YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

April 21, 2014

“Remains of the Day” revisited

dukewindsorwithitlerI saw the 1993 movie Remains of the Day, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s prize-winning novel, and was appalled by the shallowness of the script (though it was better than most movies for a mass audience), and by the unpreparedness of the novelist to deal with such a momentous period in the history of the British class system. The following internet sources summarize the plot lines and major interpretations of both the acclaimed movie and novel.




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Economic_Consequences_of_the_Peace (authored by John Maynard Keynes, made a Lord in 1942).

Sparknotes (no relation) synopsis of Lord Darlington’s character in the novel:

“Lord Darlington is the former owner of Darlington Hall. He dies three years before the present day of Stevens’s narrative. Darlington is an old- fashioned English gentleman who feels regret and guilt about the harshness of England’s treatment of Germany in the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. This guilt is compounded by the fact that a close friend of Darlington’s, Herr Bremann, commits suicide after World War I. This event, in conjunction with the dire economic situation Lord Darlington witnesses on his visits to Germany, inspires him to take action. In the early 1920s, he organizes conferences at Darlington Hall to allow prominent Europeans to meet and discuss ways to revise the Treaty of Versailles; later, he invites British and German heads of state to Darlington Hall in an attempt to peacefully prevent the Second World War. All the while, however, Darlington never understands the true agenda of the Nazis, who use him to further Nazi aims in Britain. After World War II, Darlington is labeled a Nazi sympathizer and a traitor, which ruins his reputation and leaves him a broken and disillusioned old man at his death. Stevens always speaks highly of Darlington throughout the novel; he says it is a shame that people came to have such a terribly mistaken view of such a noble man.”


There is no excuse for such carelessness with a crucial period in the history of the West. Hence it should not shock us that one of its stars, Emma Thompson, has supported the movement to boycott Israel. She is not the only confused leftist associated with the movie. Perhaps in spite of its invincible ignorance and even cynicism, the film does demonstrate some of the themes in this website that most interest me:

First, movies rarely capture even small truths about the past; they are directed at a mass audience or at the half-educated moviegoer who has absorbed a touch of class. Thus, viewers are expected to focus on the undeniable spectacle of the stately homes of England, with all their gew-gaws and medieval trappings, set in the undeniably calming rolling countryside, far from the madding crowd. Ignored are the working class elements in Oswald’Mosley’s British fascism, along with long-standing ties between British aristocrats and Germans of the same class.

Second, the movie demonstrates, through the failure of the relationship between “Stevens” and “Miss Kenton” (beautifully enacted by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson), the dumb loyalty of the servant class to its masters. Hence the touches of sadism and masochism in the interactions between the two protagonists, and Stevens’s humiliation while being dressed down as an ignoramus by an antidemocratic guest of his boss, who has seen the future and it doesn’t work for his outnumbered class.

Why does “Sally” even regret her departure from Stevens? Did she have a repressed, distant, and priggish father, or was the real object of her affections Lord Darlington, an apparently asexual character who functions as a symbol for dozens of other British aristocrats (and their obedient public servants) who appeased the Nazis, and who blamed the rise of Hitler on excessive reparations after the Great War—but not on diplomatic errors and the monarchical coalition that appointed Hitler Chancellor in order to defeat the Soviets and the growing red labor movement at home?

Third, no one should be shocked that Emma Thompson supports BDS. “Sally” calls herself a coward in the movie script (for not leaving her job when her employer dismisses two German-refugee maids—an incident not in the novel). The film makes much of Nazi antisemitism, distancing itself from the British Labour Party and Ernest Bevin, whose postwar conduct was profoundly “anti-Zionist” and heartless. Where did “Sally” get her advanced views on the Jewish question, in contrast to her boss’s impulsive gesture after reading Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s famous rant against Jewry? Was there no strain of literary and political antisemitism in Britain that infested all classes of society?

Moreover, the “anti-Zionists” of today take great care to profess their anti-antisemitism, the more to justify their purity in denouncing Israelis for their allegedly nasty “imperialist” treatment of Arabs—exactly the position of the postwar Foreign and Colonial Offices. In real life, Greenpeace member Emma Thompson describes herself both as a “libertarian anarchist” but admits to being a supporter of the Labour Party nonetheless. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Thompson.) From the Wikipedia description of the movie and novel, it appears that the protests against Nazi treatment of Jews in 1936 were inventions of the screenwriters.

