AMAC Exclusive by Daniel Roman
By now it should be news to almost no one that American education is the newest battlefield in a cultural war, as Critical Race Theory, or CRT, has come to dominate public discourse. Even many conservatives, however, often understate the true danger posed by CRT. Critical Race Theory is insidious less for its anti-capitalistic elements than for its Darwinian, Marxist ones. It is poisonous not because it teaches that white and black Americans have failed to get along in the past, but that they can never get along in the future. It is dangerous not because it teaches that racism is bad, but nearly the opposite—it teaches that racism is natural.
One of the reasons conservatives and liberals have both struggled to define Critical Race Theory is because of the gaping hole in American education when it comes to teaching students about Marxism. While states like Florida have taken action to remedy a lack of historical understanding about the crimes of Communist regimes, Marxism as a political and philosophical worldview is almost entirely absent. This is why many have been slow to understand that Critical Race Theory is not Marxist–it’s Marxism, through and through.
Marxism and CRT both rest on the same fundamental premises. First, that all human history is a struggle for power. Second, that all such struggles are inherently zero-sum. And third, that a person’s politics can never be determined by individual choice or agency, but are rather solely a product of the “material” conditions of their birth and upbringing. In other words, CRT holds that by virtue of being born white or black, an individual’s politics, prejudices, and allegiances have already been determined, and that to challenge them is a futile indulgence.
If conservatives and liberals alike are to understand the threat of CRT, they must understand the true nature of Marxism – including the direct link between Marx’s discourse on class and the genocides of the 20th century. This should make abundantly clear why Critical Race Theory is not even a misguided campaign for equity, but rather a recipe for the destruction of society itself.
The Evolution of Marxist Thought
As a journalist covering European politics in the 19th century, Marx developed a theory of human history that argued military and social power ultimately derived from economic power. For Marx, as technological and social advancement shifted the basis of economic power, so too did they shift the basis of political power. Early human societies were dominated by nomadic warriors, but once agriculture became common, control of land became more important than physical prowess in the saddle. Later, as industry developed, education and the ability to innovate became more important.
For Marx, two things were true. First, that technological change would inevitably lead to shifts in economic power. Second, that existing ruling classes would always resist giving up their power. Consequently, class conflict was eternal and would always escalate into warfare. Reformism and compromise, such as working within existing systems of politics and democracy, was to Marx futile, because neither side would compromise. Reforms would either be a scam by existing ruling classes to buy-off opposition and delay their inevitable eclipse, or they would be a face-saving-cover for the rising classes to complete their takeover. This did not mean that electoral politics had no purpose to Marx. But its only two purposes were those above. Either elections were used by the existing power structures to defraud the masses, or they were used by the masses to defraud the existing power structures. In this sense, at least, politicians like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are true Marxists insofar as they see their role as using American institutions as they exist – the US Congress, the Electoral College, the Constitution, etc. – to seize the power to undermine those institutions.
As for the end state, Communism, Marx never actually defined what a Communist society would look like. Communism was not so much a “system” as a “state of being” defined by an absence of class conflict. But for Marx, who viewed class conflict as the inevitable result of the existence of more than one class, Communism by definition had to be a world in which class was abolished through a process of elimination in which society ran out of classes to overthrow. It was peace, but a peace of the grave.
Marx was not explicit about this, which is odd given that Marx was not generally prone to brevity, as anyone who has noted the ability of Das Kapital to function as a backup bench press weight during the pandemic understands. But there is no hiding what Communism had to be. Marx, unlike his modern acolytes such as AOC, never denied that capitalism was both natural, and the most efficient economic system. In fact, Marx scoffed at the idea that government redistribution of wealth could produce equality. He suggested that if the government were to confiscate all wealth and redistribute it equally, within two generations the distribution of income would be exactly back where it started, if not even more skewed by virtue of having cleared out economic “dead weight.” Marx, unlike his acolytes, never believed in equality of outcomes. As an economic and social Darwinian, he did not claim or hold that all men were born equal.
If redistribution could never produce an equal society, and Communism was defined as a society that was equal, then it could only be achieved by the destruction of classes. In this sense, critics are right that most Socialists are not trying “real Communism”. But this is a good thing. Arguably the only group which actually tried to create a true Communist society, one without any classes whatsoever, was the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, who by destroying cities and killing anyone who was literate hoped to create a society of only peasant farmers.
Marx did not explicitly demand that the struggle be violent. He merely assumed it would be, while conceding that clever individuals—the AOC’s of the day—might be able to minimize it by accomplishing the revolution under the guise of reformism while no one was watching. Vladimir Lenin, however, took Marx further.
Lenin was faced with a Russian Empire where even the middle classes had yet to achieve power. By Marx’s calculations, Russia in the early 20th century was due for a revolution which would shift power from the nobility to businessmen and the middle class in a democracy, not socialism. Lenin concluded that if revolutions were caused by class struggle, and class struggle was a war, he could accelerate the process by exterminating the preceding classes. He decided that if he did not merely exterminate the nobility, but also the middle class, and then the educated workers, he could skip several steps in one fell swoop, and basically complete three or four revolutions at once. In this manner, he believed, you could kill your way to progress.
