“The 12th Century marks the period when the institutions that replaced the European academic institutions — the episcopal [religious] schools attached to the cathedrals and the monastic schools that had survived the Dark Ages, after barbarians had savaged the Greco-Roman world attained their highest degree of influence and reputation . . . But between the pagan system and the Christian system by which it had been superseded, there existed something that was common to both: the latter could not altogether dispense with the ancient textbooks, simply because there were no others in existence.”
“There have always been studium and discipulorum going all the way back to the Greek and Persian and Babylonian empires, and in the revised version of history, the Intelligentsia seldom mention the role of the churches in higher education, nor the clashes between the “university” and the common (tax paying) citizens — the “townies.”
The famous universities of Europe pre-date the Middle-Ages and even much of the so-called Dark Ages. The university at Salerno, Italy was a well-known school of medicine by the 800s AD. The Britannica says that “the most authoritative researches point to the conclusion that the medical system of Salerno was originally an outcome of the Graeco-Roman tradition of the old Roman world.”
The introduction of the role of the state into higher education occurred at the university in Bologna, with the arrival of Frederick I from Germany as Emperor of the revived “Holy Roman Empire.” According to the Britannica, “When [Frederick] marched his forces into Italy on his memorable expedition of 1155, and reasserted those imperial claims which had so long lain dormant, the professors of the civil law and their scholars, but more especially the foreign students, gathered round the Western representative of the Roman Caesars, and besought his intervention in their favor in their relations with the citizens of Bologna … [and] he granted the foreign students substantial protection, by conferring on them certain special immunities and privileges . . .
“In them we may discern the precedent for that state protection of the university which, however essential at one time for the security and freedom of the teacher and the taught, has been far from proving an unmixed benefit — the influence which the civil power has thus been able to exert being too often wielded for the suppression of that very liberty of thought and inquiry from which the earlier universities derived, in no small measure, their importance and their fame.”
Put simply – it is best to keep contemporary politics out of the university so that the free flow of ideas may invite learning – even wisdom.
“The seven liberal arts – the Trivium (Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic) and the Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy) — had been codified in late antiquity. This was the basis of the curriculum in Western Europe until newly available Arabic texts and the works of Aristotle became more available in Western Europe in the 12th century.
It remained in place even after the new scholasticism of the School of Chartres and the encyclopedic work of Thomas Aquinas, until the humanism of the 15th and 16th centuries opened new studies of arts and sciences. Theological lectures were instituted at Oxford, England as early as 1133 AD and within about 100 years, a king-and-academia partnership began to take advantage of the locals. Again, the Britannica says:
“The historian, John Richard Green, epitomizes the relation between the two [city and school] when he shows that ‘Oxford had already seen five centuries of borough life before a student appeared within its streets . . . The University found Oxford a busy, prosperous borough, and reduced it to a cluster of lodging-houses. It found it among the first of English municipalities, and it so utterly crushed its freedom that the recovery of some of the commonest rights of self-government has only been brought about by recent  legislation.'”
It goes on to say, “As to the relations between the university and the city, in 1248 a charter of Henry III afforded students considerable privileges at the expense of townsfolk, in the way of personal and financial protection. Moreover, the chancellor already possessed juridical powers; even over the townsfolk he shared jurisdiction with the mayor.
“Not unnaturally these peculiar conditions engendered rivalry between ‘town and gown’; rivalry led to violence, and after many lesser encounters a climax was reached on St. Scholastica’s Day and the following day, February 10th and 11th, 1354/55. Its immediate cause was trivial, but the townsmen gave rein to their long-standing animosity, severely handled the scholars, killing many, and paying the penalty, for Edward III gave the university a new charter enhancing its privileges.”
[Incidentally, Edward III’s mother, Isabella of France, wife of the unstable Edward II and daughter of Phillip IV of France, was the only woman to ever successfully lead an invasion of England, in 1326 – which was ultimately fruitful in removing her unstable husband, Edward II, from the throne and installing her young son, Edward III as King, with her as Regent. Edward III then successfully ruled on his own from 1330 – 1377].
