Monday, 26 January 2015

IDEOLOGY IS NOT A THING



Recently there has been some discussion about this thing called "Cultural Marxism," and whether–or how–it exists or not. The discussion began with an article by Jason Wilson in Britain's premier left-wing broadsheet the Guardian, titled “Cultural Marxism: a uniting theory for right wingers who love to play the victim,” to which Michael Enoch at The Right Stuff responded with “I Acknowledge That Cultural Marxism Exists,” with which alt-right stalwarts Keith Preston and Greg Johnson then seemingly concurred.

First, here is Wilson setting out his stall:
"The conspiracy theorists claim that these 'cultural Marxists' began to use insidious forms of psychological manipulation to upend the west. Then, when Nazism forced the (mostly Jewish) members of the Frankfurt School to move to America, they had, the story goes, a chance to undermine the culture and values that had sustained the world’s most powerful capitalist nation."
Enoch, perhaps taking inspiration from his recent reading of Kevin MacDonald's Culture of Critique, states that Cultural Marxism doesn't need to be an actual conscious conspiracy. Here is the summing up of his argument:
“In the end the argument is just a semantic shell game used by leftists to avoid any discussion or criticism of actual ideas and policies and keep the debate focused on word games and obfuscation. Cultural Marxism is a useful and coherent label for a body of easily recognizable leftist theories and ideas concerning identity politics and oppression. We could just as easily call it Flying Spaghetti Marxism for all it matters though. What is important is the substance, which people like Wilson never actually want to discuss.”
Preston's view, expressed in an article commenting on Enoch's article, stresses the abandonment of Economic Marxism implicit in the term Cultural Marxism and explicit in the various causes that Cultural Marxism promotes:
“Lastly, PC and capitalism are not necessarily in conflict. Capitalism wants workers, consumers, investors, and new markets. This means operating among an ever greater number of demographics. It is therefore perfectly logical that capitalism would embrace anti-racism, feminism, gay rights, etc. They want to sell products to minorities, women, and gays, and hire them as workers and managers, not discriminate against them. (See Noam Chomsky’s comments on how big business supports anti-racism). I suspect the serious thinkers among the cultural Left realize this, which is part of the reason why they have softened their anti-capitalism in their old age. This also explains why the corporate class has mostly rolled over in the face of PC. Remember that Singapore (which the Left considers to be fascist, and which free market conservatives often hold up as a model) also has strict “hate speech” laws.” 
Johnson, in a comment on Enoch’s article, follows a similar tack:
“Cultural Marxism (another term for it is the New Left) is completely consistent with capitalism. Cultural Marxism does not champion the working class against capital. National Socialism taught the Jewish Left that the working class could turn against them. Stalinism taught the Jewish Left that the totalitarian state can turn against them. Thus the Jewish Left began to abandon the Old Left and replace it with the New Left, which champions "inclusion" and upward mobility within the capitalist system of previously excluded groups. Most of these groups are mere proxies and avatars for the group that pushes this agenda and benefits from it most, namely Jews. Cultural Marxism has expanded and cemented Jewish hegemony in the West. The result is, as Jonathan Bowden pointed out, something previously thought to be impossible: a hyper-oligarchical form of capitalism with a reigning Left-wing value system. (It is Left wing, at least, until the Left conflicts with Jewish interests.)”
From his other writings and podcasts, Enoch could be fairly described as a race realist, gender traditionalist, American nationalist, cultural Christian, and believer in the market, in other words, not too distant from an old school Republican. Cultural Marxism, with its race denying, gender confounding, universalist, atheist, and socialist tendencies, is therefore an extremely convenient label for all the ideas and tendencies he is diametrically opposed to. Cultural Marxism is a greater convenience for Enoch as a catch-all bugbear than it would be for almost anyone else.

Those who can do, do; those who can't, teach;
those who can't teach, teach Cultural Marxism.
Preston and Johnson's views, however, emphasize the sinister synergies between Capitalism and the Left, with Johnson giving this his usual Jewish spin – and not without reason in the light of the news that the Ferguson protests had largely been kept going by the generosity of George Soros. Rather than agreeing with Enoch, the views of Preston and Johnson significantly differ.

Both Preston and Johnson have ideas and attitudes that would be more comfortably placed on the Left. Johnson is much more socially liberal and has a keen interest in various economic theories like social credit that are truly anti-capitalist. Preston, of course, is well-known as an anti-state anarchist. I suspect that Enoch, in his troll-channeling humorous style, would describe some of Preston and Johnson's positions as "dildo" or even "autistic right," two phrases often employed on Enoch's excellent if irreverent Daily Shoah radio show. But cheap jibes aside, there is a real problem with ideological explanations of ideology and believing in "Cultural Marxism" just because it is personally convenient.

