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• The Frankfurt School by T.B. Bottomore (Tavistock, London, 1984). Another history written by a sympathiser; you are better off with Jay or Wiggershaus.
• “The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and ‘Political Correctness’” by Michael Minnicino, in Fidelio, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1992 (KMW Publishing, Washington, DC) One of the few looks at the Frankfurt School by someone not a sympathiser, this long journal article explains the role of the Institute for Social Research in creating the ideology we now know as “Political Correctness.” Unfortunately, its value is reduced by some digressions that lack credibility.
• Angela Davis: An Autobiography by Angela Davis (Random House, New York 1974) Angela Davis, a leading American black radical and Communist Party member, was described by Frankfurt School member Herbert Marcuse as “my best student.” She also studied in Frankfurt under Adorno. This book shows the link between the Institute for Social Research and the New Left of the 1960s through the eyes of a key participant.
• The Young Lukacs and the Origins of Western Marxism by Andrew Arato (Seabury Press, New York, 1979). The author is, as usual, a sympathiser, but this work shows the key role Lukacs played in the thinking of the Frankfurt School and, later, the New Left.
• The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt Institute by Susan Buck-Morss (Free Press, New York, 1977). An important book on the relationship of the Frankfurt School and Critical Theory to the New Left.
• Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas by David Held (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1980). Yet another history by a fan of the Frankfurt School, but valuable for its discussion of the impact of Nietzsche on key Frankfurt School figures.
• Adorno: A Political Biography by Lorenz Jager (translated by Stewart Spencer, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2004) This recent study of Theodor Adorno, the Frankfurt School’s most important “creative spirit,” offers a highly readable introduction to the origins of Political Correctness, perhaps the best available to the layman. Lorenz Jager is an editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, one of Germany’s most influential newspapers. He is no uncritical admirer of the Frankfurt School, and thus offers a balanced treatment of Adorno instead of the usual hagiography.
Beyond these secondary works lies the vast literature produced by members of the Frankfurt School itself. Some key works were written in English, and many of those written in German are available in translation. As is usually the case with Marxist works, the prose style and vocabulary are often so convoluted as to make them almost unreadable. Further, the refusal of the Frankfurt School to make its own future vision plain led many of its members to write in aphorisms, which adds yet another layer of impenetrableness.
One work, however, is of such importance that it must be recommended despite its difficulty: Eros and Civilisation by Herbert Marcuse (Beacon Press, Boston, first paperback edition in 1974 and still in print). Subtitled A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud, this book holds center stage for two reasons. First, it completes the task of integrating Marx and Freud. While the Marxism is sotto voce, the whole framework of the book is in fact Marxist, and it is through the framework that Freud is considered. Second, Eros and Civilisation and its author were the key means of transmission by which the intellectual work of the Frankfurt School was injected into the student rebellion of the 1960s. This book became the bible of the young radicals who took over Western European and America’s college campuses from 1965 onward, and who are still there as faculty members.
In brief, Eros and Civilisation urges total rebellion against traditional Western culture – the “Great Refusal” – and promises a Candyland utopia of free sex and no work to those who join the revolution. About two-thirds of the way through the book, Marcuse offers this summary of its arguments:
Our definition of the specific historical character of the established reality principle led to a re-examination of what Freud considered to be universal validity. We questioned this validity in view of the historical possibility of the abolition of the repressive controls imposed by civilisation. The very achievements of this civilisation seemed to make the performance principle obsolete, to make the repressive utilisation of the instincts archaic.
But the idea of a non-repressive civilisation on the basis of the achievements of the performance principle encountered the argument that instinctual liberation (and consequently total liberation) would explode civilisation itself, since the latter is sustained only through renunciation and work (labour) – in other words, through the repressive utilisation of instinctual energy. Freed from these constraints, man would exist without work and without order; he would fall back into nature, which would destroy culture. To meet this argument, we recalled certain archetypes of imagination which, in contrast to the culture-heroes of repressive productivity, symbolised creative receptivity. These archetypes envisioned the fulfilment of man and nature, not through domination and exploitation, but through release of inherent libidinal forces. We then set ourselves the task of “verifying” these symbols – that is to say, demonstrating their truth value as symbols of a reality beyond the performance principle. We thought that the representative content of the Orphic and Narcissistic images was the erotic reconciliation (union) of man and nature in the aesthetic attitude, where order is beauty and work is play.
Marcuse continues after this summary to lay out the erotic content of the “reality beyond the performance principle,” i.e., a new civilisation where work and productivity were unimportant. “The basic experience in this (aesthetic) dimension is sensuous rather than conceptual,” that is, feelings are more important than logic: “The discipline of aesthetics installs the order of sensuousness as against the order of reason.”
“In German, sensuousness and sensuality are still rendered by one and the same term: Sinnlichkeit. It connotes instinctual (especially sexual) gratification… No longer used as a full-time instrument of labour, the body would be re-sexualised… (which) would first manifest itself in a reactivation of all erotogenic zones and, consequently, in a resurgence of pre-genital polymorphous sexuality and in a decline of genital supremacy. The body in its entirety would become an object of cathexis, a thing to be enjoyed – an instrument of pleasure. This change in the value and scope of libidinal relations would lead to a disintegration of the institutions in which the private interpersonal relations have been organised, particularly the monogamic and patriarchal family.”
This in a book which Marcuse dedicated to Sophie Marcuse, his wife of fifty years!
It is easy to see how this message – “If it feels good, do it” – published in 1955 resonated with the student rebels of the 1960s. Marcuse understood what most of the rest of his Frankfurt School colleagues did not: the way to destroy Western civilisation – the objective set forth by George Lukacs in 1919 – was not through abstruse theory, but through sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Marcuse wrote other works for the new generation that spawned the New Left – One Dimensional Man (1964), Critique of Pure Tolerance (1965), An Essay on Liberation (1969), Counterrevolution and Revolt (1972). But Eros and Civilisation was and remains the key work, the one that put the match to the tinder.
Other central works by members of the Frankfurt School include:
• The Authoritarian Personality by Theodor Adorno (Harper, New York, 1950). This book is the basis for everything that followed that portrayed conservatism as a psychological defect. It had enormous impact, not least on education theory.
• Dialectic of Enlightenment by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (trans. By John Cumming, Verso, London, 1979). A complex philosophical work written during World War II largely in response to Nazism (and extensively devoted to discussions of anti-Semitism), this work seeks to find a kernel of “liberating” reason in the ruins of the Enlightenment.
• Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Damaged Life by Theodor Adorno (trans. E.F.N. Jophcott, New Left Books, London, 1974). A book of aphorisms, almost entirely incomprehensible, but the effective conclusion of Adorno’s work.
• Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm (Farrar & Rinehart, New York, 1941, still in print in paperback) Fromm was the Institute’s “happy face,” and this book was often required reading at colleges in the 1960s. The thesis is that man’s nature causes him to throw his freedom away and embrace fascism unless he “masters society and subordinates the economic machine to the purposes of human happiness,” i.e., adopts socialism. At this point Fromm was in the process of breaking away from the Institute and his subsequent works cannot be considered as part of the Frankfurt School corpus.
• Eclipse of Reason (Oxford University Press, New York, 1947). Essentially a sequel to Dialectic of Enlightenment, the book is heavily the work of Adorno and other Frankfurt School personages, although only Horkheimer’s name appeared on it. Its contents are based on a series of lectures Horkheimer gave at Columbia University in 1944. The prose style is surprisingly readable, but the contents are odd; there is throughout a strong nostalgia, which was normally anathema to the Frankfurt School. The key chapter, “The Revolt of Nature,” reflects a strange Retro anarchism: “The victory of civilisation is too complete to be true. Therefore, adjustment in our times involves an element of resentment and suppressed fury.”
• Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer (trans. Matthew O’Connell, Seabury Press, New York, 1972). The essay, “Traditional and Critical Theory” is especially important.
This small bibliography will be enough to get an interested reader started; the full literature on and by the Frankfurt School is immense, as the bibliographies in Jay’s and Wiggershaus’s books attest. What has been missing from it, at least in English, is a readable book, written for the layman, that explains the Frankfurt School and its works in terms of the creation of Political Correctness. This short volume is at least a start in filling that gap.
This is the sixth and final chapter in the Free Congress Foundation’s book on Political Correctness, or – to call it by its real name – cultural Marxism. It is a short bibliographical essay intended not as an exhaustive resource for scholars but as a guide for interested citisens who want to learn more about the ideology that is taking over Western Europe and America.
To understand Political Correctness or so called cultural Marxism and the threat it poses it is necessary to understand its history, particularly the history of the institution most responsible for creating it, the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt School, or the Institute for Social Research as it was formally known, was established at Frankfurt University in Germany in 1923. This fact alone is important, because it tells us that Political Correctness is not merely a leftover of the European student rebellions of the 1960s and 1970s.
Another fact from that long-ago year, 1923, is equally significant: the intended name for the Frankfurt School was the Institute for Marxism. The Institute’s father and funder, Felix Weil, wrote in 1971 that he “wanted the Institute to become known, and perhaps famous, due to its contributions to Marxism as a scientific discipline…” Beginning a tradition Political Correctness still carries on, Weil and others decided that they could operate more effectively if they concealed their Marxism; hence, on reflection, they chose the neutral-sounding name, the Institute for Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung). But “Weil’s heartfelt wish was still to create a foundation similar to the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow – equipped with a staff of professors and students, with libraries and archives – and one day to present it to a German Soviet Republic.” In 1933, this disguised “Institute for Marxism” left Germany and reestablished itself in New York City, where in time it shifted its focus to injecting its ideology into Western European and American society.
The most readable English-language history of the Frankfurt School is Martin Jay’s book, The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research, 1932 - 1950 (University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1973 – new edition in 1996). This book is in print in paperback and can be ordered through any bookstore. The reader should be aware that Jay’s book is, in the words of another work on the Frankfurt School, a “semiofficial” history, which is to say that it is largely uncritical. Like virtually all other English-language authors on the Institute, Jay is on the political left. Nonetheless, the book provides a solid factual introduction to the Frankfurt School, and the reader should have little trouble discerning in it the roots and origins of today’s Political Correctness.
In his first chapter, “The Creation of the Institut für Sozialforschung and Its First Frankfurt Years,” Jay lays bare the Institute’s Marxist origins and nature, and equally its efforts to conceal both: “The original idea of calling it the Institut für Marxismus (Institute for Marxism) was abandoned as too provocative, and a more Aesopian alternative was sought (not for the last time in the Frankfurt School’s history).” Of the Institute’s first director, Carl Grünberg, Jay writes, “Grünberg concluded his opening address by clearly stating his personal allegiance to Marxism as a scientific methodology. Just as liberalism, state socialism, and the historical school had institutional homes elsewhere, so Marxism would be the ruling principle at the Institut.” Jay’s first chapter also introduces the Institute’s critical shift that laid the basis for today’s Political Correctness, a.k.a. cultural Marxism: “if it can be said that in early years of its history the Institut concerned itself primarily with an analysis of bourgeois society’s socio-economic substructure, in the years after 1930 its prime interest lay in its cultural superstructure.”
The second chapter, “The Genius of Critical Theory,” gets at the heart of the “Critical Studies” departments that now serve as the fonts of Political Correctness on college campuses. All of these are branches and descendants of the Critical Theory first developed in the 1930s by the Frankfurt School. The term “Critical Theory” is itself something of a play on words. One is tempted to ask, “OK, what is the theory?” The answer is, “The theory is to criticise.” Jay writes, “Critical Theory, as its name implies, was expressed through a series of critiques of other thinkers and philosophical traditions…Only by confronting it in its own terms, as a gadly of other systems, can it be fully understood.” The goal of Critical Theory was not truth, but praxis, or revolutionary action: bringing the current society and culture down through unremitting, destructive criticism. According to Jay, “The true object of Marxism, Horkheimer argued (Max Horkheimer succeeded Carl Grünberg as director of the Institute in July, 1930), was not the uncovering of immutable truths, but the fostering of social change.”
The central question facing the Institute in the early 1930s was how to apply Marxism to the culture. The title of Jay’s third chapter gives the answer: “The Integration of Psychoanalysis.” Here, Jay’s book falls down to some extent, in that it does not offer a clear understanding of how the Institute integrated Marx and Freud. The answer appears to be that Freud’s later critiques were made conditional on a capitalist, bourgeois order: a revolutionary, post-capitalist society could “liberate” man from his Freudian repression. Here again one sees key aspects of Political Correctness emerging, including a demand for sexual “liberation” and the attack on “patriarchal” Western culture.
If the precise nature of the blending of Marx and Freud is left open by Jay, his next chapter makes the blend’s application clear: “The Institute’s First Studies of Authority.” The Institute left Germany for New York in 1933 because the Nazis came to power in Germany. Not surprisingly, one of the Institute’s first tasks in New York was to oppose Nazism. It did so largely by concocting a psychological “test” for an “authoritarian personality.” Supposedly, people with this authoritarian personality were likely to support Nazism. Both the concept and the methodology were doubtful at best. But the Institute’s work laid down an important tool for the left, namely a notion that anyone on the right was psychologically unbalanced. And it marked a key turning for the Institute in the birth of Political Correctness in Western Europe and America, in that the empirical research the studies demanded was done on Western Europeans and Americans. Ultimately, the result was Institute member Theodor Adorno’s vastly influential book, The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950.
Jay’s fifth chapter, “The Institute’s Analysis of Nazism,” continues the theme of the “authoritarian personality.” But his sixth, “Aesthetic Theory and the Critique of Mass Culture,” provides an answer to the question of why most “serious” modern art and music is so awful. It is intended to be. Theodor Adorno was the Institute’s lead figure on high culture – he began life as a music critic and promoter of Schönberg – and his view was that in the face of the “repressiveness” of bourgeois society, art could only be “true” if it were alienating, reflecting the alienated society around it. Jay quotes Adorno: “A successful work is not one which resolves objective contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one which expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.”
Adorno despised the new mass culture – film, radio, and jazz – in what seems to be a case of missed opportunity: today, the entertainment industry is the single most powerful promoter of Political Correctness. Another key Frankfurt School figure, Walter Benjamin, did see the potential: “he paradoxically held out hope for the progressive potential of politicised, collectivised art.” At some point, someone – the question of who lies beyond the boundaries of Jay’s book – put Benjamin’s perception together with the Frankfurt School’s general view, which Jay summarises as “the Institut came to feel that the culture industry enslaved men in far more subtle and effective ways than the crude methods of domination practiced in earlier eras.”
In the remainder of the book, Jay traces the (sort of) empirical work of the Institute in the 1940s, which was beset by the same problems as their earlier survey “research,” and follows the Institute in its return to Frankfurt, Germany after World War II. But by this point, the reader will already have the picture. He will have seen how Marxism was translated from economic into cultural terms; discerned the themes of sexual liberation, feminism, “victims” and so on that make up today’s Political Correctness; and found in Critical Theory the origins of the endless wailing about “racism, sexism and homophobia” that “PC” pours forth. One key piece of history is missing: “an analysis of Marcuse’s influential transmission of the Frankfurt School’s work to a new Western European and American audience in the 1960s,” as Jay puts it in his epilogue. Also, Jay curiously passes over with only the most minimal discussion the effective move of the Institute, in the persons of Horkheimer and Adorno, to Los Angeles during the war. Did the connections they built there play any role in injecting the Frankfurt School’s philosophy into Western European and American film and, after the war, television? Jay does not touch upon the subject.
