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30 November 2012

Are arranged marriages better?

Marriages based on love start out with higher marks for closeness (70) but over time fall much further (40).

Arranged marriages start off lower (58) but in the end rise almost to the initial scores for love marriages (68).

Usha Gupta and Pushpa Singh of the University of Rajasthan decided that this was a question worth exploring. They recruited 50 couples in the city of Jaipur, half of whom had had arranged marriages. The other half had married based on love. 

The couples had been together for varying lengths of time, ranging from 1 to 20 years. Was one set of couples enjoying greater marital bliss than the other? Each person separately completed the Rubin Love Scale, which measured how much he or she agreed with statements like “I feel that I can confide in my husband/ wife about virtually everything” and “If I could never be with my [loved one], I would feel miserable.” 

The researchers then compared the responses, not only on the dimension of love versus arranged marriage, but also by the length of time that the couples had been married. The couples who had married for love and been together less than a year averaged a score of 70 points out of a possible 91 on the love scale, but these numbers steadily fell over time. 

The love couples who had been married ten years or longer had an average score of only 40 points. In contrast, the couples in arranged marriages were less in love at the outset, averaging 58 points, but their feelings increased over time to an average score of 68 at the ten or more years mark. 

Is it possible that love marriages start out hot and grow cold, while arranged marriages start cold and grow hot… or at least warm? This would make sense, wouldn’t it? In an arranged marriage, two people are brought together based on shared values and goals, with the assumption that they will grow to like each other over time, much in the same way that a bond develops between roommates or business partners or close friends. 

On the other hand, love marriage is based primarily on affection: People often speak of the immediate chemistry that drew them together, the spark that they took as a sign they were meant to be. But in the words of George Bernard Shaw, marriage inspired by love brings two people together “under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions. 

They are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.” Indeed, both surveys and direct measurements of brain activity show that by the time couples have been together for 20 years, 90 percent have lost that all-consuming passion they initially felt.

What does Peace in Europe mean to EU?

28 November 2012

Miracles on the border: Syrians encounter Jesus

NOTE TO READERS: The deepening crisis created by the civil war in Syria poses a major threat not only to the continued existence of that nation but to the stability of an already chaotic Middle East. This story and the following other stories cover the growing Christian ministry to thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing into neighboring countries.

As Syria disintegrates in war, Christians give refugees hope

Wounded warrior learns power of forgiveness

BEIRUT (BP) -- The Christian relief team heard about the needy Syrian widow living outside a Lebanese Muslim village near the Syrian border. So they took food to her.

Apparently, Jesus had been there first.

A refugee from the civil war in Syria, the Muslim widow, along with her three children, had sought shelter in Lebanon -- like more than 100,000 other Syrians. She was observing a traditional 40-day period of solitude to mourn her dead husband, so she had received nothing from the local Islamic aid society.

When the Christians knocked at her door, the widow appeared fully covered in black, including an opaque veil over her face. She explained her period of self-isolation. They offered to leave the food outside, but she unexpectedly invited them in. They sat with her and her children on the floor of the temporary dwelling.

"Who are you?" she asked anxiously.

"You don't know us, but we have great love in our hearts toward you," the team leader answered, explaining their reasons for helping Syrian refugees. "That love comes from God, who has worked in our lives."

To their amazement, she responded by removing her veil --— unheard of in her conservative Muslim culture. Then the words came flooding out.

"I want to tell you what happened to me yesterday," she said, her voice trembling with emotion. "As I was sleeping during the night, someone knocked on my door. I was so scared, but I opened the window to see who it was. No one was there. After a while, I heard the same knocking. My heart was beating so fast, so I went and sat beside the door, and I fell asleep there.

"As I was sleeping, someone put His hand on my shoulder. He said, 'You don't know Me. You have passed through a great pain. I experienced a great pain, also. But I will not leave you alone. Tomorrow I will send you someone who will tell you about Me. Listen to him.'"

When she finished the story, she began to weep. She turned to the team leader and said, "Tell me about this person that I saw in my dream."

Through his own tears, the leader told her about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the friend of widows, orphans and outcasts. "This Book that I'm going to give you will explain to you about God's love," he promised, giving her a Bible along with additional aid to help her and her children survive the mourning period.

