Cultural Marxism

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Cultural Marxism is a pejorative term used by proponents of the Frankfurt School conspiracy theory to describe the core of that theory. Unlike Marxism itself, "Cultural Marxism" is not a self-description that is used or accepted by leftist thinkers as applying to their own beliefs. Instead, the term is used by American right-wing commentators such as William S. Lind and Pat Buchanan to allege an organized and concerted effort by Marxists to subvert the traditional Christian values and cultural norms of western society, particularly by Western Marxists such as Antonio Gramsci and academics of the Frankfurt School such as Herbert Marcuse.

These same commentators claim that the ultimate goal of "Cultural Marxism" is to subvert the traditional Christian values and cultural norms of western society and to, ultimately, destroy Western civilization.[1] Lind has connected it to Political Correctness, which he believes to be part of the same attempt to undermine Western Civilization. Critics of the term, meanwhile, have associated it with antisemitism, claiming that Lind's attacks on the Frankfurt school were based, at least in part, on the predominance of Jewish academics in the Frankfurt school.

The term "Cultural Marxism" has also occasionally been used to refer to various unrelated applications of Marxist theory to culture, or to Marxism in culture, although there is no commonly accepted definition for or significant use of the term in academia.

As a political term

According to German political scientist Thomas Grumke, the American new right undertook a reinterpretation of the enemy image in the 1990s because the classical Red Scare ceased to work. Part of this strategy is the introduction of fighting terms such as “Cultural Marxism”, which is used by American conservatives to describe an alleged conspiratorial attempt of the Left to destroy the cultural and moral values of the United States through systematic attacks on the American Way of Life[citation needed]. According to the Frankfurt School conspiracy theory, Cultural Marxism supposedly began in the culture war of the 1930s when a small group of Jewish philosophers fled from the German Reich to the United States. These representatives of the Frankfurt School allegedly started teaching at Columbia University, where they are said to have developed a form of Marxism that did not focus on the economic system, but on cultural issues. This group is said to have had the goal of talking white Americans out of their ethnic pride in their European heritage, as well as portraying Christian family values as reactionary and antiquated. Consequently, this group also supposedly praised the sexual revolution. According to Grumke, American military theorist and political commentator William Sturgiss Lind fabricated connections to several other ideological and political groups who allegedly had ties to Cultural Marxism, including feminists, homosexuals, multiculturalists, migrants, and environmentalists, all of whom had been labeled by Lind as being hostile “cultural warriors” controlled and directed by the Marxist philosophers of the Frankfurt School.[2]

The term is popular with many modern social conservatives, such as historian William S. Lind and mass shooter Anders Breivik, who both associate it with a set of principles that they claim are in simple contradiction with traditional values of "our Western, Judeo-Christian roots"[3] Lind identifies "polical correctness" and multiculturalism with cultural Marxism, and argues that both have their true origin in a Marxian movement.

The No. 1 goal of that cultural Marxism, since its creation, has been the destruction of Western culture and the Christian religion.[4]

Google is unable to track the search history of the term "Cultural Marxism" before 2007, as it doesn't have extended use online before that year.[5]

Allegations of Antisemitism

Many of the Frankfurt School were Jewish, and according to Kevin B. MacDonald criticism of them was often explicitly linked to the School's main ethnic background;[6][7] Critics have found in other accounts, specifically Paul Weyrich's broadcast "Political Correctness: The Frankfurt School", "a transparent subtext [...] which is not hard to discern and has become more explicit with each telling of the narrative".[7][8]

"In a nutshell, the theory posits that a tiny group of Jewish philosophers who fled Germany in the 1930s and set up shop at Columbia University in New York City devised an unorthodox form of 'Marxism' that took aim at American society's culture, rather than its economic system. The theory holds that these self-interested Jews — the so-called 'Frankfurt School' of philosophers — planned to try to convince mainstream Americans that white ethnic pride is bad, that sexual liberation is good, and that supposedly traditional American values — Christianity, 'family values,' and so on — are reactionary and bigoted. With their core values thus subverted, the theory goes, Americans would be quick to sign on to the ideas of the far left."[6]

As a conspiracy theory

Since the 1990s, the term "cultural Marxism" has been widely used by cultural conservatives. Many conservatives have argued that "Cultural Marxists" and the Frankfurt School helped spark the counterculture social movements of the 1960s as part of a continuing plan of transferring Marxist subversion into cultural terms in the form of Freudo-Marxism.

Since the early 1990s, paleoconservatives such as Patrick Buchanan and William S. Lind have argued that "cultural Marxism" is a dominant strain of thought within the American left, and associate it with a philosophy set on destroying Western civilization. Buchanan has asserted that the Frankfurt School commandeered the American mass media, and used this cartel to infect the minds of Americans.[9]

Lind argues that,

"Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious."[10]

Lind argues that "political correctness" has resulted in American citizens, particularly in academia, being "afraid of using the wrong word, a word denounced as offensive or insensitive, or racist, sexist, or homophobic" and that such changes can be attributed to the influence of cultural Marxists.[10] Similarly, conservative Paul Gottfried's book, The Strange Death of Marxism, argues that Marxism survived and evolved since the fall of the Soviet Union in the form of "cultural Marxism":

Neomarxists called themselves Marxists without accepting all of Marx’s historical and economic theories but while upholding socialism against capitalism, as a moral position …. Thereafter socialists would build their conceptual fabrics on Marx’s notion of “alienation,” extracted from his writings of the 1840s …. [they] could therefore dispense with a strictly materialist analysis and shift … focus toward religion, morality, and aesthetics. ...

