We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Twitter is not on the masthead of the New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing moulded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.

Bari Weiss

38 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Rob

    Ah, come on. It has been like that for the entire time she was there and she was fine with that. Now she’s lost control of that narrative it has suddenly become a problem.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A good article also in the Atlantic about how a lot of the “woke” culture is being driven by business leaders who, for various reasons, see it as a way of avoiding making actual genuinely useful changes. I don’t agree with all of the arguments in here – I prefer change to come about as a result of competition, not from legislative fiat – but it is interesting that parts of the liberal/left are starting to wake up to the awfulness of all this. Here is a paragraph:

    It is strange that “cancel culture” has become a project of the left, which spent the 20th century fighting against capricious firings of “troublesome” employees. A lack of due process does not become a moral good just because you sometimes agree with its targets. We all, I hope, want to see sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination decrease. But we should be aware of the economic incentives here, particularly given the speed of social media, which can send a video viral, and see onlookers demand a response, before the basic facts have been established. Afraid of the reputational damage that can be incurred in minutes, companies are behaving in ways that range from thoughtless and uncaring to sadistic.

    Another crushing para:

    Let’s look at another example of how woke capitalism operates. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, and the protests that followed, White Fragility, a 2018 book by Robin DiAngelo, returned to the top of The New York Times’s paperback-nonfiction chart. The author is white, and her book is for white people, encouraging them to think about what it’s like to be white. So the American book-buying public’s single biggest response to the Black Lives Matter movement was … to buy a book about whiteness written by a white person.

    More:

    This is worse than mere navel-gazing; it’s synthetic activism. It risks making readers feel full of piety and righteousness without having actually done anything. Buying a book on white fragility improves the lives of the most marginalized far less than, say, donating to a voting-rights charity or volunteering at a food bank. It’s pure hobbyism.

    “Hobbyism”. I am stealing that for future use.

    The article notes that in the US alone, diversity training is worth about $8 billion a year, although it is unclear whether it makes a difference around hiring, career advancement or other goals.

  • Plamus

    Well, Ms. Weiss (the irony!) found out the hard way that bisexual and Jewish, while also white, still puts you near the bottom of the inter-sectionality Hackordnung. I am trying to sympathize with her, but it’s not working. She is not being fired; she is quitting because some co-workers are saying mean things about her, just as she has about people she dislikes, and she disagrees with some of her employer’s policies. Good for her – that’s how it should work.

    But this is also her. Won’t somebody please think of the 15-year-olds? Something about lying with dogs, fleas, etc.

    The Jacobins too seemed like such nice guys – amis de la liberté et de l’égalité! – until the Law of Suspects kicked in, they came for the “enemies of freedom”, and the Revolutionary Tribunals started. Like Pauline Léon, Weiss is finding out she was a useful idiot.

  • bobby b

    Johnathan Pearce
    July 15, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    “A good article also in the Atlantic about how a lot of the “woke” culture is being driven by business leaders who, for various reasons, see it as a way of avoiding making actual genuinely useful changes.”

    That was actually an excellent article. Thanks.

  • neonsnake

    It really is a good article.

    I’ve tried expressing my discomfort with “programmes” here and elsewhere, particularly with regards to how “liberals” in the US sense approach them.

    This basically sums up my feelings:

    Those with power inside institutions love splashy progressive gestures—solemn, monochrome social-media posts deploring racism; appointing their first woman to the board; firing low-level employees who attract online fury—because they help preserve their power. Those at the top—who are disproportionately white, male, wealthy, and highly educated—are not being asked to give up anything themselves.

    It’s a sticky plaster, it’s a nicer pair of crutches after they’ve still broken our legs.

    It’s the refusal to do anything of substance, but instead to cultivate the appearance of doing something.

    There’s value to these programmes, if done properly – I think there’s very much value in saying “we as a company will not stand for bullying of this nature” – but it needs to be done right, not just as a gesture.