The widow later returned to Syria. No one knows for sure what has become of her. But God knows.

'Dead or alive?'

Sami*, the Lebanese Christian pastor who told the widow about Jesus, has had similar experiences with other Muslims. He and several Christian partners have been reaching out to Muslim villages in Lebanon with the simple Gospel message. They expanded their outreach to Syrian Muslims when refugees started streaming across the border last year.

"When we started to serve among those villages and communities, I had a doubt in my heart," Sami admits. "Will it work? Are we going to experience what we hear from different parts of the Middle East and the world about Muslims coming to know Jesus as Savior and Lord? It was a challenge, a discovery process for me personally and for many with us in the ministry. But as we have shared the Gospel faithfully, the Lord is showing us signs of people who are opening up, asking questions and opening the door for us to reach a wider community.

"We started a couple of house groups in different areas with Lebanese and Syrian Muslims, and we are discipling those people. Some of them have come to know Christ. Others are discovering who Jesus is. They are showing signs of changing in their lives."

A Muslim community leader the Christians befriended last year helped them gain entrance to the homes of many Muslims -- Lebanese and Syrian. During those visits, he heard the Gospel message of God's offer of salvation through Jesus Christ perhaps 100 times.

At the beginning of one such visit, the Muslim leader walked up to a refugee family, pointed at them and said, "Are you dead or alive?"

The family was taken aback; so were the Christians. He repeated his question: "Are you dead or alive?" Then he pointed at the Christians and declared, "These people have a Book, and it's going to tell you how to find life. You need to read it!"

"This is a Muslim guy who probably has never read the New Testament himself," marvels Christian worker David James*, who participated in the visit. "But he's opening doors for us now because he saw something different in us as he heard the things that we were sharing."

In another village, the relief team made a repeat visit to the home of an influential Syrian Muslim. He knows many other needy families, so they brought a large supply of food for distribution.

"We don't need your boxes of food," the Syrian leader said. "What we need is somebody to come and teach us how to walk in the way of Jesus and how we can forgive one another. We don't know how to live with each other." The Christians were happy to oblige.

'I want to follow Jesus'

Perhaps the boldest new evangelist in Lebanon, however, is an older Syrian woman whose home has become a center for teaching truth.

Sami met Noora* at the end of a long, exhausting day of aid deliveries to refugees. He was ready to go home, but his guide insisted on one more stop to a particularly needy group of families. Reluctantly, he agreed. They distributed food portions and New Testaments along with a simple Gospel presentation.

Noora, one of the Syrian Muslim women in the home, started asking questions about baptism. As it turned out, she already was reading the New Testament. She had plenty of other questions about Jesus: How do you address Him? How does He differ from the other prophets?

"We read Matthew, the first chapters, about Jesus' incarnation and that He is Immanuel," Sami recounts. "Immanuel means 'God with us.'"

"I don't understand," Noora replied.

Sami explained the concept of a king visiting his people disguised in plain clothing and humility, yet remaining in every aspect a king. He told her about Jesus' sinless life compared to the other prophets, all of whom had failed God in various ways, despite their greatness.

"Who do you want to follow -- Jesus or the prophets?" Simi asked.

"I want to follow Jesus," Noora answered.

During another visit Noora suddenly declared, "The message that you shared with me changed my life. I'm a new person." The changes in her life proved her words.

"Once we visited her and she was reading the Old Testament," Sami recalls. "After another week, she was in the New Testament. She told us, 'This is my third time of reading the whole Bible.' After that we continued visiting her, encouraging her and discipling her. She said, 'Everything you tell me, I go and I share it with others. I tell the traditional Christians that worshipping saints is not good; you have to worship God. I'm sharing with the Syrians [Muslims] about how God changed my life.'"

Recently Noora returned to Syria for a visit with family, despite the dangers. When Sami called her to make sure she was OK, she reported: "I have a group of women gathered in my house from Muslim and Christian backgrounds and I'm teaching them.

