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How many people know about the Battle of Lepanto?

In the 1970s, when Western education was still decent, I took a year of World History in high school. If we covered it, it must have been a footnote.

I read about it in depth only six years ago, when someone from the West Indies had a WordPress blog, since deleted. The writer was Catholic and explained the religious, historical and cultural significance of October 7, 1571, the date of the victory over the Ottoman Empire.

The victory was important to Mediterranean Europe. Inland, the Battle of Vienna took place just over a century later, on September 12, 1683, led by the indomitable King Jan (John) III Sobieski of Poland. Lepanto was to the Mediterranean what Vienna was to the rest of Europe.

On to the Battle of Lepanto and October 7, which Catholics venerate as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In 2017, Polish Catholics assembled nationwide to pray the Rosary on that day. The Daily Mail has more (emphases mine):

Hundreds of thousands of Polish Catholics are expected to descend Saturday on the country’s borders to recite the rosary “to save Poland and the world” from the dangers facing them, organisers say, but others claim the event is aimed at protecting Europe from what they term a Muslim onslaught.

The episcopate insists that the “Rosary to the Borders” is a purely religious initiative, but some Catholics view it as a weapon against “Islamisation.”

The date was not chosen at random. October 7 is when Catholics celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, marking the 1571 victory of Christianity over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.

A victory attributed to the recital of the rosary “that saved Europe from Islamisation”, the Solo Dios Basta foundation said on the website of the event it is organising.

Many Poles see Islam as a threat. The conservative government, which enjoys the backing of a sizeable portion of the population, refuses to welcome migrants to Poland, which has very few Muslims of its own.

Twenty-two border dioceses will take part in the event, whose faithful will congregate in some 200 churches for a lecture and mass before travelling to the border to say the rosary.

The goal is to have as many prayer points as possible along the 3,511 kilometres (about 2,200 miles) that make up Poland’s borders with Belarus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine and the Baltic Sea.

Fishing boats will join in at sea, while kayaks and sailboats will form a chain along rivers and lakes. Prayers will also be said at the chapels of a few international airports …

The goal is to pray for world peace, according to Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, spokesman for the Polish Bishops’ Conference.

“The initiative obviously received the approval of Poland’s bishops,” he told AFP, emphasising that it would be wrong to view the event as a prayer against the arrival of Muslim refugees.

“It is not a matter of closing ourselves off to others. On the contrary, the point of bringing the rosary to the borders is to break down walls and open ourselves up to Russians, Belarussians, Slovaks, Ukrainians and Germans,” he said

In 2018, on October 7, Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, appeared on a talk show saying that the influx of immigrants arriving by boat are not true refugees. He estimates that only 10 per cent are. He recommends taking in only women and young children. He objects to turning Italy’s public housing over to immigrants arriving by boat and says that local and regional governments should continue to reserve these flats and houses for Italians. Currently, Angela Merkel is trying to transfer immigrants who had arrived in Germany via Italy back to Italy:

RMC (French talk radio) had a lengthy segment on immigration from Africa on the morning of Monday, October 8. Opinion was strongly divided as to whether and how many more immigrants France — especially Paris — should accommodate. It was a lively discussion with no conclusion. One point that did stand out was that French people were being pushed down the queue for social housing for recently-arrived immigrants. So, the French housing situation is like Italy’s, which is like Germany’s and Sweden’s.

Besides the religious and 21st century significance of the Battle of Lepanto, there is a historic one. It took place at a time when the invasion of hordes of groups of people — not just those from the Ottoman Empire — were invading not only Europe but also Asia.

I had always wondered how these groups had been stopped. A considered essay, ‘The Significance of Lepanto’, explains what happened from that point through to the 18th century.

First, we need to consider the main group of players in Europe’s Holy League. These nation-states also controlled various parts of the Mediterranean, including islands such as Corsica, Cyprus and Crete. Trade and strategic ports were important to the Spanish, the Venetians and to the Vatican, which also controlled territory in this part of the world:

The Battle of Lepanto has a major place in the symbolism of the Western-Islamic relationship, and Niccolò Capponi’s recently published Victory of the West: The Story of the Battle of Lepanto treats the battle as a major encounter between the Islamic Ottoman empire and the forces of Western Christendom.

Lepanto was the last great battle that could be described as a simple clash between Christendom and Islam. Fought on October 7, 1571, it saw the fleet of the Ottoman empire pitted against an alliance of Spain, Venice and various other minor players to form a Holy League under the leadership of Don Juan of Austria, the illegitimate half-brother of Philip II of Spain.

The battle was the response of the Christian powers to the invasion of the Venetian possession of Cyprus. At stake was control of the Mediterranean. If the Ottomans had won then there was a real possibility that an invasion of Italy could have followed so that the Ottoman sultan, already claiming to be emperor of the Romans, would have been in possession of both New and Old Rome. The Pope could have become as much a tool of the Ottoman sultan as his Orthodox counterpart the Patriarch of Constantinople already was.

