Bill Lind on Cultural Marxism

From The Spotlight

 

The SPOTLIGHT January 11, 1999 p. 12

"Subversion of Western Traditions Traced to Marxist-Jewish Clique in Germany"

What historian William Lind calls a "rather obscure and difficult German philosophy" is the foundation for what Lind says is "cultural Marxism" -- a deviation from the better-known standard Bolshevik philosophy of revolution. According to Lind, "cultural Marxism" is the basis upon which what we know today as "political correctness" has evolved. Lind discussed this fascinating (and little-known) intellectual phenomenon on the Dec. 13 broadcast of The SPOTLIGHT's weekly call-in talk forum, Radio Free America, with host Tom Valentine. An edited transcript of Lind's visit with Valentine follows.

(Spotlight) You've determined through your study that what we know as "political correctness" is not something that just happened. It was planned.

(Lind) There's actually extensive academic literature on the subject In fact, there's vast academic literature, both in English and in German. But there is nothing for the popular market. So, most people who are not academic specialists are unaware of it.

(Spotlight) How did you come across this?

(Lind) I ran into the writings of a few other people, particularly Raymond Raehn, who has been doing work on this for some time. I found references in some books and, as I said, there are plenty of things in English on this subject, and one thing led to another. My background is as a historian. I did my graduate work at Princeton in intellectual history, so this was a fairly natural route for me to explore.

(Spotlight) Is it fair to say that while we always thought that Marxists were interested in economics, we were mistaken in thinking that they had ignored culture? Has there been a deliberate Marxist effort to destroy the folkways, mores and traditions that were holding Western society together?

(Lind) What happened was that prior to 1914, Marxist theory said that if there were a general European war, the proletariat throughout Europe would rise up in revolution, overthrow the bourgeois and the aristocratic governments and inaugurate communism throughout Europe.

Well,'when war came in 1914, none of that happened. On the contrary, the working class of every country patriotically marched off to be slaughtered in the millions. Marxists, of course, knew that the theory couldn't be wrong, so what happened?

In 1919, after the war, two Marxist theorists got to work on this problem: Antonio Gramsci in Italy and George Lukacs in Hungary. Lukacs was considered the most brilliant Marxist theorist since Marx himself! Whet Lukacs and Gramsci concluded was that the working class could never be able to see its true Marxist class interest until it was freed from blinders put on it by Western culture and the Christian religion. Lukacs specifically says: "Who will free us from Western civilization?"

In 1919, when Hungary got a Bolshevik government under Bela Kun (a home-grown Bolshevik government not imposed by Russia), Lukacs became deputy commissar for culture. One of the first things he did was put sex education into the Hungarian schools. So this stuff has all been around a lot longer than people think. It doesn't start with the 1960s and the hippies.

The Bolshevik government only lasted a few months in Hungary, in part because the workers were appalled by the cultural terrorism" (which is what Lukacs called it) that Lukacs instilled in an attempt to undermine traditional Western culture. When Romania invaded Hungary, the Hungarian workers would not fight for the Bela Kun government because of this.

But Lukacs continued to think and write along these lines. In 1923, a young German millionaire named Felix Weil sponsored something called the First Marxist Work Week in Germany, the object of which was to try to overcome a number of divisions within the Marxist camp. Lukacs was one of the key participants, and his papers on culture and Marxism formed a considerable basis for what was discussed during that week.

That week, in turn, established an agenda for a think tank that was also established in 1923. Think tanks go back a lot longer than people realize. One was established at Frankfurt University in Frankfurt, Germany in 1923 called the Institute for Social Research. This institute, particularly after 1930 when a young fellow named Max Horkheimer became director, set out specifically to translate Marxism from economic into cultural terms. That cultural Marxism is what we now call "political correctness." (Spotlight) Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses and that's why communists became atheists. Was it Christianity or all religions that he was after?

(Lind) It was all religion. Something more fundamental was going on here. Marxism, of course, had no need for God since it said that everything was determined by the ownership of the means of production, and that this was the basis for everything else (including the culture). Marx described this simply as "superstructure." But these Marxists like Lukacs and those of the Frankfurt school are heretics.

