Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory: A History
Which brings us to the point and purpose of Cultural Marxism; it is a method of conquest. Not conquest with guns, tanks, planes, or armies, but with ideology. Control the dominant ideas in a nation, and you can control the nation itself.
The Red Trojan Horse: A Concise Analysis of Cultural Marxism, by Alasdair Elder
Elder has written a book examining, first, the history of Cultural Marxism, and second, the situation today. In this post, I will review and examine the history.
He offers, early on, his meaning of the term:
Cultural Marxism is a wide-ranging designation which refers to the promotion and employment of Critical Theory.
It is valuable that he does this, as the term Cultural Marxism, though well-known, is not technically a valid concept. Marx’s form of communism was economic – the proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie. While Marx wrote of culture, his focus was primarily and overwhelmingly economic.
Antonio Gramsci, and also members of what is known as the Frankfurt School, would develop the idea that communism could infiltrate the West only if the dominant culture that bound the workers and the owners was torn down – replaced by a culture built from the bottom.
So, then what is Critical Theory?
Critical Theory just means to criticize…ceaselessly. [It] is purely concerned with discrediting knowledge, but not with replacing it with anything better. It is the essence of destructive criticism.
Applied to the cultural foundation of society, one is left with a society void of any ties that bind. What’s the big deal, you ask? Absent a common cultural foundation, all that is left is the state. Where a society does not share common codes of conduct and behavior, a state will happily step in to force the issue. At the same time, a state will happily work to destroy the common codes of conduct in order to take more power for the state.
In Critical Theory, this is the sole purpose of knowledge: to create a change in society, which will, in turn, create a change in ‘reality’ itself.
It should be clear that it is, therefore, difficult, to pin down Critical Theory into a simple talking point. It is critical of everything – all norms, even the new norms that have resulted from prior criticism. I have noted before: those practicing Critical Theory never “win,” because there is no goal or endpoint. The means are the ends – always be critical of whatever norm you next choose to attack. There is no final, acceptable norm (which will, ultimately, be the downfall of this path – painful, and even deadly, as it will be for the rest of us in the meantime).
Elder offers one idea, however, that remains constant – even for the Critical Theorists: prevent people from speaking the truth. I would modify this only slightly: prevent people from speaking at all, if those words run contrary to the current path of criticism. The point of my distinction: it is by speaking through our disagreements that we have some chance to move closer to truth.
In other words, a conversation may only discover truth after many not-quite-truths or even false statements have been considered and discussed. Almost always, my first statements in a c
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