Against “Cultural Marxism”

Having spent 20 years studying the history and theory of Marxism, I can say with some confidence that… most American conservatives (as well as most white nationalists), know hardly a thing about it. – Michael O’Meara – The Next Conservatism?

I was once again reminded of the truth of Mr. O’Meara’s observation by Paul Gottfried’s recent article at Vdare, Yes, Virginia (Dare) There Is A Cultural Marxism–And It’s Taking Over Conservatism Inc.

In general, the theme of “Cultural Marxism” and its supposed triumph reflects the theoretical poverty of the American right – in both its mainstream and alternative varieties.  It is consistent with the tradition of blaming the “commies” (or, for some, the commies and “the Jews”) for everything, treating the globalist/multiculturalist order as something foreign to our system rather than the “natural” product of it.

Even worse, much of what passes for insight on the matter is of the crassest character. (See, for example, here and here.) While I will confess that I’ve never been a big fan of Gottfried‘s work, I expected something better from him and so was especially disappointed by the crudeness of his analysis in this particular effort.

While Gottfried expresses some general discomfort with the term “Cultural Marxism” and acknowledges a number of the ways in which it diverges from  class-oriented Marxism of one sort or another, he argues that it can be understood as fundamentally part of that tradition and seems to endorse the view taken by so many on the American right that all of today’s ills are traceable to the influence of that handful of  unorthodox Marxist theorists associated with the Frankfurt school.

Thus, in an earlier article Gottfried claimed that Cultural Marxism has been “successful… in taking over Western societies, through educational, social and political institutions” while in the current one, after some fretting over whether or not it still makes sense to talk about the influence of the original critical theorists given how far the corruption of the West has advanced beyond what they had imagined, he ultimately assures us that “Not only does Cultural Marxism exist” but that, given the embrace of a sort of political correctness-lite at home and “humanitarian” interventionism abroad on the part of the mainstream right,  “it now appears to be taking over Conservatism Inc.” and that “Conservatism Inc. … [has] become a Cultural Marxist puppet.”

In fact, the “Cultural Marxists” are able to hold the sort of institutional power which they do because they are doing the system’s dirty work – motivating and justifying the clearing away of all of those “irrational” obstacles – family, nation, tradition, etc – to the horizontal and vertical spread of the capitalist system in its globalist phase.  As Gottfried himself points out:

… nationalizing productive forces and the creation of a workers’ state, i.e. the leftovers from classical Marxism, turn out to be the most expendable part of their revolutionary program…. Instead, what is essential to Cultural Marxism is the rooting-out of bourgeois national structures, the obliteration of gender roles and the utter devastation of “the patriarchal family.”

So, far from representing the victory of the left, the rise of “Cultural Marxism” to prominence and intellectual power represents a victory over the left – its absorption by the current incarnation of the capitalist system rather than a subversion of it.

(The introductory quote is from and article published some years back by the now-silent Michael O’Meara on William Lind, who was an early proponent of the concept of “Cultural Marxism”. The piece is typical O’Meara – full of insights and energy but seriously marred by his habitual anti-semitism. Overall, much of his critique of the notion of the alleged role of “Cultural Marxism” remains valuable.  I will not repeat his analysis here, but I do suggest that you have a look.)

Can’t Resist…

… one more post on Based Stick Man, who I gather has ended up not being charged by the city of Berkeley for his role in defending pro-Trump demonstrators there from attacks by the usual antifa thugs.

While in my youth I loved a good riot, in my old age I am less and less a fan of fighting in the streets.  However, given the active embrace of political violence by such a broad swath of the left and the passive acceptance of it by most of the rest, I realize the right has no choice but to literally fight back and I am inspired when I see someone take the initiative to do so, especially in such a creative and politically successful way.

The failure of the Trump movement to consistently defend itself physically and the all-too frequent refusal of police departments to really confront disruptive and violent leftist counter-protestors has created a situation in which the left has come to believe that it owns the streets. Let us hope that Based Stick Man will be the beginning of the process of proving that this is not the case.

A Little More on “No Platforming”

No-platforming is a coercive set of tactics designed to silence an individual or group. It involves censorship, but censorship can be subtle or systemic while no-platforming is narrow and blatant. It utilizes strong-arm tactics promoted not by an authoritarian government but by a group of people. It is a more democratic way of shutting people up. The term apparently originated in the 1970’s in Britain, where it was at first narrower in execution and target (exclusively against fascists of the old-school variety). Like most social phenomena, the practice predates coinage of the term. – Hearth Moon Rising – No Platforming Hurts All of Us

In doing a little background reading on “no platforming” I came across this post on a Wiccan blog, discussing the issue of “campaigns by trans activists to silence and marginalize Dianic Witches.” Initially I imagined a snarky comment of my own about the potential dangers of no platforming a witch but upon reflection realized that that would be disrespectful, smug and not really very clever.

Instead, it’s actually worth listening to what the author has to say, particularly because it has a very familiar sound:

Blacklisting is the most familiar no-platforming tactic. It was used during the McCarthy era by the US government and unofficial anti-communist groups to deny writers, actors, artists, and academics the opportunity to perform, exhibit, publish, or teach. It has been used in recent years to ban Dianic feminist Witch Z Budapest from venues for leading ritual and to try (unsuccessfully) to keep Australian feminist Sheila Jeffreys from publishing her book Gender Hurts. A closely related censorship tactic is that of the organized boycott…

Then there is the targeting of advertisers with boycotts to get articles suppressed from magazines, the manufacture and mindless re-blogging of incendiary untrue accusations that can be easily researched, and the deletion of WordPress blogs, Tumblr blogs, Facebook accounts, and Twitter accounts that have not violated any stated policies but which nevertheless offended some anti-feminist. You’ll have to take my word for it at this point or will be here all day – there are too many examples even to fill a large book. Obviously these strong-arm censorship tactics cannot be blamed solely on the Pagan community but are part of a wider anti-feminist culture, with trans women usually the purported beneficiaries. Trans women who speak out against these tactics are strongly criticized or even no-platformed themselves.(1)

I must admit that the radical feminist wiccan world is alien to me, as it probably is to most of the readers of this blog.  Still, it’s worth remembering “First they came for the Dianic witches but….”

(1) Note that the “feminists” referred to in the post above are what are sometimes dismissively referred to as TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) whose crime is that they reject the notion that gender is merely a social construction.

It is indeed a strange world when acronyms like WBW (Women Born Women) need to be invented and an even stranger one when people are persecuted for believing that there is truth to the concept behind it, but for this view they have been utterly demonized – placed in the same category (those who must be silenced) as all of the rest of the world’s “deplorables.”  The typical tone of the anti-“TERF” polemics is the sort of hysterical ranting all too common these days – reflected, for example, in the article “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism” is violence or in another blogger’s recent assertion – “Trans exclusionary radical feminism is racist, it is western colonialism—it is fascism.”  And we all know what that can mean

Berkeley – Antifas Gone Wild

As was to be expected in the Bay Area, in addition to the usual protesters a contingent of black-bloc-type antifas showed up at Milo Yanniapoulos’ scheduled UC Berkeley speech last night. Made up of the typical collection of adventurists, sociopaths, posuers and, no doubt, police agents, this anarchist contingent turned a rowdy protest into a riot.

According to the official UC press statement:

The masked agitators came to campus eastbound on Bancroft Way, and fire damage and other destruction to the Stiles Hall construction site, where a new residence hall is planned, was reported. The group entered campus and immediately began throwing rocks at officers…. Agitators also attacked some members of the crowd who were rescued by police. UCPD reported no major injuries and about a half dozen minor injuries.

Once Yiannopoulos’s event had be oh-so-reluctantly cancelled by the administration, the “anti-fascists” marauded through downtown Berkeley, breaking windows, attacking motorists, setting fires, etc.

UC Berkeley was, of course, quick to deplore the violence:

Campus officials said they condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics now overshadow the efforts of the majority to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence at Berkeley and his perspectives.

Since the number of violent antifa is put at only 150-200 people and in any case anyone with the most minimal familiarity with the East Bay political scene would have known that these types would be arriving, one reasonably wonders how things got so out of hand.

The short answer is that the police apparently did little or nothing to actually defend Yiannopooulos’ right to speak – in spite of the UC administration’s pious protestations of a commitment to allowing all voices to be heard. Thus, the UC press release tells us:

In an effort to avoid injuries to innocent members of the surrounding crowd who might have been caught in the middle, police officers exercised restraint and did not respond with force…. No arrests had been made by UCPD as of 9:30 p.m.[Emphasis added]

In fact, the University’s lack of adequate preparation and the UCPD’s inaction at the event reflected the administration’s sympathy with those committed to preventing Yiannopooulos’ speech.

None of this should come as a surprise, of course – it is just business as usual on American campuses. Still though, call me old-fashioned, but there’s something especially revolting in seeing the way the “radical left” of today so willingly and mindlessly serves as the elite’s boots on the ground when it comes to stifling dissent.

Fake News…

… As practiced by the MSM

From the Washington Post:

10 days after the election:

Americans perhaps were trying to make sense of a wave of postelection acts of hate, including the robbery of a Muslim student at San Diego State University who wore traditional religious clothing, a black church in Mississippi set on fire and spray-painted with “Vote Trump” on the wall…

The postelection hate spike: How long will it last?

