The Other McCain

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Godless Commies: The Critical Theory Cult and The Devil’s Pleasure Palace

Posted on | September 1, 2015 | 72 Comments


“The greatest difference in the universe . . . is the difference between nothing and something, between an infinity of darkness and a single point of light. . . . It is the difference between atheism and God.”
Michael Walsh, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West

A decade ago, when my oldest daughter Kennedy was 16, I drove her and her friend Mandy to Creation, a Christian music festival in Pennsylvania. As we were driving along, something inspired me to start talking about Communism, and I mentioned that when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, this was a miraculous event that answered the prayers of millions. Then I explained how, growing up a Baptist in Georgia, I learned to despise “godless Commies,” who had persecuted Christians in Russia, China and everywhere else Marxist-Leninist regimes gained power.

“You kids have no idea what it was like,” I said, attempting to explain the constant terror of growing up in the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball nuclear standoff with the potential to annihilate humanity. As a boy growing up, I knew that my Uncle Casper fought the godless Commies in Vietnam, and when I was in second grade, the local park in Douglasville was named in honor of a hero in that war:

Robert Gerald “Jerry” Hunter left his native Douglas County to attend the Citadel, where he graduated with honors. He joined the Air Force, became a fighter pilot, and was deployed to Vietnam. On May 25, 1966, Hunter was on his 34th combat mission when his F-105 jet was shot down near the Laotian border. He bailed out — his comrades saw the parachute — and it was initially believed that he had survived. The 25-year-old pilot was listed as missing in action, and the Air Force promoted him from first lieutenant to captain while rescuers searched for him. Hunter’s family, including his young bride Laura, prayerfully waited for word that he had been recovered safely. Seven weeks later, however, the sad news came that his remains had been found in Laos, where he had apparently died of injuries. First Baptist Church in Douglasville overflowed with mourners at his funeral and local businesses closed early that afternoon in honor of Captain Hunter, Douglas County’s first casualty in the Vietnam War.

Kids don’t know that history, and they are fortunate not to live under the shadow of the existential menace of Communism, the bloodiest tyranny in the history of the world. So on that summer day in 2005, I tried to explain to my daughter and her friend why the Soviet Union — the “Evil Empire,” as Ronald Reagan called it — inspired such resolute opposition from Christians. Marxism is an explicitly atheist philosophy, and the Communist is bound by no morality whatsoever. Communists are always deliberate liars, who believe that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” justifies any deception necessary to advance their cause, and Communists kill without remorse, unrestrained by conscience. The disciples of that deadly doctrine were responsible for the deaths of some 100 million people in the 20th century. The collapse of the Soviet Union was achieved only after decades of conflict and tension between the free world, led by the United States, and the International Communist Conspiracy headquartered in Moscow.

This history, and the sense of what it meant to grow up in the Cold War era, was what I sought to convey to my daughter and her friend on that drive through the Pennsylvania countryside. During this improvised lecture — something of a sermon, really — I kept repeating the phrase “godless Commies,” which subsequently became an inside joke between us. My daughter and her husband came to visit us over the past weekend, and her friend Mandy joined us for a family dinner, and I got a laugh out of them when, discussing recent news events, I asked the rhetorical question, “You know what the problem is, don’t you?”

“Godless Commies!” Mandy replied.

Yes, the battlefield has shifted, but the enemy remains the same, and this post-Cold War “twilight struggle” of the Culture War is what Michael Walsh examines in The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West. Walsh’s choice of the word “subversion” is apt, because the effort by Marxists to subvert the culture of the West did not stop after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Godless Commies are everywhere in 21st-century America — in academia, in media, in Hollywood and in government. It is remarkable that Hillary Clinton, who certainly could be described as what anti-Communists used to call a “pinko” or “fellow traveler,” finds herself challenged for the Democrat Party nomination by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist. Clearly, this is not the Democrat Party I was raised in, because there is a world of difference between old-fashioned AFL-CIO liberalism (my father was a member of the Machinists union) and the neo-Bolshevik radicalism of today’s “progressive” Democrats.

