Cultural Marxism, Political Correctness, and Critical Theory

by Fred Elbel
Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners.
- George Carlin

Political Correctness is a deadly serious form of Cultural Marxism, which views culture as the basis of class struggle. Cultural Marxism relies on deconstruction to undermine underlying cultural values in order to pave the way to fundamentally transform a society. Critical Theory in essence means criticising society in order to expose weaknesses and facilitate change.

An informative synopsis of Political Correctness / Cultural Marxism, by Discover the Networks1 is included below (adapted from Lind's Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology).2

America today is dominated by a system of beliefs, attitudes and values that we have come to know as "Political Correctness." For many it is an annoyance and a self parodying joke. But Political Correctness is deadly serious in its aims, seeking to impose a uniformity of thought and behavior on all Americans. It is therefore totalitarian in nature. Its roots lie in a version of Marxism which sees culture, rather than the economy, as the site of class struggle.

Under Marxist economic theory, the oppressed workers were supposed to be the beneficiaries of a social revolution that would place them on top of the power structure. When these revolutionary opportunities presented themselves, however, the workers did not respond. The Marxist revolutionaries did not blame their theory for these failures; instead they blamed the "ruling class," which had bought off the workers by giving them "rights," and had blinded them with a "false consciousness" that led them to support national governments and liberal democracy.

One group of Marxist intellectuals resolved this apparent contradiction of Marxist theory by an analysis that focused on society's cultural "superstructure" rather than on the economic "base" as Marx did. The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs contributed the most to this new cultural Marxism.

Among Marxists, Gramsci is noted for his theory that cultural hegemony is the means to class dominance. In his view, a new "Communist man" had to be created through a changed culture before any political revolution was possible. This led to a focus on the efforts of intellectuals in the fields of education and media.

Georg Lukacs believed that for a new Marxist culture to emerge, the existing culture must be destroyed. He said, "I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the epoch.... Such a worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries."

In 1923, Lukacs and other Marxist intellectuals associated with the Communist Party of Germany founded the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University in Frankfurt, Germany. The Institute, which became known as the Frankfurt School, was modeled after the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. In 1933, when Nazis came to power in Germany, the members of the Frankfurt School fled. Most came to the United States and many became influential in American universities. The Frankfurt School's studies combined Marxist analysis with Freudian psychoanalysis to form the basis of what became known as "Critical Theory."

Critical Theory was essentially destructive criticism of the main elements of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, heredity, ethnocentrism, convention and conservatism.

Critical Theorists recognized that traditional beliefs and the existing social structure would have to be destroyed and then replaced with a "new thinking" that would become as much a part of elementary consciousness as the old one had been. Their theories took hold in the tumultuous 1960s, when the Vietnam War opened a Pandora's Box of reevaluaton and revolution. The student radicals of the era were strongly influenced by revolutionary ideas, among them those of Herbert Marcuse, a member of the Frankfurt School who preach the "Great Refusal," a rejection of all basic Western concepts and an embrace of sexual liberation, and the merits of feminist and black revolutions. His primary thesis was that university students, ghetto blacks, the alienated, the asocial, and the Third World could take the place of the proletariat in the coming Communist revolution.

Marcuse may be the most important member of the Frankfurt School in terms of the origins of Political Correctness, because he was the critical link to the counterculture of the 1960s. His objective was clear: "One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including morality of existing society."

When addressing the general public, contemporary advocates of Political Correctness - or Cultural Marxism, as it might just as easily be called - present their beliefs with appealing simplicity as merely a commitment to being "sensitive" to other people and embracing values such as "tolerance" and "diversity."

The reality is different. Political Correctness is the use of culture as a sharp weapon to enforce new norms and to stigmatize those who dissent from the new dispensation; to stigmatize those who insist on values that will impede the new "PC" regime: free speech and free and objective intellectual inquiry.

Adapted from: "Political Correctness": A Short History of an Ideology," edited by William Lind (November 2004).2


Author William Lind describes in the article The Origins of Political Correctness how the agenda of Cultural Marxism is implicitly deconstructionist:3

...We have it primarily on college campuses, but it is spreading throughout the whole society. Were does it come from? What is it?

We call it "Political Correctness." The name originated as something of a joke, literally in a comic strip, and we tend still to think of it as only half-serious. In fact, it's deadly serious. It is the great disease of our century, the disease that has left tens of millions of people dead in Europe, in Russia, in China, indeed around the world. It is the disease of ideology. PC is not funny. PC is deadly serious.

If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious.

First of all, both are totalitarian ideologies...

... the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness, like economic Marxism, has a single factor explanation of history. Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups. Nothing else matters. All literature, indeed, is about that. Everything in the past is about that one thing.

... just as in classical economic Marxism certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good - feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be "victims," and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.

... both economic and cultural Marxism rely on expropriation. When the classical Marxists, the communists, took over a country like Russia, they expropriated the bourgeoisie, they took away their property. Similarly, when the cultural Marxists take over a university campus, they expropriate through things like quotas for admissions...

