What is “Political Correctness”?
William S. Lind
Most Americans look back on the 1950s as a good time. Our homes were safe, to the point where many people did not bother to lock their doors. Public schools were generally excellent, and their problems were things like talking in class and running in the halls. Most men treated women like ladies, and most ladies devoted their time and effort to making good homes, rearing their children well and helping their communities through volunteer work. Children grew up in two–parent households, and the mother was there to meet the child when he came home from school. Entertainment was something the whole family could enjoy.
If a man from America of the 1950s were suddenly introduced into America in the 2000s, he would hardly recognize it as the same country. He would be in immediate danger of getting mugged, carjacked or worse, because he would not have learned to live in constant fear. He would not know that he shouldn’t go into certain parts of the city, that his car must not only be locked but equipped with an alarm, that he dare not go to sleep at night without locking the windows and bolting the doors – and setting the electronic security system.
If he brought his family with him, he and his wife would probably cheerfully pack their children off to the nearest public school. When the children came home in the afternoon and told them they had to go through a metal detector to get in the building, had been given some funny white powder by another kid and learned that homosexuality is normal and good, the parents would be uncomprehending.
In the office, the man might light up a cigarette, drop a reference to the “little lady,” and say he was happy to see the firm employing some Negroes in important positions. Any of those acts would earn a swift reprimand, and together they might get him fired.
When she went into the city to shop, the wife would put on a nice suit, hat, and possibly gloves. She would not understand why people stared, and mocked.
And when the whole family sat down after dinner and turned on the television, they would not understand how pornography from some sleazy, blank-fronted “Adults Only” kiosk had gotten on their set.
Were they able, our 1950s family would head back to the 1950s as fast as they could, with a gripping horror story to tell. Their story would be of a nation that had decayed and degenerated at a fantastic pace, moving in less than a half a century from the greatest country on earth to a Third World nation, overrun by crime, noise, drugs and dirt. The fall of Rome was graceful by comparison.
Why did it happen?
Over the last forty years, America has been conquered by the same force that earlier took over Russia, China, Germany and Italy. That force is ideology. Here, as elsewhere, ideology has inflicted enormous damage on the traditional culture it came to dominate, fracturing it everywhere and sweeping much of it away. In its place came fear, and ruin. Russia will take a generation or more to recover from Communism, if it ever can.
The ideology that has taken over America goes most commonly by the name of “Political Correctness.” Some people see it as a joke. It is not. It is deadly serious. It seeks to alter virtually all the rules, formal and informal, that govern relations among people and institutions. It wants to change behavior, thought, even the words we use. To a significant extent, it already has. Whoever or whatever controls language also controls thought. Who dares to speak of “ladies” now?
Just what is “Political Correctness?” Political Correctness is in fact cultural Marxism – Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. The effort to translate Marxism from economics into culture did not begin with the student rebellion of the 1960s. It goes back at least to the 1920s and the writings of the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci. In 1923, in Germany, a group of Marxists founded an institute devoted to making the transition, the Institute of Social Research (later known as the Frankfurt School). One of its founders, George Lukacs, stated its purpose as answering the question, “Who shall save us from Western Civilization?” The Frankfurt School gained profound influence in American universities after many of its leading lights fled to the United States in the 1930s to escape National Socialism in Germany.
The Frankfurt School blended Marx with Freud, and later influences (some Fascist as well as Marxist) added linguistics to create “Critical Theory” and “deconstruction.” These in turn greatly influenced education theory, and through institutions of higher education gave birth to what we now call “Political Correctness.” The lineage is clear, and it is traceable right back to Karl Marx.
The parallels between the old, economic Marxism and cultural Marxism are evident. Cultural Marxism, or Political Correctness, shares with classical Marxism the vision of a “classless society,” i.e., a society not merely of equal opportunity, but equal condition. Since that vision contradicts human nature – because people are different, they end up unequal, regardless of the starting point – society will not accord with it unless forced. So, under both variants of Marxism, it is forced. This is the first major parallel between classical and cultural Marxism: both are totalitarian ideologies. The totalitarian nature of Political Correctness can be seen on campuses where “PC” has taken over the college: freedom of speech, of the press, and even of thought are all eliminated.
The second major parallel is that both classical, economic Marxism and cultural Marxism have single-factor explanations of history. Classical Marxism argues that all of history was determined by ownership of the means of production. Cultural Marxism says that history is wholly explained by which groups – defined by sex, race, and sexual normality or abnormality – have power over which other groups.
The third parallel is that both varieties of Marxism declare certain groups virtuous and others evil a priori, that is, without regard for the actual behavior of individuals. Classical Marxism defines workers and peasants as virtuous and the bourgeoisie (the middle class) and other owners of capital as evil. Cultural Marxism defines blacks, Hispanics, Feminist women, homosexuals and some additional minority groups as virtuous and white men as evil. (Cultural Marxism does not recognize the existence of non-Feminist women, and defines blacks who reject Political Correctness as whites).
The fourth parallel is in means: expropriation. Economic Marxists, where they obtained power, expropriated the property of the bourgeoisie and handed it to the state, as the “representative” of the workers and the peasants. Cultural Marxists, when they gain power (including through our own government), lay penalties on white men and others who disagree with them and give privileges to the groups they favor. Affirmative action is an example.
