Friday, September 18, 2020

Putting the CULTURE back in cultural Marxism

My previous postings on "political correctness" and "cultural Marxism" have from time to time brought inquiries from researchers into the right-wing calumnies against the Frankfurt School. I carry no brief for Herbert Marcuse or Theodore Adorno, although I do have a soft spot for Walter Benjamin, who was not formally a Frankfurter even though he hob-nobbed with them.

It so happens that one of my correspondents has written a brief essay defending the conspiracy theory that the Frankfurt School was a bought and paid for tool of the Comintern. The defense hinges on the fact that Frank Brooks Bielanski, who claimed "evidence" that the Institute for Social Research was a Communist front financed from abroad, was "director of investigations" for the O.S.S. and not some random F.B.I. special agent.

Oh, well, if the director of investigations said so... 

On the other hand, the argument reeks of appeal to self-styled authority. So who was this Frank Bielanski character? It turns out he was a private investigator both before and after World War II and before that a Wall Street broker. His investigative specialties appear to have been burglary and illegal wiretapping. He was also a G.O.P. dirty tricks operative. But enough of the character assassination. I'm not here to ad hominem.

UPDATE: Mr. Bielanski testified "off the record" in 1946 before a House committee under the pseudonym of "Mr. Brooks." At that time, he described his position with the O.S.S. as special adviser to the Security Office of the Office of Strategic Services. He described his employment before the war as public relations and, before that, an "ordinary businessman." He was brought to the committee by Congressman George Dondero.

What really fascinates me about Bielanski is his association with a coterie of cultural counter-revolutionaries that also included George Dondero, Michigan Congressman who railed against "Modern Art Shackled to Communism."

My apologies for only having the first page of this treatise. If you get through this and want more, you can always Google it. Dondero's indictment of modern art really, really puts the "cultural Marxism" meme in perspective. Alongside the Museum of Modern Art, Kandinsky, Picasso, Duchamp et al. surrealism, cubism, expressionism, dadaism, abstractionism (sic) &tc. the Frankfurt School's alleged assault on Western Civilization hardly amounts to a snowflake on the tip of an iceberg.

Reactionaries were against modernism before they were against postmodernism.


Anonymous said...

The fear of actually liberal ideas that characterized the years of Joseph McCarthy continues to be cultivated since the sense that history did not actually end in 1990 has become increasingly widespread:

J. Bradford DeLong‏ @delong

@Noahpinion @profwolff and Stephen Resnick do have a UMass Amherst reputation as mendacious creepazoids…

6:44 AM - 13 Oct 2015

Anonymous said...

The Economist, even now, finds a need to discredit actual work for a cleaner environment as well as the imminent ending of poverty in a once fiercely poor country of 1.4 billion:

The Economist @TheEconomist

At moments, it is hard to tell whether the driving force behind China's green policy is a desire for a cleaner environment, or an obsession with social controls

China’s authoritarian approach won’t save the environment
A truly sustainable future needs more than order and rules

12:32 AM · Sep 14, 2020

Anonymous said...

The Economist, even now, finds a need to discredit actual work for a cleaner environment as well as the imminent ending of poverty in a once fiercely poor country of 1.4 billion:

September 19, 2020

China’s anti-poverty drive is not disinterested charity
It is about transforming people’s thoughts

Dr Ian Gardner said...

Oh dear...I thought ad hominem attacks were out...but you accuse me of defending a 'conspiracy theory' - not berry charitable Mr Walker. Still, par for the course if you follow a Rules for Radicals approach to academic research. If you read the article closely you will see that it simply quotes the documentary record and leaves the reader to think again about an issue that activist academics have confused and propoogandised for far too long.

Dr Ian Gardner said... be clear...the article uses published information gleaned by the British Secret Service in outlining the basis of historic suspicions regarding the Frankfurt School...It does not rely on information from the FBI or OSS..but simply states what their records show... said...

OTOH, the CIA apparently infiltrated the abstract expressionists in the 1950s in an effort to use them against Communists, this during the McCarthy period when he was denouncing "modern art" as being a communist plot.

Anonymous said...

September 16, 2020

The Long March that never Happened …a case of Premature Exculpation?
By Ian Gardner

So Dr Robert Cluley thinks that he has disproved the ‘Conservative Lie’ …the Frankfurt School was / is ‘above suspicion’ and Critical Theory is perfectly reasonable. If only this were true, all those nasty Alt-Right critics of ‘cultural Marxism’ would shut up wouldn’t they?

[ Guy is still at it these generations later, but this is lasting. I get the intimidation, you win. ]

Sandwichman said...

"If you read the article closely you will see that it simply quotes the documentary record..."

I read the article. One of the several problems with this picked cherry of "evidence" is attribution. The mantra of historical scholarship could well be "Attribution. Attribution. Attribution."

1. "The only problem with this (and there are several in fact) is that Frank Brooks Bielaski was not an FBI Special Agent — he was Director of Investigations for the OSS...."

2. "The text of the first part of this report, which summaries the main conclusions drawn by the OSS in 1944..."

You attribute a report and a quote to Frank Bielaski, which you then attribute to "the OSS." This is sloppy attribution at best. At worst it could be deliberate attempt to amplify the importance and/or credibility of a document or assertion. What's wrong with attributing the report of a OSS investigator to the institution itself?

I dunno? Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, and Otto Kirchheimer also wrote O.S.S. reports. They were employed as intelligence analysts in the Research and Analysis division of the O.S.S. One might even suggest that a report by an intelligence analyst is more authoritative than the raw intel of an undercover investigator. I mention those three because of their affiliation with the Frankfurt School. Would it would be appropriate to uncritically attribute their views about the structural origins of Nazism to the OSS?

Bielaski, as I point out in the OP, had a track record of conducting politically-motivated "undercover" operations of questionable legality. He also was associated with politicians on the extreme right-wing fringe -- George Dondero and Joseph N. Pew for example. Pew denied any connection with the fascist Silver Shirts, so let's take his word for it. He was, however, a member of the "Liberty League." Besides attacking modern art and promoting Joe McCarthy, Dondero exerted himself to try to get I.G. Farben executives off the Nuremburg trials hook for war crimes.

I'm not saying Dondero or Pew were necessarily fascist sympathizers or, by association, that Bielaski must have been one too. What I am saying is that there may be some questions about the motives and credibility of your "witness" for perfidy of the Frankfurt School.

Sandwichman said...

How the Fascists Won World War II

H. Bruce Franklin

"Leading the charge against the prosecutors of IG Farben’s chieftains was Congressman George Dondero of Michigan, who asserted on the floor of Congress, that Josiah DuBois, the prosecution’s lead attorney, as well as five other members of the team, were all 'Communist sympathizers' 'who are trying to blacken the name of IG Farben.' Dondero’s Congressional district happened to include the Midland, Michigan, international headquarters of Dow Chemical, whose links to IG Farben were already being exposed in U.S. newspapers. On the same House floor, Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi branded the trial a 'disgrace' where members of a 'racial minority' are 'trying German businessmen in the name of the United States.'”

Dr Ian Gardner said...

Always good to have another perspective so thank you for this. I can see that you view the report by Bielaski as key...I don't. It was just one piece of documentary evidence I cited in the short article and was meant as a foil to the suggestion that the FBI had cleared the Frankfurt School ..and by implication that was the end of it. My point being that other agencies may have had a different MI5 for example. The article does not need to attribute more than Bielaski's job title in the context of an incorrect reference in the original article by Dr Cluley which stated he was an FBI Special agent. Of course the reports could have been written by Bielaski on his day off when in your view he was possibly engaged in anti communist nefarious activities...but I doubt it. Baumgardner was a senior FBI agent and would have dismissed the report if it was so corrupt...unless you are going to argue that Baumgardner was also a red baiter and could not be relied which cas who can you trust? If you go down that path you only listen to those people you agree with..

Anonymous said...

The point is that the likes of Ian Gardner have been using "red scare" tactics to try to control British political thinking or discourse for decades. This is the red scare way in which Jeremy Corbyn was immediately attacked as Labour leader and eventually ruined. Read a sentence from Gardner and understood the red scare purpose. Whether this or that obscure German intellectual may have had workable or simply reasonable ideas for social organization in what became West Germany is of no interest to Gardner. The need is to smash any possibility of social change from say the Germany of 1900.

Gardner is an intellectual follower of the like of Joseph McCarthy and judging from the discrediting of Corbyn and the elevation of a Boris Johnson Gardner has been successful.

Anonymous said...

Turning Jeremy Corbyn into Lenin:

May 11, 2018

BBC rejects complaints that Newsnight made Corbyn look 'more Russian' Decision to show photo of Labour leader in ‘Lenin-style cap’ in front of Moscow skyline was ‘based on sound news judgment’
By Nadia Khomami - Guardian

Anonymous said...

