“The working class has become the enemy of Marxists.”
Critical race theory is a new form of Marxism based not on class, but on identity and race, says James Lindsay, founder of New Discourses and author of the new book, “Race Marxism: The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis.”
In this two-part deep-dive interview, James Lindsay breaks down the roots of critical race theory, the logic of Herbert Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance,” why powerful elites appear to have bought into woke ideology, the rise of a social credit scoring system in America, and the strange fusion he now sees between fascism and communism.
Mr. Jekielek: James Lindsay, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Mr. Lindsay: I’m glad to be here again.
Mr. Jekielek: So James, today, actually, as we’re recording, you have launched your new book, “Race Marxism: The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis.” And some people might not even know at this point what praxis is. I’m going to get you to tell me. But before we go there, when we first met, I think, when we first interviewed, I remember you made a distinct point of basically telling me it’s not Marxist, it’s Marxian. Let’s call it Marxian, right? And obviously your thinking has evolved somewhat, and now you’re basically saying critical race theory is race Marxism. So tell me, what happened? How did you change your thinking, and how does this actually work?
Mr. Lindsay: So what happened? I mean, it’s pretty simple what happened? I read a whole lot of Marxist thought both from Karl Marx himself and Engels, so mid 19th century, late 19th century, but then also most importantly, the mid 20th century, the so called neo-Marxists or critical Marxists, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and most importantly, Herbert Marcuse. And what I realized is that Marxism just changed. It just evolved, if you will. The right term for them would be that it was dialectically synthesized into new forms. That’s what they would say. But Marxism, as a pragmatic project to bring about the Marxist style revolution, just changed tack over time.
And so with the evolution of critical race theory, we have a variant that replaces economic class with race and otherwise uses exactly the same motifs, exactly the same kind of… It’s like the same engine, different chassis, if you had a car, for example. And what we’ve done is taken out the focus on economic class, and in the words I say of Gloria Ladson-Billings, she’s a critical race theorist in education. In 1995, she wrote a paper called “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education.” She says that the point of critical race theory is to make race the central construct for understanding inequality.
So you take out the word class from before the central construct for understanding inequality and you put in race, center race. So now all the class issues will be understood through the lens of race. Gender and sex issues will be understood through a lens of race. Everything will be centered through a lens of race, and you actually can see that Marxist theories, however deep you want to go, we can go there, are reproduced virtually perfectly just using race in place of class.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, and so the way I understand what Herbert Marcuse was doing as part of the Frankfurt School, is trying to figure out originally how to get the working class to be interested in revolution, and I guess realize that that wasn’t going to happen maybe, or they weren’t interested. So he sped along a way to find another group to get involved in the revolution. Am I reading that right?
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, that’s correct. That’s exactly right. So Herbert Marcuse is the most influential Marxist of the mid 20th century, by leaps and bounds. His 1964 book “One-Dimensional Man,” in its first year, if I’m not mistaken on the statistics, so we can check that for sure, but I think in its first year sold 300,000 copies, which is a lot of copies of a book especially in 1964 to 1965. So this guy’s very influential.
And he wrote absolutely explicitly that the problem is, he said, “We need a new working class.” That the working class has stabilized itself. Marx got something wrong. He and Max Horkheimer, one of the other leading critical Marxists of the mid 20th century said, well, in Horkheimer’s exact words in 1969, the same year that Herbert Marcuse wrote his most probably important essay, which is called “An Essay on Liberation.” It’s a short book really. It’s quite long.
The same year, Max Horkheimer said, “Marx believed that capitalism would eventually immiserate the workers, but it allows them to build a better life.” And in that essay from that same year, ’69, Marcuse says, well, what’s happened is that the working class has grown into a middle class and has become stable. They’ve stabilized. They are now a conservative, even counter revolutionary force. And so he feels betrayed at that point by the working class.
And he says, we need to look for the populations or the groups that have that… He says, the vital needs for a socialist revolution. And he says, where can we find them? In his own words, he turns to identity politics as the answer, but in his own words, he says, we’ll turn to the ghetto population. And he points out the black power movement very explicitly. Of course, by this point, he’s also mentoring Angela Davis who was involved in the Black Power Movement, went on to be one of the most prominent black feminists, and is still active in Marxist programs today.
But he said, “We need to look to the ghetto population,” so the feminists to the sexual minorities and to the outsiders, so the unemployed. And then he said, “What we actually need to do is make sure that they get the right theory.” They have the energy, they don’t have the theory. And where do we get that? We get that into the students. So we’ll create a student movement just like we saw in Paris in ’68, just like Mao used in China, starting in ’65, ’66. We’ll get a student movement going, and then basically those people are going to go and meet up with the various different populations, ghetto population, as it were racial minorities, sexual minorities, and so on, and tell them what their oppression really means in these new Marxist terms.
So I call that’s the birth of identity Marxism, and this is where we’ve had this major shift. But the problem was that these critical Marxists in the mid 20th century, the problem they saw was that capitalism works. In fact, Marcuse says, “Advanced capitalism delivers the goods.” That’s his exact words. He says, it gives people a better life, and to be sure it is a good life, but it’s not a utopia.
And so he says, we’re not going to find the energy we need in the working class. We have to find it in identity. And so I see this as a tremendous shift in the direction of Marxist thought from the most influential Marxist thinker alive at the time at the end of the 1960s.
I think somehow maybe because philosophers tend to be so careful and pure about how they think about their theories, they seem to have missed that Marxism took a gigantic exit ramp and is running down a completely different interstate now, that they don’t care about economic class anymore. The working class betrayed them. They’ve gone into identity politics, whole hog ever since.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s almost like the working class, they have become almost like the enemy, if you will. Right? Would you characterize it?
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, absolutely. I mean, when Marcuse says that they’ve become a conservative force and they’ve become a counter revolutionary force, if we just hearken back a few years to ’65, when he wrote “Repressive Tolerance,” which is the essay that outlines the logic that we live in, movements from the left must be tolerated, movements from the right shall not be tolerated. That’s a very close paraphrasing of the thesis statement actually in the essay, near the end of the essay.
Well, if we go back to there, what you see is him making a very clear distinction between left and right, between revolutionary and reactionary, as he oversimplifies the situation. He says that there’s a tremendous difference between, for example, revolutionary violence and reactionary violence. So he characterizes something as conservative or as counterrevolutionary. He’s bringing in all the machinery of the rest of his philosophy, therefore he says, violence can be used against conservatives. Conservatives may not use violence in return.
He has a long paragraph explaining the differences between revolutionary and reactionary violence. He also says that for it’s not simply enough to withdraw democratic tolerance, as he calls it, from the conservatives. He says you have to actually stop the idea from ever entering the mind of the conservative—he says explicitly. So this is a form of censorship and even pre-censorship. But then he says, that’s justified against the fact that the society is already censoring the revolutionary left. It automatically is always doing that because it’s trying to preserve the status quo. So it’s censorship in the opposite direction to fix that problem.
And so when he identifies the working class as being conservative and counter revolutionary, he believes that it is now justified to pull out the full machinery of censorship, pre-censorship, and violence. He says a withdrawal of democratic tolerance. He says, the suspension of their rights, this is all necessary. So this is a complete turning upon the working class by the main current of Marxism, again, in the late 1960s.
Mr. Jekielek: So in pre-censorship, you mean like what’s known as political correctness. Like you won’t say certain things because you will understand that you will be attacked if you do, or the cancel culture is the more modern version.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes. That would be one element of pre-censorship. Anything that even stops the idea from entering the mind. And so we can think of in these very simple terms that, well, you can’t say this word, or you can’t say that word anymore, because if you do, it’ll offend somebody. Or you can’t frame it that way, so that you can get people to censor themselves. So that would be a form of pre-censorship.
But in our modern direction, things are going now with technology. You could pre-censor somebody, if you will, by having their algorithm conditioned, by feeding them certain information. And of course, there’s a lot of speculation in the 2016 presidential election that that’s exactly what outfits like Cambridge Analytica were attempting to do with elaborate psychological profiles they’d built from getting people on Facebook to take surveys and whatever else to get a very strong what big five profile of them.
And then they used that information back on them to tailor the algorithm for their say, Facebook feed, to feed them certain information, so they would only think in particular ways. So it could be kind of self-censoring with this preventative thing, or it could actually be to the point of conditioning somebody’s thought so that they only think in particular and approved ways.
And of course, we could go even further in China. We see the social credit system that takes us to an extreme where, at some point, you don’t even dare to think the unthinkable thing, unless you make the mistake of saying it, or something and losing your access to buy groceries or your bank account, or buy a train ticket or plane ticket or something.
So yeah, these are all the kinds of ideas, and Marcuse’s claim is, of course, based on histrionic exaggeration. He says, if we would’ve withdrawn democrat… He invokes Hitler. He says, if we would’ve withdrawn democratic tolerance from Hitler, then we could have avoided Auschwitz in a world war. And so he says, of course, we have to think about withdrawing that tolerance to the point where… This is the context in which he’s invoking this censorship and pre-censorship, is that pre-censorship, even if Hitler were to get up and speak, you don’t want to be able to find out that he spoke. You don’t want anybody to be able to hear it at all. So the thought never enters their head.
So, that’s another element that he has. And this histrionic exaggeration, he says, this would only be justified if we had clear and present danger. And he says, “I contend that the whole of society is in exactly that condition of clear and present danger, of fascism right around the corner. The whole post fascist era is one of clear and present danger.” He says, justifying the use of what we might call emergency powers to suppress one political side or repress really one political side while empowering and emboldening the other.
Mr. Jekielek: What you’re describing is fascinating given the times, right? Given the recent invoking of emergency powers in Canada, for example, the prime minister did. How do you think these things are related?
Mr. Lindsay: I think we live in the logic of that essay. I think that the leftists who hung on most every word that Herbert Marcuse spoke and wrote in the 1960s and 1970s have shaped leftist thought and leftist politics for a long time now. And they genuinely believe that they have a right to move society forward, and therefore, to repress the right to advance the causes of the left. You might call it leveling the playing field, if you will.
And I think that we actually live in the logic of this essay. I saw it most explicitly, we can evoke Justin Trudeau bringing out the emergency powers to quash the trucker freedom honking or whatever movement this is. I saw on the 1st of January this year, for example, New York Times, I believe, titled “Every Day Is Jan. 6 Now.”
We constantly live in a condition of clear and present danger, just like Marcuse advocated. And I think that this mentality has been the mentality of the left for decades now. And it’s only just at this moment becoming absolutely clear that that’s how they… I mean, they feel entitled to act in this way, that leftist things that are revolutionary and are progressive in orientation are absolutely acceptable, riots all through 2020, all these violent protests, et cetera.
And we were told that we have to accept these, that they’re most fully peaceful, they were 93 percent peaceful, whatever it is. And then there’s the bizarre event here at the Capitol on January 6th, 2020. Then there’s this trucker thing. And it’s absolutely fascism and the worst insurrection worse than Pearl Harbor, as bad as the civil war, every day is January 6th now.
I just saw an article by Joe Rogan saying the N word is a January 6th moment, meaning that it’s the worst possible thing. It said, in fact, it might be more dangerous than January 6th was, which maybe that’s actually true, but in the weirdly ironic way. So I think that they’ve ibided this mentality. I believe frankly, that Marxism of all types is an entitlement complex masquerading as a political and social theory. And so this entitlement to be able to apply their theory and to apply power is characteristic of everything they’re doing.
Mr. Jekielek: I mean, and this of course explains… I think, for a lot of people that aren’t inclined to this ideology, let’s say, they’re kind of flummoxed when they say something that might not be polite and they’re called racist immediately, or some very extreme expletive, or something, right? Most people just don’t know how to deal with that, right? And I guess it’s a way to also kind of bully people, right?
Mr. Lindsay: There’s a number of things you can say. At the very first line of race Marxism, I actually give three definitions for critical race theory of my own invention. And the first of them is calling everything you want to control racist until you control it. So this is a form of bullying, and it is exactly what this is, but it’s also Maoism, and people just don’t recognize it.
This is the recreation of Mao’s black identity categories versus red identity categories. Somebody says something you don’t like, it used to be you are bourgeois, you have bourgeois values, you’re rightist, you’re counter revolutionary, somehow tied in with the dirty capitalists. And for Mao, it had these black categories like rich farmer, landlord, et cetera, counter revolutionary, bad influence, which that’s pretty open ended.
He had these categories, and if he didn’t like you, you got categorized in those, your children got categorized in them, people who associated you, got stained by association. And then on the other hand, you have these other identities that you can adopt, and you can become a revolutionary. You can’t necessarily become a laborer or a peasant. Those were two of his red identities glorified because of it being traditional Marxism with Chinese characteristics now.
But you can join the movement, and you can get out of this accusation that’s being laid upon you. Same thing is happening here. You’re a racist, you’re a sexist, you’re a transverb, you’re a straight white male, your story has been told, et cetera, et cetera. These are just so-called black identity categories that are shunned and scapegoated and that cause moral pollution or epistemic pollution or whatever kind, psychological pollution.
And then what can you do? You can become an ally, you can do the work, study the critical race theory, do the work, interrogate your own whiteness, check your privilege. You have all these different things that you can do. You could also adopt. You can’t change your race, they get really upset about that, but you can change your sexuality, you can change your gender identification.
They give you lots of options, and then you can become political in your identity. They give you lots of options. People are not used to being called racist on false pretenses, but they also lack the ability to recognize that this is the exact cultural revolution roadmap that Mao Zedong laid out. So this is again, why do I call it race Marxism? It is the same tool in a different context that Marxist used in the past.
Mr. Jekielek: But what strikes me with this, is that on the one hand, you have this menu that allows you to actually become one of the red groups, so to speak. If you’re in one of the black groups, you can become a revolutionary of sorts. But at the same time, if you are in one of the red groups, sort of these intrinsic red groups, you can be thrown back into the black groups very easily, so to speak.
Mr. Lindsay: Exactly.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m talking about Mao’s definitions of the red and black here.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, of course.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes. I mean, like Larry Elder ran for governor of California, L.A. Times runs an article. And I know he gets trotted out a lot, but runs an article saying, he’s the black face of white supremacy now, which is preposterous. Why? Because he’s conservative. And so he holds black bourgeois values, if you will, if we put it back in the Marxist language.
Dave Chappelle, I like to bring this. This is my favorite example. He makes jokes about trans people on one of his specials. And so they write an article and I forget which outlet this is in. It was a smaller outlet, but they say that he told the jokes from a position of his white privilege, which is hugely hilarious, but it’s because he is rich and he is famous. And so he has what we used to call FU Money. And so that’s white privilege.
And so Dave Chappelle, black comedian, has a position of white privilege and he tells trans jokes from that position. Kind of more seriously, though, as far as how that goes with this menu of politicized identities you can take up, we got the cap, I love that the capital’s right behind me, so we can reference people that work there. Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts, for example, said, “We don’t want to have any more black faces, we don’t want to be black voices. We don’t want to have any more brown faces, we don’t want to be brown voices.”
In other words, they have to become politically active in their race, the way that critical race theory says that they have to become politically active. Why? Because it’s Marxist. Marxism believes that there’s a super structure and infrastructure of society, not to get too deep here, but the interaction between those, that’s his dialectical materialism, the interaction between the two strata of society creates a structure of social relations.
And that structure of social relations actually conditions who you are. Your contents of character that Martin Luther King invoked are conditioned by your structural position with regard to economic class, if it’s old Marxism. But now, it’s with regard to racial class within critical race theory. And it’s exactly the same. So they literally have a term for this.
In Marxism, they called it material determinism. Your material conditions determined how you were as a person. Now they call it structural determinism. The existence of whiteness as a form of property creates an ideology called white supremacy that tries to keep it in power or keep white people in other people that they give access to whiteness to empower.
And so you have a racial bourgeoisie that has access to bourgeois racial property called whiteness, and the people of color, a racial proletariat, and their interactions across this stratification cause a structural racism in society. It’s a system that pervades everything, it’s embedded in the laws, it’s embedded in the language, it’s embedded in how we think about ideas, what we consider to be true and false, what we consider knowledge, how we consider the production of knowledge to be valid and invalid, there’s this entire system.
