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Story Must Be Told, Pt.6: Critical Theory — Don’t Repress Me, Bro!

Before we get to the 1960’s, and changes blowin’ in the wind, let’s step into it a bit more slowly – because it’s important. First of all, in the previous columns in this series, we’ve established that the members and cohorts of the Frankfurt School had become firmly ensconced into the mainstream of American intelligentsia and academia. And when discussing how academia would be influenced, and eventually taken over by leftists in high positions, you have to understand two critical concepts:

— Critical Theory
— Repressive Tolerance

Critical Theory — Like many of the “grand” social theories of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Critical Theory begins with Karl Marx. Ralph de Toledano put it best when he wrote:

Years before he had inflicted the unscientific maunderings of Das Kapital and the dogmas of dialectical materialism on a long-suffering world, Marx called for what had to be accomplished — the “ruthless destruction of everything existing.” That destruction would wipe out religion, the family, morality, the free interplay of men and economic forces, human relationships, and everything that made Western civilization.

Antonio Gramsci of Italy and Georg Lukacs (of the fatal 1922 Moscow meeting) agreed that the Christianized West was the main obstacle standing in the way of a communist new world order. Gramsci posited that the West would therefore have to be de-Christianized by means of a “long march through the culture.” So, to accomplish this, they invented Janeane Garofalo (actually, that comes much later).

Then what exactly is Critical Theory? The answer is that Critical Theory is simply to criticize with unremitting and destructive condemnation every institution of western society. Published by the Frankfurt School in 1930, the hope was to ultimately bring down Western society and all of its institutions. Further, it’s been argued that Critical Theory was the original basis for course offerings such as Black studies, Gay studies, Hispanic studies, etc. But, it’s more complicated than that, as we’ll see.

In 1969, Herbert Marcuse put the goals of the New Left (using the tenets of Critical Theory) into the most unmistakable terms possible when he wrote:

One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed against the whole cultural establishment, including the morality of existing society … The traditional idea of revolution and the traditional strategy of revolution have ended. These ideas are old-fashioned … what we must undertake is a type of diffuse and dispersed disintegration of the system.

I don’t believe that it’s possible for any individual, of normal intelligence, to read Marcuse’s words and not come to the conclusion that his goal is the total and utter destruction of Western society, as we know it.

Repressive Tolerance – Again, Marcuse “lights” the way with his theory of Repressive Tolerance. At the core of this belief system is the assertion that “traditional liberal” notions of tolerance for political speech, such as those that America’s Founders espoused, should be overturned. That is to say, (and Marcuse says it) that anything the political right does is bad and should not be tolerated; anything the Left does is good and should be welcomed. The rationale for this notion is that standard tolerance is rigged against the Left.

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Clark Howell

Clark Howell is a 50-something, former Liberal who, sometime in the mid 1980's, began to take notice of Ronald Reagan and the positive policies that he and his political allies brought to the table of American life and politics. Since first leaning about Barrack Obama and his ambitions in 2004, he has begun a quest to understand the motivations behind modern "Liberalism" and "Progresivism." Mr. Howell is a professional Marketing Consultant in Central Massachusetts.