A Guide for the Perplexed:
A brief history of political correctness and its origins.
by Cartes A. Jouer
When I was a student at the International School of Tanganyika in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in my teenage years, I attended my ‘Humanities’ class that took place on Tuesday mornings. The topic of the day was the ’Industrial Revolution’. After discussing the historical climate of how the industrial revolution emerged, my teacher gave a brief overview of who Karl Marx was and the ideas he had formulated, to explain this monumental historical event. She explained to us that he was the most “profound thinker” whose ideas changed the direction of history. He did indeed. My teacher also noted that his theories were so complicated that many people easily misunderstand him and warned us to take his critics with a “grain of salt”. I put my hand up and asked my teacher if she would agree that Bolshevism and Maoism had caused the deaths of millions in their attempt to bring about Marx’s Utopian ideas to political reality. And that both Lenin and Mao where avowed Marxists. It seemed that my questions made her see red (no pun intended). Slamming her hand on the desk she lividly responded “But they were not TRUE Marxists!!”
I am a Canadian University student, born in Africa and raised outside of Canada, largely in various East African countries and parts of the Middle East. I attended both British and “International Schools”, the former following the UK standard curriculum while the latter adheres to the International Baccalaureate or for short the IB. Just to note, the IB is a recent educational curriculum that I have discovered is becoming quite popular at the growing number of private schools that are popping up in Canada and the United States (and in the West in general). These schools are where the middle class (when they can afford it) and the wealthy send their children to receive an, allegedly, elite education. What many parents do not know is that when they send their children to most schools nowadays (both public and private throughout the Western World) they are indoctrinated with an insidious form of Marxist education known as ‘Cultural Marxism’ that inculcates students into a worldview that renders their unable to think critically about any important intellectual issue in the social sciences, both in the present and the past. The west must be thankful that the sciences are still relatively untouched by this worldview, but that is also, unfortunately, changing. This, however, is another can of worms best put aside for now.
Since the 1960’s, ‘Cultural-Marxism’ has been consistently and ardently spoon-fed to students from the earliest days of their educational experience. It has taken over and gradually dominated western institutions for the last sixty years. On top of that, it is important to note that this worldview has now found its way throughout all of the most important institutions in western societies and is continually making strides to further its dogmatic agenda. It is through the educational system (specifically universities) that this ideology first made its headway in North America. Today it is rampant both in public and private schools. It is also found throughout most of the public K-12 education levels and without a doubt most powerfully at the post secondary level. It has also, unfortunately, found its way into many of the most important bureaucracies and institutions of western countries, such as the Police, the Military, and almost all forms of mainstream media. Political correctness has become the ideology of an overwhelming majority of the political class, regardless of what western country would be discussed. This is why, for example, in Canada two of the major political parties (the Liberals, and the NDP) attempt to shape policy guided by political correctness. In the United States government the Democratic Party, the State Department, many other government institutions and certain old guard Republican circles also frame policy motivated by political correctness, or what might otherwise be called ‘progressive politics’ also known as ‘progressivism’.
How is it that the children of the rich and the successful of liberal democracies that live in political orders dedicated to capitalism and individual liberty are imbibing a Marxist worldview that is dedicated to ending their way of life? In order to understand how and why this is taking place, we must explore the phenomena of ‘Political Correctness’. To do so we must ask a number of fundamental questions that help shed light on the history of this dangerous and insidious ideological worldview:
1) What is ‘Cultural Marxism’, how does it differ from ‘Economic-Marxism’, and how does its educational dissemination lead to a ‘politically correct’ worldview?
2) What is its intellectual history?
3) Who were the leading figures responsible for it?
4) What theories did they each contribute to the success of this ideology?
In order to understand the true meaning of the politically correct frame of mind and how it effects society it is important to examine the ideological origins that cause individuals, organizations, universities, government agencies and media outlets to aid and promote it. ‘Political Correctness’ is a frame of mind. Or in other words, it is a lens through which either individuals or organizations are made to see the world. Those who are ‘politically correct’ must be understood to be under some of the many forms of influence of an ideological framework called ‘Cultural Marxism’.
