Marxism didn’t die with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It became cultural Marxism. It is not even necessary for us to use the word “communism” because the outward form is impotent; its usefulness worn out. What survives of Marxism is something other than the old critique of the capitalist economy. Marxism has turned its gaze to the fountain of human culture, that is, to the human spirit manifested in its various outward cultural forms such as literature, art and music, for example.
To be more exact, Marxism has turned its gaze to man’s inner being where each of us experiences; where we find our identity and with that identity become a conscious actor, who has a will, who can make choices, who finds value and meaning in certain activities which then becomes collectively expressed as culture.
With this turn, or you could call it a sleight-of-hand move, Marxism has positioned itself to become the conscience and guardian of our identity which today we recognize as political correctness. With the arising of political correctness comes also the arising of political power. We believe we have the power to liberate ourselves, culturally, from the former world of the bourgeoisie (i.e., the capitalist class) which has deluded and oppressed us. Key to accomplishing this is the narrative or the ’story’ which has the look of history; which is treated ‘as if’ true. From this we are emboldened to begin our revolution; to correct all the wrongs of the world.
When cultural Marxism comes to Buddhism it comes in the form of Buddhist secularism which slowly gains power until it becomes the conscience and guardian of Buddhism for the West. This is not surprising and yet, on the other hand, it is surprising for the reason that it happens within a very short space of time no thanks to the help from academia which is still under the spell of the Frankfurt School. Out goes the old irrelevant, bourgeois Buddhism, in comes the new, secularized Buddhism which, not surprisingly, is approved by such Marxist toned Buddhist magazines as Tricycle.
If secular Buddhism had a manifesto it might say things like, “Secular Buddhism wants to help you to become more of what you already are,” or, “The Buddha’s dharma is not about belief or religion, it is about doing what you want to do.” This kind of cognitively worthless writing can also be found in Stephen Batchelor’s book, Buddhism Without Beliefs, such as, “He [the Buddha] awoke to a set of interrelated truths rooted in the immediacy of experience here and now.” The truth of the matter is that secular Buddhism does not want anyone to awaken to the unconditioned—it is all about staying conditioned, remaining a cog in the new nihilistic culture of ‘globalism’ which is just a nice way of saying totalitarianism. The price of joining the globalist religious culture for Buddhism is dropping the transcendent.