Marxism usually gets a bad rap in the Truth Movement, but the two share a lot of key ideas. This week I explore the schizoid relationship the Truth Movement (or sections of it) have with Marxism, looking at how the notion of ‘waking up’ functions in much the same way as ‘class consciousness’, how both Marxists and conspiracists predict the inevitable self-destruction of the economic system, and the downright bizarre confusion over Marxism’s approach to central banking. I conclude that Marxist ideas, or at least very similar ideas, turn up in sections of the truth movement that you might least expect.
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This is a topic I’ve been dwelling on for a while, and more so with the rise of Neo Nazism seen both within the truth movement/alt media sphere and beyond. Because if there’s one thing the Neo Nazis hate, it’s Marxism. And like all people with an unhealthy fixation on what is, ultimately, just a word, they see it everywhere. Just as Marxists seek to reduce all social, political, historical problems to the vagaries of capitalism, Neo Nazis see Marxism everywhere and blame it for everything.
In particular the phrase ‘cultural Marxism’ has become very commonly used in the last couple of years, and like ‘Hegelian dialectic’ or in fact, pretty much any philosophical term, the truth movement abuses and misuses this term so much it isn’t even funny anymore. I’ve yet to come across anyone in the truth movement who uses this term who has actually read the works of the Frankfurt School, or studied Marxist artists like Bertolt Brecht. To be clear, I’m not defending the Frankfurt School, I’m just saying that if you’re going to criticise something you should have at least a baseline fucking clue what you’re talking about. Otherwise you end up sounding like this:
That was a couple of clips from radio 3:14, a show hosted by white supremacist Lana Lokteff of Red Ice, which has become the number 2 Neo Nazi alt media outlet. Number 1 being Alex Jones, who has revealed his true colours in quite spectacular fashion in recent years. Just as an aside, I do find it funny that Alex Jones went from being one of the most vocal critics of the war on terror to being one of its most ardent supporters. Remember when ISIS agents were supposed to be infiltrating the US via the southern border and teaming up with Mexican drug cartels to attack the electrical system? Alex Jones was completely on board with that story. And when it didn’t happen they did the same thing they do with every prediction they make – they pretend it never happened. Seriously now, people have to recognise that Alex Jones is now a proponent of the racist war on terror, he is arguing for it, not against it.
But back to Lana’s show – it is abundantly clear if you listen to the whole show that neither Lana nor her guest, Lisa Arbecheski, had read any of the Marxist Feminist authors they were complaining about – Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Virginia Woolf – and it is not these authors books or opinions or arguments that were being criticised. It was simply the fact they were Marxist Feminists, some of whom also committed the heinous crime of being born Jewish. How awful. To be fair there are a couple of moments where Lana makes some kind of sense, and I agree with a lot of what Lisa says here, but it is abundantly clear that Lana has an agenda and Lisa is willing to go along with it.
And this is how the vast, vast majority of alt media approaches the question of Marxism. It usually responds in kneejerk fashion, using ‘Marxist’ as a derogatory term, slinging mud regardless of whether or not it is based in a study of Marxist philosophy, culture and politics. Most of the arguments are made, like in the Lana’s show, in near-total ignorance. I could get into any number of things on this issue, including the bullshit about Wall Street funding the Bolshevik Revolution, an idea that isn’t true and has spread through the truth movement like syphilis. In reality there’s a lot more evidence for the Bolshevik revolution being an inside job, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Instead, I’d like to highlight several examples of how even the most hardcore crackpot Right wing in bred bible belt section of the truth movement – the section that donates most of the money, buys most of the products and therefore defines the overall tone for the movement – even that section subscribes to what might be called Marxist ideas. While being ardently and vocally anti-Marxist, to the point of being fascist. Marxist ideas are actually quite commonplace in the exact sections of the alt media that you would least expect it.
And I want to distinguish here between Marxist ideas, Marxist philosophy and Marxist symbols. Because the symbols are very widespread in modern society particularly among any group or area that wants to be seen as radical. Not wants to be radical, wants to be seen as radical. The Hammer and Sickle. Che Guevara on a t-shirt. Russell Brand and Bernie Sanders claiming to be socialists. The symbols have been so heavily charged, partly because they are powerful, compelling images. Early Soviet propaganda is quite beautiful in its way, I can see why it was so effective at distracting people from thinking ‘where is this going to end up?’.
If you look at the history of the Russian revolutions, the desire to get out of WW1 was a huge part of why the Tsarist system fell. In the course of time the Bolsheviks were slaughtered by Stalin, who then took the country into WW2, costing 20 million lives and like WW1, bankrupting the country. But no one thought about all this, because of the compelling nature of the imagery and the way it was so heavily charged, primal colours, deep contrasts, familiar symbols. Truly something very powerful, without which the Soviet Union could not have become the terrible machine that it became.
But I want to focus on Marxist ideas and how they are present the truth movement and the alternative media. Despite the overt hostility towards the symbols, particularly the words like socialism, communism, collectivism, the ideas themselves are prevalent.
Let’s start with an easy one – Waking Up. That’s supposedly been and in some ways still is the mission statement of the truth movement. This is what they are doing – they are the holders of truths and they are using that knowledge to enlighten others as to how the world really works. This idea has been repeatedly endlessly across the spectrum, from Alex Jones to James Corbett to David Icke to whoever you like.
This is almost the exact same idea as the notion of class consciousness in Marxist philosophy. Marx argued that education was vital to successful communist revolution, that the working classes needed to wake up to the fact that they were being systematically exploited by the bourgeois capitalists and ultimately by the ruling class. It was only if they realised this that they would revolt, seize control of the means of production from the bourgeois capitalists, seize control of the state also, and thus instigate the communist revolution.
Now, the truth movement doesn’t even go that far – to most people simply ‘waking people up’ is an end in itself. So, the truthers behave just like Marxists – they believe they have the answer and that educating others, i.e. getting others to believe what they believe – is that answer. The whole thing is circular, which is one of the reasons it is so successfully self-perpetuating. And I’ve gotta say, the people who most commonly talk about waking people up are the bible belt revelationist types, who hate Communism. But then, these are the same people who say you shouldn’t listen to heavy metal because it’s all about the occult, not realising that Christianity is all about moving away from the dark and toward the light, and worships a holy trinity. Not to mention catholicism, the cult of the virgin birth. How fucking transhumanist is that, a birth without procreation?
Anyway, back to Marxism. The second Marxist concept I want to explore through the lens of the truth movement is the Inevitable economic crisis. Whether you prefer the ‘it’s definitely happening on September 6th’ type of prophecy or just the ‘it’s coming, I can’t tell you when because I don’t want to mislead you but it’s definitely going to happen’.
This is the same basic notion as in Marxist philosophy that capitalism contains the mechanism for its own self-destruction, the prediction that capitalism will inevitably destroy itself and be replaced by lovely communism. Exactly when and how and why this is, both the truth movement and the Marxists are a bit less clear. Or, in fact, a lot less clear. One popular talking head who shall remain nameless assures us that it is a mathematical certainty that the dollar will collapse because there is no way to pay off the Federal Reserve debt.
I’m not sure that’s a watertight economic argument. Especially since for the last 200 years or more Western economies have just borrowed more and more and got away with it, for the most part. Certainly if you’re measuring it from an ordinary quality and stability of life point of view, you would have been better off in England or the US than almost anywhere else. So for the Marxists and the conspiracists, that’s a bit of a problem.
Now, the conspiracists do get round this with a bit of Catholic style equivocation where they say the dollar will collapse and that it’s all part of the plan. So is it a mathematical inevitability or is it the result of a criminal conspiracy? The conspiracists say both. And once again, it is primarily the right wing of the truth movement who insist about this – some of which are the sort of people for whom ‘international banker’ is a codeword for ‘Jew’, but some of which are just using it as a go-to cliche which they’ve never bothered to define. To be honest, I’m not sure what an international banker is, what qualifies someone to be one, how we distinguish between national and international bankers, and so on. And nor do the Marxists or the conspiracists, but they don’t seem to even care despite it being the root cause of all our problems, so they say.
Moving on to the third concept, which is related, we have a somewhat more complex one. The notion of nationalising central banks. I’m sure many of you have read the article that has done the rounds called something like 10 Communist Manifesto Planks of the US Government ‘ and they rattle off a bunch of half-baked quotes from the Communist manifesto and try to prove that this is the same as present day American life. The funniest example is the one about how having a department of agriculture is the same as all land being held in common and owned by everyone. As though the two things are the same. Much as I have problems with the notion of collective ownership, at least in the Marxist sense, misunderstanding it is no way to win an argument against that notion.
Meanwhile, the same article bitches about the Federal Reserve, saying it is the same as number 5 in the supposed ‘planks’, which says ‘ Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.’ There is so much wrong with this misunderstanding that it’s difficult to know where to start. So let’s start with the fact that the Federal Reserve is privately owned, not nationalised. And the same people who spread this 10 planks nonsense around constantly harp on about it being a privately owned and controlled central bank. So it isn’t the same thing as Marx is describing.
Meanwhile, this list of 10 things is not Marx’s recipe for a Communist society, they aren’t the 10 planks of Communism. He says before listing them, ‘These measures will, of course, be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.’
‘Different in different countries’ and ‘pretty generally applicable’ is not the same as a plank, a fundamental principle of a political philosophy. And anyone, anyone who had actually read the Communist manifesto, which is a pretty short book, would be able to find this section for themselves. So clearly this claim that the Federal Reserve is a Marxist or Socialist institution is complete rubbish, and a claim made by people who either never bothered to look this up or never even tried to understand it.
Meanwhile, nationalising the central banks, including the Federal Reserve, is a relatively popular idea in the truth movement. Bill Still, who has devoted years to talking about this issue, is all in favour of a government issued fiat currency, though not a government monopoly, I should make that clear. And this is all very constitutional, it is provided for in the document that the convervatives and libertarians in the truth movement harp on about. So, the broadly Marxist notion of a nationalised central bank is actually the core policy of a man who ran for the Libertarian Party, an organisation that would consider themselves pretty anti-socialist. And Bill Still himself has some pretty extreme ideas, he’s jumped on the bandwagon that Europe is being invaded by Muslims, that the Syrian refugee crisis is some sort of Marxist plot to blah blah blah. In reality, even if 5 million people from Syria ended up in Europe that would be an increase in population of around .67%. I don’t consider .67% more water to be flood, or .67% more insects to be a swarm. So I don’t consider .67% more people to be those things either.
The fourth and final concept I want to talk about is the superstate, the regional government model. This is something where the irony is too much to take because you’ve got loads of Americans screaming about the EU, this supposed model for transnational, proto-globalist government when they live in the oldest superstate on the planet where most of the land going from the Northeast outwards was either bought or conquered by war. It is a collectivist superstate and has been since the time of the civil war if not before then. That’s half a century before the Soviet Union and a century before the EU. The degree of delusion in this discussion is really something. And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anti-American thing because I hear this just as much from people on this side of the Atlantic.
But, is the notion of a superstate a Marxist concept? After all, the US became a superstate before Marxism really got going, and was done so on the basis of enlightenment philosophy of the New World and the Christian notion of manifest destiny. An interesting question. Because if you ask almost any truther, they will tell you that the EU is a Marxist institution. In reality in the early days it was being pushed by the remnants of European nobility, i.e. fascists, nazi Prussians and so on, and by the US government. As Brzezinski writes in the Grand Chessboard, a united Europe is very much in the US’s national interests. It provides a huge market to trade with, a huge military block to enter into mutual protection pacts with, it keeps NATO well funded and enables the US to more easily project its power into northern africa and Asia minor.
So this isn’t a Marxist idea in the truth movement per se, more an observation that once again the truthers have a massive blind spot when it comes to this. To them, the EU and the Commie Soviet Union are an abomination, but their superstate is American and so therefore must be great. While at the same time blaming the government and accusing it of being Communist because it has a privately owned central bank. In short, they are profoundly confused and do not have a fucking clue what they’re talking about.
Now, I’m hoping that what I’m about to say is redundant and that you’re all as smart as I think you are but obviously I am not writing off all consitutionalists, all libertarians, all anti-Marxists. I’m writing off all the ones who spout this pig ignorant crap while simultaneously advocating ideas that are distinctly Marxist in flavour. I also hope you all realise that I’m not a Marxist, though I do get accused of that by people when I point out that some of their anti-Marxist bullshit is bullshit.