Self-styed “Marxist Humanists” decried Lenin’s arguments as heresy, but they were the ones who had failed to read their prophet’s words. While Marx may not have explicitly called for the physical extermination of the exploiting classes, by ruling out the possibility of any genuine compromise he left violence as the only logical course of action for a Marxist.
Marx was fond of citing the French Revolution as an example, and while it is true that the French Revolution called for equality for all men, in practice there was no place for former nobles within the system. If Marx was correct, that all individuals sought to pursue their class interests, then reformist nobles would either seek to coopt the revolution and obstruct it from without, or, if they pretended to conform to its principles, sabotage it from within. The result was a recipe to exterminate all nobles, not just opponents, because if Marx was correct, then Nobles who supported “equality” could not be doing anything other than pretending in order to betray the revolution at an opportune time.
This is the key point to our modern problem of Critical Race Theory: To Marxists, Class is immutable, and if Class conflict is unavoidable, then Class destruction can be the only course open to a successful revolutionary.
One of Lenin’s correspondents was the editor of Italy’s leading Socialist newspaper, a young man by the name of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini admired Lenin’s impatience with history, and detested the pacifism of older socialists when faced with the First World War, which to a radical was an excellent chance to exterminate class enemies. Mussolini, however, extended Lenin’s views further.
Examining world history, Mussolini saw what he felt were the same patterns among nations, religions and cultures that Marx had seen among economic classes. Multitudes of religions competed to absorb or subjugate their rivals. This was evident in the rise of both Christianity and Islam, each of which faced extensive opponents early on. As an Italian, Mussolini also looked to the Roman Empire, which had subjugated rivals such as the Etruscans and Carthage, and even to the United States and Spain in their expansion at the expense of the Aztecs and other Native Americans.
Mussolini’s conclusions were that some nations, religions, and cultures were simply stronger than others, and that conflict and war were how they were tested against each other. To him, imperialism and conflict were actually progressive, as they ensured the strongest dominated. In this sense, humanity as a whole was advanced by war and conquest, as the superior societies subjugated the inferior ones, resulting in superior forms of mathematics, state organization, and values being spread.
Some modern leftists would contend that Mussolini’s argument that the subjugation of the weak was progressive is the opposite of Marxism, which is about empowering the weaker classes. But they are the ones misreading Marx, who, as we should recall, himself rejected the idea that all men were created equal, and instead argued that wealth redistribution was pointless insofar as the inferior economic actors would merely lose it again to more able competitors under capitalism. Mussolini was in this sense a truer Marxist than his reformist socialist rivals – he simply substituted nations for economic classes, making the same arguments about some groups of people subsuming and destroying others.
A fan of Mussolini’s, a German named Adolf Hitler, applied these same ideas to race, viewing history as a struggle between races. Hitler adopted Lenin’s thesis that you could accelerate history through mass murder. He believed that he could complete centuries of racial struggle in the space of a decade if he merely killed enough people. Hitler’s logic was another natural extrapolation of Marx. If, after all, the existence of different groups created a potential for conflict if any shift occurred in their relative economic or social power, then a mere shift in demographics due to differential birthrates by group A posed a mortal threat to group B. Logically then, babies, innocent ones, from group B posed a threat to every member of group A. Scientific socialism therefore determined that babies were not in fact innocent, laying the groundwork not just for genocide but for state-backed infanticide and abortion.
By this point, Marxism had long since mutated away from any sort of concern with the interests of the downtrodden or the improvement of society, if it had ever been concerned with those things, into a justification for the destruction of society and people in a belief that such a process was natural and that by accelerating it you were accelerating history and doing everyone a favor.
There was one final element to add, however, before this set of beliefs was reinserted into Western academic discourse in its present form. That contribution came from Mao Zedong, who extended Marx’s concern with economics, and Hitler’s with race, into a belief that human relationships and connections themselves were adversarial. Mao perceived that any connections which impaired individuals from acting in pursuit of their class or racial interests, such as love, family, sex, or gender, were “bourgeoisie” and thus contributed to inefficiency within his system. People who cared about their spouses or children might not report them to the Party. Hence, Mao demanded that no one could ever be more than their economic and racial identity. And people’s economic and racial identity could never be anything other than what they were. Sound familiar?
A Mortal Threat to Humanity
Most of those teaching Critical Race Theory are not future Pol Pots. They are far too naive, and unable to analyze the implications and logic of their own ideology far enough to reach conclusions other than that America/Capitalism/White People = bad. But by teaching their smartest students that no one is able to transcend the race and class into which they are born, and that different races are destined to conflict, they are outright inciting them to prepare for such a conflict, not work to avoid it. It is not the “far right” which is, as the left alleges, preparing the ground for a “race war.” It is those who say that African Americans and other minority groups are oppressed, that this oppression is perpetrated by all Whites, and that the only way they can cease being oppressed is by destroying “White America.” History shows that is very, very dangerous stuff.
Critical Race Theory is not designed to correct historical injustices. It is aimed at entrenching them in order to incite the population to conflict and precipitate the clash that Marxists think is necessary for “progress.” Rather than the peaceful transition to a more just and equal society envisioned by the likes of pro-American figures such as Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., CRT activists view conflict and perhaps even violence as the only possible outcome to create a society without class, race, or even gender differences. Americans should look to the historical record of such ideologies and remain wary of where they inevitably lead—a world where no differences will remain between people, because quite simply, no people would remain.
Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
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