This episode of the Power Line Show features an interview with Michael Walsh about his fascinating recent book The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West.
Walsh explains how most of the nihilistic radicalism of our time derives from the “Frankfurt School,” the group of mid-20th century emigre philosophers whose eclectic post-Marxist thought can be found at the root of nearly everything wrong today. The “Frankfurters” recognized early the failure of conventional Marxism based on pure economics and materialism, and birthed cultural Marxism—”critical theory”—to take its place. Culture replaces economics as the tool to ensure the dominance of capitalism. It has the virtue of being a non-falsifiable miasma of theory that Explains Everything, and is endlessly adaptable. Overturn just about any radical thinker today and, to paraphrase the famous Bertrand Russell story, you’re likely to find that it’s “Frankfurters all the way down,”* even when today’s radicals have no grasp of the pedigree of their ideology.
John and I also discuss several recent news headlines over wine in his kitchen in Minnesota, which may explain some of the sound effects in the background. You can access the show right here, or from our Power Line Show window over on the right hand column.
* There are several versions of apocryphal Bertrand Russell story. This is Stephen Hawking’s version:
Russell once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”