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lundi, 07 août 2017

Les fossoyeurs de la civilisation occidentale

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Friedrich P. Ost

Les fossoyeurs de la civilisation occidentale

Le « marxisme culturel » comme instrument de la rééducation s’utilise depuis des décennies pour saper les assises conservatrices de nos sociétés

La déclaration de guerre des Etats-Unis d’Amérique au Reich allemand puis à l’Empire austro-hongrois pendant la première guerre mondiale, respectivement les 6 avril et 7 décembre 1917, a sauvé l’Entente d’un effondrement prévisible et a scellé le destin des puissances dites « centrales » un an plus tard. Les bellicistes anglo-américains se rendaient toutefois compte que leur but de guerre –la défaite et l’annihilation de l’Europe et de sa civilisation- ne pouvait pas être atteint par les seuls moyens militaires mis en œuvre mais qu’il leur fallait aussi déployer des moyens « civils » parallèles. Des experts en guerre psychologique ont alors planifié la rééducation des vaincus et la subversion de leur culture par l’intérieur : l’avènement de l’école de Francfort était donc à l’ordre du jour.

En 1924, Felix Weil, fils d’un millionnaire germano-argentin, négociant en céréales, fonde l’ « Institut des Etudes sociales », rapidement inféodé à l’Université de Francfort sous l’appellation synonymique d’ « Ecole de Francfort », nom par lequel il allait connaître une notoriété mondiale. Georg Lukacs, rejeton richissime d’une famille hongroise dirigeant une banque d’investissement, tenait absolument à saper les assises de la culture européenne/occidentale. Pour y parvenir en Allemagne, il se rappelait ses propres expériences pratiques en Hongrie, lorsqu’il était Commissaire du peuple pour la culture et l’enseignement sous le régime bolchevique de Bela Kun en 1919. A cette époque-là, Lukacs avait déjà imaginé une forme d’éducation sexuelle pour les enfants des écoles dans le but de détruire les valeurs familiales. Cette expérience fit de lui un spécialiste des méthodes de rééducation qui, au bout de plusieurs décennies,  allaient nous donner le « gender mainstream » (GM) ou « gendérisme ». Cet avatar des élucubrations de Lukacs se répand aujourd’hui dans le monde entier.

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Peu après la première guerre mondiale, les idéologues de gauche se préoccupaient surtout d’un phénomène patent qui les contrariait : pourquoi la classe ouvrière, à l’exception de la Russie soviétique, avait failli dans le rôle qu’ils lui avaient assigné, à savoir d’être la porteuse de la révolution partout dans le monde. Contrairement aux prévisions de Karl Marx, les ouvriers de tous les pays belligérants étaient partis, volontaires, à la guerre pour combattre pour leur patrie au lieu de déclencher des révolutions. Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), écrivain, homme politique et chef de file des idéologues de gauche en Italie, croyait avoir trouvé la réponse : il avançait désormais l’idée qu’une révolution communiste n’était possible qu’après « une longue marche à travers les institutions ». Si cette longue marche n’avait pas lieu, les masses resteraient accrochées à la culture et aux valeurs religieuses de leurs pères. Il fallait donc éradiquer les habitudes avérées des peuples. Pour y parvenir, il fallait, poursuivait-il, placer des intellectuels révolutionnaires dans toutes les institutions culturelles et scolaires afin d’infléchir les sociétés vers le cours nouveau. Les institutions culturelles devaient véhiculer, par des livres, par les mass media et par le cinéma, des idées révolutionnaires et préparer ainsi l’avènement de « l’homme nouveau ».

Le premier directeur de l’Ecole de Francfort fut Carl Grünberg. Son successeur immédiat fut Max Horkheimer, qui prit ses fonctions en 1930. Son objectif était de poursuivre l’œuvre théorique de Georg Lukacs. Horkheimer décréta que la classe ouvrière était incapable de déclencher une révolution et posa la question : quelle catégorie de la population la remplacera dans le rôle d’initiatrice des révolutions ? Au contraire de Karl Marx, dont les positions théoriques étaient déduites de causes économiques, Horkheimer estimait que les influences culturelles étaient primordiales, influences qu’il interprétait aussi par les théories de Sigmund Freud. Il finit par affirmer que les ruptures dans l’ordre culturel en place annonçaient toujours les véritables révolutions politiques.

Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno et Erich Seligmann Fromm ont formé une deuxième vague de « francfortistes », non moins déterminante sur le plan théorique. Ils ont fondé leurs doctrines sur les recherches d’anthropologues contemporains renommés, comme par exemple celle du Britannique Joseph D. Unwin, auteur de Sex and Culture en 1934. Unwin confirmait, dans ce travail, ce que la plupart des anthropologues avaient toujours admis : toute promiscuité sexuelle débordante, contemporaine d’une inversion des rôles sexuels, avait toujours conduit les sociétés, qui la pratiquaient et la toléraient, à un déclin irréversible. Cela s’était observé dans toute l’histoire humaine au cours de ces cinq mille dernières années. Fromm part de ce constat d’Unwin pour, a contrario, propager la thèse d’une libération sexuelle sans freins. Il ajoute à cette thèse et ce projet l’idée que le sexe d’une personne n’est pas une donnée naturelle mais le produit des conditions sociales, déterminées par la société. Nous avons affaire, là, à une aberration scientifique mais elle s’est maintenue envers et contre tout jusqu’à nos jours, avec la promotion des « Gender Studies ».

L’expression « gender », dans l’usage qu’en fait la langue anglaise et, à sa suite, les tenants du « marxisme culturel », signifie le sexe mais seulement selon les critères sociaux (et non naturels-biologiques). L’expression « gender » a moins de connotations érotiques que le terme « sexe », ce qui permet son usage dans toutes les conférences mondiales organisées par les féministes et patronnées par les Nations Unies. Il faut aussi ajouter que le terme n’est guère compris en dehors de la sphère occidentale. Il permet aux rééducateurs de gauche de dissimuler habilement leurs véritables intentions, derrière des phrases pompeuses ou en apparence inoffensives (comme l’égalité des sexes ou la libération des sexes), contre lesquels personne ne soulève d’objections. Ainsi, jusqu’en 2014, en Allemagne, quelque 200 « professeurs »  et des milliers d’assistants, dans plus de cinquante universités, ont pu enseigner la pseudo-science des « gender studies ». En 1998, un citoyen honnête et préoccupé fit un procès à l’Université Humboldt pour pouvoir exercer un droit de regard sur le matériel pédagogique des dites « gender studies ». Au départ, l’Université refusait cet accès sans doute parce qu’elle craignait que le public allait bien vite s’apercevoir qu’il s’agissait d’un matériel pseudo-scientifique, dont l’utilisation abusive et manipulatrice constituait un délit punissable par la loi.

En 1933, les représentants de l’Ecole de Francfort déménagèrent à Genève d’abord puis, un an après, aux Etats-Unis, où ils furent reçus amicalement à la Columbia University. On peut avancer l’hypothèse suivante : vu leur passé puritain, les Etats-Unis se montrent généralement réceptifs à toutes les entreprises sectaires. La nouvelle base américaine de l’Ecole de Francfort a offert à ses protagonistes la possibilité de réaliser leur mission de rééducation, visant la destruction des valeurs et traditions existantes, la déconstruction de toute autorité, la dissolution de la famille et le démantèlement de l’Etat national. Ce programme a d’abord visé l’Allemagne vaincue après 1945, ensuite tous les Etats de la sphère occidentale.

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Le principe de tout réduire à du fascisme, ou d’accuser de « fascisme » tous ceux qui n’entendent pas suivre le programme à la lettre, dérive des théories et du livre de Theodor Adorno, « Die autoritäre Persönlichkeit ». Dans cet ouvrage, Adorno stigmatise tous les citoyens qui tiennent encore aux valeurs héritées : il les traite de « fascistes » (réels ou potentiels).  La méthode a connu son succès jusqu’à nos jours. Même un Vladimir Poutine est insulté de « nazi » dans la presse mensongère de la sphère occidentale alors que l’Union Soviétique a subi le poids le plus lourd de la seconde guerre mondiale dans son combat contre le Troisième Reich.

Après la guerre, Horkheimer et Adorno sont revenus en Allemagne. Demeuré aux Etats-Unis, Herbert Marcuse, entretemps, croyait avoir trouvé la catégorie sociale appelée à remplacer la classe ouvrière comme moteur de la révolution : pour lui, c’était l’ensemble des minorités. Celles-ci sont variées dans le menu proposé : cela peut être, tour à tour, les étudiants, les chômeurs, les peuples de couleur, les femmes, les mal doués pour les études, les homosexuels, les lesbiennes, les pédophiles, les criminels, les objecteurs de conscience, les militants d’extrême-gauche, les immigrés clandestins, tous ceux qui ont besoin de protection, etc. En optant pour cette survalorisation des minorités, la gauche se détache des théories de Karl Marx : les marxistes classiques n’auront que mépris pour les marcusiens, para-marcusiens et post-marcusiens. Pour eux, c’est là une pseudo-gauche ou une bande de socialistes de salon. Pour la gauche marcusienne, la révolution culturelle ne se fera donc que par le biais d’un prolétariat diplômé, alimenté par l’Etat. Les ouvriers sont dès lors considérés comme une vieillerie et la figure de Karl Marx ne sert plus qu’un but : servir de cheval de Troie pour les nouveaux vertueux auto-proclamés et pour gruger les gens du peuple encore fascinés par le socialisme traditionnel.

Marcuse est rapidement devenu le héros de la « nouvelle gauche » et a exercé une forte influence sur la génération de mai 68. Dans son ouvrage « Eros et la civilisation », il s’attaque à toutes les limitations imposées à la sexualité dans les sociétés équilibrées et plaide en faveur d’une « perversion polymorphe », comme celle que l’on peut voir à l’œuvre dans les « Life Balls » actuels, notamment ceux qui animent notre bonne ville de Vienne. Marcuse est aussi devenu l’un des représentants les plus emblématiques de la « rectitude politique » et de la « tolérance répressive ». Seuls les adeptes du « marxisme culturel » peuvent être traités avec tolérance. Tous les autres, tous ceux qui pensent autrement, doivent être traités avec la plus extrême des intolérances.

Pour faire face à la « terreur vertuïste » et à la « tolérance répressive » du marxisme culturel, le citoyen normal et décent n’a plus qu’un choix : soit il émigre et quitte le « paradis occidental », soit il se convertit et devient un « homme bon » selon les critères mis en place par l’Ecole de Francfort, en respectant les dix commandements de la « nouvelle rectitude ». Les voici :

  1. Tu ne croiras à aucun Dieu.
  2. Tu devras détruire les églises.
  3. Tu devras accueillir tous les migrants.
  4. Tu devras réclamer la dissolution de la famille.
  5. Tu devras empêcher toute nouvelle vie d’éclore.
  6. Tu devras répandre des perversions.
  7. Tu devras saluer la domination du non-droit.
  8. Tu devras combattre tous les hommes et les femmes décentes.
  9. Tu devras adhérer à la folie du « gendérisme ».
  10. Tu devras dépendre de l’Etat.

Ce « marxisme culturel » et cette rééducation se sont étendus sur près de quatre générations et ont laissé des traces profondes de déclin et de déchéance dans les sociétés régies par les Etats occidentaux. Ce qui nous oblige à dire que les alternatives à cette déliquescence, alternatives qui nous assureront seules un avenir et une évolution réellement constructives, se trouvent aujourd’hui en Europe orientale et en Asie !

Friedrich P. OST.

(article paru dans « zur Zeit », Vienne, n°21/2017, http://www.zurzeit.at ).

jeudi, 09 juin 2016

Frankfurt School Revisionism

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Frankfurt School Revisionism

Editor’s Note:

This is the transcript by V. S. of Richard Spencer’s Vanguard Podcast interview of Jonathan Bowden about the Frankfurt School and Cultural Marxism, released on February 16, 2012. You can listen to the podcast here [2]

Richard Spencer: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Vanguard! And welcome back, Jonathan Bowden, as well, my partner in thought crime! How are you, Jonathan?

Jonathan Bowden: Yes, pleased to be here!

RS: Well, I mentioned thought crime. That’s quite an apt term for the subject of discussion this week and that is cultural Marxism, critical theory, and the Frankfurt School. Those are, of course, three distinct things, but they’re obviously interrelated as well and I think they can be discussed as one.

Jonathan, to get the discussion started I think it’d be a good idea to look at cultural Marxism historically and ask where it’s coming from and, in particular, what was the milieu like in interwar Germany where so many of these figures like Adorno and Benjamin and Horkheimer arose.

JB: Yes, I think you’ve got waves of feminism, as we discussed in a previous podcast, and now you’ve got waves of Marxism or waves within waves. Marxism, when it started out of course, had a lot of cultural theory attached to it, and Marx was heavily influenced by utopian socialist theory early on in the so-called Paris Manuscripts and that sort of thing. That was all junked, and Marxism became a heavily economically-concentric discourse, very reductive economically. An alleged science, now regarded 150 years on from those events as a sort of pseudo-science. This remained in play into the early stages of the 20th century, and Marxist parties tended to replicate that at a lower sort of political level.

But in and around the First World War with Gramsci’s ideas, which he wrote down in The Prison Notebooks when he was interned, a type of cultural discourse began to emerge whereby Gramsci had the idea that the superstructure and the base of society were disconnected so that things could exist at a cultural level which were not totally economically determined and couldn’t be held completely to be economically managed. Also, in order to discuss them you needed a wide field of reference.

Partly this was the desire of frustrated intellectuals who wanted to use Marxism. They also wanted to discuss culture, which was their abiding source of interest, but it was also an attempt to broaden the appeal of Marxian ideas. In the ’20s and ’30s in Germany, schools of writers began to emerge that were only concerned with man and society, in John Plamenatz’s term, and were not concerned really with econometrics or economic determinism at all and were only Marxian in this newfangled way and had a heavily theoretical take on life.

I remember a Marxian deconstructionist lecturer once telling me 30 years ago that the bourgeois goes to life with common sense but the Marxist with his theory. This theoretical overload whereby everything in life has to be theorized and every text that one comes across has to be subjected to critical analysis or critical theory gave rise to this school that was concerned with the examination of literary texts, with cultural anthropology, with sociology, with social psychology, with adaptations of most of the social sciences to life and were only vaguely concerned with economics.

Neumann_Behemoth_Structure_Practice.jpgFor instance, Franz Neumann’s large book, Behemoth, which is a Marxian analysis of the economics of National Socialist Germany, was one of the few works of economics that was ever written that came out of the Frankfurt School. Most of it was concerned with cultural critique and critical cultural theory involving very outlandish areas such as sociology of music, which was a particular area of Adorno’s concern.

RS: Let me jump in here and mention a few things. It’s worth pointing out that the Marxist project had failed on its own terms by the 1930s in the sense that Gramsci – and I think that some of his writings weren’t really known until much later in the ’50s – was put in prison by Fascists. In Italy, the Fascists had won, and they had defeated a lot of the Marxist parties. They had some proletarian support, I’m sure, and things like this. The whole Marxian project and economic determinism of capitalism creating these contradictions that create some sort of apocalyptic scenario and the proletariat rises up, that really hadn’t happened.

And also with Frankfurt School members, at least ostensibly they were highly critical of what the Soviet Union had become. The Soviet Union wasn’t really it. It wasn’t the utopia. It was maybe something they deemed a perversion.

So, those were certainly important factors, and also it’s worth pointing out that if we’re talking about the Frankfurt School milieu of Adorno and Benjamin you had people that probably weren’t that interested in economics. Benjamin, some of his great writings are on 19th-century culture in one book, but aphoristic writings about life in the modern age, and certainly Adorno was sort of a classical music snob. He was very interested in Beethoven and something like that.

Anyway, it’s a very interesting milieu that all of this came out of. But anyway, Jonathan, maybe you can talk about two things. Where was it going and what was really the essence of their cultural project?

JB: I think the essence of their cultural project was to revolutionarily change the way in which Western culture was thought about and received. So, it was a grandstanding ambition, at any rate. It was to totally change the way in which Western culture was perceived by those who had created it and by those who were the receptors of its creation. I think this involved, basically, an attempt to go back to the theory that pre-existed the French Revolution, because the big book by Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, is really about the pre-revolutionary theories and is a critique of the Enlightenment from the Left, not the Right.

But they begin by going back, as radical theorists always do, to first principles and criticize the Enlightenment. Their criticism of the Enlightenment is essentially that it is an attempt by scientific man or would-be scientific man to place himself at the heart of the universe to dominate nature and in so doing enact an enormous revenge. The great theory about Fascism in Dialectic of Enlightenment by Adorno and Horkheimer is that Fascism represents the revenge of a violated nature and is the revenge of a sociobiological current that would not exist if there weren’t attempts to entrap nature within the nexus of progress.

So, already you’re getting a strange idea here. You’re getting a sort of anti-progressive Leftism. You’re getting Leftism which is critical of capitalism and modernity whereas classical Marxism is extraordinarily in favor of capitalism and modernity but just wished to succeed it with another state: socialism and late modernity.

RS: Right. Or hypermodernity.

JB: Hypermodernity, yes.

RS: Well, let’s talk a little bit about this because, as we were talking about off-air when we were first thinking about doing a podcast on this, the mainstream conservative movement, at least in America, is actually somewhat familiar with the Frankfurt School. At least, its intellectuals are and they think they know it as the source of the 1960s and political correctness and so on and so forth. But I always feel that I don’t recognize Cultural Marxism in the way that it’s often depicted by movement ideologues.

So, let’s talk a little about this, put a little pressure on the idea of Enlightenment and dialectic of enlightenment. One of the key scenes, if you will, in that book, which I guess is worth reading but it’s an extremely difficult text to read . . . Just as an aside, I met this German when I was in graduate school and he mentioned that he only read Adorno in English translation because even in the original German language it’s extremely dense.

theodor-adorno.jpgBut anyway, Adorno and Horkheimer aren’t just seeing that Fascism is some reaction of capitalist forces against the Communist wave or something like that. They’re seeing Fascism as coming out of a bourgeois world, and they’re seeing something really wrong at the heart of bourgeois modernity, and I think they picture this in the form of Odysseus who wants to be bound at the mast and is going to renounce man’s more natural being and instead embrace a stern, hard modern man. There’s a world to be made, and we’ve got to go build it.

So, maybe talk a little more about this concept of enlightenment on the part of Horkheimer and Adorno and how this led to a kind of New Left. One that might even have some conservative tendencies in the sense of the abuses against nature.

JB: Yes, it’s an odd one actually, because it’s a sort of would-be foundational Leftism strongly influenced by Hegel, strongly influenced by the early Marx, strongly influenced by Plekhanov who taught Lenin a lot of his Marxism and was a Menshevik, technically, strongly influenced by Gramsci, whose texts would have been known to Marxian intellectuals at that time, and strongly influenced by the “culture of critique,” you could say.

Instead of seeing the Enlightenment as progressive, they see the Enlightenment as an Endarkenment, as a period that’s propriety to bourgeois revolutions which may not be entirely progressive and were afflicted with terror. So, they have a differentiated appreciation of these things. They also have to find the enemy somewhere else, because if the enemy is not really as classical Marxism depicted it and its alleged revolution led to Leninism and Stalinism they have to find their enemy somewhere else, and the enemy for the New Left influenced by the Frankfurt School is alienation. Alienation from modernity, alienation from culture which is capitalist in its predicates, alienation from what they call the culture industry, whereby modern man is totally trapped within the cultural space created by the economy and where there is no room at all for, in conservative terms, folk-based authenticity.

They would never use those sorts of terms, of course, and they would consider them to be reactionary, hubristic terms, but because there is a cultural pessimism, particularly about the cultural life of the masses under capitalist economics and even under socialist economics in the Eastern Bloc to a lesser extent, there is an opening out to vistas of cultural conservatism. This is the Frankfurt School’s inner secret.

I remember professor Roger Scruton, the conservative intellectual, about 25 years ago now included conservative features of the Frankfurt School under one of the headings of cultural conservatism in his dictionary of political philosophy and this caused a little bit of a stir.

But when you look at the fact that, although they sort of found Wagner rather loathsome in relation to what they regarded it as leading to, the classical sort of Schumann, Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, sort of icons of Germanic, Middle European culture are exactly the icons that in particular they are the most in favor of. Just as classical Marxism is in favor of bourgeois politics and revolutionism over and against the mercantilism and semi-feudalism that preceded it as it looked to the socialism that it thought was going to replace it, they are in favor of radical bourgeois subjectivity epitomized by Beethoven, in their view, and his symphonies, which proclaims the sort of seniority of the bourgeois subject at a moment when the bourgeois subject feels itself to be empowered and all-conquering and the fleeting identification of the meta-subjectivity of the subject that Beethoven accords Napoleon Bonaparte, as he sees him to be an embodiment of the will of bourgeois man.

All of these ideas are there in Adorno’s sociology of music, which is in some ways a sort of Marxian cultural appreciation of great Western icons which could be considered as slightly rueful and slightly conservative with a small “c.” It’s as if he arrives at certain tentative cultural conclusions which are themselves outside of the nature of the theory which he’s allegedly espousing. He’s certainly not alienated by these sorts of musicologists at all.

The point, of course, is that they are the springboard for the modernist experiments of Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, but that was a radical thing to say when they said it. That’s now regarded as an old hat statement in classical musical criticism. But that’s what they were with Mahler as an intermediary. Mahler between Bruckner and Schoenberg. That sort of thinking and a rejection of Sibelius, who was insulted quite severely by Adorno and the adoration of early to late Schoenberg as the future of music. This became the standard repertoire. The irony is it’s in culture that that theory had its most direct impact. Politically, they’ve had very little impact. It’s in the politics of culture that they’ve not conquered the board but they entered the fabric of what now exists at university level.

RS: Yes, I agree. Even in the fact of criticizing Wagner, the fact that you treat him as this major figure that must be confronted is way reactionary and has conservative tendencies. I mean, I don’t see anyone in the contemporary conservative movement to have much interest in these Romantic titans at all in that sense.

Let’s talk a little bit about the Frankfurt School’s journey to America. It’s quite an interesting one. The Frankfurt School was almost entirely Jewish. I don’t know if there were actually any exceptions to that. There might be.

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JB: No, there aren’t. It’s unique in that sense. It’s almost stereotypical. Adorno was half Jewish, and a few of the others were this and that, but basically yes they were almost in toto.

RS: Right. And not only were they Jews but they were Marxists, so needless to say they weren’t accepted in the Third Reich, although they weren’t really directly . . . I guess the Frankfurt School was shut down. I don’t think any of them were, at least personally, persecuted. I know Adorno was even traveling back to Germany on occasion at that time. But anyway, they did move and they went to America and there was actually a kind of exile community in which I believe Schoenberg and Thomas Mann and Theodor Adorno were all living together in a Los Angeles suburb or something like that. It’s quite interesting!

But they also were received, ironically, by the elite. A lot of the Frankfurt School members actually worked for the OSS, which would eventually become the CIA during the Second World War, and they were also getting grants. I believe Adorno got a Rockefeller grant working at Columbia University. They definitely had a reception by the more elite American opinions.

Was it the Rockefeller grant that actually sponsored The Authoritarian Personality?

JB: Yes, that’s right.

RS: Yeah. So, let’s talk a little about this, the next stage of their journey when they became Americans.

JB: Yes, the American stage was interesting because in many ways it contradicts the pure theorizing that they were into, because, although they were given grants and cultural access by these people and seen as sort of honorific rebels against Fascism who had to be supported in the war of ideas, they had to change and water down their theory. They also had to adopt a lot more empirical studies, which was anathema to people like Adorno who hated empiricism. But, of course, empiricism is the Anglo-American way of looking at things. They had to adapt or die, basically. They had to adapt and they had to come up with theoretically-based nostrums that could lead to epidemiological testing and criminological types of testing and almost tick-box forms which ended in the slightly reductive program known as the pursuit of an authoritarian personality with this notorious F-Scale. F for Fascism.

Many of these tests are regarded as slightly embarrassing now and are quite redundant and also not very much used, because although certain people do have more authoritarian casts of personality than others it’s not really a predicate for political positioning because there’s all sorts of hard social democratic positions and authoritarian far Left positions, for example.

RS: Right.

JB: Which go with more authoritarian character structure and don’t align into the F-Scale which these people would like to make out.

However, they were very influential in the rebuilding of Germany after the Second World War, and this is where their theory enters into the mainstream in many ways, because one of their great points is, “What do you do in a democratic society with all the institutions of control, with all the valences of state and other forms of oppressiveness?” as they would see it: the military-industrial complex, the people who work in the security services, the people who work analyzing information on behalf of those services, the people who work in the large prisons and psychiatric environments that exist in all societies, particularly in Western societies?

They always had the view that these people needed to be watched in a way and needed to be prevented from having some of the natural affinities that they would otherwise have if you let them outside of the remit of your theory. This idea that you almost watched the authoritarian gatekeepers in society for signs of “incorrectness” has entered into the mainstream. Very much so.

RS: Yes, I agree that the conservative movement, the mainstream view of the Frankfurt School, that view is really one of Adorno and The Authoritarian Personality. That’s where their criticism really fits, but of course there’s so much more. But that’s certainly a way where you see critical theorists most directly attacking normal bourgeois people. If you have some, what we might call, healthy patriotic opinions that’s high up on the F-Scale.

JB: That’s right, yes.

RS: So, I think in some ways The Authoritarian Personality is probably Adorno and the rest of them at their most cartoonish or something, and it’s not really the most interesting.

JB: That’s right, and there’s a sort of theory by explicators of that school, like Martin Jay and others, that what they’re well known for, such as the F-Scale and so on which was really a concession to their friends and to the people that were giving them grants because what really interested them was this extraordinarily elaborate theory whereby everything in life, particularly in cultural life, was theorized in books like Negative Dialectics by Adorno and Aesthetic Theory, which was unfinished at his death and dedicated to Samuel Beckett, and his support for elements of the avant-garde in the counter-culture during the 1960s, which is a perverse Marxian support because it’s not based on the fact that it’s radical and that it’s coming from the age and that it’s countering that which exists formally, although there’s a little bit of that.

The reason he supports these things is that he believes that the cultural industry is so monolithic, the culture of entertainment and the degradation of the masses is so absolute that only in these little fissures and these tiny, little spaces which are opened up by the critical avant-garde, who often deny easy understanding and deny mediation and deny the audience the collateral of a closure at the end of a piece so that people go away happy or satisfied and that sort of thing, what they are doing is opening a space for genuine culture to exist. That’s why he dedicated it to Beckett, you see.

So, underneath a lot of this theorizing there is a pessimistic despair, a sort of morphology of despair, and that’s very unusual for a Leftist position. It’s usually associated with a Spenglerian, conservative cultural disdain and pessimism for the degradation of the masses under all forms of life and that wish the life of culture could extend and be deeper and be more transvaluated than it is.

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RS: Right. You know, this is all quite interesting and at the risk of pushing this Adorno as conservative idea too far, actually recently there was a book of his music criticism. I guess not too recent. It was a book of translations and probably published in 2004 or so. I remember reading it, and he had an interesting essay where he in some ways rethought Wagner and had many positive things to say about Wagner. Believe it or not, he actually had positive things to say about Houston Stewart Chamberlain in the sense that Houston Stewart Chamberlain was a racialist thinker, a god of the far Right, racialist Right, and he said that he saw that one of his reactions against the culture of England and his Romantic embrace of Germany was a kind of reaction against the tyranny of industrialization and that he imagined a more unalienated, authentic world in Germany and that almost these Right-wing strivings were that reaction against capitalism or something. So, again, there is a lot of complexity to all these people and they’re not easily pigeon-holed.

I do want to talk about the 1960s, but before that let’s just put a little more pressure on the culture industry because I think that’s a very useful term for us. I think that’s a term we should be using and maybe even using it in a lot of the same ways that Adorno did. But maybe just talk a little bit more about that idea of the culture industry, what it is, and what Adorno was seeing in mid-20th century America.

JB: Yes, he basically had the idea that the masses were totally degraded by a capitalist and market-driven culture whereby from advertising through to popular cinema to the popular television that was beginning and that would replace cinema and add to it and was an extension of it you have a totally seamless environment in which the masses live which today would be characterized by the popular internet, by the big TV channels, by MTV, by pop music videos, by pop music in all of its various forms.

Don’t forget, Adorno was extraordinarily scathing about jazz, which is regarded as deeply unprogressive and his disgust and distaste for jazz is almost visceral.

RS: Racist!

JB: Yes, almost. In contemporary terms and the terms of the New Left, there is this sort of despairing mid-20th century Viennese intellectual who despises the culture of the masses and that comes very close to an elitist position. It may be a Left-wing elitist position, but it’s an elitist position nonetheless, and once you admit elitism in any area, even if it’s only the cultural one, cultural selectivity, you begin to adopt ramifications elsewhere that are unstoppable.

Although he could never be seen as a neo-conservative figure — these are people who believe that the family is a gun in the hands of the bourgeoisie and that criminality is directly proportionate to its punishment — in other words, you get more criminality because you punish people who are only victims anyway — so don’t forget, these are the sorts of conceits that the Frankfurt School believes in, but the very complexity of their analysis alienates them from populist Left-wing politics and alienates them from easy sloganeering, which is why they’ve been taken up by intellectuals and yet not by mainstream Leftist political movements because their work is just too difficult, it’s too abstruse, it’s too obsessed with fine art and high culture, particularly musical but also in the cinema.

Going back to an analyst called Kracauer in the 1920s, the intellectual analysis of Weimar cinema and expressionist cinema at that was very important to them and they saw that time of cinema’s use of the unconscious, as people would begin to call it later in the century after Freud’s cultural influence, led them into slightly interesting and creative cultural vistas that are not simple and are not reducible to political slogans, but they do ultimately tend to a type of rather pessimistic ultra-Leftist postmodernism.

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RS: Yes. Well, let’s talk about the 1960s and the New Left and the hippies and the ’68 violent protests and so on and so forth.

What do you think the connections are between the two of them? I know that supposedly — I wasn’t there, of course — in Berkeley in 1968, they were chanting, “Marx, Mao, Marcuse!” Herbert Marcuse was, of course, from the same milieu as Adorno. He was a Hegelian professor and had an upper bourgeois Jewish background. He remained in America. Adorno would return to Central Europe, but he remained, and he is writing books like Eros and Civilization that were a kind of Marxian-Freudian liberation philosophy kind of thing that the future was about polymorphous perversity. These kinds of things. And certainly very different from Adorno’s more kind of fastidious bourgeois nature.

So, what are the connections between the youth movement of the 1960s and the Frankfurt School? Because in some ways it’s strange bedfellows. It’s different generations. The hippies and anti-war protestors probably couldn’t spell Hegel. A very wide gulf between the people like Adorno and these new kids. So, what are the connections? Do you think as the conservative movement would like to believe that the Frankfurt School were kind of the prophets of sick 1968 or is it a little more difficult?

JB: They are and they aren’t. I think that what happened is intermediate theorists emerged who are not as complicated and whose work could be assimilated to political struggle and sloganeering.

Marcuse is that example. Marcuse wrote several books, the most prominent of which is One-Dimensional Man and Eros and Civilization. One of which is a full-on Left-American attack on modern corporate America, where he anathematizes what will come to be known as the military-industrial complex and what was called the welfare-warfare state whereby welfare is paid in order to keep the masses bedded down and at the same time the perfect society is always engineered out of existence by endless wars in the Second and Third World which are always for the prospect of peace, but the peace never arrives, and there’s always just another war just around the corner, and, of course, the wars are to make profits for the military-industrial complex which is increasingly considered to be the most advanced capitalist part of America in which the political class is totally embedded.

RS: Right. So, what you’re saying is that they were absolutely correct.

JB: Of course, there are many similarities on the other side politically, because Harry Elmer Barnes edited a very large volume called Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, which is very similar from a revisionist sort of school whether isolationist or American nationalist or American libertarian. The people who contributed to that book had a very similar analysis to the one that Marcuse would have of American foreign policy.

Of course, this was occurring in the era of the Cold War when the threat was seen to be the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, Maoist China and by arguing for pacifism and isolation you’re arguing for Communist victory elsewhere in the world by the logic of power politics. That’s how Cold War warriors and anti-Communists would have responded to the Marcuse front.

But Marcuse enabled Frankfurt School-related ideas to be politically assimilated by the growing forces of the student New Left, and that’s why they used him as the theorist of choice, because he’s exportable in student terms. He also put himself forward as a student leader, at least theoretically, something which the other Frankfurters were too fey and too theoretical and too abstract and abstruse ever to do. They never would have thought students would listen to their lectures even if they were talking Marxian analysis. Adorno, of course, died as a result of a student action in Germany in the late 1960s when the podium was stormed by some action front hippies or yippies who embraced Adorno — whether they had flowers in their hair, metaphorically, I’m not too sure — and they chanted that as an institution “Adorno is dead,” and Adorno collapsed and had a heart attack relatively soon afterwards and died.

RS: Oh gosh.

JB: This is taken as a sort metaphorization in a way that despite his sort of would-be leadership role of the theorist in relation to these people they were two different universes and the Frankfurt School intellectuals were deeply shocked actually that the West German popular press, particularly the center Right press, held them responsible morally for the emergence of terrorist organizations in West Germany, such as the Baader-Meinhof which later morphed into the Red Army Faction or RAF.

It’s only, of course, come out retrospectively during the latter stages of the Cold War and after the wall came down that the Stasi when the traditional sources of power in East Germany were heavily behind the RAF gave them military expertise and explosives and told them which sites to attack and so on, so that they were as much an extension of the oldest parts of the old Left as they were of the newest parts of the New Left.

Nevertheless, theorists are not always insightful about how the world will use their theory and the Frankfurt School is a classic example of ivory tower intellectuals who partly get a little bit broken up and mangled on the wheel of history.

But Marcuse is an intermediate speaker who the student Left are able to make use of because they can understand what he’s saying. Adorno and Horkheimer and Löwenthal are too abstract, basically. They’re on their own as theorists.

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RS: Yeah. Jonathan, to bring the discussion to a close, what do you think is the legacy of these thinkers? In some ways, this is a very big question, because I’m also kind of asking what is the legacy of the New Left and all of this and what is political correctness today. What does it mean and how is it connected with these 20th-century Marxisms?

JB: Yes, this is a difficult one because it’s so diffuse. Yet what I think has happened is they’ve changed the entire temperature which existed, particularly at the university level and amorphously the general media level that feeds out of that at the higher end. What’s happened is that once they lost the hard Left accretions of sympathy for the Soviet Union — witness a text like Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism, which although very short is extremely critical and he’d had been sent to a psychiatric unit or put in a camp for a text like that if he had produced that inside one of those societies, as Marcuse well knew.

You’ve got this great sort of uniformity and diffuseness of the contemporary Left which has collapsed into liberalism, seamlessly taken parts of its agenda over, is no longer associated with apologetic statements about Stalinism, distances itself from all Left-wing atrocities and has critiques of those as well, is part of the seamless liberal-Leftist course that straddles the center and goes right out to the softer reaches of the far Left, bifurcated from the hard Left beyond it.

In all of these institutions, Frankfurt School views play a role. They play a role in defeating the culture of conservatism in all areas: racial and ethnic, criminological and social, areas such as police studies, PhDs written about the prison service, modern theories about cinema. In all of these areas, in cultural studies is a discourse which has only emerged from art colleges in the last 20 years, which is heavily saturated with Frankfurt School-ish types of ideas.

You see the deconstruction and the breaking down of the prior cultural conservatism. They are the intellectual tip of the liberal society which has stepped away from the conservative societies of the 1950s and 1960s.

Up until the ’60s in the West, you had largely a stereotypical center Right to Rightish conservative society, polity, academy, media, and culture, and after that you have a step change to a liberal instead of a conservative society, media, culture, and cultural disseminating strata. This has continued throughout the decades since the 1960s. You’ve had about 50 years now. So, you have a situation where over this 50 year period throughout all of the institutions that matter soft Left theory, theory without hard edges and without endorsement of anti-humanist crimes committed by the ultra-Left all over the world, has become the default position for many people in the arts, in psychology, in medical practice, in psychiatric practice, in nearly all institutions of the state. With the exception of the military and the raw force-based criterion, the areas of state power that rely on the use of force, almost all other areas have been infected by these types of theory. Psychiatric institutions have been and, although it’s a bit of a stretch, the anti-psychiatric movement through R. D. Laing, through Fromm, and through Marcuse, is heavily influenced by at least a proportion of these sorts of ideas.

In the theory of Lyotard and in the theory of Deleuze, is the bourgeois really insane? Are schizophrenics the sane who walk amongst us? Deleuze and Guattari’s text Anti-Oedipus in which the schizophrenic is seen as the last redoubt of sanity in a mad capitalist world, which is by any rational credence insane. Therefore, you have to look to the insane to find the redoubt of sanity.

These sorts of ideas, post-Foucault in the late 20th century, are no longer that eccentric. They were once the most eccentric ideas you could have which conservatives essentially just laughed at. Now, they’ve taken over the institutions. But it’s been in a gradualist and would-be well-meaning and soft-minded sort of way, because this theory has taken over and cultural conservatives have retreated before it to such a degree that there’s hardly any of them left.

RS: I agree. You know, I might disagree with you slightly. I think Cultural Marxism has infected the military in the United States. It’s kind of incredible, but yet we have a major Army general claiming that diversity is the great strength of America’s armed forces as they go overseas to bring women into undergraduate colleges. So, it’s been quite a triumph!

One thing I would just mention, picking up on all these ideas you’ve put forward. I’ve always thought about this; there’s this staying power of let’s call it the postmodern New Left or Cultural Marxism. It’s had this long, decades-long staying power, and if you think about major avant-garde, modernist movements, they were a candle that burned really quickly. They almost burned themselves out.

If you just look at — just to pick one at random — the Blue Rider group or something like that. This is something that lasted maybe 4 years. Dadaism would kind of make a splash and then dissipate and go off into other movements and things like this.

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If you look at the art galleries — conceptual art, postmodern art — they’ve been doing the same stuff for maybe 40 or 50 years now! If you look at women’s studies, African-American studies, critical race theory, all this kind of stuff, Foucault . . . I mean, it’s obviously changing, but it’s had this staying power that it’s almost become conservative, and I think this is a great irony.

I don’t know where avant-garde art can go. I don’t know how many times you need to, proverbially speaking, put a crucifix in piss. It’s one attempt to shock the bourgeoisie after another to the point that it becomes old and stale and certainly institutionalized in the sense that many people will go to get masters in fine arts in all these institutions and learn from the great masters of conceptual shock. So, this is a very strange thing about our culture where we have this conservatism amongst postmodern Cultural Marxism.

Do you think this is going to break down, or do you think, Jonathan, that because political correctness has become so obvious or because it’s become something easily ridiculed that it’s going to be overturned or at least come to an end? Do you see that or is that being a little too optimistic?

JB: It might be a bit too optimistic in the short run. I think it’s become institutionalized in a way which those art movements you categorized earlier on have not been for several reasons.

1) It’s a non-fictional area. It’s an academic area, and academics have tenure in mind, and these art movements are sudden, instantaneous, bohemian, and largely outsider movements. They usually row intensely with the major figures who sort of break from each other over a finite period. Surrealism almost came to an end when Breton insisted that they all join the Communist Party in France, but many of them didn’t want to do that. They joined it for discussion and alcoholic treats and to meet women and that sort of thing and to have a chance to exhibit. That’s why most people join art movements.

It’s also not particularly concerned with creation either. It’s concerned with reflexive creativity academically. So, somebody will go through the process of a first degree or second degree, they’ll get the PhD, which is influenced by one of these theoretical figures, and then they’ll become a tenured lecturer over time, and they provide a paradigm or a model for their students as they come up. So, the thing becomes replicating over a career path.

What you’ve had is you’ve had a couple of generations who’ve now done this within the academy, and they’ve also worked for a situation where there’s very little kick against them because there’s very little Right-wing left in the academy. It’s almost totally gone now. It almost can’t survive the pressure valves that have been put on it to such a degree that it’s almost impossible for it to survive. This has meant the rather desert-like, arid terrain of the new left, small “n,” small “l,” really, now dominates the tertiary sector of education, which is why the Left is so strong.

In a mass capitalist world where they feel that people are degraded by the cultural industry, nevertheless what you might call the PBS culture, the national endowments for the arts culture, is completely saturated with this sort of material, and there’s little way to shake it at the present time unless they’re radically disfunded or unless a way can be worked for forces of counter-culture to enter the university space again. Probably only on the internet is the space that they can now adopt and that, of course, is what’s happened for all of these ideas, such as this podcast we’re having today. They’ve gravitated towards the internet, because this is the only space left.

RS: Well, Jonathan, we are the counter-culture. I think that’s one thing that’s been clear to me for some time. But thank you once again for being on the podcast. This was a brilliant discussion, and I look forward to another one next week.

JB: Thanks very much! All the best!rticle printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/06/frankfurt-school-revisionism/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/HorkheimerAdorno.jpg

[2] here: http://www.radixjournal.com/bowden/2014/7/24/frankfurt-school-revisionism

 

dimanche, 24 avril 2016

Cultural Marxism and the Birth of Modern Thought-Crime

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Cultural Marxism and the Birth of Modern Thought-Crime

By

Global Gold & http://www.lewrockwell.com

If a person has no philosophical thoughts, certain questions will never cross his mind. As a young man, there were many issues and ideas that never concerned me as they do today. There is one question, however, which has intrigued me for the longest time, and it still fascinates me as intensely as it did back then: Does spirit precede matter or is it the other way around? In other words, does human consciousness create what we perceive as our reality and the physical existence or vice versa; does the pre-existing material world determine our sentience and shape our cognition? In essence, what really lies beneath the surface of this question is the following: is a man born as a conscious being with a free will and self-determination or not?

Do not be alarmed; this is not an article on political philosophy. But it is a fundamental existential issue that I found underpins many of the doubts that I have regarding the functioning of our society and our political culture. While I freely admit I am no philosopher or expert in the field, in this article I will try to explain why the answer we choose to this crucial question, which most people never consider, has an amazing impact on the way we think, the way we live and act and the way society behaves as a whole.  By diving deeper into this debate, we uncover important insights that can help us understand how our Western society and its cultural identity have vastly degenerated and especially why family values have so dramatically deteriorated. A clearer understanding of the historical evolution of this age-old question and its far-reaching implications will provide valuable insights into the intellectual crisis of our Western societies and the strategic suppression of dissent and of independent thought and it will shed light on the origins on the intellectual bondage that we know today as Political Correctness.

The Kantian heritage and the intellectual shackles of Nonage

260px-Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait).jpgI believe it makes sense to start our quest to settle this age-old question by looking at the works of Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804), the German philosopher who is considered the father of modern philosophy. In 1784 he wrote the following about Enlightenment:

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind without another’s guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) “Have the courage to use your own understanding,” is, therefore, the motto of the Enlightenment.”

Today’s economic and political forces seem to be cognizant of the peril posed by a free-thinking citizenry. As our western culture faces an existential crisis and suffers attacks from multiple fronts, the political elite appears to be focused on enforcing its will at all costs. They are desperately trying to keep a multitude of threats at bay, and failing to do so, they are content with simply having the public accept their failure as a strategic victory: the immigration crisis, chronic economic instability, geopolitical conflicts with horrendous human costs, violations of personal liberties, they are all to be taken as facts of life; this is sold to us as the new normal. Therefore, their priority is to keep the body politic in check, to crush dissent and rebel-rousing. To do so, laws against specific actions are not enough. To “keep the peace”, one needs to have laws against thought itself. By re-defining right and wrong, controlling the narrative and limiting independent thought and free speech, the public, as a whole, remains strategically malleable and intellectually manageable.

Given the success of this strategy, and bearing in mind Kant’s definition of Enlightenment, it seems pertinent to raise the question: did we ever manage to evolve into mature and enlightened individuals or are we still trapped in our own self-imposed nonage? I believe the latter is the case; and to further clarify my view, there is no better man to quote than Kant himself:

“Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remains minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on–then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me. Those guardians who have kindly taken our supervision upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of mankind–among them the entire fair sex–should consider the step to maturity, not only as hard but as extremely dangerous. First, these guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings to which they have fastened them. Then they show them the danger that would threaten them if they should try to walk by themselves. Now this danger is really not very great; after stumbling a few times they would, at last, learn to walk. However, examples of such failures intimidate and generally discourage all further attempts.”

The Frankfurt School and the origins of political correctness

What is becoming increasingly hard to deny, especially in Europe and the USA, is that we no longer have the absolute and inalienable right to free speech. Although we claim to be proud citizens of democratic societies that, in theory, respect and uphold individual freedoms, in practice, the definition of what constitutes free speech has grown so withered and so narrow, that it often makes a mockery of the very principle itself.  More and more topics have been classified as “off limits”, the public expression of the “wrong” personal opinions and ideas has been criminalized and even academic or scientific research of certain fields has been suppressed. But symptoms of our socially enforced self-censorship are evident in everyday conversations as well: Is it not deeply unsettling that it is next to impossible to have a normal, temperate debate about the immigration crisis, which is an existential matter that will most likely shape the future of the European continent?  The natural rights to one’s own independent thinking and to free speech have been heavily curtailed under the guise of what is now referred to as ‘political correctness’. Speaking one’s mind freely can have them branded as a pariah and a direct threat to society, but the repercussions do not end there: Self- censorship is also enforced through new laws implemented by our moral leaders, who feel that the power vested in them through their governmental offices extends to also placing limitations on what we can and cannot think.

250 years ago, Kant stressed the need for public debate as follows:

“It is very difficult for the individual to work himself out of the nonage which has become almost second nature to him. He has even grown to like it and is at first incapable of using his own understanding because he has never been permitted to exercise it. It is possible, however, for the public to enlighten itself. Indeed, if it is only granted freedom, enlightenment is almost inevitable. There will always be a few independent thinkers, even among the self-appointed guardians of the multitude. Once such men have thrown off the yoke of nonage, they will spread about them the spirit of a reasonable appreciation of man’s value and of his duty to think for himself. It is especially to be noted that the public which was earlier brought under the yoke by these men afterward forces these very guardians to remain in submission if it is so incited by some of its guardians who are themselves incapable of any enlightenment. That shows how pernicious it is to implant prejudices: they will eventually revenge themselves upon their authors or their authors’ descendants. Therefore, a public can achieve enlightenment only slowly. A revolution may bring about the end of a personal despotism or of avaricious tyrannical oppression, but never a true reform of modes of thought. New prejudices will serve, in place of the old, as guide lines for the unthinking multitude.”

In short, without the freedom to debate openly, the individual has not the means to escape his self-imposed nonage. Without the possibility to break free, and to enlighten ourselves, we remain powerless to question, to object to and to challenge the status quo. Like pieces on a chessboard, we have no say in our own fates and no control over the stratagems that we implicitly help to enforce. Silently complicit in devastating policies, in conflicts and in wars being fought in our name, we simply become bystanders and look on as our culture corrodes, our values degrade and our liberties are trampled upon. To understand how the modern man became complicit in his own intellectual subjugation, we have to go back and trace the roots of the crisis.

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“Emancipation through indoctrination”

Free thought and free speech have always been intertwined and correlated. The demise of both has its origins in the years between 1930 and 1968 when a group of intellectuals and so-called philosophers came together to establish a school of thought that was essentially focused on destroying Western civilization and all that it stands for (including its economic system based on capitalism) through ‘emancipation’. Max Horkheimer, a Marxist philosopher, was one of the founding fathers of the Frankfurt School, which embodied modern Critical Theory and was to a great extent characterized as neo-Marxist. Horkheimer, along with Jürgen Habermas, Theodor W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and Erich Fromm, to name but a few formed the Frankfurt School and its Institute for Social Research, an intellectual think-tank, that shaped the cultural understanding of the West and Germany in particular. According to Horkheimer, the critical theory would serve “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them.” Accordingly, their main objective was to create the theoretical and ideological platform for a cultural revolution. This group of “philosophers” sought to, and to a great extent, succeeded in achieving their objective by focusing specifically on culture. It is a culture that forms the foundation that shapes peoples’ mindsets and political outlook by controlling the language and ideas through institutional channels, particularly education. In short, Critical Theory is the politicization of logic. Horkheimer stated that “logic is not irrespective of content,” by which he practically meant that an argument is logical if it aims to destroy Western civilization and it is illogical if it supports it. This is, of course, the cornerstone of “political correctness” and why the open and unrestrained debate is frowned upon as subversive and inflammatory. It breeds dissent and doubt, it encourages critical analysis and it prevents intellectual uniformity and group-think.

Critical Theory and the war on God 

Couverture-673x1024.jpgThe Frankfurt School claimed that its Critical Theory is the theory of truth. The occidental philosophy, from St. Thomas Aquinas to Kant, as well as Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, and Goethe, should, therefore, be summarily dismissed and replaced by their own dogmatic set of rules and guidelines for “thinking right”. Critical Theory in sociology and political philosophy went beyond interpretation and understanding of society, it sought to overcome and destroy all barriers that, in their view, entrapped society in systems of domination, oppression, and dependency.

A principal yet controversial argument concerns their animosity towards religion and spirituality. According to the Frankfurt School, Christianity is the institutional revival of pagan philosophy and God is mere fiction. Religion led people to project their suffering to a divine entity, it served as a distraction from the misery caused by capitalism and in its core lies nothing but pure imagination. As the theories of Darwinism and Freudianism challenged the status of religion, accordingly, Marxism and Neo-Marxism dispelled the unenlightened mythical image of the age-old institutionalized divinity: Not God, but Man is the highest entity. Since it is not my purpose to discuss theology, but to demonstrate the mindset of the members of this school of thought, once again, I will refer to a quote by Immanuel Kant, who wrote the following in Critique of Pure Reason:

“Human reason, in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to consider questions, which it cannot evade, as they are presented by its own nature, but which it cannot answer, as they transcend every faculty of the mind.” 

Kant was known as a fierce critic of the practice of religion, but he recognized that cognition and rationalization are indicative of the human mind and spirit, and are the means by which the individual arrives at the conclusion that there is a God. The significance of this argument lies in Kant’s belief in the free will and determination of the human mind to develop this process of rationalization in order to arrive at the conclusion that man is essentially good. In this context, God is more of a metaphor for morality and this plays a decisive role in the fundamental spirit versus matter question: Man’s mind and spirit precedes matter. Essentially, Kant reconciled these two concepts in a way that highlights human consciousness and self- determination.

The Frankfurt School positioned its ideology at the opposite end of the spectrum. It professed that man is limited in his existence as a mammal and as a product of nature that is driven by basic needs. There is no room for free will, no capacity for critical judgment or ability to distinguish right from wrong, no awareness, and no rationalization. This position has its roots in their Marxist background, which argues that man is a product of society: his mind and spirit are determined and shaped by the material world. Because of this vulnerability to external factors, the human mind is thought of as frail and manipulable and therefore man cannot be held accountable for his own decisions. This idea served as the basis for the “de-criminalization of crime” thesis of the Frankfurt School. As per Habermas, because man is a product of society,  it is inevitable that he adaptively yields to his criminal tendencies, since he is raised under the yoke of the structural violence of a criminal capitalist system.

The Frankfurt School believed that by stripping humanity of spirituality and by destroying the material surroundings created by the capitalist system and its structure, man will live free, without the feeling of responsibility and without the burden of conscience. They promised freedom, without free will, they envisioned emancipation, through intellectual assimilation and they guaranteed fairness, without justice.

The strategic importance of public education

According to the Frankfurt School, the system’s malfunction starts with the family. The family is the first and primary moral entity that we encounter. This entity raises children in an authoritarian manner that creates submissive, obedient and dependent adults.  In other words, it is the family that primes and programs us for fascism. Thus, by discrediting and destroying the family as a concept, one can nip capitalism and fascism in the bud. With this antagonistic attitude towards the family unit in society, combined with their ideological crusade against spirituality, the Frankfurt philosophers needed to put forward an alternative, to replace the old ways with their own roadmap for the future. In their view, the answer was simply to reprogram and reengineer society so that everyone behaves as is expected by others and so that human behavior becomes an act of reciprocity. This alone would be the universal code of ethics governing their utopia. To instill and to enforce this code in society, they proposed the use of institutions, and most importantly, education. Commandeering these institutional channels would be the most efficient way to impose and to promote their ethics, with education providing the key to assured compliance, weeding out dissent and any potential for future independent thinking by the individual.

The repercussions of this strategy are obvious in today’s society. Public education has conditioned us since childhood not to question the government and its collectivist policies. Maybe you remember one of our latest articles about the origins of the public education system, in which we introduced you to Wilhelm Wundt, the father of experimental psychology (and his proponents John Dewey and Edward Thorndike in the U.S.), the scientist who shaped today’s state education approach. He based his methodology on the following assumption: “Man is devoid of spirit and self-determinism”. He then set out to prove that “man is the summation of his experience, of the stimuli which intrude upon his consciousness and unconsciousness.” The great H. L. Mencken wrote in 1924 that the aim of public education is not: “ […] to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence… Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim… is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States… and that is its aim everywhere else.”

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The rise of Cultural Marxism

The Frankfurt School developed the dogma that “freedom and justice” are dialectic terms, meaning that they stand in opposition to each other, in a zero-sum game, where “more freedom equals less justice” will be the consequence and “more justice equals less freedom” is the outcome. Based on this dialectic, freedom stood as the thesis, and justice reflected the anti-thesis.

This rather interesting dialectic approach was adopted from the ideas and works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The Frankfurt School, however, twisted the core of the concept and denatured its consequential logicality. In short, the main difference between Hegel and Horkheimer’s dialectic approach lies in the conclusion: Hegel, an idealist, believed like Kant that spirit creates matter, while for Horkheimer, a disciple of Karl Marx and his theory of materialism, the opposite was the case. Marx postulated that the world, the objective reality, can be explained by its material existence and its development and not from the realization of a divine absolute idea or as a result of rational human thought, as adopted in idealism. Therefore, putting limits on the material world, placing external rules and guidelines on the environment within which individuals live, think and operate, should, in their view, suffice to shape their cognitive experience and confine their spirit to the “desired” parameters.

I believe this is the key point that links the Frankfurt school of thought to what we know today as “political correctness”. At its core, we find this familiar false belief that less freedom guarantees more justice, and therefore more security. This mantra is regurgitated through institutional and political messaging, instilled in social values and planted in the minds of the younger generation and future voters, though the educational channel, just like the Frankfurt School intended. Instead of creating the platform to encourage individual human development, by reasoning, raising questions and stimulating dialogue, the institutional system works as an assembly line, from cradle to grave, and it successfully standardizes individuals and primes them to submit to the status quo, to accept and not to question. This is the logic of Critical Theory and the core element of “political correctness”. It is a vain and doomed attempt to control the inherent entropy of human ideas and independent thinking, to force the flux of our intertwined and unique experiences to an unnatural stasis and ultimately, to break Man’s spirit and to bring his mind to heel. .

Now you can maybe understand what Tom DiLorenzo meant in one of our latest interviews about “cultural Marxism” when he said: “They largely abandoned the old “class struggle” rhetoric involving the capitalist and worker “classes” and replaced them with an oppressor and an oppressed class. The oppressed include women, minorities, LGBT, and several other mascot categories. The oppressor class consists of white heterosexual males who are not ideological Marxists like them.” When the members of the Frankfurt School were forced to leave Germany during Nazi rule, they moved to the USA, near Hollywood, and they established strong ties with Columbia University and Harvard. This is how they spread their influence in the United States and aside from Hollywood, they also turned the academic elite at most universities into reservoirs of “cultural Marxism”. Here in Europe, some of the most prominent names in politics today were among the 1968 rebel students who were mentored by the first generations of the Frankfurt School. These include former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his Minister of Defense Joschka Fischer, current Vice-President of the German Bundestag, Ulla Schmidt, and last but not least Chancellor Angela Merkel. On the anniversary of “60 years Christian-Democratic-Union (CDU)” on June 16th, 2005 in Berlin, she explained how many changes in society which were triggered in 1968 have shaped the old German Republic and continue to influence the CDU to this day. As she put it: “We don’t want to return to the family concept, to the 1950s image of a woman and we don’t want to return to the sociopolitical frame of that time. We as women must march through the institutions und take our place in the key power positions in the leadership of this country”.

My understanding of cultural Marxism is that it has nothing to do with freedom, or with cultural enlightenment and social progress. Instead, as Horkheimer himself put it, it is all about the creation of identical individuals who do not come together and exchange ideas, as they operate like mindless machines. The Frankfurt School and its followers have therefore clearly proved to be the enemies of freedom and the conscious human mind.

In conclusion, let me yield the closing words to Immanuel Kant, who wrote, “ A large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. Nature, then, has carefully cultivated the seed within the hard core–namely the urge for and the vocation of free thought. And this free thought gradually reacts back on the modes of thought of the people, and men become more and more capable of acting in freedom. At last free thought acts even on the fundamentals of government and the state finds it agreeable to treat a man, who is now more than a machine, in accord with his dignity.”

This article appeared in the latest Global Gold Outlook Report

Reprinted with permission from Global Gold.

vendredi, 23 octobre 2015

The New Cultural Marxism and the Infantilization of College Students

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The New Cultural Marxism and the Infantilization of College Students

By

Ex: http://www.lewrockwell.com

When socialism finally collapsed all around the world in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s the academic Marxists did not just throw in the towel and face reality.  Indeed, not one of them has ever apologized for providing intellectual support for some of the worst mass murderers in world history – Stalin, Mao, Castro, and the rest of the communist/socialist gangsters.  Instead, they reinvented themselves in several different ways, including posing as “environmentalists,” and as “cultural Marxists.”

Taking their cue from socialist economist Robert Heilbroner in a September 10, 1990 New Yorker article entitled “After Communism,” many Marxists began promoting socialist central planning of the economy and of society as a whole (a.k.a. totalitarianism) in the name of “saving the planet” from capitalism.  The old Marxism was sold in the name of “the people”; the new Marxism said “to hell with people, we’re for the ants, the lizards, snakes, rocks, trees, etc. – Mother Earth.  People Schmeople.  Hence the “watermelons” were born:  green on the outside, red on the inside.

The cultural Marxists take a different approach.  They replaced the Marxist theory of class confict between the capitalist “class” and the working class with a new set of classes.  Now the supposed eternal conflict is between an “oppressor” class and an “oppressed” class.  In essence, the oppressor class consists of white heterosexual males.  The oppressed class is everyone else.  Armed with this new totalitarian ideology, egalitarianism is still the secular religion of the academic Marxists, with “diversity” being the mating call of the modern academic administrator.

Now that the cultural Marxists are in charge of so many colleges and universities, they no longer even pretend to defend academic freedom and free speech.  Silencing dissenting opinions (to Marxist totalitarian ideology) is now taught to students as the only moral position.  One of their gurus is the Marxist intellectual Herbert Marcuse, who has been called “the evangelist of cultural Marxism.”  He is of course a “celebrated intellectual” who has taught at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities.  Marcuse first became famous among academics in the 1950s with his book, Eros and Civilization, in which he advised young people to “don’t work, have sex.”  (It apparently never occurred to him that the two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive).  This was in keeping with the hoary Marxian theme that all work is slavery.

Marcuse also taught that science and the scientific method is “the enemy” for it “denies the reality of utopia,” by which he meant communism.  In today’s world, we see this same idea expressed by the watermelon socialists when they use the quintessentially unscientific language of “settled science” in reference to the global warming hoax.  Science is never “settled.”  If it were, it would still be “settled science” that the world is flat.  Settled science watermelons like Al Gore are the new flat earthers.

Marcuse also opposed freedom of speech, which he said was a tool of “the oppressors” since it was responsible for too many criticisms of communism.  “There is no need for logic, debate and free exchange of ideas,” he said, for communism supposedly “provides all the answers.”  Certainly libertarian or conservative views should not be permitted on campuses since they support “the status quo.”

Only the “oppressed classes,” as defined by the cultural Marxists, deserve tolerance, preached Marcuse; all others deserve intolerance, and students must be indoctrinated in this thinking, he said.  All of these things are now, and have been for a long time, common features of academe.

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In addition to Marcuse, the work of law professor Catharine McKinnon,  the high priestess of cultural Marxism, also inform today’s university administrators and their cultural Marxist faculty.  Dissenting views (to their verision of totalitarian Marxism) threaten to create a “hostile  work environment,” she says.  And if the work environment becomes so hostile that it interferes with work effort, the source of the “hostility” should be fired.  Thus, if a libertarian or conservative academic should somehow sneak by the university interviewing committee and become employed, and then reveal himself to be a dissenter, he can always be fired – even if he has tenure – under the guise of having created a “hostile work environment” with his dissenting views about free speech, the Constitution, free-market exchange, or Heaven forbid, gun ownership.

Herbert Marcuse ✆ Sergio Cena © La Página de Omar Montilla.pngAccording to Catharine McKinnon, the new mantra that should be taught to children is:  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words are infinitely worse.” 

Cultural Marxist academic administrators lie through their teeth when they make speeches or write articles in the university alumni magazine praising academic freedom.  They are lying because they supervise a strict censorship of dissenting views at the same time.  One method that is used to achieve this is to declare that “insensitivity” and “hurt feelings” are caused by dissenting campus speakers.  For example, when Dr. Walter Block was maliciously libeled by the president of Loyola University Maryland, one Brian Linnane, several years ago, the mechanism of libel was textbook cultural Marxism:  the Marxists on campus sent one student to Dr. Block’s invited economics lecture with instructions to complain to them later that something he said was “insensitive.”  Brian Linnane then sent an email to all students, staff, faculty, and alumni apologizing for the “insensitive” remark while never mentioning what the remark was.  In fact, what Dr. Block said was a very mainstream idea in economics –that wage discrimination based on gender or race penalizes discriminating employers in a free-market economy.  It does so by providing a profit opportunity for the discriminating employer’s competitors.  For example, if in my accounting firm I discriminate against a woman who generates say, $100,000/year in revenue for me by paying her $50,000/year while paying equally-productive male employees $90,000/year, a competitor can hire her away for say, $60,000  and make $40,000 in profit.  Eventually, I will be left with all higher-paid male empoyees which will reduce my profitability. The same story goes for employer discrimination based on race.

The cultural Marxist mantra, on the other hand, is that capitalist America is such a hopelessly racist and sexist society, that only the “legacy of slavery” and the white male “war on women” are  permissible on college campuses as the one and only causes of male/female or black/white wage differences.  Anyone who shows up on a college campus who says otherwise is not to be debated with logic and facts, as Marcuse said, but libeled, smeared, and called a racist and a sexist.

Most American colleges and universities take their cues from the Ivy League schools, such as Brown University.  According to a March 21, 2015 article in the New York Times,  the cultural Marxists at Brown set up a “safe room” whenever a renegade student organization invites a non-Marxist speaker to campus.  These rooms are filled with cookies, coloring books, Play-Do, calming music, pillows, blankets, videos of frolicking puppies, and “trauma experts” according to the Times. This is the business that most American colleges and universities are in these days: the infantilization of college students.  Faculty are instructed to place “trigger warnings” on their course syllabi warning students that a disseting (to cultural Marxism) opinion may be found there.  Safe rooms are set aside just in case.   Students are routinely taught to boycott or disrupt any campus speakers who dissent from cultural Marxist orthodoxy, and to participate in vicious, malicious campaigns of character assassination orchestrated by faculty and administrators.

Cultural Marxism may be bred in academe, but it has spread throughout society.  When Rush Limbaugh attempted to become part owner of an NFL team the cultural Marxists lied, as they routinely do, by spreading the false rumor that he “defended slavery” on his radio program!  When the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. sponsored a public debate on immigration policy, something Americans have been doing since the Louisiana Purchase, inviting both sides to air their views, the hardcore left-wing hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), accused AEI of “mainstreaming hate.”  The SPLC routinely conflates mainstream organizations like AEI with say, the KKK, by using the same language of “hate” and “hate group” to describe all of them.

When Rand Paul first ran for the U.S. Senate the SPLC issued a “report” on “dangerous characters” running for state and local political office.  Next to a photo of a genuinely crazy-looking neo-Nazi from the mountains of Idaho was, naturally, a photo of Rand Paul.  When a group of military, police, and firefighters pledged their devotion to the U.S. Constitution by creating the group, Oathkeepers, the SPLC also branded them as a “hate group.”  And when Ron Paul was running for president the SPLC talked the Department of Homeland Security into issuing a public warning that people with “Ron Paul for President” bumper stickers were potential “terrorist threats.”

The heavy-handed, totalitarian censorship that now exists on most American college campuses is so ingrained that comedians Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld no longer perform on college campuses.  Too many students have been turned into dour, humorless, left-wing cultural Marxist scolds in the image of their professors and university administrators.   One thoroughly-brainwashed twenty-year-old even wrote a letter to Seinfeld, whose comedy television show was the most successful in all of television history, on the “proper” way to perform a comedy routine.

In his famous book, The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek presciently described the effects of this kind of censorship under totalitarianism in a chapter (11) entitled “The End of Truth.”  Such propaganda in a totalitarian society is “destructive of all morals,” wrote Hayek, because “it undermines one of the foundations of all morals; the sense of and the respect for the truth” (emphasis added).  Moreover, “in the disciplines dealing directly with human affairs and therefore most immediately affecting political views, such as history, law, or economics, the disinterested search for truth cannot be allowed in a totalitarian system . . . .  These disciplines have . . . in all totalitarian countries become the most fertile factories for the official myths which the rulers use to guide the minds and wills of their subjects.”  This of course is what cultural Marxism and political correctness are all about:  spreading Official Myths to promote a totalitarian, socialist society.

“The word truth itself ceases to have its old meaning” in such a society, wrote Hayek, for “It describes no longer something to be found, with the individual conscience as the sole arbiter of whether in any particular instance the evidence warrants a belief; it becomes something to be laid down by authority. . .” and “intolerance is openly extolled.”  Herbert Marcuse could not have said it better.

This article is based on a speech delivered at the Mises Circle in Ft. Worth on October 3, 2015.

mercredi, 24 juin 2015

L'École de Francfort et le conditionnement social (la matrice du multiculturalisme - CIA)

L'École de Francfort et le conditionnement social (la matrice du multiculturalisme - CIA)

 

L’École de Francfort (en allemand Frankfurter Schule) est le nom donné, à partir des années 1950, à un groupe d'intellectuels allemands réunis autour de l'Institut de Recherche sociale fondé à Francfort en 1923, et par extension à un courant de pensée issu de celui-ci, souvent considéré comme fondateur ou paradigmatique de la philosophie sociale ou de la théorie critique. Il retient en effet du marxisme et de l'idéal d'émancipation des Lumières l'idée principale que la philosophie doit être utilisée comme critique sociale du capitalisme et non comme justification et légitimation de l'ordre existant, critique qui doit servir au transformisme.

Parmi ses premiers membres, on compte Max Horkheimer (1895-1973), qui fut le directeur de l'Institut à partir de 1930, son collègue Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) avec qui il écrira après-guerre La Dialectique de la raison, sorte de critique de la société de consommation, Erich Fromm (1900-1980), considéré comme l'un des fondateurs du freudo-marxisme et qui mêla psychanalyse et sociologie quantitative, Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), écartelé entre ses influences messianiques hébraïques et un marxisme inspiré de Lukács (1895-1971), ou encore le juriste, davantage social-démocrate, Franz Neumann (1900-1954). Dans son projet général des années 1930, qui voit la montée en force des fascismes, l'Institut de Recherche Sociale vise à favoriser la collaboration interdisciplinaire et à mêler philosophie et sciences sociales, dans une optique critique qui se veut détachée tant du « marxisme orthodoxe » incarné par le léninisme, l'URSS et la Troisième Internationale que du « marxisme révisionniste », c'est-à-dire social-démocrate, de Bernstein (1850-1932).


L'arrivée d'Hitler au pouvoir contraint l'Institut à fermer ses portes et ses membres, dispersés, à l'exil. Une partie d'entre eux, notamment Horkheimer, Adorno et Marcuse (1898-1979) iront aux États-Unis, où ils rouvriront l'Institut à New York. En 1950, l'Institut rouvre ses portes à Francfort. C'est cette période qui verra les premiers écrits célèbres sur la société de consommation, tels que La Dialectique de la Raison (1944/47), d'Adorno et Horkheimer, ou Éros et civilisation (1955) de Marcuse. En 1958, après une série d'allers-retours entre l'Europe et les États-Unis, Adorno prend la succession d'Horkheimer à la tête de l'Institut.


Les années 1950-1960 voient s'ouvrir une nouvelle phase de l'École de Francfort, tant en raison du nouveau contexte international (guerre froide puis Détente et « coexistence pacifique ») que de la venue d'une nouvelle génération de penseurs, tels Habermas (né en 1929), qui après s'être éloigné de l'Institut à l'époque de L'espace public : archéologie de la publicité comme dimension constitutive de la société bourgeoise (1962), y reviendra donner des cours au milieu des années 1960, qui formeront l'ossature de Connaissance et intérêt (1968). L'un de ses élèves, Axel Honneth (né en 1949), célèbre pour sa théorie de la reconnaissance, est aujourd'hui l'actuel directeur de l'Institut.

