In 1965, New Left godfather Herbert Marcuse, a founder of the German Marxist Frankfurt School, wrote an essay in a book called A Critique of Pure Tolerance. Marcuse's essay, "Repressive Tolerance," argued that liberal society was dead and that the notion of pure tolerance for all points of view, particularly political points of view, was no longer appropriate, and was actually counter-revolutionary.  According to British scholar Maurice Cranston, in his 1970 book The New Left, Marcuse preached a new doctrine, that became the battle cry for the American New Left: "tolerance of the Left, subversion and revolutionary violence, combined with intolerance of the Right, existing institutions of civil society and of any opposition to socialism."

While most of the more notorious radical groups of the 1960s and 70s New Left like the Weathermen, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the Black Panther Party, ultimately faded from the political landscape in the post-Vietnam War period, the ideology preached by the likes of Herbert Marcuse and other Frankfurt School revisionist Marxists, lived on in the minds of many of the Vietnam era radical activists. It spread to their off-springs as well, through the educational system, the mass media and other cultural institutions. 

Many of the New Leftists of the 1960s and 70s and their children are the liberal Democrats of today. While their impulse to violence may have been tamed by age, the core ideology of Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Eric Fromm, Max Horkheimer and Hannah Arendt (all first generation Frankfurt School members who migrated to the United States and took up important academic posts) has remained a powerful influence on the thinking of many such liberals.  And the university graduates of the late 1960s and 70s did succeed in a "march through the institutions" that has impacted significantly on the media, the national culture and the political system.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the mainstream media's unending barrage of attacks on President Donald Trump, whose very election as President has been declared to be illegitimate, despite the fact that no one challenges the actual vote count or the results of the Electoral College.  The crazy notion that Vladimir Putin stole the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton by spending a few hundred thousand dollars on twitter and Facebook ads is beyond preposterous.  A large portion of Americans, fed up with the liberal tyranny of both the Bush-Cheney neoconservatives and the Obama-Clinton humanitarian interventionists, voted for a high-risk change. And they got it, for better or worse.

There are many things about the President that are legitimate targets of criticism, and my point here is not to defend Donald Trump or those who voted him into office.  My point is that the urban liberal establishment, led by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC, has gone all-in with Marcuse's notion that the political system can and must be upended in order to assure the victory of a radical New Leftist view of the world that aims to replace our democratic republican system of government and elections with a quasi-dictatorship of political correctness (by whose standard?) that threatens to tear the country apart. 

Reread the synopsis of the Marcuse essay by Maurice Cranston, or if you have a strong stomach, read the entire Marcuse essay, widely available on the internet.  And hold it up to the light of today's warped political media circus and see if you don't see the same echoes of intolerance and Leftist supremacy that I do.  Comments are urged. 

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  1. Mathiasalexander says:

    How on earth do youread Bush-Cheney as any kind of liberal, or Washington Post, CNN, NYT and MSNBC any being any kind of leftist?

  2. drfrank says:

    Beneath the dignity of your blog, Colonel.

  3. signal-to-noise says:

    There is a way to look at this without invoking the sort of “left-vs-right” arguments that can divide people in spite of their common interests.
    The NYT, WP, et al., have a long history of speaking in unison against whatever boogeyman-du-juor our masters want us to direct our collective enmity towards. The current cycle includes Kim, Putin, Assad, and of course Trump. The first three of these are leaders of countries who defy US imperialism and thus are classified by the Borg as enemies, as e.g., were Ghadaffi and Saddam. Trump has failed to adhere to the script he was given, and therefore he stands in the way of “progress” and earns himself a place on the boogeyman list.

  4. LeaNder says:

    Harper, this is interesting.
    Not sure if I babbled on our most recent contribution by Publius Tacitus, but considering his larger theme or question: Does it make sense to compare ‘Russiagate’ to ‘Watergate’, I have to admit that my mind ‘flowed’ into the direction too more historically. … to what extend do historical analogies make sense? …
    Concerning the Frankfurt School: I have serious problems to fit the fate of Walter Benjamin’s into a, easy analogy between then and now. More selectively, speaking. Only a silly guy? Why didn’t choose Israel at that point in time?
    But from the perspective of GB, I am sure that David Habakkuk has a lot of evidence that supports your position on the New Left. Sounds a bit like neo I have to admit versus paleo. We have disagreements, but I closer look made me aware what may have been his problems.

  5. ked says:

    I think harsh treatment of Trump is because he has turned out to be intolerable. This is no surprise to many. The media is a trailing indicator, now spotlighting this growing general awareness. Theoretically, Trump could have avoided this happening, but he thrives on the attention he gets from upsetting his many adversaries and norms. The media, all across the spectrum, magnify the Trump phenomenon to gain attention to causes or to better monetize the drama. Plus, it is easy work compared to examining critical issues more seriously.
    Since my exposure to Marcuse in the early ‘70’s, I have not observed his philosophy being carried-forth, or even cared-about anywhere in American politics or media. The idea of radical New Leftism as a significant force is a joke. Trump is a train wreck personality that animates.

  6. turcopolier says:

    We don’t have many SST correspondents in Argentina or is this just routed about a bit? Whoever you are – tell me in what way Harper’s piece is below the dignity of my blog. pl

  7. Degringolade says:

    Well, I ain’t dignified and now I really want to read the piece by Cranston cited in the article.
    I poked around briefly trying to find an article by Cranston about Marcuse, but no joy. If someone has a link to it, I would greatly appreciate the reference. I gotta go to work, and chat with people who don’t agree with me on a lot of things.
    Marcuse would not approve.

