The Coalition For Cultural Freedom Strikes Back

Authored by Matthew Continetti via,

Kanye West, Jordan Peterson, and the revolt against political correctness...

On May 15, 1939, philosopher John Dewey issued a statement to the press announcing the formation of the Committee for Cultural Freedom. Attached were the committee's declaration of principles and the names of 96 signatories. The following day, at a meeting inside Columbia University's Low Library, the committee adopted its official manifesto.

"Never before in modern times," the document began, "has the integrity of the writer, the artists, the scientist, and the scholar been threatened so seriously."

The committee's members included anthropologists, philosophers, journalists, dramatists, attorneys, educators, and historians. Politically, they ran the gamut from democratic socialists to New Deal liberals to nineteenth-century liberals who embraced the market without serious qualification. What unified them was their commitment "to propagate courageously the ideal of untrammeled intellectual activity." The "fundamental criteria for evaluating all social philosophies today," their manifesto read, are "whether it permits the thinker and the artist to function independently of political, religious, or racial dogmas." The basis for this alliance between such disparate persons, they continued, was "the least common denominator of a civilized culture - the defense of creative and intellectual freedom."

It was the existence of Popular Front groups who toed the Stalinist line in science, literature, social thought, and the arts that moved the committee's chief organizer, Sidney Hook, to action. "It seemed to me that it was necessary to challenge this massive phenomenon that was corrupting the springs of liberal opinion and indeed making a mockery of common sense," Hook wrote in his autobiography, Out of Step (1987). "I decided to launch a new movement, based on general principles whose validity would be independent of geographical or national boundaries and racial or class membership."

Hook's committee was the precursor of the international Congress for Cultural Freedom, convened in Berlin in June 1950, and the affiliated American Committee for Cultural Freedom organized in 1951. At that first meeting in Berlin, Arthur Koestler read from the dais the "Manifesto of Freedom," which held "as self-evident" that "intellectual freedom is one of the inalienable rights of man," and that such freedom "is defined first and foremost by his right to hold and express his own opinions, and particularly opinions which differ from those of his rulers. Deprived of his right to say ‘no,' man becomes a slave."

The America of 2018, needless to say, is a much different place than the America of 1939 and 1951. Nazi Germany is long gone, extinguished in a war that killed 60 million souls. The Soviet Union disappeared 27 years ago, after a Cold War that lasted some five decades. Print media have collapsed and been replaced by digital and social media that limit the power of gatekeepers and extend the reach of minority viewpoints. If the late 1930s and early 1950s are the baseline, the world of 2018 is much more free.

But threats remain. Totalitarian systems in Russia, China, and their former Marxist-Leninist satellites have transformed, with the exception of North Korea, into systems of authoritarian control that permit some economic liberty while maintaining state sovereignty over politics, society, and culture. The authoritarians use "sharp power" to interfere in democratic elections, bully and exploit Western corporations and universities, and influence public discourse through information warfare. A renascent Marxism competes with, and to a large extent has been subsumed by, the ideology of multiculturalism and its attendant identity politics.

It is this ideology and politics that have captured America's most prestigious intellectual, cultural, and media institutions.

The university, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and increasingly formerly "neutral" and "objective" platforms such as the New York Times and the Atlantic have come under the sway of racial and sexual dogmas and attitudes that brook no disagreement. Membership in these institutions, which play a crucial role in elite opinion-formation, and the social networks in which they are embedded, is contingent on agreement with or silence about certain ideas of "white privilege," patriarchal "oppression," "Islamophobia," and "gender fluidity." To dissent from these ideas - to exercise one's right to say no - invites not only anathematization from polite society but also the loss of one's job and, in some cases, physical threats.

Just as happened in the twentieth century, an unlikely group of compatriots has emerged to resist the contemporary domestic challenge to cultural freedom. Reading Bari Weiss's recent article on the "intellectual dark web," one cannot help being struck by the diversity of opinion and partisan allegiance among the renegade thinkers challenging political correctness and its stigmatization of arguments that violate its axioms of group identity, racial strife, and transgenderism. A stultifying intellectual atmosphere, in which the subjective emotional responses of designated victim groups take precedent over style, argument, and empirical evidence, makes for unexpected alliances. Who would have thought that Kanye West would become, in the space of a few Tweets, the most famous and recognized champion of individual free thought in the world today? Who could have anticipated that New Atheist Sam Harris would find himself in a united front with Jordan Peterson, who instructs his millions of acolytes in the continued relevance of biblical story?

