The Clare Spark Blog

October 21, 2011

Did Frankfurters kill the white, Christian West?

[For a more recent blog on this subject see]

This video linked below has recently been uploaded to, and is produced by a paleo-conservative outfit calling itself the Free Congress Foundation. It entirely misconceives the origins of “political correctness” and the establishment of separate academic departments for women’s studies, black studies, and ethnic studies or cultural studies in general. I suggest that my readers view both parts of this travesty of history. You also might want to google Willis Carto and Kevin MacDonald who peddle the same ultra-conservative, white supremacist, panicky line. Martin Jay, one participant in the video, recently denounced the entire right-wing for promoting the antisemitic anti-critical theory line, here:

[Wikipedia entry on Free Congress Foundation, producers of the video claiming that Frankurt School critical theorists invented political correctness and were out to destroy the West:]

[Wiki:] FCF played a founding role in galvanizing religious conservative political activism. By the late 1990s, [Paul] Weyrich declared that social conservatives were no longer a majority having a liberal agenda forced on them by an elite but rather are a dwindling minority that have lost control over the culture; that traditional culture and the counterculture have traded places. He acknowledged the need for continued political involvement as a matter of self-defense but stated that politics could not restore traditional values, nor could what were in his views hopeless efforts to recapture institutions such as prestige media, academia and mainline churches that had been lost to the Left.

Instead he urged conservatives to invest their time and money in alternative institutions, which would, in his viewpoint, eventually become the norm due to the superior efficacy of traditional values. This sparked a firestorm of criticism from other conservatives who accused Weyrich of giving up.

FCF has also been willing to spark controversy on other fronts. It rejects what it calls Political Correctness, dubbing it “cultural Marxism” and blaming it on the Frankfurt School of left-wing thinkers. Accordingly, it has been more willing than many other conservative groups to endorse or entertain views that some, especially on the left, would consider offensive and evidence of bigotry. It is arguably hostile to Islam as a whole, rather than confining its criticism to extremist Islam or Islamism. With regard to Judaism, in his column of April 13, 2001 (Good Friday) titled Indeed, He is Risen!, Weyrich argued that “Christ was crucified by the Jews…. He was not what the Jews had expected so they considered Him a threat. Thus He was put to death.” [end: Wikipedia entry]

[My comment:]   It is true that critical theory has had a foothold in some universities. Martin Jay, for instance, is a famous and honored professor of history at UC Berkeley, and his major work has been in writing the history of the Frankfurt School ( But what the video neglects to mention is the meshing of “critical theory” (the Frankfurt School advocacy of “negative critique”) with long-term developments in 20th century American culture, for instance, the revolt against puritanism/laissez-faire capitalism, starting in the last third or quarter of the 19th century, then exacerbated after the Great War as “the lost generation” turned against the idea of progress, specifically the Providential Protestant mission to save the world.

To imagine that five or six immigrant (non-cohesive, unobservant) German Jews (T. W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse,Leo Lowenthal, maybe George L. Mosse) could have debauched a “traditionalist” American culture is simply paranoid, and reflects the hold that the racist myth of the omnipotent Jew has over some American imaginations. Moreover, the main message of “critical theory” was to blame Nazism on the revolt of the masses, i.e., the kitsch-loving, obedient masses who preferred Hitler-style demagogic tricks or Big Lies to Marxism as guides out of the Depression ( The imbibing of high culture and the rejection of consumerism would have prevented such catastrophes that were blamed on “mass culture” (as if such a thing really existed as a coherent entity). True, Erich Fromm and, earlier, Lukács blamed “false consciousness” or working-class authoritarianism for the failure of communism to mobilize the Western working classes. And Wilhelm Reich, later echoed by Marcuse, argued that fascism was anchored in the puritanical psyche, so the flowering of Eros was recommended as antidote, but such 1960s faddishness was no more potent in corrupting the American young than the bohemianism of Greenwich Village before and after the Great War, and that was imitated by the upper-class misinterpreters of Freud, and by the Jungians who did throw off the genteel tradition in private carnivals of primitivism and paganism.

The other project of critical theory, especially in the writing of Adorno and Horkheimer, was to blame the Enlightenment for the Holocaust. Thus the high value placed on technology, science and empiricism could only lead to “bureaucratic rationality” that in turn enabled the automated killing of millions (Zygmunt Bauman). This counter-Enlightenment stance endeared critical theorists to reactionary critics of urbanization and modernity (catalysts to the preeminence of “the money power” or “Wall Street”), especially during the 1960s counter-culture.