  8. Lemur says:

    It pays to mention the Frankfurt School were nearly all Jews who rehashed Freud (another Jew) and Marx’s theories with an eye to revivify the left after the exposure of the Communist hell in the USSR and the recent experience of fascism in Europe (which scared the left because the working class defected from the ideological vector predicted by orthodox Marxist thought).
    Today, we mainly hear about them through the writings of the conspiratorially minded American normie right. The tea party luminary Andrew Breitbart (interestingly, another jew) did much to popularize the term ‘cultural Marxism.’ The idea is Frankfurt thinkers took Marx’s ideas and applied them to culture instead of the economic substrate of society. This is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. Marxism presupposes a dialectical theory of economic materialism. If culture is your primary unit of analysis, then qualitative divergence has occurred. ‘Cultural marxist’ is conceptually akin to saying ‘married bachelor.’
    Conservative yowling about this body of work focus almost entirely on Adorno’s proposal of the ‘authoritarian personality’ (I took the test and got 93/100), Marcuse’s idea of repressive tolerance (which is only given a short treatment), and their hostility to The Market. Other lines of critique advance are notoriously conservative, sometimes even reactionary. Here in The Dialectic of Enlightenment, they attack modern concept of a leveling equality: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DQLsbN_VQAAZcsz.jpg
    Certainly, the rising post-liberal right is reading these works (including their stuff on repressive tolerance and the notion equality is nothing more than conformity) and splicing them with the mainstream pedigree of traditionalist ideas in an effort to supersede both the left and the useless whig right. A brief example: https://twitter.com/NUKEMEDADDY/status/891540473659015168
    Conservatives tend to grossly overestimate the influence the the Frankfurt School had. Herbert Marcuse was known only in select circles during the sixties. Indeed, much of the Frankfurt School’s work was translated after the Cultural Revolution. Adorno et el regarded their students – the liberals of the current year – as crass, authoritarian idiots. Compared to the hippies, the Frankfurters were squares.
    From an intellectual perspective, technocratic empiricism, French post-structuralism, communicative rationality, Karl Jaspers, Hegel’s 20th century expositor Kojeve, and word systems theory in history to name but a few far more problematic than the obscurantist Frankfurters.
    Socially, certain tendencies within Protestantism, the ethnic proclivities that emerged as Jews penetrated WASP institutions, consumerism, materialism, growing urbanization and suburbanization, the coming into being of the managerial class, and the increasing scale of social systems all contributed to creating the people and things conservatives instinctively don’t like but lack an adequate discourse to explain in the current year. Some of these trends had developed in the 19th century.
    All in all, the problems with contemporary Western society are so profound a little essay by a few ivory tower cogitators comes nowhere near a designation of the ‘threat’. By customary standards of civilization, we’ve been in crisis for decades. There is a degree to which Jeb Bush was entirely right when he described Trump as the ‘chaos candidate.’ One way to resolve a crisis is to trigger it, thus gaining the strategic initiative and problem solving momentum. The worst possible outcome is a preservation of the status quo, where systems grind down until they implode.

  9. 505thPIR says:

    @drfrank Nothing happens in a vacuum. There is a vast root system to all things present. Your comment is a sideways attempt to silence and blind free thought and debate. A pox upon your intellectual house sir!

  10. LondonBob says:

    I’ve always thought it is a much neglected area of study, given the profound influence of the likes of Marcuse on the world we currently live in. I would though put the influence further back in to the 20s and 30s with Boas and Frued paving the way for the later radicals.

  11. Huckleberry says:

    > “German Marxist Frankfurt School”
    Judging from the wiki pages on every thinker named, perhaps it would be more accurate to say “Jewish Marxist Frankfurt School” ?
    In the interest of fairness, there is one prominent goy among the Frankfurt thinkers: Jurgen Habermas.
    Also, Hannah Arendt being a member of the Frankfurt School is news to me.
    The thoughtcriminal Kevin MacDonald’s research into this may be worth a look to anyone trying to understand this. It’s can be heavy-going, but should be considered in any discussion of the Frankfurt School:

  12. Fred says:

    Marcuse’ essay reads like the play book of the left in action today. To quote the essay: “If it is necessary to break the established universe of meaning….” that explains “gay” marriage and gender identity movements. His idea that “liberating tolerance” means intolerance of the Right is plain to see on campus and off. I think we are going to be in for even more violence from the left.

  13. The Porkchop Express says:

    Spot on. The Frankfurt School and its thinkers are the ideological godfathers to the Neocon/Neoliberal movements. And the pernicious effect of their ideology claiming dominance in the American education system for the better part of 70 plus years has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

  14. J says:

    Cranston and Marcuse whole premise is theirs is the only opinion that matters, all other opinions are to be crushed at all costs.
    This is the same mantra Hitler espoused.
    Looks like a two-faced Janus to me.

  15. Jack says:


    “…New Leftist view of the world that aims to replace our democratic republican system of government and elections with a quasi-dictatorship of political correctness…”

    I have seen political correctness go from strength to strength in my lifetime. This focus on social language is not the only deterioration in our culture. The fact that there is no accountability for policy error and that failure in government means only more power is the other big deterioration in our society. There is no longer a shared vision nor an understanding of our unique founding principles of limited government.
    My views on big government and “cartelization” of business have been reinforced by my experience after the loss of my home during the recent wildfires in Northern California. Neither the federal nor state government which have grown to immense size in my lifetime did much. Neither did national organizations like the Red Cross and United Way. The support and action was all local. It’s the local community that rallied to provide assistance and help, both tangible and intangible.
    My working years were in finance and banking and macroeconomic analysis. I have seen how narrow interests and sophistry have prevailed to the detriment of the median household. We now have the greatest wealth inequality in our history even rivaling the 20s. This has happened through the capture of big government and the use of increasing govermental power to benefit the “cartels”. The privatization of speculative profits and the socialization of losses is through this capture.
    Where I disagree with you is that this propensity of growing the scale and scope of government and the increasing centralization of power in government and big business is not just the handiwork of the “left” but also the “right”. Both sides want big government to enforce their interests. Political correctness also extends to both sides. There is no constituency for the principles of our founding. The principles of tolerance for ideas, for the primacy of liberty over so called safety, for due process and the presumption of innocence until convicted, the equal application of the law, decentralization of power to our communities, for a competitive marketplace where monopolies are broken and a limited role for government where the rule of law is sacrosanct.
    The biggest change I have seen is the erosion of honor among our elites. My generation is the most culpable in this regard.

