The philosopher Herbert Marcuse was one of the central figures of the neo-Marxist “Frankfurt School”. In his work published in 1964 The one-dimensional man he designed strategies to overthrow Western societies. According to him, Marxist revolutions could only succeed if these orders were first disintegrated from within. Since workers do not have the hoped-for revolutionary potential, one must instead mobilize ethnic minorities in order to destabilize Western societies. Marcuse thus formulated the foundations of the “Critical Race Theory” and the neo-Marxist “anti-racism” that shapes the identity-political movements of the present. The growing influence of these movements in universities, in the media and also in the state and politics has meanwhile posed a serious threat to liberal societies.
- Marcuse viewed the strong social cohesion that still existed in Western societies in the early 1960s as a problem because it made Marxist revolutions more difficult. He complained that the majority of the workers had become conservative, saw themselves as carriers of the community and represented a “ferment of social cohesion”. 1
- He also expressed his regret that the market economies of Western societies had succeeded in creating mass prosperity after the Second World War, and that now the “Negro owns a Cadillac” too. The improvement of the material living conditions of most people through the market economy leads to the “preservation of the existing” and is therefore extremely problematic. 2
- In order to be able to carry out Marxist revolutions, a “substrate of the outlaws and outsiders” is needed, which is hardly available in Western societies for the reasons mentioned. One must therefore develop new groups that can be mobilized against these societies.
- Marcuse saw corresponding potential in the “exploited and persecuted of other races and other colors”. However, they lack the awareness that they are “victims of law and order”, which is why this must be conveyed to them. Under the leadership and guidance of left-wing intellectuals, these groups, whom Marcuse did not consider independent actors, could become the hoped-for “barbarians” who “threaten the empire of civilization”. 3
Marcuse feared that Western societies would still be stable enough for the time being to fend off attempts at revolution. In the long term, however, there is a chance that “the most advanced consciousness of mankind and its most exploited power” could jointly destroy these societies and their order. 4
Assessment and background
“Critical Race Theory”, which goes back to, among other things the “Critical Theory” of the Frankfurt School, is one of the most important ideological bases of the “anti-racist” identity-political activism of the present. Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matters movement, acknowledged this influence when she said the movement relied on “trained Marxists” .
While classic Marxists sought revolutions by mobilizing workers portrayed as victims of the oppression of capitalism, neo-Marxists seek to mobilize other groups, albeit based on the same narrative. Non-whites are portrayed as victims of supposed oppression by whites, women as victims of oppression by the “patriarchy” and members of sexual minorities as victims of oppression by “heteronormativity”. The concept of “intersectionality” is intended to unite these and other groups politically in the fight against Western societies that are personalized with the enemy image of the “white heterosexual man”.
Marcuse’s writings reveal the extremist and totalitarian potential of this activism, which has the potential to inflict enormous damage on Western societies. Like many other communists, Marcuse was a nihilist whose motives were limited to a will to power camouflaged by rhetoric of justice and a resentment-driven negation of the existing and the desire to destroy it. In his writings he made it clear that the situation of the minorities he wants to mobilize interests him only to the extent that it serves his goal of revolutionary seizure of power. He lamented any improvement in the situation of these people because it made them less useful for revolutionary purposes.He rejected the integration of migrants as well as real solidarity or justice and anything that could strengthen social cohesion or give a society a long life. The neo-Marxist Saul Alinsky revealed the possible deeper causes of this destructive tendency when he declared Lucifer to be the model for all activists of this world view, because he was the first to rebel against the established order.5
The order sought by Marcuse and other neo-Marxists, which should take the place of liberal societies, would inevitably be of a totalitarian nature. Marcuse saw neo-Marxism as a secular substitute for religion, the materialism of which had a “more comprehensive and realistic concept of salvation” than that which he regarded as an enemy Christianity:
- Marcuse assumed that only a neo-Marxist state endowed with unlimited power could lead people to their salvation.6 To do this, people would first have to be freed from their “false consciousness”. The neo-Marxist state must also eliminate all social institutions that stand in the way.7
- After a phase of revolutionary coercion, a “break” with previous human history will occur in the neo-Marxist state, which will lead to a “new human reality”. The good nature of man assumed by him will then break through and a “redefinition of needs” will occur. The new man thus created no longer has to be forced to act in accordance with reason, which leads to a utopian state of salvation.8
The “anti-racism” of today ties in with it when it holds out the prospect that it could create a society without inequality by destroying the established culture and order, whereby this inequality is not attributed to capitalism, but to racism.
However, the deficiencies in the human image of neo-Marxism mean that the promised utopia cannot be realized. Where neo-Marxists have political power, it is not the good qualities of man that emerge, but mass madness and violence. In the case of “anti-racism”, this can be seen in the wave of unrest in the USA and other countries in which the Black Lives Matter movement is active; around two dozen people have been killed so far. Their demands which, if implemented, would make peaceful coexistence between different ethnic groups impossible.
This “anti-racism” is increasingly taking on the traits of a racial ideology that traces all social questions back to racial issues, judges people primarily according to their skin color and generally portrays whites as oppressors of other races and thus collectively devalues them. Instead of fighting racism, the issue of race is made more and more present and existing conflicts are reinforced or new ones are created.
Since, according to identity-political ideologies, racism can only emanate from whites, activists ignore the genocidal ethnic conflicts in other regions of the world and instead denounce “microaggression” or a vague “structural racism” by whites in the West as the supposedly only problematic forms of racism. The fact that people persecuted for real racist reasons are moving to the West precisely because they can live more safely here than in their home countries is completely ignored because these people are apparently only of interest to the activists as a revolutionary asset.
Racism is also defined in a way that removes it from empirical evidence and enables accusations of racism to be brought forward without plausible justification. In addition, the scope of what is considered to be racist is increasingly being widened, so that almost every expression that is undesirable from an identity-political point of view can now be explained as an alleged expression of racism. An example of this is addressing issues related to migration. Since 2015, making any talk of immigration taboo through accusations of racism has contributed to the fact that there is no relevant debate about the risks of uncontrolled migration to the West and that decisions have been made that are likely to have negative effects on our community for decades if not centuries and millennia (see the migration of the barbarians into the Roman Empire almost 2000 years ago).
Identity political activists also declare social conflicts to be racial conflicts, making them unsolvable. It also puts pressure on whites to ethnically define their interests as well, promoting the breakdown of societies into hostile ethnic camps and extremism. In order to further deepen social fault lines, these activists also advocate the most uncontrolled immigration of migrants from those groups that have so far proven to be the least integrable, and protect Islamists who declare them victims of racial discrimination. That this destroys the foundations of the community is quite deliberate, as Marcuse openly stated.
The corresponding activism thus represents a serious and growing threat to Western social systems, to whose ideological fight the common good and the solidarity principle of Christian social teaching can be used. This solidarity strengthens bonds and social cohesion in a community instead of dissolving them, and enables integration and peaceful coexistence of people instead of fueling hatred and conflicts out of power calculations.
- Marcuse, Herbert (1991). One-dimensional Man: Studies in Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. New York: Routledge, p. 267.
- Ibid., P. 28.
- Ibid., Pp. 267-268.
- Ibid., P. 268.
- Saul D. Alinsky: Rules for Radicals. A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals , New York 1971, pp. Ix.
- Marcuse 1970, pp. 248-249.
- Ibid., P. 265.
- Ibid., P. 242-256.