Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Acts 27 test, 14: Andrew Breitbart's perspective on the rise of cultural marxist/ critical theory agendas & Saul Alinsky's community organisers movement in the USA

Why would I here feature a controversial media figure and his often derided and dismissed views?

Because I think they provide key food for thought on something a lot of folks out there obviously don't want us to be thinking about in a coherent connect-the-dots way; video:

A montage I found sums up Breitbart's views on the Frankfurt School and its influence:

{U/D, Oct 16, 2016: let me add a video on the underlying roots hosted by William S Lind:

(Also, cf his 1998 lecture here.) }

In effect, we see neo-Marxist analysis transformed from the classic class war to an ideology for identity/minority group activism driven by a sense of oppression to be overthrown (cf. archive of Wikipedia's suppressed page on Cultural Marxism); which -- per fair comment -- can all too easily be manipulated into subversion of institutions, law, policy and community life, in the end demanding approval of evil in the name of true freedom and liberation. Activisim that can easily become pretty ruthless factionalism that may easily run the risk of pushing democracy into mob rule. And, when ruthless activists gain institutional power, a big problem is that they have not learned the habits of sound, balanced, mutually respectful governance, but instead those of ruthlessness.

The sort of ruthlessness implicit in Alinsky's Rules for Radicals:
 "A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage -- the political paradise of communism." p.10. [And let us note, Marxism has always been quite varied in form, so, the sort of cultural/institutional subversion strategy advocated by Alinsky is not sufficient to remove him from the general frame of thought, whatever differences he may have had with say the Moscow orthodoxy.] . . . . 

"The end is what you want, the means is how you get it. Whenever we think about social change, the question of means and ends arises. The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work. ... The real arena is corrupt and bloody." p.24 . . . . 

"The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step toward community organization. Present arrangements must be disorganized if they are to be displace by new patterns.... All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new." p.116 . . . .
[The Rules, excerpted]: 

5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage." . . . . 

13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.  [NB: Notice the evil counsel to find a way to attack the man, not the issue. The easiest way to do that, is to use the trifecta stratagem: distract, distort, demonise.] In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.'... 

"...any target can always say, 'Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?' When your 'freeze the target,' you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments.... Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the 'others' come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target...'

 "One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other."

This pattern should be all too familiar, if one has been paying attention to current political, social, activism and media trends. Such does not have to come directly from Alinsky, either as the pattern has now become diffused in the culture at large.

In case you are dubious that Cultural [Neo-]Marxism exists or is significantly influential, here is the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
The Frankfurt School, also known as the Institute of Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung), is a social and political philosophical movement of thought located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is the original source of what is known as Critical Theory. The Institute was founded, thanks to a donation by Felix Weil in 1923, with the aim of developing Marxist studies in Germany. The Institute eventually generated a specific school of thought after 1933 when the Nazis forced it to close and move to the United States, where it found hospitality at Columbia University, New York.

The academic influence of the “critical” method is far reaching in terms of educational institutions in which such tradition is taught and in terms of the problems it addresses. Some of its core issues involve the critique of modernities and of capitalist society, the definition of social emancipation and the perceived pathologies of society. Critical theory provides a specific interpretation of Marxist philosophy and reinterprets some of its central economic and political notions such as commodification, reification, fetishization and critique of mass culture.

Some of the most prominent figures of the first generation of Critical Theorists are Max Horkheimer (1895-1973), Theodor Adorno (1903-1969), Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), Friedrich Pollock (1894-1970), Leo Lowenthal (1900-1993), Eric Fromm (1900-1980). Since the 1970s, the second generation has been led by Jürgen Habermas who has greatly contributed to fostering the dialogue between the so called “continental” and “analytical” tradition. This phase has also been substantiated by the works of Klaus Günther, Hauke Brunkhorst, Ralf Dahrendorf, Gerhard Brandt, Alfred Schmidt, Claus Offe, Oskar Negt, Albrecht Wellmer and Ludwig von Friedeburg, Lutz Wingert, Josef Früchtl, Lutz-Bachman. More generally, it is possible to speak of a “third generation” of critical theorists, symbolically represented in Germany by the influential work of Axel Honneth. The philosophical impact of the school has been worldwide. Early in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a fourth generation of critical theory scholars emerged and coalesced around Rainer Forst.
That should be as clear a statement of powerful and widespread impact as we need for practical purposes. It is those who pooh pooh that impact, who need to justify their dismissal.

For myself, let's just say that the term, reification rings some big bells. Let me clip a handy 101, by way of admissions against interest, Wikipedia:

In Marxism, reification (German: Verdinglichung, literally: "making into a thing" (cf. Latin res meaning "thing") or Versachlichung, literally "objectification"; regarding something impersonally) is the thingification of social relations or of those involved in them, to the extent that the nature of social relationships is expressed by the relationships between traded objects (see commodity fetishism and value-form).

This implies that objects are transformed into subjects and subjects are turned into objects, with the result that subjects are rendered passive or determined, while objects are rendered as the active, determining factor. Hypostatization refers to an effect of reification which results from supposing that whatever can be named, or conceived abstractly, must actually exist, an ontological and epistemological fallacy.