Yet, as Capponi points out, the Holy League was hardly a model of Christian solidarity. The Spanish and the Venetians had different strategic objectives—the Spanish were concerned primarily with Italy, North Africa and the Western Mediterranean, while Venice was anxious to recover Cyprus and protect its interests in the eastern Mediterranean. The Spanish were not keen for a battle that might lose them precious resources, particularly as Philip II, with interests as well in northern Europe, was usually on the verge of bankruptcy. The Spanish were also concerned that the Venetians were in the process of cutting a deal with the Ottomans. Just a few days before the battle there was a conflict between the Spanish and Venetians that almost tore the fleet apart. Nevertheless the alliance held and the League fleet scored a stunning success.

Lepanto reshaped the religious bent of the Mediterranean:

The cultural shape of the lands around the Mediterranean was confirmed with a largely Islamic East and South staring across the waters at a Christian North and West.

The Ottoman Empire gradually lost territory and influence from that point until it collapsed with the Great War (1914-1918). That said, we are still dealing with the aftermath a century later:

The Ottoman empire, like the ancient Roman empire and the Byzantine empire before it, was left with the task of defending its ever diminishing borders over the next three centuries. When it did finally “fall” after the First World War the ramifications were enormous, and we are still attempting to cope with them from Bosnia to Iraq.

The Europeans defeated the Ottomans because of advanced naval battle tactics and weaponry. They also had more advanced trade and inventions, such as the printing press, which the Ottomans were slow to adopt:

The League won because it used innovative tactics. The usual form that galley warfare took was to ram the enemy ships and then take them by storm. The Venetian ships attempted a new and different tactic. Using a larger and modified form of galley known as galleasses, they filled these ships with cannons and attempted to blow as many of the Ottoman galleys as possible out of the water. League ships carried many more cannon and its troops made much greater use of firearms. Many of the Ottoman troops preferred to use bows, although these were not necessarily inferior to the clumsy arquebus of that time …

In the longer term, however, the future belonged to the new commercial instruments of the West rather than to the bureaucratic machinery of the Ottomans. In her study of seventeenth-century Crete, A Shared World, Molly Green demonstrates that the commercial techniques and practices used by the Venetians were much more sophisticated and developed than those of the Ottoman regime that replaced them in mid-century. It was also the case that the Ottomans were slow to take to make use of printing, with the “printing revolution” that swept the West in the sixteenth century not really taking off in the Islamic world until the nineteenth century.

Europe and Asia had been beset by invaders for centuries, especially during the perilous Dark Ages.

In Europe, during the latter days of the Roman Empire:

Rome, and the Roman empire, had to face an almost continuous set of threats, beginning with the Celts, then moving through to the Germans, Huns, Avars, Arabs and Turks. The Ottoman Turks simply delivered the coup de grâce to what had become little more than a living corpse.

In Asia:

China built its “great wall” to protect itself from nomadic predators, while the damage inflicted by the Mongols on the settled Islamic world, including the sack of Baghdad, was staggering.

These invasions happened because invading tribes of people envied the civilisation of settled societies:

A settled civilisation, by creating a measure of comfort and a settled way of life, makes itself a target for those living outside their boundaries who are drawn by what it has to offer.

Large-scale invasions ended in the 18th century, probably thanks to the Chinese:

the Qing Chinese empire in the eighteenth century successfully conquered and subdued the last of the great nomadic empires of Eurasia. For the first time in millennia no barbarian horsemen, no Huns, no Avars, no Mongols, surged across the great plains of Eurasia to sack and pillage Europe, China and the great civilisations of the Islamic world and India.

When a new barbarian empire emerged powerful enough to threaten the Ottomans, and by this I mean the Russian empire, it was successfully checked by the jealousy of the other European powers. It was also into this world … of empires that were not revitalised by new sets of barbarians, in the Middle East, in India and in China, that the European empires were able to make such inroads from the eighteenth century onwards.

Lepanto, as with so many other advances of that era, helped to usher in modernity to Europe with an emphasis on trade rather than war:

Lepanto can be seen as symbolic of that transition, described by the nineteenth-century French liberal philosopher Benjamin Constant, from the age of war to the age of commerce. Or as others might say, it can be considered as the birth of modernity. Even the overwhelming use of firepower can be found in the pages of Constant as a feature of the utilitarian approach to warfare favoured by commercial nations. The irony was that the somewhat ramshackle empires of sixteenth-century Europe, with their disorganised finances and administrative apparatuses much inferior to those of the Ottomans, would within 300 years come to dominate the world not because of their superior asabiya or virtue but because of their capacity to create modern efficient institutions far superior to the slave bureaucracy of the Ottomans, and because of their ability to deliver superior firepower.

This new European and commercial form of empire supplanted an older, more traditional imperial form. What this meant was that the old rules of empire, of an imperial expansion dictated by the need to conquer to attain booty and slaves and a decline governed by the need to protect its settled possessions from new predators, would give way to a new set of rules. These are the rules of the export and import of capital, as described by Niall Ferguson in his recent studies of the English and American empires.

Looking at present day developments in Europe, there does seem to be an envy of others to have what we Europeans have without contributing to our respective nations. When well-intended private and state generosity is met with Marxist-driven violence and disregard for the host citizenry, it is no wonder that many think of Lepanto.

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the March for Life in Washington, DC on Friday, January 27, 2017. This year’s theme was ‘The Power of One’.

Local Marches for Life took place around the nation, and a Marche pour la Vie in France attracted tens of thousands of people.

The exact number of participants in Washington is not yet known. However, that is unimportant.

For the first time, a vice president addressed the pro-life crowd. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W Bush telephoned in to the march during their tenure but never appeared in person.

Mike Pence said, in part:

I’m deeply humbled to stand before you today. I’m deeply humbled to be the first vice president of the United States to ever have the privilege to attend this historic event.

More than 240 years ago, our founders wrote words that have echoed through the ages.

They declared these truths to be self-evident that we are, all of us, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

44 years ago, our Supreme Court turned away from the first of these timeless ideals.

But today, three generations hence, because of all of you, and the many thousands that stand with us in marches like this all across the nation, life is winning again in America.

That is evident in the election of pro-life majorities and the Congress of the United States of America. But it is no more evident, in any way, than in the historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who, I proudly say, stands for the right to life – President Donald Trump.

President Trump actually asked me to be here with you today. He asked me to thank you for your support, for your stand for life, and for your compassion for the women and children of America.

President Donald Trump could not attend. He held a meeting and press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May. However, he sent this message:

Another speaker at the event, Christian talk-show host Eric Metaxas, explained Trump’s position to The Atlantic:

He’s been shockingly, and perhaps even ironically, the most pro-life president in the history of the republic. He is widely perceived as being anything but a social conservative. Somebody who has had three wives and who has been pro-choice most of his life … is not the kind of person you would expect to advocate for the unborn. But he’s 70 years old. I think he has a sense of the weight of his new position.

The Atlantic article also stated:

In just his first week, Trump has signaled that he will be loyal to the pro-life movement, whose members arguably helped him carry the White House. The March for Life showed that he’s not just amenable to pro-life policies—he’s aligning his White House with the culture of the pro-life movement, as well.

Trump’s senior counsellor Kellyanne Conway — the first woman to ever manage a winning presidential campaign in the United States — also spoke. Conway turned 50 on Inauguration Day. She is a married mother of four. Despite her hectic work schedule and responsibilities, she loves when her children call her ‘mommy’. None dare call this fearless woman — who gives interviews that male Trump advisers won’t — a feminist!

She told the crowd:

I am a wife, a mother, a Catholic, Counselor to the president of the United States of America and, yes, I am pro-life.

It is such an honor to stand with the vice president of the United States. And with so many leaders, families and students from places near and far, to defend the unborn. Your courage, your conviction, your resolve and your faith are impressive and consequential. This is a new day, a new dawn for life …

It is no coincidence that the first right cited in the Declaration of Independence is the right to life. It is a right. It is not a privilege. It is not a choice. It is God-given. It is unique and it is beautiful. This dismissive notion of out of sight, out of mind is over.

Science and medicine have joined religion and morality in causing many Americans to rethink just how fragile and how triumphant human life truly is.

Other speakers included Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rep. Mia Love (R-UT), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Benjamin Watson, Tight End for the Baltimore Ravens, Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood Director and founder of “And Then There Were None”, Karyme Lozano, Mexican telenovela star, and Bishop Vincent Mathews Jr., President at Church of God In Christ World Missions.

Look — no Democrats.

Mia Love said:

Every time we kill a child, all of us suffer. We lose a little of ourselves and a whole lot of our future. We strip a child from their God-given potential when we, as a society, accept abortion as health care. My fellow Americans, we cannot accept what might have been. We won’t know what might have been if we allow an organization to convince our pregnant women that they have no choice but to abort the life and the potential within them.

The night before, Pence met with pro-life leaders:

Earlier on Thursday, LifeNews.com reported that Trump bashed the media, predicting little to no coverage of the march:

Trump first slammed the media in an interview with ABC News. Then today during his address to the Republican Leadership Retreat, Trump said that the March for Life will have hundreds of thousands of people but the mainstream media will barely cover it if it all.

“You know, the press never gives them the credit that they deserve. They’ll have three hundred, four hundred, five hundred, six hundred thousand people, you won’t even read about it,” he said …

“When other people show up, you read big-time about it, right?” Trump asked the crowd, referring to the pro-abortion Women’s March …

Trump also defended his decision to sign the Mexico City Policy, defunding International Planned Parenthood.

March for Life president Jeanne Mancini dismissed queries about crowd size. LifeNews.com reported (emphases mine below):

Mancini immediately dismissed any comparison to last week’s Women’s March on Washington, saying that the organizers were not concerned with crowd size or likes on social networks. Instead, Mancini said that the only number that she was concerned about was abortion’s death toll over the 44 years since the Roe vs. Wade decision.

“The only number I care about, and the only number that we all care about is – 58 million. Since 1973, 58 million Americans have died as a result of abortion. We stand here today for them – for the little innocent children who have lost their lives to abortion. We also stand here for the mothers who regret their abortion decision.”

I remember back in 1973 when women who supported Roe v Wade told me that very few women would seek abortions. I wonder what they think now that the number of aborted American babies is the size of a nation.

(We also have a figure in the tens of millions here in the UK.)

Now times are changing.

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue wrote ‘March for Life Scares Death Industry’, which is an excellent article. Donohue says that Trump is sure to appoint a Supreme Court Justice who is pro-life. Last week:

the House passed a bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith ensuring that the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal abortion funding, will be made permanent, thus vitiating the need for annual reapproval; the bill now goes to the Senate for a vote. On January 12, Rep. Steve King introduced a House bill that would ban an abortion after the baby’s heartbeat is detected.

He says that some states are also rethinking abortion:

Last year, Louisiana passed seven new laws restricting abortion. Texas introduced 17 new civil rights laws protecting children in the womb, and 2017 will see at least some of them enacted.

Kentucky just passed two pro-life laws, one of which bans abortions after 20 weeks. Just this month, lawmakers in Florida, New Mexico and Tennessee introduced bills that would also ban abortions after 20 weeks; New Jersey filed a similar bill last month. Moreover, Missouri legislators refiled 14 pro-life bills this month. And Iowa is considering a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

Another worthwhile article is at American Thinker. ‘Obama and the Marxist/Communist View of Marriage and Abortion’, which appeared in 2012, is less about him than it is left-wing history from the 19th and 20th centuries, from Marx through to American communists in the 1950s. An excerpt follows:

The Bolsheviks advocated abortion.  It was one of the first things they legalized.  By the early 1920s, Bolshevik Russia had the most liberal abortion policies in the world.  And what happened?  Just like divorce, abortion exploded.  In fact, the proliferation in abortions was so bad that it shocked even Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger during a trip to Russia in 1934.  By the 1970s, when America was just getting around to legalizing abortion, the Soviet Union was averaging over 7 million abortions per year — dwarfing the very worst rates in America post-Roe v. WadeThe direct effect of this on the Russian population has been staggering.

For the record, Russia’s horrific abortion rates are common in communist countries, which to this day lead the world in abortions.

Marx, to my knowledge, did not deal with abortion — to think he would in the mid-19th century is unrealistic.  However, his disciples in the international communist movement a century later certainly did — including here in America.  To cite just one example, Whittaker Chambers noted how abortion “was a commonplace of Party life.”  He honestly and painfully wrote about his wife’s first pregnancy, when she had to plead for the life of their unborn child.  The blessed birth of that child changed Chambers completely, particularly regarding his views on God.  Interestingly, the termination of an unborn life was no mystery to Chambers’ nemesis, Alger Hiss.  Hiss’s wife, Priscilla, who aided him in his treason, had an abortion before she met him (for the record, it devastated her).

A final article worth reading on the subject is ‘Marxism and Abortion’, which recaps a 1988 article by an Australian Communist, Rebecca Albury, for The Tribune, the official newspaper for the Communist Party of Australia. It explains much of why Communists see no value in family. Excerpts follow, so please be sure to read all of it:

A Marxist believes that personality and human value are imparted by the external and economic environment, not by any inherent spiritual value, or even by biological processes.

The humanity of the fetus depends upon how the mother perceives the “social relationship” that exists between them. If the mother desires to keep the baby, then she “fantasizes” it into becoming a human being. But, if she does not want the pregnancy, “it is something else entirely.” Her opinion of the fetus thereby denies it of personhood.

According to Albury, “Material conditions of life change, and so do moral values.” This means that, to a Marxist, the unborn baby may be a human being for a time, but may then become depersonified and rendered ‘pre-human,’ all because his or her mother began to think differently about him or her.

That’s incredible. I now better understand how Communist regimes can go on killing sprees. They do not look at fellow human beings but rather at what they perceive as depersonalised objects.

This particularly struck me, because we Westerners have been pounded with this egregious message since the 1960s:

Material conditions of life change, and so do moral values.

Parents and church leaders would do well to make sure that youngsters in their care or congregations understand the background to modern immorality, abortion and the people who have supported both throughout modern history.

In researching the Vietnam War, I ran across an article that British-American journalist Robert Elegant, born in 1928, wrote for the magazine Encounter.

Elegant — what a marvellous name — was born in New York City and spent most of his journalistic career in Asia. He covered the Korean and Vietnam Wars and has a keen knowledge of China and its culture, supplemented earlier by a Masters in Far Eastern Studies from Columbia University. He has won several awards during his career. He currently divides his time between London and Italy and still travels to the Far East.

Elegant’s article is entitled ‘How to Lose A War: The Press and Viet Nam’ (Encounter (London), vol. LVII, No. 2, August 1981, pp. 73-90). Below are excerpts; reading the article in full is highly recommended for his insight into the media spin, borne of ignorance, on this war.

