Written by Vladimir Moss



     Long before old-fashioned Marxism was defeated in 1991, it had evolved a still more dangerous mutant called Cultural Marxism. This mutant of Marxist thinking now appears to have taken over the cultural and intellectual life of the Capitalist West.

     For “Marxist thinking,” we read in an article written in 2002,retains great influence far beyond the dwindling number who proclaim themselves to be Marxists. The labour theory of value and the rest of Marx's economic apparatus may be so much intellectual scrap, but many of his assumptions, analytical traits and habits of thought are widespread in western academia and beyond.

     The core idea that economic structure determines everything has been especially pernicious. According to this view, the right to private property, for instance, exists only because it serves bourgeois relations of production. The same can be said for every other right or civil liberty one finds in society. The idea that such rights have a deeper moral underpinning is an illusion. Morality itself is an illusion, just another weapon of the ruling class. (As Gyorgy Lukacs put it, ‘Communist ethics makes it the highest duty to act wickedly...This is the greatest sacrifice revolution asks from us.’) Human agency is null: we are mere dupes of ‘the system’, until we repudiate it outright.

     What goes for ethics also goes for history, literature, the rest of the humanities and the social sciences. The “late Marxist” sees them all, as traditionally understood, not as subjects for disinterested intellectual inquiry but as forms of social control. Never ask what a painter, playwright, architect or philosopher thought he was doing. You know before you even glance at his work what he was really doing: shoring up the ruling class. This mindset has made deep inroads—most notoriously in literary studies, but not just there—in university departments and on campuses across Western Europe and especially in the United States. The result is a withering away not of the state but of opportunities for intelligent conversation…”[1]      



     Cultural Marxism began as the result of the evident failure of Western Marxism in the years immediately after the First World War.[2] Reflecting on the reasons for this, two prominent Marxist thinkers, Antonio Gramsci and George Lukács, “concluded that the working class of Europe had been blinded by the success of Western democracy and capitalism. They reasoned that until both had been destroyed, a communist revolution was not possible.

     “Gramsci and Lukács were both active in the Communist party, but their lives took very different paths.

     “Gramsci was jailed by Mussolini in Italy where he died in 1937 due to poor health.

     “In 1918, Lukács became minister of culture in Bolshevik Hungary. During this time, Lukács realized that if the family unit and sexual morals were eroded, society could be broken down.

     “Lukács implemented a policy he titled ‘cultural terrorism,’ which focused on these two objectives. A major part of the policy was to target children’s minds through lectures that encouraged them to deride and reject Christian ethics.

     “In these lectures, graphic sexual matter was presented to children, and they were taught about loose sexual conduct.

     “Here again, a Marxist theory had failed to take hold in the real world. The people were outraged at Lukács’ program, and he fled Hungary when Romania invaded in 1919.

     “All was quiet on the Marxist front until 1923 when the cultural terrorist turned up for a ‘Marxist study week’ in Frankfurt, Germany. There, Lukács met a young, wealthy Marxist named Felix Weil.

     “Until Lukács showed up, classical Marxist theory was based solely on the economic changes needed to overthrow class conflict. Weil was enthused by Lukács’ cultural angle on Marxism.

     “Weil’s interest led him to fund a new Marxist think tank—the Institute for Social Research. It would later come to be known as simply The Frankfurt School.” [3]

     In the same year of 1923, according to Bernard Connolly, another of the founders of the Frankfurt School of social philosophy, Willi Munzenberg, ”reflected on the failure of the ‘urban proletariat’ to mount successful revolutions in economically advanced countries in the way predicted by Marx. To counter that failure it was necessary, he proclaimed, to ‘organise the intellectuals and use them to make Western civilization stink. Only then, after they have corrupted all its values and made life impossible, can we impose the dictatorship of the proletariat.’ Corrupting the values of Western civilization meant undermining and, ultimately, proscribing all the institutions, traditions, structures and modes of thought (‘tools of oppression’) that underpinned that civilization. Once national sovereignty and political legitimacy were got out of the way, it would be much easier for a central, unaccountable and malign (‘politically correct’) government to proscribe all the other foundations of civilization.”[4]

     “In 1930, the school changed course under new director Max Horkheimer. The team began mixing the ideas of Sigmund Freud with those of Marx, and cultural Marxism was born.