The Britannica says “Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale, the three pioneers of colonial times, were organized in the days of colonial poverty, on the plans of the English colleges which constitute the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Graduates of Harvard and Yale carried these British traditions to other places, and similar colleges grew up in New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Rhode Island – the Ivy League, and later in many other states.” “The underlying principle in these institutions was discipline — mental, moral and religious.” [Oh, how far we have strayed!]
During the Age of Enlightenment in 18th-century Europe, the academy started to change. In the beginning of the 19th century Wilhelm von Humboldt not only published his philosophical paper On the Limits of State Action, but also directed the educational system in Prussia for a short time. He introduced an academic system that was much more accessible to the lower classes. Humboldt’s Ideal was an education based on individuality, creativity, wholeness, and versatility. Many continental European universities are still rooted in these ideas (or at least pay lip-service to them). They are, however, in contradiction to today’s massive trend of specialization in academia.”
“Western academia began to splinter from its Christian roots in 18th-century Colonial America. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin established the Academy and Charitable School of the Province of Pennsylvania. In 1755, it was renamed the College and Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia. Today, it is known as the University of Pennsylvania [also now an Ivy school]. For the first time, academia was established as a secular institution. For the most part, church-based dogmatic points of view were no longer thrust upon students in the examination of their subjects of study. Points of view became more varied as students were free to wander in thought without having to add religious dimensions to their conclusions.
In 1819, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and developed the standards used today in organizing colleges and universities across the globe. The curriculum was taken from the traditional liberal arts, classical humanism and the values introduced with the Protestant Reformation. Jefferson offered his students something new: the freedom to chart their own courses of study rather than mandate a fixed curriculum for all students. Religious colleges and universities followed suit.
The Academy movement in the U.S. in the early 19th century arose from a public sense that education in the classic disciplines needed to be extended into the new territories and states that were being formed in the Old Northwest, in western New York State, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Dozens of academies were founded in the area, supported by private donations.
Despite the celebrated freedoms of early American academia, “modern-day American manifestations of the arrogance of the old British intelligentsia include irrevocable tenure, lots of the actual teaching load shifted to “Teaching Assistants,” paid “sabbaticals” and back-up jobs for those “fired” for gross violations of ethics, humongous salaries for administrators (many including a house and a car plus expenses), second incomes and double-dipping for retirement accounts, etc. — not to mention the political clout — including the cultural power to make life miserable for the “politically incorrect townsfolk” through hate-speech codes and laws, biased journalists, “environmentalism,” student “fees” to fund pet projects, etc., etc., etc.!”
Some of these manifestations are spectacularly non-academic, such as:
Two Texas university student groups set up “Smut for smut” booths at school — at which they gave out pornographic literature for every Bible turned in (sort of like a “gun buy-out” program with an academic twist). San Diego State University students produce and star in their own XXX rated videos over the school cable system. Certain words are forbidden on campuses from sea to shining sea, especially if the first 6 letters of the word are “Christ”! Gay groups tap into the “student fee” funds, but conservative newspapers published with private funds are stolen, burned, or sometimes banned. Conservative intellectual and author Ann Coulter, OF COURSE, does not have her First Amendment rights anymore!
It may be far too little, far too late, but just a glimmer of hope appeared recently, when it was disclosed that Harvard Law School is “diversifying” its professorships. Under a new multi-million-dollar program, new professors are to be hired on academic skills — regardless of ideology! This will not only reduce teacher-to-student ratios, but may allow a conservative or two to sneak in the back door but, don’t bet the ranch on it.
On the flip side, it may just mean more graduates of Harvard Law (the last thing this country needs). But it’s a start. In effect, they are allegedly bringing back the old, old “two schools of thought” concept, which Political Correctness has all but obliterated.
An Accuracy in Academia Address by Bill Lind is germane at this point as it concisely adds yet another root cause for the deterioration of the American culture in the post-war period. Variations of this speech have been delivered to various AIA conferences.
“Where does all this stuff that you’ve heard about this morning – the victim feminism, the gay rights movement, the invented statistics, the rewritten history, the lies, the demands, all the rest of it – where does it come from? For the first time in our history, Americans have to be fearful of what they say, of what they write, and of what they think. They have to be afraid of using the wrong word, a word denounced as offensive or insensitive, or racist, sexist, or homophobic.
