I had thought Jennifer Roback Morse was getting to the heart of the matter when she pivoted to a focus on the victims of the Sexual Revolution. Her undoubtedly correct view is that gay so-called “marriage” did not start with the gays; rather, the Sexual Revolution prepared the ground beginning in the 1960s.
In The Devil’s Pleasure Palace (Encounter Books), Michael Walsh explains there is something even more fundamental at the heart of the matter, and the Sexual Revolution is only part of it. What lay at the heart of the matter are Cultural Marxism, Critical Theory and the institute that spawned them, the Institute for Social Research, commonly known as the Frankfurt School.
You know these better than you think. In fact, their ideas are coursing not only through all of society, but through your own veins whether you know it or not.
Consider first psychiatrist William Reich, the man who, in 1936, coined the term “sexual revolution” in a book of the same name. Reich was a crackpot of the first order. Eventually even his Freudian colleagues avoided him like the plague. All his books had to be privately published. Quite simply, Reich was sex-mad and very likely insane. Even his photograph in Wikipedia makes him look like an inveterate masturbator. He massaged his nude patients and in 1920s Catholic Vienna advocated contraceptives, abortion, and divorce.
Reich was a paid up member of the Frankfurt School who eventually made his way to the United States, where he invented an orgasm machine later mocked as the “orgasmitron” by sex-mad Woody Allen in his movie Sleeper. He later died in prison after conning people into buying his hilarious machine. The Food and Drug Administration actually burned several tons of his books.
According to Michael Walsh, Reich was one of the most influential members of the Frankfurt School. How influential? During the student riots of 1968 in Paris and Berlin, students threw copies of his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism at the cops. They scrawled his name on walls. But, more than that, the Sexual Revolution he theorized is now the common currency, the lingua franca of our age.
The Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School believed economic Marxism would fail because of the resistance of the working classes. They believed Marxism could only ever be achieved by undermining the institutions, all of them. They began what they called the long march through the institutions. Who would have thought even a few years ago that the Boy Scouts would go gay? The Frankfurt School would have.
Critical Theory is central to their plan. More than likely, whether you knew it or not, this is what you got in college and probably even in high school. This will sound familiar to you, as familiar as the bromides you now hear from the students at the University of Missouri. Critical Theory seeks societal transformation through the emancipation of mankind from all forms of slavery. The slavers happen to be the Church, the family, and the free market.
When you hear someone badmouthing American history that is Critical Theory. The incessant intonations against the Crusades? Critical Theory. The patriarchal family, rape culture, multiculturalism, political correctness, speech codes; all Critical Theory. The idea is to make you question everything, and in the questioning, institutions fall.
You can even hear Critical Theory in the mouth of our president, When he sneers about orthodox Christians, it comes not from his supposed love of Islam, but his training in Critical Theory and Cultural Marxism, which he learned from his own father’s bitterness, from Communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, from his professors, and from Saul Alinsky. Obama truly is the most radical person ever to occupy the White House for he wants to tear down the institutions that have made and protected our country.
You may never have heard of some of them: Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, who were inspired by Antonio Gramsci. You may know a few of their names: Herbert Marcuse, and Eric Fromm. They were wicked men who hated Western Civilization. Most brought their poison to the United States during the Second World War, or shortly thereafter.
It is astonishing to think that this overtly Marxist institute founded to undermine Western Civilization was actually invited to move its operation to Columbia University in 1935. From this lofty perch, these men began the drip of poison into American culture.
Michael Walsh tells a highly readable tale of these men, though he does not begin in the twentieth century, and he does not focus on sociology, psychology, or the other soft sciences, but rather on art, specifically opera. He shows how the ground was prepared for the Cultural Marxists by the artistic nihilists of the nineteenth century.
Walsh was the longtime classical music critic for Time Magazine and before that the San Francisco Examiner. He has written novels, biographies, and screen plays that have been made into movies. He began writing about politics in 2007 at National Review under the name David Kahane, and under that name published a counter to Saul Alinsky called Rules for Radical Conservatives.
In case you were wondering, Walsh is a faithful Catholic who is ardently pro-life and pro-marriage, both of which he addresses in The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. He is overtly religious in this book, arguing that our struggle against Cultural Marxism is a fight against Satan himself.
Walsh understands that the US may have defeated an empire, but we did not defeat the idea. Marxism is alive and well, hale and hearty, and practically everywhere; down at the community college, the town hall, even at the Elks’ Club. It is in the air we breathe.
Walsh is not pessimistic, however. He believes Cultural Marxism is spent, but, just like the fingernails on a cadaver, may still grow, and that these people and their evil theory will continue to do damage and harm souls, and it is up to us first to recognize what is truly at the heart of the matter, and then to stop it.
Editor’s note: In the image above, Max Horkheimer (left) shakes hand of Theodor Adorno, while in the background, German Marxist theorist Jürgen Habermas runs fingers though his hair in Heidelberg in 1964. (Photo credit: Jeremy J. Shapiro)