     “In classical Marxism, the workers of the world were oppressed by the ruling classes. The new theory was that everyone in society was psychologically oppressed by the institutions of Western culture. The school concluded that this new focus would need new vanguards to spur the change. The workers were not able to rise up on their own.

     “As fate would have it, the National Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933. It was a bad time and place to be a Jewish Marxist, as most of the school’s faculty was. So, the school moved to New York City, the bastion of Western culture at the time.

     “In 1934, the school was reborn at Columbia University. Its members began to exert their ideas on American culture.

     “It was at Columbia University that the school honed the tool it would use to destroy Western culture: the printed word.

     “The school published a lot of popular material. The first of these was Critical Theory.

     “Critical Theory is a play on semantics. The theory was simple: criticize every pillar of Western culture—family, democracy, common law, freedom of speech, and others. The hope was that these pillars would crumble under the pressure 

     “Next was a book Theodor Adorno co-authored, The Authoritarian Personality. It redefined traditional American views on gender roles and sexual mores as ‘prejudice.’ Adorno compared them to the traditions that led to the rise of fascism in Europe.

     “Is it just a coincidence that the go-to slur for the politically correct today is ‘fascist’?

     “The school pushed its shift away from economics and toward Freud by publishing works on psychological repression.

     “Their works split society into two main groups: the oppressors and the victims. They argued that history and reality were shaped by those groups who controlled traditional institutions. At the time, that was code for males of European descent.

     “From there, they argued that the social roles of men and women were due to gender differences defined by the ‘oppressors.’ In other words, gender did not exist in reality but was merely a ‘social construct.’

     “Adorno and Horkheimer returned to Germany when WWII ended. Herbert Marcuse, another member of the school [who joined it in Germany in 1933], stayed in America. In 1955, he published Eros and Civilization.

     “In the book, Marcuse argued that Western culture was inherently repressive because it gave up happiness for social progress.

     “The book called for ‘polymorphous perversity,’ a concept crafted by Freud. It posed the idea of sexual pleasure outside the traditional norms. Eros and Civilization would become very influential in shaping the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

     “Marcuse would be the one to answer Horkheimer’s question from the 1930s: Who would replace the working class as the new vanguards of the Marxist revolution?

     “Marcuse believed that it would be a victim coalition of minorities—blacks, women, and homosexuals.

     “The social movements of the 1960s—black power, feminism, gay rights, sexual liberation—gave Marcuse a unique vehicle to release cultural Marxist ideas into the mainstream. Railing against all things ‘establishment,’ the Frankfurt School’s ideals caught on like wildfire across American universities.

     “Marcuse then published Repressive Tolerance in 1965 as the various social movements in America were in full swing. In it, he argued that tolerance of all values and ideas meant the repression of ‘correct’ ideas 

     “It was here that Marcuse coined the term ‘liberating tolerance.’ It called for tolerance of any ideas coming from the left but intolerance of those from the right. One of the overarching themes of the Frankfurt School was total intolerance for any viewpoint but its own. That is also a basic trait of today’s political-correctness believers.

     “To quote Max Horkheimer, ‘Logic is not independent of content.’

     “The Frankfurt School’s work has had a deep impact on American culture. It has recast the homogeneous America of the 1950s into today’s divided, animosity-filled nation.

     “In turn, this has contributed to the undeniable breakdown of the family unit, as well as identity politics, radical feminism, and racial polarization in America.[5]



     As indicated above, Cultural Marxism is closely related to the idea of political correctness. Angelo M. Codevilla explains this important idea in more detail: “The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself. Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature’s laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement’s nominal goal eventually ends up being subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement’s own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what the progressives say about themselves and the world, progressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e., what thoughts serve the party’s interest—were correct factually.

     “Communist states furnish only the most prominent examples of such attempted groupthink. Progressive parties everywhere have sought to monopolize educational and cultural institutions in order to force those under their thumbs to sing their tunes or to shut up. But having brought about the opposite of the prosperity, health, wisdom, or happiness that their ideology advertised, they have been unable to force folks to ignore the gap between political correctness and reality.

