YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

April 24, 2015

Multiculturalism vs. [Yid] Red spies: which agitates the Right?

atheist-logicThis blog was inspired by the failure of Fox’s Outnumbered 4-24-15 to explain cases of censorship of the popular movie American Sniper ( the topic was repeated on The Five). They became agitated over the threat to free speech, when they could have identified why college administrators were bowing to the will of a small cadre of Islamist protesters at the University of Maryland; these administrators defending multiculturalism at all costs. One wonders why this “moderate” but right-leaning network is so weak on political theory, for it is obvious that “tolerance” versus “Islamophobia” is crucial to job retention in the hipper universities, public or private. (To be sure, unfree speech is the outcome of censorship in the name of diversity, but multiculturalism deters free speech insofar as it encourages essentialist cultural nationalism: see http://clarespark.com/2011/03/28/index-to-multiculturalism-blogs/.)

How to explain this failure of vision? Scholars, television writers, and journalists seeking right-wing readers and eyeballs know that it enhances their reputations to pretend that there remains an atheistic red menace threatening (Christian) America. Even the latest episode of Scandal played the KGB card, resuscitating the Cold War. One wonders why, given the declining membership in the CPUSA since the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939, carefully delineated by historians/political scientists Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Alexander Vassiliev in Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (Yale UP, 2009).

(Perhaps it is lingering antisemitism, for “the Jews” were ‘”disproportionately” represented in the Old Left, and “populism”—antagonistic to “finance capital,” remains popular on both left and right. Even Lenin may be seen as a populist, for he was notoriously influenced by the antisemitic journalist J. A. Hobson. See http://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/.)

JudaismAndFreemasonry

Whether or not my suspicions are correct, it is obvious that conservatives frequently confuse left-liberals and communists, frequently conflating them as “totalitarians” and, gulp, progressives—as if the US Constitution, despite its capitulations to Southern slaveholders, was not the vanguard of political thought at the time of its framing, with such as Hamilton and Jefferson not avatars of social and economic progress, despite their differences.

This entire website has been preoccupied with tracing the “roots” of multiculturalism to the German Romantic reaction to the “materialism” of science and Enlightenment as understood in 18th Century France. (See http://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/, and http://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/. The second link suggests Herder’s antisemitism, not noted in the historical commentary on his contribution to the notion of national character/groupiness.)

It is a grotesque misreading of history to think that the old Reds were not anti-racists, hot for “proletarian internationalism” as opposed to (proto-fascist) “nationalism,” and its associated (Gentile) “melting pot.” Indeed, that was the attraction that helped recruit working class immigrant Jews to the Communists, and family ties made a difference to their (liberal) descendants.

It is pointless to go on fingering “the multicultural moderate men” for their covert racism disguised in their rooted (as opposed to rootless) cosmopolitanism, documented throughout my website. And Fox News Channel employees, no less than those of the Wall Street Journal, are above all, oblivious to the history of the Left, and only moderately opposed to the nearly pervasive (often latent) antisemitism that blinds them.

sparthitup2

April 17, 2015

The ongoing appeal of the Leftist-dominated Popular Front

popular-front-boxThis blog is about why Popular Front political coalition continues to exist, and why it is hard for the Right to resist “leftist” smears of fascism and racism. But it is primarily about the emotional appeal of a far left faction within American “progressive politics.”

Where did the Popular Front originate? Stalin’s sectarianism persisted until 1935, when he decided to bond with the hated bourgeois parties against variants of fascism as it emerged in China (on Chinese massacres, see Harold Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution), Germany, Italy, and Spain. Whereas social democrats had formerly been stigmatized as warmongers and enablers of repressive anti-communist regimes, now it was deemed expedient to join with other “bureaucratic collectivists” (statists) to defeat laissez-faire capitalism (specifically finance capital) against creeping or already existent “fascism.” (http://clarespark.com/2013/04/21/fascism-what-it-is-what-it-is-not/)

