Marxist Flow Chart

Why Do Conservatives and Hate Groups Know So Much About Critical Theory?

As painful holidays with your family probably show, conservatives are all about hyper-vigilance of anything Karl Marx related. Obama is a Marxist, Anderson Cooper is a pinko commie, and the progressive agenda wants to replace our god-fearing democracy with a Stalinist dictatorship.

Of course, that’s all bullshit. As anyone who has read any book from any Marxist, post-Marxist or anti-state revolutionary, Obama is pretty far up on the revolutionary shit list.

Yet it has come to my attention that a trend has emerged among hardcore conservatives, neo-Nazis, nationalists, and white-supremacist.

They know a whole lot about critical theorists.

It all started when this hilarious flow chart caught my eye on Facebook. According to Think Progress, the image originates from ACT! for America, and anti-Islamic conservative organization.

Marxist Flow Chart
Conservative Paranoia or Revolutionary Wet Dream

As you see, the image ties Karl Marx through a lot of associative fallacies to the modern Democratic party.

What is more interesting is level of detail in the images. Whoever made this is well versed with Frankfurt School alumn Herbert Marcuse and his contribution to Cultural Marxism. They know of  Betty Friedan’s contribution to feminism, and they know about black liberation theology.

Of course it’s still all bullshit. To conflate Betty Freidan’s style of feminism with every other kind of feminism is ridiculous. And to call a George Soros a communist elides the fact that every radical thinker (including Zizek) detests this sort of “charitable capitalism.”

But more examples began to surface. Earlier I reported that the message board of neo-Nazi site Stormfront had a discussion about how useful Foucault was in their movement. The members, for some reason, all knew who Foucault was, they knew of his homosexuality and some of them knew about his ideas on panopticism.

Then I began getting Google Alerts for the Frankfurt School. Nine times out of ten, they were about the shadowy influence of the Frankfurt School in society. I came across a documentary on YouTube entitled Death of the West: Frankfurt School, Cultural Marxism, Political Correctness, and a host of amateur blogs detailing the history of the Frankfurt School.

To top it off, The Guardian recently published an article The Frankfurt School: Why Did Anders Breivik Fear Them? The power and influence that bygone critical theorists is what every revolutionary dreams of.

When Anders Breivik launched his murderous attack in Norway in July 2011, he left behind a rambling manifesto which attacked not only what he saw as Europe’s Islamicisation but also its undermining by the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt school.

It reminded me of a section of The Reification of Desire: Toward a Queer Marxism by Kevin Floyd. In it, Floyd points out the bizarre situation wherein Cold War era politicians labeled homosexuals as a threat to the stability of the society. Of course, from the other end of the political sprectrum, Herbert Marcuse argued the very same thing.

Politically driven universalizations of homosexuality, from Marcuse and from the U.S. Senate, in this respect held in common the view that homosexuality represented a direct threat to state power.

As we watch Glenn Beck argue that the homosexual agenda is out to destroy America, liberals are repulsed by his ignorance and homophobia. But every queer theorists is sitting at home saying  “Yes, of course.”

So why do conservatives know so much about critical theory? It seems like the idea that the left re-emerges on the right might have some credence.  We’ve seen the bizarre convergences of anarchists with libertarians, and how Foucauldian critiques of power can be appropriated by white supremacy groups. It’s only surprising that people conservative conspiracy theorists are reading Herbert Marcuse in their spare time.

  • bob

    how are queer theorists out to destroy america? just wondering your opinion.

  • Libby Bouchard

    I’m queer, and I’m familiar with queer theory. Why does homosexuality threaten the state? This is far from obvious to even someone like me, so it needs elaboration.

    • Critical Theory

      Hi Libby,

      The argument Floyd is referencing is from Herbert Marcuse’s “Eros and Civilization.” I haven’t read it personally, but the argument from other queer theorists goes something like “heternormativity is a state apparatus that creates the atomic family, masculinity, and nationalism in service of the state and capitalism.” Therefore, queerness can subvert those instruments of state power. I’ve written slightly more about this here (, but Kevin Floyd’s book has a very good summation of Marcuse’s argument about queerness as subversive.

      I’d also like to note that early queer theorists may have been a little too optimistic about queerness’ ability to subvert state power. Many queer theorists today, such as Jasbir Puar, talk about the assimilation of queer populations into nationalist/imperialist projects (she calls it homonationalism). Still, they posit a certain radical kind of queerness as a good strategy to resist power.

  • Michael Handelman

    I think this is the byproduct of the effects of neo-conservative ways of thinking in our culture. The neo-cons were intellectuals who were very familiar with Marxism (or at least Trotskyist strands), given that many of them were Marxists in the 1930s.

    But in the 1970s, they chose to use their knowledge of Marxism to advance a counter-revolutionary politics. Thus the right-wing activists are simply taking up the same political project when they inquire as to whether Foucault will be useful for them.

  • hekko

    They don’t really ‘know’ anything, it’s just ‘genealogy of decay’. You can check it out at the
    It’s kind of conspirological mindset, typical for the right, i think zizek talked about it somewhere. The common image for the rightwing is a balanced social field, without any cracks, and some intruders introducing this split; i.e. symbiotic workers-capitalists coexistence and revolutionary destroying this order.
    Same goes with Jews, Cultural Marxists, gays, atheists and so on.

  • glennwire

    White Nationalist – self styled neo reactionaries – always talk about something called “Cultural Marxism”.

    By which they mean the *liberal pluralist* ideology of “multiculturalism”.

    Despite William S. Lind’s schizoid paranoiac pseudo genealogy, they manage to speak of “cultural marxism” without a single quote from any of the Frankfurt School thinkers from which this ideology supposedly derives.

    Adorno’s well-known antipathy towards jazz music, toward the liberal “culture industry” and his general culture mandarin elitism hardly qualifies Adorno as a modern day multicultural pluralist.

  • mintap

    Conservatives are just smarter.

    • Crenando

      lol good joke, next you’re going to tell me that religionists are wiser for listening to their worthless mongrel parents.

  • Martin Karlsson

    Hello, right-libertarian/ancap here. I have begun reading into and listening to Foucault, which I find very intriguing. His reasoning reminds me a lot of the Austrian school of economics, especially Friedrich Hayek who didn’t follow the hardline deductive reasoning of praxeology like Mises and Rothbard. He reminds me a lot of Foucault when he talks about the presumptuousness of knowledge.

    “Neither side would probably like to admit it, but there are more commonalities between Austrian economics and the postmodern perspective (there are many different flavors of post-modernism as well as Austrian economics, but I’m talking about elements common to most of them) than most people realize.”

    “Of course, there are also many differences – postmodernists are skeptical of deductive logic which Austrians rely on heavily, and would probably describe such efforts as “essentializing” or “reductionism”. Austrians dislike the postmodern openness to “sloppy” (non-deductive) argumentation, and excess optimism when evaluating government policy.”

    What material would you recommend for learning about critical theory or postmodernism more generally?

  • James Stevenson

    any discussion about right wing knowledge of critical theory HAS to include this classic. “the coming insurrection” became an amazon best seller pretty much because glenn beck told everyone they needed to be knowledgeable about what the anarchists were up to

  • Wooxer Pt

    This diagram was taken from a documentary whose name I don’t recall but would like to. I also considered it bullshit but then I found the truth and remembered it, that’s why I ended up here.