by Diego Garcia
From New York to the garden city paradise of Los Angeles they came, brought over as part of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars programme from 1933 to 1945. Many of the Frankfurt School exiles landed in New York after first searching for refuge in Switzerland and Paris. The Frankfurt School members representing a small handful, were, as the other hundreds of emigres escaping the rise of German fascism, in search of a home.
Having been displaced from their influential positions within post World War One Weimar culture, they were assisted in their escape by “a small group of academics and philanthropists in New York City” who “contacted Stephen Duggan the director of the Institute of International Education, to discuss the possibility of creating an organization to assist German scholars fleeing to the United States … Felix Warburg and Alan Gregg served as advisors to the organizers and helped gain support from other refugee and philanthropic organizations.” The entire idea credited to Inquiry architect Alvin Saunders Johnson, co founder of the New School for Social Research. Felix Warburg widely known as the father of the Fed and Gregg a lifetime Rockefeller man.
The Emergency Committee In Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars at the long table to the right includes Felix Frankfurter, Isaiah Bowman, Alvin Saunders Johnson, Hiram Halle, and Hamilton Fish Armstrong. A banquet was held for German-speaking emigrants at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Thomas and Heinrich Mann possibly sitting at table 21.
The Frankfurt School, otherwise known officially as the Institute for Social Research was affiliated directly with the University of Frankfurt and based its philosophy on the German Idealist thinking of Marx, Hegel, and Freud, represented through a syntheses also to include the contributions of Immanuel Kant, Max Weber, George Simmel, and George Lukacs.
The Frankfurt School an early influential think-tank of the Weimar Republic and the dialectic of critical theory with all its components has its birth here – particularly with the work of Max Horkheimer and his close confidante Theodor Adorno. Horkheimer the Frankfurt School’s president, eventually making a deal with an all-too-willing-to-accommodate president of Columbia, Abbott Lawrence Lowell in bringing Marxist thought to one of the most prestigious Ivy League universities in America. They helped to continue the legacy of social and applied science research think-tanks started at the beginning of the twentieth century and would be forever known as the University in Exile.
Columbia serving as a fitting landing place in that it already housed The New School for Social Research, invented out of thin air over a decade earlier by Charles Beard, James Harvey Robinson, and Alvin Saunders Johnson. Johnson just so happens to be an early Inquiry architect and New Republic assistant editor during its formative years while Beard and Robinson, two of James T. Shotwell’s most favourite fellow faculty members at Columbia, were also highly influential members of the Progressive movement. These details important to understand in that there are significant connections again being made here between the Inquiry and later social science activity they inspired.
“So he [Alvin Saunders Johnson] and Robinson gathered together a group of friends and fellow scholars, all of whom were associated with the New Republic, where Johnson was working. Johnson began taking part, along with Beard, Robinson, and others, in weekly sessions planning for a new school.” The University in Exile and the Garden of Eden: Alvin Johnson and his rescue efforts for European Jews and Intellectuals, Gerald Steinacher, Brian Barmettler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2013.
Eventually the University in Exile would be rebranded the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, and when joined with The New School for Social Research (invented out of thin air by Charles Beard, James Harvey Robinson and Alvin Johnson in 1919), was shortened to The New School, today reduced to, New University. The New School for Social Research would combine with the Frankfurt intellectuals and today it has grown to include multiple universities and gained a major influence in the shaping of the Western intellectual. Other theorists of the Frankfurt school of thought brought over on Rockefeller dime reads like a who’s who. They include luminaries of the 20th century like the father of the New Left, Herbert Marcuse, who used critical theory on a massive scale with the help of activists Abbie Hoffmann and Angela Davis to fan the flames of 60’s counterculture. Kurt Lewin (pronounced Leveen) a modern pioneer in social organization and applied psychology, considered the founder of social psychology; Erich Fromm was influenced into Zionism by Nehemiah Anton Nobel (as of this writing no connections have been uncovered linking Nehemiah to the merchant of death Nobel family and source of the Nobel Peace Prize) but Fromm another massive figure in early to mid twentieth century post modernist philosophy
Going to California: The Political Salons and Aldous Huxley
Horkheimer attempted to associate with the University of California but was denied and the political salons of Salka Viertel and others became a viable alternative. It was while in exile in California that Horkheimer and Adorno wrote their most well-known work, The Dialectic of Enlightenment. A critical evaluation of American Life taken from the isolated perspective of a foreign exile, the founders of critical theory took this perspective when writing their criticisms of how the American culture industry aims to isolate its citizens, something these exiles, generally not able to speak English would have felt twofold.
