A defining feature of conservative grievance politics is the deliberate manufacturing of conflict, typically through the creation of elaborate conspiracy theories (such as “Cultural Marxism”) or through the creation of moral panics and mass paranoia (as with the current controversy over critical race theory).
“Cultural Marxism” and “political correctness”
Cultural Marxism describes a conspiracy theory, devised in a LaRouche movement journal and popularised by paleoconservatives in the 1990s, in which it is said that the Frankfurt School of philosophers, on escaping Nazi Germany in the 1930s, sought to undermine Western civilisation by subverting its culture and institutions. Originally coined to attack what was deemed “political correctness” as a communist plot, its relative vagueness has seen it been applied by conservative grievance activists and the far-right to virtually everything they disagree with.
As most of the Frankfurt School were Jewish escapees from Nazi Germany, the theory is related to, but not coterminous with, the antisemitic Judeo-Bolshevism conspiracy theory most infamously propagated by the Nazis.
- R Busbridge, B Moffit, J Thorburn. 2020. “Cultural Marxism: far-right conspiracy in Australia’s culture wars” in Social Identities 26 (no. 6): 722-738.
- “Cultural Marxism” constructed to demonise perceived political correctness — use of Cultural Marxism claims to demonise queer people — use of theory in Safe Schools moral panic
- R Blackford. 2015. “Cultural Marxism and our current culture wars”
- “Cultural Marxism” as described by the right does not appear to have grounding in earlier uses of term by Marxists —
- J Wilson. 2015. “‘Cultural Marxism’: a uniting theory for rightwingers who love to play the victim” in The Guardian.
- J Wilson. 2016. “Chris Uhlmann should mind his language on ‘cultural Marxism'” in The Guardian.
- M Sharpe. 2020. “Is ‘cultural Marxism’ really taking over universities? I crunched some numbers to find out” from The Conversation.
- Alleged obsession with Marxism in academia – analysis of volume of Marxist literature being produced by researchers — Marxism less prominent in modern output than suggested by proponents of “cultural Marxism” conspiracy theory — Nietzschean theory more prominent than Marxist theory today
Critical race theory “controversy”
After the publication of the 1619 Project and the George Floyd protests of 2020, American conservative grievance activists insisted that an obscure school of legal academia attempting to explain racial disparities in the criminal justice system was part of a subversive plot to brainwash children in schools (see also “Cultural Marxism”). The related vilification of wokeness emerged around the same time.
- R Delgado and J Stefancic. 2017. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition): An Introduction.
- An overview of critical race theory as presented by academics
- L Pearson and N Cromb. 2021 “Critical Race Theory – what isn’t it?” in IndigenousX.
- B Wallace-Wells. 2021. “How a conservative activist invented the conflict over Critical Race Theory” in The New Yorker.
- CRT controversy as deliberately manufactured to cause outrage
Conspiracy theories relating to Islamic takeovers, “ethnic replacement”, etc
- J Mann. 2015. “Sticker-Fearing” in iosef.org.
- Response to moral panic about Halal certification funding Islamist terrorism — Characterisation of voluntary business relationships as “religious taxes” — author notes the lack of objection from opponents to Halal certification to Kosher certification
Panics about queer rights; inc. opposition to civil same-sex marriage, TERFs, bathroom bills, “religious freedom” in already secular societies, the “anti-gender movement”
- B Law. 2017. “Moral Panic 101 – Equality, Acceptance and the Safe Schools Scandal” in The Quarterly Essay 67. OCLC 1008612386.
- T Greif. 2016 “Pathology of the ecclesiastic–political discourse of the right of samesex marriage and the role of the media” in Časopis za kritiko znanosti, domišljijo in novo antropologijo (no. 266): 145-162. [published in Slovene]
- Rejection of queer rights on irrational grounds or grounds not based in reality — “paranoia” of conservatives with regards to queer rights — 2014 Slovene same-sex marriage referendum — perennial homophobe Alex Primc and Za otreke gre — moral panic about gay parents adopting orphans instead of biological grandparents
The GamerGate extended universe — “social justice warriors”, controversy over Tropes vs Women in Video Games, YouTube skepticism, etc
- Shaun. 2016. TL;DR – TL;DR Doesn’t Understand Anita Sarkeesian .
- deliberate misinterpretation of opposing arguments — cherrypicking — problem of sentence-by-sentence “takedown” of speech
- Shaun. 2016. Thunderf00t the Cherrypicker .
- H Brewis. 2016. “Thunderf00t VS. FemiNAZI Ghostbusters: A Measured Response” in hbomberguy .
- superficial sexism vs systemic sexism
QAnon is the name of a conspiracy theory propagated on the imageboard 8chan by an pseudonymous user known only as “Q” which suggests that virtually the entire global elite form a global cabal of Satanic pedophiles which conspired against former US President Donald Trump’s supposed attempts to shut down their alleged child trafficking ring. Since the end of Trump’s presidency, it has become increasingly mainstream on the American right, despite Q not having posted since the 2021 Capitol siege, at which thousands of Trump supporters attempted to prevent the confirmation of Donald Trump’s defeat.
- The Q Origins Project. 2020 “VICTORY OF THE LIGHT: A QANON PREDECESSOR” on Twitter.
- Possible precursor of “Q” known as Victory of the Light with similar MO – 8chan larping