The Devil’s Pleasure Palace is an examination of a subversive worldview that has been variously called “political correctness” or “Cultural Marxism,” which Walsh identifies by its academic moniker Critical Theory. Whatever it is called, this intellectual virus was brought to America in the 1940s by a group of left-wing refugees — including Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich — who are generally known as the Frankfurt School because of their former associations with the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany. Embraced by the avant-garde of American academia, the ideas of the Frankfurt School has enormous influence after World War II. One of their key ideas, given a patina of “scientific” credibility by Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality, was the belief that the traditional family was a breeding ground of fascism. This provided the Left with a trite pseudo-Freudian explanation of anti-Communism as rooted in neurotic insecurities. The Frankfurt School’s “diagnosis” of conservatism as a form of mental illness was notoriously echoed in 1964, when a left-wing smear offered the consensus of nearly 1,200 psychiatrists that Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was “psychologically unfit to be President.”

However, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace is not a dry factual history of the Frankfurt Schools ideas and influence. Michael Walsh is a highly literary man — a screenwriter and novelist, and former classical music critic of Time magazine — who seeks to evoke the humane impulses of artistic creativity in opposition to the soul-crushing forces that Critical Theory empowers. Exposing the hostility of this crypto-Marxist ideology toward that which is spiritual in man’s nature, Walsh appeals to the finest traditions of Western culture, deriving his book’s title from Franz Schubert’s first opera, Des Teufels Lustschloss. Walsh’s book bristles with references to classical music (e.g., Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner) and philosophy (e.g., Aristotle, Rousseau, Nietzsche), as well as literature and films, including Casablanca, High Noon, The Wild One, The Godfather and Independence Day. Adding to this arsenal of high culture, however, Walsh also dares to invoke the religious foundation of Western civilization, citing the Book of Genesis to explain the eternal conflict of human history: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die . . . ye shall be as gods.”

Believing this satanic lie made Original Sin our inherited condition, and human rebellion against God’s sovereignty began with the impudent desire to usurp divine authority — a “liberation” that results in violence, misery and death. Like the serpent in Eden, the godless Commies tempt us to imagine ourselves freed from God’s law, so that law is no longer a matter of transcendent morality, but is instead simply a matter of power. The destruction of religious belief is necessary to the success of this political wickedness, and the all-powerful State must also destroy the family, as Walsh explains:

Like Satan, the modern leftist state is jealous of the family’s preprogatives, enraged by its power, and it seeks to replace this with its own authority; the satanic condition of “rage,” in fact, is one of the Left’s favorite words (e.g., in 1969, the “Days of Rage” in Chicago) as well as one of its chief attributes. The ongoing, expansive redefinition of what constitutes a “family” is part of the Left’s assault. . . .
Soviet Communism . . . understood this well. Destroy the family, seize the children, and give the insupportable notion of a Marxist post-Eden replacement paradise a purchase on power for at least one more generation. American youth who grew up in the 1950s, as I did, heard numerous horror stories of Russian children who informed on their own parents. . . . Probably the most famous was the thirteen-year-old Pavlik Morozov, an instantly mythologized Soviet Young Pioneer who informed on his father to the secret police and was in turn murdered by “reactionary” members of his own family, who were later rounded up and shot. Whether the story is actually true — and post-Soviet scholarship suggests that it was largely fabricated — the Soviet myth required just such an object lesson and just such a martyr to the Communist cause.

Nothing is more important to the Left than the political “cause” because no personal loyalty — not even to one’s own family — can be permitted to challenge the power of the total State, which arrogates to itself the authority to direct and control every aspect of our lives. Pavlik Morozov’s betrayal of his “reactionary” parents is a model for how the government school system now requires children to reject the moral authority of their parents. Teaching the child to hate Mom and Dad — to despise his parents as ignorant, racist, sexist, homophobic bigots — is the most important lesson of the modern public school, and this lesson is reinforced daily by the educational bureaucrats who are paid with tax dollars to indoctrine children with an anti-religious, anti-family, anti-American ideology. But I’m ranting again, eh?

