7

The term "cultural Marxist" has been used extensively in derogatory ways towards leftist political activists, thinkers and movement. Famously, the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivig used the term extensively in writings on the web and in the manifesto he compiled and published 7/22/2011. Independently, Patrick Buchanan also used the term in criticism of leftist policies. There are many others who used the term in similar ways. Thinkers and activists from the Frankfurt School are often targeted as being cultural Marxist.

But does anyone self-identify as a "cultural Marxist"?

  • Even "leftist" is a slur, maybe you should say "left leaning". – user Sep 3 '18 at 9:48
  • 1
    @user I've known some people who self-identify as "leftist", so it's not always a slur. – Joe Nov 7 at 18:04
11

From the Wikipedia page on the Frankfurt School:

"Cultural Marxism" in modern usage refers to a conspiracy theory which sees the Frankfurt School as part of an ongoing movement to take over and destroy Western culture.

The term "cultural Marxism" has an academic usage within cultural studies, where it refers to a form of anti-capitalist cultural critique which specifically targets those aspects of culture that are seen as profit-driven and mass-produced under capitalism. As an area of the Frankfurt School's discourse, "cultural Marxism" has commonly considered the industrialization and mass production of culture by the culture industry as having an overall negative effect on society, an effect which can mislead an audience away from perceiving a more authentic sense of human values. British theorists such as Richard Hoggart of the Birmingham School developed a working class sense of "British Cultural Marxism" which objected to the "massification" and "drift" away from local cultures, a process of commercialization Hoggart saw as being enabled by tabloid newspapers, advertising, and the American film industry.

The term remained academic until the late 1990s, when it began to gain currency among paleoconservatives as part of an ongoing culture war in which it was argued that the very same theorists who were analysing and objecting to the "massification" and mass control via commercialization of culture were in fact working in a conspiracy to control and stage their own attack on Western society, using 1960s counterculture, multiculturalism, progressive politics and political correctness as their methods. This conspiracy theory version of the term is associated with American religious paleoconservatives such as William S. Lind, Pat Buchanan, and Paul Weyrich; but also holds currency among the alt-right, white nationalist groups, and the neo-reactionary movement.

I don't believe the philosophers of the Frankfurt School referred to themselves as Cultural Marxists. This terminology seems to merely be spreading as a conspiracy theory of the alt-right.

  • 1
    Members of the Frankfurt School would certainly not have referred to themselves with an antisemitic slur I think, except perhaps to mock it. Great answer, thanks. – user Sep 3 '18 at 9:49
  • 1
    @user Back then it wouldn't have been an antisemitic slur yet. It often happens that self-descriptions with a positive connotation are appropriated by the opponents of a movement and gain a negative connotation. To give a more recent example: "Social Justice Warrior" was also used as a self-description until it was turned into a slur by their opponents. – Philipp Jan 10 at 9:40
  • 1
    How is a well documented movement to be considered a conspiracy theory? You might as well call racism a conspiracy theory – MolonLabe Jan 11 at 0:40
  • 1
    There seems to me to be a flaw in your reasoning. There is minor school of thought but its name used excessively by a degree of magnitude by it's opponents, then it's a conspiracy theory. OK. But it should then apply not only to "cultural Marxism" but also to... "alt-right". – Shadow1024 Nov 7 at 15:21
  • 2
    @Shadow1024 That analogy doesn't make sense. People do self-identify as "alt-right". In fact, the term itself was coined by Richard Spencer and other members of the alt-right, and was a deliberate attempt to rebrand their movement. – divibisan Nov 7 at 16:12
3

Q Do people self-identify as “cultural Marxist”?

Yes, some people do that now.

But it is perhaps not what was called for in this question.

Those antisemites of the old right and the alt-right who actually believe in the very existence of the "cultural-marxism conspiracy" make a nice target for their opponents, who then ridicule, make ironic commentary and practice re-appropriation of this slur and fighting word.