But now…

In recent months, alleged crimes have been committed in the name of Trump and Black Lives Matter, the victims claimed, sparking initial outrage only to be later deemed hoaxes by police.

Miss. black church fire was called a hate crime. Now parishioner has been arrested for it.

and:

She claimed she was attacked by men who yelled ‘Trump’ and grabbed her hijab. Police say she lied.

Etc…

(Comment is hardly necessary.)

Richard Spencer and Roman-Salute-gate

The National Policy Institute‘s November 19th Conference Become Who We Are 2016 was by most accounts an energized and well-attended event drawing a younger/newer crowd than the usual suspects one might see, for example, at a typical AR gathering. (For a good overview, see Matt Fournoy’s piece at RightOn.)

With the seeming ride to prominence of the alt right on Donald Trump’s coattails, the conference was naturally the subject of far greater attention than in the past.  Hostile demonstrations and harassment by the predictable antifa types were more significant than previously and there was far more media presence – all of it (or at least the vast bulk of it) waiting with bated breath for confirmation of its on-going alt-right-as-crypto-fascist meme.

So, when NPI President Richard Spencer ended his closing speech “Hail Trump! Hail our People! Hail Victory!”, the response of a handful of audience members with “Roman” salutes was predictably captured on the cell phone of a reporter for The Atlantic and subsequently publicized across the globe, serving to “confirm”, along with the many print articles on the conference – for example, The NY Time’s Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute – the core neo-Nazism of the alt right (and by implication, of Trump himself).

Continue reading

Trump as National Bourgeois

The bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation… appeals to its “native folk” and begins to shout about the “fatherland,’; claiming that its own cause is the cause of the nation as a whole. It recruits itself an army from among its “countrymen” in the interests of … the “fatherland.” Nor do the “folk” always remain unresponsive to its appeals; they rally around its banner: the repression from above affects them too and provokes their discontent.

Thus the national movement begins. – Josef Stalin Marxism and the National Question

In a previous post, I pointed to Boris Kagalitsky’s attempt at a Marxist analysis of the Clinton-Trump contest and his presentation of this as a struggle between the dominant financial sector (Clinton) and the manufacturing and construction sectors (Trump) of the ruling class.

While Kagarlitsky’s effort is to be appreciated, especially when compared to the vacuous “nervous hyperventilation”(1) that characterizes the commentary of the vast bulk of the left, it misses a more accurate characterization of Trump. Rather than seeing him as a representative of this or that industry sector of the capitalist class, it is more correct to see him as an expression of the traditional American nation’s “National Bourgeoisie” – as a voice of the (relatively) small and medium capitalists still rooted in the national soil and increasing pressured by globalist/post-national capital, whether financial or manufacturing.

Capitalism and the Nation

In a 1913 essay, Critical Remarks on the National Question, Lenin described the relationship between capitalist development and the nation in the advanced world:

Developing capitalism knows two historical tendencies in the national question. The first is the awakening of national life and national movements, the struggle against all national oppression, and the creation of national states. The second is the development and growing frequency of international intercourse in every form, the breakdown of national barriers, the creation of the international unity of capital, of economic life in general, of politics, science, etc.

Both tendencies are a universal law of capitalism. The former predominates in the beginning of its development, the latter characterizes a mature capitalism that is moving towards its transformation into socialist society.

What he obviously got wrong, however, was that “moving toward its transformation into socialist society” part.  Instead, as we hardly need to point out, no socialist transformation occurred, at least not in those countries with a “mature capitalism”.

Instead, for a time, capital shared (in a large part because it was compelled to do so) its bounty with workers and the middle strata, in particular in the period from the New Deal until the 1970s. Past decades, however, with the rise of the global neoliberal order, have seen a fundamental change.  Capital, having burst its national boundaries, no longer privileges its original homelands and instead wages war on what was formerly “its own people” in an effort to maximize profits and remove all limits on its horizontal and vertical expansion.

As Slavoj Zizak pointed out in his New Left Review article Multiculturalism, or, The Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism(2)

What relationship exists between the world of capital and the national state in this era of global capitalism? Maybe this relationship could be defined better as “auto-colonisation”: in the direct activity of multinational capital we no longer have anything to do with the opposing standards between metropolises and colonised countries, the global company in some way severs the umbilical cord with its nation of origin and treats its own country as a mere sphere of action, which it needs to colonise…. [T]he fact is that the new multinationals behave with the French or American citizens in exactly the same way as they behave with Mexicans, Brazilians or the Taiwanese….

