Perhaps because of America’s role as lone international superpower, Americans live in a rather self-absorbed, egocentric universe in which the opinions of non-Americans really don’t matter much. This is unfortunate because, just as in one’s personal life, it’s wise to at least know how others see you, and especially so if the other is a keen observer.
Tomislav Sunic is such an observer. As someone who has lived under communism and has seen firsthand the workings of state terror, he is in a unique position to describe the current slide of America into what he aptly terms “soft totalitarianism.” This regime is maintained less by brute force than by an unrelenting, enormously sophisticated, and massively effective campaign to contain political and cultural activity within very narrow boundaries. Dissenters are not trundled off to jail or beaten with truncheons, but are quietly ignored and marginalized. Or they are held up to public disgrace, and, wherever possible, removed from their livelihoods.
The regime is maintained by a consensus that has become part of the furniture of life, repeated endlessly in the major media and reassuringly affirmed by wise-looking professors at prestigious universities. To dissent from this consensus removes one from the mainstream and stigmatizes one as immoral and quite possibly suffering from a psychiatric disorder. One immediately thinks of attitudes on immigration. Even the most fearless mainstream opponents of immigration restrict their opposition to illegal immigrants and are careful to couch their arguments in economic or cultural (but never ethnic or racial) terms.1 One simply cannot mention in polite company that the end result of this massive influx of peoples into the traditional homelands of European peoples will be displacement, a decline in their power and ultimately perhaps, their disappearance as an identifiable people. But there are a host of other issues that are at least as untouchable as immigration.
Soft totalitarian regimes can only be maintained by a sense of moral and intellectual legitimacy – the willing assent of the vast majority of the people. Without this legitimacy the entire apparatus of cultural control either disintegrates or transforms into hard totalitarianism – the truncheons and the gulags. But here there is a major difference between communism in Eastern Europe and the current cultural regime in the United States. As Sunic notes, “Behind the communist semantics in Eastern Europe there loomed a make-believe system in which nobody truly believed and where everybody including former communist party dignitaries made fun of in private.” However, “in America, by contrast, many serious people, politicians, and scholars, let alone the masses, believe in... the message of the media.” The people who dissent from the American consensus have been successfully relegated to the fringes. The gods are still worshipped.
Sunic sees quite clearly that this moral and intellectual legitimacy is fundamentally the result of the triumph of the left in World War II. This transformation occurred first in Western Europe which has now mostly moved well beyond soft totalitarianism to the beginnings of a gulag system where there are formal legal sanctions for thought crimes. The thought crimes, enforced by liberal and conservative European governments alike, are designed to enforce the dogmas of leftist orthodoxy, most notably everything related to multiculturalism, race, immigration, and the Holocaust. Even in England, the font et origo of American democracy, academics are removed for stating their beliefs on scientific evidence on race differences in intelligence or criminality. (For example, in 2006 Frank Ellis of the University of Leeds was suspended for statements supporting race differences in intelligence.)2 Legal sanctions enforce orthodoxies in the area of multiculturalism and anything having to do with the fascist past.
In searching for the origins of this phenomenon, one must begin, as Sunic does, by describing the forcible imposition of leftist ideology and institutions in Germany and France after World War II. As a psychologist, I am always tempted to see the origins of leftist ideological hegemony solely in psychological terms – to wonder what incredible psychological defect would lead a whole people to adopt an ideology in which they were cast as having a grave psychiatric defect. But first and foremost, the triumph of the left in Europe was accomplished via a purge and re-education of intellectuals, educators and media figures.
As Sunic notes, the most obvious beneficiaries of this sea-change were the major leftist ideologies of the 20th century: Marxism, psychoanalysis, and the Frankfurt School. Since much of my writing deals with Jewish issues, I can’t help noting that these ideologies have in common that they are all part of the “Culture of Critique”: Intellectual and political movements originated and dominated by Jews and intended by their Jewish participants as advancing Jewish interests, such as ending anti-Semitism.
Any claim that an intellectual or political movement is or was a “Jewish” movement immediately raises all kinds of red flags in most readers. Just as the ethnic interests of Europeans cannot be mentioned in discussing the effects of immigration, the Jewish identifications and commitments of the people who originated and disseminated these ideas has been moved to the fringes of intellectual discourse.