We have seen other countries, particularly in the last century, where this has been the case. And we have always regarded them with a mixture of pity, and to be truthful, some amusement, because it has struck us as so strange that people would allow a situation to develop where they would be afraid of what words they used. But we now have this situation in this country. We have it primarily on college campuses, but it is spreading throughout the whole society. Where does it come from? What is it? [What can be done about it?]
We call it “Political Correctness.” The name originated as something of a joke, literally in a comic strip, and we tend still to think of it as only half-serious. In fact, it’s deadly serious. It is the great disease of our [age], the disease that has left tens of millions of people dead in Europe, in Russia, in China, indeed around the world. It is the disease of ideology. PC is not funny. PC is deadly serious.
If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back – not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement – but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious.
First of all, both are totalitarian ideologies. The totalitarian nature of Political Correctness is revealed nowhere more clearly than on college campuses, many of which at this point are small ivy covered North Koreas, where the student or faculty member who dares to cross any of the lines set up by the gender feminist or the homosexual-rights activists, or the local black or Hispanic group, or any of the other sainted “victims” groups that PC revolves around, quickly find themselves in judicial trouble. Within the small [extra-] legal system of the college, they face formal charges – some star-chamber proceeding [without Constitutional due-process] – and punishment. [Sort of like Sharia Law.] That is a little look into the future that Political Correctness intends for the nation as a whole.
Indeed, all ideologies are totalitarian because the essence of an ideology (I would note that conservatism correctly understood is not an ideology) is to take some philosophy and say on the basis of this philosophy certain things must be true – such as the whole of the history of our culture is the history of the oppression of women.
Since reality contradicts that, reality must be forbidden. It must become forbidden to acknowledge the reality of our history. People must be forced to live a lie, and since people are naturally reluctant to live a lie, they naturally use their ears and eyes to look out and say, “Wait a minute. This isn’t true. I can see it isn’t true,” the power of the state must be put behind the demand to live a lie. That is why ideology invariably creates a totalitarian state.
Second, the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness, like economic Marxism, has a single factor explanation of history. Economic Marxism says that all of history is determined by ownership of means of production. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, says that all history is determined by [the ownership of] power, by which groups defined in terms of race, sex, etc., have power over which other groups. Nothing else matters. All literature, indeed, is about that. Everything in the past is about that one thing [power].
Third, just as in classical economic Marxism, certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness certain groups are good – feminist women, (only feminist women, non-feminist women are deemed not to exist) blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, etc. These groups are determined to be “victims,” and therefore automatically good [and in need of “protection”] regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil, thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism.
Fourth, both economic and cultural Marxism rely on expropriation. When the classical Marxists, the communists, took over a country like Russia, they expropriated the bourgeoisie, they took away their property. Similarly, when the cultural Marxists take over a university campus, they expropriate through things like quotas for admissions. When a white student with superior qualifications is denied admittance to a college in favor of a black or Hispanic who isn’t as well qualified, the white student is expropriated.
And indeed, affirmative action, in our whole society today, is a system of expropriation. White owned companies don’t get a contract because the contract is reserved for a company owned by, say, Hispanics or women. So, expropriation is a principle tool for both forms of Marxism.
And finally, both have a method of analysis [and a language – remember deconstruction?] that automatically gives the answers they want. For the classical Marxist, it’s Marxist economics. For the cultural Marxist, it’s deconstruction. As we have seen, deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired. So, we find, for example, that all of Shakespeare is about the suppression of women, or the Bible is really all about race and gender.
[To this list may be added another, more insidious, comparison. Cultural Marxists actually practice the actions that they, themselves condemn. They condemn the alleged power of white, male, straight, Christian, employed American males and yet they seek ultimate power for virtually all other – chosen – demographic groups. They condemn the alleged lies of the political right, yet they have taken untruth to new all-time highs as a means of thought control. Cultural Marxists are also NEVER wrong. They also condemn the wealthy, yet they seek wealth themselves – especially their celebrated icons. Political correctness, thy name is hypocrisy – Cultural Hypocrisy!]