  16. Valissa says:

    Great essay, Harper, thanks!
    Back when I was still an unconscious liberal I would have dismissed this post as conservative bias. There are many reasons I decided to be an ex-liberal and make efforts to consciously deprogram my primarily unconscious liberal political belief structure. It was a long and gradual process. I became more understanding and tolerant of conservatism because I chose to do so. But I was not born a Democrat (my father was a Republican) as some here so had no fundamental political identity.
    As this post discusses, liberals have become very intolerant of people who think differently and hold different values. It was the growing intolerance of the Left to the Right that was one of the first thing that got me rethinking my beliefs. Tolerance of different ways of thinking has always been one of my core values. I am stanchly against evangelizing of any kinds of beliefs and that’s what my liberal friends are reduced to these days.
    Just a wild guess 😉 but I think most of the liberals reading this blog will not appreciate your insights about the problems inherent in modern liberalism, which has sadly gotten farther and farther removed from classical liberalism and moved closer to socialism (despite it’s obvious historical failures). None of my liberal friends seem to know anything at all about the history of liberalism or what it means philosophically. At one point I asked people if they had ever taken the time to read the Wikipedia articles on Liberalism, Conservatism, and Libertarianism to try and understand them better. No one answered yes. They all think they know exactly what liberalism is, despite not educating themselves about it. This is so crazy because how can liberalism be “repaired” without some serious thinking (same goes for conservatives who also say the same things over and over again without thinking).
    When there is no questioning and no self-reflection there can be no change. This applies to anyone with any political position. Ideology is easy, thinking for oneself by analyzing numerous facts and data and then being willing to change your belief system is not. Especially when your politically like-minded friends will disapprove approve of you for being independent minded.
    Even though I had been exploring the roots of modern liberalism for a while only in the last couple of years have I come to have an inkling of the role and strong influence Marxism and the Frankfurt School have had in this process. It’s a great topic for conversation but I am skeptical people will be able to do so unemotionally.

  17. shepherd says:

    This is very reductionist to the point where if one of my students had written it, I’d give it a “C” or “C-” and added the comment “overgeneralized.” And you can pretty much pepper it with comments like “source?” and “unsubstantiated statement.”
    It’s an enduring feature of most strains of Marxist thought that a few enlightened individuals should upend the existing order and ram political correctness down everyone else’s throat. And when it’s been sufficiently rammed, everyone will live in joy and happiness. Marcuse is just one flavor of that.
    Media bias is not Marcuse, it’s just bias. The media may want to remove Trump, but conservative media wanted to remove Obama. Neither is trying to upend the order. They are the order. For what it’s worth, both are dominated by coastal elites, and they both make a lot of money by playing to their side.

  18. Outrage Beyond says:

    While the overall idea that Clintonistas are trying to foist “quasi-dictatorship of political correctness” upon us has some merit, the idea that this is somehow “Leftism” is unfounded.
    More accurately, both wings of the oligarch-controlled Party have greatly advanced an agenda of quasi-dictatorship. They have achieved this through assaults on voting rights, wealth re-distribution, corporate personhood, endless wars on behalf of Israel, the “Israelization” of America, (via extensive training of US police in Israel, to cite just one method) and an endless stream of identity politics.
    There is obviously much more that could be said to describe this agenda and its goals, but there is nothing leftist about it whatsoever. Rather, the goal is ensuring the permanence of oligarchic rule while (in the case of the Clintonistas) providing a Potemkin village of identity politics exhibitions that merely amount to tokenism.
    To cite just one example of how this system rejects even a faint whiff of leftism, one might note how the primaries were rigged to eliminate Bernie Sanders. Sanders, an avowed Zionist, is a pretend-leftist at best, but he is one of the few who make some pseudo-leftist noises (sans action) from time to time.
    While actors cited by the author may have been originally inspired by the Frankfurt school, their recent actions show a greater debt to the red-baiting of Joseph McCarthy.

  19. Once again I’m glad that I left the “right-left” dichotomy in the dust decades ago.
    And that I never read any of the classic philosophers except Nietzsche.
    One needs to delve deeper into human behavior to understand the state of the world than the hand-waving philosophers or conniving political pundits do.

  20. jonst says:

    Let us leave aside, *for the moment*, the question of Leftist or not. What do they all have in common?
    Wide, aggressive, and determined, support for dramatically increased immigration into the US. Two, aggressive support for an activist foreign policy focused on ‘regime change’. Often supported by military employment of US forces, conventional and unconventional. Three, all supporters of so called “free trade” agreements. All supporters of so called ‘gay rights’ measures, transgenderism, et al. All supporters of, to greater or lesser extents, extreme federal involvement in so call ‘common core’ programs in education in US grade schools and high schools. All big supporters of NATO. All big supporters of Israel. All hate Trump AND his base. All enemies of what THEY call Nationalism (at least so called White Nationalism, they seem to be relatively ok with Black Nationalist movements, though they do not call them that.
    It is not my contention to challenge, here, anyway, whether they are ‘right or wrong’ in their respective positions. Rather, I am simply trying to show how you could, and Trump’s followers, and Sanders, perhaps as well, DO, lump these groups together. .

  21. Fred says:

    “Herbert Marcuse was known only in select circles during the sixties.” The other folks on the left disagree with you.
    Tell me, is Brandeis, where Marcuse taught for over a decade, just some kind of community college that’s a step above an internet degree?
    “gaining the strategic initiative and problem solving momentum.” Right out of the Marcuse playbook. John Conyers must resign! Al Franken must resign! “The worst possible outcome is a preservation of the status quo, where….” men are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before a jury of his peers. A seperate and parallel system of jurisprudence with different rules of evidence – such as we see on college campuses – is much preferable to the authoritarian left.