  • Jacob

    The NY Times is totally INSANE, starting, I don’t know, probably at least 5 years ago.
    You won’t find ANY article in the Art or Books section that is not about a **Black** (their spelling) artist or a woman. No review of any work, picture, dance, anything that is not black or woman. I once saw a review of some musician who was a man and white and was astonished, but then, in para 6 they mentioned he was gay.
    When they wrote about the 10 best new novels of the year – 7 were by Blacks, 3 by Women.
    Yesterday they wrote about a scientist, a woman, who was named head of the Lamont-Doherty observatory – and there was not a word about what the observatory does or what her scientific work is, only about how she will take care of diversity.
    But it seems that, nevertheless, the NY Times has a good grasp of what America (the US) is about. The whole US went mad, the last riots only served to clarify this.

    They are totally insane – that is – the editors and writers they hired. (That’s before Trump came along and they further sunk into Trump-hate obsession, hardly any article at all fails to mention that Trump is to blame for everything).

  • Jacob

    From the Atlantic headline: “Beware…. they leave existing power structures intact”.
    This is Marxist speak, jargon, or slogan.
    I usually don’t read any further.

  • Jacob

    “but to highlight that the original definition of wokeness is incompatible with capitalism.”
    There… I read the second paragraph. Correct. Wokeness IS Marxism….

  • Jacob

    “How Capitalism Drives Cancel Culture”

    I should have caught the idea from the headline.
    Of, course. Capitalism is so awful that it inevitably drives you to embrace Marxism.
    Cancel Culture is the implementation of mob violence tactics taught by Marxism. Cancel Culture IS Marxism.

  • Stonyground

    From the quoted article, I particularly liked this part:

    “truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”

  • Duncan S

    Stoneyground

    Isn’t that the argument that was used to prevent the mass publishing of the Bible? Only the priests (the enlightened few) were the ones who understood the word of god, and couldn’t risk the masses reading for themselves (and making their own minds up).

  • The Atlantic article is interesting but I’m with Jacob on being wary of it.

    Buying a book on white fragility improves the lives of the most marginalized far less than, say, donating to a voting-rights charity

    which will ensure that voter-fraud lets the woke make the maginalised into interest groups whose political demands are dictated by ‘their’ community organiser, and if any of the individuals think the woke project does not help them, tough: a thousand spoof voters will drown any traitors to their identity group.

    This could be an attempt by someone (who will prove to be ahead of or behind the woke curve) to put the bad PR of cancel culture on the hated capitalist enemy. I’m reminded of the way the MSM always referred to the hardliners in the latterday Soviet Union as ‘conservatives’.

    That said, it is good they are not monolithic and one agrees with many of the article’s observations. I’m just being cautious here.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    July 16, 2020 at 8:23 am

    “The Atlantic article is interesting but I’m with Jacob on being wary of it.”

    Niall, it’s an article about lefties by a lefty (which makes it more interesting to me than another conservative take on progressivism) and certainly ought to be read with that in mind.

    But she’s more honest about what she’s describing than I would normally expect to find in The Atlantic, plus she has some good insights into the scamming of wokeness being accomplished by some. Her distinction between social radicalism and economic radicalism is, I think, well founded. She’s calling out her own side, and that’s rare today.

  • But this is also her. Won’t somebody please think of the 15-year-olds? Something about lying with dogs, fleas, etc. (Plamus, July 15, 2020 at 2:51 pm)

    Indeed it is. One can learn much from defectors – and one must also be aware some are like those voters who flee California but bring with them the political prejudices that made California the place they fled, and so may yet undermine the very tolerance they fled to.

    Recently I chanced to quote Kravchenko in a comment. His autobiography is reasonably frank about how, between the horrors of collectivisation and the day during the great purge when his faith was literally beaten out of him by an NKVD boss seeking a confession, he tried hard to repair his stressed belief in communism. At the end of his book he says he it would be good if the US of his day went left, provided only the communist danger is avoided. Some defectors go all the way, but many are very informative – and also inform you unwittingly that they still believe in barking cats.

