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.
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.