"Cultural Marxism"

As is often the case, much depends on how one defines a phrase.
As a term of art, “cultural Marxism” has been in circulation for some time, and in recent years it has become a staple of outlets like Quillette. An article published there last summer, by the cultural studies graduate student Galen Watts, described it as a “social theory” holding “that culture (ideas, religious beliefs, values, etc.) is in the last instance determined by one’s position in a class or social hierarchy.” In other words, cultural Marxism is the belief that our tastes and preferences—the books we read and the museums we visit—are determined by our racial, gender, and economic positions.
That is definitely not what I mean when I use the term.

"Cultural Marxism," as I use the term, means the application of a specific move within Marxist analysis to culture. That specific move is the one Marx makes in asserting that all of human history, culture, society, and so on can be explained by the struggle between oppressor and oppressed. In true Marxism, this division is made between economic classes: those who own the means of production, and those who are forced (in one way or another) to work for those owners. Exactly how that struggle works changes as the mode of production change: Marx's analysis is that feudalism arose from agricultural means of production, with some lords and others serfs. The inadequacy of this explanation even to the historic institution of European serfdom, which is substantially different from the various sorts of outright slavery that existed elsewhere, should be a warning that the model is too simplistic even when applied exactly as intended by its original author.

Cultural Marxists apply the basic model of explaining reality in terms of an oppression struggle to something besides economic class. Usually it has been sex and race; lately it has been "gender." Many of these Cultural Marxists have been teaching in the academy, and their students likewise are trained to believe that you can account for Medieval history in terms of these categories of oppression just as readily as you can modern or contemporary history. The Patriarchy is eternal, and White People are awful even before they know about 'being white.'

As such I don't think it's in any way deterministic. People are taught to be Marxists, cultural or otherwise. They might have been taught better; they might yet learn how foolish their teachers have been.

I do think that it's a problem, indeed a very serious problem, but it's not the problem the deterministic model implies. If it were, the only solution would be to get rid of the people from the wrong groups (or at least exclude them from power). Because the problem is a creation of teaching, however, educational and experiential solutions are possible. There's no reason to think in terms of exclusion, let alone elimination.

Note, however, that the conclusion that we must be thinking in terms of exclusion or elimination does follow from their model for what the phrase means. If you let them define the terms, copping to a concern about the effects of "Cultural Marxism" in society is equivalent to copping to a desire for oppression or even genocide. The fact that they are teaching this may help to explain the hysterical reactions students of Cultural Marxism produce when they are brought face to face with a critic, even for an single evening's lecture at a campus venue.

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