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The Marxist Roots of Democrat Obstructionism

Commentary by Greg Lewis / NewMediaJournal.US
February 13, 2006


Much has been written recently about the fact that Democrats, arguably with malicious intent, mercilessly attack Republican positions, programs, and political appointees without offering any positive alternatives of their own. This has been ascribed variously to their hatred of George W. Bush (which is certainly a factor), to the fact that a significant percentage of the Democrat base and their elected representatives are unrepentant '60s-style liberals (this, too, plays into the current scenario), even, as Michael Medved has put it, to "an internal contradiction deep within the liberal soul."

The bottom line is that, no matter how we might characterize it, Congressional Democrats’ blatant use of obstructionist tactics — the very ones that cost Tom Daschle his job — shows no signs of going away. While all of the above-mentioned factors to some degree enter into the portrait of a Dem obstructionist, in fact Democrat obstructionism represents a contemporary manifestation of early theorizing by hardcore communist thinkers.

What Democrats are practicing today is nothing less than what was known among communist intellectuals during the 1920s and '30s and beyond as "critical theory of society."

After the establishment in 1917 of the Russian Soviet state, it had been anticipated by communist intellectuals that, if Marxist theory was correct, workers in other countries would, in sympathy with the Russian “proletarian” revolution, rise up spontaneously against their "oppressors" and that communism — which was seen by Karl Marx as superceding capitalism to become the final stage in societal evolution — would spread almost automatically throughout the world.

This, of course, did not happen. In the face of resounding defeats of communists’ violent attempts to expand their influence into Hungary, Germany, and Finland in the aftermath of World War I, it became incumbent on true believers to refine Marxist theory to account for differences between the outcomes predicted by Marx and those which had actually occurred.

The failure of the post-WWI spread of communist ideology led, in no small part, to the formation of what amounted to Marxist "think tanks," among the most important and influential of which was the Institute for Social Research, established in the early 1920s in Frankfurt, Germany. The analysis done by the members of the Frankfurt School (as the Institute came to be known) largely assumed as its intellectual foundation Marx's view of history, Historical (or Dialectical) Materialism. Among the prominent members of the Frankfurt School were two people, Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse, whose work, because of the great popularity their subsequent writings enjoyed among American college students, would have a strong influence on the politics and the collective psyche of the Left in the United States during the 1960s and beyond.

Marxist socialism was seen by the members of the Frankfurt School to be the only form of government which could enable the ultimate realization of human potential, and this view was perpetuated by Fromm and Marcuse — both of whom, fearing persecution at the hands of the Nazis, relocated to the United States in the 1930s — throughout their American academic careers. Nor did these Marxist theorists hesitate to make clear what stood in their way: Western culture, particularly capitalism, was the sworn enemy of the emancipation of the individual, which could be accomplished only through the implementation of a society based on Marxian principles.

The preferred analytical tool of thinkers associated with the Frankfurt School was known formally as "Critical Theory of Society." The stated aim of Critical Theory was to identify and describe obstacles that blocked the way to the ideal non-repressive (read “Marxist”) society. It is important to note that criticism was — and is to this day among many leftist Democrats, including Teddy Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, to name a few — implicitly seen as the only legitimate method of societal analysis, thus the theory's name. To posit a constructive alternative to the status quo would be, according to this way of thinking, to “prescribe” what should be, and such prescription was (and remains today among those on the left) to be avoided at all costs.

In other words, to put Critical Theory into practice, all one needs to do is . . . well, criticize. Carp. Gainsay. Denigrate. Find fault.

Among Leftists in the United States during the 1960s, Critical Theory often found expression in reductive chants, including the blunt mantra of anti-war zealots of the decade representing their position with regard to the Vietnam war, "Hell no, we won't go!" Indeed, Marcuse himself is credited (perhaps apocryphally) with coining the phrase “Make love not war,” another of the emblematic slogans that still are trotted out to define the Leftist mentality of that era.