All of these texts simply become grist for the mill, which proves that “all history is about which groups have power over which other groups.” So, the parallels are very evident between the classical Marxism that we’re familiar with in the old Soviet Union and the cultural Marxism that we see today as Political Correctness.
But the parallels are not accidents. The parallels did not come from nothing. The fact of the matter is that Political Correctness has a history, a history that is much longer than many people are aware of outside a small group of academics who have studied this. And the history goes back, as I said, to World War I, as do so many of the pathologies that are today bringing our society, and indeed our culture, down.
Nineteenth Century Marxist theory said that when the general European war came, the working class throughout Europe would rise up and overthrow their governments – the bourgeois governments – because the workers had more in common with each other across the national boundaries than they had in common with the bourgeoisie and the ruling class in their own country.
Well, 1914 came and it didn’t happen. Throughout Europe, workers rallied to their flag and happily marched off to fight each other. The Kaiser shook hands with the leaders of the Marxist Social Democratic Party in Germany and said there are no parties now, there are only Germans. And this happened in every country in Europe. So, something was wrong with the theory.
Marxists knew – by definition – it couldn’t be the theory. In 1917, they finally got a Marxist coup in Russia and it looked like the theory was working, but it stalled again. It didn’t spread and when attempts were made to spread immediately after the war, with the Spartacist uprising in Berlin, with the Bela Kun government in Hungary, with the Munich Soviet, the workers (again) didn’t support them.
So, the Marxists’ had a problem. And two Marxist theorists went to work on it: Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary. Gramsci said the workers will never see their true class interests, as defined by Marxism, until they are freed from Western culture, and particularly from the Christian religion – that they are blinded by culture and religion to their true class interests. Lukacs, who was considered the most brilliant Marxist theorist since Marx himself, said in 1919, “Who will save us from Western Civilization?” He also theorized that the great obstacle to the creation of a Marxist paradise was the culture: Western civilization itself. [DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR???!!!]
Lukacs got a chance to put his ideas into practice, because when the home grown Bolshevik Bela Kun government was established in Hungary in 1919, he became deputy commissar for culture, and the first thing he did was introduce sex education into the Hungarian schools. This ensured that the workers would not support the Bela Kun government, because the Hungarian people looked at this aghast, workers as well as everyone else. But he had already made the connection that today many of us are still surprised by, that we would consider the “latest thing.”
In 1923 in Germany, a think-tank was established that takes on the role of translating Marxism from economic into cultural terms that creates Political Correctness as we know it today, and essentially it had created the basis for it by the end of the 1930s. This came about because the very wealthy young son of a millionaire German trader by the name of Felix Weil has become a Marxist and has lots of money to spend. He was disturbed by the divisions among the Marxists, so he sponsored something called the First Marxist Work Week, where he brought Lukacs and many of the key German thinkers together for a week, working on the differences of Marxism.
He said, “What we need is a think-tank.” Washington is full of think tanks and we think of them as very modern. In fact, they go back quite a way. He endowed an institute, associated with Frankfurt University, established in 1923, that was originally supposed to be known as the Institute for Marxism. But the people behind it decided at the beginning that it was not to their advantage to be openly identified as Marxist [Right from the beginning – the big lie through deconstruction.] The last thing Political Correctness wants is for people to figure out it’s a form of Marxism. So instead they decide to name it the Institute for Social Research. [Of course, social research must include social experiments, then social implementation now known as social engineering – think women on submarines.]
Weil is very clear about his goals. In 1971, he wrote to Martin Jay the author of a principle book on the Frankfurt School, as the Institute for Social Research soon becomes known informally, and he said, “I wanted the institute to become known, perhaps famous, due to its contributions to Marxism.” Well, he was successful. The first director of the Institute, Carl Grunberg, an Austrian economist, concluded his opening address, according to Martin Jay, “by clearly stating his personal allegiance to Marxism as a scientific methodology.” Marxism, he said, would be the ruling principle at the Institute, and that never changed.
