cultural marxism (again)
October 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
You guys give feminists too much credit. As if that tubby Twitter warrior with the blue hair who is pissed off about George RR Martin’s misogyny is also sitting around and reading, much less understanding, Adorno.
“Marcuse says piss your pants for communism.”
Here’s a competing theory: Most feminists are typically young, insecure women who desperately want to belong to a clique of mean girls on the internet and have people notice their little tumblr and facebook posts. Hence dying their hair like other feminists, hence the thinking and speaking in little cliche bumper sticker slogans and so on. So… that’s it. That’s why women pissed their pants and posted pictures of it on Twitter. Girls want attention. Occam’s Razor, bruh.
You don’t need Marxism or critical theory to get young women to project their unhappiness and insecurities or band together in little group-think mobs, do you? If you really wanted to understand it, you’d do better to observe how teenagers in junior high behave rather than scouring works of Marxist and post-Marxist critical theory and scholarship.
The idea that Marxism is synonymous with thought control and conformity is laughably stupid. It’s based on a gross and highly ideological misreading of 20th century history. The confusion arises because we’re supposed to think that there is something fundamentally unique or “collectivist” about attempts to influence or restrict mainstream public discourse or thought, when in reality, this has been the function of religious theology in Western societies going as far back as you want to look.
The Soviet and Chinese versions of “totalitarianism” were really an attempt to hold on to power by giving it the form and guise of religion, since this is what peasants understood power to look like.
Religion, historically, is what explains a given social arrangement to people who participate in it. It’s a contextualization of somebody’s experience which functions the way social theory or ideology does now. It says “this is who you are, this is who that guy is, this is where everything came from, this is where it’s going, this is what’s wrong, this is what’s right,” and so on. It’s an abstract map of your social universe which allows you to locate yourself within it and make meaning out of your experiences.
What we call “totalitarianism” in countries that successfully resisted being re-dominated by the militarily superior Western powers in the 20th century after the World Wars was the result of political expediency and reflected what was already true about the state’s relationship to religion, not some sinister, deliberate feature of Marxist theory or ideology.
Sure, Marx said “religion is the opiate of the masses,” but so what? Was he not correct?
When the Soviets took power in Russia, they were inheriting a deeply religious, agrarian and feudal society outside of the cities, so selling Stalin’s rule was a matter of tailoring Soviet ideology so that it replaced an already existing religious understanding of power. In China it was no different, except Mao came to replace Confucius rather than the Czar. In the Chinese case, you can see that this would have happened regardless of what Mao did, since the Chinese had been trying to replace Confucius for more than half a century. For a time, they even tried to push John Dewey into the role, and it wasn’t like he asked for it.
As for Stalin, his objective was to industrialize the country, since industrialization was the basis for military viability against the far more powerful and advanced western European powers which had already carved most of the globe up into colonial satrap states in the previous century. So collectivizing farms for grain production to feed the industrializing cities and forcing the society into conformity with five year plans had far more to do with self defense than it did some lofty ideological conviction or close reading of some mysterious work of Marx somewhere which decreed that it was even possible to industrialize an economy without market competition.
Just as an aside here, Marx, in fact, argued precisely the opposite and nor is this a side issue, but the core of his theory, regardless if you think his theory was right or wrong. It was the full development of capitalism, the means of production, and of markets which would create socialism of its own accord, not a politburo centrally planning everything based on ideological bullshit. There was no Marxist alternative design for an economic and political system for the Soviets to “apply incorrectly” in the first place, since Marx’s body of theory was an attempt to explain how things already were and why they were that way, not a set of normative ethical doctrines which argued how things should be.
But y’know, whatever, this isn’t as exciting as conspiracy theories about Frankfurt school social engineers or Saul Alinsky behind the scenes pulling the strings. It would be much more satisfying if we could find a sinister cabal of intellectuals somewhere who are responsible for your inability to find gainful employment, get married and start a family, or be able to pay your escalating tax bill.
So you can see that the Soviets just replaced the already existing feudal Christianity with a Soviet version of it. For instance, when farms made their quotas, they were celebrated like “miracles.” Saints were replaced with party ideologues and revered in the same way, and so on. On Kolkhoz farms, the time-tested and age-old scapegoat politics of blaming Jews when the economy or harvest went belly-up or when most peasants found themselves unable to pay debts was revamped and “Jews” were replaced with “Kulaks,” meaning prosperous farmers who could be accused of hoarding grain and whatever else. You see, if the peasants blame some sinister unseen group within their midst for their failing economic fortunes, they were less likely to blame the landowners, nobles, or, in the Soviet context, the Communist Party.
And that’s a bit like how a lot of you stupid fucks would rather blame Max Horkeimer’s unseen and sinister acolytes who are apparently working behind the scenes rather than ask serious questions about neoliberal economic policy which has pit you against 3rd world slave labor or allowed bankers to buy your government under the pretext of “freedom” and “free trade.” Surely it’s the “cultural Marxists” somewhere who are responsible for it all because we want to be like the Wall St. wizards who are fucking us over and have made us debt slaves, so we certainly can’t blame them for it. How will we get our own debt slaves when we finally become wealthy ourselves? We can’t let the cultural Marxists curb our economic liberties because we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires whose day will come if we just work harder.
At any rate, John is right about people being tired of hearing about cultural Marxism. I’m so tired of it that I have a difficult time taking anybody seriously who even uses the term anymore.