Joe Carter’s Attack on “Cultural Marxism” Term Likely Borrowed from Southern Poverty Law Center
Joe Carter, a contributor at both The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), yesterday blamed the tragic San Diego synagogue shooting on kinism (a philosophy we’ll describe below). Likewise, Carter claimed that kinism is to blame for the term Cultural Marxism, and argues that anyone using the term is complicit in the same kind of bigotry that led to Saturday’s shooting incident.
Numerous articles have taken Carter and what is now commonly called (and rightfully so) The Social Gospel Coalition to task for the wild, unfactual, and unscholarly assertions made by Carter in the article. One rejoinder was written by P. Andrew Sandlin and can be found here, and another was written by Douglas Wilson and can be found here.
The chief complaint of critics so far include Carter’s jump in logic, abuse of history, and last but not least, his shameful use of a tragedy to push a political agenda. The Gospel Coalition is, after all, first and foremost a political organization designed by leftist communitarians and funded by leftist political sources (like James Riady) to convince America’s traditionally mostly conservative voting block (evangelicals) to change their voting patterns. This explains TGC running an endorsement for Hillary Clinton in the last election cycle and the ERLC’s (the two organizations have largely merged into the same entity and share board members) official partnership with George Soros.
A Correction on Kinism
Carter begins his propagandic piece by absolving the shooter’s parents and church (P&P will not repeat the shooter’s name, a practice followed by most responsible press outlets), but instead blaming a theology known as kinism.
To explain kinism, Carter quotes a neo-theonomist and ‘woke’ reconstructionist, John Reasnor, who wrote for American Vision, up and until McDurmon recently got canned for abandoning theonomy and adopting the leftist trajectory of The Gospel Coalition. After quoting Reasnor, Carter says:
The term “kinism,” as a self-applied label, appears to have arisen around 2004 to be a “third way” for Christians between racism and anti-racism. Several kinist websites sprung up in the mid-2000s, and their ideas spread quite rapidly as they engaged and fought with Reformed bloggers
If I could inject myself as an expert here (I’m one of only two people still alive who have debated prominent theonomists – from whom Kinism arose – in live moderate debates), Kinism arose out of Rushdoony’s theonomic reconstructionism. Oddly enough, Rushdoony is McDurmon’s grandfather-in-law, meaning that kinism strikes awfully close to home for The Gospel Coalition (who is quoting McDurmon as of late). For examples of Kinists crediting Rushdoony for their theology, complete with original quotations and citations, click here.
Kinism has always been closely associated with Kuyperian post-millennialism, the same type and kind that fuels The Gospel Coalition’s culture-conquering crusadism. It is no newer than Rushdoony, even though Carter – without evidence – claims that it goes back as far (as an idea, rather than as a term) to Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898), a prominent Presbyterian who held to typical views on race that one would ordinarily find in the antebellum South and the following Reconstruction period. Carter’s claims, however, are historically vapid.
Whereas Dabney held to prominent views on race common with most people of that period (including Abraham Lincoln and many abolitionists who opposed slavery) that we would rightfully consider racist (no quibbling on that term), kinism is not a synonym for racism. Kinism is a unique form of separate-but-equalism that came from the theology of Joel McDurmon’s grandpa Rushdoony and would be an impossible notion before Rushdoony’s invention of theonomy. Rather than opposing interracial marriage on the grounds of black inferiority (as might have been common a hundred years ago), kinists disagree with interracial marriage based upon the Old Testament Civil Code, which theonomists don’t believe to have been abrogated. Kinists explicitly deny they believe in racial superiority, but hold to racial separatism due to an Old Testament interpretation unique to theonomists. In short, accusing Dabney of kinsim is essentially accusing someone of a crime that happened 90 years after their death. It’s an absurdity.
But absurdity never stops Joe Carter.
A Correction on Who Invented the Term, Cultural Marxism
Carter’s main point in writing his piece at The Social Gospel Coalition is to accuse those who use the term cultural Marxism of anti-Semitism because the synagogue shooter, who was an anti-semite, used the term. Surely the logical fallacy should be apparent to you.
But logical fallacies never stop Joe Carter.
Carter goes on to claim that William S. Lind “adapted and redefined the term.” He then accuses Lind of creating the so-called “conspiracy theory” that Marxists at the Frankfurt School developed a (scare-quotes courtesy of Joe Carter) “deliberate agenda” to change the culture.
Let me add some clarity.
