July 15, 2020

Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School: Is Critical Race Theory Compatible With the Gospel?

“Cultural Marxism” and the Frankfurt School – The Big Lie

As discussed in my blog post How The Confluence of Eisegesis and the Repulsive Generality “Cultural Marxism” is Used by Conservative White Evangelical Pastors to Progenerate Today’s New Jim Crow Theology, today’s progenitors of New Jim Crow Theology within the conservative white evangelical church use as one of its foundational tenets the Alt-Right conspiracy theory called “Cultural Marxism.” That hoax states that a cabal of commies in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1920s in what was known as the Frankfurt School hatched a plot to destroy western civilization. The hoax further postulates that the alleged plot is still being perpetrated by “the left” today, and is responsible for all that troubles society. Ergo, not only have its progenitors made it a pillar of New Jim Crow Theology, but with the aid of their favorite conservative pundits, tens of millions of their conservative white evangelical followers use that theology to justify the “othering” of minorities, the poor and other groups they choose to marginalize, and their support for the New Jim Crow at the ballot box.

Facts Matter — A Look At The Historical Record

At the blog posts linked to above, I have exposed the Cultural Marxism hoax for what it is. The historical record, however, tells a different story. Late in his career, professor Herbert Marcuse, one of the key philosophers of the Frankfurt School, became a major inspiration for the student movements of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. At the Frankfurt School, his writings had helped predict the rise of Fascism; critiqued the negative aspects of both Marxist and capitalist societies; championed expanded roles for women in society because, in his view, society would be well served to better utilize qualities like emotional intelligence as juxtaposed against masculine aggression; and advocated for society’s outcasts, the marginalized and the oppressed as society’s greatest hope for meaningful liberation. Far from being a communist bogeyman advocating the destruction of western civilization as today’s progenitors of New Jim Crow Theology claim, Marcuse critiqued the negative socializing influences of cultural entertainment in advanced industrialized democracies, arguing that its emphasis on sensual pleasures (like pornography) helps lure the middle class into the capitalist system. And by keeping society’s eyes focused on shiny objects and creating and satisfying some of its baser desires, Marcuse argued, industrialized democracies thereby weaken its will to resist objectification and oppression.

The opposite of attacking family structures, he championed them, arguing that they are an effective bulwark against oppression. And far from advocating for debauchery in entertainment, he championed the role of literature, music and the arts as both effective expressive vehicles for the oppressed and as repositories of inner strength, to be desired hallmarks of any non-oppressive, human-oriented society.

Not a fan of supremacy or oppression of any kind (not unlike Jesus), and well acquainted with Nazism, Marcuse argued that genuine tolerance does not permit support for “repression”, since doing so ensures that marginalized voices will remain unheard. He characterizes tolerance of repressive speech as “inauthentic”. Instead, he advocates a form of tolerance that is intolerant of repressive (namely right-wing) political movements:

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left, writing

Surely, no government can be expected to foster its own subversion, but in a democracy such a right is vested in the people (i.e. in the majority of the people). This means that the ways should not be blocked on which a subversive majority could develop, and if they are blocked by organized repression and indoctrination, their reopening may require apparently undemocratic means. They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements that promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or that oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.
Of interest, most nations in the world have laws that protect free speech, but except in the United States and a handful of other countries, most nations also carve hate speech out of protected speech. Three instruments of international law widely recognized outside of the United States carve out hate speech as follows—the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Article 10 of the ECHR, for example, grants the freedom of expression to all, but the exercise of this right is conditioned on conformity with the restrictions necessary “for the protection of the reputation and rights of others.” The CERD and ICCPR, which also recognize the freedom of expression, go a step further. Article 4(a) of the CERD obligates signatories to make “all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred” a punishable offense, while Article 20 of the ICCPR requires outlawing “any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.” These laws are meant to foster free speech while limiting hate speech, in an attempt to guarantee free speech as a basic human right, but limit it when its abuse becomes a clear and present danger to the human rights of others or oppressed groups, such as happened in Nazi Germany.

And again, far from advocating for the destruction of western civilization, as a refugee immigrant from Nazi Germany to the United States, Marcuse joined the fight against Fascism in World War II, working first for the US Office of War Information (OWI) on anti-Nazi propaganda projects. In 1943, he transferred to the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. In March 1943, Marcuse joined his fellow Frankfurt School scholar Franz Neumann in Research and Analysis Branch’s Central European Section as senior analyst and rapidly established himself as “the leading analyst on Germany.” After the dissolution of the OSS in 1945, Marcuse was employed by the US Department of State as head of the Central European section, retiring after the death of his first wife in 1951.

Refuting Lies – There’s Nothing Like a Video

When refuting the lies told by today’s Alt-Right conspiracy theorists (including by the authors of The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel, and its 12,007 conservative, primarily white pastors), there is nothing quite as effective as actually listening to one of the primary philosophers of the Frankfurt School as he speaks. And the late professor Herbert Marcuse has left us a video so we can get it directly from the horses mouth.

In speaking about the areas in industrialized democracies that may benefit from continual improvement, Marcuse says in the above video, ” I only mentioned the heritage of Fascism (3:20). Fascism was militarily defeated; the potential for a repetition was still there (4:11). He also said “I would like to mention racism, sexism, the general insecurity, the pollution of the environment, the degradation of education . . . and so on and so on.” The overwhelming volume of scholarly studies and empirical observation does not leave any room for credible debate about the accuracy of these observations on advanced industrialized democracies — and particularly that of the United States. This is not an unpatriotic sentiment or an attempt to build a case that isn’t there. We who live in western civilization and are privileged to benefit the most from its positive aspects should be interested in improving it in verified areas where it needs improvement, for it to best flourish and to remain a bulwark against much worse and more repressive societies — for the benefit of the entire world. In this, the Frankfurt School was not a destructive force against western civilization, but performed valuable services to it.

What About The Frankfurt School’s Fomentation of “Leftist” Ideologies?

First, I must remind you that the term “leftist” is a logical fallicy — a “repulsive generality” utilized to elicit a visceral emotional response, and thereby to inhibit rational discourse on the topic at hand. Ideologies should be examined based on whether they are beneficial or detrimental to humans — not based on emotional perceptions of their merit or lack thereof. With that said — although many Frankfurt School theories unquestionably resonated with adherents to New Left ideology in the West, the Frankfurt School did not commit itself to the New Left, but in essence and practice remained a philosophical think tank — loyal to seeking the truth but not committed to any group for purposes of acquiring power, and unwilling to grant uncritical philosophical allegiance even to its own theories, which it always said (as with any social theory) would have to be re-evaluated over time with changes in society. Indeed, regarding his role as an inspirer of the “New Left,” Marcuse said he was not a mentor of it, and while he certainly influenced it, as a critical thinker, he also leveled cogent criticisms of it.

First, in the tradition of Critical Race Theorists, disappointed as they were to observe the dearth of continued progress toward racial justice and equity after 1968 and the signing of the Civil Rights, Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts, Marcuse said “For us, philosophy has always been to a great extent social and political (5:38).” Contrary to some criticisms of the Frankfurt School and the New Left as being elitists having little connection to the working class or real effect on the ground, the members of the Frankfurt School and practitioners of Critical Race Theory aim to move the needle forward in terms of actual racial justice and equity — and that is one thing that has so raised the ire of conservatives, the Alt-Right and today’s progenitors of New Jim Crow Theology.

Indeed, Marcuse stated: “Secondly, among the New Left, the refusal to re-examine and to make a fetish out of Marxist theory, to treat the Marxian concepts as verified, objectified categories, instead of becoming conscious, finally, of the fact that these are traditional and dialectical concepts, which cannot simply be transmitted, but which have to be re-examined in accordance with changes in the society itself.” (7:46) And indeed, if religious conservatives were honest, they could find much to agree with Marcuse and the Frankfurt School on: the repudiation of Fascism (which, instead, has found fertile soil in the political right in the U.S., Europe and Australia); the upholding of family authority structure; the championing of literature, art and music — and even (God forbid not) — a sincere advocacy for justice for the downtrodden, the oppressed and the marginalized (as commanded by their Savior).

Further, the BBC’s moderator, Bryan Magee did not let Marcuse off the hook, but questioned his thinking about Marxist theory as follows: ” You have categorized a very formidable list of defects in Marxist theory and prediction — the failure to predict the future success of capitalism; the anti-libertarian element in Marxism; the absence of any theory or attitude to the individual. You’ve also talked about other entirely new theories like Freudianism, which came on the scene after Marx, and therefor couldn’t have been accommodated by Marx and his outlook. A lot of people would say, well, since you were so conscious of this enormous range of defects in Marxism, why did you want to remain Marxist? I mean, why try to hang on to a discredited or falsified theory? Why not try to liberate your thought categories from this all together, and actually look at reality afresh? (17:36)

To which Marcuse replied “Easy answer — because I do not believe that the theory as such has been falsified. What has happened is that some of the concepts of Marxian theory; as I said before, will have to be re-examined. But this is not something from outside brought into Marist theory — it is something Marxist theory itself as a historical theory demands. Now, it is relatively easy for me to enumerate — to give you a catalog of the decisive concepts of Marx which have been corroborated in the development of capitalism — the concentration of economic power; the fusion of economic and political power; the increasing intervention of the state into the economy; the increasing difficulties in stemming the decline in the rate of poverty [note: he meant to say, “the increasing difficulties in stemming the decline into poverty.”]; the need for engaging in neo-imperialism in order to create markets and possibilities of enlarged actualization of capital. I think this is a formidable catalog, and it speaks well of Marxian theory.” So, at the very least, a thoughtful analysis of the Frankfurt School commands that the McCarthyistic commie hysteria of today’s conspiracy theorists be relegated back to the dust bin of discredited lies from whence it came, and that the positive contributions of the School to western civilization be recognized.

When asked about the positive contributions of the Frankfurt School, Marcuse replied “What was its positive contributions? Well I would say to start with the easiest one — one of its decisive positive contributions — was the prediction of fascism long before it actually happened . . . and in my view, the most intersting contribution, to me — the attempt to answer the question: “What actually has gone wrong in western civiliation that at the very height of technical progress, we see at the same time the opposite as far as human progress is concerned. Dehumaization; brutalization; the torture again as normal means of interrogation; the wasteful development of nuclear energy; destructiveness everywhere; and so on. How has this happened?” (22:30)

And when asked whether there were disappointments at the center of the Frankfurt School’s philosophy, Marcuse was honest: “There is indeed another disappointment — and this seems to me a very objective attitude, and I mentioned it before. Namely that the incredible social wealth that had been assembled in western civilization, and mainly the achievement of capitalism, was increasingly used for destroying rather than constructing a more decent and humane society.” (30:39)

A Look At Marcuse From a Biblical Perspective

In speaking of yearning to be free from oppression and to engender that yearning in others who are oppressed, Marcuse says “We must confront indoctrination in servitude with indoctrination in freedom. We must each of us generate in ourselves, and try to generate in others, the instinctual need for a life without fear, without brutality, and without stupidity.” This idea is not incompatible with 1 Corinthians 7:21 and 23, excerpted as follows: “Were you called while a slave? . . . if you are able also to become free, rather do that . . . you were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” While the Bible points to faith in Christ as the sole supplier of His righteousness in its holy fullness and as the sole source of freedom from the oppression of and penalty for personal sin, it is not unsparing at all in speaking against the oppression of man to man, and of the weak by the powerful. And as it ubiquitously exhorts Christ followers not to oppress others at any time for any reason (e.g., love your neighbor as yourself), it also speaks, as in the above verses, of the efficacity of cultivating a mindset and desire to be free from oppression — as a bulwark of freedom and against oppression. Certainly we are free to help ourselves, and are called to help others yearn not only to be free spiritually in Christ, but also to be free from the opprerssion of men. To teach of the availability of eternal spiritual life but shrink back at inspiring others, if possible, to be emotionally and physically free from oppression in their temporal condition is not only failing to approve and practice the whole counsel of God, but is cruel. Part of letting justice roll down like waters (Amos 5:24) is to speak inspirationally to the oppressed about its possibility. To fail to inform and speak inspirationally to the oppressed about the possibility of freedom from oppression and possible routes to get there — in addition to speaking to those in power for those without a voice — is akin to failing to heal a broken read or to fail to fan a dimly burning wick — and Christ would neither do that nor be pleased with such a lame approach. On the contrary, Christ exhorts us to “strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble . . . so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed” (excerpts from Hebrews 12:12-13) — and while the specific context of those verses is the appropriate attitude toward discipline received from the Lord, I do not believe it is unbiblical to employ it for this purpose either. Indeed, Scripture gives license to that use in Proverbs 25:11, which reminds us that “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a work spoken in right circumstances.” Galatians 5:13 tells us that we are called to be free, and Isaiah 61:1 reminds us that, like Christ, we are sent to bind up the broken-hearted and to proclaim liberty to those who are captive. So while we may not be able to free ourselves from the oppression of men, and while knowledge of eternal rewards and a coming judgment day may comfort us in that affliction as it has to millions who have endured slavery all the way to death throughout history — that by no means shackles us from attempting to be as free as possible emotionally, in spirit and in body in this life. Such dreams, ambitions and pursuits are not unbiblical. We are entitled by our creator to the pursuit of happiness.

And Marcuse follows that up with “And we must see that we can generate the instinctual and intellectual revulsion against the values of an affluence which spreads aggressiveness and suppression throughout the world.” Again, this idea doesn’t extend all the way as contemplated in Scripture — and that being obedience to Christ as the answer. But as far as they do go, they are not incompatible with scriptural descriptions of ungodly conditions or affections. And while of course nobody expects a Christian preacher to neuter the gospel of the cross from his message as being the ultimate spiritual solution, neither should he neuter these evils from his messages, as they are embedded in scripture. Neither should he neuter preaching against these evils from his exhortations against sin, as they are at the core of what scripture speaks the most about. For example, this idea is not incompatible with 1 John 2:15-16: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world,” with Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” with Mark 10:25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” with James 2:6: ” But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court,” or with James 4:1-2: ” What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.” Indeed, the Devil tempted Christ at the beginning of his ministry to ditch his mission in return for “all the kingdoms of the world” (listed as Christ’s third temptation, Matthew 4:8-9, and His second temptation, Luke 4:5-8). Shall we now fail, in our comfort, to warn those we are called to disciple of the dangers of ditching the poor and marginalized for wealth, power or comfort? No! We should preach both the gospel of the cross and the gospel of the kingdom. We should not make them mutually exclusive, but mutually inclusive.

A Sampling of Other Matters

In the same way that a wine tasting is meant just to introduce you to several different wines without giving you a whole bottle of each, I think it would be helpful to give you just a little more about Marcuse by providing several quotes from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy about Herbert Marcuse’s philosophies. For the sake of brevity, I will give you small snippets from the Encyclopedia, with very little commentary. First, I will lay my cards on the table though. Marcuse and the other professors at the Frankfurt School have written a LOT. Unless you have a real passion for social justice or social justice and the gospel, it can be arduous reading. My objective in this blog post has been to give you a brief but fair understanding of Marcuse’s philosophies (and by extension, those of the Frankfurt School) by both video of Marcuse himself, and by quoting from his video, his writings, and writings about him from other respected academic sources. After that, my objective has also been to demonstrate how the writings of Marcuse and the other professors at the Frankfurt School, as a whole, are compatible, as opposed to antithetical, to correctly exegeted scripture. The reason I’ve done that is that the authors of The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel have said that Social Justice (and racial justice and equity in particular) are a grave danger to the gospel. As demonstrated in my previous blog post How The Confluence of Eisegesis and the Repulsive Generality “Cultural Marxism” is Used by Conservative White Evangelical Pastors to Progenerate Today’s New Jim Crow Theology, they based their arguments on two fallacies: first, the debunked conspiracy theory of “Cultural Marxism,” and second, on eisegesis (reading your own biases into the scripture) as opposed to a careful exegesis (pulling the meaning out of the scripture by scholarly methods). Using these faulty techniques, they have attacked Critical Race Theory as being Marxist (it isn’t), and antithetical to the gospel. I hope I have demonstrated herein and in the linked blog posts above, that it isn’t. Nevertheless, they have used these faulty methods in the same way their ecclesiastical predecessors of past centuries did to create Slaveholder Religion and Jim Crow Theology to create today’s New Jim Crow Theology. And just as Slaveholder Religion and Jim Crow Theology were dangerous because they hijacked Christ and made western Christianity a pillar of White Supremacy, thereby helping to enable the enslavement, racial segregation, torture, murder and oppression of hundreds of millions of African citizens, indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere and African Americans, so too The New Jim Crow Theology is a pillar of 21st century white supremacy which will help enable the prolonged oppression and deaths of billions of people of color around the globe and in the U.S. For the sake of these billions of people and for the sake of the true (uncolonialized) gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ itself, it is vitally important to expose and refute the New Jim Crow Theology today. With that, here are a few more brief quotes about Marcuse’s work. It is hoped that the readers will be able to discern for themselves the truths expressed in these quotes; that the truths are not inherently incompatible with the gospel. It is admitted that in these quotes and in the vast writings of the Frankfurt School, not everything written is going to be compatible with the gospel. That is not the point. The points are that the key truths of worldly oppression should be better recognized within the conservative white evangelical church today — not minimized or its dismantling characterized as unimportant to the biblical mission of the Church; that oppressed peoples should not be mocked by the Church; that doing all it can about racial oppression IS part of the Biblical mission of the Church (not every church has to emphasis racial justice and equity ministries, but no church should teach that those issues are unbiblical or a threat to the gospel); that preaching, teaching and making racial justice ministries a robust part of the Church’s discipleship programs is vitally important to making and equipping disciples for the 21st century; and that doing so is not incompatible with preaching or an inherent danger to the gospel of the cross. Without further ado, here are a few more brief quotes about Herbert Marcuse, and by extension, the Frankfurt School and Critical Race Theory itself.

It must be remembered that for Marcuse and the Frankfurt School there was no evidence that the proletariat would rise up against their oppressors. In addition to developing theories that disclosed the social and psychological mechanisms at work in society that made the proletariat complicit in their own domination, Marcuse saw possibilities for revolution in multiple places. Some of this will be discussed later. The student revolts of the 1960s confirmed much of the direction of Marcuse’s critical theory form early on. That is, the need for social change includes class struggle but cannot be reduced to class struggle. There is a multiplicity of social groups in our society that seek social change for various reasons. There are multiple forms of oppression and repression that make revolution desirable.” [Author’s note: I realize that the word “revolution” may trigger angst in my conservative readers. Please know that nobody is advocating armed revolution, but social change. As you read these quotes, please try to focus on finding and appreciating truths that are expressed therein.]

“The subjectivity of individuals, their own consciousness and unconscious tends to be dissolved into class consciousness. Thereby, a major prerequisite of revolution is minimized, namely, the fact that the need for radical change must be rooted in the subjectivity of individuals themselves, in their intelligence, and their passions, their drives and their goals. (Marcuse 1978: 3–4)” [Author’s note: this is a criticism of Marxism, not a recommendation of it].

“In orthodox Marxism, radical subjectivity was reduced to one social group, the proletariat. Marcuse greatly expands the space where radical subjectivity can emerge. Marcuse argues that “liberating subjectivity constitutes itself in the inner history of the individuals” (Marcuse 1978: 5). Each subject as distinct from other subjects represents a particular subject position. For example; white female, working class, mother of two, born in the mid-west, etc. However, with each distinct feature of the individual subject corresponds a structural position. That is, in a given society gender, race, class, level of education etc, are interpreted in certain ways. Experiences and the opportunities provided by them are often affected by subject and structural position and produce what Marcuse calls “the inner history of the individual” (Marcuse 1978: 5).” [Author’s note: It is true (unlike in classical Marxist theory) that it is the experiences of individuals that matters in society. In effect, there are lots of different classes of people who may be oppressed in society for entirely different reasons and by different systemic structures (e.g., Black, brown, women, gay, etc.). The structures may be mass-incarceration, the glass ceiling, etc. These are real systems of oppression, not mirages. They have real-world, deleterious effects on real human lives, and should not be minimized, marginalized, or rejected by the church as anti-biblical. To do so evidences not only a misunderstanding of the world around you, but a misunderstanding of God’s white-hot fire for holiness, which includes racial and social justice for all in this world].

“The purpose of dialectical or negative thinking is to expose and then overcome by revolutionary action the contradictions by which advanced industrial societies are constituted. The problem of concealment occurs here because not only does society produce contradictions and the forms of domination that come with them, it also produces the social and psychological mechanisms that conceal these contradictions. An example of a social contradiction is the co-existence of the growth of national wealth and poverty at the same time. Those who own, control, and influence the means of production (the minority) grow richer while the workers (the minority) grow poorer. The idea that the unbridled attempt by the rich to become richer will somehow allow their wealth to trickle down so that all will benefit has been proven false as the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. However, the trickle down ideology is still very effective. The capitalist belief that unbridled competition is good for everyone conceals the goal of purging society of competition by allowing large corporations to buy out their competition.” [Author’s note: none of these assertions is credibly debatable, or at least overwhelms opposing data voluminously. ]

Marcuse’s concept of essence is not transcendental but historical. That is, there is no human essence apart from historical context. Within the context of historical happening, within material existence, what the human being could potentially be is already present. For example, it seems logical to assert that no human being would want to spend his or her entire life engaged in alienating labor just to remain in poverty. Nevertheless, this is precisely the situation in which many human beings find themselves. [Author’s note: True, or at least the edge could be taken off in various ways, such as a livable wage, healthcare for all, etc. These are not unaffordable propositions, or are justified by the greater good].

“There are many other features of Reason and Revolution that are worth discussing here, especially Marcuse’s critique of positivism. Suffice it to say that at this point Marcuse presents negative (critical) thinking as an alternative to what he will later call one-dimensional thinking.”

“Marcuse’s point is that in advanced industrial societies there is no longer a problem with acquiring the resources need for existence or even the optimum life for members of those societies. The problem is with the fair and just distribution of resources. The very existence of the concept of scarcity in this age functions ideologically and supports the domination of the worker by the capitalist. [This can be seen by the huge gap between compensation of CEO’s and average workers. Obviously, a gap is appropriate, but those gaps have grown to be excessive, and many large corporations pay zero Federal income tax].

“The person who thinks critically demands social change. One-dimensional thinking does not demand change nor does it recognize the degree to which the individual is a victim of forces of domination in society.”

“According to Marcuse, the authority figure is no longer needed. The super ego has become depersonalized and is no longer fed by authority figures such as the father, ministers, teachers, the principle etc.” [Author’s Note: Contrary to what the conspiracy theorists assert in their “Cultural Marxism” hoax, Marcuse and the Frankfurt School upheld and championed family authority structures, including the roles of fathers, ministers, teachers, principles, etc. They are not advocating the tearing down or destruction of the family unit],

“Marcuse’s point is that domination no longer requires force or the presence of an authority figure. The function of one-dimensional thinking is to produce a one-dimensional society by whittling down critical, two-dimensional consciousness. This is accomplished in several ways which will simply be listed here.

  1. The system must make the citizens think that they are freer than they really are.
  2. The system must provide the citizens with enough goods to keep them pacified.
  3. The citizens must identify with their oppressors.
  4. Political discourse must be put under erasure.

“There is not enough space here to examine each of these. One example should suffice. It was shown earlier that the purpose of dialectical or negative thinking was to reveal social contradictions and demand the overcoming of those contradictions through social change. One-dimensional thinking smoothes over these contradictions, makes them invisible. A form of ideology is put in place where the oppressed identifies with the oppressor. People feel a sense of unity simply because they watch the same TV programs, or support the same sport teams. etc. In politics, vague terms are used such as the American people or the American way of life [Author’s Note: or “Patriotism”] to hide the very different ways that people in America actually experience America. The American way of life differs greatly between the rich and those Americans who suffer from poverty.” [Author’s Note: None of this appears to be credibly deniable].

“Another example of one-dimensional thinking is the subject of Marcuse famous and controversial essay “Repressive Tolerance”. Here Marcuse shows how terms, ideas, or concepts that have their origin in struggles for liberation can be co-opted and used to legitimate oppression. The concept of tolerance was once used as a critical concept by marginalized social groups. According to Marcuse, the term is now used by the Establishment to legitimate its own oppressive views and policies. It is the idea of pure tolerance or tolerance for the sake of tolerance that puts under erasure the real concrete social conflict out of which the concept emerged. Rather than pure tolerance, Marcuse calls for “discriminating tolerance” (Marcuse 1968a: 123). [Author’s Note: This idea says that repressive speech (i.e., hate speech) should be carved out of “free speech,” for the good of society. Most of the world outside of the United States does this, many having learned from the negative example of Nazi Germany].


This should be enough examples to dissuade most critical thinkers from swallowing the “Cultural Marxism” conspiracy theory upon which today’s New Jim Crow Theology is based, as well, hopefully, of the happy marriage between much of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the gospel of the cross. In any volume of work as great as CRT is, there will be things that are deemed by some (or many) to be incompatible with the gospel. And that’s OK. My advice: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, use as the foundation for your arguments a conspiracy theory, or teach that all of Critical Race Theory is incompatible with the gospel. Preachers: by all means, preach the gospel of the cross as primary. But treat the church’s God-assigned mission to stop oppression as the beloved little brother to the gospel of the cross — not as a rapist sneaking across the border. And by all means — stop progenerating today’s New Jim Crow Theology. Thank you.