“CULTURAL MARXISM: The Corruption of America” (plus my thoughts)

This film might strike some as a piece of shameless propaganda:

In it’s own special way, it indeed is. Plenty of truths contained therein, so I would recommend it to others, but only if you promise to sit through the whole 90 minutes. Made me twitch with rebuttals and quibbles, but still I’m glad I watched that tonight because it got me thinking.

Said before and will keep saying that the term “cultural Marxis” has become a misnomer. And this matters because accuracy in language is especially needed on concepts of this magnitude. Previously wrote on here how I view Karl Marx being blamed for all modern problems due to this ideology that continues to bare the name “cultural Marxism” despite it having little to nothing to do with what Marx was actually about. Ok, there are a few points to be made here.

First off, economic class concerns in the 1880s during the rise of Industrialization coinciding with the rise of what we know of as capitalism, which in short order began paving the way toward corporatism. Karl Marx was a product of the 19th century when agrarianism was still common and factories were pretty new. Conditions within those factories hadn’t been regulated yet, so employees could be treated as relatively disposable, creating a situation arguably not a huge step up from slavery. He foresaw what that might develop into, so far as one reasonably could way back then, pre-20th century modernization. And he rightfully protested it, like any luddite worth his salt would. Hell, had I been in his shoes I’d likely have tried sounding the alarm too, and so did plenty of others. Not like Marx was the only one to ever express an opinion on this matter, nor that his teachings were the primary ones to prove super influential on the predecessors to those now known as SJWs. Lots of thinkers contributed to the ideology being referred to as “cultural marxism.”

It’s obvious what it is now is an ideology fashioned over the last century to suit the interests of globalists and power-seekers. Certainly not benefiting the people Marx ever had in mind. Complete reversal instead. That’s what’s so insidious and destructive and outright dishonest about continuing to refer to that ideology as “cultural marxism.” How can opposites both be forms of Marxism? Because it’s evolved, you say? Then why keep calling it by defunct language? Only confuses people, like the maker of that otherwise pretty interesting documentary. Or maybe for some people the term “cultural marxism” really just serves as politically-less-incorrect code for Jews. That’s what I’m starting to think this business of holding onto that term and warning people off of having anything to do with the Frankfurt School authors as though their books were possessed by the devil.

I’ve read number books by Erich Fromm, and guess what, folks! He’s on our side. Read him and see. He wrote against us becoming automatons and corporate and/or government slaves. Not on the side of the globalists. Which people might realize if they actually took time to read the authors they’re criticizing (or in Fromm’s case there, a title page merely flashed across the screen — deemed automatically guilty by association for being a member of the Frankfurt School — no one who studied Marx’s writings could possibly be nuanced and critical in his treatment of it, right? NOT IF THEY WERE IN THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL. Oy.  rolleyes_smilie  Yet another example of how we remain willfully blind.) Excerpts from a few of Fromm’s books I’ve transcribed onto this blog for anyone curious enough to take a glimpse into the sort of things he actually said.

So anyway, Marx wasn’t aiming to be some sort of malicious devil or usher for the rise of totalitarian states. Goes to show how much control we have over what’s done with our ideas once we’ve shared them. Can take on a life of their own. Or be co-opted. Maybe also inverted so that the public gets the message that being class conscious is no different than being race or sex/gender conscious. All are the same and all belong on the political Left. And that’s where there’s a serious problem, considering how much class consciousness really ought to matter to so many of us relative to the few who’ve become an enormously influential economic elite. That’s on a special level way above snowflake identity politics or even race relations seeing as how we’re all in the same societal basket headed in the same direction. That is key, and I don’t think it’s a mistake that the situation has been framed the way it was in that film in relation to so-called “cultural marxism.” Plenty of other sources do the same thing, I’ve seen.

All those dots connected around the 1-hour mark onward — valuable. Too bad they’re packaged in with”cultural marxism”-declaring propaganda. Reduces the whole film’s credibility, that along with the hokey voice-overs and lack of informative explanation on what was proposed by Marx and Frankfurt School authors. Basically just pointed to them and sneered, booing us away from paying too much mind to them other than aiming to avoid them at all cost. Not useful. Propagandist dick move there. Inaccurate for the sake of protecting some semblance of what capitalism was envisioned to be. We’re now post that, whether we like it or not.

This is where I deviate sharply from this film and others like it. Is there a conspiracy of Jews influenced by Marx and whomever else trying to run the world? Who cares? Would it really matter what ethnicity they happen to be? Followers of a globalist agenda obviously aren’t all Jewish (like the Clintons and Bushes and Obamas). Everybody like to form an elaborate theory about who’s angling for power and why and what all they may be tied into. Here’s all we need to know: totalitarianism is the ultimate threat. It’s anti-capitalist, anti-true socialism even, anti-individual, anti-social, anti-human. Whatever form it may take isn’t of particular importance, not in the big picture. At least not outside of comprehending the steps of that rise and consolidation of power.