I could go on and on (for instance about the implausibly significant American Congressman Mr. Lewis, played by Christopher Reeve, who forgets that he stood up against Darlington’s guests in 1936), but shorter blogs are more likely to be read. By focusing on the fine acting of the cast, viewers, critics, and explicators are missing the deep structures that determined the fate of the British aristocracy in the twentieth century. That should be the focus of our “regret”—not a relationship that was doomed to fail.


April 19, 2014

‘Totalitarianism’ (2)

pimpsup-hosdownOn April 17, I wrote this popular blog: http://clarespark.com/2014/04/17/totalitarianism/. It was preceded by a related blog that also was popular: http://clarespark.com/2012/09/05/proto-fascism-and-the-democrat-peoples-community. The blogs on ‘totalitarianism’ got lots of views probably because it was not widely known at that time that there was a pseudo-democratic movement afoot to eliminate the Electoral College and substitute the trappings of a popular democracy, in effect, reversing the Constitution and eliminating the notion of a constitutional republic in favor of [mob rule, urban domination]. In other words, such details as the marketplace of ideas, checks and balances, and separation of powers would be obsolete and “anti-democratic” because they are ultimately controlled and defined by “the big money”—or so such blue-state politicians as Andrew Cuomo would have to argue.

We have seen the signs of such a transition to authoritarian statism already: the expedited passage of the Affordable Care Act (and then lawlessness in its implementation), the increasing power of the executive branch, the takeover of academe by “Democrats” who shamelessly proclaim themselves the police force that will patrol dissident factions (i.e., the Tea Party and all those who fear Big Government: see http://clarespark.com/2014/04/12/the-organization-of-american-historians-taking-sides/), and the turnaround of Brandeis University in the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali—an insult supported by the Harvard Crimson staff, devoted as they are to multiculturalism, as opposed to the clash of civilizations thesis advanced by Hirsi Ali, who unequivocally states that there are no moderate Muslims. Similarly, the Secretary of State John Kerry’s deluded hope that he might broker a peace between Arabs and Israelis, reflects the assumptions of multiculturalism, as opposed to recognizing that there are some “differences” that are not only irreconcilable, but cannot be settled by mediation or “inclusion.” (And what the Left wants is a binational state, i.e., the end of a majority Jewish state, and the return of Jews to dhimmi status.) Soon we will all be requested to bow and scrape before our Platonic Guardians or the new nomenklatura.

Ever since I read Barack Obama’s two books in 2008, I have feared a bloodless transition to either fascism or communism. (Why bloodless? The population is so pacified/brainwashed, and force so unevenly distributed that I do not expect significant resistance.) BUT, I do not equate the two forms of statism, and have written extensively about this distinction in the past: The revolution of Communism promised to fulfill the promise of the Enlightenment with its ideal of individual emancipation, while Fascism (in all its variants) was a counter-Revolution that erased the Enlightenment, substituting the judenrein “people’s community” for the independent individual endowed with civil rights. Now look at the discourse of the Left and its stronghold in the Democratic Party: its key words are “families” or “the people” or “community”—entities that, in contrast to terroristic Republicans/Israelis/Goldfingers, are noted for their tender care and outreach to “the oppressed.”

One explicator of this crucial difference between fascism and communism was the late communist historian Eric Hobsbawm. See http://clarespark.com/2013/10/28/hobsbawm-israel-the-totalitarian-idea/. Sadly, Hobsbawm lacked the critical distance not to bash Israel and finance capital, as have other leftists, Karl Marx for instance in his early essay on “Money” as “the universal pimp.” But my most persuasive argument against the use of the word “totalitarian” is this: why are artists and dissidents murdered, locked up, or bought off in these omnipotent societies if it is so easy to impose total control on the population in societies with a tradition of cultural pluralism and at least a measure of free thought? Who but intellectuals benefit from this emphasis on the Soviets as compared to the Nazis and all their atrocities?

Two authors stand out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Nolte#The_Historikerstreit. Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism (Hannah Arendt’s “great book”). Whatever their motives, such books and arguments take our attention away from the dynamics of Hitler’s rise to power and the unspeakable consequences of the Third Reich. As I write this, the factions that make up the right wing in America (not to be confused with the European Right) are still fighting with each other. Until the magnitude of the crisis that confronts us is broadly recognized and addressed in solidarity, excising those fringe groups and behaviors that really ARE racist, terroristic, populistic, and lawless (the Klan, Neo-Nazis, usually blamed by the Left on “the Right”), there is little doubt about who wins and who loses. If we get to 2016 without a coup (call it what you will), I will be the most surprised of anyone. plato

April 17, 2014


totalitarianism_01I started out today thinking about chastising the careless use of the term “tolitarianism” by both Left and Right—who generally accuse their opponents of the T word. It is rather like a Nazi sign or a Hitler moustache painted on the Enemy du jour. (For a fuller account, see http://clarespark.com/2014/04/19/totalitarianism-2/)

I was also going to mention that the T word, when picked at long enough, probably refers to the rule of money, which for Marx signified “Jewish” “hucksterism” from which communism would rescue the brainwashed masses. (see Mad Men, that plays on this latently antisemitic hatred of advertising and public relations).

Then I was going to write that the presence of free speech, a free press, and the internet made the US (and the West?) free of the total control imputed to the Fascist powers and to Hitler’s Nazism.

BUT then I thought of Herbert Marcuse’s notion of “repressive tolerance”—a concept little understood by rightists who attack “cultural Marxism.” (See http://clarespark.com/2011/10/21/did-frankfurters-kill-the-white-christian-west/.) What Marcuse actually said was that the notion of toleration of dissent was a ruse of authoritarian forces who insisted that their critics accept their ruling definitions of reality and of the meaning of words.

THEN I watched POTUS’s press conference, in which he inflicted the usual liberal double bind: the Affordable Care Act was a smashing success, if only the Republicans would stop bad mouthing it, and yet the President called for bipartisanship. Somewhere in there, he used the word “forcefully” and my adrenalin started flowing again, especially since the yearly meeting of the Organization of American Historians allied itself unambiguously with the police powers of the State (Leviathan). See http://clarespark.com/2014/04/12/the-organization-of-american-historians-taking-sides/.)

As if I were not anxious enough, I learned from Facebook that there is a little-publicized law afoot that would eliminate the Electoral College, institutionalizing a popular democracy and waving goodbye to the constitutional republic that our Founders established. Nine states have already said yes to our mass suicide, imposed by a tiny minority in charge of Leviathan. (See http://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/andrew-cuomo-electoral-college-compact/2014/04/16/id/566097/.)

In the past I have railed against the careless equation of fascism and communism. No more. It is not that I am wrong, but that we have a national emergency on our hands. The ongoing bad-mouthing of that non-observant person of Jewish descent, Herbert Marcuse, should stop. Start thinking of the meaning of words and who defines reality: citizens, POTUS, humanities professors, or mainstream media, including National Public Radio?


April 12, 2014

The Organization of American Historians taking sides

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dissenthouston[From Rick Shenkman’s report on day 2 of the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, 2014:] The major event of the day was the late-afternoon plenary session devoted to “historians and their publics.”  The standout panel included Alan Kraut, Spencer Crew, Jill Lepore, Sean Wilentz, and filmmaker Shola Lynch.  Unfortunately, we can’t show you a video as one member of the panel objected to cameras.  So you’ll have to take our word for it that it was a great panel.  Wilentz, typically combative, said that historians should use their authority to police the public square.  When pundits and politicians (Glen Beck, they’re talking about you) make stuff up about history, they should be called out.  Lepore said when she tried to do that very thing in her book on the Tea Party historians wondered why on earth she was bothering. 

Wilentz got off a great line.  Historians, he said, “want to make the alien seem more familiar and the familiar seem more alien.”  That was something all the panelists seemed to agree with.

- See more at: http://hnn.us/article/155258#sthash.wSDxdAJH.dpuf]

[My stunned comment:] This is an astonishing statement to emanate from an academic conference. Read it closely. No longer is US history to be a search for more accurate knowledge about the past, but one of its leading lights, Princeton professor Sean Wilentz recommends the alienation-effect made famous by Bertolt Brecht. Even worse, Rick Shenkman, former chief editor of History News Network, agreeing with Wilentz, sees historians as an arm of the state, policing “the public square”—presumably filled with bothersome and  unteachable Tea Party hoi polloi.

These sentiments are what passes for academic freedom and free speech today. “We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is [not] us.”


No conservative call for anticommunist or anti-progressive historians will remedy the sorry state of academe. Rather, what is needed is an injection of courage and especially the re-examination of the liberal assumptions of yesteryear.

Ralph Bunche complained bitterly of those upper-class white liberal foundations that funded only those projects that increased communications between warring groups, such as white and black. Such tactics offended him because he saw structural flaws in American society that would not disintegrate because whites and blacks played nicely together, eschewing [hate speech].

We should be so lucky now. The polarization is so complete and hardened that certified teachers of the young see themselves as guardians of public order, ONLY. (In the past, their impetus toward political and social “stability” was rarely stated with such startling candor. If the rabble was rioting, you bought them off or co-opted them]

But more, though self-satisfied in their allegiance to that side that works toward “social justice” Wilentz’s Brechtian moment suggests a tactical distancing from complacency with respect to received knowledge, that is belied by the opinion that historians should be the thought police.

It is back: the same old liberal double bind that I complain about endlessly here: There is no conflict between Truth (found out by poring through archives and distancing oneself from inherited biases–i.e., making the familiar seem alien, making the invisible visible) and Order.

These social democrats and leftists may hold the commanding heights of academe, but their opposition holds the mantle of free speech, which I implore them, as the [unruly] public, neither to abuse, nor to take for granted. Our betters have spoken and now it is up to us to uphold reasoned dissent and the rule of law.



April 10, 2014

Gendered wage inequality: an overview

equalpay2Nothing in this blog is intended to diminish the suffering of males at the hands of more powerful males. Still, the silencing of many women propels me to comment at some length.

The Obama administration has raised the issue of wage inequality between women and men, some aver, to change the subject from ACA, which has met widespread opposition. This blog addresses why many women are blocked from high level jobs in business, technology, engineering, and other male-dominated fields.

First, there are power trade-offs. “Domestic feminists” argue that puritanism (and Protestantism in general) raised the status of women in the home. As medieval agrarian societies were replaced by capitalist industrial societies, men were no longer commanding labor and resources in the home; rather they were now absent fathers and husbands, busy with offices and factories. At the same time, Lockean psychology elevated the role of women, whose maternal duties now included the inculcation of ethics in the infant or growing child, born Locke claimed, with a tabula rasa. The historian Ruth Bloch calls this phenomenon “the rise of the moral mother.”

Understandably, males, faced with the complaint of undeserved subordination raised by both the first and second waves of feminism, were outraged: for them, women already had too much power. Her recently enhanced domestic role, plus her enthusiasm “to make the whole world homelike” in the progressive movement, combined to make the middle-class woman resented by displaced patriarchs or overly-attached “momma’s boys”. “What [more] do women want?” cried Freud, and many agreed with him, and still do.

[Added 4/16/14: a FB comment from Helen Logan Tackett: I work in a profession where my salary based on specific academic achievements, if a man in my profession makes more than me, it is due to him working more hours than me. Here is the truth; most women work two jobs. The real gender inequality is women now struggle to balance career demands and housework, laundry, shopping, meal preparation, nurse to sick children, primary caregiver for aging parents. When my son got sick at school, the school called me,mom, before they called my husband, his father. Where is government's quick fix for the exhausted working woman due to holding down two jobs? Instead of government painting women as victims of sexist capitalism why doesn't government provide tax deduction for work performed in the home? Paving the way for Hillary Clinton, in typical fashion, the Democrats use the victim ploy to convince women that if they don't vote for Hillary, then GOP men will make them second class members of society by impoverishing them. In sum, vote for Hillary if you want money. Pathetic.]

Second, aside from gender differences in physical strength and longevity, heterosexual women are socialized to crave husbands; even many lesbian couples want children. In 1974, Lynda Benglis defined herself in Artforum against the vaginally-oriented feminist art movement with a tough and controversial nude self-portrait, holding what appeared to be an oversized erect penis attached to her body, asserting both androgyny and the cry that women were socialized to please men.

Lynda Benglis, Artforum 1974

Lynda Benglis, Artforum 1974

It is still a shocking image. [I showed her current work in my 1970s slide show on feminist art, and I recall lots of glitter and non-representational pieces: Here is one that I did not see from 1973, suggesting what might emerge in the advertisement.]


As I have written ad nauseum, second wave feminists defined politically correct feminist art as the empowered vagina, confronting [war-making] men and the presumably all-powerful Western patriarchy with aggressive, shocking images. Having emerged from the male left-dominated antiwar and civil rights movements, their feminism was easily co-opted. By the time I entered graduate school in the 1980s, semiotics ruled the day, and feminists were now Foucauldians and postmodernists, railing against the industrializing bourgeoisie that had once raised the status of all women. (See http://clarespark.com/2012/10/14/reality-and-the-left/, partly about Judith Butler, their superstar.)

Today, there are token women in positions of power in government, business, and in our dominant cultural institutions. In academe, they have often settled for low-status Women’s Studies programs that are laughing stocks. And heavies in educational psychology like Howard Gardner may see females as inherently narcissistic and self-absorbed, keeping their journals [and their ageless skin?]. (See http://clarespark.com/2009/10/05/arne-duncans-statism-part-two/.)

Yet the token successful women complain of a glass ceiling, wage differentials, and segregation in such maternal occupations as nursing and primary school education. It remains to be seen if today’s feminists can bury their differences with conservative women in order to formulate a new feminist program that allows all women and girls to develop their minds and talents, not only their learned masochism of pandering to the male of the species.

Betty Grable: #1 pinup WW2

Betty Grable: #1 pinup WW2

April 9, 2014

Disastrous nationalisms: the Kedourie version

Elie Kedourie (1926-1992)

Elie Kedourie (1926-1992)

Here is the Wikipedia entry on Elie Kedourie’s famous book Nationalism, first published in 1960, and available online in pdf format: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elie_Kedourie.

I read it because it was cited by an author whom I am reviewing for an academic publication, Aiyaz Husaini, author of Mapping the End of Empire: American and British Strategic Visions in the Postwar Word (Harvard UP, 2014). Husaini (whose writing is cryptic) appears not to have understood Kedourie’s famous book, so in this blog, I will briefly lay out the conservative late professor Kedourie’s main message, as they bear some resemblance to my own work on the sources of multiculturalism, and more, are relevant to competing narratives regarding Hitler’s intellectual ancestors, a perennial theme on this website.

I have warned readers before about aristocratic interpretations of the genealogy of Nazism and the crypto-racism of multiculturalism. (On the legacy of German Romanticism see http://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/.) For instance, the German aristocrat Friedrich Meinecke is cited favorably in Kedourie, but without laying out Meinecke’s hostility to the narrowly educated, unspiritual worker in technology, quoted here: http://clarespark.com/2010/04/12/multiculturalismethnopluralism-in-the-mid-20th-century/.

Picasso, 1921

Picasso, 1921


It is well to remind the reader that the rise of Hitler was explained early on in cultural terms by such as Peter Viereck and his reviewer Harvard professor Crane Brinton, an admirer of Nietzsche. Although Brinton’s review of Viereck (Saturday Review, 1941) states that German Romanticism is not the only cause of Hitler’s program, he did find Viereck “reasonable.” That is weird, because organic conservatives such as Kedourie, Brinton, and Viereck, are similarly irrationalists: social bonds are mystical, not rational; established, order-making rulers are legitimate. Kedourie, at the same time he denounced anti-imperialist tribal nationalisms, lamented the invention of the printing press, democracy (as opposed to the republic or traditional state, all balancing each other out), the French Revolution, Napoleon, economic determinism (entirely Marxist in Kedourie’s view), and the Enlightenment-French notion that persons could separate themselves from empires in the name of self-determination. For Kedourie, without religion and tradition, the newly industrialized world would degenerate into mobbish democracies, and racist states, and once more we would hear that “the age of chivalry is gone.”

I have written at length here about cultural pessimism, apocalyptic fantasies, and the culture wars. I could call Kedourie an aristocratic radical or a reactionary. Do we not owe more to our children than to indulge in the gloomy Tory fantasies that opposed the political reforms of the English Civil War and that promoted the idea of the responsible individual?

We have seen years and years of horror movies, unprecedented best sellers that celebrate magic, and real-life retreats into barbarism. Can these be partly explained by movies and television shows that frequently present future technological disasters reaffirming, sometimes subtly, the old top-down neoclassical world view that Kedourie presents as the alternative to demonic Romanticism run amuck?


Or do I give too much weight to cultural, as opposed to political and economic factors, just like the anti-Romantic [i.e., neoclassical] conservatives I am criticizing here?

For Kedourie’s opinion that the problems of the Middle East are insoluble, see this mildly dissenting publication by Harvard University: https://blogs.law.harvard.edu/mesh/2008/02/chasing_illusions_in_the_middle_east/.

April 6, 2014

Standing up to bullying social democrats (2)




Yesterday (4-5-14) I posted a popular blog. http://clarespark.com/2014/04/05/standing-up-to-bullying-social-democrats/. There is no way of knowing why so many viewers came to it: was it the enticing title, the provocative illustration of a plump lady’s posterior flanked by fat cats, or the revelation that Ernest Bevin’s “socialism” was directed against finance capital (the Jews)? (The latter motivation could have fed into neo-Nazi fantasies that “the Jews” are to blame for the plight of the working class, everywhere.)

This is my advice in part two of this series, for I speak out of long experience with Democrats and leftists (who now seem to be inseparable, see http://clarespark.com/2012/07/19/communist-ideas-go-mainstream/):

Unless you have an independent income and/or are in a family that is exceptionally tolerant and libertarian, it is best to hold your tongue. Do not expose yourself to more strife and rejection. SDs, in their own minds, have, since the mid-nineteenth century, identified with an updated, paternalistic aristocracy (the Disraelian type of Christian Socialist). Witness the educated audience for Downton Abbey.

No amount of facts or rational arguments will persuade SDs to stop their 1. state-worship; or 2. “anti-Zionism.” In their compassionate hearts, they “know” they are correct. They believe in the statistics that other progressives have compiled, even though such statistics render them ciphers, lacking individuality and an appropriately curious, questing mind. As members of volunteer groups or the “healing” professions, they are invested in group identities (“we are the good people”) and such soothing perks as academic tenure. Moreover, the SDs believe that they are standing up to bullies of the Neanderthal Right!


Conclusion: it should be obvious that SDs must be defeated at the polling place—venues that may be fraudulent. So it should be the primary task of libertarian believers in capitalism, equal opportunity, equality before the law for rich and poor alike, and limited government, to make their votes count. (For statistics and other issues see http://tinyurl.com/p3k3quh.)

Save your breath, unless you are talking to your pre-adolescent children or advocating for charter schools with curricula that encourage critics thought: no amount of pop cultural appropriation, father-led families, or overt attempts at persuasion will lure the dependent population away from the welfare state.

We are running out of time.

April 5, 2014

Standing up to bullying social democrats




I have been reading Peter Weiler’s biography of Ernest Bevin, a leading social democrat in early 20th century Britain, and it is a lucid guide to what social democrats (i.e., the moderate men) are and how they came to power. Weiler also explains populist antisemitism, which may be intrinsic to the social democratic world view. For labor reformer Bevin, socialism was all about controlling Shylock (p.74). (SD will be my shorthand for social democrats.)

The SD world view is this: they are not militants of the labor movement: their goal is not a worker’s state. Rather, they aimed for better wages, working conditions, and life chances for the once growing industrial working class. For the SDs, this would be accomplished through trade unionism and state power that would regulate capitalism, especially the financial sector. Professor Weiler calls this strategy corporatism or labourism. I call it proto-fascism. Many scholars refer to Italian Fascism as the “corporative state” or the “ethical state,” For the corporative state mediated between employers and workers, imposing harmony through state power. Many scholars compare the New Deal to the Mussolini solution to class warfare.

ENTER THE JEWS. As Weiler tells it, Bevin saw industrialists as natural allies to workers, whereas the money men were managing affairs in their own interests alone, cutting down profits for industrialists. Lowered profits meant that workers would have to take it on the chin, lowering wages so that fat cat financiers could maintain their outrageous life styles, while workers languished, unprotected and unloved. “Money” and heartlessness were ever associated with a fictional un-Christian animal called “the Jews.” Some major social theorists blamed “the Protestant spirit” for capitalism (e.g. Max Weber, C. Wright Mills), Protestantism being tinged with Hebraism and a particular love for the Old Testament. (See http://clarespark.com/2012/10/07/christian-socialism-as-precursor-to-orwell/.)

J. A. Hobson, a journalist, was read by “progressive” Brits and Americans alike (including Bevin), and it was he who was most aggressive in spreading the word that “the international Jew” not only was a cabal of money men, it controlled all newspapers and the media. (The Nation magazine in 1919 cited Hobson’s work: see http://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. Also http://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/.) The widely circulated Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a hot item in the Arab world today) made the further claim that the cabal would urge their readers to rise up and overthrow their nationalist masters, so that “the Jews” could move in, attack religion, and thus control the world, as was their inheritance as the Chosen People. Reform Jews ran away from this stereotype and many are ready to cave into a “binational state” in Israel as a way of pacifying their SD rulers and the Muslim world.

What does this have to do with standing up to bullying social democrats? As long as our intellectuals look to the state or any other bureaucracy or tribal entity to enforce “social justice” we are doomed to an eternity of authoritarian rule. Human rights do not encompass the rights of the corporative state (a.k.a. the welfare state) to substitute for individual choice and individual responsibility. Human rights are about standing up to illegitimate authority, wherever it may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of our consciousness. This task is not as easy as it sounds. (For part two of this essay see http://clarespark.com/2014/04/06/standing-up-to-bullying-social-democrats-2/.) midwest-map

April 1, 2014

The Gwyneth Paltrow Flap: celebrities as the new socialist vanguard

PaltrowRead these first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwyneth_Paltrow. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/gwyneth-paltrow-this-working-mothers-open-letter-to-the-actress-who-claims-being-a-film-star-is-harder-than-working-a-95-is-amazing-9221301.html. The author, Mackenzie Dawson is a contributing editor to the New York Post. http://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/gwyneth-paltrow-open-letter-a-gentle-prod-209524803538. Dawson interviewed by Ronan Farrow on MSNBC. Talk is about “parents” and “families” and income inequality, and the need for “celebrities” to speak out more frequently to right these wrongs.

[Blog starts here:]  Journalists working for such diverse institutions as The New York Post, Fox News Channel and MSNBC , have all jumped on Gwyneth Paltrow for comparing the travails of movie acting with the long, hard, slog of other “working moms.”

Several observations are in order. 1. We live in an age where “celebrities” feel free to speak out on any and every social issue, regardless of their expertise in any subject—and so do journalists and academics with captive audiences; 2. In a period of mass democracy, social media, and public education, the manipulation of public opinion is critical for parties vying for our votes and financial support; 3. Second wave feminism, while making it possible for a few women to challenge the monopoly of men in business, the arts, and in the professions, was primarily a petit-bourgeois movement, dragging itself toward the Left because second wave feminism came out of the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s. Paltrow’s generation came afterwards, was more Green, and more interested in family life, diet and healthy living, including the higher consciousness. 4. Like prior would-be intellectuals laying down the timing and rules for proletarian revolution or other progressive reforms, a few physically attractive celebrities and journalists have assumed the vanguard once reserved by 19th century Marxists for the politically conscious working class. Dawson is one of these scolds (see her live with Ronan Farrow, linked above).


So when “privileged” actor Paltrow compared the difficulty of being a wife and mother while pursuing her acting career, with that of other “working moms” she stepped in it. It was inevitable that comparing “life on the set” to the lives of working class women also trying to “balance” the roles of breadwinner, motherhood and even marriage with office work, would arouse high dudgeon in the chattering class, who themselves are under the thumbs of bosses–though their working conditions are not comparable to the back-breaking labor of the old factory hands, much construction work, and farm labor. There is a reason that these office jobs are called “white-collar,” and that leftist sociologist C. Wright Mills reviled them in one of his most famous books.

I should interject here that I do not know Gwyneth Paltrow, nor have I followed her career except to recall that when she accepted her Oscar for her role in Shakespeare in Love (1998), she may have wept for her ill father, the movie producer Bruce Paltrow (he had oral cancer for some years). (Her acceptance speech is here: http://aaspeechesdb.oscars.org/link/071-3/”And especially to my father Bruce Paltrow, who has surmounted insurmountable obstacles this year. I love you more than anything in the world.”). Moreover, she married Chris Martin soon after her father’s death in 2002. She also suffered a postpartum depression after the birth of her first male child. You don’t have to be a Freudian psychoanalyst to suspect that her attachment to her late father is more germane to her views on marriage and work than any other factor. The pain associated with that loss cannot be cured with work, beauty, money, or any other worldly success. If Paltrow tries to hold together a family with such evasive language as “conscious uncoupling,” the maintenance of family unity may be as much of a challenge to her, as to any of the women Mackenzie Dawson defends in her letter and tweets. farmlaborLife on the set.” Unless the reader knows the mechanics of movie making, especially the tedium of long waits in trailers, lighting, constant retakes, sudden changes in directors and lines, it is hard not to envy the glamorous life of a movie star. After all, mass media barrages us with images of gorgeous, ageless, perfectly happy females.

A final word on Fame. I had a taste of fame, which was synonymous with notoriety in some quarters. That many persons within listening distance of KPFK knew who I was, and even admired my work at times, did nothing to assuage the anxieties of performance. If anything, the pressure increased, as I tried to juggle the life of the creative mind with the responsibilities and emotional demands of motherhood. Paltrow seems to have peaked with her academy award performance. Similarly, even the most established authors face a blank page when they sit down to write. “Can I match my prior achievements? Can I do even better than in the past? Can I still sell books or get the better movie scripts? Can I transcend my limitations? Was my work ever good enough to please my high-achieving parents who expected so much of me? Am I aging too quickly? If I even worry about these matters, am I a bad wife and/or mother?”

Pirate Ruth, interrogated

Pirate Ruth, interrogated

March 30, 2014

What makes America strong?

self-reliance2Fox News Channel has been playing a documentary all weekend (March 28-30, 2014) on the subject of America’s surrender to permanent [leading from behind]. It ended, however, in a strongly optimistic note from neocon Charles Krauthammer, who predicted that getting our act together would reverse what appears to be decline and even doom.

This blog reviews the sources of “American” strength, and makes the case that it is our intellectual and cultural diversity that constitutes “American exceptionalism.” In other words, the protections afforded by the First Amendment to the Constitution were not only unique in world history, but continue to protect us against authoritarian forces of every type—but only if we make the effort.

It is possibly the case that our species tends toward the tribal and the local over the utopian notion of international unification, as expressed in the rhetoric of “international community” that demonstrably does not exist, and probably will never exist. The Left wants us to believe that the WASP elite that emerged after the Civil War, forcibly “Americanized” immigrants to a form of buccaneering capitalism that deracinated them, throwing over all ancestral cultural ties in order to conform to a murderous and immoral “system” run by extreme white supremacists. Why is this argument repeated over and over in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities and in school textbooks? The red specter still lives in fervid imaginations.


Oddly, multiculturalism or “ethnopluralism” was advanced by progressives as an antidote to claims of proletarian internationalism asserted by leftists from the late 19th century onward, and even before the Soviet coup of 1917. That story has been repeated over and over on this website. I view it as a greater threat to national unity than any other single factor.

Liberal nationalism versus conservative nationalism. In past blogs, I have contrasted the German Idealist notion of national character with classical liberal notions of the relatively autonomous individual. The Germans followed Herder’s notion of the rooted cosmopolitan, a notion that led to Wilsonian internationalism and more recently, the United Nations.

Conservative nationalism entails control over specific territories, staking its claims with arguments of blood and soil. Geopolitics emphasizes fights over borders and possession of the land since time out of mind. Blood and soil nationalism is collectivist in its vocabulary, even though the territory claimed contains wildly different populations with respect to world-views and ideologies. Thus “post-colonialist” scholars and pundits use the vocabulary of Pan-Africanism, Pan-Arabism, etc. and deem “the West” as scheming totalitarians and exploiters of lands and resources that were conquered through militarism, and its handmaidens of science and technology.

Liberal nationalism is a child of the Enlightenment, and was not invented by the Progressive movement that emerged in America during the early 20th century. It was best articulated by the modernizing Senator Charles Sumner who saw the State as limited in scope. The American government was above all a collection of individuals seeking safety from foreign invaders, and possessed of equal rights under the law. The human rights of individuals come out of this Enlightenment tradition. The “human rights” of groups come out of Herder, the mis-named German Enlightenment, and lead into organic conservative and reactionary directions. Social democrats do not fret over this distinction, but promiscuously resort to collectivist statements such as “the people” whom they pretend to defend with their lives and reputations (see http://clarespark.com/2012/11/09/race-and-the-problem-of-inclusion/). Similarly, they have co-opted the language of classical liberalism, deeming their opponents to be termites eating at the foundation of the “republic.”

I view social democrats (today’s “liberals”) as reactionaries, and the source of American division and decline. “America” taken as a collective entity, should always be viewed as a collection of diverse individuals, whether these be conformists, rootless cosmopolitans, or alienated artists.

It is the notion of the unique, irreplaceable, seeking individual, educated to self-reliance and free to choose among competing beliefs, that is the true and only source of American strength and viability in the future decades. To deny this, and to give in to fantasies of decline and apocalypse, is to abandon our children and our ancestors too.


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