Friday, September 25, 2009
The Frankfurt School: Masters of the Universe (and other fictions)
A friend recently brought to my attention an article entitled The Plot Against Art, written for the Occidental Observer by a person purportedly named "Dr Lasha Darkmoon" (whom I also found quoted here). I do not want the comments that follow to be taken as a general indictment of the good work that goes on at the Observer, and its sponsor, the Occidental Quarterly. As my readers (all 3 of them) are aware, I have been critical of TOQ on account of its Darwinian materialism, and its support for "eugenics" -to be understood as a sort of god-making exercise (the term is notoriously slippery). Prefatory remarks concluded, I must protest the nauseating repetitiveness and outright slipshod scholarship in laying the current malaise (predictably) at the feet of the Frankfurt School, those nefarious (to be sure) and all-powerful (meh, not so much) architects of Western Decline[TM]. Let's begin with a quote from the article:
Setting aside the sloppy "revaluation of values" (Umwertung aller Werte) which ought to be attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche and not larded into a paragraph introduced with mention of Freud and Darwin... I have to sadly smile at these theories of declension that posit the motive force in "The Frankfurt School" or "The Vienna Circle," or any such knitting circle or colloquy of ectomorphs, as though the source were a recent development and isolated to very small and easily identifiable "school of thought" whose influence was so broad that it changed "everything" practically "overnight." Such is not really the case and it is shoddy scholarship to suggest that the influence of such entities has been a great deal more than window-dressing for the genuinely transformational powers. To take but one example of the mis-identification of "agents of change," one might look to the makers of music themselves (such as the "revolutionary" Maurice Ravel) rather than those who bloviate about the need for ugliness in music. The début of Ravel's Chansons madécasses at Paris was greeted with cat calls and shoving it was so controversial. 2nd year coeds fell asleep reading Adorno, or Federal judges read him while being fellated under their robes by aspirational law clerks.
... Since Darwin and Freud, there has been a complete “revaluation of all values.” Everything has been turned upside down. We can mostly attribute this parlous state of affairs to the machinations of organized Jewry, in particular to a group of revolutionary thinkers known as the Frankfurt School. (For a detailed introduction to the ideas of these neo-Freudian Marxists, most of whom were Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany who fled to America, see Chapter 5 of Kevin MacDonald’s The Culture of Critique).
The massive social transformations just completed were so broad and so profound, their source could not be in any single school, institution, or group of individuals however influential on the managerial caste. If the authors of this kind of article would do just a little more digging (beyond quotations from the redoubtable Kevin MacDonald or a dog-eared copy of Bartlett's), they would find that these men were marginal glosses on a revolutionary fait d'accompli, that had its origins many centuries prior. The reason we don't hear the names of the ACTUAL men behind the initial incursions and sorties is that they are buried in time, and professional "writers" can't afford to invest the years required in digging up the antecedents in dusty tomes and out-of-print journals. This is actually the work of academicians and dedicated amateurs.
What strikes me is that this kind of writing is directed at a specific sort of person -a disaffected college-educated professional (like myself), marginalized literati, right wing lumpen-dissidents, and related "types," who will recognize names like "Adorno" and "Lukács" (seldom if ever mentioning such figures as Marcuse, Barthes, or Foucault -men who were equally, if not more influential in latter times). That is no screed on such men as I am. Indeed on these will be built any new world that rivals the regnant stupidities. But we will need true navigators, and not men who plant their claimant banners on the same patch of intellectual territory. These recognizable names can be pointed to as the "mustache twisters" of Western Decline[TM], because, of course, that decline simply MUST come from a recognizable source that a man (the readers of TOQ Online are generally men) who has taken a sophomore-level sociology course as part of his general education requirement would recognize, and at whose indictment he will nod in assent and lend his opprobrium to the authors, who continually trot out the same tired figures, without telling us precisely HOW these noxious scribblers became influential enough to change the world overnight.