"It's hard," Noora acknowledged, "but God is helping me."
*Names changed. Erich Bridges is a global correspondent for the International Mission Board. Contributions to relief ministry among Syrian refugees can be made by visiting imb.org/syrianrefugees? and designating "Syria relief" in the comment line. For updates on how God is at work through the crisis in Syria and ways to pray and help, email love4syria@pobox.com. Contributions to the spread of God's Word among Syrians can be made by calling Faith Comes By Hearing at  1-800-545-6552and designating a gift for the Syrian Refugees Project. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

27 November 2012

Church going Christians have lower divorce rates


According to this study, divorce rates weren’t lower for religious people — unless they attended services:

Frequency of divorce and separation among 15,714 adults from the British Social Attitudes data set for 1985-2005 peaked at around 50 years of age, and increased significantly over the period of study. Ratios of marital breakdown were compared between those of no religious affiliation and Christian affiliates with different levels of church attendance.  

Frequent Christian attendees were 1.5 times less likely to suffer marital breakdown than nonaffiliates, but there was no difference between nonattending Christian affiliates and those of no religion. Infrequent Christian attendees were 1.3 times less likely to suffer marital breakdown compared to nonaffiliates, suggesting that even infrequent church attendance might have some significance for predicting the persistence of marital solidarity.

Source: “Does Religion Make a Difference? Assessing the Effects of Christian Affiliation and Practice on Marital Solidarity and Divorce in Britain, 1985–2005″ from Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, Volume 51, Issue 6, 2010

This is similar to the research on happiness and religion; religion makes us happier but much of that increase is due to the social aspects of it.

24 November 2012

A Woman’s Walk Reveals Her Sex Life

A new study reveals women who have orgasms walk differently from women who don’t – and you won’t believe what gives it all away!

As Fashion Week opens in New York City, those fabulous super models may be showing off more than just another set of designer duds. They could be giving us a bird’s eye view of their sex life …without even knowing it.

In fact, if new research out of Belgium is correct, the way a woman walks is a dead-giveaway of her degree of sexual satisfaction –including whether or not she’s regularly having orgasms.
The new study just published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that women who regularly have vaginal orgasms walk differently from women who don’t – and it’s not all that hard to figure out which is which!

“In the sample of healthy young Belgian women (half of whom were vaginally orgasmic), a history of vaginal orgasm …was diagnosable at far better than chance level,” says lead study author Aurelie Nicholas, MA, of the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium where the research was conducted.

So what was it the women who were orgasmic did that was different?

Well if you’re thinking they “walked sexy” – as in the old Marilyn Monroe hip swinging, or the obviously provocative Madonna-esque stances, guess again.

The orgasmic give-away say the researchers was closer to what you’re likely to see Heidi Klum or Giselle Bundchen doing on the Victoria Secret runway – walking with high energy and a kind of freedom of movement that signifies both sensuality and confidence.

“The discerning observer may infer a women’s experience [with] vaginal orgasm from a gait that comprises fluidity, energy, sensuality, freedom, and absence of both flaccid and locked muscles” say the researchers.
In other words, a woman that walks freely may be more open to her sexuality – and feel freer to express herself between the sheets. A woman whose gait is stiff, or whose muscles seem limp and out of condition, may be giving away the fact that she’s also not giving in to wild abandon in the bedroom.

Walk This Way

This is certainly not the first study to connect body movement to sexual activity. Indeed many researchers have suggested that we consciously – or unconsciously- convey our sexual desires by the way we walk, sit, stand and move, particularly in the presence of the opposite sex.

But in this study researchers say they go far deeper to analyze not just body language, but also attitude, sexual confidence and self-esteem.

In fact, the researchers contend that when compared to women who have had orgasm those who haven’t display more immature psychological defense mechanisms, express less satisfaction with their relationships, and less satisfaction with life in general. These women were also more likely to convert psychological problems into physical complaints – a phenomenon known as “somatization.”

Women who are able to achieve orgasm, however, not only walked with a freer, more open gait, they also displayed a more open attitude towards life in general.

The study involved Belgium college aged women who filled out a questionnaire on personal sexual behavior, including questions on orgasm. Ten women who had vaginal orgasms were selected along with 10 who reported they had not.

The 20 women were then videotaped walking normally, and their tapes were shown to 2 male professors of sexology and two female research assistants.

The reviewers assessed the way the women walked and moved, and based on that made a determination as to whether or not they believed they were experiencing orgasms.

Their assessments were then compared to the questionnaires filled out by the women.

The end result: The reviewers were able to determine which women were orgasmic over 81% of the time – which was a far greater percentage, say researchers, then brought about by mere chance.

So, what’s the moral of the story here: It’s not the height of your stilettos that matters – it’s how you walk in them that really counts!

Guest article by Colette Bouchez

21 November 2012

What do the words you use say about you?

A lot.

Your personality can be determined just by looking at the way you text message. You can make accurate judgments about your favorite author’s personality just by reading their work. You can probably tell a great deal about my personality from the words I use in my blog posts.

Word choice can predict whether you’re depressed, suicidal or lying. Swearing makes you more persuasive. It’s true, asshole:

…obscenity at the beginning or end of the speech significantly increased the persuasiveness of the speech and the perceived intensity of the speaker. Obscenity had no effect on speaker credibility.

Word choice changes when you’re lying:

An analysis of 242 transcripts revealed that liars produced more words, more sense-based words (e.g., seeing, touching), and used fewer self-oriented but more other-oriented pronouns when lying than when telling the truth. In addition, motivated liars avoided causal terms when lying, whereas unmotivated liars tended to increase their use of negations.

Things that are easy for our brain to process feel more true than concepts that are difficult to process. This is one of the reasons we tend to like the familiar more than the unfamiliar. It’s also why we may fall for the glib and specious versus more accurate but challenging explanations.

Words affect our decision making. When crime is described as a “beast” people favor police and jails, when it’s a “virus” the public supports social reform.

But can words really predict behavior? 

Boxers who spoke positively and referenced health and work before a match were more likely to win. Those who spoke tentatively and talked about social factors lost.

Speaking positively and using words related to “insight” is associated with outstanding achievement.
The way employees gossip about a company can predict its success or failure.

And be very concerned if an organization’s employees start calling it “the company” or, worse, “that company” and referring to their co-workers as “they.” They-companies can be nightmares because workers are proclaiming that their work identity has nothing to do with them. No wonder consultants report that they-companies have unhappy workers and high turnover.

Which CEO’s are going to run a company into the ground? Count the number of times they use the word “I” in their annual letter to shareholders.

Laura Rittenhouse, an unusual type of financial analyst, counts the number of times the word “I” occurs in annual letters to shareholders from corporate CEOs, contending that this and other evidence in the letters helps predict company performance (basic finding: Egomaniacs are bad news).

That word “I” can be very telling. Powerful people don’t say it much. Less powerful people say it the most. People use “I” rarely when lying in order to psychologically distance themselves.

By the same token, “we” can be extremely powerful. Just saying it can make people feel more positive toward you and create a feeling of familiarity.

Couples who say “we” often when describing their relationships are more satisfied. Use of the word “you” is a bad sign. Using “we” can even predict whether you’ll survive a heart attack.

A couple’s use of we-words when talking to a third party predicts a satisfying relationship…
In the laboratory, when talking about marital disagreements, we-words indicated a good relationship whereas the use of you-words suggested problems. The use of you-words, such as you, your, and yourself, were most apparent in toxic conversations—usually where the two participants were accusing each other of various shortcomings.

We-words may even save your life. In one project, patients with heart failure were interviewed with their spouses. They were asked a series of questions, including “As you think back on how the two of you have coped with the heart condition, what do you think you have done best?” The more the spouses used we-words in their answers, the healthier the patients were six months later.

Mimicking another person’s word choice improves negotiations.

In fact, similarity in word choice can predict who will fall in love. Examining the words of speed daters was more effective at predicting who would get together than watching them interact.

Words aren’t everything though

Your body language may be eight times as influential as your words.

Language is an odd thing. We hear communication experts telling us time and again about things like the “7-38-55 rule,” first posited in 1971 by UCLA psychology professor Albert Mehrabian: 55 percent of what you convey when you speak comes from your body language, 38 percent from your tone of voice, and a paltry 7 percent from the words you choose.

(More on body language here.)

And in case you were curious: just like you get words stuck on the tip of your tongue, deaf signers get words stuck on the tips of their fingers:

The “tip of the fingers” phenomenon (TOF) for sign language parallels the “tip of the tongue” phenomenon (TOT) for spoken language. During a TOF, signers are sure they know a sign but cannot retrieve it.

What kind of complaints signal the end of a relationship?

Those that don’t contain the word “but.” Unqualified complaints were more common in relationships that weren’t going well.

Perhaps the most important difference came down to just one word—“but.” When talking about their partner’s greatest faults, those in successful relationships tended to qualify any criticism. Her husband was lazy, but that gave the two of them reason to laugh. His wife was a terrible cook, but as a result they ate out a lot. He was introverted, but he expressed his love in other ways. She was sometimes thoughtless, but that was due to a rather difficult childhood. That one simple word was able to help reduce the negative effect of their partner’s alleged faults and keep the relationship on an even keel.

08 November 2012

Tips from the CIA for Detecting Lies

There’s an episode of the old “Gilligan’s Island” television show where the castaways eat seeds that make mind reading possible. While it seems fun at first, the Gilligan gang soon finds out that sometimes it’s best not to know what everyone is thinking all the time.

But wouldn’t you like to know what your boss is thinking? Wouldn’t you like to know whether someone at work is telling you the truth or not?

There may be a way to do that without eating some seeds on a fictional island.

If you take the advice of some of the best lie detectors in the world – CIA officers – then you may be able to glean when the boss is fibbing about giving you a raise or a co-worker is lying about meeting a deadline. Such information can be helpful in making career decisions and avoiding missteps that can get you off the fast track.

In a new book, “Spy the Lie,” three former CIA officers share decades of experience in recognizing deceptive behavior and how you can apply their methods to everyday work situations.

One of the authors, Michael Floyd, has spent 35 years finding the truth for the CIA and the National Security Agency. While he says that you don’t want to use these methods to decide who is lying about a romantic weekend liaison while gossiping around the water cooler, it can come in handy in more critical work situations, such as a job interview or to discover who may be cheating on an expense report.

The authors stress that the average person often doesn’t detect untruths because he or she believes that others simply won’t lie or they are just uncomfortable judging someone else. In addition, sometimes we rely on beliefs by others that a person is honest, so we don’t look deeply enough and take everything at face value, they say.

“We’re not human lie detectors,” Floyd says of his fellow authors, Philip Houston and Susan Carnicero. “But we’ve developed a method to help spot deceptions based on our experiences, in real-world situations.”
One of the indicators that a person may be lying is a “cluster” of behavior. Exhibiting what’s considered one suspicious action isn’t enough to show someone is being deceitful, they say, but several clues should put up your radar.

Listening for lies

Some of the verbal cues that someone is not being truthful include:
  • Failing to answer.  Dodging a direct answer to your question may indicate the person is trying to come up with a good answer because he or she doesn’t want to admit the truth.
  • Denial.  If you ask someone, “Did you do it?” and he or she answers with “I didn’t do it,”  “It was not me,” or “I didn’t do anything,” instead of a simple “no,” consider that significant.  Giving such answers are a way for the person to psychologically avoid an out-and-out lie.
  • Repeating the question. This helps buy the person time while he or she formulates a lie.
  • Attacking. “Why are you wasting my time with this stuff?” can be a way to attack the person asking questions when the liar feels backed into a corner. He or she may try to impeach your character or abilities.
  • Being too specific. Sometimes a liar may try to “technically” be correct while skirting the truth and provide too much information to create a “halo” effect as they try to manage your perception of them.
  • Being too polite. Complimenting you on a great tie or saying “yes, sir” in response to only one question may indicate the person is trying to get you to like him so that you’re more likely to believe him.
  • Bringing up religion. Psychologists call it “dressing up the lie” when someone being questioned starts talking about God. Look for phrases such as “I swear to God” or “As God is my witness,” which may indicate they’re “dressing up the lie.”
Looking for lies
There are also nonverbal cues that can indicate someone is being less that truthful. It’s important, the authors note, to consider only those cues that come in direct response to your questions. For example:
  • Watch for disconnects. If the person nods affirmatively while responding “no” or shakes his head negatively while saying “yes” then that’s a disconnect, which can be an indication of deceptive behavior.
  • Hiding. There’s a natural inclination to cover a lie, so someone telling an untruth may cover her mouth or eyes.  The same clue can be given when the person simply shuts her eyes while answering, indicating on a subconscious level that she doesn’t want to see the reaction to her lie.
  • Touching the face. Licking lips and pulling on lips or ears can be an indication of a lie. Why? A person’s flight-or-fight response can kick in while lying, prompting blood to rush to certain areas and trigger a sensation of cold or itching.
  • Moving anchor points.  Anchor points are those areas that keep someone in a particular spot or position. A person standing uses feet as anchor points, while a person in a chair is using the buttocks as an anchor point. Once those anchor points start shifting, it can be a sign of deceptive behavior. The authors note they often place interviewees in a swivel chair because it can become a “behavioral amplifier” and make anchor point movements easier to spot.
  • Grooming. A man might adjust his tie or a woman straighten her skirt or move her hair when responding to a question. They may even begin to tidy the area. Such gestures in response to a particular question can indicate deception.
Finally, Floyd says one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting all the information you need is to ask a catch-all question, such as “Is there anything else I need to know about this incident?”
“You can’t think of every question to ask, and they may not tell you if you don’t ask directly,” he says. “They often give you some very good information.”

