| Some dare call it|
|What THEY don't want|
you to know!
“”The good news is that "cultural Marxism" isn't real. The bad news is that people believe it is anyway.
|—Chris Zappone, The Sydney Morning Herald|
“”The fairytale of cultural Marxism provided a post-communist adversary located specifically in the cultural realm – academics, Hollywood, journalists, civil rights activists and feminists.
|—Jason Wilson, The Guardian|
Cultural Marxism generally refers to one of two things:
- First — extremely rarely in popular discourse — "cultural Marxism" (lower C, upper M) refers to a strain of critique of popular culture by the Frankfurt School, framing such culture as being imposed by a capitalist culture industry and consumed passively by the masses.
- Second — in common usage in the wild — "Cultural Marxism" (both uppercase) is a common snarl word used to paint anyone with progressive tendencies as a secret Communist. The term alludes to a conspiracy theory in which sinister left-wingers have infiltrated media, academia, and science, and are engaged in a decades-long plot to undermine Western culture. Some variants of the conspiracy allege that basically all of modern social liberalism is, in fact, a Communist front group.
This conspiracy theory hinges on the idea that the Frankfurt School wasn't just an arcane strain of academic criticism.[note 1] Instead, the Frankfurt School was behind an ongoing Marxist plot to destroy the capitalist West from within, spreading its tentacles throughout academia and indoctrinating students to hate patriotism and freedom. Thus, rock'n'roll, 1960s counterculture, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, homosexuality, modern feminism, and, in general, all the "decay" in the West since the 1950s are allegedly products of the Frankfurt School. It's also the work of the Jews.
The conspiracist usage originated in Nazi Germany, where Kulturbolschewismus ("Cultural Bolshevism") was used to abuse political opponents. In particular, Jews purportedly were secretly orchestrating the spread of Communism (Jewish Bolshevism) as well as promoting sexual & gender permissiveness ("sexual Bolshevism").
If anyone rants about "Cultural Marxists taking over culture!", feel free to remind them that they're spouting literal Nazi propaganda updated for the modern era.
“”it slowly started off by homosexuality becoming acceptable,now it[']s starting to justify pedophilia, and eventually will lead to accepting beastiality [sic] and necrophilia in the future. America, europe, australia and the whole world is doomed. [C]ultural marxism is the best weapon the jew has ever used so far, after realizing communism will not win.
A History of Nazi Germany describes how the Weimar Republic brought about increased freedom of expression (modernism), then described by critics as decadent and irrational. Traditionalist Germans thought that this was causing German culture to decay and that society was heading towards a moral collapse. They were at least catastrophically right about that last bit, though not in the way they intended.
The Nazis labeled this modernism as "Cultural Bolshevism", and, through "Jewish Bolshevism", claimed that Jews were primarily behind Communism. In particular, they argued that Jews had orchestrated the Russian Revolution and were the main power behind Bolshevists. This Jewish-led Bolshevist assault was described by Adolf Hitler as a disease that would weaken the Germans and leave them prey to the Jews (oh noes!), with Marxism being perceived as just another part of an "international Jewish conspiracy". An ideological objective was thus the "purification" to eliminate alien influences and protect Germany's culture.
Of course, Nazis also conflated Jews with capitalism. Fascist ideology's complicated relationship with capitalism led to Mussolini mainly attacking a "Finance capitalism" — the international nature of banks and the stock exchange — and praising a "Heroic capitalism". In short: if you don't like it, it's probably the Jews.
Conspiracy theorists often trace the origins of Cultural Marxist doctrine back to the Frankfurt School of social theory and critical philosophy. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer were indeed interested in applying the Marxist theory of alienation (alongside the psychoanalysis of Freud and Hegelian premises of idealist philosophy) to address social issues of the 20th century outside the simple, crude economic analysis of positivists and 'scientific socialists' . They never advocated using cultural institutions to disseminate propaganda, as the conspiracy theory contends.
Cultural Marxism was criticism of the lack of revolutionary Marxism at the Frankfurt School by more orthodox Marxists; it remains an informal term for the school itself.
The term "cultural Marxism" was first sighted around 1973 in The Critique of Domination: The Origins and Development of Critical Theory by Trent Schroyer.
Marx himself never wrote at any length about culture (what he deemed "the superstructure"), and many Marxists argue against cultural studies — as orthodox Marxists often assert that the only "real" societal division is the one of class.
The fact that cultural theorists use multiple lenses of class, race, gender, and sexuality to analyze culture suggests that their methods probably don't come from Marxist classifications. Instead, these lenses are more likely to have come from the 1920s-30s Chicago School of Sociology's focus on human behavior as shaped by social structures and physical environmental factors, rather than genetic and personal characteristics.
“”Oh, sure, once upon a time “cultural Marxism” was indeed a school of Marxist thought dealing with, you guessed it, culture. But in recent years the term has become a popular buzzword amongst neo-Nazis and other proud bigots on the far right, who use it to suggest a vast Jewish conspiracy against Western Civilization and the white race … without having to use the J-word, which tends to give their anti-Semitic game away.
