Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is Cultural Conservatism?

"What is Cultural Conservatism?" is the title of an article by William S. Lind published in 1986 in Essays in Our Times. That's about all I can say about the article because I can't find another trace of the magazine. In answer to the generic question, though, there is this perceptive comment from a sympathizer, William F. Campbell, in a Heritage Foundation speech reviewing a subsequent pamphlet, Cultural Conservatism: Toward A New National Agenda by Lind and William Marshner:
But as first and second generation conservatives have always known, and had to live with as an unpleasant skeleton in the family closet, there is sharp tension, if not contradiction, between the traditionalist and the libertarian wings of the conservative movement. They have been held together primarily because of their common enemies, modern egalitarianism and totalitarian collectivism, which they both abhor.

To sum up, unity on the right requires defining (or inventing) a common enemy/scapegoat. That was easy when the Soviet Union still existed. With the demise of the East Bloc and the end of the Cold War, the culture war against "political correctness" presented itself as common ground.

It would be facile to take the word "war" too metaphorically. Lind, after all, is a theorist -- perhaps the leading theorist -- of "fourth generation warfare" or 4WG, as he calls it. This "theory" has been severely criticized as faulty in both its logic and it historical assumptions by Antulio Echevarria of the U.S. Army's Institute for Strategic Studies but it evidently appealed to the Oslo "culture warrior," Anders Breivik. Breivik pasted a 1,000 word Wikipedia summary of Lind's 4GW concept into his manifesto, adding a few parenthetical references to his own pet projects.

Anyone who desires to peek under the rock of cultural conservatism and fourth generation warfare is welcome to do their own Google searches. But there is one concept that incongruously links the two strands of Lind's thought: what Lind calls the legitimacy crisis of the state.
Here we must remind ourselves that the root and origin of Fourth Generation war is a crisis of legitimacy of the state. One of the functions the state is now expected to perform, in free market as well as socialist countries, is to ensure that the economy functions as well. A world-wide financial panic followed by a world recession or depression would mean the state was failing in one of its core functions. That in turn would further diminish the legitimacy of the state.
If Lind's legitimacy crisis of the state sounds suspiciously like J├╝rgen Habermas's legitimation crisis, that's because it is a transparent appropriation of the term. I have not been able to find any acknowledgement or attribution by Lind of his source. Lind is clearly "a scavenger, who picks up ill-digested ideas and uses them for his own purposes." But, of course, Lind is also a staunch critic of the ideas of the Frankfurt School and cultural Marxism. Habermas was a former student of Frankfurt School critical theorists, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who in 1964 took over Horkheimer's former chair at the Institute for Social Research and eventually became director.

Perhaps "critic" is too mild a term. Lind demonized the Frankfurt School as little more than a cynical conspiracy to undermine Western Civilization. Intellectual consistency would have required Lind to view Habermas's legitimation crisis not as a diagnosis but as a diabolical scheme to de-legitimize state by undermining the culture. Instead, Lind simply replicates a disjointed morsel of Habermas's analysis. In other words, Lind is not above scavenging and plagiarizing from schools of thought that elsewhere he disparages and demonizes.

So what IS cultural conservatism? It is bottom-feeding propaganda that aims to capitalize on the persecution of scapegoats to achieve unity of the inherently contradictory right.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Martin Jay Spills Some Beans!

In his recent post, Updated: Breivik's Core Thesis is White Christian Nationalism v. Multiculturalism, Chip Berlet cited a recent Salmagundi article by Martin Jay, "Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe." This is a truly astonishing, important and very timely document, which unfortunately is not yet available online. In fact, there is very little information about the article online. I have sent a request to Salmagundi to make the text available.

Of particular interest is Jay's account of getting sandbagged (Berlet's term) by a film crew for a television network called National Empowerment Television, sponsored by Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation (FCF). William S. Lind, who narrated the video and presumably produced it, was proud of his coup of including interview clips with Jay in the television program, boasting, "The video is especially valuable because we interviewed the principal American expert on the Frankfurt School, Martin Jay, who was then the chairman of the History Department at Berkeley (and obviously no conservative). He spills the beans."

