Uploaded by conspirates on Feb 19, 2011
Camerons- Brainwashing team
The Frankfurt School
and “Critical Theory”
Index to the biographies and writings of members of the “Frankfurt School”, or Institute for Social Research, set up by a group of Marxist intellectuals in Germany in 1923, affiliated to the University of Frankfurt and independently of the Communist Party, which has been influential in the development of Marxist theory ever since.
The founding of the Institut marked the beginning of a current of “Marxism” divorced from the organised working class and Communist Parties, which over the decades merged with bourgeois ideology in academia.
Creation of the Institut für Sozialforschung, Martin Jay, 1973.
The Institut für Sozialforschung (Institut) was the creation of Felix Weil, who was able to use money from his father’s grain business to finance the Institut. Weil was a young Marxist who had written his PhD on the practical problems of implementing socialism and was published by Karl Korsch.
With the hope of bringing different trends of Marxism together, Weil organised a week-long symposium (the Erste Marxistische Arbeitswoche) in 1922 attended by Georg Lukacs, Karl Korsch, Karl August Wittfogel, Friedrich Pollock and others. The event was so successful that Weil set about erecting a building and funding salaries for a permanent institute. Weil negotiated with the Ministry of Education that the Director of the Institut would be a full professor from the state system, so that the Institut would have the status of a University.
Weil himself was an orthodox Marxist, who saw Marxism as scientific; the role of the Institut would be social and historical research mainly on the workers’ movement. Indeed, in its early years, the Institut did fairly orthodox historical research. However, one of Weil’s central objectives was also cross-disciplinary research, something which the German University system made impossible.
Although Georg Lukacs and Karl Korsch both attended the Arbeitswoche which had included a study of Korsch’s Marxism and Philosophy, both were too committed to political activity and Party membership to join the Institut, although Korsch participated in publishing ventures for a number of years.
The way Lukacs was obliged to repudiate his History and Class Consciousness, published in 1923 and probably a major inspiration for the work of the Frankfurt School, was an indicator for others that independence from the Communist Party was necessary for genuine theoretical work.
Friedrich Pollock was one of those who had been involved with the Institut from the beginning, and took over the role of Director on the death of Carl Grünberg. Pollock was content to concern himself with administrative matters, but he was also a life-long friend and associate of Max Horkheimer, who is probably the figure most identified as the leading representative of the Frankfurt School.
Max Horkheimer [Archive] later himself became Director of the Institut, and it was Horkheimer who guided the Institut into its innovative exploration of cultural aspects of the development of capitalism.
See Horkheimer’s opening address on becoming Director.
Karl August Wittfogel was a participant from the beginning, but was a Party member and had a more orthodox, “scientific” view of Marxism. It is Wittfogel who established the classic Marxist analysis of “Asiatic Despotism.”
Richard Sorge worked at the Instiut, but as it turned out was only there in his role as a Soviet spy.
In 1931/32 a number of psychoanalysts from the Frankfurt Institute of Psychoanalysis and others who were acquainted with members of the Institut began to work systematically with the Institut. These included Franz Borkenau, Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich, Karl Landauer and Heinrich Meng.
In joining what was predominantly a “Hegelian-materialist” current of Marxists, these psychologists gave the development of Marxist theory an entirely new direction, which has left its imprint on social theory ever since.
Wilhelm Reich developed his own doctrine of sexual liberalism as an antidote to political conformism and social psychosis.
They all went on to make significant contributions to social theory, though only distantly related to their initial Communist inspirations. Kurt Lewin for instance contributed to the emergence of group-dynamics and social action theory as specialised disciplines. Adolph Lowe made important contributions to the development of political economy.
Raymond Aron was a French journalist and sociologist.
When Hitler came to power, the Institut was closed down, and by various routes, most of the participants in the Institut regrouped themselves in New York, with a new Institute affiliated to Columbia University. They continued to publish in German, even though very few people would have been reading their work in that language. However, after the War, the Institut returned to Frankfurt.
Perhaps two of the most famous figures who were in the central core of the Institut were Theodor Adorno [Archive] and Walter Benjamin, both renowned for their studies of literature and mass culture which would become so influential from the 1960s on.
After the Institut re-established itself in Germany after the War, the main figure of the younger generation was Jürgen Habermas [Archive] who continued to develop the “critical theory” in the Hegelian tradition of Adorno and Marcuse. Habermas was instrumental in the 1960s in developing the theory of “networks,” but in later years Habermas has focussed on communicative ethics in the tradition of Immanuel Kant, and departed not only from the Marxist, but even the Hegelian tradition.
Currently Axel Honneth represents the third generation, continuing the work of Jürgen Habermas, but with a partial return to Hegel, still quite remote from any reading of Karl Marx.
After the isolation and Stalinisation of the Soviet Union, and the consequent decline of the Communist Parties in the “West,” the possibilities for the fruitful development of Marxism as a revolutionary-critical theory in close connection with the practical-critical activity of the workers movement, became extremely restricted.
The current generation of Critical Theorists, unlike previous generations, is led by women, such as Nancy Fraser, Seyla Benhabib and Agnes Heller:
The intellectuals who founded the Frankfurt Institut deliberatively cut out a space for the development of Marxist theory, inside the “academy” and independently of all kinds of political party.
The result was a process in which Marxism merged with bourgeois ideology. A parallel process took place in post-World War Two France, also involving a merging with Freudian ideas. One of the results was undoubtedly an enrichment of bourgeois ideology. In this connection Paul Mattick’s Marcuse: One Dimensional Man In Class Society (1972) is worth reading. But also, despite everything, the Frankfurt School makes an important critique of orthodox Marxism, and their work should be taken seriously.
This article is reprinted from the Winter, 1992 issue of FIDELIO Magazine.
The people of North America and Western Europe now accept a level of ugliness in their daily lives which is almost without precedent in the history of Western civilization. Most of us have become so inured, that the death of millions from starvation and disease draws from us no more than a sigh, or a murmur of protest. Our own city streets, home to legions of the homeless, are ruled by Dope, Inc., the largest industry in the world, and on those streets Americans now murder each other at a rate not seen since the Dark Ages.
At the same time, a thousand smaller horrors are so commonplace as to go unnoticed. Our children spend as much time sitting in front of television sets as they do in school, watching with glee, scenes of torture and death which might have shocked an audience in the Roman Coliseum. Music is everywhere, almost unavoidable—but it does not uplift, nor even tranquilize—it claws at the ears, sometimes spitting out an obscenity. Our plastic arts are ugly, our architecture is ugly, our clothes are ugly. There have certainly been periods in history where mankind has lived through similar kinds of brutishness, but our time is crucially different. Our post-World War II era is the first in history in which these horrors are completely avoidable. Our time is the first to have the technology and resources to feed, house, educate, and humanely employ every person on earth, no matter what the growth of population. Yet, when shown the ideas and proven technologies that can solve the most horrendous problems, most people retreat into implacable passivity. We have become not only ugly, but impotent.
Nonetheless, there is no reason why our current moral-cultural situation had to lawfully or naturally turn out as it has; and there is no reason why this tyranny of ugliness should continue one instant longer.
More on the Fabians, the Frankfurt School and society today
February 18, 2011 in Catholic, Protestant, school, priests, Anglican | Tags: Catholic, Protestant, school, Anglican, England, children, United States, Communism, cultural Marxism, Frankfurt School, Georg Lukacs, Labour Party, Fabian Society, socialismLast year, one of my most popular posts was ‘The Fabian Society, the Third Way and modern British thought’. If you’d like an eye-opening post with your morning coffee, it’s ideal.
Prior to that, I featured posts on the Frankfurt School on May 21 and May 23, 2010. Since then, I’ve found a couple more insightful links, one of which is at Catholic Insight, ‘The Frankfurt School: Conspiracy to corrupt’. I’ll include a few excerpts below to fill in the gaps before I continue with the main post, which is a continuation of yesterday’s regarding gay ‘weddings’ in church. Emphases below are mine.
What was the Frankfurt School? Well, in the days following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, it was believed that workers’ revolution would sweep into Europe and, eventually, into the United States. But it did not do so. Towards the end of 1922 the Communist International (Comintern) began to consider what were the reasons. On Lenin’s initiative a meeting was organised at the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow.
