Students Beware: I Just Found Out that I’m a ‘Cultural Marxist’ (and Other Observations)

There’s an image in my mind, a memory burned into my consciousness during a moment of peak learning — one of those times in a young life (for me, many years ago) when a visual so perfectly reflects what it means that the seeing of it forms an epiphany. This image is of a heavy teenager with greasy black hair, wearing a black t-shirt and black pants and black shoes, hunched over a video game at an arcade — back when that was where one had to go to play video games. This game was one of those fantasy, role-play type games where the player gets lost in the power and purpose of whatever wizard or lord or warrior-hero has fleetingly possessed him.

I didn’t think he was strange or pitiful or somehow inadequate. I just understood. And I still remember exactly what I thought: That’s all he has.

Screenshot (46)Today I read an article in Foreign Policy Magazine about a fellow named Rich Higgins who got himself fired from the National Security Council staff for writing a memo with which many other people in the White House apparently agreed. Then I read the memo, which described the “political warfare” that the memo’s author wished to undertake. And what came to mind was that image of an outcast in a video-game arcade finding ways to make himself feel — against the great wight of reality — some kind of vital existence.

To achieve that sense of sway and vigor, one needs a foe to vanquish. And if one is, while constrained by this corporeal existence, powerless to slay any real foe, then he must turn to the world of make-believe and find an imaginary foe to dispatch.

In the case of Rich Higgins and his like-minded White House brethren, I was amused (I can’t say stunned) to find myself among the imaginary foes:

The Academy – Academia has served as a principle counter-state node for some time and remains a key conduit for creating future adherents to cultural Marxist narratives and their derivative worldview.

Higgins must have been picked on mercilessly in middle school, because he developed the psychological habits of that poor kid from the arcade: the unmoored conjuring of some great battle to be fought against a potent adversary when the real match is, in this ordinary realm, against someone merely like me: an unremarkable clodhopper just trying to help some fellow travelers understand a thing or two that I’ve come to understand — with much study — pretty well myself. I have bad news for Higgins and his ilk as they plot their glorious battle against me: That’s all I am.


You might be wondering, as I was, what Higgins meant by cultural Marxism, the mode of thinking that I am allegedly working to nurture, even as I have no earthly idea what it is. Thankfully, Higgins laid it out in his memo:

As used in this discussion, cultural Marxism relates to programs and activities that arise out of Gramsci Marxism, Fabian Socialism and most directly from the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt strategy deconstructs societies through attacks on culture by imposing a dialectic that forces unresolvable contradictions under the rubric of critical theory. The result is induced nihilism, a belief in everything that is actually the belief in nothing.

Well that was helpful.

That explanation being as clear to me as it probably was to you, I spent two minutes and four seconds on The Google Machine researching “cultural Marxism.” It took me precisely that long to tire of alt-right musings about Communists and Jews and the migrating ideological virus that spread across Europe and blah blah blah.

What’s more jolting than all the hocus pocus in Higgins’s memo is that Donald Trump, Jr. liked it well enough to share it with his father, who “gushed over it, according to sources.”

I never did have anything against the big greasy kid at the arcade — I really didn’t. I just never thought he’d wind up in the White House.