The new advocates for cultural freedom are different from their forebears. They are more ethnically and sexually diverse. Practically all of them operate outside the academy. They are not self-consciously organized as a movement. To some extent, of course, this lack of institutionalization is related to present historical conditions. The mid-twentieth century was an era of bigness, of vast bureaus, of hierarchical corporations where political life, especially on the left, was divided and subdivided into party, committee, and cell. The early twenty-first century is too fractured, disaggregated, and anarchic for such precise construction and coordination. This is a time of weak relationships, of loose affiliations. People drop in and out of movements at the press of a "like," "Tweet," or "send" button. And because our media are unbundled, and the multiple means of personal expression so accessible, no one authority has monopoly power to distinguish reasonable dissenters from cranks. This creates an opportunity for the enforcers of political correctness, who are quick to associate the enemies they unfairly deride as racists with genuine ones.

What has come into being is not a committee or congress but a Coalition for Cultural Freedom. This wide-ranging assembly of critics opposed to the consensus that dominates the commanding heights of culture, entertainment, and media is neither centrally directed nor unified, not precisely delineated or philosophically consistent. But they do all believe in what Gaetano Mosca called "juridical defense," pluralism in opinion and institutions to guard against conformity and repression. And the fact that Kanye's heresy and Weiss's reporting were greeted with contumely, derision, outrage, and agony is evidence for the strength of such conformity, the desire for such repression.

Political correctness reigns in San Francisco, Hollywood, and Berkeley, it is making inroads into New York and the permanent bureaucratic government in Washington, D.C., but its position is insecure, unstable. The ferocity with which challenges to the ideology are met signifies not power but weakness. All it takes to end the hegemony of political correctness is to combat or ignore its will to intimidation. And that is happening.

The simple truth is that people do not like being reduced to their skin color, and they hate being called racists. So they tend to abandon the figures and organizations that see them as nothing but biased, sexist, bigoted dullards who belong in a basket of deplorables.

They may not voice their opinion to a pollster for fear of social ostracism. But they reveal their preferences through action.

Hillary Clinton can tell you as much. So can ESPN, and the NFL, and the Hollywood studios whose social justice masterworks are rewarded at the Oscars but not at the box office. Google and Facebook have also felt the backlash from censoring non-woke voices. Conversely, the success of American Sniper, Donald Trump, Jordan Peterson, and Roseanne has revealed the size of the audience willing to abandon the poses of political correctness for authenticity and disruption.

"The defense of intellectual liberty today imposes a positive obligation: to offer new and constructive answers to the problems of our time," wrote the authors of the Freedom Manifesto.

"We address this manifesto to all men who are determined to regain those liberties which they have lost and to preserve and extend those which they enjoy."

Those ranks included Sidney Hook and Arthur Koestler. Today they have been joined by Jordan Peterson, Charles Murray, Christina Hoff Sommers, and, yes, Kanye West.


house biscuit MadHatt Fri, 05/11/2018 - 19:49 Permalink

I'm sure you would, buddy

Does it seem a little suspicious that this otherwise noble sounding cause is being fronted with a variety of celebs?

Because if your hero is on TV, if he is promoted in the media, there is a 99% chance he is no hero

You have to learn to be very skeptical of all things

The way TPTB work is to fund sectarian groups of all persuasions

Sometimes they will fund groups that seem to agree with your sensibilities

Take nothing for granted. Practically nothing important should be taken at face value

In reply to by MadHatt

RumpleShitzkin Barfetto Sat, 05/12/2018 - 08:59 Permalink

Ah, yes.

i cut the cable! I took a bat to my TV!

Yippy for you. this gets so old. Then 50 other hedgers ring in that they did the same.

Then hedgeless horseman links to one of his sacred writings for the 100,000th time.

Blah blah blah. Lookit me. I be woke n shit the right spectrum version of the virtue signal

yes, it is a healthy choice. You don’t get a cookie or a metal for doing it, though.

its only step one. step two is untangling 30 odd years of ‘programming’.

do it in silence 

like prayer

In reply to by Barfetto

ParkAveFlasher tmosley Fri, 05/11/2018 - 20:27 Permalink

Who cares, they'll set up one pin just to knock it down later.  It's an ideological shell game which they play to simply make themselves always look correct and tell you what's correct in the book they just published.