The cultural Marxist agenda is single handedly traceable to an individual by the name of Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was an Italian Communist who was disappointed to see that Bolshevism had failed to sweep across Europe at the end of World War I. He wrote a book while in prison that essentially called on dedicated Marxists to change the means by which to achieve the reality of their socialist-marxist utopian political dream in western countries.
In his ‘Communist Manifesto,’ Karl Marx had argued that only when a violent revolution led by the proletariat (factory workers) who would rise up and kill off the bourgeoisie (factory owners) could a classless society truly emerge. He argued that this revolution would take place in capitalistic industrialized countries (such as England and those like it that had spearheaded the industrial revolution). Marx was wrong and the rest is history, at least to those who are willing to see it.
Gramsci, however, pioneered a new means by which this Cultural Revolution was to take place. It was not by the use of guns and violence, but by education, through which the gradual erosion of the fundamental ideas that undergird western capitalistic societies would take place. Gramsci and his peers pioneered a new form of “Social Research”. Ideas that would be under attack by Gramsci and his followers are those such as the traditional western identity of the family, marriage, religiosity and sexual norms, just to name a few. Their goal was to invert the traditions of western societies in order to achieve their revolution. Gramsci, however, is not the only individual responsible for the successful dissemination of Cultural Marxism; he simply laid down the foundation. Through the educational institutions, these cultural Marxists sought to impose orthodoxy of thought and behavior that is totalitarian in nature.
It is important to understand that there are four major parallels between classical ‘Economic Marxism’ and ‘Cultural Marxism’. ‘Cultural Marxism’ (that causes ‘Political Correctness’) shares with ‘Classical Marxism’ the dream of a society that is “class free” or “classless”, where all are equal in condition, not in opportunity. The second parallel between the two forms of Marxism is that both explain history through a single lens. ‘Classical Marxism’ argues that history boils down to those who own the means of production, whereas ‘Cultural Marxism’ argues that certain groups of people have power over others. The third parallel is that both ideologies divide society into two opposing groups: One group that is morally good, versus the other that is considered morally evil. Or in other words, that society is divided between those who oppress and those who are oppressed. Finally, in ‘Classical Marxism’ this is expressed in the distinction between the proletariat (factory workers) and the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production).
For ‘Cultural Marxism,’ the distinction is no longer simply class, but a conflict between the Western Man and the ‘other’ (Muslims, feminists, homosexuals, natives, Jordanian refugees aka Palestinians …etc), with Western man being the oppressor and all the other peoples the oppressed. Binding the two kinds of Marxism at the deepest level is the authoritarianism they both advocate in order to solve the alleged social ills they see taking place. For ‘Economic’ or ‘Classical Marxists,’ it is the violent overthrow of the capitalists at the hands of the proletariat and the cold-blooded murder of anyone who opposes their agenda (refer to the history of Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the purges that took place). For the ‘Cultural Marxists’ it is the assumption of the moral authority of those groups that they arbitrarily decide are “oppressed” and which they advocate and support. While ‘Cultural-Marxists’ support the allegedly “oppressed” groups, at the same time they ostracize, demonize, intimidate, often threaten physically, and engage in vitriolic libel against anyone who disagrees with the way they see the world.
A most striking example of ‘Cultural Marxism’ at work today is case of the Muslim American Military Psychologist Nidal Malik Hassan. On Nov. 5th 2009, at one of the biggest American Army bases, Fort Hood, Nidal Hasan murdered 13 American servicemen and women and wounded 29 others while shouting “Allah Hu Akbar”. Witnesses prior to the event noted that he was handing out Qurans outside of the local convenience store that he frequented. The business owner submitted security camera recordings that corroborate the statements made by witnesses. He was also wearing the traditional Muslim garb. These are actions that many Islamic Jihadists engage in before going on their martyrdom missions.
