[This Introduction by Dwight D. Murphey was published as pp. 1-5 of the monograph by Frank Ellis entitled “Marxism, Multiculturalism, and Free Speech,” Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies Monograph No. 31 (
: Council for Social and Economic Studies, 2006).] Washington, D.C.
Frank Ellis is preeminently a scholar, an expert on the Soviet Union and its Marxist-Leninist ideology. He is a member of the faculty in the department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at
in the Leeds University . It is not surprising that he is the author of several publications—books and articles—in his area of expertise. United Kingdom
But his is not a detached, effete scholarship. His voice is impassioned, and informed by his scholarship. He stands unabashedly for the
that is known to history and that now lies under the incubus of the thought-control that dominates the West today. The incubus of which we speak takes the form of a smothering cloud of ideology that insists entirely on its own prerogative to speak, barring quite militantly any opposing view, no matter how well-considered. It is in this context that we find Frank Ellis threatened today by the most strenuous efforts to silence his voice. He is a man of great courage, and it would be easy to speak of him as potentially a martyr on behalf of free speech. That would not be inappropriate, but doing so would obscure, perhaps, a larger truth: that it is England , the England , and the West in general that is being martyred, not simply one man. United Kingdom
The amazing thing is that the “multiculturalism” and “diversity” that seeks to still his voice presents itself—and is no doubt accepted at face value as such by a great many who have not thought it through—as a benign, well-meaning, life-affirming perspective. Anyone who opposes something so positive, so moral, must per se be profoundly evil. It is from this perspective that Ellis is under attack today, even though his message is in fact fully in keeping with what the overwhelming consensus among educated Englishmen held to be true even so recently as a few years ago.
What, after all, could be more compassionate and more attuned to the moral high ground than a multiculturalism that makes everyone welcome and that values each individual and each culture as invaluable parts of the rich texture of the human race?
The difficulty, of course, is that that is not what “multiculturalism,” as the West is experiencing it today, really is. When it welcomes an influx of large numbers of people from Asia, Africa and Latin America into Europe and America, it is not primarily affirming those people and their cultures. What it seeks, first and foremost, is the cultural transformation and destruction of the existing societies of the West. If it were truly “multicultural,” it would seek to strengthen Western societies precisely in their own uniqueness, and to do so to other cultures as well, so that true variety and diversity would continue to exist in the world. It is worth noting that in this course of negation, “multiculturalism” must adopt a ubiquitous double standard—one that champions everything non-Western and that undercuts and denies everything originally European.
I saw the double standard at work even so recently as this morning. Ellis is under fire because he has argued, among other things, that not all cultures are equal, and that the West has had a superior culture. This is said to be “racist,” and “to make those of other cultures uncomfortable.” In that context, it isn’t admitted as something that a reasonable person of good will might assert, having in mind the mathematics of Euclid, the astronomy of Copernicus, St. Paul’s Cathedral with its Christopher Wren dome, the “Moonlight Sonata” of Ludwig van Beethoven, and countless other manifestations of high culture. Nor is it acknowledged that the overwhelming number of Englishmen of prior generations would have found Ellis’ observations unexceptional. But this common wisdom is now damned as vicious. On the other hand, I shared a bowling lane this morning with a young Afro-American who sported a “black pride” T-shirt, with the picture of a submachine gun on it. No one took offense, and certainly the thought-police weren’t called. It seems that within the prevailing ethos it is accepted as benign for all other cultures than the West’s to proclaim their excellence—and in the most militant fashion. The fact that there is such a double standard is, as I have said above, most revealing about the ideological fakery that is at play.
This deserves still another moment of reflection. There was a time when the West asserted its superiority and sought to extend its dominion over the world. I take Ellis’ view to be far short of that. There is nothing in his writing suggesting a program of cultural conquest. Rather, his is no more than a defense of the West’s right of continued existence. It is those who use “diversity” and “multiculturalism” as a pretext for a demographic swamping-out of the Western nations who are on the cultural offensive. When they shout loudly that it is he who is vicious, they artfully reverse the truth.
