The Justice Exchange: Part 1 | Jubilee Magazine

“You know, at some point you are killing life in the foetus in self-defence – of what? Of the mother’s health or her happiness or of her social rights or her privilege as a human being? I think she should have to answer for it and explain. Now, whether it should be to three doctors or one doctor or to a priest or a bishop or to her mother-in-law is a question you might want to argue…. You do have a right over your own body – it is your body. But the foetus is not your body; it’s someone else’s body. And if you kill it, you’ll have to explain.”1 This quotation is taken from the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, a certain Mr. Trudeau. Here is another quote from Mr. Trudeau: “The policy going forward is that every single Liberal MP will be expected to stand up for women’s rights to choose.”2 The reader might be forgiven for his confusion at this point. Apparently a mother does not need to answer or explain to anyone after all. Abortion is not ‘killing life in the foetus,’ a matter of public accountability. Mr. Trudeau declared that it was an absolute right, a fundamental Charter right. Furthermore, in this absolute assertion of group rights (women), individual rights, freedoms and responsibilities have been abrogated: to be an elected Liberal MP now means to be denied individual freedom of conscience and moral responsibility.3 The confusion of course stems from the fact that the second quote comes forty-two years after the first. The speaker is still the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and it is still Mr. Trudeau, but the speaker in the latter instance is Trudeau Jr. The purpose of juxtaposing statements from the two Trudeaus, father and son, at the outset of this article is to demonstrate four significant things about the social justice movement of our day that we shall seek to understand. Firstly, within the short space of a generation, liberal thinking (and the politics of the left) have so dispensed with personal and political freedom of their Western heritage that the current position can only rightly be called illiberal,4 and its version of tolerance manifestly intolerant of Christianity in the public square.5 So pronounced is that change that Trudeau Sr. would not even be able to stand as an MP in his son’s Liberal party; indeed he would probably be denounced as an intolerant extremist, even though his policies actually constitute the ideological foundations of the son’s position. Secondly, because of the refusal of Christian leaders to oppose this in the public square and throughout all the organs of civil society, men such as Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron can mouth tenuous appeals of allegiance to the Christian faith (and many Christians will vote for them without sensing the moral conflict). “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Thirdly, having abandoned the guidance of Scripture on life and public affairs in the West, the sense of God’s predestination of history has been buried. This has incited politicians and the bureaucracy at their command to seize the predestining role, while simultaneously disclaiming responsibility to historical inevitability. Appeals to the urgent need to rectify alleged causes of social injustice which the “judgment of history” will later confirm are not appeals to future generations (let alone the Judge of all history), but rather the approval of an abstract future idea (history). It invariably ignores the actual events of history and even contemporary public opinion precisely because for the progressive, an eternal verity nullifies the actual events of history.6 Thus the Western political establishment is increasingly Gnostic in character, and immune to rational contradiction. Fourthly, as has been particularly evident in the overwhelming espousal across the political classes of fringe causes such as same-sex marriage,7 even in the face of strong opposition, antiChristian propaganda has so transformed the idea of the public good among those in public service that ‘social justice’ even opposes the natural (biological) order. It is no more unjust for sodomous relationships to be excluded from marriage than for men to be excluded from motherhood. However, the public belief that it is unjust demonstrates that the contemporary feeling of ‘justice’ is now directly related to policies that willfully flout a Christian civil order. Their sense of justice, as Romans 1:32 declares, “gives approval” to that. Dr. Peter Jones has noted in Romans 1 the articulation of a general pattern of degeneration of mankind from God in terms of a truth exchange, a worship exchange, and a sexual exchange.8 Here we see its final development: a justice exchange. A “righteousness from God is revealed” (Rom. 1:17) and yet in unrighteousness our culture approves its opposite. What is most striking though, and doubtless surprising to some, is that this departure from the political philosophy of liberalism is a direct result of the departure from the Christian understanding of personal and civic life under Christ’s