The left’s totalitarian statist agenda didn’t fall with the Berlin Wall.
It was twenty years ago today, no not Sgt. Pepper teaching the band to play, but the day a wall fell, a wall that represented the totalitarian tendency in the heart of man. For those of us who grew up thinking that Soviet communism and its walls that enslaved a mass of humanity would last forever, seeing the Berlin Wall hacked down on a November night in 1989 was astounding. Maybe, we thought, the freedom loving human heart would win out after all.
Unfortunately, communism and its totalitarian designs are alive and well in a myriad of movements and philosophies that don’t dare use that name. Except today they don’t use tanks and walls to get their way. They use culture. Melanie Phillips of Britain’s Daily Mail says it well in her piece “We were fools to think the fall of the Berlin Wall had killed off the far Left. They’re back – and attacking us from within.”
[As] communism slowly crumbled, those on the far-Left who remained hostile towards western civilisation found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down.
This was what might be called ‘cultural Marxism’. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.
This key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals – who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today.
Gramsci understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of ‘production, distribution and exchange’ as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution.
He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be turned into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society.
So he advocated a ‘long march through the institutions’ to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down and inside-out.
This strategy has been carried out to the letter.
We see that in the people and mindset that controls education, arts and entertainment, the media and journalism. While conservatives and others on the right have focused on politics and public policy, they have virtually ignored those institutions that mold the values that underpin society. This isn’t about politicizing culture, it is about realizing that a nation’s values determine its politics.