The Imminent Collapse of Cultural Marxism,
by Gregory Slysz
The dreadful damage inflicted on Western societies by Cultural Marxism, popularly known as Political Correctness (PC), has attracted much conservative commentary, most of which focuses on the imminent death of all things Western. The eleventh hour has been reached and the last chance of salvation from a Maoist nightmare is an Arthurian counter offensive whose chances of success are slim to nothing. ‘If Trump fails in his attempt to defeat political correctness’, writes Edward J. Erler, ‘no one—certainly no Republican—is likely to try it again. It is easy to predict the First Amendment’s fate if Trump fails.’
Yet terrible as the situation has become, the time for panic is premature. Re-capturing the state from PC zealots must remain foremost for conservatives, but to view it as a make or break situation not only invests the architects of Cultural Marxism with unparalleled sagacity but also overlooks the inherent, self-destructive contradictions of their ideology. Its progressive façade is no longer adequate to disguise its moral bankruptcy – its authoritarianism, its spiritual vacuity, its cultural nihilism and its irrationality. The more extreme it gets, the more it is rejected. Nevertheless, it remains entrenched within state institutions and notwithstanding the great successes that have been achieved against it recently, as Trump and Brexit have demonstrated, the counter-revolutionary strategy, so to speak, has been a slow, wearisome processes of attrition that has inflicted considerable battle scars on its protagonists. Recognition of the inherent weaknesses of Cultural Marxism will serve to reinvigorate the conservative Right and channel effort more effectively. Justin Trudeau’s increasingly bizarre antics or the Archbishop of Canterbury’s latest leftist pronouncement or CNN’s explicit promotion of adultery should not be regarded as evidence of ideological ascendancy but rather of hubris: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”.
Paradoxically, the Western liberal state has assisted its ideological antithesis. The point at which liberalism turned the private person into a ‘citizen’ was the point at which society became politicised. A political merry-go-round emerged, pitting citizens’ lobby groups against the state, the former insisting on freedoms, the latter legitimising itself by providing them. It was fertile soil for groups hell bent on ‘promoting/defending’ special interests in the name of democracy and equality. Areas which hitherto had been the private domain of the individual became policed by the state, under the watchful eye of lobby groups to ensure that legislation to protect new rights was being enforced.
Once established, the system provided for an endless quest for egalitarian democracy that demanded new lobby groups to campaign for the eradication of newly discovered inequalities. Coercion towards a Rousseaunian ‘general will’, rather than the furtherance of individual liberty, became the dominant pillar of the liberal-democratic state, while private individuals became subject to agenda that overwhelmingly did not concern them.
It was certainly a system that suited Cultural Marxism. Exiled from Frankfurt, Germany, by the Nazis, where it had operated under the aegis of the Institute for Social Research, it thence arrived in the US, at Columbia University. It subsequently become dominant in other American academic and public institutions and further afield in the Western world. Existing Western culture was to be subverted and replaced with a revolutionary alternative that would sweep away capitalism and usher in a Communist Utopia.
The origins of this strategy lay in the failure of the anticipated proletarian revolution to materialise during the First World War, when workers overwhelmingly rallied in defence of their nations. This absence of class consciousness convinced many Marxists that classical Marxism was insufficient to provoke class war. The Communist coup in Russia in 1917 offered brief hope of an international revolution. But after its containment by the Poles, in 1920, and the collapse of the short-lived communist republic in Hungary in 1919, Marxists formulated an alternative strategy for achieving world revolution. For the Hungarian communist Georg Lukacs and his Italian colleague Antonio Gramsci, the revolution had stalled because workers were incapable of recognising their true class consciousness, held captive by the socio-cultural-religious norms that underpinned the capitalist state. Consequently, a successful revolution was dependent on the destruction of these forces.