Preston, in his article, points the way by digging up some ideological history, something he is well versed in. Here he is on the surprising beliefs of the twin fountainheads of Marxism:
“Marx and Engels were essentially Germanic or at least Nordic supremacists, viewed indigenous peoples as non-historical, and regarded Western imperialism as a historically progressive force (they had the same view of capitalism).”
Preston would also be able to tell you that Marx was a rather sincere anti-Semite despite his own Jewish origins (self-loathing has perhaps always been germane to Leftism). What Preston's historical perspective reveals is that Marxism has greatly mutated and changed in its comparatively short history. Furthermore it has also developed remarkably diverse and contradictory regional variants.

This suggests that Marxism's actual essence is weak, or that it is merely a protean entity, ever ready to bend with the times. But such shape-shifting is not just limited to Marxism. We have seen it with Christianity and various political parties, such as the US Democratic Party, once the citadel of Ku Klux Klan power.

Takes one to hate one.
A particularly striking example of "ideological ambidexterity" is the way in which the West and the East (the Soviet Union and now Russia) have ideologically switched places since the Cold War, with America now being all about "equality," while Russia shelters behind a Christian-infused form of Conservatism.

Far from the "insidious forms of psychological manipulation" of supposedly omnipotent academics (an oxymoron, in case you're wondering), what changed America was geopolitical expediency. In the 1950s with the threat posed by a particularly cunning and fascistic version of Communism, America was forced to reformulate its quintessential and, of course, ineradicable racism in such a way that it would not be a geopolitical drag on it in its struggle with the Soviet Union for the hearts, minds, oil, and markets of the non-aligned world.

Jim Crow might even have been around today if the balance of power had not tilted so dangerously against the West with the fall of China to Mao's Communists in 1949. Later still the liberal, secular West found an alliance with militant Islam to be particularly useful, as it sought to stem the spread of Communism by stirring up the Afghans.

History is full of such ideological backtracking, going all the way back to the Romans and their adoption of Christianity as a system for imposing a totalitarian system on their weakening empire – a move alas that did not pay off. Ideology, as it exists in the world, is nothing more than a protean form of convenience for particular political alignments and group interests, which are sure to shift from time to time. All ideological formations are prone to this plasticizing effect, which, over time, turns each one into a mockery of itself. What exactly is the point of any ideology besides putting a gloss on underlying factors?

But the clincher when it comes to considering Cultural Marxism and the absurd notion that an ideology can be a causal factor, rather than just a weird form of PR, is the Frankfurt School. This group of German-Jewish academics and its corpus of writings is cited as the engine of the Cultural Marxist Revolution that has supposedly conquered the West with its legendary "march through the institutions." But the Frankfurt School was essentially just a small group of ugly, uprooted academics with funny accents who couldn't write to save themselves, or anybody else for that matter. Just try reading their works – I dare you!

After being unceremoniously kicked out of Europe, they were horrified at ending up in a country that had no need for their Marxist claptrap. That Cultural Marxism then supposedly became such a big success is only explicable by the fact that it didn’t.

Adorno: not fond of short, clear sentences.
How can anyone claim that Cultural Marxism is an effective ideological force when its key texts, the major works of the Frankfurt School have hardly been read by any of today’s Leftists – and even if they have, it's a fair bet that they haven't been understood at all well. For an ideology to have any validity it has to have a clear cut message that can be communicated, and which can then move people. The Frankfurt school lacks these attributes.

Peoples and societies may be changing in many puzzling and aberrant ways, but none of this would ever take place if it were not for the consent of certain powerful economic and cultural elites, and the forces and interests that they channel. Ideology is just the wrapping paper for that particular package, not its substance.

The value system of something as large, complex, and powerful as the West or any other empire will never come from musty books and cloistered academics, but instead from trade systems, consumption patterns, and geopolitical power balances. If sticking a label on aspects of this is temporarily expedient, then names like "Liberalism," "Marxism," "Cultural Marxism," or even "Islam" may be appended, but, underneath, quite different mechanisms do their work.

Islam is a good example of the protean aspects of ideology. It essentially got its start not as "the faith of the true believers," but as a rather sleazy device for uniting the desert tribes to take full advantage of the massive mutual weakening that the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires had been inflicting on each other for decades beforehand. The faith or ideology of Islam would have had no traction otherwise, and in the face of two healthy empires able to repel them, the tribes would have cheerfully returned to slitting each other's throats. It was plunder that built Islam, and when the plunder ran out, it went into a protracted period of abeyance. It's recent revival since 1967 as a supposed "ideological force" has much to do with the expediences of asymmetrical warfare for which its tribal origins give it some utility and its convenience as a channeling device for second-generation immigrant ressentiment in Europe.

So, how about Cultural Marxism? If it is not the real world manifestation of the world-changing brains of Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, and their modern-day followers, what exactly is it? One thing is for sure: it is not a coherent set of ideas that is shaping the world in its image. The power flows the other way. Cultural Marxism is simply the gloss that a post-Christian West, caught in the habit of seeking moral justification, places on the decadent proclivities made possible by its unprecedented affluence. To kill it, you have to kill the post-Christian reflex, or else kill the affluence. Nothing else will do. Talking about it won't have the slightest effect.


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