Criticising Cultural Marxism doesn’t make you Anders Breivik

From Telegraph blogs, August 28, 2012


You know that thing when you’re stuck in a lift with someone and it breaks down and you’re alone, and then he mentions, offhand, that Cultural Marxists are trying to bring down Western civilisation? Yep, I know that situation – because I’m that man.

Following the sentencing of Anders Breivik, who used the phrase “Cultural Marxism” several times in his tortuously long book of self-justification, a number of articles have asked about the terrorist’s supposed hinterland and identified this obsession as a central theme.

On the BBC Matthew Feldman writes:
Literally hundreds of references to Breivik’s main enemy, “Cultural Marxism”, derive from the Christian Right in the US, while its allegedly anti-Judeo-Christian offspring, “multiculturalism” – for which, read “Islamification of Europe” – appears more than 1,100 times across Breivik’s 1,513-page manifesto.

And Daniel Triling argues in the New Statesman:
The “cultural Marxism” that Breivik blamed for Europe’s Muslim takeover is a conspiracy theory that was born in the US. It contends that a small group of Marxist philosophers associated with the Frankfurt school of critical theory plotted to destroy western civilisation by encouraging multiculturalism, homosexuality and collectivist economic ideas.

Although many don’t realise it today, the theory is anti-Semitic in origin and its early proponents emphasised that these philosophers were all Jewish. Breivik’s lengthy “manifesto” devotes an entire section to profiling Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and other Frankfurt school thinkers.

Generally, of course, if someone uses the term Cultural Marxism on an internet message-board, it is not a red light exactly, but certainly an amber one. Likewise bringing up the Frankfurt School does not automatically suggest a clean bill of mental health.

The influence of that group of (largely) German intellectuals is a very popular subject in the conservative blogosphere, and the wackier elements talk about it far more than the saner ones. Nevertheless, just because various wackos believe something, it does not make it untrue, nor does it mean those thoughts are confined to wackos.

The ideas of Antonio Gramsci and Herbert Marcuse, to name just two prominent Cultural Marxists, were very influential in creating the New Left of the 1960s and the radical campus politics of the 1970s. Although many of these ideas died from their own absurdity (paedophile liberation is not too popular these days) many have come to be influential or even dominant.

So many of the tenets of the modern Left can broadly be described as Cultural Marxism – opposition to tradition and hierarchy, radical gender politics, the Marxist theory of race, intolerance towards non-orthodox thinkers, the necessity of changing the language, the idea that criminals are victims of society, marriage is oppressive and exploitative, and nations are artificial, imagined communities. (And yes, this is quite a simple reduction).

This is not a conspiracy in any sense, merely the spread of memes, ideas that once would have been considered absurd or extreme but which have become accepted across institutions in recent years. They’ve become popular, primarily, because they identify areas of injustice within institutions and appeal to people’s sympathy for the underdog. Like Marxist economic theory, Cultural Marxism does tremendous damage because, while fantastic at analysis, it is weak on human nature and so fails to anticipate consequences (when institutions, whether country, church, families or law, fall to pieces, it is the weakest who usually suffer).

No one wakes up thinking “I’m going to destroy Western civilisation by undermining its institutions”, and if you think that they do, you perhaps need to turn off your computer. If you believe the threat of Cultural Marxism justifies murdering schoolchildren, you’re a psychopath. But if you just think it’s a bad idea, you’re not.

Nor an anti-Semite. Certainly, as Triling and others have pointed out, “Cultural Marxism” has been a phrase often used by anti-Semites, largely because most of the political thinkers involved in the Frankfurt School were Jewish. Likewise many of the Communist leaders in pre-war Russia and Germany were Jewish, in the former case a logical result of a reactionary regime which excluded lots of talented Jews and a church that persecuted them.

This explains why the Nazis were able to rouse a not especially anti-Semitic country (for central and eastern European standards, certainly) to hysterical levels of Jew-hatred. Germans in the 1920s and 30s were terrified of Communism, and as so many of the leading Communists were Jewish, the Nazis were able to present Bolshevism as a Jewish plot.

Does this make opponents of Communism anti-Jewish? Not at all, especially when one considers that Communist regimes in Europe, among them Stalin’s Russia and post-war Poland, routinely persecuted Jews. More importantly, many of the most important anti-Communist intellectuals of the 20th century were Jewish, including many of Austria’s finest, as were the refuseniks who helped to drag down Soviet Russia. So keen was the USSR to delegitimise Israel, the country where anti-Communist Jews were trying to flee to, that they had an entire propaganda department devoted to blackening Zionism, including successfully spreading the idea that Israel’s actions resemble those of Nazi Germany. Indeed many of the USSR’s most poisonously anti-Semitic ideas have been successfully disseminated on the Left.

The Left and Right both have their wackos and extremists, and anti-Semitism in particular grows sharply as people get closer to the dark side of the political moon.

And yet the frustrating thing is that the argument about extremism is so one-sided. Socialists are free to criticise aspects of capitalism without being tarred by association with Stalin or the Red Army Faction; we might disagree with them but no one seriously compares them with the pathological variations of their belief because of a slight, superficial resemblance. But if a conservative criticises Marxism, he’s basically Hitler. Still, that’s cultural hegemony for you.

Comments so far

  1. Oh come on Edward.

    Nothing wrong with conservatism but tell the world you don’t see something extremely disturbing in the theory of cultural marxism.

    Not because of beliefs but because of the label itself which seems eerily similar to cultural bolshevism and jewish bolshevism.

    You are invited to read this.

    • “Cultural Marxism” is an accurate descriptor and first emerged in rather genteel conservative circles in the 1990s, rather the same circles in the US that were exceptionally philosemitic culturally and pro-Israel in foreign policy. So no, it isn’t the same as “jewish bolshevism” in terms of either accuracy or origins. I’m not sure what “cultural bolshevism” is but it doesn’t sound inherently semitocontextual. If you can find someone arguing for the violent imposition of social realism or very early avant-garde sculpture, I guess that would be cultural bolshevism.

      But Cultural Marxism is correct and grounded in history and content.

  2. Nice write-up. “So many of the tenets of the modern Left can broadly be described as Cultural Marxism.” Yes, that’s precisely the point. Many Left-wing blogs frame Cultural Marxism as a conspiracy simply to de-legitimize discussion. After all, what kind of a person seriously discusses conspiracy theory? However, most discussions I read and have concerning Cultural Marxism have little or no mention Jews, lizard people, or even the Frankfurt School. Rather, most are about the degenerative drift of mainstream culture in a direction that is harmful to the West and to all free nations. People participate in it and propagate it without realizing it. It’s like Andrew Breitbart said in a video when talking to a student who implied he was racist: “I believe to the core of my being that this country will be destroyed by people like you who think you are doing good, while you divide. You divide into separate categories that you pit against each other… E Pluribus Unum beats multiculturalism.”

  3. Ed,

    Great, balanced and informed post.

    I assume you have noticed just how much of progressive discourse today is devoted to:

    – denying the existence of any particular ideology or ideologies or even bits of ideology in their thinking
    -denying there is any kind of intellectual history to where there ideas are now
    -denying opponents even the most historically and contextually grounded language with which to criticise their ideas; even when the language originates with the original progressive ideas or thinkers

    Effectively, it puts up a semantic fog that eliminates all possibility of even intellectual, let alone openly verbal objection.

    As an undergrad in the early 90s, one could learn from Marxist or at least leftist professors all about Gramsci, Adorno and Marcuse, their critiques, alternative visions and goals, and how others aimed to use those, openly and with positive spin. Progressives now seem to have memory holed all that on tactical grounds. I can only assume that’s adding Alinsky to the list.

    Yes, it sucks to be associated even tangentially with someone like Breivik. But you’re right on that too- no leftist however radical is made to account for sharing ideas with the RAF or the Weather Underground or the Red Brigades or for that matter Leon Trotsky. I assume they were all good boys and girls.

  4. “No one wakes up thinking I’m going to destroy Western civilisation by undermining its institutions”.

    That seems like a lazy argument.
    We know the ideology of Marxian socialism exists within halls of the intelligentsia but you hand-wave away the idea they would ever organize and wish to act upon it.
    Would you say that anyone thinking Hitler would wake up one morning and decide to start a world war was crazy?
    Or more relevantly that the elite and social engineers coming together and formulating agendas and creating institutions to carry them out is a whacked out conspiracy theory!

    I have no idea why you find that so hard to believe since the evidence is all around you.
    Do you think that globalisation is purely a natural result of a shrinking world due to technological advances?
    That globalisation does not have globalist institutions behind it, that it does not have treaties and trade deals agreed outside of sovereign nations and the reach of the people, that it has no power base or facility to change the world geopolitically and socioeconomically?

    Who are the people behind the UN and EU?
    What institutions did the technocrats come through?
    Who funds the think tanks behind their policies?
    How are we able to have a global agendas such Agenda21 and Agenda2030 and who is behind them?
    Why was it that they insisted it must present all issues as a global crisis so that global policies could be promoted to combat these perceived threats?
    How is it governments of the world were issued diktats on its premise and acted upon them if their is no global governance?