Correcting spacing in headline:

Turning Jeremy Corbyn into Lenin:

May 11, 2018

BBC rejects complaints that Newsnight made Corbyn look 'more Russian'
Decision to show photo of Labour leader in ‘Lenin-style cap’ in front of Moscow skyline was ‘based on sound news judgment’
By Nadia Khomami - Guardian

Sandwichman said...


Two things. First, as I pointed out in an update to the original post, Bielaski described his job title differently in his 1946 Congressional testimony and his 1950 Senate testimony. In 1946, under the nom de guerre of Mr. Brooks, Bielaski claimed he was a special adviser to the Security Office of the OSS. In 1950, he was "director of investigations" of the whole OSS. The retroactive promotion is extraordinary. Perhaps Mr. Cluley can be forgiven for not knowing the precise job title of someone who inflates his job title in sworn Congressional testimony?

Second, "MI5 may have had a different view." Karl August Wittfogel was a member of the KPD. There really is no need to rely on MI5 to "reveal" that fact. The fact that Marxists met with other Marxists in 1923 and some of them had ties to the Soviet Union is not remarkable. The USSR, by the way, was established in 1922. Lenin was still alive in 1923. Most of the other leaders of the 1917 revolution were eventually murdered by Stalin. If Georg Lukacs or Karl Korsch had been Russians and potential rivals to Stalin, they probably would have been murdered too.

After the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Wittfogel eventually became anti-communist. So to attribute everlasting subversive Soviet ties to the Frankfurt School on the basis of Karl Wittfogel's political affiliation in 1923 is a bit rich. I mean, there were MARXISTS in the OSS during World War II!!!!!! Clear proof the deep state is a cultural Marxist conspiracy!!!!!!

"Rules for Radicals," my foot.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, please, please explain what am I missing?

This is all just a continuing of red-hunting of Joseph McCarthy and the like, and nothing more. This red-hunting has no merit of course, but the point is to discredit any person ever-ever with actually liberal ideas. This red-hunting will never stop.

"Rules for Radicals"; only a forever Cold War play-actor could write such words.

Anonymous said...

Frankfurt School's alleged assault on Western Civilization...

[ What absurdity; we all need be white boy empire builders. Remember never to mention the "Germanic" destruction of Namibia * for the sake of Western Civilization.

* Am I allowed to remember? ]

Anonymous said...

Anyone know that the Economist guy in Beijing who writes this stuff is the son of a former head of British intelligence? How very British and Economist:

September 19, 2020

China’s anti-poverty drive is not disinterested charity
It is about transforming people’s thoughts

September 18, 2020 at 12:49 PM

Anonymous said...

Daddy Rennie was a former head of British intelligence:

David Rennie 任大伟 @DSORennie

China's vow to end extreme poverty in 2020 involves stunning numbers: billions of $ spent, millions moved from rural homes. But don't miss what it really is: a political campaign to integrate the poor into the natl economy, & train them to thank the Party.

China’s anti-poverty drive is not disinterested charity
It is about transforming people’s thoughts

11:52 AM · Sep 17, 2020

Anonymous said...

The Long March that never Happened

-- Ian Gardner

[ The carefully chosen words of a would-be Joseph McCarthy, always meant to intimidate.

This is such fun. ]

Dr Ian Gardner said...

This is hilarious....I underestimated the passion that some people have in their defence of the Frankfurt School and thei capacity of some of the more deluded out there to attack the man rather than the message. Straight out of Alinsky's playbook though so perhaps I should not be surprised.

Dr Ian Gardner said...

Oh, and by the way, the significance of Bielaski being in the OSS is that he was not. Special Agent in the FBI as claimed in the original article...and the report was an OSS report not an FBI about attribution...As to MI5...well they thought there was something amiss...otherwise they would not have got a Warrant as early as 1924. This is clearly a matter of are the Intelligence reports on if you would care to widen your assessment it might be enlightening..

Probably not going to respond to anonymous comments but happy to have an ongoing dialogue with Mr long as he does not accuse me of supporting conspiracy theories again

Dr Ian Gardner said...

Last comment from defence of the conspiracy theory...not that this is an accurate description of the article, clearly does not hinge on the report by just doesn't so don't over egg this...

Anonymous said...

Straight out of [Saul] Alinsky's playbook...

[ Ah, I get it, that is where "Rules for Radicals" comes, according to Wikipedia. Sort of like using "The Long March." Guy has the playbook ready. The point is simply to destroy liberal ideas, expressly by supporting conspiracy theories. Long March, Rules for Radicals, the idea is always to suggest conspiracy so that ideas are dismissed with no consideration.