Finally, both varieties of Marxists employ a method of analysis designed to show the correctness of their ideology in every situation. For classical Marxists, the analysis is economic. For cultural Marxists, the analysis is linguistic: deconstruction. Deconstruction “proves” that any “text,” past or present, illustrates the oppression of blacks, women, homosexuals, etc. by reading that meaning into words of the text (regardless of their actual meaning). Both methods are, of course, phony analyses that twist the evidence to fit preordained conclusions, but they lend a ‘scientific” air to the ideology.
These parallels are neither remarkable nor coincidental. They exist because Political Correctness is directly derived from classical Marxism, and is in fact a variant of Marxism. Through most of the history of Marxism, cultural Marxists were “read out” of the movement by classical, economic Marxists. Today, with economic Marxism dead, cultural Marxism has filled its shoes. The medium has changed, but the message is the same: a society of radical egalitarianism enforced by the power of the state.
Political Correctness now looms over American society like a colossus. It has taken over both political parties – recent Republican conventions were choreographed according to its dictates, while cultural conservatives were shown the door – and is enforced by many laws and government regulations. It controls the most powerful element in our culture, the entertainment industry. It dominates both public and higher education: many a college campus is a small, ivy-covered North Korea. It has even captured the higher clergy in many Christian churches. Anyone in the Establishment who departs from its dictates swiftly ceases to be a member of the Establishment.
The remainder of this short book will explore the subject of Political Correctness further: its history, its method of analysis (deconstruction), and the means by which it has attained its influence, especially through education.
But one more question must be addressed at the outset, the most vital question: how can Americans combat Political Correctness and retake their society from the cultural Marxists?
It is not sufficient just to criticize Political Correctness. It tolerates a certain amount of criticism., even gentle mocking. It does so through no genuine tolerance for other points of view, but in order to disarm its opponents, to let itself seem less menacing than it is. The cultural Marxists do not yet have total power, and they are too wise to appear totalitarian until their victory is assured.
Rather, those who would defeat cultural Marxism must defy it. They must use words it forbids, and refuse to use the words it mandates; remember, sex is better than gender. They must shout from the housetops the realities it seeks to suppress, such as the facts that violent crime is disproportionately committed by blacks and that most cases of AIDS are voluntary, i.e., acquired from immoral sexual acts. They must refuse to turn their children over to public schools.
Above all, those who would defy Political Correctness must behave according to the old rules of our culture, not the new rules the cultural Marxists lay down. Ladies should be wives and homemakers, not cops or soldiers, and men should still hold doors open for ladies. Children should not be born out of wedlock. Open homosexuality should be shunned. Jurors should not accept race as an excuse for murder.
Defiance spreads. When other Americans see one person defy Political Correctness and survive – and you still can, for now – they are emboldened. They are tempted to defy it, too, and some do. The ripples from a single act of defiance, of one instance of walking up to the clay idol and breaking off its nose, can range far. There is nothing the Politically Correct fear more than open defiance, and for good reason; it is their chief vulnerability. That should lead cultural conservatives to defy cultural Marxism at every turn.
While the hour is late, the battle is not decided. Very few Americans realize that Political Correctness is in fact Marxism in a different set of clothes. As that realization spreads, defiance will spread with it. At present, Political Correctness prospers by disguising itself. Through defiance, and through education on our own part (which should be part of every act of defiance), we can strip away its camouflage and reveal the Marxism beneath the window-dressing of “sensitivity,” “tolerance,” and “multi-culturalism.”
Who dares, wins.
The Historical Roots of “Political Correctness”
Raymond V. Raehn
America is today dominated by an alien system of beliefs, attitudes and values that we have come to know as “Political Correctness.” Political Correctness seeks to impose a uniformity of thought and behavior on all Americans and is therefore totalitarian in nature. Its roots lie in a version of Marxism which seeks a radical inversion of the traditional culture in order to create a social revolution.
Social revolution has a long history, conceivably going as far back as Plato’s Republic. But it was the French Revolution of 1789 that inspired Karl Marx to develop his theories in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, the success of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia set off a wave of optimistic expectation among the Marxist forces in Europe and America that the new proletarian world of equality was finally coming into being. Russia, as the first communist nation in the world, would lead the revolutionary forces to victory.
The Marxist revolutionary forces in Europe leaped at this opportunity. Following the end of World War I, there was a Communist “Spartacist” uprising in Berlin, Germany led by Rosa Luxemburg; the creation of a “Soviet” in Bavaria led by Kurt Eisner; and a Hungarian communist republic established by Bela Kun in 1919. At the time, there was great concern that all of Europe might fall under the banner of Bolshevism. This sense of impeding doom was given vivid life by Trotsky’s Red Army invasion of Poland in 1919.
However, the Red Army was defeated by Polish forces at the battle of the Vistula in 1920. The Spartacist, Bavarian Soviet and Bela Kun governments all failed to gain widespread support from the workers and after a brief time they were all overthrown. These events created a quandary for the Marxist revolutionaries in Europe. Under Marxist economic theory, the oppressed workers were supposed to be the beneficiaries of a social revolution that would place them on top of the power structure. When these revolutionary opportunities presented themselves, however, the workers did not respond. The Marxist revolutionaries did not blame their theory for these failures. They blamed the workers.
