What is The Frankfurt School ?
Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson, CDR USN (Ret.)
© Copyright 1 August 1999
If you have read the essays on “Cultural Marxism at the US Naval Academy” you should be quite concerned that our future naval officers are being subjected to psychological intimidation and indoctrination by behavioral psychologists and clinicians whose methods descend from Wilhelm Wundt. The facilitators and civilian professors in the “Leadership and Ethics Program” at the Academy are ‘Wundtians’ all. Cultural Marxism (CM) has invaded our military academies and other military institutions and is pervasive. As a result, future US naval officers will not understand the essence of what they are chosen to protect – the American Civilization that is the most precious and vital descendent of Western Civilization .
So who in America today is at work destroying our traditions, our family bonds, our religious beginnings, our reinforcing institutions – indeed our entire culture? What is changing our American civilization?
As reasonable people we may ask whether all changes to traditional American culture are simply random events pursued by independent persons – disconnected from central premise or guidance. Are cultural changes in a free democratic society the chance workings of human intellect in pursuit of what is possible vice what is appropriate?
Observations in the “Cultural Marxism at the US Naval Academy” series suggest not. They consistently demonstrate a design – a concept with a way of thinking and a process for bringing it about. Now suppose we can identify a cadre of people as the designers. Wouldn’t we be interested in learning about this group? Wouldn’t we want to know who they were, what they thought and how they conjured a process for bringing their designs into action? For Americans the answer is a resounding yes!
Such a core group did exist. History identifies a small cadre of German intellectuals who devised concepts, processes and plans conforming closely to what Americans presently observe in their society today. In the Naval Academy essays, events are directly connected to activities of this group. These intellectuals were members of “The Frankfurt School” founded in Germany in 1923. They were the forebears of what is called Cultural Marxism – a radical social movement that has transformed American culture. Today it is more commonly known as Political Correctness (PC).
The Institute of Social Research – Frankfurt University
Cultural Marxism and its Critical Theory were developed coincident to the 1923 founding of the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University. The Institute was modeled after the Marx Engels Institute in Moscow and became known as The Frankfurt School . In 1933, when Nazis came to power in Germany, members of this Frankfurt School fled to the United States. They migrated to major universities including Columbia, Princeton, Brandeis and California at Berkeley. These intellectual Marxists included Herbert Marcuse, who coined the phrase ‘Make Love, Not War’ during Vietnam War demonstrations.
By promoting a dialectic of ‘Negative Criticism’ – that is, pointing out rational contradictions in society’s belief system – the Frankfurt School ‘Revolutionaries’ dreamed of constructing a Utopia where their rules governed . Their Critical Theory used this strongly imaginative, utopian strain to purposefully transcend limits of reality. Thus, its tenets would never be subject to experimental evidence. The pure logic of their
thoughts would be incontrovertible. A precursor to today’s ‘postmodernism’ in intellectual academic circles, “…it recognized that disinterested scientific research was impossible in a society in which men were themselves not yet autonomous…the researcher was always part of the social object he was attempting to study” . This concept led to the current fetish for rewriting history and the vogue for deconstruction our universities’ Law, English Literature and Humanities disciplines.
Critical Theory rejected the ideal of Western Civilization in an age of modern science, that the verification of theory proceeds from experimental evidence . Only the superior mind was able to fashion ‘truth’ from observation. There would be no need to test hypotheses against everyday experience.
The Frankfurt School studied ‘authoritarian personality’ – which became synonymous with the male as the patriarchal head of the American Family. These idealistic intellectuals would construct a modern utopia by ‘turning Western civilization upside down’. Again, their utopia would be a product of their imagination, not susceptible to criticism based on evidence.
Their revolution would be accomplished by fomenting a very subtle, slow spread of Cultural Marxism, bolstered by modern psychological concepts of Sigmund Freud. Thus, CM became a marriage of Marx and Freud aimed at producing a ‘quiet revolution’ in the US.