  22. Terry says:

    Marcuse’s essay is quite a pseudo intellectual, twisted reverse logic rationalization of “the ends are more important than the means” along with justifying blind partisan group loyalty and obedience over objective truth, morality, and even respect for others and good manners.
    Freedom of Speech, Debate, and Criticism are at the core of Western society. Self criticism is an important part of this and a unique feature of western culture going back thousands of years to the Greeks. Self criticism features in Western religions, politics, psychology, and spiritual pursuits. Self-criticism is absolutely key to science and is the driver behind the advance in western civilization. It is clear Marcuse wouldn’t approve of self-criticism and his thought is profoundly anti-western. This anti-western attitude is reflected in the neoliberals of today and where-ever you find suppression of free speech, control of information, suppression of criticism you are seeing regressive forces of ideologies that are alien (even though now held by large groups of westerners and many of our institutions) opposed to very foundation of western civilization and science.

  23. Terry says:

    You comment is a perfect example of what Marcuse promoted and as such creates quite a bit of unintentional irony.

  24. Bsox327 says:

    Great write up i believe, and not a bad idea for all to look at the structural changes that have taken place over the years and study to see if it’s part of a big bang type occurrence or intelligent design. Keynes at Harvard is another one of the Frankfurt school instructional books out there in the world
    These intellectua/ideologues have been working long and hard on this project.

  25. Walker says:

    I remember this Marcusian line of reasoning from my days as a member of the New Left, a period that ended in 1972.
    There are strong anti-free speech elements in some fringe leftist movements today. They don’t represent the thinking of most liberals, of whom I am one. Nancy Pelosi condemned the tactics of antifa.
    I agree that the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN have gone off the rails in pursuit of Donald Trump. I don’t believe that they’re necessarily consciously being deceitful. They’re engaged in hysterical groupthink.
    IMO generalizing about the views of liberals by citing the New York Times makes as much sense as generalizing about Muslims based on the behavior of ISIS. But maybe I’m wrong . . .

  26. Castellio says:

    I think this comment gets to the nub of the matter.

  27. Terry says:

    I’m a classic liberal myself, with Libertarian leanings and a FDR New Deal Democratic Socialist politically. I’ve dialogued with quite a few of the younger generation online in social media political forums and many are a different breed. Many do support antifa. I generally agree you are right that most liberals are for free-speech but I believe it is larger than fringe opposed to free speech. Some evidence (tho somewhat loaded poll questions) –

  28. jsn says:

    Brandies has about 5500 students a year. How many of them took his class and paid attention and agreed? This is as massive as “the Russian hack of the election!”

  29. Mel says:

    True; “break the established universe of meaning” also explains the idea that it’s obscene for government officials to deal with the officials of foreign governments. And come to think of it (if you’ve been following the series of articles _Bitcoin Does Not Exist_ at The Automatic Earth blog, it explains the idea that proper registration of transfers of property are not worth the onerous expense of filing, particularly when the meaning of private property has been getting in the way of some financial deals.
    There’s a lot of Marcuse around, apparently.

  30. David Lentini says:

    iAgreed. The key is to look at those who paid for the Frankfurt School and the propagation of their nonsense and visciousness—The very elites like the Bushes, Fords, Rockefellers, and Carnegies.
    The point is that the revolution won’t affect them. The revolution is to put the bottom 99.99% of humanity into a planetary work camp while the reaminder live like gods. Marcuse and his ilk were either complicit in this or just useful idiots themselves.
    ANd for proof, look no farther than Adorno’s famious response to protesters who disrupted one of his classes—He called the police and had them forcibly ejected.

  31. Fred says:

    Given that logic I would have to conclude that with their viewership the Kardashians the true leaders of the American left.

  32. Fred says:

    The failure to properly register property transfers was one of the numerous scandals during the mortgage meltdown in 2008-7 time frame. The Obama administration cut a deal with the too big to fail banks to avoid the real cost (to banks) and thus failed to provide real justice for Americans affected.

  33. hemeantwell says:

    Caligula wished that the mob had one neck so that he might chop its head off with one blow. I think a similar wish animates much of this thread. I wish the care people would like to see used in addressing the nuances of their own opinions would be extended to those they don’t agree with.

  34. Sylvia 1 says:

    I agree with your observations. I just want to add a bit of history. Our current revival of neoliberalism has not happened by accident–it was planned, well organized and well funded. The objective was to remove all constraints on business in order to recreate the lassiez faire environment within which Capitalism initially arose. The result has been the rise of monopoly power and the corruption of politics via money. This has also resulted in an astonishing concentration of wealth both in the US and globally. Leaving aside for a moment the growth of the size of government and the need for reform–let’s look objectively at our current situation–the rebirth of monopoly capitalism.
    Unfettered capitalism always has, and always will, tend towards monopoly. Why? A capitalist wants to expand market share and eliminate competition. To maximise profit, companies look to form monopolies and cartels from day one. Monopoly leads to both market power and political power. Left unfettered, monopolists will soon control the political process as well. This allows them to legalize their activity and criminalize everyone else’s. History shows this has happened before and even Adam Smith warned about this tendency way back in the 16th Century.
    Today everyone imagines themselves to be a “libertarian” and thus “anti-government” which they have been propagandized to believe is evil and the source of their problems. The monopolists are gleeful over this propaganda coup since government, assuming it is not controlled by the monopolists, is the only means of retaining some form of competition in a capitalist society.
    The neoliberal ideal for globalization was small state power, unregulated capitalism. This was how capitalism started centuries ago, and it wasn’t very good for anyone but the monopolists.
    Adam Smith observes price gouging in the 1700s: “The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”
    When lobbyists control the politicians you are really in trouble.
    Adam Smith observed the early world of small state, unregulated capitalism in the 1700s and could see today’s problems. Adam Smith: “The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

  35. VietnamVet says:

    Left and Right have become undistinguishable. This is due to victory of wealthy plutocrats. Society is directed top down; a pyramid. Factions of the establishment use identity and ideology to keep control while they fight and torture each other over the spoils. The western middle class, no matter their belief or religion, are being tossed in the trash.

  36. Haralambos says:

    In the hope of clarifying some of the questions and comments, I will post this link: http://www.iep.utm.edu/frankfur/
    I was struck by your post, Harper, listing members of of the Frankfurt School with too broad a brush. It included Hannah Arendt. As the article above will indicate, she appears only twice. I believe the only common thread among those you list is their affiliation with Frankfurt. From what I know, most, if not several all of them, were exiles during the Nazi period, and several were disaffected Marxist or Marxian thinkers as a result of the Stalinist purges.
    Lemur, I find your reference to their being Jewish rather strange, since they were thinking and writing in the Nazi period and the Stalinist repression and forced internal exile and gulags.
    A study of Arendt’s life and publications seems to have escaped the attention of many here. I submit for your attention her many works dealing with natality, authority, the crises in culture and education, and the human condition. Perhaps most importantly, she wrote of “the banality of evil” in _The Banality of Evil_. https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/02/07/hannah-arendt-the-banality-of-evil/
    Despite my handle, I am not Greek, but I have lived in Thessaloniki for the better part of 40 years. Yesterday, Dec 6th, was the 75th anniversary of the desecration of the Jewish cemetery here: http://tinyurl.com/yamsv6w6
    I should not need to add that I am not Jewish, but it seems advisable to do so, given the topic.

  37. jpb says:

    Excellent comment! You may be interested in Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism by James Burnham. https://www.amazon.com/Suicide-West-Meaning-Destiny-Liberalism/dp/1594037833
    The book was written in 1964 as the progressive era peaked in America. Burnham’s warnings appear prescient in view of the last fifty years of decline in American prosperity and influence.

  38. Walker says:

    That is troubling for the future of civil liberties. I hope that’s something people will grow out of.
    For now, fortunately, support for free speech in law remains strong. IMO the biggest looming threat to that is the effort to legally equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism, and allow penalties for same.

  39. TV says:

    It’s not left or right, it’s the swamp.
    The only significant difference between the swamp Democrats and the swamp Republicans is who gets the money first.
    I firmly believe that most of them would coldly sell their families into slavery for a chance at a committee chairmanship, another star or a promotion to Deputy Associate Secretary of whatever as long as it comes with a limo and a bodyguard.

  40. Keith Harbaugh says:

    The sad fact is that the Frankfurt School and cultural Marxism
    have thoroughly taken over not just the left in America, but the “establishment” right as well.
    Strong evidence for this is in the article
    “Yes, Virginia (Dare) There Is a Cultural Marxism–and It’s Taking Over Conservatism Inc.”
    by Paul Gottfried, The Unz Review, 2017-05-22

    [Herbert Marcuse and some other] disciples of the Frankfurt School, like Marx, were eager to replace what they defined as bourgeois society by a new social order. In this envisaged new order, humankind would experience true equality for the first time. This would be possible because, in a politically and socially reconstructed society, we would no longer be alienated from our real selves, which had been warped by the inequalities that existed until now.
    But unlike authentic Marxists, Cultural Marxists have been principally opposed to the culture of bourgeois societies–and only secondarily to their material arrangements. Homophobia, nationalism, Christianity, masculinity, and anti-Semitism have been the prime villains in the Cultural Marxist script.

    As to Brandeis, I was a graduate student there from September 1967 to January 1973.
    As to the culture there, here is a relevant fact:
    Up through 2016, nine women had made the FBI’s ten most wanted list.
    Of those nine, one-third, i.e, three, were either current or former Brandeis undergraduates:
    Angela Davis
    Katherine Ann Power
    Susan Edith Saxe
    Davis was explicitly influenced by Marcuse, the others at least indirectly.

  41. eureka says:

    Yes, it is too narrow to say that this is about the Left alone. Many of you know that some of the founders of the neoconservative movement were originally Marxists, mostly followers of Leon Trotsky. Irving Kristol wrote a series of autobiographical essays in which he recounted the intellectual history of neoconservatism and traced his roots back to his Marxist days in New York City. Neocon ideas of permanent revolution (regime change) have a strong Trotsky taint. The values embodied in what the Frankfurt School called “critical theory” have permeated university social science education and the base of political correctness is much beyond just “the Left.”
    To your point about Brandeis: Angela Davis followed Marcuse out to the University of California at San Diego and got her PhD under Marcuse. She traveled to Frankfurt to also study under Adorno for a period of time, before she emerged as an icon of the Communist Party USA and black nationalist identity politics.
    Martin Jay’s book Dialectical Imagination is a pro-Frankfurt School account, but full of useful details of how the influence spread.
    Ralph de Toledano wrote an outstanding book Cry Havoc, also going through the history of the Frankfurt School from a much more critical vantage point (he also knew some of the ex-Communists who interacted with the Frankfurt School before they defected and this adds a personal dimension to the book). De Toledano’s book has the best bibliography I am aware of on the history of the Frankfurt School and its kindred organizations,including the Tavistock Institute, the Institute for Social Research and Esalin Institute.

  42. Steve G says:

    David Lentini
    Andrew Carnegie was the father of
    The Public library system.
    Did he not give back to the
    common man knowledge to
    overcome his position in life
    if he chose to do it?

  43. Excellent comment, dead on

  44. Fred says:

    “… a subversive majority could develop, and if they are blocked by organized repression and indoctrination, their reopening may require apparently undemocratic means. They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups …” That’s Evergreen College and quite a few more in the US.
    “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word. ”
    That is hardly opening the universe of discourse. It is a philosophy that is currently being used for justifying the labeling of opponents as “repressive” and giving free reign to, to use the current phrase, “punch a nazi”. Once the “oppressors” have been removed from power I’m sure the newly free oppressed will be able to re-educate the people with wrong think. Kind of like those intellectuals educated at the Grandes écoles, like Ieng Sary, helped Pol Pot do. Of course back then it was all about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

  45. Dabbler says:

    Signal-to-noise and could have different pieces of the truth, it seems to me. I was also exposed to Marcuse in the 70s. Found his writing incomprehensible and unreadable. Couldn’t get past the first paragraph on the second page. I think it was a coffee table book for leftists back then.

