Left Conformity to the Settler Cult

[vc_custom_heading text=”Left Conformity to the Settler Cult” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:center|color:%23000000″ google_fonts=”font_family:Bitter%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal”][vc_custom_heading text=”By Atlee McFellin. As published by Punto Rojo Magazine March 22nd, 2022.” font_container=”tag:p|text_align:center|color:%23000000″ google_fonts=”font_family:Bitter%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.puntorojomag.org%2F2022%2F03%2F22%2Fleft-conformism-to-the-settler-cult%2F”]

“In the early 30s in Germany, the communist party, following the Stalinist line at the time, took the position that everybody but us is a social fascist so there’s no difference between the social democrats and the Nazis. So therefore we’re not going to join with the social democrats to stop the Nazi plague. We know where that led. And there are many other cases like that. And I think we’re seeing a rerun of that.”

Noam Chomsky, April 15th 2020

In his book, Fascism: Theory and History, lawyer and historian David Renton outlined what he called “the anti-fascist wager.”[1] It was a gamble the German left made against Hitler, the extent to which the social democratic (SPD) and communist (KPD) parties accurately perceived the uniquely dangerous threat the Nazi’s posed. This is like the gamble we make within settler Amerikkka against resurgent fascism today. Lives hang in the balance, which is why we start with the above quote from an April 2020 interview Noam Chomsky did with Medhi Hasan, who was then still at The Intercept.[2]

As detailed in an earlier article published by Punto Rojo Magazine, the KPD was founded all the way back in 1919, so it hardly seems fair to blame them for the Nazi’s success in the July 1932 elections, i.e. when they first received more votes than any other party. Chomsky was correct about the “social fascist” label that the KPD attached to the SPD though, as well as the Stalinist takeover of the party in the late 1920s. Despite the fact that the KPD’s belief in the SPD being as great a threat as the Nazis proved dangerously inaccurate, Chomsky also leaves out important details. To start with, the SPD felt the same way about the KPD, that they were the greatest threat, not the Nazis.

For details, we can turn to an attorney who was among the top leadership at the SPD. Franz Neumann was also Jewish and forced to flee Germany in 1933, receiving a Phd at the London School of Economics before relocating to the USA. According to the The US Anti-Fascism Reader, published by Verso Press in 2020, Neumann “became a high-ranking figure in US intelligence, serving in the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA), the intelligence division of the US Chief of Staff, and the Board of Economic Warfare. He also prepared analyses for the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal,” taught at universities, and would die in Switzerland early September 1954.[3]

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was run by former Wall Street attorneys, brothers John Foster and Allen Dulles, who had previously directed investments into companies in Germany profiting from what were then Nazi labor camps. After the war, Allen Dulles would go on to found the CIA and John Foster would helm the State Department after years back on Wall Street.[4] While in the employ of these Nazi sympathizers, Neumann still, in the words of The US Anti-Fascism Reader editors, “maintained the essential left-wing position that fascism was a continuation of capitalism by authoritarian means.”[5]

His 1942 book on Nazi fascism was titled Behemoth. In it, Neumann’s illustration of Rudolf Hilferding, who he referred to as the SPD’s “leading theorist and editor of the party journal,” proves informative. Neumann describes an article Hilferding wrote that came out a few days before Hitler seized power in January 1933.

“The primary aim of the Socialists, he said, was the fight against communism.” Hilferding then “ridiculed Hitler’s attempt to get dictatorial power from President von Hindenburg” as though he “forgot that the Italian politician Mussolini had held the very same idea and had carried it out successfully.” Neumann himself, no doubt with years to reflect on past decisions, came down harshly against the SPD. “It was the tragedy of the Social Democratic party and trade unions,” he wrote, “to have had as leaders men with high intellectual qualities but completely devoid of any feeling for the condition of the masses and without any insight.”[6]

An earlier Punto Rojo Magazine article discussed Clara Zetkin on the united front as a “Soviet Congress for a Soviet Germany” in her speech to the rest of the German parliament August 30th, 1932. Her criticisms of German social democracy were used to further explain the role of the Congress in sustaining general strikes should there be an attempted fascist coup, quasi-constitutional or otherwise.

This Congress was then re-interpreted through the lens of Ella Baker’s simultaneous work in the Jim Crow South running the Young Negroes Cooperative League. Baker’s work was set within the broader historical context she herself looked to, so the councils or “soviets” are re-imagined in terms of the structure and function of historical Black mutual aid societies, including as a solidarity economy.

Franz Neumann summarized Hilferding’s position on the united front by looking to the same January 1933 article; “he rejected the united front with the Communist party.”[7] Neumann also used Hilferding as an example of what he had already described as the SPD’s overall position.

“The situation was desperate and called for desperate measures. The Social Democratic party could choose either the road of political revolution through a united front with the Communists under Socialist leadership, or co-operation with the semi-dictatorships of Brüning, Papen, and Schleicher in an attempt to ward off the greater danger, Hitler. There was no other choice. The Social Democratic party was faced with the most difficult decision in its history. Together with the trade unions, it decided to tolerate the Brüning government…”

Though Neumann himself supported “co-operation with the semi-dictatorships” at the time, he later regarded this as “the policy of a man who is hounded by his enemies but refuses either to accept annihilation or to strike back, and invents excuse after excuse to justify his inactivity.” Neumann provided one additional critical and especially useful response. “Continuing the policy of the lesser evil, the party supported the re-election of Hindenburg in April 1932,” who would then appoint Hitler in January 1933.[8] It’s not a good track record to follow. Neumann was opposed, at least after the fact.

Yet, in this particular April 2020 interview for The Intercept, Chomsky misrepresented the history in order to singularly blame the KPD for a specific reason. He was equating them to the “never Biden movement” as the November 2020 elections drew closer because Chomsky was against voting for a third party. This was not a new position for him either, as he has advanced his own “lesser evil” arguments before.

This is not intended as criticism. Ensuring Trump’s electoral defeat was imperative. But in order to not repeat the same mistakes as the KPD and the SPD though, we have to go beyond the bounds of what he offered.

Neumann’s own 1942 book, his magnum opus on the Nazis, otherwise erased the united front. Clara Zetkin is no where to be found. The “Soviet Congress for a Soviet Germany” disappeared. Even years later, though Neumann was critical of the mistakes made by the SPD, he had still been among its top leadership. He shared Hilferding’s view, describing the KPD as “a permanent threat to the Social Democratic party and to the controlling forces in the trade-union movement, especially in periods of depression and social unrest.”[9]

He also directly quoted Hilferding to describe the overall politics of the SPD, which seems remarkably similar to progressive and democratic socialist politics today. “The task of the present Social Democratic generation is to invoke state aid in translating this economy, organized and directed by the capitalists, into an economy directed by the democratic state.’”[10]

As Chomsky himself put it in his 1989 book, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, by misrepresenting the history, he was himself “shaping the bounds of the expressible” in order to get people to vote for Biden.[11] In so doing, he erased the revolutionary movement that existed as alternative to the social democratic politic that failed against the Nazis.

