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Thread: The Complex Relationship between Marxism and Wokeness

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    The Complex Relationship between Marxism and Wokeness

    The Complex Relationship between Marxism and Wokeness
    By James Lindsay - July 28, 2020

    I was recently asked by someone reading my forthcoming book with Helen Pluckrose, Cynical Theories, if I would explain the relationship between Marxism and the Critical Social Justice ideology we trace a partial history of in that book. The reason for the question is that Cynical Theories obviously focuses upon the postmodern elements of Critical Social Justice scholarship and activism, and yet many people, particularly among conservatives, identify obvious relationships to Marxism within that scholarship and activism that seems poorly accounted for by talking about postmodernism. This confusion makes sense because postmodernism was always explicitly critical of Marxism, naming it among the grand, sweeping universalizing explanations of reality that it called “metanarratives,” of which it advised us to be radically skeptical.

    The goal of Cynical Theories is to add clarity to this admittedly complicated discussion and lay out how postmodernism is of central importance to the development of what we now call “Critical Social Justice” or “Woke” scholarship and ideology. This is actually only one part in a far broader history that certainly draws upon Marx (and thus all the German idealists he drew upon), though in a very peculiar way and through a number of fascinating and, themselves, complex historical and philosophical twists.

    One of these is the development of postmodernism, upon which we write, and another is the development of “neo-Marxism,” which is sometimes referred to as “Cultural Marxism.” This is a development of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, and it too was explicitly highly critical of Marxism in its economic particulars, though it retained the underlying ethos and ambition of overthrowing the ruling classes and establishing some variation on communism. Clearly, a third line of thought that bears some relevance is the long and, again, complex history of “social justice” thought, which can be approached in any number of ways, including religious, liberal, communist, and, as we explain in the book, “Woke,” which must be understood to be its own thing in its own context, whatever its intellectual history.
    ...
    People who observe that Marxism is somehow tied into all of this Woke stuff, then, are certainly not wrong, but it just as certainly isn’t Marxism. Marxists, like the real thing, might be behind this whole “Social Justice” phenomenon, or ready to come in after it tears society apart, as it does, but the Woke themselves are not Marxists, proper, and neither are the Marxists Woke. The simplest way to put this would be the following:

    • Critical Theory is “neo-Marxism,” or, as it’s sometimes phrased, “Cultural Marxism,” which plainly derives from Marxism and retained much of what was core to its thought while completely modifying other aspects of it in the hopes of achieving communism.
    • Postmodernism is a particular form of “post-Marxism,” which had given up more or less entirely on Marxism and thus everything else, though it was still a fairly significant fan of communist efforts as they played out in the 1950s and 1960s, and it was no friend to liberalism.
    • Critical Social Justice is the intentional fusion of these two schools of thought with the goal of achieving its ideas about “Social Justice” through radical identity politics.

    None of this is simple, though, unfortunately, and so it all requires more elaboration. A quick history might therefore be in order. The relevant object to understand, though we don’t develop this specifically in Cynical Theories, is Marx’s “conflict theory,” which he derived from Hegel’s master/slave dialectic.

    Conflict theory applied to industrial capitalist economics is Marxism proper. That didn’t work, and people noticed. The neo-Marxists arose to try to explain why it didn’t work while retaining hope for the revolution. The post-Marxist postmodernists arose somewhat later to explain why everything is hopeless and so the only conclusion we can possibly reach is that nothing means anything and we’re all living a lie that should be taken apart on every conceivable level.

    As for the neo-Marxists, they understood that Marx was wrong to say that economics were the relevant object upstream of politics. They realized it is culture and thus the impacts culture has on individual psychologies that is upstream of politics. (Andrew Breitbart didn’t come up with this idea; he read it from the Critical Theorists before deciding that they were right and putting it into his own applications!) Critical Theory, then, arose as an application of conflict theory to ideology and culture, as analyzed partly through (psychoanalytic) psychology and the emerging field of sociology. They blamed Marxism for failing to understand people and society just as much as they blamed liberalism for producing a means by which people could see society as essentially fair and success as essentially the result of talent and effort.

    So, neo-Marxism is Marxian but not Marxist, in that it continues the conflict theory-style analysis of Marx into a different realm and does so toward essentially Marxist ends. One could say this is a distinction without a difference, but that is incorrect. The consequence of this shift is profound. It means that rather than attempting to unite workers and seize the means of economic production, as the Marxists had envisioned, the neo-Marxists wanted to change culture itself. This led them to find multiple sites of the oppressor/oppressed dynamic in society and get inside peoples heads with it, which they derived from the intentional forced marriage of Freudian psychoanalysis into Marxian social theory. They led them to understood the importance of seizing the means of cultural production—education, media, arts, journalism, faith, and entertainment—though, in many respects, they weren’t particularly good at it. For that, they would need the postmodernists and the critical pedagogists, as we shall see.

    Of course, this is an oversimplification rather in the extreme. The neo-Marxists were critical of Marxism but not all that far from it, and they explicitly sought to agitate for a genuine Marxist revolution by means of agitating for it culturally instead of economically. That is, their goal was to use culture and ideology as a proxy by which they could effect the revolutions of the various underclasses. These they hoped to unite under a banner philosophy of “liberationism,” where by “liberation” was still very much meant liberation from the abuses of a capitalist post-Enlightenment society. Thus, the neo-Marxists merely moved the site of analysis a step back from economics to underlying culture, specifically targeting elite culture as bourgeois and middle or popular culture as a commodity produced by the elites to keep the masses dumb and content, thus not revolutionary. Their underlying assumption is that the elites define what constitutes the ostensibly “authentic” culture in a way that brainwashes the masses into working, voting, buying, and living against their own best interests, and the masses need their consciousnesses raised and made critical so they’d start hating their lives, as the Critical Theorists believed was right and proper for them, and then revolt.
    ...
    Neo-Marxism, on the other hand, turned radical and violent under Herbert Marcuse, who even claimed himself that it had gone beyond his vision, and it burned itself out in terms of public support. (His influence, combined with that of the French postcolonialist and psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon, is, to decent approximation on its own the origin story of the radical anarchist project called Antifa.) Critical Theory then went underground into the universities, in that whole long march through the institutions project, starting in the early 1970s, working its way first into feminist and then other forms of critique, mostly in English departments, under headings like women’s studies, gender studies, African American studies, and ethnic studies.