  46. mikee says:

    VV: I could be wrong but I think most Vietnam vets never made it to the middle class (whatever that is). Your right that the ‘western middle class are being tossed in the trash’
    And another thing. I guess you could call me a Vietnam vet as well, Hell I’ve got the goddamn ribbon but it doesn’t mean a thing to me when I think about my school mates whose lives were forever changed or shortened.

  47. TonyL says:

    VV, to me, yours is the best comment on this subject.
    I think people should wake up to the fact that we are living in an age that Letf or Right is undistinguishable. What the Col calls the Borgs (and their bosses, the oligarchs) is what we need to distinguish from the rest of us. Ideology is a means to divide us.

  48. Harry says:

    Totally agree. A label based on a prior bias. My suspicion is the author means corporatist neoconservative when he says leftist

  49. jonst says:

    Did you read the first line of my reply? “Let us leave aside, *for the moment*, the question of Leftist or not?” It was most emphatically not my point to ‘slander Leftists’. Who, by the way, are doing a good enough job themselves, at that. The question posed was, I believe, anyway; what might a group of people/media entities, superficially diverse, have in common? You pivot off that question and go on to an dialogue that exists in your head alone. Granted, an interesting and informative dialogue…but one of your own making.

  50. aleksandar says:

    Not just about the Frankfurt School but about whole degeneration of the West: 1986 Allan Bloom,” The closing of american mind “.
    This phenomenon is not present only in the US.
    And not leftist or rightist but as Sylvia1 shows brillantly, it’s capitalism.

  51. Croesus says:

    Several years ago Palantir, a Silicon Valley start-up whose major client was CIA, opened an office in Northern Virginia, next door to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). https://www.dni.gov/index.php/nctc-who-we-are/history Barack Obama visited NCTC in 2015, shortly after the San Bernardino event, to assure the American people that the US had the very best technology to keep America secure. Around that same time, business chatter about taking Palantir public increased, and Palantir was mentioned by name by several congresspersons in congressional committee hearings.
    Palantir was founded by Peter Thiel and Alex Karp.

    “Karp has a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College, a doctor of jurisprudence degree from Stanford University, and a doctorate in neoclassical social theory from Frankfurt University. Karp’s advisor at Frankfurt University was the well-known German critical theorist, sociologist and philosopher, Jürgen Habermas, a student of Theodor Adorno, a leading thinker of the Frankfurt School.Aggression in der Lebenswelt: Die Erweiterung des Parsonsschen Konzepts der Aggression durch die Beschreibung des Zusammenhangs von Jargon, Aggression und Kultur. [machine trans.: Aggression in the lifeworld: The extension of Parsons’ concept of aggression by describing the connection between jargon, aggression and culture] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Karp

    Forbes published this insightful close-up bio of Karp: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/08/14/agent-of-intelligence-how-a-deviant-philosopher-built-palantir-a-cia-funded-data-mining-juggernaut/#4e4f8b037785
    The “Frankfurt School” was organized to create an environment and systems to combat antisemitism; The Authoritarian Personality was published by the American Jewish Committee.
    Palantir has produced a series of videos from its annual gov.con colloquium. This one applies the Palantir process to Iran’s “threat to the US and the world.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ooAUeTlzdU
    I’m closer to signal-to-noise’s view; I have no idea what “left” and “right” mean; it’s like the current jargon over “white” vs “BLM.” In my opinion, both sets of categories are deliberately crafted to divide on the way to conquest. I used to think Liberal meant a person conversant in the pillars of western culture in literature, music, philosophy, etc., but that, too, has been jargonized by Frankfurt school processes.
    The fact that Palantir is undergirded by Frankfurt School ideology; that is has privileged and unique access to almost every bit of information about me and everybody; that it works extensively with federal government agencies to aggregate and interpret that information to form domestic and global policy — that scares me to death.

  52. Croesus says:

    This is the same mantra Hitler espoused.
    At least 50 years past time we get serious about Hitler.
    It’s astonishing that a single person, who put his pants on one leg at a time, had only one head; who occupied the world stage for ~ 2 decades, never went to college, died at age 56, is responsible for so many of the world’s ills that occurred only since his death.
    Why is it that the only approved discussions or writings about “Hitler” are produced by those who hated him, and who began their hate Hitler campaign nearly 10 years before Hitler had committed a single deleterious act against those antagonists; further, that any contrary narrative about Hitler is criminalized, sanctioned, punished, verboten; and finally, that any attempt to open an objective discussion about Hitler and the reality-based vs. propaganda-based goals of National Socialism are shut down and firmly censored.
    Dr. Stanley Fish, former dean of Liberal Arts at (a college in Illinois) told a panel on Free Speech held at the National Constitution Center that “free speech does not extend to academia; there, systems of tenure and peer review hold sway, and anyone who claims a position about, i.e. The Holocaust, that is contrary to the ordained narrative, will not be published, not funded, not granted tenure, and if tenured will still be made to regret his errant views.
    If American society and American scholars were free to investigate, with the full scope of their academic and intellectual skills, the events of that era, from all perspectives, then we would not be suffering the spectacle of young men carrying Tiki torches attempting to call attention to a history that has been censored out of knowledge.

  53. Degringolade says:

    Ishmael Zechariah:
    Thank you so much for the links. The “Tolerance” PDF is quite enlightening. Bit of a slog, but he writes reasonably well for a philosopher.
    I am having a bit of trouble connecting the dots between the words written by Marcuse and some of the comments here. I will continue reading and thinking about it, but it appears that he isn’t the pseudo-fascist that he is characterized in some of these comments.
    To Harper and the Colonel:
    This is one of the best examples of why I keep coming back to the discussion.