     “Especially since the Soviet Empire’s implosion, leftists have argued that Communism failed to create utopia not because of any shortage of military or economic power but rather because it could not overcome this gap. Is the lesson for today’s progressives, therefore, to push P.C. even harder, to place even harsher penalties on dissenters? Many of today’s more discerning European and American progressives, in possession of government’s and society’s commanding heights, knowing that they cannot wield Soviet-style repression and yet intent on beating down increasing popular resistance to their projects, look for another approach to crushing cultural resistance. Increasingly they cite the name of Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), a brilliant Communist theoretician for whom ‘cultural hegemony’ is the very purpose of the struggle as well as its principal instrument. His writings envisage a totalitarianism that eliminates the very possibility of cultural resistance to progressivism. But owing more to Machiavelli than to Marx or Lenin, they are more than a little complex about the means and are far from identical with the raw sort of power over culture enforced by the Soviet Empire or, for that matter, that is rife among us today…”

     Although Gramsci died before the war, he became influential only later. “Gramsci started from mixed philosophical premises. First, orthodox Marxism: ‘There is no such thing as “human nature,” fixed and immutable,’ he wrote. Rather, ‘human nature is the sum of historically determined social relationships.’ The modern prince’s job is to change it. Wholly unorthodox, however, was his scorn for Marxism’s insistence that economic factors are fundamental while all else is superstructural. No, ‘stuff like that is for common folk,’ a ‘little formula’ for ‘half-baked intellectuals who don’t want to work their brains.’ For Gramsci, economic relations were just one part of social reality, the chief parts of which were intellectual and moral…

     “Gramsci co-founded Italy’s Communist Party in 1921. In 1926, Mussolini jailed him. By the time he died eleven years later, he had composed twelve ‘prison notebooks.’ In private correspondence, he criticized Stalin’s literary judgment and deemed his attacks on Leon Trotsky ‘irresponsible and dangerous.’ But publicly, he supported every turn of the Soviet Party line—even giving his party boss, Palmiro Togliatti, authority to modify his writings. Imprisoned and in failing health, he was intellectually freer and physically safer than if he had been exposed to the intra-Communist purges that killed so many of his comrades.

     “Gramsci’s concept of ‘cultural hegemony’ also swung both ways. Its emphasis on transforming the enemy rather than killing him outright was at odds with the Communist Party’s brute-force approach. His focus on cultural matters, reversing as it did the standard distinction between structure and superstructure, suggested belief in the mind’s autonomy. On the other hand, the very idea of persuading minds not through reasoning on what is true and false, good and bad, according to nature, but rather by creating a new historical reality, is precisely what he shares with Marx and… with the fountainhead of modern thought, Niccolò Machiavelli.

     “Gramsci turned to Machiavelli more than to Marx to discover how best to replace the existing order and to secure that replacement. Chapter V of Machiavelli’s The Prince stated that ‘the only secure way’ to control a people who had been accustomed to live under its own laws is to destroy it. But Machiavelli’s objective was to conquer people through their minds, not to destroy them. In Chapter VI of The Prince he wrote that nothing is more difficult than to establish ‘new modes and orders,’ that this requires ‘persuading’ peoples of certain things, that it is necessary ‘when they no longer believe to make them believe by force,’ and that this is especially difficult for ‘unarmed prophets.’ But Machiavelli also wrote that, if such prophets succeed in inculcating a new set of beliefs, they can count on being ‘powerful, secure, honored and happy.’ He clarified this insight in Discourses on Livy Book II, chapter 5: ‘when it happens that the founders of the new religion speak a different language, the destruction of the old religion is easily effected.’ The Machiavellian revolutionary, then, must inculcate new ways of thinking and speaking that amount to a new language. In the Discourse Upon Our Language, Machiavelli had compared using one’s own language to infiltrate the enemy’s thoughts with Rome’s use of its own troops to control allied armies. This is the template that Gramsci superimposed on the problems of the Communist revolution—a template made by one ‘unarmed prophet’ for use by others.

