What is cultural Marxism? The alt-right meme in Suella Braverman’s speech in Westminster
Cultural Marxism is a theory that started in the early 20th century, which was popularised in the aftermath of the socialist revolution (this great piece in the Guardian explains it in depth). The idea was that Marxism should extend beyond class and into cultural equality and that, through major institutions like schools and the media, cultural values could progressively be changed. The theory was later adopted by the philosophers at the Frankfurt School who posited that the only way to destroy capitalism was to destroy it in all walks of life; where, not just classes, but all genders, races, and religions could live in society equally. While this may seem unimportant, the Frankfurt School’s adoption of – and modifications to – cultural Marxism is where the conspiracy theory truly begins. The Frankfurt School’s predominantly Jewish members of the school were forced to flee to America by the Nazis in the 1940s, where many went on to teach, write, and commentate in mainstream institutions. This, conspiracy theorists claim, is when cultural Marxists began to poison the West – and when cultural Marxists began their attempts to undermine its values. Cultural Marxism’s move from political theory to full memeification was fast-tracked when it was used by mass murderer Anders Breivik. Breivik was the sole perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks in which 77 people died across several sites. Before committing his attacks, much like the Christchurch shooter, Breivik sent an enormous personal manifesto to a group of friends and family which outlined his anti-multiculturalist, racist, and misogynist ideals. In the manifesto, he spends huge chunks of time crediting the writers who pushed cultural Marxist conspiracy theories into the mainstream. The 1,000-page document references “cultural Marxism” and “cultural Marxists” nearly 650 times. For the growing audience of anti-Semitic, alt-right white supremacists online, his musings have turned him into an icon – and “cultural Marxism” has become a foundational alt-right belief. It became an easy label for those white supremacists looking for an umbrella term to describe the people at which their anger about diversity, feminism, and religious freedom was directed. Cultural Marxist soon became a signal to mean anyone vaguely left-leaning – in some cases, even if this simply meant those who didn’t agree with white supremacy.
(tags: antisemitism alt-right suella-braverman marxism nazis fascism history memes dogwhistles)