He also did so while advocating that same lesser evil policy taken by the SPD itself. Chomsky treated the public as though it were a “bewildered herd,” just like the professional-managerial class he once criticized in his 1991 book, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda.[12]

Between now and the upcoming midterm elections in November, while the government stimulus wears off, the Federal Reserve is also attempting to shift from easing to quantitative tightening again.[13] When it tried a more modest “$4.5 trillion experiment” back in 2018, not only did it nearly cause a global financial meltdown by summer, but what looks to be a more drastic “experiment” is now underway with a balance sheet over $9 trillion.[14] Similarly, the world’s economy sits atop an even more precarious post-pandemic mountain of debt, one far higher and spread farther throughout both corporate and government sectors than it was before.[15]

Turning to Wall Street on Parade, the Fed has its “Repo” and “Reverse Repo” programs in an attempt to help keep financial institutions liquid, while those same “Megabanks Have Dramatically Shifted their Derivative Exposure to Corporations.”[16] This is positioning the financial sector and the largest of cash-flush corporations to buy up massive portions of the economy in the event of recession, if they themselves don’t implode as the bubble begins to burst.

Far from a “soft-landing,” this could be what MSNBC’s Chris Hayes described as the GOP strategy using a quote from former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon whose advice FDR had thankfully rejected. “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate! It will purge the rottenness out of the system.”[17] On top of warning about a coming crisis and recession, at least one billionaire hedge fund investor argues that, given climate change, the “Goldilocks” period of economic growth is over.[18] For most people though, even that period only brought misery, portending the possibility that a far harsher future is in store.

In DC this coming June 18th, the Poor People’s Campaign is organizing a push to “build and mobilize political voting power” by having the “largest mass assembly of poor people and low-wage workers in this nation’s history.”[19] Even before considering the potential political impact of economic crisis and recession this year, polls already predict that Democrats will face a “shellacking.”[20] To what extent could a coming crisis catapult the GOP upwards against a rudderless progressive left? It worked for Hitler, despite his own repeated failures.[21]

At this point, the PPC and broader left infrastructure mirrors the very social democratic politics that Neumann argued against, what actually led to Hitler and the Nazis’ seizure of power. To put it another way, without also taking a similar “road of political revolution through a united front,” as Neumann himself put it, attempts to “save democracy” could very well lead to a Hindenburg and worse. As harsh as it may seem to think, believing otherwise is a progressive “American Exceptionalism” that masks “fidelity” to the settler cult.

Though Chomsky himself was inaccurate during that single interview, it is important to place this within the broader context of his life, accomplishments, and our potentially dire circumstances. Over the course of how many decades now has he himself warned us of the perils we face? In a 2004 interview, he talked about growing up in a Jewish immigrant family and community.[22] This informs what he said in an interview May 2020, when Noam Chomsky, yet again, warned us all of global threat.

“Hitler was maybe the worst criminal in human history. He murdered my extended family, Slavs, Roma, homosexuals…it’s pretty evil. But what does Trump want to do? He wants to destroy the prospects for all organized human life.”[23] As the late Martin Buber warned from Jerusalem in the spring of 1945, after having been forced out of Germany in 1938, we very much find ourselves “In the Midst of Crisis.” Even after all that, he still looked to Paths in Utopia.[24]

As Yale historian Timothy Snyder put it in his 2015 book Black Earth, The Holocaust is both history and warning, but everything depends on the warning itself and what’s being advocated. For example, this past January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 77th anniversary of a liberated Auschwitz. In commemoration, the anarchist publication It’s Going Down ran a statement written by a self-identified “anonymous collective of Jewish New Yorkers” who described themselves as “bearers of an abolitionist tradition, steeped in the spirit of militant resistance to fascism in all its forms.”

Their statement was both warning and call “for decarceration and for liberation, for abolition and for revolution against this genocidal regime (a regime which formed part of the inspiration for the Nazi system/the Final Solution in the first place).” As they put it in the title, “From Rikers to Santa Rita: Close the Death Camps!”[25] Similarly, the late Howard Zinn, born in the US to a Jewish immigrant family, warned us in the title of his last book: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.[26]

The previous article published by Punto Rojo Magazine explained Timothy Snyder on Hitler’s usage of the word Lebensraum or “living space” as a “summons to empire” for settler colonial conquest and extermination in the name of a Nazi version of the “American dream.” It then considers this relationship between Nazi fascism and the US settler colonial project, especially Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on the “cult of the covenant,” one with a “cross-class mind-set” of “imagined racial sameness” at its core. Using a board game called LIFE or The Game of Life, the article argued that the life of the middle class nuclear family depicted in the game itself symbolizes an ongoing “cult of Lebensraum” at the heart of settler Amerikkka today.

What follows is meant to reinforce that argument, as well as the need for a new united front. It is meant as an analysis of longtime friends and comrades, just like the late Ernst Bloch once instructed.[27] Like Bloch and Neumann, each of the four men covered in the following two sections were Jewish and experienced Nazi fascism first-hand. The first of two sections is a brief introduction to Wilhelm Reich and Walter Benjamin. The second looks to Ernest Becker and Erich Fromm.

Wilhelm Reich’s analysis on the ideological role played by the middle class nuclear family in fueling Nazi fascism helps further explain the American Dream as a “summons to empire.” After Reich on the family, Walter Benjamin’s criticisms of German social democracy on “progress” and as “conformism” helps show how today’s left is on the same precarious footing. Similar to Benjamin on “conformism,” the second section looks to Ernest Becker on the “fetish,” which is what he used to describe the tendencies of “institutionalists.” Then we turn to Erich Fromm on Nazi fascism, the “pathology of normalcy” in capitalism, the need for communal alternatives at the core of a new united front, and the inherent human striving for autonomy.

Conforming to Family and Progress in the Settler Cult

Over the course of the neoliberal era, the GOP built itself into what political scientists Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler referred to as a “party of authoritarians.” They also argued in their 2009 book, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, that the perception of threat can “reduce the difference” between Democratic Party constituencies and those of the GOP, at least when it comes to potential support for authoritarianism.[28] This is to say that, as crisis grows, a rightward shift in the Democratic Party to quell dissent from the left and as home for the “Never Trumpers” may further weaponize an inclusive American dream to enforce a nightmarish settler reality behind a genocidal rainbow mask.