The term is a favourite of Pat Buchanan and, to the most dangerous extent, far-right terrorists Anders Behring Breivik and Brenton Tarrant. It is a Cold Warrior's way of decrying "political correctness" or "multiculturalism."
In current wingnut usage, it's additionally a favorite amongst Gamergaters—demonstrating the movement's attraction of many anti-Semites, white supremacists, and MRAs — which they label feminist critics like Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian, who often receive sexist personal attacks and rape threats. They complained when discussions on Wikipedia pre-dating their obsession with the term resulted in the "Cultural Marxism" article on Wikipedia being redirected to the "Conspiracy theory" section of Frankfurt School, restored after appealing to the God-King, no consensus after that, then deletion and redirection back to the conspiracy theory.
The term is odious enough that non-far-right people wanting to use it now sometimes apologise in advance, much as nobody behaving in a blatantly racist manner will accept the label "racist". Although Jordan Peterson and the UK Conservative MP Suella Braverman apparently didn't get the memo.
The first usage of the phrase "cultural Marxism" in the conspiracist sense was by William S. Lind of the Free Congress Foundation in his speech "The Origins of Political Correctness" to right-wing group Accuracy in Academia in July 1998, in which he described "political correctness” and "cultural Marxism" as "totalitarian ideologies" that were turning American campuses into "small ivy-covered North Koreas, where the student or faculty member who dares to cross any of the lines set up by the gender feminist or the homosexual-rights activists, or the local black or Hispanic group, or any of the other sainted 'victims' groups that revolves around, quickly find themselves in judicial trouble." Lind gave this speech many times; a 2000 version sets out his thesis:
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.
How does all of this stuff flood in here? How does it flood into our universities, and indeed into our lives today? The members of the Frankfurt School are Marxist, they are also, to a man, Jewish.
Lind was one of the most prominent figures in promoting the conspiracy theory in the early 2000s, in conjunction with organisations including Free Congress Foundation and American Conservative magazine.
The conspiracy theory was also pushed around this time by Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation, who spent the 1990s railing against "political correctness", culminating in the 1999 videotape Political Correctness: The Dirty Little Secret, attacking the Frankfurt School.
At a campaign stop in Denver for the Reform Party in October 2000, Pat Buchanan accused Native Americans attempting to block a Columbus Day parade of "cultural Marxism" in the Rocky Mountain News. In his 2001 book The Death of the West, he described "cultural Marxism" as a "regime to punish dissent and to stigmatize social heresy as the Inquisition punished religious heresy. Its trademark is intolerance." Buchanan also played a prominent role in James Jaeger's 2011 film Cultural Marxism: The Corruption of America, which set out to explain how the Frankfurt School (according to the film's website) sought to "destroy American free‐enterprise capitalism by undermining its economic engine, the Middle Class and the basic building block of society, the family unit."
"Political correctness" had become the popular snarl word of choice after a 1991 speech by George H. W. Bush, with ensuing press coverage and a Washington Times op-ed by Laurence Jarvik of the Heritage Foundation decrying "storm troopers" attacking "Western culture."
[T]he rise of racial hatred is most certainly a threat to Australia's future security and prosperity, with the Jewish nation-wreckers continuously attempting to weaken and overwhelm the White residents of what was previously a semi-inhabited wilderness. The never-ending tidal wave of feral migrant hordes, combined with idiotic Cultural Marxism, runs the risk of utterly crushing a prosperous and beautiful land, and must be halted at any cost.
By observing the deranged reactions of the Jew to such a simple act of defiance, we come to the understanding that this kind of resistance must be increased exponentially. The World Parasite cannot stay quiet in the face of our propaganda exposure, and had the tendency to lose all composure when confronted with the truth.
Many members of the meme-Nazi alt-right similarly hold that Cultural Marxism is real, is done by Jews, and is a serious threat to their ethnostate dreams.
2011 Norway attacks
Anders Behring Breivik, the terrorist and mass-murderer behind the 2011 Norway Attacks in Utøya and Oslo was himself an adherent of said conspiracy theory. In fact Breivik's 1,518 page manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence contains numerous mentions of "Cultural Marxism" at least 100 times and he specifically blames it alongside feminism and Islam for the supposed decline of Europe and Western civilization in addition to having 27 pages worth of William Lind's writings.
Despite its widespread popularity among the hard-right, many both on the right and left have thoroughly debunked the concept as not being Marxist at all. Christian Dominionist Gary North calls Cultural Marxism an oxymoron. Actual Marxist Michael Acuña calls it a myth. And How to Paint Your Panda has debunked it as well.
Trivia: John, Paul, George, and Marx
Although it doesn't get brought up much these days, similar conservative cranks frequently denounced the Beatles as a communist plot in their heyday.
But separately, there's also a conspiracy theory that Theodor Adorno, leading light of the Frankfurt School, secretly wrote all their songs. And in fact all the songs for the British Invasion of the 1960s.