Johannes Jost Meixner, 5 Aug 2018, "white,cis,male,able,etc" is a dog whistle for "I am a cultural Marxist"

Almost all the top search-engine hits for this as an actual "self-descritopn" use that term in much the same defiant stance as "Je suis Charlie" should display solidarity with victims to islamo-fascists, often refuting the conspiracy theorist believers by employing a simple "if-then"-logic:

I am a Cultural Marxist!
(The Vile Blog, 2016)

I confess, the first thing that had me confoozled was that term "Cultural Marxist". […] Oh. Hey. I am sympatico with most of that (I'd disagree with the arrow of causality implied in that phrase "to justify and maintain hierarchy", but this is just a synopsis so maybe the reality is more sophisticated than that). I guess I am a Cultural Marxist then, in the sense that I oppose the appropriation and distortion of natural processes to justify ideological ends.
The ‘human biodiversity’ racists are at it again, PZ Myers (Pharyngula), ScienceBlogs, 2014.

Dear @jordanbpeterson, you were right. Cultural Marxism is real, and I know because I am a cultural marxist. I am the chaotic witch that lives in the swamp of academia, twisting vulnerable minds away from the due order of things.
Dave Hitchcock (on Twitter, May 28, 2018)

Am I a Cultural Marxist? Mayhaps, if the sole identifier is having compassion. In that case, I am a Cultural Marxist, and proudly so. Yea, moreover, to be called an SJW is a complement of the highest order. For it is the duty of every socialist to fight for justice; to be recognized as such should be a goal universal.
"Austin" in a comment on Trans Women Are Women. This Isn’t a Debate. (The Root, 3/13/17)

Well, I'm, in fact, a cultural Marxist, and I do in fact support gay marriage.
Kvltist4Satan in a comment on JP fan here...coming in peace (Reddit, "4 months ago"

Sorry Bangles. I tried to watch it, but when after 1:26 he said “America is a world communist state” I just had to stop.
Red is, I am sure, going to say that this is because I have been indoctrinated by the progressives and my capacity for reason sapped by a diet of main-stream media and that I am a cultural Marxist.
But it is really because Jordan Maxwell is an idiot.
'georgebolwing' in a comment to "Gareth Morgan on why a flat tax is fairer", November 26, 2014 4:22Pm By David Farrar

  • I removed a few inappropriate phrasings from this answer. Please don't insult people you disagree with. – Philipp Jan 10 at 20:05
  • 2
    @Philipp Ack. General technicality: I thought 'insuling' means "ascribing attributes to people" (essentialist), not "ascribing attributes to actions" (operational). The essentialist is mean and there is no escape, the operational is descriptive and offers different ways out? – LаngLаngС Jan 10 at 20:08
  • What else do you call the adherents and heirs of Critical Theory, Gramsci or Althusser if not cultural Marxists? I guess Intersectionalists? Why is this a conspiracy theory at all? It's not like these movements didn't exist. There must be something here, some presupposition, that I am missing that needs defining. – K Dog Nov 7 at 16:39
  • 2
    @KDog Depends. If they are Critical theorists, I'd call them that. One of those presuppositions I linked to (another A of mine here). Problem is the term CM coined in 1973 meant sth compleley different than what Lind made of it. 'CM' was to criticise nominally Marxian influenced people who were not Marxist enough, merely focussed on cultural studies (fundamentally violating Marx FB11). Then came Lind and turned that upside down, blaming Jews/communists in the process. Perhaps better discussed there? – LаngLаngС Nov 7 at 16:53
  • 1
    @LangLangC I know that "wiki says so, so it must be true", but (except when said by opponents) I have not seen many claims of existence of any actual conspiracy. The closest to that were recordings of defector Yuri Bezmenov concerning KGB efforts to destabilise Western rivals through promotion of most destructive ideologies and fake news, while right now we were supposedly to experience some kind of afterglow. I don't want to spoil the fun, but the truth is presumably much more mundane - as left likes to accuse others of being Nazis, similarly right likes to accuse others of being Marxists. – Shadow1024 Nov 7 at 17:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .