The Millennial Embrace of Cultural Marxism

Commentary, Culture Wars, Lee Harding



The dream of cultural Marxists is becoming increasingly true in the millennial generation. A recent survey by George Barna at the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University shows those aged 18-37 are more leftist than generations past. This trend seems both likely to continue, yet vulnerable to an otherwise surprising reversal.

In the post-First World War era, Marxists decided it was necessary to tear down Western cultural and social values for the West to accept the Marxist economic philosophy. Whereas Karl Marx wanted the working class “proletariat” to be the revolutionaries, cultural Marxist academic Herbert Marcuse advocated a coalition of Blacks, students, feminist women and homosexuals to lead the charge on what was eventually called political correctness.

Marcuse’s book, Eros and Civilization, advised readers to “liberate non-procreative eros” through “polymorphous perversity.” And the recent proliferation of dozens of sexual orientations and gender identities suggests Marcuse’s dream is coming true.

To Barna’s question, “Thinking about your life and commitments, would you describe yourself as…LGBTQ,” 30 per cent of all millennials and 39 per cent of those aged 18-24 agreed. There may be many explanations for these findings. Barna told Newsweek that mainstream and social media made it “safe and cool” to identify as LGBTQ. 

Barna is correct to write, “Given the moral and political implications of such an identity, that self-characterization alone raises a range of emotional challenges.”

That pool of students and non-whites Marcuse wanted to conscript has never been larger than in the millennial generation. Barna says the generation has a lower percentage of whites (about six in 10) and a higher percentage of college attendees and graduates than any previous generation. He also found in many respects it is the most leftist as well.

Millennials list coronavirus management, climate change, racial discrimination, abortion, the economy and discrimination against sexual minorities as their top six political priorities. On social issues, 40 per cent identified as liberal or progressive, and 29 per cent claimed to be conservative. Forty-eight per cent prefer socialism to capitalism and the number of registered millennial Democrats almost doubles those of Republicans. 

The generation believes in causes. A remarkable 33 per cent had participated in a protest march, rally or demonstration during the previous month and 47 per cent intentionally boycotted a product or service because of a company’s stance during that same period.

Marcuse said “liberating tolerance” should be granted to all ideas and movements coming from the left and intolerance was to be given to anything contrary. Barna sees this in millennials and writes, “Despite their well-known advocacy of ‘tolerance,’ they emerged from the survey as the generation that is the least tolerant—by their own admission—of people who possess different views than they do.”

Christianity has always been a target for Marxists. Although a majority identify as Christian, the generation has a shallow degree of adherence to biblical faith and practice. Just 35 per cent solidly believe in an omnipotent, benevolent Creator.

Comparisons to the boomer generation are stark. While 50 per cent of boomers believe “Human life is sacred,” just 19 per cent of millennials do—a 31-point gap. Millennials are 28 points less likely than boomers to live by the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Millennials are also 28 points more likely than boomers to try to get even with those who wronged them.

It’s an open question how Western values might be re-established in millennials and the larger society. Historian William S. Lind presented two plausible responses in his essay, “Who Stole Our Culture?” Either influence and control can be regained in institutions dominated by cultural Marxists or separate institutions can be established. Lind favoured the latter path.

Some restoration is indeed possible. Western values are resilient because they lead to social, spiritual and economic wealth. Marxism fails in all of these respects because it runs contrary to natural human desires, incentives and freedom. Marxism can only continue by an iron fist and by usurping the economic and social capital created by traditional Western values.

Consider: LGBTQ people were conceived by heterosexual sex. University students learn capitalism is bad mostly because they and their parents worked to pay for this education. The welfare state often takes the money of employed people in intact families to barely sustain the impoverished in broken families.

The triumphs of the counterculture have brought pain and emptiness. A majority admitted to often feeling anxious, depressed or fearful. Three out of four said they were still searching for their purpose in life. More than ever, our young generations have been raised in fractured or broken families and educated to hate their own culture. They will either embrace with greater militance the very things that have caused their destruction or be driven by thirst and necessity to restore their cultural foundations.

Lee Harding is a research associate for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels.