Beware of False Prophets: Antonio Gramsci

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Near the end of his ministry, the Savior warned that in the latter days “many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many” 1JSM 1:9. While this obviously applies to false religious prophets, this also applies to those who would teach political philosophies at odds with the eternal principles of the gospel. The Book of Mormon, as President Benson taught, was written to expose the false political and philosophical concepts of our day. 2Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 132.

This article is the first in a series dedicated to exposing the false political and philosophical concepts of our day and the false prophets who have taught them. Today we will discuss a false prophet who you probably haven’t heard of but whose ideas are behind our current Woke Cultural Revolution, the father of Cultural Marxism himself: the false prophet Antonio Gramsci.

Who?

Antonio Gramsci was an Italian Marxist theorist. He was born January 22, 1891, in Sardinia. Antonio had a hard life, including his father being imprisoned and ruining his family financially and a multitude of health problems, such as a malformed spine that stunted his growth (he was only 5 ft tall as an adult) and resulted in him being hunchbacked. 3Crehan, Kate (2002). Gramsci, Culture, and Anthropology. University of California Press. p. 14. ISBN 0520236025. However what Gramsci lacked in terms of physical health he more than made up for in his eloquence with language and commitment to Marxism.  

In 1926, he was imprisoned by Bentio Mussolini’s fascist regime to “stop his brain from functioning” and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.4Gramsci, Antonio (1971). Selections from the Prison Books. International Publishers. ISBN 0-7178-0397-X. Pg. 89 There, his health deteriorated even more. His teeth fell out, digestive system collapsed, he had convulsions and vomited blood, and he had headaches so bad he banged his head against the wall.5Gramsci, Antonio (1971). Selections from the Prison Books. International Publishers. ISBN 0-7178-0397-X. Pg. 92 An international campaign started by his sister-in-law and Pietro Sraffa of Cambridge pushed for him to be released but he was too ill to be physically moved and he died on April 27, 1937.6Gramsci, Antonio (1971). Selections from the Prison Books. International Publishers. ISBN 0-7178-0397-X. 

While in prison, Grasmci wrote 30 notebooks and 3,000 pages of history called his Prison Notebooks. His writings were highly influential to the Frankfurt School and likely influenced the French Postmodernists, such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. He was certainly influential to American thinkers such as Derrick Bell, the creator of critical legal and critical race theory, and Kimberly Crenshaw, who created intersectionality. Gramsci in many ways is the father of cultural Marxism and is the link between Karl Marx and the ideologies we face today on the Left.  

What did he do?

In the 1920s and 1930s, Marxist thinkers throughout the world were puzzling over the failure of Marxist workers revolutions to break out throughout the West. To that point the only successful Marxist revolution was in Russia, and so the question was raised: Why not Germany? Why not Italy? Why not the United States? Antonio Gramsci wrestled with these questions and came to a twofold conclusion:  

First, Gramsci believed, as did Lenin, that the workers or proletariat would not become aware of their oppression or be able to organize and mount the revolution, as Marx predicted, on their own. Instead, a class of intellectual elites, rich people with lots of angst towards society, would become deeply committed to Marxism, and they would shepherd the proletariat through the revolution to the Marxist Utopia. This is the concept of The Party or Vanguardism. The Party or Vanguard Party would be the professional revolutionaries and would be led by the people smart enough to understand the Marxist concepts and apply them. These intellectual elites would have to declare themselves the leaders of the movement and guide the masses into the blender that is a Marxist revolution.

Second, Gramsci developed the concept of cultural hegemony. According to Gramsci, the powerful classes in society set up, through the culture, the ways that everyone is supposed to think about the world. The powerful set the dominant narratives, define terms, create ideologies, and establish institutions to instill those ideas, all to subject the oppressed and to ensure that they never become cognizant of their oppression.7Pluckrose, Helen, Lindsay, James, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity- and Why This Harms Everybody In effect, the culture becomes a forcefield around society to prevent workers from becoming conscious of their oppression and ever going against society and towards the overthrow of the oppressive capitalist system. You might say that Gramsci is the origin of the idea that “politics is downstream of culture” and that he believed that “culture is downstream of education.”

Thus to Gramsci, if the Marxist Utopia were to be achieved, there would need to be a two-phased revolution. First, a cultural revolution by seizing the means of cultural production and stripping away the dominant cultures that existed in the West that protected capitalism. This would demoralize and disorient the people to the point that The Party will be able to swoop in and seize power and those within the culture would be unable to unify and resist the revolution.