To do this, however, the ‘bourgeois’ worker needed to be replaced by groups ‘oppressed’ by the capitalist cultural norms. Every aspect of Western civilisation should be made ‘to stink’, to coin the phrase of German Communist Willi Munzenberg. This, in turn, would pave the way for the acceptance of Marxist doctrine. National heritage, Christianity, patriotism, marriage, sexual self-discipline, marital fidelity, the family unit, gender constancy; all were attacked for their alleged ‘oppression’ of some group or another; marriage for its ‘oppression’ of women, Christianity for its ‘oppression’ of sexual minorities, patriotism for its ethnic exclusivity and so on. A coalition of victims would form the new revolutionary vanguard. It would be guided by a cadre of intellectuals who would provide scholarly justification for the cultural vandalism that would ensue, in the form of a Critical Theory. The task here was to create a uniform system of thought and behaviour to be imposed by academic and media institutions, ‘captured’ from within, in an elaborate entryist action plan devised during the 1930’s by Gramsci.
The sexual element of Critical Theory acquired particular prominence. The attempt by Georg Lukacs, the deputy Commissar for culture in the aforementioned Communist Republic of Hungary, to implement an explicit sexual agenda in schools, did not deter the next generation of social engineers. The goal, in Herbert Marcuse’s words, was ‘polymorphous perversity’, a Marxian-Freudian psychoanalytical hybrid, which aimed to sweep away all religio-conservative boundaries on sexual gratification as well as established designations of gender identity, which, for the likes of Erich Fromm, were mere social constructs.
A crucial turning point in the advancement of Cultural Marxism were the student rebellions during the 1960s. Although they failed, the rebels remained loyal to the cause, and they gradually ‘captured’ the political, media and cultural bodies. No western institution, public or private, remained untouched. Bureaucracies, political parties, educational establishments, the military, law enforcement bodies, youth organisations, Churches – the list is indeed long. The upshot was declining academic standards, affirmative action, the discouragement of critical thought, the suppression of free speech, the feminisation of men and de-feminisation of women, epidemic levels of family breakdowns and single parenthood, mass abortion, sexual depravity and widespread substance abuse.
Opposition to Cultural Marxism is deemed heresy so that acceptance in the public area is conditional on full adherence to its ideological prescriptions. To silence debate, critics are subjected to Maoist-style ‘anti-rightist’ campaigns, orchestrated by the ‘captured’ media and its acolytes. Once accused of causing ‘offence’, the indicted risk social ostracism, blacklisting, dismissal from employment and even imprisonment. The hi-jacking of Western liberal-democratic states by Marxists has left an indelible mark on Western culture. Witness the grotesque spectacle of Britain’s shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbot, praising Communist icon Mao Zedong.
However, an ostensibly bleak situation for Western civilisation is changing. The Trump-Brexit triumphs have demonstrated that establishment politics is despised. The near unanimous dismissal by the Mainstream Media of the possibility of a Trump victory was indicative of how detached from reality it is. It was once easy for establishment politicians and their media allies, for instance, to dismiss anti-immigration sentiment as bigoted and misguided, but now they tread carefully on this issue and contend with mass movements that challenge their hegemony. Alternative media have played a significant role in mobilising a hitherto disenfranchised populace. But this mobilisation has become increasingly easier in light of the rapidly disintegrating PC cultural landscape. So extreme has the PC agenda become that outside of Mainstream Media, urban cosmopolitan elites and celebrity bubbles, it has little appeal.
Cultural Marxism has been hoist on its own petard. By opting for diatribe, it has failed to equip its promoters to compete in the global media. Hurling abuse at opponents worked when the PC establishment controlled the media but not today. All that it has left to fight with are ‘safe spaces’, snowflake tantrums, asinine political posturing and violent assaults.
Given the damage that Cultural Marxism has inflicted, conservative anxiety is understandable. But wallowing in hopelessness is unwarranted. The Cultural Revolution and the ‘culture of pessimism … a world abandoned by God’, that Georg Lukacs deemed necessary to topple capitalism, is surely coming to an end.
GREGORY SLYSZ writes on history and current affairs