Friday, August 26, 2016

Frankfurt School Analysis, Part Two

These days the Frankfurt School is conservative Enemy #1, on account of “cultural Marxism” and political correctness. But I have been reading a book about Horkheimer and Adorno written in the 1970s, The Frankfurt School: The Critical Theories of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, by Zoltán Tar.

In Part One, I looked at Tar’s view of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment and The Authoritarian Personality. Both books were lefty responses to the rise of fascism. Dialectic rather importantly reminds lefties that, foes of domination and oppression as they are, the very fount of their faith issues from the Enlightenment and its program to dominate Nature.

The Authoritarian Personality is something of a joke to me. It is a bunch of lefties trying to understand fascism as a natural outgrowth of lower middle-class culture and the natural end-point of bourgeois capitalism. These lefties are blind to the obvious notion that, when the economic interventionism of the democratic left fails, as it did in the 1930s because its ideas are bad science, the people naturally turn to a strong leader to get them out of a jam.

Zoltán Tar writes off the Frankfurt School as a failure, in part because of the haut-bourgeois Jewish origins of Horkheimer and Adorno, whose Jewishness keeps interfering with their leftiness. This meant that they fell away from the true faith of Marxism:

Critical Theory dissociated itself from the basic tenet of Marxism: the unity of theory, empirical research, and revolutionary praxis… The crucial issue here is the abandonment of the Marxist method for metaphysical speculation.

Amusingly, Tar then admits that the Marxian prophecy had failed:

The Marxist prognosis about the polarization of classes in a capitalist society (bourgeois versus proletariat), with the Verelendung [immiseration] of the latter… did not take place.

Hey! I’d never known what the original German word for the “immiseration” of the working class. Elend is the German for “misery,” according to Google. Thus Ver-elend-ung. So immiseration is a direct translation!

Hey kids! Maybe the failed Marxist prognostication is telling us something! Maybe it is telling us that the portentous Marxian combination of theory, research and praxis was, as the Brits say, a load of bollocks, because its basic prediction, the immiseration of the working class, never took place. In fact the opposite is true.

And by the way, what does "revolutionary praxis" mean when it's at home? The only thing I know is that revolution combined with praxis means riots, and killing, and secret police and revolutionary terror.

As I have mentioned, what Tar could not know in the 1970s, as he complained that American academics knew next to nothing about the Frankfurters and Critical Theory, was that Critical Theory would turn out to be the left’s star turn. Imagine!

In the hands of Horkheimer and Adorno’s students, the Marxian “polarization of classes” was expanded into a polarization of races and genders. Why not? Politics is division and if you can’t burn the place down with class division and the instinctive animosity between rich and poor why not go back further into mankind’s instinctive past and gin up a race war? And Herbert Marcuse with his convoluted idea of repressive tolerance, or tolerant intolerance, or intolerant tolerance, gave the left permission -- as if it needed it -- to persecute anyone it chose in the name of tolerance and diversity. Today every lefty knows how to play the game of political correctness and humiliate anyone that dares to disagree with the lefty agenda du jour. Including getting them fired. They get it in their mother's milk.

Hey lefties, wasn’t firing people for their beliefs a big issue for you in the Fifties when a few Commies got fired from their government teacher jobs and a few Hollywood lefties got blacklisted, but not actually driven out of the industry?

But those Commies were on the right side of history.

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