I mentioned earlier that Neo-Marxist Herbert Marcuse is one of the greatest influences on today’s Woke movement. He is one of the Frankfurt School, which assumed Communism had not yet taken over the world because of the protection of western culture. So instead of looking at what’s so good about western culture, Marcuse instead urges attacks on that culture to take it down. In his works, he created many of the modern gaslighting techniques that are used by the far left and Woke movement today to achieve this goal.
In his work, Repressive Tolerance, he said that only the political left should be given total tolerance and freedom, while anything right-wing (even if not actually right-wing) should be demonized or censored. So he helped build up the illusion that the left/progressive=always good, right/conservative=always evil. Marcuse also not only promoted the deprivation of free speech from those made out to be “evil,” but he also advocated trying to prevent them from thinking certain thoughts, basically thought policing, which leads to outright bullying of people in the same manner as a Maoist Struggle Session.
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This is happening on the Internet these days. Anyone saying that trans people are not following reality and that sex is biologically based and observed, not assigned, is considered “right-wing” and racist and are sometimes banned or shut down. In truth, left-wing elements can also lead to tyranny, which was demonstrated in the French Revolution and many other cases where the overthrowers themselves became despotic once in power. Today, it could reach the point where Wokes would call for “based” people to be killed.
I believe that in Marcuse’s books, One-Dimensional Man and The Great Refusal, he claims that the prosperity of the capitalist western world and the recreation afforded people under this are merely illusions. This is the classic Marxist conspiracy theory that one centralized power is using the capitalist world to keep people docile or satiated enough that they could not do the work of Marxism. So Marcuse’s solution is to “refuse” the western world, overthrow the enjoyable life offered by it and embrace the violence of Marxism.
But isn’t it that people content with their lives that they don’t overthrow societies is a good thing? Doesn’t that mean that such a society is meeting people’s needs and life is better there than ever before?
I believe that Marcuse doesn’t understand the western market-based liberal world. This world enabled many kinds of recreation like hobbies: scale modeling, toy collecting, role-playing games, science fiction and fantasy literature and video games. Even poorer people can enjoy these things now. Music and art also flourished under it. The market-based world made food plentiful and living more enjoyable. And people decide what they want to enjoy, it is not determined for them by others. I see nothing illusory or wrong about this. None of these would flourish under a communist society (well, when Russian band Alyans came out with the synthpop song Na Zare in 1987, I guess it was because of Gorbachev’s ‘glasnost’ at the time).
But why does Marcuse see it as illusory? Simple: the non-illusory world for him is the Communist one. He fails to accept that people really enjoy and have relatively better lives under a world where goods are traded, not handed out, and where individuals have the right over their own lives. It seems to me that Marcuse wants all work and no play – which makes Herb a dull boy.
Marcuse also promoted infiltrating popular culture, using it to destroy the Western world from within, something I believe is drawn from Antonio Gramsci. Part of this is the hijacking of fictional properties (Lord of the Rings, Marvel comics, etc.) to try and insert their Marxist messages in them and try to get revolution going. Good thing some people have seen it and are calling it out.
I mentioned before that American communist and Black Lives Matter figure Angela Davis was Marcuse’s protege. She carries on the attempts to paint and gaslight the free, market-based world as “evil” and everyone who supports it as oppressors. Many critical theories, including Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory and more, carry on this program.
Marcuse advocated for sexual liberation (his book Eros and Civilization), and there’s an irony here. It’s not really for sexual enjoyment only. Marcuse and other people, applying Sigmund Freud’s ideas, saw that sex was something that society was often prudish about. For example, most parents would caution children against casual sex. Marcuse and other Neo-Marxists saw this as something to get the children riled up about so they can overthrow western society. Hey, kids, if your parents keep banning you from having sex, then you should rebel against them! And, when rebelling, kids, join us Marxists! That’s what you see affecting LGBTs and leading to something like Drag Queen Story Hour.
In true Marxist fashion, Marcuse takes something and tries to convince you that it is other than what it really is. He claims big oppression exists where there is none or little and reverses good and evil. He comes out as a wannabe dictator who is wrapped up in his own world and could not see the truth. Or, he is like the really old-fashioned people who believe that young people should not be allowed free time or recreation but instead should be conscripted for work elsewhere. I wonder if Marcuse was merely jealous of people who were happy with their lives and all his writings are just a projection of it.
James Lindsay however wondered if Marcuse would have thought differently had he known about the failure of Mao-era China and its many deaths. Marcuse praised China in his writing, but he did not know yet about the millions killed by famine, the Red Guard and other communism-inspired actions, since news about this came after his death. One could only speculate, but certainly this history of China should be kept in the annals and carefully studied as among the bad examples all should avoid.
Recently, Marcuse was mentioned in a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) document titled “Knowledge-driven actions: transforming higher education for global sustainability.” The document seeks to require universities to teach sustainability. It sounds good at first, but Lindsay said that “sustainability” is the new tyranny, because requirements will be forced onto people. Anyone who refuses to follow will be imposed with social credit sanctions similar to what is happening in China. Lindsay also expressed his shock at seeing Marcuse mentioned in a UN document, and the document even mentioned how riots occurred because of him. And yet the document does not condemn Marcuse’s part in those events; instead it seeks to apply Marcuse’s ideas further, in a sense like, maybe we’ll get it right this time. I doubt they will. But it also means that Marxists are in the UN and are going to make a mess of things.
Some will point to problems with the capitalist world and I agree there are some, it’s not perfect. But the real world itself isn’t perfect anyway. And Marcuse’s ideas are not the solution; they are the germ of bad ideas that will only make things worse. Like most attempts at Utopia, his proposal is likely to lead to Hell. Enjoying ourselves in this market-based economy is not wrong and only needs to be tempered with the application of values and personal responsibility. The sexual liberation Marcuse (although I do recognize other figures like Alfred Kinsey and Wilhelm Reich) promotes will only spread more perversion and has been used to promote cognitively dissonant ideas, such as transgender ideology.
Lindsay however points out a seeming self-contradiction in Marcuse’s work. Marcuse himself warns about the danger of being right-wing when one is in power. However, when you follow Marcuse’s ideas, you will inevitably become right-wing. So Lindsay implies that Marcuse has either forgotten his own ideas or opposing himself. Perhaps that’s why Paolo Freire, yet another crackpot, suggests always going left even when you are in power. Keep doing the revolution even if you’ve already done it. Freire’s ideas are messing American education up as result, but that’s a story for another day.
Marcuse is one of the enemies in Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies, the ones we should not tolerate because they are exactly the ones whose ideas and actions seek the destruction and takeover of the comfortable world that we know. The Great Refusal must be turned on Marcuse; his work and ideas must be challenged and blocked, although we can study them as cautionary tales. Of course, there are his cohorts in the Frankfurt School like Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and other bad idea makers like Gramsci and Gyorgy Lukacs. We must also do the same to ideas by Rousseau, Hegel, Mao and more, anyone whose ideas have imagined that the way to the perfect world is to destroy the classical liberalist and market-based free world.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.