MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Friday, December 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time for Ask the Editor. Here’s WORLD Editor-in-Chief, Marvin Olasky.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: A reader in Pennsylvania asked this question: Dr. Olasky, you mentioned in your early years that you believed in Communism, but God helped you to see the truth. Just recently I heard the expression “cultural Marxism.” Could you explain what that means?
Sure. Your question takes me back 50 years to the most crowded guest lecture I ever attended at Yale University. Students filled every seat in an auditorium, sat on stairs, and stood at the back to hear a visiting 71-year-old philosopher with a German accent, Herbert Marcuse.
Why? Because we young revolutionaries faced a problem: The proletariat, the poor workers who should most want to revolt did not. Instead, they found us revolting. Why, Dr. Marcuse, why? Tell us what we must do to be saved.
Marcuse said advertisers and churches work together to give workers quote “false consciousness.” Yes, Madison Avenue makes workers think consumer goods will give them happiness. Even worse is the way churches promote monogamy and the patriarchal family. If young people throw off “repression” and have more sex—not a tough sell in 1970— the revolution will come.
Marcuse’s disciples said in that great day to come men will no longer be burdened by the need to work hard to support their families, because women will no longer depend on them. Children can be aborted. Students, instead of trying to please professors, will be free to do as they wish: “No class today, no ruling class tomorrow.”
1970 was not only the peak of Marcuse’s popularity but also the year in which Shulamith Firestone advanced cultural Marxism in her book The Dialectic of Sex. She called for “not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself.” She said quote “unobstructed pansexuality” would replace heterosexuality: “Artificial reproduction children would be born to both sexes equally or independently of either.”
Marcuse and Firestone prophesied a brave new world: In her words, “The division of labor ended by the elimination of labor altogether, through cybernetics. The tyranny of the biological family broken.” Marcuse knew many Americans would oppose this, so the revolution to succeed would require “undemocratic means”: no tolerance for those who discriminate on religious grounds or oppose government control of social benefits, education, and medical care.
Marcuse received a standing ovation. I was one of those applauding—until God changed me several years later, for which I remain very thankful. But cultural Marxism is hot among those unchanged.
I’m Marvin Olasky.