The term, Cultural Marxism, was invented by an actual Marxist, Trent Schroyer, in 1973. It was not a term of derision invented by William Lind or Jordan Peterson or TGC critics on Twitter. Schroyer coined the term in his book, The Critique of Domination: The Origins and Development of Critical Theory. Schroyer, by the way, also worked with Jesuit-Marxist Pope Francis in his Laudato Si and created the Community Action Network to oppose Donald Trump in 2016. Schroyer himself used the term Cultural Marxism to refer to the ideology developed by the Frankfurt School. It’s hardly a conspiracy.
Furthermore, that the Frankfurt School crafted a political ideology to change the culture is a well-known and well-documented fact. It’s hardly a conspiracy. Read a book for goodness sakes.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Invented the “Cultural Marxism is Anti-Semitism” Canard
Joe Carter then, upon a false historical narrative that the term was invented by alt-right critics rather than proponents of Marxism in a weird grand conspiracy, then claims that using the term is anti-Semitic [insert dramatic music].
How could use of a Marxist-invented term to describe a particular kind of Marxism be racist? Well, the Frankfurt School was founded by Carl Grunberg at the University of Vienna and consisted predominately of Jews from Germany. When those Jews fled the Nazi regime they set up camp at Columbia University in New York. They kept theorizing their political philosophy and grew it from incubation to adulthood while in America.
Ergo, Carter imagines, if you use the term ‘Cultural Marxism’ in reference to the Frankfurt School, you must hate Jews. It’s not possible you just despise the ideology, you must hate the ethnicity of the people who created it.
Genius. But not really.
By the way, the editor of the Missouri Baptist newspaper, Word and Way, called this website “anti-Semitic” and when I called to ask why, he explained it’s because we criticize George Soros. Soros is Jewish and therefore to the leftists at Word and Way, to criticize him is to be anti-Semitic. To someone brainwashed by Critical Race Theory (a product of the Frankfurt School), if you disagree with an idea, you must hate the ethnicity of the person who thought it up. It’s intellectually vapid, but you see it come out of Joe Carter’s pores.
I suspect, from the word usage in Carter’s article linking the term with anti-Semitism that he leaned heavily upon the ideas directly from this 2003 article from the Southern Poverty Law Center (a radical leftist organization). This article seems to be among the first (and only) resources to credit the creation of the term Cultural Marxism to William Lind, and it’s surely not a coincidence that Carter makes the same embarrassing mistake.
I also suspect that Carter utilized this recent article from The Guardian, which made its rounds through the Social Justice trenches over the last month, which surely Carter read (I saw it being passed around his circles in social media). Linking the term Cultural Marxism to anti-Semitism seems to have become an intentional talking point of the political left, made possible by an atrociously bad article from SPLC in 2003.
They Must Stop the Labels
Marxism is, at its heart, a subversive ideology. Like the devil who invented it, Marxism is built upon lies and misrepresentations. Marxism and Marxists are seldom honest about their intentions. To be properly labeled is to lose the ideological battle. Marxists have always gained tactical victories by taking over institutions subversively from within. Marxists will not stand out, so they must be smoked out.
What is being promoted by The Social Gospel Coalition, 9Marx, White Horse Inn, Reformed Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and other Reformed(ish) institutions is straight-up, textbook Marxism.
We Social Justice Contras have an ongoing argument about whether or not we should refer to their clerical-collared political ideology as Cultural Marxism or Neo-Marxism. While leftists are trying hard to take away the labels they themselves created for themselves, and in doing so force us to use the new terms they’ve created (like Social Justice), I’m not sure that a clarifying word or hyphen is needed before Marxism at all. It is all, essentially, the notions derived from Karl Marx, with a new spin every generation or so until people figure it out and put the proper label on it.
Their charge of “anti-Semitism” is simply the same old attempt at forcing us to engage in Newspeak that they have always tried. If they can control words, they can control minds.
The term is working as it’s intended. It’s properly labeling our opponents and their ideas. They hate it. Keep using the term.
A Call To Action
Too many churches in America are lacking in discernment. Do you find yourself wishing you could help? Do you have a love for Scripture? And a desire to write to edify the church?
I hear every day from people who want to make a difference but don't know how to get started. To answer this need, I created Writers Write: The 5-Day Challenge.
This mini-course will jumpstart your goals by showing you how to write in a way that will have people saying “I care about that.”
Right now Pulpit & Pen readers can get Writers Write: The 5-Day Challenge at a special 25% discount.
Get your writing in front of people who will actually read it. Don't miss out on this special deal. Click here to get started.
God Bless, Cody Libolt