One group of Marxist intellectuals resolved their quandary by an analysis that focused on society’s cultural “superstructure” rather than on the economic substructures as Marx did. The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs contributed the most to this new cultural Marxism.
Antonio Gramsci worked for the Communist International during 1923-24 in Moscow and Vienna. He was later imprisoned in one of Mussolini’s jails where he wrote his famous “Prison Notebooks.” Among Marxists, Gramsci is noted for his theory of cultural hegemony as the means to class dominance. In his view, a new “Communist man” had to be created before any political revolution was possible. This led to a focus on the efforts of intellectuals in the fields of education and culture. Gramsci envisioned a long march through the society’s institutions, including the government, the judiciary, the military, the schools and the media. He also concluded that so long as the workers had a Christian soul, they would not respond to revolutionary appeals.
Georg Lukacs was the son a wealthy Hungarian banker. Lukacs began his political life as an agent of the Communist International. His book History and Class Consciousness gained him recognition as the leading Marxist theorist since Karl Marx. Lukacs believed that for a new Marxist culture to emerge, the existing culture must be destroyed. He said, “I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the epoch,” and, “Such a worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.”
When he became Deputy Commissar for Culture in the Bolshevik Bela Kun regime in Hungary in 1919, Lukacs launched what became known as “Cultural Terrorism.” As part of this terrorism he instituted a radical sex education program in Hungarian schools. Hungarian children were instructed in free love, sexual intercourse, the archaic nature of middle-class family codes, the out-datedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which deprives man of all pleasures. Women, too, were called to rebel against the sexual mores of the time. Lukacs’s campaign of “Cultural Terrorism” was a precursor to what Political Correctness would later bring to American schools.
In 1923, Lukacs and other Marxist intellectuals associated with the Communist Party of Germany founded the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University in Frankfurt, Germany. The Institute, which became known as the Frankfurt School, was modeled after the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. In 1933, when Nazis came to power in Germany, the members of the Frankfurt School fled. Most came to the United States.
The members of the Frankfurt School conducted numerous studies on the beliefs, attitudes and values they believed lay behind the rise of National Socialism in Germany. The Frankfurt School’s studies combined Marxist analysis with Freudian psychoanalysis to criticize the bases of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, heredity, ethnocentrism, convention and conservatism. These criticisms, known collectively as Critical Theory, were reflected in such works of the Frankfurt School as Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom and The Dogma of Christ, Wilhelm’s Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism and Theodor Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality.
The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950, substantially influenced American psychologists and social scientists. The book was premised on one basic idea, that the presence in a society of Christianity, capitalism, and the patriarchal-authoritarian family created a character prone to racial prejudice and German fascism. The Authoritarian Personality became a handbook for a national campaign against any kind of prejudice or discrimination on the theory that if these evils were not eradicated, another Holocaust might occur on the American continent. This campaign, in turn, provided a basis for Political Correctness.
Critical Theory incorporated sub-theories which were intended to chip away at specific elements of the existing culture, including “matriarchal theory,” “androgyny theory,” “personality theory,” “authority theory,” “family theory,” “sexuality theory,” “racial theory,” “legal theory,” and “literary theory.” Put into practice, these theories were to be used to overthrow the prevailing social order and usher in social revolution.
To achieve this, the Critical Theorists of the Frankfurt School recognized that traditional beliefs and the existing social structure would have to be destroyed and then replaced. The patriarchal social structure would be replaced with matriarchy; the belief that men and women are different and properly have different roles would be replaced with androgyny; and the belief that heterosexuality is normal would be replaced with the belief that homosexuality is equally “normal.”
As a grand scheme intended to deny the intrinsic worth of white, heterosexual males, the Critical Theorists of the Frankfurt School opened the door to the racial and sexual antagonisms of the Trotskyites. Leon Trotsky believed that oppressed blacks could be the vanguard of a communist revolution in North America. He denounced white workers who were prejudiced against blacks and instructed them to unite with the blacks in revolution. Trotsky’s ideas were adopted by many of the student leaders of the 1960s counterculture movement, who attempted to elevate black revolutionaries to positions of leadership in their movement.
The student revolutionaries were also strongly influenced by the ideas of Herbert Marcuse, another member of the Frankfurt School. Marcuse preached the “Great Refusal,” a rejection of all basic Western concepts, sexual liberation and the merits of feminist and black revolution. His primary thesis was that university students, ghetto blacks, the alienated, the asocial, and the Third World could take the place of the proletariat in the Communist revolution. In his book An Essay on Liberation, Marcuse proclaimed his goals of a radical transvaluation of values; the relaxation of taboos; cultural subversion; Critical Theory; and a linguistic rebellion that would amount to a methodical reversal of meaning. As for racial conflict, Marcuse wrote that white men are guilty and that blacks are the most natural force of rebellion.