     “Machiavelli is the point of departure in a section of Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks that describes how the party is to rule as “the modern prince.” But the modern prince’s task is so big that it can be undertaken seriously only by a party (in some 50 references he leaves out the word “Communist”), which he defines as “an organism; a complex, collective element of society which has already begun to crystallize as a collective will that has become conscious of itself through action.” This prince, this party, has to be “the organizer and the active expression of moral and intellectual reform...that cannot be tied to an economic program.” Rather, when economic reform grows out of moral and intellectual reform, from “germs of collective will that tend to become universal and total,” then it can become the basis of the secularization of all life and custom.

     “The party-prince accomplishes this by being Jacobin ‘in the historic and conceptual sense.’ Gramsci writes: ‘that is what Machiavelli meant by reform of the militia, which the Jacobins did in the French Revolution.’ The party must gather consensus from each of society’s discrete parts by persuading—inducing—people who had never thought of such things to join in ways of life radically different from their own. The party develops ‘its organized force’ by a ‘minutely careful, molecular, capillary process manifested in an endless quantity of books and pamphlets, of articles in magazines and newspapers, and by personal debates repeated infinitely and which, in their gigantic altogether, comprise the work out of which arises a collective will with a certain homogeneity.’

     “Which is it then for Gramsci? Does the party inspire or perhaps cajole consensus—or does it force it? His answer is ambiguous: ‘Machiavelli affirms rather clearly that the state is to be run by fixed principles by which virtuous citizens can live secure against arbitrary treatment. Justly, however, Machiavelli reduces all to politics, to the art of governing men, of assuring their permanent consensus.’ The matter, he writes, must be regarded from the ‘”double perspective”...[that] corresponds to the double nature of Machiavelli’s centaur, beastly and human, of force and consensus, of authority and hegemony... of tactics and strategy.’ Indeed that is Machiavelli’s point: whatever it takes.

     “The key to Gramsci’s generalities and subtleties is to be found in his gingerly discussion of the relationship between the party and Christianity. ‘Although other political parties may no longer exist, there will always exist de facto parties or tendencies... in such parties, cultural matters predominate... hence, political controversies take on cultural forms and, as such, tend to become irresolvable.’ Translation: the progressive party-state (the party acting as a government, the government acting as a party) cannot escape the role of authoritative—perhaps forceful—mediator of societal conflicts having to do with cultural matters and must see to it that they are resolved its way.

     “Specifically: as Gramsci was writing, Mussolini’s 1929 Concordat with the Vatican was proving to be his most successful political manoeuver. By removing the formal enmity between the Church and the post-French-Revolution state, making Catholicism the state religion and paying its hierarchy, Mussolini had turned Italy’s most pervasive cultural institution from an enemy to a friendly vassal. Thousands of priests and millions of their flock would bend thoughts, words, and deeds to fit the party-state’s definition of good citizenship. Gramsci described the post-Concordat Church as having ‘become an integral part of the State, of political society monopolized by a certain privileged group that aggregated the Church unto itself the better to sustain its monopoly with the support of that part of civil society represented by the Church.’ A morally and intellectually compromised Church in the fascist state’s hands, Mussolini hoped and Gramsci feared, would redefine its teachings and its social presence to fascist specifications. The alternative to this subversion—denigrating and restricting the Church in the name of fascism—would have pushed many Catholics to embrace their doctrine’s fundamentals ever more tightly in opposition to the party. The Concordat was the effective template for the rest of what Mussolini called the corporate state.

     “Gramsci called the same phenomenon a ‘blocco storico,’ historic bloc, that aggregates society’s various sectors under the party-state’s direction. The intellectuals, said Gramsci, are the blocco’s leading element. In any given epoch they weld workers, peasants, the church, and other groups into a unit in which the people live and move and have their being, and from within which it is difficult if not impossible to imagine alternatives. Power, used judiciously, acts on people the way the sun acts on sunflowers. Within this bloc, ideas may retain their names while changing in substance, while a new language grows organically. As Gramsci noted, Machiavelli had argued that language is the key to the mastery of consciousness - a mastery more secure than anything that force alone can achieve. But note that Machiavelli’s metaphors on linguistic warfare all refer to violence. How much force does it take to make this historic bloc cohere and to keep recalcitrants in it? Gramsci’s silence seems to say; ‘whatever may be needed.’ After all, Mussolini used as much as he thought he needed.