    We’ll see where Bari Weiss ends up. Meanwhile, her public confirmation of what we already knew about the NYT is welcome, as are the details. And meanwhile I am happy to offer her the moderated praise of being both better and more courageous than those she leaves behind.

  • Isn’t that the argument that was used to prevent the mass publishing of the Bible? Only the priests (the enlightened few) were the ones who understood the word of god, and couldn’t risk the masses reading for themselves (and making their own minds up).

    Yes. Precisely. That’s the point. Marxism is about religious faith, not reason, evidence or facts, for exposure to them will make it disappear in a puff of logic.

  • Jacob

    Without having read the full Atlantic article I can say it surely is interesting. It explicitly states what anyone should understand anyway: that “Wokism” and “cancel Culture” is Marxism, i.e. – the overthrow of social order by violent mob action (a.k.a. Revolution). It is the toppling of Capitalism’s “power structure”, by a mob led by the vanguard intelligentsia and community organizers.
    It will be henceforth known as The Glorious June Revolution.

  • Jacob

    A Marxist Revolution has many variants. There is the original Russian version of 1917, the Chinese version (Mao), the Cuban, Chilean (Allende), Venezuelan and Nicaraguan versions, each a little bit different.

    Now we have the American version.
    (I should say the US version – Latin Americans hate when you say “America” meaning the US, and they are right).

  • Jacob

    Returning to the original topic: The NY Times insanity – here is a typical headline from today:
    “Saddled With Debt and Working Longer Hours for Less Pay
    As workers return in Britain, many women of color say they are still struggling.”

  • Jacob

    About Bari Weiss: the NY Times was already stark mad in 2017 when she joined it. She served as a fig leaf or useful idiot. Given the NY Times ideological nature she was hired because of her sex. Still, her voice was relatively sane.

    But, it is very hard to turn down a job offer from the NY Times….

  • Stonyground

    I like the parable of the sower.
    Matthew chapter 13 I think.

  • Fraser Orr

    The Atlantic article which I thought was good (I never thought I’d use the words “good” and “Atlantic article” in the same sentence except for “good riddance”, but you live long enough and life surprises you.) Well it reminded me of another article from a pretty liberal source, but nonetheless always an interesting thinker, Paul Graham. I found this article very insightful.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Duncan S
    Isn’t that the argument that was used to prevent the mass publishing of the Bible?

    You might well consider that the Bible could well be the Cancel Culture’s next target. It is full of admonitions against gay people, and Wiccans. It advocates keeping the little lady in the kitchen and, if you don’t accept the argument that it advocates slavery, you must certainly accept that it tolerates it. It says things like “spare the rod, spoil the child”. And a hundred other reasons.

    Three months ago I would have laughed at the idea you could ban the Bible in America. Now, I am not at all so sure, it is well within the overton window for banning. Hell, if the American demigod, George Washington, can be torn down the Bible can’t be far behind, probably right after they ban the sale of apple pie for its racist roots. And I say that as a person who agrees with some of the criticisms of the Bible above, I find Biblical morality quite repugnant truthfully. However, were I brave enough, I may well defend to death the right of religious people to advocate, read, sell and proselytize with it.

  • Used to be Banned

    Fraser Orr, perhaps not if that made the Koran fair game too.

  • bobby b

    Fraser Orr
    July 16, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    ” . . . I find Biblical morality quite repugnant truthfully.”

    I’ve always thought that the lifestyles back then left much to be desired, but the aspirational statements in the Bible – the last six Commandments, and the Golden Rule thing, to be exact – do and did a nice job of guiding Western morality.

    I mean, it’s a fair sight better than “(t)he stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I mean, it’s a fair sight better than “(t)he stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.””

    That’s pretty much the same thing as Deuteronomy 7.

    1 When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

    2 And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

    3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

    4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

    5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

    Or then, there’s the idolators, apostates, heretics, and unbelievers in Deuteronomy 13:

    12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,

    13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;

    14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;

    15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.

    16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.