For the cultural Marxist, it's deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired... So the parallels are very evident between the classical Marxism that we're familiar with in the old Soviet Union and the cultural Marxism that we see today as Political Correctness...


Chuck Rogér summarizes Cultural Marxist history:4

... In the 1920s and 1930s Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, who argued that traditional values must be obliterated in order to free "oppressed" social groups, called for eliminating social decorum and glorifying perverse behavior in order to destroy the Western middle class and collapse society from within. Translated into today's terminology, the plan prescribed the commandeering of news and entertainment media, religious and financial institutions, organized labor, health care, and education.

Gramsci's cultural Marxism began to reach throughout society when Frankfurt University's Institute for Marxism -- renamed the Institute for Social Research and informally called the Frankfurt School - fled Nazi Germany, took up temporary residence at Columbia University in 1933, and then, during World War II, began using Gramsci-derived "critical theory" to "deconstruct" American society. German-born philosopher-writer Herbert Marcuse and other Marxists carried cultural Marxism beyond Columbia, and progressives adopted the disease as a weapon of "change" to be deployed within the education system...

So camouflaged has been the use of Gramsci's brainchild that most education school indoctrinees -- K-12 teachers -- have never really weighed the consequences of conditioning students to reject a moral and prosperous America...

Critical Theory

An integral component of Cultural Marxism is Critical Theory. Lind describes it as:2,3

Critical Theory was essentially destructive criticism of the main elements of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, heredity, ethnocentrism, convention and conservatism.

Critical Theorists recognized that traditional beliefs and the existing social structure would have to be destroyed and then replaced with a "new thinking" that would become as much a part of elementary consciousness as the old one had been...

... the radical feminism, the women's studies departments, the gay studies departments, the black studies departments - all these things are branches of Critical Theory. What the Frankfurt School essentially does is draw on both Marx and Freud in the 1930s to create this theory called Critical Theory. The term is ingenious because you're tempted to ask, "What is the theory?" The theory is to criticize. The theory is that the way to bring down Western culture and the capitalist order is not to lay down an alternative. They explicitly refuse to do that. They say it can't be done, that we can't imagine what a free society would look like (their definition of a free society). As long as we're living under repression - the repression of a capitalistic economic order which creates (in their theory) the Freudian condition, the conditions that Freud describes in individuals of repression - we can't even imagine it.

What Critical Theory is about is simply criticizing. It calls for the most destructive criticism possible, in every possible way, designed to bring the current order down. And, of course, when we hear from the feminists that the whole of society is just out to get women and so on, that kind of criticism is a derivative of Critical Theory. It is all coming from the 1930s, not the 1960s...

Critical Theory is used by leftist deconstructionists to reframe the political debate from discourse about good and bad ideas to good and bad people. The far left believes that their battle is not about political ideas, but about bad people - that is, the Republicans - who should be taken out via every means possible, including violence.

For a succinct discussion of Critical Theory concepts, see Critical Theory by New Discoveries.

Also see: A Beginner's Curriculum on Critical Race Theory, by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, New Discoveries, June 23, 2020.



Linda Kimball points out that multiculturalism is but another facet of Cultural Marxism:5

Both communism and the New Left are alive and thriving here in America. They favor code words: tolerance, social justice, economic justice, peace, reproductive rights, sex education and safe sex, safe schools, inclusion, diversity, and sensitivity. All together, this is Cultural Marxism disguised as multiculturalism.

The blogger Fjordman notes that:6

Not only has Marxism survived, it is thriving and has in some ways grown stronger. Leftist ideas about Multiculturalism and de-facto open borders have achieved a virtual hegemony in public discourse, their critics vilified and demonized. By hiding their intentions under labels such as "anti-racism" and "tolerance," Leftists have achieved a degree of censorship of public discourse they could never have dreamt of had they openly stated that their intention was to radically transform Western civilization and destroy its foundations.

The Left have become ideological orphans after the Cold War, or perhaps we should call them ideological mercenaries. Although the viable economic alternative to capitalism didn't work out, their hatred for this system never subsided, it merely transformed into other forms. Multiculturalism is just a different word for "divide and conquer," pitting various ethnic and cultural groups against each other and destroying the coherence of Western society from within.

At the very least, the people living in the former Communist countries knew and admitted that they were taking part in a gigantic social experiment, and that the media and the authorities were serving them propaganda to shore up support for this project. Yet in the supposedly free West, we are taking part in a gigantic social experiment of Multiculturalism and Muslim immigration every bit as radical, utopian and potentially dangerous as Communism, seeking to transform our entire society from top to bottom, and still we refuse to even acknowledge that this is going on.


The Best 30-Minute Explanation of Marxism and its current manifestation of "equity" and "wokeness".

