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Saturday, April 18, 2015
“Cultural Marxism” and the Frankfurt School
(Riffing off of this, because it's convenient, and because it appears generally accurate as to the history of all this. I have done the primary research into the Frankfurt School, but it is as yet not in print. This article, and the relevant Wiki Pages, will serve as a stand in)
Horkheimer, himself, helpfully defined Critical Theory:
“The Frankfurt School's work cannot be fully comprehended without equally understanding the aims and objectives of critical theory. Initially outlined by Max Horkheimer in his Traditional and Critical Theory (1937), critical theory may be defined as a self-conscious social critique that is aimed at change and emancipation through enlightenment, and does not cling dogmatically to its own doctrinal assumptions. The original aim of critical theory was to analyze the true significance of "the ruling understandings" generated in bourgeois society, in order to show how they misrepresented actual human interaction in the real world, and in so doing functioned to justify or legitimize the domination of people by capitalism. A certain sort of story (a narrative) was provided to explain what was happening in society, but the story concealed as much as it revealed. The Frankfurt theorists generally assumed that their own task was mainly to interpret all the other areas of society which Marx had not dealt with, especially in the superstructure of society. “
Sounds rather intiguing, to me...”hey, lets set aside dogma, and other forms of unconsciousness...throw out out Unexamined Assumptions...and really sit down and Think and Talk about all of this!”
It is exactly what I have been doing, more or less, for my entire life.
I just didn't have a “school” to belong to.
I didn't discover all these folks and their Thought, until I was well into my massive study of the American Right, about 15 years ago...so I heard about them, in the same way that Religious Scholars heard about the Gnostics and Marionites...through the filter of their enemies.
Remember that I grew up in Ronald Reagan's Texas....it wasn't as if Das Kapital was just laying around...nor the works of Erich Fromm, by whom I was introduced to the Frankfurt School.
There is much confusion in some circles(lol, like our entire culture...)
about what Marx actually said, and about the Nature and Meaning of Marxism, and , by extension, and through the machinations of the Violent Parasitical Elite and their Machine(my terms), about terms such as Liberal, Socialism, Communism, and even Capitalism.
Unions are vilified without thought, these days, and the rest of our Language of Dissent from the Authoritarian, Heirarchical Machine is Delimited and Circumscribed.
Orwell and Huxley have been brought to bear in ways those Thinkers never intended, and in fact would loudly declaim, were they alive , today.
Confusion has been sown, as policy, for at least a century, but especially after the riotous Sixties had shot their wad, and sank back into oblivion.
The Counterrevolution took shape, beginning with the Powell Memo and the gatherings in hotel lobbies of such curmudgeonly future Right Wing Rock Stars(sic) as Paul Weyrich and Richard Mellon Sciaffe, Joseph Coors, and the rest of what constitutes American Aristocracy.
(Go thou, to the Googlemachine, and type thou:”Origins of the Overclass Huppi)
From the Wiki, again:”Horkheimer opposed it to "traditional theory", which refers to theory in the positivistic, scientistic, or purely observational mode – that is, which derives generalizations or "laws" about different aspects of the world. Drawing upon Max Weber, Horkheimer argued that the social sciences are different from the natural sciences, inasmuch as generalizations cannot be easily made from so-called experiences, because the understanding of a "social" experience itself is always fashioned by ideas that are in the researchers themselves. What the researcher does not realize is that he is caught in a historical context in which ideologies shape the thinking; thus theory would be conforming to the ideas in the mind of the researcher rather than the experience itself:
The facts which our senses present to us are socially performed in two ways: through the historical character of the object perceived and through the historical character of the perceiving organ. Both are not simply natural; they are shaped by human activity, and yet the individual perceives himself as receptive and passive in the act of perception."
So lack of Objectivity is a usual claim against the Humanities, in general...unless it's of the Preferred Variety of Humanities, like those taught at Liberty “University”(sic), for instance.
Any port, in a storm, and all...
To take this bunch of German Idealistic Philosophers and spin them up into some kind of Monolithic Conspiracy, eating away at the roots of Christiandom is laughable.
I think that their Thought needs to be revisited, of course...such Dissent could be very helpful with the challenges we face as a Global Civilisation...and we've been denied such True Dissent for almost a hundred years...but especially in my lifetime.
We've instead been Homogenous in our Approved Thought.
One must Toe the Party Line(GOP) and never Question the Mythology of Capitalism and Conservatism.
One must never point out their flaws and rampant inconsistencies, and never...ever...suggest that the whole Righty Experiment has been a Failure.
Wherever it's been tried, to date.
The Frankfurt School set out to offer a Critique...of just about everything.
They ended up directing their Critique at Western Civilisation, itself.
This is their True Crime, it turns out.
Maggie Thatcher's “TINA”...”There is no alternative”...which I have consistently used as a shorthand for the Dogmatic, 'End of History' Hegelianism...where there can be no Critique, because History is at an end, and there's nothing left to talk about, so....”Get to Work,Prole!”
The Violent Parasitical Elite can brook no competition....how very uncapitalist of them!
The Frankfurt School is ignored, for the most part, by the Media, and the rest of our intellectual culture.
It has only been since the collapse of the Great Enemy, the “Communism” of the USSR, that this school of thought has been trotted out...usually in whispers, in the more esoteric corners of the conspiracy minded Righty Web.
Now that “International Terrorism” has lost it's applicability as a stand-in for the Great Enemy, suddenly, we see the resurrected Communism in the form of “Critical Theory”.
It was even given pride of place in the Texas Gop's Platform...in the plank about Education, which led to howls of derision, due to lack of context.(it appeared to be against Critical Thinking Skills, in general).
Being familiar with the words and phrases of the Frankfurt School, I see oblique references all over the place.
The Right...rather their hidden Elite...are scared to death that such Critique might get loose, and get the Masses Thinking.
This is, of course, that Dialectic that has been operant in Western Civilisation from the beginnings of the Enlightenment:
On the one hand, folks began to Think...and that Thought led to the breaking of various Taboos regarding Thought, which led to more Thought, and to Action. We see this in the general Movement towards a free-er and more Open Society.
On the other hand, there is the Counter-Movement against this trend...the Powers that Be/Were, attempting to put it all back in the box, and then...failing that...to Absorb those changes while still maintaining their hold on Power.
It's been a tug of war for 500 years.
The Powers are ascendant at the moment, after the 40 year Mindfuck, but there are numerous Cracks appearing in their Wall of Confusion and Division.
It is high time for those on the side of Freedom to take up the cause, again...and that will necessarily entail picking up the long forbidden books and Thought.
For nearly 100 years , we've been distracted and confused...Marx was forbidden, and by extension, all that flowed from him...enough.
There is no such thing as “Cultural Marxism”.
But there should be.