To accomplish these goals and break the cultural hegemony, Gramsci suggested focusing the cultural revolution on:

1. Capturing the Religions of the West. 

Gramsci believed that if he could subvert the church, he could remove the greatest impediment to Marxist revolution and create the greatest evangelizing mechanism. Co-opted religions make it easy to evangelize cultural Marxist ideas as they are packaged in religious terms. From a Latter-day Saint perspective, if the Law of Consecration is the same as Marxism or Socialism, why resist Marxism politically?  

Further, co-opting religion takes away much of the unifying elements of the culture. It destroys our views of our common and inherent dignity as individuals. It strips us of the eternal source of the true principles that our nation was founded on. If we have nothing truly uniting us beyond borders and zip codes, nothing timeless to our values, then why bother preserving them and why not embrace cultural Marxist ideas?

2. Disrupting the Family.

The family is the primary incubator and producer of culture and values. The family is where individuals learn their core values about themselves, society, and their country. The family is also our haven of last resort. The whole world can turn on us, but our families will still be there for us.  But if the family is disrupted and it isn’t there to inculcate values and isn’t there when life gets hard, people will turn to ideologies (critical theory, Marxism, socialism) and the State for values, belonging, and refuge.

3. Controlling the Education System

The education system is another key imbiber of values and knowledge, which becomes even more powerful when it takes children from their families for 6–8 hours a day and limits parental accountability and local control of the schools.

4. Capturing the media.

This is obvious. Subverting the ways information is shared and creating larger narratives in mass media shape the way that we interpret the world we’re living in and for many of us determine what we believe is true.

How is it relevant?

Today, we are in the midst of the cultural revolution that Gramsci called for. We are seeing an assault on our American culture that has protected us from Marxist revolution. 

Today, we see assaults on Americanism; the Constitution; the Declaration of Independence; and our founding principles of individual liberty, limited government, the rule of law, equality under the law, private property, and free markets. Attacking our Founding Fathers to undermine our founding documents and principles has been the primary tactic. It began in the Progressive era with Woodrow Wilson and academics like Jack Rakove, who posited that our Founding Fathers framed our Constitution, not to secure the rights of Americans, but to protect their own selfish interests e.g. their own wealth and status. This narrative was carried further by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which falsified history, further slandered the Founders, and became a key textbook in American high schools, including being the textbook for many AP US History classes. This has come to a culmination in the 1619 Project, which posits that America was actually founded in 1619 when slaves arrived in America rather than 1776, was founded on lies, was rotten from conception, was constructed solely on the basis of race and protecting slavery and racism, and that America must be completely dismantled if we are to ever be a just society.

We see a war on religion from the inside and out. Cultural Marxists are infiltrating and attempting to co-opt our religions. This is happening in the Southern Baptist Convention, Catholic church, Methodist church, Episcopalian church, Presbyterian church, Islam, Buddhism, and is being attempted within the Latter-day Saint community. One only needs to login to Twitter, go to the Kennedy Center at BYU, visit the Maxwell Institute website, or check out the new releases in the Deseret Book catalog to see the subversion happening. If the BYU Honor Code protests tell us anything, it should tell us that BYU and BYU-Idaho have been infiltrated by those who would destroy and distort gospel truths to further their agenda and ultimately push political revolution. This is then coupled with legal and political assaults on religious freedom and religious organizations from Jack Phillips to the Little Sisters of the Poor to the onerous attacks on religious freedom during the Covid lockdowns.

The family is also under assault and has been since the Sexual Revolution and the start of the welfare state.  Now we see attacks on the concept of gender with the rise of the transgender movement. Abortion is openly glorified and celebrated. State entitlement programs incentivized single motherhood and prompted the generational destruction of families, especially among the black community. Black Lives Matter openly declares that it seeks to disrupt the nuclear family. 

Our education systems are being infiltrated by activists who push critical theory-based trainings, diversity officers, anti-free speech measures on college campuses, cancel culture, and curriculum for students including radical transgender ideological books for kindergartners, the push of radical sexual education curriculum, racist and anti-capitalist Marxist concepts under the guise of “anti-racism”, and much more. 

And of course, we can all see the messages that the media is pushing in Hollywood, the music industry, and in legacy media outlets for news and commentary.

This is a cultural revolution. We are in the midst of it now. The endgame is not the alteration of our culture or system but their destruction, and the playbook for this cultural revolution was written by the false prophet, Antonio Gramsci. 

We, as Latter-day Freemen, must engage in each of these key areas of society if we are to restore our Constitution, move our nation back to the principles of liberty, morality, limited government, and free markets it was founded on, and ensure that liberty is not extinguished in the gulags of a Marxist cultural and political revolution.

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