It all seems plausible enough on the outside, especially for people conditioned to think of Communism as a conspiracy-driven enterprise aimed at overturning Western capitalist societies. Why wouldn’t Marxism, which is mainly devoted to economics, also have cultural component that complements its ultimate goal?
That’s the claim made, anyway, by right-wing pundits and thinkers who insist that “cultural Marxism” is the underlying belief system that brought multiculturalism to the modern world, and is now forcing it all down our throats as “political correctness.”
It’s become a common reference in recent years as conservatives have increasingly attacked multiculturalism in the public square. From Fox News to Breitbart to pop philosophers such as Jordan Peterson, “cultural Marxism” is increasingly identified as the source of everything wrong with modern liberal democracies.
The problem with these claims, however, is that they are fundamentally groundless. The only place that “cultural Marxism” actually exists is within a very narrow and relatively minor faction of academia, and in the fertile imaginations of the right-wing ideologues who see it as the wellspring of a nefarious conspiracy to undermine and eventually destroy Western civilization.
The whole concept is essentially a kind of hoax, a conspiracy theory concocted by radical white nationalists in the 1990s to explain the spread of multiculturalism, and nurtured by a combination of neo-Nazis and nativists over the ensuing years, as it gradually spread to mainstream conservatism through the activism of a handful of key players. It is also deeply anti-Semitic at its root, offering essentially an updated version of the classic “Protocols of the Seven Elders of Zion” conspiracy theory, postulating a scenario in which a cabal of elite Jews conspires in secret to inflict all the ills of modernity onto society for their own benefit.