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What Is Cultural Marxism?

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What follows is a summary of Dr. Voddie Baucham’s January 3, 2019 teaching at the Southeast Founders “Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly” regional conference. His biography follows the article. To watch the video, CLICK HERE.

 

Ideas matter. Words matter. It is important that we understand the words that we use and the ideas that under-gird them. This is particularly true of words and ideas that challenge those things which are of the utmost priority and significance to us as American citizens and as Christians. America is reeling from Marxist ideology wrapped in terms such as “socialism,” “social justice,” “intersectionality,” “critical theory,” and “white privilege.” These are facets of cultural Marxism. So, what is cultural Marxism, and how does it differ from classical Marxism?

Classical Marxism, as presented in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, is fundamentally an economic system created as a response to capitalism. Marx believed that the dialectical changes to the functioning of a society’s economy would determine its culture and politics. Capitalism is exploitation of the masses, according to Marx, and history is a series of struggles that lead to the inevitable fall of capitalism. Economic recessions and practical contradictions of a capitalist economy give rise to struggles that will eventually provoke a revolution among the working class. Capitalism will be overthrown, social institutions will be restructured, and the people will be freed from oppression.

Among the people’s oppressors stands religion. According to Karl Marx, religion serves as the opiate of the masses, allowing them to remain oppressed by the exploitation of capitalism. So, the oppressed masses must find it within themselves to overthrow religious systems as a prerequisite to overthrowing the political and economic systems.

Many Christians recognize classical Marxism as being antithetical to our beliefs. It is an ideology that is rooted in rabid atheism and principles that flatly contradict the clear teaching of Scripture. However, these same Christians are less clear in their understanding that cultural Marxism is also anti-Christian.

Cultural Marxism was birthed in an effort to explain why the inevitable revolution against capitalism envisioned by Karl Marx only occurred in limited instances. Followers of Marx determined that it is not the economy that will mobilize the masses to change a country’s social superstructures but the culture. As such, new theories and methods were created to accomplish Karl Marx’s revolution and the defeat of capitalism. Cultural Marxism seeks the same outcome as classical Marxism, but it relies upon different methods to accomplish these goals.

An Italian Marxist named Antonio Gramsci advocated an intellectual and cultural struggle wherein Marxists would increase class consciousness, teach their theories, critique history, and generally foster an anti-capitalist value system that counters the cultural hegemony. It was Gramsci who developed the theory of “cultural hegemony.” According to one sociologist, “Cultural hegemony refers to domination or rule maintained through ideological or cultural means. It is usually achieved through social institutions which allow those in power to strongly influence the values, norms, ideas, expectations, worldview, and behavior of the rest of society.”

In America, our cultural hegemony is defined as being white, male, heterosexual, cisgender (a person whose gender identity corresponds with that person’s biological sex), able-bodied, native-born Americans. Everybody who does not match these traits is classified as a minority and is a victim of the cultural hegemony established by white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied Americans. Consequently, everybody who does not match these traits is necessarily at war with those who do because they are the ones in power—the privileged ones—who are oppressing everyone else by their very existence.

Gramsci’s cultural Marxism called not for an armed revolution, but a cultural revolution focused on overturning the cultural hegemony. He determined that this is best accomplished by controlling the “robes of society.” These are cultural influencers with power, such as judges, politicians, professors, and pastors. Gramsci believed that by empowering cultural Marxists in the institutions of the judiciary, government, schools, and churches, the masses could be mobilized to fight against the cultural hegemony—“the system.” This would be accomplished by cultural influencers promising to advocate for various groups of people who are oppressed by the hegemony.

Elsewhere, a group of German scholars known as the Frankfurt School developed another explanation for why Karl Marx’s envisioned revolution never occurred on a global scale. They determined that people were receiving so much information through mass media that they were being transformed from activists into passive recipients of information and ideology. They theorized that mass media had made people intellectually inactive and politically passive as they allowed mass-produced ideology and values to wash over them and to infiltrate their consciousnesses.

The Frankfurt School believed in leveraging the tools of mass media to mobilize the masses against the hegemonic system. One way of accomplishing this was to reduce everything to discussions of race, class, gender, and sex. People should be encouraged to view themselves as members of subgroups rather than part of a collective whole.

After World War I, the Frankfurt School left Germany and migrated to Switzerland in 1933. Two years later, they migrated to the United States. They entered New York in 1935 and became affiliated with Columbia University.

Today’s discussions about critical theory, political correctness, and multiculturalism are a result of the Frankfurt School. The tendency of the news media to subdivide America into groups and to reduce everything to discussions focused on race, class, gender, and sex is evidence of the Frankfurt School’s success in leveraging America’s mass media. Likewise, the acceptance of concepts like cultural hegemony, systemic racism, and white privilege are evidence of the success that followers of Gramsci’s ideology have had in America.

Cultural Marxism is an agenda, not just an idea. It is a disruptive ideology with a detailed agenda for transforming America. Until we can identify and define cultural Marxism, we are unable to recognized and confront it. Left unconfronted, it will transform our country. It will replace our biblical moorings with an anti-biblical ideology rooted in atheism.

 

Voddie BauchamDr. Voddie Baucham serves as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. Previously he served as pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Dr. Baucham is the author of numerous books, including Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, and Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes.

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Timothy Zebell

Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Founders Ministries. “Cultural Marxism | Voddie Baucham.” YouTube video, 1:05:44, February 21, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&reload=9&v=GRMFBdDDTkI.