They are very much Marxists and open about their Marxism, but from Moscow's standpoint they are heretics since they say things like, "No, the culture actually is an independent and very important variable.'' In 1930, Horkheimer said that the proletariat working class will not be the basis for the coming revolution because the proletariat was becoming the middle class. He didn't answer as to what will replace the revolutionary class.

That's actually answered by another member of the Frankfurt school, Herbert Marcuse, in the 1950s. Marcuse is the most important of the members of the Frankfurt School for Americans, also comprised of Germans, Marxists and Jews.

In 1933, when the Nazis came to power in Germany, they fled for obvious reasons. In 1934, the Institute was re-established in New York City with help from Columbia University. So this whole crew of culturally Marxist intellectuals -- what we call "the Frankfurt School" -- came to New York City.

They stayed in this country until the late 1940s when the key figures (particularly Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno) returned to Frankfurt.

Meanwhile, a young German graduate student named Herbert Marcuse had joined the Institute in 1932 and came to America. Marcuse's thought is developed largely through the influence of the other members of the Frankfurt School in the 1930s and 1940s. But when they returned to Germany, he stayed here. In the 1960s he became the guru to the New Left.

When the student rebellion on America's campuses broke out, Marcuse was a professor at the University of California in San Diego. He went to the campuses and talked to the radicals. In effect, he injected the intellectual work of the Frankfurt School and the cultural Marxism that they developed into the student rebellion and the New Left in the 1960s, For example, it was Marcuse who coined the phrase, "Make love, not war."

(Spotlight) Was this also the beginning of what is known as "feminism?"

(Lind) Actually, feminism goes back a long way. Engels, Marx's compatriot, wrote on feminism. But much of modern feminism draws heavily from the Frankfurt School because Marcuse's answer to the question that Horkheimer posed in the 1930s as. to who will be the basis for the revolution (if not the proletariat), was that it would be a coalition of feminist women, blacks, homosexuals, students and other marginalized elements in the society;

Marcuse was particularly aware, as was the Frankfurt School generally, of the importance of women in this* respect^ because if women leave their traditional roles, then the old culture is not transmitted to the next generation and since the object is to kill that old culture, the role of women -- feminist women -- in this coalition is central.

The trail of feminism, as I said, leads all the way back to Engels, the compatriot of Marx. The Frankfurt School, and particularly Marcuse, understood very clearly that women are the carriers of the culture in any society. The most important job in any society is left to the woman and that is the transmission of the culture to the next generation. So if you could recruit women into an effort to destroy that culture, you have struck the culture a deadly blow. That's what feminism has done.

Feminism expressly joins with the Frankfurt School and feminism's own origins, in many cases, are simply the Frankfurt School. Feminism joins with the Frankfurt School in saying that Western culture is automatically alienating and repressive of women.

(Spotlight) So was the Frankfurt School saying essentially that all white males were evil?

(Lind) Cultural Marxism translates a lot of the traditional Marxist framework into cultural terms. Whereas the old economic Marxism said that workers and peasant are automatically good and capitalists and aristocrats are automatically evil (regardless of what an individual does) so the new cultural Marxism says that blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, feminists, etc., are automatically good and white males are automatically evil and by the way, non-feminist women don't exist.

(Spotlight) This mindset is so easy to see everywhere in our society.

(Lind) The key in the intellectual work in the Frankfurt School in the 1930s to creating Marxism was to cross Marx with Sigmund Freud. One of the things they got out of Freud and out of psychology generally was the use of the psychological conditioning techniques. For example, the sensitivity training that many colleges and employers are forcing students and employees to undergo. It is not an intellectual argument -- it is psychological conditioning.

In crossing Marx with Freud, the Frankfurt School came up with a thesis that says that, just as under capitalism, the working class is automatically oppressed. So under Western culture, blacks, homosexuals, women -- everybody but white males -- are automatically the objects of oppression.

