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All Bark, No Bite:
Michael Walsh on the Frankfurt School

WalshDevilsPleasurePalace1,526 words

Michael Walsh
The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West
New York: Encounter Books, 2015

I had high hopes for Michael Walsh’s The Devil’s Pleasure Palace: a mini-history of the Frankfurt School and its pernicious effects on Western Civilization. This is a story that definitely needs to be told, even if the horse we’re beating has been dying for a while now. Kevin MacDonald dedicates an entire chapter to the Frankfurt School in The Culture of Critique. MacDonald identifies the Frankfurt School as a group of mostly Jewish intellectuals who used what’s known as “Critical Theory” to undermine Western Civilization. These intellectuals included Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, George Lukács, Herbert Marcuse, and others, who in many cases owed as much to Freud as to Marx. According to MacDonald, Critical Theory was an evolutionary — and very racial — strategy to rid the world of anti-Semitism. The Frankfurters did this by producing “theory” which condemned all things that bind gentiles together culturally, namely race, country, religion, and family. When whites are single, agnostic, cosmopolitan, and non-racial, they found, they would be less likely to hate Jews. Whether such developments would harm gentiles in the long run was not their concern.

In any case, the Frankfurt School has had a devastating effect on the world, especially on that of white gentiles. So any book criticizing the criticizers should be a welcome addition to the growing canon of Alt-Right literature. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, noticing William Kristol’s and Victor Davis Hanson’s endorsements on the back of the dust jacket sleeve was the first bad sign. Immediately, I thought, “It’s not going to use the J word.”

And I was right.

Imagine someone writing a history of the NBA and only mentioning in passing once or twice that the vast majority of the best players are black. That, in a nutshell, explains the approach of The Devil’s Pleasure Palace.

The book, of course, is not without worth. It is astonishingly, it somewhat gratuitously, erudite. It is also very Christian. When Mr. Walsh talks about the Devil’s pleasure palace, he means it quite literally. He refers to God and Jesus like a sermonizing pastor and always describes the left as unholy with a capital U. Remember the serpent in the Garden of Eden, tempting Eve with knowledge? Well, that’s the Frankfurt School tempting America’s youth with promises of a glorious cultural revolution and a politically correct socialist utopia. Throughout the book we have extensive references to the Bible, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Goethe’s Faust, Mann’s Doctor Faustus, and the mythological pontifications of Joseph Campbell. The Good-versus-Evil, Hero-versus-Villain story paradigm is something the Frankfurt School, with its academic and scientific trappings, sought to eradicate and replace with moral relativism. Mr. Walsh does a good job of pointing out the dire ramifications of such elevated sophistry, namely, the cheapening of Western culture, our increased cynicism and nihilism, the broadening of the Leviathan state, our lack of will to fight and defend ourselves, and our willingness to embrace hostile Islamic immigration, to name a few.

Mr. Walsh also has a lot to say about classical music, Wagner, especially, given the mythological sources of many of his operas. He points to Wagner and his famous “Tristan Chord” as the beginning of the end of the Romantic Period in music, which led inexorably to the atonal implosion of modernism spearheaded by Schoenberg in the twentieth century. He sees the abandonment of the tonal center in music to be perfectly analogous to the Frankfurt School’s abandonment of (or hostility towards) traditional Western values.

Mr. Walsh also loves movies, apparently, and peppers his prose with so many off-the-cuff movie references, from Zinneman’s High Noon to Antonioni’s Blow-up to Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan that one could engage in a drinking game every time a movie is mentioned.

For a young, bright, libertarian-minded college student, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace would make a nice primer on why he should shift his viewpoints rightward. The book is a veritable treasure trove of Western culture, and, armed with Google, a young person can learn quite a bit in a short period. Older people too, since I had never heard of Eric Hoffer before reading Mr. Walsh. Now, I know Hoffer as a mid-twentieth century conservative philosopher and longshoreman whom I need to read. Thank you, Mr. Walsh.