Lordship, and the categories of thought bequeathed by Christian revelation on matters such as the relations of church and state, the importance of freedom of conscience, personal responsibility, etc... And yet it is precisely the departure from these Christian presuppositions, a departure which Trudeau Jr. inherited from his father’s generation and now shares in common with many of the people’s elected representatives throughout the Western world, which is garnering him a free pass from the media and the approval of the political, legal, educational, and dare I say it, religious establishment.9 Historical and biological fact, statements of personal conviction and even legal precedent are no longer obstacles to constrain the change which the progressives envision for us. We find ourselves in a position where radical contradiction and absurdity on the most basic notions such as life, liberty and law have become publicly acceptable because the status quo wrought since the 1960s is by all logic fundamentally absurd. With it, as the rule of power increasingly dictates the rule of law, a growing authoritarianism has come to mark public policy and civil discourse in Western democracies. It is a Humpty Dumpty world so trivial as to be considered literary nonsense within the genre of fiction, yet it expresses what Friedrich Nietzsche once famously described as the ‘will to power:’ “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.” This was brought about in an astonishingly short space of time, and it seems to have accelerated in the past decade. In Mark Noll’s 2005 book What Happened to Christian Canada? …under the new Charter, Canadian legislation and jurisprudence have increasingly privileged principles of privacy, multiculturalism, enforced toleration, and public religious neutrality, even when such moves dechristianize public spaces in which religious language was once commonplace.10 Noll notes that this dechristianization has marked changes in the field of public education as well, where under the guise of social justice an unsuspecting generation is schooled against Biblical justice.How did it come to this state of Humpty Dumpty rule? Of public nonsense presented as social justice? ANALYSIS I’m old enough to remember the Cold War, and the strong tension I felt in Canada growing up between the Communists and what was called the free world. And I say ‘between’ quite deliberately because Canada of the 1970s and ‘80s had, because of the influence of Trudeau Sr. and the ‘New Left’ in Canada, positioned itself somewhere in the middle, a fact I’ll speak to later on. I remember watching the sudden and spectacular fall of the Berlin Wall on TV in 1989 as an undergraduate and studied in Germany shortly thereafter for three years. The fellow I shared student accommodation with for two years was a trainee surgeon from Leipzig, East Germany, who grew up on the other side of the Iron Curtain. His comments on the striking similarities in the mindset between East and West, and my experience of university life in Düsseldorf form a part of this narrative. The spectacular and sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc meant that Communism had almost overnight ceased to be a political threat. And there was also a sense that the New Left of the 1960s and ‘70s might also be on a path of terminal decline. Communism had clearly failed as a philosophy. Even in academia it became increasingly rare to meet an avowed Marxist (though while in Düsseldorf another one of my German friends, a Russian historian, told me of an old Marxist in his Russian class who was learning Russian “to read Marx in the original”). Indeed, one academic by the name of Frances Fukuyama wrote an influential essay a few months after the Berlin Wall fell entitled The End of History, rather triumphantly prophesying: What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.11 Around the same time, syndicated columnist George Will pronounced in Newsweek that “the Sixties are dead.”12 It seemed entirely plausible. And it is absolutely true that the New Left of the 1960s collapsed as a unified political movement with the fall of the Communist Eastern Bloc. But it remained active, particularly in the universities, and it radicalized (and even metastasized) in the form of “special interest groups.” Some of its influence, like political correctness, was already strongly in evidence even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it expanded its influence thereafter. If I used phrases like “inclusive language,” “multiculturalism,” “tolerance,” “reproductive rights,” “safe sex,” “safe schools,” “inclusive schools,” “diversity,” “sensitivity training,” and even today’s topic “social justice,” although we would find even those identifying themselves as politically ‘conservative’ rarely in opposition, we would all recognize their vague connection with the politics of the left. Yet I suspect we would be unable to point to a single source or thinker that promoted them. What I want to submit to you is that the cultural values embedded in these mantras are really simply expressions of a complex