The whole oppression concept is right at the heart of the political correctness that we see all around us. What this is really pointing to is that political correctness is not just a joke. People use the term as if it is something funny.

Political correctness is an ideology and in this century we should certainly have learned how dangerous all ideologies are. It is specifically a Marxist ideology in its origins. Again, it is heretical Marxism.

I wouldn't call it "cultural bolshevism" because the people who put this together specifically reject the Bolshevik model, which is seizing political power through a coup or revolution and then using that to remake the rest of society.

They said: No, you can't do that in Western countries. Instead, you have to engage in what Gramsci called a "long march through the institutions" where first you take the cultural institutions, the schools, the churches, the entertainment industry, the media and then you only take political power at the end, after you have captured all of the others.

And this, of course, is happening all around us right now. Even in our churches political correctness is a major influence in many of our mainline denominations.

So this is very much an ideology and it is becoming the official state ideology in this country. This is the first time in our history that America is becoming an ideological state, a country with an official ideology enforced by the power of the state. That's what so-called "hate crime" laws are about. That's what affirmative action laws are about. These are all the use of government power to enforce the ideology of political correctness, or more accurately, cultural Marxism.

(Spotlight) In the writings that you studied, did you find that the proponents actually talked about this plan?

(Lind) Oh yes, very much so. The time in which they were doing much of their work, they were very pessimistic because fascism was on the rise at that point. But the theory that they were developing was a general, broad-scale theory for the destruction of the culture. One of the most important tools they developed in the 1930s was what they called "critical theory".

The term is a bit of a play on words. If someone says this term, you want to know what the theory is. The answer is that the theory is to criticize.

The theory is to criticize every institution, every traditional belief in Western culture (family; religion, education), and to criticize them in the most destructive way as possible and to do so unremittingly. That we see all around us today.

(Spotlight) Modern art is a good example of this. You see it in music as well. It's not just in education etc.

(Lind) And that's not accidental. Theodore Adorno, who is probably the most intellectually creative of the members of the Frankfurt School, started off as a music critic and a promoter of Schoenberg, who developed the 12-tone system which is explicitly a rejection of the whole harmonic basts of Western music.

Adorno's. theory, which you see exemplified in a great deal of modern art and architecture, is that in an age of repression and alteration (which [is], by their definition, any Western culture) all art must express these things,

So music and paintings must be unpleasant. Architecture and all of the arts must be alienating to be true to the state of alienation which "exists" under Western culture.

(Spotlight) I always felt that modern art was horrible and shouldn't be classified as "art"

(Lind) You're right, but they are intended be horrible. They are designed to be alienating, and that is all part of the thesis. Part of the difficulty in reading Adorno is that he carries that rule through to his own prose, which makes it very difficult to follow, because (under the theory) even prose style should be deliberately bad in order to express the alienation of living under Western culture.

(Spotlight) There's a psychoanalyst who has been an expert witness in courts opposing sex education in the schools. His argument is that children have natural, traditional phases that they go through and that if you put sex education in the schools at the wrong age, you will destroy their personalities and adversely affect them. He was pointing to the destruction of society.

(Lind) Exactly. Now remember that Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt School understood that, ultimately, you would not bring down Western culture with philosophical writings about 12-tone music. You are going to bring it down through "sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.''

Marcuse wrote that what we need is a polymorphous perversity, creating a society caught in endless adolescence. [Marcuse's theory] became one of the key readings of the New Left in the 1960s.

He is the one who coined the concept of "repressive tolerance" -- the notion that the tolerance of a wide variety of view-points (what we call "freedom") is, in fact, a form of repression. He defines "liberating tolerance" as specifically tolerance for all movements from the left and intolerance of all movement from the right.

So you see the very basic concepts of things like freedom and toleration are being redefined in sort of a newspeak fashion here and you see this on campuses today.

And you see it dramatically.. In effect, left-wing students are allowed.to engage in any outrage -- book-burning or what have you -- but the slightest protest from students on the right are hauled up before some star chamber college judicial system and threatened with expulsion: This traces hack to the writings of Marcuse.