Critical Theory was to become — thanks particularly to the writings of Marcuse, who morphed into something of an icon for American academic radicals of the 1960s — one of the cornerstones of the Left's tactical and strategic approaches during that decade. Indeed, the idea that one should only criticize the opposition, while proposing no constructive alternatives to replace what was being criticized, continues to characterize the methodology of left/liberals to this day.

We have only to recall California Senator Barbara Boxer's recent relentless pummeling of Condoleezza Rice during the latter's confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State to come up with a contemporary example of Marxist critical theory in action. I have combed the transcripts of Boxer's and Rice's exchanges, and I can find not a single utterance on the part of the liberal Left-Coast Senator that even remotely resembles a constructive alternative to the strategies of the Bush administration which she sought so venomously to denigrate.

In true adherence to one of the fundamental components of the Marxist approach to bringing down western capitalism, Ms. Boxer confined herself to launching only the most derogatory and destructive attacks on Dr. Rice and the policies of the administration of which she (Dr. Rice) is an important member.

Of course, Ms. Boxer’s Critical-Theory bedfellow, Teddy Kennedy, has also broadly employed this Marxist technique for undermining what is, as events in Iraq unfold, gradually playing out as the successful U.S. (and, by extension, notwithstanding French and German recalcitrance, western democratic) approach to combating Islamist terrorists who rely on the perpetration of the most heinous, murderous tactics against their own people in their attempts to regain power. Disregarding (and in the process implicitly approving of) the tyrannical and murderously inhuman nature of the adversary our country has chosen to wage war against in the Middle East, Senator Kennedy has recently categorically called for U.S. forces to quit the struggle against the very enemy that caused the deaths of some 3,000 American citizens through an attack carried out on our own soil.

Kennedy’s position, which amounts to nothing more than a raising of the white flag of surrender to militant Islamists, would seem to be based solely on the Democrat Senator from Massachusetts’ angry and irrational rejection of the Bush administration’s policies. Kennedy, in the tradition of the Marxists whose tactics he employs, offers not even the hint of an exit strategy or an alternative means to combat the Islamist terrorist threat that faces every western-style democracy on the planet.

By undermining our country’s military engagement in Iraq of the Islamist terrorists that threaten the very world order today, by disingenuously failing even to admit the possibility that our seeking to establish a foothold for democracy in the Middle East is arguably a legitimate means to insure America’s future security, Kennedy is implicitly, even as he follows in the footsteps of the enemies of freedom and democracy whose methodology he employs, allying himself with forces at large in the world today that would destroy western capitalism and subjugate all free people to the murderous reign of a global Islamist thugocracy.

But that's about what you might expect from leftist political operatives such as Boxer and Kennedy who by their tactics implicitly ascribe to the time-honored Marxist techniques espoused in Critical Theory. Indeed, Democrats’ current obstructionism represents nothing less than the employment, in a new historical context, of Marxist methodology based on principles enunciated by communist enemies of freedom and democracy some three quarters of a century ago.
The fact is that the war we are waging in Iraq against the forces of Islamist terrorism is one that we can win, nay that we are destined to win. In order to win the fight, though, we must recognize that, not only are we struggling against Islamist terrorists in the Middle East, we are also struggling against the subversive tactics of political operatives of the Marxist Left as manifested in the Democratic Party in America today.

As their relentless efforts to undermine the policies and principles that form the foundation of our nation’s democratic institutions demonstrate, leftist Democrats, while apparently having much more to lose than their equally anti-democratic, anti-capitalist Islamist terrorist counterparts, nonetheless seek the same end: the destruction of western democratic capitalism.

It is against all the forces that seek to subvert the ideals of freedom and democracy, in our own country and around the world, that we are waging war. If the tactics of the political left in the United States are subtler and less easily identifiable than those of the Islamists whom they, by their tacit support of the ultimate goal of weakening western capitalist democracy, support, it is nonetheless incumbent on us to recognize that, where they would obstruct policies and practices that shore up the freedom and security of America’s citizens, liberal Democrats are no less dangerous to the freedom that we continue to enjoy than are Islamist terrorists.


 

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