- 1.How Critical Theorists Respond to Criticism: A Case Study on the Banality of Leftist Academe – Part 1
- 2.How Critical Theorists Respond to Criticism: A Case Study on the Banality of Leftist Academe – Part 2
- 3.How Critical Theorists Respond to Criticism: A Case Study on the Banality of Leftist Academe – Part 3
‘Social engineering’ has been of primary interest to social scientists and their oligarchic patrons.
‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Engineering’
‘Social control’ and ‘social engineering’ have been of primary interest to social scientists and their oligarchic patrons. Charles Merriam was a proponent of social control and social engineering to direct human development and evolution. He envisioned a brave new world overseen by social scientists, who would override tradition in forming a new humanity. He redefined politics in terms of social science, ‘the new politics which is to emerge in the new world: that of the conscious control of human evolution’.1 Technology would create ‘international obligations’, and ‘the ancient idea of the state’ would be destroyed or modified.2 A ‘new world of science’ would allow ‘a new race of beings’ to ‘master nature’ on a universal scale. Merriam announced the dogmatic breach between the social and biological sciences, stating that ‘social training and the environment’ can transcend any superficial differences. If genetics contradicts this, then eugenics can eliminate undesirable traits,3 while psychoanalysis has a large role to play in ‘intelligent social control’,4 and in the future the understanding of biochemistry might enable the bio-engineering of individuals and populations (aided by social psychology).5 The study of chromosomes might allow for induced variations by conditioning; ‘this is the key to social training’.6 The study of child behaviour will enable the social scientist to determine the ‘political attitudes and interests of the later citizen’.7 Foreshadowing The Authoritarian Personality, Merriam suggested that one’s politics might be predicted by charting ‘traits, habits, responses, behavior’, and allow for the possibilities of being ‘controlled or modified’.8
The world is one of ‘unceasing reorganization and readjustment’.9 This requires the elimination of all cultural heritages and customs that are a hindrance to the ‘new world’. The maintenance of institutions in the past and the present has ‘depended on a backward look, upon an assiduous cultivation of traditions and habits transmitted to each new generation by the old as the accumulated wisdom of the group. … Perhaps some magic was necessary to produce social and political cohesiveness, and prevent perpetual turmoil’. However, with the new social sciences it is possible to quickly ‘create customs’. It is possible to ‘materially modify the whole attitude of the group’ within about twenty years. If necessary ‘new values, interests and attitudes’ can be created ‘by the educational and social process’.10 God is rejected as being ‘magic’, displaced by the new faith in science.11
It might be discovered ‘what type of environment’ is required to produce a ‘specific type of man’.12 The new social science transcends time and place and universalises all in the name of ‘democracy’, a word used often by Merriam. A ‘calamity of the first order’ awaits should the new insights of science fall into the ‘hands of medievalists’, ‘with the tremendous possibilities in the way of thoroughgoing social and political control of individuals’. The urgent task is for ‘the social and political education of the next generation’, forming ‘a new majority with an entirely new political education, with new political values, attitudes, interests, capacities. We would re-create the world politically within some twenty years, were we minded and equipped to do so’.13 It is up to social science to determine what constitutes a good citizen in this new world.14 The new world will be one that goes beyond the League of Nations and results in the ‘interpenetration of national cultures’,15 or globalisation as it is now called, in a ‘new world’, ‘governed under a system of social and political control’,16 sustained by a ‘trained electorate’, a government of technocrats, and ‘the science of social control’,17 ‘co-ordinating class, races and groups of human beings’ across the world.18
The question Merriam asked of his fellow social scientists and financial patrons was ‘what use’ shall be made of this ‘complete control over the physical and psychical and social structure of the individual or the group…?’19
It does not matter whether any of this is called a ‘conspiracy’. The facts are that the oligarchic Foundations launched and promoted the social sciences under the auspices of Merriam, and others, whose doctrine was that of world-wide control through social engineering. That this doctrine accords with the policies and outlook of the Foundations that backed these academics, in particular the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, can be readily ascertained by perusing their publicly available annual reports. There was and remains a convergence of aims and ideologies. The social sciences continue to receive the funding to promote these.