The reason the BBC had to portray Jeremy Corbyn in a Russian hat against the reddened Kremlin was to be sure that Corbyn's ideas would not be heard against the image of Corbyn as a Russian Commnunist. ]

Anonymous said...

The Frankfurt School was a school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt. Founded in the Weimar Republic (1918–33), during the European interwar period (1918–39), the Frankfurt School comprised intellectuals, academics, and political dissidents dissatisfied with the contemporary socio-economic systems (capitalist, fascist, communist) of the 1930s. The Frankfurt theorists proposed that social theory was inadequate for explaining the turbulent political factionalism and reactionary politics occurring in 20th century liberal capitalist societies. Critical of capitalism and of Marxism–Leninism as philosophically inflexible systems of social organization, the School's critical theory research indicated alternative paths to realizing the social development of a society and a nation.

The Frankfurt School perspective of critical investigation (open-ended and self-critical) is based upon Freudian, Marxist and Hegelian premises of idealist philosophy....

Anonymous said...

As for Saul Alinsky, I have heard or read the name at some point but did not care to find out anything about Alinsky. Looking to Wikipedia, I have the vaguest idea of what Alinsky was about but no interest in finding out more and I have no idea why the "Rules for ..." accusation or insult was used and do not care.

Anonymous said...

Ian Gardner:

I read your essay carefully and considered your comments carefully, and for all my complaints I am grateful for the writing.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ian Gardner:

As for the Frankfurt School, I come by that through Habermas and Habermas is a pussycat with a range of interesting ideas on social organization. These are not thinkers who need be the concern of British intelligence, but of course the same goes for Jeremy Corbyn and I understand how that turned out.

Thanks again; you're fun and generous in response but I differ.

Sandwichman said...

The Gardiner sez: "thei[sic] capacity of some of the more deluded out there to attack the man rather than the message."

Hold on a sec... isn't calling your opponent "deluded" an ad hominem? If I recall correctly ad hominem argument precedes Saul Alinsky by several millennia. The difficulty here is that Dr. Gardiner has cited Bielaski as authoritative (appeal to authority) but there are very fundamental questions about his credibility. Some of these questions were raised regarding the Amerasia case by the chair of a House subcommittee, the chair of a Senate subcommittee and by Washington political columnist Drew Pearson. Other questions about his credibility arise from reading unconnected reports about his involvement in unauthorized wiretapping and far-right wing cultural organization. I have the receipts and possibly will put them together into a post some time when I'm not cooking enchiladas for a family get together.

As for the outrage of misidentifying an OSS "Director of Investigations" (or "special adviser" or "chief investigator" or plausibly deniable dirty trickster and plumber) an "FBI special agent" there is the mitigating circumstance that four pages of his "report" appear in an FBI file on Theodor Adorno. While pursuing information on Bielaski's post-OSS venture, "Research and Security Corporation" I came across several references to commie blacklist publisher Kenneth M. Bierly and his presumed "Research and Security Corporation." Ex-FBI agent Bierly doesn't appear to have had any connection to Bielaski's Research and Security Corporation -- other than a shared affinity for outing suspected communist subversives and sympathizers. So that was a bit of a detour.

Whatever... the four pages of Bielaski's report in Adorno's FBI file need to be read in their entirety to evaluate how much weight to give the allegation that "the evidence developed indicates that it is a Communist organization of intellectuals operating under the cloak of social and economic research, financed by an endowment created abroad." Presumably "the evidence" refers to items in the report. But if you read what's available of the report NO evidence is presented, only assertion. "I think this guy is a communist" is not evidence. Also "information from an unnamed confidential source" is less than definitive, even if that information is somewhat exculpatory.

That "endowment created abroad"? According to the unnamed confidential source, the endowment was funded by "a wealthy Jew" (no, it wasn't Soros) who ALSO financed the KPD! Well, as we know, the KPD was liquidated by the Nazis in 1933. So maybe the unnamed confidential source was... wait for it... the Gestapo (via MI5)?

"Ms Stonor Saunders argues that a “crucial liaison” was established between MI5 deputy counter-espionage chief Guy Liddell and Rudolf Diels, head of nazi spying bureau Abteilung 1A, which soon became the Gestapo, in 1933.

“'MI5’s prewar liaison with Hitler’s political police was built on the promise of reciprocity, so it is reasonable to fear that there was two-way traffic in blacklists between Berlin and London,” she wrote in an article to be published next month.

