Earlier this week when assembling the research for this post, I browsed the UK news online.

What did I find?  According to the Times (UK), the outgoing Labour government was

pursuing a “scorched earth policy” before the general election, leaving behind billions of pounds of previously hidden spending commitments.

The newly discovered Whitehall “black holes” could force even more severe public spending cuts, or higher tax rises, ministers fear.

Vince Cable, the [Liberal Democrat] business secretary, said: “I fear that a lot of bad news about the public finances has been hidden and stored up for the new government. The skeletons are starting to fall out of the cupboard.”

The new cabinet has been discovering previously unknown contracts and uncosted spending commitments left by their spendthrift predecessors.

So, not much concern from Labour for their electorate among honest, working class people — the ones they’re supposed to represent.  Dishonest.

Then I read about the Labour leadership contest, namely the two front runners, the Miliband brothers, Ed and David.  I looked up their late father Ralph.  He founded The Socialist Register and is buried near Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery.  Apparently, he became an active Marxist whilst studying in northwest London after his arrival from Poland during the Second World War.  Hmm. 

Well, news and history items such as these may elicit a non-response from the public.  Yet, they show the socialistic scope creep of our time.  Yesterday, I introduced the Frankfurt School Institute for Social Research to those who might not know about it.  Today, we look at its effects on late 20th century and early 21st century society.

First, you might wonder why we didn’t see it coming.  Participating in a 1996 panel on academic reform, the conservative thinker Gertrude Himmelfarb, Professor Emeritus at CUNY’s Graduate Center, explained:

that it slipped past those 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 a tidal wave of faddish multicultural subjects such as radical feminism, deconstructed relativism as history and other courses” which undermine the perpetuation of Western Civilization.  Indeed, this tidal wave slipped by just as Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School had envisioned — a ‘quiet’ revolution.  A revolution that could not be resisted by force.

Those Frankfurt School luminaries who remained in the United States after the Second World War became American citizens.  In order to further their message, they took great care in using verbiage that would not offend mainstream America.  They said nothing about ‘revolution’, only ‘tolerance’ and ‘change’. 

Here are more ways in which the Frankfurt School influenced us directly or indirectly:

Popular psychology: In order to free us of our ‘hang-ups’, mass psychology took hold.  One of the most oft-heard questions of our time is ‘Have you considered therapy?’  Again, we see the Marxist preoccupation with mental disorders.

Postmodernism: Our world seems to be full of people like the postmodernist Hayden White. He discounted documented history, labelling it ‘authoritarian’:

Historical narratives…are verbal fictions, the contents of which are more invented than found … reinforce the proposition that truth and reality are primarily authoritarian weapons of our times.

And this is the crux of postmodernism: truth is authoritarian.  Hence, the relativism in which we find ourselves today: ‘My truth is just as valid as yours.’  Whose truth is the truth?  Only that of the revisionists who promote the left-wing agenda. The goal is to cut current and future generations off from the culture their ancestors knew and loved. In this way, we can be remade to think differently. So, you probably won’t be surprised to find that almost all of the people who either developed or advanced the concept of postmodernism are Marxists.  But I digress.

Family breakdown: The nuclear family is disappearing into single-parent households or morphing into a hydra of step-partners, step-grandparents, step-cousins and so forth.  Socialists like this because it means the state has more influence over what goes on at home.  Never mind the increased crime rates, lack of traditional role models, absentee parents and the like.  This is all right because state-appointed ‘experts’ can then dictate to us. 

The Frankfurt School influenced this through the ‘gender’ and ‘generation’ gaps, which never existed before in such a universally well-publicised way. Dr Gerald L Atkinson quotes the Institute for Social Research:

Even a partial breakdown of parental authority in the family might tend to increase the readiness of a coming generation to accept social change.

Women: And speaking of the gender gap, William Z Foster was a long-time General Secretary of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).  This is what he had to say about women in the home:

The so-called freedom of the American woman is a myth. Either she is a gilded butterfly bourgeois parasite or she is an oppressed slave.

‘The Russian woman is free economically, and this is the foundation of all her freedom. Every field of activity is open to her. She is to be found even in such occupations as locomotive engineer, electrical crane operator, machinist . . .  

Sex: Of sexual roles and relationships, Frankfurt’s Eric Fromm believed that:

… sex was more often tied to hatred and destruction.  Masculinity and femininity were not reflections of ‘essential’ sexual differences, as the romantics had thought.  They were derived instead from differences in life functions, which were in part socially determined.

Herbert Marcuse, also of the Frankfurt School, advised university students to:

Make love, not war!

Do your own thing.

If it feels good, do it.

Those of us of a certain age will remember those rallying cries from the late 1960s protests and hippiedom.  Marcuse, often quoted at the time, was the guy in the background who really made that period of modern history both memorable and shocking.

