Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
—The Matrix (1999), screenplay by Lana (formerly Larry) and Lilly (formerly Andy) Wachowski.
The Culture Wars are here. Like The Matrix, they are in fact everywhere—in art, on campuses, and on television. They invite everyone to become “politically correct.”
At first glance, political correctness seems like a good thing. Do we really want to go back to a world where terms like nigger, faggot, darkie, chink, and slut were bandied about, as if language had no consequences? And don’t we want a world where silly stereotypes (“blondes make good secretaries,” “nurses cannot be male”) no longer restrict our choices?
But political correctness is not really about politeness, the giving or taking of offence, or freeing us from stereotypes. That’s the cover. Political correctness is part of a culture war, the roots of which go back to the 1920s. The culture war’s full-blown manifestation is what we are witnessing today; it has been ninety years in the making.
Neo: No. I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.
Morpheus: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.
Before we dismiss the grand theory, we should also ask if there is any alternate hypothesis for how political correctness came this far. The answer is that there is none. So it behooves us to pay close attention to this hypothesis.
What is this culture war about? Let’s delve into a bit of history first. Karl Marx was credited with laying the foundation for Communism—a society in which the State controlled almost everything. The communists thought that the United States and West Germany would collapse, because their grand teacher, Karl Marx, told them that capitalist societies carry the seeds of their own destruction.
But this didn’t happen. Instead, Soviet Russia and East Germany collapsed. Even Communist China was forced to adopt market reforms in order to feed its people.
Well before that, the spread of communism stalled in between the two world wars. In this inter-war period, scholars got together at Goethe University in Frankfurt at the Institute for Social Research (“The Frankfurt School”). The scholars were dissatisfied, not only with Capitalism, but even with Soviet-style Communism. Among others, they studied Freud, Kant, and Sartre, and created a new paradigm that sought to explain history.
These “Cultural Marxists” have a Marxist worldview, but they apply it much more broadly—
Ayn Rand had picked this early. At a lecture given in 1961 (“America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business”), she said: “A disastrous intellectual package-deal, put over on us by the theoreticians of statism, is the equation of economic power with political power. You have heard it expressed in such bromides as: “A hungry man is not free,” or “It makes no difference to a worker whether he takes orders from a businessman or from a bureaucrat.” Most people accept these equivocations—and yet they know that the poorest laborer in America is freer and more secure than the richest commissar in Soviet Russia.”
The Frankfurt School’s paradigm of analysis became known as Critical Theory. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a “Critical Theory” must be explanatory, practical, and normative, all at the same time—it should explain what is wrong with current social reality, identify the actors to change it, and provide both the standards for criticism and achievable practical goals for social transformation.
And, with that, the neo-Marxists were born. The sons and daughters of Marx and Sartre, the cousins of Kant and Freud.
And, with that, the neo-Marxists were born. The sons and daughters of Marx and Sartre, the cousins of Kant and Freud. They entered the United States via American universities as “intellectuals.”
Rand foresaw this. In 1971 (“Don’t Let It Go”), she wrote: “American intellectuals were Europe’s passive dependents and poor relatives almost from the beginning. They lived on Europe’s drying crumbs and discarded fashions, including even such hand-me-downs as Freud and Wittgenstein. America’s sole contribution to philosophy—Pragmatism—was a bad recycling of Kantian-Hegelian premises.”
Even in the Cultural Marxists’ philosophy of music, which was Theodore Adorno’s, one can see the hatred of pleasure—Adorno “argued that radical art and music may [only] preserve the truth by capturing the reality of human suffering.” “Adorno despised popular music, viewing it as part of a culture industry that contributes to the present sustainability of capitalism by rendering it ‘aesthetically pleasing’ and ‘agreeable’”
Two neo-Marxists—Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs (refer Bill Lind’s work The Origins of Political Correctness at Accuracy in Academia)—came to believe that their utopian society where everyone was equal in every respect was only achievable by minimizing all sources of differences—gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and so on, via a cultural takeover. Lukacs theorized that “the great obstacle to the creation of a Marxist paradise was the culture: Western civilization itself.”