Source : Les non-alignés

jeudi, 19 mars 2015

La bufala Marcuse

La bufala Marcuse

marcuse1.pngBuona parte degli intellettuali sessantottini, abbandonando al suo destino il proletariato, si sono resi alla teoria della società dei consumi. A ben vedere, se questa condizione rappresentasse la realtà, se si potesse consumare ciò che si produce, il sogno marxiano sarebbe avverato. Ma lungi dall'essere un modello socialista il nostro capitalismo agonistico è strutturato secondo una precisa gerarchia di accesso al consumo. Il fenomeno dei Rich Kids e l'ostentazione della ricchezza, con il recesso del pudore e della riservatezza nell'era della mediatizzazione totale, fanno cadere l'utopico e accomodante ugualitarismo della società dei consumi.
Ex: http://www.lintellettualedissidente.it

La grande truffa che Marcuse e la sua progenie intellettuale hanno smerciato in forma “ribelle” al pensiero Occidentale è un semplicismo accomodante. La scuola di Francoforte, con lo slogan “il proletariato si è svenduto per un piatto di lenticchie”, ha abbandonato la causa operaia. Troppo borghese per un certo intellettualismo, la classe diseredata, piuttosto che perseguire la lotta ha preferito emanciparsi compromettendosi col padronato. Anni di rivendicazioni salariali e lotte sindacali per entrare nella società dei consumi senza ribaltare l’ordine costituito. Così Marcuse ha liquidato il proletariato traditore. Ma, se così fosse, chi potrebbe essere più felice di quel borghese di Marx? Non era proprio il filosofo di Treviri a sognare l’abolizione delle classi all’interno di una società garante indistintamente dell’accesso al consumo? Eppure la nostra è una società capitalistica. Come giustifica, Marcuse, questa contraddizione? Il fatto che tutti possano acquistare un Iphone o un’automobile non è sufficiente ad abolire le disuguaglianze.

mcl1.gifFu Michel Clouscard, negli anni Settanta, a sanare l’errore del francofortese, mettendo sugli attenti, tra le pagine dell’Humanité – quando ancora quel giornale valeva qualcosa – i militanti del PCF: vige una gerarchia di accesso al consumo, perché i beni non si equivalgono. La lavatrice, il frigorifero, l’automobile sono beni di equipaggiamento, dediti a riprodurre la forza lavoro dell’operaio. Così come oggi lo sono l’Iphone, il computer, il nuovo tablet, strumenti che da un lato rinnovano e dall’altro si rendono funzionali al lavoro dell’impiegato. Ma né l’operaio né l’impiegato hanno intenzione di consumare, o almeno non consumano gli oggetti in modo libidinale o ludico. Con ciò, il nostro presente ci obbliga a scrostare questi sedimenti marcusiani per farci confrontare con la realtà: il diverso grado che la società riserva agli individui di consumare senza produrre. Questa scala è recentemente resa pubblica sui social network. Tramite il mondo dei social la struttura verticale e gerarchica di accesso al consumo sembra ristabilirsi svelando l’ipocrita velo di maya che per un trentennio ha illuso chi sperava nella società dell’uguaglianza. Il definitivo collasso della riservatezza puritana, dell’influenza cattolica sulle giovani generazioni, mostrano che la civiltà dei consumi (esente dalla produzione) è una verità per una percentuale bassissima della popolazione, cui è permesso il rito che Clouscard chiama “potlach del plus valore”: lo spreco di valore aggiunto prodotto da altri. Il fenomeno dei Rich Kids su Instagram non è che uno svelamento. Da Beverly Hills fino a Mosca l’ostentazione è una moda anche per le élites dell’ex nomenklatura sovietica che dopo 70 anni di Unione hanno liberalizzato lo champagne e le prostitute oltre le quattro mura domestiche e fuori dai vetri oscurati delle Zil. Ovunque – persino a Teheran, prima che, in nome della decenza comune, il link fu bloccato – i figli delle élites promuovono sfacciatamente la vita lussuosa e lo sperpero di denaro.

C’è chi si scandalizza ed “è sempre banale” (direbbe Pasolini), e chi brama una simile ricchezza, ma il risultato dei social come mediatori tra lo stile di vita dei vertici e le ambizioni della base popolare è il nuovo motore della Storia. Insegna a chi non può praticare il potlach incessantemente che la sottomissione in luogo di produzione permette uno spazio temporale limitato di libertà in luogo di consumo. C’è chi lavora ininterrottamente un anno per fare il miliardario cinque giorni ad agosto in un isola dello sballo. La temporalità della vita viene scandita secondo un ritmo preciso che ad oggi è un brano musicale e uno slogan stampato sulle t-shirt all’ultimo grido: “work hard, party harder”. Più ti sottometti, più sei libero.

mercredi, 23 octobre 2013

Herbert Marcuse and the Tolerance of Repression

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Herbert Marcuse and the Tolerance of Repression 1

by Keith Preston

Ex: http://www.attackthesystem.com

“I am not bound to defend liberal notions of tolerance.” –Left-wing anarchist activist to the author

The rise of the New Left is typically considered to have its origins in the student rebellions of the late 1960s and early 1970s when the war in Vietnam was at its height and cultural transformation was taking place in Western countries with dizzying rapidity. Yet scholars have long recognized that the intellectual roots of the New Left were created several decades earlier through the efforts of the thinkers associated with the Institute for Social Research (commonly known as the “Frankfurt School”) to reconsider the essence of Marxist theory following the failure of the working classes of Western Europe to produce a socialist revolution as orthodox Marxism had predicted.

The support shown for their respective national states by the European working classes, and indeed by the Socialist parties of Europe themselves, during the Great War which had broken out in 1914 had generated a crisis of faith for Marxist theoreticians. Marx had taught that the working classes had no country of their own and that the natural loyalties of the workers were not to their nations but to their socioeconomic class and its material interests. Marxism predicted a class revolution that would transcend national and cultural boundaries and regarded such concepts as national identity and cultural traditions as nothing more than hollow concepts generated by the broader ideological superstructure of capitalism (and feudalism before it) that served to legitimize the established mode of production. Yet the patriotic fervor shown by the workers during the war, the failure of the workers to carry out a class revolution even after the collapse of capitalism during the interwar era, and the rise of fascism during the same period all indicated that something was amiss concerning Marxist orthodoxy. The thinkers of the Frankfurt School sought to reconsider Marxism in light of these events without jettisoning the core precepts of Marxism, such as its critique of the political economy of capitalism, alienation, and the material basis of ideological hegemony.

The Institute attracted many genuine and interesting scholars some of whom were luminaries of the unique and fascinating German intellectual culture of the era of the Weimar Republic. Among these were Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Otto Kirchheimer, Franz Neumann, and Erich Fromm. But the thinker associated with the Institute who would ultimately have the greatest influence was the philosopher and political theorist Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979). The reach of Marcuse’s influence is indicated by the fact that during the student uprisings in France during 1968, which very nearly toppled the regime of Charles De Gaulle, graffiti would appear on public buildings with the slogan: “Marx, Mao, Marcuse.” Arguably, there was no intellectual who had a greater impact on the development of the New Left than Marcuse.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School immigrated to the United States and reestablished the Institute at Columbia University in New York City. Marcuse became a United States citizen in 1940 and during World War Two was employed by the Office of War Information, Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency), and the U.S. Department of State. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Marcuse was a professor of political theory at Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis, and the University of California at San Diego. During his time in academia, Marcuse continued the efforts to revise Marxism in light of the conditions of an industrially advanced mid-twentieth century society. One of his most influential works was an effort to synthesize Marx and Freud, Eros and Civilization, published in 1955, and One Dimensional Man, a critique of the consumer culture of the postwar era and the integration of the traditional working classes into the consumer culture generated by capitalism. Both of these works became major texts for the student activists of the New Left.

Because of his legacy as an intellectual godfather of the New Left and the radical social movements of the 1960s and 1970s generally, Marcuse is not surprisingly a rather polarizing figure in contemporary intellectual discourse regarding those fields where his thinking has gained tremendous influence. Much of the curriculum of the humanities departments in Western universities is essentially derived from the thought of Marcuse and his contemporaries, particularly in sociology, anthropology, gender studies, ethnic studies, and studies of sexuality, but also in history, psychology, and literature. It is quite certain that if Marcuse and his fellow scholars from the Frankfurt School, such as Adorno and Horkheimer, were still alive today they would no doubt be regarded as god-like figures by contemporary leftist academics and students. From the other end of the political spectrum, many partisans of the political right, traditionalists, religious fundamentalists, nationalists, and social conservatives regard Marcuse as the personification of evil. Because the legacy of Marcuse’s work is so controversial and polarizing, it is important to develop a rational understanding of what his most influential ideas actually were.

Although he remained a Marxist until his death, Marcuse was never an apologist for the totalitarian regimes that had emerged in Communist countries. Indeed, he wrote in defense of dissidents who were subject to repression under those regimes, such as the East German dissident Rudolph Bahro. Marcuse considered orthodox Marxism as lacking concern for the individual and criticized what he regarded as the insufficiently libertarian character of Marxism. Like many associated with the New Left, he often expressed a preference for the writings of the younger Marx, which have a humanistic orientation inspired by the idealism of nineteenth century utopian socialism, as opposed to the turgid and ideologically rigid writings of the elder Marx. The thinkers of the Frankfurt School had also been influenced by the Weberian critique of the massive growth of bureaucracy in modern societies and strongly criticized the hyper-bureaucratic tendencies of both capitalist and communist countries as they were during the Cold War period.

Marcuse regarded the consumer culture that emerged during the postwar economic boom as representing a form of social control produced and maintained by capitalism. According to Marcuse, capitalist productivity had grown to the level where the industrial proletariat was no longer the impoverished wage slaves of Marx’s era. Economic growth, technological expansion, and the successes of labor reform movements in Western countries, had allowed the working classes to achieve a middle class standard of living and become integrated into the wider institutional framework of capitalism. Consequently, workers in advanced industrial societies no longer held any revolutionary potential and had become loyal subjects of the state in the same manner as the historic bourgeoisie before them. This by itself is not an original or even particularly insightful observation. However, Marcuse did not believe that the rising living standards and institutional integration of the working classes represented an absence of exploitation. Rather, Marcuse felt that the consumer culture made available by affluent industrial societies had multiple deleterious effects.

First, consumer culture had the effect of “buying off” the workers by offering them a lifestyle of relative comfort and material goods in exchange for their continuing loyalty to capitalism and indifference to struggles for social and political change. Second, consumer culture created a kind of a false consciousness among the public at large through the use of the advertising industry and mass media generally to inculcate the values of consumerism and to essentially create unnecessary wants and perceived needs among the population. The effect of this is that people were working more than they really needed to sustain themselves in order to achieve the values associated with consumer culture. This created not only the psychological damaging “rat race” lifestyle of the competitive capitalist workforce and marketplace, but generated excessive waste (demonstrated by such phenomena as “planned obsolescence,” for example), environmental destruction, and even imperialist war for the conquest of newer capitalist markets, access to material resources, and the thwarting of movements for self-determination or social change in underdeveloped parts of the world. Third, Marcuse saw a relationship between the domination of consumer culture and the outlandishly repressive sexual mores of the 1950s era (where the term “pregnant” was banned from American television, for instance). According to Marcuse, the consumerist ethos generated by capitalism expected the individual to experience pleasure through material acquisition and consumption rather than through sexual expression or participation. The worker was expected to forgo sex in favor of work and channel libidinal drives into consumerist drives. Material consumption was the worker’s reward for avoiding erotic pleasure. For this reason, Marcuse regarded sexual expression and participation (what he famously called “polymorphous perversity”) as a potential force for the subversion of the capitalist system. As the sexual revolution grew in the 1960s, student radicals would champion this view with the slogan “make love, not war.”

As the working class had ceased to be a revolutionary force, Marcuse began to look to other social groups as potentially viable catalysts for radical social and political change. These included the array of the traditionally subordinated, excluded, or marginalized such as racial minorities, feminists, homosexuals, and young people, along with privileged and educated critics of the status quo such as radical intellectuals. Marcuse personally outlined and developed much of the intellectual foundation of the radical movements of the 1960s and exerted much personal influence on leading figures in these movements. The Black Panther figure Angela Davis and the Youth International Party (“Yippie”) founder and “Chicago Seven” defendant Abbie Hoffman had both been students of Marcuse while he taught at Brandeis. However, it would be a mistake to regard Marcuse as having somehow been a leader or founder of these movements. Marcuse did not so much serve as a radical leader during the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s as much as he was an interpreter of social and political currents that were then emerging and a scholar who provided ideas with which discontented thinkers and activists could identify. It is often argued by some on the political right that the thinkers of the Frankfurt School hatched a nefarious plot to destroy Western civilization through the seizure and subversion of cultural institutions. This theory suggests that radical Marxists came to believe that they must first control institutions that disseminate ideas such as education and entertainment in order to remove the false consciousness previously inculcated in the masses by capitalist domination over these institutions before the masses can achieve the level of radical consciousness necessary to carry out a socialist revolution. Those on the right with an inclination towards anti-Semitism will also point out that most of the luminaries of the Frankfurt School, such as Marcuse, were ethnic Jews.

Yet the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was the product of a convergence of a vast array of forces. The feminist revolution, for instance, had as much to do with the integration of women into the industrial workforce during World War Two while the men were absent fighting the war and the need for an ever greater pool of skilled workers in an expanding industrial economy during a time of tremendous technological advancement and population growth as it does with the ambitions of far left radicals. The real fuel behind the growth of the youth and student movements of the 1960s was likely the war in Vietnam and the desire of many young people of conscription age to avoid death and dismemberment in a foolish war in which they had no stake. The sexual revolution was made possible in large part by the invention of the birth control pill and the mass production of penicillin which reduced the health and social risks associated with sexual activity. The racial revolution of the era was rooted in centuries old conflicts and struggles that had been given new impetus by growing awareness of the excesses which occurred during the Nazi period. The heightened interest in environmental conservation, concerns for populations with serious disadvantages (such as the disabled or mentally ill), increased emphasis on personal fulfillment and physical and psychological health, and concern for social and political rights beyond those of a purely material nature all reflect the achievements and ambitions of an affluent, post-scarcity society where basic material needs are largely met. Suffice to say that the transformation of an entire civilization in the space of a decade can hardly be attributed to the machinations of a handful of European radicals forty years earlier.

herbmar111.jpgThere is actually much of value in the work of the Frankfurt School scholars. They are to be commended for their honest confrontation with some of the failings and weaknesses of Marxist orthodoxy even while many of their fellow Marxists continued to cling uncritically to an outmoded doctrine. Marcuse and his colleagues are to be respected for their skepticism regarding the authoritarian communist states when many of their contemporaries, such as Jean Paul Sartre, embraced regimes of this type with appalling naivete. The critique of consumer culture and the “culture industry” offered by Marcuse, Horkheimer, and others may itself be one-dimensional and lacking in nuance at times, but it does raise valid and penetrating questions about a society that has become so relentlessly media-driven and oriented towards fads and fashions in such a “bread and circuses” manner. However, while Marcuse was neither a god nor a devil, but merely a scholar and thinker whose ideas were both somewhat prescient and reflective of the currents of his time, there is an aspect to his thought that has left a genuinely pernicious influence. In 1965, Marcuse published an essay titled, “Repressive Tolerance,” which foreshadows very clearly the direction in which left-wing opinion and practice has developed since that time.

The essay is essentially an argument against the Western liberal tradition rooted in the thinking of Locke, with its Socratic and Scholastic precedents, which came into political reality in the nineteenth century and which was a monumental achievement for civilization. In this essay, Marcuse regurgitates the conventional Marxist line that freedom of opinion and speech in a liberal state is a bourgeois sham that only masks capitalist hegemony and domination. Of course, there is some truth to this claim. As Marcuse said:

But with the concentration of economic and political power and the integration of opposites in a society which uses technology as an instrument of domination, effective dissent is blocked where it could freely emerge; in the formation of opinion, in information and communication, in speech and assembly. Under the rule of monopolistic media – themselves the mere instruments of economic and political power – a mentality is created for which right and wrong, true and false are predefined wherever they affect the vital interests of the society. This is, prior to all expression and communication, a matter of semantics: the blocking of effective dissent, of the recognition of that which is not of the Establishment which begins in the language that is publicized and administered. The meaning of words is rigidly stabilized. Rational persuasion, persuasion to the opposite is all but precluded.

Marcuse proceeds from this observation not to advocate for institutional or economic structures that might make the practical and material means of communication or expression more readily available to more varied or dissenting points of view  but to attack liberal conceptions of tolerance altogether.

These background limitations of tolerance are normally prior to the explicit and judicial limitations as defined by the courts, custom, governments, etc. (for example, “clear and present danger”, threat to national security, heresy). Within the framework of such a social structure, tolerance can be safely practiced and proclaimed. It is of two kinds: (i) the passive toleration of entrenched and established attitudes and ideas even if their damaging effect on man and nature is evident, and (2) the active, official tolerance granted to the Right as well as to the Left, to movements of aggression as well as to movements of peace, to the party of hate as well as to that of humanity. I call this non-partisan tolerance “abstract” or “pure” inasmuch as it refrains from taking sides – but in doing so it actually protects the already established machinery of discrimination.

This statement reflects the by now quite familiar leftist claim that non-leftist opinions are being offered from a position of privilege or hegemony and are therefore by definition unworthy of being heard. Marcuse argues that tolerance has a higher purpose:

The telos [goal] of tolerance is truth. It is clear from the historical record that the authentic spokesmen of tolerance had more and other truth in mind than that of propositional logic and academic theory. John Stuart Mill speaks of the truth which is persecuted in history and which does not triumph over persecution by virtue of its “inherent power”, which in fact has no inherent power “against the dungeon and the stake”. And he enumerates the “truths” which were cruelly and successfully liquidated in the dungeons and at the stake: that of Arnold of Brescia, of Fra Dolcino, of Savonarola, of the Albigensians, Waldensians, Lollards, and Hussites. Tolerance is first and foremost for the sake of the heretics – the historical road toward humanitas appears as heresy: target of persecution by the powers that be. Heresy by itself, however, is no token of truth.

This statement on its face might be beyond reproach were it not for its implicit suggestion that only leftists and those favored by leftists can ever rightly be considered among the ranks of the unjustly “persecuted” or among those who have truth to tell. Marcuse goes on to offer his own version of “tolerance” in opposition to conventional, empirical, value neutral notions of tolerance of the kind associated with the liberal tradition.

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word. The traditional criterion of clear and present danger seems no longer adequate to a stage where the whole society is in the situation of the theater audience when somebody cries: “fire”. It is a situation in which the total catastrophe could be triggered off any moment, not only by a technical error, but also by a rational miscalculation of risks, or by a rash speech of one of the leaders. In past and different circumstances, the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi leaders were the immediate prologue to the massacre. The distance between the propaganda and the action, between the organization and its release on the people had become too short. But the spreading of the word could have been stopped before it was too late: if democratic tolerance had been withdrawn when the future leaders started their campaign, mankind would have had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a World War.

The whole post-fascist period is one of clear and present danger. Consequently, true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs.

Here Marcuse is clearly stating that he is not simply advocating “intolerance” of non-leftist opinion in the sense of offering criticism, rebuttal, counterargument, or even shaming, shunning, or ostracism. What he is calling for is the full fledged state repression of non-leftist opinion or expression. Nor is this repression to be limited to right-wing movements with an explicitly authoritarian agenda that aims to subvert the liberal society. Marcuse makes this very clear in a 1968 postscript to the original 1965 essay:

Given this situation, I suggested in “Repressive Tolerance” the practice of discriminating tolerance in an inverse direction, as a means of shifting the balance between Right and Left by restraining the liberty of the Right, thus counteracting the pervasive inequality of freedom (unequal opportunity of access to the means of democratic persuasion) and strengthening the oppressed against the oppressed. Tolerance would be restricted with respect to movements of a demonstrably aggressive or destructive character (destructive of the prospects for peace, justice, and freedom for all). Such discrimination would also be applied to movements opposing the extension of social legislation to the poor, weak, disabled. As against the virulent denunciations that such a policy would do away with the sacred liberalistic principle of equality for “the other side”, I maintain that there are issues where either there is no “other side” in any more than a formalistic sense, or where “the other side” is demonstrably “regressive” and impedes possible improvement of the human condition. To tolerate propaganda for inhumanity vitiates the goals not only of liberalism but of every progressive political philosophy.

If the choice were between genuine democracy and dictatorship, democracy would certainly be preferable. But democracy does not prevail. The radical critics of the existing political process are thus readily denounced as advocating an “elitism”, a dictatorship of intellectuals as an alternative. What we have in fact is government, representative government by a non-intellectual minority of politicians, generals, and businessmen. The record of this “elite” is not very promising, and political prerogatives for the intelligentsia may not necessarily be worse for the society as a whole.

In this passage Marcuse is very clearly advocating totalitarian controls over political speech and expression that is the mirror image of the Stalinist states that he otherwise criticized for their excessive bureaucratization, economism, and repression of criticism from the Left. Marcuse makes it perfectly clear that not only perceived fascists and neo-nazis would be subject to repression under his model regime but so would even those who question the expansion of the welfare state (thereby contradicting Marcuse’s criticism of bureaucracy). Marcuse states this elsewhere in “Repressive Tolerance.”

Surely, no government can be expected to foster its own subversion, but in a democracy such a right is vested in the people (i.e. in the majority of the people). This means that the ways should not be blocked on which a subversive majority could develop, and if they are blocked by organized repression and indoctrination, their reopening may require apparently undemocratic means. They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc”

herbmar.jpgMarcuse’s liberatory socialism is in fact to be a totalitarian bureaucracy where those who criticize leftist orthodoxy in apparently even the slightest way are to be subject to state repression. This is precisely the attitude that the authoritarian Left demonstrates at the present time. Such views are becoming increasingly entrenched in mainstream institutions and in the state under the guise of so-called “political correctness.” Indeed, much of the mainstream “anarchist” movement reflects Marcuse’s thinking perfectly. These “anarchists” ostensibly criticize statism, bureaucracy, capitalism, consumerism, imperialism, war, and repression, and advocate for all of the popular “social justice” causes of the day. “Tolerance” has ostensibly become the ultimate virtue for such people. Yet underneath this “tolerance” is a visceral and often violent hostility to those who dissent from leftist orthodoxy on any number of questions in even a peripheral or moderate way. Indeed, the prevalence of this leftist intolerance within the various anarchist milieus has become the principle obstacle to the growth of a larger and more effective anarchist movement.

A functional anarchist, libertarian, or anti-state movement must first and foremost reclaim the liberal tradition of authentic tolerance of the kind that insists that decent regard for other people and a fair hearing for contending points of view on which no one ultimately has the last word must be balanced with the promulgation of ideological principles no matter how much one believes these principles to be “true.” A functional and productive anarchist movement must recognize and give a seat at the table to all of the contending schools of anarchism, including non-leftist ones, and embrace those from overlapping ideologies where there is common ground. A serious anarchist movement must address points of view offered by the opposition in an objective manner that recognizes and concedes valid issues others may raise even in the face of ideological disagreement. Lastly, a genuine anarchist movement must realize that there is no issue that is so taboo that is should be taken off the table as a fitting subject for discussion and debate. Only when anarchists embrace these values will they be worthy of the name.

Sources:

William S. Lind. The Origins of Political Correctness. Accuracy in Academica. 2000. Archived at http://www.academia.org/the-origins-of-political-correctness/. Accessed on May 12, 2013.

Herbert Marcuse. Repressive Tolerance. 1965, 1968. Archived at http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/pubs/60spubs/65repressivetolerance.htm Accessed on May 12, 2013.

Martin Jay. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research. University of California Press, 1966.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Marcuse – cite_note-marcuse.org-9

lundi, 12 septembre 2011

Jonathan Bowden: Marxism and The Frankfurt School

Jonathan Bowden: Marxism and The Frankfurt School

dimanche, 31 juillet 2011

The NewDark Age: The Frankfurt School and "Political Correctness"

The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'

Michael Minnicino

Ex: http://www.wermodandwermod.com/

The people of North America and Western Europe now accept a level of ugliness in their daily lives which is almost without precedent in the history of Western civilization. Most of us have become so inured, that the death of millions from starvation and disease draws from us no more than a sigh, or a murmur of protest. Our own city streets, home to legions of the homeless, are ruled by Dope, Inc., the largest industry in the world, and on those streets Americans now murder each other at a rate not seen since the Dark Ages.

At the same time, a thousand smaller horrors are so commonplace as to go unnoticed. Our children spend as much time sitting in front of television sets as they do in school, watching with glee, scenes of torture and death which might have shocked an audience in the Roman Coliseum. Music is everywhere, almost unavoidable—but it does not uplift, nor even tranquilize—it claws at the ears, sometimes spitting out an obscenity. Our plastic arts are ugly, our architecture is ugly, our clothes are ugly. There have certainly been periods in history where mankind has lived through similar kinds of brutishness, but our time is crucially different. Our post-World War II era is the first in history in which these horrors are completely avoidable. Our time is the first to have the technology and resources to feed, house, educate, and humanely employ every person on earth, no matter what the growth of population. Yet, when shown the ideas and proven technologies that can solve the most horrendous problems, most people retreat into implacable passivity. We have become not only ugly, but impotent.

Nonetheless, there is no reason why our current moral-cultural situation had to lawfully or naturally turn out as it has; and there is no reason why this tyranny of ugliness should continue one instant longer.

Consider the situation just one hundred years ago, in the early 1890's. In music, Claude Debussy was completing his Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and Arnold Schönberg was beginning to experiment with atonalism; at the same time, Dvorak was working on his Ninth Symphony, while Brahms and Verdi still lived. Edvard Munch was showing The Scream, and Paul Gauguin his Self-Portrait with Halo, but in America, Thomas Eakins was still painting and teaching. Mechanists like Helmholtz and Mach held major university chairs of science, alongside the students of Riemann and Cantor. Pope Leo XIII's De Rerum Novarum was being promulgated, even as sections of the Socialist Second International were turning terrorist, and preparing for class war.

The optimistic belief that one could compose music like Beethoven, paint like Rembrandt, study the universe like Plato and Nicolaus of Cusa, and change world society without violence, was alive in the 1890's—admittedly, it was weak, and under siege, but it was hardly dead. Yet, within twenty short years, these Classical traditions of human civilization had been all but swept away, and the West had committed itself to a series of wars of inconceivable carnage.

What started about a hundred years ago, was what might be called a counter-Renaissance. The Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was a religious celebration of the human soul and mankind's potential for growth. Beauty in art could not be conceived of as anything less than the expression of the most-advanced scientific principles, as demonstrated by the geometry upon which Leonardo's perspective and Brunelleschi's great Dome of Florence Cathedral are based. The finest minds of the day turned their thoughts to the heavens and the mighty waters, and mapped the solar system and the route to the New World, planning great projects to turn the course of rivers for the betterment of mankind. About a hundred years ago, it was as though a long checklist had been drawn up, with all of the wonderful achievements of the Renaissance itemized—each to be reversed. As part of this "New Age" movement, as it was then called, the concept of the human soul was undermined by the most vociferous intellectual campaign in history; art was forcibly separated from science, and science itself was made the object of deep suspicion. Art was made ugly because, it was said, life had become ugly.

The cultural shift away from the Renaissance ideas that built the modern world, was due to a kind of freemasonry of ugliness. In the beginning, it was a formal political conspiracy to popularize theories that were specifically designed to weaken the soul of Judeo-Christian civilization in such a way as to make people believe that creativity was not possible, that adherence to universal truth was evidence of authoritarianism, and that reason itself was suspect. This conspiracy was decisive in planning and developing, as means of social manipulation, the vast new sister industries of radio, television, film, recorded music, advertising, and public opinion polling. The pervasive psychological hold of the media was purposely fostered to create the passivity and pessimism which afflict our populations today. So successful was this conspiracy, that it has become embedded in our culture; it no longer needs to be a "conspiracy," for it has taken on a life of its own. Its successes are not debatable—you need only turn on the radio or television. Even the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice is deformed into an erotic soap opera, with the audience rooting from the sidelines for their favorite character.

Our universities, the cradle of our technological and intellectual future, have become overwhelmed by Comintern-style New Age "Political Correctness." With the collapse of the Soviet Union, our campuses now represent the largest concentration of Marxist dogma in the world. The irrational adolescent outbursts of the 1960's have become institutionalized into a "permanent revolution." Our professors glance over their shoulders, hoping the current mode will blow over before a student's denunciation obliterates a life's work; some audio-tape their lectures, fearing accusations of "insensitivity" by some enraged "Red Guard." Students at the University of Virginia recently petitioned successfully to drop the requirement to read Homer, Chaucer, and other DEMS ("Dead European Males") because such writings are considered ethnocentric, phallocentric, and generally inferior to the "more relevant" Third World, female, or homosexual authors.

This is not the academy of a republic; this is Hitler's Gestapo and Stalin's NKVD rooting out "deviationists," and banning books—the only thing missing is the public bonfire.

We will have to face the fact that the ugliness we see around us has been consciously fostered and organized in such a way, that a majority of the population is losing the cognitive ability to transmit to the next generation, the ideas and methods upon which our civilization was built. The loss of that ability is the primary indicator of a Dark Age. And, a new Dark Age is exactly what we are in. In such situations, the record of history is unequivocal: either we create a Renaissance—a rebirth of the fundamental principles upon which civilization originated—or, our civilization dies.

I. The Frankfurt School: Bolshevik Intelligentsia

The single, most important organizational component of this conspiracy was a Communist thinktank called the Institute for Social Research (I.S.R.), but popularly known as the Frankfurt School.

In the heady days immediately after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, it was widely believed that proletarian revolution would momentarily sweep out of the Urals into Europe and, ultimately, North America. It did not; the only two attempts at workers' government in the West— in Munich and Budapest—lasted only months. The Communist International (Comintern) therefore began several operations to determine why this was so. One such was headed by Georg Lukacs, a Hungarian aristocrat, son of one of the Hapsburg Empire's leading bankers. Trained in Germany and already an important literary theorist, Lukacs became a Communist during World War I, writing as he joined the party, "Who will save us from Western civilization?" Lukacs was well-suited to the Comintern task: he had been one of the Commissars of Culture during the short-lived Hungarian Soviet in Budapest in 1919; in fact, modern historians link the shortness of the Budapest experiment to Lukacs' orders mandating sex education in the schools, easy access to contraception, and the loosening of divorce laws—all of which revulsed Hungary's Roman Catholic population.

Fleeing to the Soviet Union after the counter-revolution, Lukacs was secreted into Germany in 1922, where he chaired a meeting of Communist-oriented sociologists and intellectuals. This meeting founded the Institute for Social Research. Over the next decade, the Institute worked out what was to become the Comintern's most successful psychological warfare operation against the capitalist West.

Lukacs identified that any political movement capable of bringing Bolshevism to the West would have to be, in his words, "demonic"; it would have to "possess the religious power which is capable of filling the entire soul; a power that characterized primitive Christianity." However, Lukacs suggested, such a "messianic" political movement could only succeed when the individual believes that his or her actions are determined by "not a personal destiny, but the destiny of the community" in a world "that has been abandoned by God [emphasis added-MJM]." Bolshevism worked in Russia because that nation was dominated by a peculiar gnostic form of Christianty typified by the writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. "The model for the new man is Alyosha Karamazov," said Lukacs, referring to the Dostoyevsky character who willingly gave over his personal identity to a holy man, and thus ceased to be "unique, pure, and therefore abstract."

This abandonment of the soul's uniqueness also solves the problem of "the diabolic forces lurking in all violence" which must be unleashed in order to create a revolution. In this context, Lukacs cited the Grand Inquisitor section of Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, noting that the Inquisitor who is interrogating Jesus, has resolved the issue of good and evil: once man has understood his alienation from God, then any act in the service of the "destiny of the community" is justified; such an act can be "neither crime nor madness.... For crime and madness are objectifications of transcendental homelessness."

According to an eyewitness, during meetings of the Hungarian Soviet leadership in 1919 to draw up lists for the firing squad, Lukacs would often quote the Grand Inquisitor: "And we who, for their happiness, have taken their sins upon ourselves, we stand before you and say, 'Judge us if you can and if you dare.' "

The Problem of Genesis

What differentiated the West from Russia, Lukacs identified, was a Judeo-Christian cultural matrix which emphasized exactly the uniqueness and sacredness of the individual which Lukacs abjured. At its core, the dominant Western ideology maintained that the individual, through the exercise of his or her reason, could discern the Divine Will in an unmediated relationship. What was worse, from Lukacs' standpoint: this reasonable relationship necessarily implied that the individual could and should change the physical universe in pursuit of the Good; that Man should have dominion over Nature, as stated in the Biblical injunction in Genesis. The problem was, that as long as the individual had the belief—or even the hope of the belief—that his or her divine spark of reason could solve the problems facing society, then that society would never reach the state of hopelessness and alienation which Lukacs recognized as the necessary prerequisite for socialist revolution.

The task of the Frankfurt School, then, was first, to undermine the Judeo-Christian legacy through an "abolition of culture" (Aufhebung der Kultur in Lukacs' German); and, second, to determine new cultural forms which would increase the alienation of the population, thus creating a "new barbarism." To this task, there gathered in and around the Frankfurt School an incredible assortment of not only Communists, but also non-party socialists, radical phenomenologists, Zionists, renegade Freudians, and at least a few members of a self-identified "cult of Astarte." The variegated membership reflected, to a certain extent, the sponsorship: although the Institute for Social Research started with Comintern support, over the next three decades its sources of funds included various German and American universities, the Rockefeller Foundation, Columbia Broadcasting System, the American Jewish Committee, several American intelligence services, the Office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, the International Labour Organization, and the Hacker Institute, a posh psychiatric clinic in Beverly Hills.

Similarly, the Institute's political allegiances: although top personnel maintained what might be called a sentimental relationship to the Soviet Union (and there is evidence that some of them worked for Soviet intelligence into the 1960's), the Institute saw its goals as higher than that of Russian foreign policy. Stalin, who was horrified at the undisciplined, "cosmopolitan" operation set up by his predecessors, cut the Institute off in the late 1920's, forcing Lukacs into "self-criticism," and briefly jailing him as a German sympathizer during World War II.

Lukacs survived to briefly take up his old post as Minister of Culture during the anti-Stalinist Imre Nagy regime in Hungary. Of the other top Institute figures, the political perambulations of Herbert Marcuse are typical. He started as a Communist; became a protégé of philosopher Martin Heidegger even as the latter was joining the Nazi Party; coming to America, he worked for the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and later became the U.S. State Department's top analyst of Soviet policy during the height of the McCarthy period; in the 1960's, he turned again, to become the most important guru of the New Left; and he ended his days helping to found the environmentalist extremist Green Party in West Germany.

In all this seeming incoherence of shifting positions and contradictory funding, there is no ideological conflict. The invariant is the desire of all parties to answer Lukacs' original question: "Who will save us from Western civilization?"

Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin

Perhaps the most important, if least-known, of the Frankfurt School's successes was the shaping of the electronic media of radio and television into the powerful instruments of social control which they represent today. This grew out of the work originally done by two men who came to the Institute in the late 1920's, Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin.

After completing studies at the University of Frankfurt, Walter Benjamin planned to emigrate to Palestine in 1924 with his friend Gershom Scholem (who later became one of Israel's most famous philosophers, as well as Judaism's leading gnostic), but was prevented by a love affair with Asja Lacis, a Latvian actress and Comintern stringer. Lacis whisked him off to the Italian island of Capri, a cult center from the time of the Emperor Tiberius, then used as a Comintern training base; the heretofore apolitical Benjamin wrote Scholem from Capri, that he had found "an existential liberation and an intensive insight into the actuality of radical communism."

Lacis later took Benjamin to Moscow for further indoctrination, where he met playwright Bertolt Brecht, with whom he would begin a long collaboration; soon thereafter, while working on the first German translation of the drug-enthusiast French poet Baudelaire, Benjamin began serious experimentation with hallucinogens. In 1927, he was in Berlin as part of a group led by Adorno, studying the works of Lukacs; other members of the study group included Brecht and his composer-partner Kurt Weill; Hans Eisler, another composer who would later become a Hollywood film score composer and co-author with Adorno of the textbook Composition for the Film; the avant-garde photographer Imre Moholy-Nagy; and the conductor Otto Klemperer.

