Many people confuse Marxism with Progressivism. They are not the same even though they may share similar goals. Karl Marx argued that socialism leads to Communism. Marxism in its purest form is an attack on capitalism not culture. Once workers united against their capitalist exploiters the inevitability of Communism would be realized.
Immanuel Kant proposed a secularized progressivism based on autonomous reason. Social Darwinism was based on biology and race that emphasized progress through science and eugenics. These ideologies contributed to the mix, but it was culture that needed to be captured.
It was an obscure Italian Marxist who reshaped the narrative. Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) called for what is described today as cultural Marxism (something Marx rejected and opposed) where its adherents “must enter into every civil, cultural and political activity in every nation, patiently leavening them all as thoroughly as yeast leavens bread.” ((Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood: The Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John II, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Capitalist West (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 250.)) To change the culture, Gramsci argued, “would require a ‘long march through the institutions’—the arts, cinema, theater, schools, colleges, seminaries, newspapers, magazines, and the new electronic medium [of the time], radio.” ((Patrick J. Buchanan, Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization (New York: St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books, 2001), 77.))
The goal is to remake the world in terms of ethics not economics. To do this, the old order must be completely dismantled. R. J. Rushdoony outlined the goal in 1965 in his pamphlet The Religion of Revolution:
If there is no God and no divinely ordained law, then not only does perversion have equal rights with morality, but actually truer rights, because Christian morality is seen as an imposition on and a dehumanization of man, whereas perversion is an act of liberty and autonomy for this school of thought.
Malachi Martin summarizes the importance of Gramsci in his book The Keys of this Blood: “the political formula Gramsci devised has done much more than classical Leninism—and certainly more than Stalinism—to spread Marxism throughout the capitalist West.” While it might be called Marxism, it was something radically different and insidious.
Most of what follows is from Daniel Ajamian’s article “The Greatest Political Strategist in History.” Gary North explains that Gramsci believed that “the only way to achieve a proletarian revolution would be to break the faith of the masses of Western voters in Christianity and the moral system derived from Christianity.” As I mentioned in a previous article, all revolutions are religious. Religion is an inescapable concept.
Religion and culture were at the base of the pyramid, the foundation. It was the culture, and not the economic condition of the working class, that was the key to bringing communism to the West. To be fair to Gramsci, he didn’t start this ball rolling; the West was doing a fine job of damaging its cultural tradition.
The damage is persisting at a rapid pace, but to what end?
Continuing with North: “Gramsci argued, and the Frankfurt School followed his lead, that the way for Marxists to transform the West was through cultural revolution: the idea of cultural relativism. The argument was correct, but the argument was not Marxist. The argument was Hegelian,” that is, negating the old, establishing a new thesis, then negating that until the end-point goal is accomplished.
The mob may use the hammer and sickle and use Marx’s name, but it’s Gramsci they are really following:
According to Angelo Codevilla, Gramsci even had scorn for Marxism’s focus on economic factors: “stuff like that is for common folks.” It was a little formula for half-baked intellectuals. Economic relations were just one part of social reality; the chief parts were intellectual and moral.
Roger Kimball captures the tactic well in his book The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America: “The long march through the institutions signified in the words of [Herbert] Marcuse, ‘working against the established institutions while working in them’. By this means—by insinuation and infiltration rather than by confrontation—the counter-cultural dreams of radicals like Marcuse have triumphed.” ((Roger Kimball, The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2000), 15.))
Saul Alinsky, a Gramsci tactician, wrote the following in his book Rules for Radicals: “Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing—but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.” ((Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (New York: Vintage Books,  1989), xxiii.))
What we are seeing in the streets of major Democrat cities is the dismantling of the Gramsci/Alinsky model. For decades, the Left has been following their model to the letter. They had captured every major institution, now they are seeing their work literally going up in flames.
At the moment, those following the Gramsci/Alinsky script see it as a way to defeat Pres. Trump in November, but what will happen if the Democrats win and they have to deal with the anarchists and their goal to tear down the whole system? Will they be able to contain them?