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07 December 2017

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Mathiasalexander

How on earth do youread Bush-Cheney as any kind of liberal, or Washington Post, CNN, NYT and MSNBC any being any kind of leftist?

drfrank

Beneath the dignity of your blog, Colonel.

signal-to-noise

There is a way to look at this without invoking the sort of "left-vs-right" arguments that can divide people in spite of their common interests.

The NYT, WP, et al., have a long history of speaking in unison against whatever boogeyman-du-juor our masters want us to direct our collective enmity towards. The current cycle includes Kim, Putin, Assad, and of course Trump. The first three of these are leaders of countries who defy US imperialism and thus are classified by the Borg as enemies, as e.g., were Ghadaffi and Saddam. Trump has failed to adhere to the script he was given, and therefore he stands in the way of "progress" and earns himself a place on the boogeyman list.

LeaNder

Harper, this is interesting.

Not sure if I babbled on our most recent contribution by Publius Tacitus, but considering his larger theme or question: Does it make sense to compare 'Russiagate' to 'Watergate', I have to admit that my mind 'flowed' into the direction too more historically. ... to what extend do historical analogies make sense? ...

Concerning the Frankfurt School: I have serious problems to fit the fate of Walter Benjamin's into a, easy analogy between then and now. More selectively, speaking. Only a silly guy? Why didn't choose Israel at that point in time?

But from the perspective of GB, I am sure that David Habakkuk has a lot of evidence that supports your position on the New Left. Sounds a bit like neo I have to admit versus paleo. We have disagreements, but I closer look made me aware what may have been his problems.

ked

I think harsh treatment of Trump is because he has turned out to be intolerable. This is no surprise to many. The media is a trailing indicator, now spotlighting this growing general awareness. Theoretically, Trump could have avoided this happening, but he thrives on the attention he gets from upsetting his many adversaries and norms. The media, all across the spectrum, magnify the Trump phenomenon to gain attention to causes or to better monetize the drama. Plus, it is easy work compared to examining critical issues more seriously.
Since my exposure to Marcuse in the early ‘70’s, I have not observed his philosophy being carried-forth, or even cared-about anywhere in American politics or media. The idea of radical New Leftism as a significant force is a joke. Trump is a train wreck personality that animates.

turcopolier

drfrank

We don't have many SST correspondents in Argentina or is this just routed about a bit? Whoever you are - tell me in what way Harper's piece is below the dignity of my blog. pl

Degringolade

Well, I ain't dignified and now I really want to read the piece by Cranston cited in the article.

I poked around briefly trying to find an article by Cranston about Marcuse, but no joy. If someone has a link to it, I would greatly appreciate the reference. I gotta go to work, and chat with people who don't agree with me on a lot of things.

Marcuse would not approve.

Lemur

It pays to mention the Frankfurt School were nearly all Jews who rehashed Freud (another Jew) and Marx's theories with an eye to revivify the left after the exposure of the Communist hell in the USSR and the recent experience of fascism in Europe (which scared the left because the working class defected from the ideological vector predicted by orthodox Marxist thought).

Today, we mainly hear about them through the writings of the conspiratorially minded American normie right. The tea party luminary Andrew Breitbart (interestingly, another jew) did much to popularize the term 'cultural Marxism.' The idea is Frankfurt thinkers took Marx's ideas and applied them to culture instead of the economic substrate of society. This is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. Marxism presupposes a dialectical theory of economic materialism. If culture is your primary unit of analysis, then qualitative divergence has occurred. 'Cultural marxist' is conceptually akin to saying 'married bachelor.'

Conservative yowling about this body of work focus almost entirely on Adorno's proposal of the 'authoritarian personality' (I took the test and got 93/100), Marcuse's idea of repressive tolerance (which is only given a short treatment), and their hostility to The Market. Other lines of critique advance are notoriously conservative, sometimes even reactionary. Here in The Dialectic of Enlightenment, they attack modern concept of a leveling equality: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DQLsbN_VQAAZcsz.jpg

Certainly, the rising post-liberal right is reading these works (including their stuff on repressive tolerance and the notion equality is nothing more than conformity) and splicing them with the mainstream pedigree of traditionalist ideas in an effort to supersede both the left and the useless whig right. A brief example: https://twitter.com/NUKEMEDADDY/status/891540473659015168

Conservatives tend to grossly overestimate the influence the the Frankfurt School had. Herbert Marcuse was known only in select circles during the sixties. Indeed, much of the Frankfurt School’s work was translated after the Cultural Revolution. Adorno et el regarded their students - the liberals of the current year - as crass, authoritarian idiots. Compared to the hippies, the Frankfurters were squares.