As the event subsided from public awareness, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano said the following at a press conference held in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi:
“Obviously, we object to -- and do not believe -- that anti-Muslim sentiment should emanate from this”. She continued to explain that Nidal Hasan was “an individual who does not, obviously, represent the Muslim Faith”. Unfortunately her statements could not be further from the truth. Nidal Hasan was a military psychologist at Fort Hood. His responsibility was to mentally prepare soldiers for deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq. His reputation, however, was a concern to those who attended his presentations.
A year before Hasan perpetrated the massacre, he gave his classes a comprehensive presentation on Islamic Law and why American Muslim soldiers should disobey orders and refuse to be shipped to Iraq or Afghanistan. In his presentation he explained that according to Islamic law, Muslims must be faithful to their religion even if they find themselves under the legal authority of a non-Muslim political order. This was confirmed by blogger and human rights activist Pamela Geller, whose research uncovered the acronym of “SoA (SWT)” found on Nidal Hasans business card. The acronym is short for Soldier of Allah, hence the SWT acronym that follows. SWT is the phonetic transliteration of the Arabic invocation that Muslims often say after uttering the word “Allah”; it means ‘may he be glorified and exalted’. The presentation, to those who where familiar enough with Islamic law and the history of Jihad, was essentially Nidal’s public message to those around him that he was going down the path of other Jihadis. It goes without saying that all the evidence points towards the fact that Nidal was acting pre-meditatively and in cold blood. He was motivated by his devout Muslim conviction to follow the classical understanding of Islamic Law and to act upon it.
Senior Law Enforcement officials reported that after reviewing Hasan’s computer and email accounts, it was evident that he had visited numerous websites that espoused classical Islamic ideas on Jihad and encouraged Muslims in non-Muslim countries to wage violence against their ‘Kuffar’ (non-Muslim) oppressors. Despite this bald fact, the Obama administration went so far as to deny the true Islamic motivations behind Nidal’s actions labeling the incident an act of “workplace violence”. And so we see here a clear example of the case of Nidal Hasan and his Fort Hood massacre as just one example of the endemic political correctness that has made its way into the United States military and the Department of Homeland security, especially under the authority of the Obama administration.
According to the Daily Caller, Obama himself in November 2011 demanded that all training materials used for and by law enforcement national security communities that in any way correlated Islam with violent behavior be dropped, so as to not “offend” Muslims. After a discussion with Attorney General Eric Holder, Dwight C. Holton said “I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated”.
With little effort and a simple understanding of the motivation behind Islamic terrorists, the Fort Hood tragedy could have been averted. It would have taken a simple examination of Hasan’s presentation to notice the glaring conflict of interest that existed by allowing an individual who was publicly a devout Muslim to serve in the military and who was given immense responsibility, daily access, and authority over pre-deployment soldiers.
The most important principle that underlies the two systems of ‘Classical Marxism’ and ‘Cultural Marxism’ is an accepted methodology that is used to “prove” the “truth” of their dogma. For Economic Marxists, the analysis is strictly economical, while the Cultural Marxists use what is called the “deconstruction” method of “critical theory” (simply defined as negative criticism of all they dislike). Deconstruction methodology is the understanding that social inequality comes from specific social forces that are used to oppress minorities. The linguistic, sexual, or economic forms of Marxist analysis are employed to explain the alleged inequality (whether it is the oppression of women by the nuclear family structure, or Muslims by the alleged ‘islamophobic’ dominant society).
The historical roots of ‘Cultural Marxism’ that is the source of today’s political correctness emerged from the thinkers that came out of the Frankfurt school. It was originally called the ‘Institute for Social Research,’ founded in Frankfurt Germany in the year 1923 by Carl Grunberg. Grunberg was a Marxist professor of Law and Politics at the University of Vienna, which at the time was an adjunct school to the University of Frankfurt. In 1929 Grunberg retired from the Frankfurt school and handed over its leadership to Max Horkheimer, who would become an instrumental figure in the future of the institution. The school’s earliest origin goes back to Felix Weil, the son of an industrialist who helped secure massive private funding from his father. This fund was used to found the Institute for Social Research (later to become the Frankfurt School).
