“Ignore Anyone Who Says Marxism Is A Threat”
Dr. Scary Gary North
This is a arresting statement on the part of Dr. North’s. Clearly, cultural Marxism remains perhaps the greatest worldview threat to Christianity and Western Civilization today. Yet, Dr. North tells us to dismiss Antonia Gramsci’s school of thought as a Marxist threat.
It seems that Dr. North is a purist who wants to insist that Marxism, as he defines it, is no longer a threat. Part of the problem here though is that since the days of Marx the Marxists themselves have been ripping each other apart over the definition of Marxism. And honestly, given the nature of the Marxist dialectic it probably is not possible to ever arrive at a completely stable definition of Marxism. This is especially true if, as neo-Marxist Antonio Gramscis insisted, the Marxist dialectic is to be applied to the Marxist dialectic itself.
Infighting on the meaning and definition of Marxism continued on into the 20th century where we see the Leninists, Stalinists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Titoists, Hoxhaites, Fabians, and Jucheistas all called each other aberrational from Marx’s true way. Then there were the anarchists who often claimed the mantle of Marx as well as the followers of Bakunin. Marxism has always been somewhat of a moving target.
Antonio Gramsci was another theorist who certainly thought his thinking was Marxist, or at the very least neo-Marxist as did the Frankfurt school that was founded on the Gramscian principles. The disciples of Frankfurt all considered themselves Marxists of one stripe or another, whether one is talking about Marcuse, Adorno, Gary Habermas, Max Horkheimer and others. If the Frankfurt school was and is Marxist then Dr. North is embarrassingly wrong since cultural Marxism is perhaps the major worldview threat to Christianity and Western civilization today.
Now, to be sure Gramsci knew he was playing with and altering Marx but he would have insisted that his thought was merely a variant of Marxism. (Hence the title on Gramsci as “neo-Marxist”) Now the true believer Marxists of Gramsci’s time howled about the change but all Gramsci did was change Marx’s preoccupation with Economics as the center discipline that needed to be conquered to Culture as the center discipline that needed to be conquered. While Marx had been preoccupied with economics Gramsci wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. As such Gramsci attempted to break from the economic determinism of traditional Marxist thought. Because of this Gramsci became yet another variant form of Marxism much like all those noted earlier. So when Dr. North tells us to ignore anyone who says that Marxism is a threat all he has told us is “ignore anyone who isn’t a Marxist as I define Marxism because they are not a threat.”
Cultural Marxism isn’t purist Marxism the way North would define it and so it is defenestration for Cultural Marxism by North’s standard despite the fact that Cultural Marxism retains many of the same goals as classical Marxism.
To summarize by pulling together the strands earlier mentioned in this post, Gramscian Marxism differed in the following ways from classical Marxism,
1.) Gramsci changed out Economic determinism as the key to Marxist thought and replaced it with cultural determinism. Marx was preoccupied with matters like the “means of production,” “the worker being alienated from his work,” “the bourgeoisie stealing the value of the proletariat’s labor,” etc. Gramsci didn’t disagree that economics were important but he believed that there was a bigger matrix that needed changed if totatalistic Revolution was desired. That larger matrix was culture.
2.) Gramsci move from economics to culture necessitated a change in the definition of who constituted the “proletariat” and the “bourgeois.” In classical Marxism those roles were filled by the workers and the owners of capital. For Gramsci the new proletariat was constituted by the disaffected “victims” of Christianity and the new bourgeois was constituted by those who were the gatekeepers of (Christian) culture.
3.) Cultural Marxism turned Marx’s dialectical method on the dialectical method. The Frankfurt school retained the dialectical method but only as it was relativized vis-a-vis the putative errant work of previous Marxist dialecticians. Dialectics must be allowed to self-correct. This was just a way of throwing off the iron hand of classical Marxist. However, this move of critical dialectical theory ended up rejecting the previously accepted historicism and materialism of classical Marxism. The classical materialistic dialectic returned to Hegel’s dialectism.
4.) Gramsci moving from economic-centrism to cultural-centrism changed the definition of who constituted the “proletariat” and the “bourgeois.” In classical Marxism, with its economic-centrist push those roles were filled by the workers and the owners of capital. For Gramsci the new proletariat was constituted by the disaffected “victims” of Christianity and the new bourgeois was constituted by those who were the gatekeepers of (Christian) culture.
However, despite these alterations Gramsci maintained aspects of classical Marxism,
1.) Marxism economic theory remained but as tucked inside a larger theory about culture.
2.) The Marxist theory of dialectics was retained in terms of being the vehicle by which progress is achieved. Gramsci and the Frankfurt school retained the dialectical methodology of thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis. However the Cultural Marxist usage of Marxist dialectics was conjoined with Critical theory as a means of insuring Marxist notions of “progress.”
3.) The Frankfurt school (Cultural Marxists) retained the tool of terror as a means of takeover and control. This was seen in the work of the founder of the “Institution For Marxism” (Frankfurt school), Georg Lukacs. Previous to founding the school to advance the theories of Gramsci Lukacs had been in 1919, the Deputy Commissar for Culture in Bela Kuhn’s short lived Communist Hungary. Lukacs introduced cultural terrorism as Deputy Commissar in the attempt to de-Christianize the Christian culture of Hungary. Lukacs put policies in place that,
a.) Stripped Christian sexual ethics from Hungarian youth
b.) Attacked the patriarchal family
c.) Attacked the influence of the Hungarian church
These same techniques would be used again when Luckacs cultural terrorism rooted throughout the West.
When the Marxist Lukacs founded his “Institution for Marxism,” he said,
“I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution. A worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.”
4.) The Cultural Marxist have retained the classical Marxist conceptual teleology of a Utopia achieved by violent Revolution where the necessity of the State withers with the arrival of Cultural Marxist hegemony.
So, you see, Dr. North is quite wrong when he insists that Marxism is not a threat. Even if we were just talking about Classical Economic Marxism 1 billion Chinese suggest that Dr. North is quite in error. That is another post for another time.
One final small rabbit trial.
One should be careful drawing to hard and fast of a distinction between Classical Marxism and what we have come to know as “Capitalism.” (It would be better termed “Finance Capitalism,” or “Corporatism.”) Classical Marxism could not have come to ascendancy around the world without the work and aid of what is unfortunately now known as “Capitalism.” The Bolshevik Revolution would have been strangled in its crib if it had not been for the Western Capitalists. Anthony Sutton has chronicled this in many of his books, most notoriously, “Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution.”
“Ignore Anyone Who Says Marxism Is A Threat”