Godless Commies! We can never hate them as much as they deserve to be hated, nor can we hate them as much as they hate us, because they hate us with a fanatical fury that a Christian cannot even imagine. It would be a sin to hate anyone that much, but the godless Commies don’t believe in sin, and so they are free to indulge their hatred, which is infinite.

The Critical Theory cult promises to create a utopia of “equality,” yet lacks any real creativity, because it is inspired by a spirit of destruction manifested in a limitless lust for power, with which to punish its enemies. Walsh points out how Herbert Marcuse “celebrated ‘polymorphous perversity,’ advocating the liberating power of sex” as a means to weaken “the foundations of the society he sought to undermine.” Yet this attack on sexual morality produced consequences that the prophets of “liberation” failed to foretell, as Walsh explains:

The attack on normative heterosexuality . . . invariably disguised as a movement for “rights” . . . is fundamental to the success of Critical Theory. . . If a wedge could be driven between men and women, if the nuclear family could be cracked, if women could be convinced to fear and hate men . . . then that poliitcal party that had adopted Critical Theory could make single women one of their strongest voting blocs. . . .
The result has been entirely predictable: masculinized women, feminized men, falling rates of childbirth in the Western world, and the creation of a technocratic political class that can type but do little real work n the traditional sense. Co-educational college campuses have quickly mutated from sexually segregated living quarters to co-ed dorms to the “hookup culture” . . . to a newly puritanical and explicitly anti-male “rape culture” hysteria, in which sexual commissars promulgate step-by-step rules for sexual encounters and often dispense completely with due process when adjudicating complaints from female students.

This result was “predictable,’ as Walsh said, to those who understood human nature as a fixed quantity that could not be infinitely molded to fit the theories of godless Commies. Yet if the soul-crushing misery the Left has delivered is nothing like the paradise of “equality” they promised, the cult of Critical Theory has at least kept its promise to destroy the traditional American society that was always the target of the Left’s vengeful hatred. Very little remains of the America that triumphed in World War II and then endured the “long twilight struggle” to emerge victorious in the Cold War. Having captured control of the educational system, the godless Commies have relentlessly purged religious faith from our nation’s schools and colleges, so that no sincere Christian could possibly hope to be hired in American higher education, even if any Christian were willing to work within the satanic pulpits of academia.

Is there any hope at all? Can we defeat these godless Commies and rescue civilization from annihilation by the cult of Critical Theory? Michael Walsh believes there is still reason to hope, if only the American people can summon the courage to keep fighting:

Facing overwhelming odds at Thermopylae, the Greeks under the Spartan king Leonidas responded to Persian demands that they surrender their weapons with these words for the ages: “Molon labe.” “Come and take them.”

We live in an evil age, and are confronted with the infinite darkness of oblivion, yet there is still hope in that single point of light that is the difference between atheism and God.



72 Responses to “Godless Commies: The Critical Theory Cult and The Devil’s Pleasure Palace”

  1. Blue
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 9:26 am

    Oh, I would disagree that “progressives” have personally stolen those hopes, but have rather played off current economic circumstances for political gain. The regulatory environment in the financial sector has been the key factor in our economic demise over the last 30 plus years, and has caused instability not seen in the 50 years preceding it. Couple that with post industrialization, and the quick rise of IT, which most workers had neither the skills, or training for, and our current state is the result.

  2. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 9:27 am

    That’s the price of free will, but it is not God doing the bad thing.

  3. JohnnyL53
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 10:06 am

    The best history book you can read on the 20th century.

  4. ripple947
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 11:53 am

    Interesting…I did not know that he wrote once for ISR. But as part of the Freudian circle who treated patients (in some pretty idiosyncratic ways) he did not run with the Frankfurt crowd of intellectuals. His view of sexuality, bizarre in its own way, was quite different from that of the “free love” pushed by Marcuse.

  5. Daniel Freeman
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

    Ha! So we could say that Obamacare was a flare-up of America’s communerpes.

  6. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 2:49 pm

    George Will obviously leans Establishment, but he is an actual conservative. He is not a complete poser like David Brooks.