“Santa Monica, or, for that matter, Los Angeles in its entirety, was considered a suburb of Hollywood.”
Raymond Williams’ identification of the mythical exile as the producer of modernist art or literature makes a lot of sense when looking into the history. After its start in New York, “the exiles adopted a dialectical view of Los Angeles as a paradise in order to perceive it as the cityscape of modernism.” Bertold Brecht stating in his, Refugee Conversations that, “emigration is the best school of dialectics.” These modernist thinkers in many ways despised their time there, were appalled at the green gardens and often the unease or alienation they felt when confronted with the garden city of Los Angeles came out in their work. Who better to expose the shortcomings of American life than an émigré? The modernist movement in its entirety meant to create a “cultural rupture” within American society using the dialectic of enlightenment as an opposing force to American life.
Making mention often of California as a laboratory experiment, many scholars including Horkheimer, Adorno, Thomas Mann and Bertold Brecht moved into the Pacific Palisades neighbourhood of northwest Los Angeles, above Santa Monica Pier, not far from where the Rand Corporation would one day be. They gathered mostly at the home of émigré novelist, playwright, Lion Feuchtwanger and his famously beautiful Villa Aurora for political discussions.
One of the frequent guests at their political salon was Aldous Huxley. Huxley just living a few minutes drive above them in the Hollywood hills. This showing a wide influence of Huxley, not only was he a prominent figure in the intellectual philosophical circles, but the seminal inspiration for the creation of Esalen and the Human Potential Movement. The Doors taking their name from Huxley’s forever-life-changing, Doors of Perception were largely responsible for inspiring the 60’s counterculture. Huxley also deeply involved with MKultra programs leading us to believe at the very least he was a consultant however, US army major general Albert Stubblebine III goes one step futher in one of his final interviews before his death admitting to researcher Jan Irvin that Huxley was in fact the director of MKUltra. This may speak to why Sidney Gottlieb’s is the only name not redacted from the MKUltra papers. A red herring. The communications between Huxley and MKUltra doctors well known, and documented in several letters Huxley even trusting one of them, Humphrey Osmond, to administer Huxleys first hit of mescaline.
This speaks to a comprehensive kind of influence Huxley wielded while living in the hills directly underneath the Hollywood sign. Looking down on a city he was deeply influencing on all levels but most importantly spiritually and psychologically. Again we see a demoralization program being instituted. And Huxley has his hands on the steering wheel. The New Age used as a weapon just as they would employ critical theory or the entering wedge.
There is substantial evidence that leads one to believe that this move was coordinated. The establishment of Marxist political and social science institutions in America starting with its first in 1906, The Rand School for Social and Political Science was shown during the raids of the First Red Scare to have malevolent anti American goals. Through social reform policies and cries of inequality. All of this about as repugnant in a free and open society as secrecy. The reasons for their arrival created out of circumstances of war they helped create, and German Idealism in American intellectual thought has now been so implanted as the relevant schools of Western thought that its nearly woven into the very fabric of American life. The use of dialectics and class struggle and appeals to our emotions obvious to those living in the 21st century. Only more overt have become their means. But it was not just writers and intellectuals that came over, there were artists, poets, sculptors and screenwriters, many creating their most famous works during their time in Los Angeles, influencing American Life in the way they were expelled from Germany for.
This a documented historical account agreed upon by any historian well versed on the subject. It being widely accepted that it was these people of the Weimar Hitler had identified as infiltrators of traditional German culture through and aimed to remove through, The Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service. These same people Hitler identified as “city-slicker literati” (asphaltliteraten) while proclaiming “the end of overblown Jewish intellectualism”, were welcomed with open arms in the United States and against better judgement put into incredibly sensitive areas of US intelligence (OSS, OWI) and prominent, influential positions within American academia, technology and so on.
“There are no statistics available for artists in other fields, but it is safe to call this one of the largest emigrations of writers and artists recorded in history,”
Ehrhard Bahr, Weimar on the Pacific, pg, 14.
Stay tuned for, The Huxter: Aldous Huxley in Los Angeles, where we will delve deeper into this very influential relationship Huxley seems to have with the entire state of California and several large social movements of the 60’s.