The progressive revolution through undermining of language
By Bill Connor
Recently, uber-progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the term “people who menstruate” instead of women. With all the recent such craziness, Le Spectacle Du Monde, France’s leading magazine, published “The Suicide of America,” denouncing America’s hyper-“Woke” culture. This follows the French president and head of education warning American woke society shouldn’t be allowed to undermine France. The attempts to marginalize words like “woman and/or women” seem shocking to most, but only the latest in the progressive revolution through the undermining of traditional language. Let me explain.
Attempts to undermine society through language have a long history with far-left socialists. In the early 1930s, under Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, communists developed a deceptive word-swap to help foster communism in Germany. The term “communist” in Germany was clearly unpopular with the German people and stigmatizing to those pushing Marxism there. At the same time, the term “fascism” was equally stigmatized by much of the Western public and media due to the actions of the Blackshirts in Italy and Brownshirts in Germany. To replace the stigma of “communist,” the term “anti-fascist” was pushed as the replacement by the Comintern (international communist organization). Those using the banner of anti-fascist were, in reality, the same German communists using a new name. “Antifa,” the shortened version, was eventually accepted by many while continuing to push the communist agenda throughout Europe and eventually the United States.
Due to the writings of Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci, the ideas of what became cultural Marxism were fostered in the West. Gramsci proposed that to bring the communist proletariat revolution, the cultural hegemony of a society must be undermined. That meant changing the consciousness of the people, including through words and sayings of the society. For example, Gramsci asserted that a phrase like “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” was part of the way hegemonic powers kept the proletariat down. Gramsci wrote about the necessity of a “counter-hegemony” narrative: changing words and phrases of the culture through a process of renormalization. Gramsci believed institutions like the nuclear family and the church must be undermined. These ideas came to America through cultural Marxists like Harvard professor Herbert Marcuse, the so-called “Father of the New Left,” in the 1960s.
An example of this is the words surrounding abortion. Abortion was deemed by a Supreme Court majority to be a Constitutional right in 1973, despite the majority of Americans being opposed to the practice at the time. Within the next decade, the term “anti-choice” was pushed by progressives to become the normalized label for those opposed to abortion. Within around 15 years, those opposing abortion became the stigmatized group.
By the end of the Obama administration, undermining through language went going into overdrive. Not only transgender, but words like “cisgender” became normalized by the far Left. The clear agenda was to marginalize traditional beliefs and words. At the same time came slurs like “bigot” against those advocating solely traditional marriage. Those who opposed biological males competing against biological females in sports were equally stigmatized. Terms like “toxic masculinity” were becoming increasingly commonplace to stigmatize those holding to traditional gender norms.
This dynamic has also helped change language with regard to economics. Throughout American history, socialism has held a stigma as running contrary to American liberty. Now, euphemisms like “Democratic socialism” have been discarded in favor of outright socialism as superior to capitalism. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has asserted, “Capitalism is irredeemable,” and a danger. Her views have become increasingly mainstream in the Democratic Party in stigmatizing capitalism.
It’s time for Americans to take back our words, and culture, and stop the progressive revolution before we can’t even use the words to fight back.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel (ret.) and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.