4 December 2015

Cultural Marxism is strangling Western freedom


America is belatedly waking up to the debilitating effects of the worm that is burrowing into her soul. Intolerant scenes of intimidation this Autumn at US universities, including UCLA, Wesleyan, Yale and, most notoriously, Missouri where students incited by academics combined to prevent free speech on campus have finally alerted Americans to the erosion of academic freedom by political correctness.

This crisis has been incubating for years. Some time ago one commentator wrote that many American campuses were “no longer universities, but small, ivy-covered North Koreas”. As in North Korea, creating an enclosed environment is a priority for the PC enforcers. At Missouri, student journalists were repelled to chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, reporters have got to go.” A woman assistant professor of communication (yes indeed) shouted, on video: “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”

Totalitarianism has always needed muscle, as the Soviet Union demonstrated for 70 years. For Political Correctness is a totalitarian movement, seeking to control even the language of everyday communication. Its apologists affect to sneer at its identification as cultural Marxism, denouncing that self-evident truth as a “conspiracy theory”, when to deny it is historically, philosophically and ideologically illiterate.

The term “political correctness” was not coined, as is often claimed, by Michel Foucault in 1968. It was invented much earlier by Anton Semyonovich Makarenko, Lenin’s education guru and favourite wordsmith. Its principles had already been implemented under the communist dictatorship of Bela Kun in Hungary, in 1919, by Georg Lukacs, the “commissar for culture”. He introduced a programme of “cultural terrorism” under which he imposed pornographic sex education on schoolchildren, promoting promiscuity, demonising the family and encouraging pupils to mock their parents and religion.

Lukacs’ urgent demand was: “Who will save us from Western Civilisation?” Later, he helped found the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, from which emerged the ideology of Frankfurt School Marxism. The Institute’s director Max Horkheimer grafted Freudianism onto Marxism, complemented by the cultural Marxist theories of Herbert Marcuse, an admirer of the Marquis de Sade, who expressed his belief in “polymorphous perversity”.

After the rise of Hitler, the Frankfurt School prophets exported this toxic ideological confection to America. The consequences were such pseudo-academic atrocities as “deconstruction”, whereby the texts of great writers were shredded by intellectual pygmies and reinterpreted in the light of Marxist neuroses, and “critical theory”, the demolition of the classical literary canon in a scorched earth offensive against Western culture.

Today, Political Correctness has acquired the status of a new orthodoxy. Not only has political correctness destroyed liberty of expression and academic freedom in universities, traditionally the bastions of robust debate and intellectual conflict, as well as being the key formative influence on future elites, the problem has spread far beyond higher education.

The PC cult has a stranglehold on governments, national and local, legislatures, most communications media, the arts establishments, including publishing, NGOs and supranational bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations. Mass manipulation of public opinion is being implemented through the “availability cascade”, i.e. the moulding of collective belief via the availability in the public forum of PC views, and the “reputational cascade”, which enforces social disapproval of dissidents.

Its targets are vestigial Christianity, traditional institutions – especially the family, seen as an intolerable rival to the intruder state – and sexual and national identity. Dissidence is suppressed by the imposition of PC language (foreseen by Orwell as “Newspeak”) and hate laws (which Orwell also warned of as “thought crime”). In Britain, the introduction of “aggravated” offences has ended equality under the law, painfully won over centuries.

More startlingly, political correctness has recently declared war on science. Its latest ambition, to criminalise sceptical opinion on climate change, even if voiced by Nobel laureates, demonstrates that cultural Marxism awards ideology primacy over science. Marxism always did. PC-driven governments are now according legal recognition to individuals as belonging to the sex of their “choice” when science implacably identifies their chromosomes as proving otherwise.

That is the kind of anti-scientific flat-earthism that progressives, until recently, wrongly ascribed to the Church. It marks an historical watershed: the rejection by progressivism of the empiricism of the Enlightenment. With one Enlightenment figure – Adam Smith – it never had any rapport. Originally, the emergence of cultural Marxism under the Frankfurt School marked the displacement of the command economy from its pivotal role in Marxist theory: instead, the culture assumed primacy.

The implosion of the Soviet economy proved the Frankfurters right, in that one respect. The state could not create wealth, so leave that task to the capitalists and then use the proceeds to fund the creation of the Brave New World through taxation and social control. Recently, however, neo-Marxism has succumbed to its primitive instinct to command the economy, this time in pursuit of social control, so that the state is encroaching ever more into boardrooms, where it must eventually reduce efficiency and competitiveness.

Corporations’ sole responsibility is to create wealth, legally and ethically, to the benefit of shareholders and wider society. Nothing is more antipathetic to enterprise than a quota system for directors or executives. Merit should be the sole criterion for promotion. If merit produces a 100 per cent female or ethnic minority board of directors, capitalism is happy with that. If, under state inducement, tokenism supplants merit, competitiveness will be reduced and the market will punish the ideologues (and the shareholders too).

It is time for business to tell the intruder state: “Get your tanks off my lawn.” It is not just impressionable activists on student campuses who are being imposed upon by political correctness, it is everybody in the Western world, including those responsible for corporate governance. All have a duty to stand up against this intolerant fanaticism and reassert the values of what was until recently the Free World

Gerald Warner is a political commentator and writer