'Cultural Marxism': a uniting theory for rightwingers who love to play the victim - 2015-01-19
W hat do the Australian's columnist Nick Cater, video game hate group #Gamergate, Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivik and random blokes on YouTube have in common? Apart from anything else, they have all invoked the spectre of "cultural Marxism" to account for things they disapprove of – things like Islamic immigrant communities, feminism and, er, opposition leader Bill Shorten.
What are they talking about? The tale varies in the telling, but the theory of cultural Marxism is integral to the fantasy life of the contemporary right. It depends on a crazy-mirror history, which glancingly reflects things that really happened, only to distort them in the most bizarre ways.
It begins in the 1910s and 1920s. When the socialist revolution failed to materialise beyond the Soviet Union, Marxist thinkers like Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs tried to explain why. Their answer was that culture and religion blunted the proletariat's desire to revolt, and the solution was that Marxists should carry out a "long march through the institutions" – universities and schools, government bureaucracies and the media – so that cultural values could be progressively changed from above.