As nice as it is that Mr. Walsh decides he wants to skewer the Frankfurt School, he comes from the Hayek-Buckley axis of conservatism where race differentiates people little more than haircuts and clothing. He mentions the overall Jewishness of the Frankfurters a couple of times in passing, as if it were all a coincidence, and then, on page 84, dedicates all of two-thirds of a paragraph to the subject. Here it is:

Ascribing innate “racial” or cultural traits is a dangerous business in the aftermath of the Holocaust; still, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the members of the Frankfurt School were Jewish, as were many of the early Bolsheviks, including Trotsky, Sverdlov, and Zinoviev; like all Bolsheviks, they were fiercely anti-Jewish, banning teaching in Hebrew and religious instruction (not that it saved them from Stalin, whose own Georgian anti-Semitism rivaled Hitler’s). Nevertheless, although Jews made up a high percentage of the German intellectuals of the period, well out of proportion to their small share of the population, the philosophical terms of the debate were German, not Jewish.

There is so much stupid in this passage, one hardly knows where to begin. First, why the scare quotes over “racial” when it follows the word “innate”? Is Mr. Walsh suggesting racial traits are not innate? He is correct about how the Holocaust has made discussing Jewish racial characteristics dangerous. But so what? In the Devil’s Pleasure Palace, Mr. Walsh paints himself as a tough-minded, truth-protecting paladin in the service of a much-maligned Western Civilization. There is no end to his transcendental scorn of the Frankfurt School. So why is he suddenly getting all skittish about the Jews? It’s not like Jews are not central to his narrative. Then there’s his claim that the Frankfurt School was “anti-Jewish,” which he proves by listing a couple of anti-religious measures taken by the early Bolsheviks. First, the latter does not prove the former, obviously. Second, early Bolshevik policy was anti-religion, not anti-Jewish. All religions suffered similar restrictions in the early USSR. Finally, the Frankfurt School did not go after Judaism nearly as much as it went after Christianity. Kevin MacDonald has shown that many of the Frankfurters identified as Jewish, at least culturally, and had little negative to say about Jews and Judaism.

Finally, note how Mr. Walsh glibly resolves the Jewish question by claiming that the “philosophical terms of the debate were German, not Jewish.” He offers no proof of this, no footnote, no bibliographical source. Just his word. Indeed, earlier in the book he openly admits that the Frankfurters were influenced greatly by Marx and Freud. Yet, being Jewish had absolutely nothing to do with their designs on the Western World. Throughout the book, Mr. Walsh refers to the Frankfurters as German. They were not German. They were Jewish. They did not feel they belonged to German society even before the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s. They felt even less allegiance to Western Civilization as a whole. This is why they felt no compunctions when attempting to destroy it. You cannot find a quicker, sharper, Occam’s Razer reason than that, regardless of how “dangerous” it is to say it.

Regardless of one’s opinions of Jews, we should all realize that nobody should have it both ways. And both Jews and blacks are very good at doing just that. Whenever members of their race do something admirable, race becomes a critical part of the conversation. Note how often blacks won’t shut up about blackness when discussing the Harlem Renaissance. Note how often many Jews will crow about Jewishness when discussing Nobel laureates in physics. Yet when members of their tribes do bad things, they suddenly get cagey and defensive and ask why we need to bring up race at all.

Michael Walsh buys into this double standard completely, and his work will ultimately suffer for it. He rails against a problem without sufficiently addressing the problem’s causes. According to Mr. Walsh, the Frankfurters were simply evil. Or, in a theological sense, Evil. Well, okay. But how did they get that way? Why were they that way? Ironically, for a book that decries political correctness, it’s author yields to political correctness when it matters the most. To do so would be too “dangerous,” you see.

Since Mr. Walsh likes to reference movies wherever possible, here is one for him. Remember that great scene in Reservoir Dogs in which Mr. Blonde calmly listens to Mr. White rant and rave about their botched heist? Blonde then asks White quite provocatively, “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie? Or are you gonna bite?”