But for the reader new to the Frankfurt School as the source of today’s Political Correctness, Jay’s The Dialectical Imagination offers a solid base. The book concludes with an extensive (though not annotated) bibliography of works by and about the Frankfurt School.
As to other accessible works about the Frankfurt School, the definitive modern work in German has recently been translated into English: The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories and Political Significance by Rolf Wiggershaus, (translated by Michael Robertson, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, first paperback edition 1995). This covers much of the same ground as Martin Jay’s book, although it also follows the Institute from its post-war return to Germany up to Adorno’s death in 1969. Wiggershaus is more detailed than Jay, and, although he too is on the left politically, he is more critical than Jay. In the book’s Afterword, Wiggershaus offers a brief look (and a hostile one) at some German conservative critiques of the Frankfurt School. A picture emerges that will seem familiar to Western Europeans and Americans entrapped in the coils of Political Correctness:
Since the publication in 1970 of his book The Poverty of Critical Theory, Rohrmoser has promulgated, in constantly varying forms, the view that Marcuse, Adorno, and Horkheimer were the terrorists’ intellectual foster-parents, who were using Cultural Revolution to destroy the traditions of the Christian West. Academics such as Ernst Topitsch and Kurt Sontheimer, who saw themselves as educators and liberal democrats, followed in Rohrmoser’s footsteps. In 1972 Topitsch, a critical rationalist who was Professor of Philosophy in Graz, had stated that behind the slogans of “rational discussion” and “dialogue free of domination” there was being established at the universities “a distinctterrorism of political convictions such as never existed before, even under Nazi tyranny.”
Perhaps no aspect of Political Correctness is more prominent in Western European life today than feminist ideology. Is feminism, like the rest of Political Correctness, based on the cultural Marxism imported from Germany in the 1930s? While feminism’s history in Western Europe certainly extends longer than sixty years, its flowering in recent decades has been interwoven with the unfolding social revolution carried forward by cultural Marxists.
Where do we see radical feminism ascendant? It is on television, where nearly every major offering has a female “power figure” and the plots and characters emphasise inferiority of the male and superiority of the female. It is in the military, where expanding opportunity for women, even in combat positions, has been accompanied by double standards and then lowered standards, as well as by a decline in enlistment of young men, while “warriors” in the services are leaving in droves. It is in government-mandated employment preferences and practices that benefit women and use “sexual harassment” charges to keep men in line. It is in colleges where women’s gender studies proliferate and “affirmative action” is applied in admissions and employment. It is in other employment, public and private, where in addition to affirmative action, “sensitivity training” is given unprecedented time and attention. It is in public schools, where “self awareness” and “self-esteem” are increasingly promoted while academic learning declines. And sadly, we see that several European countries allow and fund free distribution of contraceptive pills combined with liberal abortion policies.
While the radical feminist movement is embraced by present day Political Correctness ideology, derived from cultural Marxism, feminism as such does have earlier roots. Feminism was conceived and birthed in the 1830s, in the generation experiencing the first stage of the industrial revolution. Women, who for centuries had shared the challenges of surviving in an agrarian life, were becoming part of a middle-class gentry with more time and energy to spend writing newspaper articles and novels for their “sisters.” The initial stages of the feminisation of European culture had started.
These feminists, radical in their time, supported women’s rights, egalitarianism, anti-colonialism, pacifism and other causes which we now observe in popular culture. In contrast to today’s radical feminists, social feminists of the 1890s and early 20th century were of a less totalitarian character. They stood for women’s suffrage but also advocated the strengthening of the family.
Today, the feminisation of European culture, moving rapidly since the 1960s continues to intensify. Indeed, the present-day radical feminist assault through support for mass Muslim immigration has a political parallel to the their anti-colonial efforts. This current assault is in part a continuation of a century-old effort to destroy traditional European structures, the very foundation of European culture.
There is no doubt in the media that the “man of today” is expected to be a touchy-feely subspecies who bows to the radical feminist agenda. He is a staple of Hollywood, the television network sitcoms and movies, and the political pundits of talk shows. The feminisation is becoming so noticeable that newspapers and magazines are picking up on it. For example, the Washington Times and National Review magazine combined to tell us that “behind the breezy celebration of ‘guy stuff’ in today’s men’s magazine lurks a crisis of confidence. What does it mean to be masculine in the 90s?” It is revealed that today’s men’s magazines (Esquire, GQ, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Journal, Details, Maxim, Men’s Perspective)”are all geared to a new feminised man….” Some examples? The old masculine attitude toward personal appearance is disappearing. If memory serves, our fathers’ acts of personal upkeep were mostly limited to shaving and putting on a tie. According to Lowry:
It’s hard to imagine [them] interested in articles on ‘A Flat Belly for the Beach’ (Verge), or the three new men’s fragrances for the fall season (GQ), or even ‘The New Fall Suit’ (Esquire). But somewhere along the line men became less concerned with being strong and silent, and more worried about making themselves pretty.
Indeed the feminisation of European culture is nearly completed. And the last bastion of male domination, the police force and the military, is under assault.
If this “feminisation” trend were driven only by radical feminists seeking to pull down a perceived male-dominated hierarchy, there would be more hope that the cycles of history would move Europe toward a stable accommodation between men and women. But the drive is deeper, and it will not be satisfied by any accommodation. The radical feminists have embraced and been embraced by the wider and deeper movement of cultural Marxism. For dedicated Marxists, the strategy is to attack at every point where an apparent disparity leaves a potential constituency of “oppressed” victim groups – Muslims, women etc. Cultural Marxists, men and women, are making the most of it, and the theory developed by the Frankfurt School provides the ideology.
The Frankfurt School theorised that the authoritarian personality is a product of the patriarchal family. This idea is in turn directly connected to Engels’s The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, which promotes matriarchy. Furthermore, it was Karl Marx who wrote in The Communist Manifesto about the radical notion of a “community of women.” He also, in 1845, wrote disparagingly in his The German Ideology of the idea that the family was the basic unit of society.
The concept of the “authoritarian personality” is not just to be interpreted as a model for the conduct of warfare against prejudice as such. It is a handbook for psychological warfare against the European male, to render him unwilling to defend traditional beliefs and values. In other words, the aim was to emasculate him. Undoubtedly the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt University meant this, as it used the term “psychological techniques for changing personality.”
The “authoritarian personality,” studied in the 1940s and 1950s by Western Europeans and American followers of the Frankfurt School, prepared the way for such psychological warfare against the male gender role. The aim was promoted by Herbert Marcuse and others under the guise of “women’s liberation” and in the New Left movement in the 1960s. Evidence that psychological techniques for changing personality are intended to focus in particular on the emasculation of the European male has also been provided by Abraham Maslow, founder of “third force humanist psychology” and promoter of psychotherapeutic techniques in public school classrooms. He wrote that “the next step in personal evolution is a transcendence of both masculinity and femininity to general humanness.”
Cultural Marxist stalwarts apparently know exactly what they want to do and how they plan to do it. They have actually already succeeded in accomplishing much of their agenda.
How did this situation come about in European universities? Gertrude Himmelfarb has observed that it slipped past traditional academics almost unobserved until it was too late. It occurred so “quietly” that when they “looked up”, postmodernism was upon them with a vengeance. “They were surrounded by such a tidal wave of multicultural subjects such as radical feminism, deconstructed relativism as history and other courses” which undermine the perpetuation of Western civilisation. Indeed, this tidal wave slipped by just as Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School had envisioned – a quiet revolution propagating a European hate ideology with the goal of destroying Western civilisation and which was: anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-nationalist, anti-patriot, anti conservative, anti-hereditarian, anti-ethnocentric, anti-masculine, anti-tradition, and anti-morality.
“Cultural Marxism,” as preached by the Frankfurt School has thus spurred the widely popular and destructive concepts of “affirmative action,” “multiculturalism” and “diversity.” One can’t escape these terms today. These concepts have destroyed every defensivestructure of European society which has laid the foundation for the Islamisation of Europe.