If you read only one post in my Vietnam series, this is it. This is especially important for parents and guardians to pass along to children. I also recommend it to teachers and lecturers, provided they can position it such that they do not incur the wrath of their notional superiors.

Emphases mine below.

The Vietnam War was unique:

For the first time in modern history, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and, above all, on the television screen.

Who won?

Looking back coolly, I believe it can be said (surprising as it may still sound) that South Vietnamese and American forces actually won the limited military struggle. They virtually crushed the Viet Cong in the South, the “native” guerrillas who were directed, reinforced, and equipped from Hanoi; and thereafter they threw back the invasion by regular North Vietnamese divisions. Nonetheless, the war was finally lost to the invaders after the U.S. disengagement because the political pressures built up by the media had made it quite impossible for Washington to maintain even the minimal material and moral support that would have enabled the Saigon regime to continue effective resistance.

As for knock-on effects to the 1981 — when Elegant wrote the article — we can probably safely add on later conflicts to the present day:

It is, however, interesting to wonder whether Angola, Afghanistan, and Iran would have occurred if Saigon had not fallen amid nearly universal odium—that is to say, if the “Viet Nam Syndrome,” for which the press (in my view) was largely responsible, had not afflicted the Carter Administration and paralyzed American will. On the credit side, largely despite the press, the People’s Republic of China would almost certainly not have purged itself of the Maoist doctrine of “worldwide liberation through people’s war” and, later, would not have come to blows with Hanoi if the defense of South Viet Nam had not been maintained for so long.

The media reporting on Vietnam were a ‘brotherhood’ which had already chosen which side they were on. Their reporting was also for their fellow journalists:

In my own personal experience most correspondents wanted to talk chiefly to other correspondents to confirm their own mythical vision of the war. Even newcomers were precommitted, as the American jargon has it, to the collective position most of their colleagues had already taken. What I can only call surrealistic reporting constantly fed on itself, and did not diminish thereby, but swelled into ever more grotesque shapes. I found the process equally reprehensible for being in no small part unwitting.

In part, this was because:

Most correspondents were isolated from the Vietnamese by ignorance of their language and culture, as well as by a measure of race estrangement. Most were isolated from the quixotic American Army establishment, itself often as confused as they themselves were, by their moralistic attitudes and their political prejudices.

However, the journalists also wanted to protect their jobs and wrote accordingly:

After each other, correspondents wrote to win the approbation of their editors, who controlled their professional lives and who were closely linked with the intellectual community at home. The consensus of that third circle, the domestic intelligentsia, derived largely from correspondents’ reports and in turn served to determine the nature of those reports. If dispatches did not accord with that consensus, approbation was withheld. Only in the last instance did correspondents address themselves to the general public, the mass of lay readers and viewers.

Ironically, given this state of affairs, journalists, Elegant contends, could be compared to the soldiers whom they were criticising:

A tour in Viet Nam was almost essential to promotion for a U.S. Regular Army officer, and a combat command was the best road to rapid advancement. Covering the biggest continuing story in the world was not absolutely essential to a correspondent’s rise, but it was an invaluable cachet. Quick careers were made by spectacular reporting of the obvious fact that men, women, and children were being killed; fame or at least notoriety rewarded the correspondent who became part of the action—rather than a mere observer—by influencing events directly.

Journalists, particularly those serving in television, were therefore, like soldiers, “rotated” to Viet Nam. Few were given time to develop the knowledge, and indeed the intellectual instincts, necessary to report the war in the round. Only a few remained “in country” for years, though the experienced Far Eastern correspondents visited regularly from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo. Not surprisingly, one found that most reporting veered farther and farther from the fundamental political, economic, and military realities of the war, for these were usually not spectacular. Reporting Viet Nam became a closed, self-generating system sustained largely by the acclaim the participants lavished on each other in almost equal measure to the opprobrium they heaped on “the Establishment,” a fashionable and very vulnerable target.

Ignorance and spin were not germane only to American journalists:

For some journalists, perhaps most, a moment of truth through self-examination was never to come. The farther they were from the real conflict, the more smugly self-approving they now remain as commentators who led the public to expect a brave new world when the North Vietnamese finally “liberated” South Viet Nam. Even those correspondents who today gingerly confess to some errors or distortions usually insist that the true fault was not theirs at all, but Washington’s. The enormity of having helped in one way or another to bring tens of millions under grinding totalitarian rule—and having tilted the global balance of power—appears too great to acknowledge. It is easier to absolve one’s self by blaming exclusively Johnson, Nixon, and Kissinger.

I found few American correspondents to be as tough-minded as one Briton I knew who was very close to the action for many years in the employ of an American wire-news service. “I’m ashamed of most of what I wrote in Viet Nam,” he told me recently. “But I was a new boy, and I took my lead from the Americans, who were afire with the crusading spirit of ’60s journalism—the involvement, man, in the good fight. When I look at what’s happened now, I’m ashamed of my ignorance—and what I helped to do to the Vietnamese….”

Only journalists who knew recent history of Southeast Asia could see through Hanoi’s (North Vietnam’s capital) propaganda:

We knew that, in 1956, close to 50,000 peasants were executed in North Viet Nam. We knew that after the division of the country nearly one million North Vietnamese had fled to the South. Many of us have seen the tortured and carved-up bodies of men, women, and children executed by the Viet Cong in the early phases of the war. And many of us saw, in 1968, the mass graves of Hue, saw the corpses of thousands of civilians still festively dressed for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.

But:

Why, for heaven’s sake, did we not report about these expressions of deliberate North Vietnamese strategy at least as extensively as of the My Lai massacre and other such isolated incidents that were definitely not part of the U.S. policy in Viet Nam?

Therefore:

I think at least a little humility would be in order for us old Viet Nam hands. . . .

And let us not confuse coyness on their part with humility:

the media have been rather coy; they have not declared that they played a key role in the conflict. They have not proudly trumpeted Hanoi’s repeated expressions of gratitude to the mass media of the non-Communist world, although Hanoi has indeed affirmed that it could not have won “without the Western press.” The Western press appears either unaware of the direct connection between cause (its reporting) and effect (the Western defeat in Viet Nam), or strangely reluctant to proclaim that the pen and the camera proved decisively mightier than the bayonet and ultra-modern weapons …

Any searching analysis of fundamental premises has remained as unthinkable to “the critics” as it was during the fighting. They have remained committed to the proposition that the American role in Indochina was totally reprehensible and inexcusable, while the North Vietnamese role—and, by extension, the roles of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Pathet Lao in Laos—was righteous, magnanimous, and just. Even the growing number who finally deplored the repressive consequences of the totalitarian victory could not bring themselves to re-examine the premises that led them to contribute so decisively to those victories.

Television reinforced the media’s perspective:

At any given moment, a million images were available to the camera’s lens in Saigon alone—and hundreds of million throughout Indochina. But TV crews naturally preferred the most dramatic. That, after all, was their business—show business. It was not news to film farmers peacefully tilling their rice fields, though it might have been argued that nothing happening was news when the American public had been led to believe that almost every Vietnamese farmer was regularly threatened by the Viet Cong, constantly imperiled by battle, and rarely safe from indiscriminate U.S. bombing.

If I might interject here, this is exactly what I thought as a child. My parents tried to explain otherwise, but there it was on the news every night. Television couldn’t lie. Could it?

But television could “prove” either a negative or a positive proposition—depending on where the camera pointed and upon the correspondent’s inclination.

The military was unhappy with the nature of the reporting. It seemed as if Vietnam were two wars — one which the armed forces were fighting and the second on which the journalists reported:

Sgt. John Ashe (brother of the world-famous tennis player) was a Marine assigned to public relations duties. He delivered a biting indictment of the young wire-service correspondents and the “war freaks” who frequented Da Nang (which was a remote outpost to the media, though not to the military). They would, he recalled, rarely go into the field and never spend the night when they did; would deport themselves as if they had never heard a shot fired with intent to kill before that moment—to their own and the Marines’ peril; and then file stories that “bore little or no relation” to what he—and they—had seen. They didn’t want to know, Ashe added, what was really happening in the First Corps Area, where the Marines had winkled out the Viet Cong by stationing squads in villages.

The media’s opposition to the Establishment — government, principally — was so strong that anything the administration or military said was thought to be a lie. Only the Communists were seen to be honest:

A faulty syllogism was unconsciously accepted: Washington was lying consistently; Hanoi contradicted Washington; therefore Hanoi was telling the truth.

Communists, not surprisingly, had set up this faulty syllogism:

The initial inclination to look upon Hanoi as a fount of pure truth was intelligently fostered by the Communists, who selectively rewarded “critics of the American war” with visas to North Viet Nam.

These famous ‘critics’ included celebrities, among them Jane Fonda:

A number of influential journalists and public figures (ranging from former cabinet officers to film actresses) were feted in North Viet Nam. They were flattered not only by the attention and the presumed inside information proffered by the North Vietnamese but by their access to a land closed to most Americans.

Running like lemmings, they were — and what Elegant writes in the next paragraph is especially true; you can still read it from readers of left-wing sites such as the Daily Kos:

The favored few—and the aspiring many—helped establish a climate in which it was not only fashionable but, somehow, an act of courage to follow the critical crowd in Saigon and Washington while praising Hanoi. The skeptical correspondent risked ostracism by his peers and conflicts with his editors if he did not run with “the herd of independent minds,” if he did not support the consensus.

Historically — and even among the left-wing peace proponents, there was a respect for war, especially the Great War and the Second World War. The Korean War was seen as just about acceptable, including from a media perspective.

Just not the Vietnam War. This is why I say that the Communist and Marxist propaganda machine worked very well during that time:

World War II was generally considered a crusade against evil …

The Korean War was not a universal crusade …  Moved neither by basic antagonism towards official aims nor by unthinking commitment to those aims, a surprisingly youthful press corps offered surprisingly objective reports. Aside from a marked weakness in covering internal politics in both the South and the North—a weakness that presaged a disastrous disability in Indochina—Korea was, in my view, the best-covered American war of modern times. Besides, the conflict was, by and large, straightforward and simple to understand.