Historian David Roediger argued in his 2020 book, The Sinking Middle Class, that beginning with former President Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party followed Republicans with their own version of the dog-whistle racism known as the “Southern Strategy.” Democrats began invoking a “forgotten middle class” and “working families” on the national political stage, framed around well-off, professional-managerial white suburban families outside Detroit as the American dream.[29] It was a “promise to save the middle class…while placing a specifically white space at the center of what they called progressive politics.”[30] The approach was central to Barack Obama’s presidency, as it is today for “Middle Class Joe.”[31]

This “white space” can be understood as what Kim TallBear referred to as “settler sex and family,” including as a “delusional state of being” at the core of our “progressive settler-colonial American Dreaming.”[32] The middle class American dream exists to further what Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz called a “cross-class mind-set” of “imagined racial sameness” for the “cult of the covenant” of US settler colonialism. On the left, this is not exclusive to the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders made it the core of his 2016 campaign for president. He even wrote a book about it called The Speech: On Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle, its own progressive settler summons.[33]

Wilhelm Reich was born to a Jewish family in modern-day Ukraine. Before he was able to make it out of Europe alive, Reich saw that the middle class nuclear family was central to both social democracy and Nazi fascism. He argued in his 1933 book, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, that the “compulsive family,” which, “if undermined by economic crises, proletarianization of the middle class and wars, then the authoritarian system, which is so firmly entrenched in the structure of the masses, is also seriously threatened.”[34]

Reich argued that the middle class family as a societal ideal proved central to the Nazi’s success, like Snyder on Lebensraum, using it as an ideological weapon to build a cross-class or trans-class base by raising up the plight of the “lower middle class.”[35] We can think of it like the function of a 2020 film called Hillbilly Elegy, including for the author of the book it is based upon; a Theil and Mercer-backed fascist now running for senate in Ohio.[36] It is a “summons to empire” for settler Amerikkka focusing on a white family’s decline from middle class comfort and security. It is also now a calling for “wartime Christians” to become a “righteous army of God.”[37]

Reich argued that the nuclear family was an inherently authoritarian institution, a hetero-patriarchal mini-state where “familial imperialism is ideologically reproduced in national imperialism.”[38] And like Amerikkka, these middle classes were dependent upon a settler colonial project, one based in Africa and lost in WWI.

The middle class nuclear family was the purported basis of order in society, nationalism that had been built around the Christian monarch where, in Reich’s words, each family unit “preserves nothing less than several thousand years of patriarchy and keeps it alive with all its contradictions.”[39] He continued, arguing that “it is the authoritarian family that represents the foremost and most essential source of reproduction of every kind of reactionary thinking; it is a factory where reactionary ideology and reactionary structures are produced.”[40]

Even during the period of broad crisis that Germany was faced with in the years leading up to the Nazi’s early 1933 coup, the middle class “operated against the establishment of a feeling of solidarity” both within what he referred to as this “social class” and throughout the working class more broadly.[41] The middle class nuclear family was also central to social democracy on the electoral path to socialism. “In many European countries Social Democracy had all the necessary power at its disposal to dethrone the patriarchal power in and outside of man,” he wrote, “a power that had been accumulating over thousands of years and finally celebrated its most bloody triumph in the fascist ideology.”[42]

By pushing a politic centered on the middle class nuclear family, German social democracy was built on its own version of the American dream, but it was an impossible fiction, like ours is today. “The ‘socialist’ state is an invention of party bureaucrats,” Reich went on to write. He was referring to the failures of the SPD and used italics to emphasize. “And now, it, ‘the state,’ was supposed to introduce freedom: not the masses of the people, you see, but the state.”[43]

Penniless and in hopes of voyage from Spain to safety in the USA thereafter, Walter Benjamin’s means of escaping Nazi expansion across Europe failed him September of 1940. As Esther Leslie put it in her 2000 biography, Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism, “Suicide seemed preferable to murder by the enemy.”[44] Benjamin was a German-born, Jewish philosopher, Marxist, member of the SPD, and a revolutionary who killed himself to avoid an otherwise inevitable capture by the Nazi Gestapo.

Writing just a few months beforehand though, he was clear. “The conformism which has been part and parcel of Social Democracy from the beginning,” he argued, “attaches not only to its political tactics but to its economic views as well.” He believed this “conformism” was responsible for the fascist’s conquest of power. In these brief Theses on the Philosophy of History, he went on to argue that this conformism was rooted in the SPD’s “stubborn faith in progress, their confidence in their ‘mass basis, and, finally, their servile integration” into the state, what he referred to as “an uncontrollable apparatus.”

To him, these were “three aspects of the same thing” and led to social democratic passivity in the face of fascism. “Social Democratic theory, and even more its practice,” Benjamin continued, “has been formed by a conception of progress which did not adhere to reality.”[45] This is in agreement with Franz Neumann, who wrote: “The economic theory of the Social Democratic party, however, lagged behind reality even before the First World War.”[46]

In his 1978 book, Anti-Bolshevik Communism, Paul Mattick similarly argued that the SPD’s politics amounted to “a defense of their own material, social and intellectual position” in disguise. If crises and the threat of fascism could be overcome through the state, then “existing organizations and leaders would continue to dominate the movement.” The SPD’s politics, much like social democracy today, “conformed to their own aspirations developed in an ascending capitalism,” those who “learned to think in terms of bourgeois democracy” and “began to speak of themselves as consumers,” which proved catastrophic as crisis and decline accelerated.[47]

This would be like looking to what DSA-founder Michael Harrington referred to in 1989 as the “moment of modest blue-collar triumph under the social democratic welfare state” that was established through the New Deal, believing this approach to be capable of defeating resurgent fascism in settler Amerikkka today.[48] In his last book, Harrington identified directly with this very notion of German social democratic “progress,” writing in approval that SPD leader “Bernstein wanted to reach out to the new middle class that he saw as an irreversible feature of the system.”[49]

It formed a core part of Harrington’s politics from 1968, back when he first looked to another “new middle class” to play a commanding role in the “democratic Left.” Of course, this is also despite the fact that he regarded the particular demographic “as a stratum of hypocritical, vacillating rear-guarders.”[50] He had that in common with Wilhelm Reich.

Surprising though, Harrington once devoted a chapter of a book published in 1976 to what he referred to as “Bourgeois Socialism” and for which he directed much of the critique to the SPD itself, including Rudolf Hilferding and Karl Kautsky, the “dean of German Marxism.”[51] In fact, every manner of today’s new New Deals amounts to no more than what Harrington referred to as “Smith-Keynsianism” in 1968 or, at best, the “‘Keynesian’ version of social democracy” he criticized as already being in a “profound crisis” back in 1988.[52]

“Nothing has corrupted the German working class so much as the notion that it was moving with the current,” Walter Benjamin wrote, that of viewing “technological developments as the fall of the stream with which it thought it was moving.” During the broad crisis Germany was faced with, that “current” also led people into movements of organized labor, including migration from the SPD to the KPD. This proved to be a “progress” all its own though, one that distracted from an accelerating “retrogression of society” culminating in a fascist coup.

“From there it was but a step to the illusion that the factory work which was supposed to tend toward technological progress constituted a political achievement.” Faced with crises, unwilling to support the united front, and growing increasingly desperate to showcase the success of social democracy against fascism led their lesser evil politics to support what Neumann referred to as “semi-dictatorships.” This is what Benjamin described as “the technocratic features later encountered in Fascism.”

