The Grievance Studies Affair has never been more relevant. Back in 2017 and 2018, when we did it, it was obvious that the part of academia sometimes called the “theoretical humanities” had been given over essentially wholly to what we dubbed Grievance Studies—that is, Woke Identity Marxism. We also saw worrying trends in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and all of the social sciences, but at the time it was considered extremely controversial and even unfair to suggest the “soft sciences” were infected with Woke Marxism. Today, that’s completely out the window. Everything is touched by the putrefying finger of Woke corruption. Major medical journals, engineering journals, virtually all education journals, and even premier science journals like Nature routinely publish undeniably Woke “scholarship.”
In the Grievance Studies Affair, Peter Boghossian, Helen Pluckrose, and I set out to demonstrate that Woke “scholarship” is trash. We recognized the peer-review system has a simple, catastrophic weakness: political corruptibility through the corruption of the key gatekeepers of the system, academic “peers.”
Though we didn’t understand the Gramscian, Maoist, Marcusian strategy of the Long March Through the Institutions or its mechanisms at the time, we certainly could see the fruits of it in operation in the corner of scholarship we targeted. In short, through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, the halls of academe were increasingly filled with neo-Marxist and postmodern activists who reliably place their social and political prejudices ahead of any pursuit of truth. We perceived that those ideological biases were a key element in getting peer-reviewed literature into academic journals in a wide array of theoretical disciplines, and we took advantage of that as a means of trying to expose it.
Through whatever set of chances on our journey, a rather talented documentary filmmaker named Mike Nayna got brought into our very narrow inner circle early in the project’s development, and he did what documentarians do, started recording and documenting everything. He thought we were crazy at first but that it might be a fun side project. Little did he realize.
Now, after several years of fighting his own Woke industry and preposterous delays and restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic so he could get the documentary series he was producing together and out into the world, his time to tell this story has arrived. It is perhaps bizarrely fortuitous—maybe providential—that these delays hindered the delivery of this important documentary. What wasn’t easily visible a few years ago is blatantly obvious now, and it demands the kind of explanation this documentary can provide right when people are the most ready to see it.
Flatteringly, Nayna calls the multi-part documentary The Reformers, nodding to the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation that challenged the corruption of the late Medieval Catholic Church. Nayna rightly sensed all along that the problem in our universities is that they have become corrupt, inbred purveyors of a religious doctrine posing as social science—one badly in need of a Lutheran hammer on the door.
In fact, this assessment is exactly right. Our universities have become increasingly insular seminaries for a neo-Gnostic cult religion that passes itself off as social science and theory. To flatter them can win you indulgences, and to disagree with them will lead them to visit purgatory upon you in the form of personal and professional inquisitorial “struggle.” To say the whole apparatus needs reforming is understatement bordering on the absurd.
Personally, it’s an interesting experience for me to look back on that pivotal phase of my life, including a lot of footage I didn’t know Nayna had taken and that I’ve never seen. The story, ranging from our humble and rather stupid beginnings through to our eventual success and vindication is both hilarious and harrowing. I hope you’ll find it as informative and entertaining as I did.
All that said, though, don’t miss the point. The Grievance Studies Affair has never been more relevant. Entire institutions, including national governments, huge megacorporations, global NGOs, the entire establishment media apparatus, and most terribly our universities and schools are wholly in thrall to the fraudulent ideology we exposed almost five years ago. Little of what we’re going through now is based in reality, and the arc of this documentary series makes that undeniable in a way that simply wasn’t visible when the story first broke in 2018.
The Reformers exposes what we all know about the corrupt academic scholarship misshaping our world: it’s all based on nothing more than the prejudice and opinion of activists and activist scholars who have hijacked academia.
Watch Episode 2 of The Reformers here, on Mike Nayna’s Substack.