It is not the radical left that is destroying the West, but the West as a whole

(The Realist complains at The Inverted World that I misrepresented him when I said in my comment there today that he had written that the threat to the West “emanates” from the Frankfurt School. I agree that was an overstatement and I’ve posted a reply at IW which I hope meets his objections; I’ve also changed the wording of this blog entry to introduce more nuance into my characterization of his view.)

At the website The Inverted World, The Realist has written “The Origin of the Myth: The ‘whites as cancer’ myth is rooted in the Holocaust.” It is an interesting and disturbing discussion of the wacko and poisonous theories of Theodor Adorno of the Frankfurt School, who in his best-known book The Authoritarian Personality equated all Western normality with Fascism and Nazism. However, perhaps because The Realist starts off by saying that the scholars associated with the Frankfurt School were all of Jewish ancestry, the very active comments thread following the article has dealt not with Adorno’s work and influence, but almost exclusively with the question of whether Jews are or are not a problem for the West—and I hardly think that this was The Realist’s intention. Also, apart from the problem of the deflection of the topic onto the Jewish question, I have concern about how important the Frankfurt School really was and is, in light of the actual forces that are threatening the West. I’ve posted two comments about the article today. Below is an expanded version of the second comment.

For the last several decades, and at this very moment, the nations of the West have been actively turning themselves into nonwhite nations. The policies driving this are supported by all the major institutions of Western society. The government of Britain considers any limitation of the number of immigrants as “racist.” Jacques Chirac said that the roots of Europe are “Muslim as much as Christian.” Secretary of State Colin Powell called for a big increase in the U.S. Muslim population, as though Muslims in and of themselves are a benefit to America. The president of the United States constantly invokes the meaninglessness of the U.S.-Mexican border and suggests that the whole world should come to America if they can find a job here. There is no significant opposition to any of this in mainstream politics, except for opposition to illegal immigration in the U.S.

As a result of the influx of non-Western and non-European peoples, which the entire U.S. establishment celebrates and which no respected voices in America oppose, the white percentage of the U.S. population has declined from 89 percent in 1965 to 67 perecent today. The U.S. Census Bureau reports this week that the U.S. non-white population now exceeds 100 million.

In Britain and in Europe, though the percentage of non-Europeans is not nearly as high as in the U.S., the rush to accommodate the West to its openly declared enemies, the Muslims, is far more pronounced than in the U.S.

In sum, the white West, acting as a whole, and without any significant internal opposition, is very rapidly destroying itself.

Yet in the midst of this catastrophe that is rushing upon us, this catastrophe that is the result of the mainstream beliefs of the modern West that are accepted or at least acceded to by almost all Westerners, The Realist sees the threat to the West as emanating from leftist attitudes typified by the Frankfurt School, a collection of Marxist German-Jewish intellectuals in the early-to-mid 20th century.

The way-out, hateful view of the West exemplified by the Frankfurt School is not what is killing the West. What is killing the West is its own normative and unquestioned belief that tolerance and non-discrimination and diversity must be society’s ruling values. While the Frankfurt School idea that the white race and Western normality are deeply sick and evil obviously empowers the anti-West agenda and makes it more openly threatening, we don’t need this far-left idea to explain what is happening. If there had never been the idea that “whites are the cancer of history,” the forces leading to Western suicide would still be operative.

I respectfully suggest that we need to focus our attention on what the West as a whole is doing to itself, and not seek to blame Western suicide on the radical left.

- end of initial entry -

Dimitri K. writes:

It seems that you have gotten it right: it is the West that is destroying the West. Not many people who I know agree with that. For example, the commenters of The Inverted World, are only interested to blame it on someone else (Jews).

In a parody of the Russian Revolution, Russian author Venedict Erofeyev presents a dialogue of the would-be revolutionaries:—What if the West sends troops? What if they send B-52 to bomb us?—We will respond. We will send on them the devaluation of the frank.—You are a good theoretician, but you’d better shut up.

Who sent on us multiculturalism? Was it sent on us from KGB headquarters? No. It is all made in the West. So, instead of criticizing multiculturalism, it is worthy looking at ourselves and at our own culture and see what in ourselves produces multiculturalism.

LA replies:

To be fair to The Inverted World, which came into existence in order to oppose anti-Semitism on the white right, that thread seems to consist of a stand-off between anti-Semites who blame the Jews, and non-anti-Semites who say that this is wrong. My point is that that entire pre-occupation with the Jews, whether anti, neutral, or pro, is a diversion of attention away from the manifest forces of mass immigration that are rapidly dooming us.

Paul Nachman writes:

Regarding the culpability of the Frankfurt School for all this, I’ll remind you of Peter Brimelow’s suggestion that things like the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act are Hitler’s revenge on the West. From the preface to Alien Nation, which I’m currently rereading:

There is a sense in which current immigration policy is Adolf Hitler’s posthumous revenge on America. The U.S. political elite emerged from the war passionately concerned to cleanse itself from all taints of racism or xenophobia. Eventually, it enacted the epochal Immigration Act (technically, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments) of 1965. And this, quite accidentally, triggered a renewed mass immigration, so huge and so systematically different from anything that had gone before as to transform—and ultimately, perhaps, even to destroy—the one unquestioned victor of World War II: the American nation, as it had evolved by the middle of the twentieth century.

LA replies:

Yes, and that opening is the best part of Brimelow’s book. Further, as Brimelow’s own account suggests, the response to Hitlerism was not just, as The Realist would have it, that Theodor Adorno concluded that the West as a whole and whites in particular were Nazi-like. The response to Hitlerism was a civilization-wide epiphany that intolerance is the worst thing and must be eliminated. The latter is the operative force in Western suicide, not the former. Yes, the view of whites as Nazi-like fuels the anti-discrimination liberalism and makes it more venomous, but it is not the source of it.

Alan Levine writes:

Did not quite agree with your views on Adorno and the Frankfurt School and their influence. First, in my understanding, whatever else they were, these jerks were not inverted racists, though you may have stumbled on some evidence I was not aware of. [LA replies: It is The Realist at The Inverted World who says that, not me.]

Second, they in fact had considerable influence on liberalism. It seems to me that here you are underestimating the influence of far leftists on liberalism (to be sure that may be the opposite of the most fashionable errors), or rather understating the extent to which liberalism has drifted so far to the left, so that it has taken on the coloration of insanities that were on the lunatic fringe of left-wing thought in 1950. Actually, when the Authoritarian Personality was written, even Adorno and company took special care to moderate and even camouflage their views;… which were nevertheless violently attacked by at least some contemporary liberals.


This is a topic I’ve been debating for years. My view is that the present insane liberalism is the logical outcome of the older, more moderate-seeming liberalism, not of radical leftsm. But even if I am mistaken and the present insane liberalism is the child of the radical left, it doesn’t matter, because that leftist-born liberalism is now the mainstream orthodoxy of the Western world. Therefore people don’t see it as extreme. They see it as the unquestioned truth, or, rather, they don’t see it at all, since it is the very ambient atmosphere in which they live. Therefore attacking the radical left, which is what standard mainstream conservatives are doing all the time, is not a winning strategy for the West. We could succeed in totally discrediting the leftist idea that whites are the “cancer of history,” and that would not slow by one iota the West’s suicidal course, which is driven and enabled, not by the belief that whites are evil, but by the belief that we must be tolerant and inclusive of everyone and that the diverse society is the only moral and acceptable society.

The problem is not the radical left. The problem is we ourselves, the entire Western world.

