Via Pajamas Media, I found what I consider a must-read post — “Gramscian Damage” by Eric S. Raymond. His thesis is that the United States intelligentsia is still plagued by pervasive and poisonous memes he calls “suicidalism” — aggravated by a failure to recognize that they’re still dealing with vintage Communist propaganda left over from Soviet psychological warfare ops. Here’s a list of the memes:

  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West?s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ?oppressed? people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist?s point of view, and make concessions.
  • The core of the problem? Identity politics:

    While the espionage apparatus of the Soviet Union didn?t outlast it, their memetic weapons did. These memes are now coming near to crippling our culture?s response to Islamic terrorism.
    In this context, Jeff Goldstein has written eloquently about perhaps the most long-term dangerous of these memes ? the idea that rights inhere not in sovereign individuals but identity groups, and that every identity group (except the ?ruling class?) has the right to suppress criticism of itself through political means up to and including violence.
    Mark Brittingham (aka WildMonk) has written an excellent essay on the roots of this doctrine in Rousseau and the post-Enlightenment Romantics. It has elsewhere been analyzed and labeled as transnational progressivism. The Soviets didn?t invent it, but they promoted it heavily in a deliberate ? and appallingly successful ? attempt to weaken the Lockean, individualist tradition that underlies classical liberalism and the U.S. Constitution. The reduction of Western politics to a bitter war for government favor between ascriptive identity groups is exactly the outcome the Soviets wanted and worked hard to arrange.

    Anyone who dislikes identity politics (long a pet peeve of this blog) owes it to himself to read the whole thing, which is more optimistic than you might think:

    I think there is still an excellent chance that the West can recover from suicidalism without going through a fevered fascist episode and waging a genocidal war. But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin?s memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media.
    The process won?t be pretty. But I fear that if the rest of us don?t hound the po-mo Left and its useful idiots out of public life with attack and ridicule and shunning, the hard Right will sooner or later get the power to do it by means that include a lot of killing. I don?t want to live in that future, and I don?t think any of my readers do, either. If we want to save a liberal, tolerant civilization for our children, we?d better get to work.

    I couldn’t agree more.
    In my darker moments, I worry that the United States could be headed for a second Civil War over this stuff.
    Logic once saved my life, though, and I like to think it might save the country from such madness.
    (What would be a nice start would be to get the people who believe there’s no truth — and no objective standards — to simply apply this self canceling logic to their own thinking. The problem is a stubborn belief that their ideas only apply to others.)
    UPDATE: I’m really honored that Jeff Goldstein would see fit to link this post — because he’s the guy who’s done the heavy lifting in this very tedious area of deconstructing the PoMo Deconstructionists. I’m like your typical eyeball-rolling college student who knows the PoMos are full of crap and refuses to pay attention to them. Trouble is, that’s not enough! When I was involved in Berkeley politics, I noticed that reason the hard left always “won” was not because they were right but because they wore down their opponents with interminable drivel (intelligible only to them) which went on until the wee hours of the morning. Normal people go home and let them have their way. Jeff Goldstein, God bless him, is one of those precious few who refuses to shut up or go home. Slugging through the Decons’ deliberately unintelligible and incomprehensible epistemological gobbledygook is hard, thankless work. How Jeff manages to do it I don’t know, but just knowing he’s there makes it easier for me to sleep at night. Consider this: if what Eric S. Raymond says is true (“if the rest of us don?t hound the po-mo Left and its useful idiots out of public life with attack and ridicule and shunning, the hard Right will sooner or later get the power to do it by means that include a lot of killing”) Jeff’s work might actually be saving lives. (Not the lives of people likely to say thank you, either…)
    UPDATE: I don’t think the fight against PoMo nonsense is helped much by the view promulgated by certain moral conservatives that things like sex education and tolerance for homosexuality constitute a sinister overarching meme they call “Cultural Marxism“:

    In 1919, Lukacs asked, ?Who will save us from Western civilization?? That same year, when he became Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Bolshevik Bela Kun government in Hungary, one of Lukacs?s first acts was to introduce sex education into Hungary?s public schools. He knew that if he could destroy the West?s traditional sexual morals, he would have taken a giant step toward destroying Western culture itself.

