Monday, September 21, 2015

Karl Marx's Revenge: The Frankfurt School Won Even Though Communism Lost

Here's my latest for The Megaphone:

Want to know why conservatives face more than an uphill struggle these days?

A lot of it has to do with the insidious and pervasive influence of the Frankfurt School, a group of German thinkers whose nutty Marxist ideas have thoroughly infested academia, politics and popular culture.

Victor Davis Hanson reviews a new book on the subject -- The Devil's Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Thinking and the Subversion of the West, by Michael Walsh.

Here's VDH, who calls the Frankfurt intellectuals “charlatans,” laying it all out for us:
Note that Republicans have taken back both houses of Congress, often win in the Supreme Court, have majorities in the state legislatures and governorships, and may win the presidency in 2016. And yet if one examines the schools and universities, Hollywood, the art world, what shows up on televisions and the news, whom the foundations are funding, what the clerks in government do — everything really from our monuments to poetry — it is hard not to confess that “we lost.” 
In a word, relativism seems to have won. There are few standards left. Everything is negotiable, from the now fossilized idea of a traitor like Bergdahl to a neo-Confederate sanctuary city. A play, a movie, a building, a novel — anything really — cannot be assessed by absolute criteria, given that such “standards” are always set by oppressors of some sort, usually the children of capitalism and bourgeoisie consumerism who wish to enshrine their “privilege.” Take a sentence, chop it up into lines, and presto — a poem. By what standards is Chopin any more a genius than a Snoop Dogg? I thought of Walsh’s book yesterday when watching the various newscast reactions to the migration crisis in Europe and the deer-in-the-headlines faces of the European Eloi: Who are we to say that our culture is better than theirs? What is a border anyway? What even is a migrant? Whose values construct someone into the “Other”? Why do hosts enjoy privilege and guests do not?

Frankfurt intellectuals have done a lot of damage: from multiculturalism to postmodern art, they have destroyed the individual experience and made us cardboard cut-outs by their constant Marxist-inspired dumbing down, ending in a dreary predictable sameness. The past has become melodrama adjudicated by 30-year-old PhDs rather than muscular tragedy. When Obama decides to rename a mountain or brags that Trayvon looks like the son he never had or urges Latinos to “punish our enemies” and quips “typical white person,” he is more or less offering a paint-by-numbers version of the postmodernists who despise both the rich capitalist West whose bounty created their own leisure and subsidizes their nihilism, and the rest of us who lack their awareness and thus are unthinking cogs in a huge monotonous wheel. For the postmodernist, Middle America lacks the romance of the poor of the inner city that is never visited and the high culture of the Upper West Side or Georgetown that is prized...
You know how Karl Marx claimed that history occurs twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time as comedy? I have to say that when you consider the tragic loss of life spawned by the Communist vision around the globe and, in our time, the unintentionally hilarious nonsense engendered by the Frankfurt School ("triggers," "microaggressions," "white privilege," the cult of victimhood and the rest of that crapola), you have to admit that old Karl kind of, sort of, got it right.

Ironically, though, it is these later lunacies, silly as they are, and not old school Communism (which went down to defeat decades ago, not long after a Republican implored a Communist to "tear down that wall!"), that are helping pave the decline and fall of the West.

In so doing, they are handing Karl Marx the posthumous victory that was snatched from his hands (symbolically, at least) when the Soviet Union fell.

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