Campus Reform | UMaine 'Socialist and Marxist Studies Series' targets 'conservative elites'

UMaine 'Socialist and Marxist Studies Series' targets 'conservative elites'

The University of Maine is hosting a "Socialist and Marxist Studies" speaker series.

One event blames American citizens distrust in government on "conservative elites."

The University of Maine is hosting a "Socialist and Marxist Studies" speaker series during the spring semester. 

The speaker series, sponsored by the Marxist and socialist studies minor at the University of Maine, lists several lecture events as part of the series, such as "Carbon Dividends as Universal Property," "Moral, Philosophical, and Spiritual Nonviolence and Socialism in 2021," "At War With Government: How Conservatives Weaponized Distrust From Goldwater To Trump," and more.

The event is co-sponsored by multiple campus departments, as well as the Maine Peace Action Committee, which is a campus organization that supports "nonviolent resistance."

One event, "At War With Government: How Conservatives Weaponized Distrust From Goldwater To Trump," blames the "conservative elites" for "distrust of authority" among American citizens.

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"Americans’ trust in government has fallen dramatically since the 1950s to historically low levels. Fried argues this trend is not an inadvertent byproduct of other developments," the webpage states. "Although distrust of authority is deeply rooted in American culture, it is fueled by conservative elites who benefit from it. Since the postwar era, conservative leaders have deliberately and strategically undermined faith in the political system for partisan aims. Distrustful efforts have often employed messages about immigrants and black and brown people."

Another event, "Carbon Dividends as Universal Property," argues that carbon emissions should be considered "universal property," and suggests a carbon dividend is the way to do that. 

"Carbon dividends would create an asset-based source for a universal basic income by charging for fossil fuel pollution rather than letting it be dumped into the atmosphere for free," the webpage states. "This can be implemented by means of a carbon tax, auctioned permits up to a hard ceiling, or a combination of the two. The revenue then would be returned to equally to all as dividends, similar to the stimulus checks of the Covid pandemic but paid monthly or quarterly. This would help advance the twin goals of stabilizing the Earth’s climate and building a more egalitarian economy."

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The webpage promoting the speaker series includes a disclaimer stating that "speakers do not necessarily present socialist or Marxist viewpoints."

Douglas Allen, a professor emeritus at the University of Maine who helps organize the event, told Campus Reform that the speaker series has been going on since the mid-1980s.

“We started the Socialist and Marxist Studies Series in the mid-1980s and have offered it every semester. Until last fall's Zoom series, all programs were offered on campus, usually in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union. I served as the series Coordinator all of these years until last fall when Michael Swacha, a young faculty member, joined me as co-coordinator," Allen said. "We've offered more than 600 programs of very high quality presentations with lively questions and discussion and excellent media coverage. Many of us feel that it has been one of the most outstanding educational offerings at UMaine." 

Allen contends that while the series does raise issues that are relevant to socialism "it is not restricted to socialist or Marxist topics and perspectives."

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @allisonrobison_