Origins of ‘Conspiracy Theory’?
Woods attempts to trace ‘conspiracy theory origins’ with which to link Revolution from Above, and the ‘attack on The New School’. His attempt is inept:
Bolton’s attack on The New School contributes to a tradition of American conspiracy theorizing that has endured since the mid-twentieth century. Specifically, his work builds on enduring right-wing myths about the Fabian Society and the Frankfurt School. In 1964, the author and preacher John A. Stormer wrote the conspiracist classic None Dare Call It Treason to warn American citizens that communists had infiltrated churches, the education system, the media, the labor movement, and the medical establishment. …
Building on Stormer’s allegations, Bolton explains that — in a classic twist of dialectical capitalism — Webb and Shaw secured generous funding from the Rothschild family to establish the London School of Economics in 1895. For the Fabian Society, universities functioned as ostensibly innocuous channels for transmitting collectivist propaganda. Following Webb and Shaw’s example, Dewey conspired to convert young American intellectuals to the pernicious doctrine of Fabian Socialism through The New School.20
The use of Stormer’s None Dare Call It Treason, one of only two cited works in Woods’ endnotes, is an odd choice. Again there is the strange use of adjectives – ‘conspired’, ‘pernicious’. Woods does not identify the ‘enduring right-wing myths about the Fabian Society and the Frankfurt School’. It is sufficient to call something a ‘right-wing myth’ in order to dismiss it. Woods alludes to Stormer having been a ‘preacher’ when he wrote None Dare Call It Treason. This is not correct. Stormer became prominent in the Baptist church and education after writing None Dare Call It Treason. However, calling Stormer a ‘preacher’ is enough to raise smirks among the Leftist intelligentsia – to evoke an image of a snake-handling holy roller speaking tongues at a little church in Appalachia.
Of the many sources cited in Revolution from Above, and Woods concedes there are a plenitude, None Dare Call it Treason is not among them. Furthermore, while I had heard of Stormer’s book decades ago, it was not until reading Woods’ paper that I sought out this supposed source of my ideas. The thesis of Revolution from Above is not only different from Stormer’s, but in significant ways antithetical.
Stormer’s book is an example of the growing feeling during the Cold War that ‘communists’ had ‘infiltrated’ the tax exempt Foundations and were using the money in ways antithetical to the wishes of the oligarchs. The thesis of Revolution from Above, to the contrary, to quote the eminent liberal-internationalist historian Carroll Quigley, is that, ‘it must be recognized that the power of these energetic Left-wingers exercised was never their own power or communist power but ultimately the power of the international financial coterie’.21 Quigley studied this ‘international financial coterie’, and was in agreement with most of its aims, but objected mainly to its ‘secrecy’. His opinion that the Leftists in the tax exempt Foundations were subordinate to the oligarchs accords with the statements made by the Rockefeller Foundation, previously quoted. These matters had previously been examined by the Reece and Cox congressional committees investigating the tax exempt Foundations during 1952 to 1954. There had been a rising level of public opinion against the types of programmes the Foundations were funding. The research director for these Congressional committees, Norman Dodd, commented,
The broad study which called our attention to the activities of these organizations has revealed not only their support by Foundations but has disclosed a degree of cooperation between them which they have referred to as ‘an interlock’, thus indicating a concentration of influence and power. By this phrase they indicate they are bound by a common interest rather than a dependency upon a single source for capital funds. It is difficult to study their relationship without confirming this. Likewise, it is difficult to avoid the feeling that their common interest has led them to cooperate closely with one another and that this common interest lies in the planning and control of certain aspects of American life through a combination of the Federal Government and education.
This may explain why the Foundations have played such an active role in the promotion of the social sciences, why they have favored so strongly the employment of social scientists by the Federal Government and why they seem to have used their influence to transform education into an instrument for social change.22
Dodd saw the purpose of the social sciences being patronised by the Foundations as being that of ‘social control’ and ‘social engineering’.
