‘Cultural Marxism’ Catching On
By Bill Berkowitz
Over the years, the idea of cultural Marxism has picked up speed. At an October 2000 campaign stop in Denver, Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan accused Native Americans attempting to block a Columbus Day parade of "cultural Marxism."
"America's history and heroes and Western civilization itself are under relentless attack," Buchanan told the Rocky Mountain News. "The violence of this political correctness is nothing less than cultural Marxism."
The following year, in his book The Death of the West, Buchanan described cultural Marxism as a "regime to punish dissent and to stigmatize social heresy as the Inquisition punished religious heresy. Its trademark is intolerance."
At around the same time, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens produced a video — most of it a carbon copy of the FCF video on the same topic — called "Political Correctness: The Frankfurt School Story."
"Racism, sexism and chauvinism are powerful weapons in the Marxist psychological warfare against traditional American values," it said. "Political correctness, the product of critical theory, is really treason against the U.S. Constitution and against America."
Some "pro-South" hate groups have adapted the theory for their own purposes. Franklin Sanders, writing recently on the League of the South's Web page, did not use the words "cultural Marxism." But he did say that "Marxists," by calling slavery the worst evil known to man, were twisting reality to attack the South. And, Sanders warned darkly, "If the South goes, civilization goes with it."
By early 2002, F.C. Blahut, a writer for the anti-Semitic American Free Press, wrote that cultural communists, motivated by a "hatred of the West," were wrecking Western civilization. They were, he said, "parasitic Freudian Talmudists."
John Vinson, leader of the Americans for Immigration Control hate group, doesn't reference Jews in his own attacks. But he claims that "Marxists" have for a century "promoted large-scale immigration while sabotaging assimilation."
Whither Cultural Marxism?
Will the far right succeed in using the cultural Marxism label to demonize social movements and people whom it opposes? Despite the tone of underlying anti-Semitism, is this a theory that can bring radical ideas into the mainstream?
There are indications that this is happening already.
Paul Craig Roberts is a syndicated conservative columnist who is connected to several right-wing think tanks. In a recent review of Buchanan's The Death of the West, Roberts makes it clear that he has signed on to the idea. "Cultural Marxists," he says, "assault not only our history but also the family, the chastity of women and Christianity, important pillars of our civilization. Cultural Marxists use education, entertainment and the media to create a new people that shares their values."
David Horowitz, the leftist-turned-right-winger who heads the Los Angeles-based Center for the Study of Popular Culture and edits FrontPageMagazine.com, adds that the Frankfurt School "believed only in destroying ... and if you look at today's campuses that type of nihilism is really the dominant theme."
Jim Kibler, a professor of Southern literature at the University of Georgia, joined in recently. Kibler told a reporter this spring that suggesting that those who support the Confederate flag are racists is the "propagandistic, cultural Marxist approach" that is used by newspapers, business and New South proponents.
It's not clear whether this diffusion of the cultural Marxism conspiracy theory into the mainstream will continue. Certainly, the anti-Semitism that underlies much of the scenario suggests that it may be repudiated in the coming years. But for now, the spread of this particular theory is a classic case of concepts that originated on the radical right slowly but surely making their way into the American mind.
Bill Berkowitz, a regular columnist with Working Assets' WorkingForChange.com, is a free-lance writer specializing in right-wing political movements.