On the Myth of “Cultural Marxism”

I had at some point intended to weigh in on the topic of “Cultural Marxism” as I am more than capable of seeing through it’s rhetoric, but none-the-less felt there was some validity to elements of this idea, mostly because I had seen and experienced an number of Left-wing “no platform” maneuvers that were completely uncalled-for and was compelled to problematize certain aspect of what came off a “political correctitude.” I now feel that validating the “Cultural Marxism” meme itself is far more problematic. This essay does a good job of demolishing it. I suppose I could offer my bioregional autonomist, post-Marxist perspective, but I’d rather spend my time appreciating the positive aspects of Marxist Theory and Critical Theory. It’s no secret the Marxism and decolonial theories both intersect and conflict, depending on context. “Cultural Marxism” is a false construct through and through however, and deserves to be treated as such. “Cultural Marxism” is code for “I’m an ahistorical fascist dupe.”

COMMON RUIN

America's cultural elite have been indoctrinated by sinister Marxists operating in academia... Or have they? America’s cultural elite have been indoctrinated by sinister Marxists operating in academia… Or have they?

**UPDATE1/14/15: Click here for an elaboration on the points raised herein**

Across the paleoconservative blogosphere, on every “libertarian” forum and racist webpage, a strange concept is faulted for the turmoil witnessed in North America and Europe today, as well as for the alleged breakdown of Western social mores. ‘Cultural Marxism’ is the name these courageous right-wing dissidents have assigned this corrosive force.

So what exactly is cultural Marxism and how is it that so many ostensibly capitalist societies haven fallen victim to it? The narrative varies depending on the political leaning of the individual disseminating it, but its standard rendition is as follows: a sect of European intellectuals, disillusioned by the failure of orthodox Marxist parties to mobilize the proletariat into conflict with the bourgeoisie, came to the conclusion that the original Marxist formulation…

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Let’s Stay Together!

Listen sweetie, I’m not like those other guys.  I know I beat the shit out of you that one time, but I’m a changed man.  Please don’t leave me. I promise I’ll never do it again.  And I promise to stop going down to the pub and beating the shit out of perfect strangers.  I know, I’ll admit that I’ve embarrassed you in the past, but we can really make it work this time. Please.  Baby, I NEED you.

Why do you have to always bring up the past?  I’ve changed.  And just because you say it’s not working out for you now doesn’t mean we can’t MAKE it work.  I’ll prove to you I can change.  Please baby please!  I’m nothing without you.

Don’t you dare leave me bitch!  I mean, what the hell are you going to do without me?  It’s a tough world out there, you don’t even know what it’s like.  If you leave, you’ll just come back begging for me when you realize you can’t make it on your own.

And think about what this would do to the family.  You really want to shame them like this? You’ve always been an embarrassment, but I’ve loved you anyway.  Listen, no one else is going to love you.  You’re so selfish, why do you want to do this to our family?

I mean, what would the neighbors think?

cascadian bioregionalism: neither left nor right, but autonomous (sketch #1)

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say. 

-William Stafford

 

Someone saw fit to etch a few words from this poem into stone, then use it to build one of the walls of a building called “Deschutes Public Library.”  There is a good chance that those words will remain after I am dead and gone, perched a short walk up from the river.  I do not doubt that they will remain true.  They also saw fit to leave out the parts referencing “silence” and “stillness,” however, as the truth that we cannot hear today may become loud and clear tomorrow.

“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”

In an essay subtitled “Leaving the Left Behind,” anarchist writer Jason McQuinn describes the historical tensions between anti-capitalist tendencies beginning with the “social ferment that gave rise to the Age of Revolutions – introduced by the English, American, and French Revolutions.” This is described as “the historical period in which early capitalism was developing through the enclosure of the commons to destroy community self-sufficiency.”  As a bioregionalist, I find both these tensions and that moment in time to be of deep significance towards our understanding of the current ecological, social, and political crises facing our planet.  Kirkpatrick Sale saw the genealogy of bioregionalism as stemming from anarchist theory, utopian socialist ideas (as opposed to the scientific Socialism of the Marxists), and the regional planning traditions of Lewis Mumford, etc.  This has been a somewhat demon-haunted trajectory, with the totalitarian tendencies of both the Left and the Right hitchhiking their way along towards the current intersection of decentralist resistance to the ominous birth of globalism.

Focusing on this trajectory unfortunately ignores the ecological and biocentric roots of bioregionalism in favor of an ideological and humanistic orientation, but as my purpose now is to take the surgeons scalpel to our left-wing and right-wing hitchhikers, I will simply state that I am saving the good part of the story for later.

As both the dominant culture and it’s industrial economy have risen to global ascendancy in a form called ‘Capitalism’, opposition to this domination (call it Empire, colonialism, globalist tyranny)  has taken on an increasingly ‘anti-capitalist’ orientation; the territorial pissing grounds of something called “The Left”.  With the fall of Communism as a global power and its moral fall from grace, thanks to the likes of Stalin and Mao, the Left has mostly embraced the “international anarchist milieu” who’s Black Block’s and barricades have become visible in the media from the streets of Seattle to the streets of Athens.  This has increasingly blurred the distinctions between anarchism and Socialism, which has led to a push away from Socialism by the theorists of “post-Left” anarchism, who are at pains to elaborate how this is not a push towards either the Right or Capitalism. Yet here the demon-haunted spectrum of Eurocentric political ideologies has unveiled it’s ugly collection of museum pieces once again, including the other anti-capitalisms of European ‘racialist’ bent.  It is therefore beneficial to not neglect a genuine push away from the so-called “Third Position” while remaining at pains to demonstrate how this is not a reconciliation with the Left or Socialism.

Against the opportunism and Entryism of both the Left and the Right, I see a great promise in following the post-Left trajectory towards formulating bioregionalism as a theory and critique of Ideology itself, never forgetting bioregional living as both our means and end.  And given our Cascadian context of the spiritually individualistic and stubbornly independent US/Canadian West, with it’s renegade ranchers and disenfranchised rural population living close to the land, can we find or feel some kind of post-Right trajectory towards ecology and biocentrism?

south-falls-silver-falls-state-park-oregon

 

“We make the road by walking”