Paul Gottfried writes:

You should read my last three books, all of which stress that The Authoritarian Personality profoundly affected American political thinking. It was essential to the postwar reconstruction of German “civic culture’ and the work was deeply admired by SM Lipset, the sponsors of Commentary, and scads of Cold War liberals. It was not necessarily viewed as the post-Marxist leftist source of moral corruption that I suggest it was in The Strange Death of Marxism. What made The Authoritarian Personality particularly insidious is that it was widely seen as a blueprint for non-totalitarian democracy both here and in Europe; and leaders in government and in universities read the book in that way. The fact that Adorno and Horkheimer (who later backed away from the implications of the work he had co-edited) were at the time Soviet sympathizers did not dampen the enthusiasm of the anti-Stalinist secularist intellectuals who tried to defend the study. Although the Jewish identity of the Frankfurt School may not have been the only factor leading to their anti-Christian, anti-fascist pseudo-science, denying its influence on the formation of Frankfort School ideas is simply silly. Adorno was only half-Jewish and raised as a Catholic but nonetheless paraded his Jewish genes in explaining how he had arrived at his critique of bourgeois, Christian society. It is furthermore is silly to pretend that Jews have not played a DISPROPORTIONATE role in greasing the skids for our moral and social disintegration. To recognize this is to recognize reality. What is more dubious is that Jews have caused this ruin, without the enthusiastic support or at least cowardly acquiescence of the white Christian majority. Although it is correct to note the significant Jewish contribution to the present decadence, it is naive to think that Jews are the only culprits in what you and I deplore.

LA replies:

I will admit my ignorance here, my great surprise—and my skepticism. I have not read The Authoritarian Personality, but have often seen discussions of it over the years, and every single discussion I have read treated it as a bad, leftist work that made America seem sick and evil. I never saw a neoconservative or proto-neoconservative praising Adorno, or praising any other Frankfurt School guy. I do not remember seeing in any Cold War liberal or neocon publication the idea that normal American life is a form of neurosis and incipient fascism. And of course neoconservatism came into being in large part in order to validate normal American life.

You refer to “leaders in government and in universities” approving the book. But liberals in the university, and many in government, became the left.

As I’ve said many times, I am not at all denying that the leftist influence existed and exists and has played a role in constructing the modern liberal orthodoxy. What I am saying is that the importance of the left’s role in creating that orthodoxy is commonly exaggerated by conservatives.

What we’re speaking of here is the ideological and motivational roots of why various types of liberals believe the things they believe. What today’s liberals of all stripes believe is that intolerance is the greatest evil and that tolerance and openness to all types of people must rule society. I would say that in the overwhelming majority of cases, people come to that belief, not from a conviction that America is authoritarian, fascist, sick, and evil, but from a conviction that discrimination is morally wrong and that the best form of human society is the diverse society.

And in any case, as I’ve said, even if the primary or even the sole source had been the radical leftism, that belief has now become so mainstreamed that no one sees it as radical. It’s become the water and air of our society. So there’s nothing to be gained by acting as if the problem were those radical leftists (or those radical Jews). Arguing against radical leftism (or against Jewish leftism) accomplishes precisely NOTHING by way of confronting the mainstream, normative, liberal beliefs of the whole Western society that must be defeated if the West is to recover and survive.

In other words, what’s the point of inveighing against “the whites as the cancer of history myth” when the people you’re trying to reach don’t believe that whites are the cancer of history? What they believe is that discrimination is wrong and that we must be tolerant. And to destroy your nation, you don’t need to believe that it’s evil. All you need to believe is that you must be tolerant. That’s enough. That simple, un-threatening, apple-pie idea is enough to unstring and dissolve an entire society. This is what conservatives do not understand. The truth is right in front of them, but they don’t see it. They need to see the threat as something big and evil, as the evil left, rather than as the “normal” and “mainstream” (but in reality very extreme) ideas shared by the whole society.

Prof. Gottfried replies:

Christopher Lash’s True and Only Heaven includes a long section detailing the mainstream liberal support for The Authoritarian Personality in the 1950s and 1960s. Lipset, Hook, Daniel Bell, Arthur Schlesinger, Richard Hofstadter and the members of American Jewish Committe, who sponsored Adorno and Commentary magazine, were among the anti-Communist liberals who admired TAP and who thought that it had relevance for our country. Although you and I may be to the right of these celebrants, it would be hard to argue that no anti-Communist had any use for Adorno’s ideas.