From 1928 to 1932, Adorno and Benjamin had an intensive collaboration, at the end of which they began publishing articles in the Institute's journal, the Zeitschrift fär Sozialforschung. Benjamin was kept on the margins of the Institute, largely due to Adorno, who would later appropriate much of his work. As Hitler came to power, the Institute's staff fled, but, whereas most were quickly spirited away to new deployments in the U.S. and England, there were no job offers for Benjamin, probably due to the animus of Adorno. He went to France, and, after the German invasion, fled to the Spanish border; expecting momentary arrest by the Gestapo, he despaired and died in a dingy hotel room of self-administered drug overdose.

Benjamin's work remained almost completely unknown until 1955, when Scholem and Adorno published an edition of his material in Germany. The full revival occurred in 1968, when Hannah Arendt, Heidegger's former mistress and a collaborator of the Institute in America, published a major article on Benjamin in the New Yorker magazine, followed in the same year by the first English translations of his work. Today, every university bookstore in the country boasts a full shelf devoted to translations of every scrap Benjamin wrote, plus exegesis, all with 1980's copyright dates.

Adorno was younger than Benjamin, and as aggressive as the older man was passive. Born Teodoro Wiesengrund-Adorno to a Corsican family, he was taught the piano at an early age by an aunt who lived with the family and had been the concert accompanist to the international opera star Adelina Patti. It was generally thought that Theodor would become a professional musician, and he studied with Bernard Sekles, Paul Hindemith's teacher. However, in 1918, while still a gymnasium student, Adorno met Siegfried Kracauer. Kracauer was part of a Kantian-Zionist salon which met at the house of Rabbi Nehemiah Nobel in Frankfurt; other members of the Nobel circle included philosopher Martin Buber, writer Franz Rosenzweig, and two students, Leo Lowenthal and Erich Fromm. Kracauer, Lowenthal, and Fromm would join the I.S.R. two decades later. Adorno engaged Kracauer to tutor him in the philosophy of Kant; Kracauer also introduced him to the writings of Lukacs and to Walter Benjamin, who was around the Nobel clique.

In 1924, Adorno moved to Vienna, to study with the atonalist composers Alban Berg and Arnold Schönberg, and became connected to the avant-garde and occult circle around the old Marxist Karl Kraus. Here, he not only met his future collaborator, Hans Eisler, but also came into contact with the theories of Freudian extremist Otto Gross. Gross, a long-time cocaine addict, had died in a Berlin gutter in 1920, while on his way to help the revolution in Budapest; he had developed the theory that mental health could only be achieved through the revival of the ancient cult of Astarte, which would sweep away monotheism and the "bourgeois family."

Saving Marxist Aesthetics

By 1928, Adorno and Benjamin had satisfied their intellectual wanderlust, and settled down at the I.S.R. in Germany to do some work. As subject, they chose an aspect of the problem posed by Lukacs: how to give aesthetics a firmly materialistic basis. It was a question of some importance, at the time. Official Soviet discussions of art and culture, with their wild gyrations into "socialist realism" and "proletkult," were idiotic, and only served to discredit Marxism's claim to philosophy among intellectuals. Karl Marx's own writings on the subject were sketchy and banal, at best.

In essence, Adorno and Benjamin's problem was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Leibniz had once again obliterated the centuries-old gnostic dualism dividing mind and body, by demonstrating that matter does not think. A creative act in art or science apprehends the truth of the physical universe, but it is not determined by that physical universe. By self-consciously concentrating the past in the present to effect the future, the creative act, properly defined, is as immortal as the soul which envisions the act. This has fatal philosophical implications for Marxism, which rests entirely on the hypothesis that mental activity is determined by the social relations excreted by mankind's production of its physical existence.

Marx sidestepped the problem of Leibniz, as did Adorno and Benjamin, although the latter did it with a lot more panache. It is wrong, said Benjamin in his first articles on the subject, to start with the reasonable, hypothesizing mind as the basis of the development of civilization; this is an unfortunate legacy of Socrates. As an alternative, Benjamin posed an Aristotelian fable in interpretation of Genesis: Assume that Eden were given to Adam as the primordial physical state. The origin of science and philosophy does not lie in the investigation and mastery of nature, but in the naming of the objects of nature; in the primordial state, to name a thing was to say all there was to say about that thing. In support of this, Benjamin cynically recalled the opening lines of the Gospel according to St. John, carefully avoiding the philosophically-broader Greek, and preferring the Vulgate (so that, in the phrase "In the beginning was the Word," the connotations of the original Greek word logos—speech, reason, ratiocination, translated as "Word"—are replaced by the narrower meaning of the Latin word verbum). After the expulsion from Eden and God's requirement that Adam eat his bread earned by the sweat of his face (Benjamin's Marxist metaphor for the development of economies), and God's further curse of Babel on Nimrod (that is, the development of nation-states with distinct languages, which Benjamin and Marx viewed as a negative process away from the "primitive communism" of Eden), humanity became "estranged" from the physical world.

Thus, Benjamin continued, objects still give off an "aura" of their primordial form, but the truth is now hopelessly elusive. In fact, speech, written language, art, creativity itself—that by which we master physicality—merely furthers the estrangement by attempting, in Marxist jargon, to incorporate objects of nature into the social relations determined by the class structure dominant at that point in history. The creative artist or scientist, therefore, is a vessel, like Ion the rhapsode as he described himself to Socrates, or like a modern "chaos theory" advocate: the creative act springs out of the hodgepodge of culture as if by magic. The more that bourgeois man tries to convey what he intends about an object, the less truthful he becomes; or, in one of Benjamin's most oft-quoted statements, "Truth is the death of intention."

This philosophical sleight-of-hand allows one to do several destructive things. By making creativity historically-specific, you rob it of both immortality and morality. One cannot hypothesize universal truth, or natural law, for truth is completely relative to historical development. By discarding the idea of truth and error, you also may throw out the "obsolete" concept of good and evil; you are, in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, "beyond good and evil." Benjamin is able, for instance, to defend what he calls the "Satanism" of the French Symbolists and their Surrealist successors, for at the core of this Satanism "one finds the cult of evil as a political device ... to disinfect and isolate against all moralizing dilettantism" of the bourgeoisie. To condemn the Satanism of Rimbaud as evil, is as incorrect as to extol a Beethoven quartet or a Schiller poem as good; for both judgments are blind to the historical forces working unconsciously on the artist.

Thus, we are told, the late Beethoven's chord structure was striving to be atonal, but Beethoven could not bring himself consciously to break with the structured world of Congress of Vienna Europe (Adorno's thesis); similarly, Schiller really wanted to state that creativity was the liberation of the erotic, but as a true child of the Enlightenment and Immanuel Kant, he could not make the requisite renunciation of reason (Marcuse's thesis). Epistemology becomes a poor relation of public opinion, since the artist does not consciously create works in order to uplift society, but instead unconsciously transmits the ideological assumptions of the culture into which he was born. The issue is no longer what is universally true, but what can be plausibly interpreted by the self-appointed guardians of the Zeitgeist.

"The Bad New Days"

Thus, for the Frankfort School, the goal of a cultural elite in the modern, "capitalist" era must be to strip away the belief that art derives from the self-conscious emulation of God the Creator; "religious illumination," says Benjamin, must be shown to "reside in a profane illumination, a materialistic, anthropological inspiration, to which hashish, opium, or whatever else can give an introductory lesson." At the same time, new cultural forms must be found to increase the alienation of the population, in order for it to understand how truly alienated it is to live without socialism. "Do not build on the good old days, but on the bad new ones," said Benjamin.

The proper direction in painting, therefore, is that taken by the late Van Gogh, who began to paint objects in disintegration, with the equivalent of a hashish-smoker's eye that "loosens and entices things out of their familiar world." In music, "it is not suggested that one can compose better today" than Mozart or Beethoven, said Adorno, but one must compose atonally, for atonalism is sick, and "the sickness, dialectically, is at the same time the cure....The extraordinarily violent reaction protest which such music confronts in the present society ... appears nonetheless to suggest that the dialectical function of this music can already be felt ... negatively, as 'destruction.' "

The purpose of modern art, literature, and music must be to destroy the uplifting—therefore, bourgeois — potential of art, literature, and music, so that man, bereft of his connection to the divine, sees his only creative option to be political revolt. "To organize pessimism means nothing other than to expel the moral metaphor from politics and to discover in political action a sphere reserved one hundred percent for images." Thus, Benjamin collaborated with Brecht to work these theories into practical form, and their joint effort culminated in the Verfremdungseffekt ("estrangement effect"), Brecht's attempt to write his plays so as to make the audience leave the theatre demoralized and aimlessly angry.

Political Correctness

The Adorno-Benjamin analysis represents almost the entire theoretical basis of all the politically correct aesthetic trends which now plague our universities. The Poststructuralism of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, the Semiotics of Umberto Eco, the Deconstructionism of Paul DeMan, all openly cite Benjamin as the source of their work. The Italian terrorist Eco's best-selling novel, The Name of the Rose, is little more than a paean to Benjamin; DeMan, the former Nazi collaborator in Belgium who became a prestigious Yale professor, began his career translating Benjamin; Barthes' infamous 1968 statement that "[t]he author is dead," is meant as an elaboration of Benjamin's dictum on intention. Benjamin has actually been called the heir of Leibniz and of Wilhelm von Humboldt, the philologist collaborator of Schiller whose educational reforms engendered the tremendous development of Germany in the nineteenth century. Even as recently as September 1991, the Washington Post referred to Benjamin as "the finest German literary theorist of the century (and many would have left off that qualifying German)."

Readers have undoubtedly heard one or another horror story about how an African-American Studies Department has procured a ban on Othello, because it is "racist," or how a radical feminist professor lectured a Modern Language Association meeting on the witches as the "true heroines" of Macbeth. These atrocities occur because the perpetrators are able to plausibly demonstrate, in the tradition of Benjamin and Adorno, that Shakespeare's intent is irrelevant; what is important, is the racist or phallocentric "subtext" of which Shakespeare was unconscious when he wrote.

When the local Women's Studies or Third World Studies Department organizes students to abandon classics in favor of modern Black and feminist authors, the reasons given are pure Benjamin. It is not that these modern writers are better, but they are somehow more truthful because their alienated prose reflects the modern social problems of which the older authors were ignorant! Students are being taught that language itself is, as Benjamin said, merely a conglomeration of false "names" foisted upon society by its oppressors, and are warned against "logocentrism," the bourgeois over-reliance on words.

If these campus antics appear "retarded" (in the words of Adorno), that is because they are designed to be. The Frankfurt School's most important breakthrough consists in the realization that their monstrous theories could become dominant in the culture, as a result of the changes in society brought about by what Benjamin called "the age of mechanical reproduction of art."

II. The Establishment Goes Bolshevik:
"Entertainment" Replaces Art

Before the twentieth century, the distinction between art and "entertainment" was much more pronounced. One could be entertained by art, certainly, but the experience was active, not passive. On the first level, one had to make a conscious choice to go to a concert, to view a certain art exhibit, to buy a book or piece of sheet music. It was unlikely that any more than an infinitesimal fraction of the population would have the opportunity to see King Lear or hear Beethoven's Ninth Symphony more than once or twice in a lifetime. Art demanded that one bring one's full powers of concentration and knowledge of the subject to bear on each experience, or else the experience were considered wasted. These were the days when memorization of poetry and whole plays, and the gathering of friends and family for a "parlor concert," were the norm, even in rural households. These were also the days before "music appreciation"; when one studied music, as many did, they learned to play it, not appreciate it.

However, the new technologies of radio, film, and recorded music represented, to use the appropriate Marxist buzz-word, a dialectical potential. On the one hand, these technologies held out the possibility of bringing the greatest works of art to millions of people who would otherwise not have access to them. On the other, the fact that the experience was infinitely reproducible could tend to disengage the audience's mind, making the experience less sacred, thus increasing alienation. Adorno called this process, "demythologizing." This new passivity, Adorno hypothesized in a crucial article published in 1938, could fracture a musical composition into the "entertaining" parts which would be "fetishized" in the memory of the listener, and the difficult parts, which would be forgotten. Adorno continues,

 

The counterpart to the fetishism is a regression of listening. This does not mean a relapse of the individual listener into an earlier phase of his own development, nor a decline in the collective general level, since the millions who are reached musically for the first time by today's mass communications cannot be compared with the audiences of the past. Rather, it is the contemporary listening which has regressed, arrested at the infantile stage. Not only do the listening subjects lose, along with the freedom of choice and responsibility, the capacity for the conscious perception of music .... [t]hey fluctuate between comprehensive forgetting and sudden dives into recognition. They listen atomistically and dissociate what they hear, but precisely in this dissociation they develop certain capacities which accord less with the traditional concepts of aesthetics than with those of football or motoring. They are not childlike ... but they are childish; their primitivism is not that of the undeveloped, but that of the forcibly retarded. [emphasis aded]

This conceptual retardation and preconditioning caused by listening, suggested that programming could determine preference. The very act of putting, say, a Benny Goodman number next to a Mozart sonata on the radio, would tend to amalgamate both into entertaining "music-on-the-radio" in the mind of the listener. This meant that even new and unpalatable ideas could become popular by "re-naming" them through the universal homogenizer of the culture industry. As Benjamin puts it,

 

Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art. The reactionary attitude toward a Picasso painting changes into a progressive reaction toward a Chaplin movie. The progressive reaction is characterized by the direct, intimate fusion of visual and emotional enjoyment with the orientation of the expert.... With regard to the screen, the critical and receptive attitudes of the public coincide. The decisive reason for this is that the individual reactions are predetermined by the mass audience response they are about to produce, and this is nowhere more pronounced than in the film.

At the same time, the magic power of the media could be used to re-define previous ideas. "Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Beethoven will all make films," concluded Benjamin, quoting the French film pioneer Abel Gance, "... all legends, all mythologies, all myths, all founders of religions, and the very religions themselves ... await their exposed resurrection."

Social Control: The "Radio Project"

Here, then, were some potent theories of social control. The great possibilities of this Frankfurt School media work were probably the major contributing factor in the support given the I.S.R. by the bastions of the Establishment, after the Institute transferred its operations to America in 1934.

In 1937, the Rockefeller Foundation began funding research into the social effects of new forms of mass media, particularly radio. Before World War I, radio had been a hobbyist's toy, with only 125,000 receiving sets in the entire U.S.; twenty years later, it had become the primary mode of entertainment in the country; out of 32 million American families in 1937, 27.5 million had radios — a larger percentage than had telephones, automobiles, plumbing, or electricity! Yet, almost no systematic research had been done up to this point. The Rockefeller Foundation enlisted several universities, and headquartered this network at the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Named the Office of Radio Research, it was popularly known as "the Radio Project."

The director of the Project was Paul Lazersfeld, the foster son of Austrian Marxist economist Rudolph Hilferding, and a long-time collaborator of the I.S.R. from the early 1930's. Under Lazersfeld was Frank Stanton, a recent Ph.D. in industrial psychology from Ohio State, who had just been made research director of Columbia Broadcasting System—a grand title but a lowly position. After World War II, Stanton became president of the CBS News Division, and ultimately president of CBS at the height of the TV network's power; he also became Chairman of the Board of the RAND Corporation, and a member of President Lyndon Johnson's "kitchen cabinet." Among the Project's researchers were Herta Herzog, who married Lazersfeld and became the first director of research for the Voice of America; and Hazel Gaudet, who became one of the nation's leading political pollsters. Theodor Adorno was named chief of the Project's music section.

Despite the official gloss, the activities of the Radio Project make it clear that its purpose was to test empirically the Adorno-Benjamin thesis that the net effect of the mass media could be to atomize and increase lability—what people would later call "brainwashing."

Soap Operas and the Invasion from Mars

The first studies were promising. Herta Herzog produced "On Borrowed Experiences," the first comprehensive research on soap operas. The "serial radio drama" format was first used in 1929, on the inspiration of the old, cliff-hanger "Perils of Pauline" film serial. Because these little radio plays were highly melodramatic, they became popularly identified with Italian grand opera; because they were often sponsored by soap manufacturers, they ended up with the generic name, "soap opera."

Until Herzog's work, it was thought that the immense popularity of this format was largely with women of the lowest socioeconomic status who, in the restricted circumstances of their lives, needed a helpful escape to exotic places and romantic situations. A typical article from that period by two University of Chicago psychologists, "The Radio Day-Time Serial: Symbol Analysis" published in the Genetic Psychology Monographs, solemnly emphasized the positive, claiming that the soaps "function very much like the folk tale, expressing the hopes and fears of its female audience, and on the whole contribute to the integration of their lives into the world in which they live."

Herzog found that there was, in fact, no correlation to socioeconomic status. What is more, there was surprisingly little correlation to content. The key factor — as Adorno and Benjamin's theories suggested it would be — was the form itself of the serial; women were being effectively addicted to the format, not so much to be entertained or to escape, but to "find out what happens next week." In fact, Herzog found, you could almost double the listenership of a radio play by dividing it into segments.

Modern readers will immediately recognize that this was not a lesson lost on the entertainment industry. Nowadays, the serial format has spread to children's programming and high-budget prime time shows. The most widely watched shows in the history of television, remain the "Who Killed JR?" installment of Dallas, and the final episode of M*A*S*H, both of which were premised on a "what happens next?" format. Even feature films, like the Star Wars and Back to the Future trilogies, are now produced as serials, in order to lock in a viewership for the later installments. The humble daytime soap also retains its addictive qualities in the current age: 70% of all American women over eighteen now watch at least two of these shows each day, and there is a fast-growing viewership among men and college students of both sexes.

The Radio Project's next major study was an investigation into the effects of Orson Welles' Halloween 1938 radioplay based on H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Six million people heard the broadcast realistically describing a Martian invasion force landing in rural New Jersey. Despite repeated and clear statements that the show was fictional, approximately 25% of the listeners thought it was real, some panicking outright. The Radio Project researchers found that a majority of the people who panicked did not think that men from Mars had invaded; they actually thought that the Germans had invaded.

It happened this way. The listeners had been psychologically pre-conditioned by radio reports from the Munich crisis earlier that year. During that crisis, CBS's man in Europe, Edward R. Murrow, hit upon the idea of breaking into regular programming to present short news bulletins. For the first time in broadcasting, news was presented not in longer analytical pieces, but in short clips—what we now call "audio bites." At the height of the crisis, these flashes got so numerous, that, in the words of Murrow's producer Fred Friendly, "news bulletins were interrupting news bulletins." As the listeners thought that the world was moving to the brink of war, CBS ratings rose dramatically. When Welles did his fictional broadcast later, after the crisis had receded, he used this news bulletin technique to give things verisimilitude: he started the broadcast by faking a standard dance-music program, which kept getting interrupted by increasingly terrifying "on the scene reports" from New Jersey. Listeners who panicked, reacted not to content, but to format; they heard "We interrupt this program for an emergency bulletin," and "invasion," and immediately concluded that Hitler had invaded. The soap opera technique, transposed to the news, had worked on a vast and unexpected scale.

Little Annie and the "Wagnerian Dream" of TV

In 1939, one of the numbers of the quarterly Journal of Applied Psychology was handed over to Adorno and the Radio Project to publish some of their findings. Their conclusion was that Americans had, over the last twenty years, become "radio-minded," and that their listening had become so fragmented that repetition of format was the key to popularity. The play list determined the "hits"—a truth well known to organized crime, both then and now—and repetition could make any form of music or any performer, even a classical music performer, a "star." As long as a familiar form or context was retained, almost any content would become acceptable. "Not only are hit songs, stars, and soap operas cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariable types," said Adorno, summarizing this material a few years later, "but the specific content of the entertainment itself is derived from them and only appears to change. The details are interchangeable."

The crowning achievement of the Radio Project was "Little Annie," officially titled the Stanton-Lazersfeld Program Analyzer. Radio Project research had shown that all previous methods of preview polling were ineffectual. Up to that point, a preview audience listened to a show or watched a film, and then was asked general questions: did you like the show? what did you think of so-and-so's performance? The Radio Project realized that this method did not take into account the test audience's atomized perception of the subject, and demanded that they make a rational analysis of what was intended to be an irrational experience. So, the Project created a device in which each test audience member was supplied with a type of rheostat on which he could register the intensity of his likes or dislikes on a moment-to-moment basis. By comparing the individual graphs produced by the device, the operators could determine, not if the audience liked the whole show — which was irrelevant—but, which situations or characters produced a positive, if momentary, feeling state.

Little Annie transformed radio, film, and ultimately television programming. CBS still maintains program analyzer facilities in Hollywood and New York; it is said that results correlate 85% to ratings. Other networks and film studios have similar operations. This kind of analysis is responsible for the uncanny feeling you get when, seeing a new film or TV show, you think you have seen it all before. You have, many times. If a program analyzer indicates that, for instance, audiences were particularly titilated by a short scene in a World War II drama showing a certain type of actor kissing a certain type of actress, then that scene format will be worked into dozens of screenplays—transposed to the Middle Ages, to outer space, etc., etc.

The Radio Project also realized that television had the potential to intensify all of the effects that they had studied. TV technology had been around for some years, and had been exhibited at the 1936 World's Fair in New York, but the only person to attempt serious utilization of the medium had been Adolf Hitler. The Nazis broadcast events from the 1936 Olympic Games "live" to communal viewing rooms around Germany; they were trying to expand on their great success in using radio to Nazify all aspects of German culture. Further plans for German TV development were sidetracked by war preparations.

Adorno understood this potential perfectly, writing in 1944:

Television aims at the synthesis of radio and film, and is held up only because the interested parties have not yet reached agreement, but its consequences will be quite enormous and promise to intensify the impoverishment of aesthetic matter so drastically, that by tomorrow the thinly veiled identity of all industrial culture products can come triumphantly out in the open, derisively fulfilling the Wagnerian dream of the Gesamtkunstwerk—the fusion of all the arts in one work.

The obvious point is this: the profoundly irrational forms of modern entertainment—the stupid and eroticized content of most TV and films, the fact that your local Classical music radio station programs Stravinsky next to Mozart—don't have to be that way. They were designed to be that way. The design was so successful, that today, no one even questions the reasons or the origins.

III. Creating "Public Opinion": The "Authoritarian Personality" Bogeyman and the OSS

The efforts of the Radio Project conspirators to manipulate the population, spawned the modern pseudoscience of public opinion polling, in order to gain greater control over the methods they were developing.

Today, public opinion polls, like the television news, have been completely integrated into our society. A "scientific survey" of what people are said to think about an issue can be produced in less than twenty-four hours. Some campaigns for high political office are completely shaped by polls; in fact, many politicians try to create issues which are themselves meaningless, but which they know will look good in the polls, purely for the purpose of enhancing their image as "popular." Important policy decisions are made, even before the actual vote of the citizenry or the legislature, by poll results. Newspapers will occasionally write pious editorials calling on people to think for themselves, even as the newspaper's business agent sends a check to the local polling organization.

The idea of "public opinion" is not new, of course. Plato spoke against it in his Republic over two millenia ago; Alexis de Tocqueville wrote at length of its influence over America in the early nineteenth century. But, nobody thought to measure public opinion before the twentieth century, and nobody before the 1930's thought to use those measurements for decision-making.

It is useful to pause and reflect on the whole concept. The belief that public opinion can be a determinant of truth is philosophically insane. It precludes the idea of the rational individual mind. Every individual mind contains the divine spark of reason, and is thus capable of scientific discovery, and understanding the discoveries of others. The individual mind is one of the few things that cannot, therefore, be "averaged." Consider: at the moment of creative discovery, it is possible, if not probable, that the scientist making the discovery is the only person to hold that opinion about nature, whereas everyone else has a different opinion, or no opinion. One can only imagine what a "scientifically-conducted survey" on Kepler's model of the solar system would have been, shortly after he published the Harmony of the World: 2% for, 48% against, 50% no opinion.

These psychoanalytic survey techniques became standard, not only for the Frankfurt School, but also throughout American social science departments, particularly after the I.S.R. arrived in the United States. The methodology was the basis of the research piece for which the Frankfurt School is most well known, the "authoritarian personality" project. In 1942, I.S.R. director Max Horkheimer made contact with the American Jewish Committee, which asked him to set up a Department of Scientific Research within its organization. The American Jewish Committee also provided a large grant to study anti-Semitism in the American population. "Our aim," wrote Horkheimer in the introduction to the study, "is not merely to describe prejudice, but to explain it in order to help in its eradication.... Eradication means reeducation scientifically planned on the basis of understanding scientifically arrived at."

The A-S Scale

Ultimately, five volumes were produced for this study over the course of the late 1940's; the most important was the last, The Authoritarian Personality, by Adorno, with the help of three Berkeley, California social psychologists.

In the 1930's Erich Fromm had devised a questionnaire to be used to analyze German workers pychoanalytically as "authoritarian," "revolutionary" or "ambivalent." The heart of Adorno's study was, once again, Fromm's psychoanalytic scale, but with the positive end changed from a "revolutionary personality," to a "democratic personality," in order to make things more palatable for a postwar audience.

Nine personality traits were tested and measured, including:

  • conventionalism—rigid adherence to conventional, middle-class values
  • authoritarian aggression—the tendency to be on the look-out for, to condemn, reject and punish, people who violate conventional values
  • projectivity—the disposition to believethat wild and dangerous things go on in the world
  • sex—exaggerated concern with sexual goings-on.

From these measurements were constructed several scales: the E Scale (ethnocentrism), the PEC Scale (poltical and economic conservatism), the A-S Scale (anti-Semitism), and the F Scale (fascism). Using Rensis Lickerts's methodology of weighting results, the authors were able to tease together an empirical definition of what Adorno called "a new anthropological type," the authoritarian personality. The legerdemain here, as in all psychoanalytic survey work, is the assumption of a Weberian "type." Once the type has been statistically determined, all behavior can be explained; if an anti-Semitic personality does not act in an anti-Semitic way, then he or she has an ulterior motive for the act, or is being discontinuous. The idea that a human mind is capable of transformation, is ignored.

The results of this very study can be interpreted in diametrically different ways. One could say that the study proved that the population of the U.S. was generally conservative, did not want to abandon a capitalist economy, believed in a strong family and that sexual promiscuity should be punished, thought that the postwar world was a dangerous place, and was still suspicious of Jews (and Blacks, Roman Catholics, Orientals, etc. — unfortunately true, but correctable in a social context of economic growth and cultural optimism). On the other hand, one could take the same results and prove that anti-Jewish pogroms and Nuremburg rallies were simmering just under the surface, waiting for a new Hitler to ignite them. Which of the two interpretations you accept is a political, not a scientific, decision. Horkheimer and Adorno firmly believed that all religions, Judaism included, were "the opiate of the masses." Their goal was not the protection of Jews from prejudice, but the creation of a definition of authoritarianism and anti-Semitism which could be exploited to force the "scientifically planned reeducation" of Americans and Europeans away from the principles of Judeo-Christian civilization, which the Frankfurt School despised. In their theoretical writings of this period, Horkheimer and Adorno pushed the thesis to its most paranoid: just as capitalism was inherently fascistic, the philosophy of Christianity itself is the source of anti-Semitism. As Horkheimer and Adorno jointly wrote in their 1947 "Elements of Anti-Semitism":

 

Christ, the spirit become flesh, is the deified sorcerer. Man's self-reflection in the absolute, the humanization of God by Christ, is the proton pseudos [original falsehood]. Progress beyond Judaism is coupled with the assumption that the man Jesus has become God. The reflective aspect of Christianity, the intellectualization of magic, is the root of evil.

At the same time, Horkheimer could write in a more-popularized article titled "Anti-Semitism: A Social Disease," that "at present, the only country where there does not seem to be any kind of anti-Semitism is Russia"[!].

This self-serving attempt to maximize paranoia was further aided by Hannah Arendt, who popularized the authoritarian personality research in her widely-read Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt also added the famous rhetorical flourish about the "banality of evil" in her later Eichmann in Jerusalem: even a simple, shopkeeper-type like Eichmann can turn into a Nazi beast under the right psychological circumstances—every Gentile is suspect, psychoanalytically.

It is Arendt's extreme version of the authoritarian personality thesis which is the operant philosophy of today's Cult Awareness Network (CAN), a group which works with the U.S. Justice Department and the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith, among others. Using standard Frankfurt School method, CAN identifies political and religious groups which are its political enemies, then re-labels them as a "cult," in order to justify operations against them.

The Public Opinion Explosion

Despite its unprovable central thesis of "psychoanalytic types," the interpretive survey methodology of the Frankfurt School became dominant in the social sciences, and essentially remains so today. In fact, the adoption of these new, supposedly scientific techniques in the 1930's brought about an explosion in public-opinion survey use, much of it funded by Madison Avenue. The major pollsters of today—A.C. Neilsen, George Gallup, Elmo Roper—started in the mid-1930's, and began using the I.S.R. methods, especially given the success of the Stanton-Lazersfeld Program Analyzer. By 1936, polling activity had become sufficiently widespread to justify a trade association, the American Academy of Public Opinion Research at Princeton, headed by Lazersfeld; at the same time, the University of Chicago created the National Opinion Research Center. In 1940, the Office of Radio Research was turned into the Bureau of Applied Social Research, a division of Columbia University, with the indefatigable Lazersfeld as director.

After World War II, Lazersfeld especially pioneered the use of surveys to psychoanalyze American voting behavior, and by the 1952 Presidential election, Madison Avenue advertising agencies were firmly in control of Dwight Eisenhower's campaign, utilizing Lazersfeld's work. Nineteen fifty-two was also the first election under the influence of television, which, as Adorno had predicted eight years earlier, had grown to incredible influence in a very short time. Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborne — the fabled "BBD&O" ad agency—designed Ike's campaign appearances entirely for the TV cameras, and as carefully as Hitler's Nuremberg rallies; one-minute "spot" advertisements were pioneered to cater to the survey-determined needs of the voters.

This snowball has not stopped rolling since. The entire development of television and advertising in the 1950's and 1960's was pioneered by men and women who were trained in the Frankfurt School's techniques of mass alienation. Frank Stanton went directly from the Radio Project to become the single most-important leader of modern television. Stanton's chief rival in the formative period of TV was NBC's Sylvester "Pat" Weaver; after a Ph.D. in "listening behavior," Weaver worked with the Program Analyzer in the late 1930's, before becoming a Young & Rubicam vice-president, then NBC's director of programming, and ultimately the network's president. Stanton and Weaver's stories are typical.

Today, the men and women who run the networks, the ad agencies, and the polling organizations, even if they have never heard of Theodor Adorno, firmly believe in Adorno's theory that the media can, and should, turn all they touch into "football." Coverage of the 1991 Gulf War should make that clear.

The technique of mass media and advertising developed by the Frankfurt School now effectively controls American political campaigning. Campaigns are no longer based on political programs, but actually on alienation. Petty gripes and irrational fears are identified by psychoanalytic survey, to be transmogrified into "issues" to be catered to; the "Willy Horton" ads of the 1988 Presidential campaign, and the "flag-burning amendment," are but two recent examples. Issues that will determine the future of our civilization, are scrupulously reduced to photo opportunities and audio bites—like Ed Murrow's original 1930's radio reports—where the dramatic effect is maximized, and the idea content is zero.

Who Is the Enemy?

Part of the influence of the authoritarian personality hoax in our own day also derives from the fact that, incredibly, the Frankfurt School and its theories were officially accepted by the U.S. government during World War II, and these Cominternists were responsible for determining who were America's wartime, and postwar, enemies. In 1942, the Office of Strategic Services, America's hastily-constructed espionage and covert operations unit, asked former Harvard president James Baxter to form a Research and Analysis (R&A) Branch under the group's Intelligence Division. By 1944, the R&A Branch had collected such a large and prestigeous group of emigré scholars that H. Stuart Hughes, then a young Ph.D., said that working for it was "a second graduate education" at government expense. The Central European Section was headed by historian Carl Schorske; under him, in the all-important Germany/Austria Section, was Franz Neumann, as section chief, with Herbert Marcuse, Paul Baran, and Otto Kirchheimer, all I.S.R. veterans. Leo Lowenthal headed the German-language section of the Office of War Information; Sophie Marcuse, Marcuse's wife, worked at the Office of Naval Intelligence. Also at the R&A Branch were: Siegfried Kracauer, Adorno's old Kant instructor, now a film theorist; Norman O. Brown, who would become famous in the 1960's by combining Marcuse's hedonism theory with Wilhelm Reich's orgone therapy to popularize "polymorphous perversity"; Barrington Moore, Jr., later a philosophy professor who would co-author a book with Marcuse; Gregory Bateson, the husband of anthropologist Margaret Mead (who wrote for the Frankfurt School's journal), and Arthur Schlesinger, the historian who joined the Kennedy Administration. Marcuse's first assignment was to head a team to identify both those who would be tried as war criminals after the war, and also those who were potential leaders of postwar Germany. In 1944, Marcuse, Neumann, and Kirchheimer wrote the Denazification Guide, which was later issued to officers of the U.S. Armed Forces occupying Germany, to help them identify and suppress pro-Nazi behaviors. After the armistice, the R&A Branch sent representatives to work as intelligence liaisons with the various occupying powers; Marcuse was assigned the U.S. Zone, Kirchheimer the French, and Barrington Moore the Soviet. In the summer of 1945, Neumann left to become chief of research for the Nuremburg Tribunal. Marcuse remained in and around U.S. intelligence into the early 1950's, rising to the chief of the Central European Branch of the State Department's Office of Intelligence Research, an office formally charged with "planning and implementing a program of positive-intelligence research ... to meet the intelligence requirements of the Central Intelligence Agency and other authorized agencies." During his tenure as a U.S. government official, Marcuse supported the division of Germany into East and West, noting that this would prevent an alliance between the newly liberated left-wing parties and the old, conservative industrial and business layers. In 1949, he produced a 532-page report, "The Potentials of World Communism" (declassified only in 1978), which suggested that the Marshall Plan economic stabilization of Europe would limit the recruitment potential of Western Europe's Communist Parties to acceptable levels, causing a period of hostile co-existence with the Soviet Union, marked by confrontation only in faraway places like Latin America and Indochina—in all, a surprisingly accurate forecast. Marcuse left the State Department with a Rockefeller Foundation grant to work with the various Soviet Studies departments which were set up at many of America's top universities after the war, largely by R&A Branch veterans.

At the same time, Max Horkheimer was doing even greater damage. As part of the denazification of Germany suggested by the R&A Branch, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany John J. McCloy, using personal discretionary funds, brought Horkheimer back to Germany to reform the German university system. In fact, McCloy asked President Truman and Congress to pass a bill granting Horkheimer, who had become a naturalized American, dual citizenship; thus, for a brief period, Horkheimer was the only person in the world to hold both German and U.S. citizenship. In Germany, Horkheimer began the spadework for the full-blown revival of the Frankfurt School in that nation in the late 1950's, including the training of a whole new generation of anti-Western civilization scholars like Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas, who would have such destructive influence in 1960's Germany. In a period of American history when some individuals were being hounded into unemployment and suicide for the faintest aroma of leftism, Frankfurt School veterans—all with superb Comintern credentials — led what can only be called charmed lives. America had, to an incredible extent, handed the determination of who were the nation's enemies, over to the nation's own worst enemies.