    And your own family too:

    6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

    7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

    8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

    9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

    The Koran is essentially a return to the Old Testament morality that God mandated before subsequent generations went all soft and corrupted the message, according to Muslims. There’s little in the Koran that isn’t already in the Bible. It’s just that modern Christians and Jews have long chosen to ignore most of it, or make excuses for it, while Muslims have only done so very much more recently.

    Similarly, a lot of Old Testament morality was borrowed wholesale from earlier sources – the Code of Hammurabi has a lot of it, and even that itself was a summary of earlier rulings. And the most significant parts of modern Western morality were only invented during the Englightenment and after. And while that was clearly influenced by a Christian context, it’s arguable that it was only made possible when society was unchained from the Church’s moral domination. Only when you don’t have to find scriptural support for morals can you invent new moral principles like ending slavery or permitting free speech, atheism, and women wearing trousers made of mixed fibres.

    Freedom of belief, of course, and we can’t easily judge ancient times by morals that were not invented until centuries later – but frankly, the Bible contains a good deal of evil. If you’re going to ban books on moral grounds, it would be hard not to even consider the Bible as a candidate. But that’s why we don’t ban books, even when we think they’re evil.

  • Fraser Orr

    bobby b
    I’ve always thought that the lifestyles back then left much to be desired, but the aspirational statements in the Bible – the last six Commandments, and the Golden Rule thing, to be exact – do and did a nice job of guiding Western morality.

    It always struck me as odd, all these discussions about putting the ten commandments up at court houses. Why? Because of the ten commandments only two are actually against the law (with another against the law in some circumstances.) And in fact a couple of them our constitution specifically protects our right to not obey them.

    However, of course there are some worthy things in there, but it is rather riddled with things that make you cringe. You know, the casual comment that you shouldn’t covet your neighbors wife or his ox or donkey or his male or female slave. I suppose to their credit the wife does come before the donkey.

    And then there are the things that any decent person would be utterly outraged by. For example, Saul was rejected by God as King because he did not fully carry out his command to commit genocide on the Amalekites. One is surely particularly bothered by the God’s command:

    “Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

    I used to have some mastery of Hebrew. A curiosity is that there are two different words for children here. The word “infant” is translated from the Hebrew root that means to suck. God wanted to make sure Saul’s army killed all those dangerous babies still sucking at their mothers’ breast.

    That is the kind of thing that makes me describe Biblical morality as repugnant. I’m still in favor of the whole “don’t steal, don’t murder” part though.

    I mean, it’s a fair sight better than “(t)he stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

    Just because one is worse than the other doesn’t mean it isn’t bad. Murder is worse than grievous bodily harm, but that doesn’t make the wheels on the second victim’s wheelchair any less squeaky.

  • Melissa

    Duncan S. If reading the Bible was considered so deleterious to the priesthood, then why were most Universities founded by religious orders? Why was so much effort expended by educated religious folk towards literacy?

  • Paul Marks

    Various people, such as Carl Benjamin (“Sargon”) have already pointed that there is a massive flaw in what Bari Weiss is saying – the lady does not NAME the ideology that controls the New York Times, Twtter and so on.

    The article in the “Atlantic” may name it – but Bari Weiss, in her letter of resignation, does not use the name of the doctrine – and if we can not even name a thing we can not fight it.

    The doctrine that drove Bari Weiss from the New York Times and which dominates the education system, social media and most other things is FRANKFURT SCHOOL MARXISM.

    Again if we can not even use its name (for fear of being called followers of Joe McCarthy, or whatever) then we can not fight it. For example, the doctrine that all “public bodies” in the United Kingdom are pledged to push may be called “Diversity” but it is actually FRANKFURT SCHOOL MARXISM – that becomes totally obvious when such bodies as museums define what they mean by “whiteness”.

    “Whiteness”, it turns out, has nothing to do with skin colour – and everything to do with “capitalist culture” which must (according to both the government and Corporate bureaucracy) be destroyed.