From an intellectual perspective, technocratic empiricism, French post-structuralism, communicative rationality, Karl Jaspers, Hegel's 20th century expositor Kojeve, and word systems theory in history to name but a few far more problematic than the obscurantist Frankfurters.

Socially, certain tendencies within Protestantism, the ethnic proclivities that emerged as Jews penetrated WASP institutions, consumerism, materialism, growing urbanization and suburbanization, the coming into being of the managerial class, and the increasing scale of social systems all contributed to creating the people and things conservatives instinctively don't like but lack an adequate discourse to explain in the current year. Some of these trends had developed in the 19th century.

All in all, the problems with contemporary Western society are so profound a little essay by a few ivory tower cogitators comes nowhere near a designation of the 'threat'. By customary standards of civilization, we've been in crisis for decades. There is a degree to which Jeb Bush was entirely right when he described Trump as the 'chaos candidate.' One way to resolve a crisis is to trigger it, thus gaining the strategic initiative and problem solving momentum. The worst possible outcome is a preservation of the status quo, where systems grind down until they implode.


505thPIR

@drfrank Nothing happens in a vacuum. There is a vast root system to all things present. Your comment is a sideways attempt to silence and blind free thought and debate. A pox upon your intellectual house sir!

LondonBob

I've always thought it is a much neglected area of study, given the profound influence of the likes of Marcuse on the world we currently live in. I would though put the influence further back in to the 20s and 30s with Boas and Frued paving the way for the later radicals.

Huckleberry

> "German Marxist Frankfurt School"

Judging from the wiki pages on every thinker named, perhaps it would be more accurate to say "Jewish Marxist Frankfurt School" ?

In the interest of fairness, there is one prominent goy among the Frankfurt thinkers: Jurgen Habermas.

Also, Hannah Arendt being a member of the Frankfurt School is news to me.

The thoughtcriminal Kevin MacDonald's research into this may be worth a look to anyone trying to understand this. It's can be heavy-going, but should be considered in any discussion of the Frankfurt School:

https://www.amazon.com/Culture-Critique-Evolutionary-Twentieth-Century-Intellectual/dp/0759672229/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512668037&sr=8-1&keywords=kevin+macdonald+culture+of+critique

Fred

Harper,

Marcuse' essay reads like the play book of the left in action today. To quote the essay: "If it is necessary to break the established universe of meaning...." that explains "gay" marriage and gender identity movements. His idea that "liberating tolerance" means intolerance of the Right is plain to see on campus and off. I think we are going to be in for even more violence from the left.

The Porkchop Express

Harper

Spot on. The Frankfurt School and its thinkers are the ideological godfathers to the Neocon/Neoliberal movements. And the pernicious effect of their ideology claiming dominance in the American education system for the better part of 70 plus years has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

J

Cranston and Marcuse whole premise is theirs is the only opinion that matters, all other opinions are to be crushed at all costs.

This is the same mantra Hitler espoused.

Looks like a two-faced Janus to me.

james

harper - do you ever use ''rightist''? i see you are using ''leftist'' or left a good amount.. personally whenever i see this in someones writing it immediately raises a blue flag, lol...

Jack

Harper

"...New Leftist view of the world that aims to replace our democratic republican system of government and elections with a quasi-dictatorship of political correctness..."

I have seen political correctness go from strength to strength in my lifetime. This focus on social language is not the only deterioration in our culture. The fact that there is no accountability for policy error and that failure in government means only more power is the other big deterioration in our society. There is no longer a shared vision nor an understanding of our unique founding principles of limited government.

