More on the logically muddled “Cultural Marxist” meme (which in an outburst of hysteria I earlier called “penile correctness”).
There is a serious logical error being made by the people using and promulgating the “Cultural Marxist” label. In their haste to create a grab bag “ism” for all the various things they oppose, they’ve confused tactics with ideological philosophy, and called things “Marxist” which are not Marxism. In addition to promoting ideas thought to be destabilizing to their enemies from time to time, Marxists also availed themselves of things like “Molotov cocktails,” the AK-47, and even the atomic bomb. Yet no one would call such weapons “Marxist.” Why, then, are they saying it is “Marxist” to promulgate ideas like sex education in conservative societies? Or the nihilistic idea (shared by Hitler) that there are no objective standards, and even no truth? These are no more Communist ideas than is fluoridation of drinking water.
Anyone remember this guy?


In the satirical Dr. Strangelove, General Ripper asserted that fluoridation of water was “the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.”
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that fluoridation of water was in fact a communistic plot to systematically undermine our youth, by sapping them of their precious bodily fluids. I’d be willing to bet that as a military man, even the fictional General Ripper would be the first to recognize that pollution of our fluids was not Marxism per se, but a tactic meant to soften us up for the kill, in much the same manner that we might be softened up by the deliberate introduction of smuggled heroin.
The “Cultural Marxism” phrase creates another “ism” based on two fundamental errors:

  • 1. That psychological war tactics are features characterizing the ideology which promoted them as strategy; and
  • 2. That all ideas once used by Marxists in this manner are therefore wrong, and evil.
  • According to this logic, if Marxists decided to oppose segregation and support integration based on the tactical belief that integration would destabilize the South in the 1950s, then integration, too, is “Cultural Marxism.” And, of course, an evil cultural threat.
    This whole thing is almost too ridiculous for extended comment, but some people will fall for anything. I feel forced to address it twice because I don’t think this “Cultural Marxist” stuff (which seems to be taken quite seriously) should be allowed to in any way tarnish Eric S. Raymond’s excellent essays or Jeff Goldstein’s monumental work. Clearly, incalculable damage has been done by certain cultural memes originally promulgated by Marxists as tactics. But they are all individual ideas independent of Karl Marx and some of them (like sex education, tolerance of homosexuality, and racial integration) — are arguably not evil, nor even necessarily wrong. Defeating ideas that are wrong is hard work. Ideas are not defeated by misidentifying them with a new label, or lumping them in with unrelated ideas and further mischaracterizing them, but by demonstrating that they are wrong, and why they are wrong.
    Fits of demagoguery, hyperbole, and name calling can have the opposite effect of what’s intended.
    Joe McCarthy may have been the best friend the Communist Party USA ever had, but that’s another essay.
    My advice to the anti-Western PoMo types has long been not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    (I still think this is good advice even if we disagree on whether the bathwater, or the baby, or neither, are, um, “polluted.”)
    PRACTICAL ASIDE: I don’t know whether people realize it or not, but telling people that their purely personal lifestyle decisions constitute “Cultural Marxism” is not a good way to make friends, influence people, or win arguments. (It didn’t seem to play well in Canada.)
    Moreover when people are called Marxists who aren’t Marxists, they’re likely to feel quite insulted.
    Might as well call people “Cultural pedophiles”. . .
    I’ll say this, though. It’s a good way to advance identity politics in the name of combating it.
    (Interesting that Lind addressed a Holocaust denial group.)
    UPDATE: My thanks to Jeff Goldstein for linking this post in his marvelous expos? of the Boston Globe’s dishonest and cowardly attempt to mischaracterize the “the ultimate Enlightenment value” as “tolerance”:

    This process, it should be clear, is simply a domestic variant of Said?s multiculturalism?evident in the press? thinking behind its refusal to run the Mohammed cartoons?with the ?Otherness? Said made off limits to our critical faculties no longer relegated to the exotic; instead, it is now being extended to those deemed ?inauthentic? or ?hostile? to a particular self-defined and self-regulating identity group here at home.
    Today, citing ?tolerance? as the ultimate Enlightenment value, our press is able to justify what amounts to (self) censorship. Fear of offending the Other is paramount, because the western press has no ?right? to inflame those to whom they must defer on matters of their own culture.
    Which, sadly?but predictably?plays right into the hands of our enemies as they learn to use the same memetic tools the Soviets used against us to great affect.

    No one says it better, and it needs to be said again and again.
    Jeff asked a question which concerned tormented me for entirely different reasons:

    Is Edward Said the new Alexander Hamilton?

    (I think such questions should only be asked quietly, and among trusted friends. That’s because I’ve heard rumors that they’re taking Hamilton off the ten….)
    MORE: Think I’m kidding?


    Betcha ten I’m not!
    UPDATE (02/25/06): Nick Packwood’s comment below caused me to bend over backwards in search of “Cultural Marxism,” and I actually found that in certain circles, it is alive and well! Marxist cultural revisionism has been revised accordingly in this post.
    UPDATE (03/03/06): Ed Driscoll has more on fluoridation and General Ripper. Bottled water will not save us.