Your commies come in two basic categories. One kind of Marxism emphasized economics, class and revolution while the other emphasized culture, slow degradation and the promotion of rot. The former was urged and fomented by Lenin, while the latter was urged by men like Gramsci, who argued for a “long march through the institutions.” And by “institutions” he meant cultural institutions—the kind that kept families, churches, and communities as tight molecular formations that had a tendency to resist the predations of the atheistic state.
Both the revolution and the rot intended the destruction of the existing order, and did so with the eschatological Marxist assumption that something beautiful would arise from the ashes. This is the hope of every progressive—bring in the chaos so that the chaos might give birth to a marvelous work and a wonder.
In Gramsci’s view, in order for the state to have its way with the people, the existing cultural order of Christendom had to be hollowed out. The amazing and intricate molecular bonds that had built up over centuries were strikingly resistant to direct frontal assaults. This is something Gramsci saw and Lenin didn’t. The molecules had to be broken down into atoms first, which would then have little capacity to stand up against an encroaching state. Think of it. A society of individuals only, without the molecular connections of Burke’s “little platoons,” is a shapeless sack filled with greased BB’s. Such sacks can be pushed and manipulated at will.
So you had two wings of the progressive revolution develop—there were the economic class warfare Marxists, and there were the cultural Marxists. We beat the former in the Cold War. The latter group is beating us like a rented mule. The legacy of these cultural commies has been a long and effective one, and their dismaying accomplishments really are remarkable. Some of the names in their Hall of Shame are Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and the whole Frankfurt School. Those interested in reading more about this history can check out William Lind’s cover article in the most recent Chronicles magazine.
Wealth and Wives
Because the Marxist Marxists wanted to burn all the “bad things” down overnight, what that meant practically was that everybody started looking at them coldly shortly after the revolution, wondering when the promised utopia would arrive (for example) in the USSR. When would there be actual food on the shelves? When that cold-stare-stage happened (and it happened pretty quickly), order was subsequently maintained for a number of decades by the straightforward means of terror. The obvious problems had to be officially denied by everyone, the state said, tapping the palm of its hand meaningfully with a club. Russian humor went underground in order to keep things real: did you hear about the time a judge was walking down the hallway of the courthouse, laughing so hard his shoulders were shaking? Another judge met him as they were walking toward the outside doors. “What were you laughing at?” the second judge asked. “I just heard the funniest joke I have ever heard,” the first judge replied. “Well, what was it?” the second judge asked. “I’m sorry, I can’t say. I just gave somebody ten years in the camps for it.”
And despite the various ways the useful idiots in the West figured out for keeping the economic commies propped up for so long, the whole thing finally collapsed under its own contradictory weight in the eighties. When it had first started, as an incentive to the revolution, the bribe offered to everyone was your neighbor’s wealth. But unfortunately, the revolution and its aftermath destroyed that wealth, along with the means for generating any more of it, and so the promises went unfulfilled.
Gramsci knew better than to promise your neighbor’s wealth. What he did, in effect, is promise your neighbor’s wife. The payoff for this approach is immediate, maybe even tonight, while the devastating effects related to it are on a long fuse.
Lenin promised an abundance of imaginary carrots, and had to resort almost immediately to the stick. But Gramsci offered actual carrots. After the prodigal son left home, Lenin waylaid him right after he got out of town, beat him up, and took all his money. Then he packed him off to the gulag. In contrast, Gramsci walked with him to the far country, and talked him into buying drinks for the house, and even subsidized some of his hooker parties. This is because economic Marxists are thieves and cultural Marxists are panders.
So What’s the Point?
So bring it down to the present, down to the last few weeks. Cultural Marxism has gone by a number of names in the last few decades, and there are other names associated with various subsets of cultural Marxism as well. Some words that should set your alarms off are words like political correctness, multiculturalism, sustainability, feminism, diversity, critical theory, antifa, environmentalism, and social justice. These words and phrases should hit your ear the same way bone cancer does. All of it is coming from the same basic ideological lineage, and all of it is going to the same end, which down the worm hole into the pit of totalitolerance. As Lind shows in his article, it was Marcuse who developed the idea that tolerance should (of course) be extended to any views or practices from the left, and did not apply at all to any views or practices from the right.
And so this leads to the next thing. The cultural commies have a very broad definition of “the right.” There are any number of ways that different kinds of conservatives reject other kinds of conservatives as not really conservative and, whether you follow Kirk, or Hayek, or Buckley, or Will, you probably have a point. But as far as the cultural commies are concerned, there is a broad swath of perspectives to the right that their totalitolerance automatically rejects with loathing.
Their objects of loathing would obviously include principled conservatism and would also include red state reactionary populism. Now, for those just joining us, Donald Trump is a reactionary populist. There are stark and striking differences between reactionary populism and principled conservativism, and all of us can have detailed discussions about those differences on the bus to the Correctional Camp of Enhanced Sensitivities, where we will all spend ten years turning big rocks into little ones.
But in the meantime, Trump has a pretty good idea who is attacking him and why, which is more than what can be said about many principled conservatives. He is fighting their attempts to get him on the bus, while principled conservatives have all lined up in an orderly queue muttering under their breath about the importance of the rule of law.
And this is why it must be said that while principled conservatives tend to understand their own principles, what they don’t understand are the principles of the Alinskyites. They don’t have a blessed clue.
And this must be emphasized even more strongly when talking about the theologically conservative Christians (who are therefore automatically on the right, according to the commies) but who have allowed all their sensibilities to be trained and shaped according to the dictates of the cultural Marxists. If the principled conservatives don’t have a clue about the revolution that is going down, the inchoate conservatives who populate the leadership ranks of the evangelical movement have to be regarded as living in an advanced state of mysticism. They dwell in the great cloud of unknowing. The fellowship with Jesus is really sweet there, albeit somewhat nebulous and undefined.
What about this entire crazy-town-melee makes anyone think that when we surrender the object that they are currently demanding we surrender, that they will calm right down and go back to being normal neighbors? Of course they started with the Confederate monuments, as they were the low hanging fruit. They were the objets d’scorn that no respectable person would ever defend, and so they could get their mojo going that way. But there are a lot more offensive statues than those that were erected for the CSA in memoriam, and they are already coming for them. And if you think the cross on your steeple isn’t part of the plan, then there is a lot more about the cultural commies that you need to read up on.
And this explains some of the “inexplicable” backlash. Some factory worker has been unemployed for a year and a half, and he has a hard time comprehending how statues of obscure Confederate generals have suddenly become the pressing issue of our time. Those Trump rallies are starting to look more and more inviting.
Lord willing, in the days to come I will write a bit more about the genesis of reactionary populism.