In the U.S and most of the West, the cultural left (used loosely to include movements like feminism, secularism, being pro-diversity and pro minority-rights, the LGBTQ movement, being pro-immigration, etc....) and the economic left (socialism, marxism, pro-big government and regulation, etc...) usually go together, although there doesn't seem any a priori reason why that should be the case. In fact, in some cases, it seems contradictory to me, see "Does the idea of a welfare state fundamentally conflict with an open immigration policy?" for example.
I found several videos on youtube that put all of the cultural left issues I mentioned under the general heading of "Cultural Marxism" - and they claim that this is part of a more or less deliberate move by Marxist thinkers, who turned to cultural issues after the failure of traditional Marxism as exemplified by the failures of communism in the U.S.S.R and China. By bringing up social issues and challenging traditional values, these thinkers presumably wanted to undermine western society, eventually leading to its breakdown and finally paving the way for the foretold workers revolution. They all single out the Frankfurt School as being the main driver behind all this.
These videos, however, from their tone and language, all seem more like right wing conspiracy theories, than like any serious philosophical lectures.
Moreover, from what I've read and seen, several members of the Frankfurt school (Adrono, Horkheimer, and later Habermas) actually had something of a socially conservative bent, almost pining for earlier times, when western society had other sources of meaning and values besides capital (For example Adorno and Horkheimer's critique of mass media and its use of sexuality for marketing, and their somewhat elitist views on art). I didn't get the impression that they wanted to "do away with the family" or "drive today's youth towards sexual hedonism" - as many of the above mentioned videos claim.
My questions are then:
- Is there a philosophical reason why cultural left and economic left go together, or is it a historical coincidence? Do they share any fundamental principles other than changing the status-quo?
- It seems to me that Left Hegelians seem to align with the cultural left, and Marx started out as a Left Hegelian, before going to formulate Communism. Is there a relation between the two? Is that the origin of the correlation?
- Is there any merit at all to the idea that the various aspects of the cultural left in today's Western discourse did indeed originate with the Frankfurt School? Did members of the Frankfurt school really want to overthrow Western values (and my reading of Adorno, Horkheimer, and Habermas is wrong) ?