Are certain relationships about power? Yes, they are. Probably not all, but when it comes to politics there’s most definitely always the threat of a power grab.

Now, in my own personal opinion, I don’t rightly care to nitpick anymore over what elements involved may have come about via intentional collusion and what might simply be the luck of the draw or mounting consequences of short-term opportunism or whatever else. Lots of moving parts at play in the 20th century. The convergence of a plethora of technologies inside growing nation-states and the rise of consumerism and a public education system and wars and exploring the sciences (including psychology) and corporatism and the explosion of our economy….on and on it goes. So much unprecedented shit happening all at once, coming in from every which way. Distractions galore. Looks to me to simply be a conspiracy of Life. So much culminated into the conditions we’re experiencing now, so much that couldn’t have been foreseen or predicted. And some people take advantage of the situation, as to be expected.

Tyranny lurks and seeks out opportunity. Why? Because power does matter to us humans, and to some a whole lot more than others. The will to play god will probably never go out of style. Something psychological within inclines us that way. And some succeed from time to time. Tragic when that happens.

Acknowledging all of that, the part in the film where they talk about our U.S. Constitution and the visions of our forefathers I am deeply in agreement with, BUT we nowadays face the conundrum of living in such complex societies that are indeed already globally connected through markets and military threats. The notion of doing away with our standing army at this point would strike nearly all as ludicrous and surely national suicide. Having a standing army (or in our case, a whole military-industrial complex) is deemed a necessity to at least remain sovereign. But then, of course, that’s never what a military remains limited to, especially not one as powerful as ours. Then there’s also the concern about how the U.S. military is essentially an employment sector by now, and a huge one at that. Employs over a million citizens, I believe. How would anyone wish to go about dismantling that mammoth? Would prove political suicide for a candidate to even suggest such a thing.

See, this is where we’re wrapped up in paradoxes of our own human creation. Not sure how we wriggle out of this mess. It’s become self-perpetuating. And, unfortunately, increasingly less transparent as well as less accessible by the average citizen. I completely agree with the documentary-makers’ sentiments expressed about state and local rights, but how do we check federal powers at this point? Sure, absolutely most of Congress deserves to be impeached. I’ve been saying that for over a decade. But how? We’ve become so divided and are firmly bogged down arguing over so many less important matters. Which propaganda aided in bringing about.

Sure, people should cancel their cable subscriptions and quit believing what’s put on by the mainstream media. Stop paying for pop culture garbage over intellectually-beneficial content. Easy to say, but no way to enforce it. Barely can entice those who aren’t already curious and seeking. Demonstrating how Americans got in this mess in the first place: we suck at remaining vigilant and principled.

Is pessimism also a feature of “cultural marxism”?  lol  He claimed so, but that’s ridiculous. One can recognize the present situation for what it is and still work toward protecting what we’re able. I won’t pretend to be optimist about what may lay in store. But we work with what we can. We start clarifying our values and living in accordance. Whether we ultimately triumph as a people in the end or not, it’s the journey that’s of most concern since that’s day by day. One foot in front of the other. Less overwhelming when we each try to take it on as that.

That’s enough to say on this for one evening.

Chris Hedges’ book “Empire of Illusions: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle”

Having read a number of Chris Hedges’ books, including American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Losing Moses on the Freeway, I Don’t Believe in Atheists, his 2010 book titled Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle is another I’d like to offer up to others, though I wouldn’t recommend beginning with reading this one, this book being more of a summary and broad treatment of a collection of problems facing society. Hedges hits several major points, from our tantalization with Jerry Springer-esque forms of entertainment to the personal and societal destructiveness of hardcore pornography; from the dangers of corporatism and the realities and consequences we face today, as a nation and a people, politically, socially, and economically, to the power of love. This man does a great job of telling it like it is!

I’ll include some excerpts below, beginning on pages 14-15:

In The Republic, Plato imagines human beings chained for the duration of their lives in an underground cave, knowing nothing but darkness. Their gaze is confined to the cave wall, upon which shadows of the world above are thrown. They believe these flickering shadows are reality. If, Plato writes, one of these prisoners is freed and brought into the sunlight, he will suffer great pain. Blinded by the glare, he is unable to see anything and longs for the familiar darkness. But eventually his eyes adjust to the light. The illusion of the tiny shadows is obliterated. He confronts the immensity, chaos, and confusion of reality. The world is no longer drawn in simple silhouettes. But he is despised when he returns to the cave. He is unable to see in the dark as he used to. Those who never left the cave ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they be blinded as well.