This quiet revolution occurred in America over the past eight (8) decades. While America slept!
Cultural Marxism (CM)
Just what is CM? Should it even be bothered about when the world’s vast experiment with Marx’s economic theory went down to defeat in the disintegration of Soviet Communism? Didn’t America win the Cold War against it?
The answer is ‘yes…but’. Yes, we won the 45 year Cold War, but we failed to recognize an intellectual elite has meanwhile subtly, systematically diffused the economic theory of Marx into mainstream culture in American society. And they did it while our eyes were on the Cold War abroad.
The cauldron of witch’s brew which introduced CM to America was the idealistic Baby Boomer elite – young middle class and well to do college students who became vanguard of America’s counter culture revolution in the mid-1960’s – in other words, the draft dodging, pot smoking hippies who demonstrated against the Vietnam War and fomented the destructive to women ‘Women’s Liberation Movement’. These New Totalitarians now hold power – come of age to control every public institution of our nation .
But that is getting ahead of the story.
In the boundless idealism of youth the ‘Boomer Generation’ became foot soldiers for their original Frankfurt School gurus – Herbert Marcuse, Eric Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Wilhelm Reich and others [8, 9] – whose influence is now felt in nearly every institution of the United States. Now in America, elite Boomers are throwbacks to an idealistic American Transcendental Generation of the mid-1800’s and fashion themselves ‘Agents of Change’.
William S. Lind describes CM is an ideology traced back to the 1920’s – with deep roots in the writing of Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci [10, 11]. Gramsci’s influence spread to Herbert Marcuse. Herbert Marcuse was the most prominent Frankfurt School promoter of Critical Theory’s social revolution among university students in the 1960’s. His words are revealing:
One can rightfully speak of a cultural revolution, since the protest is directed toward the whole cultural establishment, including the morality of existing society…there is one thing we can say with complete assurance. The traditional idea of revolution and the traditional strategy of revolution have ended. These ideas are old-fashioned…what we must undertake is a type of diffuse and dispersed disintegration of the system.
This sentiment was first expressed by Gramsci.
Before dying in 1937 in a Mussolini prison at age 46, Gramsci conjured the notion of a ‘quiet revolution’ which might be diffused through a culture over time – destroying it from within. He was the first to suggest quietly applying psychology to break the traditions, beliefs, morals and will of a people while forestalling possibility of resistance. He deduced “the civilized world had been thoroughly saturated with Christianity for 2,000 years…” and a culture based on this religion could only be captured from within.
Gramsci insisted alliances with non-Communist Leftist groups would be essential to Communist victory. In our time, such groups would include radical feminist groups, extremist environmental organizations, so called civil rights movements, anti-police associations, internationalist minded groups, liberal church denominations, piggybacking Islamists and others. Working together these groups could create a united front for the destructive transformation of the time honored Judeo-Christian culture of the West.
By winning ‘cultural hegemony’ Gramsci concluded Communists could control the deepest wellsprings of human thought – through the medium of mass psychology. Indeed, men could be made to ‘love their servitude’. In the gospel of the Frankfurt School, resistance to CM could be completely negated by placing resisters in a psychic ‘iron cage’. The tools of mass psychology could be applied to produce this result.
The essence of Antonio Gramsci’s revolutionary strategy is reflected in American Boomer author Charles A. Reich’s 1990’s book “The Greening of America” . Reich pronounces:
There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and the culture and it will change the political structure as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence. This is the revolution of the New Generation.
Of course this New Generation is Reich’s elite Boomer pals. The mantra for these New Age foot soldiers of Frankfurt School prophets is “have the courage to change” .
The Frankfurt School theorizes the ‘authoritarian personality’ is product of a patriarchal family. This idea directly connects to Frederich Engels’ “The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State” which promotes matriarchy. Karl Marx himself wrote about the radical notion of a ‘community of women’ in the Communist Manifesto. Further, Marx wrote disparagingly about family as the basic unit of society for ‘German Ideology’ in 1845.