The initial work at the Institute was rather conventional, but in 1930 it acquired a new director named Max Horkheimer, and Horkheimer’s views were very different. He was very much a Marxist renegade. The people who create and form the Frankfurt School are renegade Marxists. They’re still very much Marxist in their thinking, but they’re effectively out of the party. Moscow looked at what they were doing and said, “Hey, this isn’t us, and we’re not going to bless this.”
Horkheimer’s initial heresy is that he is very interested in Freud, and the key to making the translation of Marxism from economic into cultural terms is essentially that he combined it with Freudism. Again, Martin Jay writes, “If it can be said that in the early years of its history, the Institute concerned itself primarily with an analysis of bourgeois society’s socio-economic sub-structure,” – and I point out that Jay is very sympathetic to the Frankfurt School, I’m not reading from a critic here – “in the years after 1930 its primary interests lay in its cultural superstructure. Indeed, the traditional Marxist formula regarding the relationship between the two was brought into question by Critical Theory.”
The radical feminism, the women’s studies departments, the gay studies departments, the black studies departments – all these things are branches of Critical Theory. What the Frankfurt School essentially did was draw on both Marx and Freud in the 1930s to create this theory. The term is ingenious because you’re tempted to ask, “What is the theory?” The theory is to criticize. The theory is: that the way to bring down Western culture and the capitalist order is not to lay down an alternative. They explicitly refuse to do that. They say “… it can’t be done, that we can’t imagine what a free society would look like (their definition of a free society).”
“As long as we’re living under repression – the repression of a capitalistic economic order which creates (in their theory) the Freudian condition, the conditions that Freud describes in individuals as repression – we can’t even imagine it.” What Critical Theory is about is simply criticizing. It calls for the most destructive criticism possible, in every possible way, designed to bring the current order down. And, of course, when we hear from the feminists that the whole of society is just out to get women and so on, that kind of criticism is a derivative of Critical Theory. It is all coming from the 1930s, not the 1960s.
[A classic rendition of this theory occurred in the 1992 presidential campaign when the Democrat ticket of Bill Clinton and Al Gore went around the country saying about the American economy: “Everything that’s supposed to be up, is down and everything that is supposed to be down, is up.” Of course, none of that was true! But, what it did accomplish was to connect Critical Theory to Congenital Lying]
Other key members who joined up around this time are Theodore Adorno, and, most importantly, Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse. Fromm and Marcuse introduced an element which is central to Political Correctness, and that’s the sexual element. And particularly Marcuse, who in his own writings calls for a society of “polymorphous perversity,” that is his definition of the future of the world that they want to create [if you can comprehend it, then do it].
Marcuse, in particular by the 1930s, is writing some very extreme stuff on the need for sexual liberation, but this runs through the whole Institute. So do most of the themes we see in Political Correctness, again in the early 30s. In Fromm’s view, masculinity and femininity were not reflections of ‘essential’ sexual differences, as the Romantics had thought. They were derived instead from differences in life functions, which were in part socially determined. Sex is a construct; sexual differences are a construct [i.e., not real].
Another example is the emphasis we now see on environmentalism. “Materialism as far back as Hobbes had led to a manipulative, dominating attitude toward nature.” That was Horkhemier writing in 1933 in Materialismus und Moral. “The theme of man’s domination of nature,” according to Jay, “was to become a central concern of the Frankfurt School in subsequent years.”
“Horkheimer’s antagonism to the fetishization of labor, (here’s where they’re obviously departing from Marxist orthodoxy) expressed another dimension of his materialism, the demand for human, sensual happiness.” In one of his most trenchant essays, Egoism and the Movement for Emancipation, written in 1936, Horkheimer “discussed the hostility to personal gratification inherent in bourgeois culture.” And he specifically referred to the Marquis de Sade, favorably, for his “protest…against asceticism in the name of a higher morality.”
How does all of this stuff flood in here? How does it flood into our universities, and indeed into our lives today? The members of the Frankfurt School are Marxist, they are also, to a man, Jewish. In 1933, the Nazis came to power in Germany, and not surprisingly they shut down the Institute for Social Research. And its members fled. They fled to New York City, and the Institute was reestablished there in 1933 with help from (wait for it…) Columbia University. Next time: