Anyone who wants to know the origins of the current round of pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University and other campuses look no further than the Marxist-inspired “Critical Theory” movement. It has swept over the nation, infecting everything from government, established churches, and education. Indeed, as Juliana Pilon, Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), observes the United States incubated this insidious, foreign-born contagion in the 1940s. It did so from the movement’s headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, courtesy of a hefty grant from the Rockefeller Foundation that helped set up The Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, a research organ of the social sciences at Columbia University.

In “The Deep-State Virus” for the April 25th issue of City Journal, Dr. Pilon reviews J. Michael Waller’s “riveting” book, Big Intel: How the CIA and FBI Went from Cold War Heroes to Deep State Villains (Regnery Publishers, 2024). She notes how “[i]ntellectuals of all stripes gravitated toward various strands of socialism, whether nationalist or internationalist, English or Continental.” The United States would live to regret its decision that the Communists were receiving less scrutiny than the fascists.

Waller quotes FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in 1944, who said “Brazenly, they have urged the development of courses, lectures, and assemblies as media to espouse the ideologies of Marxism as a school of thought in the United States.” Not only that, as the Venona Project has since made evident, the Soviets had on their payroll hundreds of Soviet spies in the United States, passing on intelligence of some of this country’s most closely guarded secrets. In the postwar period, the federal government teemed with spies. Not the least of those infiltrated by the Soviets, Waller maintains, was the CIA itself.  In fact, the OSS, precursor of the CIA, hired Herbert Marcuse, the doyen of the Frankfurt School.

Marcuse went on to teach at some of America’s finest Ivy League universities, including Columbia, Harvard, and Yale. His star pupil, Angela Davis, who faced charges of kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, and murder, won a variety of medals bestowed by the Soviets and its Eastern bloc partners. She continues to spread her poison as distinguished professor emerita of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and was honored by Hamilton College at least three times.

Critical theory permeates Barack Obama’s world view. Of Obama’s lasting influence into Joe Biden’s administration, Waller cites as an example Christopher Wray’s decision to stand down in the FBI investigations of Black Lives Matter and Antifa. “[T]he political correctness and wokeness that have swept the agency,” Waller predicts, “will end up damaging or abusing the agency’s covert and technical capabilities, and will force the public to question their necessity.”

Critical Theory has spawned “Wokeness;” Dr. Pilon warns that the time is running out for remedies. “The contagion must be isolated, exposed, and curbed,” she says, “before it ruins our republic.”