“The old Protestant ethics of work,” Benjamin continued, “was resurrected among German workers in secularized form” in their social democracy.[53] Rather than the left continuing down the electorally-dependent path set forth by so-called professionals yet again, we should listen to Benjamin, “that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” He argued “to bring about a real state of emergency,” that “this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism.”[54]

By 1940, the Nazis had a firm grasp on power and had been advancing war across Europe. Benjamin, forced to flee from place to place to avoid the approaching enemy, envisioned general strikes and revolution. By then though, it was too late. And as our own settler Amerikkka continues to descend toward a fascist seizure of the republic, building our own capacity “to bring about a real state of emergency” in the event of a coup is essential. This is the exact purpose behind a united front at the intersection of Ella Baker and Clara Zetkin, for the capacity to sustain our movements through mutual aid and as a solidarity economy. “Once again,” as Martin Buber put it, “everything depends on whether they will be ready.”[55]

Neoconservative Robert Kagan argued in a Washington Post article from late September 2021 that “Our Constitutional Crisis is already here.” He is now among a chorus of voices warning of 2024 and a threat of a coup. However, Kagan was wrong in that it is not “wishful thinking and denial” exactly, but conformism to settler LIFE and the benefits it offers a dwindling middle class left that keeps us tied to an electoralist politics of societal suicide.[56]

This past December, Jacobin Magazine editor-at-large David Sirota argued that “cognitive dissonance is one of the defining traits of American politics,” while warning of the “Weimar-esque conditions for an authoritarian takeover” unfolding before our eyes.[57] In February, Bhaskar Sunkara followed it with a Jacobin article titled “The Left in Purgatory,” on a crisis of their social democratic politic caused by “the middle-class nature of our politicization.”[58]

Conforming to “progress” and the settler cult is at the core of the “cognitive dissonance” and “purgatory” though. Central to this conformity is what cultural theorist Catherine Liu wrote about in her 2021 book on Virtue Hoarders: The Case against the Professional Managerial Class. “It was after 1968,” she wrote, “that the PMC gradually shifted its allegiance from workers to capital,” while still viewing themselves as “allegedly enlightened” in order “to separate itself from its economic inferiors in a way that seemed morally justifiable.”[59]

Of course, this is also the genocidal foundation of Malthus’ worldview, that same “rotten ground of the bourgeois social system” that Zetkin spoke about. “In the liberal professions,” Liu continues, “they police each other to enforce the sort of social and intellectual conformity required by their class, one that is fundamentally fragmented by competition and individualism.”[60]

Conforming to a professional-managerial, middle class, settler LIFE today can mean lucrative grants for non-profits, tenured positions in academia, ascending the ranks of labor unions, success in electoral politics, and thriving small businesses, cooperative or otherwise, within a broader left ecosystem. But this conformism also requires living within the bounds of a genocidal nightmare we call the American Dream, class privilege built upon and reproduced through settler colonial oppression and imperialism worldwide.[61]

The benefits of this global imperialism, however, are increasingly evaporating as the terminal crisis of the settler project continues to eviscerate domestic middle classes.[62] Will these middle classes overcome their conformism to professional-managerial settler LIFE before it’s too late? Ernest Becker and Erich Fromm can help explain, while Walter Benjamin’s life and death foreshadows what’s in store for the middle class left.

The Settler Cult as Fetish and Pathology

With the rise of Trump, The Frankfurt School has become much more widely known. It was co-founded by a German-born Jewish man named Max Horkheimer, who was not a member of any political party, but forced to flee the country just the same. In Esther Leslie’s biography of Walter Benjamin, she wrote about how difficult it had been for him to make a living in Germany, a problem that drastically worsened after he was forced to flee the Nazis.[63]

“Probably unbeknown to Benjamin,” she wrote, “Horkheimer helped to fail his Habilitation thesis on baroque mourning play, which was submitted to the university in Frankfurt. This qualification was a prerequisite for any teaching position.”[64] Without this qualification in 1925, he struggled to make a living and was thus unable to survive on the run, hounded by a Nazi scourge bent on the utter annihilation of the Jewish people.

Benjamin and Horkheimer stayed in touch after they were both forced to flee the country. Writing in a letter to the German-born Israeli philosopher and historian Gershom Scholem in February 1935, Benjamin admitted that “I am dependent on them,” referring to Horkheimer and another leading member of The Frankfurt School named Theodore Adorno. Benjamin seemed hopeful that he would escape to the US that May, then possibly Palestine to see Scholem thereafter.[65]

Unfortunately, Benjamin would not be able to make that voyage. After Horkheimer had settled in the US, Benjamin would send him articles that he would then translate into English for publication in order to send money back oversees. To do that though, he had to edit out anything too Marxist or revolutionary.

“We must do everything within our power to preserve the journal as scientific organ from being drawn into political press discussions,” Horkheimer once wrote to him. “This would represent a serious threat to our work in this and perhaps other areas.”[66]

Unlike Neumann, Horkheimer didn’t work for the OSS. He was attempting to build a fledgling Institute for Social Research at Columbia University and it was facing “economic difficulties.” This is according to Raffaeli Laudani’s 2013 book, Secrets Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort, published by Princeton University Press.

A German-born Jewish revolutionary by the name of Herbert Marcuse, former member of the SPD thereafter employed by the OSS, “earnestly entreated Horkheimer to give him an economic or intellectual reason for renouncing the economic security that his entrance into government service would guarantee him.” Marcuse’s government employment wouldn’t end until he left the State Department in 1951.

Describing Marcuse’s overall rationale, Laudani wrote that “this experience could be lived in a non-punitive way only if thought along the lines of the contributions that, since the beginning of the war, the institute was trying to provide to the American war effort through the production of memoranda, research projects, and conferences on Nazi Germany.”[67] In other words, professional-managerial middle class LIFE could be made possible by “adapting Critical Theory to the American cultural and bureaucratic machine.”[68]

Importantly, two thirds of those questioned in the McCarthy hearings were Jewish, though less than two percent of the total population.[69] This is to say that Marcuse and Horkheimer had no doubt already dealt with antisemitic precursors to this since arriving in the country in 1934. By 1940 though, one is left wondering if Walter Benjamin got left behind? While not attempting to distract from the ultimate cause of his suicide, that of Nazi fascism, could they really not get him out over the course of five years after the May 1935 attempt?

This is not somehow an attempt to blame Horkheimer for Benjamin’s death, but to understand the particulars of their relationship as a microcosm for the middle class, professional-managerial left today. As crises continue to escalate, will the middle class left cling to their own precarious privilege in an attempt to abandon the rest, ultimately fragmenting into oblivion? We can gain a better understanding by considering this through the lens of another Jewish philosopher who experienced Nazi fascism first-hand.

Ernest Becker was born in 1924 to Jewish immigrant parents in the US. When he was old enough, he joined the army during WWII and fought to liberate a Nazi extermination camp in 1945.[70] In his August 1967 lecture titled “What is Basic Human Nature,” he looked to the best in Marx and Freud, referring to the human unconscious as a “basic emotional identification with the kinds of feelings and acts which make us comfortable,” ultimately interconnected to “a source of power.” He went on to describe that source of power as something that “sustains us, justifies us, dwarfs us in some or many ways.”[71] To better explain, Becker advanced his own notion of “fetishization” with a specific emphasis on academics.