The "beans" Jay spilled were innocuous. "They had," Jay explained, "already been on the plate for a very long time and it would have taken no effort at all to confirm that, yes, they were Marxists, and yes, they thought cultural problems were important, and yes, they -- or at least Marcus -- worried about the effects of 'repressive tolerance.'"

Of course, it wasn't the beans that Lind was interested in but in editing and packaging those beans in such a way as to insinuate that Jay was "confirming" the rest of the video's narrative, which of course he wasn't. Jay regrets having fallen for Lind's ruse and having assumed that his opinions would be presented with some fidelity. But having viewed Lind's video and now having read Martin Jay's account, I have to wonder if maybe Lind didn't step into a trap of his own making. Given the context, it is the film makers, not the Frankfurt School, who come across as the devious schemers with a secret agenda. As Martin Jay explained,
There is a transparent subtext in the original FCF program, which is not hard to discern and has become more explicit with each telling of the narrative. Although there is scarcely any direct reference to the ethnic origins of the School’s members, subtle hints allow the listener to draw his own conclusions about the provenance of foreigners who tried to combine Marx and Freud, those giants of critical Jewish intelligence. At one point, William Lind asserts that “once in America they shifted the focus of their work from destroying German society to attacking the society and culture of its new place of refuge,” as if the very people who had to flee the Nazis had been responsible for what they were fleeing! Airtime is also given to another of Weyrich’s colleagues at the FCF, Lazlo Pasztor, who is innocently identified as a “leader of the Hungarian resistance against Communism,” but had already been discredited a decade earlier as a former member of the pro-Nazi “Arrow Cross,” who had to leave the Bush campaign in l988 when he was outed.

And now, without further ado, Ecological Headstand presents The History of Political Correctness:



A double bill! The British National Party's Nick Griffin recites the script with a twist, greedy Big Business and the Frankfurt School are in cahoots!:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chip Berlet: Author Cited by Anders Behring Breivik Regrets Original Essay

Chip Berlet:

An article titled "The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and `Political Correctness'" ended up being mentioned once by Anders Behring Breivik in his 1,500 page manifesto.
...
After dozens of hours of research and thousands of pages of reading I am confident that William S. Lind pamphlet from the Free Congress Foundation is a major conceptual influence on the core thesis of the Breivik Manifesto.

How major? Below are the first three paragraphs of Breivik's manifesto and Lind' pamphlet:

Breivik: One of conservatism’s most important insights is that all ideologies are wrong. Ideology takes an intellectual system, a product of one or more philosophers, and says, “This system must be true.” Inevitably, reality ends up contradicting the system, usually on a growing number of points. But the ideology, by its nature, cannot adjust to reality; to do so would be to abandon the system.

Lind: As Russell Kirk wrote, one of conservatism’s most important insights is that all ideologies are wrong. Ideology takes an intellectual system, a product of one or more philosophers, and says, “This system must be true.” Inevitably, reality ends up contradicting the system, usually on a growing number of points. But the ideology, by its nature, cannot adjust to reality; to do so would be to abandon the system.

Breivik: Therefore, reality must be suppressed. If the ideology has power, it uses its power to undertake this suppression. It forbids writing or speaking certain facts. Its goal is to prevent not only expression of thoughts that contradict what “must be true,” but thinking such thoughts. In the end, the result is inevitably the concentration camp, the gulag and the grave.


Lind: Therefore, reality must be suppressed. If the ideology has power, it uses its power to undertake this suppression. It forbids writing or speaking certain facts. Its goal is to prevent not only expression of thoughts that contradict what “must be true,” but thinking such thoughts. In the end, the result is inevitably the concentration camp, the gulag and the grave.

