- 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
Projection, false claims, straw men, non sequiturs, dogma – this is the stuff of which today’s ‘critical theory’ is made.
Cause & Effect
Woods jumps from Stormer to Patrick Buchanan in his concluding remarks, which necessitates the construction of more straw men. He turns his attention to a paper by this writer, published in a peer-reviewed journal (although Woods does not mention this fact).1 It is notable that while Woods does not cite the paper in his endnotes, he embeds a link in his article, which does not go to the complete paper, but to an extract on Questia. Has Woods read the paper, or just gleaned some key words from the Questia ‘article excerpt’?2 Likewise we are tempted to wonder whether Woods has read Patrick Buchanan’s book itself, since the reference embedded in his article is merely a link to a Wikipedia entry.3
Woods leaps across the abyss of logic to allege conclusions counter to fact. He recognises that The Frankfurt School ‘denounced the conventional family unit as “fascistic,” and encouraged the youth of America to indulge their sexual impulses’, and from this claims that The Death of the West and Revolution from Above describe feminism as responsible for the plummeting birth rate of North America and Europe. ‘Bolton appears to agree with Buchanan’s assertion’.4
Woods has not understood that feminism, birth control and abortion are symptoms of an organic spiritual and cultural decline, and that capitalism, materialism and hedonism are part of an economic process that occurs at the late epoch of a civilisation. This historical morphology is intrinsic to the Right, as might be seen from at least the time of Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), but it is contrary to the progressive-Darwinian dogma of capitalism and the Left, which assume all such change to be ‘progress’. Buchanan quotes the historian Will Durant’s The Story of Civilisation, on the drastic and irreversible population decline in Greece and Rome, where abortion and infanticide became the norms. Buchanan refers to ‘an aging, dying Christian West’.5 Buchanan is clear enough: ‘As a growing population has long been a mark of healthy nations and rising civilizations, falling populations have been a sign of nations and civilizations in decline. If that holds true, Western civilization, power and wealth aside, is in a critical condition’.6 It was not conspiracies and cabals in Greece and Rome that caused these symptoms of decay, and neither Revolution from Above nor The Death of the West suggests they did. What both do suggest is that, to cite an interview by Buchanan, ‘Global capitalism and Marxism share a belief that it is far better to have women in the market place than in the home’.7 There is nothing controversial about this statement; it is a fact.
Turning to Bolton’s peer-reviewed paper ‘Cultural Marxism: Origins, Development, and Significance’,8 Woods claims that ‘Bolton further implies that the Frankfurt School devised the theoretical rationale for Gender and Sexuality Studies at The New School’. This is not the case, and earlier programmes during the Weimar era are considered. ‘Bolton imagines that these forms of research, inquiry, and critique benefit collectivist and oligarchical agendas’. Woods does not explain why there has long been a lavish patronage by the oligarchy on such ‘gender and sexuality studies’.
According to Woods, the ‘Cultural Marxism’ paper alleges, ‘The New School is a Soros-sponsored laboratory for testing new radical ideas before they are injected into mainstream culture, such as the “controversial” idea that sexuality is a “social construct.”’9 Again, the strategy is dramatizing and using a straw-man argument.
George Soros is a prominent funder of The New School. If Soros funds something, then it is to advance an agenda. Recently Soros announced at the World Economic Forum at Davos that he was advancing $1 billion to establish a ‘global university to fight authoritarian governments’.10 Again there will be another institution to churn out pseudo-scholarly studies on the ‘threat of the extreme Right’, and of ‘populism’,11 with as much objectivity as a research paper on tobacco funded by a tobacco company.
Conspiracy or Degeneracy?
The father of ‘Ethology’, Konrad Lorenz, pointed out fifty years ago that the rulers and policy-makers in the USA, China and the USSR were unanimous in their insistence on the conditionality of human behaviour. Lorenz described this behaviourist doctrine as ‘pseudodemocratic’, ‘inhuman’ and ‘satanic’, as it enables the ‘dehumanization’ and ‘manipulation’ of mankind. This is the crux of the matter, of what Woods et al. disparage as ‘conspiracy theory’. Lorenz explained:
It is equally important to the capitalist mass producer as to the Soviet functionary to condition people into uniform, unresisting subjects, not very different from those described by Aldous Huxley in his terrifying novel Brave New World.12
Lorenz warns that if a doctrine based on ‘a lie’ about human behaviour is universally accepted then the effects will be ‘disastrous’. This doctrine, Lorenz contends, is responsible for much of the ‘moral and cultural collapse that threatens the Western world’.13 Lorenz saw the methods used by ‘various “establishments”’ – whether capitalist or communist – to recondition people into their own preconceptions of the ideal, as ‘substantially the same throughout the world’. ‘We, ostensibly free, Western civilized people are no longer conscious of the extent to which we are being manipulated by the commercial decisions of the mass producers’.
While crafts disappear in the mass (global) consumer society, we are increasingly conditioned to consume according to the production requirements of mass manufacturers, and are not aware of our manipulation.14 Science itself has been conditioned by what is fashionable. Environmental conditioning is the fashion within science, just as it is within politics. What social policies within the Western states are not still dominated by Behaviourism?
