Much to my delight, the New York Times recently published an op-ed, “The Alt-Right’s Favorite Meme is 100 Years Old”, written by Yale professor Samuel Moyn, that attacks me and Thomas Hobbes’ novel Victoria (for which I am proud to be agent). The professor dislikes the book and me because both oppose cultural Marxism, the now-dominant ideology among Western elites that condemns Whites, males, Western culture and the Christian religion as “oppressive”. But the professor does more than defend cultural Marxism; he writes, “Nothing of the kind actually exists.”
Well, yes, it does. Cultural Marxism is, as the Times headline indicates, now 100 years old. Its initial conception goes back to 1919, the year when Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary, working independently, concluded that Communism could not be brought about in the West until the Christian religion and Western culture were destroyed. Gramsci argued that Christianity blinded the working class to its “true” Marxist class interests, while Lukacs, when he was Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Bolshevik Bela Kun government in Hungary, wailed “Who will save us from Western Civilization?” Lukacs began a program of what he called “cultural terrorism” that included introducing sex education into the Hungarian schools, because he knew that if you could destroy a country’s sexual morals you would take a giant step toward destroying its traditional culture.
The detailed development of cultural Marxism, which most people now know as “political correctness”, began in 1930 when the Frankfurt School undertook the task. The Frankfurt School, official known as the Institute for Social Research, was originally to be named the Institute for Marxism. But its founders, who include Lukacs, decided they could be more effective if they gave it a neutral-sounding name. That began cultural Marxism’s ongoing practice of concealing its real nature and objectives. Is that conspiratorial? What else does the word mean?
Professor Moyn simply denies historical reality. He writes:
A number of conspiracy theorists tracing the origins of “cultural Marxism” assign outsize significance to the Frankfurt School, an interwar German–and mostly Jewish–intellectual collective of left-wing social theorists and philosophers. Many members of the Frankfurt School fled Nazism and came to the United States, which is where they supposedly uploaded the virus of cultural Marxism to America. These zany stories of the Frankfurt School’s role in fomenting political correctness would be entertaining, except that they echo the baseless allegations of tiny cabals ruling the world that fed the right’s paranoid imagination in prior eras.
My answer to the professor (of history no less) is “Read some history.” The literature on the Frankfurt School is immense and most of it is written by scholars on the Left. The definitive work is Rolf Wiggershaus’s The Frankfurt School. Martin Jay is the principal American scholar of the Frankfurt School, and his book The Dialectical Imagination is also quite good, although it ends in 1950 and thus misses most of Herbert Marcuse’s influence. Lorenz Jager’s recent biography of Theodor Adorno, simply titled Adorno, is excellent. No open-minded person can read these books and not find in the Frankfurt School’s work the origins of what we now know as political correctness.
If Professor Moyn is too busy to read books–trying to nullify facts by calling them names must take a good deal of thought–I recommend the video documentary “The History of Political Correctness”, which only takes about twenty minutes. It includes an interview with Martin Jay, then the Chairman of the History Department at Berkeley and no conservative, where Jay says that the Frankfurt School’s product is a version of Marxism and is also a basis of political correctness.
And if all the volumes of scholarship are not enough, the parallels between Marxism-Leninism and cultural Marxism are obvious:
- Both eliminate freedom of thought and expression and attempt to impose totalitarianism on their suffering subjects, as we see on too many American university campuses. Stalin’s and Mao’s tyranny was more oppressive than Hitler’s or Mussolini’s and killed far more people, probably at least ten times as many.
- Both see history as a product of only one factor, in Marxism-Leninism ownership of the means of production and in cultural Marxism which groups, defined by race and gender, have power over which other groups.
- Both define some groups of people as good and others as evil regardless of what individuals do. Marxism-Leninism defines workers and peasants as good and capitalists and members of the middle class (the hated bourgeoisie) as evil, while cultural Marxism says whites, males, heterosexuals, and non-feminist women are evil while blacks, third world immigrants, gays, and feminists are good.
- Professor Moyn even quotes Victoria’s Governor Kraft as pointing to another parallel: “Classical Marxists, where they obtain power, expropriated the bourgeoisie and gave their property to the state. Where you (cultural Marxists) obtained power, you expropriated the rights of White men and gave special privileges to feminists, blacks, gays, and the like.” Does Professor Moyn deny this has happened in universities all over the country, including probably at Yale where he teaches?
The easiest way to tell you are dealing with cultural Marxist is if he denies the existence of cultural Marxism. Cultural Marxists seek to work in the dark because they know daylight is fatal to their cause. If the average person figures out political correctness is a form of Marxism, he rejects it. That is happening more and more widely, leaving the cultural Marxists with nothing to say but “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Their frantic name-calling and denials of historical fact sound more and more desperate because they are losing and are about to be swept from the board.
Meanwhile, read Thomas Hobbes’ Victoria. That Professor Moyn doesn’t like it means you will.