That said, there is, indeed, a cultural coalition, and it's between my nuts.  SOUTH CAROLINA, REPRESENT

In reply to by tmosley

ghostofandrewb… house biscuit Fri, 05/11/2018 - 20:45 Permalink

Dude, I know there are a lot of people internationally who are suspicious of Peterson, because he seemed to just come out of nowhere overnight, but the dude has been a public intellectual in Canada for over 20 years. You have no clue what you're talking about...he's as genuine as it gets. Go watch his 10 part, 20+ hour lecture series on the Bible...or the Maps of Meaning lectures...he's the thinker of our age.

In reply to by house biscuit

techpriest ghostofandrewb… Sat, 05/12/2018 - 00:10 Permalink

Indeed. Also, I would consider him to be the "pin" that pricked the bubble in a public way. There have been other alt media types out there, and there have been a lot of people who wanted to say something, but were unable, but I would say that JP is the turning point where the refusal of PC started going mainstream. We need to take the momentum and run with it as hard as we can.

In reply to by ghostofandrewb…

52821740 house biscuit Sat, 05/12/2018 - 01:45 Permalink

I don't understand the logic of your hero comment.  The media wants to sell their story so the content isn't always as important to them as it's popularity hence reluctant heros such as Petersen being suddenly embraced by them as click bait. 

btw my disclosure is that I'm a big fan of both Sam Harris and Peterson. The thing I was most surprised about in this article though was this:

'But threats remain. Totalitarian systems in Russia, China, and their former Marxist-Leninist satellites have transformed, with the exception of North Korea, into systems of authoritarian control that permit some economic liberty while maintaining state sovereignty over politics, society, and culture. The authoritarians use "sharp power" to interfere in democratic elections, bully and exploit Western corporations and universities, and influence public discourse through information warfare'

This accurate statement seems to have slipped through the ZH censorship cookie cutter that normally only publishes  favorable stories about Russia and it's allies proving my Russian Troll factory theory wrong.  I'll put it down to unusual propaganda mistake on Tylers behalf in this instance. 

In reply to by house biscuit

BigJim 52821740 Sat, 05/12/2018 - 07:37 Permalink

Putting modern Russia in the same box as China is absurd.

Russia is a mafia state, but so are virtually all states. The oligarchs are just more visibly in charge there then in the West, where our oligarchy have, over the years, created an obfuscating layer of "democracy" and "free" press which delude the populace into believing that their "leaders" represent them.

Everyone's waging information warfare. Russia has the advantage that it just has to get some of the truth out there to be effective. The West's campaign largely comprises falsehoods and therefore faces greater headwinds, which is why we're seeing such hysteria on the part of the Western press with regards to Russia; one obvious truth can pull down a scaffold built out of a thousand carefully planted lies.

You'll notice the author makes no mention of true dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, which are bribing the MSM to kerp quiet about their domestic atrocities as well as their ongoing genocide in Yemen, and puts Jordan Peterson's output in the same category as "American Sniper", a film lauding a moral automaton who helped to extend the Anglo American empire by "just following orders" and killing hundreds of people trying to repel foreign invaders.

In reply to by 52821740

LibertarianMenace BigJim Sat, 05/12/2018 - 13:00 Permalink

"Russia is a mafia state, but so are virtually all states. The oligarchs are just more visibly in charge there then in the West, where our oligarchy have, over the years, created an obfuscating layer of "democracy" and "free" press which delude the populace into believing that their "leaders" represent them."

The Russian "totalitarian" voodoo is always amusing to read. Now, our garchs "are (definitely)(way)better than their garchs." Why, it could only be here in "The West"TM where the slaves have been taught to "love their servitude" as Huxley put it.

He suggested it because he thought rule by the club and the firing squad would, in the long run, prove to be inefficient.

I would rather think that our brand of gangsters prefer we love our slavery simply because this arrangement is radically more profitable for them.

Russia, China, totalitarian perhaps they may be, but what, what the fuck, are we!??

In reply to by BigJim

hooligan2009 LibertarianMenace Sat, 05/12/2018 - 16:29 Permalink

better fed, better housed, better drugged, better whored, better planed, trained, automobiled and droned, better armed, better debted, better educated, better healthed, better taxed, better voted, better toothed, better beered, better roaded, better internetted, better buried..

but its all relative - singapore, switzerland and new zealand are even better than us 

In reply to by LibertarianMenace

mstyle house biscuit Sat, 05/12/2018 - 06:05 Permalink

While I agree with the overall premise of your argument (be skeptical of everything) I do think that there are definitely people who make it onto the mainstream media stage that aren't part of the establishment. 