Popular Front politics persist today in the “progressive movement” (Mrs. Clinton!) that confusingly blends “the working class” with “the middle class.” (See the distinction here: http://clarespark.com/2010/09/11/is-wall-street-slaughtering-the-middle-class/.) It remains moot for me whether the Reds swallowed the New Deal or the conservative reforms initiated by FDR swallowed and defanged the Communists. What is obvious is that such New Deal innovations as multiculturalism (covertly racist but in line with the “tolerance” that ameliorated “prejudice”) were taken up by academics and journalists once associated solely with the “hard Left.” Reading such as Alan Wald (a Trotskyist who lauds Stalinists, and is  a prominent cultural historian of the literary left teaching at the U. of Michigan: https://www.lsa.umich.edu/english/people/profile.asp?ID=299), it is hard to discern a clear line that would separate Wald from the New Dealers, for instance, in his recent book Trinity of Passion (2007), Professor Wald adopts the lingo of the Pan-Africanists, referring to his “Black” victims and heroes as “African Americans.” This tic should be, but is not, anathema to an anti-racist of the Left. (Liberal feminist and internationalist Martha Nussbaum adopts the same “multicultural” terminology.)

ww2-women-factories

What is the appeal of Leninism, apart from its obvious advantages in gaining employment for leading academics and journalists?

First, it appropriates an already existing emotional repertoire promoted by mass and high culture alike: that of melodrama with its vocabulary of clearly defined heroes, villains, and victims. (See http://clarespark.com/2013/08/09/melodrama-and-its-appeal/.)

Second, with such clear boundaries between categories, even the most humble person can identify with the lineage of heroes speaking truth to power and, at least imaginatively, lifting up the “oppressed” to the role of major actors in the melodrama of history.

Third, the script is easily mastered. It takes no deep knowledge of political history or economics to assume the mantle of heroism, even Prometheanism at its most masochistic. Marx’s theory of exploitation and/or his concept of alienation are easily mastered axioms, resonant with pre-existent popular resentments of the wealthy and privileged. (Academic social theorists of the Foucauldian or Thompsonian Left will find this blog hilariously retarded, but I am assuming that it was vulgar Marxism that appealed to the populist-progressives.)

Fourth, progressivism affords to the misfits and escape artists “a kind of home” (to quote Pacifica Founder Lew K. Hill’s suicide note) for the nerds and the marginal, who do not see themselves reflected in popular culture. (See http://clarespark.com/2010/10/21/links-to-pacifica-memoirs/.)

pureprogressive

Fifth, the affiliation with New Deal progressivism and communism alike, purifies the self of negative emotions, such as envy. As long as “equality” refers solely to equality of condition as opposed to equality of opportunity, one need not blame oneself for what the “dominant culture” refers to as “failure.” The (imaginary) “system” is “rigged.” (Just ask any Democrat.)

I started this entry with a brief mention of the persistent Popular Front Against Fascism. It is obvious that for all “progressives” the Republican Party and/or the Tea Party are the current “fascists” who must be defeated, lest the Dark Night (“reaction,”  i.e., proto-fascist nationalism and imperialism) of the twentieth century returns.

April 12, 2015

Christos Tsiolkas, the postmodern Balzac?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:46 pm
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Christos Tsiolkas in Guardian interview

Christos Tsiolkas in Guardian interview

The Slap is a novel by Chris Tsiolkas, 2010, and was the winner of The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christos_Tsiolkas)

Christos Tsiolkas (b. 1965), author of the award-winning novel The Slap and a consultant/writer for the Americanized mini- series on NBC is gay and locates himself somewhere on the Left, though one might guess, since his novel’s characters are either bureaucrats or other professionals like himself, that his work, both in Australia and in the (hated) America is intended for disappointed hard Leftists: their politics now indistinguishable from welfare statism. He even names one of his (gay) minor characters “Lenin.”

This blog is about the postmodern novel (“there is no truth”) written by a non-working class person (but impersonating persons of the working class), who is given to nihilism, ribaldry, and finally, acceptance of an adulterated status quo. By that I mean that though many of his characters are working class, they have failed to make the promised revolution predicted by Marx and Lenin, though the author does not share Marx’s enthusiasm for modernity (http://clarespark.com/2014/06/07/marx-vs-lenin/). I suspect he has been influenced by critical theory that surely dominates the U. of Melbourne, where he received his Arts education.

Rather, the Tsiolkas crew is ruled by their passions, and has yielded to secularism, consumerism, sex, pop culture, drugs, and despair. One wonders just how depressed he is, and how disappointed he is in the social democratic modern world. He seems more comfortable with his deceased Greek peasant grandparents in this interview given to The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/10/christos-tsiolkas-melbourne-greece.

