Political Correctness sprouts from decades-old roots

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So-called ‘Critical Theory’ gained traction in the turbulent ‘60s

3-nn-political-correctness-graphicAnnotated by John Woodard

NEW YORK CITY — A few months ago, we provided an article about the beginnings of liberalism in the United States and the relationship between the Fabian Socialists Society and American Universities. In the narrative that follows, we will discuss the growth of Marxism in this country and how this movement began to take hold in American Society.

In September 1930, the growing influence of Nazi Germany led the founders of The Institute for Social Research to prepare to move the Institute out of Germany and to establish a branch in Geneva, Switzerland. By 1933, after the rise of Hitler, the Institute left Germany for Geneva and then in 1934 moved to New York City.

In New York, it became affiliated with Columbia University and was renamed Studies in Philosophy and Social Science. It was there that much of the important work of the Frankfurt School thinkers began to emerge, and the Institute’s residence in New York contributed to its favorable reception in America and English academia.


Eventually, after World War II, the Institute reopened in Frankfurt in 1951.

The Frankfurt School is a school of social theory and philosophy associated in part with the Institute for Social Research at the Goethe University founded by Frankfurt during the interwar period. The School consisted of dissidents who could not find a home in the existent capitalist, fascist, or communist systems that had been formed at the time. Many of these theorists believed that traditional theory could not adequately explain the turbulent and unexpected development of capitalist societies in the 20th century. Critical of both capitalism and Soviet Socialism, their writings pointed to the possibility of an alternative path to social development.

The term Frankfurt School arose informally to describe the thinkers affiliated or merely associated with the Frankford Institute for Social Research. It is not the title of any specific position or institution per se, and few of these theorists use the term themselves.

In the German prewar context, its thinkers were particularly influenced by the failure of the working-class revolution in Western Europe — precisely where Marx had predicted that a communist revolution would take place by the rise of Nazism in such an economically and technologically advanced nation as Germany.

This led many of them to take up the task of choosing what part of Marx’s thought might serve to clarify contemporary social conditions that Marx himself had never seen. Another key influence also came from the publication in the 1930s of Marx’s Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts and The German Ideology, which showed the continuation of thought that underlay Marx’s thought process.

America today is dominated by a system of beliefs, attitudes and values that we have come to know as political correctness. For many it is an annoyance and a self-parodying joke. But political correctness is deadly serious in its aims, seeking to impose a uniformity of thought and behavior on all Americans. It is therefore totalitarian in nature. Its roots lie in a version of Marxism, which sees culture, rather than the economy, as the site of class struggle.

Under Marxist economic theory, the oppressed workers were supposed to be the beneficiaries of a social revolution that would place them on top of the power structure. When these revolutionary opportunities presented themselves, however, the workers did not respond. The Marxist revolutionaries did not blame their theory for these failures; instead they blamed the ruling class, which had bought off the workers by giving them rights and had blinded them with a false consciousness that led them to support national governments and liberal democracy.

The Frankfurt School’s studies combined Marxism analysis with Freudian psychoanalysis to form the basis of what became known as Critical Theory — essentially destructive criticism of the main elements of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, and conservatism.

Critical Theorists recognized that traditional beliefs and the existing social structure would have to be destroyed and then replaced with new thinking that would become as much a part of elementary consciousness as the old one had been. Their theories took hold in the tumultuous 1960s, when the Vietnam War opened a Pandora’s Box of reevaluation and revolution.

The student radicals of the area were strongly influenced by revolutionary ideas, among them those of Herbert Marcuse, a member of the Frankfurt School who preached the Great Refusal, a rejection of all basic Western concepts and the embrace of sexual liberalism, and the merits of feminists and black revolutions. His primary thesis was that university students, ghetto blacks, the alienated, the asocial, and the Third World could take the place of the proletariat in the coming Communist Revolution.

Marcuse may be the most important member of the Frankfurt School in terms of the origins of Political Correctness, because he was the critical link to the counterculture of the 1960s. His objective was clear: “One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including morality of existing society.”

When addressing the general public, contemporary advocates of Political Correctness– or Cultural Marxism, as it might just as easily be called– present their beliefs with appealing simplicity as merely a commitment to being “Sensitive” to other people and embracing values such as Tolerance and Diversity.

The reality is different. Political Correctness is the use of culture as a sharp weapon to enforce new norms and to stigmatize those who dissent from the new dispensation; to stigmatize those who insist on values that will impede the new PC regime: free speech and free and objective intellectual inquiry.

Reporters Note: As you are readers evaluate the information provided above, you can see clear and unmistakable links between what is happening in society today and the Marxist teachings of not only Karl Marx who may be the best known philosopher of his era, but also of course, many people who surrounded him at the time and ultimately came to America to foist this thinking upon us. When we look at issues of Political Correctness in the news today, we will now realize that this has been brought to us decades ago and is anything but a new phenomenon.