For these reasons, it has been difficult for us to dismiss the suspicion that, latent in the minds of many of the social scientists has lain the belief that, given sufficient authority and enough funds, human behavior can be controlled and that this control can be exercised without risk to either ethical principles or spiritual values and that therefore, the solution to all social problems should be entrusted to them. In spite of this dispute within his own ranks, the social scientist is gradually becoming dignified by the title ‘Social Engineer’. This title implies that the objective view point of the pure scientist is about to become obsolete in favor of techniques of control. It also suggests that our traditional concept of freedom as the function of natural and constitutional law has already been abandoned by the ‘social engineer’ and brings to mind our native fear of controls, however well intended .23
It is these Congressional investigations, I suggest, that would make better candidates for the origins of modern ‘conspiracy theory’ – in the USA – than Stormer’s book. However, it is Woods who uses the word ‘conspiracy’, while Dodd used ‘common interest’; while the former is more convenient to Woods claims, the latter is closer to the thesis of Revolution from Above.
I have a fundamental disagreement with the American ‘patriot’ scene that sees the primary conflict being between ‘free enterprise and socialism’.24 I completely agree with the assessment of Christopher Lasch on the failure of the American Right at the time to espouse a genuine conservatism that saw free trade as subversive. To Stormer and Dobbs, the problem was the infiltration of the tax exempt foundations by Communists in the service of the USSR. The thesis of Revolution from Above is that the problem is capitalism. The centre of world revolution according to Stormer was Moscow. The thesis of Revolution from Above is that the centre of world revolution remains New York.
Cold War Agendas
We are told with a blurb from The New School that Woods is working on a book showing the origins of conspiracy theories about Cultural Marxism. The character of Woods’ scholarship in researching this book is indicated by Woods’ article on the subject appearing in Commune, a quarterly journal in the mould of the revolutionary rhetoric of the 1960s New Left.25 Here Woods claims to have traced the origins of conspiracy theories about Cultural Marxism to Lyndon LaRouche. Woods states that LaRouche (who had been a leader of the Maoist Progressive Labor Party, before founding the U.S. Labor Party) first wrote about Cultural Marxism in 1974.26 When writing the Commune article, perhaps Woods had not yet found Stormer’s None Dare Call it Treason, which had been published a decade earlier than those LaRouchean musings?
Woods, in weaving his own version of conspiracy theory, contends that opposition to Cultural Marxism is responsible for the mass shootings by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in 1992, and by Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand in 2019, both of which are traceable to LaRouche. Woods explains:
Neither Breivik nor Tarrant obtained their irrational and erroneous opinions on Marxism from interwar Nazi propaganda. They absorbed these views from the long-established discourse on ‘Cultural Marxism’ within the American right, which has been perpetuated by figures such as the New Left apostate David Horowitz,27 conservative music critic Michael A. Walsh, and paleoconservative politician Pat Buchanan. Even if LaRouche’s EIR28 articles from the 1970s remain unread and unacknowledged, his specter haunts this discourse.
Using this same methodology, it can be stated that Woods and those at Commune are motivated by the spectres of the psychopathic Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Robespierre, and the massacre of the Vendee, and stand on the shoulders of 100,000,000 victims of Communism.29 Whenever there is a Wahhabi terrorist act committed in the West, liberals are the first to object to allegations of any relationship between Islam per se and terrorism. When it comes to the Right, however, are we supposed to believe that the ‘lone-wolf’ actions of the likes of Breivik and Tarrant are motivated by the doctrines of Joseph de Maistre, Anthony Ludovici, Pope Leo XIII, Thomas Carlyle, or Vicomte de Bonald?
The Critical Theorist must resort to reductionist banalities and clichés about ‘conspiracy theories’ being the ‘lifeblood of contemporary fascism’, thereby discarding any need to examine the historiography of the Right. References to Hitler are sufficient. Shall we then ignore the difference between Stalin and Trotsky – differences which are of extreme historical importance?
Far from criticism of Cultural Marxism deriving from Stormer, LaRouche or the ‘Right’, we need to look elsewhere.
