05 April 2019

Does the Left want to pwn language?

In the end we shall make thoughtcrime impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.
The word "Marxism" usually refers to a political ideology that promotes a particular system of rule. But Marxist ideology is not just about government or economics; there are aspects that deal e.g. with psychology, or history. Theorists like Terry Eagleton, who (echoing the pronouncements of Lenin and other communists) assert that literature must always be seen in relation to its sociopolitical context, represent an example of Marxism in a purely cultural setting.

So the phrase "cultural Marxism", to mean the presence of Marxist ways of thinking in academic and other cultural output, is perfectly natural and potentially useful.

The fact that the phrase appears to be popular with a certain type of antisemitic conspiracy theorist is regrettable, but irrelevant to whether the phrase is legitimate. In the 1970s, terrorist group Red Army Faction appropriated the term "urban guerilla" to justify murdering people, without this resulting in the term becoming taboo.

Yet there seem to be elements among the Left who want to prohibit use of the words "cultural Marxism" altogether, and are willing to use the strategy of guilt-by-association to achieve their end.

Conservative MP Suella Braverman recently made a legitimate reference to cultural Marxism in its non-conspiracy sense. It was clear no antisemitic implication was intended. For journalists from the Guardian and the Independent to report this as if it verged on the shockingly offensive is disgraceful and irresponsible.

As often seems to be the case these days, free-speech-opponents react to extremism by wanting to penalise non-extremists. Perhaps those on the Left who like to exercise censorship should consider the possibility that by making it difficult to express any viewpoint that deviates from theirs, they are partly responsible for the very extremism they claim to deplore. There are many reasons why a viewpoint becomes expressed in the form of extremism, but one of them is surely an unwillingness to give space to non-extremist versions. The more that schools, universities and the media try to banish conservative and libertarian viewpoints, the more we are likely to see grotesquely distorted versions of those viewpoints appear on dodgy websites and other underground platforms.

Mrs Braverman was brave, and correct, to use the phrase "cultural Marxism". The right way to 'de-Nazify' the phrase is not to ban it but to employ it freely in its natural sense.

I urge readers to do the same. Discuss the topic of cultural Marxism (i.e. the possible presence of Marxist ideology in contemporary culture) freely, without being influenced by potential disapproval. Argue that it does not exist, or argue that it does. But don't submit to the scare tactics of the Left. Use your right to free speech — or lose it.

Among ideologies, Marxism should arguably be regarded as on a par with Nazism. It is responsible for death, torture and suffering on a comparable scale. If it is rife in universities, or embedded in the mindset of media folk, we ought to know about it.