Breivik: But what happens today to Europeans who suggest that there are differences among ethnic groups, or that the traditional social roles of men and women reflect their different natures, or that homosexuality is morally wrong? If they are public figures, they must grovel in the dirt in endless, canting apologies. If they are university students, they face star chamber courts and possible expulsion. If they are employees of private corporations, they may face loss of their jobs. What was their crime? Contradicting the new EUSSR ideology of “Political Correctness.”

Lind: While some Americans have believed in ideologies, America itself never had an official, state ideology – up until now. But what happens today to Americans who suggest that there are differences among ethnic groups, or that the traditional social roles of men and women reflect their different natures, or that homosexuality is morally wrong? If they are public figures, they must grovel in the dirt in endless, canting apologies. If they are university students, they face star chamber courts and possible expulsion. If they are employees of private corporations, they may face loss of their jobs. What was their crime? Contradicting America’s new state ideology of “Political Correctness.”

See also Chip Berlet Updated: Breivik's Core Thesis is White Christian Nationalism v. Multiculturalism

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Confessions of a Cultural Marxist

UPDATE: Plagiarism alert Breivik's text on "Political Correctness" appears to be lifted almost entirely from a screed called "Political Correctness: a Short History of an Ideology?" by William Lind, "Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation."

In the introduction to his "compendium" manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, Anders Breivik asks "What is Political Correctness?" and "How did it all begin?" His answer dwells on the Frankfurt School, and singles out Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization as especially important (I have condensed Breivik's text here):
One work, however, is of such importance that it must be recommended despite its difficulty: Eros and Civilisation by Herbert Marcuse...

In brief, Eros and Civilisation urges total rebellion against traditional Western culture –the “Great Refusal” – and promises a Candyland utopia of free sex and no work to those who join the revolution.
The very achievements of this civilisation seemed to make the performance principle obsolete, to make the repressive utilisation of the instincts archaic. But the idea of a non-repressive civilisation on the basis of the achievements of the performance principle encountered the argument that instinctual liberation (and consequently total liberation) would explode civilisation itself, since the latter is sustained only through renunciation and work (labour) – in other words, through the repressive utilisation of instinctual energy. Freed from these constraints, man would exist without work and without order; he would fall back into nature, which would destroy culture. To meet this argument, we recalled certain archetypes of imagination which, in contrast to the culture-heroes of repressive productivity, symbolised creative receptivity.
Marcuse understood what most of the rest of his Frankfurt School colleagues did not: the way to destroy Western civilisation –the objective set forth by George Lukacs in 1919 – was not through abstruse theory, but through sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Breivik's account of Marcuse is a very strange and convoluted rendition, which, in essence, mistakes critique for advocacy and thus inadvertently comprehends a mirror image of what Marcuse was saying. Whether or not one subscribes to Marcuse's version of Freud or likes his terminology, it is crucial to distinguish between three concepts here: repressive sublimation, non-repressive sublimation and repressive de-sublimation. What Marcuse was advocating in Eros and Civilization was non-repressive sublimation. He criticized repressive de-sublimation. The two terms are opposites.

The "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" strategy for destroying Western civilization that Breivik lamented was actually something Marcuse opposed -- a sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll strategy for defending the hierarchical status quo: "The promotion of thoughtless leisure activities, the triumph of anti-intellectual ideologies, exemplify the trend. This extension of controls to formerly free regions of consciousness and leisure permit a relaxation of sexual taboos (previously more important because the over-all controls were less effective)."

Breivik's grisly "mistake" is not an innocent one. He has brought the technique of mass murder as a self-promoting publicity stunt to a new low. Perhaps the best punishment for that crime would be exposure of the gut-wrenchingly backward credulity and stupidity of his interpretation of "cultural Marxism."

The lying sack of shit that fabricated this modern-day Protocols of the Elders of Political Correctness is William S. Lind:

"William Sturgiss Lind, Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, born July 9, 1947. He graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1969 and received a Master's Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 through 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 through 1986. He joined Free Congress Foundation in 1987."