Which is not say that Tsiolkas has not written a compelling book that held my attention throughout its 482 pages, for he dealt with all the issues raised by the 1970s counter-culture, finally settling for multiculturalism and the underdogs (including an Aboriginal convert to Islam, the model good father). His characters range from Greek émigré grandparents to three-year-old Hugo, the undisciplined, still breast-fed child who is slapped by a Greek hyper-masculine petit-bourgeois, and whose vindictive hippie-ish mother Rosie strives to punish “Harry”: they are all prisoners of their contexts and cannot relate to one another, except with slaps, betrayal (lots of extra-marital sex), or resignation to an intolerable status quo (though the youngsters go through the motions to prepare for higher education).

Rosie and Hugo

Rosie and Hugo

Tsiolkas, the postmodern Balzac (?), does not appear to like any of them, though he may most closely identify with the veterinarian of mixed blood, Aisha (part Indian, part Brit, and in the NBC version, a physician). One television critic complained that in the [toned down and cleaned-up] US version, the characters were not “likeable”. Perhaps that is because the author doesn’t like any of his all too human characters (except for the darker-skinned ones), a typical primitivist trope that Marx would have dismissed as right-wing Romanticism. (compare Aisha in the Australian adaption to the American version: http://www.dcdmedia.co.uk/newsroom/nbc-greenlightsthe-slap-following-format-rights-acquisition-from-dcd-rights/.)

Australian Aisha

Australian Aisha

US Aisha

US Aisha

That this novel was adapted twice for television, was widely read and a prize-winner in the UK Commonwealth should give us pause, for it is a grand, sweeping portrait of nostalgia, decadence, and above all, the impossibility of inter-generation empathy/communication.

April 7, 2015

Who are the moderate men?

hd wallpapers

hd wallpapers

My last blog (an ad from the Wall Street Journal) may have aroused confusion. Although I wrote a long essay/blog on the moderate men years ago, I should summarize why I find them repellent.

1.Calling oneself the “moderate” alternative to “extremism” on either Left or Right is a strategy devised by psychological warriors in social psychology that was exposed as sykewar by Ellis Freeman in 1940, in his chapter “Beating the Dead Horse,” in Conquering the Man in the Street (see favorable abstract here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ellis-freeman/conquering-the-man-in-the-street/).Freeman explained that everyone is for “moderation”; but the term needs to be analyzed as a strategy in precise context, without necessarily implying that everyone who is “immoderate” is nuts.

2.Social psychologists allied to FDR and the New Deal (progressives) used to call themselves “moderate conservatives” (just like FDR, the conservative reformer, who viewed his Depression measures as averting red revolution), but using today’s argot, they should be seen as left-liberals or social democrats, or even populists. For they believe that such problems as “income inequality” can be solved through measures imposed by a strong, paternalistic state. I see them as pre-fascists, but not fascists, at least not yet.

beanforest etsy.com

beanforest etsy.com

3.The moderate men at the WSJ or Fox News aim to get eyeballs, whether on the left or on the right. They also believe fervently that the state is neutral and that all conflicts, no matter how structural in nature, can be arbitrated or mediated with a skillful “moderate” at the helm, capable of manipulating the “crazies” at the extremes. Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, who advertises himself as an “independent” comes to mind.

4.Another favored moderate term is “balance” as in “fair and balanced.” I wrote about the moderate men and “balance” here http://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/, and here: http://clarespark.com/2010/06/15/the-classics-as-antidote-to-science-education/, and here: http://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/ (retitled, “Balance, equilibrium, and psychological warfare”).

Yesterday’s advertisement from a WSJ insert (http://clarespark.com/2015/04/06/the-moderate-men-endorse-spoiled-brats-in-readers/) was meant to convey that “moderation” is usually exercised upon behalf of an elite, who can have anything they want from life. More FDR again, and Franklin Roosevelt was misportrayed by his social psychologists (the ones whose views are reflected today on PBS and network television alike) as the polar opposite from such super-villains as Hitler: the good father sharply contrasted with the bad father.

FDR in top  hat: NBC News

FDR in top hat: NBC News

April 6, 2015

The moderate men endorse spoiled brats

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:37 pm
Wall Street Journal ad for two-year olds

Wall Street Journal ad for two-year olds

April 3, 2015

“The Slap” and pop culture during Easter Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 9:57 pm
Tags: , , , ,

marilynThe explosion of popular culture as a business in the early 20th century brought forth a specialized type of reporter and pseudo-critic. They didn’t have to know much about history, psychology, ideology, or institutions, as long as they were hip to sales, ads, ratings, and such like—whatever the studios put out for mass delectation.