Here are a few excerpts from the video:

The definition of equity comes from the public administration literature. It was written by a man named George Frederickson and the definition is an administered political economy in which shares are adjusted so that citizens are made equal. Does that sound like anything you've heard of before - like socialism?

They're going to administer an economy to make shares equal. The only difference between equity and socialism is the type of property that they redistribute: the type of shares. They're going to redistribute social and cultural capital in addition to economic and material capital.

And so this is my thesis. When we say "what is woke?" - it's Maoism with American characteristics...

We think that Marx was talking about economics...

If we go below the surface what Marx was talking about was something different.

At the end of history mankind will remember that he is a social being and we will have a socialist society - a perfect communism that transcends private property - is how he put it...

But Marx was never an economist. He was a theologian.

He wanted to produce a religion for mankind that would supersede all of the religions of mankind and bring him back to his true social nature...

We look at this idea a special form of property that segregates society into people who have - the Bourgeois - and the people who do not have - who are in class conflict...

Take out class, put in race. Change out class put in race and watch: we get Critical Race Theory...

Just Like Karl Marx said that in the Communist Manifesto he wrote communism can be summarized in a single sentence - the abolition of private property - well this is why Critical Race Theory calls to abolish Whiteness. Because whiteness is a form of private property. People who have access to this property are Whites or White adjacent or they act White...

If you think of whiteness as a form of cultural capital, white supremacy as they define it is identical to capitalism... It's not believing that white people are superior. It's believing that white people have access to the control of society...

Marx merely believed it was through economic means. Now it's through socio-cultural means. The evolution into this - sometimes called Western Marxism - began in the 1920s.

5 Minute video: Understanding Marxism: From Each According to His Ability, PragerU.

5 Minute video: Understanding Marxism: Change the World, PragerU.



1. Political Correctness / Cultural Marxism, Discover the Networks.

2. Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology, Edited by William Lind, November 2004. Read the entire book (pdf).

3. The Origins of Political Correctness, by William Lind, Accuracy in Academia, February 5, 2000.

4. Cultural Marxism in Education: The Gathering Revolt, by Chuck Roger, American Thinker, April 18, 2010.

5. Cultural Marxism, by Linda Kimball, American Thinker, February 15, 2007.

6. Political Correctness: The Revenge of Marxism, by Fjordam, Gates of Vienna, June 14, 2006.

7. Who Stole Our Culture?, by William Lind, World Net Daily, May 24, 2007.

8. Why There Is A Culture War: Gramsci and Tocqueville in America

9. What Is the Frankfurt School (And Its Effect on America)?, by Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson, Western Voices World News, August 1, 1999.

10. Multiculturalism and Marxism, by Frank Ellis, Discover the Networks, November, 1999.

11. A Guide for the Perplexed: A Brief History of Political Correctness and Its Origins, by Cartes A. Jouer, Pamela Geller - Atlas Shrugged, September 3, 2012.

12. What is Cultural Marxism?, Destroy Cultural Marxism, January 8, 2013.

13. A Progressive's Guide to Political Correctness, Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will:


14. What Is Cultural Marxism?, Katehon:

...In brief, a Cultural Marxist is one who believes that that cultural/civilizational factors are irrelevant in understanding any type of social, political, or international form of relations, and in order to advance their "cultural-blind" end goal ideology, they:

(1) first support the dilution and then abolishment of majority cultures via the 'politically correct' dominance of minority/immigrant cultures, typically using slurring accusations of "racism", "fascism", and "white supremacy" to attack those who oppose this radical platform;

(2) and then afterwards 'smoothing over' all the remaining cultural mass into an amorpheous and unoriginal 'blob' which loses all aspects of its former cultural identity and is thenceforth molded into a new and unprecedented form of being.

Stage one is in process all throughout the EU and parts of the US...

15. The Democrats' Second Secession & America's New Civil War - How to look at the bizarre turn our political life has taken, by David Horowitz, FrontPage Mag, May 26, 2017.

16. A Long History of Leftist Hatred, by Pat Buchanan, American Renaissance, June 16, 2017.

17. How leftist philosophy fuels political violence, by Nate Madden, Conservative Review, June 16, 2017.

18. Leftists versus the People, by Jeffrey Folks, American Thinker, February 24, 2018. Do they really hate ordinary people that much?

19. A Beginner's Curriculum on Critical Race Theory, by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, New Discoveries, June 23, 2020.

20. Critical Race Theory's Destructive Impact on America, by Carol M. Swain, 1776 Unites, July, 2020.

21. Critical Race Theory is a Victimization Cult, by Art Keller, New Discourses, June 29, 2020.

22. The Challenge of Marxism, by Yoram Hazony, Quillette, August 16, 2020. Review: The Marxist threat to liberalism, by Fred Elbel, August 24, 2020.

23. Videos: Towards a Better Understanding of the Left. Are you struggling to understand the cultural revolution being foisted on the American People? While much has been written on Cultural Marxism and Progressivism, the spoken work offers another path to understanding the fundamentals.