Those inhabiting the world of Spiked, so named because it should have been long ago, were quick to defend Tory MP Suella Braverman when she claimed “As Conservatives, we are engaged in a battle against cultural Marxism … I'm very worried about this ongoing creep of cultural Marxism which has come from Jeremy Corbyn”. Those calling her out included the Board of Deputies of British Jews. And they were right.
Suella Braverman - wrong then, wrong now
The BoD’s spokesperson told “Suella Braverman may not have been aware of it, but the term ‘cultural Marxist’ has a history as an antisemitic trope … We would ask for her to clarify the remarks and undertake not to use the phrase in future”. Spiked wasn’t having any of that, with contributor Tim Black asserting “Who’s afraid of Cultural Marxism? Sure, it is an unhelpful phrase, but it is not inherently anti-Semitic”. Really? Do go on.
The target of the Cultural Marxism dog-whistlers
Black concludes “what it is not is a sign that far-right thinking somehow underpins and drives those defending free speech and challenging censorship. That really is a conspiracy theory too far”. In other words, after excreting a heap of pretentious verbiage in which he manages to name-check Marx, Freud, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger, Black concludes that we should “look over there”.
And that’s not good enough. Because “Cultural Marxism” really is the loaded anti-Semitic trope that the BoD said it was. We can see this by looking at the way that Brexiteer social media groups have appropriated the phrase, for instance one Facebook group which is titled Smash Cultural Marxism. It regurgitates the usual far-right demons - Common Purpose, “Great Replacement”, anyone who isn’t white, and Israel.
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There are rants against the EU, Islam, anyone who is LGBT, “Globalism”, multiculturalism, and of course socialism. The use of “Israel” and “Jews” as interchangeable terms is also clear, with one post siding with Syria (despite it being a Muslim country) over the Trump administration’s comments on the Golan Heights.
But it is the inclusion of a photo of Tory chairman Brandon Lewis with the comment “THE ATTEMPT TO REVERSE BREXIT LED BY JEWS” which shows that “Cultural Marxism” is indeed an anti-Semitic dog-whistle. Those named include Lewis as well as John Bercow, Dominic Grieve and Oliver Letwin. Those named are not all Jewish. But hey ho.
... what appears when someone whistles "Cultural Marxism"
Also included are “Nick Boles - married to Jew” (bigotry need not be subtle), and of course there has to be a mention for George Soros. There it is, a pro-Brexit Facebook page and associated website that shows exactly what kind of dog-whistle “Cultural Marxism” is. And it shows exactly what some Tories are tapping into when they cite it.
That’s why Spiked was wrong, and the Guardian’s Dawn Foster was right. No casual use of the phrase “Cultural Marxism” should be given a free pass. Full stop, end of story.
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