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A Conversation With Lt. Col. Oliver North

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Courtesy of Josh Cohen

I recently had the great pleasure of speaking with retired Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North about his 20th book, titled “American Gulags: Marxist Tyranny in Higher Education and What to Do About It”.


The plague of woke-ism has infected nearly every facet of American culture, from beer to bachelor’s degrees. There have been a great number of, what we might call “strains”, of this plague that have had varying degrees of destruction. This has led to a dereliction of Western society and its principle, where even acknowledging the idea of an objective truth and reality is a radical act, and one that comes with punishment. 

It is this intellectual and cultural corrosion that Colonel North, along with co-authors and fellow marines, David Goetsch, and Archie Jones, seek to call attention to and redress.

In this interview, the Colonel and I discuss woke-ism as it relates to life on college campuses, and how it has been infused with the already poisonous ideology of Marxism. We also discuss why this outbreak of cultural Marxism is so pervasive, as well as the Colonel’s own thoughts of the future of American universities.

In particular, the Colonel bemoans the downfall, not to say the ideological erasure, of Christianity and relayed, with the sort of precision one would expect from a military icon, that the task to restore these values falls on us as the people. It will not be legislated into existence by a complicit and kowtowing Government. As he told me, succinctly, “counting on Washington to solve any problem is simply a means of increasing the expense of whatever it is that needs to be done, and doing it the wrong way”. That’s a decent dictum for any stalwart Conservative or Libertarian to bear in mind.

We discuss the principle that underlies everything about civilized Western thought and the ability to move honestly within it, which is that of the glorious first amendment. It should be, and indeed has been, in the past, the universities in America that remained especially faithful to free speech and the axiomatic values which follow, that of expression and press, and the implication contained within it, of the right to dissent. This has been completely turned on its head. Col. North told me that “the First Amendment is very much in jeopardy.” He then went on to give me a litany of policy prescriptions, such as that of “active engagement”, that people with a concern about this topic can resort to for redress.


Marxism is an unparalleled evil in the world. It is unparalleled precisely because its enthusiasts torment their victims with, as C.S. Lewis brilliantly put it, the “permission of their own conscience”. As I said to the Colonel during the interview, Marxism began simply as a critique of capitalism. To have a critique of capitalism isn't by any means a bad thing in Western society. It should be a critique of capitalism that showed how you improve capitalism and that it was a critique of a free market that showed how people could get and be better.

Some of the core tenets of Marxism as a critique, that of “oppressor” and “oppressed”, for instance, were then distilled and fermented into a new wave of Marxism. This is what I call in the interview a “sort of cultural philosophy” (a term I would rephrase, if given the opportunity), which takes the class-based structure on which much of Marxism is built and feeds it into conversations about race, sex and so forth. The Colonel and I dig deep on these topics as well.

Some of our more recreational interests do converge somewhat when we both talk fondly of our mutual experiences as boxers. We both fold this into the blanket of conversation which includes Marxist influence in sports.

In summary, in "American Gulags: Marxist Tyranny in Higher Education and What to Do About It," Colonel Oliver North, along with his two co-authors David Goetsch and Archie Jones, confronts the scourge of woke-ism and its fusion with cultural Marxism. Their book provides valuable insights into the challenges facing American universities and the steps necessary to reclaim intellectual freedom. Hopefully, it will act as a clarion call to  critically examine the impact of woke-ism, foster open dialogue, and take action to preserve the principles that form the bedrock of higher education.


The book,  “American Gulags: Marxist Tyranny in Higher Education and What to Do About It” is available at a discount on It is also available wherever books are sold online.

Editor's Note: Listen to Josh Cohen's interview with Colonel Oliver North below.

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