IV. The Aristotelian Eros: Marcuse and the CIA's Drug Counterculture

In 1989, Hans-Georg Gadamer, a protégé of Martin Heidegger and the last of the original Frankfurt School generation, was asked to provide an appreciation of his own work for the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He wrote,

 

One has to conceive of Aristotle's ethics as a true fulfillment of the Socratic challenge, which Plato had placed at the center of his dialogues on the Socratic question of the good.... Plato described the idea of the good ... as the ultimate and highest idea, which is supposedly the highest principle of being for the universe, the state, and the human soul. Against this Aristotle opposed a decisive critique, under the famous formula, "Plato is my friend, but the truth is my friend even more." He denied that one could consider the idea of the good as a universal principle of being, which is supposed to hold in the same way for theoretical knowledge as for practical knowledge and human activity.

This statement not only succinctly states the underlying philosophy of the Frankfurt School, it also suggests an inflection point around which we can order much of the philosophical combat of the last two millenia. In the simplest terms, the Aristotelian correction of Plato sunders physics from metaphysics, relegating the Good to a mere object of speculation about which "our knowledge remains only a hypothesis," in the words of Wilhelm Dilthey, the Frankfurt School's favorite philosopher. Our knowledge of the "real world," as Dilthey, Nietzsche, and other precursors of the Frankfurt School were wont to emphasize, becomes erotic, in the broadest sense of that term, as object fixation. The universe becomes a collection of things which each operate on the basis of their own natures (that is, genetically), and through interaction between themselves (that is, mechanistically). Science becomes the deduction of the appropriate categories of these natures and interactions. Since the human mind is merely a sensorium, waiting for the Newtonian apple to jar it into deduction, humanity's relationship to the world (and vice versa) becomes an erotic attachment to objects. The comprehension of the universal—the mind's seeking to be the living image of the living God—is therefore illusory. That universal either does not exist, or it exists incomprehensibly as a deus ex machina; that is, the Divine exists as a superaddition to the physical universe — God is really Zeus, flinging thunderbolts into the world from some outside location. (Or, perhaps more appropriately: God is really Cupid, letting loose golden arrows to make objects attract, and leaden arrows to make objects repel.) The key to the entire Frankfurt School program, from originator Lukacs on, is the "liberation" of Aristotelian eros, to make individual feeling states psychologically primary. When the I.S.R. leaders arrived in the United States in the mid-1930's, they exulted that here was a place which had no adequate philosophical defenses against their brand of Kulturpessimismus [cultural pessimism]. However, although the Frankfurt School made major inroads in American intellectual life before World War II, that influence was largely confined to academia and to radio; and radio, although important, did not yet have the overwhelming influence on social life that it would acquire during the war. Furthermore, America's mobilization for the war, and the victory against fascism, sidetracked the Frankfurt School schedule; America in 1945 was almost sublimely optimistic, with a population firmly convinced that a mobilized republic, backed by science and technology, could do just about anything. The fifteen years after the war, however, saw the domination of family life by the radio and television shaped by the Frankfurt School, in a period of political erosion in which the great positive potential of America degenerated to a purely negative posture against the real and, oftentimes manipulated, threat of the Soviet Union. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of the young generation—the so-called baby boomers—were entering college and being exposed to the Frankfurt School's poison, either directly or indirectly. It is illustrative, that by 1960, sociology had become the most popular course of study in American universities. Indeed, when one looks at the first stirrings of the student rebellion at the beginning of the 1960's, like the speeches of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement or the Port Huron Statement which founded the Students for a Democratic Society, one is struck with how devoid of actual content these discussions were. There is much anxiety about being made to conform to the system—"I am a human being; do not fold, spindle, or mutilate" went an early Berkeley slogan—but it is clear that the "problems" cited derive much more from required sociology textbooks, than from the real needs of the society.

The CIA's Psychedelic Revolution

The simmering unrest on campus in 1960 might well too have passed or had a positive outcome, were it not for the traumatic decapitation of the nation through the Kennedy assassination, plus the simultaneous introduction of widespread drug use. Drugs had always been an "analytical tool" of the nineteenth century Romantics, like the French Symbolists, and were popular among the European and American Bohemian fringe well into the post-World War II period. But, in the second half of the 1950's, the CIA and allied intelligence services began extensive experimentation with the hallucinogen LSD to investigate its potential for social control. It has now been documented that millions of doses of the chemical were produced and disseminated under the aegis of the CIA's Operation MK-Ultra. LSD became the drug of choice within the agency itself, and was passed out freely to friends of the family, including a substantial number of OSS veterans. For instance, it was OSS Research and Analysis Branch veteran Gregory Bateson who "turned on" the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg to a U.S. Navy LSD experiment in Palo Alto, California. Not only Ginsberg, but novelist Ken Kesey and the original members of the Grateful Dead rock group opened the doors of perception courtesy of the Navy. The guru of the "psychedelic revolution," Timothy Leary, first heard about hallucinogens in 1957 from Life magazine (whose publisher, Henry Luce, was often given government acid, like many other opinion shapers), and began his career as a CIA contract employee; at a 1977 "reunion" of acid pioneers, Leary openly admitted, "everything I am, I owe to the foresight of the CIA." Hallucinogens have the singular effect of making the victim asocial, totally self-centered, and concerned with objects. Even the most banal objects take on the "aura" which Benjamin had talked about, and become timeless and delusionarily profound. In other words, hallucinogens instantaneously achieve a state of mind identical to that prescribed by the Frankfurt School theories. And, the popularization of these chemicals created a vast psychological lability for bringing those theories into practice. Thus, the situation at the beginning of the 1960's represented a brilliant re-entry point for the Frankfurt School, and it was fully exploited. One of the crowning ironies of the "Now Generation" of 1964 on, is that, for all its protestations of utter modernity, none of its ideas or artifacts was less than thirty years old. The political theory came completely from the Frankfurt School; Lucien Goldmann, a French radical who was a visiting professor at Columbia in 1968, was absolutely correct when he said of Herbert Marcuse in 1969 that "the student movements ... found in his works and ultimately in his works alone the theoretical formulation of their problems and aspirations [emphasis in original]." The long hair and sandals, the free love communes, the macrobiotic food, the liberated lifestyles, had been designed at the turn of the century, and thoroughly field-tested by various, Frankfurt School-connected New Age social experiments like the Ascona commune before 1920. (See box.) Even Tom Hayden's defiant "Never trust anyone over thirty," was merely a less-urbane version of Rupert Brooke's 1905, "Nobody over thirty is worth talking to." The social planners who shaped the 1960's simply relied on already-available materials.

Eros and Civilization

The founding document of the 1960's counterculture, and that which brought the Frankfurt School's "revolutionary messianism" of the 1920's into the 1960's, was Marcuse's Eros and Civilization, originally published in 1955 and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The document masterfully sums up the Frankfurt School ideology of Kulturpessimismus in the concept of "dimensionality." In one of the most bizarre perversions of philosophy, Marcuse claims to derive this concept from Friedrich Schiller. Schiller, whom Marcuse purposefully misidentifies as the heir of Immanuel Kant, discerned two dimensions in humanity: a sensuous instinct and an impulse toward form. Schiller advocated the harmonization of these two instincts in man in the form of a creative play instinct. For Marcuse, on the other hand, the only hope 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." As Marcuse would say later (1964) in his One-Dimensional Man, "A comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom prevails in advanced industrial civilization, a token of technical progress." This erotic liberation he misidentifies with Schiller's "play instinct," which, rather than being erotic, is an expression of charity, the higher concept of love associated with true creativity. Marcuse's contrary theory of erotic liberation is something implicit in Sigmund Freud, but not explicitly emphasized, except for some Freudian renegades like Wilhelm Reich and, to a certain extent, Carl Jung. Every aspect of culture in the West, including reason itself, says Marcuse, acts to repress this: "The totalitarian universe of technological rationality is the latest transmutation of the idea of reason." Or: "Auschwitz continues to haunt, not the memory but the accomplishments of man—the space flights, the rockets and missiles, the pretty electronics plants...."

This erotic liberation should take the form of the "Great Refusal," a total rejection of the "capitalist" monster and all his works, including "technological" reason, and "ritual-authoritarian language." As part of the Great Refusal, mankind should develop an "aesthetic ethos," turning life into an aesthetic ritual, a "life-style" (a nonsense phrase which came into the language in the 1960's under Marcuse's influence). With Marcuse representing the point of the wedge, the 1960's were filled with obtuse intellectual justifications of contentless adolescent sexual rebellion. Eros and Civilization was reissued as an inexpensive paperback in 1961, and ran through several editions; in the preface to the 1966 edition, Marcuse added that the new slogan, "Make Love, Not War," was exactly what he was talking about: "The fight for eros is a political fight [emphasis in original]." In 1969, he noted that even the New Left's obsessive use of obscenities in its manifestoes was part of the Great Refusal, calling it "a systematic linguistic rebellion, which smashes the ideological context in which the words are employed and defined." Marcuse was aided by psychoanalyst Norman O. Brown, his OSS protege, who contributed Life Against Death in 1959, and Love's Body in 1966—calling for man to shed his reasonable, "armored" ego, and replace it with a "Dionysian body ego," that would embrace the instinctual reality of polymorphous perversity, and bring man back into "union with nature." The books of Reich, who had claimed that Nazism was caused by monogamy, were re-issued. Reich had died in an American prison, jailed for taking money on the claim that cancer could be cured by rechanneling "orgone energy." Primary education became dominated by Reich's leading follower, A.S. Neill, a Theosophical cult member of the 1930's and militant atheist, whose educational theories demanded that students be taught to rebel against teachers who are, by nature, authoritarian. Neill's book Summerhill sold 24,000 copies in 1960, rising to 100,000 in 1968, and 2 million in 1970; by 1970, it was required reading in 600 university courses, making it one of the most influential education texts of the period, and still a benchmark for recent writers on the subject. Marcuse led the way for the complete revival of the rest of the Frankfurt School theorists, re-introducing the long-forgotten Lukacs to America. Marcuse himself became the lightning rod for attacks on the counterculture, and was regularly attacked by such sources as the Soviet daily Pravda, and then-California Governor Ronald Reagan. The only critique of any merit at the time, however, was one by Pope Paul VI, who in 1969 named Marcuse (an extraordinary step, as the Vatican usually refrains from formal denunciations of living individuals), along with Freud, for their justification of "disgusting and unbridled expressions of eroticism"; and called Marcuse's theory of liberation, "the theory which opens the way for license cloaked as liberty ... an aberration of instinct." The eroticism of the counterculture meant much more than free love and a violent attack on the nuclear family. It also meant the legitimization of philosophical eros. People were trained to see themselves as objects, determined by their "natures." The importance of the individual as a person gifted with the divine spark of creativity, and capable of acting upon all human civilization, was replaced by the idea that the person is important because he or she is black, or a woman, or feels homosexual impulses. This explains the deformation of the civil rights movement into a "black power" movement, and the transformation of the legitimate issue of civil rights for women into feminism. Discussion of women's civil rights was forced into being just another "liberation cult," complete with bra-burning and other, sometimes openly Astarte-style, rituals; a review of Kate Millet's Sexual Politics (1970) and Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch (1971), demonstrates their complete reliance on Marcuse, Fromm, Reich, and other Freudian extremists.

The Bad Trip

This popularization of life as an erotic, pessimistic ritual did not abate, but in fact deepened over the twenty years leading to today; it is the basis of the horror we see around us. The heirs of Marcuse and Adorno completely dominate the universities, teaching their own students to replace reason with "Politically Correct" ritual exercises. There are very few theoretical books on arts, letters, or language published today in the United States or Europe which do not openly acknowledge their debt to the Frankfort School.

The witchhunt on today's campuses is merely the implementation of Marcuse's concept of "repressive toleration"—"tolerance for movements from the left, but intolerance for movements from the right"—enforced by the students of the Frankfurt School, now become the professors of women's studies and Afro-American studies. The most erudite spokesman for Afro-American studies, for instance, Professor Cornell West of Princeton, publicly states that his theories are derived from Georg Lukacs. At the same time, the ugliness so carefully nurtured by the Frankfurt School pessimists, has corrupted our highest cultural endeavors. One can hardly find a performance of a Mozart opera, which has not been utterly deformed by a director who, following Benjamin and the I.S.R., wants to "liberate the erotic subtext." You cannot ask an orchestra to perform Schönberg and Beethoven on the same program, and maintain its integrity for the latter. And, when our highest culture becomes impotent, popular culture becomes openly bestial. One final image: American and European children daily watch films like Nightmare on Elm Street and Total Recall, or television shows comparable to them. A typical scene in one of these will have a figure emerge from a television set; the skin of his face will realistically peel away to reveal a hideously deformed man with razor-blade fingers, fingers which start growing to several feet in length, and—suddenly—the victim is slashed to bloody ribbons. This is not entertainment. This is the deeply paranoid hallucination of the LSD acid head. The worst of what happened in the 1960's is now daily fare. Owing to the Frankfurt School and its co-conspirators, the West is on a "bad trip" from which it is not being allowed to come down.

The principles through which Western Judeo-Christian civilization was built, are now no longer dominant in our society; they exist only as a kind of underground resistance movement. If that resistance is ultimately submerged, then the civilization will not survive—and, in our era of incurable pandemic disease and nuclear weapons, the collapse of Western civilization will very likely take the rest of the world with it to Hell.

The way out is to create a Renaissance. If that sounds grandiose, it is nonetheless what is needed. A renaissance means, to start again; to discard the evil, and inhuman, and just plain stupid, and to go back, hundreds or thousands of years, to the ideas which allow humanity to grow in freedom and goodness. Once we have identified those core beliefs, we can start to rebuild civilization.

Ultimately, a new Renaissance will rely on scientists, artists, and composers, but in the first moment, it depends on seemingly ordinary people who will defend the divine spark of reason in themselves, and tolerate no less in others. Given the successes of the Frankfurt School and its New Dark Age sponsors, these ordinary individuals, with their belief in reason and the difference between right and wrong, will be "unpopular." But, no really good idea was ever popular, in the beginning.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/lkbrg6

lundi, 31 janvier 2011

Dr. Rolf Kosiek - Mai 68 und die Frankfurter Schule

Dr. Rolf Kosiek

Mai 68 und die Frankfurter Schule

 

vendredi, 07 janvier 2011

Petites réflexions éparses sur l'Ecole de Francfort

Robert STEUCKERS :

Petites réflexions éparses sur l’Ecole de Francfort

 

Exposé prononcé à Gand, salle universitaire « Blandijn », novembre 2008, à l’occasion d’une conférence du Dr. Tomislav Sunic sur les répercussions de l’Ecole de Francfort en Amérique et en Europe, conférence organisée par l’association étudiante KVHV

 

L’Ecole de Francfort est un vaste sujet, vu le nombre de théoriciens importants pour les gauches européennes et américaines qu’elle a fournis. Nous ne pourrons pas aborder tous les aspects de cette école de Francfort. Nous allons nous limiter, comme le Dr. Sunic, aux critiques qu’adressent généralement les mouvements conservateurs européens à cette école de pensée qui a modernisé considérablement les idéologies avancées par les gauches, entre les années 20 et 70 du 20ème siècle. On peut dire qu’aujourd’hui bon nombre de dirigeants européens et américains ont été directement ou indirectement influencés par l’Ecole de Francfort, dans la mesure où ils ont été impliqués dans le mouvement de mai 68 ou dans ses suites immédiates.

 

Les critiques conservatrices de l’Ecole de Francfort s’articulent autour de plusieurs éventails de thématiques :

 

L’Ecole de Francfort aurait forgé les instruments destinés à dissoudre littéralement les fondements des sociétés, de manière à permettre à de petites élites intellectuelles et politiques de prendre le pouvoir, afin d’agir non pas selon des traditions avérées (selon le « mos majorum » romain) mais de manière purement arbitraire et expérimentale, sans la sanction de l’expérience. Il s’agit donc clairement de contre-élites, qui n’entendent pas poursuivre des traditions politiques, demeurer dans un cadre bien établi, mais bouleverser de fond en comble les traditions pour installer une nouvelle forme de pouvoir, qui ne doit plus rien au passé. Pour y parvenir et pour éliminer toute résistance des forces traditionnelles, il faut dissoudre ce qui existe et ce qui fait l’armature des sociétés. On a insinué que les tenants de l’Ecole de Francfort ont coopéré avec l’OSS américaine pendant et immédiatement après la seconde guerre mondiale pour briser les ressorts des sociétés européennes, et surtout de la société allemande. L’idée n’est pas neuve : dans Sun Tzu, on trouve des consignes au Prince pour faire plonger la société de l’ennemi en pleine déliquescence, la neutraliser, l’empêcher de renaître de ses cendres et de passer à la contre-offensive. L’Ecole de Francfort aurait donc été l’instrument des Américains pour appliquer à l’Allemagne et à l’Europe un principe de l’Art de la guerre de Sun Tzu.

 

De l’homme unidimensionnel à la société festiviste

 

OneDimDtBig400pxh.jpgMalgré l’instrumentalisation des corpus doctrinaux de l’Ecole de Francfort et malgré les désastres que cette instrumentalisation a provoqué en Europe, les idées diffusées par l’Ecole de Francfort véhiculent des thèmes intéressants qui, eux, n’ont pas été inclus dans la vulgate, seule responsable des dégâts sociaux et anthropologiques que nous déplorons depuis quelques décennies en Europe. Quand un Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) nous parle de l’homme unidimensionnel, pour déplorer sa banalisation dans les sociétés industrielles modernes, il ne fait qu’énoncer un état de choses déjà déploré par Nietzsche. L’homme unidimensionnel de Marcuse partage bien des traits en commun avec le « dernier homme » de Nietzsche. Dans « Eros et la civilisation », Marcuse évoque le refoulement du désir dans les sociétés modernes, exactement comme le déploraient certains mouvements de jeunesse alternatifs allemands entre 1896 et 1933 ; cette option philosophique de vouloir libérer les instincts refoulés, en imitant les groupes marginaux ou exclus des sociétés même au détriment des majorités politiques et parlementaires, a eu, avec l’appui de tout un attirail d’interprétations freudiennes, un impact important sur la révolte étudiante des années 67-68 en Allemagne, en France et ailleurs en Europe. Marcuse condamnera toutefois l’usage de la violence et se fera apostropher comme « mou » par certains échaudés, dénommés « Krawallos ». Entre la théorie écrite et la pratique mise en œuvre par les services à partir des années 60 du 20ème siècle, il y a une nette différence. Mais c’est la vulgate, la version instrumentalisée, sloganisée à l’usage des Krawallos, qui a triomphé au détriment de la théorie proprement dite : c’est au départ d’une hyper-simplification du contenu d’ « Eros et la civilisation » que l’on a fabriqué la société festiviste actuelle, une société festiviste incapable de forger un Etat digne de ce nom ou de générer un vivre-ensemble harmonieux et créatif. Tout comme dans le « Meilleur des mondes » d’Aldous Huxley, on vend des drogues et l’on favorise la promiscuité sexuelle pour endormir les volontés.

 

adorno.jpgOutre Marcuse, idole des festivistes de mai 68, l’Ecole de Francfort a surtout aligné, en Allemagne, deux figures notoires, Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) et Max Horkheimer (1895-1973). Ces deux philosophes ont été les principaux représentants de la philosophie allemande dans les années 50. Adorno a déployé une critique de l’autoritarisme qui, selon lui, aurait toujours structuré la pensée allemande et, partant, européenne et américaine, faisant courir le risque de voir émerger de nouveaux fascismes à intervalles réguliers dans l’histoire. Il va vouloir déconstruire cet autoritarisme pour enrayer à l’avance toute émergence de nouveaux fascismes. Pour y procéder, il élaborera un système de mesure, consigné dans son célèbre ouvrage, La personnalité autoritaire. On y apprend même comment mesurer sur « l’échelle F » le degré de « fascisme » que peut receler la personnalité d’un individu. Le livre contient aussi un classement des citoyens en « Vorurteilsvollen » et « Vorurteilsfreien », soit ceux qui sont « pleins de préjugés » et ceux « qui sont libres de tous préjugés ». Ceux qui sont pleins de préjugés comptent aussi les « rebelles » et les « psychopathes », les « fous » et les « manipulateurs » dans leurs rangs. Ceux qui sont libres de tout préjugé comptent tout de même des « rigides », des protestataires, des impulsifs et des « easy goings » (« ungezwungene Vorurteilsfreie ») dans leurs rangs, qui sont posés comme sympathiques, comme mobilisables dans un projet « anti-autoritaire » mais dont l’efficacité n’est pas parfaite. Le summum de la qualité citoyenne ne se trouve que chez une minorité  de « Vorurteilsfreien » : les « genuine Liberalen », les « hommes de gauche en soi » qui échappent aux tendances libidineuses et au narcissisme (bref, ceux qui devraient gouverner le monde après la mise au rencart de tous les autres). Ce livre sur la personnalité autoritaire a connu un succès retentissant aux Etats-Unis mais aussi dans la République Fédérale Allemande. Mais ce n’est pas un ouvrage philosophique : c’est un instrument purement manipulatoire au service d’une ingénierie sociale destinée à dompter la société, à contrôler pensées et langages. On peut donc parfaitement interpréter l’impact de cet ouvrage d’ingénierie sociale dans une perspective orwellienne : l’émancipation (par rapport à la personnalité autoritaire) est le terme enjoliveur qui couvre une nouvelle façon, subtile, d’asservir et d’opprimer les masses.

 

Des « genuinen Liberalen » à l’humanité nouvelle

 

Comment supputer la manipulation chez des « genuinen Liberalen », posés par Adorno comme des apolitiques qui ne réagissent que lorsque les injustices sont là, flagrantes, et se dressent alors contre elles sans tenir compte des déboires que cela pourrait leur procurer ? Le « genuiner Liberaler » est un bon naïf, écrit Adorno, comment pourrait-il dès lors manipuler ses concitoyens ? On se le demande, effectivement : non, ce n’est pas lui qui va manipuler, c’est lui qui servira de modèle aux manipulateurs car, eux, ont besoin de naïfs. En effet, le « fascisme » (sous quelque forme que ce soit) n’était plus présent aux Etats-Unis ou en Allemagne, quand Adorno sortait son livre de presse. Rien ne permettait d’envisager son retour offensif. Ce n’est donc pas un fascisme organisé en escouades de combat que cherchent à éliminer Adorno et tous ses disciples armés de « l’échelle F ». Il s’agit bien plutôt de détruire les réflexes structurants de toute société traditionnelle normale, surtout quand elles sont de nature « agnatiques » (centrées autour du patriarche ou du pater familias). Patriarches et pères de famille détiennent forcément une autorité (qui peut être bienveillante ou sévère selon les cas), que ce soit, comme l’a montré Emmanuel Todd, dans la famille centre-européenne (germanique et souvent catholique), dans la famille juive ou dans la famille musulmane nord-africaine (où elle a, selon Todd, des aspects plus claniques). C’est leur pouvoir patriarcal qu’il s’agit de démonter pour le remplacer par des figures alternatives, non clairement profilées : la virago célibataire, la mère fusionnelle, l’ado libre, l’adulescent bambocheur et irresponsable, la grand-mère gâteau, la divorcée agitée de frénésies de toutes sortes, le tonton homosexuel, le grand frère hippy (ou beatnik) ou deux ou trois figures de référence de cet acabit, qui vont déboussoler l’enfant plutôt que l’édifier. Bref nous aurons là la « nouvelle humanité » soi-disant « tolérante » (1), dont ont rêvé beaucoup de ces dissidents qui souhaitaient bouleverser les hiérarchies naturelles et immémoriales : les dissidents « levellers » ou les « Founding Fathers » puritains qui s’en iront au Nouveau Monde créer une « Jérusalem Nouvelle » avant de pendouiller les sorcières de Salem (2), les utopistes ou les phalanstériens en marge de la révolution française ou les communistes soviétiques des années 20, avant la réaction autoritaire du stalinisme. Les pères posés comme « autoritaires » a priori, par certains zélotes de « l’échelle F », sont évidemment un frein au développement échevelé de la société de consommation, telle que nous la connaissons depuis la fin des années 50 en Europe, depuis la fin des années 40 aux Etats-Unis. Les planificateurs de la consommation tous azimuts ont constaté que les pères (autoritaires ou simplement prévoyants) maintenaient généralement les cordons de la bourse plus serrés que les marginaux prodigues et flambeurs, individualités très appréciées des commerçants et des publicitaires. Qui dit structures patriarcales dit automatiquement volonté de maintenir et de préserver un patrimoine de biens meubles et immeubles, qui ne sont pas immédiatement voués à la consommation, destinée, elle, à procurer le bonheur tout de suite. L’élimination de l’autorité patriarcale et la libération sexuelle vont de paire pour assurer le triomphe de la société de consommation, festiviste et flambeuse, par ailleurs fustigée par certains soixante-huitards qui furent tout à la fois, et souvent à leur corps défendant, ses critiques et ses promoteurs.      

 

hork.jpgOutre la composition de cet instrument de contrôle que fut le livre d’Adorno intitulé La personnalité autoritaire (Studien zum autoritären Charakter), les deux philosophes de l’Ecole de Francfort, installés dans l’Allemagne d’après-guerre, en rédigent le principal manifeste philosophique, Die Dialektik der Aufklärung (= « La dialectique des Lumières »), où ils affirment s’inscrire dans la tradition des Lumières, née au 18ème siècle, tout en critiquant certains avatars ultérieurs de cette démarche philosophique. Pour Horkheimer et Adorno, la science et la technologie, qui ont pris leur élan à l’époque des Lumières et dans les premiers balbutiements de la révolution industrielle avec l’appui des Encyclopédistes autour de d’Alembert et Diderot, ont pris au fil du temps un statut marqué d’ambigüité. La technologie et la science ont débouché sur la technocratie, affirment Horkheimer et Adorno dans leur manifeste, et, dans ce processus involutif, la raison des Lumières, d’idéelle est devenue « instrumentale », avec le risque d’être instrumentalisée par des forces politiques ne partageant pas l’idéal philosophique des Lumières (sous-entendu : les diverses formes de fascisme ou les néoconservatismes technocratiques d’après 1945). Le programme promu par La personnalité autoritaire peut être interprété, sans sollicitation outrancière, comme un instrument purement technocratique destiné à formater les masses dans un sens précis, contraire à leurs dispositions naturelles et ontologiques ou contraire aux legs d’une histoire nationale particulière. Alors qu’ils inventent un instrument de nature nettement technocratique, Adorno et Horkheimer critiquent la technocratie occidentale sur des bases sociologiques que nous pouvons pleinement accepter : en effet, les deux philosophes s’inscrivent dans un filon sociologique inauguré, non pas par Marx et ses premiers fidèles, mais par Georg Simmel et Max Weber. Ce dernier voulait lancer, par ses travaux et ceux de ses étudiants, « une science du réel, nous permettant de comprendre dans sa spécificité même la réalité en laquelle nos vies sont plongées ». Pour Simmel et Weber, le développement des sciences et des technologies apporteront certainement une quantité de bienfaits aux sociétés humaines mais elles provoqueront simultanément une hypertrophie des appareils abstraits, ceux de la technocratie en marche, par exemple, ceux de l’administration qui multipliera les règles de coercition sociale dans tous les domaines, conduisant à l’émergence d’un gigantesque « talon d’acier » (iron heel) ou d’une cage d’acier, qui oblitèreront la créativité humaine.

 

Quelle créativité humaine ?

 

L’oblitération de la créativité humaine, telle qu’elle avait été pensée par Simmel et Weber, est le point de départ d’Adorno et Horkheimer. Mais où divergent donc conservateurs critiques de l’Ecole de Francfort et adeptes de cette école ? Dans la définition qu’ils donnent de la créativité humaine. La créativité selon Adorno et Horkheimer est celle d’une intelligentsia détachée de toutes contraintes matérielles, d’une freischwebende Intelligenz, planant haut au-dessus de la réalité, ou d’assistants sociaux, de travailleurs sociaux, qui œuvrent à déconstruire les structures sociales existantes pour créer de toutes pièces un vivre-ensemble artificiel, composé selon les rêves utopiques de sociologues irréalistes, qui glosent ad libitum sur le travail ou sur le prolétariat sans jamais travailler concrètement (Helmut Schelsky) ni trimer dans une véritable usine (les ouvriers d’Opel à Rüsselheim en Allemagne ont chassé les Krawallos qui voulaient les aider dans leur tâche prolétarienne, tout en préparant des comités de contestation, des happenings ou des bris de machine). Le reproche d’abonder dans le sens de cette frange « bohémienne » de la bourgeoisie ou de la Bildungsbürgertum avait déjà été adressé par les conservateurs et les pangermanistes à Nietzsche (« philosophe pour femmes hystériques et pour artistes peintres ») et aux romantiques, qualifiés d’ « occasionnalistes » par Carl Schmitt. On peut constater, dans l’histoire des idées, que la critique de la technocratie a souvent émergé dans les rangs conservateurs, inquiets de voir les traditions oblitérées par une nouvelle pensée pragmatique étrangère à toutes les valeurs traditionnelles et aux modes de concertation hérités, qui finissent alors noyés dans des dédales administratifs nouveaux, posés comme infaillibles. La critique d’Adorno et d’Horkheimer n’est pourtant pas conservatrice mais de gauche, « libérale » au sens anglo-saxon du terme. Adorno et Horkheimer veulent donner plus d’impact dans la société à la freischwebende Intelligenz, aux bohèmes littéraires et artistiques ou aux nouveaux sociologues et pédagogues (Cohn-Bendit) héritiers des plus fumeux et des plus farfelus des « Lebensreformer » (des « réformateurs de la vie ») qui pullulaient en Allemagne entre 1890 et 1933. Le but de cette manœuvre est de maintenir une sorte d’espace récréatif et festif (avant la lettre) en marge d’une société autrement gouvernée par les principes des Lumières, avec, dans le monde du travail, une domination plus ou moins jugulée de la « raison instrumentale ». Cet espace récréatif et festif serait un « espace de non-travail » (Guillaume Faye), survalorisé médiatiquement, où les individus pourraient donner libre cours à leurs fantaisies personnelles ou s’esbaudir dans une aire de garage au moment où l’automatisation des usines, la désindustrialisation ou les délocalisations postulent une réduction drastique de la main-d’œuvre. L’ « espace de non-travail » dore la pilule pour ceux qui sont condamnés au chômage ou à des emplois socio-culturels non productifs. Adorno et Horkheimer situent donc la créativité humaine, qu’ils valorisent, dans un espace artificiel, une sorte de jardin de luxe, en marge des tumultes du monde réel. Ils ne la situent pas dans les dispositions concrètes et ontologiques de la nature biologique de l’homme, en tant qu’être vivant, qui, au départ de son évolution phylogénétique, a été « jeté là » dans la nature et a dû s’en sortir. Critique allemand de l’Ecole de Francfort, le Dr. Rolf Kosiek, professeur de biologie, stigmatise le « pandémonium » de cette tradition sociologique de gauche parce qu’elle ne se réfère jamais à la biologie humaine, à la concrétude fondamentale de l’être humain en tant qu’être vivant. En utilisant le terme « pandémonium », Kosiek reprend quasiment mot pour mot le jugement de Henri De Man, présent à Francfort dès les débuts de l’Institut de sociologie ; dans ses mémoires, De Man écrit : « c’était une bande d’intellectuels rêveurs, incapables de saisir une réalité politique ou sociale ou de la décrire de manière succincte – c’était un pandémonium ».

 

Les écoles biologiques allemandes et autrichiennes, avec Konrad Lorenz, Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Rupert Riedl et Wuketits ou les vulgarisateurs américains et anglais Robert Ardrey et Desmond Morris ont jeté les bases d’une sociologie plus réaliste, en abordant l’homme, non pas comme un bohème intellectuel mais comme un être vivant, peu différent dans sa physiologie des mammifères qu’il côtoie, tout en étant, en revanche, très différent d’eux dans ses capacités intellectuelles et adaptatives, dans ses capacités mémorielles. Arnold Gehlen, lui, est un sociologue qui tient compte des acquis des sciences biologiques. Pour Gehlen, l’homme est une créature misérable, nue, sans force réelle dans la nature, sans les griffes et les canines du tigre, sans la fourrure et les muscles puissants de l’ours. Pour survivre, il doit créer artificiellement les organes dont la nature ne l’a pas pourvu. Il invente dès lors la technique et, par sa mémoire capable de transmettre les acquis, se dote d’une béquille culturelle, capable de pallier ses indigences naturelles. D’où la culture (et la technique) sont, pour Gehlen, la vraie nature de l’homme. La créativité, celle qu’oblitère la technocratie (Simmel, Weber, Adorno, Horkheimer) qui provoque aussi la « mort tiède » (Lorenz) par la démultiplication des « expériences de seconde main » (Gehlen), est, pour la sociologie biologisante de Gehlen, la réponse de l’homme, en tant qu’être vivant, à un environnement systématiquement hostile. L’invention de la technique et la culture/mémoire donne à l’homme une plasticité comportementale le rendant apte à affronter une multiplicité de défis.

 

Cette créativité-là est aujourd’hui oblitérée par l’ingénierie sociale de la technocratie dominante, ce qui a pour risque majeur de détruire définitivement les forces qui existent en l’homme et qui l’ont toujours rendu capable d’affronter les dangers qui le guettent par la puissance « pro-active » de son imagination concrète, inscrite désormais dans ses dispositions ontologiques. L’homme à la créativité oblitérée ne peut plus faire face au tragique qui peut à tout instant survenir (la « logique du pire » de Clément Rosset).

 

Konrad Lorenz parlait de « tiédeur mortelle » et Gehlen d’une hypertrophie d’ « expériences de seconde main », où l’homme n’est plus jamais confronté directement aux dangers et aux défis auxquels il avait généralement fait face au cours de toute son histoire.

 

Pour l’Ecole de Francfort, la créativité humaine se limite à celle des bohèmes intellectuelles. Pour les autres, la créativité englobe tous les domaines possibles et imaginables de l’activité humaine, pourvu qu’elle ait un objet concret.