    Thus, again, it’s our avant-garde humanities scholars who remained interested in this at the time, mostly feminists who were radical in spirit but not technically “radical” as the term is meant (ones who were deep in socialist and materialist analyses of the patriarchy, for the most part, but not the angry lesbian separatist stuff) and black liberationists (nb: “liberationism” means neo-Marxism, by definition). These went on to establish and grow those various “studies” departments and thus started the long process of idea-laundering identity-based Critical Theories within our academic presses, universities, and their classrooms. More or less everyone else ignored it even as they believed themselves more and more crucially relevant within the academy, with one horrible exception, to our peril, until quite recently.

    The one notable exception is the schools of education, particularly following the “critical turn in education,” which sought to make education about “consciousness raising” and instilling a “critical consciousness” into children as an educational priority. Some of this was explicitly anti-capitalist, and thus Marxist in origin, but it was mostly much more subtle. Critical pedagogy, as the result came to be called, was much more interested in undermining the national metanarratives, if you will, and getting students to be “educated” in a way that would lead them to be critical of their own national histories, culture, and civics—or, more explicitly, to get them to learn to see their home nations as oppressive bad actors rather than as imperfect leaders of spreading a liberal order throughout the world and thus come to doubt or even hate them.
    ...
    Freire, I’m told, ruined Brazilian education more or less singlehandedly, and it was his approach that Henry Giroux found so inspiring that he dragged it and its influence into North America. Giroux then incorporated first neo-Marxist and then postmodernist ideas (“the European theorists”) into education and educational theory, though the latter of those projects happened much more extensively later under the hand of another critical pedagogist named Joe Kincheloe. Thus, our schools of education turned heavily in the “critical” direction (meaning a blurry mix of Marxism, neo-Marxism, and postmodern post-Marxism, plus Freire’s own slightly tangential post-Marxist ideas) by the early 1980s, when Giroux became massively influential after publishing his first book, Ideology, Culture, and the Process of Schooling, which was first published in North America in 1981.

    A lot was going on in the 1980s and into the 1990s in this regard. By then, the (liberationlist, i.e., neo-Marxist) black feminists (this is a school of thought, not black people who happen to be feminists) had taken up quite a bit of interest in postmodern Theory, as had some other fairly radical feminists, especially those like Gayle Rubin, Judith Butler, and Eve Sedgwick, who would go on to lay the foundations of ***** Theory. You had, for example, scholars like bell hooks who were tied into nearly all of these streams of thought at once gaining tremendous influence, and all three of them can be clearly read in her landmark education book in 1994 titled Teaching to Transgress. hooks’ thought was particularly influential in the development of critical race Theory as well as in bringing black feminist and critical race Theory perspectives into the critical turn in education, and she was explicitly liberationist (neo-Marxist) and very experimental in the relevance of postmodern Theory to her thought, activism, and teaching.

    This generation of activists saw postmodern Theory as somewhat incorrect but intrinsically useful for deconstructing the power dynamics their underlying neo-Marxist and radical feminist worldviews believed dominated society. To be clear, I’m glazing over a lot of complicated history and thought in this paragraph, but the ascendancy of a postmodernist critical race Theory and ***** Theory from within specific sects of black feminism and gender studies, in particular, is central to the fusion of neo-Marxism and postmodernism that forms one of the key observations and claims of Cynical Theories.
    ...
    At this point, we reach the crucial and yet probably utterly unimportant question: were these activists postmodernists or neo-Marxists, in the main, who incorporated the other line of thought into theirs? My answer to this question is that—because they were activists—they were ultimately neo-Marxists, and their philosophy is one in which those who experience systemic oppression are to be made aware of their oppression and its systemic nature and thus seek a revolution that would liberate them from it.
    ...
    Thus, “liberationist” politics were even by then, and much more by the time in 1989–1991 when postmodernism was fully and formally incorporated into them, unapologetically centered upon a narrowly particular and aggressive approach to identity politics that sought to forward social responsibility at the level of identity groups as the answer to the question of systemic oppression. The postmodern view that knowledge is just another application of unjustly empowered politics effectively liberated neo-Marxism from any obligation to making true statements about the world in service of its liberationist agenda. Instead, it elevated for these rather cutthroat activists the power of both unfalsifiable claims to lived experience (of systemic oppression) and the problematizing (i.e., offense-taking) that the Critical Theorists had forwarded as a means beyond defeasibility and falsification for invalidating undesirable (note: not “incorrect”) statements about the world and social reality within it (these, of course, would be those that are “not liberationist,” in the sense of producing a communist, or ethno-communist, revolution).
    ...
    Rather than appealing to individualism and universal humanity, this “applied postmodern” approach took a tack closer to that of the Black Power movement, which ran in a less-liberal parallel to the Civil Rights Movement.