The concept is related to, but is distinct from, Marx's theories of alienation and commodity fetishism. Alienation is the general condition of human estrangement. Reification is a specific form of alienation. Commodity fetishism is a specific form of reification.
 As in, Marxism's grave is a noisily stirring one.

The Stanford Enc of Phil hints at much in its article on Critical Theory:
Critical Theory has a narrow and a broad meaning in philosophy and in the history of the social sciences. “Critical Theory” in the narrow sense designates several generations of German philosophers and social theorists in the Western European Marxist tradition known as the Frankfurt School. According to these theorists, a “critical” theory may be distinguished from a “traditional” theory according to a specific practical purpose: a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human “emancipation from slavery”, acts as a “liberating … influence”, and works “to create a world which satisfies the needs and powers” of human beings (Horkheimer 1972, 246). Because such theories aim to explain and transform all the circumstances that enslave human beings, many “critical theories” in the broader sense have been developed. They have emerged in connection with the many social movements that identify varied dimensions of the domination of human beings in modern societies. In both the broad and the narrow senses, however, a critical theory provides the descriptive and normative bases for social inquiry aimed at decreasing domination and increasing freedom in all their forms.
The reality of this issue and its relevance through both activist politics and the impact of "X-studies" can be taken as established; where "X" can take many values depending on the particular minority group organised as an identity and brought under the umbrella of overthrowing real or imagined oppression. (Capital case in point today, homosexualism and its attempt to subvert marriage.)  Beyond, the media microphones, amplifiers and transmitters will readily spread such far and wide. 

And, closer to home for us here in the Caribbean than we would generally be willing to acknowledge.

We therefore need to engage what we can call the information- social- agit-prop battlespace.

For this front in the kulturkampf, I have found a thought-provoking online excerpt of Breitbart's pragmatic primer/ rules for realistic aspiring [conservative] revolutionaries, a deliberate echo of Alinsky's rules for radicals, down to the number given:
1.) Don't be afraid to go into enemy territory: This is the most important rule you'll read in this book, and the one most likely to be ignored by the Republican Party and the Old Guard in the conservative movement . . . The right figures that talk radio, Fox News, and some independent Internet sites will allow us to distribute our ideas to the masses. There's one problem: those outlets are exponentially outnumbered and outgunned by the Complex. They're Alinsky-ed by the activist left, which is insists Fox News is Faux News and talk radio is hate radio [--> notice the name-calling, accusations and polarisation designed to lead to divide, manipulate a critical mass, seize control and rule]  . . . . Groupthink happens, and we have to take it head-on. We can't win the political war until we win the cultural war. The Frankfurt School knew that - that's why they won the cultural war and then, on it's back, the political war. We can do the same, but we have to be willing to enter the arena . . . . 

2.) Expose the left for who they are - in their own words: It's easy to label the left, to analyze them, to take them apart using your rationality - their program fails every time it's tried, and their lexicon, once you know it, is as predictable as the sun rising in the east. What's much harder than understanding the left is exposing it. That's where citizen journalists come in. Drudge was a citizen journalist, and he took on a president. Today, we all have the power to be citizen journalists via the internet - there's no Complex gatekeeper to stop us from posting the truth about enemies of freedom and liberty in this country . . . . The key to the success of the New Media, though, is making news by breaking news [--> The sort of news likely to be suppressed by dominant media and derided or dismissed unless it has smoking gun, undeniable evidence]. And that means that conservatives need to use their new best technological friends: the MP3 recorder, the phone camera, and the blogosphere . . . . 

3.) Be open about your secrets: If you're going to go out in public, be absolutely open about what you've done in the past. Take a page from Barack Obama, who revealed in his probably Ayers-ghostwritten autobiography that he had done a lot of blow, and hung out with commies and assorted lowlifes. Once it was out there, there wasn't much that the right could do with it - he'd already admitted it . . . . Actually, George W. Bush did the same thing during the 2000 election. "When I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid," he said. Once he had come clean, the Left was stuck - they couldn't do anything. Hypocrisy is such a powerful argument for the left because it appeals directly to the emotional heart of politics: one standard for you, another for me. It's no wonder Alinsky relied heavily on his rule 4: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. We have more rules than they do with regard for morality, which means we have to live up to them more often. But mistakes in the past don't need to be skeletons waiting to come out of the closet. If you've made mistakes, reveal them at the first available opportunity. Embrace those mistakes. Don't talk about how you regret them - talk about how you lived through them and how they made you who you are today . . . .

4.) Don't let the Complex use its PC lexicon to characterize you and shape the narrative: If you've got a big story, the Complex will do what it always dies: attack you personally using the PC lexicon. You immediately become a racist, sexist, homophobic, jingoistic nativist. Don't let them do it. The fact is this: if you refuse to buy into their lexicon, if you refuse to back down in the face of those intimidation tactics, they can't harm you. You're Neo [of The Matrix] in the hallway with Agent Smith after he figures out that the Complex is a sham - the spoon isn't bending, he's bending. Once it hits him that he's not bound by the rules of the game, he can literally stop bullets. You can stop their bullets because their bullets aren't real . . . . 