     “In sum, Mussolini, not Stalin; forceful seduction, not rape, is Gramsci’s practical advice regarding ‘cultural hegemony.’ Gramsci means to replace Western culture by subverting it, by doing what it takes to compel it to redefine itself, rather than by picking fights with it…”

      Following Gramsci’s lead, the post-war Cultural Marxists compelled Western culture to redefine itself – that is, adopt the language and values of “political correctness”. And the storm-centre of this cultural revolution moved, together with the leaders of the Frankfurt school of social philosophy, from Europe to America…

     Let us briefly take this story up to the present day.

     “Beginning in the 1960s, from Boston to Berkeley, the teachers of America’s teachers absorbed and taught a new, CliffsNotes-style sacred history: America was born tainted by Western Civilization’s original sins—racism, sexism, greed, genocide against natives and the environment, all wrapped in religious obscurantism, and on the basis of hypocritical promises of freedom and equality. Secular saints from Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama have been redeeming those promises, placing America on the path of greater justice in the face of resistance from the mass of Americans who are racist, sexist, but above all stupid. To consider such persons on the same basis as their betters would be, as President Obama has called it, ‘false equivalence.’

     “Thus credentialed, molded, and opinionated, a uniform class now presides over nearly all federal, and state, government bureaucracies, over the media, the educational establishment, and major corporations. Like a fraternity, it requires speaking the ‘in’ language signifying that one is on the right side, and joins to bring grief upon ‘outsider Americans who run afoul of its members...

     “No more than its European counterparts does America’s progressive ruling class offer any vision of truth, goodness, beauty, or advantage to attract the rest of society to itself. Like its European kin, all that American progressivism offers is obedience to the ruling class, enforced by political correctness. Nor is there any endpoint to what is politically correct, any more than there ever was to Communism. Here and now, as everywhere and always, it comes down to glorifying the party and humbling the rest…

     “The imposition of P.C. has no logical end because feeling better about one’s self by confessing other people’s sins, humiliating and hurting them, is an addictive pleasure the appetite for which grows with each satisfaction. The more fault I find in thee, the holier (or, at least, the trendier) I am than thou. The worse you are, the better I am and the more power I should have over you. America’s ruling class seems to have adopted the view that the rest of America should be treated as inmates in re-education camps…”[6]


     By the late 1960s the Frankfurt School’s philosophy had penetrated the campuses, not only of America, but also of Western Europe. This is illustrated by the fact that the students in the Paris Uprising of 1968 marched under the banner: “Marx, Mao and Marcuse”. Robert Grözinger has well described this impact of the Frankfurt School on today’s world: “The activities of the Frankfurt School, the group of intellectuals which spawned the New Left, the movement that from 1968 onwards captured the cultural hegemony in the West, can be likened to the story of the ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’.

     “This famous ballad by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is known in the English-speaking world primarily due to the cinematic rendering of it in Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia’, with Mickey Mouse in the title role. The creators of the ten-minute cartoon episode remained fairly true to the original, with these exceptions: Goethe’s apprentice does not fall asleep, and he hacks the bewitched broom in two only, not in innumerable splinters. A third deviation comes right at the end: In the original, the sorcerer doesn’t whack his wayward assistant with the broom. Instead, the returning senior wizard simply puts everything back in order. There is no mention of any sanction at all. Prompted maybe by Paul Dukas’ compelling and in parts spooky music (a symphonic poem composed 1897 specifically with Goethe’s ballad in mind), Disney’s filmmakers may simply have assumed the punishment and the other changes.

     “In the German-speaking world, one line of the poem is often cited when describing a development over which the instigator has lost control: ‘Die ich rief, die Geister, werd’ ich nun nicht los.’ Which translates into: The spirits which I summoned, I now cannot get rid of.

     “What’s interesting in this context is that Goethe wrote the ballad in the year 1797, according to Wikipedia as a warning to his contemporaries in view of developments in France after the revolution.

