Debating “Cultural Marxism” is all the rage intellectually these days. Viewpoints range from it being so obvious a concept no one need explain it to denial of its very existence. Any attempt to deconstruct the concept is resisted by both the Left and the Right; the Left because to them it’s a concept entirely invented by the Right in order to justify their prejudices; the Right because to do so brings up some rather harsh truths about modern day conservatism.
First off, let us answer a very straightforward question: was Marx a liberal? Pardon my French here: of course, he fucking wasn’t. He was vehemently anti-liberal and wasn’t shy about saying so. The man’s ideas were a lot more complex than his various followers would have you believe (including Lenin, his first and worst imitator), but the man was definitely no liberal, that’s for sure. This is not mere semantics, either.
What many on the Right cannot grasp – and the time of reckoning for the Left is now, but it will come for the Right eventually – is that economic liberalism and social liberalism are symbiotic. If you give people more economic freedom over their lives, they are going to want more freedom in other parts of their lives as well. They aren’t going to accept for instance that homosexuality is wrong, just because some religious text that has no relevance to their lives whatsoever decrees it to be so. Also, with more economic freedom comes less of a sense of collectivism, thus less parochialism, thus an increased demand not to have to live by an outmoded set of rules. Many on the Left would agree with this fully – this forms the very core of the socialism v liberalism debate.
The paradox I speak of on the Right is most visible in someone like Rick Santorum; a guy who says the state should butt out of people’s lives, and then in the same breath tells us the state should be able to prevent women from getting birth control. Some intellectuals in Europe and certainly Britain are catching on to this – the Red Tory phenomenon being a good example, or Maurice Glasman’s social conservatism married with a statist view that became Blue Labour. The acceptance that if you want a socially conservative society, the best way to get it is through a large state that sets the standards for everything.
So what would actual Cultural Marxism look like? I can make an educated guess at some of it. All sexual “deviance” criminalised for a start, as it was under Stalin’s regime (homosexuality made legal right after the revolution in 1917; recriminalised in 1934). Women encouraged not to work (unless suddenly needed to fill a gap, and then that goes into full reverse). An enforced sticking with one’s own culture at pain of imprisonment, and the label that comes with you from birth in terms of race/culture irreversible and armed with multiple inferences. Resettling of vast swathes of people, based solely on racial and cultural identity, all to prop up what amounts to a totalitarian regime. No freedom of movement whatsoever, and particularly not beyond the borders of the nation state.
Doesn’t sound particularly liberal, does it? That’s because it isn’t. This leads me to think that the Cultural Marxism those on the Right cry foul over has nothing to do with Marxism or even anything particularly left-wing at all. They are getting het up by the fact that the economic liberalism they champion leads to social results they dislike. They should just get over it, figure out which is more important to them – economic freedom or social conservatism – and then stop evoking 19th century German thought leaders incorrectly.