Kurt Mahlburg, Features Editor at the Canberra Declaration, is at large and on the loose in the United States.
The big news coming out of America last week isn’t the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. It’s the remarkable speech he gave at the UN General Assembly, which garnered almost no interest from the media either side of the Pacific.
Donald Trump is a divisive figure, to state the obvious. His supporters love him—in some cases, far too uncritically. And his critics love to hate him: if for nothing else, then for simply being Donald Trump.
I have a host of reservations about Donald Trump—both his personal life before taking office, and much of his conduct since that is unbecoming of the office of President.
But last week, his speech at the UN was impressive. For someone often regarded as a great threat to democracy, he came out swinging as one of its most vocal defenders.
To understand the significance of his speech, we need to first be familiar with a concept that is shaping a lot of cultural and political dialogue in western nations in the 21st century. This concept is called ‘Cultural Marxism’.
Karl Marx (1818–1883) was a German political theorist who believed that all of society’s problems arise from a struggle for power between different social classes—a situation caused by capitalism. His solution, known as Marxism, was a classless society where all resources are shared.
It sounded like a harmless and optimistic theory, but when his theory was put to the test by socialist and communist states in the 20th century, it resulted in a bloodbath. Between Soviet, Chinese, Cambodian and other experiments, around 100 million lives were lost.
Cultural Marxism, by contrast, originates with a group of intellectuals in the 1920s. They saw the communist bloodbath, but they still believed in Marxist ideals, so they modified Marx’s theory.
Instead of viewing it just in economic terms as Marx did, they saw it as a culture-wide struggle. They believed that the Marxism that failed in the East might succeed in the West.
In the eyes of Cultural Marxist proponents, Western capitalism isn’t just an economic system that traps the lower classes in poverty. It’s a culture-wide system that perpetuates, from one generation to the next, the values, beliefs and institutions that oppress minorities and divide society.
Cultural Marxism holds that the West as we know it must be reimagined and fundamentally reorganised if we’re going to reach true equality—utopia, if you like.
Before I go on to describe Cultural Marxism in a little more depth, let me say this.
Many on the right are convinced that Cultural Marxism is an organised and intentional movement, describing it as the ‘long march through the institutions’. Many on the left dismiss all of this as a fanatical conspiracy theory. (Fortunately, there are also more moderate voices on the left too).
I view it with a bit more nuance. I don’t see Cultural Marxism as an intentionally organised movement—with the exception of some radical fringe groups, perhaps. But I do believe that many of its ideas are taken for granted today in the West.
This is especially true among progressives. For the majority of progressives, Cultural Marxism isn’t an ideal they explicitly hold or could even articulate. But it is an animating force for them nonetheless. I’d describe it as a mood or a zeitgeist.
What Does Cultural Marxism Look Like?
I don’t doubt that most people today who are influenced by Cultural Marxist ideas also genuinely hold to values like tolerance, respect, equality, individual freedom, human rights, and compassion.
But Cultural Marxism is insidious, in that it rallies these values for darker ends. As someone who values the culture they’ve grown up in, it’s hard not to see parallels with the Soviet and other revolutions:
The family unit is undermined by replacing traditional sexual mores with an anything-goes approach to sexuality; encouraging moral corruption through the entertainment industry; denying the specific roles of mother and father; pitting women against men; and promoting abortion.
The media, schools, universities and the arts become vehicles to erode religious faith and make the church and Christians appear silly or sinister; to promote socialism and denounce capitalism; and to ignore or reinterpret history to present the West as essentially evil. In a modern twist, mass illegal immigration is used—by appeals to compassion—to support this narrative.
Class warfare is re-presented in terms of ‘identity politics’ so that subcultures vie for social status based on how oppressed they are. In the process, people who don’t view society through the lens of victimhood are seen as the culprits.
Freedom of speech is restricted. Not by government intervention initially, but by appeals to ‘political correctness’. Eventually, hate speech is redefined from incitement of violence to hurt feelings, such that any opinions that aren’t popular can be condemned, silenced—and eventually prosecuted.