The first part of the process of fetishization involved taking “large, complex issues” and “singling out a narrow, simplistic approach to them.”[72] The second part was that the “simplistic approach” involved “a denial and masking of his anxiety, his powerlessness, his felt finitude” within capitalist society. It acted as “a disguise and a justification of our basic power alliance,” one perhaps proportional to the “anguish of conversion to a new world view.”[73]

As an example of this “fetishization,” Becker argued it existed “in science as a function of ‘bourgeois science’ in general: it destroys the total picture by narrowing it down,” doing so “because the total picture would itself contain a blistering critique of some of the basic institutions that sustain the hordes of busy scientists.”[74]

This forms the basis for what he argued was “a kind of deliberate self-retrenchment or self-abasement, and, in a sense, a paradoxical creation of a ‘fantasy’ realm of ‘real’ control—we might call it a voluntary type of mental illness.”[75] As someone who resigned from at least one university teaching position in opposition to what he regarded as a predatory psychiatric industry and the evils of involuntary institutionalization, this “voluntary type” was actually the only form of “mental illness” he believed existed.

It was a critique he expanded upon thereafter as well, referring to those who fetishized their “source of power” or “power alliance” as being “institutionalists” or “institutional perpetuators.” His arguments can be applied to contemporary social democratic politics and the middle class settler cult more broadly. “Utopias are unreal as well as dangerous, impractical as well as upsetting” to the institutionalists, he argued, but they “are wrong to imagine that institutions cannot be their own undoing; they forget that outmoded lifeways can be more dangerous than wishful innovation.”[76]

This is like trying to save settler society through, in his words, “timidity and self-negating compromise” as a supposed defense against resurgent fascism when far more is actually required.[77] Importantly, Becker didn’t entirely reject the “institutionalists,” as he also reminded us that “society needs institutions, and the main task of man is to stand fast, to carry on.”[78]

In the face of resurgent fascism, this necessitates defending the existing institutions of a deeply flawed settler republic, while simultaneously building the capacity to abolish the colony as a whole through revolution. Becker used the phrase “armor of self-assurance” to indicate the “denial and masking” of one’s “source of power,” like Dunbar-Ortiz on the “race to innocence” within the “cult of the covenant” at the core of settler Amerikkka.[79]

In 1976, less than four years before he died, Erich Fromm would make a similar argument as Becker on the “fetish” of “institutionalists” in a letter to feminist philosopher Raya Dunayevskaya. He was referring specifically to Max Horkheimer, while implicating all of The Frankfurt School. “He used general Aesopian language and spoke of critical theory in order not to say Marx’s theory,” Fromm wrote. “As far as I know,” he went on, “the whole thing is a hoax,” that “Horkheimer was frightened even before Hitler of speaking about Marxist theory.”[80]

Fromm was born in Germany to an orthodox Jewish family in 1900 and, by 1929, he had become a sociologist and psychoanalyst conducting surveys across German neighborhoods as the first work on what he referred to then as an “authoritarian character.” Horkheimer and The Frankfurt School rejected his work in 1929 and, despite bringing him on years later, would end up pushing him out in 1939.[81]

In 1950, Horkheimer and Adorno would re-frame Fromm’s original work into what they then called “The Authoritarian Personality.” Despite what may seem like a non-existent difference between “character” and “personality,” Fromm had already warned against this approach nine years earlier in his 1941 book, Escape From Freedom. It was here where he would first summarize Nazi fascism for a US audience.

Contrasting himself from those of the school that had pushed him out, he rejected approaches viewing “Nazism either as the outcome of an exclusively economic dynamism,” that “of the expansive tendencies of German imperialism…or as an essentially political phenomenon.” He did not believe it was a “conquest of the state by one political party backed by industrialists.” Furthermore, it was not “the result of a minority’s trickery and coercion of the majority of the population.” Lastly, he cautioned against views where “Hitler is looked upon as a madman or as a ‘neurotic,’ and his followers as equally mad and mentally unbalanced,” where fascism is viewed as “psychopathology.”[82]

Adorno actually agreed with Fromm’s critique.[83] Adorno, Horkheimer and the rest of their team in California concluded that “the characteristic American mentality of today…is imbued with ‘high’ elements that do not fall within the limits of ‘highness’ and ‘lowness’ as defined in our study.” They believed this should “be given most serious attention by the agencies who make it their task to defend American democracy.”[84] It would have been fairly easy, since Marcuse had just completed a 532-page report for the State Department’s Research and Analysis Branch on “The Potentials of World Communism” in order to help inform the Cold War.[85]

As Fromm put it, prior to 1918, “the economic position of the lower strata of the old middle class, the small independent businessman and artisan, was already on the decline; but it was not desperate and there were a number of factors which made for its stability.” In those days of a theocratic absolutist state, “the authority of the monarchy was undisputed, and by leaning on it and identifying with it the member of the lower middle class acquired a feeling of security and narcissistic pride.” Along with the monarchy, “the authority of religion and traditional morality was still firmly rooted,” while “the family was still unshaken and a safe refuge in a hostile world.”[86]

When The Great Depression hit Germany in November of 1929, things got far worse. While the SPD depended on the supposed “progress” of social democracy, the Nazis warned of coming economic crisis. The middle classes had “nobody to look down upon any more, a privilege that had always been one of the strongest assets in the life of small shopkeepers and their like.” Fromm went on to argue that “while the monarchy and the state had been the solid rock on which, psychologically speaking, the petty bourgeois had built his existence, their failure and defeat shattered the basis of his own life.”[87]

The middle classes were “threatened by monopoly capitalism,” he wrote. “Its anxiety and thereby its hatred were aroused; it moved into a state of panic and was filled with a craving for submission to as well as for domination over those who were powerless.” Hitler thus “posed as the Messiah of the old middle class, promised the destruction of department stores, the breaking of the domination of banking capital, and so on.” This was in order to build the Nazi’s trans-class or cross-class base of support for Lebensraum or “living space.”

“The record is clear enough,” Fromm went on. “These promises were never filled.”[88] To him, “Nazism never had any genuine political or economic principles.” What was “essential to understand,” he argued, was “that the very principle of Nazism is its radical opportunism.”[89] That “opportunism,” as Clara Zetkin understood it, was also one that “wanted to secure the power for social rebirth by seizing control of the state and utilizing its apparatus of power for its own ends.” It was within this context that Zetkin argued “We must not limit ourselves to struggle with and for the masses with our political and economic program,” but also with and for “the entire noble inner substance of communism as a world outlook.”[90]

In his 1955 book, The Sane Society, Erich Fromm agreed. He argued that there was a “pathology of normalcy” at the core of capitalist society.[91] Looking to Martin Buber’s 1946 book Paths in Utopia, he also argued that the alternative should be modeled on the Paris Commune of 1871. Though he was not referring specifically to the united front that Zetkin called a “Soviet Congress for a Soviet Germany,” he also looked to soviets as part of the alternative to what he otherwise viewed as a pathological existence.

“Lenin may have at least hoped for the eventual achievement of decentralization, an idea which in fact was manifest in the concept of the Soviets, where the decision making was rooted in the smallest and most concrete level of decentralized groups.” As for Stalinism, Fromm wrote that it “developed one side of the contradiction, the principle of centralization, into the practice of the most ruthless State organization the modern world has known.”[92] Instead, he argued that the “cure of social pathology” was possible “only if a next step is taken” beyond awareness, “that of changing a practice of life which was built on the basis of the neurotic structure, and which reproduces it constantly.”[93]

In his 1973 book, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Fromm went still further with a “humanistic psychoanalysis” centered on “biophilia.” He referred to this as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive; it is the wish to further growth, whether in a person, a plant, an idea, or a social group.”[94] He maintained that “there is an inherent impulse in man to fight for freedom,” which “is the condition for the full-growth of a person, for his mental health and his well-being.”

On the other hand, he wrote, “its absence cripples man and is unhealthy,” potentially resulting in the cruelty and destructiveness of fascism. “Freedom does not imply a lack of constraint, since any growth occurs only within a structure, and any structure requires constraint,” he went on to caution. “What matters is whether the constraint functions primarily for the sake of another person or institution, or whether it is autonomous – i.e., that it results from the necessities of growth inherent in the structure of the person.”[95] This brings us back to a united front against resurgent fascism.

Much like Michael Harrington in 1989, Fromm in 1955 recognized the importance of the communal alternative in Paris, catalyzed in defense against the threat posed by an invading force bent on the restoration of monarchic dictatorship. Fromm also looked to soviets and even though he did not specifically address them in the manner Zetkin had been advocating, the approach would seem to also be in alignment with his 1978 assertions regarding autonomous structures. What’s more, the world has changed a great deal since Fromm himself wrote any of these words.[96]

Today, the sort of demonological antisemitism that Jewish historian Norman Cohn wrote about in his 1969 book, Warrant for Genocide, swarms all around us, while the “semi-dictatorship” of the settler republic under “Middle Class Joe” continues to stumble and decay its way toward fascism. Will the middle classes of the professional-managerial left be able to overcome their fetishized strivings for all that settler LIFE has to offer a dwindling few, or will that pathological narcissism clutch conformity in nuclear families with delusions of progress while resurgent fascism succeeds in its goal of seizing the state?

As the climate crisis accelerates unabated, we increasingly find ourselves within conditions Thomas Malthus feared, though not for the same reasons. Malthus (1766-1834) is most known for his views regarding an inevitable future crisis for humanity, one having to do with population growth outpacing the capacity of global food supply. Malthus also believed that middle classes, including the professional-managerial sort, were the future and that working classes were vestiges of an older form of capitalism that would die off in that ensuing crisis. To Marx, when it came to Malthus’ genocidal “Christian” views, he wrote; “This in fact is the course taken by bourgeois society.”[97]

Malthus’ views are still, unfortunately, alive and well today in ongoing global genocides exacerbated by pandemic and too numerous to detail.[98] From those being murdered by enforced scarcity for inequality, to those rationed off life itself during Covid, to those left dying in prison and detention, to all those dying at the hands of a brutal “American Century” who are now forced to endure the harshest of impacts from climate catastrophes, this is the human sacrifice at the core of today’s cult of settler LIFE.[99] This is why You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. The only way we can get off this train of annihilation is a united front against resurgent fascism to abolish the settler cult in all its forms.

By connecting the felt experience of suffering from Walter Benjamin to that of Abram Leon, the next article will further explain the possibility of revolution catalyzed against a potential fascist coup. Murdered in a gas chamber at Auschwitz in September of 1944, Abram Leon’s extermination is interpreted through the lens of his own theory from four years before in order to show a materialist foundation for the intersectional felt experience of suffering. This is then related to Keanga-Yamatta Taylor’s analysis of the Combahee River Collective’s Black feminism as conceptualized around “categories of suffering.”

Using Taylor’s arguments about the CRC to critique Angela Davis writing on Clara Zetkin in 1984, the article then explores Marx’s own views on the felt experience of suffering, the commune as covenant, and Epicurus on the atom with the help of Ernst Bloch. By doing so, this article is able to advance a theory of communal revolution as quantum entanglement animated by Black abolitionist and Indigenous feminisms whose intersectionality could theoretically bend space-time in kinship with a suffering Earth.

“All those who feel themselves threatened, all those who suffer and all those who long for liberation must belong to the United Front against fascism and its representatives in the government.”

– Clara Zetkin, August 30th, 1932.

