Mere accident, mere coincidence [1]

This is the first of three posts today, at 06:00, 11:00 and 16:00. Personally, I find the subject of the 11:00 post the most interesting.

Some time back, reference was made to the Frankfurt School at OoL – it received polite consideration by some wishing to learn, and condemnation by the majority. In fact, a post of refutation which followed it was, like another post on atheism, the most popular ever at the site.

How to react to this? Well one could press on researching or else accept that when the majority speak from surmise and “gut feeling” and the minority speak from research on the facts in a case, then the majority must, by democratic criteria, be in possession of the truth and the researchers wrong. Stands to reason, doesn’t it?

Revisiting the Frankfurt School anyway, their 1928 Manifesto of Cultural Marxism included [sources Schiller Institute and various]:

1. the creation of racism offences
2. continual change to create confusion
3. the teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
4. the undermining of schools and teachers’ authority
5. huge immigration to destroy national identity
6. the promotion of excessive drinking
7. emptying the churches
8. an unreliable legal system with bias against the victim
9. dependency on the state or state benefits
10. control and dumbing down of media
11. encouraging the breakdown of the family
12. “community of women” to undermine patriarchy
13. the abolition of private property and of labor itself


A key figure in this was Herbert Marcuse who influenced the likes of Timothy Leary and the Beat Generation. Detractors who are trying to defend the Frankfurt School claim, boldfacedly, that people such as Marcuse had little influence into the 60s and 70s and anyway, it was all so long ago. Before quoting a Catholic article which naturally is anti-Frankfurt School, let’s get an independent, e.g. Answers Yahoo:

Who is the greatest sixties philosopher, sorry if I spelled that wrong?

Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

Probably the most influential political philosopher of the 1960s was Herbert Marcuse closely followed by Timothy Leary of LSD fame (Tune in, Turn on, Drop out).

Herbert Marcuse was born in Berlin to a Jewish family, served in the German Army caring for horses in Berlin during the First World War. He then became a member of a Soldiers’ Council that participated in the aborted socialist Spartacist uprising. Notably, the uprising was crushed by the Freikorps, a proto-fascist militia precursor to the Nazis. After completing his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Freiburg in 1922 on the German Kunstlerroman, he moved back to Berlin, where he worked in publishing. He returned to Freiburg in 1929 to write a habilitation with Martin Heidegger. Heiddegger, who was close to the Nazis, did not accept the completed manuscript, which was published in 1932 as Hegel’s Ontology and Theory of Historicity. With his academic career blocked, in 1933 Marcuse joined the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, emigrating from Germany that same year, going first to Switzerland, then the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1940.

Although he never returned to Germany to live, he remained one of the major theorists associated with the Frankfurt School, along with Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. In 1940 he published Reason and Revolution, a dialectical work studying Hegel and Marx.

During World War II Marcuse first worked for the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI) on anti-Nazi propaganda projects. In 1943 he transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). His work for the OSS involved research on Nazi Germany and denazification. After the dissolution of the OSS in 1945, Marcuse was employed by the US Department of State until 1951 as head of the Central European section, retiring after the death of his first wife in 1951.

In 1952 he began a teaching career as a political theorist, first at Columbia University and Harvard, then at Brandeis University from 1958 to 1965, where he was professor of philosophy and politics, and finally (already retirement-age), at the University of California, San Diego. He was a friend and collaborator of the historical sociologist Barrington Moore, Jr. and of the political philosopher Robert Paul Wolff. In the post-war period, he was the most explicitly political and left-wing member of the Frankfurt School, continuing to identify himself as a Marxist, a socialist, and a Hegelian.

Marcuse’s critiques of capitalist society (especially his 1955 synthesis of Marx and Freud, Eros and Civilization, and his 1964 book One-Dimensional Man) resonated with the concerns of the leftist student movement in the 1960s. Because of his willingness to speak at student protests, Marcuse soon became known as “the father of the New Left,” a term he disliked and rejected. His work heavily influenced intellectual discourse on popular culture and scholarly popular culture studies. He had many speaking engagements in the US and Europe in the late 1960s and in the 1970s. He died on July 29, 1979, after having suffered a stroke during a visit to Germany. He had spoken at the Frankfurt Römerberggespräche, and second-generation Frankfurt School theorist Jürgen Habermas had invited him to the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of the Scientific-Technical World in Starnberg.

Many radical scholars and activists were influenced by him, for example Angela Davis and Abbie Hoffman. Among those who critiqued him from the left were Marxist-Humanist Raya Dunayevskaya, and fellow German emigre, Paul Mattick, who both subjected One-Dimensional Man to a Marxist critique. Marcuse’s 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance”, in which he claimed capitalist democracies can have totalitarian aspects, has been vilified by conservatives. Marcuse argues that genuine tolerance does not tolerate support for repression, since doing so ensures that marginalized voices will remain unheard. He characterizes tolerance of repressive speech as “inauthentic.” Instead, he advocates a discriminating tolerance that does not allow repressive intolerance to be voiced.

To claim that because these disparate philosophers had their own ideas, published separately, on many philosophical topics, that that therefore precludes them having the same ideas loosely based around Critical Theory and Neo-Marxism is either naive or disingenuous. Every source refutes this, even their own. Of course they read one another, bringing different angles to “the debate”, an unnecessary debate, by the way. Of course Marcuse was not Leary but they sure knew one another and mixed in the ideas coffeeshop of the 50s and 60s. If Marcuse promoted moral degeneration and breakdown of the family and Leary was primarily into drugs, they were different aspects of the same destructive movement.

Catholic Insight:

The School’s ‘Critical Theory’ preached that the ‘authoritarian personality’ is a product of the patriarchal family – an idea directly linked to Engels’ Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, which promoted matriarchy. Already Karl Marx had written, in the “Communist Manifesto”, about the radical notion of a ‘community of women’ and in The German Ideology of 1845, written disparagingly about the idea of the family as the basic unit of society. This was one of the basic tenets of the ‘Critical Theory’ : the necessity of breaking down the contemporary family. The Institute scholars preached that ‘Even a partial breakdown of parental authority in the family might tend to increase the readiness of a coming generation to accept social change.’

Following Karl Marx, the School stressed how the ‘authoritarian personality’ is a product of the patriarchal family—it was Marx who wrote so disparagingly about the idea of the family being the basic unit of society. All this prepared the way for the warfare against the masculine gender promoted by Marcuse under the guise of ‘women’s liberation’ and by the New Left movement in the 1960s.

They proposed transforming our culture into a female-dominated one. In 1933, Wilhelm Reich, one of their members, wrote in The Mass Psychology of Fascism that matriarchy was the only genuine family type of ‘natural society.’ Eric Fromm was also an active advocate of matriarchal theory. Masculinity and femininity, he claimed, were not reflections of ‘essential’ sexual differences, as the Romantics had thought but were derived instead from differences in life functions, which were in part socially determined.’ His dogma was the precedent for the radical feminist pronouncements that, today, appear in nearly every major newspaper and television programme.

Frankfurt shills will fight a rearguard action by saying that it wasn’t this person or that who proposed these things. They’ll take one of the philosophers and quote reams and reams by him on topics other than the Neo-Marxism and on the basis of failing to quote what is here in this post, they conclude that that philosopher never said that specifically, in exactly those words.

My answer to that is that it is irrelevant which of them said it – have a look at what was said and look at today – compare the cause and effect. Someone damn well said it and pushed it and like criminals in court all saying “tweren’t me, guv”, the fact is that a crime has occurred and someone is responsible. This is no court of law but it is concerned with social change and where it stemmed from.

That Marcuse himself wanted sexual “repression” thrown off comes out in his writing. An idea of this comes from his dispute with Fromm:

Marcuse argued that the current organization of society produced “surplus repression” by imposing socially unnecessary labor, unnecessary restrictions on sexuality, and a social system organized around profit and exploitation. In light of the diminution of scarcity and prospects for increased abundance, Marcuse called for the end of repression and creation of a new society. His radical critique of existing society and its values, and his call for a non-repressive civilization, elicited a dispute with his former colleague Erich Fromm who accused him of “nihilism” (toward existing values and sociedty) and irresponsible hedonism. Marcuse had earlier attacked Fromm for excessive “conformity” and “idealism” and repeated these charges in the polemical debates over his work following the publication of _Eros and Civilization_ which heatedly discussed Marcuse’s use of Freud, his critique of existing civilization, and his proposals for an alternative organization of society and culture.

Having created this “repression” as the justification, the end was a breakdown of traditional relationships, i.e. marriage and the family, to the extent that he felt we shouldn’t be slavishly tied to these. This is the rhetoric of the clever left – not to specifically call for wholesale immorality and promiscuity but to leave the door open to it as the natural corollary of what he has established in his argument.

And the young lap it up because it tunes in with their lack of a yet to be developed mature sense of commitment and responsibility. Hell, here are these august thinkers telling us we can screw around to our heart’s content, that it’s all OK. And who are telling us no, thou shalt not? Why the rednecks, the authority figures, the Republicans who were happy to send us off to war to die.

It doesn’t take a sociologist to predict what was always going to happen in the late 50s and early 60s. And look what did happen and what was built on that, permeating Gen X and Gen Y in turn. Today, sex with anyone is the norm, commitment is hardly mentioned, women have “liberated themselves” by enslaving themselves to the non-committed male and generations of children are growing up without two biological parents … but we’ve been down this path before.

And they try to argue that it doesn’t matter!

While Scott McKenzie was singing about peace and love and wearing a flower in your hair and while the Haight-Ashbury love-in had little to do with love but everything to do with indiscriminate sex, rejection of taboos and fatherless children, not unlike between-wars Paris and Berlin but without the nastiness, there was another nasty aspect also coming into play. It was Adorno’s desolate aesthetics which were right around the corner, finding expression from the 70s onwards:

This was the role of PoMo art and architecture – to challenge, to be jarring on the soul, to be clever, to separate humans from beauty and have them develop a love for the dystopic and supposedly exciting. We see it in Emin and the one who paints in dots, can’t remember his name.

This is the process, the separation of humans from their natural habitats, their natural ways. And naturally, it resonates far more with the young and those who imagine they still are, more so than a conservative older age. Therefore the young become the agents of change. Dylan:

“Your sons and your daughters are beyond your control, your old road is rapidly aging.”

The 60s youth thought that meant the passing of redneckery and fascism. They had no idea then that it meant the breakdown of family, society and civilization or if they did, then they sure hadn’t experienced it firsthand in second and third world nations. I saw the vestiges of it in Russia in the mid-90s and shuddered.

Part 2 goes into Laurel Canyon and the interesting coincidences there in the 60s.

9 comments for “Mere accident, mere coincidence [1]

  1. June 6, 2012 at 7:49 am

    The point of bringing up the Frankfurt School again was not to concentrate on it as such but to cover the period before the 60s, the main point of the three posts. As part of the continuum, it couldn’t have been left out. The contention of the posts is twofold:

    1. That political thinkers in any age have been hugely influential because they do the thinking for people who are either apolitical or can’t string the ideas together, let alone do the exhaustive research. Thus Voltaire through Nietzsche through Spock in the 50s were behind movements which change society. The proof is in the pudding and these people are still spoken of today.

    Therefore an understanding of political history requires an understanding not only of what these people were driving at publicly but the corollaries, the spin-offs from what they said. For example, in understanding 2008/9, the word “sub-prime” kept coming up. You can’t write a definitive history of that time without covering that and most people will look back later at such histories, in order to understand them. Yet it wasn’t just sub-prime and that was the end of the discussion. Why were there sub-primes and who actually thought it a good idea to lend to them? Who actually led the moves?

    2. There is not only incompetence but malevolence. Don’t ascribe to incompetence what can be explained quite accurately by malevolence. There is a documented history of malevolence for our current troubles, beginning with Marx and separately, the illuminists and the Royal Society, through the Lincoln School and the big money, through the FRankfurt School and others, to the hippy movement and Laurel Canyon, through punk and so on, the internet and gaming, always the bankers and Soros types, to the present day.

    These three posts are about that malevolence – that it is pre-thought out, that it has powerful support and that it is disseminated so quickly, in a way we could not possibly hope to achieve. Marx has certainly been revised out of existence and abandoned in name by the hardnosed left but his five phases very much still exist and the fourth was the tearing down, the crumbling of institutions, given a helping hand by them.

    That the utopia they seek never arrives, that it is an illusion and that Marx always knew it was an illusion, doesn’t occur to the soft-left who see only social justice and being nice to one another as the summum bonum. Nor do they see the immense damage to the fabric of society which has been caused in the meantime. You only need look at so-called “child-centred” learning in educational curricula to see how striving for ideals the wrong way actually accelerates disintegration.

    It’s not the Harmans and Blairs so much who need to be taken out but the thinkers who influenced them, often with cushy tenures at key universities. That’s where to start. The Voltaires do their damage from their living rooms and then sit back and watch the carnage, secure in their godlike status. They’re stirrers and as a stirrer, I’ve learnt the principle.

    These are the people who need to be taken out first – you can get the Blairs, Mandelsons, Cameorns and Harmans later.

  2. Greg Tingey
    June 6, 2012 at 8:45 am

    You are Joseph de Maistre, and I claim my 5 livres

  3. June 6, 2012 at 9:15 am

    C Ingram:

    … has posted an interesting thing:

    “The New Yorker has always dealt with experience not by trying to understand it but by prescribing the attitude to be adopted toward it. This makes it possible to feel intelligent without thinking, and it is a way of making everything tolerable, for the assumption of a suitable attitude toward experience can give one the illusion of having dealt with it adequately.”

    This is the bottom line – that people are willing to accept how to think on an issue, rather than thinking it through and seeking anything written on it. He adds:

    It articulates the sense of hopelessness, of swimming through treacle, that I experience whenever I try to discuss anything remotely controversial, or anything at all connected with economics, politics or what we might call general morality with almost anyone at all.


    You are Joseph de Maistre …

    Why thank you. Wasn’t expecting a compliment like that. Yes, he was right about the rationalists at the time but whether he saw their full game was another matter.

  4. Greg Tingey
    June 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

    No that was an insult.
    Maistre was, as Isiah Berlin pointed out, a bastard.
    You, however, seem to be suffering from serious delusions.

    And what is wrong with “rationalism” pray – provided, of course, that it is based on observation and experience and experiment, rather that A priori “reasoning” which may (almost certainly will in fact) have false assumptions built into it?

    • June 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

      You, however, seem to be suffering from serious delusions.

      You’re good at the broad assertion, Greg, without addressing any of the points specifically. To answer yours – nothing wrong with reason at all. Science is great in itself but not the way it’s been hijacked for political reasons. It’s not reasonable to say science is pure – the climate scam is good evidence for that.

      There is also a metaphysical dimension and if there wasn’t, there wouldn’t have been so many august people acknowledge that over the centuries and millennia. This is the critical Rationalist insult – to fail to accept that the scholars at least had an argument.

      Even the masons acknowledge that, though they bat for the other side. Voltaire, when challenged to renounce the devil, didn’t say: “There’s no devil.” He said it wasn’t time to be making new enemies.

      You ask “what’s wrong with “rationalism” pray?”

      Nothing worng with small r rationalism at all:

      provided, of course, that it is based on observation and experience and experiment

      … but even scientists accept that not everything can be observed by the human equipment we have as our senses. That’s why so much surmise and experimentation go on and sometimes it comes off.

      It’s not a question of “what’s wrong with rationalism” – a true rationalist, meaning a reasoner, will accept the need for reason but that this has become a highly politically charged thing and people are going about, as they’re meant to, saying things like “if I can’t directly sense it, it’s not so.”

      There’s a hell of a lot more out there than we can observe directly. This comes down to the ego of the Man is omnipotent devotees. I, on the other hand, think we have limitations as humans. Looking about at society today, the evidence seems to be on that side of the argument.

  5. June 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

    “There is not only incompetence but malevolence. Don’t ascribe to incompetence what can be explained quite accurately by malevolence.”

    Interesting post. Malevolence is probably a survival trait – harm others before they harm you. Many people control it by reason and by imbibing the moral lesson of do unto others.

    Many don’t however, especially when it comes to a more detached kind of political malevolence. They understand what they are doing in a tactical sense, but in a moral sense they don’t.

    • June 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      This post suggests though, AKH, there is an organized, sustained malevolent campaign which has been going on since 1776 or thereabouts. It pops up all over the place, from Andy Jackson/Biddle to the Fed to those presidents who’ve admitted there is a sustained power behind government with an agenda.

      We’re seeing that agenda become more open now through a dispirited and divided people failing to combine to oppose it.

      On the basis of the first post today, I’d agree it doesn’t definitively establish that but the second post at 11:00 sure needs a good case to answer it. Just how long can the coincidence-claiming people continue to maintain that in the face of overwhelming coincidence?

  6. Greg Tingey
    June 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    As a supposed supporter of “liberty” I find it extremely strange that you support religion, given that delusions track record of oppression, torture, lies and blackmail.

    WHat hijacking of science?
    Unless you are referring to your delusions concerning climate, funded byu the Kochs & Exxon.

    I find your list interesting – might come back to that. Just one observation – the churches have emptied themselves, as people’s living standards and education improved.
    And the aforementioned lies & blackmail of the churches became more obvious.

  7. June 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    As a supposed supporter of “liberty” I find it extremely strange that you support religion

    I don’t support religion. I’m not very religious at all – far more a political animal. As for Christianity though, as the scholars through the centuries have pointed out – it’s the only rational stance to take and of course, it’s all about liberty – the freedom to choose. There are a couple of posts at my place being debated on this very thing at this moment.

    The core of that whole thing is choice – you choose to believe, you choose not to. Sounds good enough to me. I don’t coerce you, you don’t coerce me. And of course, the only way we can even have this discussion now is because of the Christian tradition. Try this in Muslimland and see how far you get, Greg.

Comments are closed.