The work done by Adorno, in particular, in the 1930s and 1940s was very important. These were called "studies in .prejudice." You'll notice today that the politically correct immediately dismiss any attempt .to talk about reality in, for example, immigration policy. That's "prejudice.'' And this is part of the legacy of the Frankfurt School.

.What they specifically did was to define as "prejudice" anything that was critical of Cultural Marxism. They did it largely drawing on Freudian theory and defining what they called an "authoritarian personality.'

Adorno published a very influential book with that title in 1950. The book said that anyone who wants to uphold the old traditional standards has an authoritarian personality that's fascist in nature, if you listen to these people, the Nazis are going to come back.

Isn't it hilarious that today every time you hear the left talking, they are talking about the Nazis when the Nazis have been gone for half a century. This also traces back to the Frankfurt School.

So all of these pieces are coming together as "political correctness": the notion that white males are responsible for everything that's wrong; that our history is oppression of these various sainted victim groups; that anyone, who dares question this is psychologically unbalanced.

All of these trace to this rather theoretical work (and, in fact, somewhat difficult theoretical work) done by this small group known as the Institute for Social Research in the 1930s and 1940s.

(Spotlight) The media today is very much promoting the concept of political correctness.

(Lind) The most powerful force behind this today in our culture is clearly the entertainment industry. It gets it across not through preaching but through parables, by integrating this message constantly into television programs, the movies etc. Interestingly, one of the things that Adorno was involved with in the 1940s is something Princeton called "the radio project." This was specifically a study of the use of mass media -- at that time, radio --to try to get across certain psychological and cultural messages.

Adorno was very skeptical about this. He was somebody who was oriented very much to the high arts and he had great reservations about the effect the mass media could have on culture.

But another key figure in the Frankfurt School, Binyamin, saw it differently. Binyamin's writings have become more and more influential over the past 20 years. From the beginning, he saw the vast potential of cultural markets, particularly movies (which were new in the "20s and '30s), as vehicles to remake culture along the lines they wanted.

(Spotlight) What about sports?

(Lind) I've never seen anything on sports by the Frankfurt School, but given that these are very typical German Jewish intellectuals, none of them probably had anything to do with sports in their lives. I would probably trace this back to tie old Roman bread and circuses perhaps.

(Spotlight) I would suggest that this political correctness is now in society in general and that this will just, happen in every area of our lives.

(Lind)That was their objective. Their objective was essentially to invert the old culture in virtually every aspect of our lives. That was Gramsci's notion of "the long march through the institutions."

Where you clearly do see this in sports is in this notion that men's and women's sports must be equal. What they are trying to do is say that there is no difference between men and women, that the differences are purely a matter of social role.

Here, again, a key member of the Frankfurt School was Eric Fromm, a Freudian psychologist, who believed very strongly in matriarchy. He argued as early as the '20s and '30s that there are [no] essential differences between men and women. He says these are roles created by the oppressive Western culture. If we could get rid of these awful patriarchal Western males then we could have a soft, happy, easy sort of Nirvana: life in a matriarchal society, a theme that now is a very important part of feminist thought

The Frankfurt School's influence in this country remained very small, restricted to a select group of intellectuals, until Marcuse made the break-out in the 1960s. He was kind of a wet-behind-the-ears graduate student whose thinking was shaped by Horkheimer and Adorno.

But Marcuse is the one who managed to take this rather obscure and difficult German philosophy and put it in terms that the average campus member of the Students for a Democratic Society group in the 1960s could grasp.

He gave us a lot of the intellectual components of that period: the notion of "if it feels good, do it."

(Spotlight) These people knew that once you let the sex genie out of the bottle that you couldn't put it back.

(Lind) As I said, this goes back to Lukacs himself back in Hungary in 1919, when his first target was to destroy traditional sexual morals. They understood the Freudian-based philosophy that sexual taboos allow the society to function. So if you don't want it to function anymore, you want to break those taboos down.

(Spotlight) How can people find out more about the subject of Cultural Marxism?

(Lind) People can write: The Free Congress Foundation, 717 Second Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.

 

 

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