Friday, August 5, 2011

"Cultural Conservatives": Prophets of Deceit

In the late 1940s, the American Jewish Committee sponsored a series of reports titled Studies in Prejudice, under the direction of Max Horkheimer. In one of the volumes, Prophets of Deceit: A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator, Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman analyzed a large collection of texts written by pro-fascist, anti-Semitic "personalities", such as Gerald L.K. Smith and Father Charles Coughlin. Horkheimer described the book's theme in his foreword to the five volume series:
The agitator's technique of persuasion, the mechanism of mediation that translates inchoate feeling into specific belief and action make up the theme of that volume. As mediator between the world and the individual psyche, the agitator molds already existing prejudices and tendencies into overt doctrines and ultimately into overt action.
Lowenthal's and Guterman's analysis is book-ended by a composite, generic speech typifying what the agitator says and, at the end, what he means. This generic speech reads like an X-ray of today's right-wing rant against "Political Correctness, cultural Marxism, multiculturalism and the Frankfurt School" (henceforth PCCMMFS) recited by William S. Lind, Patrick J. Buchanan (see chapter four of his 2002 The Death of the West), Raymond V. Raehn (a contributor the the Lind pamphlet plagiarized by Breivik and bridge to the original Larouchite conspiracy theory article -- the primary source for Buchanan's "Four Who Made a Revolution" fantasy in his chapter four), the herd of independent-minded Islamophobe radio, television and blog demogogues and the confessed Oslo mass murderer, Anders Breivik.

A case in point (and this exercise can be repeated ad nauseum)is William Lind's "Who Stole Our Culture," which appeared in The Culture-wise Family: Upholding Christian Values in a Mass Media World," By Dr. Ted Baehr and Pat Boone. In this short piece, Lind recites the catechism of the fractured cultural conservative history of the PCCMMFS conspiracy to destroy Western civilization by making America a sleazy, decadent place to live in. Note that one of the sub-headings in Lind's essay is "Studies in Prejudice." The embedded document ("Read more...") places the two texts, "The Agitator Speaks" and "Who Stole Our Culture," side-by-side. Separated in publication by 60 years, they are nevertheless mutually referential. I leave it to the reader to judge which text is more accurate and insightful in its depiction of the other.

Lind the Agitator

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