“For fifty years I have fought the death of the humanities in the universities, but we have lost the war and all I can do now is a sort of guerrilla action, the barbarians have taken control of the academy.” Harold Bloom, the great scholar and literary critic who died at 89, admitted his own defeat. The “war” of which he spoke was that between the humanities and the deconstruction, the “French School”.
He came from that world, Bloom did. During the Seventies he became a leader of the Yale School which he would then mock and call “French fantasy”. In 1977, he separated completely from the English department to become the only professor of humanities in Yale, turning his back on old friends such as Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida, the “hermeneutic mafia” as it was called, the “savages” - Lacanians, feminists, new
Bloom called them “vicious feminists” and “Marxist agitators”. Afrocentrism, literary feminism, every possible queer theory and other movements were placed by Bloom in the “School of Resentment”, the resentniks, “the so-called multiculturalists who tell us that we must evaluate a literary work starting from the ethnic origin or gender of the author.” He called them “a Rabblement of Lemmings, dashing off the cliff and carrying their supposed subject down to destruction with them.”
In the late Seventies, when Harold Bloom (of the same lineage of the other genius Bloom, Allan) began his battle, 10 of the 50 major colleges had a compulsory course in “Western civilization”, while 31 of them offered the course to students if they wanted to choose it. Today, according to a report entitled “The Vanishing West” of the National Association of Teachers, nearly no American university offers similar courses anymore. They have been replaced by ideological abracadabra such as “Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies”.
Today there is a theory for every accusation: capitalism, oppression, racism, colonialism, imperialism, homophobia, classism, constructionism, humanism, multiculturalism and the sum is called “intersectionality”. It was not a literary quarrel that unfolded, but a battle of immense and strategic importance for the safety and sanity of Western culture.
Unfortunately, the Lemmings defeated the rabbi of literature, Harold Bloom, who said of himself: “I am a true Marxist critic, a follower of Groucho rather than Karl and I take Groucho's great joke as my motto: 'Whatever it is, I am against it'”.