But of most significance is the false notion, perpetuated by the FCF video, that PC was part of the program of “cultural Marxism.” Rather, the moves against hate speech and the promotion of muliculturalism were the progressive elites’ attempts at co-opting oppositional movements from below during the 20th century, and publicized throughout this website. That is, liberal elites micromanaged group conflict from the commanding heights. These were the efforts of “moderate conservatives” adhering to “the golden mean”, not to extremists of any stripe. (See, also, Or, some documents and comment here: On Freud’s conservatism, see


  1. […] more radical liberals than any type of Stalinist or other bogey resuscitated by some conservatives. Not unlike Milton Friedman, these radical critics of a phony liberalism wanted a full marketplace […]

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  2. […] First, it is important to understand what a leap forward Paxton’s work has achieved compared to the initial response in newspapers and other media following the end of World War 2 and through the 1950s. For instance, Hitler was initially portrayed as a madman, often with bulging eyes, whose cult of the Leader led all of the German people astray as they fell for his bizarre propaganda. By focusing on the total institutional picture, including continuities with prior regimes, Paxton punctures the Fuehrer myth, but also challenges the primacy of propaganda in contradiction to the “Frankfurt School” critical theorists who emphasized the overwhelming influence of the new mass media in creating the fascist hordes, and who are now blamed for spreading communist ideas in America at the expense of Christianity (see […]

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  3. […] tolerance”—a concept little understood by rightists who attack “cultural Marxism.” (See What Marcuse actually said was that the notion of toleration of dissent was a ruse of […]

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  4. […] Enter “hate speech” or “hate crimes”. We should be loving one another, we should be walking in the steps of Christ in all our dealings with “the Other.” “To know all is to forgive all.” And who inflicted repression of “free speech” on us? None other than the putatively Jewish critical theorists, all “Jews” or renegade “Jews” whose chief aim in life is to control “the goyim.” (See […]

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  5. […] Notwithstanding attempts of some organic conservatives to paint the Left (both Leninist and liberal) as generically Jewish, the original PC contingent was devoid of Jews, but heavily populated by WASP liberal elites, notwithstanding the efforts of some far Right antisemites to paint the [German “Jewish”] Frankfurt School of critical theory as instigators of political correctness and the thought police. (See […]

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  6. […] have written before about this terrifying cohort.  See  Also […]

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  7. […] phenomenon that explained Hitler’s support and rise to power (the Frankfurt School story, see, but it was also the explanation for all manner of mental illnesses, particularly narcissism […]

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  8. […] Did Frankfurters kill the white, Christian West? ( […]

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  9. It’s strange to see anyone who ever heard of Adorno spend so much time critiquing a semi-literate video on Youtube, and anyway Critical Theory was always as much out of place in the USA as Walter Benjamin in a pick-up truck. (He actually described this fantasy in a letter to Adorno.)

    Comment by Jacob Freeze — October 24, 2011 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

    • The video was surely absurd, but the notion that critical theory was out of place is also mistaken. It took over the humanities, and I can name prominent names who remain academic superstars. Their students are legion. Negative critique is alive and well all over the liberal universities, and I mean upper-class controlled. It is the aristocratic thing to do.

      Comment by clarespark — October 24, 2011 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

  10. […] appealing to the counter-culture  might celebrate Eros (like Wilhelm Reich or Herbert Marcuse, see, or, in my view, they might have more fruitfully focused on the mother-child attachment and issues […]

    Pingback by Sex Without Freud « YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — October 21, 2011 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  11. While I agree that the video grossly oversimplifies the ‘untergang des abendlandes’ sense that many of us have about the West, I think that you are too quick to imply that many of the threads which have converged at various times in the 20th century to get us to the current state are not loosely connected, and to discount the effect of thinkers from the German-speaking world on many of those threads. If their ideas did not create the conditions that gave rise to modern feminism, multiculturalism, and political correctness, they certainly shaped the forms the various threads have taken. More when I have time….

    Comment by Rob Perelli-Minett — October 21, 2011 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

    • How would you compute the different effects? That is where theory falls down. One can postulate any causal sequence and few will ask how you got there. Without statistics that would require the taking and evaluating of millions of individual life histories, we end up with competing stories. History has often degenerated into big claims with little concrete evidence. What I attempted above was a complication of the “traditionalist” antimodern, antisemitic narrative that has great currency on the far, far Right.

      Comment by clarespark — October 21, 2011 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

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