Elegant states that, as far as the Vietnam War was concerned, this part of the world, its history and its place in the Cold War were difficult to understand, ‘arcane’ at times, especially for the general public. However, he observes that the media did not help lift that cloud of ignorance for them.

Getting back to journalistic ignorance, the glaring lack of knowledge about the nature of war  (somehow — didn’t any of these people learn world history at school?) manifested itself in coverage of Vietnam:

Most, as I have noted, knew little about war in general from either experience or study—and less about the theory or practice of guerrilla war.

And, let’s not forget Marxist theory:

Since so many were also untroubled by acquaintance with Marxist theory or practice and were hazy about the international balance of power, they were incapable of covering effectively a conflict involving all those elements.

Therefore:

As long as the “Viet Nam Syndrome” afflicts the media, it seems to me that it will be virtually impossible for the West to conduct an effective foreign policy.

And this, I believe, is what James Higham was saying recently at Orphans of Liberty in his post on Vietnam (which I cited yesterday), which alluded to the United Nations and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Unfortunately, and I believe Elegant is correct:

It is possible that the “Viet Nam Syndrome” will recur; it is not unlikely that Western foreign policy, with the United States as its faltering—or even resurgent—leader, will again be forced to operate in an environment dominated by a hostile press.

This is yet another reason why it is so important to understand history, even — perhaps especially — ‘difficult’ conflicts such as the Vietnam War.

Last 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.
2. Continual change to create confusion
3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
4. The undermining of schools’ and teachers’ authority
5. Huge immigration to destroy identity
6. The promotion of excessive drinking
7. Emptying of churches
8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime
9. Dependency on the state or state benefits
10. Control and dumbing down of media
11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family

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.
• abolish differences in the education of boys and girls
• abolish all forms of male dominance – hence the presence of women in the armed forces
• declare women to be an ‘oppressed class’ and men as ‘oppressors’

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 childrenIn 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 GuardianWhite, 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!)

You might not be familiar with the name, but you will certainly know of the effect this group of professors has had on 20th century Western society.  Before we look at just who they were, let’s look at ideas and quotes that helped develop their Marxist worldview:

– Karl Marx advocated a ‘community of women’ in his Communist Manifesto.   

– Friedrich Engels promoted matriarchy in ‘The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State’.

– Wilhelm Wundt, who largely devised the methodology used in behavioural psychology, proposed in the 1870s that man was nothing more than an animal and, as such, could not control his impulses.  He believed that children could be trained only through a stimulus-response approach via the nervous system.

– A group of intellectual socialists founded the Fabian Society in London in 1884. Its goal was to gradually transform society through left-wing ideology; Fabians founded the London School of Economics in 1895 and Britain’s Labour Party in 1900.

– Georg Lukacs, as Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Bolshevik Bela Kun regime in Hungary in 1919, set about de-Christianising the nation and sexualising its children.   

Needless to say, much thought and activity abounded between the mid-1800s, giving rise to Modernism and Communism, which would see its fruition in 1917 and the development of a Soviet state.  Pope St Pius X and some Protestant theologians, such as the Lutheran Charles Porterfield Krauth and the Presbyterian John Gresham Machen, condemned Modernism.  Pius X declared it a heresy in 1907 and advised Catholics to avoid joining labour organisations which went against Church teaching. 

After the Soviet state took root, Marxists and Communists in the West were confused as to why other countries weren’t undergoing similar transformations.  Antonio Gramsci was one of these.  His contemporaries in Germany at the University of Frankfurt am Main (on the Main River) wondered similarly.  Gramsci and this group of Marxist professors at the University’s Institute for Social Research would independently theorise how to advance Marxist praxis (practice) in Western society. 

But, before we look at the Frankfurt School, let’s study another contemporary of the period, Georg Lukacs.  Almost 20 years before the publication of Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, which advocated a de-Christianised and totally transformed culture comprised of criminals, women and racial minorities, Lukacs had already implemented these in what was up to that time, a highly traditional Hungary.  Linda Kimball explains in her essay on Cultural Marxism for American Thinker:

Reasoning that if Christian sexual ethics could be undermined among children, then both the hated patriarchal family and the Church would be dealt a crippling blow. Lukacs launched a radical sex education program in the schools.  Sex lectures were organized and literature handed out which graphically instructed youth in free love (promiscuity) and sexual intercourse while simultaneously encouraging them to deride and reject Christian moral ethics, monogamy, and parental and church authority.  All of this was accompanied by a reign of cultural terror perpetrated against parents, priests, and dissenters. 

Hungary’s youth, having been fed a steady diet of values-neutral (atheism) and radical sex education while simultaneously encouraged to rebel against all authority, easily turned into delinquents ranging from bullies and petty thieves to sex predators, murderers, and sociopaths.