“'How long this arrangement lasted is a matter of speculation.

“'What is known is that both MI5 and MI6 had information that must have come from a German source concerning the political activities of the left-wing refugees who sought sanctuary in Britain from 1933 onwards.'"

Sandwichman said...

Stuck on the Flypaper Frances Stonor Saunders on MI5 and the Hobsbawm File

"What was the smell of Abteilung 1A/Gestapo files that found their way into the Central Registry at MI5’s Mayfair headquarters? The Reichstag fire? The book burnings? The crematoria? For what were these files, these endless lists and card indexes, if not the pennies for feeding the gas meters? Guy Liddell disapproved of the Nazis’ methods – ‘Apart from the moral aspect ... [they] do not pay in the long run,’ he later wrote in his diary – and British anti-communism was organised around strategies that did not include mass murder. But MI5’s prewar liaison with Hitler’s political police was built on the promise of reciprocity, so it is reasonable to fear that there was two-way traffic in blacklists between Berlin and London. How long this arrangement lasted is a matter of speculation.

"What is known is that both MI5 and MI6 had information that must have come from a German source concerning the political activities of the left-wing refugees who sought sanctuary in Britain from 1933 onwards. Some were indeed ideological communists, others were sympathisers, and many were not communists at all, but anti-fascists and pacifists who had aligned themselves with the KPD as a matter of contingency. If they didn’t already have a Personal File, most of them acquired one within days of arriving at a British port. Additionally, their names were listed in the Precautionary Index (which started life at the end of the First World War as the Defence Black List), a ‘register of persons potentially dangerous to National Defence’.

"The idea that the Nazis themselves – or their supporters in Britain – might pose a danger to national security was very slow to mature in the British intelligence community. In a letter circulated to all chief constables in May 1934, MI5’s director general, Vernon Kell, explained that fascism was, to a great extent, ‘a natural reaction from communism’. This thesis, if something so underdeveloped can be called that, was widely shared in Whitehall. When Hugh Trevor-Roper joined MI6 in 1941, he doubted that ‘there was one man [there] at that time, who had read Mein Kampf’. Indeed, Hitler’s rise to power made virtually no impression at all on the ‘defenders of the realm’, except as an opportunity to expand the franchise on anti-communist surveillance."

Anonymous said...

The problem with the ad hominem thingy, Sandwichman, is that you don't understand how it works.

It's Dr Gardiner's living experience> that dictates what is and what is not an ad hominem. As a privileged one, you have no right to claim he uses am ad hominem. You are taking advantage of that to hurt his feelings. He is punching up.

Shame, shame on you.

Besides, he, poor special and beautiful snowflake, is doing his utmost to avoid mentioning Soros.

-- Tyler Durden

Dr Ian Gardner said...

"The thirteenth rule: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals...

So the reference by an anonymous commentator to my use of "Red Scare Tactics" was the reason I used the phrase "deluded" as the article does nothing of the sort. The reference to my defence of a "conspiracy theory" was the basis on which I suggested that Mr Walker was using ad hominem bat tacks as I was not trying to defend something that is itself an ad hominem attack, first made by left leaning activist journalists and then uncritically parroted by activist academics.

The attempt to contextualise the report written by Bielaski is fair enough, but the way the commentary has developed appears very much to be a defensive closed minded attempt to dismiss an alternative and possibly unpalatable view...Par for the course really as most of the critics of those who use the phrase "cultural Marxism" to mean the ideological trends and liberal ideas that were influenced by the Frankfurt School do the same.

If there is evidence that Bielaski was not Director of Investigations at the OSS and that his 1944 report was other than an official document, please send it to me. Otherwise, thank you for your opinions...

Dr Gardner said...

Oh, and to be accurate...The first MI5 reference I cited in my article was from 1924... Nine Years before the Reichstag fire and the formation of the don't try to confuse or rewrite history to develop a counter narrative

Anonymous said...

November 7, 1971

For those who feel the American dream has become a nightmare
By Curtis B. Gans

Whether the American dream of equality, liberty and the pursuit and achievement of happiness will ever become a reality will be largely determined by the interests, vision and energy of today's young. The prospect is not promising. Because of the failure of American leadership and institutions to meet the needs of society and the just demands of its people in both domestic and foreign policy, a large segment of America's young are growing increasingly frustrated and disillusioned. They are turning either to strident rhetoric, quasi ‐ revolutionary activity, sloganeering and sporadic violence or are “dropping out” into lives of private solitude and personal enjoyment. There is a clear and present danger that the needed energies for the social and political reconstruction of America will be burned out or unavailable at a time when those energies were never more needed.