Do I think that there’s an organised group of individuals working to bring all of this about? No. Rather, I have attempted to give a decades-long description of how Cultural Marxist ideas have subtly played out in nations like Australia and America.
Do I see these ideas as destructive? Absolutely.
Trump Takes On Cultural Marxism
Trump never used the term ‘Cultural Marxism’ of course, but he dismantled many of its premises. Consider what he said about:
Like my beloved country, each nation represented in this hall has a cherished history, culture, and heritage that is worth defending and celebrating, and which gives us our singular potential and strength…
The true good of a nation can only be pursued by those who love it: by citizens who are rooted in its history, who are nourished by its culture, committed to its values, attached to its people, and who know that its future is theirs to build or theirs to lose…
Looking around and all over this large, magnificent planet, the truth is plain to see: If you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. And if you want peace, love your nation.
The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbours, and honour the differences that make each country special and unique.
One of the most serious challenges our countries face is the spectre of socialism. It’s the wrecker of nations and destroyer of societies.
Events in Venezuela remind us all that socialism and communism are not about justice, they are not about equality, they are not about lifting up the poor, and they are certainly not about the good of the nation. Socialism and communism are about one thing only: power for the ruling class.
Today, I repeat a message for the world that I have delivered at home: America will never be a socialist country.
In the last century, socialism and communism killed 100 million people. Sadly, as we see in Venezuela, the death toll continues in this country. These totalitarian ideologies, combined with modern technology, have the power to exercise new and disturbing forms of suppression and domination.
The essential divide that runs all around the world and throughout history is once again thrown into stark relief. It is the divide between those whose thirst for control deludes them into thinking they are destined to rule over others and those people and nations who want only to rule themselves.
Thanks to our pro-growth economic policies, our domestic unemployment rate reached its lowest level in over half a century. Fuelled by massive tax cuts and regulations cuts, jobs are being produced at a historic rate. Six million Americans have been added to the employment rolls in under three years.
Last month, African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment reached their lowest rates ever recorded… Wages are rising, incomes are soaring, and 2.5 million Americans have been lifted out of poverty in less than three years.
Mass illegal migration is unfair, unsafe, and unsustainable for everyone involved…
The receiving countries are overburdened with more migrants than they can responsibly accept. And the migrants themselves are exploited, assaulted, and abused by vicious coyotes. Nearly one third of women who make the journey north to our border are sexually assaulted along the way…
For all of the countries of the Western Hemisphere, our goal is to help people invest in the bright futures of their own nation. Our region is full of such incredible promise: dreams waiting to be built and national destinies for all. And they are waiting also to be pursued.
Throughout the hemisphere, there are millions of hardworking, patriotic young people eager to build, innovate, and achieve. But these nations cannot reach their potential if a generation of youth abandon their homes in search of a life elsewhere. We want every nation in our region to flourish and its people to thrive in freedom and peace.
Americans will also never tire of defending innocent life. We are aware that many United Nations projects have attempted to assert a global right to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, right up until the moment of delivery. Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life. Like many nations here today, we in America believe that every child—born and unborn—is a sacred gift from God.
Freedom and democracy must be constantly guarded and protected, both abroad and from within. We must always be skeptical of those who want conformity and control. Even in free nations, we see alarming signs and new challenges to liberty.
A small number of social media platforms are acquiring immense power over what we can see and over what we are allowed to say. A permanent political class is openly disdainful, dismissive, and defiant of the will of the people. A faceless bureaucracy operates in secret and weakens democratic rule. Media and academic institutions push flat-out assaults on our histories, traditions, and values.
In the United States, my administration has made clear to social media companies that we will uphold the right of free speech. A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people, and a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, canceling, or blacklisting their own neighbours.
Yesterday, I was also pleased to host leaders for a discussion about an ironclad American commitment: protecting religious leaders and also protecting religious freedom. This fundamental right is under growing threat around the world. Hard to believe, but 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberty is in significant danger or even completely outlawed. Americans will never fire or tire in our effort to defend and promote freedom of worship and religion. We want and support religious liberty for all.
I’d say Trump took on Cultural Marxism and he won. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.