Gramsci’s prescription and Lukacs’ plans were the precursor to what Cultural Marxism … later brought into American schools.

 

Lukacs was a primary influence, along with Marx, Hegel, Freud, Kant and others on the Frankfurt School.  These social theorists, some of whom were only loosely affiliated with each other, had in common a strong desire for social change.  Many of their influences and much of their work was based on countering the positive aspects of Western society.  Their approach was a fluid one to counter their opponents.  If an argument supported Marxism, they called it logical.  If an argument supported capitalism or maintaining the status quo, they termed it illogical.  Opponents were termed mentally unstable.  Eventually, ideas put forth by the Frankfurt School from the Institute for Social Research’s inception in 1923 eventuall evolved into today’s political correctness, but more on that later.

The tradition of thought associated with the Frankfurt School is known as critical theory, in an allusion to Kant’s critical philosophy.  Cultural Marxism, also primarily associated with the Frankfurt School, is the application of critical theory to social matters — what we would see as social engineering.       

By the early 1930s, the Frankfurt School members — principally, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Wolfgang Fritz Haug and Jürgen Habermas — realised political change was afoot in Germany.  Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933 and the institute left for Geneva (Switzerland) that same year.  In 1934, Columbia University in New York City offered the theorists an academic home.  And so, instead of transforming German society, they set about putting their ideas in place to transform American society.  They published a journal called Studies in Philosophy and Social Science.  The articles explored American culture, especially its more populist aspects.  American academe gave the professors a warm and welcome response. 

Linda Kimball writes:

The school was a multidisciplinary effort which included sociologists, sexologists, and psychologists.

The primary goal of the Frankfurt School was to translate Marxism from economic terms into cultural terms. It would provide the ideas on which to base a new political theory of revoltuion based on culture, harnessing new oppressed groups for the faithless proletariat. Smashing religion, morals, It would also build a constituency among academics, who could build careers studying and writing about the new oppression.

 

After the Second World War ended, many of the theorists returned to Europe, namely West and East Germany.  Adorno and Horkheimer re-established the Institute in Frankfurt in 1953.  Marcuse, however, stayed behind in America, where his ideas largely shaped the sexual revolution and student protests of the 1960s.   

Kimball describes this period and its aftermath:

Toward this end, Marcuse-who favored polymorphous perversion-expanded the ranks of Gramsci’s new proletariat by including homosexuals, lesbians, and transsexuals.  Into this was spliced Lukacs radical sex education and cultural terrorism tactics.  Gramsci’s ‘long march’ was added to the mix, and then all of this was wedded to Freudian psychoanalysis and psychological conditioning techniques. The end product was Cultural Marxism, now known in the West as multiculturalism.

In short, anything that represented historical Western culture was viewed as ‘authoritarian’.  Americans — and others — who upheld Western traditions and family values were labelled as intolerant or mentally disturbed:

In 1950, the Frankfurt School augmented Cultural Marxism with Theodor Adorno’s idea of the ‘authoritarian personality.’  This concept is premised on the notion that Christianity, capitalism, and the traditional family create a character prone to racism and fascism.  Thus, anyone who upholds America’s traditional moral values and institutions is both racist and fascist.  Children raised by traditional values parents, we are told to believe, will almost certainly become racists and fascists.  By extension, if fascism and racism are endemic to America’s traditional culture, then everyone raised in the traditions of God, family, patriotism, gun ownership, or free markets is in need of psychological help.

And this is where political correctness comes in.  Kimball goes on to say:

The strong suggestion here is that in order for one not to be thought of as racist or fascist, then one must not only be nonjudgmental but must also embrace the ‘new’ moral absolutes: diversity, choice, sensitivity, sexual orientation, and tolerance.  Political correctness is a Machiavellian psychological ‘command and control’ device.  Its purpose is the imposition of uniformity in thought, speech, and behavior.

In its nihilism critical theory, in turn, promotes political correctness (emphasis in the original):

Critical Theory is an ongoing and brutal assault via vicious criticism relentlessly leveled against Christians, Christmas, the Boy Scouts, Ten Commandments, our military, and all other aspects of traditional American culture and society. 
 
Both political correctness and Critical Theory are in essence, psychological bullying.  They are the psycho-political battering rams by which Frankfurt School disciples such as the ACLU are forcing Americans to submit to and to obey the will and the way of the Left.

 

If political correctness relies on critical theory, then critical theory relies on what is known as cultural determinism.  Cultural determinism is essentially identity politics.  In a Godless world the Frankfurt School and its present-day adherents say we have nothing more to rely on than our physical characteristics and sexual preferences.  Those determine who we are.  Without a God, there is no morality, so we cannot change what or who we are.  This opens the door to postmodernism and all the relativism associated with it, which we’ll look at in Monday’s post.

For now, here is a 10-minute overview (probably from the 1980s) which summarises the Frankfurt School and their influence on American society:

Further reading:

American Thinker: ‘Cultural Marxism’

‘What is the Frankfurt School?’

Frankfurt School

Cultural Marxism

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