Is Cultural Marxism really a myth?

Nov 19, 2018 by

by Peter Franklin, UnHerd:

I think it’s fair to say that Helen Pluckrose is no fan of Post-modernism – either as a school of thought in our universities or as an intellectual influence on the identity politics of the woke Left.

In fact, she was one of the perpetrators of an audacious hoax in which seven papers full of deliberate post-modern gobbledegook were submitted to ‘respected’ academic journals and accepted for publication. If her purpose was to prove that Post-modernists take complete rubbish seriously, she succeeded.

However, she does not go along with everything that her intellectual opponents are acccused of. In particular, she objects when Right-wingers describe Post-modern Lefties as being “Cultural Marxists”.

In an essay for Areo, Pluckrose explains what the critics of Cultural Marxism claim it to be, i.e. “a straightforward transference of Marxist ideas of an oppressed and oppressor economic class to identity categories like race, gender and sexuality”.

But, she goes on to argue, the term is describing something that doesn’t really exist. Though identity politics is certainly linked to Post-modernism, Post-modernism is distinct from Marxism:

“Postmodernism and particularly identity studies are much younger than Marxism and so densely theoretical that they are difficult to relate current problems to. Marxism, on the other hand, has easily graspable tenets and an authoritarian and bloody history to point to and frighten people with.”

Technically, this is correct. You can be a post-modernist without being a Marxist and vice versa. Whether or not post-modern ideas would have emerged if Marxism had never existed is an interesting question, but quite clearly post-modernism, even in its politicised Leftist form, is not a variety of Marxism.

However, I’d argue that the parallels between the two schools of thought – Marxism and post-modernism – are so striking that the use of “Cultural Marxism” as a convenient label is not only excusable but useful.

Read here


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