 

Habermas : du patriotisme constitutionnel à l’aporie complète

 

habermas1.jpgHabermas, ancien assistant d’Horkheimer puis son successeur à la tête de l’Institut de Francfort, devient, dès la fin des années 60, la figure de proue de la seconde génération de l’Ecole de Francfort. Son objectif ? Pour éviter la « cristallisation » des résidus de l’autoritarisme et des effets de l’application de la « raison instrumentale », une « cristallisation » qui aurait indubitablement ramené au pouvoir une nouvelle idéologie forte et autoritaire, Habermas s’ingéniera à théoriser une « praxis de la discussion permanente » (s’opposant en cela à Carl Schmitt qui, disciple de l’Espagnol Donoso Cortès, abominait la discussion et la « classe discutailleuse » au bénéfice des vrais décideurs, seuls aptes à maintenir le politique en place, les Etats et les empires en bon ordre de fonctionnement). La discussion et cette culture du débat permanent devaient justement empêcher les décisions trop tranchées amenant aux « cristallisations ». Les évolutions politiques devaient se dérouler lentement dans le temps, sans brusqueries ni hâtes même quand les décisions claires et nettes s’avéraient nécessaires, vu l’urgence, l’ Ernstfall. Cette posture habermasienne ne plaisait pas à tous les hommes de gauche, surtout aux communistes durs et purs, aux activistes directs : sa théorie a parfois été décrite comme l’incarnation du « défaitisme postfasciste », inaugurant, dans l’après-guerre, une « philosophie de la désorientation et des longs palabres ». Habermas est ainsi devenu le philosophe déréalisé le plus emblématique d’Europe. En 1990, il déplore la réunification allemande car celle-ci « met en danger la société multiculturelle et l’unité européenne qui étaient toutes deux depuis quelque temps déjà en voie de réalisation ». La seule alternative, pour Habermas, c’est de remplacer l’appartenance nationale des peuples par un « patriotisme constitutionnel », préférable, selon lui, « aux béquilles prépolitiques que sont la nationalité (charnelle) et l’idée de la communauté de destin » (Habermas s’attaque là aux deux conceptions que l’on trouve en Allemagne : l’idéal nationalitaire de romantique mémoire et l’idéal prussien a-national de participation à la vie et à la défense d’un type particulier d’Etat, à connotations spartiates). Le « patriotisme constitutionnel » est-il dès lors un antidote à la guerre, à ces guerres qu’ont déclenché les patriotismes appuyés sur les deux « béquilles » dénoncées par Habermas, soit l’idéal nationalitaire et l’idéal prussien ? En principe, oui ; en pratique, non, car en 1999 quand l’OTAN attaque la Serbie sous prétexte qu’elle oppresse la minorité albanaise du Kosovo, Habermas bénit l’opération en la qualifiant « de bond en avant sur la voie qui mène du droit des gens classique au droit cosmopolite d’une société mondiale de citoyens ». Et il ajoutait : « les voisins démocratiques (c’est-à-dire ceux qui avaient fait leur l’idée de « patriotisme constitutionnel ») ont le droit de passer à l’action pour apporter une aide de première nécessité, légitimée par le droit des gens ». Contradiction : le « constitutionalisme globaliste de l’OTAN » a sanctifié un réflexe identitaire ethno-national, celui des Albanais du Kosovo, contre le réflexe ethno-national des Serbes. L’OTAN, avec la bénédiction d’Habermas, a paradoxalement agi pour restaurer l’une des béquilles que ce dernier a toujours voulu éradiquer. Tout en pariant sur un élément musulman, étranger à l’Europe, importation turque dans les Balkans, au détriment de l’albanité catholique et orthodoxe, avant de l’être pour la « serbicité » slave et orthodoxe. Le tout pour permettre à l’US Army de se faire octroyer par le nouvel Etat kosovar la plus formidable base terrestre en Europe, Camp Bondsteele, destiné à remplacer les bases allemandes évacuées progressivement depuis la réunification. Camp Bondsteele sert à asseoir une présence militaire dans les Balkans, tremplin pour le contrôle de la Mer Noire, de la Méditerranée orientale et de l’Anatolie turque. Ces déclarations d’Habermas vieillissant ressemblent étrangement à l’agitation de ces chiens qui tentent de se manger la queue. 

 

L’itinéraire d’Habermas débouche donc sur une aporie. Voire sur d’inexplicables contradictions : le « patriotisme constitutionnel », destiné à ouvrir une ère de paix universelle (déjà rêvée par Kant), aboutit en fin de compte à une apologie des « guerres justes » qui, autre oxymoron, promeuvent parfois de bons vieux nationalismes ethniques.

 

Conclusion : L’Ecole de Francfort est une instance qu’il faut étudier avec le regard de l’historien, pour pouvoir comprendre les errements de notre époque, les déraillements de ces deux dernières décennies où, justement, les soixante-huitards marqués par le corpus philosophico-sociologique de cette école, ont tenu le pouvoir entre leurs mains dans la plupart des pays occidentaux. Pour les amener à un bel éventail d’impasses et, plus récemment avec les expéditions en Afghanistan et en Irak (guerres justes selon Habermas), à un certain hybris, tandis que plusieurs puissances chalengeuses, dont la Chine, non contaminée par le fatras francfortiste et guérie des élucubrations de la révolution culturelle maoïste, entamaient une marche en avant. L’Europe doit se débarrasser du « pandémonium » pour pouvoir redresser la barre et, plus prosaïquement, survivre sur le long terme. On ne se débarrasse pas des vieux corpus classiques : ils sont irremplaçables. Toute tentative de les balancer par-dessus bord pour les remplacer par des constructions inventées et bricolées par des sociologues irréalistes conduit aux impasses, aux apories et aux bouffonneries.

 

Robert STEUCKERS.

(novembre 2008)     

 

Notes :

 

(1)    On ne se rend jamais assez compte que le terme « tolérance » a subrepticement changé de sens au fil de ces dernières décennies. Au départ, la tolérance signifiait que l’on tolérait l’existence d’un fait que, sur le fond et sur le plan des principes, l’on condamnait (on condamnait le protestantisme mais on le tolérait par l’Edit de Nantes, édit de tolérance). On tolérait certains faits parce qu’on n’avait pas les moyens matériels de les combattre et de les éradiquer. Ainsi, la prostitution, condamnée sur le fond, était tolérée comme exutoire social. On parlait dans ce sens de « maisons de tolérance » pour désigner les bordels. Quand nous demandions, déjà dans le sens actuel du mot, à nos professeurs d’être « tolérants », ils nous répondaient invariablement : « La tolérance, mon petit monsieur ? Mais il y a des maisons pour cela ! ». Aujourd’hui, le terme « tolérant » signifie accepter le fait dans ses dimensions factuelles (et inévitables) comme sur le plan des principes.

 

(2)    Les « Founding Fathers », qui sont des « pères » comme leur nom l’indique, retrouveront rapidement les réflexes de l’autorité patriarcale, dictée par la Bible juive. La parcimonie, vertu puritaine par excellence et pratiquée jusqu’à la caricature, deviendra un modèle de l’américanisme, qu’Adorno cherchera à déconstruire au même titre que le fascisme allemand, pour faire advenir une humanité atomisée, disloquée par la libération sexuelle qui dissoudra son noyau familial de base, une humanité atomisée prônée par Marcuse, Fromm et Reich, pour faire advenir le règne des individualités plus ou moins originales et farfelues, déconnectées et ahuries par les médias, mais toutes clientes dans les chaines de supermarchés.

 

Bibliographie :

Theodor W. ADORNO, Studien zum autoritären Charakter, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1973.

Max HORKHEIMER /  Theodor W. ADORNO, Dialektik der Aufklärung, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 1969.

Max HORKHEIMER, Traditionnelle und kritische Theorie – Vier Aufsätze, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 1968.

Max HORKHEIMER, Zur Kritik der instrumentellen Vernunft, Athenäuml/Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 1974.

Rolf KOSIEK, Die Frankfurter Schule und ihre zersetzenden Auswirkungen, Hohenrain, Tübingen, 2001.

samedi, 09 mai 2009

Une philippique contre les assassins de l'histoire

Geschichte-Weltchronik.jpg

SYNERGIES EUROPÉENNES - ORIENTATIONS (Bruxelles) - Juillet 1988

Une philippique contre les "assassins de l'histoire"

Un rapport de Luc Nannens

 

Le débat ouest-allemand récent, baptisé "querelle des historiens", a fait la une de tous les quotidiens et hebdomadaires de RFA. Il y a d'un côté, ceux qui veulent accentuer encore la culpabilité allemande, ressasser sans cesse les my-thèmes culpabilisateurs, les ériger au rang de vérités historiques intangibles. Leur méthode: l'anathème et l'injure. Cet exercice n'a pas plu à quelques historiens célèbres dans le monde entier, porte-paroles de leurs confrères: Ernst Nolte, Andreas Hillgruber et Michael Stürmer. Peu suspects de sympathies à l'endroit du nazisme, ils ont for-mé le camp adverse des nouveaux inquisiteurs, ceux qui s'auto-proclament "anti-fascistes". Ils n'ont pas accep-té la nou-velle mise au pas, le galvaudage éhonté de leur discipline déjà si malmenée par l'idéologie ambiante, cel-le de la grande lessive des mémoires. Rolf Kosiek nous a dressé un bilan clair de cette affaire qui annonce une pro--chai-ne grande révolte des mémoires contre les escrocs idéologiques, les nouveaux prêtres hurleurs qui veulent do-mes-ti-quer, asservir et détruire l'indépendance d'esprit et la sérénité européennes, la vieille et pondérée éthique de Thucydide. Son bilan porte le titre de

 

Rolf Kosiek, "Historikerstreit und Geschichtsrevision", Grabert-Verlag, Tübingen, 1987.

 

La querelle des historiens, écrit Rolf Kosiek, est révélatrice de l'absence de liberté que subissaient les historiens dans les décennies écoulées mais, point positif, elle indique aussi que les choses sont en train de bouger et que les scien-ces historiques vont enfin pouvoir entrer dans une époque "normalisée" et se dégager des carcans officiels. Les historiens agressés, jadis, entraient automatiquement dans un purgatoire et sombraient dans un oubli catastro-phique, résultat de la cons-piration du silence. Désormais, ils se rebiffent et font face. Apparaissent dès lors les pre--mières fissures dans l'édifice érigé artificiellement pour les besoins a posteriori de la cause alliée, même si des mas-ses d'archives sont encore inaccessibles et si des rumeurs courent qui disent que les documents entreposés à Lon-dres sont délibérément falsifiés, de façon à ne pas porter ombrage au Royaume-Uni quand ils seront enfin à la disposition des historiens.

L'Allemagne de l'Ouest a connu cinq cas de mise au pas d'historiens actifs dans l'enseignement: l'affaire du Prof. Dr. Peter R. Hofstätter en 1963, l'affaire Stielau (qui contestait l'authenticité du Journal d'Anne Frank)  en 1959, l'af-faire Walendy en 1965, l'affaire Diwald en 1978 (deux pages jugées litigieuses dans un livre de 764 pages, ven-du à des centaines de milliers d'exemplaires!), l'affaire Stäglich où l'accusé s'est vu non seulement condamné mais dépouillé de son titre de docteur en droit en vertu d'une loi imposée sous Hitler en 1939! Si toutes ces af-fai-res concernaient des mises en doute directes de la façon dont l'idéologie dominante présente les rapports tragiques en-tre Allemands et Juifs pendant la parenthèse hitlérienne, la querelle actuelle ne se base pas du tout sur des argu-ments relatifs à cette douloureuse question. D'où Kosiek distingue deux types de révisionnisme historique: le ré-vi-sionnisme proprement dit, vivace dans la sphère anglo-saxonne et porté par des célébrités comme B.H. Liddell-Hart, P.H. Nicoll, C.C. Transill, H.E. Barnes, qui, tous, nient la culpabilité exclusive de l'Allemagne dans le dé-clenchement de la seconde guerre mondiale. Nier l'exclusivité de la culpabilité, ce n'est pas nier toute culpabilité mais cette nuance, qu'acceptera tout esprit doté de bon sens, est déjà sacrilège pour les néo-inquisiteurs. Ensuite, un révisionnisme plus marginal, et surtout plus spécialisé, qui n'aborde que les questions propres aux rapports ger-mano-juifs.

Une volonté populaire diffuse de retour à l'histoire et de réappropriation d'identité

Une sourde hostilité couvait depuis une bonne décennie contre l'arrogance inquisitoriale: en 1976, le Président de la RFA, Walter Scheel, avait déclaré en public, devant un congrès d'historiens, que l'Allemagne de l'Ouest ne pou-vait nullement devenir un pays purgé de toute histoire. En 1977, les historiens hessois protestèrent vivement con--tre le projet du Ministère de leur Land  visant à supprimer purement et simplement la matière histoire dans les Gym-nasium.  L'exposition consacrée aux Staufer à Stuttgart en 1977 permet à plusieurs hommes politiques en vue de réitérer leur volonté de sauver l'histoire des griffes de ceux qui veulent systématiquement l'éradiquer. A par-tir de 1980, on assiste à une véritable offensive de retour à l'histoire et à une volonté très nette de se reconstituer une identité qui avait été provisoirement occultée; l'exposition sur la Prusse à Berlin en 1981 a montré que les mi-lieux de gauche, eux aussi, souhaitaient renouer avec l'histoire de leur pays (cf. Alain de Benoist, Gérard Nances & Robert Steuckers, "Idée prussienne, destin allemand", in Nouvelle Ecole,  n°37, 1982).

Les historiens, bénéficiant de cet engouement populaire pour l'identité nationale, vont s'enhardir et amorcer un processus d'émancipation. Helmut Rumpf, juriste et politologue de notoriété internationale, disciple de Carl Schmitt, rappelle, dans un article de la prestigieuse revue Der Staat  (Berlin) un ouvrage capital de 1961, assassi-né par la conspiration du silence: Der erzwungene Krieg  (= la guerre forcée) de l'Américain David L. Hoggan. Ce li-vre, épais de 936 pa-ges, démontrait la culpabilité britannique, notamment celle de Lord Halifax, sur base de do-cu--ments polonais, ja-mais étudiés à l'Ouest (sur Hoggan, cf. Orientations  n°6). La légende de l'incendie du Reichs-tag par les nazis fut, dans la foulée, réfutée par l'historien Fritz Tobias, membre de la SPD; Tobias avait en-tamé son enquête dès 1959 mais les inquisiteurs avaient jugé que sa thèse était "inopportune sur le plan de la pé-dagogie populaire" (!?). Il fal-lut attendre 1986 pour qu'elle soit admise, sans pour autant être diffusée. L'his-to-rien suisse-alémanique Wolf-gang Hänel put démontrer que les affirmations de Hermann Rauschning, consignées dans le fameux Hitler m'a dit,  sont absolument fausses pour la simple raison que l'auteur n'a jamais rencontré Hit-ler plus de quatre fois et, en ces occasions, n'était pas seul. Le Prof. Alfred Schickel, directeur de l'Institut d'His-toire Contemporaine d'In-gol-stadt, put prouver que les officiers polonais prisonniers en Allemagne organi-saient des "universités de camp". Ce fait, incompatible avec l'image qu'on s'est fait des relations germano-polo-nai-ses, fut d'abord nié par les historiens officiels, jusqu'au jour où plusieurs of-fi-ciers polonais sont venus person-nel-le-ment témoigner, preuves à l'appui!

Nolte contre Habermas: la "querelle des historiens" commence!

C'est avec un tel arrière-plan qu'a commencé la "querelle des historiens" proprement dite, en 1986. Ernst Nolte, cé-lèbre sur le plan international pour ses études sur l'origine des fascismes, a déclenché la polémique en écrivant, en substance, dans la Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ),  le 6 juin 1986, que l'"asiatisme" national-socia-lis-te, exprimé par la terreur policière, les camps et les massacres, n'est pas unique ni originelle mais a été précédée par l'"asiatisme" bolchévique. L'approche de Nolte était dans la droite ligne de ses options libérales: il ne niait pas les massacres et les crimes nationaux-socialistes mais refusait, par souci éthique, de justifier les massacres subis par ses compatriotes par les massacres qu'ils auraient commis ou non. Cette volonté de relativiser les faits, de les restituer à leur juste mesure et de les dépouiller de tous adstrats passionnels, constitue une démarche scien-tifique et objective, telle que tout historien sérieux se doit de poser. Les professionnels du culpabilisme ont ré-agi im-médiatement, d'abord par des lettres de lecteurs à la FAZ,  reprochant à Nolte de minimiser, par compa-raison avec la terreur stalinienne, les actes du régime nazi. Wolfgang Schuller, professeur d'histoire à Constance, fut le pre-mier à prendre parti pour Nolte, en écrivant: "Si l'on n'est plus autorisé qu'à écrire des choses négatives (à l'en-droit de l'histoire allemande de ce siècle, ndlr), si plus aucun lien causal, plus aucune causalité ne peut plus être évoqués, alors nous avons une sorte d'historiographie courtisane inversée".

Jürgen Habermas, qui n'en rate pas une, saisira l'occasion pour se donner de la publicité, en mitonnant un article far-ci de vitupérations et de fulminations hautes en couleur, en traînant Nolte dans la boue, avec trois autres de ses col-lè-gues, Andreas Hillgruber, Klaus Hildebrand et Michael Stürmer. Pariant sur l'ignorance des masses, sachant que les médias conformistes lui donneront une publicité imméritée, Habermas recourt sans vergogne à l'injure, au tron--quage des citations et au langage propagandiste, sans pour autant éviter les contradictions: ainsi, il reproche à Stürmer de fabriquer une "philosophie otanesque" (Natophilosophie),  assortie de "tamtam géopoliticien", propre à une "idéologie du milieu" (Ideologie der Mitte)  qui met en danger les liens de l'Allemagne avec l'Ouest, matri-ce des sacro-saintes "Lumières"! La réponse moqueuse des agressés n'a pas tardé: se posant comme leur avocat, Gün-ter Zehm se gausse du philosophe-sociologue libéral-gauchiste en faisant appel à ses propres théories; en ef-fet, Habermas, voulant ancrer sa démarche dans l'héritage rationaliste, hégélien et marxiste, a toujours opté pour les faits objectifs contre les travestissements métaphysiques, les engouements romantiques, les mythes mobilisa-teurs de type sorélo-fasciste ou völkisch-hitlérien; dans la querelle des historiens, toutes ses belles intentions, il les jette par-dessus bord, comme des ordures de cuisine par-dessus le bastingage d'un paquebot transatlantique: con-tre les faits mis en exergue par les historiens, le grand prêtre de la sociologie francfortiste évoque, trémolos feints dans la voix, la "malédic-tion éternelle" qui pèse sur le peuple allemand (et qu'il s'agit de ne pas égratigner) et la "faute incomparable" que les générations post-hitlériennes, faites de bons gros touristes roses et gourmands, doi-vent continuer à traîner com-me un boulet de forçat.

L'hystérie habermassienne contre la science historique

Ces gamineries hystériques n'ont pourtant été que le hors-d'œuvre, les zakouskis du maître-queue Habermas. Rudolf Augstein, rédac'chef du Spiegel,  prend le relais avec le gros sel: Hillgruber, selon le brave homme, nierait Ausch-witz et serait "un nazi constitutionnel". Janßen et Sontheimer, autres para-habermassiens, écrivent, sans ri-re et avec quelques circonlocutions, que les résultats de toute enquête historique doivent correspondre à des critères de "pé-dagogie populaire" et renforcer la "conscience Aufklärung". Tout autre résultat est malvenu et doit donc être tu, occulté, dénoncé. Le nazisme est unique, sin-gulier et au-dessus de toute comparaison, avancent Kocka, Bra-cher et Winkler, impavides devant le ridicule, puisque toute science his-to-rique est par définition comparative, comme le sait tout étudiant de première année. Winkler, qui avait bâti jadis quelques belles théories sur la parti-cu-la-rité allemande par rapport à l'Ouest, estime brusquement que le nazisme ne peut être comparé avec l'URSS stali-nien-ne ou le Cambodge de Pol Pot, terres asiatiques, mais exclusivement avec l'Ouest et ses normes puisque l'Al-lemagne est un morceau d'Occident. Après ces raisonnements spécieux: coucou! Qui réapparaît donc comme un dia-blo-tin d'une boîte? Habermas! L'hom-me prend des poses de Iavhé biblique et en imite le courroux: la faute des Al-lemands se transmettra de gé-né-rations en gé-né-ra-tions ad infinitum  (cf. Die Zeit,  7-XI-'86). On ne voit plus où est l'histoire. On voit au con-trai-re comment se modernisent les anathèmes théologiques.

Ces excès ont eu pour résultat de mobiliser une phalange d'historiens agacés parmi lesquels Joachim Fest, qui, en défendant Nolte, s'insurge contre les simplismes ânonnés à propos du national-socialisme par les adeptes des Lu-mières qui, derrière un discours rationaliste-utopique sur la liberté, asseyent sans scrupules leur propre mandari-nat. Thomas Nipperdey attaque directement la méthode de Habermas: le passé y est dénoncé, puis, au nom du principe tout-puissant de l'émancipation, politisé et moralisé, mieux, hyper-moralisé; de cette manière seulement, la voie est libre pour le monopole futur des utopies, des "constructions" artificielles, détachées de toute continui-té historique. Un passé moralisé détruit ipso facto l'histoire réelle, pour installer des schémas désincarnés dans lesquels les peuples ne retrouvent pas leurs aspirations. C'est pourquoi il faut historiciser le national-socialisme, afin de ne pas renoncer au réel et de ne pas confisquer aux Allemands le droit de construire une démocratie con-forme aux rythmes de leur histoire. Pour le bien de la science, on ne peut interdire aux chercheurs de s'interroger et de solliciter témoignages et documents. Nolte renchérit: il faut éviter que ne s'installe une situation où le passé national-socialiste est érigé en un mythe négatif, indicateur du mal absolu, qui empêche toute révision pertinente et s'avère ennemi de la science.

Hildebrand rejette les arguments passionnels de Habermas en démontrant que les thèses que ce dernier incrimine ne sont nullement neuves mais ont déjà été débattues en Allemagne et à l'étranger depuis longtemps. L'assassinat des Juifs, écrit-il dans Die Welt  (22-XI-'86), est sans doute "singulier" dans une perspective universelle mais de-meu-re néanmoins inscrit dans une chaîne d'événements tout aussi tragiques de notre siècle; cet événement "géno-cidaire" a eu des précédants et des imitations: le génocide des Arméniens, la liquidation de millions de paysans pro-priétaires russes, les koulaks, l'élimination et les déportations de peuples entiers sous le joug de Staline, les ex-terminations du "communisme paléolithique" cambodgien. Procéder à une comparaison entre ces horreurs his-to-riques est légitime pour l'historien, dont la tâche est d'en dégager les constantes et d'en comprendre les moti-vations, aussi répréhensibles soient-elles sur le plan moral. Spécialiste des crimes perpétrés contre les Alle-mands au cours des expulsions de 1945-46, l'historien américain Alfred de Zayas, en prenant position dans Die Welt  (13-XII-'86), explique que le processus de "démythologisation" du nazisme est en cours aux Etats-Unis et en Angle-ter-re depuis longtemps et exhorte les Allemands à s'intéresser à ces travaux en dépit des hurlements du mandarinat établi; selon de Zayas, la thèse de l'"unicité" de la faute nazie est inepte et les Allemands ne doivent pas se laisser hypnotiser ou paralyser par Auschwitz, car, pendant la seconde guerre mondiale, il n'y a pas eu de "monopole de la souffrance".

Les cinq questions-clefs du débat

Au-delà de la polémique, Kosiek dégage les principaux points de discorde entre les historiens: 1) La démarche de révision est-elle ou non la norme de la scientificité historique?; 2) Le IIIème Reich revêt-il un caractère d'unicité?; 3) L'époque du IIIème Reich doit-elle être historicisée, c'est-à-dire doit-elle être soumise aux mêmes critères d'investigation historiques que n'importe quelle autre segment de l'histoire?; 4) Le problème du calcul du nombre de victimes doit-il être abordé?; 5) Convient-il ou ne convient-il pas d'étendre la notion de "faute collective" aux gé-né-rations post-hitlériennes et, si oui, jusqu'à quelle génération? Au-delà de ces cinq questions d'ordre éthique et philosophique, qui ne sont pas du ressort direct de l'historien mais concernent immédiatement sa liberté de travail, l'histoire contemporaine, si elle veut quitter certaines impasses, doit aborder des terrains laissés jusqu'ici en jachè-re, terrains inexplorés à cause de la terreur intellectuelle exercée par le mandarinat. Seules des réponses allant dans un sens résolument non-habermassien aux cinq questions ci-dessus, permettront aux historiens d'aborder des do-mai-nes inexplorés (ou explorés seulement dans une marginalité éditoriale non médiatisée), comme, par exemple, les extermina-tions staliniennes et leurs incidences sur l'histoire de l'Europe orientale, la question de savoir si la guer-re déclenchée par Hitler contre l'URSS a été préventive ou non, les problèmes de l'expulsion des Allemands de Silésie, de Poméranie, de Prusse orientale et du Territoire des Sudètes. Une demande générale se fait jour qui com-prend l'é-tude historique et scientifique de ces événements, un débat public, franc et ouvert, sur ces questions. Y répondre clairement, sans a priori idéologique, avec sérénité, signifierait que l'histoire n'est pas une science mor-te. Ne pas y répondre, persister dans l'occultation de pans entiers de l'histoire européenne, signifierait au con-trai-re que l'his-toire est morte, et avec elle la liberté, et que se sont réalisées les pires appréhensions d'Orwell con-cernant la ma-ni-pu-lation du passé dans des buts de ma-ni--pulation politique. Un habermassien sincère, soucieux de transparence, de dialogue et de publicité, hostile aux mé-canismes mis en scène par l'imagination romanesque d'Or-well dans 1984,  devra nécessairement prendre la parti des Nolte, Hildebrand, Stürmer, etc., malgré les déra-pa-ges, divagations et éruc-ta-tions récentes de son maître-à-penser.

Dix conclusions

Quelles conclusions tirer de tout cela? Pour Kosiek, il convient de dégager dix leçons de cet événement:

1) Pour la première fois, toute une brochette d'historiens établis réclame une révision des schémas historiques et un abandon franc des simplismes en vogue.

2) Le scandale déclenché par Habermas a montré l'inanité intellectuelle des dits schémas et induit bon nombre d'historiens à relire les livres oubliés de certains "révisionnistes" anglo-saxons, dont Hoggan. Une modification ad hoc des manuels scolaires devrait suivre...

3) Le scandale doit nécessairement déboucher sur une liberté de recherche et il doit être accordé aux historiens le plein droit au débat pour toutes questions. Les peines prévues par le code pénal pour ceux qui enfreindraient le prêt-à-penser doivent être abrogées, au nom de la liberté de recherche.

4) Le processus d'historicisation du national-socialisme est enclenché, volens nolens. La chape de moralisme stérilisant s'effrite pour faire place à une histoire objective.

5) Le délicat problème du calcul arithmétique des victimes fait une entrée discrète sur la scène universitaire.

6) Des domaines délaissés de l'histoire (cf. supra) vont enfin être abordés et des angles d'approche négligés, comme la géopolitique, sont en passe d'être réhabilités.

7) Grâce à la querelle des historiens, les camps se sont formés et les clivages clarifiés. Le refus des méthodes anti-scien-ti-fiques s'est étoffé.

8) Le débat s'est déroulé dans les grands journaux, ce qui a permis à de larges strates de la population de prendre acte des enjeux.

9) Les historiens attaqués sauvagement par les inquisiteurs n'ont rien à voir avec la mouvance dite "néo-nazie" et n'appartiennent même pas à un secteur ou l'autre du clan nationaliste ou conservateur. Preuve que les inquisiteurs ne respectent aucune nuance et n'hésitent pas à utiliser la stratégie inféconde de l'amalgame.

10) Ces historiens modérés, auxquels aucune insulte et bassesse n'ont été épargnées, devront désormais faire montre de solidarité à l'égard de collègues moins en vue et en proie aux attaques des nervis inquisitoriaux habituels; ils ne pourront plus honnêtement se satisfaire de la politique de l'autruche.

Luc NANNENS.

Littérature complémentaire:

Hans-Christof KRAUS, "Wissenschaft gegen Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Eine Bilanz des Historikerstreits", in Criticón,  nr. 99, Januar-Februar 1987.

Criticón,  numéro 104, consacré à la "querelle des historiens". Textes de H.-Chr. KRAUS, Dietrich AIGNER, Alfred de ZAYAS et Armin MOHLER (où le célèbre explorateur de la "Konservative Revolution" démontre que Nolte, avant les incidents de l'automne 1986, avait "cimenté" quelques simplismes et fétiches historiques).

Pour toute commande, écrire à: Criticón-Verlag, Knöbelstraße 36/0, D-8000 München 22. Tel.: (089)29.98.85.

 

 

jeudi, 19 mars 2009

Une "nouvelle gauche" contre la vulgate des Lumières

siquieros1.jpg

 

 

Archives de SYNERGIES EUROPEENNES - 1995

 

Une “nouvelle gauche” contre la vulgate des Lumières

 

Nous assistons à l'avènement d'une gauche inattendue. Elle s'oppose à la vulgate des Lumières, base de la “political correctness”, elle s'insurge contre l'emprise étouffante de l'économisme, elle est “contextualiste” dans le sens où elle ne rejette pas nécessairement tous les nationalismes, elle est résolument “communautaire”, elle fait recours aux traditions, même, parfois, sous leurs aspects ésotériques.

 

Il y a déjà quelque temps qu'une certaine gauche (spécialement en France), que certains intellectuels déçus de leur parcours politico-philosophique marxiste et social-démocrate sont partis en quête d'arguments nouveaux, vers d'autres horizons spirituels. Ils ont toutefois gardé le meilleur de leur ancienne vision-du-monde: une aversion à l'égard de la culture libérale, fondée sur l'individualisme. Mais ils ont abandonné les recettes collectivistes et préfèrent le “communautaire” qu'ils avaient pourtant abjuré comme un “irrationalisme”. Aujourd'hui, ils affirment et démontrent que toute intégration sociale est déterminée par des valeurs spirituelles. C'est-à-dire que toute intégration est “holiste” et nullement “contractualiste”. On préfère désormais Ferdinand Tönnies à Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

 

Vu ces glissements et ces évolutions, le dialogue est donc possible avec ces intellectuels de gauche qui ont désormais des références fécondes. Ces cénacles et ces hommes courageux ne poussent toutefois pas l'audace trop loin: ils restent sur des positions égalitaristes, nivelleuses, qui ne permettent pas aux communautés, qu'ils rêvent de rétablir dans leur plénitude conviviale, de retrouver une véritable articulation organique. Des communautés non hiérarchisées, sans épine dorsale hiérarchique, risquent d'être des communautés figées, répétitives, sans vie intérieure. Lugubre perspective! Qui ne distinguera pas ce “communautarisme” de la massification actuelle, où les individus ne sont plus que de petits rouages. Autre obstacle que ces nouvelles gauches ne peuvent franchir: elles sont incapables, semble-t-il, de formuler une critique définitive des racines de la modernité mercantiliste.

 

Mais voici le catalogue des “nouveaux hérétiques”.

 

Les néo-tribalistes

 

“Le temps des tribus” est le titre d'un essai de 1989, qui n'est pas passé inaperçu. L'auteur en est le sociologue de gauche Michel Maffesoli, un des plus ardents théoriciens du nouveau communautarisme, des petites agrégations, comme les bandes de jeunes par exemple. Au contractualisme qui est un lien très faible, trop faible, Maffesoli oppose une sorte d'“élan vital” bergsonien, force irrationnelle d'intégration sociale: c'est ce qu'il appelle aussi le solidarisme orgiaque, où corps et âmes s'attirent et fusionnent. Maffesoli semble s'inspirer davantage d'une catégorie de Pareto, celle des “résidus”, voire celle des “actions non-logiques” que du concept de “Gemeinschaft” chez Tönnies.

 

Autre théoricien “communautariste”: Pietro Barcellona, ex-député du PCI. Dans ses écrits, l'anti-individualisme sort carrément des canons de l'idéologie des Lumières. La modernité et ses dérivés sociaux d'inspiration économiciste (le communisme par exemple) n'ont pas ressenti de culpabilité pour avoir fait disparaître les valeurs cimentant la solidarité. Ç'aurait été, explique le juriste Barcellona, une position “trop nostalgique et réductrice”. Barcellona n'épargne cependant pas le mercantilisme et le consumérisme. Et cet ancien député du PCI écrit, dans L'individualismo proprietario: «Le travailleur évolue désormais dans un monde de consommation à la recherche du succès personnel qui lui permettra de se présenter comme acquéreur dans des super-marchés fantasmagoriques, où le pur décor se substitue à la dignité et à l'orgueil de classe».

 

Les anti-occidentaux

 

Serge Latouche défend les positions les plus radicales en ce qui concerne la contestation du modèle occidental de vie et de développement. Dans L'occidentalisation du monde, il démasque purement et simplement le projet impérialiste et libéral-capitaliste qui éradique à coup de télévision les valeurs spirituelles résiduaires dans les pays du tiers-monde. Ainsi disparaissent chez ces peuples leur raison de vivre. L'Occident pour Latouche est une anti-culture: «Il donne des droits aux citoyens les plus efficaces. Il est tout le contraire d'une culture impliquant une dimension holiste qui procure une solution au défi de l'existence à tous ses membres». Que faire, dès lors, pour sortir de l'homogénéisation? Repartir, affirme l'ancien gauchiste, des micro-communautés, y compris les micro-communautés ethniques, qui ont été expulsées du marché.

 

Anti-occidentaliste encore plus farouche que Latouche: le linguiste américain Noam Chomsky, philosophe favori des gauches dures aux Etats-Unis. «Qui connaît les décisions les plus importantes prises lors des négociations du GATT ou du FMI, et qui ont pourtant un impact certain au niveau du monde entier? Et qui connaît les décisions des grandes multinationales, ou des banques internationales, ou des sociétés d'investissement qui régulent la production, le commerce et la vie de tant de pays?». Chomsky estime que cette opacité est la tare majeure du libéral-capitalisme, avec la globalisation de l'économie et l'impérialisme militaire sous la bannière Stars and Stripes. C'est contre cet expansionisme militaire américain que Chomsky a consacré son dernier livre 501: la conquête continue.

 

Les anti-scientistes

 

Il a rompu avec le communisme dans les années 50. Mais cette rupture ne l'a pas empêché de rêver à un “nouveau départ”, au-delà des “thérapies” du libéral-capitalisme. Nous voulons parler d'Edgar Morin, qui, dans un de ses derniers essais, nous met en garde contre le péril du scientisme, derrière lequel se profile une ombre totalitaire. En 1992, Morin déclarait: «Je crains un système qui puisse contrôler la population. Je pense aux manipulations génétiques et aux manipulations cérébrales. Une certaine fanta-science pourrait se transformer en science appliquée». Edgar Morin va bien au-delà d'une simple démolition du dogme scientiste: il en arrive à augurer une véritable révolution conservatrice: «Aujourd'hui, il nous faut associer deux notions opposées, celles de conservation et de révolution. Nous devons également nous abreuver aux sources du passé: Homère, Platon et Bouddha sont encore radiactifs».

 

Les “archaïsants” de la gauche

 

Il y a tout juste un an, à l'âge de 61 ans, mourrait l'historien américain Christopher Lasch. Il avait été un mythe pour la gauche italienne jusqu'il y a peu d'années. Lui aussi, comme Caillé, Morin, Maffesoli et Latouche, avait abandonné les canons de l'idéologie des Lumières et les idéologèmes économicistes, pour partir à la recherche des fondements de la solidarité, de ses principes spirituels. Aucun “pacte social” n'a jamais pu pallier aux réalités d'ordre communautaire telles la famille, la nation, le sens du devoir, toutes rejetées par les gauches sous prétexte qu'elles étaient “réactionnaires” ou “petites-bourgeoises”. La position de Lasch pourrait se définir comme étant une sorte de “radicalisme populiste”. Face à ce “communautarisme” prémoderne, le sociologue français Alain Caillé cultive un nostalgisme à peine voilé, tout en restant bien campé sur des positions égalitaires, typiques de la gauche. Il est un théoricien de l'anti-utilitarisme, le chef de file du MAUSS (Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste dans les Sciences Sociales). Depuis quelques années, il a ouvert un dialogue avec Alain de Benoist et la “Nuova Destra” italienne [tandis que le secrétaire d'Alain de Benoist, Charles Champetier, déploie mille et une astuces pour l'imiter et le paraphraser]. Dans l'orbite du MAUSS, on trouve également, outre Caillé, Latouche et Morin. Dans son essai le plus important, ce sociologue français condamne la logique du “donner-pour-avoir” et exalte, en contrepartie, la logique archaïque du don, ce qui lui permet, ou l'oblige, à réévaluer le rôle des cultures traditionnelles où «l'on se préoccupe davantage de la cohésion que du profit».

 

Les solidaristes du travail

 

Le capitalisme contre le capitalisme. Le modèle anglo-saxon des Etats-Unis contre le modèle rhénan nord-européen. L'individualisme du boursicotier contre le communautarisme des entreprises. Le sociologue Michel Albert, au départ de ses positions sociales-démocrates, explique dans son best-seller Capitalisme contre capitalisme  les raisons de la supériorité sociale et économique du modèle “communautaire” allemand face au modèle ultra-libériste qui ne considère l'entreprise que comme une simple “commodité”, comme un bien vendable et interchangeable. La supériorité sociale du “modèle rhénan” réside dans sa capacité d'opérer une médiation entre biens spirituels (fidélité, amitié, communauté, honneur, générosité) et biens de marché, exclusivement commercialisables. Michel Albert donne un exemple: «Les religions en Allemagne sont des institutions non commerciales. Aux Etats-Unis, elles font recours à des formes de plus en plus sophistiquées de publicité et de marketing».

 

«Le travail à temps plein est terminé»: cette phrase programmatique figure dans l'introduction de Lavorare meno per lavorare tutti (Travailler moins pour que tous puissent travailler) de Guy Aznar, beaucoup lu à gauche aujourd'hui. Aznar est heureux de saluer la restitution à l'individu d'une portion de sa vie où il peut appartenir à ses amis, pratiquer la coopération libre et gratuite, s'adonner à des activités échappant à la logique de l'argent et du marché. Aznar suggère une sortie hors de l'emprise totale du travail à temps plein avec ses dégénérescences (utilitarisme, mercantilisme, efficacité à tout prix, massification, déracinement total). Dans cette optique, suggérer la réduction des horaires de travail n'est pas seulement une mesure pour lutter contre le chômage.

 

Les “nationaux-communautaires” scandaleux

 

Hans Magnus Enzensberger est l'un des intellectuels historiques de la gauche allemande. Il est aujourd'hui en rupture de ban avec ses anciens camarades, parce qu'il ne cesse plus de lancer des affirmations en faveur de l'identité nationale. Ses théories ont fini, en Allemagne, par être mises directement en accusation sous prétexte qu'elles cautionnaient des “filons philosophico-idéologiques” marginalisés par les bien-pensant: idéologues de na “nouvelle droite”, positions politiques d'un Ernst Nolte. Mais un interview accordé au Spiegel a fait un scandale encore plus retentissant. Dans cet interview, Botho Strauss, dramaturge de l'école fondée jadis par Adorno, souligne la nécessité de forger en Allemagne une “nouvelle droite” non libérale et conservatrice, attentive aux thèmes “communautaires”.

 

Les “ésotériques”

 

Dans l'archipel de la culture de gauche, on a vu émerger une petite île et on tente déjà d'en interdire l'accès. Tant elle recèle de l'hérésie. Mais elle est pourtant bien inaccessible à la majorité des post-communistes et néo-communistes qui demeurent tous de formation étroitement laïque, fidèles à l'idéologie des Lumières et au scientisme. Dans cette “île”, on peut professer des idées issues des traditions ésotériques, alchimiques, gnostiques. Inouï! Deux auteurs sont particulièrement sensibles à ces thématiques. Le premier, c'est Attilio Mangano, un ancien communiste ultra, attiré désormais par le mythe, les religions et la spiritualité des cultures centre-européennes (Mitteleuropa). Mangano est un partisan fermement convaincu du retour aux valeurs communautaires pré-modernes: ou, plus exactement, aux aspects ludiques de la fête, aux liens magiques qui lient les personnes à la nature, à l'orgiaque. L'autre auteur sensible aux thèmes ésotériques est Luciano Parinetto. Il a étudié l'alchimie (ses principaux écrits sont: Alchimia e utopia et Solilunio)  et s'est réfugié dans cette discipline traditionnelle pour sortir de l'aliénation née de la modernité. Mais cette démarche nous semble tout de même un peu “forcée”, dans la mesure où il nous semble bien difficile de concilier l'utopisme marxiste anti-spirituel et anti-initiatique avec l'ars regia.

 

Les théologiens

 

Les théologiens de la nouvelle gauche hérétiques sont deux, et ils sont très différents l'un de l'autre. Le philosophe Massimo Cacciari, communiste et bourgmestre de Venise, a courageusement dépassé les clivages culturels. Au-delà du marxisme, au-delà des dogmes de l'idéologie des Lumières, Cacciari propose un itinéraire post-nihiliste nous permettant de sortir à la fois de la pensée négative et de nous ouvrir à la théologie et à la mystique.

 

C'est une façon de pousser la philosophie plus en avant, de la faire aller au-delà de l'orbite qui lui est généralement assignée. Dans ce cas, on pourrait effectivement hasarder des parallèles originaux. En sortant la mystique de son isolement, on retourne au néo-platonisme. En voulant dépasser le seuil de la philosophie, on revient en quelque sorte à l'idéalisme magique de Julius Evola.

 

Un autre intellectuel de la gauche italienne, Carlo Formenti, veut replacer les fondements de la philosophie dans leur dimension théologique.

 

Les anti-racistes différentialistes

 

Intellectuel français manifestant des sympathies pour le PS, Pierre-André Taguieff mène depuis longtemps déjà une bataille contre les insuffisances révélatrices du discours anti-raciste. Outre le racisme “mixophobe”, Taguieff dénonce le racisme “universaliste”, qui procède à l'arasement de toutes les différences. L'universalisme est raciste, en somme, parce qu'il projette d'imposer par voie d'impérialisme, un modèle unique. Il est en ce sens l'anti-chambre culturelle du colonialisme.

 

Francesco COLOTTA.

(texte tiré de Linea, II, 4, mai 1995; adresse: Via Federico Confalonieri 7, I-00.195 Roma; abonnement annuel: 30.000 Lire; trad. franç.: Robert Steuckers).

mercredi, 21 janvier 2009

Habermas sur la défensive: politique, philosophie et polémique

Habermas.jpg

 

Archives de SYNERGIES EUROPÉENNES / CRITICON (Munich) - ORIENTATIONS (Bruxelles) - Février 1988

Habermas sur la défensive:

Politique, philosophie et polémique

par Hans-Christof Kraus

N.B.: Ce texte est en même temps une recension critique de deux ouvrages récents de Jürgen Habermas:  Die Neue Unübersichtlichkeit (Francfort, Suhrkamp Verlag, 1985, 269 p., 14 DM) et  Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne (Francfort, Suhrkamp Verlag, 1985, 450 p., 36 DM), recueil de douze cours. Dans le texte ci-dessous, ces deux livres sont indiqués par les abréviations NU et PhD.

Incroyable mais vrai: Jürgen Habermas, la tête pensante la plus en vue et la plus féconde de la gauche ouest-al-le-mande, est sur la défensive. Lui qui proclamait encore en 1979: "Je tiens à passer pour un mar-xiste" (1), se plaint aujourd'hui avec cette faconde dont il a le secret, de ce que "les efforts de la praxis philosophique pour re-for-muler le projet de la modernité dans une optique marxiste ont perdu de leur crédibilité" (PhD, 380). Le socia-lisme, il ne peut, au mieux, que le définir a contrario: "Le socialisme consiste avant tout à savoir ce dont on ne veut pas" (NU, 73). Quant au capitalisme, il n'est peut-être pas si condamnable que cela! "Faisons donc vio-lence à nos sentiments: le capitalisme a été un franc succès, au moins sur le plan de la reproduction maté-rielle, et il l'est toujours" (NU, 194). Faussement perspicace, Habermas pérore sur la "singulière évanescence d'un certain type de progrès" (NU, 67) qui serait (quelle découverte!) "le propre des peuples qui n'ont pas eu leur révolution" (NU, 68).

Habermas manie la litote avec bonheur. Et donne dans la modestie: "Je ne suis pas un producteur de Weltan-schauung;  je voudrais en fait laisser quelques petites vérités. Pas une seule et grande Vérité". Il faut dire qu'il a dé-jà mis au rancart la "conception élitaire de la Vérité chez les Anciens", qu'il considère comme un "mythe creux". Pour finir, il se drape avec une feinte irritation dans le rôle de "l'auteur inactuel" auquel le temps pré-sent n'est pas particulièrement propice et ne manifeste qu'un goût mitigé pour sa théorie de la "rationalité com-municative" (NU, 179).

Contre les rénégats de la gauche et les conservateurs impénitents!

A partir de cette position défensive, et se rappelant que "l'attaque est la meilleure défense", Habermas prend pour cible deux catégories d'adversaires dont il tente de minimiser les différences: d'une part, les renégats de la gauche, espèce particulièrement prolifique en France (Foucault, Glücksmann, Lévy, Lyotard), chez lesquels il croit déceler "les thèmes bien connus de la contre-Aufklärung": les "théories sur la puissance" propres au "pessimisme bourgeois" de Hobbes à Nietzsche; celles-ci ne seraient plus que des "positions de repli pour trans-fuges désabusés" (PhD, 302, note 26). Bien entendu, Habermas ne se pose à aucun moment la seule ques-tion intéressante qui puisse être posée: pourquoi ce sont précisément d'anciens gauchistes que l'on trouve au-jour-d'hui prêts à "sacrifier leur intelligence à seule fin de mettre un terme à leur déboussolement" et à "s'a-ban-donner au jeu grotesque de l'extase esthético-religieuse" (PhD, 361)! Sa polémique contre les "renégats de la gau-che" trahit plutôt sa propre perplexité et ne peut faire oublier qu'à l'évidence, une certaine forme d'Auf-klä-rung rationaliste, à laquelle adhère encore Habermas, est devenu inacceptable, y compris pour ces intellectuels de gauche qui, naguère, ne juraient que par la raison.

L'autre cible de Habermas, ce sont les conservateurs de tout poil. Cependant, une espèce particulière retient son attention. Habermas sait reconnaître l'adversaire; il aura au moins retenu cela de Carl Schmitt: ce sont les "vieux nietzschéens" qui "sortent de leurs trous pour clamer publiquement les fantasmes élitistes qui ont tou-jours meublé leurs cervelles" (NU, 61). A la bonne heure. D'autant que le compliment peut être retourné à l'en-vo-yeur: souhaitons à monsieur le professeur Habermas (et à nous-mêmes!) l'avènement d'une époque où lui et ses épigones marxiens auront l'occasion de réintégrer leurs trous de souris sans oublier d'emporter leurs fan-tas-mes égalitaires!

I. La critique de la pensée conservatrice

Habermas est connu pour affectionner l'abstraction, la classification, la schématisation. Les conservateurs, il les range d'emblée dans quatre tiroirs: les "vieux conservateurs", les "néo-conservateurs", les "nouveaux con-servateurs allemands" et le courant "jungkonservativ".  Les premiers sont expédiés en un tour de main; le dé-bat est en effet stérile: "le recours des paléoconservateurs à des vérités religieuses ou métaphysiques ne pèse plus d'aucun poids dans le discours philosophique de la modernité" (PhD, 74).

Le libéralisme fondamental des "néo-conservateurs" américains

Les "néo-conservateurs" sont déjà un adversaire plus sérieux. L'expression désigne chez Habermas un groupe de publicistes américains, ci-devant de gauche voire gauchistes, reconvertis dans le libéral-conservatisme (Pod-ho-retz, Kristol) ou dans la sociologie (Bell, Berger et Lipset). L'une de leurs préoccupations est par exemple de savoir comment transposer sur le marché les problèmes du budget de l'Etat et pallier la crise culturelle ac-tuelle "en modérant des principes démocratiques qui ont placé trop haut leur niveau de légitimation" (NU, 34). Mais la critique finale de Habermas parle d'elle-même: il n'a pas affaire à des conservateurs. Irving Kristol s'est lui-même défini, à juste titre, comme un "libéral malmené par les réalités"… Quant à Daniel Bell, qui juge né-ces-saire "une égalité ouverte au compromis", il n'est pour Habermas, qu'un "libéral logique avec lui-même" (NU, 39). La première joute avec les conservateurs est donc un coup d'épée dans l'eau: sous l'étiquette de "néo-con-servateurs", Habermas critique non des conservateurs mais… des libéraux (2).

Les "nouveaux conservateurs" de la tradition allemande

Le troisième tiroir s'ouvre sur les "nouveaux conservateurs" en République fédérale (3). Héritiers de l'hégélia-nisme de droite, ils se laissent docilement porter par "la dynamique de la modernité sociale en banalisant la cons-cience moderne du temps et en ramenant la raison à l'intellect (Verstand).  Leur conception de la rationa-lité est de type utilitariste" (PhD, 57). Habermas tente ensuite d'illustrer leur "réconciliation timide" (selon lui) avec la modernité (NU, 40) en évoquant Joachim Ritter, Ernst Forsthoff et Arnold Gehlen (NU, 41 ss.). Mais ses arguments ne sont, pour la plupart, que des combats d'arrière-garde à peine déguisés: lorsqu'il repro-che à Gehlen et à Schelsky d'avoir profité du chaos culturel orchestré (mais non voulu paraît-il…) par les idéo-logues de gauche pour en tirer prétexte à une "chasse aux intellectuels" et "mobiliser les ressentiments de la classe moyenne" (NU, 46), sa critique fait sourire. Aux thèses conservatrices, comme celle de l'épuisement de la modernité culturelle ou de la nécessité d'une nouvelle conscience de la tradition, Habermas ne trouve rien d'au-tre à opposer que la sempiternelle phraséologie creuse de la gauche: il faut-moraliser-la-politique, "démo-cra-tiser les procesus de décision pour placer l'action politique sous le signe de la justice sociale, trouver des formes de vie souhaitables" (NU, 51), etc… Il garde pour la fin sa grosse artillerie: les nouveaux conser-va-teurs veulent "tourner le dos à l'Occident et aux Lumières", ils se réclament (horribile dictu!)  de traditions spé-cifiquement allemandes, comme celle du "luthérianisme d'Etat" qui repose sur une "anthropologie pessi-mis-te" (NU, 54), l'objectif final étant "l'abandon de la modernité" et "l'hommage à la modernisation capitaliste" (id.). Sur le plan philosophique, l'argumentaire n'est guère plus rigoureux: le "traditionalisme" néo-conser-va-teur d'un Freyer et surtout d'un Ritter délégitime les "positions critiques de l'universalisme moral et des forces créatrices et subversives de l'art d'avant-garde" (PhD, 93) au nom de "conceptions esthétiques rétrogrades" (bien entendu). Ici encore, les concepts s'affolent: subitement, il n'est plus question de "nouveaux conser-va-teurs" mais de "l'émergence de libéraux tardifs militants (!) qui, chez nous, sont allés à l'école de Gehlen et de Carl Schmitt" (NU, 181), récusent "l'héritage du rationalisme occidental" et mobilisent la Gegenaufklärung  (NU, 182). Ce seraient donc, à nouveau, des libéraux? Si les catégories sémantiques qu'Habermas élabore lui-mê-me sont aussi exigües, et leurs cloisons aussi perméables, rien d'étonnant à ce que Habermas soit aujour-d'hui acculé à la défensive…

Les "jeunes conservateurs" qui veulent faire éclater le cadre du rationalisme occidental

Mais les choses se compliquent encore: dans le dernier tiroir qu'ouvre Habermas s'entassent les "jeunes con-ser-va-teurs" dont la généalogie lui pose les mêmes problèmes que leurs (soi-disant) représentants actuels: en effet, nous avons, d'un côté, les "nouveaux conservateurs" (c'est-à-dire, nous venons de le voir, les "libéraux tar-difs" formés chez Carl Schmitt!) qui seraient les héritiers des Jungkonservativen  de la République de Weimar sous l'influence desquels ils auraient opéré une "réconciliation timide avec la modernité" (NU, 40). Mais, d'au-tre part, ces mêmes "nouveaux conservateurs" seraient essentiellement les héritiers des hégéliens de droite (NU, 41; PhD, 57, 71, 86 ss.) dont l'erreur, au rebours des hégéliens de gauche, serait une interprétation fausse des rapports entre l'Etat et la société. D'un côté, donc, Carl Schmitt et ses élèves, Huber et Forsthoff ("jeunes con-servateurs" s'il en fut!) sont considérés comme des "hégéliens de droite" (PhD, 89); de l'autre, les "jeunes con-servateurs" ne seraient que des disciples de Nietzsche (PhD, 57) dont "l'antihumanisme" consistait à vou-loir "faire éclater le cadre du rationalisme occidental, à l'intérieur duquel évoluaient encore les tenants de l'hé-gé-lianisme, de gauche comme de droite" (PhD, 93).

Mais là où la démonstration devient vraiment curieuse, c'est lorsque Habermas avance les noms de quelques "re-présentants" de la tendance jungkonservativ:  à l'exception d'Ernst Jünger, sur lequel il passe rapidement (NU, 40 et PhD, 161), on ne trouve dans son énumération aucun "conservateur révolutionnaire" ni personne per-pétuant cette tradition; après Heidegger et Bataille, on trouve surtout, pour la période actuelle, Derrida, La-can, Foucault et Lyotard (PhD, 120, 7). Baptiser "jeunes conservateurs" ces auteurs, uniquement parce que cer-tains d'entre eux ont repris des thèmes déjà présents chez Nietzsche, est proprement absurde (Heidegger mis à part).

Bataille, Lacan, Lyotard, Derrida et Foucault: pour Habermas, ils seraient les "Jungkonservativen" d'aujourd'hui!

Bataille, par exemple, doit être écarté d'entrée de jeu: il fut un communiste convaincu qui vit dans le stalinisme ins-titué la condition première de la réalisation de ses idées. Quant à savoir ce que fait Lacan, psychanalyste struc-turaliste, dans les rangs des "Jeunes conservateurs", la  question demeure sans réponse sérieuse possible. Son nom, heureusement, n'est que rarement cité par Habermas. Lyotard, que Habermas se faisait fort de "démasquer", voici cinq ans, comme "néo-conservateur", a, depuis, opposé un démenti formel à cette appelation (4). Mê-me chose pour Derrida.

Quant à Foucault, mort en 1984, s'il s'est justement moqué de l'étroitesse d'esprit de la vieille gauche (à la-quel-le il a lui-même appartenu, puisqu'il militait au PC), cela ne signifie nullement qu'il se soit transformé en "conservateur": l'anarchisme bizarre, à prétentions esthético-hédonistes, qu'il a incarné vers la fin de sa vie (5) ne relève pas plus de l'idéologie jungkonservativ  que son étrange enthousiasme pour la révolution ira-nien-ne (6). Et s'il fallait une preuve de la distance qui sépare Foucault d'un Arnold Gehlen, par exemple, (avec le-quel Habermas tient sans cesse à le mettre en parallèle), il n'est que de relire sa critique des "institutions to-ta-les" des temps modernes, dont les conclusions sont diamétralement opposées aux thèses centrales de la théo-rie des institutions chez Gehlen. Là encore, la critique des "conservateurs" est boîteuse: les "jeunes conser-va-teurs" ne sont finalement, pour la plupart, qu'un mélange insolite de paléo-marxistes et de néo-anarchistes qui, d'ailleurs (dans la mesure où ils sont encore en vie et peuvent donc se défendre), ont vivement protesté contre les classifications pour le moins arbitraires de Habermas.

Signalons pour terminer une autre contradiction flagrante dans sa critique du "néo-" ou du "nouveau" conser-va-tis-me: d'un côté, Habermas critique le refoulement de l'Etat hors de la sphère économique au nom d'une éco-no-mie politique orientée sur l'offre, qu'il juge, évidemment, "anti-sociale" (NU, 34, 153 ss.); de l'autre, il vitu-pè-re rageusement le "hobbisme", l'"étatisme", le "légalisme autoritaire" et autres horribles méfaits des conser-vateurs (NU, 65, 91, 97, 102, 104, 107 ss.), coupables à ses yeux de réclamer "trop d'Etat". Ici encore, Ha-bermas devrait accorder ses violons… Les attaques véhémentes de Habermas contre tout ce qu'il estime "con-servateur" (que ce soit "paléo", "néo", "nouveau" ou jungkonservativ)  ne sont, tout compte fait, que du vent, soit parce qu'Habermas se trompe de cible, soit parce qu'il oppose la polémique aux arguments.

II. Habermas et l'actualité politique

"Je suis moi-même un produit de la reeducation;  un produit pas trop raté, j'espère", disait de lui-même Ha-ber-mas en 1979. Sur ce point, qu'il se rassure: ses craintes en la matière sont totalement injustifiées, il n'est que de lire, pour s'en convaincre, ses déclarations et confidences politiques. Habermas se félicite de ce que "la Ré-pu-blique fédérale se soit, pour la première fois, ouverte sans retenue à l'Occident", de ce que "nous ayons fait nô-tre la théorie politique de l'Aufklärung", "… compris que le pluralisme était un grand formateur de men-ta-li-tés" et "appris à connaître l'esprit radical-démocratique du pragmatisme américain" (NU, 54). Mais cela ne lui suffit pas: apparemment, nous ne sommes pas encore suffisamment rééduqués: comment expliquer autrement que "nous ayions en Allemagne une culture politique aussi dévoyée" dont le responsable n'est autre, bien en-ten-du, que le "fil de la tradition" (Traditionsstränge):  "le Reich impérial, le wilhelminisme, les nazis, la ré-vo-lution bourgeoise, restée partiellement inopérante, etc…" (NU, 192). Mais, quelques pages plus loin, on lit: "La République fédérale est à ce point devenue le 52ème Etat des USA qu'il ne nous manque plus que le droit de vote" (NU, 217 ss.) - on l'a bien vu dans la question du réarmement. Il faudrait savoir! D'abord, nous som-mes américanisés, et c'est très bien. Ensuite, nous ne le sommes pas, et c'est très mal. Et voilà que pour fi--nir, nous le sommes tout de même un peu, et c'est… encore très mal! Décidément, la défensive ne doit pas être une position très confortable lorsqu'elle en arrive à déboussoler un penseur d'une telle sagacité.

Ses autres propos politiques sont moins équivoques. La nation, par exemple, est selon lui devenue inapte à fon-der des valeurs (PhD, 424). Interrogé sur la question allemande et sur certains signes avant-coureurs d'un na-tionalisme de gauche, Habermas se réfugie sous l'aile de Willy Brandt et proclame sur un ton apodictique: "La question allemande n'est plus ouverte. Parler d'un nouveau nationalisme allemand est pour moi une absurdité… La nostalgie d'une identité allemande perdue, chez plusieurs intellectuels, sent le kitsch et rappelle les discours sur la 'réunification' de nos orateurs du dimanche de la CSU" (NU, 251).

En revanche, Habermas ne trouve rien à redire à la "rééducation", ce qui s'explique puisque, en bon "produit" de la rééducation, selon ses propres dires, il y participe activement: certes, "personne (?), aujourd'hui, ne soutient plus la thèse de la faute collective", mais quiconque "persiste à nier la responsabilité collective des Alle-mands", ne vise en fait qu'à occulter le problème du regard sur l'histoire, problème "inextricablement lié à no-tre propre identité, et à celle de nos enfants et petits-enfants" (NU, 264). Le propos est clair, comme d'ailleurs son hommage au discours "digne d'un Heinemann" (!) du président de la République du 8 mai 1985 (NU, 268)…

La "désobéissance civile" et la "théorie de la justice"

Habermas se révèle également comme un pur produit de la rééducation dans son plaidoyer en faveur de la "dé-so-béissance civile". Pour lui, cette forme de "résistance non violente" fait partie des "formes non con-ven-tion-nelles de la formation de la volonté politique" (NU, 79). Il faut "faire comprendre à l'Allemagne que la dé-so-béissance civile est le signe d'une culture politique parvenue à maturité" (NU, 81). Pour cela, Habermas mo-bi-lise la "théorie de la justice" du moraliste américain John Rawls, dont il retient la définition de la déso-béis-sance civile comme "action publique, non violente, dictée par la conscience mais politiquement illégale, et or-dinairement destinée à provoquer une modification de la loi ou de la politique gouvernementale" (8). Fort de l'au-torité (?) de ce professeur de Harvard largement imperméable à la politique et qui annonce tout de go que les ac-tes politiques dans un Etat de droit peuvent être illégaux (9), Habermas tente de démontrer que le degré de "dé-sobéissance civile" est un baromètre de la "maturité" de la République fédérale (NU, 84). Point de vue aussi aventureux qu'exhorbitant: par quels arguments un citoyen agissant dans l'illégalité peut-il exiger de l'Etat et de ses institutions le respect du droit existant? Et même si l'on admet, avec Rawls, que la désobéissance civile ne doit pas "troubler l'ordre constitutionnel", la question surgit aussitôt: où, exactement, tracer les limites? Et surtout: qui veillera au respect de ces limites? Les manifestants? Dans ce domaine, les limites sont très vite fran-chies lorsque le droit en vigueur a été enfreint et que les institutions sont bafouées.

Or, ce problème de la dynamique propre à l'action politique ne semble manifestement pas exister pour Rawls et Ha-bermas (10): fidèle aux principes universalistes du droit naturel, Habermas se fait l'avocat d'un fossé béant entre légalité et légitimité qui a déjà conduit, au cours de ce siècle, à la suppression de l'Etat (et à la dictature de Béhémoth) (NU, 85 ss., 97). Pour lui, les véritables "gardiens de la légitimité" d'un Etat sont "les labo-rieux et les besogneux qui ressentent plus que d'autres l'injustice dans leur chair" (NU, 88). Mieux: appelant à la rescousse un autre théoricien anglo-saxon du droit, R. Dworkin, il va jusqu'à affirmer que les "violations ci-vi-les de la loi" sont des "expériences moralement justifiées dans lesquelles une République vivante ne peut con-server ni sa capacité d'innovation ni sa légitimité aux yeux de ses citoyens" (ibidem). Ces vues surréalis-tes, et même dangereuses si elles étaient mises en pratique, ne sont possibles que parce que Habermas, pur pro-duit de la "rééducation", ignore totalement la tradition réaliste de la pensée politique, celle qui va de Machia-vel à Hobbes jusqu'à Carl Schmitt en passant par Hegel et Nietzsche. A cette tradition, Habermas préfère ma-ni-fes-tement quelques théories moralisantes anglo-saxonnes sur le droit naturel.

"Pour un usage réflexif de la règle majoritaire"

Son argumentaire est également très révélateur lorsqu'il émet des réserves à l'encontre du principe démocratique de la majorité (bien que lui et ses semblables aiment s'appeler des "démocrates radicaux"), notamment lorsque l'ap-plication de ce principe aboutit à des décisions déplaisantes pour lui et ses compagnons de route (voir l'af-fai-re de l'implantation des fusées Pershing). Mais il ajoute ensuite: "Le principe majoritaire n'est vraiment con-vaincant que dans certaines situations" (NU, 96); il est inopérant "lorsque le Non de la minorité exprime le refus d'une forme d'existence… taillée en fonction des besoins de la modernisation capitaliste" (NU, 95), bref lorsqu'il y a "face à face entre deux formes opposées de l'existence". Que faire alors? Habermas a bien sûr trou-vé la solution. L'un de ses disciples, le sociologue de Bielefeld Claus Offe, la définit ainsi: "C'est un usage ré-flexif de la règle majoritaire… de telle façon que les objets, modalités et limites de l'application du principe ma-joritaire lui-même soient mis à la disposition de la majorité" (NU, 96). La solution, n'en doutons pas, fera mer-veille, à condition que la population ne soit composée que de sociologues venus de Bielefeld ou de Franc-fort!

III. Le problème philosophique de la modernité

En 1954 parut à Berlin-Est un volumineux ouvrage qu'il faut considérer comme la contribution communiste la plus importante à la rééducation intellectuelle des Allemands de RDA (et pas seulement de RDA…). Son titre: Die Zerstörung der Vernunft  de Georg Lukàcs. Ce livre, rédigé à Moscou pendant la guerre, développe, sous la for-me d'une pérégrination à travers l'histoire récente des idées en Allemagne, la thèse de la "destuction de la rai-son" par les philosophes et écrivains "irrationalistes". Auxquels Lukàcs oppose la "bonne" tradition, la tra-dition rationaliste qui va, comme il se doit, de Hegel à Marx et à ses épigones.

Sauver la raison de ses "falsifications"

Si Habermas, dans ses lectures sur le discours philosophique de la modernité, ne procède pas de façon aussi su-per-ficielle ni aussi tapageuse, il semble bien par moments se prendre pour un nouveau Lukàcs (comme le sug-gè-re une allusion dans NU, 179) qui suivrait les traces de son prédécesseur, mais avec des ambitions intellec-tuel-les plus élevées. Déjà, dans ses écrits politiques, Habermas tentait d'expliquer tous les aspects négatifs de la modernité, critiqués par les "post-modernes" (et par lui-même) par des "effets secondaires" (NU, 63), des "fal-sifications" du véritable esprit de la modernité (NU, 15), des "exagérations", dans l'architecture moderne par exemple, (NU, 23), afin de "sauver le projet inachevé de la modernité qui s'emballe" (NU, 15). Son point de départ philosophique est donc à nouveau la défensive: la reconstruction du discours philosophique de la mo-der-nité est une réaction au "défi de la critique néostructuraliste de la raison" (PhD, 7).

Voici, brossée à grands traits, la démarche intellectuelle de cet ouvrage (Der philosophische Diskurs der Mo-der-ne)  sans doute ambitieux dont l'argumentaire se meut  -et se perd-  dans les hautes sphères de la réflexion: l'"é-mancipation de la modernité" (PhD, 26) commence avec Hegel dont la philosophie érige la subjectivité en prin-cipe des temps nouveaux. En même temps, la subjectivité reconnaît la supériorité du monde moderne (com-me monde de progrès) mais aussi sa crise (comme monde de l'esprit aliéné), et c'est pourquoi "la première ten-ta-tive de conceptualiser la modernité est originellement inséparable d'une critique de la modernité" (PhD, 27). A la rupture du principe de subjectivité en trois formes de raison depuis Kant (raison pure, raison pratique et ju-gement esthétique), qui sera suivie d'autres dissociations (entre science et foi, par exemple), Hegel oppose la "notion d'absolu" (PhD, 32) grâce à laquelle la philosophie peut révéler "la raison comme force de synthèse afin de répondre à la crise née de la dissociation (Ent-zweiung)  de l'existence" (ibidem) (11). Grâce à cet "ab-solu", posé en principe central et conçu par Hegel comme "le processus conciliatoire de la relation incon-di-tion-nelle à soi-même" (PhD, 46), Habermas peut certes "convaincre la modernité de ses errements sans re-cou-rir à un principe autre que celui, inhérent à la modernité, de subjectivité", mais il n'aboutit qu'à une "ré-con-ci-liation partielle" (PhD, 49) puisque sa solution revient à privilégier la généralité concrète (das konkrete Allgemeine)  par rapport au sujet concret, c'est-à-dire à "donner la préférence à une subjectivité supérieure, cel-le de l'Etat, plutôt qu'à la liberté subjective de l'individu" (PhD, 53). L'alternative possible (mais que rejette He--gel) eût été une "intersubjectivité supérieure de la volonté libre … dans une communauté de commu-ni-ca-tion" (PhD, 54). Ce point sera ultérieurement repris par Habermas lorsqu'il développera le concept dialectique de rai-son chez Hegel.

Les trois perspectives posthégéliennes

Après avoir développé ces prolégomènes dans ses 1ère et 2ème lectures, Habermas ébauche dans la troisième les trois perspectives posthégéliennes:

1) les hégéliens de gauche, qui veulent faire la révolution au nom de la raison totale (umfassend)  contre une rai-son étiolée et mutilée par l'esprit bourgeois;

2) les hégéliens de droite, qui font confiance à l'Etat et à la religion pour faire contrepoids à l'inquiétude de la so-ciété bourgeoise;

3) Nietzsche qui veut démasquer la raison, toute raison, comme une volonté de puissance déguisée et pervertie (PhD, 71).

La quatrième lecture traite d'ailleurs du seul Nietzsche qu'Habermas considère comme la plaque tournante de l'ir-rup-tion de la post-modernité. Dans une interprétation largement abrégée de la pensée nietzschéenne (et dans la-quelle il ne fait de surcroît aucune différence entre le jeune Nietzsche et le Nietzsche de l'âge mûr), Habermas ex-pose le projet nietzschéen de rénovation du mythe (PhD, 107 ss.) destiné à surmonter les déficits du ratio-na-lisme des Lumières. Il s'agit pour Nietzsche de "rompre radicalement (totaler Abkehr!) avec une modernité ex-ca-vée par le nihilisme" (PhD, 117). La délivrance dyonisiaque de l'homme moderne par l'expérience esthétique, que propose Nietzsche, supprime tous les intermédiaires de la raison hégélienne (PhD, 116 ss.) et la volonté de puissance se révèle comme fondamentalement esthétique (PhD, 118).

Le problème de Nietzsche

Mais le problème de Nietzsche est qu'il ne peut légitimer rationnellement sa critique de la raison, critique "qui se place d'emblée hors de l'horizon rationnel" (PhD, 119), pas plus d'ailleurs que ses critères du jugement esthé-tique (c'est un reproche fondamental que Habermas fera plus tard également à Heidegger, à Bataille, à Derrida et à Foucault). Pour résoudre ce problème, Nietzsche oscille entre deux stratégies:

1) la possibilité d'un regard artistique, en même temps sceptique et antimétaphysique, sur le monde, mobilisant des méthodes scientifiques  et sur ce point, Bataille, Lacan et Foucault n'ont pas dit autre chose;

2) la possibilité d'une critique de la métaphysique, critique qui ne serait pas une philosophie au sens tra-di-tion-nel du terme mais le fait d'un initié participant d'un mystère dyonisiaque: ici, Nietzsche rejoint Heidegger et Derrida (PhD, 120).

Cependant, avant d'écorcher ces deux derniers auteurs, Habermas essaie, dans sa cinquième lecture, de "sauver la dialectique de l'Aufklärung", jadis théorisée par Horkheimer et Adorno, afin d'empêcher les auteurs post-mo-dernes d'en abuser. Ce qui ne l'empêche pas lui-même, dans un premier temps, de critiquer la part trop belle fai-te par Horkheimer et Adorno à la raison instrumentale: certes, l'éclatement des sphères qui englobaient les va-leurs culturelles est à l'origine de la "régression sociale de la raison" mais il a provoqué également une "diffé-ren-ciation progressive d'une raison qui en acquiert une forme procédurale" (PhD, 137), en sorte que la "dia-lec-ti-que de l'Aufklärung" appréhende mal "le contenu rationnel de la modernité culturelle" (PhD, 137 ss.). Pour-tant, Habermas décèle en filigrane, chez ces deux auteurs, une "fidélité fondamentale à la démarche de l'Aufklä-rung" (PhD, 143) puisqu'ils s'offrent le paradoxe d'une critique radicale de la raison… avec les intruments de la rai-son (PhD, 145).