The aim of the meeting was to clarify the concept of, and give concrete effect to, a Marxist cultural revolution. Amongst those present were Georg Lukacs (a Hungarian aristocrat, son of a banker, who had become a Communist during World War I ; a good Marxist theoretician he developed the idea of ‘Revolution and Eros’ – sexual instinct used as an instrument of destruction) and Willi Munzenberg (whose proposed solution was to ‘organise the intellectuals’) … Only then, after they have corrupted all its values and made life impossible, can we impose the dictatorship of the proletariat’) ‘It was’, said Ralph de Toledano (1916-2007) the conservative author and co-founder of the ‘National Review’, a meeting ‘perhaps more harmful to Western civilization than the Bolshevik Revolution itself.’
Lenin died in 1924. By this time, however, Stalin was beginning to look on Munzenberg, Lukacs and like-thinkers as ‘revisionists’. In June 1940, Münzenberg fled to the south of France where, on Stalin’s orders, a NKVD assassination squad caught up with him and hanged him from a tree.
In the summer of 1924, after being attacked for his writings by the 5th Comintern Congress, Lukacs moved to Germany, where he chaired the first meeting of a group of Communist-oriented sociologists, a gathering that was to lead to the foundation of the Frankfurt School.
This ‘School’ (designed to put flesh on their revolutionary programme) was started at the University of Frankfurt in the Institut für Sozialforschung. To begin with school and institute were indistinguishable. In 1923 the Institute was officially established, and funded by Felix Weil (1898-1975) …
Carl Grünberg, the Institute’s director from 1923-1929, was an avowed Marxist, although the Institute did not have any official party affiliations. But in 1930 Max Horkheimer assumed control and he believed that Marx’s theory should be the basis of the Institute’s research.
Originally supporters of the Third Reich, they had a falling out with Hitler, left the University of Frankfurt, where they had been teaching, and headed for the most prestigious universities in the United States. Naturally, Americans — particularly academics — looked kindly upon these men and women as political refugees.
The School included among its members the 1960s guru of the New Left Herbert Marcuse (denounced by Pope Paul VI for his theory of liberation which ‘opens the way for licence cloaked as liberty’), Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, the popular writer Erich Fromm, Leo Lowenthal, and Jurgen Habermas – possibly the School’s most influential representative.
Like Antonio Gramsci, they intended to change long-established codes of behaviour for people in the Western world. In particular, they wanted to break down people’s ties to family and the Church — the two obstacles to widespread acceptance of Marxism. Gramsci envisaged a ‘long march through the institutions’ — home, church, school — which would take decades in order to succeed. The Frankfurt School had the same objective — the ‘quiet’ revolution — which also was a long-term project.
How many of the following are familiar to you today?
… the School recommended (among other things):
1. The creation of racism offences.
One of the main ideas of the Frankfurt School was to exploit Freud’s idea of ‘pansexualism’ – the search for pleasure, the exploitation of the differences between the sexes, the overthrowing of traditional relationships between men and women. To further their aims they would:
• attack the authority of the father, deny the specific roles of father and mother, and wrest away from families their rights as primary educators of their children.
Munzenberg summed up the Frankfurt School’s long-term operation thus: ‘We will make the West so corrupt that it stinks.’
The School believed there were two types of revolution: (a) political and (b) cultural. Cultural revolution demolishes from within. ‘Modern forms of subjection are marked by mildness’. They saw it as a long-term project and kept their sights clearly focused on the family, education, media, sex and popular culture.
Now for two notes about the Fabians. One from this article concerns Bertrand Russell, who collaborated with members of the Frankfurt School. In 1951, he wrote in his book The Impact of Science on Society about the importance of mass psychology, which
has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. Of these the most influential is what is called ‘education’. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity. But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.
The other note — similar in prediction — concerns another Fabian, Aldous Huxley, whose brother Julian helped found the United Nations. Gospel Nous Ministries’ ‘A Crisis in American Leadership: Exploiting our Moral Vagrancy (Part Four)’ cites part of his speech at Berkeley in 1962:
If you are going to control any population for any length of time, you must have some measure of consent. It’s exceedingly difficult to see how pure terrorism can function indefinitely.
