WASHINGTON – Michael Walsh is not suggesting they sacrifice goats, but he is saying there is something decidedly satanic about leftists’ politics, and he cites classical literature and history as his proof.
The author, Disney screenwriter, occasional New York Post op-ed columnist, regular contributor to National Review and PJ Media, winner of the American Books Awards prize for fiction for his 2004 novel, “And All the Saints,” and former music critic for Time magazine was in Washington this week to give a talk at the Family Research Council.
His highly acclaimed new book, “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace,” has garnered rave reviews from such conservative luminaries as Victor Davis Hanson, William Kristol and Kathryn Jean Lopez.
The title of the book comes from an obscure opera of the same name by Schubert, in which a pleasure palace offering all earthly delights turns out to be a deadly illusion, something Walsh finds echoed when leftist thought has been put into practice.
The work outlines how cultural Marxism became the mainstream philosophy in American academia, even as economic Marxism was being thrown onto the ash heap of history as an utter failure.
How could this have happened? How could the American elite have fallen for the philosophy of the losers?
Walsh maintains, following World War II, the cultural Marxist philosophers of the Frankfurt School who emigrated from Germany and entered American academia persuasively peddled an illusion: a utopian paradise on earth, meant “to tempt and and seduce Western civilization into self-destruction, with shame and doubt as its principal snares.”
In his book, Walsh said the left has erected “a modern Devil’s Pleasure Palace, a Potemkin village built on the promises of ‘social justice’ and equality for all … a world without without want or cold or fear or racism or sexism … a world that sounds very much like heaven,” but, instead, “this world has become hell.”
He said that was evidenced by, “The corpses of the untold millions who have died in the attempts of the literally Unholy Left to found the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, divorced from God,” which, he notes, is also the same ambition as Satan’s: to reclaim heaven, but without God.
“Since few people would willingly consign themselves to Hell,” penned Walsh, “Lying is the centerpiece of both the satanic and the leftist projects … the rebels must always mask their true intentions.”
And being rebels is what the left and Satan have most in common, in the view of the author.
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Walsh observed how the left and the devil have the same aims: destroy the traditional and established order.
He wrote, “Critical Theory is the very essence of satanism: rebellion for the sake of rebellion against an established order that has obtained for eons, and with no greater promise for the future than destruction.”
Critical Theory was the brainchild of the Frankfurt School, and it has come to dominate thinking in American academia, with its call to question any and everything.
Walsh said the theory in practice became an attack on everything of value. He described the real goal of Critical Theory as an attempt to demolish Western civilization.
He called it, basically, “a juvenile revolt against your parents.”
The author described the work of the Frankfurt scholars as grounded in an ideology that performed “an unremitting assault on Western values and institutions, including Christianity, the family, conventional sexual morality, nationalistic patriotism … Literally nothing was sacred.”
Walsh described how these leftist thinkers maintain everything we stand for, the values and traditions of America and all of Western Civilization, is arbitrary and capricious. An illustration would be how many on the left consider gender roles to be a subjective matter of personal preference rather than a fixed matter of biology.
And what did left seek to fix by destroying everything? With what did it seek to replace civilization? Walsh called it the hardest part of all to accept, that the answer to those questions was “nothing.”
Walsh, in his book, described the widespread acceptance of the constantly questioning nihilism of Critical Theory in American academia as having undermined the nation’s very foundations: “The crisis in which the United States of America currently finds itself enmeshed is a moral crisis, which has engendered a crisis of cultural confidence, which in turn has begotten a fiscal crisis that threatens – no, guarantees – the destruction of the nation should we fail to address it.”
The author sees the ongoing effects of Critical Theory vividly illustrated on campuses today with its “unholy offspring, political correctness. a kind of Hell in itself.”
“Political correctness turns our innermost thoughts hellish and bids fair to punish humanity for the crime of free thinking. What could be more satanic?”
So, why a lecture on the Mephistophelean nature of leftist politics at the Family Research Council?
Because, Walsh observed, “the family is the first target” of the left, “just as the nascent family of Adam and Eve was Satan’s target.”
He wrote: “Like Satan, the modern leftist state is jealous of the family’s prerogatives, enraged by its power, and it seeks to replace this with its own authority.”
The author told the gathering, the first step in the attack on the family was to mock it. Walsh noted how by the 1960s, relentless scorn was heaped upon traditional families, notably those portrayed in such 1950s television shows as “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best.”
Such traditional wholesomeness was derided as unrealistic. The nuclear family was eventually accused of such “crimes against humanity” as patriarchy.
As the left relentlessly assaulted the traditional family, while insisting other types of family were just as good, the nuclear family was finally jettisoned as the ideal.
Walsh said the family may have been the first target of the left, but the biggest target was “the fundamental nature of the sexual relationship between men and women.” He said it “had to be disassociated from the procreative pedestal,” and that is why the left has pushed so hard for such issues as abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.
The author mused that sex, “for all its difficulty, points the way to transcendence” in both classical Western literature as well as the Bible. But, to a Frankfurt School founding member such as Herbert Marcuse, sex was just about pleasure.
Walsh acknowledged that “not every sex act has larger meaning, but the goal of Critical Theory was to reduce the sex act by people to the same as for animals.”
“When nothing is transcendent, everything is in the mud, and the left is always in the mud. The unholy, satanic left are the ones so bitter they want to pull down the temple walls just for the sheer hell of it.”
“I would say all great art is motivated by sex,” he continued, citing such examples as Mozart and Michelangelo. But, “Marcuse endorsed polymorphous perversity.” In other words, anything goes. As they said in the sixties, if it feels good, do it.
Walsh described how Marcuse became a friend of Hugh Hefner and influenced the “Playboy philosophy” of hedonism.
“The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” uses Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Goethe’s “Faust” to illustrate how the love of, and desire for a woman, has compelled men to attempt heroic deeds since time immemorial, and how women have played heroic roles, too, in the same dramas, as well as dramas of their own.
Walsh maintains the classic hero myth was planted in the human psyche even before the existence of religion, “as a moral compass that guides even the least religious of us” to do the right thing, as it were.
He says all great stories are actually based on the same story: the journey of the hero. And, that includes the story behind every religion as well as almost every good Hollywood screenplay.
And, he asserts, those stories are all based on a formula outlined long ago by Aristotle: the three-act play with a recognizable beginning, middle and end. Even the Christ story, he said, was based on that formula: boy shows promise, faces trials as a man, finds redemption in the end.
Walsh cited the classic description of the hero myth given by Joseph Campbell in his book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: Fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Walsh added, “The quest has many apparently different objectives, but in reality there is only one: salvation.”
The screenwriter described how the resurrection of the god figure runs throughout history, and said such legends resonate with us to this day because they are the foundations of our faith.
And, unlike the members of the Frankfurt School, Walsh does not believe the reasons we find the hero myth so compelling are either arbitrary or capricious. In fact, he insisted, this foundational myth is so ubiquitous and persistent across all cultures, Walsh believes it is proof that this primal story is something fundamental to human nature, and something we all share.
“They come from somewhere,” he said of these stories.
Walsh claimed the love for these stories “is the thing God has planted in your soul. Everyone wants to be a hero in his or her own life,” not a cog in a machine.
He said you be can the hero in the story of your own life “if you stick to first principles.” Meaning, anyone can have a heroic life if she or he discovers the meaning and worth of traditional values, and why they have been venerated throughout the history of Western Civilization, until they were questioned and undermined in the sixties.
“So, go back to your first principles and rediscover your principles, because when you discover who you are, you can fight.”
And, the best way to fight political correctness?
“Refuse to accept it.”