    This very radical approach as it appeared in the 1990s makes the Black Power movement from the 1960s and 1970s look quaint by comparison. ...Whiteness itself, in all of its various manifestations, for example, must be unmade to end systemic racism, it contends. Here, then, is where postmodernism (post-Marxism) and neo-Marxism fused into “Critical Social Justice,” and this fusion can be read quite explicitly in Kimberlé Crenshaw’s landmark 1991 paper, “Mapping the Margins” (pdf).
    ...
    More: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/07/co...xism-wokeness/
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  3. #2
    Hopefully one day we'll be to put Marxism and wokeness on a grave stone.
    "Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration is minding my own business."

    Calvin Coolidge

  4. #3

    Exclamation The Complex Relationship between Marxism and Wokeness

    The Complex Relationship between Marxism and Wokeness

    https://newdiscourses.com/2020/07/co...rce=whatfinger

    July 28, 2020 James Lindsay

    I was recently asked by someone reading my forthcoming book with Helen Pluckrose, Cynical Theories, if I would explain the relationship between Marxism and the Critical Social Justice ideology we trace a partial history of in that book. The reason for the question is that Cynical Theories obviously focuses upon the postmodern elements of Critical Social Justice scholarship and activism, and yet many people, particularly among conservatives, identify obvious relationships to Marxism within that scholarship and activism that seems poorly accounted for by talking about postmodernism. This confusion makes sense because postmodernism was always explicitly critical of Marxism, naming it among the grand, sweeping universalizing explanations of reality that it called “metanarratives,” of which it advised us to be radically skeptical.

    The goal of Cynical Theories is to add clarity to this admittedly complicated discussion and lay out how postmodernism is of central importance to the development of what we now call “Critical Social Justice” or “Woke” scholarship and ideology. This is actually only one part in a far broader history that certainly draws upon Marx (and thus all the German idealists he drew upon), though in a very peculiar way and through a number of fascinating and, themselves, complex historical and philosophical twists.

    One of these is the development of postmodernism, upon which we write, and another is the development of “neo-Marxism,” which is sometimes referred to as “Cultural Marxism.” This is a development of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, and it too was explicitly highly critical of Marxism in its economic particulars, though it retained the underlying ethos and ambition of overthrowing the ruling classes and establishing some variation on communism. Clearly, a third line of thought that bears some relevance is the long and, again, complex history of “social justice” thought, which can be approached in any number of ways, including religious, liberal, communist, and, as we explain in the book, “Woke,” which must be understood to be its own thing in its own context, whatever its intellectual history.

    Because we had to pick a narrow enough focus to fit the book into fewer than 100,000 words, we did not do much development into the Critical Theory side of Critical Social Justice, though it is hopefully obvious that that is where the “critical” part of the terminology comes from. Postmodernism used criticism, or critique, in this fashion, but it also used other tools, including what Michel Foucault called “archeology” and “genealogy,” though these were obviously heavily tainted by the “critical” mindset and mood. Nevertheless and obviously, the title of Cynical Theories plays off the fact that Critical Theory is somehow key to it—and the cover art makes this explicit—and the argument we make, though in a rather different fashion, is that Critical Theory and postmodernism fused in the late 1980s and early 1990s into what we named “applied postmodernism.”

    Whether one sees this fusion as Critical Theorists in the “liberationist” tradition taking up postmodernist tools to deconstruct oppressive power or as postmodernists taking up the Critical Theory worldview as a point of solidity in an otherwise completely liquid formulation of society and everything in it is, perhaps, a matter of perspective and debate (Helen and I differ somewhat on this point, for example). It may be of importance, but for the present discussion it is not. What matters is that this particular fusion, applied to the specific question of increasing social justice, is what became the “Critical Social Justice” scholarship and activism that we dedicate the book to exposing, explaining, and providing a clear alternative to. (You’ll have to pardon me that I’m using my updated terminology for it here, “Critical Social Justice,” whereas we only called it “Social Justice scholarship” when we wrote the book.)

    People who observe that Marxism is somehow tied into all of this Woke stuff, then, are certainly not wrong, but it just as certainly isn’t Marxism. Marxists, like the real thing, might be behind this whole “Social Justice” phenomenon, or ready to come in after it tears society apart, as it does, but the Woke themselves are not Marxists, proper, and neither are the Marxists Woke. The simplest way to put this would be the following:

    Critical Theory is “neo-Marxism,” or, as it’s sometimes phrased, “Cultural Marxism,” which plainly derives from Marxism and retained much of what was core to its thought while completely modifying other aspects of it in the hopes of achieving communism.
    Postmodernism is a particular form of “post-Marxism,” which had given up more or less entirely on Marxism and thus everything else, though it was still a fairly significant fan of communist efforts as they played out in the 1950s and 1960s, and it was no friend to liberalism.
    Critical Social Justice is the intentional fusion of these two schools of thought with the goal of achieving its ideas about “Social Justice” through radical identity politics.

    None of this is simple, though, unfortunately, and so it all requires more elaboration. A quick history might therefore be in order. The relevant object to understand, though we don’t develop this specifically in Cynical Theories, is Marx’s “conflict theory,” which he derived from Hegel’s master/slave dialectic.

    Conflict theory applied to industrial capitalist economics is Marxism proper. That didn’t work, and people noticed. The neo-Marxists arose to try to explain why it didn’t work while retaining hope for the revolution. The post-Marxist postmodernists arose somewhat later to explain why everything is hopeless and so the only conclusion we can possibly reach is that nothing means anything and we’re all living a lie that should be taken apart on every conceivable level.

    As for the neo-Marxists, they understood that Marx was wrong to say that economics were the relevant object upstream of politics. They realized it is culture and thus the impacts culture has on individual psychologies that is upstream of politics. (Andrew Breitbart didn’t come up with this idea; he read it from the Critical Theorists before deciding that they were right and putting it into his own applications!) Critical Theory, then, arose as an application of conflict theory to ideology and culture, as analyzed partly through (psychoanalytic) psychology and the emerging field of sociology. They blamed Marxism for failing to understand people and society just as much as they blamed liberalism for producing a means by which people could see society as essentially fair and success as essentially the result of talent and effort.