    The fact that much of Big Business (in most Western countries) is now fanatically supporting the extermination of “capitalism” is one of the great ironies of our age.

    What do Carlos Slim (New York Times) and Jeff Bezos (Washington Post) think will happen to THEM under a Collectivist system of “World Governance” by the totalitarian “international community”?

    Do they think this socialism (sorry “Stakeholder Capitalism”) will be in the words of George Orwell “everyone else UNDER socialism, but themselves ON TOP OF socialism”?

  • Jacob

    NY Times is owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family.

    “the lady does not NAME the ideology that controls the New York Times”
    Here is the name of the “ideology”: Women, Blaks and LGBTQ. (It is not Marxism).
    BLM is Marxism, NY Times not so much.

  • Jacob (July 18, 2020 at 5:47 pm), on the one hand, Paul always says ‘the Frankfurt school of Marxism’, not just Marxism, and you can argue that Critical Theory, of the kind that leads to the identarianism of e.g. ‘Women, Blacks and LGBTQUERTY’ came from there.

    On the other hand, when talking about it, I recommend using terms that immediately communicate with your audience, which ‘the Frankfurt school of Marxism’ often will not; many are duped by it who have never heard of it. Yours is better in that respect – but your order is wrong: “… and (last, and very much least in the intersectional pecking order) women” is how I would sequence any such list.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “on the one hand, Paul always says ‘the Frankfurt school of Marxism’, not just Marxism, and you can argue that Critical Theory, of the kind that leads to the identarianism of e.g. ‘Women, Blacks and LGBTQUERTY’ came from there.”

    I’ve never seen any evidence of it. And given some of the other things Paul says, I’m dubious. But YMMV.

    So far as I can tell, the Frankfurt School were a bunch of 1920s up-their-own-arse pretentious pseudointellectuals who built a long and lucrative academic career on some abstruse philosophical BS derived from a variety of intellectual-sounding sources like Marx, Hegel, Kant and Freud. It seems to be some variant on the idea that society’s perception/interpretation of reality is filtered through the cultural meta-context. This stuff, in my experience, is usually statements of the blindingly obvious, or deliberately ambiguous paradox, dressed up in intentionally obscure language to make it seem smart. A kind of intellectual masturbation for wanna-be revolutionaries and world-changers, but of no actual practical significance or effect.

    Then in 1992 an article appeared in an obscure magazine (Fidelio) that looks to be modelled on ‘The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion’, ascribing a dozen different movements and social changes in the mid to late 20th century to this group, rather like the Bavarian Illuminati. It was highly reminiscent of the attacks on ‘Cultural Bolshevism’ from an earlier decade, even down to the name. So far as I could see, the only connection with the actual Frankfurt School presented was that their works were commonly cited by other pretentious pseudointellectuals – something I suspect could be said of many others. But as everyone knows, every good story needs a clearly identifiable villain. The ‘Frankfurt School’ was sufficiently obscure (and obscurantist) that nobody would have any idea of what they were actually about, and so be able to immediately pick holes in the narrative, but were also sufficiently prominent that a cursory search would reveal there really was such a group of Marxist intellectuals, giving it credibility.

    The article was picked up, spread, and soon became its own meme pool.

    However, one of the ways to to identify a phrase’s definition is to look at how it is used, even if the usage arises from a historical misapprehension. If you interpret it as the whole melting pot of left-wing academic political theorising, the pseudo-intellectual humanities, student politics, grievance studies, and the aftermath of the crisis of Marxism, it’s comprehensible. And not worth arguing over.

    However, one can’t help wondering about any theory that looks to be descended from ‘Cultural Bolshevism’. It appears itself to be another attempt to engineer the cultural meta-context, and kinda Frankfurty itself. 🙂

  • If you interpret it as the whole melting pot of left-wing academic political theorising, the pseudo-intellectual humanities, student politics, grievance studies, and the aftermath of the crisis of Marxism, it’s comprehensible. And not worth arguing over. (Nullius in Verba,
    July 18, 2020 at 11:28 pm)

    I agree with that last sentence, but discussion can clarify things and/or be of interest in itself (or not, in which case by all means ignore this).

    – Antifa/BLM leaders call themselves marxists.

    – The categories that matter to them do not in practice even include ‘the workers’. In this and other ways, they would surprise a marxist from 1890.

    Ergo, at some point, some reinterpretation occurred of what it means to be a marxist, what immediate goals should marxists pursue, what strategies employed, what rhetoric preached, what philosophy taught.

    the only connection with the actual Frankfurt School presented was that their works were commonly cited by other pretentious pseudointellectuals …

    Since common citation is commonly seen as evidence of influence,

    – something I suspect could be said of many others.

    the issue is whether one sees Derrida, Foucault, Gramsci, Galbreith, Marcuse et al as the first (and/or first influential) developers of the philosophical tools this reinterpretation would need, then whether ‘Marcuse et al (FSoM)’ is acceptable shorthand for that list and/or genuinely the most central, with Marcuse’ “Repressive Tolerance” being a key “freedom is slavery” text, etc., or else whether it is simply a usefully as-honest-as-it-is-mendacious text, given that so much is

    deliberately ambiguous paradox, dressed up in intentionally obscure language to make it seem smart

    and therefore often a little more coy, or at least harder to quote briefly, than Marcuse helpfully-explicit paradox of a title. (Popular ignorance of what their theories intend is indeed their strength.)

    Of course, the 1890s ‘crisis of marxism’ had already led the revolutionaries to transform “Marxism is scientific” from something they themselves believed to something they regarded as a ‘myth’ they would try to get the masses to believe, since the revolution they still desired would happen anyway (no matter how unscientific the prophecy that it was certain to) if the masses believed it would and should. In decades following, marxist leaders were those who stuck with that myth. (Marxists like Mussolini, who decided the masses were keener on nationalism, and so that was an easier myth to sell, became fascists.)

    You can therefore see the FSoM and/or the postmodernist philosophers generally as simply casting about for another myth – one less obviously an actual discarding of marxism than fascism was, and so an easier sell to marxists and lefties generally. The question then is whether Marcuse/FSoM was truly central to forging the tools for the new myth, or whether he and FSoM were nothing special really, but “Repressive Tolerance” and etc. makes him usefully explicit to quote as illustrative of the larger, more ‘diverse’ evolution.

    Repressive Tolerance, where the repression is real and the tolerance fictional, is easily illustrated by example today. So, as I told Jacob, I see FSoM as of little value to mention in any practical “defend free speech” debate to any wavering audience – or on Samizdata if practicing for any such debate. But I trust Samizdata’s own audience is not wavering, so make no other objection here.

  • Jacob

    It seems to me that as time passes – things change – thought changes, names change. In old times and places I came from – Marx-Engels_Lenin_Stalin were the fathers of every thought or idea, their books – the bible – and obligatory reading in schools, from Kinder on.

    In the West, with the baby-boomers generation (’68-ters) – probably Marcuse, Derrida, Foucault etc. were better known and studied and quoted and Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin were studied or read less or less talked about or mentioned.
    There are better chances that a NY Times “intellectual” has read some Chomsky than the original Marx.

    Is the NY Times Marxist? Probably – yes. Like all academia and most other people – they are all “hard-left”, tax-the rich, the-state-manages-everything (the state being – us the intelligentsia), regulate – for the poor, for the children for the environment. Stop over-consumption-over-population…. the endless development driven by private greed must stop. Minimum income to all, print more money… This is not just pure classical Marxism. It’s an adaptation or sequel to Marxism.

    If you want to call it “Frankfort School” – fine. But I think it’s better and shorter and handier to call it just Marxism. Women-Black-LGBTQ replace the “proletariat” and the “peasants” (of Marx’s time) in whose name the violent Revolution, led by the vanguard intelligentsia (us) must be undertaken. Those that are not with us – are fascist-reactionary-conservative fanatics, racist, supremacists baddies (Trump, Bolsonaro, Duda, Netanyahu… etc.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    Niall, Jacob,

    Agreed!