Marcuse may be the most important member of the Frankfurt School in terms of the origins of Political Correctness, because he was the critical link to the counterculture of the 1960s. His objective was clear: “One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including morality of existing society…” His means was liberating the powerful, primeval force of sex from its civilized restraints, a message preached in his book, Eros and Civilization, published in 1955. Marcuse became one of the main gurus of the 1960s adolescent sexual rebellion; he himself coined the expression, “make love, not war.” With that role, the chain of Marxist influence via the Frankfurt School was completed: from Lukacs’ service as Deputy Commissar for Culture in the Bolshevik Hungarian government in 1919 to American students burning the flag and taking over college administration buildings in the 1960s. Today, many of these same colleges are bastions of Political Correctness, and the former student radicals have become the faculties.
One of the most important contributors to Political Correctness was Betty Friedan. Through her book The Feminine Mystique, Friedantied Feminism to Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization. Maslow was a social psychologist who in his early years did research on female dominance and sexuality. Maslow was a friend of Herbert Marcuse at Brandeis University and had met Erich Fromm in 1936. He was strongly impressed by Fromm’s Frankfurt School ideology. He wrote an article, “The Authoritarian Character Structure,” published in 1944, that reflected the personality theory of Critical Theory. Maslow was also impressed with the work of Wilhelm Reich, who was another Frankfurt School originator of personality theory.
The significance of the historical roots of Political Correctness cannot be fully appreciated unless Betty Friedan’s revolution in sex roles is viewed for what it really was – a manifestation of the social revolutionary process begun by Karl Marx. Friedan’s reliance on Abraham Maslow’s reflection of Frankfurt School ideology is only one indicator. Other indicators include the correspondence of Friedan’s revolution in sex roles with Georg Lukacs’ annihilation of old values and the creation of new ones, and with Herbert Marcuse’s transvaluation of values. But the idea of transforming a patriarchy into a matriarchy – which is what a sex-role inversion is designed to do – can be connected directly to Friedrich Engels book The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. First published in 1884, this book popularized the now-accepted feminist belief that deep-rooted discrimination against the oppressed female sex was a function of patriarchy. The belief that matriarchy was the solution to patriarchy flows from Marx’s comments in The German Ideology, published in 1845. In this work Marx advanced the idea that wives and children were the first property of the patriarchal male. The Frankfurt School’s matriarchal theory and its near-relation, androgyny theory, both originated from these sources.
When addressing the general public, advocates of Political Correctness – or cultural Marxism, to give it its true name – present their beliefs attractively. It’s all just a matter of being “sensitive” to other people, they say. They use words such as “tolerance” and “diversity,” asking, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
The reality is different. Political Correctness is not at all about “being nice,” unless one thinks gulags are nice places. Political Correctness is Marxism, with all that implies: loss of freedom of expression, thought control, inversion of the traditional social order, and, ultimately, a totalitarian state. If anything, the cultural Marxism created by the Frankfurt School is more horrifying than the old, economic Marxism that ruined Russia. At least the economic Marxists did not exalt sexual perversion and attempt to create a matriarchy, as the Frankfurt School and its descendants have done.
This short essay has sought to show one critical linkage, that between classical Marxism and the ingredients of the “cultural revolution” that broke out in America in the 1960s. The appendices to this paper offer a “wiring diagram” which may make the trail easier to follow, along with a more detailed look at some of the main actors. Of course, the action does not stop in the ‘60s; the workings of the Frankfurt School are yet very much with us, especially in the field of education. That topic, and other present-day effects of Frankfurt School thinking, will be the subjects of other chapters in this book.
• He began his political life as a Kremlin agent of the Communist International.
• His History and Class-Consciousness gained him recognition as the leading Marxist theorist since Karl Marx.
• In 1919 he became the Deputy Commissar for Culture in the Bolshevik Bela Kun Regime in Hungary. He instigated what become known as “Cultural Terrorism.”
• Cultural Terrorism was a precursor of what was to happen in American schools.
• He launched an “explosive” sex education program. Special lectures were organized in Hungarian schools and literature was printed and distributed to instruct children about free love, the nature of sexual intercourse, the archaic nature of the bourgeois family codes, the outdatedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which deprives man of all pleasure. Children were urged to reject and deride paternal authority and the authority of the Church, and to ignore precepts of morality. They were easily and spontaneously turned into delinquents with whom only the police could cope. This call to rebellion addressed to Hungarian children was matched by a call to rebellion addressed to Hungarian women.
• In rejecting the idea that Bolshevism spelled the destruction of civilization and culture, Lukacs stated: “Such a worldwide overturning of values cannot take place without the annihilation of the old values and the creation of new ones by the revolutionaries.”
• Lukacs’ state of mind was expressed in his own words:
o “All the social forces I had hated since my youth, and which I aimed in spirit to annihilate, now came together to unleash the First Global War.”
o “I saw the revolutionary destruction of society as the one and only solution to the cultural contradictions of the speech.”
o “The question is: Who will free us from the yoke of Western Civilization?”
o “Any political movement capable of bringing Bolshevism to the West would have to be ‘Demonic’.”
o “The abandonment of the soul’s uniqueness solves the problem of ‘unleashing’ the diabolic forces lurking in all the violence which is needed to create revolution.”