It is in the realization of this crisis that Saul Alinsky has written “Rules for Radicals.” For nearly 40 years, in communities throughout America Alinsky has achieved what the current slogan only asserts—“Power to the People.” A large portion of the experience of those 40 years and an even larger measure of the brilliance, warmth, humor, idealism, insight, ego and skepticism of the man have been distilled into a thoroughly enjoyable book that is an invitation to the young and the young in spirit to channel their energies and their frustration into effective action toward the goal of social revolution. The book was written in the fond hope that in the written dialogue of one radical to another, Alinsky can persuade some of today's young radicals and drop‐outs to change course.

As Alinsky defines his purpose: “ ‘The Prince,’ was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. ‘Rules for Radicals' is written for the Have‐Nots on how to take it away.” The book falls short of this goal, but the heart of the book, the central six chapters on the principles of organization, communication and tactics are important for anyone seriously interested in working for social change. They offer a view at once exciting and realistic on what it takes to be an effective revolutionary in American society....

Anonymous said...

Theodor W. Adorno (1903 – 1969) was a German philosopher, sociologist, psychologist, musicologist, and composer known for his critical theory of society.

He was a leading member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, whose work has come to be associated with thinkers such as Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse, for whom the works of Freud, Marx, and Hegel were essential to a critique of modern society. As a critic of both fascism and what he called the culture industry, his writings—such as Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Minima Moralia (1951) and Negative Dialectics (1966)—strongly influenced the European New Left.

Amidst the vogue enjoyed by existentialism and positivism in early 20th-century Europe, Adorno advanced a dialectical conception of natural history that critiqued the twin temptations of ontology and empiricism through studies of Kierkegaard and Husserl. As a classically trained pianist whose sympathies with the twelve-tone technique of Arnold Schoenberg resulted in his studying composition with Alban Berg of the Second Viennese School, Adorno's commitment to avant-garde music formed the backdrop of his subsequent writings and led to his collaboration with Thomas Mann on the latter's novel Doctor Faustus, while the two men lived in California as exiles during the Second World War. Working for the newly relocated Institute for Social Research, Adorno collaborated on influential studies of authoritarianism, antisemitism and propaganda that would later serve as models for sociological studies the Institute carried out in post-war Germany.

Upon his return to Frankfurt, Adorno was involved with the reconstitution of German intellectual life through debates with Karl Popper on the limitations of positivist science, critiques of Heidegger's language of authenticity, writings on German responsibility for the Holocaust, and continued interventions into matters of public policy. As a writer of polemics in the tradition of Nietzsche and Karl Kraus, Adorno delivered scathing critiques of contemporary Western culture. Adorno's posthumously published Aesthetic Theory, which he planned to dedicate to Samuel Beckett, is the culmination of a lifelong commitment to modern art which attempts to revoke the "fatal separation" of feeling and understanding long demanded by the history of philosophy and explode the privilege aesthetics accords to content over form and contemplation over immersion.

Anonymous said...

That British intelligence spent time investigating the likes of an Adorno is the essence of British class insecurity of the time, having nothing at all to do with the activities of Adorno. Like the FBI investigating Martin Luther King and the like.

Sandwichman said...

"The reference to my defence of a "conspiracy theory" was the basis on which I suggested that Mr Walker was using ad hominem bat tacks as I was not trying to defend something that is itself an ad hominem attack, first made by left leaning activist journalists and then uncritically parroted by activist academics."

What an astonishingly convoluted sentence! Do I dare to try to "boil it down" to something I can reply to? What it seems to say is that it is an ad hominem argument to call attacks on the Frankfurt School a "conspiracy theory" and therefore it is also an ad hominem argument to call rebuttals to those (allegedly) ad hominem arguments a "defense of a conspiracy theory."

The simple reply is that Dr. Gardiner doesn't know what an ad hominem argument is and he doesn't know what a conspiracy theory is. Or he knows and is simply trying to muddy the waters. If I called Gardiner a purveyor of wingnut conspiracy theories, that would be an ad hominem argument. If I say that his argument defends a conspiracy theory that is a claim about the nature of his argument. If "left leaning" journalists and "activist" academics calls the accusations against the Frankfurt School a "conspiracy theory" that is a characterization of the accusations, not an ad hominem.