The authoritarian personality purported by the Frankfurt School in the 1940’s and 1950’s in America, prepared way for subsequent warfare against masculinity as promoted by Herbert Marcuse and his band of social revolutionaries under the guise of ‘Women’s Liberation’ and the New Left Movement of the 1960’s. The evidence that psychological techniques for changing personality are intended to emasculate American males is provided by Abraham Maslow – founder of Third Force Humanist Psychology and a promoter of the psychotherapeutic classroom. Maslow wrote:
The next step in personal evolution is a transcendence of both masculinity and femininity to general humanness.
These Marxist revolutionaries knew what they wanted to do and how to do it. They have accomplished much of their agenda.
Postmodernism – The Death of Truth
But how can we claim the breakdowns in our schools, universities and institutions – indeed in the fibers of our culture – are products of a tiny cadre of intellectuals immigrating from Germany in 1933? Given all the special interests involved in these circumstances, how can we trace cause to the Frankfurt School?
Look at some evidence.
Postmodern reconstruction of the history of Western Civilization (now prevalent in universities) has its roots in the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. Rewriting history by postmodern scholars in America has only recently come under attack. Keith Windschuttle in his book, “Killing of History” strongly criticizes the rush to ‘relativism’ by historiographers. Truly astonishing however, is that ‘relativism’ has largely supplanted pursuit of truth . George G. Iggers’ recently published book, “Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge” reminds us of the infamous statement by postmodernist Hayden White:
Historical narratives…are verbal fictions, the contents of which are more invented than found.
Herbert London refutes White’s noxious proposition observing, “…if history is largely invention, who can say with authority that the American Revolution came before the French Revolution?” London observes evidence has taken a back seat to invention – cutting right to the chase. The inventions of postmodernism – which severe generations of Americans from their proud culture, history and traditions – evolved directly from the Cultural Marxist cranks of the Frankfurt School.
George Iggers quotes other postmodernists, mostly non-historians, who “…reinforce the proposition that truth and reality are primarily authoritarian weapons of our times” . Again, we now recognize the source of this postmodern assault – the Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School who criticized the ‘authoritarian personality’ in American culture.
How did this situation arise in American universities? Gertrude Himmelfarb says it slipped past traditional academics unobserved until it was too late . It came so ‘quietly’ that when they ‘looked up’ postmodernism was upon them with a vengeance. “They were surrounded by a tidal wave of faddish multicultural subjects such as radical feminism, deconstructed relativism as history and other courses” which undermined perpetuation of Western Civilization. Indeed this cultural wave slipped by just as Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurts envisioned – quietly. A revolution that could not be resisted by force.
Note that ‘sensitivity training’ techniques used in our public schools over the past 50 years and which are now employed by the US military to educate troops about ‘sexual harassment’ were developed during World War II and after, by Kurt Lewin and his protégés . One of them, Abraham Maslow, was a Frankfurter and the author of “The Art of Facilitation” which is a manual used during ‘sensitivity training’ . Teachers are indoctrinated not to teach, but to ‘facilitate’. The manual describes techniques developed by Kurt Lewin and others to change a person’s worldview via participation in small group encounter sessions. Teachers were to become amateur group therapists. The classroom became a center of self examination in therapeutic circles where children (and later on military personnel) talked about their subjective feelings . This technique was designed to convince children they were the sole authority in their own lives – undermining family & transmission of parental wisdom to their children.
In the end, it is vital to acknowledge CM exists, to understand where it comes from and what its ultimate objective is:
The slow, complete destruction – from the inside out – of Western Civilization in America.
CM in America – New Vernacular for New Totalitarians
By the end of World War II almost all the original Frankfurt Schoolers had become American citizens. This meant inevitable broadening of a new English speaking audience for them. Now the focus became more squarely centered on American forms of authoritarianism. With the shift, came a subtle change in the Institute’s work.
In America, authoritarianism had come to appear in different forms than in Europe. Terror and coercion had long been supplanted by more gentle, cultural forms of enforced conformism. According to Martin Jay, “Perhaps the most effective of these were to be found in the cultural field. American mass culture thus became one of the central concerns of the Frankfurt School in the 1940’s.” 
Subtle changes appeared in the Frankfurters’ description of their work. For example, the opposite of the authoritarian was no longer the revolutionary – as it had been in studies aimed at Europeans. In America, the authoritarian was now opposed by the ‘democratic’. So their Marxist language shifted to match more closely the liberal ‘New Deal’ vernacular . Education for tolerance – rather than praxis for revolutionary change – became the ostensible goal of their research. They cleverly merged their language with mainstream liberal left thought, while maintaining their CM objectives.
Toleration had never been an end in itself for the Frankfurt School, yet the non-authoritarian (utopian) personality came to be described as a person with a non-dogmatic tolerance for diversity . This thought is centrally dominant in today’s power elite Boomer generation – the New Totalitarians.
One of the basic tenets of their Critical Theory was the necessity to break down the contemporary family. The 1960’s ‘Generation Gap’ and the 1990’s ‘Gender Gap’ are two aspects of an attempt by elite Boomers (using a page from the CM playbook) to transform American culture into Marxist utopia where the normal unit of societal structure – the family – withers under the controlling reach of the Collective.
Institute mavens preached:
Even a partial breakdown of parental authority in the family might tend to increase the readiness of a coming generation to accept social change. 
The transformation of American culture envisioned by Cultural Marxists is based on matriarchal theory.
That is, they propose transforming American culture into one dominated by the female.
This is direct lineage to Wilhelm Reich, a Frankfurt Schooler who considered matriarchal theory in psychoanalytic terms. In 1933, he wrote in “The Mass Psychology of Fascism” that matriarchy was the only genuine family type of ‘natural society’.
Eric Fromm, another charter member of the Institute, was also one of the most active in matriarchal theory. Fromm was especially taken with the idea that all love and altruistic feeling were ultimately derived from maternal love, necessitated by the extended period of human pregnancy and postnatal care:
Love was thus not dependent on sexuality, as Freud had supposed. In fact, sex was more often tied to hatred and destruction. Masculinity and femininity were not reflections of ‘essential’ sexual differences, as the romantics had thought . They were derived instead from differences in life functions, which were in part socially determined.
This deluded dogma was precedent for today’s radical feminist pronouncements appearing in nearly every major newspaper and TV program, including television newscasts. For present day CM radicals, male and female roles result from cultural indoctrination in America – carried out by male patriarchy to the detriment of women. Nature plays no role in this matter.
To facilitate the destruction and disintegration of American society, the Critical Theory of CM ‘change agents’ and other emboldened social revolutionaries, has led them to open declaration of an intention to restructure America. As they proclaim, their activities are directed toward disintegration of the traditional, nominally white male power structure. Anyone with eyes to view present day television and motion pictures can confirm, this has been largely achieved. Critical Theory, as applied mass psychology, has achieved a quiet psychological revolution which facilitated an actual physical revolution visible everywhere in America.
Destructive criticism of primary elements of American culture informed the 1960’s counter culture revolution. As that phrase implies, this false awakening by idealist Boomers while coming of age, was the intended transformation of prevailing American culture into an inverted opposite – a necessary precursor to complete political revolution. Now that elite Boomers hold power in the United States, they are consummating their work of destroying every American institution built up over 240 years of American history. Their aim is to erase any vestige of an Anglo-American path taken by Western Civilization to forming the greatest, most liberal society of any age in human history .
Most Americans do not yet realize they are being led by social revolutionaries who think first of the destruction of the existing social order, to create a new one in this world. These revolutionaries are the New Age elite Boomers, the New Totalitarians . They now control every public institution in the United States of America. Their ‘quiet’ revolution, beginning with a counter culture revolution in their youth, is nearly complete. It was based on the intellectual foundation of Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School. Its completion depends upon keeping the American male in his psychic ‘iron cage.’
Now the confluence of radical feminism and Cultural Marxism within a single generation of Baby Boomers (the most dangerous generation in American history) – has imposed this yoke on the American male . It remains to be seen whether he will continue voluntary submission to a future of slavery in a new American matriarchy – a precursor to societal fracture, vulnerability and ultimate demise.
Should we allow subversion of American values and interests to continue, we surely lose all our Forebears suffered and died for. At the core, history shows we are near losing that rare ephemeral thing which, once gone, can never be easily recovered – our Liberty.
We are forewarned.
1) Lionni, Paolo. “Leipzig Connection” Heron Books, 1993. In the 1870’s, Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt advanced the then radical notion of man as an ‘animal’ not accountable for his conduct, which was said to be caused entirely by forces beyond his control. According to Wundt’s thinking, in a human being there is nothing to begin with but body, brain and a nervous system. Therefore teachers must try to educate a person by inducing sensations in that nervous system. Through these experiences, the individual will learn to respond to any stimulus with the ‘correct’ response. Thus a child’s actions are thought to be preconditioned and beyond his control, because he is simply a stimulus-response mechanism.
2) Vazsonyi, Balint. “America’s 30 Years War: Who is Winning?”. Regnery, 1998.
3) Raehn, Raymond V. “The Historical Roots of Political Correctness”. Free Congress Foundation, Number 44, June 1997.
4) Jay, Martin. “The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950,” p. 77. University of California Press, 1973.
5) Ibid, p. 81.
6) Ibid, p. 82.
7) Atkinson, Gerald L. “The New Totalitarians: Bosnia as a Mirror of America’s Future”. Atkinson Associates Press, 1996.
8) Ibid, Jay, Martin.
9) Wiggershaus, Rolf. “The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories and Political Significance”. The MIT Press, 1994.
10) Lind, William S. “What is Political Correctness?”. Essays on our Times, Free Congress Foundation, Number 43, March 1997.
12) Reich, Charles A. “The Greening of America”. Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1995.
13) A phrase commonly heard during the 1992 Presidential campaign.
14) London, Herbert. “Discipline of History Under Assault”. The Washington Times, 26 October 1997.
16) Himmelfarb, Gertrude. Panel on “Academic Reform: Internal Sources”. National Association of Scholars, NAS Sixth General Conference, 3-5 May 1996.
17) Marrow, Alfred Jay. “The Practical Theorist: The Life and Work of Kurt Lewin”. Teachers College Press, New York, 1977. Kurt Lewin was a primary figure in wartime research that later translated into techniques used in ‘sensitivity training’ today.
18) Raehn, Raymond V. “Critical Theory: A Special Research Report”. 1 April 1996.
19) Editorial, “The Crying of the Admirals”. The Washington Times, 3 November 1995. The US Naval Academy has added female ‘role models’ to the faculty. In August 1994, the Academy placed a new emphasis on conflict resolution and consciousness raising. As a song entitled ‘Lean On Me’ started playing, Master Chief Liz Johns gave the Plebes final orders: Stand in a circle, sway to the music, sing along and hug. From the circle came the sniffle of sobs. The future admirals of America were crying.
20) Ibid, Jay, Martin, p. 172.
21) Ibid, Jay, Martin, p. 227.
22) Ibid, Jay, Martin, p. 248.
23) Ibid, Jay, Martin, p. 135.
24) Ibid, Jay, Martin, p. 95.
25) Ibid, Vazsonyi, Balint.
26) Ibid, Atkinson, Gerald L.
27) Strauss, William and Howe, Neil. “Generations: The History of America’s Future – 1584 to 2069” p. 382, William Morrow & Company, 1991. “We can foresee a full range of possible outcomes, from stirring achievement to apocalyptic tragedy…Boomers can best serve civilization by restraining themselves (or by letting themselves be restrained by others) until their twilight years, when their spiritual energy would find expression