The Moscow-aligned German Communists were probably first to understand the character of Critical Theory when they were confronted with the theories of the Freudian analyst Wilhelm Reich, which were gaining support among sections of the party, especially the youth. Attempting to replace class struggle with the struggle for an orgasm, Reich was expelled from the German Communist Party in 1932. That same year, Reich’s ‘sex-economics’ doctrine, after being endorsed by a Communist youth conference, was condemned by the Party leadership as relegating politics ‘down to the level of the gutter’. The Party announced in its periodical Roter Sport that Reich’s pamphlets were contrary to the Party’s aims for youth education. Reich was accused by the Party leadership of wanting to turn the party associations into ‘fornication organisations’. The party leaders said, ‘there were no orgasm disturbances among the proletariat, only among the bourgeoisie’. The party considered the doctrine as creating a generational conflict.30 In 1929 Reich had visited the USSR but noted that already there was a reversal of the early Bolshevik anti-family policies.31 Arriving in the USA he found its liberalism more to his liking, ‘while “socialist” Russia witnessed reactionary, anti-sexual developments’.32
When decades later, in 1968, the influence of Cultural Marxism had reached sufficient critical mass to spark New Left rioting from Chicago to Paris to Prague, so far was this from being a Soviet Russian plot, as even Charles de Gaulle opined, that Soviet commentators condemned Herbert Marcuse, whose name was being paraded through the streets along with Mao and Marx. Soviet journalist Yuri Zhukov33 wrote in Pravda of Marcuse’s ideas having infiltrated the youth to ‘sow confusion’ and divide them from the working class movement, whose vanguard was the Communist Party.34 Zhukov stated that Marcuse was being promoted by the Western press, ‘like a film star’. Marcuse was promulgating generational conflict instead of the fight against capitalism. He had repudiated the need for revolutionary organisation in favour of ‘spontaneous revolt’. Zhukov denounced Marcuse for contending that the proletariat has ceased to be revolutionary, and that the revolt must be assumed by others35 (the ‘identity politics’ of the present-day). Zhukov stated that ‘bourgeois ideologists’ ‘brought into play ultraleft anarchist ideas, often echoing those of Mao Tse-tung, in order to cause confusion and disorient ardent but politically inexperienced youths, divide them, and turn those who take the bait into a blind tool of provocations’.36 These various factions were ‘werewolves’ using the name of Marx to ‘decommunize Marxism’.37
Perhaps Zhukov had read John Stormer four years previously? But then, Zhukov had already excoriated Marcuse ten years earlier – six years prior to John Stormer’s book, and sixteen years prior to LaRouche.
Marcuse and other Critical Theorists had been employed by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), predecessor of the CIA during World War II, analysing the USSR and National Socialism.38 Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis was published in 1958. 39 Soviet Marxism was partly based on research he had started in the OSS, and continued at the Russian studies institutes of Columbia and Harvard universities. The book was partly funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.40 Further books, One Dimensional Man, and Eros & Civilization were also funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Marcuse continued in state employment until 1951 as head of the State Department’s Central European Bureau. Marcuse, so far from being part of a Soviet conspiracy against the ‘Free World’, was part of the Cold War apparatus against the USSR – a banner to which sundry Marxists like Hofstadter had flocked.