     “Disney’s Fantasia makes no mention of Goethe, although their version is quite obviously based on his poem. Possibly because, by the time the film was being made in 1940, talk of looming war made it inexpedient to mention the great German. Instead, the introduction simply says it is an ‘ancient tale.’

     “So, how does this ballad relate to the Frankfurt School and their doings in the real world? It is now half a century since the pivotal year of 1968, when people – mostly young and impressionable – across the whole West, inspired by the Frankfurt School, started their infamous ‘long march through the institutions.’ These ‘68ers’ can be divided into two groups: Sorcerer’s apprentices and hobgoblins.

     “The sorcerer’s apprentices are those who with their words change – not a broom, but – other humans into the equivalent of hobgoblins and set them in motion. The latter become the water carriers for the former, until a few of the apprentices (by far not all), appalled at the ‘terrible waters’ (‘entsetzliches Gewässer’) thus rendered, desperately try to dispel the new evil.

     “The representatives of the Frankfurt School, the intellectuals of the so-called ‘critical theory,’ are, or were, real life sorcerer’s apprentices. ‘Critical theory’ is not actually a theory but a school of thought, or rather a project. According to its leading theorist, Max Horkheimer (1895 – 1973), critical theory seeks ‘to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them.’ According to the German Wikipedia page on the subject, the aim of critical theory is to ‘reveal the ideologies of the mechanisms of power and oppression’ and to achieve a ‘rational society of responsible human beings.’

     “On the face of it, this all sounds well and good. However, if those really are the aims, why do we never hear anything from that group about our monetary system? Maybe I’ve overlooked something, but I don’t think any representative of the Frankfurt School has ever seriously grappled with, say, the Austrian business cycle theory. Indeed, the words ‘rational society’ indicate a very different tradition from that of the Austrians, namely that of Plato and his notion of philosopher kings, who were permitted unethical means, such as the ‘noble lie,’ to attain the overarching aim.

     “The only person who was in any way close to the attitudes of the Frankfurt School and who had seriously dealt with economics, was of a slightly earlier generation, namely John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946). Leading Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises once wrote an article titled ‘Stones into Bread: The Keynesian Miracle,’ in which he charges the British mathematician turned economist with exactly that: bragging to be able to perform an economic miracle akin to one of the demands with which Satan tempted Jesus Christ.

     “In other words, Keynes too was a sorcerer’s apprentice of the kind Goethe described. Ethically and morally too, he was of the same corrosive substance as the Frankfurt School thinkers. He was a serial philanderer and described himself as an ‘immoralist.’ As such, the Platonist Keynes anticipated what leading Frankfurt School representative Herbert Marcuse (1898 – 1979) propagated in his book ‘Eros and Civilization.’ Marcuse claimed that liberation of the ‘non-procreative Eros’ would lead to new, paradisiacal conditions, where alienated labor would disappear and be replaced by non-alienated libidinal work.

     “As Keynes despised principles, among others the principle of solid financing, he was an early representative of the present relativism and the modern sorcerer’s apprentice of magical money proliferation. Without this – today pervasive – deliberate inflation, there would be much less money illusion, much less loitering, much less financing of unproductive, dreamy, or even destructive activities and organizations. His cynical adage, in the long run we are all dead, is virtually the paragon of willful present-orientation and dismissal of the future, which is characteristic of the basic attitude to life among today’s representatives of the New Left, and of their followers, conscious or otherwise.

     “Marcuse, in turn, was the creator of the term ‘repressive tolerance.’ What he meant was that normal tolerance actually serves to marginalise and suppress the truth about our immiseration (or impoverishment) in the ruling system. Contrary to that, Marcuse established the term ‘liberating tolerance.’ He simply claimed that revolutionary minorities are in possession of the truth and that it is therefore their duty to liberate the majority from their fallacious views. Thus the revolutionary minorities have the right to suppress rival and supposedly harmful opinions. In addition, Marcuse also permitted the use of violence by this revolutionary minority. He legitimised this use of force as ‘defensive.’ It isn’t the beginning of a new chain of violence, he claimed, but the attempt to break an existing one.