Forget the fact that popular culture was usually blamed (wrongly) by leading intellectuals for the rise of dictators and fascism, with America often named as chief villain in exporting the craze for “materialism” and “consumerism” that not only thwarted the class struggle, but was the chief culprit in the great dumbing down, now deplored by the cognoscenti, but rarely if ever identified as populist in the most Romantic and defiant way possible.

For what was wanted (and still is), is the goods-buying 18-39 demographic, the generation that marries, sleeps around, procreates, and buys stuff—or makes revolutions. This demographic inhabits all positions on the social spectrum, so appeals are usually made to a variety of ideologies. Enter the social movements of the 1960s with their initial demands for integration and acceptance swerving into quotas, diversity, inter-racial sex (“take that, you Republican racists!”), and separatist strategies that plausibly left us with the same shallow, unmotivated characters, but with the same emphasis on likeability, melodrama (suspense, heroes, villains, and victims), family solidarity, and “positive images” that usually populated the dime novels, vaudeville, burlesque, and popular drama from which they originated.

Enter “The Slap,” a NBC television miniseries that mimics most of a best-selling, award-winning Australian novel by Christos Tsiolkas (b.1965, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christos_Tsiolkas). What attracted to me to the series was the apparent deviation from the NBC left-liberal line. For once, I thought initially, liberals, counter-culture types, and conservatives confronted one another, without excessive caricature of the conservative position. Moreover, instead of the usual alternatively noble or racist working class characters, we got a peep into the interactions of arty professionals, none of whom is without flaws or was particularly PC.

Rosie and Hugo

Rosie and Hugo

Indeed, in the novel, “Anouk” (played by Uma Thurman) has an abortion, but in the television series, though abandoned by her much younger actor boy-friend, she brings the baby to term, and in the last scene, the no-boundaries very young villain (roughly 8 year old Hugo, he who gets slapped on the cheek by a businessman for threatening “Harry’s” son, perhaps with a baseball bat), holds Anouk’s new baby boy with affection and care. The “dysfunctional family” has been reunited and no one is beyond redemption when presented with an innocent male infant. Was it an accident that the series was scheduled to end the night before Good Friday?

And so, being moderate, and the home network for the principled Law and Order series, the suspenseful NBC plot is resolved with a compromise: Harry the auto dealer and abusive slapper is found guilty of hitting a child not his own, but the hippie, arty, parents are also slapped on the wrist by the very annoyed female judge with a promise of state intervention if they do not cease indulging their son, the out-of-control Hugo (still being nursed by his wine-drinking, hysterical mother though he is anywhere from four to seven or eight years old, depending on whether you are reading the novel or watching episodes in either Australian or American tv series).

Lucas Hedges (“Ritchie”) in crisis mode

But the most compelling feature of the series finale was the episode devoted to “Ritchie” (played by Lucas Hedges), a gay victim of heterosexual gang style bullying, who has hidden his suicidal, institutionalized past, fleeing with a bossy MOM to Brooklyn, for the author of the novel The Slap is also publicly gay. The uber-talented promising artist-photographer Ritchie, faced with testifying in court and humiliated by having his past dredged up by the press thanks to the shyster lawyer representing Harry, tries once again to kill himself with pills and booze next to a carousel he has been turning into strange “bleak” images, but two or three of the (now somewhat repentant) friends track him down and the artist Gary rescues him, just in time for Ritchie to testify at the trial’s climax. Ritchie loves or admires (or doesn’t admire) all the people at the original party (the scene of the “crime” where he was a stranger!), hence he says he deleted the damning photos of Hugo being slapped, because he knows what it is like to be exposed. He remembers precisely what happened at the party, enabling the compromise ending, and affirming that the one gay character might be associated with Jesus—he is that all-embracing, and early on is described by Gary as “innocent.” Although Ritchie clearly disapproves of Harry’s slap, he slips in this phrase, “these people I love” and reiterates an ongoing theme–odd for an artist who distorts reality: Ritchie: “the truth is all we have.”

These are the sentiments of a revolutionary Romantic (not a postmodernist), perhaps reflecting upon his own unresolved relations with MOM.

March 30, 2015

Hillary, Carly, and the triumph of gender studies

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:06 pm
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Only a woman will do to comment on HC

Only a woman will do to comment on HC

One of the ghastly features of multiculturalism and cultural studies in general, is the domination of the addled notion that “any woman will do.” For instance, Carly Fiorina (who lost her bid to be Senator from California), and whose career at Hewlett Packard did not end in a blaze of glory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carly_Fiorina) is considered to be the appropriate person to take down Hillary Clinton, for “any woman will do.”

If a male were to point out Ms. Clinton’s deficiencies, he could be taken down as a sexist. So into the breach steps a Republican female, for any woman will do. This is the predictable outcome of collectivist ideologies spun by the liberal establishment. (A reminder that until the late 20th century, communists, unlike liberals, considered feminism to be a “bourgeois deviation,” and it should never displace class conflict as the relevant, pressing structural problem. This position seems to have been modified as the newly minted field of gender studies was obviously dominated by leftists and the most avid environmentalists. “Class” as a variable is important to both leftists and free-market capitalists. For the Left, class struggle will bring communism; for conservatives and Republicans, “class” is a consideration for measuring upward mobility.)

Forget that Ms. Fiorina has few, if any, qualifications to hold such an office as POTUS. It is true that she fits into the upward mobility-meritocracy theme beloved by politicians in either party, for as she bragged on Fox News Sunday, she started out as a secretary before her rise to the top.

When I was in graduate school pursuing a doctorate in US history (UCLA, 1983-1993), I suggested at a crowded conference that the concerns of women should not be shunted off into a corner, but should be integrated into the curriculum (obviously referring to the humanities curriculum). This prompted guffaws from the mostly male, liberal, audience. After the presentations, Hayden White (head of the History of Consciousness program at UC Santa Cruz) approached me, and asked if I was in the job market yet. He wasn’t offering me a position, but warning me to lay off.

Not long before that, I displeased two powerful feminist professors, Kathryn Kish Sklar and Ruth Bloch, who cornered me in Sklar’s office because I had brought up class differences in women and criticized a famous article for conflating all women into one big bag. One of them (Bloch) even suggested that I should have been thrown out of the doctoral program for my gaffe.

purpleheart-1

I got similar screams of rage when I complained about separatist ethnic studies programs at yet another international conference. And when I was appointed as representative of all University of California students in the Affirmative Action Committee, I introduced a motion that all professors in relevant fields should integrate the concerns of minorities and women into their classes, without depending on separate “studies” programs. The next year, no one told me about the yearly meeting, but the year after that I made sure to attend, and was informed that my resolution (unanimously passed in our committee) was never voted upon because it infringed upon “academic freedom.”

New PC Look

New PC Look

Now we can look forward to a campaign for president where only the “crazies” will oppose separatist cultural studies. And for their pains, they will be labeled by the “moderate” and “balanced” press, as I was, “racist” and “sexist.” And at the top of their lungs.

March 28, 2015

The neglected virtues: self-discipline and politeness

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:53 pm
Tags: , , , ,

panama-city-fl-spring-break-barsPerhaps we are a decadent society, and anything we do to change course will be fruitless and too late. I don’t know. But I was dismayed by the “Spring Break” series featured on Sean Hannity’s Fox program this week. The antics at Panama Beach, Florida, reminded me of Fellini’s movie Satyricon that I found so repellent I couldn’t watch it.

Conservatives blame progressivism, the women’s movement, and the counter-culture, for the loss of standards and the subsequent moral laxity that is everywhere apparent. Their remedy: more strong fathers at the head of the family to offset mother’s allegedly softer (baleful) influence.

redfeministnuclearfamily

I view the matter slightly differently. Both parents must, and I emphasize MUST, set an example. By that I refer to acting like grownups: setting boundaries, and providing examples involving self-control (consideration for the feelings and rights of others), involvement with how children are spending their time, and discussing serious questions about the family, schooling, the local community, and the world (at appropriate ages, of course). Democracy makes unprecedented demands on individual would-be citizens, capable of independent thought.

But child-rearing in the nuclear family is about more than sex-roles and attentive parenting. It is also a question of labor, and the mother has often in “traditional” families, borne the brunt of the work. Ask any young mother how much sleep she has gotten since her first child was born. The virtue of a two-parent family is partly found in shared labor, as opposed to the stern father and the all-forgiving mother theme.

