In a surreal moment at the CMT Music Awards last week, co-host Kelsea Ballerini joined with several drag performers to belt out a campy version of her single, “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too),” an anthem taking aim at Tennessee laws denying wrongly named “gender-affirming care” for children.
The performance was steeped in queerness, both in the pretend “oppression” of performers literally center stage at a nationally-broadcast awards show and in the academic sense, where drag serves as a kind of postmodern harlequin dance. Choreographed to confront its audience, the unspoken subtext of the number was that it’s time for you to pick a side, and you had better be careful which side you pick.
This was a brazen show of strength. Think “shock and awe,” only with lots of bedazzling.
A Vicious Activist Cult
The left picked their side. And the side they picked was the side of a school shooter who became for them an emblem of their cultural movement: Cast as a victim of “hateful” traditional religious values, a tragic figure broken by her desire to “be seen,” the shooter was sainted, her death a kind of religious redemption play. The narrative coalesced around her supposed suffering because the left was never going to surrender its stranglehold on politicized victimhood. That’s where all the power is.
At the tip of the cultural Marxist spear today is the trans cult. Just a year ago, it was the racialist cult of Black Lives Matter. Their presence is smothering in cultural spaces by design. In fact, their defiance of norms is predictable. After all, over the last seven years or so we’ve seen veneers of civil comradery peeled back, or else worn so thin as to become transparent.
A public pause to mouth the platitudes of togetherness is no longer required in a society so clearly divided along ideological lines. Indeed, such niceties are ridiculed as a sign of weakness or inauthenticity. “Where was your Christian god that day?” the left sneered. “Guess your church can’t protect you, after all.”
In glib taunts that displayed their misunderstanding of God’s earthly role in traditional religions, they laid their ideology raw before the bodies of three 9-year-olds were even cold. And that ideology, like the martyr it created when it embraced the killing of Christians as a blasé bump on the road to their utopia, now wants to be seen. The devil wants his due. There can be no other explanation for the leftist urge to celebrate the “visibility” of a vicious activist cult, or to claim “transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul,” especially in the immediate wake of the slaughter of Christians by a trans person. Their ostentatious obeisance to these damaged people was a liturgy performed with rapturous audacity on the American stage. It, too, was meant to “be seen.”
Whether it’s a country music drag act, a trans-identified light beer, a trans-allied wizard, or a march by college students demanding the surrender of natural rights to the state, the memetics of cultural Marxism is performative, phony Maoist struggle sessions delivered in swarms to project strength and to dispirit opponents by displaying the inevitability of the mob and its power. It’s a cultural troll. It’s their way of telling you that they are in charge and that you are helpless. You will conform. You must. What else is there?
It was in response to this attempted coup against Western liberal culture and the Enlightenment itself that I’ve written what I believe to be a clarion call for the individualist; but it, too, was something of a performance: It proclaimed, but it didn’t explain.
Cultural Marxism Demands Cultural Hegemony
Briefly, we must reject the premises of the cultural Marxist because cultural Marxism itself cannot live peaceably with federal republicanism or individual autonomy. In fact, it demands the opposite: All things are constrained by the state and its desires. Rule must be universal. Governing individuals is like herding cats, whereas ruling over a collective molded by both state pressures (law, force) and social forces (shame, shunning) is a more gratifying task, especially because the molding, if done well, creates a populace that reflects back the will of the state to itself. The state is now God, and its citizens, made in the state’s image, are its supplicants.
The whole of the cultural Marxist project is to create and maintain cultural hegemony. It’s that sameness we saw in the uniformed Maoists with identical haircuts, and the sameness we see in our own social justice Red Guard with their ubiquitous cotton-candy hair and tribal piercings. There can be no deviation from the new standards, built atop the rubble of old traditions the Marxists seek to destroy. To create the New Man, you must kill off the Olds. To arrive at Year Zero, you must erase all those years that came before it. To save the culture, you must first destroy it completely.
Cultural Marxism is dystopia peddling utopia through grievance narratives and rank emotionalism. It grants the self-styled dispossessed enormous power over those it casts as oppressors, which is itself determined by an intersectional calculus among victim groups.
Yet this power is temporary. Because what its authors seek, ultimately, is authoritarian. The useful idiots will soon be replaced by a ministerial elite, who will guide the filthies during The Great Reset. With policed conformity. Asceticism. Sameness. Every thought you think, every word you utter, and every move you make, must be approved by the state. And you’ll beg them for that privilege.
Blinded By ‘Being Seen’
The useful idiots enjoy wielding power, but they never seem to recognize that once they’ve ground down all opposition and extirpated all difference, once they’ve rooted out every intolerance they can conjure, there are no more battles to fight, no more ideas to be born, no more purpose left to live. To speak in a language they understand, their project reduces us to the means of production, slaves to the most successful oligarchs, earthly deities who delight in our serfdom, providing us safety and sustenance in exchange for conformity, and a surrender of self to a greater good they determine. Enlightened feudalism, in short. And we’re tilling their fields.
But that’s the endgame, and those who’ve embraced the cultural Marxist paradigm can’t see it coming. Their identity politics and the power their “oppression” yields appeal to their egos. They are blinded by the narcissism of “being seen,” and by the thrill of cultural control, however temporary. They revel in bullying.
All of our major institutions have taken up the trans cause for the same reasons they took up the cause of BLM: to gather power, destroy norms, attack traditions, and create the conditions of tribalism that must exist before the collective comes together out of the ruins of universal cancellation. The last man standing is the New Man, the perfect servant to a benevolent master.
Where we once were conceived of statist authoritarianism as an iron boot forever pressing on our necks, today it’s a Christian Louboutin red-bottomed pump, worn by a dude in a lace dress and zebra thong, stomping on our faces forever. Only we’re compelled to dig the kink.
The revolution will be accessorized, and you’ll learn to like it, or else.
This piece has been updated.