Deep Structures of the Cultural Marxism Myth
Jeet Heer has posted a timely and excellent essay at New Republic titled “Trump’s Racism and the Cultural Marxism Myth.” In his essay, Heer recounts much of the background to the Higgins memo that I have documented here, here and here. Heer credits William S. Lind as the major popularizer of the myth, as have I in my blog posts. What I’m posting here extends the analysis and reveals significant background about personnel and timelines to the story.
In my most recent post, I started to probe further back into the myth’s history with an examination of Eliseo Vivas’s over-the-top invective against Herbert Marcuse since the late 1960s. Vivas was deeply offended by Marcuse’s writing and expressed his displeasure in several articles and a book, Conta Marcuse. He was also a frequent contributor to the journals, Modern Age and Intercollegiate Review both of which are associated with the conservative organization, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute or ISI. From a snippet of a speech by ISI president T. Kenneth Cribb in Ellen Messer-Davidow’s 1993 article, “Manufacturing the Attack on Liberalized Higher Education” I had the hunch that the ISI might offer a clue to the metamorphosis from Vivas’s anti-Marcuse screeds to the full-blown cultural Marxism myth that appeared in Lind’s pamphlet, Pat Buchanan’s book, Higgins’s memo and Anders Breivik’s manifesto.
Cribb is a pivotal character in this saga. He was national director of the ISI from 1972 to 1977, then, after earning a law degree went to work for Edwin Meese during the Reagan campaign in 1980 and ended up Counselor to the Attorney General and subsequently Assistant for Domestic Affairs to President Reagan. After the end of the Reagan administration, Cribb returned to the ISI to serve as president of that organization from 1989 to 2011.
|Krawattennazis Rich Higgins and T. Kenneth Cribb|
In 1989, Cribb gave an address to the Heritage Foundation on “Conservatism and the American Academy: Prospects for the 1990s” in which he outlined his vision for a “sustained counteroffensive” on what he characterized as “the last Leftist redoubt, the college campus.” Cribb painted a picture of relentless persecution and harassment of conservatives in American universities taken mostly from Peter Collier and David Horowitz’s Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts about the Sixties. He boasted of the ISI’s readiness for that counteroffensive:
In addition to saving a remnant that renews the font of conservative ideas, we are now strong enough to establish a contemporary presence for conservatism on campus, and contest the Left on its own turf. We plan to do this by greatly expanding the ISI field effort, its network of campus-based programming.
Cribb was unequivocal in his view that academia was “the one redoubt left to it [the left] by the successful conservative counterattack of the 1970s and 1980s.” His promised counteroffensive was thus presented as a mop-up operation for the establishment of a “free” society, which is to say a traditionalist society freed of the nuisances of relativism and other non-conservative heresies.
Fifteen years into that mop-up operation, Cribb contributed a chapter to William Lind’s Political Correctness: a Short History of an Ideology, the locus classicus of the cultural Marxism myth. Cribb’s chapter was titled “Political Correctness in Higher Education.” It presented anecdotes from conservative college newspapers affiliated with the ISI meant to illustrate the “alarming rate” at which “the freedom to articulate and discuss ideas” was being eroded by incidents of intolerance and corruption of the curriculum to downplay the significance of Western Civilization.
“While it would be easy to dismiss such demonstrations of intolerance as student pranks,” he admitted, “these incidents are the surface manifestations of a more pervasive and insidious trend…” The headline outrage was the burning of “hundreds (sometimes thousands) of copies of conservative student newspapers.” He concluded his chapter with a brief account of the ISI’s efforts to stem the tide of the alarming erosion of freedom. Along with other sections of the Lind book, whole passages from Cribb’s chapter were ‘cribbed’ by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik for his manifesto.
Curiously, there was no mention in Cribb’s 1989 address to the Heritage Foundation of Herbert Marcuse, the Frankfurt School or cultural Marxism nor was there in the book by Collier and Horowitz book that Cribb had cited. “Politically correct” gets four hits though. Yet Horowitz and Collier were active participants in 1960s New Left extremism. Similarly, ISI poster boy Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education from 1991 contains one brief and not particularly scathing mention of Marcuse and one reference political correctness but no mention of the Frankfurt School or cultural Marxism.
The political correctness. cultural Marxism stew didn’t get all its ingredients until the 1992 article, “New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and Political Correctness,” whose author, Michael J. Minnicino, subsequently disowned his work as “hopelessly deformed by self-censorship and the desire to in some way support Mr. LaRouche’s crack-brained world-view.” That fine piece of Western Civilization scholarship was then taken over and reworked by Lind in 1997.
At last we have a doctrine, a vanguard organization, and a timeline. But most importantly, courtesy of the Larouche cult, we now have a suitably unitary devil-function. The “basic Nazi trick,” as Kenneth Burke labeled “the ‘curative’ unification by a fictitious devil-function, gradually made convincing by the sloganizing repetitiousness of standard advertising technique.” Helpfully, in a 1988 address to the Heritage Foundation,William F. Campbell explained why conservatives need such a devil-function:
But as first and second generation conservatives have always known, and had to live with as an unpleasant skeleton in the family closet, there is sharp tension, if not contradiction, between the traditionalist and the libertarian wings of the conservative movement. They have been held together primarily because of their common enemies, modern egalitarianism and totalitarian collectivism, which they both abhor.
In 1988, when Campbell made those remarks, the Soviet Union still existed and could serve the primary role of common enemy, symbolizing the alien totalitarian destiny of domestic egalitarianism. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a new enemy had to be conjured. The Higgins memo is testament to the contortions that must be endured to conjure that devil.