So when she says, we don’t want to have black faces, that don’t want to be black voices, what she’s saying is critical race theory as the only theory in town that understands the structural nature of racism, understands what it means to be black in a way, political way, then nothing else does.
And so if they’re not going to speak into their blackness the way that critical race theory says they should, they must somehow be adopting the ideology of white supremacy. And so Larry Elder becomes a black face of white supremacy because he’s speaking into the ideology. Again with Marx, he thought that the people that are in the super structure, the bourgeoisie, created fake justification mythologies that justified why they were in charge. He called those ideology.
The ideology of white supremacy is what critical race theory is. You can see now. How did I get convinced that this is just race Marxism? Because when you actually understand what Marx was about, which took me reading critical race theorists criticizing Marx to really get it, when you understand what Marx was really about, you see that it’s a perfect one-to-one reproduction. Mathematicians like myself will call it isomorphism of Marxism from class into race. But that’s where you see exactly what you’re just talking about. This menu of things.
So if you’re black, but you’re not politically active, then you have what Mao Zedong would’ve called it black identity, a bad one. And so how do you change that? Well, you become politically black, in the words of Nikole Hannah-Jones. You become a black voice, in the words of Ayanna Pressley. You become an expert on racism or an anti-racist, in the words of Ibram Kendi. You take on the ideology, you take on critical race theory, you become a race Marxist, then you’re authentically black.
Mr. Jekielek: So a number of things come to mind. I guess the first one is the idea that people in power want to keep that power. That’s true. A number of these things that you mention and have a kernel of truth to them, right? Which is perhaps why these sorts of ideologies are so attractive. I don’t know. What do you think about that?
Mr. Lindsay: Okay. I mean, there’s a difference between that’s true and there’s a kernel of truth. And that’s very important, because the way that these ideologies tend to work is that they play upon the kernel of truth. People do generally, when they come into power, want to keep their power, or they want to keep the advantages that come with having that power, to a degree, but it’s obviously not universally the case.
Since we’re here in Washington, we can talk about Washington himself. George Washington, who they asked if he would become king, and he said, “No.” And they said, “Well, you have a third term as president.” And he said, “No, I’ve had long enough. I’m getting out.” And so it’s not universally true that people want to maintain power for the sake of maintaining power. To believe that people want to maintain their power for the sake of maintaining power, all the time always is a psychological pathology.
It’s almost a confession by projection of how somebody thinks about the world, because this is not how most people think about it. If you look at Marx, he says, of course, that the capitalists were obsessed with material things and gold and riches and money. And to a degree, some of them are but nobody’s obsessed with money the way that Marxists are. This is pure projection. Marx was absolute… All he did was write to people and ask them to give him money.
If you read through his actual letters, gigantic volumes of them, he wrote a letter to Engels when Engels, not wife, but long time live-in girlfriend, love of his life, he said, died. And he wrote this letter and he’s like two sentences at the beginning that basically, “Oh, this is terrible. Hate to hear that for you. By the way, here’s 33 lines of my financial problems, Mr. Money bags. Can you help me out?” To the point where Engels was actually insulted and wrote back, “Oh, it’s just going to be like that. I understand.” But did send money too, as one does, I guess. But they were obsessed with it.
So the idea that people are all pathologically obsessed with power is something that people who are pathologically obsessed with power believe. Whereas in reality, we see people peacefully handing off the position on the levers of power. You see this transition of power from one generation to the next, as mentorship relations go the classic thing.
I remember one of my friends used to be very athletic and his sons were coming up and they were much more athletic, but he could still beat them because they were children. And then they hit 15, 16 years old, and all of a sudden, he’s in his mid 40s, competition changed completely. And there was this weird moment where they beat him in a road race or something. And then they had this whole little dinner and the transition of power took place, “You guys are the athletes now, and I’m just your dad.”
This is something that actually naturally happens. It’s actually a problem that people try to solve. So to believe the kernel of truth is a full truth is actually an expression of pathology, if you ask me. It is attractive to people because they can latch onto that kernel of truth, and in particular, it allows them to blame somebody else for the problem. It’s oh, that leader just won’t let go of power.
And we saw that with Donald Trump, which he ran his mouth a lot, but at the end of the day, he even said before the end of his term that when he felt or whenever the election was certified, he was going to hand over power. And that’s exactly what he did. And he went back to Mar-a-Lago or wherever he is. And he didn’t hold up in the White House, getting dragged out kicking and screaming, or invoke the military to try to… Nothing of the sort happened. We heard relentlessly from the media that it would, but it didn’t.
And so I think it’s a projection of pathology to believe that people won’t hand over power when they are in a situation where they’ve had power, because it very frequently is the case that it is handed over.
Mr. Jekielek: One of the things we were talking about… Well, when we talk was when you’re in a situation, let’s say as an activist, let’s say as a Marxist activist, or a critical theory activist, and you on the fringes of society, and suddenly, society starts working on your behalf, starts supporting your movement, basically it can affect people quite a bit. This is kind of the observation, right?
Mr. Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So there’s a few things to say again about the nature of power. With movements like black lives matter or critical race theory, having been on their fringes, all their papers are like the margins of this, the margins of that, feeling excluded, oppression, marginalization, exploitation, all pushed out to the fringes, then they suddenly start getting power. People are listening to them. People think that their theory has the explanatory power to say what’s really happening in society.
