool of Marxist ideology and that is why it runs particularly strong among college students. It is clear that many in society now prefer to be taken care of than to be free.

The growing abdication of self-reliance and embrace of collectivist politics is a trend that can be attributed to a variety of factors. The increased comforts of modern life, facilitated by technological advancements, has spurred this mentality on. Modern comfort and security has led to an urbanized population that relies on a parental government for all sustenance and protection.

Another social phenomena that assuredly plays into this trend is the emergence of the over-protective and placating parent. Many millennials have been raised by parents who have been far more involved in every step of their lives and this has fostered a reliance on the parental figure not seen before.

A mentality of entitlement to a safety net in life that was once provided by the hovering parent is now sought in adulthood. The modern American turns towards the state to ensure that everyone gets along on the playground of life.

Further, an educational system that once instilled a reverence for authority and hard work has become one that condones individual uniqueness and self-validation. Young people are taught that they deserve a trophy just for participating. College students are pacified with safe spaces on campus and are taught that even challenges to their belief system in the context of intellectual debate constitutes hostility.

When the realities and demands of adult life set in, the modern American seeks a surrogate to rely upon. Certainly ever more governmental assistance programs, personally useful or not, fit the bill. The combination of a less strenuous environment, doting parents, and an enabling educational system has created a generation of perpetual dependents. Such individuals are quick to sacrifice individual liberty in return for a sense of security provided by the state, be it real or perceived.

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And so, with the continuing abdication of self-reliance comes the abandonment of civic virtue. The individual does not believe in doing for himself, let alone for his community or country. The government is the nanny that does for the citizenry and reliance on the government, rather than on one’s self or one’s neighbors, is the new normal. With this ever increasing reliance on strong government comes an ever compromising position on individual liberty, because who needs individual freedom when the government does all for you?

The abdication of self-reliance among the inheritors of this great American experiment, founded by some of the most self-reliant individuals in history, spells certain disaster on the horizon.

Salvatore DeGennaro is a firearms instructor, Second Amendment advocate, and a contributing author for USA Carry and Concealed Nation. His political writing has been featured in The National Interest, American Thinker, and a variety of other publications.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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