The truth about ‘Cultural Marxism’ with proof

Marcuse and the 1960’s student movement

There are claims that the Frankfurt school had nothing to do with the student revolution in the 1960’s. Indeed the protagonists had quite different opinions, as can be seen in their correspondence below. But there is no doubt and plenty of historical evidence, that Marcuse himself was very much involved in this movement, and that he used the works of the Frankfurt school to support the activists and guide them.

Marcuse was very much in favor of supporting the student movement and offered them the methods from the Frankfurt school in order to enhance their movement. Adorno was chickenshit, belaboring his own personal inconveniences when discussing with the students and getting pepper sprayed by them. Horckheimer, the institute founder, argued against the student movement, because he was scared that it will bring about a dictatorship if it succeeds.

Letter from H. Marcuse to T. Adorno dated 21 July 1969

With this I reach what you call ‘the crux of our controversy’. I
certainly do believe that the student movement does have the
prospect of ‘effecting a social intervention’. I am thinking here
mainly of the United States, but also France (my stay in Paris
reinforced that once again) and South America. Of course, the causes
that set off the process are all very different, but, unlike Habermas, it
seems to me that, despite all the differences, the driving motivation
aims for the same goal. And this goal is now a protest against
capitalism, which cuts to the roots of its existence, against its
henchmen in the Third World, its culture, its morality. Of course, I
never voiced the nonsensical opinion that the student movement is
itself revolutionary. But it is the strongest, perhaps the only, catalyst
for the internal collapse of the system of domination today. The
student movement in the United States has indeed intervened
effectively as just such a catalyst: in the development of political
consciousness, in the agitation in the ghettos, in the radical alienation
from the system of layers who were formerly integrated, and, most
importantly, in the mobilization of further circles of the populace
against American imperialism (I really can see no reason to be allergic
to the use of this concept). All that may not amount to very much, but
there is no revolutionary situation in the most advanced industrialized
countries, and the degree of integration simply delimits new, very
unorthodox forms of radical opposition. As is almost always the case, the
rulers have a more accurate assessment of the meaning of the student
opposition than it has itself: in the United States repression is most
urgently organized against schools and universities—when co-optation
does not help, the police do.

The student movement today is desperately seeking a theory and a
practice. It is searching for forms of organization that can correspond
to and contradict late capitalist society. It is torn in itself, infiltrated
by provocateurs or by those who objectively promote the cause of
provocation. I find some stunts, such as those that I hear word of from
Frankfurt and Hamburg, as reproachable as you do. I have fought
publicly enough against the slogan ‘destroy the university’, which I
regard as a suicidal act. I believe that it is precisely in a situation such
as this that it is our task to help the movement, theoretically, as well
as in defending it against repression and denunciation.

Double isolation: neo-fascism and this
democracy are not alternatives: this democracy, as a capitalist one,
drives, in line with its inherent dynamic, towards a régime of force?
And why must its collapse bring about a dictatorship that is worse
than what exists? Is it not precisely the task of today’s protest
movement, especially the student one, to prevent such a development?
And must one denounce this movement from the outset as a
‘powerless force’—when, for a start, it is more than questionable
whether one can speak of force at all with a clear conscience—when it
is compared to that over which the rulers dispose? What ‘serves’ the
opponents better: the authoritative assurance of the powerlessness of
this movement, or the strengthening of the movement? The students
know all too well the objective limits of their protest—they do not
need us to point it out to them, but perhaps they need us to help
them get beyond these limits. The use of force, the ‘practitioners of
violence’, all that is on the other side, in the opponents’ camp, and we
should be wary of taking over its categories and using them to label
the protest movement. And the dictatorship after the collapse? We
should have the theoretical courage not to identify the violence of
liberation with the violence of repression, all subsumed under the
general category of dictatorship. Terrible as it is, the Vietnamese
peasant who shoots his landlord who has tortured and exploited him
for decades is not doing the same thing as the landlord who shoots the
rebelling slaves.

The long list of people influenced by Marcuse is here
He held plenty of speeches at universities in the 1960’s.

There are claims, that Marcuse was ‘no true Marxist’ (no true Scotsman fallacy), although his texts and teachings depend heavily on Marx’s theories, and he was seen as a Marxist by the majority of scholars. He became known as the preeminent theorist of the New Left and the student movements of Germany, France, and the US according to Wikipedia. “His Marxist scholarship inspired many radical intellectuals and political activists in the 1960s and 1970s, both in the U.S. and internationally.”, again according to Wikipedia.

Here’s Marcuse’s connection with Feminism:

Speech of H. Marcuse @ UoC San Diego, March 7, 1974 (10 pages), titled “Marxism and Feminism”: (google “marcuse marxism and feminism pdf” to find the original text)

[…]Secondly, the Movement operates within a class society – here is the first problem; women are not a class in the Marxian sense. The male-female relationship cuts across class lines but the immediate needs and potentialities of women are definitely class-conditioned to a high degree. Nevertheless there are good reasons why “women” should be discussed as a general category versus “man”. Namely the long historical process in which the social, mental and even physiological characteristics of women developed as different from and contrasting with those of men.
Here a word on the question whether the “feminine” or “female” characteristics are socially conditioned or in any sense “natural”, biological. My answer is: over and above the obviously physiological differences between male and female, the feminine characteristics are socially conditioned. However the long process of thousands of years of social conditioning means that they may become “second nature” which is not changed automatically by the establishment of new social institutions.