• Lukacs’ state of mind was typical of those who represented the forces of Revolutionary Marxism.
• At a secret meeting in Germany in 1923, Lukacs proposed the concept of inducing “Cultural Pessimism” in order to increase the state of hopelessness and alienation in the people of the West as a necessary prerequisite for revolution.
• This meeting led to the founding of the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt University in Germany in 1923 – an organization of Marxist and Communist-oriented psychologists, sociologists and other intellectuals that came to be known as the Frankfurt School, which devoted itself to implementing Georg Lukacs’s program.
• He was an Italian Marxist on an intellectual par with Georg Lukacs who arrived by analysis at the same conclusions as Lukacs and the Frankfurt School regarding the critical importance of intellectuals in fomenting revolution in the West.
• He had traveled to the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and made some accurate observations that caused him to conclude that a Bolshevik-style uprising could not be brought about by Western workers due to the nature of their Christian souls.
• Antonio Gramsci became the leader of the Italian Communist Party, which earned him a place in one of Mussolini’s jails in the 1930s, where he wrote Prison Notebooks and other documents.
• These works became available in English to Americans.
• His advice to the intellectuals was to begin a long march through the educational and cultural institutions of the nation in order to create a new Soviet man before there could be a successful political revolution.
• This reflected his observations in the Soviet Union that its leaders could not create such a new Soviet man after the Bolshevik Revolution.
• This blueprint for mind and character change made Gramsci a hero of Revolutionary Marxism in American education and paved the way for creation of the New American Child in the schools by the education cartel.
• The essential nature of Antonio Gramsci’s revolutionary strategy is reflected in Charles A. Reich’s The Greening of America: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions in the past. It will originate with the individual and the culture, and it will change the political structure as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence. This is revolution of the New Generation.”
• In his 1933 book entitled The Mass Psychology of Fascism, he explained that the Frankfurt School departed from the Marxist sociology that set “Bourgeois” against “Proletariat.” Instead, the battle would be between “reactionary” and “revolutionary” characters.
• He also wrote a book entitled The Sexual Revolution which was a precursor of what was to come in the 1960s.
• His “sex-economic” sociology was an effort to harmonize Freud’s psychology with Marx’s economic theory.
• Reich’s theory was expressed in his words: “The authoritarian family is the authoritarian state in miniature. Man’s authoritarian character structure is basically produced by the embedding of sexual inhibitions and fear in the living substance of sexual impulses. Familial imperialism is ideologically reproduced in national imperialism…the authoritarian family…is a factory where reactionary ideology and reactionary structures are produced.”
• Wilhelm Reich’s theory, when coupled with Georg Lukacs’ sex education in Hungary, can be seen as the source for the American education cartel’s insistence on sex education from kindergarten onwards and its complete negation of the paternal family, external authority, and the traditional character structure.
• Reich’s theory encompassed other assertions that seem to have permeated American education:
o The organized religious mysticism of Christianity was an element of the authoritarian family that led to Fascism.
o The patriarchal power in and outside of man was to be dethroned.
o Revolutionary sexual politics would mean the complete collapse of authoritarian ideology.
o Birth control was revolutionary ideology.
o Man was fundamentally a sexual animal.
• Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism was in its ninth printing as of 1991 and is available in most college bookstores.
• Like Wilhelm Reich, Fromm was a social psychologist of the Frankfurt School who came to America in the 1930s.
• His book Escape from Freedom, published in 1941, is an ideological companion to Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism.
• Fromm asserted that early capitalism created a social order that resulted in Calvin’s Theory of Predestination, which reflected the principle of the basic inequality of men which was revived in Nazi ideology.
• He asserted the authoritarian character experiences only domination or submission and “differences, whether sex or race, to him are necessarily of superiority or inferiority.”
• He asserted that “Positive Freedom” implies the principle that there is no higher power than the unique individual self; that man is the center and purpose of life; that the growth and realization of man’s individuality is an end that can be subordinated to purposes which are supposed to have a greater dignity.
• Fromm made the real meaning of this “Positive Freedom” clear in another of his many books – The Dogma of Christ – wherein he describes a revolutionary character such as himself as the man who has emancipated himself from the ties of blood and soil, from his mother and father, and from special loyalties to state, race, party or religion.
• Fromm makes his revolutionary intent very clear in The Dogma of Christ…”We might define revolution in a psychological sense, saying that a revolution is a political movement led by people with revolutionary characters, and attracting people with revolutionary characters.”
• Like Wilhelm Reich and Erich Fromm, Marcuse was an intellectual of the Frankfurt School who came to America in the 1930s.
• He has often been described as a Marxist philosopher, but he was in fact a full-blooded social revolutionary who contemplated the disintegration of American society just as Karl Marx and Georg Lukacs contemplated the disintegration of German society: “One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including the morality of existing society…there is one thing we can say with complete assurance: the traditional idea of revolution and the traditional strategy of revolution has ended. These ideas are old-fashioned…What we must undertake is a type of diffuse and dispersed disintegration of the system.”
• Marcuse published Eros and Civilization in 1955, which became the founding document of the 1960s counterculture and brought the Frankfurt School into the colleges and universities of America.
• He asserted that the only way to escape the one-dimensionality of modern industrial society was to liberate the erotic side of man, the sensuous instinct, in rebellion against “technological rationality.”
• This erotic liberation was to take the form of the “Great Refusal,” a total rejection of the capitalist monster and its entire works, including technological reason and ritual-authoritarian language.
• He provided the needed intellectual justifications for adolescent sexual rebellion and the slogan “Make Love, Not War.”
• His theory included the belief that the Women’s Liberation Movement was to be the most important component of the opposition, and potentially the most radical.
• His revolutionary efforts would blossom into a full-scale war by revolutionary Marxism against the European white male in the schools and colleges.
• He was another Marxist revolutionary and a member of the Frankfurt School who came to America in the 1930s.
• Along with others, Adorno authored The Authoritarian Personality, which was published in 1950.
• Adorno’s book was inspired by the same kind of theoretical assertions revealed in the works of Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse based on analytical studies of German society that were begun in 1923.
• The basic theme was the same. There was such a thing as an authoritarian character that was the opposite of the desired revolutionary character. This authoritarian character was a product of capitalism, Christianity, conservatism, the patriarchal family and sexual repression. In Germany, this combination induced prejudice, anti-Semitism and fascism according to Frankfurt School theory.
• It so happened that most Americans were products of capitalism, Christianity, conservatism, the patriarchal family, and sexual repression in their youth. So Theodor Adorno and other members of the Frankfurt School had a golden opportunity to execute Georg Lukacs’ and Antonio Gramsci’s program for creating social revolution in America instead of Germany.
• They would posit the existence of authoritarian personalities among Americans with tendencies toward prejudice, and then exploit this to force the “scientifically planned re-education” of Americans with the excuse that it was being done in order to eradicate prejudice.
• This scientifically-planned re-education would become the master plan for the transformation of America’s system of fundamental values into their opposite revolutionary values in American education so that school children would become replicas of the Frankfurt School revolutionary characters and thus create the New American Child.
• This can be confirmed by noting that The Authoritarian Personality is the key source of the affective domain of Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives of 1964, which guided the education cartel thereafter.
Political Correctness in Higher Education
T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.
On a growing number of university campuses the freedom to articulate and discuss ideas – a principle that has been the cornerstone of higher education since the time of Socrates – is eroding at an alarming rate. Consider just one increasing trend: hundreds (sometimes thousands) of copies of conservative student newspapers have been either stolen or publicly burned by student radicals. In many cases these acts have taken place with the tacit support of faculty and administrators. The perpetrators are rarely disciplined.
While it would be easy to dismiss such demonstrations of tolerance as student pranks, these incidents are the surface manifestations of a more pervasive and insidious trend – a trend that has as its goal the destruction of the liberal arts tradition that has helped create and sustain Western civilization.
Though some pundits have claimed that the prevalence of the ideological intolerance known as political correctness has been exaggerated, the opposite is closer to the truth. Political correctness has become so deeply ingrained in American higher education that many campuses are now dominated by an atmosphere of uncertainty and apprehension. An increasing number of dedicated students and faculty members now live in fear that their intellectual pursuit of truth will offend the Grand Inquisitors of political correctness.
The techniques of political correctness are now well known: attacks on the curriculum in the name of “multiculturalism,” the imposition of restrictive and vaguely-worded “speech codes,” and mandatory “sensitivity training” courses for freshman that are little more than systematic efforts at ideological indoctrination. But the influence of political correctness has spread in other disturbing ways. Consider a few recent incidents from the university battlefield.
• At Amherst College in Massachusetts, a homosexual student group covered the university’s sidewalks with graffiti, including the slogan “Queer by Divine Right,” which was scrawled in front of the campus chapel on Good Friday. When the Amherst Spectator, a conservative student newspaper, criticized these chalkings as promoting “hatred and division,” student protestors publicly burned copies of the paper.
• When the Cornell Review, another conservative student newspaper, published a parody of the course descriptions from Cornell’s heavily-politicized Africana Department, campus militants blocked traffic at the center of the campus for several hours and burned stolen copies of the Review in a metal trash can. The militants went on to demand that the university provide “racial sensitivity” classes for incoming freshman, a campus speech code, and more money for segregated minority programs such as a blacks-only dormitory.
• Students who participate in ROTC programs have told friends and family that they are afraid to show up for class wearing their uniform because their grades have been arbitrarily marked down by faculty members who are hostile to the military.
• In the wake of a rash of sexual harassment charges that have been filed by extreme feminists against their alleged enemies, some professors have begun to take out insurance policies to protect themselves from the crushing financial burden of malicious and frivolous lawsuits.
• A faculty questionnaire at the University of Massachusetts asks professors what “contribution to multi-culturalism” they have made. The questionnaire is then used in making decisions about tenure and promotion.
It is worth remembering that for every dramatic and well-publicized example of political correctness, there are innumerable instances where it is more subtle, but just as real.
The Origins of Political Correctness in Higher Education
While the ideology of political correctness is hardly restricted to our campuses, there is no doubt it originated there. The intellectual roots of this phenomenon stretch back over centuries. Ultimately, the origins of PC can be traced to the rise of modern ideology and its quest for power. In contrast to the classical and Judeo-Christian traditions, which stressed man’s need to understand the moral order and conform himself to it, modern ideologies have sought to dominate and control the world. In the twentieth century these ideologies gained political power in Communist states.
