Former CIA agent Kent Clizbe, who worked in covert operations, has said the infiltration of Marxist notions into the West of is one of the “the most effective influence operations of all time.” It is one thing to speak of political ideas, but here Clizbe is addressing the psychological effectiveness of Marxist linguistic and social engineering which found willing listeners from the time of the Frankfurt School, established in 1923, in order to destroy the West from the inside. Similarly Polish philosopher and EU member Ryszard Legutko, in his excellent study, Totalitarian Demons in Democracy (2016), noted that although Communism’s economic system had failed, Marxism’s ideas of discontent with Christendom and all traditional institutions and mores had not. Clizbe and Legutko were particularly focused on the psychological dimension of power groups and how their perspectives seep into a culture’s mindset, demoralising opposition and acting to silence resistance. As an example, consider the reaction in an ABC newsroom were a reporter foolish enough to jeopardise his or her career by suggesting a story on the many false prophecies of climate alarmist Tim Flannery. It wouldn’t be pretty.
Make no mistake, the post-modern Marxist culture war goes beyond political debate and reason. It pretends to debate but, in reality, only uses buzz words. Don’t you wish you had a dollar for every time ‘consensus’, ‘sustainability’ and the ever-popular ‘inappropriate’ are used to limit and define what may and may not be discussed? These are zombie mantras, which are not invitations to reason about anything, as clearly seen in Cancel Culture outrages and on programs such as Q&A. The decades-long growth of the West’s hatred of the past in Cancel Culture is appropriately termed cultural Marxism for such a worldview wants the West to cease existing, long seen as an aim of Marxism itself. We see battalions of woke ‘experts’ angrily denounce history and every word uttered by someone who disagrees with them. Thus when Kamala Harris sides with certain kinds of rioters — see the clip below — it is one thing, when anyone disagrees with her, it is deplorable. Furthermore the current COVID crisis and its its daily menu of media echoed alarms has provided extra groundwork for more widespread political control. Of course, yes, there is a genuine virus and, yes, we must be careful, but we are being ‘reset’ under a political-technocratic paradigm that is way beyond a mere ‘nanny state.’
During the Cold War years, some rare figures such as brilliant Italian philosopher Augusto del Noce, saw it all coming. He said that “the Communist Party could not have a better opportunity: it can let others do the work of subversion, support, then present itself as the defender of order and take control…” He predicted the economic fall of the Soviet Union when writing in the 1960s and then saw the adoption of its ideas in the West in a different form – a decay of Western coherence subsumed by well-being and thought control. We see this in cleverly repeated lies: caring for others includes ‘tolerance’ of abortion; ‘reverence for life’ becomes ‘saving the planet’; ‘mercy’ becomes killing the elderly; and being sensitive means accepting gay marriage or any other groupings of individuals as ‘family’. As a psychologist I have seen this infiltration in the area of educational psychology where the recent normalisation of transgenderism is seen as social and intellectual ‘progress’ and to question the need to teach this to children is denlounced as repressive, fascist and anti-progress.
As a recent editorial at Catholic Insight observed:
We’re living in an era of obfuscation or, to frame the matter more bluntly, a veritable blizzard of lies, ones that are difficult to discern, for they are either subtle and insidious, with the truth hidden in back rooms and off-camera, or so bold and brazen, told with such apparent confidence, that even those who know the truth are thrown somewhat off balance.
See, in mentioning the ills of some heteronormative families and some religions, you continue hammering the point that these oppressive ills can only be dealt with by eliminating all traditional families and religions. Looking around us, few could fail to note the effect of the anti-family mantras, whose ‘reset’ was begun decades ago.
No wonder George Orwell felt so alone in the journalistic world of the late 1930s and early 1940s with its approbation for Stalin and the Soviet Union. Then came the post-war ideological assault on the West and pedagogical institutions grew like noxious weeds through the 1950s and 60s with the dissemination of Wilhelm Reich’s calls for sexual liberation and Marcuse’s anti-Western sermons. From this came the Marxist morphing into sexual revolution, gay, transgender and green causes, plus calls for ‘a new global ethic’ built upon the triumvirate of feminism, race and gender. Not to mention obligatory guilt for being a part of Western civilisation. Some months ago, a student at Sydney University told me that a young girl had stood up in his class and apologised for being white. Take it as a small sign of hope that not everyone applauded her.
BEYOND asking ourselves how did this happen we need to ask ‘What are we to do?’ Our response is not enough if it stays at the level of outrage. It requires rethinking the type of war we are in, and to find ways of psychological resistance to this ‘cancel culture’ miasma. There are ways of resistance, as all resistance groups can tell you, which preserve a sense of memory and identity. First of all, it recognises and acts to counteract the attempt to demoralise and thereby silence.
English philosopher Roger Scruton was strong on this point. In Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (2017) he did not stay at the level of anger but advocated the growth of a multitude of democratic organisations, whether small or large, as counterfoils. Nothing upsets the burgeoning totalitarians more than the very existence of ideas they cannot control. And these ideas, appearing from unexpected quarters after the totalitarians think they have quashed them, is particularly upsetting to those who would control us. The existence in Australia of independent Catholic tertiary institutions such as Campion College and Notre Dame University, not to mention think tanks such as the Centre for Independent Studies, some media commentators on Sky News, Spectator and Quadrant lead the way – and may there be many more such voices.
A story from the past may be of relevance here. My father, Bohdan Skowronski, fought in the Warsaw Uprising as a child soldier, and told me that while the Underground had few weapons, they did small ‘actions’ to demoralise the Germans. For example they went to the Warsaw cinemas where German soldiers watched their triumphant war newsreels. All the Polish Underground soldiers could do was to create a disturbance, perhaps shoot their guns into the air somewhere close to the cinema and then scatter – which in fact did manage to upset the Germans. And they did this regularly. From this, one can glean a few insights. First, the very fact resistance exists has an effect beyond its size. Even if one cannot control the mainstream media and all universities, one can form organisations, groups, institutes; no matter how small their very existence has a decidedly unsettling effect. Remember those three Sydney mothers — Celia White, Pansy Lai and Heidi McIvor (below)– who dared to speak out in a short television ad presenting the ‘no’ view on gay marriage as they explained why retaining marriage as is would safeguard children, the common good and the wider society. And remember the 17,000 strong petition gathered by the Chinese community to oppose the use of the Safe Schools program in NSW schools? It succeeded. These actions, now part of resistance history, tells us that using the clout of ethnic communities whose cultural values are offended, can be effective. If we are supposed to be supporters of multiculturalism, then don’t offend the cultures of the ethnic groups here — the Catholics/Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims — on the life issues.
A second and perhaps more significant insight is that one never knows the long-term effects of such resistance. My father recalled discussions among the Underground members as to whether to fight or not in the looming Warsaw Uprising. After all the Poles were surrounded by Germans, hopelessly outnumbered, and rightfully feared the Western powers could do little to come to their aid. But these beleaguered soldiers came to the conclusion that, even if they lost the Uprising, it would be part of the nation’s story, an example to future generations to resist tyranny. They were right. Despite Soviet attempts to exterminate the memory of the Warsaw Uprising, memories of that resistance persisted, and in 1944 emerged as a major story in the nation’s history and survival. Each year now on August 1 (the date the Uprising began), the entire nation stops in remembrance of that ‘lost’ battle. Whether in the middle of the road, on foot, in a car, at work, all stop in silence to remember the heroism of a greatly outnumbered resistance group.