  7. Why SJW look mad. | Dark Brightness
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 7:19 pm

    […] Nothing is more important to the Left than the political “cause” because no personal loyalty — not even to one’s own family — can be permitted to challenge the power of the total State, which arrogates to itself the authority to direct and control every aspect of our lives. Pavlik Morozov’s betrayal of his “reactionary” parents is a model for how the government school system now requires children to reject the moral authority of their parents. Teaching the child to hate Mom and Dad — to despise his parents as ignorant, racist, sexist, homophobic bigots — is the most important lesson of the modern public school, and this lesson is reinforced daily by the educational bureaucrats who are paid with tax dollars to indoctrine children with an anti-religious, anti-family, anti-American ideology. But I’m ranting again, eh? […]

  8. Quartermaster
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 8:11 pm

    He’s mostly a preening fool. He doesn’t just lean establishment, he is establishment. He does get somethings right, just as every GOPe type does. That’s to be expected. But they are normally simply useful idiots for the left, and that fits Will to a “T.”

  9. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 8:40 pm

    I would put him about the same as Hugh Hewitt. On a scale of 1 to 10 with -3 being David Brooks and 9.5 being Rush Limbaugh…I would put Will as a 5. For a TV pundit token conservative, that is not bad. I would put O’Reilly as a 2.5.

  10. Fail Burton
    September 2nd, 2015 @ 9:33 pm

    I don’t agree it’s the most trivial form. It is highly organized in its rhetoric. Cultural Marxism on the other hand doesn’t even have any real meaning to me. Lesbian supremacist ideology based on plausible lunacy is tearing up gaming, science fiction and college campuses.

  11. Quartermaster
    September 3rd, 2015 @ 7:04 am

    O’Reilly and Will really aren’t much different. O’Reilly loves the sound of his own voice and generally reveals his leftist bias. The problem with judging Will is that it takes longer as he is more circumspect about what he says.
    Brooks and O’Reilly are simply poseurs. Will hides it a bit better, but I’d put him at about 3.

  12. Bob Belvedere
    September 3rd, 2015 @ 10:00 am

    We on the Right tend to forget that the Rockefeller-Ford-Michel-Bush Wing of the GOP was exactly as you say.

    And that The Raygun and his crew were despised as much as the TEA Party is today by the tuskless elephants.

  13. Ilion
    September 3rd, 2015 @ 10:20 am

    While many forget, I’ve never forgotten — hmmm, maybe I’m an elephant (*), after all.

    (*) While I’m registered as a Republican — I would never vote for a member of the Party of Treason and Dead Babies even for dog-catcher — I have never *considered* myself to be one, but rather a small-c conservative.

    Even my grandmother — a Yankee-hating Southerner — hated the Democrats long before they became the Party of Treason and Dead Babies. I’m sure she had good reason.

  14. Bob Belvedere
    September 3rd, 2015 @ 10:41 am

    Same here.

  15. Jason Lee
    September 4th, 2015 @ 8:14 am

    I’d give brooks a 1, will a 6 rush a 9 and oreilly — an I, for incoherent.

  16. Adolph
    September 6th, 2015 @ 4:01 pm


  17. Adolph
    September 6th, 2015 @ 4:09 pm

    Ayn Rand was a lying Bolshevik…

  18. Adolph
    September 6th, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

    Marxism is a religious cult.

  19. Adolph
    September 6th, 2015 @ 4:12 pm

    ??????? ?????? ?????? ? ????? ? ????… ???? ??????? ???????????? ??????… ???????? ???????? ????????? ?????.

  20. Adolph
    September 6th, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

    When the Iron Curtain came down, the Bolsheviks all fled to the other side because they knew what the Russians would do to them after 100 years of communism.

  21. Adolph
    September 6th, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

    “I have been just as furious as you at the compilation of lies which the communist and Semitic elements of our government have leveled against me and practically every other commander. In my opinion it is a deliberate attempt to alienate the soldier vote from the commanders, because the communists know that soldiers are not communistic, and they fear what eleven million votes (of veterans) would do.” (George Patton)

  22. Adolph
    September 6th, 2015 @ 4:29 pm

    Read the Russian writers…