    There are a lot of unsupported assumptions there. While Lukacs was a Communist, does that make sex education communistic? Hitler and the Nazis liked uniforms and modern roads; are these things “Cultural fascism”?

    ….the Frankfurt School crossed Marx with Freud, taking from psychology the technique of psychological conditioning. Today, when the cultural Marxists want to do something like ?normalize? homosexuality, they do not argue the point philosophically. They just beam television show after television show into every American home where the only normal-seeming white male is a homosexual (the Frankfurt School?s key people spent the war years in Hollywood).

    Why is “normalize” in quotes? Any idea? Is the author suggesting that homosexuality is abnormal, but that “normalizing” it is Marxist?
    Gee. Until today I never knew the Greeks and the Romans were Cultural Marxists.
    More:

    After World War II ended, most members of the Frankfurt School went back to Germany. But Herbert Marcuse stayed in America. He took the highly abstract works of other Frankfurt School members and repackaged them in ways college students could read and understand. In his book ?Eros and Civilization,? he argued that by freeing sex from any restraints, we could elevate the pleasure principle over the reality principle and create a society with no work, only play (Marcuse coined the phrase, ?Make love, not war?). Marcuse also argued for what he called ?liberating tolerance,? which he defined as tolerance for all ideas coming from the Left and intolerance for any ideas coming from the Right. In the 1960s, Marcuse became the chief ?guru? of the New Left, and he injected the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School into the baby boom generation, to the point where it is now America?s state ideology.

    “Make love, not war” is an inherently illogical phrase I don’t agree with, but according to Marcuse’s grandson Harold Marcuse, Marcuse never coined the phrase:

    I am fairly sure Herbert did not coin this phrase, but if he did, power to him!

    To borrow from the PoMo lingo, I guess that means he might as well have said it because he agreed with it.
    Lind concludes:

    The next conservatism should unmask multiculturalism and Political Correctness and tell the American people what they really are: cultural Marxism. Its goal remains what Lukacs and Gramsci set in 1919: destroying Western culture and the Christian religion. It has already made vast strides toward that goal. But if the average American found out that Political Correctness is a form of Marxism, different from the Marxism of the Soviet Union but Marxism nonetheless, it would be in trouble. The next conservatism needs to reveal the man behind the curtain – – old Karl Marx himself.

    Notice the hopeless blurring of distinctions which is accomplished by the creation of a single code phrase — “Cultural Marxism” — to describe ideas neither related to each other nor specifically derived from Marx. For starters, Communists never liked homosexuality…. I think the intent is to conveniently lump all enemies together while torturing the meaning of words. In short, what the Deconstructionists do.
    I think it’s better to attack bad ideas than lump people into categories and put words in their mouth. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Western Civilization any more equates with fundamentalist Christianity than does sexual freedom with “Cultural Marxism.”
    Perhaps the purveyors of that phrase are interested in waging war over sexuality. I’m not — and I don’t think most Americans are.
    (I’m suprised they didn’t mention that old cultural bugaboo of drugs, but I think they’re probably aware that recreational drug use is almost as old as recreational sex.)
    MORE: It’s probably worth noting that the author of the above piece on “Cultural Marxism” has written extensively about “Fourth Generation Warfare.” I don’t like to put words in anyone’s mouth, so I can’t speak for Mr. Lind, but elsewhere this is defined thusly:

    ….war between special interest groups, races, and religions. It is war that seeks to avoid our military power and neutralize it by dividing us from within.

    Sigh.
    Sounds like more code language to me. Why can’t they just call it “Civil War”? Do I have to choose sides now or can I wait?
    I’d rather hang onto my sense of humor about these things as long as I can, and while I think I’ve frequently stated the case against the forces of political correctness, I’m increasingly worried by what I can only describe as the forces of penile correctness.
    AND MORE: Wikipedia describes Lind (who writes for Antiwar.com) as “Closely linked to the Libertarian philosophy.” (Not close enough for my comfort.)
    And Daily Kos linked favorably Lind’s demand for a pullout from Iraq. Elsewhere, Lind declares both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars lost.