My last post trying to answer the question was a little sketchy, so this time I would like to zoom in, so to speak, on one of the possible answers: Marxism.
The ‘cultural’ aspect has always been an integral part of Marxism and the movements it inspired. Changing culture and destroying bourgeois morality, however, were not the goals, only the tools.
The goal was totalitarian rule which was seen as a prerequisite to the success of the movement.
Mussolini defined totalitarianism as “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Lenin’s revolution created the first totalitarian communist state. Islam wants the caliphate ruled by sharia.
The essence of these totalitarian ideologies is the obliteration of the individual. Utopian ideologies can only exist if their power is unchallenged. The history of the last 150 years, the process that led us to where we are now, is and always has been a series of incarnations of this basic conflict of civil society and the individual standing against the powers of the state.
The individual has always been powerless against the state, but had a powerful ally in civil society. The only power of the individual is the support it can garner from civil society. The nature and the dynamics of these conflicts should be subject of a separate, theoretical argument; what we should review here is the history of the Marxist influence on them in the 20th century.
Buy the 1930s Marxism was in crisis. Marx made several predictions about the evolution of capitalism and the working class, all of which proved to be spectacularly wrong. Marx predicted that the revolution will start in the most advanced capitalist countries and Marxists of the early 20th century believed that war between the European powers would not be possible because the conscripted workers would not shoot at their proletarian brothers but join with them to rise up against their oppressors. World war I, the Russian revolution and the rise of fascism proved them all wrong. These disappointments fundamentally shook up the Western Marxists movement.
The establishment of The Frankfurt School was a response to the crisis. A group of Marxist intellectuals dedicating their lives to explain away the failures of Marx and to come up with a strategy to save the principles and to make them work.
Since the intellectuals of the Frankfurt school were mostly Jews, they had to flee Germany at the beginning of the war. Most ended up in the United States.
The following is an excellent presentation about the history of the Frankfurt school:
The Architects of Western Decline: A Definitive Study of the Frankfurt School and Cultural Marxism (Highly recommended to watch)
The essence of the ideas promulgated by the Frankfurt school was destruction. The answer to the obvious failures of communism and communist ideology was not to question the validity of the ideology, but to double down on it. If reality does not match our expectations and predictions, then something obviously must be wrong with reality.
In order for communism to work, some preconditions must be met. False consciousness must be set right. In the communist world, the problem was addressed by power. People who were deemed to be beyond salvation, members of the bourgeoisie were simply eliminated. Anybody opposed to the ‘science’ of Marxism was also either killed, jailed or otherwise beaten into submission. Still, the communist experiments of the cold war era ended as failures in 1989.
The communists of the West had the same aspirations, they just did not have the power to do mass scale slaughter. They had to rely on stealth and deception.
To create a new world, they had to start with destroying the foundations of the old, the roots of the ‘false consciousness’ standing in the way of the ‘bright and just’ future. Just like in the case of Moses, the promised land cannot be reached until the unbelieving generation dies off. Communists had to:
- destroy Western culture
- destroy the family
- destroy civil society
- destroy the economy
- destroy democracy
- destroy individualism
The tools to achieve the above were critical theory, feminism, Keynesianism, Postmodernist moral relativism, multiculturalism, affirmative action, political correctness, identity politics, the welfare state and a slew of other ideas and policies aimed to unhinge the values of Western civilization.
Attacking Western Culture
The left is waging a relentless war on Western culture. Every cultural, economic and political, but most importantly, moral achievement of the West is frowned upon. Christianity is attacked while Islam is celebrated; our culture which ended slavery is actually blamed for it, our tolerance is used against us by fundamentally intolerant cultures. The goal is to destroy our cultural pride which is an essential part of our sense of self worth. Cultural Marxists are leading the charge.
Destroying the family
The most basic and most important unit of society is the family. Getting women out of the home and into the work-force, cradle to grave social services, the glorification of single mothers and taking control of children from ever earlier age are all part of the strategy of making the family irrelevant. Cultural Marxists are leading the fight every step of the way.
Killing civil society
Self reliance has always gone hand in hand with mutual aid, with voluntary associations. A strong civil society is a threat to the communist idea. The welfare state, the social safety net, socialized health care, education and retirement are all designed to replace institutions of civil society that were largely responsible for it in the 19th century. Self organizing entities of civil society are being slowly replaced by the artificially created and designated special interest groups called ‘communities.’
Again, Marxists are leading the way.
Screwing the economy
Regulations, price controls, fiat money, government run monopolies are all designed to slowly put the whole economy under political control. It is all done, of course, in the name of the people. Economic freedom is the worst enemy of Marxism, and it has to be destroyed step by step. Keynesian economics did a lot to achieve the goal. The fight against income inequality is just the latest chapter and it is not an accident that the thesis leading the charge is titled “Capital in the Twenty First Century”
Social justice warriors are championing the cause.
The value of democracy is inversely proportional with its scope. It works best at a local level, but it weakens as politics gets centralised. The left is relentlessly pushing for the centralization of power with global governance as the ultimate goal. Distributed, localized democracy is a threat to communists as some units somewhere may get ‘the wrong ideas’. The thing that may undo the European Union is the resistance to the loss of democracy to this supra-national, unaccountable political entity.
Alienation of the individual
I kept wondering about the Marxist idea of alienation as I was growing up. Nothing compares to the alienation experienced in communist countries, but the need for it makes perfect sense if you consider governability. The point of all of the above noted changes, the destruction of the family, civil society, cultural self-worth and democracy is the atomization of the individual. Individuals are powerless. The real enemy of communism is not the individual but groups of individuals organizing themselves outside the purview of the state. Individuals need to be indoctrinated and isolated, especially from ideas that may threaten the doctrines and the isolation. The best the communists can manage is mobs. Ann Coulter’s “Demonic” is a perfect analysis of the phenomenon.
But the culture war goes even further than that. The latest demands of the cultural Marxist and the social justice warriors are putting our very sense of reality into question. The best examples of this unhinged reality are the left’s obsessions with climate change, the denial of biological realities and PC language.
The climate is what it is and does what it does. Our power to influence it is INSIGNIFICANT to the point of being immeasurable. Every single prediction made about it in the past quarter century have been proven wrong so far, yet the environmental Marxists are doubling down on the predictions. Reality is NOT what it is, but what the Marxists say it is supposed to be. Physical reality has been turned into a political project.
Sexual deviations from the biological norm, homosexuality and gender dysphoria represent reproductive dysfunctions, not new frontiers of evolution. Gender, race and intelligence are defined to a large extent by genetic differences. They are not social constructs. But for Marxists, biology is NOT what it is, but what they say it is supposed to be. Biological reality has been turned into a political project.
Politically correct language, speech codes and blasphemy laws are NOT about tolerance and sensitivity but about the denial of reality. They are manifestations of post-modernist relativism, the idea that nothing is real, that there is nothing behind our perception and the constructed narrative we may present in our futile attempts to describe it. For Marxists, language is not a tool of communication but a tool of political power. The manipulation of language is a political project.
These three examples go beyond the wildest imagination of George Orwell. For the Marxist, nothing is real, nothing is sacred, nothing is true. Everything is subject to political will.
Marxism has never been a positive philosophy. ‘Critical theory’ is just the best way to describe ANY of Marx’s ideas. Marx never tried to understand anything, he was just critical of everything.
The essence of critical theory is the assumption that trashing reality, dissing culture and questioning morality makes you virtuous. That calling others stupid makes you smart. That pointing out something to be wrong makes whatever you propose automatically right.
The essence of communism is the faith in the primacy of will, the unshakeable belief that anything can be achieved if there is political will and the power to wield it. The essence of communism is that the end justifies the means. ANY MEANS.
The point of this post is not simply to show that the Marxists are bad, but to demonstrate that the changes were not accidental. That the changes are not unintended consequences or side-effects of otherwise great ideas. That NOTHING WENT WRONG, that everything happened exactly as it was intended. The goal of the communists was and still is the creation of a clean slate in which the wonderful communist future can be written. As far as the communists are concerned, everything is going according to plans. The question we should ask is what drives them? I will try to answer that question in my next post.
This post is part two of a three-part series that was prompted by a question about the “Sweet Cakes by Melissa” court case I mentioned in my post “The prostitution principle”
The three posts are:
Were did it go wrong
Were did it go wrong #2 (this post)
Communism will never die
If you wish to read more about Marxism, you may want to look at my two posts:
The greatest achievement of Karl Marx and Why Marxism.
You may also want to watch Stefan Molyneux’s presentation “The truth about Karl Marx” which is based on a chapter in Paul Johnson’s book the “Intellectuals” (which happens to be one of my favourite books as well).
I would also urge you one more time to watch the video “The Architects of Western Decline”