What I see happening a lot lately is the lefts ill thought out attacks backfiring on them spectacularly. 

While agree that there are plenty of people in the spotlight who are most likely controlled I think it's unrealistic to assume that every single person you see on TV is.

In reply to by house biscuit

RumpleShitzkin mstyle Sat, 05/12/2018 - 09:50 Permalink

If they get to the bigger microphones, they’ve been co-opted.

thats the only way to the platform

they are allowed only so much autonomy and only to serve as a pressure valve and controlled opposition.


there’s only one true litmus test left to gauge if you live in a society where you can speak freely.

can you openly and loudly name that which is forbidden to be named? 

Am I free to discriminate as I see fit, for whatever reason? 

Am I free to hate? Is hate ever appropriate?


Could your hero’s in this article do this? I doubt it. 


No. I only give credence to those that are roundly vilified by all ‘respectable’ channels and venues.


In reply to by mstyle

Think for yourself RumpleShitzkin Sat, 05/12/2018 - 12:12 Permalink

"Am I free to hate? Is hate ever appropriate?"

There's a concept in neurolinguistic programming called Requisite Variety. It postulates that in a situation with two actors, the actor with a wider spectrum of possible responses will control the actor whose responses offer less flexibility; the one with more requisite variety will be able to manipulate the other's conditioned responses by shaping a situation in which the other actors' reaction will bring him where you want to be.

For instance, an overly agreeable therapist/coach will not be able to solve agreeableness disfunctions of his client unless he brings in that requisite variety, for instance that of agression in order to challenge the overly agreeable client until he is forced to fall back onto his own unexploited agression (and stand for himself). That is, not the ability to hate (although that is a preliminary building block) but the ability to act _AS THOUGH_ one were hateful.

Peterson, as a clinician, is highly aware of that fact, both from theory and from experience. He calls it "being a monster", and keeps saying (paraphrasing) - if you need to bite but can't, you're not civilized, you're just a wimp. If you could bite but choose not to, then you actually have heroic potential.

Or, in popular wisdom, "talk softly and carry a big stick".

In reply to by RumpleShitzkin

Endgame Napoleon house biscuit Sat, 05/12/2018 - 08:34 Permalink

Top-down television was easier to use as a manipulation tool, especially in the days of 3 channels only.

This was an insightful article, breaking down some of the ways that decentralized online communication has robbed the elites of their handy mesmerization wand, although a few elites know how to wield the internet for the same PR & propaganda purposes. 

But the internet thought renegades are more like what Sidney Hook wanted to see. I read his autobiography. It is was good, not just due to his exposition on ideas of cultural freedom. I have never read more vivid descriptions of daily life in the tenements of NYC at the turn of the 20th century during the last wave of mass immigration. 

The tenements were packed to the brim with immigrants, living on top of each other with no privacy. Every week, Hook said there was a new suicide of a young man. They would find them at the end of the hall by the heaters. He said the parents of that era instructed their children to throw themselves in front of oncoming horse-and-buggy carriages, hoping to get a payout. Children worked in sweatshops, and women did piecework for pennies at home.

No wonder, Hook craved intellectual freedom, but intellectual freedom is not divorced from economic freedom.

Riding our new wave of mass immigration, the pain is felt more by non-womb-productive / non-welfare-eligible citizens, including half of all male citizens — between 18 amd 34 years of age — living at home with their parents due to rent that absorbs more than half of their earned-only income and middle-aged, underemployed and out-of-the-workforce citizens, with no access to pay-per-birth wage boosters from the US government, unlike the waves of womb-productive legal / illegal immigrants.

The USA did not have a widespread middle class until after the 1924 act that restricted the number of immigrants, coming into the country to provide cheap labor to cheap-skate-cubed employers. Some of us are more worried about the economic impact of mass immigration than the cultural impact, although these issues overlap, creating corruption, as elites cater to every cultural whim (even the anti-freedom causes) of cheap immigrant labor to get into the pockets of the even-cheaper employers who give them campaign donations.

The new version of mass immigration—circa the last 40 years—has brought a new Tammany Hall II Uniparty, pandering to immigrants as groups, rather than appealing to them as individuals with independent thoughts. Given the massive numbers of foreigners entering the country, this race baiting is threatening to cause mob-style factionalism that will overtake any kind of reasoned debate, like the one that forged this country’s political system.

