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Earlier this year I wrote about the Fabians, Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.  All of them had subversion of the Church and family unit in mind in order to remake society into a socialist utopia, one which met their vision of controlling the lower orders.

The Frankfurt School were particularly adept at bringing new concepts and terminology into play in the latter half of the 20th century.  Our parents, grandparents and even we — whether at home, in work or in education — looked at these and, understandably, regarded them as new, necessary ways of thinking for a new era in the Western world.  Little did they — or we — realise how much damage they would do to our society as a whole.

An American author and researcher, Dean Gotcher, went through a crisis of faith at university — ironically, a Christian institution of higher learning.   It took him some years to return to faith and to find out what caused it.  His research led him to conclude that it was the Hegelian dialectic combined with praxis (practice, action) designed to change people’s behaviour and their interpersonal relationships. He calls this ‘diaprax’.  When you have time, why not consult the Churchmouse Campanologist series on diaprax?

Gotcher writes at length about this in his online book, Diaprax and the End of the Ages.  What appears to be wholesome and good is actually ruining our world, beginning in the home.  As Gotcher’s findings are lengthy, yet highly absorbing, I shall provide excerpts but recommend that you spend time reading his research in full.  As has often been said through the ages, ‘Things are not always what they seem’.

My posts from earlier this week describe how diaprax works in churches.  The next two will describe how they work in a secular environment.

Diaprax relies on ‘felt needs’ and our ‘higher-order thinking skills’ (HOTS), sometimes called ‘human reasoning skills’.  Although it panders to elevated reasoning and thinking, it is in reality highly subjective and emotion-based.  Gotcher explains dialectic, which you have probably encountered in workshops either at school or work:

The first consideration of dialectic thought is how people relate to one another. This is the personal need each individual has for social relationship. The focus in satisfying these needs is not on what you think when you think about others—that is monodimensional thinking or the traditional way of thinking (didactic)—but how you think about others—that is multidimensional thinking or the transformational way of thinking (dialectic). The “others” you must think about include not only family, friends, community, established ideas, normal behavior, and traditional ways of doing things but also strangers, enemies, foreigners, innovative ideas, daring behavior, and new or different ways of doing things.

Note the other terms used for this: ‘multidimensional’ and ‘transformational’ ways of thinking.

He notes that dialectic would have stayed in a philosophical and socio-political realm had it not been developed and brought to the public at large beginning in the 1930s via ‘praxis’.  Although Transformational Marxists such as Georg Lukacs and Antonio Gramsci developed the concept in the 1920s in their respective countries (Hungary and Italy), the Frankfurt School were the ones who imbued Western mainstream thinking with these ideas, designed to keep moving us from a didactic and objective way of thinking (2+2=4) to a more subjective one (‘there is no absolute truth’).  Hence, we read about ‘change’.  This change is meant to be continuous.

In the video below Gotcher explains how diaprax works — well worth the nine minutes. He reveals why the language used in this process is deliberately ambiguous — to accommodate everyone and to bring about ‘consensus’, itself a collectivist term:

Of praxis — putting the new ideas into action — Gotcher writes:

When praxis became a part of the intellectuals’ dialectic toy, major social changes began to appear within our nation. The combined process of the dialectic and praxis made it possible for socialist-minded intellectuals to directly impact not only the university, but also the public and private school, corporations as well as small business, local as well as state and national government, the church, and even the home.

How does this work?  Let’s begin with the family.  Before the 1950s, the word ‘teenager’ was unknown.  Adolescents and parents spent time together as a family.  Secondary school students learned how to be adults, either helping out at home, getting a job after school or studying for university.  Parents taught their sons and daughters self-control over their behaviour.  Social occasions for young people were, in general, highly structured and chaperoned.  Parents held teas, at which other parents would be present.  Dances at schools were formal occasions, also with parents present.  There were opportunities to sing and dance, but all within received behavioural norms.  Many people attended church or synagogue, and children accompanied their parents.

By 1960, the phenomenon of the previous decade’s rock and roll, psychology and teenagers became the norm.  In 1961, socio-psychologist James Coleman — who would later act as an advisor to the US Supreme Court — wrote a book called The Adolescent Society: the Social Life of the Teenager and Its Impact on Education.  Instead of describing the adolescent as one who receives guidance from parents and teachers, he writes of the teenager as a fully-formed individual (emphases Gotcher’s below):

The family must be prepared to deal with [the adolescent’s] early social sophistication. Mass media, and an ever-increasing range of personal experiences, gives an adolescent social sophistication at an early age, making him unfit for the obedient role of the child in the family

Thus the strategy of strengthening the family to draw the adolescent back into it faces serious problems, as well as some questions about its desirability …

Rather than bringing the father back to play with his son, this strategy would recognize that society has changed, and attempt to improve those institutions designed to educate the adolescent toward adulthood.  In order to do this, one must know how adolescent societies function, and beyond that, how their directions may be changed.