In brief, the accusation against the Frankfurt School is that it fostered a long-term strategy to destroy Western civilization by undermining its cultural foundations. In other words, there was a conspiracy. To call this far-fetched smear a "theory" may be an overstatement. Theory may be used here is a colloquial sense as a loose collection of assumptions and allegations that add up to paranoid projection.

On the other hand, calling Herman Weil a "wealthy Jew" smacks of antisemitism not because it is untrue. Weil, presumably, was both wealthy and Jewish. The problem here is its context in a memorandum dated January 21,1944. Echoes of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion appearing in a secret police memorandum at a time when the Allies already knew that "at least two million Jews had been murdered and another five million were at risk of being killed..."

Of course, by itself the irrelevant/auspicious reference to Jewishness might be brushed off as an incidental lapse of decorum. What makes it resonate more ominously is the efforts of Bielaski's mentor, George Dondelo, to dismantle the war crimes prosecution of IG Farben executives.

Or is it somehow an ad hominem argument to mention someone's nefarious deeds when considering the veracity of their accusations?

"Newly accessed material from the United Nations – not seen for around 70 years – shows that as early as December 1942, the US, UK and Soviet governments were aware that at least two million Jews had been murdered and a further five million were at risk of being killed, and were preparing charges. Despite this, the Allied Powers did very little to try and rescue or provide sanctuary to those in mortal danger.

"Indeed, in March 1943, Viscount Cranborne, a minister in the war cabinet of Winston Churchill, said the Jews should not be considered a special case and that the British Empire was already too full of refugees to offer a safe haven to any more."

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, calling Herman Weil a "wealthy..."

[ Would that be Felix, the son of Hermann? Felix set up an endowment for the Frankfurt School in 1924: ]

Sandwichman said...

Sorry for the confusion. The "wealthy Jew" remark refers to "Herman" (sic), Felix's father. The memorandum then states that Felix, son of Herman, set up the endowment and also financed the KPD. Hermann is cited as having founded the Frankfurt School.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand now and appreciate the correction. This all pains me to read now, but the post and comments your made are really important.

Dr Ian Gardner said...

Oh dear...

For assertion that Mr Walker was making an ad hominem attack was because he accuses me of defending a conspiracy theory..As I was doing nothing of the sort I considered this to be another example of go for the man not the ball..

As to the issue of whether the Frankfurt School ideological perspective challenges Western 'bourgeois' culture and norms, I think that the rejection of scientific rationality (Horkheimer) and the Aesopian use of Critical Theory instead of Marxist theory would be a good start for a serious debate...but not one for a blog...

I think I will leave Mr Walker to his lessons on labour activism and climate change..where his expertise obviously lies and pursue my own research without the further benefit of his opinions. Signing off for the last time.

Anonymous said...

Max Horkheimer (1895 – 1973) was a German philosopher and sociologist who was famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the Frankfurt School of social research. Horkheimer addressed authoritarianism, militarism, economic disruption, environmental crisis, and the poverty of mass culture using the philosophy of history as a framework. This became the foundation of critical theory. His most important works include Eclipse of Reason (1947), Between Philosophy and Social Science (1930–1938) and, in collaboration with Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947).

Anonymous said...

Critical theory is a social philosophy pertaining to the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures. With origins in sociology, as well as in literary criticism, it argues that social problems are influenced and created more by societal structures and cultural assumptions than by individual and psychological factors. Maintaining that ideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation, critical theory was established as a school of thought primarily by the Frankfurt School theoreticians Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, and Max Horkheimer. The latter sociologist described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them."

Sandwichman said...

Frankly, Dr. Gardner, I don't give a damn whether you were defending or weren't defending a conspiracy theory or not a conspiracy theory. That fact is that checking some of your facts led me to some fascinating material that throws a glaring new light on a dark period in American history. I thank you for that, whether we agree or disagree on the nefarious intentions of the Frankfurt School.

Whether he was or was not "Director of Investigation" for the OSS during the war, Frank Brooks Bielaski was a character straight out of pulp fiction, as was his co-conspirator, George Dondero. Prior to his (alleged?) association with the O.S.S., Bielaski was notorious for conducting black bag jobs for Republican politicians and the Republican National Finance Committee. So notorious that after a congressional investigation on wire tapping in 1940, he suspends his Seaboard Bureau operations. And then a couple years later General Donovan taps him to do some "investigative" work. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Well, having read all through again, I think this post and comments by Sandwichman are especially fine. I hope the theme will be continued, because to me it is as relevant as these very days.

I will gradually make sense of those names with which I am too unfamiliar and that appear promising in ideas. said...