and broad-ranging ideology called Cultural Marxism. In fact, they are the expressions of a religious position that for lack of space I will not take the time to trace out here. Cultural Marxism, unlike its better-known political and economic counterpart, perdured well beyond the collapse of Communism, and to some extent made rapid advances when it did because it was generally accepted, as Fukuyama and many loudly asserted, that Communism and what it represented had ceased to be a threat to the West. And it has made continued advances in undermining Western society to this very day precisely because those who call themselves ‘conservatives’ and even ‘political liberals’ – and I’ll include many Christians among them – have continued to act as if Communism had only ever taken a political and economic form. It is as if what distinguished East and West had nothing to do with the fundamental cultural structures and civic institutions that presupposed and encouraged the good of the Christian faith and the family in promoting a just society, including the separation of powers and authorities, though the supremacy of God and the centrality of the family is plainly declared in Scripture and presupposed in the foundational documents of every country.13 Misdirected by the entirely specious terminology of political correctness, to avoid the potent charge of being intolerant the ‘mainstream’ of conservative politics has mistakenly pursued ‘fiscal conservatism’ as its raison d’être, abandoning the ‘divisive’ cultural and ethical issues of ‘social conservativism,’ and ceding social policy wholly to the progressives and the New Left’s notion of ‘social justice’. And the reason that it is particularly relevant to our discussion here is that since its inception the principal stated aim of Cultural Marxism, from which political correctness stems, has been the destruction of Western culture and in particular all vestiges of the Christian religion. It has simply accelerated since the fall of the Berlin Wall from being a “long slow march” to a charge and a rout of its opponents. And having first made its advances in the realm of culture, we are now also witnessing the signs of political and economic collapse in the West, the levelling of all peoples which were from the beginning its intended outcome. To my mind, any discussion of social justice thus needs to deal with the influence of Cultural Marxism. Yet because it is largely an unknown field to most Christians, I will give a cursory summary of the movement.14 BACKGROUND: EARLY MARXIST THEORY As most people know, Marx and his followers predicted that the proletariat (the working classes) would inevitably revolt and seize the means of production through a violent political revolution against the “reactionary” bourgeoisie as a prelude to a more equal and just society. It was social justice. Marx predicted that it would happen at the time of the next pan-European war in the most advanced societies, and the call to the working men to sacrifice their lives for their countries. Much to the chagrin of the Marxists, though the war happened in 1914, the revolution did not. When the First World War broke out, working men lined up in their millions to fight against their country’s enemies. The exception was in politically-backward Russia in 1917, at the end of the war. But the Russian revolution did not spread to the more economically advanced nations simply because the workers did not want it. Communism did eventually spread to the rest of Eastern Europe, but only by virtue of the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviets at the conclusion of the Second World War. CULTURAL MARXISM – ORIGINS The workers’ refusal to embrace revolution willingly led to a great deal of soul-searching on the part of the Marxists. Some continued to seek to advance political and economic revolution explicitly under the guise of Marxism-Leninism. But the indirect threat was far greater and more pernicious. Two theorists in particular, Antonio Gramsci of Italy (1891-1937) and Georg Lukacs of Hungary (1895-1971), concluded that though their aims were laudable, Marx and Lenin were in error. Lenin had mistakenly thought that culture was ‘ancillary’ to political objectives. Yet the failure of Marxism-Leninism to appeal to the workers of the West proved that “cultural hegemony” needed to precede the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. It was not so much political society (the police, the army, the legal system) – the enemies of the MarxistLeninists – as civil society (e.g. the family, the education system, manners), i.e. the whole edifice of Christendom, that stood in the way of world-wide communism and the social justice it represented. Christianity had, after all, been dominant in the West for two millennia. The working class had been implicated in a system of structural oppression by assenting to civil society and its inherited notion of ‘common sense.’ It was the common sense of Christendom that would need to be subverted and deconstructed such that they were brought to dissent. Gramsci concluded that the West would have to be de-Christianized not by violent revolution but by means of what he called a “long march through the institutions” so as to fundamentally rework the culture and turn it against the Christian faith. According to the Cultural Marxists, every ‘hegemonic’ cultural institution of civic society, starting with the traditional family, but including schools, the media, the arts, civic organizations, academia, and even the churches themselves should be brought on board. It was through their ‘cultural hegemony’ that the means of consent for the capitalist state was maintained, and until that consent was disrupted it could not be overthrown. In order for Communism to be realized, the Christian foundations of the West would have to be systematically uprooted and its institutions transformed so that they might realize what Friedrich Nietzsche had called ‘the transvaluation of all value.’ What Christianity exalted as common sense in civic society must thus become deplorable; what Christianity deplored must be exalted in order for revolutionary change to occur. Furthermore, Marx’s proletariat would also have to be reimagined. Rather than Marx’s hero, the working man, who was so much tied to the family, a Christian institution, and the ‘common sense’ of the West, Gramsci argued that a new proletariat would have to be created that included criminals, women, and racial minorities. Their structural oppression under the status quo would need to be emphasized. The even more influential Hungarian writer Georg Lukacs agreed with him, and through a programme of what he called “cultural terrorism” introduced radical sex education into Hungarian schools. Lukacs recognized that by attacking Christian sexual ethics he would undermine the family, and with it the Christian faith. He organized sex lectures with graphic illustrations instructing the youth in “free love,” as well as teaching them to mock Christian sexual morality and monogamy, and to rebel against both parental and church authority. He simultaneously ridiculed parents and his country’s priests through a propaganda blitz.15 THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL After Lukacs and his party were overthrown in Hungary by the invasion of the Romanian army, he turned up in Germany in 1923 as one of the keynote speakers of a “Marxist Study Week.” One of the organizers, a man of fabulous wealth, was so impressed that he used some of his millions to set up a think tank at Frankfurt University to promote his teaching. It launched as the “Institute for Marxism,” but, as was characteristic of the Cultural Marxists, soon changed its name to the more innocuous “Institute for Social Research.” Eventually it was simply called the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt School is the originator of what we now call political correctness, and the idea of multiculturalism. It might surprise Canadians that multiculturalism was not the brainchild of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, nor even distinctly Canadian. The Frankfurt School drew together such writers as Theodor Adorno (the most important), the psychologists Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich, promoters of feminism and matriarchy, and a young man by the name of Herbert Marcuse. But the influence of Cultural Marxism did not remain in Germany, thanks once again to a political event. Just as in Italy, where Mussolini had ousted Gramsci, and in Hungary, where the Romanians had ousted Lukacs, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party ensured the ouster of the Frankfurt School, the majority of whose members were Jewish, in 1933. I personally see the displacement of the Cultural Marxists by force into the West as an act of the Lord’s judgment – not upon the Cultural Marxists themselves – but upon a people who had become increasingly superficial in their adherence to the Christian faith, if not increasingly hostile to the authority of the word of God in every area of life. At any rate, with the help of sympathetic individuals at Columbia University, the Frankfurt School relocated to New York City. The consequence of this was to transfer the target of destroying Christian culture and Western civilization from Germany, where the Nazis were perfectly adequate to the task without help from the Cultural Marxists, to the United States. Most of the school would return to Germany to complete its work after the war, where Cultural Marxism was to become the unofficial ideology of the Federal Republic. When I lived in Germany in the early 1990s, the writings of the Cultural Marxists were everywhere to be found in the university bookstores. But before that happened, they made their impact known in the United States, and with the migration of Vietnam draft dodgers, even more strongly still in Canada, where it made alliance with the antiAmericanism that had always had some measure of cultural currency. In the concluding section of this article, I shall discuss how Cultural Marxism gained extraordinary influence in North America in particular, and sketch out some practical Gospel strategies for confronting it.