    Why are their institutions such as Council On Foreign relations, what is their purpose?
    Why do they all talk of global governance and the need to take down the “old world order”
    What were Prime Ministers and Presidents talking of when they stated their goal of bringing in a “New World Order”?
    What is New World Order if not the promotion of global cooperation, ergo global governance?

    So of course there is a form of global governance already of which the EU is but one continental aspect.
    And who could say that the EU does not push cultural Marxism under the guise of liberalism?
    Nobody woke up one morning and said “Let’s have open borders”, yet here we are with open borders. How did that happen? UN agenda 21 of course and the globalist financiers who back it.
    It is no coincidence that Peter Sutherland, the fat cat globalist banker who was key in EU Erasmus program, the Trojan horse for mass immigration that evolved into Schengen, is also the same man appointed to the UN as “Special Migration Envoy” where after creating open borders he demanded that Europe adopt mass immigration and stated “More must be done to undermine the homogeneity of EU nations” via mass immigration.
    If you cannot see a clear plan and agenda being executed (Agenda 21 mass migration & freedom of movement) then I don’t know what to tell you.

    The same Hegelian dialectic is used to deindustrialise the west under the guise of saving the planet from global warming (UN Agenda 21)
    Carbon taxes were a clear fraud designed to cripple the West regardless of your views as to whether AGW was exaggerated for political purposes.
    How so?
    They were introduced as a means to reduce global CO2 emissions, at least that is the transparently false narrative, yet they left “emerging economies” that used the dirtiest CO2 emitting coal plants exempt?
    The predictable result (plan) was that the global financiers upped sticks to China and India and built factories there causing China to build 10 dirty coal plants to every clean burning coal plant i the West mothballed or shut down.
    They made trillions using the endless cheap labour and cheap production costs using dirty energy while shutting down their competition in the west which was burdened with regulations their think tanks introduced (all to save the planet of course)
    This caused global CO2 emissions to massively increase in the period after carbon taxes and other “environmental policies were introduces. It also caused our energy bills to skyrocket.

    I could go on and on with how policies made by unelected technocrats hired by their crony capitalist backers (Monopoly men) issue global diktats to so called sovereign nations and how these policies reflect Marxian sociological policies – they are elitists social engineering the West to become impoverished and dependent as a matter of fact.

    Why else would we be told to have less children and anti family and anti child agenda be pushed for decades under the pretense of population explosion when in fact it was known the West had a fertility crisis (ageing population)
    Why would they then push the solution as mass immigration from predominantly Islamic countries that are least likely to integrate instead of pushing pro child, pro family policies as Putin did (and that is the day Putin was no longer the darling of the Russian renaissance and they have been trying to isolate him ever since)
    Because it is an agenda, not a conspiracy theory, an agenda written in black and white in every globalist institution across the world and openly stated among the elite – except they call it wealth redistribution, energy conservation, freedom of movement, ecological sustainability, international partnerships etc.

    Everything is premeditated and policy in the US and across Europe designed to promote this agenda – at least until the political awakening across the West started pushing back.
    The Iraq war, premeditated invasion to create a failed state and destabilise the middle east (which led to the “refugee crisis”). Transparently built on a pack of lies.
    And you really believe they “forgot” to have an exit strategy? The most fundamental strategy one has when planning an invasion!
    Of course not, Iraq was designated to become the failed state from where Libya and Syria (And Egypt which failed) could be attacked by the proxy army of Sunni Islamic insurgents to which the press referred to as “Peaceful protesters” as they shot up police stations and murdered their way across those countries.
    Of course back then once the information came out they weren’t peaceful, they were called Al Qaeda. Funny how Al Qaeda the unstoppable global terrorist force disappeared overnight when ISIS/ISIL/IS appeared on the scene?
    They were openly backed by our governments and called “moderate rebels” they even wanted to bomb Damascus on their behalf!
    And the end result a flood of “refugees” into Europe just as soon as the borders were so coincidentally taken down and the population pacified with political correctness (if that isn’t patently a Marxian social engineering tool i don’t know what is, but I guess nobody woke up one morning with the idea so it doesn’t exist?)

    At what point does a “conspiracy theory” become reality?
    How much evidence does there need to be?
    How long must the establishment propaganda machine evidently subvert the truth via disinformation and where that does not work simply ignore the will of people and tell them they are bad people before it becomes reality they are working to a different agenda?

What do you think?