Everyone's heard of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky & Co., but Antonio Gramsci?
It is difficult to understand either the meteoric rise or apparent immunity of political correctness to attack without understanding the Marxist social philosopher Gramsci, Gramsci (1891-1937) agreed with Karl Marx that every society could be divided into "oppressor" and "oppressed" classes (e.g., Marx’s own "bourgeois" and "proletariat"), but for the first time, expanded the latter into an ensemble of subordinate, marginalized groups instead of a single, homogeneous group. Whereas Marx had spoken only of the proletariat, Gramsci spoke not just of propertyless workers but also of "women, racial minorities and many ‘criminals.’" Gramsci distinguished two ways the dominant group exercises control, whereas Marx had only written of one. First, there is direct domination through coercion or force – political might in service of the economic interests of the bourgeoisie. Second, there is what Gramsci calls hegemony, which means the pervasive and mostly tacit use of a system of values that supports and reinforces the interests of the dominant groups. The repressed groups may not even know they are repressed, in Gramsci’s view, because they have internalized the system of values that justifies their repression. They have internalized a "false consciousness" and become unwitting participants in their own domination.
All the institutions we take for granted – schools, churches, the media, the justice system, as well as art, literature, philosophy, and so on – become places where the "counter-hegemonic" values can be seeded and allowed to take root. They become domains to be infiltrated, and brought into the service of the movement. As the radical feminists put it, "the personal is the political." It is interesting how the latter have lifted this idea from a white male European philosopher mostly without credit. The point, however, is to create a new kind of "consciousness" free of the values that allow the dominant group(s) to repress the subordinate groups. Only this will throw off the shackles of "hegemony" and lead to true revolution.
Gramsci sketched, in works such as Prison Notebooks, the basic outline of the agenda that would begin to be implemented in colleges and universities, and then carried to the rest of society, in the final quarter of the 20th century. The efforts accelerated particularly in the 1980's. Clearly, we find echoes of Gramsci’s notion of an "organic" intellectual in today’s calls for more and more "diversity" in all areas of society: universities, the workplace, etc. The mass conversion of "traditional" intellectuals to the Gramscian struggle helps explain why this diversity is a diversity of faces and not ideas. "Traditional" intellectuals have power, especially in education. The gatekeepers control who is admitted to the academic club, and the "traditional" intellectuals control the gatekeepers. Today, an outspoken conservative might as well not even apply for an academic appointment in a public university. But feminists of all stripes and colors (and sexual preferences and fetishes) are more than welcome!
Clearly, political correctness in all its manifestations, from academic schools of radical feminism, "critical race theory," gay and lesbian "queer theory," etc., to the preoccupation with "diversity" as an end in itself, is the direct descendent of Gramsci, and the chief arm of enforcement of the ongoing Gramscian transformation of society.
The transformation is now very much underway, as Gramscian footsoldiers have captured not just the major institutions in the English-speaking world, but also huge tax-exempt foundations, that have been bankrolling Gramscian projects for decades. With the money now behind it, small wonder political correctness has become so difficult to oppose!
Whatever the reason, the Establishment has not stopped the advance of political correctness – the war against the political and economic philosophy, and the moral and religious values that built Western countries, and political parties on all sides have carried on business as usual, apparently oblivious to the fact that the Marxists were quietly taking over.