The Frankfurt School vs True Freedom
After the end of World War I (1914-1918), various Communists in Europe were disappointed that the “proletariat,” or workers in their respective countries, didn’t “rise up” and throw off the “chains” of their middle class, or “bourgeois,” masters. Instead, they had fought against one another. Some Communists began to theorize that the grip of culture, meaning patriotism and tradition, was too strong, and mused, like a renovator who decides it’s simply better to build a new edifice rather than attempt to repair the old, that the whole culture had to go. The first Marxist to propose “a long march through the institutions” was an Italian, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937).
Simultaneously, in Frankfurt, Germany, the Marxist heir of a tremendous fortune sought to establish an “Institute for Marxism” at the University of Frankfurt. This proposed name was nixed in favor of the more innocent sounding “Institute of Social Research.” This hotbed of atheistic anti-Christian Marxism became known as “The Frankfurt School.”
To the Marxists in the Frankfurt School: Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Wilhelm Reich, etc. all of Western culture was “repressive” and oppressive. Theodor Adorno advanced what he called “Critical Theory,” which wasn’t a theory at all, but a conclusion that all the traditions of Western culture should be vehemently criticized. These included: “patriarchy,” masculinity, femininity, marriage, sexual morality, Christianity, capitalism, patriotism, history, literature, art and so on. The Frankfurt School enlarged the “economic determinism” of Marx into “cultural determinism,” that is, Marx’s “class struggle” of the bourgeoisie vs. the proletariat was replaced by the “oppressor” vs. the “oppressed,” the “haves” vs. the “have nots.”
In 1933, the Frankfurt School, which included many Jews rightly fearing for their safety, were invited by John Dewey, the atheistic “father” of public education in the United States, and others on the staff at Columbia University, to Columbia University, where they re-established themselves in 1934. It wasn’t long before they were teaching at public universities and gloomily ruminating about how oppressed Americans were without even knowing it. Soon the Founding Fathers, Columbus, and the “repressed sexuality” of Americans were criticized. American history was portrayed as the long exploitation of the majority by an elite white minority.
Perhaps the most influential and insidious member of the group was Herbert Marcuse, who sought to set “privileged” groups: meaning white males, Christians, capitalists, the “imperialists” and their supposed enforcers: the police and military, against the “victim” groups: non-whites, women, non-Christians, workers, “sexual minorities,” third world Marxist “liberation” (aka “enslavement”) movements, etc.
Whereas Christianity teaches “Love your neighbor and do good to those who persecute you… turn the other cheek,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers,” the Frankfurt School scorned these teachings of Jesus as nefarious bromides invented to keep people down. Better, they thought, to keep the “oppressed” angry, outraged, vengeful for “justice” and willing to use intimidation and even violence if necessary to accomplish “change” and “equality.”
Marcuse proposed what he called, in a 1965 essay, “repressive tolerance.” In this essay he says that “the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance… freedom of thought may require new and rigid restrictions on teachings… in educational institutions…tolerance may justify strongly discriminating tolerance on political grounds… a policy of unequal treatment would protect radicalism of the Left against that on the Right… suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation.” In other words, the most “tolerant” society would be one in which those possessing true “consciousness,” the new Gnostics, people like himself, ruled, and were intolerant as necessary.
In 2010, a professor Ken Howell, who was teaching a course about Catholicism at the University of Illinois, explained the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexual acts and sex outside of marriage. He was fired for “hate speech.” This is an example of Marcuse’s “tolerance” in action. Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance” explains the immediate abuse poured on police for any politically incorrect action. It explains why Civil War monuments are torn down. The new “establishment” must punish heresy.
The Catholic Church has not been immune to Gramsci’s “long march through the institutions.” Clergy often make the Church’s teachings on “social justice” appear equivalent to socialism, which the Church has condemned. The International Herbert Marcuse Society was created by a philosophy teacher at a Catholic University. New Ways Ministry operates in many supposedly Catholic parishes encouraging those with same-sex attraction not to chastity, but to fight against “homophobia.” “Diversity” is relentlessly pushed at many Catholic colleges.
The antidote for all this is conversion, evangelization, the unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church. The worst oppression is slavery to sin. True freedom is liberation from sin: Salvation. It is not “rational true consciousness” individuals who determine objective truth, but God passing down Truth through His Church. As the old Civil War song goes, “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free. His Truth is marching on!” Help us bring the freeing truth of Christ to others by supporting St. Michael Broadcasting.