The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist – Keyser Soze – (paraphrasing Charles Baudelaire)
An interesting series of events transpired over the last several days.
Australian journalist Chris Uhlmann delivered a critical on-air opinion of President Trump at the G-20 Summit on July 8. You can watch the 2 minute video here. I do not share Mr. Uhlmann’s views on this particular issue but that’s an entirely separate matter.
Mr. Uhlmann’s video was quickly seized upon by those on the Left and widely disseminated across various social media platforms. Mr. Uhlmann was swiftly and widely championed by the Left – the video held aloft as a shining example of international opinion.
Then this happened:
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) July 9, 2017
We regret to inform you the Australian TV reporter with the great Trump takedown is Bad https://t.co/LHIKxSWsv9
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) July 9, 2017
From Leftist hero to excoriated anti-Semite in the space of a single tweet. Astonishing.
In a 2016 article, There Was a Time When Journalists Backed Free Speech, Mr. Uhlmann placed blame on the Marxist movement that emanated from the philosophy of Antonio Gramsci – and its effects on free press and Western Culture. Mr. Uhlmann specifically called out the Frankfurt School:
As social projects go, this wasteland was a tough sell, but neo-Marxists are nothing if not dogged. They built critical theory as a vehicle for change and began the deconstruction of the West.
Frankfurt School academics fleeing Adolf Hitler’s Germany transmitted the intellectual virus to the US and set about systematically destroying the culture of the society that gave them sanctuary.
America’s freedom of speech was its achilles heel. Critical theorists were given university pulpits and a constitutionally ordained right to preach, grinding its foundation stones to dust. Since 1933 they have been hellbent on destroying the village to save it.
And all hell broke loose.
Immediately, thousands of people began tweeting about the Frankfurt School.
You know we’ve reached a certain level of dystopia when “Frankfurt School” is trending on Twitter.
— Chuck Tryon (@chutry) July 9, 2017
I come back to twitter to find a bunch of leftists laughing at the idea that conservatives might have reasons to criticize Marxists. Ok.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) July 9, 2017
The pile-on from the Left was truly immense – replete with accusations of bigotry and full-blown assertions of anti-Semitism towards any who criticized the Frankfurt School, its principles or members.
Some conservative voices began to push back:
Nowhere in this quote does he link Marxism of the Frankfurt School to Judaism. This is a bulls*** gotcha attempt. https://t.co/EgTPzdM0AM
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 9, 2017
If thinking Frankfurt School Marxists had a bad influence on America is anti-Semitic, than count me as an anti-Semite.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) July 9, 2017
Please note, both Shapiro and Goldberg are…Jewish.
The conservative pushback continued. Jeff Blehar of the Federalist:
Here’s the thing about Frankfurt School: it really was (esp. Adorno) an awful virus infecting US academia. That’s right. BUT NOT B/C JEWS.
— Jeff B/DDHQ (@EsotericCD) July 9, 2017
But the assault from the Left intensified. Some, quite educated in regards to Adorno, Marcuse, Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School – thousands of others seemingly aware only that these were Jewish scholars fleeing Hitler’s Germany. It continued throughout the day.
I have written on Gramsci and The Frankfurt School several different times. Gramsci, Alinsky and the Left, The Goal of Political Correctness and The Globalism Threat – Socialism’s New World Order.
I do NOT have the years of study on the matter that Goldberg, Shapiro and Blehar enjoy. But I have taken the time to read Adorno, Marcuse, etc and maintain fairly strong views on the Frankfurt School. I remain strongly opposed to its eroding influence on our institutions – particularly our schools, universities – and, increasingly, our judicial system.
A short and shallow history of the Frankfurt School:
Antonio Gramsci, an Italian, created the Theory of Cultural Hegemony – the way in which nations use cultural institutions to maintain power in capitalist societies. Hegemony, Gramsci believed, was created through society’s institutions – the family, church, schools, economy, universities and government. These institutions were the bonds that cemented the ruled to the rulers. In Gramsci’s view, the governing class – in order to succeed, maintain power and the status quo – must persuade those being governed to accept and even embrace the social, moral and political values held by the governing class. In order to break these bonds, the entire value systems of Societal Institutions must be overturned – social norms and beliefs must be changed. This would require the introduction of an entirely new set of values and beliefs – a new morality. Counter Hegemony.
Gramsci embraced gradualism – a policy of gradual reform as a means to his end. He recognized that his process must be lengthy, methodical and persistent. He advocated evolution over revolution – or as he put it “a long march through the institutions”. A slow transformation from within.
Gramsci’s ideas came to the United States not through his own person – Gramsci died in confinement after being jailed by Mussolini – but through the Frankfurt School.
