|A Nazi image of the traditional "greedy capitalist."|
Why is cultural Marxism a thing? Objectively, it seems mad. Marx was effectively disproved by 1917, the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. It was supposed, after all, to be an uprising by an impoverished and oppressed proletariat. Instead, it was the intellectuals, and it still is. In a country that had almost no proletariat; and this is now generally true in the West. Nothing since 1917 has done anything to restore anyone else's faith in Marx's notions. Yet the intellectuals generally, especially in the Humanities and Social Sciences at just about every university across the developed world, still all enforce this crackpot theory as a sort of orthodox dogma.
There are several reasons. One is that you actually need an ideology in education; without a goal, you cannot meaningfully do anything. When they cast out theology as the queen of the sciences, in favour of “scientific” materialism, the non-science subjects needed some new ideology that justified them in scientific terms. Marxism and Freudianism, pseudo-sciences working with the same subject matter, seemed to fit the bill.
But there is another reason.
Any profession is a cartel in restraint of trade; and Adam Smith's wisdom holds here. Whenever two or more men engaged in the same trade meet and talk, for any reason, even purely socially, the conversation will inevitably turn to how to improve their own position at the expense of the general public.
In creating and assigning special rights to professions, we are enabling and encouraging this. Our only protection against it is the naive confidence that people in the professions are moral paragons, who will naturally put the general interest above their own.
Every profession has a vested interest in failing to do what they are supposed to be there to do. Try the thought experiment: suppose some psychiatrist found a simple, inexpensive way to cure all mental illness. It might be in his own interest to publicize it; if he were an independent entrepreneur; but it certainly would not be in the interests of the profession. They would all swiftly be out of work: out of a job and a career they have invested hugely in, and that gives them immense rewards and prestige. How confident can we be that given the chance, this or any profession would wheel into action to destroy itself?
Dentistry stands apart as one profession that genuinely seems to act to reduce the problems dentists face. But this, I think, is due to the peculiar circumstances of that profession. Most dentists hate their job. The problem is that everyone hates to go to the dentist. This has to wear you down after a while. The suicide rate among dentists is high. So they are driven to justify themselves; and not that upset at perhaps being required to switch profession.
But look at lawyers. It is in that trade's vested interests to have more and more laws, and to make them harder and harder to understand. Then there is more and more need to hire lawyers. And so we have lawyers gravitating to government, where they pass more and more laws. And so we have the problem of legalese, odd lawyerly language designed so that non-lawyers cannot read it.
Look at government bureaucrats. It is in their vested interests, similarly, to have more and more regulations, and make them more difficult to understand. And so we have reams more, year by year, proposed and implemented by bureaucrats.
It is in the vested interest of academics to make their fields sound more difficult than they are. Just read and try to make sense out of the standard academic paper.
It is in the vested interest of teachers not to teach efficiently. I have dealt with this in detail elsewhere. Since we have allowed teachers to organize as a self-regulating profession, the cost of schools has shot up, while student results on standardized tests have flatlined or declined.
Since we have allowed journalists to organize as a profession, the quality of the media has declined in most folk's estimation—as demonstrated by falling readerships and viewerships.
Professionalizing a field is a lousy idea, and ought to be avoided whenever possible.
It is all predictable. In fact, it is all there in the New Testament. The professions are the people Jesus called “scribes and Pharisees”; scribe and Pharisee were the two learned professions of his day. They are the villains of the piece.
Already then, before, and ever since, the learned professions, scribes, priests, physicians, lawyers, clerks, and so on, have held all real power in society. The nominal rulers, kings and nobles and Roman procurators, got to live in great comfort and to go about hunting or doing whatever they like, but they were not the ones directly exercising power over others. Those were their estate agents, their clerks, their chancellors, their rent collectors and bailiffs, their tax collectors, their gamekeepers. The professionals. Such positions naturally attract the power-hungry: the bullies and the abusers.
It is no different in a democracy. The nominal rulers, the general public, vote once every four years, to appoint the highest ranks of the managers. But the bureaucrats and the professions are the ones exercising all real power over others daily.
The true value of Marxism to this class is that it distracts attention from the actual state of affairs. It sets up a cartoon villain, “the greedy capitalists,” or “the corporations,” and assigns to them all the supposed power and all the blame for anything wrong. “The Jews” works too, or used to, until Hitler overplayed his hand. “Americans” still works in most parts of the world. And “straight white men.” All these groups are conveniently identified by Marxists with the imaginary “greedy capitalists.”
By pointing fingers elsewhere, we are encouraged to overlook the power held by the professions, or how it might be abused. They can represent themselves as the great defenders of the poor and ordinary folks against their oppressors. And demand more power for this imaginary fight. Great con job, and it has worked for millennia.
It has always worked better in Europe than in America, of course. Better in Europe, because Europeans have a longer and deeper tradition of always deferring to their “betters.” The American working class is not so prepared to let others think or speak for them. Bunch of rednecks!
Fortunately, with the growth of the Internet, the power of the professions is probably declining. Much of what they once held as a private preserve—knowledge--is now readily available. Better access to media is shining light into dark corners. The recent taping of an inquisition at Wilfrid Laurier University is a case of this. We are starting to see the little men pulling the levers behind the curtain, and are not inclined to be awed.
We are also beginning to see what looks like a crackup. We witness the professions—broadly, “the left”--become extreme and violent, as they no longer seem to be able to get and do what they want. It begins to look hysterical; or like a tantrum. Let's all scream at the sky, shall we? Antifa, for example, seems to be composed of professionals on their days off wearing masks. They are making it all too clear now that they are not in any kind of solidarity with the rest of us.