But research in the ethnic motivations of people is perfectly respectable. No one would be surprised if Mexican activists proudly and explicitly advocated the interests of Mexicans in immigration and affirmative action. Nor are we surprised if Jewish activists promote the interests of Israel. By the same logic, we shouldn’t be surprised if Jewish social scientists are motivated by their ethnic interests. It is an empirical question that can be investigated like any other question in the social sciences, and I think that the data confirms the hypothesis that the Jews who were central to the origins and influence of these movements had a strong Jewish identification and were motivated by their ethnic interests.
As usual, there is a double standard here. It is a routine for scientists like Arthur Jensen, J. Philippe Rushton, or Richard Lynn to be called racists when they call attention to the biological roots of race differences in intelligence or criminality. And my writing on how Jews have pursued their ethnic interests in the intellectual and political arena has been termed “anti-Semitism” on more than one occasion.
Implicitly the charge of racism or anti-Semitism assumes that these writers are nothing more than ethnic activists and that their claims of scientific truth are nothing more than a fig leaf covering their ethnic interests – exactly the claim that I am making about the role of Jews in the triumph of Marxism, psychoanalysis, and the Frankfurt School. Unfortunately the people making these charges of “racism” and “anti-Semitism” typically feel no need to dispute the scientific accuracy of the theories they are trying to discredit or even try to provide evidence of ethnic motivation of the scientists involved. Simply making the charge is sufficient. Such is the power of the left.
Sunic is quite correct in directing most of his attention to the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt School developed a devastatingly effective ideology that continues to reverberate in the contemporary world even after the fall from grace of Communism and psychoanalysis.
Fundamentally the Frankfurt School attempted to develop an ideology that pathologized National Socialism. Because National Socialism was first and foremost a movement of ethnic cohesion, it is not surprising that the ideology of the Frankfurt School called into question all of the sources of cohesion of Western societies: Family religion, culture, and race/ethnicity. From the beginning there was a rejection of value-free social science research (“the fetishism of facts”) in favor of the fundamental priority of a moral perspective in which Western societies were to be transformed into utopian of cultural pluralism.
According to the Frankfurt School ideology, Europeans who identify with family, nation or race suffer from a psychiatric disorder. In the ideal Frankfurt School world, Western nations would become therapeutic states. They would be dedicated to rooting out the remnants of adherence to traditional cultural forms of family nation, religion and race in their citizens. And they would do so in the interests of promoting mental health not to mention moral rectitude.
The basic logic pursued by the Frankfurt School stemmed from the fact that positive attitudes toward church, community, nation and race tend to result in negative attitudes toward people from different religions, communities, nations and races. As a result, successful families that inculcate family pride in their children were seen by the Frankfurt School as sources of pathology. For example, The Authoritarian Personality – a major work of the Frankfurt School intended for an American audience – claimed that expressions of family pride were “a setting off of a homogeneous totalitarian family against the rest of the world.”
In this upside-down world, families that are proud of their ancestors, concerned with moving up socially, or even having biological heirs are viewed as pathological. In fact, one might conclude that the real agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is to pathologize adaptive behavior in general. Those who value highly committed marriages and cohesive families, who are upwardly mobile and seek material resources, who are proud of their families and identify with their parents, who have high self-concepts, who believe that Christianity is a positive moral force (p. 408) and a spiritual consolation (p. 450), who strongly identify as males or females (but not both!), and who are socially successful and wish to emulate paragons of social success (e.g., American heroes) are viewed as having a psychiatric disorder.
On the other hand, those who are socially isolated, who have negative and rebellious attitudes toward their families, who are ambivalent and insecure in their sexual identities, who have low self-esteem and are filled with debilitating insecurities and conflicts (including insecurities about whether their parents loved them), who are moving downward in social status, and who have negative attitudes toward high social status and acquisition of material resources are viewed as the epitome of psychological health.
Psychoanalysis – that other pillar of 20th century leftism and the culture of critique – was obviously an ideal vehicle for creating the upside-down world of Frankfurt School ideology. A central feature of psychoanalysis is the idea that surface appearances can often overlay deep unconscious desires and conflicts. And since psychoanalysis never required any empirical evidence for such claims, it essentially allowed the Frankfurt School authors to make up any story they wanted. If the family relationships of ethnocentric subjects were very positive, Frankfurt School theorists could interpret them as surface affection masking deep, unconscious hostilities toward their parents. Any shred of negative feelings by ethnocentric subjects toward their parents then became a lever they could use to create an imaginary world of suppressed hostility masked by surface affection. Yet when another volume of Studies in Prejudice found that anti-Semites had poor relationships with their parents, the results were taken at face value.3 The result was not science, but it was effective in achieving its political goals.
It is not difficult to suppose that the entire program of research of The Authoritarian Personality involved deception from beginning to end. This is suggested by the authors’ clear political agenda and the pervasive double standard in which ethnocentrism and involvement in cohesive groups are seen as symptoms of psychopathology among non-Jews whereas Jews are simply viewed as victims of irrational gentile pathologies and no mention is made of Jewish ethnocentrism or allegiance to their own group.
Although it is difficult to assess the effect of works like The Authoritarian Personality on the culture of the West, there can be little question that the thrust of this work, as well as other works inspired by psychoanalysis and its derivatives, was to pathologize adaptive behavior in general. Good parenting, upward social mobility, pride in family, religion, nation, and race were all suspect. Many of the central attitudes of the 1960s counter-cultural revolution find expression in The Authoritarian Personality, including idealizing rebellion against parents, uncommitted sexual relationships, and scorn for upward social mobility, social status, family pride, Christianity and patriotism.
Viewed at its most abstract level, the fundamental agenda of the Frankfurt School is to influence European peoples to view concern about their own demographic and cultural eclipse as irrational and as an indication of psychopathology. People who do not identify with the basic social categories of family, religion, nation or race would not be concerned with their demise.
The success of the Frankfurt School and other varieties of leftist orthodoxy stem not only from their imposition by the military in parts of post-World War II Europe. After all, this forcible imposition did not happen in the United States or other areas of Europe, despite the fact that the Frankfurt School and other movements of “the culture of critique” have also had a great deal of influence there as well.
In the absence of a conquering army, another important source of influence, at least in America, is what one might term the Jewish intellectual and activist infrastructure of the post-World War II era. Despite its scientific weakness, the ideology that positive attitudes about family, nation, and race resulted from disturbed parent-child relationships was promulgated by the most prestigious institutions throughout the West, and especially by elite universities and the mainstream media, as the essence of scientific objectivity.
One aspect of this effort was the production of a great many other writings that reinforced the basic ideas found in The Authoritarian Personality and other works of the Frankfurt School. This general intellectual onslaught is important because it produced a zeitgeist that was far more effective than one or two works by isolated authors.
A good example is The Politics of Unreason (1970). This volume was part of the Patterns of American Prejudice Series funded by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and written by Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab. (Raab and Lipset also wrote Prejudice and Society, published by the Anti-Defamation League in 1959.)
First and foremost, we see here the close relationship between Jewish activist organizations and academic writing on ethnic relations. In the same way, the Studies in Prejudice Series that produced The Authoritarian Personality was funded by the American Jewish Committee. Obviously there is a link between academic research on ethnic relations and Jewish activist organizations like the AJC and the ADL. Raab’s career has combined academic scholarship with deep involvement as a Jewish ethnic activist. Raab was associated with the ADL and is executive director emeritus of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University. He was also a columnist for the San Francisco Jewish Bulletin.
The Politics of Unreason analyses political and ideological expressions of ethnocentrism by European-derived peoples as irrational and as being unrelated to legitimate ethnic interests in retaining political power. Movements aimed at retaining or restoring the power of the European-derived majority of the United States are labeled “right-wing extremism.” Their politics are “the politics of despair.”4 For Lipset and Raab, tolerance of cultural and ethnic pluralism is a defining feature of democracy, so that groups that oppose cultural and ethnic pluralism are by definition extremist and anti-democratic.
The Politics of Unreason may therefore be seen as an argument that the European peoples in the United States and other areas of the Western world should not resist declines in their cultural and demographic dominance. (Analogous arguments rarely seem to surface among Jews contemplating whether Israel should remain a Jewish state.) Attempts by majorities to resist the increase in the power and influence of other groups are contrary to “the fixed spiritual center of the democratic political process” (p. 5). “Extremism is anti-pluralism.... And the operational heart of extremism is the repression of difference and dissent.”5
“Right-wing extremism” is also condemned because of its populist tendencies – its distrust of institutions that intervene between the people and their direct exercise of power. Indeed, in the post-World War II era The Authoritarian Personality was an important ideological weapon against historical American populist movements, especially McCarthyism.6 “The people as a whole had little understanding of liberal democracy and... important questions of public policy would be decided by educated elites, not submitted to popular vote.”7
The conclusion of this analysis is that democracy is identified not with the power of the people to pursue their perceived interests. Rather, government is to be the province of morally and intellectually superior elites who have no commitment to the ethnic interests of the European majority; and in an Orwellian turn, democracy is defined as guaranteeing that majorities will not resist the expansion of power of minorities even if that means a decline in their own power.
The moral and intellectual elite established by these movements dominated intellectual discourse during a critical period after World War II and leading into the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s. As a result, college students during this period were powerfully socialized to adopt liberal-radical cultural and political beliefs. These effects continue into the present era.
The importance of the intellectual infrastructure can also be seen with other intellectual and political movements. Neoconservatism illustrates the common features of this intellectual infrastructure: It has been championed by a well-defined group of mainly Jewish authors writing with shared assumptions, a common institutional base in universities and think-tanks, access to major media, and mutual admiration.8 The power of the movement comes not from the work of a few individuals but from its dissemination in the media, its legitimacy in the universities, its promotion by Jewish activist organizations, and its constant repetition in slightly different forms and for different audiences by like-minded intellectuals and writers.
However, this intellectual infrastructure did not occur in a political vacuum. Also of critical importance was the “intergroup relations movement” which was dedicated to passing legislation and disseminating these ideas in the schools. The Frankfurt School was a critical part of the intellectual justification for the “intergroup relations movement” in its effort to “eliminate prejudice and discrimination against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities” in the period following World War II.9 The intergroup relations movement was a multi-faceted effort, ranging from legal challenges to racial bias in housing, education, and public employment; legislative proposals and efforts to secure their passage into law in state and national legislative bodies; efforts to shape messages in the media; educational programs for students and teachers; and intellectual efforts to reshape the intellectual discourse of academia.
As with the other movements with strong Jewish involvement, Jewish organizations, particularly the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League, were the leaders. These organizations provided the major sources of funding, devised the tactics, and defined the objectives of the movement.
As was also the case with the movement to open up the United States to immigration from all areas of the world, a conscious aim of the intergroup relations movement was to prevent the development of a mass anti-Jewish movement in the United States: Jewish activists “saw their commitment to the intergroup relations movement as a preventive measure designed to make sure ‘it’ – the Nazis’ war of extermination against European Jewry – never happened in America.”10 A consistent theme emphasized the benefits to be gained by increased levels of intergroup harmony. But there was no mention that some groups, particularly European-derived, non-Jewish groups, would lose economic and political power and decline in cultural influence.11
Based on the writings of the Frankfurt School, the intergroup relations movement disseminated the ideology that ethnocentrism and discrimination against out-groups was a mental disease and thus literally a public health problem. The assault on negative attitudes toward other groups was likened to the medical assault on deadly infectious diseases. People with the disease were described by activists as “infected”12 and terms like “virulent anti-Semitism” were invented. Negative attitudes toward groups were viewed not as the result of competing group interests but rather as the result of individual psychopathology.13
The story of the Frankfurt School and the intergroup relations movement are paradigmatic example of Jews producing formidable, effective groups – groups able to have powerful, transformative effects on the peoples they live among. In the modern world, these traits of Jewish groups have resulted in great influence on the academic world, the political process, and the world of mainstream and elite media. In my book The Culture of Critique and monograph on neoconservatism, I have identified several very influential Jewish intellectual and political movements: Boasian anthropology and the campaign against the concept of biologically based racial differences; Jewish involvement in the political left; psychoanalysis; the Frankfurt School; the New York Intellectuals; U.S. immigration policy; and neoconservatism.
The end result of the triumph of these movements has been a huge increase in Jewish power and influence, and a concomitant decrease in the political and cultural power of European-derived peoples – ethnic warfare by any other name.
The reality is that Jews have repeatedly become an elite and powerful group in societies in which they reside in sufficient numbers. Despite the fact that Jews constitute less than 3 percent of the U.S. population, the Holocaust has become a cultural icon as a direct result of Jewish activism and influence in the media, Israel has become a sacred cow in American politics, and the role of Jewish organizations in helping unleash massive multiethnic immigration into the U.S. goes unmentioned in public debate. Yuri Slezkine was quite correct to title his book on Jewish involvement with Bolshevism in the USSR The Jewish Century: Quite simply, Jews have been central to all of the important upheavals of the 20th century and there doesn’t seem to be any change in this trend as we enter the 21st century.
3. Bettelheim, B., & Janowitz, M. 1950.
4. Lipset & Raab 1970, 3.
5. Ibid., p.6; italics in text.
6. Gottfried 1998; Lasch 1991, 455ff.
7. Lasch 1991, 455.
8. MacDonald, 2004.
9. See Svonkin (1997, 1) for an account of the Jewish role in the intergroup relations movement.
10. Svonkin 1997, 10.
11. Svonkin 1997, 5.
12. Svonkin 1997, 30, 59.
13. Svonkin 1997, 75.