     “This kind of misuse of language was typical of the Frankfurt School. Another example is immiseration. Because the Marxist theory of immiseration had been refuted by reality, the thinkers of the New Left switched from economics to psychology. Now they claimed that while capitalism had lead to material wealth, it had caused psychological and intellectual immiseration.

     “What is also striking, apart from the distortion of words and meanings, is the predominance of negativity. As the name indicates, ‘critical theory’ was always keen to criticise. Their utopia always remained very woolly. The reason for this is simple: Otherwise they would have had to admit that their vision was that of communism. Nevertheless, clear-sighted contemporaries realised this even in 1968. In that year, Erwin K. Scheuch edited a book about the ‘68ers and gave it the title ‘Die Wiedertäufer der Wohlstandsgesellschaft,’ meaning ‘The Anabaptists of the Affluent Society.’ In this book he wrote that the New Left wanted an ‘undifferentiated society,’ without division of labor. It seems that Marx’s vision that in future people would hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, farm livestock in the evening and criticise after dinner, is still the vision of the New Left even today.

     “However, the Frankfurt School suggested a different road to the communist paradise than that chosen by Lenin and Stalin in Soviet Russia. The direct intellectual precursors of the Frankfurt School, the Italian Antonio Gramsci (1891 – 1937) and the Hungarian Georg Lukács (1885 – 1971), had recognized that further west in Europe there was an obstacle on this path which could not be eliminated by physical violence and terror: the private, middle class, classical liberal bourgeois culture based on Christian values. These, they concluded, needed to be destroyed by infiltration of the institutions. Their followers have succeeded in doing so. The sorcerer's apprentices of the Frankfurt School conjured up an army of hobgoblins who empty their buckets over us every day. Instead of water, the buckets are filled with what Lukács had approvingly labelled ‘cultural terrorism.’

     “The hobgoblins of 1968 and the following years, mostly students, later became lecturers, teachers, media employees, civil servants and of course politicians. They and their later progeny are endowed with a sense of mission and the illusion of being on the side of moral righteousness. In thousands of more or less important, but always influential, positions of authority, they succeed in injecting entire generations with a disgust for their own culture and history, and a selective inability to think. With their allegedly liberating tolerance, they have torn down natural or culturally nurtured inhibitions and replaced them with state enforced prohibitions on thinking and acting. These in turn have almost completely destroyed the natural workings and defense mechanisms of a healthy society.

     “How could they have been so successful in such a short space of time? The sorcerer's apprentices apparently managed to fill a psycho-spiritual gap in the market; they supplied a demand keenly felt by those they turned into hobgoblins. The market niche to fill was an apparent shortcut to paradise. The sorcerer's apprentice in Goethe's ballad transforms the broom into a hobgoblin, so that it can do the hard work of carrying water for him. Likewise, we are always tempted to find a shortcut to paradise. Just as Keynes did with his monetary policy, which would allegedly turn proverbial stones into bread.

     “The sorcerer's apprentices of the Frankfurt School dreamt of a communist paradise on earth. Initially, among the hard left they were the only ones aware of the fact that this brutal path to paradise would fail. With the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, however, this failure was obvious to all. This was the New Left’s moment. It was only then that they got any traction and noticeable response. At least in Western Europe. In the US, this moment of truth may have come a little later. Gary North contends in his book ‘Unholy Spirits’ that John F. Kennedy’s death was “the death rattle of the older rationalism.” A few weeks later, Beatlemania came to America. However, the appearance of the book ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson in September 1962, which heralded the start of environmentalism, points to the Berlin Wall as the more fundamental game changer in the West. A few years later, the spellbound hobgoblins began their long march through the institutions.

     “Half a century after 1968, we see the catastrophic effects of this magic: a desire for instant gratification and a loss of meaning of life. The desire for instant gratification can be seen in the destruction of established institutions, especially the family, and in the countless number of abortions. Or in unbounded sexuality and the supremacy of the pleasure principle. Loss of meaning of life can be recognized in drug abuse, for example. Other effects are the dulling of the mind, a lack of general, all-round education, uncritical acceptance of claims that cannot be falsified, such as that of a supposedly man-made climate change, the acceptance of violence as a means of political debate and, of course, the cultural bursting of the dam concerning migration.