    So, neo-Marxism is Marxian but not Marxist, in that it continues the conflict theory-style analysis of Marx into a different realm and does so toward essentially Marxist ends. One could say this is a distinction without a difference, but that is incorrect. The consequence of this shift is profound. It means that rather than attempting to unite workers and seize the means of economic production, as the Marxists had envisioned, the neo-Marxists wanted to change culture itself. This led them to find multiple sites of the oppressor/oppressed dynamic in society and get inside peoples heads with it, which they derived from the intentional forced marriage of Freudian psychoanalysis into Marxian social theory. They led them to understood the importance of seizing the means of cultural production—education, media, arts, journalism, faith, and entertainment—though, in many respects, they weren’t particularly good at it. For that, they would need the postmodernists and the critical pedagogists, as we shall see.

    Of course, this is an oversimplification rather in the extreme. The neo-Marxists were critical of Marxism but not all that far from it, and they explicitly sought to agitate for a genuine Marxist revolution by means of agitating for it culturally instead of economically. That is, their goal was to use culture and ideology as a proxy by which they could effect the revolutions of the various underclasses. These they hoped to unite under a banner philosophy of “liberationism,” where by “liberation” was still very much meant liberation from the abuses of a capitalist post-Enlightenment society. Thus, the neo-Marxists merely moved the site of analysis a step back from economics to underlying culture, specifically targeting elite culture as bourgeois and middle or popular culture as a commodity produced by the elites to keep the masses dumb and content, thus not revolutionary. Their underlying assumption is that the elites define what constitutes the ostensibly “authentic” culture in a way that brainwashes the masses into working, voting, buying, and living against their own best interests, and the masses need their consciousnesses raised and made critical so they’d start hating their lives, as the Critical Theorists believed was right and proper for them, and then revolt.

    In Cynical Theories, we focus on postmodernism, however, and only touch lightly upon the neo-Marxist line of thought. Postmodernism is, in some sense, a very cynical and pessimistic offshoot of Marxian and even neo-Marxist thought that took up very deeply with French structuralism, which saw the construction of society through the way language is organized in complicated webs of meaning called “discourses.” The postmodernists read a lot of power into discourses, as they would coming from a broadly structuralist mindset, and their Theory is roughly the idea that the real source of Marx’s “superstructures” of society are constructed in language, discourses, and claims to knowledge. For them, knowledge is all socially constructed, and therefore truth claims—whether true or not—are all mere applications of the politics of those who happen to hold power at that particular time and place in human history.

    In that sense, postmodernism could almost be thought of as conflict theory applied to knowledge generation and discourse validation, but the original postmodernists were too pessimistic and thus nihilistic for “conflict” to really fully fit as a description of their project. They couldn’t really do conflict theory—seeing society as stratified into powerful groups who held those they oppressed down in a zero-sum conflict for opportunities and resources—because that would have required hope that there was anything of value in the “sum” at all. Because the postmodernists had given up on more or less everything, rather than seeking to analyze power structures and flip them in revolution, they opted to dissolve them entirely. This is a significant shift in thought, and, as can be seen, it isn’t quite strictly “critical” and yet retains that critical spirit.

    The nihilism of postmodernism follows its conclusion that power works through everyone all the time because we—most importantly by means of how we make meaning and share it through language, thus discourses—are all agents of power, which is everywhere and fully permeates society. Thus, the postmodernists didn’t so much hold out any hope of a revolution that overturned oppressive power and, instead, sought to tear down every edifice of society to the level of personal lived experience, which was the only not-mediated thing they could imagine. (Therefore, existentialism, another French invention, is felt here rather profoundly.) This postmodern pessimism was more or less universal, though, and extended to Marxism as well as to capitalism, liberalism, and everything else, all of which Jean-François Lyotard named as “metanarratives” to be radically skeptical of. It is in this sense that postmodernism is actually more post-Marxist than it is anything else.

    So, that sets the history of both the neo-Marxist and postmodernist (post-Marxist) schools of thought and explains their connection to Marxism, including what they kept from Marx and what they rejected. The Marxian roots are obvious, and yet it isn’t Marxism, and this antagonistic relationship between the theoretical approaches goes in both directions.

    One of the main points of criticism of both neo-Marxism and post-Marxism, i.e., Critical Theory and postmodernism, is Marxism itself. Both saw that Marxism had failed in certain ways and for certain reasons, and both were content to very viciously attack Marxism as a failed theory whose broader ambitions either could (neo-Marxism) possibly be realized by agitating culture enough, or could not (post-Marxism) ever be realized (and thus advocated giving up on essentially everything except lived experience and cynical, pessimistic play, especially with words and symbols). Of course, to be completely fair, the post-Marxists weren’t quite so thoroughly pessimistic as their theoretical approach, though, in practice. Whatever their Theories said, they still, at least for a time, drew heavily off the successes of Mao in his Cultural Revolution and used them to inspire Pol-Pot, who studied alongside them at the Sorbonne in Paris at the time, to go after a deconstructive Year-Zero campaign of his own.

    Nevertheless, both of these traditions had major problems, as one would expect from even hearing a superficial description of their ideas, and both of them more or less burned themselves out in public popularity pretty quickly. The French postmodern Theory was rejected completely in France and more or less ignored everywhere else outside of English departments in North America and Australia, it seems. It became something of a philosophical backwater that had mostly been taken up as a kind of plaything by feminists and sophists until it became more or less synonymous with “intellectual impostures” and was wrongly declared dead by the academy as a serious intellectual pursuit by sometime in the 1990s.

