There are many people in academic life who sincerely want to be radical; they want to use their intelligence to plan a better world, and they feel contempt for the insensitive "bourgeois mentality" that rules business and government. For such people, Marxism has a practically irresistible attraction: By attributing everything that is unsatisfactory about life to particular economic or political arrangements, Marxism offers a possibility that revolutionary political change can bring about personal and corporate salvation. Marxist regimes can be disowned and Marxist proposals can be abandoned, but what is indispensable about Marxism for the utopian leftist is its explanation of evil. Abandon that, and politics becomes a pragmatic attempt to mitigate the inevitable defects in human nature. Social criticism from a utopian viewpoint then becomes pointless.
But the history of Marxism in practice, and even the history of conflict and adventurism within American leftist groups, makes faith in the Marxist diagnosis exceedingly difficult to sustain. I believe that the notorious murkiness of Critical legal scholarship and its occasional frivolity tend to "mediate" or "mystify" a lack of conviction on this crucial point. This explanation may also help account for the failure of the Critical scholars to propose alternatives to the liberal institutions for which they have so little respect.
(Phillip E. Johnson, "Do You Sincerely Want to Be Radical?" Stanford Law Review 36 [January 1984]: 247-91, at 265 [footnote omitted])