  54. HawkOfMay says:

    Closing the rampant bold tag.
    This is an interesting juxtaposition to a NY Times opinion article from yesterday. Liberals Need to Take Their Fingers Out of Their Ears

    The political, economic, and cultural triumph nationwide of a set of principles and realities essentially alien to large numbers of Americans is viewed as (a) being imposed upon them, and (b) overturning much of what they take for granted in their lives — and I don’t think they’re wrong about that. I think they’ve risen in angry revolt, and now intend to give back to the “elite” in the same terms that they’ve been given to. I don’t think this is good — in fact, I think it’s a very dangerous situation — but I think we need to understand it in order to responsibly address it.

    Are the liberals who are willing to say that liberal democracy has worked? That environmental regulations have slashed air pollutants while allowing Americans to drive more miles and burn more fuel? That social transfers have reduced poverty rates fivefold? That globalization has allowed Americans to afford more food, clothing, TVs, cars, and air-conditioners? That international organizations have prevented nuclear war, and reduced the rate of death in warfare by 90 percent? That environmental treaties are healing the hole in the ozone layer?

  55. Eric Newhill says:

    You and some others are trying to deflate the argument by confusing the old school liberals with neo-liberalism. The article and links make it clear that the movement morphed since the 60s. Neo-liberals are not your father’s liberals.
    To your specific comment, black lives matter can be invited to the white house, whereas it would be political suicide to invite a white nationalist group. Black lives matter can march and even riot in the streets, calling for dead cops, but white nationalists protesting the removal of statues draws ire and criticism from all media sources and politicians. Trump got called out for not renouncing them hard enough. No one has been asked to renounce BLM when they call for dead cops. In fact, there would be fierce backlash with cries of “Racism” if one were to renounce BLM.
    We have to give the movement a name and “leftist” is as good as any because the movement started from old school leftism/Marxism. What has happened is that the neo-liberalism movement – apparently successfully in cases of people such as yourself – went into stealth mode; promoting not blatant Marxism, but by leading people to that conclusion, gradually, with notions of “social justice”, PC culture, by breaking down traditional capitalist values and the values of Western civ itself. It also involves some fairly sinister brainwashing techniques – for example, racism is a mortal sin, but damn those white people sure are a scourge on the planet. When they get you to hold two opposing beliefs in your head simultaneously, they own your mind. Messing with your reality includes forced acceptance (via social pressure) of things like a man in a dress is actually a woman. There are many more examples and the non-brainwashed know what they are.
    People like Cheney, et al that would normally be thought of as “conservative” – indeed they label themselves as such – are part of the overall movement when they push for uncontrolled immigration. They seek to break down traditional American culture in that way by diluting it. It may be assistance of the left through mere lack of concern, or it may be planned. result is the same.
    I agree with jonst (doing that a lot lately). Whether self proclaimed conservative or liberal what these people all have in common is a globalist perspective, the dilution of traditional US culture and elitism. IMO, they want to rule the majority by causing the majority to be non-thinking brainwashed zombies in a Huxley-esque Brave New World type environment. The masses get to enjoy mindless hedonism and do what they are told. They won’t fight because they are all equal in material comfort and outcomes, dismal as the average may be. This is about control, not justice or freedom or anything else they sell it as. And that is what the article and links are saying was the conscious plan all along.

  56. Fred says:

    The bold needs to be turned off at the end of your comment.

  57. jonst says:

    I have no idea what you are referring to.

  58. Jonathan House says:

    As a PS, I add the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of Varoufakis’ article
    “The range of analysis is staggering. The rise of militant parochialism on both sides of the Atlantic is being investigated from every angle imaginable: psychoanalytically, culturally, anthropologically, aesthetically, and of course in terms of identity politics. The only angle that is left largely unexplored is the one that holds the key to understanding what is going on: the unceasing class war unleashed upon the poor since the late 1970s.
    “In 2016, the year of both Brexit and Trump, two pieces of data, dutifully neglected by the shrewdest of establishment analysts, told the story. In the United States, more than half of American families did not qualify, according to Federal Reserve data, to take out a loan that would allow them to buy the cheapest car for sale (the Nissan Versa sedan, priced at $12,825). Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, over 40% of families relied on either credit or food banks to feed themselves and cover basic needs.

  59. Fred says:

    in the future please turn off the highlights.

  60. Dabbler says:

    Meant to say “signal-to-noise and Ked have different pieces of the truth”. Sorry; need to check before postng.

  61. Jack says:

    You are spot on with your quotes from Adam Smith. It is inherent that unfettered capitalism leads to monopolies. However it has been our experience that our regulated businesses also tends to monopolies. Robinson-Pactman was enacted into law some decades ago but with regulatory capture we have seen increasing formation of cartels as consolidation of market power is enabled by government. We have all the laws necessary to enforce a competitive marketplace. But the revolving door the fox is in charge of the henhouse.
    I believe there is far too much complexity in our regulatory framework. Simplicity typically leads to transparency. Our tax code is a good example. Full of complexity and laden with exceptions and loopholes that only those with large resources can fully exploit.
    My own experience in banking is that small and mid-sized banks are at a significant disadvantage relative to the big money center banks as there is implicit government backing for them with the idea of “Too Big to Fail”. There was a fantastic opportunity to bring market discipline to finance after the GFC but what we saw was increased market intervention that has exacerbated wealth inequality.

  62. steve says:

    “Nowhere is this more evident than in the mainstream media’s unending barrage of attacks on President Donald Trump, whose very election as President has been declared to be illegitimate”
    Nothing new here. They went after Obama claiming he was not born in the US. They tried to impeach Clinton. The main difference I see is that Trump supporters whine more about it.

