Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Critical Race Theory is Repackaged Marxism

Conservatives are right that actual CRT (not what is often mislabeled as CRT) has its roots in critical theory, which was originally developed by the Western-Marxist tradition formulated by the Frankfurt School. But the irony of it all is that a serious Marxist could have a field day with this stuff.
Consider this: a change in material conditions (invention of the microchip) spurs an economic revolution (digital capitalism) which causes an older ruling class (industrial bourgeoisie) to decline and be superseded by a new ruling class (tech oligarchs, managerial elites, newly rich, bobos, PMCs, ideas industries, green energy, minority elites, etc.) that jettisons the ideological superstructure of the previous ruling class (bourgeois-liberal patriotism, Victorian family/sexual norms, etc) in favor of a new ideological superstructure of their own (woke progressivism). This is Marx 101.
Because critical theory is traceable to the Western-Marxist tradition (and not classical Marxism or Marxism-Leninism), it is really a revision of Marxism. Obviously, not the same as the “revisionist” perspectives that emerged in the post-Stalin, post-Mao East, but a form of Western revisionism that inverts the relationship between the materialist base and the superstructure, or at least between class and culture. Hence, the constant reference to “cultural Marxism” on the right. But the great irony is that when you abandon class/economic/technological determinism, and focus instead on culture, you no longer pose any threat to capitalism, because capitalism is fluid enough to incorporate any cultural framework into its superstructure. Hence, US corporations present one cultural outlook in their US and European marketing and advertising, and other cultural outlooks in their Middle Eastern markets (like the Gulf States). “Cultural Marxists” end up being useful idiots for the capitalists they supposedly oppose (like their “free-market but culturally conservative” counterparts on the right).

By Liz Wheeler, Newsweek

When a Rhode Island local school district allegedly considered suing one woman for the high crime of asking for information about school curricula, many were shocked, and rightfully so. To be sued for making a request for school records, in accordance with records laws, would have been a violation of her basic First Amendment rights. Skepticism and dissent are bedrock American values. But shocking as it may be, I wasn’t surprised this happened. See, the woman wanted to know about critical race theory being taught in American schools.

In fact, critical race theory isn’t a theory at all. Nor is it a “perspective” of teaching history. It is racism and bigotry, and not only that—it’s an attempt to revive a failed Marxist agenda.

Critical race theory is an offshoot of critical theory, the brainchild of the Frankfurt School, a group of 20th-century Marxists associated with the Institute for Social Research. (Fun fact: the founder of the Institute for Social Research wanted it to be named the Institut fur Marxismus, which translates to the “Institute for Marxism.” That name was scrapped for fear it would alienate the public.)


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