Of course remembering this one battle does not outline all methods of resistance but it points out the importance of keeping a strong sense of memory in face of attempts at demoralisation. In an age of cultural forgetfulness, reminding society at large — whether individuals, family, community groups or media — that western Christendom has provided the greatest number of welfare organisations in the world throughout history can be a counteractive leifmotif – quoting from the plethora of schools, hospitals, refuges, AIDs clinics, homes for the homeless and the abandoned around the world. It can actually stop some people from their barrages of woke-fuelled accusations (and makes a good sound byte). In a recent interview, Cardinal Pell stated that a focus on history helped ground him through the past decades of social turbulence. Telling stories is one way of raising flags of truth in a sea of deception. For example, the story of Australian opthalmologist, Father Frank Flynn MSC, who helped the Indigenous people for decades as a missionary (he was actually Fred Hollow’s inspiration!); or the story of Sister Anne Gardiner (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart) who, for 50 years, set up schools and welfare systems on the Tiwi Islands and who has been extolled by the local people and even by ABC media; we can also refer to Saint Teresa of Calcutta whose enduring care speaks to all cultures. There are the countless good Christian missions – whether Lutheran, Methodist or other denominations which did provide a good education. Samaritan stories always go down well, if not with woke ideologues, then with onlookers hearing discussions, who often hear an alternative to the propaganda narratives.
Use the accusations of ‘hate crime’ against the anti-Western attackers giving the story of Pakistani mother, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row. When telling this story, invite the woke folk to answer this simple question: “Is it right to persecute Christians?” If they don’t answer, answer for them and say ‘no’.
A good study of how to counter the Woke Accusation Battalion is to look at the tactics of those who have done so. For example, there is Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson. who in 2016 on Canadian TV, debated a lecturer in Transgender Studies, Nicholas Matt, and stated his objections to the Canadian law requiring him to address transgenders by legally enforced pronouns. Peterson accused the psychology professor of hate speech and abuse of transgenders, cleverly turning woke accusations on their head. Counselling was instantly offered to viewers of the program who were offended by such views. In another similar interview in 2018, Peterson quietly told BBC interviewer Cathy Newman (below) that it was she who was ‘authoritarian’ in demanding he use transgender pronouns, and that ‘identity politics’ was totalitarian in nature. Those who saw it, witnessed an articulate BBC interviewer reduced to blabbering incoherently at these ‘checkmate’ accusations airing on prime-time TV.
To appreciate Peterson’s stance in context, authorities in Canada can fine citizens up to $250,000 for the novel crime of ‘mis-gendering’— referring to people by any words other than their pronouns of choice (including newly constructed words such as zie/hir, ey/em/eir and co). His riposte was a courageous stance watched by over 12 million viewers — a successful use of post-modern tactics against the cultural Marxists.
Other resistance tactics to stymie Cancel Culture’s onslaught have involved humour. Some might remember the New York University physicist, fed up with what he saw as the inanities and excesses of the academic left, who wrote a parody thick with gibberish as though it were serious scholarly work. Physicist Alan Sokal mixed postmodern philosophy with the theory of quantum gravity in his article ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity‘ and hoodwinked several well-known publishers who ran it. It boosted the morale of the non-woke onlookers, while discomfiting the victims of the parody.
Then there is the Academic Grievance Project which has written hilariously fake academic articles. One of its members, Helen Pluckrose, stated that they did it to alert those not aware of the subversion of language, saying, “We wanted to show other people what is happening because they don’t know how pervasive the problem is.” One of several papers to be published was: “Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at the Dog Park“. During the initial peer review what the hoaxers called the “Dog Park” paper was praised as “incredibly innovative, rich in analysis, and extremely well-written and organized.”. Similar respectful feedback was given for other accepted papers. Such satire is incisive and cuts through layers of the absurd and can rearrange the ideological neurones.
Remember that in 1947, Orwell did not write a serious prose critique of Communism; instead he penned Animal Farm which communicated the peril in a more effective way than a serious tome could ever have done. It became the most memorable critique of totalitarianism ever written.
Fellow readers, do not be demoralised – put your inner psychological strategies into action and redouble them. There is resistance in Western society, starting with the counter-cultural media critics, demythologizers, cartoonists and satirists. Become one of them or make a deliberate effort to support them.
Wanda Skowronska is a psychologist and author living and working mainly in Sydney