  63. Eric Newhill says:

    Here is an interview with Marcuse. He sounds like the typical social justice warrior lefty that we encounter everywhere today. Worth the listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm3euZS5nLo

  64. Keith Harbaugh says:

    From the Google Books description of Cry Havoc:

    In Cry Havoc!, legendary journalist Ralph de Toledano documents in chilling detail how
    a cabal of intellectuals, educrats, and politicians,
    manipulated by a well-financed, world-wide conspiracy,
    organized a strategy to undermine the American system

    and how this has been accomplished.
    “Cry Havoc is must-reading.” — William F. Buckley, Jr.
    “Cry Havoc is not only well written, but absolutely right.” — Prof. Herbert London

    Sure sounds like reality to me,
    but Google Books classifies this as “Conspiracy Theory”.
    An example of the web of personal relations
    (which some might call a cabal)
    that have shaped the world we live in
    was given by Robert Kagan in the “Acknowledgments” section of his book Dangerous Nation:

    Throughout these years, I have also been luck to enjoy the comradeship and wise counsel of
    dear friends Fred Hiatt, Bill Kristol, Leon Wieseltier, Reuel Gerecht, Ed Lazarus, and Joe Rose

    The connection between Kagan and Lazarus might have been through Robert Kagan’s father, Donald, who was a mentor to Ed Lazarus at Yale.
    As to who Joe Rose is, I have no idea.
    I mention this because it may be useful to understand how the people who attempt, often successfully, to manipulate opinion collaborate,
    and the commonality of their background.
    Hardly representative of the U.S.
    And not very Christian.

  65. VietnamVet says:

    The US Army I was drafted into almost half a century ago was very much working middle class males. The uneducated, overweight and ill were washed out. The draft army in Korea got better but fell apart in Vietnam. First, when the war with China in Korea stalemated, President Eisenhower got an armistice signed. Second, as fought in Vietnam, there was no chance for victory. Due to the threat of nuclear weapons and another Chinese intervention; an invasion of the North was off the table. Officers served six months in the field and left. The war was fought one year at a time. Hard learned lessons were lost. Drugs plus the racial, geographical and economic rifts in America exploded.
    Studies indicate that Americas born in 1942 have the highest wages. Wages of those born since have steadily decline. Vietnam veterans missed out in the increase in wages that non-veterans had for the years that the veterans served. When the draft ended, Deplorables were no longer needed to man the army. They were tossed aside. In fact the United States today reminds me very much of the US Army stationed at Fort Lewis that I left in September 1971; war weary and divided.

  66. turcopolier says:

    You were a kid in VN. I was not. Officers in command of infantry battalions and brigades held their commands for six months and then went to staff jobs because there was an incredible competition among officers army wide for these positions. This was a terrible plan devised by Max Thurman. It deprived units of proven leadership that the men knew and enabled malcontents like you to imply some evil intent. pl

  67. Huckleberry says:

    Attempting to make sense of the Frankfurt School, or the NeoConservatives, without noticing the ethnic roots of both ideologies is like trying to understand the American Constitution without considering its roots in Anglo-Saxon culture.
    It’s ok to notice things like the Jewish roots of much that has corroded the American republic. nyone who says otherwise is either a coward, the victim of gaslighting, or not acting in good faith.
    Again, see Culture of Critique by Kevin MacDonald.

  68. Valissa says:

    jpb, thanks for the book rec!
    I recently bought British political philosopher John Gray’s book, Two Faces of Liberalism https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1565846788/
    Like me, Gray is a former liberal/lefty. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gray_(philosopher)
    For me, his book ‘Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia’ provided me with more polished thoughts and reasoning to my own intuitions and observations about some of the problems with liberalism.
    NOTE: Of course there are many criticisms that can be made of various forms of modern conservatism as well. However that is not the topic of this post.
    PA, we have discussed Strauss on this blog several times in the past. No fans here, and plenty of folks here are aware of his influence on Borg policies. But the idea of the noble lie is older than Strauss. It at least goes back to Plato and his concept of The Republic.

  69. steve says:

    Lots of vague allegations. Higher level whining than is the norm. What do you make of the fact that Starr’s investigation was leaking like a sieve at this point, while some of the Mueller charges were a surprise to many people? (Mueller is a life long Republican. Do you think he is trying to keep a lid on leaks so as to not harm Trump?)

  70. fanto says:

    Sylvia 1,
    your comment sounds very much like thoughts of Bruce R.Scott in his “Concept of Capitalism”. Agree with that analysis; I experienced the power of monopoly on my own skin so to speak, when working with a hospital (in the USA) which gave one physician the advantage to effectively channel referrals – to my chagrin, despite the fact that the physician was very much inexperienced – with disastrous results for the patients. This system of monopolization in the US health care system is not well publicized btw., it is wide spread and corrupted.

  71. catherine says:

    ” IMO, they want to rule the majority by causing the majority to be non-thinking brainwashed zombies in a Huxley-esque Brave New World type environment. The masses get to enjoy mindless hedonism and do what they are told. They won’t fight because they are all equal in material comfort and outcomes, dismal as the average may be. This is about control, not justice or freedom or anything else they sell it as. And that is what the article and links are saying was the conscious plan all along.”
    Exactly. Lurk around the liberal blogs and you will see the support for this mixture of Marxism/socialism, particularly among the lower middle class and academics. You will also find this Marxist strain among leaders of the illegal immigration movement. And among liberal writers like Chris Hedges and liberal publications like The Atlantic, The Nation etc. pushing the cultural Marxism ideology,however slyly.
    Whether this movement,and it does appear to be a movement, has emerged from a single entity and just spread among the liberals or not I do not know.
    But it is here and it is being taken up by followers of left.

  72. catherine says:

    In 1983 there were 50 media companies in the US broadcasting to the public.
    Today there are 6 who control 90% of media.
    The first and core problem of the US is political corruption.
    The second problem is the media.
    All other problems we discuss are just symptoms of those two problems.
    If all the heat generated in discussions and criticism of various and sundry issues became instead a unitified bipartisan attack on the core political corruption then we would see a change.

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