Family courts: In a review of Stephen Baskerville’s book, Taken into Custody, author Joseph A D’Agostino notes:

… what most do not know, even if they follow family issues, is that our family courts are nearly all-powerful, unaccountable star chambers that openly reject due process, traditional legal rights and the Constitution itself. Family courts are civil courts or courts of equity, not criminal courts, so most constitutional protections and procedures do not apply, even though these courts have been given tremendous power. They routinely take couples’ children away from them without trial on the flimsiest accusation of abuse from a teacher or neighbor, limit or eliminate one or both parents’ contact with their own children after divorce without any evidence of wrongdoing on the parents’ part, order parents to pay the fees of lawyers and psychotherapists they did not hire, and send parents to jail without a hearing.

Sensitivity training:  This is a psychological technique which goes under various names depending on the subject matter.  University students are often required to undergo diversity training as part of first-year orientation.  Those of a certain demographic pass the course when they feel too guilty to be alive, even when there is no real justification for that guilt.  Sensitivity training may also form part of a management training course in either the public or private sector.  Dr Atkinson says:

It is of interest to note that the ‘sensitivity training’ techniques used in our public schools over the past 30 years and which are now employed by the U.S. military to educate the troops about ‘sexual harassment’ were developed during World War II and thereafter by Kurt Lewin and his proteges.  One of them, Abraham Maslow, was a member of the Frankfurt school and the author of ‘The Art of Facilitation’ which is a manual used during such ‘sensitivity’ training.  Thereby teachers were indoctrinated not to teach but to ‘facilitate.’  This manual describes the techniques developed by Kurt Lewin and others to change a person’s world view via participation in small-group encounter sessions.

Education: Teachers aren’t there to impart knowledge but to allow and encourage the students’ self-expression and independence. Dr Atkinson notes:

Teachers were to become amateur group therapists.  The classroom became the center of self-examination, therapeutic circles where children … talked about their own subjective feelings.  This technique was designed to convince children they were the sole authority in their own lives.

Many parents perceive that state teachers and school boards place more emphasis on sex education than the three Rs.  Students are expected to sacrifice personal safety for the sake of tolerance of a minority of violent students who take over the classroom and play areas.  Dress codes and traditional norms of behaviour have disappeared.   

Music: Theodor Adorno, a primary member of the Frankfurt School, was a trained musician and keen analyst of popular culture.  He connected melodic and classical music with capitalist and bourgeois oppression, advocating what was known at the time as ‘avant garde’ art and music.  Adorno wrote:

What radical music perceives is the untransfigured suffering of man… The seismographic registration of traumatic shock becomes, at the same time, the technical structural law of music. It forbids continuity and development. Musical language is polarized according to its extreme; towards gestures of shock resembling bodily convulsions on the one hand, and on the other towards a crystalline standstill of a human being whom anxiety causes to freeze in her tracks … Modern music sees absolute oblivion as its goal. It is the surviving message of despair from the shipwrecked

Art: In the 1930s the CPUSA received instructions from Moscow on the subject of art. They advocated promoting ugly, non-representational art forms in an effort to blight aesthetics and dull our innate appreciation of beauty.  This may seem like a small detail to those who are not interested in art, but, over time, it has an important effect on the psyche. An essay, ‘Gramscian Damage‘, explains:

The explicit goal was to erode the confidence of America’s ruling class and create an ideological vacuum to be filled by Marxism-Leninism.

Adorno and his fellow Frankfurt colleagues had also picked up on the value of modern art:

This view of modern art as producing truth only through the negation of traditional aesthetic form and traditional norms of beauty because they have become ideological is characteristic of Adorno and of the Frankfurt School generally. It has been criticized by those who do not share its conception of modern society as a false totality that renders obsolete traditional conceptions and images of beauty and harmony.

And, so, as another member of the Frankfurt School’s Institute for Social Research, Max Horkheimer, said:

The Revolution won’t happen with guns, rather it will happen incrementally, year by year, generation by generation. We will gradually infiltrate their educational institutions and their political offices, transforming them slowly into Marxist entities as we move towards universal egalitarianism.

The Frankfurt School’s influence is most clearly embodied in the immediate post-War wave of Baby Boomers, who are now in their 60s.  They are the establishment figures of our institutions, whether universities, schools or churches.  Many of these people have not only children of their own but grandchildren.  They were able to have the best of all possible worlds by growing up in America.  Whilst they deride the former ‘American way of life’, many of us can only gaze wistfully into the void hoping and working for its return.

There is so much more that can be said on this topic.  We have not examined television, film, architecture or literature.  However, by now, you now know what signs to look for.  These developments were never by accident, only design.

This week we’ll look at recent news and protests worldwide.

For more reading, see:

‘What is the Frankfurt School?’  

‘The Frankfurt School and Cultural Marxism: A Primer’

‘The Communist Plan for American Women’ 

‘Children of the State’

‘Anticommunism and Modern Art’

‘Modern Art as Communist Subversion’

‘Gramscian Damage’

‘The Origins of Political Correctness’ (also features more on individual Frankfurt School members)