However, Lorenz states that fallacious science does not cause the West’s ‘cultural diseases’, but is the product of them.15 That is to say, the position of the social engineers is enabled by a pre-existing weakness in the social organism; if the organism had not succumbed to age and disease in the first instant, it would have had the stamina to resist and repel these social pathologies that are in fact able to enter it. While the likes of Woods disparage ‘conspiracy theories’ as ‘over-simplification of complex issues’, they fail to understand that ‘conspiracy theories’ do not necessarily indicate causes, but rather symptoms. The cultural diseases of the West are the cause of the dehumanising impact of modern science, and not the effect.16 As Lorenz states, it is the social sciences with their behaviourist assumptions that represent the ‘simplification’ of complex issues in seeking to override the instinctual and inherited for the sake of a preconceived ideology.
Woods is resorting to the ‘simplistic’ (as Lorenz referred to it) behaviourist ideology when he states that,
Both Buchanan and Bolton admonish women and queer people for failing to obey traditional social and sexual norms. Feminists are portrayed as too selfish to raise families; queer people are depicted as too irresponsible to become members of a respectable society. The contentious debates over the legalization of gay marriage and the transgender bathroom controversy illustrate that the radical right often targets and demonizes queer people. Buchanan, Bolton, and their fellow right-wing authors seem convinced that pernicious ‘Cultural Marxists’ at The New School and other college campuses brainwashed the American people into believing that queer people deserve equal rights. Although LGBTQ+ advocacy and activism are a crucial extension of the American Civil Rights movement, Bolton argues that the whole affair is a deliberate outcome of the collectivist oligarchy’s assault on Tradition.17
Woods constructs more straw men in a flurry of radical rhetoric more suitable for a soap box than an academic journal. There is no ‘admonishing’ of ‘women and queer people for failing to obey traditional social and sexual norms’; there is no argument ‘that the whole affair is a deliberate outcome of the collectivist oligarchy’s assault on Tradition’. There is a carefully documented consideration (‘overflowing with references’, as Woods concedes) as to why the oligarchy would promote and fund the destruction of traditional bonds, and why there is a convergence of aims in this arena.
Lorenz says the same when he states that Behaviourism, as the basis of much of the social sciences, serves the interests of mass manufacturers just as it did Communist states, with its belief that humanity can be reshaped according to ideological or commercial requirements. Did not Charles Merriam, the dean – as we might say – of U.S. social sciences, say precisely that? Did not Aldous Huxley observe the process in his Brave New World?
Woods concludes his article by evoking images of a Right-wing assault on ‘progressive’ politics: ‘Some people think that it is a waste of time to devote scholarly attention to these conspiracy theories. After all, conspiracy theorists often dismiss anyone who doubts their credibility, debunks their claims, or disagrees with their worldview’.18 Again, we see Woods projecting: what does he – and the entirety of the Left – do other than to ‘dismiss anyone who doubts their credibility, debunks their claims, or disagrees with their worldview’? In reality, because their anti-Right mania accords with that of the Establishment, the Left has the advantage of being onside with the mass media, state authorities, and well-funded think tanks that provide source material for smears by hack journalists.19
Identity Politics vs. Identitarianism
This Rightist conspiracy is a ‘larger metapolitical project to contest liberal values and promote right-wing identitarian politics’, writes Woods. Because Leftist ‘identity politics’ and Rightist identitarianism are antithetical, Woods upholds ‘identity politics’ while decrying identitarianism as fascist and racist.
This is something that the free-market liberals of pseudo-conservativism do not understand, because their origins, as Lasch found, are Whig-Liberal and not conservative. ‘Identity politics’ states that ‘identity’ is a social construct and can be changed by the individual at will. There is nothing organic about one’s ethnicity or even gender. When the individual is not subjected to the ‘primary ties’, as Critical Theory calls them, he can change – or be changed – by social engineering.
Contrary to this, one’s identity, according Rightist identitarianism, is fixed over long periods of time, is organic and is maintained and enriched with the help of tradition, religion, and myth. The Leftist conception of identity is one of fluidity; that of the Right one of permanence.
To Woods, the Right ‘preys on genuine economic precarity and cultural anxiety’. ‘For instance, he [Bolton] re-directs post-2008-financial-crisis contempt for Wall Street into an irrational fear of “progressive” politics. In the end, reactionary identitarianism is offered as the only way to resist dialectical capitalism’.20 Perhaps Woods has only read the redacted version of Revolution from Above that appears on the internet? So far from re-directing ‘post-2008-financial-crisis contempt for Wall Street’, Revolution from Above, at the first sentence of the concluding paragraph, states: ‘In general it can be stated that many of these problems are the direct result of the debt-finance, trade and economic system that is operated by the oligarchs’.21
Woods must conclude with non sequiturs, stating that Revolution from Above claims, ‘Any academic critique of social and economic inequality is covert propaganda for the globalist oligarchy’. The Right was in the forefront of critiquing the social and economic inequality of capitalism, while it was Whig-liberalism that saw the inequities of industrialism and money as part of an evolutionary process; Marx similarly regarded the social inequities as a necessary part of the dialectical process, and condemned as ‘reactionists’ those who sought to halt and reverse the process.
