The Frankfurt School…
The Frankfurt School (German: Frankfurter Schule), group of researchers associated with the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, who applied Marxism to a radical interdisciplinary social theory. The Institute for Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung) was founded by Carl Grünberg in 1923 as an adjunct of the University of Frankfurt; it was the first Marxist-oriented research center affiliated with a major German university. Max Horkheimer took over as director in 1930 and recruited many talented theorists, including T.W. Adorno, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, and Walter Benjamin.
The task of the Frankfurt School was sociological analysis and interpretation of the areas of social-relation that Marx did not discuss in the 19th century – especially in the base and superstructure aspects of a capitalist society.
Most of the institute’s scholars were forced to leave Germany after Adolf Hitler’s accession to power (1933), and many found refuge in the United States. The Institute for Social Research thus became affiliated with Columbia University until 1949, when it returned to Frankfurt.
“Frankfurt School of leftist German–Jewish émigrés, who took refuge on Morningside Heights at Columbia in New York during the 1930s and 1940s. Its director, Max Horkheimer, arranged for the Institute of Social Research, with most of its books and property intact (unusual for most Jewish–German émigrés), to find a temporary home. This ambivalent but fruitful entry of German scholars versed in Hegelian– Marxist dialectics and having escaped the darkness of the Holocaust into the brightly lit American world of positivist science and essentially optimistic outlook created some extraordinary intellectual achievements. Rather silently at first as they barely spoke English and published mostly in German, this group greatly influenced postwar American intellectual life
…..the Frankfurt School had a quietly pervasive influence on American intellectuals in the 1940s after they abandoned their deliberate “splendid isolation” of the mid-1930s when their funding began to run out, perhaps even more long-term influence than when Herbert Marcuse (Eros and Civilization, 1955; One-Dimensional Man, 1964) became the apparent “guru” of the New Left in the 1960s.” – Jeffrey Fear The Frankfurt School in Exile (review) Article in Enterprise and Society 13(1):231-234 · January 2012
The members of the Frankfurt School tried to develop a theory of society that was based on Marxism and Hegelian philosophy but which also utilized the insights of psychoanalysis, sociology, existential philosophy, and other disciplines. They used basic Marxist concepts to analyze the social relations within capitalist economic systems. This approach, which became known as “critical theory,” yielded influential critiques of large corporations and monopolies, the role of technology, the industrialization of culture, and the decline of the individual within capitalist society. Fascism and authoritarianism were also prominent subjects of study. Much of this research was published in the institute’s journal, Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung (1932–41; “Journal for Social Research”).
The purpose of critical theory is to analyze the true significance of the ruling understandings (the dominant ideology) generated in bourgeois society, by showing that the dominant ideology misrepresents how human relations occur in the real world, and how such misrepresentations function to justify and legitimate the domination of people by capitalism.
In layman’s terms, criticize everything in order to tear it down and destroy it so that a Marxist Utopia can be created in it’s place. Like the foundations of U.S. Society for example.
The second phase of Frankfurt School critical theory centers principally on two works: Adorno and Horkheimer‘s Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) and Adorno’s Minima Moralia (1951). The authors wrote both works during the Institute’s exile in America. While retaining much of a Marxian analysis, in these works critical theory shifted its emphasis from the critique of capitalism to a critique of Western civilization as a whole.
Subversion (from the Latin word subvertere, ‘overthrow’) refers to a process by which the values and principles of a system in place are contradicted or reversed, in an attempt to transform the established social order and its structures of power, authority, hierarchy, and social norms. Subversion can be described as an attack on the public morale and, “the will to resist intervention are the products of combined political and social or class loyalties which are usually attached to national symbols. Following penetration, and parallel with the forced disintegration of political and social institutions of the state, these loyalties may be detached and transferred to the political or ideological cause of the aggressor”. Subversion is used as a tool to achieve political goals because it generally carries less risk, cost, and difficulty as opposed to open belligerency. Furthermore, it is a relatively cheap form of warfare that does not require large amounts of training. Subversion can imply the use of insidious, dishonest, monetary, or violent methods to bring about such change.
The problem with defining the term subversion is that there is not a single definition that is universally accepted. Charles Townshend described subversion as a term, “so elastic as to be virtually devoid of meaning, and its use does little more than convey the enlarged sense of the vulnerability of modern systems to all kinds of covert assaults”. What follows are some of the many attempts to define the term:
Subversion is the undermining or detachment of the loyalties of significant political and social groups within the victimized state, and their transference, under ideal conditions, to the symbols and institutions of the aggressor.”
Subversion — “A destructive, aggressive activity aimed to destroy the country, nation, or geographical area of your enemy… [by demoralizing the cultural values and changing the population’s perception of reality].
Subversion — Roger Trinquier defined subversion as a term that could be lumped together under the name modern warfare, “as being interlocking systems of actions, political, economic, psychological and military that aims at the overthrow of established authority in a country.