In this age of divorce-on-demand and “blended families” it is hard to live up to the expectations of “Victorian” or “bourgeois” families. We can either continue down this path to perdition or we can be more realistic about the objective requirements of marriage and parenthood.

Image from Fellini's SATYRICON

Image from Fellini’s SATYRICON

March 27, 2015

Did German/Austrian Jews assimilate to multiculturalism?

"Weltstar" Peter Pulzer getting award at U. of Vienna

“Weltstar” Peter Pulzer getting award at U. of Vienna

I have just finished reading a classic work by Peter G. J. Pulzer, The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria (1964), focusing on the late 19th C. and the pre-WW1 period (sometimes called the age of decadence). Since American conservatives frequently accuse “cultural Marxists” (i.e. German refugees of Jewish descent) of cultivating the foul soil in which socialism/communism has flourished on “the Left,” I thought that this German Jew, an academic Weltstar in Europe, who distanced himself from traditional Judaism, would be worth quoting and commenting upon. (On the Frankfurt Institute refugees see http://clarespark.com/2013/07/31/the-nefarious-cultural-marxists/.) (On Pulzer’s background see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_G._J._Pulzer.)

First, he seeks to distinguish the anti-Semites from the Social Democrats (i.e., in Germany, the Communists and Socialists), for he is no anti-Semite himself:

“Despite certain points of superficial resemblance—the radical language, the popular method of campaigning, the rejection of Liberal economics [i.e., laissez-faire capitalism, CS]—anti-Semites and Social Democrats were at opposite poles of the political world and their mutual enmity was deep and lasting. …in its moral appeal Marxian Socialism was clearly related to nineteenth-century Liberalism. It was inspired by a revulsion against tyranny and poverty, by optimism and a belief in progress, by the assumption that if a formula could be found to explain how society worked, spread by education, and applied, the world’s evils could be abolished. It was international in its appeal, its morality was universal. Against these factors…anti-Semitism was concerned not with more emancipation, but with less, with the interests of traditional, not of new classes, with the primacy of the national and the integral over the universal. In particular it could not fail to notice that many of the founders and leaders of international Socialism were Jews. (Chapter 27, p.259)”

A few pages later, Pulzer continues to attach himself to his environment (though he never admits his political affiliation): “It is in the main those Jews who attempted to cut themselves loose most completely from their environment who became the Socialist leaders…They were intellectuals who disavowed their own heritage and background and yet did not feel at home in the new tradition to which they tried to adapt themselves. It was not that they deliberately took up a revolutionary posture in defiance of some snub or indignity they had suffered, rather that they identified themselves emotionally with the ideology of protest that is nature to the uprooted intellectual, whether he is an “angry young man” or a bomb-throwing narodnik. Above all the ideologies of the Left, which promised to emancipate men from restrictive or divisive loyalties, also helped the Jew to reidentify himself with society.”

Now comes the most shocking part, where Pulzer reveals himself as the full-blown moderate man, not too hot, not too cold, oddly owning some of the antisemitic tropes he had identified in earlier chapters: “The influence of the closed Jewish community, too, continued to haunt the deraciné, however much he might try to exorcise it. It endowed him, first, with an exaggeratedly intellectual and cerebral view of the world’s problems, derived from the enforced, undilutedly urban culture of Jewish life and the Talmudic scholasticism which was the mainstay of ghetto education. (This gift also tended to make the Jew better than financial operations than industrial management and, with his international connections, to become the ideal “middleman.”) Second, he was heir to that legacy of the puritanical visionary, the Hebraic tradition, embodied by the Jew who does not feel comfortable unless the prophet’s cloak is warming his shoulders, the living communicant of Judaism’s greatest contribution to Western civilization. …We can see too, why more often than not, the Jew is likely to be associated with the extreme wing of his party.” (Chapter 27, p.262, bold-face my emph.)

This is an assimilated Jew writing, an Oxford academic superstar (and a child Jewish refugee from Austria) who has been tracing the progress of antisemitism in Germany and Austria for hundreds of pages, finally minimizing the prominence of Nazis in comparison to conservative anti-modern antisemitism. He most certainly does not want to be taken for an undesirable ghetto Jew or any type of puritan.