Habermas contre Heidegger

Habermas n'a pas la même indulgence à l'égard de Heidegger et de Derrida, qu'il aborde dans ses 6ème et 7ème lec-tures. Heidegger, qui se range comme Bataille, "sous la bannière de Nietzsche pour la lutte finale" (PhD, 158), en arrive lui aussi, à force de critiquer en bloc la philosophie moderniste du sujet, à évacuer la raison, de sor-te que, comme l'indique Habermas (on croirait lire du Lukàcs), "il ne fait plus la différence entre, d'une part, le contenu universaliste de l'humanisme, des Lumières … et, d'autre part, les idées d'auto-affirmation du parti-cu-lier, propres au racisme, au nationalisme et aux typologies rétrogrades du style Spengler ou Jünger" (PhD, 160 ss.). Le "décisionisme volontariste" qui s'exprime dans Sein und Zeit  débouche, pour Habermas, sur …  le na-tio--nal-socialisme. Aux prises avec celui-ci, Heidegger développe alors sa philosophie tardive, à savoir le Den-ken der Kehre,  l'idée de retournement (12). Cette pensée nouvelle se dévoile alors comme une "tempora-li-sa-tion de la philosohie originelle" (PhD, 158, 182): l'Etre comme "principe primordial selon la philosophie ini-tiale" est temporalisé et se révèle comme événement vrai, actuel en permanence, mais caché et qui, en tant que tel, ne peut se donner à voir que par le biais d'une critique radicale et destructrice de l'histoire de la méta-phy-sique. Or, dans une telle démarche, le "déracinement de la vérité propositionnelle" va de pair avec une "dé-va-lorisation de la pensée discursive" (PhD, 182), en sorte que Heidegger ne parvient qu'à "renverser les sché-mas de la philosophie du sujet" tout en restant "prisonnier de la Problématique de cette philosophie" (PhD, 190).

Le cheminement intellectuel de Derrida est très proche de celui de son maître Heidegger. Chez ce penseur fran-çais, l'absolu primordial est non l'Etre mais l'Ecrit "comme signe originel, … soustrait à tous les contextes prag-matiques de la communication" (PhD, 210). L'"Ecrit primordial" (Ur-schrift),  "force originelle diffuse dans le temps" (PhD, 211), rend possibles, en excluant tout sujet transcendental, "les distinctions, sources d'in-formation sur le monde, entre l'intelligible des significations et l'empirique qui se donne à voir dans l'ho-ri-zon de ce dernier" (PhD, 210). Pour réfuter ces conceptions, Habermas mobilise les arguments déjà utilisés con-tre Heidegger: Derrida lui aussi ne fait qu'ériger en mythe des "pathologies sociales manifestes" (PhD, 214).

Derrida: un irrationaliste proche de la mystique juive; Heidegger: un néo-païen "hölderlinien"

Détail intéressant: Habermas relève une différence notoire entre ces deux auteurs, même s'il les confond dans sa cri-tique: à l'actif de Derrida, il note que cet auteur "reste proche de la mystique juive" et ne souhaite pas "reve-nir, comme les néo-païens, à une période antérieure aux prémisses du monothéisme" (PhD, 214), ce qui le met à l'abri "tant de l'imperméabilité politico-morale que du mauvais goût esthétique d'un nouveau paganisme enri-chi d'Hölderlin" (PhD, 197). Heureusement, Derrida "reste en-deçà de Heidegger" car "l'expérience mystique… des traditions juive et chrétienne ne peut déployer toute sa puissance explosive, capable de liquider insti-tu-tions et dogmes" (!) (NU, 216) que par référence à un dieu caché, alors que "la mystique néo-païenne de Hei-deg-ger… a, au mieux, les charmes de la charlatanerie" (PhD, 217). Remarquable confession monothéiste, qui con-firme, s'il en était besoin, ce que la Nouvelle Droite, en France, a dévoilé au grand jour: une parenté idéo-lo-gique directe entre la pensée marxiste et les religions monothéistes du salut (13).

Dans la huitième lecture, Habermas présente la continuité qui court de Nietzsche à Bataille: pour ce penseur fran-çais, il s'agit de réhabiliter un sacré séculier qui s'exprime dans les expériences fondamentales (refoulées par la modernité) que sont l'ivresse, le rêve, la vie des instincts et que Bataille appelle la souveraineté (PhD, 248 ss.). Sa vision utopique d'un tel "retour de l'homme à lui-même" (PhD, 268), auquel tend son Economie gé-nérale,  se réalise dans le sillage du soviétisme marxiste de type stalinien (PhD, 266 ss.). Comme Nietzsche avant lui, Bataille se trouve confronté au problème (irrésolu) de la maîtrise théorique de la souveraineté comme "au-tre que la raison" puisque toute théorie est tributaire de ses présupposés rationnels (PhD, 277).

                                                       

Au centre de la pensée de Foucault: la puissance

La pensée de Foucault, auquel Habermas consacre de longs développements dans ses 9ème et 10ème lectures, se rat-tache à celle de Bataille et de Nietzsche. Historien des sciences, ce philosophe parisien décédé en 1984 met la notion de puissance au centre de son analyse. Pour lui, la modernité se caractérise avant tout par "un pro-ces-sus inquiétant de montée en puissance d'interactions concrètes" (PhD, 285), qu'il aperçoit aussi bien dans l'histoire des sciences humaines (PhD, 279 ss.) que dans l'apparition et le développement des "institutions to-ta-les": prison, asile, établissement psychiatrique, école, etc… (PhD, 286 ss.). Chez Foucault, la puissance devient donc "la notion de base historico-transcendentale d'une historiographie critique à l'égard de la raison" (PhD, 298 ss.). En même temps, sa démarche est "nominaliste, matérialiste et empirique puisqu'elle envisage les pratiques transcendentales de la puissance comme relevant du particulier, mais aussi de l'inférieur, du corpo-rel, du sensuel, de ce qui escamote l'intelligible, enfin du contingent qui pourrait être autre car il n'obéit à au-cun ordre directeur" (PhD, 301) -passages soulignés par l'auteur. Or, dans la mesure où Foucault utilise, dans sa gé-néalogie des sciences humaines, un concept de puissance posé en absolu et qui se manifeste de surcroît dans un rôle empirique et transcendental (PhD, 322), il ne parvient qu'à inverser le signe des apories de la philo-so-phie du sujet traditionnelle, et ne résoud le paradoxe qu'en substituant la vérité à la puissance (PhD, 323): son "historiographie généalogique" se révèle exactement comme "… la pseudo-science présentiste, relativiste et cryp-to-normative que précisément elle se défend d'être". Bref, elle se résorbe dans un "subjectivisme sans is-sue" (PhD, 324).

L'alternative habermasienne: la notion de "rationalité communicative"

Comme alternative aux apories des critiques de la raison depuis Nietzsche, Habermas propose, dans les 11ème et 12ème lectures, la notion de "rationalité communicative" qu'il avait déjà présentée en 1981 dans un pavé de 1200 pages intitulé Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns.  Cette conception reprend, du moins à en croire Ha-bermas, des éléments déjà présents chez Hegel, Marx ou même Heidegger (PhD, 94, 177 ss. et 345). Elle per-met de surmonter à la fois le paradigme désuet de la connaissance (= Erkenntnis  dans la philosophie du su-jet) (PhD, 345) et le paradigme de la production dans la philosophie de la praxis (PhD, 95 ss.). Cette nouvelle no-tion de "raison communicative" peut contribuer à "réhabiliter le concept de raison" (PhD, 395) en réac-ti-vant le vieil objectif de "révision de l'Aufklärung, mais avec les instruments de l'Aufklärung" (PhD, 353) et en renouant avec le "contre-discours inhérent à la modernité qui est critique du logocentrisme occidental, mais une critique qui diagnostique non un excès mais un déficit de la raison" (PhD, 361). La raison communicative "est intégrée directement au processus de la vie sociale" (PhD, 367) et la "praxis rationnelle doit être en-ten-due comme raison concrétisée dans l'histoire, la société, le corps et le langage" (PhD, 368 ss.): ce n'est que lors-qu'on a admis ces deux postulats que le "contenu normatif de la modernité" peut se manifester (PhD, 390). Ce contenu s'exprime notamment à travers le progrès social, méconnu par Nietzsche et ses successeurs (PhD, 392 et 342) et dont Habermas ne doute à aucun moment même s'il admet quelques "phénomènes de pathologie so-ciale" (PhD, 403)… qu'il s'empresse d'ailleurs de banaliser en les baptisant "pathologies de la commu-ni-ca-tion".

Habermas s'envisage donc, même s'il ne le dit pas ouvertement, comme le véritable héritier tant de la phi-lo-so-phie du sujet de l'idéalisme allemand que des velléités praxisphilosophisch  des hégéliens de gauche dans la me-sure où il dépasse par le haut les apories de ces deux lignages, à savoir par une redéfinition sociologique de la rationalité, et écarte en même temps d'un revers de main toutes les objections et points de vue de l'adver-sai-re postmoderne. Pour lui, le seul protagoniste vraiment sérieux est Niklas Luhmann, héritier bon teint de l'hé-gé-lianisme de droite (PhD, 408 ss.), qui porte aux extrêmes, dans sa théorie des systèmes sociaux, "l'affir-ma-tion néo-conservatrice de la modernité sociale" (PhD, 441). Sa thèse, "actuellement inégalée par sa puissance de conceptualisation, son imagination théorique et sa capacité à brasser les concepts" (ibidem, 444), atteint "une hauteur de réflexion où tout ce que les avocats de la postmodernité ont pu avancer… a déjà été pensé par lui mais de façon plus subtile" (PhD, 411). Son "sens des réalités" trahirait un "héritage très allemand, qu'il par-tage avec les hégéliens de droite sceptiques, jusqu'à Gehlen" (PhD, 432)! Néanmoins, face à Luhmann, Ha-ber-mas maintient qu'il n'y a pas seulement des systèmes sociaux parcellaires (Teilsysteme)   —il traite les con-ceptions de Luhmann d'"antihumanisme méthodique"!— et que l'ensemble social peut, grâce à ses opinions pu--bliques plurielles (Öffentlichkeiten)  exprimant, même de façon diffuse, une "conscience commune", "pren-dre normativement ses distances vis-à-vis de lui-même et réagir aux phénomènes de crise" (PhD, 435).

IV. Penser Habermas contre Habermas

Habermas a déclaré un jour qu'il fallait "penser avec Heidegger contre Heidegger" (14). Le précepte peut, à bien des égards, lui être retourné. Les éléments de critique sont nombreux; nous en retiendrons cinq:

1. Habermas applique le principe "deux poids, deux mesures": "Ce qui m'horripile, ce qui me heurte", a-t-il avoué un jour, "ce sont les agressions de ceux qui refusent de faire chez moi la différence entre le publiciste politique et le philosophe… et qui mélangent tout" (NU, 205). Or, n'est-ce pas ce que fait Habermas lui-même? Quand, dans sa 6ème lecture, il évoque un cours de Heidegger sur Nietzsche, il observe immédiatement (si ce n'est pas là de la basse polémique!) que pour Heidegger, "le surhomme a le visage du SA type" (PhD, 159). On se demande qui mélange ici la politique et la philosophie, et de manière diffamatoire de surcroît (15). A un au-tre endroit, Habermas proclame: "la chaire du professeur et l'amphithéatre de la faculté ne sont pas le lieu où l'on vide les querelles politiques; ce sont des lieux de débat scientifique" (NU, 212). On peut se demander, en li-sant un passage de sa 12ème lecture, s'il prend au sérieux son propre avertissement: "la communauté de va-leurs atlantique, focalisée autour de l'OTAN, n'est guère qu'un slogan de propagande pour ministres de la dé-fen-se" (PhD, 424), ou encore: "Cette science-fiction de la guerre des étoiles est tout juste bonne pour les planifi-ca-teurs idéologiques qui pourront ainsi agiter le spectre macabre d'un espace militarisé de façon à déclencher l'impulsion innovatrice qui mobilisera le colosse du capitalisme mondial pour le prochain round techno-lo-gi-que" (PhD, 425). Sans doute Habermas ne voit-il là aucune polémique. Seulement un "débat scientifique"…

2. L'un des reproches fondamentaux de Habermas à l'encontre des critiques de la raison dans le sillage de Nietz-sche est que leur discours ne fait "aucune place à la praxis quotidienne" (PhD, 393). Le responsable, encore et toujours, est Nietzsche: il aurait "tellement fixé ses disciples sur les phénomènes de l'extra- et du supra-quo-ti-dien" que la praxis quotidienne en est venue à être méprisée comme "du dérivé, de l'inauthentique" (un-eigentlich).  Outre qu'un tel reproche, rapporté à Nietzsche et formulé de cette façon, est inexact, l'objection n'est fon-dée que si l'on est convaincu, avec Habermas, que les modalités et les formes de la communication quoti-dien-ne dans le monde vivant recèlent effectivement ce que l'on peut appeler les structures fondamentales de la ra-tionalité. Mais il y a autre chose: Habermas ne fait pas la distinction, pourtant évidente chez Nietzsche et les nietzschéens, entre la petite élite de ceux qui sont vraiment capables d'une pensée philosophique et la mas-se qui demeure nécessairement impénétrable à ces dimensions supérieures de l'esprit humain. Bien évidemment, c'est à cette élite que s'adresse Nietzsche (comme ses prédécesseurs et successeurs), à une élite pour qui l'exis-ten-ce quotidienne devient inessentielle (un-wesentlich)  comparée au monde supérieur de la pensée dont elle par-ticipe. Cela ne signifie nullement que pour ces penseurs le quotidien ne soit absolument pas digne de ré-fle-xion! Dans ses brillantes analyses de critique culturelle, notamment dans Sein und Zeit,  Heidegger montre clai-rement qu'un étude rigoureuse du quotidien et la reconnaissance de son importance pour l'existence humaine, peut très bien s'accompagner d'une critique de ce monde de la quotidienneté qui, entrevu sur un plan plus élevé, s'a-vère précisément comme uneigentlich  (16).

Habermas demuere crispé sur l'utopisme

3. Habermas se crispe sur les positions classiques de la gauche: celle de l'utopisme. Il s'agit certes, dès l'a-bord, d'un utopisme très atténué, abstrait dans sa formulation. Rappelons-nous le jeune Marx qui pensait que, dans la société communiste, il serait possible de "faire aujourd'hui une chose, demain une autre, de chasser le ma-tin, pêcher l'après-midi, pratiquer l'élevage le soir, critiquer le repas sans jamais être chasseur, pêcheur, éleveur ou critique", exactement selon son humeur (17), ou les prophéties absurdes de Labriola ou de Trotsky qui pen--saient que les Platons, les Brunos et les Galilées courraient un jour les rues et que la "moyenne humaine" s'élèverait au niveau d'un Aristote, d'un Goethe et d'un Marx (18). Bien sûr, il ne reste plus grand chose, chez Ha-bermas, de ces élucubrations: l'expérience du "socialisme bureaucratique" (NU, 266; c'est ainsi qu'Habermas dé-signe le régime politique d'au-delà de l'Elbe!) est un bagage assez encombrant… Les "accents utopistes", af-fir-me-t-il, se déplacent aujourd'hui "de la notion de travail à celle de communication" (NU, 160); "le contenu uto-pique de la société de communication se réduit aux aspects formels d'une intersubjectivité laissée intacte" (NU, 161). Mais Habermas va au delà de cette formule passablement creuse: son "intuition fondamentale", qu'il avoue puisée aux archétypes de la mystique protestante et juive, serait "la réconciliation de la modernité a-vec elle-même" grâce à des "formes d'interaction réussie" (NU, 202 et 223) et à "la perspective d'une praxis par-venue à la conscience d'elle-même et où l'auto-détermination solidaire de tous devrait être compatible avec l'au-to-épanouissement authentique de chaque individu" (PhD, 391). Habermas en aperçoit d'ailleurs les prémices (c'est, dit-il, une "parcelle de raison existante") "dans le féminisme, les révoltes culturelles, les résistances éco-logiques et pacifistes" (NU, 252). Autrement dit, les symptômes de décadence sont à ses yeux des signes évi-dents de progrès. On croirait voir gesticuler sous nos yeux les "derniers hommes" de Nietzsche qui clignent de l'œil en disant qu'ils ont "inventé le bonheur". Les professions de foi utopistes à la Habermas n'inter-pel-lent pas le contradicteur; leur propre ridicule les tue plus sûrement.

Une lacune chez Habermas: un jugement sur l'éthologie d'un Konrad Lorenz

4. Cet utopisme s'explique largement, chez Habermas, par le rejet de toute anhropologie réaliste. Habermas de-vrait tout de même savoir que Kant, dès 1793, ajoutait aux trois interrogations fondamentales de la philoso-phie (la métaphysique, la morale et la religion) un quatrième questionnement: "Qu'est-ce que l'homme?" (Was ist der Mensch)  (19). Or, ce questionnement-là, Habermas, somme toute logique avec lui-même, s'y dérobe. On le voit bien dans sa critique du conservatisme: il dénombre quatre types d'argumentaires conservateurs, mais, de façon significative, esquive le quatrième, le "discours éthologique de Konral Lorenz… parce qu'il dé-bou-che plutôt sur la Nouvelle Droite française que sur le néoconservatisme allemand" (NU, 41). L'argument n'est guère solide: Habermas ne comprend-il rien à l'éthologie? Rien n'est moins sûr: quiconque, outre ses dis-ci-plines de travail, se sent à son aise aussi bien dans la psychanalyse que dans la mystique juive, aussi bien en économie classique que dans les prolégomènes du post-structuralisme le plus récent, doit bien avoir éga-le-ment quelques notions d'éthologie. Pourquoi, dans ces conditions, escamote-t-il le problème et refuse-t-il (y com-pris dans d'autres écrits) d'accepter les acquis de la science moderne du comportement? Parce qu'à l'évi-den-ce, ses utopies se dégonfleraient, même et surtout ses utopies politiques, puisque nous savons désormais, au moins depuis Carl Schmitt, que "la conception de l'homme comme être problématique/non problématique est la condition première de toute réflexion politique" (20). Et ce n'est pas avec des coups de bec agressifs contre ce qu'il appelle "l'anthropologie pessimiste" (NU, 54) des conservateurs qu'Habermas pourra combler un déficit idéo-logique flagrant: sa propre anthropologie, implicitement optimiste.

Il n'y a plus de raison universelle...

5. Le concept de raison chez Habermas reste prisonnier des illusions de l'Aufklärung. En fait, ce concept de rai-son est au centre de son argumentaire philosophique et politique. Au premier abord, Habermas semble en fai-re un usage modéré: il ne peut plus exister de raison qui serait au service d'une "motivation philosophique en dernier ressort". L'erreur de Nietzsche, de Heidegger et même d'Adorno et de Derrida aura été d'avoir "con-fon-du les questionnements universalistes, toujours présents en philosophie, avec leur prétention   —aban-don-née, elle, depuis longtemps—   à avoir rang de statut, prétention que la philosophie exprimait naguère pour les réponses qu'elle apportait". Certes, "la conscience de la faillibilité des sciences… a depuis longtemps rat-tra-pé la philosophie", mais celle-ci "se conçoit, aujourd'hui comme hier, comme la gardienne de la rationalité au sens d'une prétention rationnelle inhérente à notre forme d'existence" (PhD, 247, rem. 74). Mais cette as-ser-tion fait elle-même problème: comment conserver les "questionnements traditionnels et universalistes" si l'on jette par dessus bord le statut traditionnel de la philosophie où s'enracinent  —et se justifient—  ces ques-tion-nements, et si les réponses de portée universelle deviennent impossibles? (La réserve de Habermas selon la-quelle les "propositions universelles" doivent nécessairement se couler dans un "moule grammatical" de-vient très vite relative). Comment la philosphie peut-elle encore de nos jours se comprendre comme "la gar-dienne de la rationalité" (comme dans l'Aufklärung) lorsqu'on sait que l'universalité de la raison (prétention qu'elle soutenait encore naguère) n'est plus crédible aujourd'hui? Sur ce point, Nietzsche et Dilthey voyaient plus loin qu'un Jürgen Habermas, auquel le XVIIIème siècle colle encore à la peau…

Un panrationalisme qui ne tient pas à l'analyse...

Habermas précise que sa conception de la raison est en rupture avec la raison archaïque de l'idéalisme allemand: "Il n'existe aucune raison pure qui se serait ensuite glissée dans l'habit du langage. La raison est raison incar-née d'entrée de jeu dans l'acte de communication comme dans les structures du  monde vivant" (PhD, 374). Il se-rait plus juste de parler ici de panrationalisme (comme il y a un "panthéisme"): la raison communicative de Habermas est omniprésente puisqu'elle "décrit… l'universel d'une forme de vie commune" (PhD, 377). L'uni-versum (das Ganze)  est traversé par le fil de la raison: même l'erreur, le crime et l'illusion ne sont pas a-ra-tion-nels: ce ne sont que les manifestations d'une raison "à contre-sens" (verkehrt).  A l'évidence, c'est cela qui jus-tifie aux yeux d'Habermas la possibilité de croire encore à l'utopisme au nom du "progrès", puisque tous les phé-nomènes indésirables du monde moderne ne sont pour lui que des manifestations d'une "raison à contre-sens", qu'il appelle "pathologies de la communication" et qui peuvent être corrigées par le retour à des formes ra-tionnelles de communication. Ici, c'est l'élève de Hegel qui parle: on critique certes la modernité mais sur le ter-rain et avec les instruments de la modernité, afin de perpétuer le projet culturel de la modernité.

La conception de Habermas repose entièrement sur une absolutisation du concept de la raison dialectique hégé-lienne, concept qu'il avance comme fondement intellectuel incontournable d'une modernité conçue sur le mode mo-nolithique. Or, une telle démarche n'est possible que si l'on occulte purement et simplement un héritage phi-losophique d'une importance et d'une richesse capitales.

Habermas ignore tout un continent de la philosophie, vieux de deux siècles

Habermas occulte le fait que depuis le XVIIIème siècle, parallèlement au surgissement kantien, s'articule une ré-sis-tance à l'idée d'une modernité hypostasiant la rationalié et que cette résistance n'a pas commencé avec Hamann, Möser et Herder: elle a atteint, chez ces auteurs, une première apogée mais s'est prolongée ensuite avec des penseurs comme Jacobi et les Romantiques (parmi lesquels Habermas ne cite que Schelling et F. Schlegel, et brièvement de surcroît; PhD, 111 ss.). Schopenhauer et Kierkegaard perpétuent, sous des approches diffé-ren-tes, cette lignée philosophique qui produira Nietzsche et le vitalisme et se développera jusqu'à Spengler, Kla-ges et les intellectuels de la "Révolution conservatrice". Dès les origines de la modernité (qui n'a jamais été cet-te entité fermée et monolithique que suggèrent les textes de Habermas), il a donc existé une tradition de l'es-prit qui a identifié et conceptualisé les dangers inhérents à la césure, introduite par la modernité, entre horizon de l'expérience et horizon de l'espérance, selon l'expression de Koselleck, et dont la Révolution française fut un exemple. Comme l'a montré sans ambiguité Bernard Willms, "la pensée allemande, de Herder à Gehlen, se con-çoit effectivement comme un face-à-face permanent avec l'Aufklärung de l'Occident et l'on peut démontrer que, dans ce débat, la pensée allemande se percevait et se perçoit toujours comme une riposte aux Lumières" (21). Cela ne signifie nullement que cette pensée ait dégénéré en "irrationalisme" et en borborygmes mys-ti-ques: "La contre-Aufklärung, c'est le dépassement critique de l'Aufklärung par une relation plus réaliste à l'his-toi-re et au réel… La contre-Aufklärung, ce n'est donc pas l'érection d'une ligne de défense face à l'Aufklärung, c'est une réflexion plus profonde sur les notions générales et abstraites auxquelles la Révolution française avait réduit l'histoire et l'humanité" (22).

La contre-Aufklärung fait contrefeu à l'optimisme panrationaliste du "progrès", caractéristique d'une praxis phi-lo-sophique indigente dont les héritiers se parent aujourd'hui des oripeaux des "théories de la communication" et essaient de revendre sous un emballage nouveau les vieilles lunes de l'utopisme des XVIIIème et XIXème siècles.

Habermas a la conviction apparemment inébranlable que seule la raison émet un accès privilégié au réel. Plus le monde vivant est appréhendé de façon abstraite, mieux cela vaut. Plus la réflexion est brumeuse, plus l'em-pri--se sur le réel est précise. Ce qui permet accessoirement (au grand plaisir de Habermas) de disqualifier le dis-cours adverse comme unterkomplex:  trop simple!! (PhD, 394). Il juge évidemment dangereuse l'idée que le réel puis-se se manifester plutôt dans le concret que dans l'abstrait. On le voit bien lorsqu'il déclare que les mou-ve-ments sociaux doivent intégrer en eux le "contenu normatif de la modernité", c'est-à-dire ce "droit à l'erreur" (Fallibilismus),  "cet universalisme et ce subjectivisme qui sapent la force et la forme concrète de tout ce qui est particulier" (PhD, 424, souligné par l'auteur). On ne peut être plus clair: l'ennemi, c'est tout ce qui est par-ticulier, spécifique, concret! En effet: l'"analyse structurelle des mondes vivants", fondée sur la théorie de la com-munication, n'est viable que si on fait l'impasse du concret; faute de quoi, on nage, selon Habermas, "dans la mer des contingences historiques" (NU, 191). Que le réel consiste justement en cette "mer des contingences his-toriques", que ce "tout autre" (das Andere)  d'une raison conçue sur le mode abstrait puisse se poser en anti-thèse du Général, de l'Universel, de l'Abstrait et du Médiat (23), non seulement comme rêve, fantasme, folie ou ex-tase mais également comme Individuel, Concret ou Immédiat, cette idée-là, le panrationalisme d'un Jürgen Ha-bermas ne peut que s'en détourner avec horreur…

Redécouvrir "l'autre que la raison" et échapper à l'hybris du panrationalisme

Pourtant, ce n'est peut-être pas un hasard si la pensée contemporaine connait actuellement un nouveau change-ment de cap pour lequel c'est surtout "l'expérience de la finitude… qui fait l'homme", c'est avant toute chose "comprendre que l'homme ne pourra jamais faire coïncider totalement sa pensée avec le réel" (24). Ce qui im-plique nullement un rejet de la raison comme entité; cela suppose seulement que l'on reconnaisse "l'Autre que la raison" (das Andere der Vernunft)  et que l'on incorpore dans son schéma mental cet élément qui n'est pas "in-férieur" à la raison puisqu'il est au cœur du réel. Réapprendre que l'esprit humain se heurte toujours en fin de comp-te aux limites de l'aporie et du paradoxe, c'est échapper à l'hybris  d'un rationalisme omnipotent.

C'est Hermann Lübbe qui a le mieux cerné la portée actuelle d'une pensée comme celle de Habermas: "Dans une ci-vi-lisation qui nous est une contrainte culturelle et politique, moins par sa sclérose que par sa dynamique, les attitudes progressistes deviennent obsolètes" (25). Mais on soupçonne fort, par moments, que la forme de ces at-titudes, cet emballement intellectuel qui se résorbe dans ces abstractions toujours plus insaisissables, signale l'irruption de cette "barbarie de la réflexion" dont parlait déjà Vico puis, après lui, Nietzsche, Sorel et Speng-ler et qui annonce invariablement la barbarie tout court.

Hans-Christof KRAUS.

(traduction française: Jean-Louis Pesteil).

Notes:

(1) Interview de D. Horster et W. van Reijen du 23 mars 1979, in: D. Horster, Habermas zur Einführung,  Hanovre, 1980, p. 76.

(2) On le voit très bien quand Habermas découvre… Richard Löwenthal et Kurt Sontheimer comme "pen-dants ouest-allemands" des néoconservateurs américains (NU, 39)! Ces deux libéraux de gauche, te-nants d'un "patriotisme de la Constitution" (Verfassungspatriotismus),  n'ont strictement rien à faire dans le camp "conservateur". Ils seraient d'ailleurs eux-mêmes fort contrariés d'une telle classification!

(3) Sur le plan de la définition, Habermas les distingue nettement des néoconservateurs américains (NU, 40). Ce qui ne l'empêche pas ensuite d'accoler ce qualificatif aux Allemands (NU, 39, 46, 49 et 182). On aurait aimé un peu plus de rigueur dans le maniement de certains concepts!

(4) Sur la controverse entre Habermas et les Français, on consultera A. Huyssen, "Die Postmoderne. Eine amerikanische Internationale?" in dito et K.R. Scherpe (éd.), Postmoderne - Zeichen eines kulturellen Wandels,  Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1986, pp. 26 ss.

Sur Lyotard, on peut lire dans le texte de présentation de ses livres parus chez Merve-Verlag (Berlin): "… Militait pendant la guerre d'Algérie dans le groupe d'extrême-gauche de la revue "Socialisme ou Bar-barie"".

(5) Voir par exemple le recueil de textes M. Foucault: Mikrophysik der Macht - Über Strafjustiz, Psychiatrie und Medizin,  Berlin 1976 ou encore le "Dialogue entre Michel Foucault et les étudiants" in M. Foucault: Von der Subversion des Wissens,  Francfort, Berlin, Vienne, 1978, pp. 110 ss.

(6) Cf. J. Altwegg, Die Republik des Geistes,  Munich, 1986, p. 210.

(7) Horster (cf. Note 1), p. 73.

(8) J. Rawls, Eine Theorie der Gerechtigkeit,  Francfort, 1979, p. 401.

(9) La citation de Rawls par Habermas est tronquée; Habermas a omis un "détail" important: l'adjectif "po-litique", sans en aviser le lecteur (NU, 83).

(10) D'autant que pour Habermas, la question de savoir si la théorie de Rawls, pur produit de la tradition anglo-saxonne, est transposable à l'Allemagne, ne semble même pas se poser…

(11) Habermas essaie d'éluder la critique de l'Aufklärung par Hegel (par exemple la critique du primat du "devoir-être" sur l'Etre) en affirmant que Hegel est "obligé" de développer sa notion de modernité "à par-tir d'une dialectique elle-même inhérente au principe de l'Aufklärung" (PhD, 33), ce qui laisse com-plè-tement de côté, évidemment, les différences qui peuvent exister entre la notion de raison chez Hegel d'une part, dans l'Aufklärung d'autre part. A ce jour, Bernard Willms est, il me semble, le seul à avoir mon-tré comment les "théoriciens critiques" de l'Ecole de Francfort s'évertuent à gommer ces différences: "La prétention de la Théorie critique à incarner un courant "progressiste" qui apercevrait comme axe de ce "progrès" l'offensive de l'Aufklärung, ses intentions révolutionnaires (comme le tournant de la dialec-tique) et surtout son prolongement révolutionnaire par le marxisme, repose en fait sur une double er-reur: premièrement, la Théorie critique n'a pas vu que Marx, en remontant au 18ème siècle, ne pouvait que retomber dans un système de pensée qui avait déjà été dépassé et surmonté par l'idéalisme. Deuxiè-me-ment, elle n'a pas vu que le matérialisme "scientifique", que le marxisme prétendait incarner, se con-ten-tait en réalité de reformuler la rationalité de l'Aufklärung dans le sens du 19ème siècle scientiste et positiviste. En sorte que la "Théorie critique" a conservé, malgré toutes les subtilités et toutes les acro-ba-ties de sa réflexion, le caractère réactionnaire des schémas de pensée hérités du 18ème siècle: une rai-son prétentieuse, reproduisant une démarche intellectuelle de type religieux, ne pouvait qu'être une idéo-lo-gie au sens strict de théocratie intellectuelle et se dégrader en activisme jacobin, voire en véritable sco-lastique. Tout cela n'a plus rien à voir avec une quelconque appréhension du réel, en dépit du rem-plis-sage sociologique et des jongleries avec les "totalités". A cause du marxisme, les acquis phi-loso-phiques de l'idéalisme allemand se sont vus ramenés aux vieilles lunes de l'Aufklärung" (B. Willms, "Deutscher Idealismus und die Idee der Nation - Aufklärung und Idealismus in ihrem Verhältnis zur historischen und politischen Wirklichkeit" in: A. Mölzer (éd.), Österreich und die deutsche Nation,  Graz, 1985, p. 395).

(12) Cette interprétation est en contradiction flagrante avec les résultats des recherches les plus récen-tes sur Heidegger: elles montrent que le "retournement de Heidegger", la Kehre,  a commencé dès 1930, et non pas après 1933-34 (W. Franzen, Martin Heidegger, Stuttgart, 1976, p. 81; cf. également p. 76 ss.).

(13) Cf. Alain de Benoist, Aus rechter Sicht (=Vu de droite),  VoL. II, Tübingen, 1984, pp. 33 ss., 156 ss.; du même: Kulturrevolution von Rechts,  Krefeld 1985, p. 122.

(14) J. Habermas, Philosophisch-politische Profile,  Francfort, 1984, p. 469.

(15) Au demeurant, tout le chapitre sur Heidegger est entrecoupé d'allusions plus ou moins polémiques et malveillantes au faux-pas politique du grand philosophe. Détail révélateur: sur ce point comme sur d'au-tres, Habermas utilise deux poids et deux mesures: on ne sache pas qu'il ait jamais critiqué son pa-tron de thèse, Eric Rothacker, philosophe à Bonn, très méritant du reste, qui collabora allègrement après 1933 (cf. sa "Philosophie de l'histoire", Munich et Berlin, 1934, p. 135 ss.) et qui, après la dé-fai-te, préféra "tout oublier" (cf. ses Heitere Erinnerungen,  Francfort et Bonn 1963, p. 73)!

(16) M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit,  Halle, 1941, p. 166 ss. (§§ 35-38).

(17) Karl Marx, Die Frühschriften,  éd. S. Landshut, Stuttgart 1953, p. 361.

(18) Labriola et Trotsky cités par W. Sombart: Der proletarische Sozialismus,  vol. I, Iéna 1924, p. 323.

(19) Kant à C.F. Stäudlin, du 4 mai 1973, in: Kant, Briefe,  éd. par J. Zehbe, Göttingen, 1970, p. 216.

(20) Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen,  Berlin, 1963, p. 59.

(21) Bernard Willms, Die Deutsche Nation,  Köln 1982, p. 88.

(22) B. Willms, Idealismus und Nation - Zur Rekonstruktion des politischen Selbstbewusstseins der Deutschen,  Paderborn, 1986, p. 41.

(23) Cf. à ce sujet Armin Mohler: "Die nominalistische Wende", in A. Mohler, Tendenzwende für Fortgeschrittenen,  München 1978, p. 187 ss.

(24) A. Mohler, Was die Deutschen fürchten,  Stuttgart, 1965, p. 18.

(25) H. Lübbe: Zeit-Verhältnisse,  Graz,1983, p. 142.

mercredi, 27 août 2008

Citaat Max Horkheimer

Horkheimer2.gif

 

"De deugdelijkheid van de eigen identiteit in een kwaad daglicht stellen en als racisme bestempelen, is een opvallend voorbeeld van verstandsverbijstering van de rede."

Max Horkheimer