I have about lost track of all this and am now not sure at all about some of these characters. So I shall throw in a sideshow remark just for general amusement.

I think I have posted here once about people where I am changing names of buildings and schools from names of Confederate figures. One popular in my immediate location is Turner Ashby, a Confederate general who commanded what was then known as "Ashby's Cavalry" that would eventually become the Laurel Brigade, commanded by a relative of mine and that refused to surrender at Appommatox. Anyway, Turner Ashby himself was killed on June 6, 1862 in the Battle of Harrisonburg, which happens to be where I live. A building on the JMU campus was named for him but is being renamed, now temporarily as "Mountain Hall."

Anyway, nearby in Rockingham County is a high school named for him in Bridgewater, VA. There is a discussion going on about renaming it. I know lots of people who went there or have kids who did or do. Everybody calls it "T.A." As I know how hard it is to get people to change what they call things it occurred to me that it might be cool to find somebody else with those initials to name it for so people could still call it "T.A" but be politically correct and all that. I came up with Theodor Adorno, who actually became a US citizen while in the US during WW II, even though he would return to Frankfurt after the war. I actually proposed it to some people involved in the consideration of what to do.

It was not received as completely ridiculous, some of these people being quite progressive and actually appreciating his work against anti-Semitism and racism and all that, so recognizing that he might in fact be a legit name to use. But he is awfully obscure. Most likely it will become Bridgewater High School, just as 25 miles to the southwest what was Robert E. Lee High School became Staunton High School recently. But, hey, what's in a name?

Calgacus said...

Sandwichman: It's tangential to this, but about that link to the Independent:

What discovery? - who needs archives? The holocaust and the allied denunciation of it was front page news in late 1942. Are there next going to be breathless discoveries from UN archives that Pearl Harbor was bombed a year earlier? Perhaps there was something interesting discovered - but that article is 95% uninformative nonsense that will leave you knowing less than when you started. Which is the usual intent of people like Samantha Power.

Most don't know the levels of deceit underneath. There are two related and completely insane assertions here, both pushed by that linked story - and which deserve being called wingnut conspiracy theories. Both originate from Revisionist Zionists/ Likudniks like Hillel Kook [Peter Bergson] - but have captured support, both popular and serious academic to a remarkable and deplorable extent. And of course, much/most of the Left, the usual suckers who fall for anything while they're too busy praising themselves how critically-thinking and bereft of illusions they are. :-)

(a) That Hitler's genocide was somehow a secret, hidden? by the Allied powers
"The Allied Powers were aware of the scale of the Jewish Holocaust two-and-a-half years earlier than is generally assumed," As I said, the verified stories and the Allied declaration against it were front page news back then, the whole world knew. Sadly, "generally assumed" today by those who have only heard crazy fairy tales masquerading as history. Not then, when you could just open a newspaper, go to a public talk or a patriotic pageant about it.

(b) That the Allies didn't do anything against it. e.g. "Despite this, the Allied Powers did very little to try and rescue or provide sanctuary to those in mortal danger."

Somehow the biggest war in the history of the world has escaped people's attention. The fact that there was basically nothing else that anybody could do or even propose to do but win that war has also escaped their attention. Didn't escape the attention of "the masses" of Jews in the USA - who volunteered / served in the armed forces in numbers twice their proportion of the population. They're the people, theirs are the thoughts and views who should be remembered, not those of Ultra-Right wing bullshit artists.


Is Ian Gardner a follower of Larouche? Just asking to make sense of this.

All this the OSS, Donovan, Marxists/Communists, Molotov-Ribbentrop and (digging further into the links, to Robert Cluley's post) - Gerhart Eisler brings up to me the memoirs of Carl Marzani - Memoirs of a Reluctant Radical that I was just reading at the Internet Archive. There's a hilarious, moving and insightful story of Marzani under indictment for being a Communist in Donovan's OSS, even though Donovan of course knew. He was lecturing and on the run in a US college town with his anti-American pal Eisler - who he however won the anti-American argument with during and by this episode. Later to become an East German cabinet minister Eisler: "What a [meaning "crazy"] country!"

Reading Marzani, who also wrote the first revisionist history of the Cold War while in prison as the first victim of McCarthyism - is like a breath of fresh air.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. You hurt Dr Gardner's feelings. Are you happy now, Sandwichman?

Activist consultants and activist independent academic researchers are sensible souls -- not snowflakes, mind you, that's reserved for their targets.

-- Tyler Durden