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By What They Seek to Destroy Shall Ye Know Them

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis / WashingtonDispatch.com
July 1, 2003

As we've seen throughout the past several years, members of the Democrat Party in the United States have constantly attacked and sought to denigrate positive initiatives put forth by conservatives. From President Bush's faith-based programs for social reform, to attempts to democratize education in the U.S. through a voucher system, to proposals for the modification of health care through individual medical savings accounts, efforts at genuine progress by conservatives have been vociferously (and often behind threats of violence) opposed by the Left.

Initiatives which actually seek to put power and control in the hands of locally elected officials and representatives of local communities are stridently resisted by the Left. They will countenance only those programs which lead to increasingly centralized power, which tend to remove decision-making from the people, which tend to escalate the control the Federal Government can assert over our lives.

One of the methods they use to promote their aim of bringing Americans increasingly under the thumb of a centralized government is to criticize relentlessly those who offer programs in opposition to their agenda. This approach has deep historical roots, and exploring them will shed further light on why the Left must be resisted at every turn when they attempt to contravene positive conservative initiatives.

After World War I, there were concerted military efforts to expand the Communist ideology (which had gained a foothold in Russia) to other countries. At the same time there began to emerge what amounted to Communist "Think Tanks." It had been anticipated, if Marxist theory was correct, that workers in other countries would rise up spontaneously against their "oppressors" after the establishment of the Russian Soviet state, and that Communism — which was seen by Karl Marx as superceding capitalism to become the final stage in societal evolution — would spread almost automatically throughout the world.

This, of course, did not happen. In the face of dramatic defeats of attempts to expand Communism's domain in Germany, Hungary, and Finland after World War I, it became incumbent on true believers to refine Marxist theory to account for differences between the outcomes predicted by Marx and those which actually occurred. Among the most important and influential of the Marxist Think Tanks which were formed to accomplish this was the Institute for Social Research, established in the 1920s in Frankfurt, Germany.

The analysis done by the members of the Institute for Social Research (which came to be known as the Frankfurt School) largely assumed Marx's view of history, Historical Materialism, as its foundation. Among the prominent members of the Frankfurt School were two people, Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse, whose work would have a strong influence on the politics and the collective psyche of the Left in the United States during the 1960s and beyond.

Marxism was seen by the members of the Frankfurt School to be the form of government which could enable the ultimate realization of human potential, and this view was promulgated by Fromm and Marcuse — both of whom relocated to the United States in the 1930s — throughout their careers. Marxist theorists did not hesitate to make clear what stood in their way: Western culture was the sworn enemy of the emancipation of the individual, which could be accomplished only through Marxism.

The preferred analytical tool of thinkers associated with the Frankfurt School was known formally as "Critical Theory of Society." The stated aim of Critical Theory was to identify and describe obstacles that blocked the way to the ideal non-repressive society. It is important to note that criticism was (and is) the only legitimate method of analysis (thus, the theory's name); to posit a constructive alternative to the status quo would be, according to this way of thinking, to prescribe what should be, and such prescription was (and remains on the Left to this day) to be avoided at all costs. To put Critical Theory into practice, all one must do is, well . . . criticize. Carp. Gainsay. Denigrate. Find fault.

In the United States, where the Left during the 1960s was not characterized by an overabundance of intellectual prowess, Critical Theory tended to find expression in reductive chants, including the blunt mantra of anti-war zealots of that decade, "Hell no, we won't go!" Authorship of the 1960s slogan "Make love, not war!" is credited, in fact, to Herbert Marcuse, and it represents the savvy distillation of Marcuse's Marxist approach to life.

This approach posited a "polymorphous sexuality" as the end which represented the ultimate liberation of mankind from sexual repression and from the need to work for a living, an historical outcome in which all citizens would give up individual freedom to the state and become pleasure-seeking functionaries whose only value consisted in pushing the envelope of hedonism. Of course, this approach, if it were somehow implemented, would mean the breakdown of western culture as we know it, an end which coincides very nicely with the stated aim of Marxism. (It's no coincidence that under the watch of Bill Clinton, the nation was forced to confront the acting out of unbridled sexuality that is one of the outcomes desired by Marxists, of whom Clinton, though he will probably never admit it publicly, is one.)

Critical Theory was to become — thanks particularly to the writings of Marcuse, who morphed into something of an icon for Leftists — one of the unrecognized cornerstones of the Angry Left's tactical and strategic approaches in the 1960s. And the idea that one should only criticize the opposition, while proposing no constructive alternatives to replace what was being criticized, characterizes the methodology of Left/Liberals to this day.

And so, the next time you cringe when you hear Tom Daschle or Ted Kennedy tear down a positive Republican initiative, remember this: They're engaging in the time-honored method of Marxism: Critical Theory. They may not even be aware of it, but they're perpetuating a divisive and destructive approach to political and social discourse, an approach which dictates only that they be constantly and irresponsibly on the attack.

The history of the Marxist political convictions that form the foundation of the Left's "program" is a history of hatred of capitalism, hatred of religion, hatred of individual initiative, hatred of western culture. And every baseless "critique" launched by contemporary Democrats brands them as remorseless and unapologetic socialists, practitioners of the reductive and degenerate method of discourse called Critical Theory.

By the positive values and institutions they seek to destroy shall ye know them.

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