We live in a time of moral decay. The once-Christian west has become a breeding ground for violence and debauchery. In Romans 1, we read that once a nation forgets God, He often gives them up “to vile passions”. Then the “women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Romans 1:26-27). That is exactly what has happened to the society we live in today: they forgot God and His law, and God gave them up to their own depravity.
One of the areas in which this anti-Christian worldview is especially prevalent is cultural Marxism. It is not an outdated ideology that has no bearing on our lives. On the contrary, Marxism has many followers today, and it is spreading its tentacles everywhere – in politics, schools, businesses, and the media. Most of the time, you won’t hear the term cultural Marxism (that’s because the activists prefer different names), but the ideology is widespread nonetheless.
What is it?
To understand cultural Marxism, we must first understand classical Marxism. Traditionally, Marxism was concerned with how history is a manifestation of class struggles, how the rich have oppressed the poor, and how the Bourgeoisie have exploited the Proletariat. According to Karl Marx, the founder of classical Marxism, the capitalist economic system is inherently corrupt. It is the cause of all the economic inequality in society. He believed that, as more and more of the working class became educated and enlightened concerning the injustices they were experiencing, the capitalist system would eventually be overthrown in a revolution and replaced by communism. Classical Marxists also claims that humans are formed by ideological structures such as schools, books, and, notably, religion. In other words, the upper class has brainwashed the lower class to make them stay passive and compliant. The ruling class has established its position of wealth and power and retains it by propagating ideas such as reward for talent and an afterlife, which are just myths to keep the working class from revolting.
Cultural Marxism is, in many respects, very similar to classical Marxism, but it takes the next step. While classical Marxism views history as a struggle between the rich and the poor, cultural Marxism has added things like race, age, and gender into the mix. History is then a struggle between black and white, male and female, young and old, gay and straight, trans and cis, empowered and disempowered, as well as between the rich and the poor. It still retains the notion of an inherently corrupt system, but there is more to it than just capitalism. Other institutions that need to be overthrown are marriage, the nuclear family, the judiciary, birth-assigned gender, language, and so forth. And since humans are created through ideological structures, religion (specifically Christianity) must go. At the same time, the school curriculums are politicised to train a generation of victims to go to war and overthrow western systems’ values. (The ‘victims’ of cultural Marxism are the ‘Proletariat’ of classical Marxism.)
Thus cultural Marxism can be summarised with three statements:
- History is a struggle between the privileged and the underprivileged.
- The economic, political, and social systems are to blame for this struggle.
- A utopia will eventually be reached once the corrupt systems are overthrown.
There are several prevalent ideas that are closely linked to cultural Marxism that help us to understand it better. Sometimes cultural Marxism will also go by these names.
The first is critical race theory. This is the concept that every aspect of society is saturated with racism. It is unavoidable, and it results in the systemic oppression of marginal societal groups. It also implies that if you are white, you are a racist. If you are black, you are a victim. It’s always been like that, and it always will be until the Marxist utopia is reached.
The second linked idea is intersectionality which is a model that allows an individual to determine his level of privilege in society. According to this model, a person’s privilege is determined by a number of overlapping factors. Some examples of such factors include sexual orientation, ethnicity, talent, religion, and wealth. For example, a wealthy, white, straight Christian male is highly privileged (his privilege is five-fold) and is, therefore, co-responsible for all the oppression in society. Conversely, if someone is a black, lesbian, secular woman, she experiences fourfold discrimination against her identity. She is then an unfortunate victim in an evil Christian society – for the cultural Marxists view the Christian faith as hateful and oppressive. She then has all the right in the world to fight to correct the systemic injustices of society. She may riot, loot, vandalise – anything – for her community is indebted to her, and reparations must be paid.
The third related concept is identity politics. It involves two steps. First, find your identity (which you can do with the help of the intersectional model). Second, make your identity your politics. In other words, go to war with it. Go and wreck the system. Make it your life goal to become a political activist to end your own victimisation. Identity politics is when people find out how they are oppressed and then develop political agendas that seek to end their oppression.