Plato feared the power of entertainment, the power of the sense to overthrow the mind, the power of emotion to obliterate reason. No admirer of popular democracy, Plato said that the enlightened or elite had a duty to educate those bewitched by the shadows on the cave wall, a position that led Socrates to quip: “As for the man who tried to free them and lead them upward, if they could somehow lay their hands on him and kill him, they would do so.”

We are chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staples of news, celebrity gossip, New Age mysticism, and pop psychology.

On porn and profits, page 58:

There are some 13,000 porn films made every year in the United States, most in the San Fernando Valley in California. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs, and the ever-expanding e-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That is more than the revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and Earthlink combined. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $10 billion or higher. There is no precise monitoring of the porn industry. And porn is very lucrative to some of the nation’s largest corporations. General Motors owns DIRECTV, which distributes more than 40 million streams of porn into American homes every month. AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable are currently the biggest American companies accommodating porn users with the Hot Network, Adult Pay Per View, and similarly themed services. AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers.

[Bold emphasis mine.]

Broaching the topic of the fall of the United States of America on page 142:

The country I live in today uses the same civic, patriotic, and historical language to describe itself, the same symbols and iconography, the same national myths, but only the shell remains. The America we celebrate is an illusion. America, the country of my birth, the country that formed and shaped me, the country of my father, my father’s father, and his father’s father, stretching back to the generations of my family that were here for the country’s founding, is so diminished as to be unrecognizable. I do not know if this America will return, even as I pray and work and strive for its return.

The words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase. Our textbooks on political science and economics are obsolete. Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite, a small privileged group that governs, and often steals, on behalf of moneyed interests. This elite, in the name of patriotism and democracy, in the name of all the values that were once part of the American system and defined the Protestant work ethic, has systematically destroyed our manufacturing sector, looted the treasury, corrupted our democracy, and trashed the financial system. During this plundering we remained passive, mesmerized by the enticing shadows on the wall, assured our tickets to success, prosperity, and happiness were waiting around the corner.

Chris Hedges includes substantiating literature on the topics discussed, listed in the bibliography, with a few titles and authors specifically mentioned on page 146:

There were some who saw it coming. The political philosophers Sheldon S. Wolin, John Ralston Saul, and Andrew Bacevich, writers such as Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, David Korten, and Naomi Klein, and activists such as Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, and Ralph Nader warned us about our march of folly. In the immediate years after the Second World War, a previous generation of social critics recognized the destructive potential of the rising corporate state. Books such as David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd, C. Wright Mills’s The Power Elite, William H. White’s The Organization Man, Seymour Mellman’s The Permanent War Economy: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, and Reinhold Niebuhr’s The Irony of American History have proved to be prophetic. This generation of writers remembered what had been lost. They saw the intrinsic values that were being dismantled. The culture they sought to protect has largely been obliterated. During the descent, our media and universities, extensions of corporate and mass culture, proved intellectually and morally useless. They did not thwart the decay. We failed to heed the wisdom of these critics, embracing instead the idea that all change was a form of progress.

In his book Democracy Incorporated, Wolin, who taught political philosophy at Berkeley and at Princeton, uses the phrase inverted totalitarianism to describe our system of power. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, and the Constitution while manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens, but candidates must raise staggering amounts of corporate funds to compete. They are beholden to armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington or state capitals who author the legislation and get the legislators to pass it. Corporate media control nearly everything we read, watch, or hear. It imposes a bland uniformity of opinion. It diverts us with trivia and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarianism regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. “Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true,” Wolin writes. “Economics dominates politics—and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness.”

[Italicized emphasis his. Bold emphasis mine.]

Excerpts don’t do this book justice. I agree so much with this author. The man makes a great deal of sense, especially when I read this book in conjunction with other books like Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Chris Hedges’ American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Richard L. Rubenstein’s The Cunning of History: Mass Death and the American Future, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, as well as Ron Paul’s End the Fed (not that I personally share Ron Paul’s exuberance for returning to a gold standard).

Here is a review of Empire of Illusion in The Cleveland Leader. I don’t share the reviewer’s disappointment with the ending, lamenting that “Hedges didn’t conclude his work with some small glimmers of hope.” Au contraire. Mr. Hedges ended on the most hopeful message one can offer: that we learn to love one another and make the necessary sacrifices to pull through. Love is no small matter. It may be all we really have…all that will ever set things right.

Below is an interview of Chris Hedges on GRITtv (July 2009):