Weil was a young Marxist who studied politics at the University of Tubingen, then Frankfurt. As a student he became enamored by the ideas of Karl Marx and went on to finance the ‘First Marxist Work Week‘ (Erse Marxistische Arbeitswoche), a social club composed of individuals who all shared a passion for Marxist social research. These included such later famous Cultural Marxists such as George Lukacs, Karl Korsch, Herbert Marcuse and others who would also become leaders in Marxist social theory and contributors to the Frankfurt school.
The Frankfurt school was the first of its kind in Germany. It was dedicated to disseminating and developing a new form of Marxist-oriented research. Weil, with the help of his father, negotiated with the Ministry of Education and secured for the institute an official state license that enabled the institution to be recognized as a formal educational institution. Despite their clearly authoritarian academic agenda, the founders of the school found themselves, at the beginning of the 1930’s, confronted by the emergence of Hitler’s National Socialist Party.
Ironically at the same time, the Bolsheviks were already sending people to the gulag. So that historically within the same period two parallel political movements motivated by socialist ideas began imposing their totalitarian political will. So under the growing shadow of Nazism, the founders of the Frankfurt school left Germany and continued their work in New York City, where they would flourish today, continuing their institutional agenda dedicated to destroying capitalism by way of the Ivory Tower.
As the Frankfurt school moved across the Atlantic, they made easy headway throughout the universities of the United States. They gained the support of their students, who were too naive to understand the nature of what they were being taught. These students who studied under Frankfurt school professors would later come to fill the teaching jobs in many of today’s universities.
In the 1930s Western societies had not yet experienced and witnessed the devastation that political orders inspired by Marxism could cause. So a group of European academics who sought asylum from a dictatorial German regime went unnoticed and were allowed to flourish as academics, and to continue their nefarious work as one of their most famous proponents, Herbert Marcuse wrote, within the “belly of the beast”. Using their new methodology, the advocates of the new school furiously developed an entire system of thought that aimed at undermining the entirety of American traditions. This system of thought is known as ‘Critical Theory’ or ‘Deconstruction Methodology’. It is a synthesis between Marxist thought and specific social sciences (such as psychology, sociology, history, anthropology, etc.).
Let us now examine and outline briefly the major founders behind the Frankfurt School who pioneered ‘Critical Theory,’ and are responsible for its successful dissemination. The following individuals are, in my opinion, the most important of many other figures that emerged from the Frankfurt school.
1) Antonio Gramsci - An Italian communist who visited the Soviet Union after the Bolsheviks took power in 1917. He made the astute observation that a Bolshevik-style uprising could not succeed in Western countries as it had in Russia, because of the Christian traditional values that dominated them. He became the leader of the Italian Communist Party that eventually led to his imprisonment by Mussolini in the 1930’s. It was during his imprisonment that he wrote the ‘Prison Notebooks’. He came up with the idea that Marxists must begin a long-term attack on capitalism and its traditions through the educational system. Gramsci laid down the foundations that paved the way for the mass scale re-education of American students.
2) Herbert Marcuse - Like other Frankfurt school founders, Marcuse came to the United States in the 1930’s to flee from Hitler’s National Socialism. In 1955 he published a book titled ‘Eros & Civilization’ that became extremely popular in the counterculture that began in the 1960’s. He argued that the singular way of escaping the “one-dimensionality” of the modern industrial society was to liberate the erotic side of man, the sensuous instinct, in rebellion against “technological rationality”. This “erotic liberation” was to be embodied in what he called the “Great Refusal,” with which he called students to reject all forms of capitalism and traditional views of sexuality, because conforming to them was holding them from true liberation. He also coined the phrase “Make Love, Not War”. Clearly he was not a fan of the nuclear family and the local community so beloved of De Tocqueville.
