In the part of Ireland I come from we struggle to pronounce “th”. "Three" is pronounced “tree”, "think" is pronounced “tink”, and even "the" is pronounced “deh”. I’m aware of this and over the years my pronunciation has improved slightly. I haven’t lived “at home” since I was 18 and so about 50% of the time I get it right. But it’s a mental effort that clashes with my ingrained tendencies and this means that bizarre things can happen. For example, my wife laughs at me when I suggest eating Thai food while pronouncing it “thigh food”. When it comes to pronouncing “th” I’m a mess. It’s a disability of mine. I wasn’t born with it, I acquired it.
Many Americans, right and left, struggle with Marx in the same way I struggle with the “th” sound. Some have been brought up with a cultural impediment that equates Marx with “bad” and antipathy to Marx comes naturally to them, even if it’s in error. Others are aware of this and seek to embrace aspects of Marx to distance themselves from such lowly born biases. But when they do, like me with my “th” sounds, it’s a mental effort rather than a native tongue, and they often misfire.
I mention this because since the late 90’s I’ve been fascinated by how Marx has been spoken about by the media and political figures in America. This attention has led to 4 theses on Marx and America, which I’ll unpack in the coming week’s blog posts. There are two on the left and two on the right.
While the American left was always inculturated and idiosyncratic, its recent iterations strongly contradict Marxist thought.
Without greater attention to Marx the American left can never improve the plight of the oppressed.
Hatred of Marx has meant that the American right is as alien to fascism as the left is to Marxism.
Reflection on the American right’s relationship with “Marxism” unveils the American right for what it is - a dangerous form of classical pagan plutocracy in which Christian “idols” function as the Gods of the pantheon once did.