The Frankfurt School – which fled Germany when Hitler rose to power in 1933 – moved to New York where it became affiliated with Columbia University in 1935. Here, the Frankfurt School took Gramsci’s teachings and applied them to American Society. The goal of the Frankfurt School was to move America gradually to the Left using the precepts of Gramsci’s Counter Hegemony and the practice of Critical Theory – a social theory of critiquing and changing society as a whole.
The point of Critical Theory was to criticize every traditional social institution – and to specifically avoid offering any alternatives – as a means to breaking down Western Culture. A better, alternative way is never to be offered – only criticism. Though they did not coin the term, Critical Theory provided the origin of Political Correctness.
George Lukacs, one of the original founders of the Institute of Social Research – which became the Frankfurt School – utilized the idea that “commodity exchange” had become the central organizing principle for all sectors of society – and led to the creation of their institutions.
Theodor Adorno, one of the Frankfurt School’s leaders, took this theory and reshaped it. To Adorno, capitalism had transcended mere organizing principals and had instead transformed society and culture into the very mechanisms by which order – and capitalism itself – was maintained. Institutions and culture now created capitalism. Adorno felt that what had once been separate and distinct aspects – culture, politics and the economic market – were now merging to maintain the whole.
Culture was no longer a by-product or a coincident part of capitalism – Culture perpetuated capitalism. This led Adorno to view the nature of modern culture as the enabler of a capitalist society – and a belief that it must be overthrown for humanity to achieve its full potential. Already the author of three influential books, this philosophy led Adorno to co-write The Authoritarian Personality which argued that the epitome of psychological health was the “genuine liberal” — an individual completely free of all groups, including race, family and institutions – and anyone who defended traditional culture was inherently a Fascist.
The Authoritarian Personality was an attack on Western Values at its most basic core – the family as a patriarchal unit. Adorno used a very simple but odd premise. The traditional family model – mixed with religion in a capitalist society – created an individual who was prone to racial prejudice and ultimately fascism. Adorno believed that traditional parenting used authoritarian techniques which caused children to feel anger towards their parents. At the same time, fear of parental disapproval or punishment kept children from directly confronting their parents, invoking repression and ultimately leading children to identify with and idolize authority figures. These individuals were then pre-disposed to fascist governments which in turn produced hostility towards racial, religious or ethnic minorities.
Said another way, if children were raised traditionally, they would hold hostile and aggressive tendencies towards authority figures – tendencies that could not be acted on or overtly addressed. As a result, this hostility and aggressiveness generated authoritarian personalities in children – leading to inherent hostility towards racial, religious or ethnic minorities. In Adorno’s view, the traditional family produced a society defined by racism and inequality and was therefore deserving of overthrow.
Herbert Marcuse, another prominent member of the Frankfurt School, created the philosophy of the “Great Refusal” – “the protest against that which is”. Marcuse, who actually became a key figure in the OSS – the predecessor to the CIA, enjoyed a true rise to fame in the 1960’s with his book Eros and Civilization. Marcuse became known as the guru of the student movements in the 1960s and it was Marcuse who coined the phrase “Make love, not war”.
Marcuse also embraced the idea of feminism – he saw in it the potential for radical social change. The process of rethinking femininity and masculinity – gender identity – could lead to a replacement of masculine traits with feminine ones (Marcuse has been credited with advocating and advancing androgyny). Marcuse noted in 1974 that, “I believe the women’s liberation movement today is, perhaps, the most important and potentially the most radical political movement that we have. Feminism is a revolt against decaying capitalism”. Marcuse recognized in Feminism the impact that could be had on the traditional family.
There are many other figures, events and philosophies that can be identified. This is meant as a backdrop only.
But make no mistake. Mr. Uhlmann was absolutely correct. The Frankfurt School was an intellectual virus.
I was taken aback at the fanatical defense put forth by the Left – and the intense claims of anti-Semitism used to do so. I expressed the same in a tweet to Jonah Goldberg this morning (Jonah does not know me – I simply follow him on Twitter):
I’m still shocked so many very educated people can’t see how unbelievably stupid this argument is. https://t.co/ggstoRB6TZ
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) July 10, 2017
I agree completely with Jonah’s response. How are so many educated people willing to believe this argument?
For me the equally frightening notion is that so many are eagerly willing to employ it.
In the original article, Mr. Uhlmann summed up his views with eloquence:
I had become a radical by standing still. For in an age where being a revolutionary is traditional, then being traditional is revolutionary.
It serves as a proper response to the Left’s outrage – so unexpectedly exposed.
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