Karl Marx in the 21st Century

“In the 1930s, a group of professors at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt in Germany (‘the Frankfurt School’ for short) developed their own unique strains of Western Marxism. While they preferred to call their theory ‘the critical theory of society’ their work has become more commonly known as ‘Cultural Marxism.’ They were keenly aware of the fact that the German workers did not revolt as Marx had predicted. But the fact that Marxism had failed its first and biggest test wasn’t enough to make them abandon Marx. They remained Marxist at the core and sought to salvage Marx’s vision for the dissolution of the evil ‘capitalist’ systems that dominated Europe and the United States and plagued the world. Max Horkheimer defined their critical theory of society as (1) ‘a theory dominated at every turn by a concern for reasonable conditions of life,’ (2) a theory which condemns existing social institutions and practices as ‘inhuman,’ and (3) a theory which contemplates the need for ‘alteration of society as a whole.’ In harmony with Marx, the Frankfurt School theorists taught that everything in Western society is so evil that every facet of it needs to be ruthlessly criticized, weakened, and destroyed. The rise of the Nazi movement in Germany forced these professors to flee their German homeland. The National Socialists were competing with Marxist Socialists and the Frankfurt theorists were definitely recognizable as Marxists. They were also all Jewish. So in 1935 they fled Germany and made Columbia University of New York their base of operations. Although sympathetic to Marx’s war on inequality among socio-economic classes, these ‘cultural Marxists’ instead focused on other cultural areas where people groups encounter inequality. They saw power inequalities in the clash of cultures … races … religions … family … gender … and sexual orientation. The chief weapon in their ideological arsenal was criticism. The Frankfurt School made it academically fashionable to subject every old truth claim to ‘new criticism’ or ‘critical theory.’ Quite in harmony with Marx, every established authority and every established belief must be questioned, challenged, critiqued, doubted, ridiculed, marginalized, weakened, subverted, destroyed, and replaced. Beginning with criticism, Marx’s spectre can proceed to liberate all the peoples of the world from the oppression of Classical civilization and Judeo-Christian culture. Herbert Marcuse was one of the most influential and best known theorists of the Frankfurt School. He taught his brand of cultural Marxism into the 1970s at Columbia University, Harvard, Brandeis, and the University of California, San Diego. He is now widely regarded as the father of the New Left movement, the most influential ‘radical philosopher’ of the 1960s, and a major inspiration for the Hippie Movement, the student movement, and the civil rights movement.”

Christopher Haun, The Eight Spectres of Karl Marx in the 21st Century