     “The sorcerer’s apprentices have become very quiet lately. Maybe some of them are shocked by what they have wrought. At least two of them could see what was happening even in 1968 and tried to stop the unfolding catastrophe. One of them was Theodor W. Adorno (1903 – 1969). The other was his student Jürgen Habermas (b. 1929). In the face of disrupted lectures and rising violence in general, they accused the radicals of ‘left-wing fascism.’ Like Goethe’s apprentice, they realised they had created a ‘spawn on hell’ (‘Ausgeburt der Hölle’). They tried to stop the hobgoblins with a new spell, but failed.

     “Currently, some people are trying to turn things around with other spells. The spells of these new sorcerer’s apprentices use magic words such as ‘nation’ and ‘the people.’ Like their predecessors, they believe that they can use the state as a magic wand, e.g. to force children into schools to learn certain world views, and everything will be all right again.

     “So far, none of them, neither the older nor the younger apprentices, are calling for the ‘master’ to return, as Goethe’s apprentice does in desperation near the end. However, the ‘cultural terrorism’ keeps flowing, and the ‘terrible waters’ are rising alarmingly. The legacy of the revolt of 1968 is a complete catastrophe for western civilization. This civilization had already been suffering from the disease of statism, but nevertheless had survived two world wars and one depression. Now, the culture war is finishing it off. The result is a society that still harbours some civilizing elements, but is no longer a civilization. It is merely a shaky structure that has not yet collapsed completely, but only because the hobgoblins have not yet managed to create a strong enough wave.

     “What can be done? First, we need to stop using the state like a magic wand. We have to urgently defund the hobgoblins. That means defunding, i.e. withdrawing the state from, the universities, schools and media that keep them on the move. However, there is something more fundamental we must do. We have to recognise that there’s no short cut to paradise. We have to call the ‘master.’ In Goethe’s ballad, this is a master sorcerer. Goethe himself seems to have been an agnostic. Nevertheless, I interpret this figure as the Creator. Disney’s film makers seem to have had a similar idea, consciously or not. The way they depict the master removing the water, accompanied by Dukas’ dramatic music, reminds the viewer of Moses parting the sea.

     “In his ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ C.S. Lewis has Aslan, the Christ-like lion, talk of ‘deeper magic’ that is more powerful than that of the White Witch. Mises’ Student Murray Rothbard spoke of ‘Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature.’ For those who believe, state-funded, forced egalitarianism is a revolt against God. To successfully combat this illusory magic, we ultimately need God’s ‘deeper magic.’

     “Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said, in a speech entitled ‘Godlessness: the first step to the Gulag’: ‘If I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, ... I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.’

     “In the face of the atrocities of the French Revolution, Goethe predicted in his ballad that, in the end, only the ‘master’ would be able to finally stop the march of the hobgoblins and make everything right again. We would do well to remember that when we attempt to put a stop to the New Left’s evil game.”[7]


February 28 / March 13, 2018. 

[1] “Marx after Communism”, The Economist, December 19, 2002.

[2] See for an excellent summary of Cultural Marxism.

[3] Admin 1, “The Birth Of Cultural Marxism: How The “Frankfurt School” Changed America (and the West)”, Smash Cultural Marxism, January 15, 2017.

[4] Connolly, The Rotten Heart of Europe, London: Faber, 2012, p. x. Mary Wakefield and Freddy Gray write: “In the 1930s, brilliant operatives like Willi Muenzenberg convinced ‘useful idiots’ to join anti-fascist organisations that were in reality fronts for the Soviet-backed Communist International.” (“Vladimir Putin’s New Plan for World Domination”, The Spectator, 22 February, 2016).

[5] Admin 1, op. cit.

[6] Codevilla, “The Rise of Political Correctness”, Claremont Review of Books, November 8, 2016.

[7]Grözinger, “The Frankfurt School and the New Left: Sorcerer's Apprentices and Hobgoblins”, Equity and Freedom, February 5, 2018.


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