Pretty good summary of how culture is upstream of politics:
One can look at the Frankfurt school’s cultural Marxism not as a replacement for classical Marxism, but as the accelerator pedal that was missing from the wheezing, stalling vehicle. The cultural Marxist agrees with the classical Marxist that history passes through a series of stages on the way to the final Marxist utopia, through slavery and capitalism and socialism and ultimately to the classless society. But the cultural Marxist recognizes that communists will not get there by economics alone. In essence, cultural Marxists shrewdly realized that the classical Marxists would utterly fail to take down the West with an economic revolution; capitalism would always blow away communism, and the masses would choose capitalism. Cultural Marxists understand that the revolution requires a cultural war over an economic war.
How The Frankfurt School came to America:
The key figures of the Frankfurt School included Georg Lukacs, Herbert Marcuse, Wilhelm Reich — who literally wrote the book and coined the term, The Sexual Revolution — Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and others. The formal school began in 1923 as the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt in Germany. Among its driving forces from within Moscow was Willi Munzenberg, the so-called Red millionaire. “We must organize the intellectuals,” exhorted Munzenberg.
And so they would. And how did they slither into America?
The threat of Hitler’s Germany drove the Frankfurt School out of Europe and into the welcoming arms of America’s left-wing colleges. … So, they and their Institute came to New York City, specifically to the campus of Columbia University, already a hotbed of communism.
Pleading the case for them at Columbia was John Dewey, founding father of American public education, progressive fool, and communist sympathizer. Thus, their primary area of operation would be the educational system — the schools, the universities, and particularly the teachers’ colleges. It was no coincidence that Columbia housed the nation’s top teachers’ college — a creation of John Dewey.
The subsequent march through the institutions can be credited to “the most dangerous socialist in history,” Antonio Gramsci:
Whereas Marx and his original followers were all about class economics, seeing wealth redistribution and the seizure of the means of production as the key to their vision, Gramsci looked to culture. If the Left truly wanted to win, it needed to first seize the “cultural means of production”: culture-forming institutions such as the media and universities and even churches.
Not until leftists came to dominate these institutions would they be able to convince enough people to support their Marxist revolution. “This part of his thesis was like manna from heaven for many left-wing Western intellectuals,” writes Sam Gregg. “Instead of joining a factory collective or making bombs in basements, a leftist professor could help free society from capitalist exploitation by penning essays in his office or teaching students.”
And in a really radical stroke — one too radical for its own time, but that would ultimately succeed — Gramsci and his heirs insisted that these leftist intellectuals needed to question everything, including moral absolutes and the Judeo-Christian basis of Western civilization. They needed to frame seemingly benign conventions as systematic injustices that must be exposed. This is where we got professors fulminating against everything from “the patriarchy” to “white imperialism” to “transphobia.” By the 21st century, even biological sex was no longer considered a settled issue. As I write, the New York City council offers public employees the option of choosing from 31 different gender identities. Of course, that’s nothing compared to Facebook, which at various times in the last three years has listed 51 gender options, 53, 56, 58, and 71.
There was no traditional institution off limits to the cultural Left.
In fact, so “critical” was the cultural-Marxist left of anything and everything that it would brand itself as “critical theory.”
The worst part? Your typical hipster at Starbucks likely has no clue that “she’s engaging in a vast cultural Marxist revolution.” But she is.
Sam Gregg puts it well: “The worst part of Gramsci’s legacy is that it has effectively transcended its Marxist origins.His outlook is now blankly taken for granted by millions of teachers, writers, even churchmen, who have no idea that they are committed to cultural Marxism.”
That’s so true. And so, adds Gregg, “the vast structures of cynicism which Gramsci’s ideas have built, which honeycomb Western society today, will prove much tougher to dismantle than the crude cement blocks of the old Berlin Wall.”