Opinion

Cultural Marxism’s Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted America

Written by Sam Jacobs, Lead Writer and Chief Historian of Ammo.com

You may have heard the terms “Cultural Marxism,” “Critical Theory” or “Frankfurt School” bandied about. And while you might have an intuitive approximation of what these terms mean for America in the 21st century, there’s a good chance that you don’t know much about the deep theory, where the ideology comes from and what it has planned for America – and the world.

The underlying theory here is a variant of Marxism, pioneered by early 20th Century Italian Marxist politician and linguist Antonio Gramsci. Gramscian Marxism is a radical departure from Classical Marxism. One does not need to endorse the Classical Marxism of Marx, Engels and others to appreciate the significant differences between the two. He is easily the most influential thinker that you have never heard of.

Marx’s original idea was that Communism was a historical inevitability, an evolutionary transition that would lead to a bottom-up eruption of revolutionary violence sparked by the Proletariat’s frustration and fury over having been used and abused by the Bourgeoisie for long enough that “the revolutionary subject” (Marx’s term for the broad working class) would overthrow capitalism and usher in socialism.

Gramsci, on the other hand, held that such a revolution was unlikely—particularly in the West, where general prosperity and the lassitude of relative contentment would tend to dull the working class’ passion for any bloody, bothersome overthrow. Instead, in successful Western nations a Marxist state was far more likely to be brought into being through a slow, patient process of incrementalist takeover of the cultural institutions—the arts, entertainment, and news media, and most especially the schools and universities. As such, the weapon to be used for revolution was not the economic might of an organized working class, but a “long march through the institutions” (a phrase actually coined by German Marxist Rudi Dutschke), whereby every institution in the West would be subverted through penetration and infiltration.

For Gramsci, culture was more important than either economics or politics.

Gramsci’s divergence from Classical Marxism was nothing short of brilliant; certainly, the results speak for themselves when one considers the social unrest that is gripping America and the West today. In a sense, we are living through the endgame of a Gramscian revolution.

Throughout this article, we will use the term “Cultural Marxism” as a catchall to refer to this phenomenon, because it is the most all-encompassing and does not limit us to discussing any one specific variation (Gramsci, the Frankfurt School or what have you). Finally, we should briefly echo the words of Dr. Jordan Peterson on “the bloody postmodern Neo-Marxists” because he has helped raise awareness of the phenomenon: “It’s not obvious by any stretch of the imagination why postmodernism and Neo-Marxism or Marxism proper would be aligned because postmodernism is an anti-grand narrative philosophical movement and Marxism is a grand narrative. The fact that these two things seem to coexist in the same space needs some explanation, because it’s a very tricky thing to get to the bottom of.” Because Cultural Marxism is ideologically distinct from postmodernism and deconstruction, we will not touch on either in this article, though they certainly have been influential on the international left.

The rest of this essay can be read here at Ammo.com.