From the Marxist viewpoint, the world is composed of oppressors and the oppressed. As Marx himself states in The Communist Manifesto,
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”
“Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
For most of the 20th century, Americans would have likely thought of Marxism as the economic battle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the haves and the have-nots, capitalists and laborers. And most Americans rightly worried about a Marxist revolution in their country.
“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors,’ and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.
But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons – the modern working class – the proletarians.”
In many ways, Marx’s arguments were put forth in economic terms, which is likely how many people think of his writings. But they were in fact much deeper.
Marx wasn't just about changing the economic order, he looked to upend all of society. His adherents, whether in Russia, Cambodia, China, North Korea, or Cuba forcibly remade the social order when they seized power – often with the disastrous results of millions of people, even tens of millions, dead.
Today, while the Soviet Union is no more and countries like China and Vietnam are allowing for much, much greater freedom, the spirit of Marxism is still alive in the West, particularly in academia. It is as if we won the Cold War, but are about to lose the culture war.
You can see the paradigm of oppressors vs. oppressed taught in classes and argued about in many cultural and political clashes. Thus, the term “Cultural Marxism” has been born, though the adherents would hardly use the label themselves.
Within the framework of Cultural Marxism, one divides people into different camps, such as race, gender, sex, class, ethnicity, and so on. Look at many college syllabi these days and you will find that the study of almost anything is through the lenses of race, gender, sex, class, ethnicity, and so on. For example, the program requirements for an American Studies Major at the University of Minnesota below clearly display the lens through which one is expected to study America.
Here is a syllabus example from Edina High School's Pre-AP English Syllabus from a few years ago. Keep in mind, this class is supposed to be studying literature.
It's not just in the schools, you will find evidence of this outlook, often misleadingly labeled as Social Justice, in various government bureaucracies, corporate human resources departments, and so on. In fact, later on in this article, I will use the word "conundrum". I wanted to see the exact meaning and so I looked it up and discovered that even in the dictionary we are being taught or propagandized to see the world through a Cultural Marxist lens. See below:
To give you an idea of how much change the Cultural Marxists or "Social Justice Warriors" hope to bring to the country, consider their position on strong fathers. To them, traditional fatherhood with fathers as the head of the family is called the hetero-patriarchy. Through the lens of Cultural Marxism, one can argue that the father is the oppressor of the mother and the children because they are in an unequal relationship. Therefore, the hetero-patriarchy must be toppled.
There are many other examples. White males in America are considered the oppressors of people of color, therefore they must be toppled. Western Civilization is considered the oppressor of all other civilizations, therefore it must be toppled. Christianity is the dominant religion and oppresses other beliefs, therefore it must be toppled. And so goes the thinking in order to create equality and the new form of the proletarian paradise.
Multiple problems exist with the outlook. The first issue is that of perpetual revolution in the search of perfect equality -- or "equity" as they say today. Let us presume that all of the oppressors of today are crushed and there is perfect equality for a moment. How does society maintain that perfect state of equality? If there is an ounce of freedom, some people are going to do better than others, whether they were born with an edge through good genes or they just happen to adapt well and have the desire to achieve or do something different. As a society, would we purposefully hold those kinds of people down and lift others up? If so, that requires a continuous process of balancing society to make sure no oppressors come to power. How much control does such a government need over the people? And who will run the government? Or will government no longer be needed once we achieve equity? Finally, wouldn't those with the power to make everyone equal be themselves the ultimate oppressors?
Another problem with this idea of entire groups being labeled as oppressors, is that in the name of "social justice" it actually does away with true justice. In Western Civilization, justice has traditionally been defined as "to give to each his due". People are to be judged as individuals, taking a variety of things into account if there is an allegation of guilt. With Cultural Marxism, individual behavior is not judged, rather the individual is labeled or put in a group (based on sex, gender, race, etc.) and if the group is considered guilty of oppressing, then the individual is guilty of oppressing by association. Again, justice is no longer the traditional idea of “giving to each his due” which judges individual actions, but rather the toppling of the oppressor and the uplifting of the oppressed.
What is fascinating, too, are the internal conflicts that arise from an arguably simplistic, binary worldview. Once the white, Christian hetero-patriarchy is removed from the scene, you get some delicious moral quandaries. For instance, Muslims, gays, and women are oppressed by the white, Christian hetero-patriarchy. But now, which side do you take if there is no white, Christian hetero-patriarchy? In other words, do you side with Muslims when they’re executing gays, or do you stand with the gays who are attempting to topple the Muslim culture through various sexual acts and the freedom to marry the same sex? And what about the women in that mix? There are many of these sorts of theoretical situations that could be quite close to what would happen if the so-called Christian hetero-patriarchy is wiped off the planet.
Understanding the illogical conundrums, we can watch the convulsions taking place amongst social justice academics, pundits, and other elite when it comes to the clashes taking place in Europe due to the influx of Muslim migrants. On one hand, to do penance for the wrongs of Western civilization the Europeans must help the oppressed Muslim men, but then those men bring their own oppressive views of women and gays with them. Since the white, Christian hetero-patriarchy has already been toppled from power, those who would align with a cultural Marxist worldview are confronted with the challenge of themselves having to oppress the oppressed to defend another oppressed.
While the desire to help people, particularly those in need or who are legitimately oppressed or held back, is a good thing, we still need to be sure that we treat all people with justice. We cannot forget the individual and try to see the world merely as groupings of people based on class, sex, gender, race, etc. It is ultimately the act of judging the individual and not the group that has provided and expanded freedom in this country. Let's not lose the dignity of the individual while prowling around seeking wrongs to right. The world is more complicated than a simple binary outlook of oppressed verses oppressors.