The truth is that the world didn't change overnight; it changed by infinitesimal increments (with the occasional sanguinary "great leap forward" supplying suitable drama), barely perceptible except by the most adept and sensitive observers. The real fons et origo are the men you find in the footnotes of the works by the Adorno's and Marcuse's (when they bothered to produce footnotes). Perhaps not a staple of "magazine" fodder, but certainly needed by those who would advance the effort. We must attribute the focus on "names" itself to the "great man" theory of history. But often enough, social effects are propagated by psycho-behavioral dynamics located in men anonymous to the historical annals, men that are numbered in the thousands, millions, and billions -and not, in the tens and hundreds. Until universities became industrial manufacturing centers for corporate-state controlled organic robots, we find the root of social change and upheaval distributed into a few general areas: commercial, religious, and political figures (and largely the first of these) and their influence over the "mass mind." Rarely in the past did academic or artistic figures have the reach or influence to alter the general trajectory of things. The authors of the Speenhamland Laws in England had more to do with general social transformation than Theodor Adorno.
In fact, it is the development of the latter-day mass mind that has more to do with current conditions than any particular ideology that may captivate it. That captivation was simply the pièce de résistance of the social engineering project that was facilitated by the development of "mass mind" through various kinds of psychological-behavioral programming -clumsily, and even sometimes accidentally, at first. With the rise of large-scale mechanical processes came the need for economies of scale in the production of mechanical men, lifelike in every detail, but absent the spark of humanity that prevents widespread and systematic puppetry. Yes, there are walking among us people practically Pavlovian, and who are, from a human perspective, simply automata. The real story of modernity is how were these automata created, at whose direction, and on whose dime?
The Frankfurt School is certainly a part of that story, but perhaps not the major part. By the time we arrive at the ascendancy of the Frankfurt School among the Western intelligentsia, the deviation from social normality is so well advanced in every area of society that the contributions of these nasty "Frankfurters" can be seen as little more the advertisements of a brazen triumphalism unconcerned about the possibility of reversals than as the initiation of some kind of novel campaign. The so-called "march through the institutions" (or what Scary Gary North once called the "capture of the robes") had already occurred. Truly, the influence of these men is largely confined to the securing of social change already gained, through the medium of the new industrial-scale universities (developed on the old land grant system), the methods of ensuring attendance at them for an adequate period of time to inculcate "students," and the creation of the economic means to provide access (The GI Bill and Federally guaranteed student loans). When universities were transformed from their original charter of molding the mind and character of the aristocracy to the means of mass social indoctrination in the desiderata of progressivism, their role became that of a perpetual guarantee on the gains that were once tentative and reversible. Now such gains are not reversible, they are only ignorable. The only defeat of the Great Pathology that remains possible is personal secession from it until it exhausts its prodigious energies or meets the calamity that the laws of God's nature have prepared for it: such as the law that forbids the free lunch. And until general conditions deteriorate (and they must) to the extent that they awaken men from their stupor en masse, the solution will remain personal. Thankfully there exists a terminus ad quem that pertains to the degree of sheer graft that can effectively cover the spiritual and material poverty of progressivism.
Returning to our theme, let me give but one brief example of the amnesia that afflicts the right wing. How many scribblers on Western Decline[TM] will focus any attention on the role of Napoleon Bonaparte in propagating the mental virus known as egalitarianism? How many readers are generally aware that he brought with him on his military campaigns thousands of copies of the radical anti-Christian tract "Rights of Man: Answer to Mr. Burke's Attack," by Thomas Paine (yes, THAT Thomas Paine) and distributed them to his new subjects. How many will be made to understand that one of Napoleon's chief goals in extending the dominion of France was the construction of a sort of pre-modern European Union, which would be based on the principles guiding the French Revolution: Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite or death. We are treated to Napoleon the tyrant, Napoleon the military genius, Napoleon the eater of prodigious quantities of roasted chickens, and Napoleon the lover of Josephine. What we never really read or hear of is Napoleon, the propagandist of revolution, Napoleon the liberator of man from regnant "superstition," or Napoleon the ideologue. And we are much the poorer for it.
The forgoing is but a single instance of how historical superficiality has become a tool of "progress" (even in the hands of those who would oppose it) and how one will likely never hear about the real sources of the social deviation from people who scribble for a living and have to publish on a schedule. Frankfurt School? Pish posh. The "alternative" and racially-aware media must do better.
Posted by John Marshall at 11:42 AM