This is a question I was dying to ask Michael Walsh while reading The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. Because it seems all he wants to do is bark.



  1. Riki
    Posted July 4, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Exactly. The man is Jurgen Habermas, if my memory is correct.

  2. Riki
    Posted July 4, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    You are absolutely right, bro! It seems both you and I, and I believe many other good and perceptive people as well, hate those Frankfurt School bastards to the marrow, the hatred not being blind or irrational, but completely righteous, well-grounded, and justified.

  3. Lapp1987
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I assume that this Michael Walsh is not the same as the “Mike Walsh” who features here under his given name of McLaughlin:

    Walsh/McLaughlin writes for renegade tribune and is interviewed by the likes of Spingola. Seems to live in Spain now. Metapedia article and other writings indicate no problem with him, but when Andrew Carrington-Hitchcock interviewed him recently for Eurofolk
    “05/18/2016 Mike Walsh – Trotsky’s White Negroes”
    I found him a bit off – said Colin Jordan had had to bow out for some incident involving stealing women’s underware from a shop or similar and that he (Walsh/McLaughlin) was minded to finger Jordan as the Brit Security Services’ “Fifth Man”.
    Seemed a bit harsh given Jordan’s efforts like

    Anyway after all that I assume the two are not the same – but the latter links may be of interest to some anyway.

  4. Aiden
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    If we ever do have our own nation again can we please build a multimedia museum to the victims of Communism and forced equality?

  5. Joe
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I had this saved on Amazon and I’m glad I read this. I’ll be deleting it. I actually did read a sample of the book and something did feel off. I think this writer nailed it. He hates the Frankfurt school and Critical Theorists but he doesn’t delve into the “why” of it. Why did they write what they did? That’s what’s missing, but that’s the part that is YUGE.

  6. Posted June 26, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Stalin didn’t go anti-Jewish until the time of the “Doctor’s Plot” shortly before his death.

  7. lemur
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    The claim the Jews like to make about Lenin and co that the Bolsheviks were ‘running from their Jewishness’ and ’embracing universal man.’ This sounds a bit like the ‘terms of debate’ dodge. What’s the response to this?

    • )))Nero(((
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Hello lemur,

      it is a long term strategy for Jews to make endless delicate distinctions.
      If one group fails, they have group B and C and so on…

      Israelis are not Zionists
      Zionists are not Jews
      Jews are not Zionists
      Jews are a certain people
      Judaism is a religion, not a race

      They just try to get as much power as possible. If one group fails, they just say:
      ,,Well, it wasn’t us. Those Israelis are not the same Jews like we secular ones here in New York.”
      Then, they just do the same stuff over and over again, until they are successful.

      Those kind of distinctions are nothing more than a backup plan, to prevent total annihilation.
      Christianity is similar to that. In the German AfD are some Christian nutjobs who want to dedicate Germany to defend Israel and the Jews. Bcs they will bring birth to the Messiah.
      Jews here in Germany love to hear such things… (but still not enough)

      Have a look at this paper:

      It describes Israels new friend: China. It also explains the importance of the distinction between Jews and Israelis.

  8. Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. Censor. And I don’t know what mercilessly opposed means but I said it.

  9. Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Nobody that’s actually fucking read Civilization and Its Discontents (which can be done in twenty fucking minutes) or Sincerity and Authenticity, any of Rieff, or even Marcuse could state honestly that they were sanguine about the possibility that sexual “liberation” would bring about utopia. That’s nowhere to found *in context* and wrt sound like fucking amateurs when we repeat it.

    That’s so much of an oversimplification that it’s perilously close to a lie.

    • Posted June 25, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think many people believe or promote the idea that Freud himself advocated for broad sexual liberation, but Marcuse?

      What was Marcuse arguing for in Eros and Civilization, if not sexual liberation?

      “When we chanted “make love, not war,” my draft-resisting friends and I were echoing the words of Frankfurt School theorists such as Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown. These theorists argued against the Freudian premise that sexual desire was in permanent need of sublimation if human culture and society was to persevere.”