Zizek then updates Lenin’s schema:

At the beginning (ideally, of course), there is capitalism within the confines of a Nation-State, with the accompanying international trade (exchange between sovereign Nation-States); what follows is the relationship of colonization in which the colonizing country subordinates and exploits (economically, politically, culturally) the colonized country; the final moment of this process is the paradox of colonization in which there are only colonies, no colonizing countries—the colonizing power is no longer a Nation-State but directly the global company.

Obviously, such changes do not take place without resistance and the elites need to mobilize foot soldiers for its war on the popular classes while dividing the potential sources of opposition.  In his article Who is Afraid of Donald Trump?, Kagarlitsky points out:

It is no coincidence that the crisis of the West’s labor movement and class politics is happening together with the celebration of multiculturalism and political correctness.

In Paralysis of the Will he further develops this line:

In fact, “white males” is a notion invented by liberals specifically to undermine class solidarity and discredit the labor movement… The goal of this politics is not to protect minorities, but to fragment society, while allowing the liberal elite to re-distribute resources among the minorities.(3)

And so the globalist ruling class has embraced the ideology of multiculturalism and diversity, in particular turning the black and latino elites into reliable clients via a spoils system involving affirmative action/racial preferences, the diversity industry, and various public and private pork barrel projects aimed at funneling money and jobs to this these sectors. For their part, these comprador elements keep the black and latino masses in line with appeals to ethnic solidarity and racial resentment, lip service to equality and a few crumbs from the table, while mobilizing them in the service of the trans-national neoliberal elites.

Key to this is the ideology of “anti-racism” and notions of “white privilege” which treat ordinary whites as the main enemy, rather than the elites responsible for the de-industrialization which has turned so much of urban American into a wasteland.(4)

Thus, while “racism” may have at one time served as a means of dividing the popular classes, now “anti-racism” serves the same function, preventing the formation of multi-racial/national alliances.

At the same time, what better way to attack the gains and living standards of middle America than with the notion that the hard-fought gains of this people are really just the illegitimate fruits of “unearned white privilege,” while any effort to resist the flooding of the labor market with masses of low-wage immigrants is denounced as racism and xenophobia?

Efforts to prevent the transformation of the United States from a nation-state into a multi-national, merely political entity via the same flood of third world immigrants have been similarly demonized and in fact any attempt to undo this process is doomed to failure at this point.

Instead, middle American whites are coming to understand that they are now just one of several peoples making up this country and that the neoliberal/neo-imperialist elites who run it are profoundly hostile to them.   Under these circumstances it is naive to think that sooner or later a national movement in defense of this group’s interests would not arise.

In spite of the efforts of the virtually the entire political/cultural establishment to prevent such a development, the Trump campaign represents the first real step in that direction, qualitatively surpassing such implicitly white but politically empty movements as the Tea Party in its critique of the existing order.

This is the importance of the Trump movement, rather than the almost certainly vain hope that he will actually get elected.  However unpleasant the prospect of a Clinton presidency, from a movement-building perspective it is probably better that Trump lose, since it is unlikely that he could actually accomplish much as president and would be forced to moderate his message while in office – and as the Goldwater campaign showed, seemingly catastrophic defeat in the short term does not prevent victory later.

The coming years promise to be a new “time for choosing.”  The bulk of the left and most of the “right” seem to have chosen to defend the existing order in one way or another – a positive thing, really, since it serves to clarify where they actually stand.  For the rest of us, the challenge is not the elections, but what comes after.

Notes:

(1) Chris Cutrone’s description in Why Not Trump?
(2) The entire text of this article is available behind the NLR’s subscriber firewall. The link cited above is only an excerpt.
(3) In fact, Kagarlitsky is unfair in blaming “liberals” for this development. The left has been profoundly implicated in this process, developing a discourse since the 1960s which identifies ordinary (mainly working and middle class) whites as the enemy.  Although I don’t agree with much of its analysis, Candace Cohn’s Privilege and the Working Class has a useful summary of the historic roots of this position.
(4) A small sector of the left has critiqued the anti-racist/anti-“whiteness” (and related) ideologies and movements which are hegemonic within the left and, in a lite version, across society as a whole, recognizing that, far from challenging the current system, they actually serve to advance its interests.  Two of the most important proponents of this approach are Walter Benn Michaels (see, for example, Against Diversity) and Adolph Reed, Jr, who in his recent piece How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence tells us “…despite its proponents’ assertions, antiracism is not a different sort of egalitarian alternative to a class politics but is a class politics itself: the politics of a strain of the professional-managerial class whose worldview and material interests are rooted within a political economy of race and ascriptive identity-group relations.”