Say after George Floyd dies suddenly, or just Donald Trump is inexplicably rising, it seemed inexplicable. It’s very easy to explain in fact, but to the presidency in 2016, how is it possible? And they have this explanation, well, society is actually way more racist than you ever thought it was, and that’s why all these things are happening. And it starts to gain this…
Well, it’s almost like we are all familiar, at least conceptually with the idea of the nouveau riche, the newly rich who don’t know how to deal with their money. And I’ve been to China a bunch of times, and obviously they had a huge economic explosion. And so actually it was interesting because I went from 2014 to 2019 every year and I actually watched this diminish over the course of the six-year span or whatever.
But at the beginning, you would see these women in the mall or whatever, wearing every name brand you can imagine, Chanel, and whatever, Dior, and all these things like with the logos as big as possible. And they’d have pants that were one and a shirt that was another and a bag that was another. So they were just ostentatiously showing off that they had these very expensive clothes. Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Maseratis everywhere.
And then this slowly actually decreased. And I don’t think it was because the economic situation changed, the nouveau riche people stop showing off their money. Well, the same thing happens with power. Every time I look at the black lives matter, literally the Black Lives Matter organization, the movement, you look at Patrisse Cullors, she’s rising. She’s like the biggest thing since sliced bread or whatever.
And then all of a sudden, she’s caught in this scandal where she’s buying mansions and she wants to spend more time with her child or whatever, five-year-old, or whatever it is that she gives us the excuse. She gets risen to the post of leader of Black Lives Matter, which originally had no leadership. Now she’s in charge of it. She’s not just an organizer. She’s the director. Then 10 months later, she absconds from position. And now the thing’s just a drift and nobody knows who’s running it. There’s all this money, nobody knows who’s in charge of that either. And she’s got all these houses.
And it’s clear that the power, she didn’t know what to do with the power. And you see this with these kind of progressive squad candidates that come into Congress. They don’t know what to do with their power. So they’re doing rather absurd things, very vigorous things, pushing extremely hard.
The hard part is that it turns out that Marxist do the exact same thing. Marxists, anytime they get their hands on a lever of power, push the throttle all the way up, and try to run it for every bit that they can get, and to try to entrench whatever power they can get as fast as possible. And so it’s hard to tell which one of those things is going on, but you can tell that again, we have this obsession with power.
And part of the way that that obsession of power works is that it’s new to people, and part of the way that it works is these theories, critical race theory and Marxism, et cetera. There’s a number of ways one can characterize them, but one of them is as gigantic conspiracy theories.
We were talking about power a moment ago, it’s one thing to think that say people who have power are inclined to want to keep their power, it’s another thing to believe that there’s a mysterious racial contract that nobody ever hears about, but everybody signs up to, that they all participate in as being the work of Charles Mills, who recently died. He’s a critical race philosopher. And there’s this racial contract that works like we’re so social contract that keeps white people elevated at the expense of people of color and nobody ever hears about it.
And so you can easily start to scapegoat people who are given access to whiteness, and it’s a very conspiratorial mindset. It’s a very different thing than to say, oh yeah, well, you don’t know what you don’t know, and when life’s easy for you, you don’t know some things, which is a very good critical perspective.
To have to switch into this, well, you actually have willful ignorance, not only do you not know, you don’t want to because you want to maintain your power and privilege, et cetera. And so again, you see this abuse of power being kind of central to the whole line of thought they have. And part of the reason is because they’re new to having the power, and part of the reason is that they’re obsessed with gaining power.
Mr. Jekielek: Another interview that we did some time ago, we both had a similar idea. I think I saw you write, “I think we’re entering a Leninism 4.0,” right? And I remember I’d been thinking something along those lines and we talked and we ended up doing it on camera. Where do you think that’s at? Or for starters, do you think that’s what it is still-
Mr. Lindsay: Yes, still do.
Mr. Jekielek: … because your thought has evolved?
Mr. Lindsay: As a matter of fact, the cover of Race Marxism is based off of the National Bolshevism flag, which it looks like the Nazi flag, but with a hammer and sickle in place of a swastika, if you don’t know what the National Bolshevism flag is. But that’s actually the cover of Race Marxism. It says in giant letters, Race Marxism, in little tiny letters, The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis. And then it has the netball symbol there. And the reason is because it is Bolshevism.
When I say this is Maoism that people are experiencing, Mao had just reinvented Leninism in a slightly different context. And I mean Chinese and I also mean cultural. Cultural Marxism didn’t exist for Lenin. Cultural Marxism came into being following Lenin’s success, where the Marxist theorist tried to figure out why he was successful, but Europe wouldn’t go Marxist.
So he takes on cultural aspects that were new to Marxism and did it slightly differently. But ultimately, he did a Bolshevist thing. And he said it was Marxist. If you talked to a Chinese survivor of Mao’s regime, they all say Marxist-Leninist’s, with a hyphen. It’s always that. And it’s because Leninism carried over. So I said that the 4.0 was Lenin 1.0, and Stalin took it in a new direction, and that was 2.0, very similar.
It might be more accurate to say as version 1.1, 1.1 with those two, I don’t know, but much more brutal as a matter of fact. And then Mao had a complete reinvention of it. And then this woke Marxism is in fact the same model, which is why it’s using malice tactics, bullying, tactics, for example, cultural tactics, and it’s setting up a vanguard of your anti-racist, if it’s critical race theory, of the queer theorists, if it’s the queer and gender aspects.
It sets up an intellectual, in this case, vanguard, who are going to lead us through a glorious revolution to a new world that will be first equitable, which is in parallel to socialism. And then later, we’ll achieve justice for whatever these oppressed groups are, all of the oppressed groups, as a matter of fact. So yeah, I’m still there. It’s still Leninism.
Mr. Jekielek: Just to be clear, Leninism and contrast to straight Marxism is the party is needed to shepherd the proletariat, right?
Mr. Lindsay: That’s right.
Mr. Jekielek: Through the revolution. And so, what is the party and 4.0?
Mr. Lindsay: Oh, well, it depends on which faction we’re talking about, but it’s the intersectionalists, if you want to stay strictly within the woke. If we read Ibram Kendi in 2019 and Politico Magazine, they have a feature they call “How to Fix.” And so it’s how do you fix whatever? So they asked Ibram Kendi, of all people, how do you fix inequality? This is right when his book, “How to Be an Antiracist” was coming out bestseller, of course.
And he says, we need to pass an anti-racist constitutional amendment, which by the way, the Democrats and Congress behind us are currently trying to do legislatively rather than through a constitutional amendment. They’ve just proposed a $70 billion racial equity bill, or whatever this is. And that reproduces this exact same program. The story was broken by, I think, our mutual friend, Natalie Winters, at National Pulse the other day.
And so what does Kendi tell us about this? That’s supposed to establish a department of anti-racism. It’ll have jurisdiction over all local state and federal policies, private policies, expressions of public and private officials. But he also tells us that the department of anti-racism will be staffed entirely by formally trained experts in racism. In other words, critical race theorists, people who go through his Boston University anti-racism program or whatever, because those are the only genuine anti-racists.
The only true experts in racism are the ones who understand it’s structural nature. And so critical race theorists, as a bunch of academics working with policy makers and maybe corporate leaders, are going to become the party. And the party is going to set up a department and a politico bureau really. And that politic bureau is going to now have absolute authority over policy at every level, that’s a dictatorship. Over private expressions, private business policy, that’s a dictatorship.
Mr. Jekielek: He’s allowed to run for office, if I recall, as part of that, right?
Mr. Lindsay: He doesn’t say that explicitly in the one paragraph, but all public officials will be monitored, so they are public officials. So, yes. And so the party becomes people that have been ordained by whatever activist organization or whoever is pulling the trigger on these things to be sufficiently articulate in the critical race theory ideology, just to stay within that.
And you have the same thing happening though within queer theory, same thing happening within, say, disability studies and fat studies that have all taken on this identity Marxism brand approach or woke Marxism brand approach. And they cobble it together under what they call intersectionality. So the intersectionalists will become the party. The people who have had their critical consciousness awakened are going to become the party. And it will primarily be intellectuals and bureaucratic, managerial class type people.
Mr. Jekielek: So I’m really glad you mentioned repressive tolerance early on, and I constantly see it, repressive tolerance playing out in all sorts of different manifestations, as you suggested. I kind of view it as a sort of pseudo morality, in fact, right? That allows for, basically you to make these decisions, that to someone who isn’t initiated look like hypocrisy, but if you’re an adherent of the pseudo morality, they’re not hypocrisy. In fact, they’re the right thing to do.
Mr. Lindsay: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: John McWhorter describes wokism, for lack of a better term, this sort of the party that you’re describing as religion, the people who really believe in it. I would call it similarly as a pseudo morality, a pseudo religion. He says, no, no, it’s exactly a religion. What is your take on this?
Mr. Lindsay: No, it’s a religion. Absolutely, it’s a religion. Marx did not outline. If you read Marx’s writings before the communist manifesto, especially the various manuscripts he wrote in 1844, it’s very clear that Marx was not outlining a political and social theory. He’s outlining a theology, very clear to me, at least. Anyway, he has a theory of being. He has a theory of mankind and human nature. He has what you would call a soteriology in religious circles, which is a theory of salvation.
We’re going to do the work, we’re going to become socialist man, we’re going to make man continuous with society, and then we’ll reachieve the Garden of Eden. We’ll have the Kingdom of God brought back here to earth, as a theory of salvation built in a soteriology. They’re all the pieces. It’s an eschatological religion.
In other words, it has an eschatology, it has an end times prediction. The revolution takes the place of the rapture. The socialism that follows the revolution isn’t going to be everything worked out. The contradictions are going to be very apparent. That’s a tribulation. But on the other end, the Kingdom of God will be re-established on earth when we have communism. So it’s an eschatological faith, as well as a theodicy, an explanation for evil.
How is it that these terrible things are happening? Well, history in Hegel’s words is using people and then discarding them. Why? So that it can continue to unfold because for Marx, history has a teleology, it has a purpose, it has a trajectory and an endpoint, which is we’re going to all become socialist people, living in a socialist society where man and society are co-continuous. And we see ourselves as what first theory of being in human nature, we see ourselves as creators—we are subjects.
He says that what happens is that private property comes in. There’s your original sin that gets us kicked out of the garden. It creates a division of labor, which is the wages of sin, in this case. And what happens with this division of property is that some people exploit and dominate other people, and they create ideologies and mythologies to justify their domination and exploitation, which is for him, the false religion.
And then what we can do is that we can do the work to change ourselves increasingly into a social being by what? By what is work? Well, it’s the hammer and the sickle. It’s productive work, versus this managerial, lawyerly, priestly, super structural work as he had it.
And so what do you do to do the work? Well, you have a vision in your head of what you want to produce in the world, and then you produce it. If you want to make a picnic table, you look at the tree and you get your saw and you cut the tree down and you fashion the wood and you hammer it together or whatever, and now you have a picnic table, but you saw a picnic table in your mind, a very Pygmalion-like.
You saw the statue of the perfect woman in your mind, and you chipped away the marble little by little by little, and then asked the gods to bring it to life. And now you have your perfect partner that you’ve created yourself. But what he says is this means that you are the subject and that as a subject, you have a subjective experience of the world, and you’re creating an object in the world through your productive labor.
That produces value, according to both he and Hegel, who proceeded him, but it also produces something in which you can reflect upon yourself, a speculum, if you will. I know everybody freaks out when you say that, but it means mirror in Latin. And so you reflect back upon yourself and see yourself as what? As that which creates.
Now, what he says is that this division of labor has entered the world and creates these social relations of domination, exploitation, and alienation, and so on. And by doing so, he says that the social relations limit the range of one’s subjectivity. So the limits of what you can produce in your mind to create in the world to come to know yourself are limited by the fact of the exploitative and domineering social relations.
So if you can get rid of that, which comes for him back to the ownership of private property. The abolition of private property is communism and a sentence to Marx, if you get to that, then everybody is actually genuinely being a creator, bringing about the society and the world in which they see themselves as the creator.
With no God, man is bootstrapped himself up from the animals, through his productive work. And at the end of history, which has this trajectory, the unfolding of the social relations is history. At the end of history, the social relations finally, they become stateless and classless, they cease to be rooted in domination and oppression. And we enter into the garden. This is a faith. Every piece of a religious faith is present. It has an ontology and axiology and epistemology.
I mean, we could just go on and on and on of all the necessary components of a theology. And Marx had laid this out and had hidden the fact that he was creating a theology because he cast down God. But what he actually put in God’s place is, well, he called man in himself, a man that’s become truly independent that no longer needs God, no longer needs his parents, whom he was mad at because they stopped giving him money, frankly. And he becomes wholly independent.
He’s no longer dependent on anything or anybody else, but the only way that’s possible is if all the different people’s subjective views align, hence you end up with this collectivism that becomes totalitarianism, because every man has to become socialist man, through this process of spiritual transformation, through the exact kind of productive work that Marx refused to do for himself at any point in his life. We all become socialist man, we get the correct view of how society works. And man in society becomes co-continuous as one object, kind of a hive mind, but this of course is intrinsically totalitarian.
But what this also is, is a theory of human nature, it’s a theory of history, it’s a theory of creation, and I don’t know the word for the end, eschatology, other than say beginning and end of the world. It’s a theory of everything, which is a theology. And the only thing that he’s done is put man in the place of God, and therefore man, wholly independent, made wholly independent from everything in the place of God, which not that we know him, I guess, friend Alex Jones, but is satanic.
I mean, that’s what the idea of Satan is, is that man holds himself up and we shall be as Gods. And you think that I’m just being a little bit like out there now, but if you read, for example, in Herbert Marcuse, who we’ve already talked about, 1955, he wrote “Eros and Civilization.” He considered it as most important early work, or maybe his most important English work. And it’s this combination of Marx and Freud into a new theory. And in it, he says that human being’s objective is to get back into the Garden of Eden. He actually says that.
And the way that we do that is by taking a second bite of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. So this is explicitly religious. His program, Marcuse’s, by the way, was called the great refusal, the great refusal of all it is. But that’s actually an illusion to the third contour of the divine comedy, where Dante’s describing the outside of inferno and these group of people or poor souls or whatever, they’re cast out of heaven, but they can’t get into hell because they won’t commit to anything.
And so they’re walking around with a blank standard, following nothing, milling about outside the gateway to hell. And Dante says, you ask the Virgil, who are these people? And Virgil says, these are the people who’ve undergone the great refusal. They’ve refused both heaven and hell because they refused to commit to anything, so neither one wants them. And they’re just stuck here, miserable forever. And this is the metaphor that Marcuse chooses for his great program. This is explicitly religious, all the way down, all the way through.
Mr. Jekielek: So you often hear that in woke ideology, there’s no redemption. Where’s the redemption in this communist theology as you’re describing it? Or is there?
Mr. Lindsay: The redemption is off at the end of history. The redemption is that we will get to the perfect society if everybody participates. So you cannot redeem yourself. All you can do is take up the theory and do the work. You don’t get to be at the end of history or in the utopia, unless we achieve the revolution and everything works out.
You just have the responsibility to be on the right side of history. That’s where I said, “There’s an axiology, a theory of values here.” You must be on the right side of history. So, so long as you are upholding the attempt to bring Marxism into the world, you’re in the generally good graces of the saints or whatever, but there’s no full redemption. There’s just more activism.
And if we read, for example, Paulo Freire writes in his 1985 book, “Politics of Education,” he says that the revolution has to be perpetual. There is no end of the revolution. He says that the revolution never stops. It becomes a status quo. So for the revolution to be authentic, it must be perpetual, it must always be revolutionary. So you can never have a critical enough consciousness.
If you achieve a critical consciousness and we achieve some aspect of revolution, what Freire tells us is we need more critical consciousness for the next stage. We need an even more critical consciousness. And so the redemption doesn’t exist. You’re chasing the tail of a dragon or something like this. And you constantly just have to keep doing the work.
And the alleged redemption is that at the end of the communist rainbow here, we achieve something like the Kingdom of God on earth. We get the communist utopia way down the line. We get to justice way down the line. After years and years and years and years and years of accountability and equity, justice will arrive. And so those people, and whoever’s alive then, get to have the redemption. And the redemption is that they all think the same way, and they live in a perfected society where everybody thinks in identical ways, and so there are no problems.