Earlier in the book, Pulzer brought up Herder (p.34), not as a multiculturalist but as nostalgic for the Holy Roman Empire and a greater Germany. But Herder was indeed a cultural nationalist and a subtle precursor of the racialism that Pulzer went on to denounce throughout as associated with the most venomous of the German Rightist parties and factions.  (On Herder’s cultural nationalism see http://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/.)

Pulzer gave a nod to refugee German-Jew George L. Mosse, in his acknowledgments, but I believe that Professor Mosse would have read and reacted to Pulzer’s book with the same amazement as I have done. Mosse knew a safely rooted cosmopolitan when he spotted one.

rootless cosmopolitan as radical Jew

rootless cosmopolitan as radical Jew

March 21, 2015

Great Goddess feminism: the Phyllis Chesler model

Stone Age Venus of Willendorf

Stone Age Venus of Willendorf

I have been rereading Phyllis Chesler’s Women and Madness (Doubleday 1972), and wonder if it is still relevant, and how Chesler’s Jungian, mythic approach to female sex-roles and role models fits into the second wave of feminism.

This blog will focus on the promise of sexual liberation as opposed to what experience hath shown are more realistic approaches to the demands of motherhood and the welfare of children.

Phyllis Chesler and son

Phyllis Chesler and son

First, we examine the context of second wave feminism. College-age women, active in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, deeply resented being relegated to waitresses and secretaries, serving the males coffee and typing manifestoes, while such heroes as black power advocate Stokely Carmichael relegated them to sex objects (though his intended meaning is contested by allies; in 1964 he had declared “”The position of women in the movement is prone”).

So the second wave of feminism came out of the Left, and then some argued about whether or not they should be “Marxist-feminists” or “Feminist-Marxists.” At the same time, real communists (Stalinists) were dismissing feminism as a bourgeois deviation. As I have suggested here, the intellectual ancestors of feminist stars were not 1930s leftists, so much as anti-killjoy womanizers of the 1940s social democratic “left”; i.e., anticommunist “liberals” who admired Jung, but not his mentor Freud, another killjoy with his settling for “everyday unhappiness” as opposed to the adrenalin rush of Romantic defiance. (See http://clarespark.com/2015/03/16/who-were-the-precursors-of-the-new-left-the-wasp-establishment-or-communists/. The New Deal-affiliated social psychologists I studied all identified Hitler with Romanticism,  e.g., Byron.)

Enter numerous feminists (arguably the progenitors of the gay rights movement) who were averse to what was imagined as the humdrum life of MOM, stuck indefinitely in boring marriages and chained to motherhood. Unlike the leftist feminists, they were attracted to Goddesses and “spirituality,” and aroused the ire of the (materialist) Left. But whatever the flavor, feminists were of course reacting (indirectly?) to “attachment theory” as presented by John Bowlby in 1958. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory, and note that Bowlby was describing the infant’s need for object constancy, but not a jail for ambitious women that would last forever.)

Numerous activist women in the arts and humanities saw a chance for instant fame when they promoted a distinctive woman’s sensibility and the loveliness of free love, including lesbianism. Of all these book-writing young women, psychologist Phyllis Chesler remains relevant today, for she has not only offered a Goddess/Amazon book in her youth (who doesn’t enjoy the pagan, naughty Greek myths and Jungian archetypes?), but she claims expertise in the “new antisemitism” that speaks to renewed fears for the safety of Israel. But even more, Chesler saw Muslim abuse of women up close in her marriage to an Afghani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Chesler). So while her competitors are either mocked, deceased, or forgotten, Phyllis Chesler has developed an appreciative lay audience for the emancipation of women.

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Meanwhile, feminism seems to have adopted Chesler’s brand. The Hunger Games trilogy is a boffo success with youngsters and mothers alike (at least in my family), and the challenge of monogamous marriage and competent child-rearing is taken up all too rarely, and when it is, as in the NBC miniseries The Slap (the intelligent woman’s guide to motherhood: exhausting, negligent, over-indulgent in turn), it arouses howls of rage in television critics, who don’t want to tamper with archetypes of the Happy Mother and/or “likeable characters.”

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I helped promote the women artists’ movement on the radio, and considered myself to be one of them. I continue to believe that it is a man’s world, and bitterly resent all double standards.

It is only in retrospect that I have come to realize how intellectually and emotionally demanding motherhood (like marriage) really is. Moreover, the time frame when developing youngsters need ’round-the-clock mothering and fathering is shorter than young, single women realized in the salad days of second wave feminism.

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