The neo-Marxists became humanities academics all over Europe and the U.S. They spread the ideas of Cultural Marxism first on campuses, and, then, as the young they taught became older—in the media, in literature, the arts, and in politics. Have a look here, here, and here, if you have any doubt that academe is dominated by neo-Marxists. See also, “Hitler and the Death of Free Speech.” Cultural Marxism is not formally self-identified as such. This is deliberate. Very few in the West would vote for a political party that called itself “The Cultural Communists.”
They hide. In India, the Communists band together under the title “Civil Society,” refer “The Communist Comrades and their Civil Society.” Manipulative intent likes to hide and obfuscate: the structure of language itself—grammar, must be attacked, as should all meaningful terms—human rights, liberal, capitalism … until they are devoid of meaning.
Names like Critical Theory may sound scholarly and innocuous, but the ideas are explicit. At neo-Marxist conferences that thousands attend—many of the preachers are academics—but the locations are not Moscow, East Berlin, or Beijing. Read the agendas here—Melbourne, London, and Chicago. Here you find everything from treating Islamophobia as a real disease, corporates as inherently evil, the U.S. as imperialistic, and the ideas of false feminism.
Back in 1971 (Don’t Let It Go”), Rand opined: “A culture provides a nation’s intellectual leadership, its ideas, its education, its moral code. Today, the concerted effort of our cultural “Establishment” is directed at the obliteration of man’s rational faculty.” Not many grasped Rand’s emphasis on culture, by which she meant the dominant ideas in society.
And now, in the 21st century, the goblins are out of the closet, but they fancy themselves as “social justice warriors.”
The media narrative must portray Israel as an oppressor and Palestine as the oppressed—always, regardless of the facts. The blatant contradictions of supporting all minorities regardless of values are brazenly ignored. Christian men can be quickly derided as being sexist or gay-haters, their preachers assumed to be pedophiles in the court of public opinion, but Islam is off limits, because it is a minority religion in the West. Even to talk of the subjugation of women and gays in the Middle East is off limits. Why? The original theorist who started Cultural Marxism stated their goal (refer the Breivik Manifesto)—“to corrupt Western Civilization from within.” That’s why.
A civilization based on individualism celebrates the power of human beings to excel and to tame nature. It celebrates differences. Its antithesis is scorn for all differences among human beings, including those acquired through diligent effort.
The outcomes of this culture war are far too many to list them all, but here are some:
The followers of Marx have acquired large tracts of territory by stealth, without ever lifting a gun.
The ideas for a cultural takeover were developed at The Frankfurt School from the 1920s to the 1950s. The goals were exceptionally ambitious. Yet, the followers of Marx have acquired large tracts of territory by stealth, without ever lifting a gun.
In most major democracies today, there are two major political parties, most often split as one left-leaning socially progressive, and the other right-of-center religious conservative. Across the globe, both such major political parties have signed up to Cultural Marxism.
Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys. Which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them.
Quite simply, Cultural Marxism is the biggest, ugliest, and the most dangerous political and cultural force today. And most people don’t even know its name, let alone its origins. As Rand once said, “Americans do not believe in the power of evil and do not understand its nature. The first part of their attitude is (philosophically) true, but the second makes them vulnerable.”
Politeness, and being sensitive to the feelings of others is a good thing. But don’t let that stop you from discovering and stating the truth.
“Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my best friend is truth”—Isaac Newton.
This essay has been amended from the version first published on The Savvy Street under the title “Political Correctness is Part of a Neo-Marxist Culture War”
Vinay Kolhatkar is a freelance journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and finance professional. He is the Chief Editor of The Savvy Street. His work has also been published in The Missing Slate, Reason Papers, AS Journal, Cuffelinks, and JASSA. Vinay has penned two TV pilot screenplays (Marlon Stone, and Unlikely Partners), and has had two novels published in the unusual Romantic Thriller genre: A Sharia London and The Frankenstein Candidate.