Zhukov had in 1958 condemned Marcuse’s attack on Soviet society as an effort by Western intellectuals to ‘split the progressive forces and set them against one another’.41
While Stalin, repudiating internationalism in favour of ‘national tasks’, had closed down the Comintern in 1943, having long considered it a nest of traitors,42 Washington and New York started another comintern in the aftermath of the world war, when the USSR had repudiated its wartime alliance and rejected globalist manoeuvres. The CIA established the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) during 1949-1950 with Foundation funding, particularly from Ford and Rockefeller. The purpose was to steer the intelligentsia and avant garde to social democracy and away from Soviet influence. The president of this Congress was the eminent socialist intellectual Sidney Hook, who had helped John Dewey set up the ‘Dewey Commission’ in 1938 to protest the Stalinist accusations against Trotsky. The CCF included an array of liberals, Fabians, social democrats, Mensheviks, Trotskyites; socialists disaffected by the turn of events in the USSR,43 as described in Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism, and Trotsky’s Revolution Betrayed.44 The CCF had been preceded by the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, founded by Dewey and Hook in 1939, in opposition to both Nazism and Stalinism.45 Dewey joined the CCF.46
Although the CCF had been outed as a CIA front and folded in 1979, and was replaced by the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983, with a similar neo-Trotskyite and social democratic background,47 the CCF offensive had been effective. In 1985 the CIA assessed the attitude of the New Left intelligentsia in France, stating that the prevalent anti-Soviet attitude ‘will make it difficult for anyone to mobilize significant opposition to U.S. policies’.48 The ‘confidential’ CIA report states that the Leftist intelligentsia started departing from the Communist Party and from Moscow alignment after the ‘traumatic events of May 1968’. The French Communist Party had repudiated the New Left revolt as bourgeois and anarchist. The French Leftist intelligentsia had rejected the USSR as authoritarian, like the Critical Theorists in Frankfurt and New York.49 In France the ‘structuralist’ anthropology of Foucault and Claude-Levi Strauss played a role, and the CIA report alludes to the profound influence of ‘structuralism’ on scholarship in France and elsewhere in Western Europe.50 The CIA report comments that anti-Americanism among the intelligentsia was not only out of vogue, but that ‘finding virtues in America – even identifying good things about U.S. Government policies – is looked upon as an indications of discerning judgment’.51 It is notable that at this time, 1968, Alain de Benoist and the Nouvelle Droite assumed the role of opposition to the Americanisation of Europe.
1Charles Merriam, New Aspects of Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931 ), xvi.
2Charles Merriam, ibid., p. 5.
3Ibid., pp. 81-82.
4Ibid., p. 84.
5Ibid., p. 89.
6Ibid., p. 144.
7Ibid., p. 85.
8Ibid., p. 92.
9Ibid., p. 159.
10Ibid., p. 242.
11Ibid., p. 243.
12Ibid., p. 150.
13Ibid., p. 203.
14Ibid., p. 205.
15Ibid., p. 237.
16Ibid., p. 238.
17Ibid., p. 241.
18Ibid., p. 240.
19Ibid., p. 160.
20Woods, ‘A Secret Invasion’, op. cit.
21Carroll Quigley, Tragedy & Hope (New York: MacMillan, 1966), pp. 954-955, quoted in Bolton, Revolution from Above, p. 27.
23Norman Dodd, ibid.
24Zygmund Dobbs, The Great Deceit: Social Pseudo-Sciences (New York: Veritas Foundation, 1964), pp. 91-111.
26Andrew Woods, ‘The American Roots of a Right-Wing Conspiracy’, Commune, March 20, 2019; https://communemag.com/the-american-roots-of-a-right-wing-conspiracy/
27Horowitz, a libertarian, Islamophobic zealot for Israel, who regards Catholic social doctrine as communistic.
28EIR = Executive Intelligence Review, a periodical LaRouchean ‘conspiracist’ report.
29Stephan Courtois et al, The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press, 1999).
30Myron Sharaf, Fury on Earth: A biography of Wilhelm Reich (London: Andre Deutsch, 1983), pp. 169-170.
31Ibid., p. 142.
32Ibid., p. 318.
33Zhukov had been foreign affairs editor for Pravda, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Supreme Soviet, and recipient of the Lenin Prize, and the Order of the Red Banner.
34Yrui Zhukov, ‘Werewolves’, Pravda, May 30, 1968.
39Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis (New York Columbia University Press, 1969 ).
40Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, op. cit., ‘Acknowledgments’.
41Yuri Zhukov, ‘Taking Marcuse To The Woodshed,” Atlas, XVI (Sept., 1958), pp. 33–34.
42Bolton, Stalin: The Enduring Legacy (London: Black House Publishing, 2012), pp. 6-9.
43Bolton, Stalin: The Enduring Legacy, ibid., pp. 33-38; Revolution from Above, pp. 138-141. Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA & the World of Arts & Letters (New York: The New Press, 2000), passim.
44Leon Trotsky, Revolution Betrayed (New York: Pathfindrer, 1937).
46Saunders, Cultural Cold War, op. cit., p. 92.
47Bolton, Revolution from Above, pp. 218-221.
48‘France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals: A Research Paper’, Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, December 1985, v.
49Ibid., p. 5.
50Ibid., p. 6.
51Ibid., p. 11.