Those who do not understand the “attack on the West” that has “captured the moral high ground” and has come to suffuse virtually all of the institutions and “commanding heights” of Western society are not personally to be blamed for their acceptance of today’s shibboleths. Most people are fully occupied with the details of their own lives, jobs, businesses, and avocations. They accept with implicit trust the truisms that are presented to them, especially when those truisms are repeated over and over again by the opinion-makers in academia, the media and the professions. The fault lies not with the average person, even the average “educated” person. The fault lies with those who make it their lives’ work to deal in ideas and articulated opinion—and who have signed on to the project of cultural transplantation. Even most of these have done so out of conformity, breathing in without question the ethos of their doctoral instructors, their “role models,” or their peers. The few others—the leaders—act out of a conformity at a higher level. While ostensibly “thinkers,” they have sucked at the breast of alienated social commentators going back over a long history within the literary, artistic and academic culture of the modern West. The alienation against all mainstream Western culture goes back at least as far as Rousseau in the eighteenth century. It is commonplace these days to attribute it to the Frankfurt School of half or three-quarters of a century ago—to men like Marcuse, Adorno and Gramsci, who saw that the primary upcoming battle against the West was to be a cultural one, and that victory lay in “a march through the institutions.” (Earlier, with Marx, communism was to be ushered in by a revolution of the “proletariat.” But after the Left’s disappointment with how the populations of Europe rallied to the side of their respective countries in World War I, there was a gradual disillusionment toward the “proletariat” as an ally of the intelligentsia. This made necessary a change in strategy, which eventually took the form of seeking all disaffected or unassimilated groups, and particularly “ethnic minorities,” as allies.)
The two World Wars of the twentieth century weakened European civilization immeasurably, and one cannot help but think that the cultural Left played an opportunistic game in latching onto the rising assertiveness of all “peoples of color” in the aftermath of the Second World War. The predominant intelligentsia of the West—historically highly alienated, but of course with many who stood outside it, not joining in the alienation—have no particular love for the cultures of the non-Western world. We ought not to be fooled by the superficial and ultimately denigrating shows of “compassion” that serve primarily to demonstrate “how really good we are.” What the Leftist elements that dominate the intelligentsia actually feel, and feel with a seemingly white-hot intensity, is hatred. Ironically, we are taught to believe that “hatred” is an ignoble passion, and that “hate speech” comes from those who would champion the West’s right to exist. All the while, the real hatred burns within the Left—and in the name of “acceptance of others,” in truly Orwellian style, has made itself the official ideology of government policy and of the institutions in England and elsewhere in the West.
As Frank Ellis points out, many streams of thought feed into this hatred. As a Sovietologist, he sees most acutely the relevance of Marxist thought and the earlier “multiculturalism” sought within Stalin’s empire. Ellis does not himself have occasion to explore them, but there are other major forces at work in the world today that have the same tendency. It is often pointed out that the leaders of “neo-conservatism” trace their mental histories to an affinity years ago for Leon Trotsky, who sought to universalize Communism. The neo-conservatives’ messianic desire for universal meliorism has driven the United States ever deeper into the presumptuousness and danger of attempting to remold cultures everywhere in the image of the United States. This is joined by the regnant ideology of “Free Trade,” a prime feature of which is to argue for “economic efficiency” and “reduction of costs” while deliberately eschewing any concern for a given country’s or peoples’ own particular interests. Given the truly incredible developments recently in communications, transportation and world finance, the winds of economic globalization howl fiercely over every land, increasingly stripping away the vestiges of local culture. Interestingly, there are a number of movements of “devolution,” by which local peoples seek to assert their own identities; but it remains to be seen whether they can prevail in any meaningful way against so imposing an array of forces against them.
A subset of these issues—a subset that is of infinite importance—is the question of intellectual freedom and its offshoot, “freedom of speech.” It was Herbert Marcuse who, in his “Essay on Repressive Tolerance,” argued that all speech that advocated change in (Western) society should be encouraged and all speech that defended existing social structures should be repressed. Only in this way, he said, could a truly meaningful “tolerance” be attained. It takes only a moment’s reflection to see that this was a rationale for a totalitarianism of the Left. Indeed, it is the rationale for today’s multiculturalist demand that all opposition to the demographic, cultural invasion of the West be silenced.
Thus, the overriding moral issue for all caring persons in England and elsewhere in the West today is whether this totalitarianism is to be praised, coddled and encouraged. There was, not so long ago, outrage in the intellectual culture of the West when the Soviet Union sought to enshrine “proletarian science” in the form of Lysenkoism in place of Mendel’s genetics. Where is the outrage today?
We find it in the impassioned voice of, among others, Frank Ellis. We commend his essays collected in this volume (all of them published recently in the Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies) to all readers, of whatever persuasion, who insist that intellectual freedom must continue to be one of the fundamental values of the West. There is no room for complacency by those who care about intellectual freedom. It is not too much to say that the danger has never been greater.
Dwight D. Murphey