3) Theodor Adorno - He was an American Marxist revolutionary and another member of the Frankfurt school to come to the USA in the 1930’s. Adorno wrote a book titled the “Authoritarian Personality,” which he published in 1950. His argument was that there was an “authoritarian character”. This ‘character’ was a direct result of capitalism, Christianity, the patriarchal family and other Western values. The grand scheme of Adorno’s message, along with his other co-conspirators, was to fundamentally rearrange the values of Western nations so that school children and youth would become walking mouthpieces of the Frankfurt school revolutionary characters, thereby bringing about the new man.
4) Eric Fromm - Like many other Frankfurt school characters, Fromm also ended up crossing the Atlantic to flee from national socialism. He published a book in 1941 titled ‘Escape From Freedom’. It is similar to WIllhelm Reich’s (another Frankfurt school personality) book titled ‘The Mass Psychology of Fascism’. They both go hand in hand. In ‘Escape From Freedom’ Fromm argued that capitalism resulted in a society that emulated Calvin’s Theory of Predestination that reflected the idea of the natural inequality of men that the Nazis revived in full force in their ideology. Fromm argued that the authoritarian character experiences only domination or submission and that “differences, whether sex or race, to him are necessarily of superiority or inferiority”.
Fromm also argued that ‘Positive Freedom’ suggests the idea that there is no higher power than the unique individual being; and that man is the center and purpose of life; the growth and understanding of man’s individuality is an end that can be subjected to purposes that are supposed to have greater dignity. The true meaning of ‘Positive Freedom’ for Fromm is clarified in his other book ‘The Dogma of Christ’. In it he defines a revolutionary character such as himself as the man who has freed himself from the ties of blood and soil (nationalism), his mother and father (family bonds) and other loyalties to the state, party or religion. His revolutionary goal is clear in ‘The Dogma of Christ’ when he says that “we might define revolution in a psychological sense, saying that a revolution is a political movement led by people with revolutionary characters, and attractive people with revolutionary characters”.
The brief outline of the aforementioned cultural Marxists clearly shows that their intent was singular and well planned. It should come as no surprise to see their ideas embodied in the postsecondary educational institutions. If one were to examine the curriculum of every major Ivy League or non-Ivy League university’s social science departments, one would see the overabundance and dominance of the deconstructionists and their adherents.
Here are a few examples of educators who teach at the top universities in the United States and around the world, illustrating the utter dominance of the cultural Marxist agenda throughout the social sciences and universities:
In 2008, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation handed a ‘Distinguished achievement award’ to Judith Butler. This award is valued at approximately $1.5 million dollars for her “significant contribution to humanistic inquiry”. What exactly has she contributed to ‘humanistic inquiry’? She is one of the leading gender deconstructionists, arguing that Gender is simply a western social construct that is coercively imposed on the majority of the population to maintain the hegemony of Western social norms. She argues that these Western norms constantly attempt and succeed in commoditizing women’s sexuality, as an object to capitalize upon for profit. A perfect example of her naïve and dangerous intellectual influence that is in perfect congruence with the ‘cultural marxist’ agenda is her rationalization of the burka. It is form of Muslim garb that Muslim women are forced to wear in order to maintain their ‘honor’. Here is what Judith Butler believes the burka truly means:
“But in actuality, the burka … can be a sign of private faith; it can be a way of signifying a certain belonging to a community; the burka can be a way of negotiating shame and sexuality in a public sphere, or preserving a woman’s honor, and even a way of resisting certain western modes of dress that signify a full encroachment of fashion and commodity dress that signifies the [western] cultural efforts to efface Islamic practice”.
Butler has one thing right in her understanding of the Burka. Ironically, however, she reverses the meaning behind its significance. It is a protest against western norms. But the alleged protest is not a choice and definitely does not in any way signify the freedom she believes women who wears it in actuality have. In every Muslim country (that is a country that has Sharia Law as its legal framework) if any woman, Muslim or non-Muslim, voluntarily choses not to wear it, she puts herself in harm’s way and could expect to be legally and most cruelly physically punished for not wearing it. That is why when western female journalists or politicians travel to Muslim countries, they almost always wear some form of head cover, so as to not ‘offend’ their host countries. It is tragic to think that Butler was the recipient of 1.5 million dollars. A more productive and humane use of the money she received could have been to help pay for the medical treatment of the thousands of female victims of acid attacks in Afghanistan who simply tried to live life freely and make choices for themselves. It is not surprising that Judith Butler has rationalized the oppression that those innocent Afghani women face in their day-to-day lives.
Unfortunately, Judith Butler is not an anomaly or a minority in the academic world of the arts and science in western higher education. There are thousands upon thousands (and that is a conservative value) of examples that are similar in nature. Just a brief google search on the following names will suffice as examples:
Note: These examples come from an authoritative book titled ‘The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America’ written by David Horowitz (a former Marxist) on progressive educators in Western academia.
M. Shahid Alam [Northeastern University]
- An Economics professor.
- Compares the 9/11 terrorists to the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution arguing that both ideologies have equal moral grounds to die for their way of life.
- Argues that Al Qaeda’s Jihad is a defensive response to Western aggression against the Muslim world.
Hamid Algar [University of California, Berkeley]
- A professor specializing in Islamic/Persian studies.
- Is a supporter of the Iranian Revolution (1979).
- Argues that the war on terror is an imperialistic American agenda.
Lisa Anderson [Colombia University]
- A professor of Political Science.
- Also argues that America’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan are acts of unprovoked aggression.
- Ignores the crimes committed by the Taliban against its own people in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda’s in Iraq.
These are just the tiny tip of an iceberg that in today’s western academia is unfortunately gigantic. For the rest of the list please refer to Horowitz’s excellent book, ‘The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America’.
With that said, it should not be surprising that there are, by now, generations of students who since the 1960’s have been sent to universities by their parents and return hating the very way of life they grew up in. It has come to the point where the deconstructionists have made such headway that the their educational paradigm has reached even the level of kindergarten. In most urban kindergartens in North America, one will not be surprised to see the rainbow flag sticker on the front door (the symbol for so called ‘safe places for Homosexuals). If one does not see what is problematic with that scenario, one should consider if is it really appropriate for any form of sexuality to be discussed and taught to pre-adolescents. Books grace the shelves in which children learn about the “normal” homosexual disposition at the youngest age. I could give reams of examples and excerpts from a broad range of educational materials across the Anglosphere, but my goal in this piece is simply to alert the reader to the ideological origins and attitudes of the intellectual founders of “political correctness’. Hopefully this article will be used as a starting point for those whose curiosity has been sparked by the information contained herein.
This is what they want to destroy, and they say so: the nuclear family, the moral authority of the Judeo Christian ethic, monogamy, freedom of speech, the validity of the American Constitution, English common law, the free market and representative democracy. I am not making this up. You can find it amply illustrated in their writings. Despite the myriad differences between the two candidates in the upcoming American election, after you look carefully one can be sure that one of them is a cultural Marxist who studied with adherents of the Frankfurt school, and it is not Mitt Romney. About this you should not be perplexed.
You can email the author, [email protected]
UPDATE: "Breaking News: On Aug 30th 2012, Judith Butler wins prestigious award in Germany (of all places).
In complete congruence to the 'Cultural Marxist' agenda:
"Well, Judith Butler just won another prestigious award in Germany (of all Places). Ironically the award is named the 'Theodor Adorno Prize' .. He is one of the four deconstructionists that was discussed the above article. The timing is almost providential !! Interestingly though, it seems Adorno expressed his public support for Israel in the period of the 6 Day War. The fact that he did not foresee that his own academic ideas would be used to undermine the State of Israel and also forward the 'cultural marxist' agenda for generations in to the future, is no excuse to be sympathetic to him, despite his public support for the endangered Jewish State.