This theory seems to have originated with supposedly ex-MI6 crank John Coleman, in his 1991 book The Committee of 300. Adorno is claimed to have worked with the Tavistock Institute (an organisation he had no links to outside conspiracy theories), at the behest of the Jesuits rather than the Jews. Various alt right blogs still contend that Adorno used the Tavistock Institute in order to disseminate propaganda through pop music that would provoke the 'degeneracy' of the sexual revolution of the 1960s .
Back in consensus reality, the music Adorno was actually into Schoenberg's twelve-tone stuff, the main influence on his own compositions. He hated jazz and popular music in general. And particularly disliked the Beatles:
What can be urged against the Beatles ... is simply that what these people have to offer is ... something that is retarded in terms of its own objective content. It can be shown that the means of expression that are employed and preserved here are in reality no more than traditional techniques in a degraded form.
- Critical legal studies – based on the Frankfurt School, not the conspiracy theory
- Cultural Christian
- Modern art and architecture
- Red baiting
- Sexual Bolshevism (yes, really)
- Ben Alpers. The Frankfurt School, Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories, and American Conservatism. US Intellectual History Blog Jul. 25, 2011.
- Dennis Dworkin. Cultural Marxism in Postwar Britain: History, the New Left, and the Origins of Cultural Studies A history of the term before it became a dirty word.
- Cultural Marxism: A Measured Response (HBomberguy)
- Nobody denies that the Frankfurt School existed (and championed its fair share of nutty ideas). Critics of the pseudohistorical 'Cultural Marxism' conspiracy theory merely argue that the school was tediously unsuccessful (and, as such, somewhat unimportant) in the broad scheme of Western progressivism — and, more obvious still, that all liberals aren't commies as well.
- It’s rather odd to invoke the Inquisition here, as it was not exactly known for its fondness for Jews (or anyone who weren’t staunch Catholics, really).
- In French, this says "no to white genocide" followed by "diversity is a code word for white genocide, showing that white supremacist conspiracy memes have no language barrier. However, the word for diversity used is the Italian one rather than the French one for some reason.
- Zappone, Chris (November 2, 2017). "Cultural Marxism – the ultimate post-factual dog whistle". The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/world/cultural-marxism--the-ultimate-postfactual-dog-whistle-20171102-gzd7lq.html. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Wilson, Jason (January 19, 2015). "'Cultural Marxism': a uniting theory for rightwingers who love to play the victim". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/19/cultural-marxism-a-uniting-theory-for-rightwingers-who-love-to-play-the-victim. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Jeffrey T. Kuhner explains why the gay agenda is Cultural Marxism!
- This Daily Bell article sets out the claim pretty unambiguously.
- http://www.jaegerresearchinstitute.org/articles/dummies.htm James Jaeger makes documentaries about Cultural Marxism
- http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2002/fall/mainstreaming-hate William S. Lind implicates the Jews
- See the Wikipedia articles in German and English.
- Duffy, Nick.Watch: Little boy twerks at Pride parade and upsets homophobes, Pink News. Accessed 15 June 2015.
- https://books.google.com/books?id=bsGhz4qfgKAC&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=cultural+bolshevism&source=bl&ots=f7pv9hCTt3&sig=CTuf-0nUE1i6WCwv-smbGYl5J_M&hl=fr&sa=X&sqi=2&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=cultural%20bolshevism A History of Nazi Germany: 1919-1945 by Joseph W. Bendersky
- See the Wikipedia article on Fascism and ideology § Capitalism.
- Der Stürmer, October 1936 (Issue #41)
- Antisemitic ‘Cultural Marxist’ tropes have infected mainstream conservatism thanks to boomers using the internet - Amity Underground
- Marxists.org - Frankfurt School
- Antisemitic ‘Cultural Marxist’ tropes have infected mainstream conservatism thanks to boomers using the internet - Amity Underground
- Bill Berkowitz. Cultural Marxism Catching On. Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, Summer 2003, Iss. 110.
- Anders Behring Breivik. How It All Began -- Political Correctness is Cultural Marxism, in Breivik's Manifesto, 2083: A Declaration of European Independence. (This will probably be analyzed by criminal studies professors for years to come.)
- Archive of "Cultural Marxism" Wikipedia article
- Tory MP criticised for using antisemitic term 'cultural Marxism', The Guardian, 26 March 2019
- Jerome Jamin. "Cultural Marxism: A survey". Religion Compass. 2018; 12:e12258. Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec3.12258
- Robert Weller (October 9, 2000) "Buchanan Criticizes Parade Protest"
- http://smashcm.blogspot.com/2014/08/global-capitalism-and-cultural-marxism.html (404)
- Cultural Marxism Is an Oxymoron, garynorth.com
- Michael Acuña. On the Myth of "Cultural Marxism", commonruin.wordpress.com
- Michael Acuña. My Final Word on “Cultural Marxism” , commonruin.wordpress.com
- Cultural Marxism, Cultural Conservatism and the Frankfurt School: Making Sense of Nonsense, paintyourpanda.blogspot.com
-  Akzente, Summer 1965