Marxism: “Marxists are brainwashing us”: Conspiracy theory takes hold among some on the right | Company

In 2011, when far-right terrorist Anders Breivik murdered 77 people – the majority of whom were young members of the Norwegian Labor Party – in the massacre on the Norwegian island of Utoya, he justified his actions as part of the fight against Muslim and Marxist attacks on the West. . Her thought (if we want to call it that) subscribes to the theory of cultural Marxism, according to which feminism, the LGTBI movement, environmentalism, atheism, multiculturalism, etc. work together to destroy the free world. These elements have succeeded in injecting the fatal virus of “political correctness” into society, corroding it and leading us towards a totalitarian future. Marxism continues to be a specter haunting the world, now hidden in new guises. Breivik pretended to fight against it.

Popular with the far right and the alt-right, Cultural Marxism is a conspiracy theory that claims that the left, unable to win in politics and economics, has inserted itself into everything else to triumph in cultural (here, the term refers to culture in the broad sense, not just cultural products). Progressive ideas would permeate society as a whole, and it would be the victim of mass brainwashing. “We are not going to back down from this Marxist cultural and Jewish brainwashing with which we have been indoctrinated to become useful idiots for international finance, capitalism and war… We simply want to defend working class white people , our rights and our nation,” American alt-right agitator Mike Enoch told a rally.

As with all such stories, there are different variations, but the following is quite descriptive: it all started after the Russian Revolution when the Soviet model failed to spread to other countries. The philosopher Antonio Gramsci argued that it was necessary to achieve cultural hegemony, that is, to dominate the landscape of thought, art, education, media, common sense , beliefs and morals. If Marx had established how important it was to transform the economic base and that the “superstructure” – where the cultural aspects of society are located – depended on it, the Italian theorist turned this theory upside down by including culture as another field equally important battle.

The Frankfurt School philosophers (Adorno, Horkheimer, and Marcuse, who synthesized Freud and Marx), the New Left, and the countercultural movements of the 1960s followed in Gramsci’s footsteps. As a result, believers say, minorities and identities have come to conspire against capitalism, Christianity, the traditional family and the free market; they succeeded in silencing dissent through the so-called muzzle of “political correctness”. All of this would be a successful translation of Marx’s thesis into the cultural realm: the aforementioned minorities would replace the working class as agents of revolution, and much of the indoctrination would take place through the universities infiltrated by these ideas. . Big business, governments, and political parties of nearly every stripe would have accepted cultural Marxism in its environmentalist, LGTBI, and feminist elements.

“This theory frames the ideological rearmament of the far right which, since the end of the 1990s, first in the United States and then in Europe, has decided to bet everything on the culture wars. In their absurd simplicity, conspiracy theories offer an interpretation of the world where everything seems to fit. That’s why they’re successful,” says Italian historian Steven Forti, author of Far Right 2.0 (Siglo XXI). A suggestive story is an effective way to make far-right ideas go viral against a spectral and formidable enemy. Vox executives referred directly to these ideas. For example, Santiago Abascal, the party leader, sometimes stressed the “urgent need to curb cultural Marxism.” Similarly, but not so explicitly, PP politician Isabel Díaz Ayuso proclaimed her resounding slogan, “communism or freedom.” In his book, The return of communism (Espasa), journalist Federico Jiménez Losantos warns of this threat and links feminism allied with queer theory to the supposed return of communism. They tend to see crypto-communists everywhere ready to destroy their freedom.

Some see traces of a similar logic in earlier streams. “As in Judeo-Bolshevism, Cultural Marxism homogenizes large groups of shadowy enemies and assigns them a secret plan to disrupt society,” the Yale University professor said. Samuel Moyn writes in the New York Times. The Hollywood Red Scare, instigated by Senator Joseph McCarthy, and subsequent witch hunts followed a similar pattern.

Nowadays, in some circles (especially on social networks), even climate change is considered a hoax to justify the installation of a “green dictatorship”. Of course, conspiracy theorists’ favorite businessman George Soros is usually on board. “When Santiago Abascal talks about a ‘progressive dictatorship’ or Donald Trump mentions ‘a dictatorship of political correctness’, they are largely talking about the same thing,” Forti said. Curiously, on the left, rather than the feeling of having surreptitiously dominated the world, it is the opposite sensation that prevails: the feeling of constant defeat and an uncertain future within a stronger and more deregulated capitalism. than ever.

seeds of truth

In fact, the theory of Cultural Marxism contains a grain of truth, which is why many people find it believable. Indeed, from Gramsci and the Frankfurt School, through the counterculture and the new left, the left has increasingly emphasized cultural and identity issues. Nevertheless, “we are dealing with a conspiracy theory because it takes real trends – the fact that the left has lost its influence in a changing working class – to create a story about the coordinated infiltration of institutions. It’s the idea that there’s an army of moles undermining Western culture,” says Argentinian historian Pablo Stefanoni, author of Has the rebellion become right-wing? (Key Intellectual/Siglo XXI). As Stefanoni notes, many of the dynamics attributed to cultural Marxism (the breakdown of the family, the diminishing influence of religion, the mixing of cultures, etc.) derive from the dynamics of post-industrial capitalism itself.

Other far-right conspiracy theories also take small grains of truth to create an absurd story. For example, the “great replacement” theory, advanced by the Frenchman Renaud Camus, uses the challenge of migration to invent a global conspiracy of “globalist elites” who intend to replace Western civilization with Islamic civilization… in a single generation. Generally, this type of thinking attributes bad intentions to certain political and social tendencies in order to delegitimize them. Critics of so-called Cultural Marxism attempt to rekindle Cold War anti-Communist fervor at a time when Communism virtually no longer exists. “It is a kind of zombie anti-communism that harbors a sense of existential threat and combines ideological proposals, demographic and cultural changes and socio-economic processes with distinct and heterogeneous sources under the same demonizing label,” Stefanoni concludes.

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