During the mid-nineteenth century a conservative socialist movement arose among German ‘clergymen, nobles, guild masters, romantic thinkers and poets’, advocating ‘a modernized medieval order or a social monarchy’, based around a ‘reorganization of the Guild system’. 22 This movement ‘could not accept ideas and demands and economic practices which were based on individual freedom of judgment and of action – without regard to the Church, the State, and the community, and placed egoism and self-interest before subordination, commonality, and social solidarity.23 This Rightist call for a return to the organic community was anathema to Marx, and he condemned the movement as ‘feudal socialism’, and ‘reactionary socialism’.24
One seeks in vain for a fundamental critique of debt-finance from the Left. One looks to their father, Marx for guidance, only to find that Marx did not understand the significance of credit, circulation, and the means of exchange as the ‘dominant moment’ in capitalist production.25 Marx especially critiqued Proudhon and other French socialists for their belief that the exchange processes (credit) were distorted by the banks. Marx said that the means of circulating production was ‘mere semblance’.26 In his Fundamentals of Political Economy Criticism,27 Marx explains at length that ‘Production [is] directly identical with consumption’, ‘Consumption is also immediately production’, and that ‘exchange of activities and abilities which takes place within production itself belongs directly to production and essentially constitutes it’.28 As an analyst of the primary flaw in capitalist production and consumption, Marx is useless. One must look to the analysis of those such as C. H. Douglas, whose Social Credit theory is intrinsic to any genuine Right.29
Woods continues, ‘Bolton’s caricature of The New School is an attempt to devalue and discredit the humanities, the social sciences, and critical inquiry in general.’30 If the description of the New School and Critical Theory is a ‘caricature’ then that is because of the farcical character of doctrines that Lorenz described as falsehoods. ‘Bolton strives to persuade his readers that only anti-academic conspiracy theorists can be trusted to tell the truth about modern history and politics’.31 Projection. Woods implies that only Leftists ‘can be trusted to tell the truth about modern history and politics’. The dogmatism that controls academe results in the denigration and suppression of scholars such as the psychologist Richard Lynn, who had his emeritus status withdrawn by Ulster University in 2018; or sociologist Ricardo Duchesne of the University of New Brunswick, who took early retirement after being condemned by 100 faculty members for being a ‘white supremacist’, with Professor Gary Waite stating that criticism of multiculturalism ‘has no place in academia’.32 The manner by which opinions contrary to the Left have been suppressed in the social sciences reveals Woods’ protest of a scholarly high ground as nothing but cant.
Woods’ concluding sentences ring out like a zealous young Red Guard condemning ‘class enemies’ during the Cultural Revolution: ‘The fight against the radical right must take place not only in the streets, but also in universities like The New School’.33 According to Woods, this is a political fight of the Left against the Right. There is no room for a Socratic dialectic; just the imposition of dogma, totalitarian style.
1Bolton, ‘Cultural Marxism: Origins, Development, and Significance’, ‘Journal of Social, Political & Economic Studies (Washington D.C.), Vol. 43, No. 3 & 4, Fall & Winter 2018, pp. 272-284.
4Woods, ‘A Secret Invasion’.
5Patrick Buchanan, op. cit., p. 48.
6Ibid., p. 11.
7Buchanan interview with Right Now!, No. 35, April-June 2002, cited in Revolution from Above, p. 160.
8Bolton, ‘Cultural Marxism: Origins, Development, and Significance’, op. cit.
9Woods, ‘A Secret Invasion’.
10Katherine Burton, ‘George Soros to Start $1 Billion Fund to Fight Nationalists, Climate Change’, Bloomberg Green, January 24, 2020.
12Konrad Lorenz, Civilized Man’s Eight Deadly Sins, (Helen & Kurt Wolff, 1974), p. 87.
13Ibid., p. 88.
14Ibid., p. 89.
15Ibid., p. 98.
16Ibid., p. 98.
17Woods, ‘A Secret Invasion’.
19Bolton, ‘What’s Behind the Anti-Right Witch-Hunt?’, op. cit.
20Woods, ‘A Secret Invasion’.
21Bolton, Revolution from Above, p. 252.
22Max Beer, A General History of Socialism & Social Struggles, Vol. 2 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1957), p. 109.
23Max Beer, ibid., p. 88.
24Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (1848), Chapter III, ‘Socialist & Communist Literature: 1. Reactionary Socialism’.
25Karl Marx, Economic Manuscripts 1857-58 , p. 36, cited by Gareth Stedman Jones, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion (Penguin Books, 2016), pp. 391-392.
26Marx, ibid., p. 186, cited by Jones, ibid.
28Karl Marx, ibid., (Section 2).
29For a history of banking reform in theory and practice see: Bolton, Opposing the Money Lenders: The Struggle Against Interest-Slavery (London: Black House Publishing, 2016); The Banking Swindle (2013).
30Woods, ‘A Secret Invasion’, op. cit.
32‘UNB Prof Accused of Being White Supremacist Takes Early Retirement’, CBC News, June 4, 2019.
33Woods, ‘A Secret Invasion’.