      That’s a quote coming straight from the horse’s mouth, one of the New Leftists who participated in the sexual revolution of the 60s, feminist Linda Williams, in the book Sex Scene. If these young radicals themselves believed they were following Marcuse in pushing sexual liberation, are you saying that they all just misread him?

      And what are Marcuse’s claims about “polymorphous perversity” and the like (e.g. “a reactivation of all erotogenic zones, and, consequently, in a resurgence of pregenital polyamorous sexuality . . . the body in its entirety would become . . . an instrument of pleasure” p.201) if not utopian?

      You seem very angry about this topic for some reason, but I’m interested to hear your take on it in a little more detail.

  10. Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    What needs to be written is a lengthy defense of what they got right and for everybody to stop overestimating their influence.

    Sexual degeneracy is a symptom of the civilizational cycle. The same shit happened in Rome. Worse even. With no (((cultural Marxists))) in sight.

    We’re approaching this issue incorrectly and it’s obvious when people just repeat the formula that they’ve never read any of the men they’re accusing of somehow magical perverting all our sex drives

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      The conspiratorial tendency on the Right is to think that everything would be fine except for the machinations of one little group in a smoke-filled room. If we could just catch them plotting and arrest them, everything would be fine. So there’s no problem with modern civilization or liberalism or technology, it is just the Jews. And there’s no Jewish problem per se, just the Frankfurt School.

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        It needs to be mercilessly opposed. I’m not saying to censor but utterly defeated in debate.

        I suppose I should handle it

      • Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Technology isn’t an independent force with its own logic Greg!!!

    • Posted June 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Excellent (and unexpected, considering) rebuttal.

    • Posted June 25, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      You’re correct (((Reich))) is primarily to blame for the “Eros as emancipator” meme which was the ethos of the 60s.

    • )))Nero(((
      Posted June 25, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Hello Daniel Antinora

      What needs to be written is a lengthy defense of what they got right and for everybody to stop overestimating their influence.

      Sexual degeneracy is a symptom of the civilizational cycle. The same shit happened in Rome. Worse even. With no (((cultural Marxists))) in sight.

      Some people say, that the decline of the Occident started with its Christianization.
      Nietzsche called Christian Moral a ressentiment Moral.
      Ressentiment means ,,hidden anger”. Christainity is a weapon, send by the Jews, to undermine Gentile Cultures with its weak moral system. So, this could have had an impact on the fall of Rome. The fall of the West-Roman Empire has no specific date of course, but it started approximately 450 AD. Decadence, Migration, Integration…
      The first Christian Emperor was ,,Constantine the Great” 272 AD – 337 AD
      The last pagan Emperor was ,,Julian the Apostate” baptised as Christian but he later gave up the Christian believes. Died in 363 AD. His death is strong related ot the Christian religion. Maybe he was murdered by some of those who wanted to have a state religion.

      So, there were no cultural Marxists back then, but the influence of a special group is certain. Christianity is nothing more than indirect Judaism.

      I always UNDERestimated the Jewish power and influence. In Germany, we had over 60 years of compulsory military or national service. That ranged from 23 month during Cold War to 9 month from 2002 on. Every German belongs to the so called General Reserve. Even those who werent able to do their duty.
      And now Daniel, guess who was exempt from this duty? Who could that be?
      Hint: their names start with ((( and end with )))

      There is no law for this, according to a very high representant of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (((they))) had an “arrangement”.
      To make a long story short, there are several other benefits they have and they all end in on summary: Laws dont apply to them.

      Despite all that, i dont hate them. They are just selfish beyond measure. As individuals and as a collective. I don’t hate them, but I also don’t want to have them around me.
      Of course some aspects of our societies are degenerate as fuck without the influence of the allmighty Jew. I am aware of that.
      I will not blame the Jews for everything that goes wrong, but I am also not willing to defend them in any way. They should stick with one’s kind. And so should we.

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