In his “King Lear,” William Shakespeare writes: “Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.” I cannot think of a public figure in Ireland who exemplifies it better than our old-new presidential candidate Michael D. Higgins. He is 77 and he has just broken his promise not to seek a second term. In his acceptance speech, he described “the ideology of the transcendent market” as “the most sinister violence of our times.” Interesting given that he doesn’t mind the sinister violence of Jihad: in October 2007, he signed up to share a platform with Ibrahim Mussawi, Hezbollah’s spokesman; eventually, the Hezbollah man was refused a visa to Ireland on security grounds.

Mr Higgins prophesises the end of the free market to all and sundry, and he often talks about it. A lot. In fact, his Marxist waffle can rival that of Fidel Castro in its tone, character, and lack of substance. When in 2016 Axel Honneth (a Frankfurt School Marxist) received his UCD Ulysses Medal, President Higgins sent a message to him which was read out at the ceremony, praising Mr Honneth’s “outstanding contribution to the development of critical recognition theory.”

What is the critical theory, and why does Michael D. Higgins like it so much?

While classical Marxism was, in its essence, a program for gaining power through terror (incidentally, Trotskyism – far from being some sort of a democratic version of Marxism that would have resulted in a fairer society – resulted in state terrorism so brutal that even Lenin thought that Trotsky went too far in his brutality), the Frankfurt School is a result of a more sophisticated, more cunning, more systematic plan to breed a gullible and hedonistic society who would be fully dependent on those responsible for income redistribution.

The way of breeding such brainwashed society is to ensure that only Marxist views are tolerated in what the Frankfurt School calls “discourse.” To prove that I don’t say it lightly, let’s have a look at arguably the most important work of Herbert Marcuse: his 1965 “Repressive Tolerance”; in it, he makes a distinction between a normal tolerance of all political views (which he calls “repressive tolerance”) and a liberating tolerance, and writes: “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right, and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.”

When Michael D. Higgins resigned his academic post to concentrate fully on Marxist politics, the Frankfurt School was replacing traditional Marxism: while first Marxists strived to eliminate capitalism completely by intensifying conflicts between employees and employers, the new Marxists strived to intensify emotional conflicts (not in the name of communism but in the name of “absolute freedom”), which would result in young people being unable of any purposeful activity requiring any discipline.  

This is how the critical theory was born. Ultimately, the goal of such “liberation” was to teach young people not to treat the reality as a source of useful knowledge (Michael D. Higgins is a product of such philosophy), which was best exemplified by German anarchists taking money from the state and living in state-built and state-owned buildings.

In his 1973 work “Wahrheitstheorien” (“Theories of Truth”) Habermas writes that because we cannot verify anything, we can recognise true statements only by their “assertive power” (“assertorische Kraft”) in the so-called “discourse.” Discourse differs from a debate in that the goal of every debate is to establish the truth, while the goal of every discourse is to reach a consensus – however, as nearly every crucial concepts of Marxism have the opposite meaning, Habermas’s consensus is not a mediation aimed at considering all different views but a persuasion aimed at affirming the view of the majority.

Axel Honneth tried to rescue Habermas’s nihilism by his return to Hegel, and in his 2014 book “In Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Democratic Life” (an update to G.W.F. Hegel’s most famous work of political philosophy, the “Philosophy of Right”) he writes: “Even the existence of ‘heterogeneous’ societies marked by ethnic or religious diversity has little effect on this ‘transcendental’ necessity of normative integration.”

Prof. Honneth believes that diversity requires society to have values that bind it together that are simply waiting to be found and he thinks have found one: “Of all the ethical values prevailing and competing for dominance in modern society, only one has been capable of leaving a truly lasting impression on our institutional order: freedom, i.e. the autonomy of the individual.”

While the likes of Honneth and Higgins are indeed free to disseminate their utopias, modern western societies, far from striving for more freedom, enjoy less and less freedom; whether it is economic or political freedom – regarding the latter, political correctness resulted in Merkel’s Germany’s oppression of journalist Michael Stürzenberger for criticising Islam.

How can a society “diversified” in that way have freedom as its binding value? Rather, the strong and assertive (the Jihadists) would enforce their will on the weak and corrupt (post-Christian nihilist society), which will result in limiting our freedoms to an extent that we cannot even imagine yet.

On January 25, 2018, President Higgins gave a speech at Dublin City University. In it, he praised the communist Manifesto of Ventotene: “The manifesto of Ventotene, in its emphasis on the peopled economy, the shared prospect of humanity, composed in captivity as it was, is remarkable for containing a demand for a federation of European states dedicated to disarming the worst passions of European nationalisms.” He was right to notice that the manifesto is “considered by the European Institutions as one of the founding documents of European integration.” Mr Higgins thinks that’s a good thing. I beg to differ.

Altiero Spinelli’s plan for post-war Europe contained “gems” like “Private property must be abolished, limited, corrected, extended,” and proposes “the new order, the first social discipline directed to the unformed masses. This dictatorship by the revolutionary party will form the new State”.

Mr Higgins often succumbs to childish stereotypes (“the market unrestrained,” “the peopled economy,” “the cloven hoof of national antagonism”), and true elites should not succumb to any stereotypes because if they do, they can be easily manipulated, and no one should manipulate the President of Ireland.

In the name of real freedom, we should not allow the repetition of the first term election when Mr Higgins was given a protective umbrella by the media. His decision to breach his electoral promise not to seek the second term makes a travesty of the Office of the President, and if there are no other serious candidates, we are in danger of this election being turned into a circus. And if one sets up a circus, one shouldn’t complain that clowns are running it.