People should not ignore the importance of George Wallace to this takeover of the GOP by the Birchers.
I often think of Wallace attacking “pointy headed professors” as the prelude to the RW attack on universities. Now, we have the Koch Brothers buying academic chairs throughout the country.
And this guy Cribb?
“Who Is The Council For National Policy And What Are They Up To? And Why Don’t They Want You To Know?
By Jeremy LeamingRob Boston
When a top U.S. senator receives a major award from a national advocacy organization, it’s standard procedure for both the politician and the group to eagerly tell as many people about it as possible.
Press releases spew from fax machines and e-mails clog reporters’ in-boxes. The news media are summoned in the hope that favorable stories will appear in the newspapers, on radio and on television.
It was odd, therefore, that when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) accepted a “Thomas Jefferson Award” from a national group at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in August, the media weren’t notified. In fact, they weren’t welcome to attend.
“The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting,” reads one of the cardinal rules of the organization that honored Frist.
The membership list of this group is “strictly confidential.” Guests can attend only with the unanimous approval of the organization’s executive committee. The group’s leadership is so secretive that members are told not to refer to it by name in e-mail messages. Anyone who breaks the rules can be tossed out.
What is this group, and why is it so determined to avoid the public spotlight?
That answer is the Council for National Policy (CNP). And if the name isn’t familiar to you, don’t be surprised. That’s just what the Council wants. …..
How did this influential organization get its start? To find the answer, it’s necessary to go all the way back to 1981 and the early years of the Reagan presidency.
Excited by Reagan’s election, Tim LaHaye, Richard Viguerie, Weyrich and a number of far-right conservatives began meeting to discuss ways to maximize the power of the ultra-conservative movement and create an alternative to the more centrist Council on Foreign Relations. In mid May, about 50 of them met at the McLean, Va., home of Viguerie, owner of a conservative fund-raising company.
Viguerie had a knack for networking. Shortly before helping launch the CNP, Viguerie and Weyrich initiated the Moral Majority and tapped Falwell to run it, making the obscure Lynchburg pastor a major political figure overnight. Viguerie’s goal was to lead rural White voters in the South out of the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party by emphasizing divisive social issues such as abortion, gay rights and school prayer.
Back when the CNP was founded, it was a little less media shy. In the summer of 1981, Woody Jenkins, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who served as the group’s first executive director, told Newsweek bluntly, “One day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government.”
From the beginning, the CNP sought to merge two strains of far-right thought: the theocratic Religious Right with the low-tax, anti-government wing of the GOP. The theory was that the Religious Right would provide the grassroots activism and the muscle. The other faction would put up the money.
The CNP has always reflected this two-barreled approach. The group’s first president was LaHaye, then president of Family Life Seminars in El Cajon Calif. LaHaye, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher who went on in the 1990s to launch the popular “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic potboilers, was an early anti-gay crusader and frequent basher of public education and he still is today.
Alongside figures like LaHaye and leaders of the anti-abortion movement, the nascent CNP also included Joseph Coors, the wealthy beer magnate; Herbert and Nelson Bunker Hunt, two billionaire investors and energy company executives known for their advocacy of right-wing causes, and William Cies, another wealthy businessman.
Interestingly, the Hunts, Cies and LaHaye all were affiliated with the John Birch Society, the conspiracy-obsessed anti-communist group founded in 1959. LaHaye had lectured and conducted training seminars frequently for the Society during the 1960s and ’70s a time when the group was known for its campaign against the civil rights movement.
Bringing together the two strains of the far right gave the CNP enormous leverage. The group, for example, could pick a candidate for public office and ply him or her with individual donations and PAC money from its well-endowed, business wing.”
Wow. Thanks for this comment. Cribb was president of the CNP from 2004 to 2007. Bruce Bartlett, who served in the Reagan administration and knew Cribb well, describes him as “a man of the South and is very proud of his heritage.”
Kind of resurrected things I have forgotten about, the Hunts, Coors, “Birth of a Nation,” etc. One question asked going into the military was whether you were a member of certain orgs. Birchers being one of them.
Amazing what you find on the internet.
“M.E. Bradford was a professor of English at the University of Dallas which to this day has an annual debate named in his honor. He was a campaign director for both George Wallace presidential campaigns in Texas. He was one of the critically important founders of the modern neo-Confederate movement being a founding writer of Southern Partisan and latter a senior editor of the magazine. He also contributed to Chronicles magazine. He at one time was the National Historian for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
In the Southern Partisan M.E. Bradford memorial issue, T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., then President of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, describes how and when he met him.
“… and almost exactly twenty years ago met him in person at a meeting of the North Carolina Conservative Society. I walked into a room where the sponsors where showing the silent film classic “Birth of a Nation,” a pro-Southern rendering of events surrounding the War Between the States. There in the darkened hall, with scores of college at his feet, sat Mel Bradford – reading aloud each caption as it flashed across the screen, and with no small gusto.” [Vol. 12 4th Qtr. 1992, pp. 8]
His entire life was devoted to attacking equality and advocating that the natural order of things is a white propertied Christian patriarchy where everyone will be given their place. He was the enemy of civil rights. Yet, the Univ. of Missouri published a book lauding him as a great cultural hero.”
Wow and thanks again. Cribb is the gift that keeps on giving.
Statues people want to talk about. The 60 year program to get the white working class to vote against their own interest because they have been convinced only black people benefit from government programs no one cares about.
And that program is why there is a discussion about fen statues of traitors to the United States of America.