In terms of long-range influence, the most significant Frankfurt School sex propagandist was Herbert Marcuse. Like his colleagues, Fromm and Reich, Marcuse understood that a true cultural revolution would include sexual liberation along with political and economic transformation.
In this regard, he called for the casting off of all traditional values and sexual restraints, to be replaced by what he termed “polymorphous perversity.” Even the concept of marital love and fidelity was counter-revolutionary, according to Marcuse.
Although cultural change was the ultimate goal, what seemed to primary stimulate him was the pleasure principle. Like the radical French Jacobins a century-and-a-half earlier, Marcuse questioned, “What good is a revolution without general copulation?”
Social observers have long recognized the power of song. Reportedly, Plato commented that if he could write the popular songs of his culture, he cared not who wrote the laws.
In other words, like the Neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt School, Plato understood that culture drives politics, not vice-versa. As novelist John Steinbeck once noted, popular music expresses the most fundamental values and beliefs of a people and constitutes the
“sharpest statement” about who and what they are.
According to Steinbeck, we can learn more about a society by listening to its songs than by any other means of observation, since “into the songs go all their hopes and hurts, the anger, fears, the wants and aspirations.” Leo Lowenthal, a leading theorist in the Frankfurt School, expressed the same idea when he wrote that “mass culture is psychoanalysis in reverse.”
Popular culture, including music, has always functioned as a kind of social barometer, and throughout history the significant issues and events of the day have often been expressed through the medium of popular music … popular music has often expressed the Zeitgeist – the spirit of the times.
Since the Sixties popular music in general has gotten even more cynical and jaded. Much of it has become a celebration of decadence, and the glorification of sex, drugs, violence, irresponsible hedonism and mindless materialism is certainly cause for alarm.
If Britney Spears, Madonna, Eminem, the hip-hoppers and the gangsta rappers speak for a critical mass of young people today, this is truly disturbing. And although most of this music is not overtly political, the very fact that these people are pop culture icons is a damning indictment of the state of our culture.
Many people wonder why so much popular music is so ugly, so degenerate, so sexualized, so obscene, and so fixated on drugs and violence. Since all art is an expression of philosophy and moral values, much of this is due to the insidious influence of Nihilism and Postmodernism on contemporary American culture.
But some of it directly reflects a Neo-Marxist political ideology as well. To radical left-wing social critics, the reason why so much modern art expresses such rage and dissatisfaction is because it reflects the realities of living in a repressive and oppressive society under the heavy yoke of capitalist exploitation and traditional Christian-influenced moral values.
It traces the origins and influence of some of the most pernicious people who have walked this earth, combining to drive an agreed agenda which has resulted, to a great extent, in the societal situation we find ourselves in today. The PTB have to draw their policy from somewhere, and a ready made think-tank is just the ticket.