By Jon Henchen
Founded in 1923, the Frankfurt School, a philosophical and sociological movement with the aim of developing Marxist studies in Germany that operated out of Goethe University in Frankfurt. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, the Frankfurt School relocated to Columbia University in New York City.
The influence of the Frankfurt School has been far reaching, with Critical Theory their primary focus, which has a preoccupation for critiquing modernity and capitalist society. Unable to attract converts to communism due to capitalism’s abundant material wealth, the cultural Marxism of Critical Theory perpetuates discontent by dividing people by race, sex, and class with individuals falling into either oppressed or oppressor roles. Students of the movement became the New Left radicals of the 1960s, led by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and its militant offshoot, the Weather Underground. The mainspring of the movement was opposition to the Vietnam War, but they were also focused on racism, police brutality, economic injustice, authority, and the belief that America was an oppressive country that exploited other nations and its own oppressed classes.
The students of the 60s are now professors at our universities, expounding on the teachings of the Frankfurt School, disseminating these race, class, and sex theories throughout academia. Now these theories are being pushed heavily into the workforce. Small and midsized companies often times not having Human Resources (HR) departments, focus on hiring the best qualified person for a job while larger companies with expansive HR departments heavily push identity politics agendas. It is commonplace for HR staff to have educational backgrounds heavily weighted in the social sciences, which are deeply indoctrinated in leftist ideology biases.
A centerpiece of leftist ideology that defines the oppressed victim of society vs. the privileged oppressor is intersectionality.
A person’s moral authority to speak out on issues of oppression depends on the intersectionality of his identity groups, because only the oppressed can know what oppression feels like. As an example, say you are a white female who is poor and disabled vs. an upper-class black male who is able-bodied. The white female would rank higher in moral authority because the score is three to one in favor of the female for the greater number of victim rankings. What is considered a victim category can be quite arbitrary as in the case of Cuban Americans who are typically not labeled as a racial minority even though they are Hispanic, because they vote heavily Republican. The same holds true for Mormons not qualifying as a religious minority because of their strong leaning to voting Republican. The classification that has no moral authority to speak on any matter would be the white heterosexual male who is able bodied. If they happen to be Christian, that would make them the most preeminent of oppressors. Yours truly falls into this category of the greatest of oppressors.
In The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt consider the genius of Dr. Martin Luther King regarding perpetuating unity in society. “King appealed to the shared morals and identities of Americans by using the unifying languages of religion and patriotism. He repeatedly used the metaphor of family, referring to people of all races and religions as “brothers” and “sisters.” He spoke often of the need for love and forgiveness, hearkening back to the words of Jesus and echoing ancient wisdom from many cultures: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” and “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” Contrary to the teachings of the Frankfurt School, King’s approach makes it clear that his movement would not destroy America; it would repair and reunite it.
Lukianoff and Haidt also draw parallels to the social theories that evolved out of the Frankfurt School with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which was developed in the 1960s. They explain that CBT therapy is used to treat depression by changing distorted thinking caught in a feedback loop in which irrational negative beliefs caused powerful negative feelings, which in turn seemed to drive patients’ reasoning, motivating them to find evidence to support their negative beliefs. Here are some of the nine most common cognitive distortions that people learn to recognize in CBT.
Emotional Reasoning: Letting your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. “This class is difficult; therefore, I must not be cut out for college.”
Catastrophizing: Focus on the worst possible outcome and see it as most likely. “I have no reason to live if I can’t get a degree.”
Overgeneralizing: Perceiving a global pattern of negatives on the basis of a single incident. “College is just one of many things I fail at.”
Dichotomous Thinking or Black & White Thinking or Binary Thinking: Look at people and events in all-or-nothing terms. “None of the colleges will want me.”
Mind Reading: That you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. “The students in my classes think I’m a loser.”
Labeling: Assigning global negative traits to yourself or others (often in the service of black & white thinking) “I’m stupid and don’t deserve to be in college.”
Luckianoff and Haidt explain that many social theories like intersectionality coming out of universities tend to greatly amplify the mental distortions that CBT tries to diminish. Intersectionality, for instance, looks at the world in “Black and White” and puts people into groups (Oppressors and Victims) rather than looking at them as individuals. They breed tribalism (them vs. us) and when the tribal switch is activated, they bind themselves tightly to the group, embracing and defending the group’s moral matrix, and they stop thinking for themselves. In tribal mode, they go blind to arguments and information that challenge the tribe’s narrative.
An article in Scientific American titled “Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood” by Scott Kaufman discusses the “victimhood mindset,” which is broken down into four manifestations:
- Moral Elitism — Perceive themselves as having an immaculate morality and view everyone else as being immoral. Moral elitism can be used to control others by accusing others of being immoral, unfair, or selfish, while seeing oneself as supremely moral and ethical.
- Feel they have suffered enough so they no longer feel obligated to care about the pain and suffering of others.
- Victims that tend to ruminate over their interpersonal offenses have decreased motivation for forgiveness by increasing the drive to seek revenge.
- Constantly seeking recognition for one’s victimhood.
In the world of the Victimhood Cult, the victim is the only moral authority in society. The greater number of victim categories you fit in, the greater your moral authority becomes. Anyone whom disagrees with this construct are intolerantly shouted down as homophobic, Nazi, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, sexist, Islamophobic, etc. The biggest victim gets top billing and is most to be admired in this upside down belief system.
The author G. Michael Hopf sums up a stunningly persuasive cyclical vision of history. “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men and weak men create hard times.” In a society that labels masculinity as toxic, safety a sacred value, feelings to always be trusted and victimhood virtuous, hard times will be our future.