5.) Control your own story - don't let the Complex do it: A one-and-done story isn't worth anything. One fact can be posted on the Internet and flushed down the memory hole faster than anyone can imagine. How many incredible pieces of journalistic revelation have been lost because they weren't properly presented to the public? Serialization is good. Van Jones was taken down by Glenn Beck because Beck had the goods - and because he revealed them piece by piece. He got Jones and his defenders to come out of the closet and attack him. Then he calmly laid his cards on the table, one by one. [--> This creates a whole series of headlines, which is much more likely to get wide attention and help ordinary people connect the dots than one long hard to follow expose. Then at the end, do the summing up and give the punch-line, one liner summary that will resonate. End strong.] . . . . 

6.) Ubiquity is key: As a capitalist and as a web publisher, pageviews are a desired commodity. But when playing for political or cultural keeps, impact matters most. And, when ABCNBCCBSCNNMSNBC and the dailies are working against you and ignoring you, ubiquity is a key weapon That means developing relationships with like-minded allies or even enemies and news junkies and allowing them to share in the good fortune of a good scoop . . . .

7.) Engage in the social arena: My first instinct about Facebook was my first instinct about Twitter was my first instinct about MySpace. I was right about MySpace - it sucks. I was definitely wrong about Facebook and Twitter. Using my "ubiquity" rule, the citizen journalist isn't always reporting in the ledes, headlines, and paragraphs form. Sometimes a tweet or a re-tweet can grant an idea more legs. Sometimes a status update can lead to the mother lode. Yes, there are slick advisers falsely promising a social networking Gold Rush, but well-socially-networked person can soon carry more weight than a household-name columnist at your local news daily. Building a movement used to take time, but now it can be done in a few hours with with the right connections and the right posts on a few websites . . . .

8.) Don't pretend to know more than you do: This one trips up conservatives all the time. We want to argue policy because when we know policy, there's no way they can beat us, because all they have is their lexicon of name-calling and societal expulsion. We have reason on our side. But just because we have reason on our side doesn't mean that everyone is equipped to be Charles Krauthammer or Michael Barone, policy wonks who can pull facts from the Office of Management and Budget out of every orifice.  [--> Don't underestimate the power of a good background briefing, with a suitably indexed click- to- jump- there index or table of contents on a Tablet PC (nicely flat, small and unobtrusive) or even a small briefing folder.] Most of us aren't experts on the latest budget package or stem-cell line regulation, but that doesn't mean we're powerless - it means we get to play Socrates, asking pointed questions rather than citing facts we may not be sure of . . . . Put another way: don't be the guy with a knife at a gunfight. It rarely ends well.

9.) Don't let them pretend to know more than they do: This is really the converse of the last rule. Your opponents will pretend to be experts if you don't, but that's okay, because you can always puncture their balloon with one word: why. Asking them to provide evidence for their assertions is always fun, and it's even more fun asking them to provide the sources for that evidence. [--> But you had better know the true answer or that can be shoved back down your throat.]

 10.) Ridicule is man's most potent weapon: Here, Alinsky and I agree. It's the truest of Alinsky's statements, and it's the most effective [--> But also, potentially the most destructive, and double edged] . . . . 

11.) Don't let them get away with ignoring their own rules: Alinsky is right again. They set up this PC Complex, and they have to be held accountable to it, if only for honesty's sake, and we're the only ones who will do it . . . . 

12.) Truth isn't mean. It's truth: I know that some of you are going to feel rotten about using some of these tactics. We can ignore the tactics, but the left will continue to use them to their benefit; just as the Frankfurt School relied on the good nature and honesty of Americans who wouldn't engage in un-Christian tactics in order to achieve their massive victory, the left continues to rely on our honesty and aboveboard good nature in order to achieve theirs . . . . We start by uncovering the truth and telling everyone about it. [--> Scripture teaches, that truth must be in love, which in the end demands at minimum, justice in defence of the best interests of the community] . . .  truth will set us free from the grip of the Complex, because the Complex lives in the clouds, in the theoretical heavens - the Frankfurt School was successful only because they were able to shift Marxism's basis from real-world predictions to descriptions of supposed historical processes, making Marxism unfalsifiable. We have to falsify their theory by presenting unvarnished truth after unvarnished truth until the light dawns on everyone just how right we are . . . .

13.) Believe in the audacity of hope: It's too bad President Obama is such a joyless, politically correct automaton, because he's terrifically agile with his prepared words. To paraphrase his victory speech after the 2008 election, the rise of the New Media alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.It can't happen without hope for America and faith in its people . . . Apathy in the face of determined Frankfurt School/Alinsky/critical-theory-trained activists is national suicide.
Breitbart, of course, speaks in the context of the United States and from the perspective of the Republican Party's conservatives. But that does not mean that what he says is automatically unrealistic, suspect or irrelevant to us in our own region. For, first, he actually did achieve significant impact in a tragically short life of forty-three years and one month, cut short by heart failure.

We need to look at his rules and adapt them to our own circumstances and needs.

So, we have here, food for thought. More reflections to follow, DV. END