The "Radio Project" and "Little Annie":
The Story of the Stanton-Lazersfeld Program Analyzer.
THE NEW DARK AGE- The Frankfurt School and "Political Correctness"
by Michael J. Minnicino
The Frankfurt School:
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?"
* * *
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.
* * *
Of the other top Institute figures, the political perambulations of Herbert Marcuse are typical. He started as a Communist; became a protege 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.
* * *
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. * * * 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.
* * *
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."
* * *
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.
* * *
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 fur 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.
* * *
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."
Social Control: The "Radio Project"
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."
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 oment-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 value
* authoritarian aggression--the tendency to be on the look-out for, to condemn, reject and punish people who violate conventional value
* projectivity--the disposition to believe that 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. (See box.)
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 emigre' 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 Juaurgen 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 protege 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.
The Frankfurt School's original 1930's survey work, including the "authoritarian personality," was based on psychoanalytic categories developed by Erich Fromm. Fromm derived these categories from the theories of J.J. Bachofen, a collaborator of Nietzsche and Richard Wagner, who claimed that human civilization was originally "matriarchal." This primoridial period of "gynocratic democracy" and dominance of the Magna Mater (Great Mother) cult, said Bachofen, was submerged by the development of rational, authoritarian "patriarchism," including monotheistic religion. Later, Fromm utilized this theory to claim that support for the nuclear family was evidence of authoritarian tendencies.
In 1970, forty years after he first proclaimed the importance of Bachofen's theory, the Frankfurt School's Erich Fromm surveyed how far things had developed. He listed seven "social- psychological changes" which indicated the advance of matriarchism over patriarchism:
*The failure of the patriarchal-authoritarian system to fulfill its function," including the prevention of pollution
*Democratic revolutions" which operate on the basis of "manipulated consent"
*The women's revolution"
*Children's and adolescents' revolution," based on the work of Benjamin Spock and others, allowing children new, and more-adequate ways to express rebellion
*The rise of the radical youth movement, which fully embraces Bachofen, in its emphasis on group sex, loose family structure, and unisex clothing and behaviors
*The increasing use of Bachofen by professionals to correct Freud's overly-sexual analysis of the mother-son relationship--this would make Freudianism less threatening and more palatable to the general population
*The vision of the consumer paradise.... In this vision, technique assumes the characteristics of the Great Mother, a technical instead of a natural one, who nurses her children and pacifies them with a never-ceasing lullaby (in the form of radio and television). In the process, man becomes emotionally an infant, feeling secure in the hope that mother's breasts will always supply abundant milk, and that decisions need no longer be made by the individual."
An overwhelming amount of the philosophy and artifacts of the American counterculture of the 1960's, plus the New Age nonsense of today, derives from a large-scale social experiment sited in Ascona, Switzerland from about 1910 to 1935.
Originally a resort area for members of Helena Blavatsky's Theosophy cult, the little Swiss village became the haven for every occult, leftist and racialist sect of the original New Age movement of the early twentieth century. By the end of World War I, Ascona was indistinguishable from what Haight-Ashbury would later become, filled with health food shops, occult book stores hawking the I Ching, and Naturmenschen, "Mr. Naturals" who would walk about in long hair, beads, sandals, and robes in order to "get back to nature."
The dominant influence in the area came from Dr. Otto Gross, a student of Freud and friend of Carl Jung, who had been part of Max Weber's circle when Frankfurt School founder Lukacs was also a member. Gross took Bachofen to its logical extremes, and, in the words of a biographer, "is said to have adopted Babylon as his civilization, in opposition to that of Judeo-Christian Europe.... if Jezebel had not been defeated by Elijah, world history would have been different and better. Jezebel was Babylon, love religion, Astarteam, Ashtoreth; by killing her, Jewish monotheistic moralism drove pleasure from the world."
Gross's solution was to recreate the cult of Astarteam in order to start a sexual revolution and destroy the bourgeois, patriarchal family. Among the members of his cult were: Frieda and D.H. Lawrence; Franz Kafka; Franz Werfel, the novelist who later came to Hollywood and wrote The Song of Bernadette; philosopher Martin Buber; Alma Mahler, the wife of composer Gustave Mahler, and later the liaison of Walter Gropius, Oskar Kokoschka, and Franz Werfel; among others. The Ordo Templis Orientalis (OTO), the occult fraternity set up by Satanist Aleister Crowley, had its only female lodge at Ascona.
It is sobering to realize the number of intellectuals now worshipped as cultural heroes who were influenced by the New Age madness in Ascona--including almost all the authors who enjoyed a major revival in America in the 1960's and 1970's. The place and its philosophy figures highly in the works of not only Lawrence, Kafka and Werfel, but also Nobel Prize winners Gerhardt Hauptmann and Hermann Hesse, H.G. Wells, Max Brod, Stefan George, and the poets Rainer Maria Rilke and Gustav Landauer. In 1935 Ascona became the headquarters for Carl Jung's annual Eranos Conference to popularize gnosticism.
Ascona was also the place of creation for most of what we now call modern dance. It was headquarters to Rudolf von Laban, inventor of the most popular form of dance notation, and Mary Wigman. Isadora Duncan was a frequent visitor. Laban and Wigman, like Duncan, sought to replace the formal geometries of classical ballet with re-creations of cult dances which would be capable of ritualistically dredging up the primordial racial memories of the audience. When the Nazis came to power, Laban became the highest dance official in the Reich, and he and Wigman created the ritual dance program for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin--which was filmed by Hitler's personal director Leni Reifenstahl, a former student of Wigman.
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