I wouldn’t say that Coleman and others were entirely responsible for this shift nor would I say that the Frankfurt School was.  However, they did manage to capitalise on the dominance of women working in factories during the Second World War, the weakened state of men post-war (fatalities in battle, fatherless families) and the rebellion of teenage boys as a result (increased independence outside the home).  Many young families also moved away from their neighbourhoods to new suburbs, forming new alliances with neighbours and colleagues instead of with family.  More people owned cars, so travel became increasingly commonplace.  Many middle-class families also had television sets and were exposed to a new visual entertainment.

In the workplace, Total Quality Management (TQM) became commonplace in manufacturing firms.  Peter Drucker helped to bring this worldwide for a much higher standard and reliability in processes, productivity and finished products.

In the 1970s, many people began to turn to psychology and Eastern religions.  A variety of books helped change the way people thought about their interpersonal relationships.  This is generally known as ‘transformational thinking’.  What I think about you may not be what you think about me.  We each need to acknowledge that and steer our relationship accordingly.

By the 1990s, office processes and interpersonal relationships were the subject of management seminars, employee inductions and so forth.  ‘Values’ became important.  Many large corporations developed a short list of ‘core values’ they expected their employees to adhere to.  Negotiation and soft skills became the subject of many an away-day and team-building session.

For older people, a local ‘forever learning’ or ‘life-long learning’ programme took root in the 1980s.  Some local state universities offered courses.  Many churches had more informal ones.  These, too, were designed to change how our elders think.  Sure, the courses would have had objective titles, but they often had a combination of pedagogy and discussion about the lesson.  People were encouraged to say, ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’.  The subject of study became secondary to the process of diaprax.

The military, public and education sectors began to explore sensitivity training in the 1970s.  The main gist of the seminars and ‘teacher training days’ was to think differently about others, putting oneself in another’s shoes.  Consequently, many people have been trained to ’embrace change’ and ‘foster diversity’ by being ‘understanding’ and ‘accepting’ of others.

In all of these situations, Gotcher states that the objective is to arrive at:

the “best” or “most rational” solution to personal-social relationship needs.This does not mean that the solution agreed upon should be “fact” or “truth” (absolute), only that it is acceptable to all as a possible solution that could or should be tried relative feelings toward ambiguous facts.

We’re no longer talking about civility and etiquette.  This is observing, evaluating, measuring our behaviour at every stage to ensure that what we do is correct in the other person’s eyes.

Almost everyone reading this post has been affected by diaprax at some point.  For many of us, myself included, it started in some measure at school.  Even John Dewey — yes, he of the Dewey Decimal System in libraries — toured Europe over a century ago and brought back educational theories from early Marxist theorists.   His influence on developing a uniform education system in the United States paved the way for later theorists, among them Kenneth Benne, Warren Bennis, Ronald Havelock, Edward Glaser, Richard Bandler, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.

Hence, we are accustomed to ‘self-actualisation’, ‘realising our full potential’, ‘being ourselves’ and so forth.  Each of these concepts encourages subjective feelings and personal truths.  Children move away from parents as early as pre-school or nursery.  We read endless articles about grandparents or aunties being unsuitable to mind children because the child will lack ‘socialisation skills’.  The idea is to move children from the earliest age possible into a third-party, state-approved system of development, thereby reducing the nuclear family to an evening, morning and weekend afterthought.

The child must learn how to become part of society, otherwise he cannot fulfil his ‘individual’ role within it:

It is not individualism that fulfills the individual, on the contrary, it destroys him.  Society is the necessary framework through which freedom and individuality are made realities.
John Lewis, The Life and Teaching of Karl Marx,  p. 56.

Socially useful work and its results determine a person’s status in society.

Citizens are obliged to concern themselves with the upbringing of children, to train them for socially useful work, and to raise them as worthy members of socialist society.
Articles 14 and 66 of former USSR Constitution.

So, the modern state doesn’t really mind working mums.  In fact, working mums, whether married or single, give the state the chance to ‘intervene’ and raise children from infancy.  Increasingly, even nurseries perform ‘skills tests’ on children, evaluating them at regular intervals on their ability to play, share, speak and so forth.  Any shortfall or deviation — ‘anti-social’ behaviour — is duly noted and put on file.  The child has a ‘permanent record’ before he even knows what he is doing.

Tomorrow: Diaprax — never let a crisis go to waste

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