Defining and understanding subversion means identifying entities, structures, and things that can be subverted. Furthermore, it may help to identify practices and tools that are not subversive. Institutions and morals can be subverted, but ideology on the other hand cannot.
The fall of a government or the creation of a new government as a result of an external war is not subversion. Espionage does not count as subversion because it is not an action that leads directly to an overthrow of a government. However information gathered from espionage may be used to plan and carry out subversive activities.
To gain an understanding of what is considered to be subversive requires understanding the intent of those taking action. This makes defining and identifying subversion a difficult process. As Laurence Beilenson points out, “to criticize a government in an effort to reform it or to change its policies is not subversion, even though such criticism may contribute to overthrow. But criticism intended to help a projected overthrow becomes subversive without regard to whether it is right or wrong.”
Subversion can generally be broken down into internal and external subversion, but this distinction is not meant to imply that each follows a specific set of unique and separate tools and practices. Each subversive campaign is different because of the social, political, economic, cultural, and historical differences that each country has. Subversive activities are employed based upon an evaluation of these factors. This breakdown merely clarifies who the actors are. While the subversive actors may be different, the soon to be subverted targets are the same. As Paul Blackstock identifies, the ruling and political elites are the ultimate targets of persuasion because they control the physical instruments of state power.
Internal subversion is actions taken by those within a country and can be used as a tool of power. In most cases the use or threat of force is the last step of internal subversion.
External subversion is actions taken by another country in cooperation with those inside the subverted country and can be used as a tool of statecraft. Foreign volunteers from another country are not enough to qualify for external subversion. The reason for this is that the individuals may legitimately share the cause of the internal subversive dissidents and have legitimately volunteered. Only when the government itself furnishes a nation with money, arms, supplies, or other help to dissidents can it be called external subversion.
Subversive actions can generally be grouped into three interrelated categories:
- Establishing front groups and penetrating and manipulating existing political parties
- Infiltrating the armed forces, the police, and other institutions of the state, as well as important non-government organizations
- Generating civil unrest through demonstrations, strikes, and boycotts.
Other factors, while not specifically falling into these categories, may also be useful to subversive dissidents. Additionally, many tools may overlap into other groups of tools as well. As an example, subversives may infiltrate an organization for cultural subversion more so than for control. Civil unrest may be used to provoke the government into a violent response.
Infiltration and establishing front groups….
In order for a group to be successful in subverting a government, the group itself and its ideas must be seen as an acceptable alternative to the status quo. However, groups that work toward subverting a government, in many cases, follow ideas and promote goals that on their surface would not receive the support of the population. Therefore, “to gain public credibility, attract new supporters, generate revenue, and acquire other resources, groups need to undertake political activities that are entirely separate, or appear separate, from the overtly violent activities of those groups. Sometimes this is achieved by infiltrating political parties, labor unions, community groups, and charitable organizations.”
Infiltrating organizations is an important tool because these institutions are already seen as legitimate in the eyes of the people and provide a platform to express their ideas. When infiltrating, the dissident identifies needs of the organization and then links those needs to solutions that his ideology can provide. This was a technique that the Communist Party USA employed. Once the organization has been co-opted, the dissident can then move on to establishing ties with other groups. Furthermore, in addition to gaining possible legitimacy for its ideas the infiltration of these groups can, “bolster political allies, attack government policies, and attract international support”. If some organizations are too difficult to infiltrate, it may be necessary to create new organizations that appear to be independent but are actually under the direction of the subversive group.
The infiltration of state organizations can provide subversive groups the opportunity to do many things to achieve their goals. The infiltration of security forces can provide information about the government’s capabilities and how they plan to address the group’s activities. Infiltration also provides the opportunity to plant false information, lead the government to misallocate resources, to steal funds, weapons, equipment, and other resources, and ultimately aid in weakening and delegitimizing the government. The targets of infiltration are not limited to the groups and institutions mentioned above. Economic industries and universities have also been the target for infiltration. In the case of universities, the liberal arts departments are more prone to subversion than the hard sciences.
Russian and French methods…
The French intelligence community in particular uses the term guerre de l’information, or “information warfare.”
The DGSE in particular, always use the nouns “interference” (ingérence, in French) and “counter-interference” (contre-ingérence) to name “subversion” and “counter-subversion” respectively.
The expression “awareness raising” “was a Soviet import that occurred in France during the preparatory stage of the riots and general strikes of May 1968.
Remarkably, French experts in domestic influence and subversion use colloquially the noun “sleepwalkers” (somnanbules, in French) to call “all ordinary people composing the masses. The reason justifying the choice of this noun, pejorative in a sense, is that an overwhelming majority of ʻordinary peopleʼ is unable to make the difference between neutral and objective information (news) and influence and propaganda.