The Marxist Foundation



In 1911 a famous poster appeared, entitled ‘Industrial Workers of the World’, depicting what it claimed to be the ‘Pyramid of the Capitalist System.

At the bottom of the pyramid were the brave men, women and children of the working class. With their proud, sturdy yet struggling shoulders they were holding up the entire edifice. ‘We work for all’ and ‘We feed all’ were the captions accompanying this lowest but most fundamental part of the system.

A floor above them, wining and dining in black tie and evening dresses, were the well-off capitalist classes, supported by the workers and only able to enjoy themselves because of the labour of working men.

We eat for you The marxist foundations’ said of this tier.

Above them were the military (‘We shoot at you’).

Above them the clergy (‘We fool you’).

Above them the monarch (‘We rule you’).

And finally, perched at the very top of the pyramid, even above the monarch, was a great bag of money with dollar signs on the outside. Capitalism was the label for this highest tier of the state.

Today a version of this old image has made its way to the center of the social justice ideology. Just one of the things that suggest the Marxist foundations of this new structure is the fact that capitalism is still at the top of the pyramid of oppression and exploitation. But the other top tiers of this hierarchy pyramid are inhabited by different types of people.

At the top of the hierarchy are people who are white, male and heterosexual. They do not need to be rich, but matters are made worse if they are.

Beneath these tyrannical male overlords are all the minorities: most noticeably the gays, anyone who isn’t white, people who are women and also people who are trans. These individuals are kept down, oppressed, sidelined and otherwise made insignificant by the white, patriarchal, heterosexual, ‘cis’ system. Just as Marxism was meant to free the laborer and share the wealth around, so in this new version of an old claim, the power of the patriarchal white males must be taken away and shared around more fairly with the relevant minority groups.

At its outset this new ideology was not taken especially seriously by its opponents. Some of its claims seemed so laughable, and its inherent contradictions so clear, that coherent criticism was almost absent.

This was a mistake.

It is an ideology with very clear ideological precursors, but still an ideology that – whatever else may be said for it provides a lens for understanding the world and a purpose for an individual’s actions and life within the world.


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The New Discourses Podcast with James Lindsay, Episode 56 The ideology that is most conveniently identified as “Wokeness” is much more accurately described by the phrase Identity Marxism. That is, Wokeness is a Marxian approach to identity politics for similar aims to those Marxism has always touted. In this regard, Critical Race Theory is Race Marxism; Critical Gender Theory is Gender Marxism; Queer Theory is Gender, Sex, and Sexuality Marxism; Fat Studies is Fat Marxism; Postcolonial Theory is Postcolonial Marxism; and Disability Studies is Disability Marxism. All together, working intersectionally, they are one new species of Marxism: Identity Marxism. In this episode of the New Discourses Podcast, James Lindsay walks the listener through a history of the various strains of Marxist thought to make the case that Wokeness is best thought of this way. Indeed, it must be understood this way. In so doing, he elucidates what Marxism really represents as a broad, overarching philosophy (or, religion) and indicates that the various species of Marxism, including vulgar, Cultural, neo-, and now Identity Marxism, are all essentially the same project in different guises. Join him for a penetrating discussion that frames Wokeness as it really is.