My views on big government and "cartelization" of business have been reinforced by my experience after the loss of my home during the recent wildfires in Northern California. Neither the federal nor state government which have grown to immense size in my lifetime did much. Neither did national organizations like the Red Cross and United Way. The support and action was all local. It's the local community that rallied to provide assistance and help, both tangible and intangible.

My working years were in finance and banking and macroeconomic analysis. I have seen how narrow interests and sophistry have prevailed to the detriment of the median household. We now have the greatest wealth inequality in our history even rivaling the 20s. This has happened through the capture of big government and the use of increasing govermental power to benefit the "cartels". The privatization of speculative profits and the socialization of losses is through this capture.

Where I disagree with you is that this propensity of growing the scale and scope of government and the increasing centralization of power in government and big business is not just the handiwork of the "left" but also the "right". Both sides want big government to enforce their interests. Political correctness also extends to both sides. There is no constituency for the principles of our founding. The principles of tolerance for ideas, for the primacy of liberty over so called safety, for due process and the presumption of innocence until convicted, the equal application of the law, decentralization of power to our communities, for a competitive marketplace where monopolies are broken and a limited role for government where the rule of law is sacrosanct.

The biggest change I have seen is the erosion of honor among our elites. My generation is the most culpable in this regard.

Valissa

Great essay, Harper, thanks!

Back when I was still an unconscious liberal I would have dismissed this post as conservative bias. There are many reasons I decided to be an ex-liberal and make efforts to consciously deprogram my primarily unconscious liberal political belief structure. It was a long and gradual process. I became more understanding and tolerant of conservatism because I chose to do so. But I was not born a Democrat (my father was a Republican) as some here so had no fundamental political identity.

As this post discusses, liberals have become very intolerant of people who think differently and hold different values. It was the growing intolerance of the Left to the Right that was one of the first thing that got me rethinking my beliefs. Tolerance of different ways of thinking has always been one of my core values. I am stanchly against evangelizing of any kinds of beliefs and that's what my liberal friends are reduced to these days.

Just a wild guess ;) but I think most of the liberals reading this blog will not appreciate your insights about the problems inherent in modern liberalism, which has sadly gotten farther and farther removed from classical liberalism and moved closer to socialism (despite it's obvious historical failures). None of my liberal friends seem to know anything at all about the history of liberalism or what it means philosophically. At one point I asked people if they had ever taken the time to read the Wikipedia articles on Liberalism, Conservatism, and Libertarianism to try and understand them better. No one answered yes. They all think they know exactly what liberalism is, despite not educating themselves about it. This is so crazy because how can liberalism be "repaired" without some serious thinking (same goes for conservatives who also say the same things over and over again without thinking).

When there is no questioning and no self-reflection there can be no change. This applies to anyone with any political position. Ideology is easy, thinking for oneself by analyzing numerous facts and data and then being willing to change your belief system is not. Especially when your politically like-minded friends will disapprove approve of you for being independent minded.

Even though I had been exploring the roots of modern liberalism for a while only in the last couple of years have I come to have an inkling of the role and strong influence Marxism and the Frankfurt School have had in this process. It's a great topic for conversation but I am skeptical people will be able to do so unemotionally.

shepherd

This is very reductionist to the point where if one of my students had written it, I'd give it a "C" or "C-" and added the comment "overgeneralized." And you can pretty much pepper it with comments like "source?" and "unsubstantiated statement."

It's an enduring feature of most strains of Marxist thought that a few enlightened individuals should upend the existing order and ram political correctness down everyone else's throat. And when it's been sufficiently rammed, everyone will live in joy and happiness. Marcuse is just one flavor of that.

Media bias is not Marcuse, it's just bias. The media may want to remove Trump, but conservative media wanted to remove Obama. Neither is trying to upend the order. They are the order. For what it's worth, both are dominated by coastal elites, and they both make a lot of money by playing to their side.


Outrage Beyond

While the overall idea that Clintonistas are trying to foist "quasi-dictatorship of political correctness" upon us has some merit, the idea that this is somehow "Leftism" is unfounded.

More accurately, both wings of the oligarch-controlled Party have greatly advanced an agenda of quasi-dictatorship. They have achieved this through assaults on voting rights, wealth re-distribution, corporate personhood, endless wars on behalf of Israel, the "Israelization" of America, (via extensive training of US police in Israel, to cite just one method) and an endless stream of identity politics.