  1. David Renton, “The Anti-Fascist Wager,” Pluto Press Blog, September 16th, 2020. https://www.plutobooks.com/blog/the-anti-fascist-wager/
  2. Noam Chomsky, “Biden vs. Trump,” Interviewed by Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept, April 15th, 2020. https://theintercept.com/2020/04/15/biden-trump-noam-chomsky-mehdi-hasan/ ; Chauncey Devega, “Joe Biden was right about black people and Trump — and the left needs to get past purity tests,” Salon, May 25th, 2020. https://www.salon.com/2020/05/25/joe-biden-was-right-about-black-people-and-trump–and-the-left-needs-to-get-past-purity-tests/
  3. Mullen and Vials, “Franz Neumann, ‘The Theory of Racial Imperialism,’” in U.S. Antifascism Reader, Ebook Edition. (New York: Verso Press, 2020). https://www.versobooks.com/books/3089-the-us-antifascism-reader
  4. Gabriel Rockhill, “The U.S. Did Not Defeat Fascism in WWII, It Discretely Internationalized It,” Counterpunch, October 16th, 2020. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/10/16/the-u-s-did-not-defeat-fascism-in-wwii-it-discretely-internationalized-it/
  5. Mullen and Vials, “Franz Neumann, ‘The Theory of Racial Imperialism,’” in The U.S. Antifascism Reader, Ebook Edition.
  6. Franz Neumann, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, (Chicago: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 2009). P. 32.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid, 31.
  9. Ibid, 18.
  10. Ibid, 16.
  11. Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, (Boston: South End Press, 1989). P. 45.
  12. Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1991). P. 12-16.
  13. James K. Galbraith, “Opinion: The Fed is determined to stop wages from rising,” Project Syndicate, January 31st, 2022. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-fed-is-determined-to-stop-wages-from-rising-11643647143 ; Rex Nutting, “Opinion: The party’s over: The Fed and Congress have pulled their support from workers and investors,” MarketWatch, January 28th, 2022. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/hidden-in-the-gdp-report-is-proof-that-the-air-is-already-coming-out-of-the-economy-11643310318 ; Kenny Stancil, “Economists Warn Against the Fed Raising Rates at Worst Possible Time,” Common Dreams, February 7th, 2022. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/02/07/economists-warn-against-fed-raising-rates-worst-possible-time
  14. Matt Egan, “The $4.5 trillion experiment rattling markets,” CNN Money, July 31st, 2018. https://money.cnn.com/2018/07/31/investing/stocks-market-federal-reserve-qe/index.html
  15. Jonnelle Marte an Dan Burns, “Explainer: Fed signals readiness to shrink balance sheet. Why that’s a big deal,” Reuters, January 6th, 2022. https://www.reuters.com/markets/us/fed-signals-readiness-shrink-balance-sheet-why-thats-big-deal-2022-01-06/ ; Tommy Wilkes, “Emerging markets drive global debt to record $303 trillion – IIF,” Reuters, February 23rd, 2022. https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/emerging-markets-drive-global-debt-record-303-trillion-iif-2022-02-23/
  16. Pam Martens and Russ Martins, “When Repos Blew Up in 2019, Hedge Funds Were $800 Billion Short U.S. Treasury Futures; Then Margins Blew Out,” Wall Street on Parade, February 3rd, 2022. https://wallstreetonparade.com/2022/02/when-repos-blew-up-in-2019-hedge-funds-were-800-billion-short-u-s-treasury-futures-then-margins-blew-out/ ; Ibid, “Quietly, the Fed Has Seduced $1 Trillion a Day into the Best Game in Town – Its Reverse Repo Facility,” Wall Street on Parade, September 16th, 2021. https://wallstreetonparade.com/2021/09/quietly-the-fed-has-seduced-1-trillion-a-day-into-the-best-game-in-town-its-reverse-repo-facility/ ; Ibid, “A Government Study Shows that Wall Street Megabanks Have Dramatically Shifted their Derivative Exposure to Corporations,” Wall Street on Parade, January 27th, 2022. https://wallstreetonparade.com/2022/01/a-government-study-shows-that-wall-street-megabanks-have-dramatically-shifted-their-derivative-exposure-to-corporations/
  17. Pam Martens and Russ Martens, “Can the Fed Engineer a Soft Landing for the Biggest Bubble Since $12,000 Tulip Bulbs?” Wall Street on Parade, January 21st, 2022. https://wallstreetonparade.com/2022/01/can-the-fed-engineer-a-soft-landing-for-the-biggest-bubble-since-12000-tulip-bulbs/ ; Chris Hayes, “The Mellon Caucus,” The Nation, September 26th, 2008. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/mellon-caucus/
  18. Erik Schatzker, “Jeremy Grantham Has an Even Scarier Prediction Than His Crash Call,” Bloomberg, January 26th, 2022. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-26/grantham-has-an-even-scarier-prediction-than-his-crash-call
  19. Jake Johnson, “Poor People’s Campaign Readies ‘Massive, Nonviolent’ Effort to Save Democracy,” Common Dreams, January 15th, 2022. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/01/15/poor-peoples-campaign-readies-massive-nonviolent-effort-save-democracy
  20. Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Ben Kamisar and Bridget Bowman, “Poll numbers are pointing to a midterm shellacking for Democrats,” NBC News, January 18th, 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/poll-numbers-are-pointing-midterm-shellacking-democrats-n1287624
  21. Peter Ross Range, “Hitler’s Quest for Power Was Nearly Derailed Multiple Times. But the System Enabled His Rise,” Time, August 31st, 2020. https://time.com/5884522/hitler-ascent-lesson/
  22. Noam Chomsky, “The Life and Times of Noam Chomsky: A Brief History of America’s Leading Dissident,” Interview with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, November 26th, 2004. https://www.democracynow.org/2004/11/26/the_life_and_times_of_noam
  23. M. Bramadat-Willcock, “Noam Chomsky on Trump, COVID-19, climate change, and the economy,” Canada’s National Observer, May 19th, 2020. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/05/19/news/noam-chomsky-trump-covid-19-climate-change-and-economy
  24. Martin Buber, Paths in Utopia, (New York: Collier Books, 1988). P. 129-138.
  25. Anonymous Contributor, “From Rikers to Santa Rita: Close the Death Camps!,” It’s Going Down, January 27th, 2022. https://itsgoingdown.org/from-rikers-to-santa-rita-close-the-death-camps/
  26. Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neural on a Moving Train, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2018).
  27. Ernst Bloch, On Karl Marx, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1971). P. 153.
  28. Hetherington and Weiler center their framework on the idea “that authoritarianism’s effect will wax and wane depending on how threatened people feel.” Further clarifying, they write that “we believe those who score high and low in authoritarianism will have different preferences in the absence of threat” as well as that “threat has the potential to actually reduce the difference in preferences between the more and less authoritarian rather than increase it.” Overall, they “believe that those who score high in authoritarianism are more likely to perceive threat even when situations might not be objectively threatening to most others.” The threat does not actually have to be based on an objective reality as much as it as matter of “how threatened they actually feel” and “that the opinions of those scoring low in authoritarianism but who perceive significant threat come to mirror the opinions of those who score high in authoritarianism.”As incorrect as this may sound at first, it must be considered on a rather different timescale. “When people feel substantial threat or anxiety (or fatigue),” the authors argue, “cognition breaks down, causing greater reliance on emotion and instinct to pick up the slack.” Whereas the dichotomy of cognition and emotion is misleading and nureoscientifically inaccurate, it can otherwise be understood beyond their own approach to authoritarianism as simply a “cognitive style.” In following in the tradition of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkehimer, their own analysis similarly presents authoritarianism as more a personality defect than the broader way in which people like Erich Fromm explained it.Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009). P. 3, 13, 110-117.
  29. David Roediger, The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History, (New York: OR Books, 2020). P. 108-110.
  30. Ibid, 88-89.
  31. Brian Montopoli, “Transcript: The President’s Remarks On The Middle Class Task Force,” CBS News, January 30th, 2009. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-the-presidents-remarks-on-the-middle-class-task-force/ ; Alex Fang, “Biden: ‘We are in a competition with China to win the 21st century,’” Nikkei Asia Review, April 29th, 2021. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Biden-s-Asia-policy/Biden-We-are-in-a-competition-with-China-to-win-the-21st-century