Lind comments on Gottfried's book:

Is the critical observation about the Frankfurt School therefore correct, that it exemplifies 'Cultural Bolshevism,' which pushes Marxist-Leninist revolution under a sociological-Freudian label? To the extent its practitioners and despisers would both answer to this characterization, it may in fact be valid … but if Marxism under the Frankfurt School has undergone [these] alterations, then there may be little Marxism left in it. The appeal of the Critical Theorists to Marx has become increasingly ritualistic and what there is in the theory of Marxist sources is now intermingled with identifiably non-Marxist ones …. In a nutshell, they had moved beyond Marxism … into a militantly antibourgeois stance that operates independently of Marxist economic assumptions.[11]

In a similar vein, in her Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature, Elizabeth Kantor says that it is possible to determine what works of literature are valuable, but that "cultural Marxists" since the 1960s have completely changed the criteria so as to reward mediocre books and denounce truly good literature as racist, sexist, homophobic and elitist.[12]

Many of the conservative attacks on "cultural Marxism" have dwelt on an alleged Jewish involvement in the current. Psychology professor Kevin B. MacDonald gives "cultural Marxism" as an example of Jews "pursuing a Jewish agenda in establishing and participating in these movements."[13][14][15]

According to Richard Lichtman, a social psychology professor at the Wright Institute, the Frankfurt School is "a convenient target that very few people really know anything about... By grounding their critique in Marxism and using the Frankfurt School, cultural conservatives make it seem like it's quite foreign to anything American. It takes on a mysterious cast and translates as an incomprehensible, anti-American, foreign movement that is only interested in undermining the U.S." Lichtman says that the "idea being transmitted is that we are being infected from the outside."[16] Lichtman's critique parallels that of rhetorical critic Edwin Black who demonstrated how John Birch Society co-founder Robert Welch used a similar disease metaphor in his writings and speeches during the "Red Scare" era of the 1950s and 60s.[17]

Endorsements by white nationalists

The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the theory has been taken up by a number of what it defines as hate groups.[18] The white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens, for example, picked up the issue in 2000.[19]

The theory reached greater prominence, particularly in Europe, when it was established that Norwegian white nationalist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed dozens of people in the 2011 Norway attacks, had placed this view of "cultural marxism" as a cornerstone of his ideology, placing a copy of William Lind's 2004 pamphlet on the subject at the beginning of his manifesto.[20][21] Breivik's manifesto "explicitly equates liberalism and multiculturalism with cultural Marxism, something Breivik says is destroying European Christian civilization."[22] This view was adopted by European white nationalists from American ones, and is grounded in the claim that Cultural Marxism has suppressed white nationalism and racial identity, while African Americans and Latinos have been able to build a strong cultural identity and institutions. As Jared Taylor put it in 2004, "Racial pride is fine for blacks and everyone else, but verboten... for whites. Not just American whites mind you, but all whites everywhere."[22]

See also


  1. ^ "‘Cultural Marxism’ Catching On". 
  2. ^ Thomas Grumke: “Take this country back!” The new right in the USA. In: The New Right - A Danger to Democracy? Vs Verlag, 2004. ISBN 3810041629. S. 175-181 (Excerpt, p. 177, at Google Books)
  3. ^ "Anders Behring Breivik’s Complete Manifesto "2083 – A European Declaration of Independence"". 
  4. ^, Who stole our culture?, Lind, 2007
  5. ^ "Google Trends". 
  6. ^ a b " Reframing the Enemy". Archived from the original on 7 February 2004. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Commenting on the 1999 Free Congress Foundation broadcast, Martin Jay (2010) writes "[t]here is a transparent subtext [...] which is not hard to discern and has become more explicit with each telling of the narrative. Although there is scarcely any direct reference to the ethnic origins of the School's members, subtle hints allow the listener to draw his own conclusions about the provenance of foreigners who tried to combine Marx and Freud, those giants of critical Jewish intelligence. At one point, William Lind asserts that "once in America they shifted the focus of their work from destroying German society to attacking the society and culture of its new place of refuge," as if the very people who had to flee the Nazis had been responsible for what they were fleeing!"
  9. ^ Buchanan, Pat; The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Threaten Our Culture and Civilization; pp. 73-96. ISBN 0-312-30259-2
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ Kantor, Elizabeth; The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature; pp. 189-198. ISBN 1-59698-011-7
  13. ^ "Kevin MacDonald on Cultural Marxism 1/5". YouTube. 
  14. ^ Kevin MacDonald. "Reviews". 
  15. ^ "‘Cultural Marxism’ Catching On". 
  16. ^ Lichtman, quoted Berkowitz.
  17. ^ Black, Edwin. (1970) "The Second Persona". The Quarterly Journal of Speech.56.2
  18. ^ "Ally of Christian Right Heavyweight Paul Weyrich Addresses Holocaust Denial Conference". 
  19. ^ Beirich, Heidi and Hicks, Kevin (2009), "White Nationalism in America", in Perry, Barbara (2009, ed.), Hate Crimes: Understanding and defining hate crime. Greenwood Publishing Group, pp118-9
  20. ^ Daniel Trilling "Who are Breivik’s fellow travellers?" New Statesman April 2012; Professor Jérôme Jamin (Université de Liège) : «Cultural Marxism in the Anglo-Saxon radical right literature» 2012
  21. ^ McIntyre, Jody. "Anders Behring Breivik: a disturbing ideology". The Independent (London). 
  22. ^ a b Heidi Beirich, "Hate Across the Waters: the Role of American Extremists in Fostering an International White Consciousness", in Ruth Wodak (ed 2013), Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse, London: A & C Black. pp96-7

Further reading