Mr. Jekielek: One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot is, we’ve been in this kind of perpetual state of emergency for the last couple of years and for different reasons, partially because of COVID, partially because of, let’s call it the black lives matter, partially. There’s many different ways in which this is manifested. And what struck me is that, in totalitarian states, there is this perpetual state of emergency, always because you’re always having to justify maintaining the power. Right? And so have you made this connection?
Mr. Lindsay: Yeah. I mean, it’s absolutely what’s going on. It’s where Marcuse wrote in repressive tolerance, that the whole of society is in a state of clear and present danger of either tipping into a fascism, unless it could be rescued by discovering socialism and getting the formula right. So yeah, this is exactly what you would expect.
Mr. Jekielek: The other thing that I’ve been thinking about is why is it all of us sudden that these well realized capitalist or at least somewhat capitalist institutions, like the big tech companies and all sorts of giant multinational sort, have seemingly all of a sudden bought into all this? Right?
Mr. Lindsay: There are various ways we can answer that. They dive into different levels of conspiratorial thought, if you will. Certainly, at Davos, just go straight to the heart of it, for the past, I mean, the World Economic Forum was set up in 1970 something, ’71, maybe, very early on. Klaus Schwab and his vision that we’re going to bring together world leaders, we’re going to bring together corporate leaders, we’re going to bring together political leaders and nonprofit and organizational or institutional leaders, especially bankers.
And we’re going to bring them together and we’re going to start planning for the future. And for years and years and years, they plan for the future. They’re going to have this whole new vision. He’s talking from the 1970s about The Fourth Industrial Revolution. There’s going to be a whole new world coming on the other side of technology that’s coming along.
And this group of people, many of whom were bankers, hit upon a major problem in probably 2008, which was that the American economy collapsed from the housing market calamity where the market bubble burst all of these subprime mortgages and whatever else. And so they had a massive problem on their hands because the people were not happy, and the people were starting to unify against them.
There was a Tea Party movement that rose up. There’s also the Occupy Wall Street movement that rose up. And if you’re very superficial about things, people would say, well, Tea Party was right wing and Occupy Wall Street was left wing, and broadly speaking, that was kind of correct. They were polarized in that regard. But there was a lot of crossover into the Occupy movement from the Tea Party movement. A lot of people in the Tea Party movement also blamed the big banks.
They also said that these huge government bailouts of the banks, which we are just recently this year learning, were far bigger than anybody knew, possibly many times larger on the order of $30 plus trillion of bailout money going to things like Chase and these huge banks. This populist movement became very angry at the bankers, and the bankers are involved in this kind of let’s meet and talk about how we’re going to deal with the technological problems coming down the pike—all the social disruption.
And these guys had read a lot of this social theory. It’s quite clear because they started to implement it. And if you’ve spoken… I think we’re mutually friends with Vivek Ramaswamy who wrote “Woke, Inc.” You see that this works out to be this very strange witches brew of wins for the kind of big companies, that they wanted to already have a more socially responsible corporate governance model coming down the pike.
They knew that they wanted to try to incorporate aspects like racial justice and sexual and gender justice, and to try to bring up, people were talking about the wage gap, people were talking about the CEO disparities, and how do we get more diverse representation. These things were already happening. And all of a sudden, they realize that these identity politics, especially done in this identity Marxist way, could disrupt and break up the Occupy Wall Street movement from within because it’s so divisive. So these big banks could then promote these ideas.
They look virtuous, they look like they’re the people calling for being out of racism, out of sexism, et cetera. Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street gets infected with this, and they’re all calling each other racist and sexist and destroying themselves. And then the banks can even point and say, well, we’ve got all these diversity initiatives coming down, and everybody in Occupy Wall Street calls each other racist. It must have a massive racism problem. They can totally discredit the movement against and the people moving against them.
And so you can see that there were massive incentive structures to start dealing around that time, 2008 through 2012, with these kinds of identity politics. There are other factors as well that started to move it in. Barack Obama ran that identity politics in 2012 where he didn’t in 2008, for whatever set of reasons.
And of course we now know, or we knew then, but nobody knew what it meant that Obama was friends with people like Bill Ayers, and he was friends with people like Derek Bell, who created critical race theory, alongside Kimberlé Crenshaw. And there’s all these mysterious connections to where these ideas would’ve been in the orbit and then started to get money behind them, large amounts of money behind them. And so I put that down to the fact that they’re effective at doing what they do, which is divide the everyday people while the people at the top can conquer.
Mr. Jekielek: Coming up next on American Thought Leaders.
Mr. Lindsay: And these are the actual manipulations that are being done again, and again, and again, and again.
Part two preview
Mr. Jekielek: In part two of my interview with James Lindsay, we discuss how powerful elites have co-opted woke ideology, the rise of a social credit scoring system in America, and the strange fusion he now sees between fascism and communism. And in the face of all this, what does he see as the way out?
Mr. Lindsay: All you have to do is keep saying no. They require our compliance, or they have to force us. And if they force us, they show their hand.
Mr. Jekielek: We live in an age of censorship and disinformation where some of the most prominent voices, most important voices aren’t actually being heard because they’re being suppressed. I invite some of these people onto the show, onto American Thought Leaders. So to stay up to date on the most recent episodes in our exclusive content, you can actually sign up for our newsletter at theepochtimes.com/newsletter. Just hit the check box for American Thought Leaders.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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