05 November 2012

What makes something go viral on the internet?

Making people angry.

In 2010, two researchers at the Wharton School looked at seven thousand articles that made it onto the New York Times Most E-mailed List. (A story from the Times is shared on Twitter once every four seconds, making the list one of the biggest media platforms on the web.) The researchers’ results confirm almost everything we see when content like the sensational ruin porn of Detroit goes viral. For me it confirmed every intuition behind my manipulations.
According to the story, “the most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evokes” [emphasis mine]. I will say it again: The most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger. No wonder the outrage I created for Tucker’s movie worked so well. Anger has such a profound effect that one standard deviation increase in the anger rating of an article is the equivalent of spending an additional three hours as the lead story on the front page of NYTimes.com. 

And if you can’t do anger, just make sure to take people to an emotional extreme, one way or the other:

A powerful predictor of whether content will spread online is valence, or the degree of positive or negative emotion a person is made to feel. Both extremes are more desirable than anything in the middle. Regardless of the topic, the more an article makes someone feel good or bad, the more likely it is to make the Most E-mailed list. No marketer is ever going to push something with the stink of reasonableness, complexity, or mixed emotions. …in studies where subjects are shown negative video footage (war, an airplane crash, an execution, a natural disaster), they become more aroused, can better recall what happened, pay more attention, and engage more cognitive resources to consume the media than nonnegative footage. That’s the kind of stuff that will make you hit “share this.” They push your buttons so you’ll press theirs.

Sadly, we just don’t respond as strongly to reality:

As Chris Hedges, the philosopher and journalist, wrote, “In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.”

Swimming with the White Shark



03 November 2012

What happens when you stay awake for 11 days straight?

The only thing stranger than the need to sleep is what happens when it is ignored. In 1965, a San Diego high school student named Randy Gardner stayed awake continuously for 264 hours, an eleven-day feat documented by a team of researchers from Stanford University who happened to read about his attempt beforehand in the local newspaper. 

For the first day or so, Gardner was able to remain awake without any prompting. But things went south quickly. He soon lost the ability to add simple numbers in his head. He then became increasingly paranoid, asking those who had promised to help him stay up why they were treating him so badly. When he finally went to bed, he slept for nearly fifteen hours straight. And yet a few weeks later, he was as good as new. To this day, he continues to be a minor celebrity in Japan.

So what’s going on under the hood when you stay awake this long?

Within the first twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation, the blood pressure starts to increase. Not long afterward, the metabolism levels go haywire, giving a person an uncontrollable craving for carbohydrates. 

The body temperature drops and the immune system gets weaker. If this goes on for too long, there is a good chance that the mind will turn against itself, making a person experience visions and hear phantom sounds akin to a bad acid trip. 

At the same time, the ability to make simple decisions or recall obvious facts drops off severely. It is a bizarre downward spiral that is all the more peculiar because it can be stopped completely, and all of its effects will vanish, simply by sleeping for a couple of hours.

02 November 2012

What is Cultural Marxism?

William S. Lind


In his columns on the next conservatism, Paul Weyrich has several times referred to “cultural Marxism.” He asked me, as Free Congress Foundation’s resident historian, to write this column explaining what cultural Marxism is and where it came from. In order to understand what something is, you have to know its history.

