By Lt Col Eric M. Vogel, USAF ret, USAFA ’73
Rafael Bienvenido Cruz learned about despotism and Marxism the hard way and, in doing so, came to value true freedom. As a 14 year old in Cuba, after finding Batista “corrupt and cruel and oppressive,” he joined Castro’s revolution.
On his 17th birthday, he was imprisoned and severely beaten by Batista’s forces. Traveling to America for college, he proclaimed the nobility of Castro in talks to civic groups.
Returning to Cuba for a visit in 1960, he saw “first-hand the misery, the suffering, the poverty, the brutality” of the Castro regime. The Marxists who had led the young recruits were “nothing more than liars and murderers and tyrants.”
Back in the U.S., Rafael returned to the same organizations of his previous pro-Castro speeches and corrected his errors regarding the great El Commandante Castro.
So begins Unwoke, How to Defeat Cultural Marxism in America by Ted Cruz, son of Rafael.
Cruz describes two purposes in writing this book.
First, he seeks to explain how the key institutions of the U.S., formally bastions of conservatism, were corrupted in such a short time.
Second, he offers suggestions for curtailing Cultural Marxism.
Before he begins his analyses of the institutions, he offers a good summary of the growth of the New Left and the shift of the Marxism of economic roots to a dominant cultural force.
The New Left realized that they could not accomplish their goals by violent revolution; they determined that they must slip their ideas “into the minds of people in some other way.”
Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Communist imprisoned by Mussolini, wrote a series of essays in his Prison Notebooks. Most significantly, he noted that change must come by infiltrating “the institutions that make Western Society unique.”
Rudi Dutschke, student activist in Germany in the 1960s, proposed the “long march through the institutions” as delineated in Christopher Rufo’s America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything.
Herbert Marcuse further developed this concept by encouraging advocates to work against the established institutions while working within them.
Along the way, traditional Marxism became Cultural Marxism, with an emphasis on oppressors and victims, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and transgenderism.
Cruz begins with the universities, accurately labeling them as the “Wuhan Labs of the Woke Virus.” His review of the Stamford Law School shutdown of a presentation by federal judge Stuart Kyle Duncan is insightful.
In a plea for a return to open, respectful dialogue, Cruz offers his Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz as an example. Despite their differences in political points of view, Cruz compliments Dershowitz for his emphasis on factual argument and the importance of listening to one’s opponent.
Sadly, the infiltration of universities has flowed down to the “Malleable Clay of K-12.” COVID lockdowns and remote learning exposed parents to the teaching of CRT and sexuality in schools. Despite efforts to resist this immorality, the modern Left continues to slip these neo-Marxist ideas into the classroom as they “lie, obfuscate and knowingly manipulate people.”
Cruz suggests that we fight back primarily at home, obligating parents to keep current with what is being taught and correcting, if necessary, what children learn. We must also push back against school boards, through state legislatures and in the public forum.
It is critical that we remain wary of today’s journalists and their publications, social media, and newsrooms. Cruz offers a short but interesting review of the history of journalism, from the “yellow journalism” of the 19th century, to greater integrity and responsibility early in the 20th.
Now, however, we are in a period of steep decline.
As demonstrated by the coverage of Russiagate, most journalists are unwilling to allow facts to deter their focus on ideological commitments. Cruz describes the meeting of NY Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet with his journalist team after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s release of the lies and corruption of Russiagate. Instead of settling on an explanation, maybe even a mea culpa for their error-prone reporting, the staff journalists just wanted to move on and return to a focus on racism.
Cruz offers reasons for hope. He encourages citizens to hold the media and journalists accountable and suggests that more right-of-center media outlets are needed, changing “the landscape,” as was done by Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter (X).
As corrupt as Cruz finds the reach of Cultural Marxism in the news media, he labels the takeover of Big Tech as the “most sinister.”
The ability of platforms such as Google, Facebook and YouTube to shut down free speech and shadow ban conservative content is treacherous.
Emails made public in 2021 between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg show Zuckerberg offering his assistance to “make sure people can get authoritative information from reliable sources.” For Cruz, this is an example of Zuckerberg playing “the role of official censor for the Deep State.”
Cruz suggests fighting back with: greater oversight by Congress; enforcement of antitrust and consumer protection laws; an amendment of “Section 230” immunity–restricting it to a platform which is truly neutral; and establishment of new or revised platforms, such as was done by Musk.
Cruz, certainly knowledgeable of federal government functions as a U.S. Senator, describes the prevalence of the New Left and Cultural Marxism in the chapter “Mr. Marx goes to Washington.”
His description of Congressional hearings for three particular nominees is both humorous and telling.
None of the nominees were qualified in even common-sense, basic knowledge of the positions they were nominated for, but all were overqualified in leftist ideology and all were perfect fits on an “equity” basis.
Political appointees are all part of the push for “equity,” which Cruz describes as a term “nearly impossible to define…harder to implement…a rather insidious piece of political propaganda.”
As another example, the hypocrisy of Attorney General Merrick Garland is described in a section fittingly entitled “Double Standards.”
The long march has even infiltrated the boardroom. Larry Fink of BlackRock serves as the leader for ESG (environmental-social-governance) policy compliance with left-wing activism. The Human Rights Campaign basically extorts Fortune 500 companies with their HRC CEI (Corporate Equality Index); it is no wonder that corporate DEI staff and programs have grown exponentially.
Sam Bankman-Fried served as a “poster boy for ESG” and other left-wing causes, so his business ethics did not matter—until recently.
Cruz suggests fighting back by “going after the money,” as consumers have done with Anheuser-Busch and Target.
The entertainment industry has become the “most effective method for spreading Cultural Marxism in modern history.”
The Woke way of thinking and believing is pushed in music, TV, sports and film. The 1619 Project is now a Hulu documentary. The Dixie Chicks are now simply The Chicks. Colin Kaepernick is a victim of white supremacy. And when a respected critic/screenwriter is pitching a horror film, he is asked if he “could make the villains the American military.”
“I believe The Science.” Cruz attacks and destroys this leftist expression as he focuses on the history of the COVID pandemic and Climate Change.
Feelings and dogma rein here; meritocracy is a “tool of oppression.”
In 2021, first year med students at Columbia revised the venerable Hippocratic Oath for their white coat ceremony. They acknowledged “the acts and systems of oppression effected in the name of medicine,” and stated that they intend to “build a future to fulfill medicine’s capacity to liberate,” while they “disrupt injustices…confront unconscious prejudices…and engender an equitable inclusive field of medicine.”
Cruz’s final chapter emphasizes two prevalent dangers in dealing with China.
First, we are too often naïve in dealing with the Communists of the CCP, for they “are representatives of the largest openly Marxist nation on earth, and they have been indoctrinated in ways that most of us in the West can only imagine.”
The second danger is internal: Not only the Left itself, but its major stakeholder groups (many of the institutions discussed in the book, all of whom “earn billions from their ongoing business interests in China”) are “functionally pro-China.”
Unwoke does not provide the same level of analysis as Rufo’s America’s Cultural Revolution or Matthew Lohmeier’s Irresistible Revolution. And most readers who keep up with current events will be familiar with the majority of examples presented by Cruz. Nevertheless, the additional details and anecdotes, as well as the insights of a Washington insider, make the book worth reading.
Just published in early November, many of the issues and persons appearing in Unwoke continue to make the news. On November 17th, the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) condemned U.S. business leaders’ applause for President Xi Jinping. In the Wall Street Journal of November 24th, we learn that Sam Bankman-Fried, recently convicted of fraud, now backs “effective altruism,” which is based on AI and “correct human values.”
Vigilance is crucial. As Cruz writes, “Marxism survives only in the darkness…every time another one of their abuses is exposed, more and more people wake up to the threat.”
We must be “smart, strategic, systemic, and relentless (just like the Marxists have been).”
From the book: The Marxists’ long march through our institutions, commenced six decades ago, has succeeded in capturing the commanding heights of virtually every organ for the transmission of ideas. Education (K–12 and the universities), journalism, Big Tech, Big Business, science, and entertainment . . . all have been overtaken by the Cultural Marxists. And communist China is a central nexus intertwined with it all.
But, fortunately, Marxism survives only in darkness.
The more of us who stand up, who shine the light, who speak the truth, the more readily we’ll take our country back.
The Berlin Wall fell, and so will the Woke Wall of Idiocy. America remains, I believe, a center-right country. Our people continue to have a deep reservoir of common sense.
That’s why the Cultural Marxists operate quietly, because they know their ideas are not widely shared.
But every time another one of their abuses is exposed, more and more people wake up to the threat.
More and more of us are fighting back.
And if that keeps happening—if we are smart, strategic, systematic, and relentless (just like the Marxists have been)—I fully believe we will take America back.