There is obviously much more that could be said to describe this agenda and its goals, but there is nothing leftist about it whatsoever. Rather, the goal is ensuring the permanence of oligarchic rule while (in the case of the Clintonistas) providing a Potemkin village of identity politics exhibitions that merely amount to tokenism.

To cite just one example of how this system rejects even a faint whiff of leftism, one might note how the primaries were rigged to eliminate Bernie Sanders. Sanders, an avowed Zionist, is a pretend-leftist at best, but he is one of the few who make some pseudo-leftist noises (sans action) from time to time.

While actors cited by the author may have been originally inspired by the Frankfurt school, their recent actions show a greater debt to the red-baiting of Joseph McCarthy.

Richardstevenhack

Once again I'm glad that I left the "right-left" dichotomy in the dust decades ago.

And that I never read any of the classic philosophers except Nietzsche.

One needs to delve deeper into human behavior to understand the state of the world than the hand-waving philosophers or conniving political pundits do.

jonst

Let us leave aside, *for the moment*, the question of Leftist or not. What do they all have in common?
Wide, aggressive, and determined, support for dramatically increased immigration into the US. Two, aggressive support for an activist foreign policy focused on 'regime change'. Often supported by military employment of US forces, conventional and unconventional. Three, all supporters of so called "free trade" agreements. All supporters of so called 'gay rights' measures, transgenderism, et al. All supporters of, to greater or lesser extents, extreme federal involvement in so call 'common core' programs in education in US grade schools and high schools. All big supporters of NATO. All big supporters of Israel. All hate Trump AND his base. All enemies of what THEY call Nationalism (at least so called White Nationalism, they seem to be relatively ok with Black Nationalist movements, though they do not call them that.

It is not my contention to challenge, here, anyway, whether they are 'right or wrong' in their respective positions. Rather, I am simply trying to show how you could, and Trump's followers, and Sanders, perhaps as well, DO, lump these groups together. .

Fred

Lemur,

"Herbert Marcuse was known only in select circles during the sixties." The other folks on the left disagree with you.

https://www.brandeis.edu/marcuse2014/about.html

Tell me, is Brandeis, where Marcuse taught for over a decade, just some kind of community college that's a step above an internet degree?
http://www.brandeis.edu/about/alumni.html

"gaining the strategic initiative and problem solving momentum." Right out of the Marcuse playbook. John Conyers must resign! Al Franken must resign! "The worst possible outcome is a preservation of the status quo, where...." men are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before a jury of his peers. A seperate and parallel system of jurisprudence with different rules of evidence - such as we see on college campuses - is much preferable to the authoritarian left.

Terry

Marcuse's essay is quite a pseudo intellectual, twisted reverse logic rationalization of "the ends are more important than the means" along with justifying blind partisan group loyalty and obedience over objective truth, morality, and even respect for others and good manners.

Freedom of Speech, Debate, and Criticism are at the core of Western society. Self criticism is an important part of this and a unique feature of western culture going back thousands of years to the Greeks. Self criticism features in Western religions, politics, psychology, and spiritual pursuits. Self-criticism is absolutely key to science and is the driver behind the advance in western civilization. It is clear Marcuse wouldn't approve of self-criticism and his thought is profoundly anti-western. This anti-western attitude is reflected in the neoliberals of today and where-ever you find suppression of free speech, control of information, suppression of criticism you are seeing regressive forces of ideologies that are alien (even though now held by large groups of westerners and many of our institutions) opposed to very foundation of western civilization and science.

Terry

You comment is a perfect example of what Marcuse promoted and as such creates quite a bit of unintentional irony.

Bsox327

Great write up i believe, and not a bad idea for all to look at the structural changes that have taken place over the years and study to see if it's part of a big bang type occurrence or intelligent design. Keynes at Harvard is another one of the Frankfurt school instructional books out there in the world
These intellectua/ideologues have been working long and hard on this project.
https://www.amazon.com/Keynes-Harvard-Economic-deception-political/dp/B0007EDEC0/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512680106&sr=1-2&keywords=keynes+at+harvard

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