But in the West, ideology has not been able to make such a direct assault on our traditions of ordered liberty. Rather, radical intellectuals have sought to undermine the foundations of knowledge itself, concentrating their efforts on the transformation of the university.
The turning point in the academy came in the 1960s, when militant students launched a guerilla attack on the traditions of Western culture and the liberal arts. Seeing that they could not gain lasting power through demonstrations alone, many of these militants opted to remain “in the system,” going on to become professors themselves. This generation of “tenured radicals” (to use Roger Kimball’s phrase) has now become the establishment in the vast majority of our institutions of higher learning. As university presidents, deans, and department chairmen, they have set about hiring other ideologues in their own image and have instigated the repressive policies we know as political correctness. These politicized academics will be extremely difficult to dislodge from their current positions of power.
Ideology vs. Liberal Education
The stakes in this war of ideas are high, for they include the very concept of freedom itself. Americans have always understood the intimate and vital connection between liberal education and political liberty. That is why political correctness is nothing less than a death blow aimed at the heart of our republic.
In his seminal book The Idea of a University, Cardinal John Henry Newman defined the “liberal arts” as a pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. By way of contrast, he defined the “servile arts” as those modes of study that serve only specific, immediate ends. The liberal arts are liberating, Newman argued, because they enable men to discover the underlying principles that guide us toward wisdom and virtue.
Were he alive today, Newman would view political correctness as “servile” because its purpose is to advance a political agenda to a position of national power. Militant professors in increasing numbers are shamelessly turning their podiums into pulpits, abandoning the search for objective truth and setting about the task of indoctrinating their students.
The Devastated Curriculum
The proponents of political correctness have concentrated their efforts on the core of a liberal education, the curriculum. Their efforts will radically alter what new generations of Americans will learn. In this battle the handmaiden of political correctness has been the “multicultural” movement. A number of critics have rightly pointed out that multiculturalism is more than an argument for courses that concentrate on groups that at one time were disadvantaged or oppressed. Rather, multiculturalism involves the systematic restructuring of the curriculum so as to hinder students from learning about the Western tradition. Since the ulterior motive behind political correctness is an attempt to restructure American society along egalitarian lines, it is imperative for its proponents to instill in the minds of students a thoroughgoing cultural relativism.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the politically correct assault on the curriculum is that it has occurred at many of America’s elite universities. Take, for example, the case of Stanford University, an institution that has long played a leadership role in American higher education. Stanford eliminated its long-standing Western civilization requirement in 1988 and replaced it with a multicultural program known as “Cultures, Ideas, and Values.” Under this new program freshmen at Stanford can just as easily study Marxist revolutionaries in Central America as they can Plato, Shakespeare, or Newton.
Stanford has also led the movement away from serious study of history. Students at Stanford, like students at all but one of the other top 50 universities in the United States, are not required to take a single course in history. Instead, they are offered a choice of courses under the heading of “American Cultures.” According to one recent graduate at Stanford, it is impossible to fulfill the “American Cultures” requirement by studying Protestantism, Irish Americans, or the American West, while courses that do fulfill the requirement include “Film and Literature: US-Mexico Border Representations” and “Contemporary Ethnic Drama.” Stanford students must also take courses in “World Cultures” and “Gender Studies” that include “Chicana Expressive Culture” and “Misogyny and Feminism in the Renaissance.”
Because elite institutions such as Stanford set an example for the rest of American higher education, other universities eagerly adopt these devastating assaults on the curriculum. This “trickle-down” effect will have a long-lasting impact on the way future generations of Americans will be educated.
Intolerance and the Assault on Freedom
The two pillars that have traditionally sustained the liberal arts are academic freedom and freedom of speech. Without the freedom to pursue the truth and to write and speak freely, authentic scholarship is impossible. But both of these fundamental freedoms have been routinely abrogated by the establishment of speech codes, “sensitivity” classes, and a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation on campus.
For example, younger professors who have not received tenure must not only be careful of what they say, but of what they publish. Ideological university administrators in the 1990s have created an environment dominated by suspicion that is far more intense than anything spawned by anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.
The most tragic victims of this age of political correctness are the students. The traditional goal of a liberal arts education – acculturation, whereby students absorb the inherited wisdom of the past – has been set aside. Increasingly, a university education today seems to involve rote learning of political opinions. When all is said and done, political correctness substitutes smug feelings of righteousness for the traditional habits of critical thinking. One distinguished scholar recently lamented that “higher education is increasingly about acquiring attitudes and opinions that one puts on like a uniform.”
Because the academy is a relatively isolated world, it can allow politicized administrators to turn the campus into a laboratory for experiments in social transformation. When critics of political correctness have compared the atmosphere on campus to that of a totalitarian state, liberal pundits have been quick to denounce them as hysterical. Few of these pundits have any first-hand experience of daily life on campus.