It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy, who have always existed and presumably will always exist, to get people to (actually) love their servitude.
Pass the soma! I know my regular readers are aware of the danger here, but for any drive-bys: please wake up!
Anyone thinking that a) airport security pat-downs keep passengers safe, b) police targeting ‘low-hanging fruit’ offences instead of property crime gives us a more orderly society and c) that the many diversity laws in place bring equality really needs to read more about what these actions really mean.
This is what is really happening — it’s only a partial list of a long litany:
- Confusion between civil and human rights. Last week in the Telegraph, journalist Charles Moore discussed Parliament’s rejecting voting rights for prisoners. No problem there, except that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), closely associated with the European Union, said that voting is a basic human right. Most people believe that it is a civil right. When you violate the law and are incarcerated, you have broken your contract with society and are thereby deprived of certain civil rights — e.g. voting and freedom of movement — as part of your punishment. However, John Hirst, who has campaigned for prisoners’ ‘human right’ to vote, said in the comments (February 12, 2011):
The ECHR has ruled that the UK is guilty of human rights violation by denying human beings their human right to vote. What part of that simple position do you not understand? The UK must toe the line of get out of Europe. Europe demands that Member States abide by Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. Three basic objectives which the UK says it will meet. But it has been shown to have failed to meet them.
- Overemphasis on ‘humanistic psychology’ and ‘values clarification’. The aforementioned Catholic Insight article notes that what used to be civics and citizenship classes focussing on constitutions and government are now comprised of coursework with regard to ‘choices’ in life. They explain that secular humanism springs from the designs of the Fabian Society, the Frankfurt School and their many present-day apologists. Abraham (‘hierarchy of needs’) Maslow, whom many of us studied at university, was part of the Frankfurt School and helped develop this concept. It is about more than his affirming ‘self-actualisation’ one studies in Psych 101. Therefore, he was surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reception Catholic nuns gave him after a speech:
On April 17th, 1962, Maslow gave a lecture to a group of nuns at Sacred Heart, a Catholic women’s college in Massachusetts. He noted in a diary entry how the talk had been very ‘successful,’ but he found that very fact troubling. ‘They shouldn’t applaud me,’ he wrote, ‘they should attack. If they were fully aware of what I was doing, they would [attack]’ (Journals, p. 157).
- Increased clout of special-interest groups. Allow me to preface this by saying that what consenting adults do in their private life is no business of mine. However, when special-interest groups expect the taxpayer to fork out for their advancement and entertainment, we have a disconnect. The Christian Institute’s site reported in 2009 that the gay activist group Pride wanted money from Canterbury (Kent) City Council to help open … a gay bar:
The council refused, arguing that it has already provided £4,000 in grants for the group to promote its causes.
According to the council’s website, it has endorsed at least two Pride in Canterbury events in the last two years.
But Mr [Theo] Grzegorczyk thinks this is not enough. He said: “For all those who have questioned whether or not the Equality Duty is practical or necessary: here is your answer.
“This is a council who have been able to wiggle their way out of engaging with members of their own community, simply because the law doesn’t require it.
“Fortunately, Canterbury City Council won’t be able to use that defence much longer.”
- The hypocritical destabilisation of children. In September 2010, Daily Mail columnist Peter Hitchens (Christopher’s brother) analysed gay activist Peter Tatchell’s opposition to the papal visit. He describes:
what I believe is the hypocrisy of his attempt – and that of the Left in general – to wage war on the Pope by employing the charge of condoning or failing to act against paedophilia …
For on June 26, 1997, Mr Tatchell wrote a startling letter to the Guardian newspaper.
In it, he defended an academic book about ‘Boy-Love’ against what he saw as calls for it to be censored …
Personally, I think he went a bit further than that. He wrote that the book’s arguments were not shocking, but ‘courageous’.
He said the book documented ‘examples of societies where consenting inter-generational sex is considered normal’ …
And he concluded: ‘The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy.
‘While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful’ …
What he said in 1997 remains deeply shocking to almost all of us. But shock fades into numb acceptance, as it has over and over again. Much of what is normal now would have been deeply shocking to British people 50 years ago. We got used to it. How will we know where to stop? Or will we just carry on for ever?
As the condom-wavers and value-free sex-educators advance into our primary schools, and the pornography seeps like slurry from millions of teenage bedroom computers, it seems clear to me that shock, by itself, is no defence against this endless, sordid dismantling of moral barriers till there is nothing left at all.
Yet when one of the few men on the planet who argues, with force, consistency and reason, for an absolute standard of goodness comes to this country, he is reviled by fashionable opinion.
- Parents’ taxes fund state power over their own children. We have no choice but to pay taxes. Many go towards necessary services, but when it comes to schools, parents may be on a losing wicket when it comes to withdrawing their children from sex education courses. Gay Labour MP — and former Anglican priest — Chris Bryant has proposed a Sex and Relationships Education Bill which, if passed, would make it difficult to opt out of sex ed classes in schools. The Revd Peter Ould, a married Anglican priest who describes himself as ‘post-gay’, is rightly concerned:
This is a serious issue. At present, parents can remove their children from … sex education … and they can do this at any age. The amendments to the 1996 Act proposed by Bryant mean that a child can only be withdrawn on their own volition (not the parents’) and that that can only happen if they are of “sufficient maturity” … (I cannot see a definition of “sufficiently mature” that will cover children under the age of 12) …
Chris Bryant’s proposals make the State the institution with the legal right and final authority to provide a moral framework for children. The inability of parents to remove their child from a class on sex and relationships education mean that in this area the School can educate children in a manner directly contradictory to the parents’ wishes and [there] is no legal recourse. The non-definition of the term “sufficient maturity” can easily allow a Secretary of State, if s/he was so minded, to raise the bar so high for a child’s absence from these classes that all children are de facto mandated to attend.
- Sanctimonious politicians whose minds are in the gutter. In my 2010 post on the Fabians and Labour politicians, I wrote that they presented themselves very well on television and radio interviews. Between 1997 and 2010, they articulately pointed out the shortcomings of British taxpayers who smoked, drank and ate too much. If we were not guilty of any of those, then we consumed too much electricity and gas. We drove too much. We didn’t get enough exercise. We didn’t read to our children enough. The list was endless. But did you know that one of these MPs, Harriet Harman, in an earlier incarnation as legal officer in 1978 for the organisation now called Liberty, wanted to lower the age of consent to 14 and to decriminalise incest? British readers should also note that at that same time Patricia Hewitt — later a Secretary for Health (!) under Tony Blair — was the general secretary for what was then the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL):
It also defended self-confessed paedophiles in the press and allowed them to attend its meetings …
In NCCL’s official response to the Government’s plans to reform sex laws, dubbed a “Lolita’s Charter”, it suggested reducing the age of consent and argued that “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage”. It claimed that children can suffer more from having to retell their experiences in court or the press.
- The near-inability to disagree without being vilified. Fellow blogger Dick Puddlecote sent me the link to a Michael White article in the Guardian. White, a leading left-wing journalist, has the temerity to argue the case for traditional marriage:
There’s no way around the biological fact that no amount of high-tech chicken basting can eliminate the need for a female egg and a male sperm to make a baby. On that fact rest all successful societies since the year dot …
… of course, an ever larger number of straight couples are busily persuading each other that they don’t need to marry, or stay married, in order to lead happy and enduring family lives.
I merely note in passing that the ever more permissive society in the rich west is barely 40 years old, has always been contested and is piling up problems different from the more conformist societies it replaced – but problems none the less …
Naturally, the comments following the article ripped his editorial to shreds: ‘not what we expect from The Guardian‘. They also criticised another Guardian article, about torture victims whose religious faith gave them hope and kept them alive.
Our society is in such a sad state today. The inability to criticise will become socially ingrained unless we keep speaking out about where morality, responsibility and our society are going. Speak up, speak out — before it’s too late. Choose your medium: letters, phone calls, emails, blogs or social networks. But, please, say something and spread the word!
(Yes, this was a long post, but it was important to paint the portrait, past to present. If you got this far, my thanks!)