  32. Kim TallBear, “Caretaking Relations, Not American Dreaming,” Kalfou, Volume 6, Issue 1 (Spring 2019). P. 29 and 25. ; Kim TallBear, “Making Love and Relations: Beyond Settler Sex and Family” in Making Kin Not Population, Edited by Adele E. Clarke and Donna Haraway, (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2018). P. 145
  33. Roediger, The Sinking Middle Class, 92.
  34. Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, 96.
  35. Ibid, 13.
  36. Marina Watts, “Author Jared Yates Sexton Calls ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ ‘Traditional Right-Wing Propaganda,’” Newsweek, October 23rd, 2020. https://www.newsweek.com/author-jared-yates-sexton-calls-hillbilly-elegy-traditional-right-wing-propaganda-1541515 Andrew Prokop, “A new report complicates simplistic narratives about race and the 2020 election,” Vox, May 10th, 2021. https://www.vox.com/2021/5/10/22425178/catalist-report-2020-election-biden-trump-demographics ; Igor Derysh, “Mercers, Thiel Drop Millions Into “Hillbilly Elegy” Author’s Possible Senate Run,” Truthout, March 16th, 2021. https://truthout.org/articles/mercers-thiel-drop-millions-into-hillbilly-elegy-authors-possible-senate-run/ ; John Amato, “JD Vance Goes Fascist: ‘Seize And Tax Assets’ Of Non Profits,” Crooks and Liars, September 29th, 2021. https://crooksandliars.com/2021/09/jd-vance-goes-full-fascist-sieze-assets ; Igor Derysh, “Peter Thiel bets on the far right: Tech tycoon spending millions to bankroll “Trump wing” of GOP,” Salon, October 15th, 2021. https://www.salon.com/2021/10/15/peter-thiel-bets-on-the-far-right-tech-tycoon-spending-millions-to-bankroll-trump-wing-of/
  37. Peter Montgomery, “‘We Are Now in Wartime,’ Right-Wing Activist Mario Murillo Tells Intercessors For America’s ‘Prayer Warriors,’” Right Wing Watch, October 5th, 2021. https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/we-are-now-in-wartime-right-wing-activist-mario-murillo-tells-intercessors-for-americas-prayer-warriors/
  38. Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, 58-59.
  39. Ibid, 44.
  40. Ibid, 60.
  41. Ibid, 46.
  42. Ibid, 231.
  43. Ibid, 225.
  44. Esther Leslie, Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism, (London: Pluto Press, 2000). P. 215.
  45. Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, (New York: Schocken Books, 2007). P. 258-260.
  46. Neumann, Behemoth, 321.
  47. Paul Mattick, Anti-Bolshevik Communism, (London, Merlin Press, 2007). P. 8.
  48. Michael Harrington, Socialism: Past and Future, (New York: Arcade Publishing, Inc., 1989). P. 259.
  49. Ibid, 251.
  50. Michael Harrington, Toward a Democratic Left, (New York: Pelican Books, 1968). P. 270.
  51. Michael Harrington, The Twilight of Capitalism, (New York: Macmillan Press LTD, 1976). P. 211.
  52. Ibid, Toward a Democratic Left, 201-206. ; Ibid, “Socialism Informs the Best of Our Politics,” In These Times, December 15th, 2020. https://inthesetimes.com/article/socialism-dsa-democratic-socialists-gramsci-capitalism-corporatism
  53. Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, 258-259.
  54. Ibid, 257.
  55. Buber, Paths in Utopia, 137.
  56. Robert Kagan, “Opinion: Our constitutional crisis is already here,” The Washington Post, September 23rd, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/23/robert-kagan-constitutional-crisis/
  57. David Sirota, “The Democrats Are Trying to Lose,” Jacobin, December 20th, 2021. https://jacobinmag.com/2021/12/the-democrats-are-trying-to-lose/
  58. Bhaskar Sunkara, “The Left in Purgatory,” Jacobin, February 15th, 2020. https://jacobinmag.com/2022/02/the-left-in-purgatory/
  59. Catherine Liu, Virtue Hoarders: The Case against the Professional Managerial Class, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2021). P. 3.
  60. Ibid, 73.
  61. Zak Cope and Torkil Lauesen, “Introduction” in Marx and Engels On Colonies, Industrial Monopoly, & The Working Class Movement, (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2016). P. 34-52
  62. Brett Wilkins, “As Americans Demand Tax Reforms, Analysis Finds Top 1% Hold More Wealth Than Whole Middle Class,” Common Dreams, October 8th, 2021. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/10/08/americans-demand-tax-reforms-analysis-finds-top-1-hold-more-wealth-whole-middle
  63. Leslie, Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism, 2.
  64. Ibid, 218.
  65. Walter Benjamin, “Benjamin to Scholem” in The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem 1932-1940, (New York: Schocken Books, 1989). P. 153.
  66. Leslie, Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism, 131.
  67. Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, and Otto Kircheimer, Secrets Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort, edited by Raffaele Laudani, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2013). P. 3
  68. Ibid, 8.
  69. Benjamin Balthaser, “Jewish Currents Goes Back to Brunch: On Antisemitism and Left Strategy,” Verso Press, April 12th, 2021. https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/5050-jewish-currents-goes-back-to-brunch-on-antisemitism-and-left-strategy
  70. Daniel Liechty, “Biography,” Ernest Becker Foundation. https://ernestbecker.org/about-becker/biography/
  71. Ernest Becker, “What is Basic Human Nature?” in Angels in Armor: a Post-Freudian Perspective on the Nature of Man, (New York: George Braziller Inc, 1969). P. 184 and 166-167.
  72. Ibid, 166-167.
  73. Ibid, 185
  74. Ibid, 169
  75. Ibid, 170.
  76. Ibid, 177-178.
  77. Ibid, 179.
  78. Ibid, 178.
  79. Ibid, 185-186.
  80. Kevin B. Anderson and Russell Rockwell, The Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence, (New York: Lexington Books, 2012). P. xlix; Raya Dunayevskaya, “In Memoriam” in The Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence, Edited by Kevin B. Anderson and Russell Rockwell, 237.
  81. Jan Baars and Peer Scheepers, “Theoretical and Methodological Foundations of the Authoritarian Personality,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Volume 29, October 1993; Kevin B. Anderson and Russell Rockwell, “Introduction” in The Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence, xviii.
  82. Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom, (New York: Avon Books, 1969). P. 231-232.
  83. Theodor Adorno, “Remarks on the Authoritarian Personality” in Theodor Adorno et al, The Authoritarian Personality, (New York: Verso Press, 2019). P. xlii.
  84. Ibid, liii.
  85. Herbert Marcuse, “Status and Prospects of German Trade-Union and Works Councils” in Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort, 557; Ibid, “The Potentials of World Communism,” in Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort, 591.
  86. Fromm, Escape from Freedom, 237.
  87. Ibid, 238.
  88. Ibid, 244.
  89. Ibid, 244-245.
  90. Clara Zetkin, “The Struggle Against Fascism,” in Marxists.org Archive. https://www.marxists.org/archive/zetkin/1923/06/struggle-against-fascism.html & Mike Taber and John Riddell, eds., Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win. (Haymarket Books, 2017).
  91. Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, (New York: Routledge Classics, 2008). P. 12-20.
  92. Ibid, 250-252.
  93. Ibid, 267.
  94. Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, 365.
  95. Ibid, 199.
  96. When it came to the actual practice of political involvement, Fromm tended toward a more conservative approach than some of his own theoretical conclusions. As Marxist humanist and feminist philosopher Raya Dunayevskaya put it in her 1980 eulogy, this was “not because he was moving away from Marxism, but coming closer to it.” Raya Dunayevskaya, “In Memoriam” in The Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence, Edited by Kevin B. Anderson and Russell Rockwell, 236-239.
  97. Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 31, (New York: International Publishers, 1987). P. 78.
  98. Daniel Jose Camacho, “On ‘Sacrificing the Weak’ and These Malthusian Times,” Sojourners, April 22nd, 2020. https://sojo.net/articles/sacrificing-weak-and-these-malthusian-times
  99. Jon Queally, “Billionaires ‘Had a Terrific Pandemic’ While Inequality Killed Millions: Oxfam,” Common Dreams, January 17th, 2022. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/01/17/billionaires-had-terrific-pandemic-while-inequality-killed-millions-oxfam
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