Finally, cultural Marxism is prevalent in woke ideology. Being woke means being aware of and alert to the injustices in society, specifically to racism, but also to others related to gender, religion, and things like that. Over time the word woke has come to refer to many different secular leftist agendas.
There are many more beliefs that are underpinned by Marxist ideology, but these are some of the more common ones.
What does it look like?
Type ‘cultural Marxism’ into your internet browser and the first websites you will see will include phrases like “conspiracy theory” and “right-wing extremism”. This is because the activists have (mostly) dropped the term cultural Marxism for the ideas mentioned above and now claim that cultural Marxism doesn’t exist; it is just a conspiracy theory and might rightly be ignored. But just because they call it critical race theory doesn’t mean cultural Marxism doesn’t exist. It is real. It is not a conspiracy theory, and there are many significant examples to prove it.
Take the Great Reset, for example, an initiative led by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that aims to use the (partly fabricated) crises of climate change and COVID 19 to reinvent capitalism. The Great Reset is a cultural Marxist movement. Consider these three statements on an article on the WEF’s website entitled The great reset must place social justice at its centre:1
- Wealth needs to be more broadly redistributed.
- Governments will need to intervene to ensure better and fairer outcomes from the private sector.
- New institutions need to incorporate profound reforms to ensure better racial integration.
The article also includes references to “systemic oppression”, breaking the “myth of meritocracy”, and “rethinking capitalism”. There you have it. It’s Marxist at its core. First, you have the notion of a corrupt system (systemic oppression). Then you have the “myth of meritocracy”, which is the lie that the privileged use to pacify the underprivileged. And finally, you have the breaking of that myth and consequently the dismantling of capitalism.
Take another example of cultural Marxism: the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM). After the murder of African American George Floyd by Derek Chauvin, protests were sparked throughout the United States. However wrong the murder was, the BLM movement that ensued was ungodly and avowedly Marxist. 5-10% of the protests turned violent. For months after the incident, rioters burned down shops and cars, destroyed monuments, graffitied, and looted. Dozens of innocent people were killed. Anarchy reigned.
How do they justify this behaviour? With critical race theory. BLM sees the murder of George Floyd as evidence of systemic racism (although there are studies that verify that there is no systemic racial discrimination in the US by white police officers whatsoever).2 They believe the guilt of Floyd’s death lies not just with Chauvin but with the entire system, including the authorities and white people in general. Critical race theory collectivises guilt. It also demands reparations. Looting and vandalism are then viewed as a legitimate way to protest against injustice.3
Finally, there was recently an incident in Australia at Parkdale Secondary College, Victoria. A female youth worker came into the college to give a talk on intersectionality. She ordered all the Christian, white, and male students to stand up and then called them oppressors who hold all the privilege in society.4 The college principal apologised following the event after disgusted parents complained that their children were publicly humiliated. However, that incident should not have been a surprise. The youth worker was going to talk about privilege, intersectionality and pronouns, and the incident was completely aligned with this idea. Just because there was an apology does not mean the idea of intersectionality was condemned. For them, the youth worker just took it too far.
Cultural Marxism is evident in all of these incidents, whether in the concept of systemic oppression, the struggle between races and genders, retribution, or in the dismantling of western capitalism and democracy to make way for a socialist, totalitarian state. This list is just a sample to illustrate what cultural Marxism looks like today.
What is wrong with it?
It is not hard to realise that, as a whole, cultural Marxism does not stem from a Christian worldview. Still, we must understand what exactly is wrong with it. You will encounter it, whether at school, at work, in the news, or in politics, and you need to be able to discern. I can see at least three major problems with cultural Marxism: (1) it rejects God and His good institutions, (2) it substitutes sin with privilege, and (3) it works for an earthly kingdom in opposition to God’s kingdom.
Firstly, cultural Marxism rejects God’s good institutions. A key element of cultural Marxism is that it seeks the injustices of this world in inherently corrupt systems that it wants to overthrow. Examples include marriage, family, patriarchy, labour, the justice system, and gender. However, many of these are creation ordinances. God created humans in His image (hence the justice system), male and female He created them (hence gender). And God put man in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it (hence work). It was not good that man should be alone (hence marriage), and they must be fruitful and multiply (hence family). Adam was formed first, then Eve (hence patriarchy). (Comment: by patriarchy, I simply mean that men are leaders of society – in family, church, and government. The word patriarchy often has a negative connotation because the cultural Marxists assume that authority always equals oppression while submission always equals victimhood, but that is not true.) So these are the things that cultural Marxism is opposed to, the things that God Himself created, the things that were very good.
Secondly, cultural Marxism substitutes sin with power. It assumes that if you are privileged (i.e., male, white, straight, etc.), you are an oppressor, a racist, and a sexist. A person becomes guilty because of his skin colour and sex. His privilege becomes his sin. It also ignores the possibility of genuine love coming from these people. In other words, if you are privileged, you cannot put yourself in the shoes of someone who is underprivileged – you will only ever be able to be an oppressor. But we know that people can show love once they have accepted the gospel and are renewed by the Holy Spirit. It is possible for a man to serve his neighbour while in a leadership position. It is possible for someone to be generous with the wealth he has. The opposite equation (that victimhood always equals innocence) is also false. All people are equally fallen by nature. Whether you are black or white, male or female, has nothing to do with your innocence or guilt. God does not show partiality in His judgements (1 Peter 1:17). He also does not punish someone for something he did not do, but each one is responsible for his own actions (Jeremiah 31:29-30). Thus cultural Marxism has made a false generalisation where whites, males, and Christians are evil, while blacks, females, and people otherwise ‘underprivileged’ are innocent victims.
Finally, Cultural Marxism works for an earthly kingdom in opposition to God’s kingdom. Worldly power is the be-all and end-all, while things like motherhood, childbearing, and family are devalued. There is no life hereafter for a Marxist, and therefore heaven must be reached here on earth – a heaven without God. That is why they all strive toward the Marxist utopia.
Cultural Marxism is materialistic and earthly. It creates and emphasises struggles that God never intended should exist. For them, history is a manifestation of class struggles, oppression, racism, and sexism. While it is true that these struggles do occur, they are not what defines history. Ultimately, history is the manifestation of just one struggle: between God and Satan, the church and the world, as described in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.”
Marxists also aggravate the issues by pitting females against males, blacks against whites, and citizens against the government instead of working towards reconciliation. It harbours resentment and nurses war-like attitudes. There is no such thing as forgiveness, only retribution.
But the only real solution to all social injustices is the gospel – and it is not something earthly. Only the gospel can transform oppressors into compassionate people. And ultimately, no utopia will be reached on earth. But being a member of the kingdom of heaven is far more important than achieving happiness on earth. We have an entirely different perspective on life. We hope in God who is preparing for us an everlasting and glorious inheritance. Men and women will live together in perfect harmony. All peoples, nations and tongues will share equally in Christ. There will be no poor. There will be no victims. Everyone who gathered their treasure in heaven will live there forever in perfect happiness and without sin.
Cultural Marxist movements often gain support by standing for something seemingly good. Think of Black Lives Matter. Black lives do matter, don’t they? Then what is wrong with BLM? If you oppose the movement, you will be branded as a racist and a murderer. Or, if you condemn the Great Reset, you might be viewed as a person who doesn’t care either for the environment or for future generations. The reality is that Christians hate racism, they show compassion, they protect the vulnerable, they care for the environment. But the solution to all our world’s issues is not cultural Marxism. That only exacerbates the problems. Instead, we need the gospel of God to be preached to the world so that sinners may come to repentance.
- https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/21/police-kill-more-whites-than-blacks-but-minority-d/ see also Roland Fryer’s study. You have to pay for the original at https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/701423?mobileUi=0& but there are many websites that deal with his study, for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiicLPNsXKE at around 14 minutes.
This article was recently published in Contender – The FRCA Youth Magazine August 2021 and is published here with the writer’s permission.