Cultural Marxism is a branch of western Marxism, different from the Marxism-Leninism of the old Soviet Union. It is commonly known as “multiculturalism” or, less formally, Political Correctness. From its beginning, the promoters of cultural Marxism have known they could be more effective if they concealed the Marxist nature of their work, hence the use of terms such as “multiculturalism.”

Cultural Marxism began not in the 1960s but in 1919, immediately after World War I. Marxist theory had predicted that in the event of a big European war, the working class all over Europe would rise up to overthrow capitalism and create communism. But when war came in 1914, that did not happen. When it finally did happen in Russia in 1917, workers in other European countries did not support it. What had gone wrong?

Independently, two Marxist theorists, Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary, came to the same answer: Western culture and the Christian religion had so blinded the working class to its true, Marxist class interest that Communism was impossible in the West until both could be destroyed. In 1919, Lukacs asked, “Who will save us from Western civilization?” That same year, when he became Deputy Commissar for Culture in the short-lived Bolshevik Bela Kun government in Hungary, one of Lukacs’s first acts was to introduce sex education into Hungary’s public schools. He knew that if he could destroy the West’s traditional sexual morals, he would have taken a giant step toward destroying Western culture itself.

In 1923, inspired in part by Lukacs, a group of German Marxists established a think tank at Frankfurt University in Germany called the Institute for Social Research. This institute, soon known simply as the Frankfurt School, would become the creator of cultural Marxism.

To translate Marxism from economic into cultural terms, the members of the Frankfurt School - - Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Wilhelm Reich, Eric Fromm and Herbert Marcuse, to name the most important - - had to contradict Marx on several points. They argued that culture was not just part of what Marx had called society’s “superstructure,” but an independent and very important variable. They also said that the working class would not lead a Marxist revolution, because it was becoming part of the middle class, the hated bourgeoisie.

Who would? In the 1950s, Marcuse answered the question: a coalition of blacks, students, feminist women and homosexuals.

Fatefully for America, when Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the Frankfurt School fled - - and reestablished itself in New York City. There, it shifted its focus from destroying traditional Western culture in Germany to destroying it in the United States. To do so, it invented “Critical Theory.” What is the theory? To criticize every traditional institution, starting with the family, brutally and unremittingly, in order to bring them down. It wrote a series of “studies in prejudice,” which said that anyone who believes in traditional Western culture is prejudiced, a “racist” or “sexist” of “fascist” - - and is also mentally ill.

Most importantly, the Frankfurt School crossed Marx with Freud, taking from psychology the technique of psychological conditioning. Today, when the cultural Marxists want to do something like “normalize” homosexuality, they do not argue the point philosophically. They just beam television show after television show into every American home where the only normal-seeming white male is a homosexual (the Frankfurt School’s key people spent the war years in Hollywood).

After World War II ended, most members of the Frankfurt School went back to Germany. But Herbert Marcuse stayed in America. He took the highly abstract works of other Frankfurt School members and repackaged them in ways college students could read and understand. In his book “Eros and Civilization,” he argued that by freeing sex from any restraints, we could elevate the pleasure principle over the reality principle and create a society with no work, only play (Marcuse coined the phrase, “Make love, not war”). Marcuse also argued for what he called “liberating tolerance,” which he defined as tolerance for all ideas coming from the Left and intolerance for any ideas coming from the Right. In the 1960s, Marcuse became the chief “guru” of the New Left, and he injected the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School into the baby boom generation, to the point where it is now America’s state ideology.

The next conservatism should unmask multiculturalism and Political Correctness and tell the American people what they really are: cultural Marxism. Its goal remains what Lukacs and Gramsci set in 1919: destroying Western culture and the Christian religion. It has already made vast strides toward that goal. But if the average American found out that Political Correctness is a form of Marxism, different from the Marxism of the Soviet Union but Marxism nonetheless, it would be in trouble. The next conservatism needs to reveal the man behind the curtain - - old Karl Marx himself.

(The Free Congress Foundation’s website, www.freecongress.org, includes a short book on the history and nature of cultural Marxism, edited by William S. Lind. It is formatted so you can print it out as a book and share it with your family and friends.)


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