LA replies:

I will certainly look this up. Hofstadter I’m not surprised at, given his adversarial writings on the “paranoid” qualities of America. As for Schlesinger, I can easily see him thinking that TAP analysis applied to Repubicans, but not to Democrats.
SK writes from France:

I keep on reading you sometimes, even if I am at the opposite sensibility of your intellectual mood. It enables me to grasp a way of looking at social issues completely different of my own. It is funny that I recently read Adorno’s Minima Moralia, with, I confess, great pleasure and admiration, and I am not surprised that you do not share my enthusiam. I am writing to you to insist on the fact you are clearly right on the fact one must not overestimate Adorno’s impact on liberalism. For instance, I look at Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity and it is clear that every word of this influential philosopher would remain even if Adorno had never existed.

It should be obvious that the main influences of liberalism are to be found in Kant and Rawls rather than in Adorno.

Here are two further comments that LA has sent to The Inverted World (the entire exchange between the Realist and me begins at my comment of May 17 12:05 p.m. in this thread.:

… As for the larger issue between the Realist and me whether the core of the West’s suicide is anti-whiteness (his view) or tolerance, non-discrimination, and pro-diversity (my view), he says that Adorno-type anti-whiteness was not prevalent after the war but only became so decades later. Of course I agree. I also agree with the general drift of the Realist’s theme about how the demonization of the white West is transmitted in our schools and much of our culture.

However, that does not prove that anti-whiteness is the primary factor in the West’s and America’s suicide. The reason I say this is that conservatives do not agree with the left’s demonization of whites; yet conservatives still support, along with the left, the open immigration policies that are leading rapidly to the destruction of the West. What drives the conservatives is not the belief in anti-whiteness, but the belief that it is wrong to exclude non-whites and non-Westerners. Vivid proof of this is seen in the fact, endlessly documented at my website, that the leading Islam critics, while continually warning us that Islam represents a mortal threat to the West, unanimously decline to call for a reduction in Muslim immigration by even one Muslim per year. And they stick to this position despite repeated demonstrations of its utter illogicality.

This shows decisively that the liberal commandment, “Tthou shalt not discriminate against any racial/religious/national group,” is the ruling principle for conservatives. Furthermore, since any salvation of America, if it is to come, must come from the conservatives, the fact that conservatives are wedded to liberal non-discrimination as their ruling idea dooms us. The conservatives’ belief in liberal non-discrimination is Ground Zero in the Suicide of America. If there is to be a reversal of America’ suicidal course, it must happen as a result of conservatives abandoning that belief. From which it follows that even if we succeeded in totally removing leftist anti-whiteness from our schools and culture, it would not save us, so long as the belief in non-discrimination remained our ruling idea.

It is the liberal belief in non-discrimination, not the the leftist belief in anti-whiteness, that is the key to the suicide of America, and it is the abandonment of the liberal belief in non-discrimination that is the key to the salvation of America.

* * *

I’ll add that the same applies to Europe, or at least to Britain. As became clear to me for the first time from listening to the British responses to the July 2005 bombing in London, the ruling principle in Britain is “tolerance.” It is not anti-whiteness. It is in the name of tolerance that they’ve allowed the creation of Londonistan. It is in the name of tolerance that they’ve continued to allow unprecedented numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe to enter Britain, despite the catastrophic social effects of this immigration, a fact acknowledged by the whole British establishment. It is the British government’s position that to limit the number of immigration at all would be “racist.” It is thus the belief in tolerance as the ruling and defining principle of society that is undoing the British, and it is only the renunciation of that belief that can save them.

LA writes:

Here is a VFR article from January 2003 where I lay out ideas similar to those here. I argue that Paul Weyrich’s attack on “Cultural Marxism” (much like the Realists’s attack on the Frankfurt School) makes us believe that the problem is outside us, in those extreme leftists, when in reality the problem is within us, in our own liberalism.

Be sure to see the discussion following the main entry, where Matt lays out the three false alternatives we are given as to who is at fault.

Also, in the comment dated January 9, 2003 4:13 PM, I have a dialog with an unnamed “conservative” on the question of whether Americans are leftists or liberals. The conservative is David Horowitz. The same is true of quite a few dialogs posted over the years at VFR between myself and an unnamed conservative.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 17, 2007 02:03 PM | Send

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