Last week my daughter arrived home from her Wellington college and told me that her English teacher had been proselytizing Marxism under the guise of a critical analysis of the movie Lost in Translation. For those of you who have not seen the movie, Bill Murray plays a middle-aged travelling salesmen in Tokyo who has a largely platonic relationship with a young woman, played by Scarlett Johansson. The teacher said that the theme of the movie was alienation in the large modern city. Whether it is or not, is debatable. Personally, I don't think that's what the film is about at all. In fact, I think it's about the opposite - the ability of people to find connections in love even in a city as big as Tokyo. However, that is beside the point because the teacher did not stop there. He went on to say that the only solution to this problem of alienation was Marxism. He returned to the theme on the following day and spent the entire English period promoting his Marxist philosophy.
My daughter was easily able to discount his facile arguments in favour of Marxism and she highlighted to the class the obvious flaws in his arguments, including the fact that wherever it has been tried, Marxism leads to genocide (I guess you could call that "severe alienation"). Unfortunately, many of my daughter's classmates were not so critical in their thinking and the majority seem to accept the teacher's arguments.
I do not have a problem with students studying Marxism as part of a broader analysis of political theories, but remember this was an English class. The promotion of Marxism was not, as far as I can tell, part of the standard English curriculum for Year 12 students. The teacher was simply using his position of power to indoctrinate young minds into his evil philosophy. And let's make no bones about it, Marxism is an evil philosophy. It was responsible for the death of more than 100 million people in the 20th century, far more than that other derivation of socialist/collectivist thought – Fascism, and it is still being used as a justification for the murder of thousands of people around the world in places like North Korea.
Imagine the outcry if the New Zealand secondary school English teacher was promoting Nazism is a valid response to so-called alienation. Why is it acceptable for a teacher to promote an equally detestable political philosophy in our classrooms?