Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Lyndon LaRouche Is Dead (but not dead enough)

In lieu of an obituary, I am reposting Politics of Pastiche: "voters... need someone to fire all the political-correct police" from August 2015. See also The Higgins Memo, Anders Breivik and the Lyndon LaRouche Cult and Deep Structures of the Cultural Marxism Myth. And Here’s an Insane Story About Roger Stone, Lyndon LaRouche, Vladimir Putin, and the Queen of England.
"...voters crave the anti-status-quo politician. They want results. They need a fighter. They need someone to fire all the political-correct police." -- Sarah Palin, interview with Donald Trump
Anders Breivik
In the introduction to his "compendium" manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, mass-murderer Anders Breivik asked, "What is Political Correctness?" and "How did it all begin?" His answer dwelt on the Frankfurt School, and singled out Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization as especially important.  Breivik's text was copied and pasted almost verbatim from a screed called "Political Correctness: a Short History of an Ideology?" by William S. Lind, "Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation."

In turn, the "cultural Marxism" thesis of Lind's "history" can be traced to a 1992 article, "New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and Political Correctness,"  published in a Lyndon Larouche cult magazine, Fidelio The article's author, Michael J. Minnicino, subsequently disowned his work as "hopelessly deformed by self-censorship and the desire to in some way support Mr. LaRouche's crack-brained world-view."

Along the way, "conservative" Republican stalwarts Ralph de Toledano and Patrick J. Buchanan have recycled those crack-brained conspiracy theories, documented by abundant footnotes that typically lead either to a source who didn't say what they were credited with saying, to some other hack propaganda recycler or to an "authoritative" emigre like Victor Zitta or Lazlo Pasztor relying extensively on official histories published by the Axis-allied Horthy regime. Martin Jay traced the strange trajectory of this propaganda meme in "Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe."

Roger Kimball
This month saw the publication by Roger Kimball's Encounter Books (an "activity" of the Bradley Foundation) of yet another rehash of the discredited crap, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West, by Michael Walsh. A credulous review of that book in the Washington Free Beacon presents the book's argument, apparently oblivious to its dubious lineage:
In The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West, Walsh argues that the current obsession with politically correct speech began with a group of Marxist academics at the Institute for Social Research at Goethe University in Frankfurt, who would come to be known as the Frankfurt School. The scholars, Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse, among others, developed a wide-ranging, if often contradictory, critique of the principal tenets of "bourgeois" Western culture—from the centrality of reason and individuality to Christian sexual mores.
As Barkley and I have discussed, the term "politically correct" probably was popularized in the late 1960s and early 1970s by left-wing student activists wary of the self-righteous dogmatism displayed by self-styled Marxist-Leninist political grouplets. But that's not the way the conventional mythology goes.

At the end of December 1982, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed, "The Shattered Humanities" by William Bennett, who at the time was chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Bennett's complaint was that "matters of enduring importance" -- "the true," "the good" and "the noble" -- had been abandoned because "we have yielded to the bullying of those fascinated with the merely contemporary." By the early 1990s, Bennett's lament about the decline of traditional values in the humanities had swelled into a moral panic about the alleged tyranny of political correctness on campus, fueled by best-selling books such as Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind, Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals: How Politics has Corrupted Our Higher Education and Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education: The politics of race and sex on campus. 

Even President Bush I had to get into the act with a commencement address at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in which he railed against "political extremists [who] roam the land, abusing the privilege of free speech, setting citizens against one another on the basis of their class or race."
Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States, including on some college campuses. The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land. And although the movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expression off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits. 
Isolated anecdotes and broad generalizations can only get you so far. The elusive scourge of political correctness needed to be explained by theory of its origins. Thus the Minnicino/Larouche conspiracy theory, taken up by Lind, Buchanan, de Toledano, Breivik and now Walsh.

In spite of being called out more than two decades ago by a President of the United States, those political extremists liberals on the left have allegedly persevered in their "unrelenting demands... for increasingly preposterous levels of political correctness over the past decade." This, according to S. E. Cupp explains Donald Trumps popularity: "Trump survives -- nay, thrives! -- because he is seen as the antidote, bravely and unimpeachably standing athwart political correctness."

Meanwhile, "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 71% of American Adults think political correctness is a problem in America today, while only 18% disagree. Ten percent (10%) are undecided."
National Survey of 1,000 American Adults
Conducted August 25-26, 2015
By Rasmussen Reports 
1* Do Americans have true freedom of speech today, or do they have to be careful not to say something politically incorrect to avoid getting in trouble?

2* Is political correctness a problem in America today?
Hey, if they keep repeating it, it must be true, right?

Three Stooges: Lyndon Larouche, Roger Kimball, Anders Breivik


2slugbaits said...

I read Eros and Civilization back in the early 1970s in a class on Freudian political theory. While Marcuse was a Marxist, there's nothing in Eros that smells of Marxism. So did these jerks even read Eros or did they just assume that since Marcuse said a lot of Marxist things in his other books, therefore Eros must have a Marxist message as well. If that's what they got out of the book, then they completely missed the point.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Ah, Lyndon LaRouche has finally passed. Back in the 1970s when I was in Madison, the LaRouchoids made a serious effort to convert me to their cause. Thie started when he was still Lynn Marcus, his left-winf identity, derived from "Lenin Marx." I was being communicated with by them (including especially an old high school friend of mine) in 1974 at the time of his sudden switch from Left to Right. What was curious was that on many issues there was little actual change in position, with these ranging from nuclear power (pro) to the idea of a struggle between an evil financial capital establishment and a virtuous industrial capital establishment, with, of course indeed, the Rothschilds the leaders of the bad financial one.

There were a few times, some decades ago, when I worried that LaRouche might actually be able to get his story out andd get a real mass following and even possibly achieve real demagogic power. Obviously that did not happen and now it most definitely will not, although it has been quite some time since there was any remote possibility of that.

Sandwichman said...

A lot of their "scholarship" consists of citing somebody who cited somebody who made some shit up. To be sure, I would have to say that Eros and Civilization is more "Marxist" than Marcuse let on. See, for example the section from about p.80 to p.86 where he discusses domination in terms of social labor and capitalism. There is no citation of Marx in those passage, nor is there an index entry -- although there are for Adorno, Horkheimer and Benjamin.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Well, Marcuse was Frankfurt School, more or less.

2slugbaits said...

Well, Eros was written in the 1950s and there were plenty of books written by folks who were not explicitly Marxists who also tossed out Marxist sounding things. That was sort of in the zeitgeist at the time. My point was that if you had never heard of Marcuse before reading Eros then you probably wouldn't have associated him with being particularly Marxist. I always got the impression that Marcuse was getting a little bored with the usual Frankfurt School stuff, so he went on a kind of mental vacation and brought Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents along with him for some beach reading. It was fun and creative, but then went back to the usual grind when the vacation was over.

Sandwichman said...


I studied Walter Benjamin's work at uni. Benjamin was in the same intellectual circles as Adorno and Hannah Arendt. Eros and Civilization takes up themes that Benjamin touched on in the 1930s. The thing is that those folks were interested in Marx, Freud, Proust, Kafka, Kabbalah, theology, Schmidt, Brecht, Baudelaire, Baroque drama etc. etc. etc.

They were not orthodox "Marxists" (if there ever was any such thing). They were intellectually omnivorous. Think of Kenneth Burke or Gregory Bateson for U.S. born comparisons. Of course they would toss out Marxist sounding things from time to time, just as they might toss out Shakespearean sounding things or Aristotelian sounding things.

Anonymous said...

"Lyndon LaRouche Is Dead (but not dead enough)"


Anonymous said...

Indeed... some say he as far right...

The ignorant would say that he was a communist and that never changed...

kevin quinn said...

Since when is Lukacs a member of the Franfurt School??

Sandwichman said...

"Since when is Lukacs a member of the Fran[k]furt School??"

Since never.