Don't call modern leftists communists

It is common among rightist circles to describe the current radical tide sweeping the West and beyond as a form of communism, with the negative epithet "cultural Marxism" frequently employed as a descriptive summation of the current state of affairs. While it is true that much of the ideological zeal displayed by academics, politicians, and various cultural figures is often cloaked in a leftist guise, the content is more redolent of nihilism than Bolshevism.  A breakdown of some of the differences between the regnant revolutionary doctrine and the main ideas prevalent in communist dogma is therefore in order.

Traditionally, communism has been a movement whose principal goal is the overthrow of what its adherents consider the exploitative capitalist order and its replacement by a more just system.  The arguments about how to achieve such a change have varied greatly according to time and circumstance, but the core belief in a transnational proletariat as the catalyst for revolutionary social change has never wavered among the faithful.  Racial issues in places such as the United States and the decolonizing nations of Africa were exploited by the governments of the USSR, China, and Cuba for their own        respective political gains, but race was always subordinate to the idea of the international fraternity of all members of the working class.  The revolutionary communist man came in all shades and colors, but his principal loyalty lay with his class brothers rather than his racial kinsmen.

By way of contrast, today's muckrakers promulgate a form of racial absolutism whose only goal seems to be perpetuating endless inter-group conflict.  In the United States, for example, a semi-official martyr cult has developed around dubious figures such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor while the traditional heroes of American lore tend to be denigrated by the nation's cultural taste-makers.  Several cities have raised statues in honor of the career criminal Floyd, while others have seen sculptures dedicated to individuals such as Jefferson and Lincoln defaced and even destroyed.  In the cultural sphere, mediocre writers such as Charles Chesnutt and routine composers such as George Bridgetower have been pushed to the fore solely due to the color of their skin rather than the quality of their work.  The current climate has provided a fertile opportunity for race hucksters such as Ibram Kendi and Patrisse Cullors to enrich themselves thanks to a gullible public's cowed sensibilities.  None of this has anything in common with the promised Marxist utopia of benign cooperation among peoples of different backgrounds.

The current Western obsession with homosexuality and transsexualism has no counterpart in any section of the traditional communist cannon.  While the Soviet Union during the 1920s briefly decriminalized the former as part of its revolutionary revamping of the tsarist law code, homosexuality was once again forbidden under Stalin in 1934.  Being a member in good standing of the communist party and a practicing homosexual was often difficult.  The author and future film director Pier Paolo Pasolini was expelled from the ranks of the Italian communist party in 1949 for his involvement in a same-sex relationship.  Joseph Stalin contemptuously referred to the homosexual British communist Harry Whyte as "an idiot and a degenerate."  Fidel Castro forced homosexual men into detention camps.  Other examples could easily be cited.

Indeed, even in post-Soviet Russia, the Communist Party under Gennady Zyuganov has remained firmly opposed to any official state sanction for homosexual relationships.  While Cuba and some Western European communist parties have softened their stance on homosexuality in recent years, class rather than sex still occupies pride of place in the communist hierarchy.  The work of individuals who attempted to combine Marx and Freud as part of a revolutionary synthesis, such as the philosopher Herbert Marcuse (a heterosexual but a believer in the insurgent potentiality of homosexuals) and the homophile theorist Mario Mieli, was never absorbed into mainstream communist thought.

Another difference lies in the concept of truth. Among communists, whether in power or not, the party has traditionally been the source of beliefs regarding the "correct" evaluation of politics, art, and morality.  Party proclamations regarding these subjects might frequently change according to the whims of leaders and apparatchiks, but communists have always felt that there is indeed an objective life view accessible to those learned in the "verities" of scientific socialism.  The ongoing attempt by Western radicals to deconstruct the concept of truth itself into a series of competing narratives, none of which is necessarily accurate in an objective sense, has thus no counterpart in communist thought.  The often crude materialism of communist dialectics thus makes a strong contrast to the hazy sexual and racial metaphysics of the post-modernists.

Communists also have a definite goal: the overthrow of the capitalist order and its replacement by a more harmonious collective system.  The means of achieving this objective have been vigorously debated by theoreticians, and the prescriptions have varied from revolutionary violence to parliamentary reform.  What exactly this earthly paradise would consist of is vague, but the intention is crystal-clear.

Modern Western radicals, on the hand, are a congeries of races, religions, economic classes, and sexes.  They are united only by their absolute loathing for the history and culture of the West and nothing more.  The writings of a Robin DiAngelo or the seminars of a Peggy McIntosh are not blueprints for creating a better world, but simply hate-filled propaganda designed to stoke the fires of resentment among groups.  Empty slogans about "equity," the destruction of Occidental living standards in the name of "saving the planet," race-revenge politics, and apparently endless third-world immigration seem to have no goal beyond themselves.  Chaos is cultivated for its own sake, and the endgame seems to be the void.

In short, then, what we have now is not communism.  Hard as it is to believe, it is worse.


Image: Praveenp via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 (cropped).

If you experience technical problems, please write to