The most significant political story of the past half-century is the activist Left’s “long march through the institutions.” Beginning in the 1960s, left-wing activists and intellectuals, inspired by theorists such as Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci and New Left philosopher Herbert Marcuse, made a concerted effort to embed their ideas in education, government, philanthropy, media, and other important sectors.
This process came to spectacular fruition following the 2020 death of George Floyd, when it seemed that every prestige institution in the United States got busy advancing the same ideological line on race, gender, and culture—which, whether they knew it or not, mimicked the precise themes that the old radicals had originally proposed.
The long march through the institutions, in other words, was complete.
But conservatives, too, have updated their playbook. They have read their Gramsci and have begun to understand that ideological capture poses a grave threat to the American system. President Donald Trump shook conservatives out of their complacency with instinctual, if sometimes crude, cultural countermeasures. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has built on this approach, offering a sophisticated policy agenda for protecting families against captured bureaucracies.