The Movement for Academic Reform
Despite the institutional power of the campus radicals, forces are at work seeking to spur authentic academic reform. The academic reform movement relies on the principles of accountability, communication, and a commitment to authentic scholarship. One force of academic reform is a growing demand among parents for greater accountability from colleges and universities. At a time when studies show that students are paying more and learning less than ever before, parents in increasing numbers are becoming discriminating consumers.
Another force is independent student newspapers whose journalists publicize the antics of political correctness on campus. In the past, campus radicals thrived unchallenged in the enclosed world of the university, but their actions are no longer going undetected. The advent of conservative student newspapers on dozens of campuses has forced campus militants into the open where they are most vulnerable to the scrutiny of an exasperated public.
Two years ago, those who fund the Collegiate Network asked the Intercollegiate Studies Institute to take over the administration of their program to support and enhance responsible student journalism. The Collegiate Network contributes seed money, practical help, and intellectual guidance to the 60 conservative student newspapers which provide alternative forums of discussion at many of the nations most elite (and closed-minded) universities.
These alternative papers have identified abuses at all levels of academic life and engaged in investigative journalism that has been remarkably fair and accurate. Perhaps the most well-known “scoop” came from Yale University’s alternative paper, Light & Truth, a publication supported by the Collegiate Network. The editors of Light & Truth discovered that the $20 million gift of alumnus Lee Bass was not being used for its intended purpose of supporting an integrated course in Western civilization. Their report broke open the scandal, which ended when Yale returned Mr. Bass’s money. The subsequent furor cost Yale a great deal more than Mr. Bass’s $20 million – both in monetary terms and in the loss of confidence of many Yale donors that the current administration can be trusted.
Not all the scandals uncovered by alternative campus papers are of this magnitude, but there are innumerable abuses that can be exposed by investigative student journalism. The law school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, banned representatives of the U.S. military from setting up recruiting tables there, despite receiving federal tax dollars from the Defense Department. An article about this outrageous assault on freedom that ran in both the student-run Carolina Review and in the national student newspaper published by ISI, CAMPUS, raised a hue and cry on and off campus. North Carolina legislators took immediate action and passed a bill prohibiting taxpayer-supported schools from discriminating against the military when prospective employers come to the university.
At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the UWM Times, a conservative student newspaper, revealed that a university administrator had been soliciting signatures for local Democrat candidates for public office, in direct violation of a state law forbidding university employees from engaging in political campaigning. The university refused to reprimand the administrator in question – perhaps because the chancellor himself violated both the state law and his own directive by signing one of the petitions while at work. The story was picked up by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the abuse was brought to an end.
Now that alternative newspapers and organizations dedicated to academic reform are spreading the word, the larger communities that surround our institutions of higher education are getting more involved in serious academic reform. For example, the National Association of Scholars is encouraging university trustees to take a more active and vocal role in opposing the excesses of political correctness. Efforts of this type must be expanded and intensified.
In the long run, the most direct method of defeating the inquisitors of political correctness is simply to stand up to them. Individual acts of defiance often entail serious risks: students can face star-chamber proceedings that are humiliating and demoralizing while faculty can lose their bids to receive tenure. But every act of resistance causes a ripple, encouraging others to stand up to ideological intimidation. With the support of a significant number of parents, donors, and alumni, these Davids may yet slay the Goliaths who tower over them.
The Fire of True-Learning
Perhaps the strongest force for true academic reform is that which seeks to defeat the ideological depredations of political correctness by winning the war of ideas. The best students have a questioning intelligence that cannot be satisfied with political slogans. When such students have access to serious scholarship they respond with enthusiasm. Even today acculturation still takes place under the mentorship of outstanding scholars at various institutions around the country. Moreover, some colleges and universities continue to swim against the ideological tides of our time.
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), in conjunction with the Templeton Foundation, has identified the best professors, departments, colleges, and textbooks in American higher education today. This program, the Templeton Honor Rolls for Education in a Free Society, celebrates excellence and serves as a guide for parents and students contemplating the daunting choice of which college or university to attend. By singling out the best in higher education, the Templeton Honor Rolls also encourage donors to reward universities that preserve the traditions of the free society.
Prospective college students, their parents, and donors can also benefit from a comprehensive guide to 100 of the top institutions of higher learning in America published by the ISI. The guide contains substantial, essay-length treatments of all 100 institutions, including 80 elite schools that were selected on the basis of competitive admissions standards and 20 schools that ISI particularly recommends for their commitment to a liberal arts education. The ISI college guide warns students about the ideological dangers on the campuses and steers them in the direction of the best professors and departments. As best-selling author William J. Bennett wrote of this project, “All too often, Americans treat colleges and universities with a deference that prevents them from asking hard questions and demanding real results. But if there was ever to be a genuine, long-lasting education reform, parents and students will have to become shrewder and better-informed consumers of education. The ISI guide is a powerful tool in this effort.”
One of Edmund Burke’s most famous sayings is that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” For generations, Americans have treated higher education with awe – a token of their faith in the liberating power of the liberal arts. But in the face of political correctness, it is time for the American public to temper its respect with a critical sensibility, and to undertake a more direct effort to call academia to account. It is time for good men and women to demand that American higher education live up to its best traditions and eschew the tyranny of political correctness.