    Neo-Marxism, on the other hand, turned radical and violent under Herbert Marcuse, who even claimed himself that it had gone beyond his vision, and it burned itself out in terms of public support. (His influence, combined with that of the French postcolonialist and psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon, is, to decent approximation on its own the origin story of the radical anarchist project called Antifa.) Critical Theory then went underground into the universities, in that whole long march through the institutions project, starting in the early 1970s, working its way first into feminist and then other forms of critique, mostly in English departments, under headings like women’s studies, gender studies, African American studies, and ethnic studies.

    Thus, again, it’s our avant-garde humanities scholars who remained interested in this at the time, mostly feminists who were radical in spirit but not technically “radical” as the term is meant (ones who were deep in socialist and materialist analyses of the patriarchy, for the most part, but not the angry lesbian separatist stuff) and black liberationists (nb: “liberationism” means neo-Marxism, by definition). These went on to establish and grow those various “studies” departments and thus started the long process of idea-laundering identity-based Critical Theories within our academic presses, universities, and their classrooms. More or less everyone else ignored it even as they believed themselves more and more crucially relevant within the academy, with one horrible exception, to our peril, until quite recently.

    The one notable exception is the schools of education, particularly following the “critical turn in education,” which sought to make education about “consciousness raising” and instilling a “critical consciousness” into children as an educational priority. Some of this was explicitly anti-capitalist, and thus Marxist in origin, but it was mostly much more subtle. Critical pedagogy, as the result came to be called, was much more interested in undermining the national metanarratives, if you will, and getting students to be “educated” in a way that would lead them to be critical of their own national histories, culture, and civics—or, more explicitly, to get them to learn to see their home nations as oppressive bad actors rather than as imperfect leaders of spreading a liberal order throughout the world and thus come to doubt or even hate them.

    This turn, which also sought to “empower” students in their relationships with teachers in the classroom and beyond, was initiated by the radical activist Henry Giroux mainlining his own takes on the Brazilian education “reformer” Paulo Freire into our educational programs around 1980. Giroux, at the time, was a leftist radical activist in education, but seemingly of a fairly nondescript sort, at least until he discovered Freire’s book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which he described as sparking a revolution in his thinking.

    For his part, Freire is usually described as post-Marxist, but he was in some ways a different sort, drawing heavily off the South American Marxist and neo-Marxist traditions that had kind of hybridized in that particular cultural context. Though the details remain unclear to me at this time, this mishmash of leftist ideologies predicated on Marxism in South America probably resulted from leftists in the region having taken up liberation theology first and then inserting it into everything else in society from there. Surely, Marxists and neo-Marxists who fled various European countries for South America, particularly during World War II would also have deepened this particular Marxian/Marxist line of thought, within which Freire incubated his own ideas.

    Freire, I’m told, ruined Brazilian education more or less singlehandedly, and it was his approach that Henry Giroux found so inspiring that he dragged it and its influence into North America. Giroux then incorporated first neo-Marxist and then postmodernist ideas (“the European theorists”) into education and educational theory, though the latter of those projects happened much more extensively later under the hand of another critical pedagogist named Joe Kincheloe. Thus, our schools of education turned heavily in the “critical” direction (meaning a blurry mix of Marxism, neo-Marxism, and postmodern post-Marxism, plus Freire’s own slightly tangential post-Marxist ideas) by the early 1980s, when Giroux became massively influential after publishing his first book, Ideology, Culture, and the Process of Schooling, which was first published in North America in 1981.

    A lot was going on in the 1980s and into the 1990s in this regard. By then, the (liberationlist, i.e., neo-Marxist) black feminists (this is a school of thought, not black people who happen to be feminists) had taken up quite a bit of interest in postmodern Theory, as had some other fairly radical feminists, especially those like Gayle Rubin, Judith Butler, and Eve Sedgwick, who would go on to lay the foundations of ***** Theory. You had, for example, scholars like bell hooks who were tied into nearly all of these streams of thought at once gaining tremendous influence, and all three of them can be clearly read in her landmark education book in 1994 titled Teaching to Transgress. hooks’ thought was particularly influential in the development of critical race Theory as well as in bringing black feminist and critical race Theory perspectives into the critical turn in education, and she was explicitly liberationist (neo-Marxist) and very experimental in the relevance of postmodern Theory to her thought, activism, and teaching.

    This generation of activists saw postmodern Theory as somewhat incorrect but intrinsically useful for deconstructing the power dynamics their underlying neo-Marxist and radical feminist worldviews believed dominated society. To be clear, I’m glazing over a lot of complicated history and thought in this paragraph, but the ascendancy of a postmodernist critical race Theory and ***** Theory from within specific sects of black feminism and gender studies, in particular, is central to the fusion of neo-Marxism and postmodernism that forms one of the key observations and claims of Cynical Theories.

    The big idea these particular Theorists had was to limit the deconstructive potential of postmodern Theory so that it couldn’t be applied to any identity factor that’s on the “oppressed” end of the neo-Marxist liberationist view. They outlined the idea that to deconstruct a site of oppression, as it is understood through lived experience, is itself a luxury, thus application, of oppressive privilege. That removed systemic oppression, as the liberationists (neo-Marxists) defined it, from the acid bath of postmodernist deconstruction.

    That is, a moral rock—the imperative to liberate from oppression—was inserted into the philosophical universe touched upon by these varied Marxian lines of scholarship, thought, and activism. That reification of systemic oppression, as understood through its lived experience (the one thing the deconstructionists said would be left when everything else is deconstructed), created a neat package by which postmodern Theory could be simplified and packaged up for activists.

    At this point, we reach the crucial and yet probably utterly unimportant question: were these activists postmodernists or neo-Marxists, in the main, who incorporated the other line of thought into theirs? My answer to this question is that—because they were activists—they were ultimately neo-Marxists, and their philosophy is one in which those who experience systemic oppression are to be made aware of their oppression and its systemic nature and thus seek a revolution that would liberate them from it. The evolution of Critical Theory had, by the 1960s even, laid out the sites of genuine systemic oppression as being those oversimplified stratifications of society rooted in factors of personal identity. Nonetheless, the continuity of postmodern thought is abundantly clear, and this continuity forms the central thesis of Cynical Theories.

    Thus, “liberationist” politics were even by then, and much more by the time in 1989–1991 when postmodernism was fully and formally incorporated into them, unapologetically centered upon a narrowly particular and aggressive approach to identity politics that sought to forward social responsibility at the level of identity groups as the answer to the question of systemic oppression. The postmodern view that knowledge is just another application of unjustly empowered politics effectively liberated neo-Marxism from any obligation to making true statements about the world in service of its liberationist agenda. Instead, it elevated for these rather cutthroat activists the power of both unfalsifiable claims to lived experience (of systemic oppression) and the problematizing (i.e., offense-taking) that the Critical Theorists had forwarded as a means beyond defeasibility and falsification for invalidating undesirable (note: not “incorrect”) statements about the world and social reality within it (these, of course, would be those that are “not liberationist,” in the sense of producing a communist, or ethno-communist, revolution).

    Hopefully obviously, this approach could not possibly be like that defining the liberal core of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s (in the United States), or of Gay Pride (which sought to normalize LGB and later T identities, which has always been vigorously opposed by ***** Theory), or of liberal approaches to feminism in the second wave. Rather than appealing to individualism and universal humanity, this “applied postmodern” approach took a tack closer to that of the Black Power movement, which ran in a less-liberal parallel to the Civil Rights Movement.

    This very radical approach as it appeared in the 1990s makes the Black Power movement from the 1960s and 1970s look quaint by comparison. It ultimately carried the goal of earning liberation for those who endure systemic oppression, not just from their oppressors but from oppression itself by seeking a complete overthrow of the existing system, in part through a complete deconstruction of anything that confers, produces, legitimizes, or upholds systemic power in any regard whatsoever. Whiteness itself, in all of its various manifestations, for example, must be unmade to end systemic racism, it contends. Here, then, is where postmodernism (post-Marxism) and neo-Marxism fused into “Critical Social Justice,” and this fusion can be read quite explicitly in Kimberlé Crenshaw’s landmark 1991 paper, “Mapping the Margins” (pdf).

    That was the official birth of the Critical Social Justice school of thought, what we called “applied postmodernism” throughout Cynical Theories (although applied postmodern thinking predated Crenshaw’s 1991 paper by some time, especially in postcolonial Theory, that paper marks a very clear turning point and birthmark for the dominance of that line of thinking). In that sense, Marx’s influence is obvious in Critical Social Justice in the form of conflict theory applied across the stratification of identity groups (theorized as “positionality”) and the postmodern (really, poststructural) techniques of deconstruction were set to be applied only to oppressive power structures, as the Theory defined them.

    In all of this, Marxism, though, which is conflict theory applied to Industrial Age capitalist economics, is more or less completely lost, except as a thing that people occasionally yell about without any apparent deep understanding. Class struggle, to Marxists, unites people across identity groups—“workers of the world, unite!”—so identity groups are mostly irrelevant to Marxism except in the effort to outline the specific ways that capitalism might uniquely exploit them. In fact, the proper Marxists of today don’t like Critical Social Justice at all because of its divisiveness around identity within class and its overwhelmingly obvious bourgeois language, position-seeking, elite-status origins, disregard for reality, and seemingly unmatched disdain for the working class.

    So, in that sense, the Critical Social Justice that we describe in Cynical Theories (under the moniker “Social Justice scholarship and activism”) is profoundly Marxian in more than one way at once but is very expressly not Marxist. In particular, Marxism is an economics-based social theory, and Critical Social Justice actually usurps economic analysis and obscures it to use it as a proxy for its peculiar approach to identity politics. To be more specific on that, for example, it’s overwhelmingly obvious that economic causes are the sources of many of the phenomena Critical Race Theorists name as “systemic racism,” but they use the fact that there are statistical economic differences by race to claim that racism (not capitalistic exploitation) are the ultimate causes of those differences. Thus, they make class a proxy for the site of oppression that they’re actually obsessively focused upon, race, and thereby obliterate any possibility for liberal, rational, or even materialist or Marxist analysis of the underlying issues.

    There’s something of an exception to that point, however, as though this isn’t already complicated enough. As Critical Social Justice not particularly suited to do much of anything except tear things apart and seems positively disinterested in building anything at all, the truly Marxist underpinnings of the movement do tend to show through a bit when its activists try to do anything practical in the sense of building something. We see this, for example, in demands for equitable and diverse hiring, as those ideas are quite obviously related to Marxism but only as filtered through identity-based lenses, which Marxism would reject on principle (not for bad reasons). In this way, it’s probably more accurate to describe the efforts of Critical Social Justice not as Marxist but as ethno-communist, where “ethnicity” here applies to the “culture” of any particular “systemically oppressed” identity group.

    I know it’s confusing, but hopefully this helps clarify the complicated relationship between Marxism, neo-Marxism, postmodernism, and their kind of mutant-hybrid descendant, Critical Social Justice scholarship and activism. So it goes when radical Marxian-Utopian activism evolves against both reality and the solid liberal societies that successfully push back at all of its many endless attempts to undermine society from within.

    Interested readers can get Cynical Theories here.
    There are only two things we should fight for.
    One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. - Smedley Darlington Butler

  5. #4
    ugh...just double posted this in philosophy
    Last edited by Anti Federalist; 07-29-2020 at 11:06 AM.
    There are only two things we should fight for.
    One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. - Smedley Darlington Butler

  6. #5
    I really don't understand what's going on here with threads like this. The federal government right now is already Marxist through-and-through, as it hands out huge sums of Treasury money on a daily basis. The entire model is redistribution of wealth and already fulfills about 8 of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto, with the CURRENT administration busy implementing the last 2.

    The only "wokeness" that should be going on is awakening to the simple fact that Marxism is here and it's been here for a long time. The only thing we haven't done collectively is just admit it publicly and embrace it, instead of lying to ourselves about it.
    "Let it not be said that we did nothing." - Ron Paul

    The entire internet is the domain of paid shills and bots. If you don't know this by now....

    Israel, under control of the Crown and, ultimately, the Vatican, own the USA. If you don't know this by now....

    Talk to people about liberty. You won't find it on websites, you won't find it in politicians.

    But now you can't talk to people because of "social distancing"....brought to you by shills and politicians.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by devil21 View Post
    I really don't understand what's going on here with threads like this. The federal government right now is already Marxist through-and-through, as it hands out huge sums of Treasury money on a daily basis. The entire model is redistribution of wealth and already fulfills about 8 of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto, with the CURRENT administration busy implementing the last 2.

    The only "wokeness" that should be going on is awakening to the simple fact that Marxism is here and it's been here for a long time. The only thing we haven't done collectively is just admit it publicly and embrace it, instead of lying to ourselves about it.
    That's socialist handouts.

    We already got socialism in spades, no argument there.

    What we are now getting is authoritarian Marxism, with ethnic cleansing and genocide to follow.
    There are only two things we should fight for.
    One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. - Smedley Darlington Butler

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by devil21 View Post
    I really don't understand what's going on here with threads like this.
    ...
    And I don't understand your constant objection to threads like this.

    Quote Originally Posted by devil21 View Post
    The only "wokeness" that should be going on is awakening to the simple fact that Marxism is here and it's been here for a long time. The only thing we haven't done collectively is just admit it publicly and embrace it, instead of lying to ourselves about it.
    You answered your own question. In the past, it was lied about or ignored by all. Today, many on the left and the Democrat Party are openly admitting and embracing it. And there's the problem. They also want to enforce conformity of Marxist or Marxian derived thought on everyone. If you do not embrace it, the penalty now is destruction of your reputation and livelihood, and if you are involved in some kind of public scuffle over it, you will be jailed. This is just one step removed from re-education camps and elimination of all ungood thought, by any means necessary.
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul
    They are what they hate.” - B4L


    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    And I don't understand your constant objection to threads like this.
    They're always framed as some sort of "oooh better be careful or you'll get Marxism! Be sure to vote Republican so we don't!", which is such a friggin joke for obvious reasons. We see it constantly reinforced by shills like Swordy and his sock puppets right here.

    You answered your own question. In the past, it was lied about or ignored by all. Today, many on the left and the Democrat Party are openly admitting and embracing it. And there's the problem. They also want to enforce conformity of Marxist or Marxian derived thought on everyone. If you do not embrace it, the penalty now is destruction of your reputation and livelihood, and if you are involved in some kind of public scuffle over it, you will be jailed. This is just one step removed from re-education camps and elimination of all ungood thought, by any means necessary.
    Surely the answer is to vote Republican lol.

    We constantly nibble around the edges about the issue instead of striking at the roots. Ron Paul started striking at the root by pointing out the banking system as the root (a foundational stone of communism) and how it has completely captured the political system, but here we are today right back to the same partisan games, which inevitably devolves right back down to "better vote harder this time for Candidate X or you'll get Candidate Y!" But no one here talks about the bankers anymore and even tolerates all the Trump nonsense, someone who has been proven 1000 times over to the completely banker controlled.
    "Let it not be said that we did nothing." - Ron Paul

    The entire internet is the domain of paid shills and bots. If you don't know this by now....

    Israel, under control of the Crown and, ultimately, the Vatican, own the USA. If you don't know this by now....

    Talk to people about liberty. You won't find it on websites, you won't find it in politicians.

    But now you can't talk to people because of "social distancing"....brought to you by shills and politicians.



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  11. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by devil21 View Post
    They're always framed as some sort of "oooh better be careful or you'll get Marxism! Be sure to vote Republican so we don't!", which is such a friggin joke for obvious reasons. We see it constantly reinforced by shills like Swordy and his sock puppets right here.
    ...
    The OP article couldn't be more removed from partisan politics while still discussing the history and evolution of political philosophies. It certainly has nothing explicit or implied about "voting Republican".

    You are viewing this through your lens, which apparently sees Swordsmith behind everything. And AFAIK, he has no sock puppets here.

    Quote Originally Posted by devil21 View Post
    We constantly nibble around the edges about the issue instead of striking at the roots. Ron Paul started striking at the root by pointing out the banking system as the root (a foundational stone of communism) and how it has completely captured the political system, but here we are today right back to the same partisan games, which inevitably devolves right back down to "better vote harder this time for Candidate X or you'll get Candidate Y!" But no one here talks about the bankers anymore and even tolerates all the Trump nonsense, someone who has been proven 1000 times over to the completely banker controlled.
    You might imply "don't vote Marxist", and as Marxism is the polar opposite of libertarianism, who has a problem with that?

    As far as focus on the Federal Reserve and spending, post more threads about it. I certainly disagree with every spending proposal, no matter who it comes from.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    Here’s a better idea. No Federal money at all.
    And yes, we need to keep bringing up the Fed. I recently posted about the sad state of affairs with opposition to the Fed:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    ...
    Abolish the Fed - The rhetoric of criticism of the Federal Reserve was adopted by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. In practice, both of them want to turn the Fed into a magical money printing machine. Otherwise abandoned except with some liberty leaning Republicans. Explicitly abandoned as unpopular by Nick Sarwark and some in the LP.
    ...
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul
    They are what they hate.” - B4L


    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  12. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by devil21 View Post
    Surely the answer is to vote Republican lol.

    We constantly nibble around the edges about the issue instead of striking at the roots. Ron Paul started striking at the root by pointing out the banking system as the root (a foundational stone of communism) and how it has completely captured the political system, but here we are today right back to the same partisan games, which inevitably devolves right back down to "better vote harder this time for Candidate X or you'll get Candidate Y!" But no one here talks about the bankers anymore and even tolerates all the Trump nonsense, someone who has been proven 1000 times over to the completely banker controlled.
    I agree 100%

    So I am assuming you are fully supporting Trump's appointment of Judy Shelton to the Fed Reserve Board, and have called your Senator to urge confirmation?

    Right?
    There are only two things we should fight for.
    One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. - Smedley Darlington Butler

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Anti Federalist View Post
    I agree 100%

    So I am assuming you are fully supporting Trump's appointment of Judy Shelton to the Fed Reserve Board, and have called your Senator to urge confirmation?

    Right?
    LOL no, because I know for a fact it has been planned for years. I even have a long thread about it from 2015. Wake up dude, none of this is random or accidental. The entire thing, everything that emanates out of your tv, is planned and scripted to be there. Stop deluding yourself. That is the first step to changing anything.
    "Let it not be said that we did nothing." - Ron Paul

    The entire internet is the domain of paid shills and bots. If you don't know this by now....

    Israel, under control of the Crown and, ultimately, the Vatican, own the USA. If you don't know this by now....

    Talk to people about liberty. You won't find it on websites, you won't find it in politicians.

    But now you can't talk to people because of "social distancing"....brought to you by shills and politicians.

  14. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by devil21 View Post
    LOL no, because I know for a fact it has been planned for years. I even have a long thread about it from 2015. Wake up dude, none of this is random or accidental. The entire thing, everything that emanates out of your tv, is planned and scripted to be there. Stop deluding yourself. That is the first step to changing anything.
    So, you want to abolish the Fed as the root of all evil in the country, but oppose the appointment of a pro gold standard, anti-fed, board member who agrees with you?

    And we wonder why libertarians = constant fail...
    There are only two things we should fight for.
    One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. - Smedley Darlington Butler

  15. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Anti Federalist View Post
    So, you want to abolish the Fed as the root of all evil in the country, but oppose the appointment of a pro gold standard, anti-fed, board member who agrees with you?

    And we wonder why libertarians = constant fail...
    Ron Paul has repeatedly said that the hearts and minds of the American people must change. This is much bigger than one can possibly imagine. Party politics in the system will only perpetuate what we oppose. The only solution is to End the Fed, and the only way to do that is to Starve the State.

    It may not happen in our lifetime, it has been in the works for more than 100 years. I am not saying to give up, we are the spark for the next generation, and we must plant the seeds.
    “The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.”

    Read the RPF trolls' playbook here (post #3)

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Anti Federalist View Post
    So, you want to abolish the Fed as the root of all evil in the country, but oppose the appointment of a pro gold standard, anti-fed, board member who agrees with you?

    And we wonder why libertarians = constant fail...
    Who said I oppose it? All I said was that no I wasn't calling Congress or whatever, as it is scripted so whether you or I oppose it or not makes NOT ONE BIT OF DIFFERENCE, except as playing cheerleaders for decrees that already came down long ago from the ivory towers. No one is paying me to be a cheerleader for anyone else's decisions so why would I work for free? lol I can't even get the Treasury to respond to a letter I sent two months ago...

    Here's my 2015 thread on it:
    http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthr...-money-is-done
    Last edited by devil21; 07-30-2020 at 09:29 AM.
    "Let it not be said that we did nothing." - Ron Paul

    The entire internet is the domain of paid shills and bots. If you don't know this by now....

    Israel, under control of the Crown and, ultimately, the Vatican, own the USA. If you don't know this by now....

    Talk to people about liberty. You won't find it on websites, you won't find it in politicians.

    But now you can't talk to people because of "social distancing"....brought to you by shills and politicians.

  17. #15
    One of the big differences is that the Cultural Marxism ratio these days in on the plus side, it seems to have made it's way over the mainstream hump.

    They keep pushing the lines and most people seem to just keep sucking up no matter what, because they don't want to look "bad." (guilt)



    https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinio...5?icid=related

    The senseless killings of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans while in police custody have sparked the largest and most diverse mass protests in the history of the United States. You might think everyone would now be focusing on how to fix a system that has mercilessly subjugated, brutalized and killed Black and brown people in this country. But you would be wrong.

    Instead of trying to come together and figure out how America can live up to its promise of equality for all, too many people prefer to stoke the flames of anti-Semitism. The wave of outrage over systemic racism has provoked anti-Semitic accusations that Jews — specifically my father, George Soros — are organizing the protests behind the scenes.
    Go through that whole main page over at NBC, it is a propaganda site.... https://www.nbcnews.com/think
    If the stampman tells you to kiss his ass, shall he get away with it and live? Don't let your courage cool, or a few bullies scare you. We've nothing to fear but slavery. Love your liberty, and fight for it like men who know its value. Once lost it will never, never be regained.
    -Hugh Ledlie, 1774.



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