    Following the crisis of Marxism, there was a splintering into many different factions and philosophies, attempts to define a new approach, of which the Frankfurt School was only one. (And so far as I can tell, not being a historian of Marxist thought, not a particularly significant one.) Calling it simply ‘Marxism’ to refer to the entire family of descendants seems more accurate. I don’t think any one faction can claim all the credit for its modern instantiation.

    At the same time, it may be useful to make a taxonomic distinction between ‘Marxism’ as Marx presented it, and the Cambrian Explosion of weird lifeforms that evolved/descended from it, ideologies that have Marxism in their DNA, but which Marx himself would barely recognise. I don’t think ‘Frankfurt School’ is a particularly good term for doing that. But I’m sure there must be some better way of expressing it.

  • neonsnake

    But I’m sure there must be some better way of expressing it.

    Vanguardism?

    Statism?

    Marxist-Leninism?

    Tankies?

    Here’s the thing – none of the above quite capture it, since they focus on the “statist” aspect. My experience of people who use phrases like “Frankfurt School Of Marxism” is that they’re not decrying statist approaches, they’re upset that in what is loosely called the “marketplace of ideas”, progressive ideas like “let’s be a bit more supportive of groups who were previously harmed by statist laws” are winning.

    (there are people who honestly and in good-faith believe in both, of which I think you’re one. I’m not talking about those)

    What you’re looking for is a term that captures the shift in popular opinion in favour of less regressive ideals, and less regressive laws, over the last half-century or more, as we’ve become more free as a society.

  • Snorri Godhi

    One problem with using the term “Marxism” is that Marx, and the now defunct orthodox Marxists, knew who the ruling class were: the capitalists. That was true in their times, but it is no longer true now.

    Our contemporaries, by contrast, are just too dumb to recognize who the ruling class are. (As you might know, i blame this on the brain-damaging effects of the modern Western diet.)

    Talk of “the patriarchy”, “white privilege”, and whatever the equivalent is wrt LGBT, dulls people into believing that White cis-hetero males are the ruling class. That is an obvious absurdity: the ruling class can never represent more than a small fraction of the population. The larger the society, the smaller the fraction in the ruling class.

    It is equally obvious, to those who have been paying attention, that “Frankfurt Marxism”, or whatever you prefer to call it, is not about protecting women & minorities, but about protecting the privileges of the ruling class and oppressing the middle class. Frankfurt Marxism is the legitimizing philosophy of the contemporary ruling class. Or rather, of the majority faction within the ruling class: call it the Frankfurt faction, or whatever you prefer.

    We might be at a tipping point, however: the radicals have become so extreme at this point (at least in places such as Portland and Seattle; maybe London, Scotland, and Sweden) that they might quickly become a real threat to the Frankfurt faction.

    In the US in particular, the Frankfurt faction might have an unpalatable choice: losing the election to Trump, or losing their lives to the radicals.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Just to add some more perspective:
    My sketchy understanding of orthodox Marxism is that
    1) Marx did not want a revolutionary substitution of the capitalist ruling class with a classless society, but a revolutionary change of ruling class, which would eventually lead to a classless society.
    2) Orthodox Marxism failed because the immiseration of the working class did not happen, and therefore Marxist intellectuals could not win over the workers.

    The main offshoots of Marxism: Leninism, Italian fascism, German nazism, and social democracy, all achieved a change of ruling class in at least one country. (These new ruling classes achieved, er… different degrees of success.) In this respect, they were all more successful than orthodox Marxism.

    In this respect, the latest offshoot of Marxism, which i have called Frankfurt Marxism, is different from the others. For quite some time, Frankfurt Marxism has been no threat to the ruling class, except for the risk that the voters might recognize its insanity. The media, schools, and universities, have all done their best to make sure that that does not happen. (Again, their work was facilitated by the dumbing effects of the modern Western diet.)

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