Marcuse establishes that men and women are not Marxist classes, but it nevertheless helps to define them so. He also lays some groundwork for what we know today as Genderism.

[…] But the very goals of this Movement require changes of such enormity in the material as well as intellectual culture, that they can be attained only by a change in the entire social system. By virtue of it’s own dynamic, the Movement is linked with the political struggle for revolution, freedom for men and women.
[…] there are no economic reasons why such equality should not be attainable within the capitalist framework, although a largely modified capitalism. But the potentialities, the goals of the Women’s Liberation Movement go far beyond it, namely into regions which never can be attained within a capitalist framework, nor within the framework of any class society.

Marcuse wants to convince feminists that their real goals can only be attained in a socialist/communist society.

[…] Thus, in the Movement itself is contained the image, not only of new social institutions, but also of a change in consciousness, of a change in the instinctual needs of men and women, freed from the requirements of domination and exploration. {I think he meant exploitation} And this is the Movement’s most radical, subversive potential. It means […] commitment to a specific form of socialism which has been called “feminist socialism”.
[…] {speaking about the Performance Principle} Now, according to Freud, this value hierarchy is expressive of a mental structure in which primary aggressive energy tends to reduce and to weaken the life instincts, that is, erotic energy.

Marcuse refers to Freud (as he does in his books), claiming that our consciousness and instincts must be changed. Ideological, evil, insane!

[…] Socialism, as a qualitatively different society, must embody the antithesis, the definite negation of the aggressive and repressive needs and values of capitalism as a form of male-dominated culture.

Further on he refers to the upcoming trend of “romantic love” in the 12th and 13th century as the “first great protest against feudal hierarchy […] with its specifically pernicious repression of the woman.”

[…] The increasing participation of women in the industrial work process, which undermined the material grounds of the male hierarchy, also enlarged the human base of exploitation and the surplus exploitation of the woman as housewife, mother, servant in addition to her work in the process of production.

[…] It is with the view of these prospects that Angela Davis speaks of the revolutionary function of the female as antithesis to the Performance Principle, in a paper written in the Palo Alto Jail, “Women and Capitalism”, December 1971.

According to Wikipedia, Angela Davis emerged as the leader of the Communist Party USA in the 1960’s, retired professor of the UoC, Santa Cruz, former director of it’s ‘Feminist Studies’ department. How anyone could deny the intimate connection between Communism and Feminism is beyond me. What we can read in this speech is like a blueprint for feminist activities which have unfolded before our eyes for the last 40 or so years.

[…] Feminist socialism: I spoke of a necessary modification of the notion of socialism, because I believe that in Marxian socialism there are remnants, elements of the continuation of the Performance Principle and its values. I see these elements, for example, in the emphasis on the ever more effective development of the productive forces, the ever more productive exploitation of nature, the separation of the “realm of freedom” from the world work.

This is the big “Switcheroo” (and maybe one of the reasons he’s not considered a ‘pure’ Marxist). Alas, Marx is not good enough, because he also relies on the Performance Principle, which Marcuse declared as oppressive and male-dominated before. He declares feminist socialism as enabling ‘creative receptivity’ instead of repressive productivity, which he attributes to Capitalism and (partially) to unaltered Marxism.

[…] Technical progress, the chief vehicle of productive aggressiveness, would be freed from its capitalist features and channeled into the destruction of the ugly destructiveness of capitalism.

So, he imagines that technical progress does not cease, but will deliver some other kind of progress that he leaves undefined IMO, it’s just not the ‘old’ kind of progress.

He then goes on to describe that ‘androgynism’ might develop, as a character of society, and this could diminish further on the natural, biological conflicts and violence between the sexes. This is ‘far out’ IMO and has no basis in reality.

[…] Feminism is a revolt against decaying capitalism, against the historical obsolescence of the capitalist mode of production.
[…] The liberation of women begins at home, before it can enter society at large.
[…] I believe that we men have to pay for the sins of a patriarchal civilization and its tyranny of power: women must become free to determine their own life, not as wife, not as mother, not as mistress, not as girl friend but as an individual human being.

This are probably the early beginnings of this self-flagellation we have seen in recent videos of US colleges, where male students have to declare that they “acknowledge their privilege” before they speak.

It seems when we throw the term ‘cultural Marxism’ into a discussion, the ignorant, the ‘pure’ Marxists, the deniers and apologizers pop up, claiming the term doesn’t really exist, although there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary which I listed above. How Feminism took the concepts of cultural Marxism on board should be obvious now.

PS: comments from the British and Norwegian socialist party members are not welcome in this post. (You know who you are. If you wonder why, look up the AVFM discussion about it.)


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