The most pampered group of elites in world history—more pampered than the Gilded Age & Industrial Age elites—are orchestrating this to cash in on the global riches that Big Politics brings when it intersects with Big Multinational Commerce. They are NOT doing it for the love of multi cultures. 


Elites are using cultural resentments to stir up anger that masks the economic fallout from the recent mass waves of welfare-buttressed immigration. Due to 40 years of no pay increases for most citizens—and due to welfare that covers the rent and groceries of the wage-cutting immigrants, in addition to refundable child tax credits up to $6,431–today’s mass immigration is even more unfair than previous waves of mass immigration to millions of underemployed and out-of-the-workforce citizebs whose major household bills are not paid by their government, while their government pays immigrants—legal and illegal—to have sex, reproduce and work part time to stay under the income limits for welfare. 

If you went back to the days of Hook’s childhood, explaining this rigged system to those legal immigrants in the tenements of NYC, they would be agog. Today, it is the mon-welfare-eligible native-born citizens who are in those hopeless situations described by Hook. And they have every logical reason to resent the **** out of it without any of it stemming from racial grievances. 

The offshoring of over 2 million jobs to foreign countries with low-cost labor, in tandem with welfare-aided immigration, has cost the American middle class a LOT economically and, in turn, a lot of cultural freedom.

Due to that heavy cost that they must mask while cashing in, elites talk about the clash of cultures, with the fake virtue signalers on the left accusing anyone who objects to mass immigration of being a racist. Even if they voted for a Black POTUS twice and for Jesse Jackson in 1988, they are a racist. Even if the same voter has walked into many large-scale government agencies and corporate buildings, seeing between 80% — 90% Black employees, it is not the minorities, but the white person, who is a racist.

BLM, my ***. Two plus two equals four, not five.

One side stirs the pot. Then the other side tries to crack the cultural whip 24/7, taking our free speech away when we object to policies that have demolished the US middle class by crying racism or, on the other side, classism. Meanwhile, most of the economic figures that should be the things under discussion are Big Lies, particularly the employment numbers. And the cashing-in elites know it. It is deeply cynical and couldn’t be farther from Hook’s vision of an honest clash of ideas without physical or artificial boundaries, but in a way, all of the lying by elites is bringing it back around again via the intellectual backdoor of the internet.

In reply to by house biscuit

chippers MadHatt Fri, 05/11/2018 - 22:15 Permalink

Id vote for anybody over the current PM.  Lots of Peterson haters coming out of their pathetic jealous wormholes nowdays,  undeniable fact is he was the first establishment type to stand up the the SJWnazi hordes that control Canada, doing it at great risk to his livelyhood.  He deserves credit for that. 

In reply to by MadHatt

Posa MadHatt Sat, 05/12/2018 - 13:44 Permalink

The Congress for Cultural Freedom was exposed as a CIA front from the get go... Sidney Hook was a raving prototype of neoCon maniacs... tried to smear any and all critics of US genocidal rampages in the Koreas, SE Asia and Latin America.  This diatribe from Continetti goes downhill from there

In reply to by MadHatt

Dr.Strangelove Fri, 05/11/2018 - 19:49 Permalink

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose Nothin', that's all that Bobby left me, yeah.
But, feelin' good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues, Hey, feelin' good was good enough for me,

Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee


How can you down vote Janis Joplin?

TradingTroll Fri, 05/11/2018 - 19:54 Permalink

Jordan Peterson had his funding cut off by U of Toronto so he went on Patreon and now gets over $1m a year there. Plus his book plus YouTube. This passionate minority is beginning to build a war chest. Jordan Peterson’s contributors have doubled their support in 6 months.


This is a strong trend against Marxists.

Ms No TradingTroll Fri, 05/11/2018 - 20:17 Permalink

He is right about a lot but he defends and admits that Jews are concentrated power.  He says they deserve it because they have a high IQ and are love the legal system etc.  Two thumbs down!  I didn't give him the right to delegate our power away to some dual citizens because some Canadian believes they are smarter than everybody else.

In reply to by TradingTroll

JBL Ms No Fri, 05/11/2018 - 21:04 Permalink

sum simple maff...


israel has 8 million inhabitants

average iq of total population is 95

6 mil are jewish

47% are Ashkenazim 

jp claims average Ashkenazi have 115 iq

so the remaining jews have an average iq of...73? 


>.< lower than the average in african countries?!?

something doesnt add up here 

In reply to by Ms No