YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

March 18, 2013

Babel vs. Sinai

Sinai desert sunrise over Red Sea

Sinai desert sunrise over Red Sea

This is the second of two blogs on the awful effects of collectivist propaganda, including Obama’s deployment of “the rhetoric of the political family.” See http://clarespark.com/2011/01/26/obama-and-the-rhetoric-of-the-political-family/

My son-in-law Steve Chocron, after discussing with me what Jews and Christians have in common (i.e. “western humanistic values” as opposed to David Nirenberg’s fixation on “anti-Judaism” as the corrupt core of “the West), came up with the contrast of Babel (or Babylon) versus Sinai:

Babel is collectivist and its language is muddied and muddled even as it promotes “politically correct speech,” while Sinai’s speech is clear, if subject to increased precision over time.

Babel promotes “victimology,” while Sinai promotes individual responsibility and the development of free will.

Where would Freud fit into this scheme? Some determinists, misappropriating “Freud,” would seize on repression, oppression, and bad families as excuses for anti-social behavior (including sadism and masochism), while the residents of Sinai, in the spirit of the true Freud, would probe the darkness in their minds and bodies, would demand that individuals take a complete family history, then do what is necessary to comprehend both family and social sources of wounds, anxieties, and malfeasance, but then would make the effort to correct or sublimate those impulses (rage, hypersexuality, submitting to illegitimate authority whether that be an abusive state or an abusive sibling or parent). Such efforts constitute a form of atonement and are life-long tasks that may never be completed or fully comprehended. They do not resemble the “adjustment” advised by ego psychologists, but rather distinguish between forms of activism, eschewing utopianism, while embracing the necessary and possible. (On Nirenberg’s indictment of “the West as corrupt to the core, see http://clarespark.com/2013/03/15/nirenbergs-mischievous-anti-judaism/. On free-will vs. determinism, focused on Melville and Moby-Dick see http://clarespark.com/2013/01/08/is-ahab-ahab-the-free-will-debate/.)

What is sublimation? Freud advised instinctual renunciation to protect precious relationships, while advocating sublimation: Using repressed rage or Eros as energy for sports, creativity in any medium, excelling in an intellectual or artisanal skill, participating in those political movements that honor individuality and independence. Above all, learning about the body, about preventive medicine (impossible without study of nutrition, hygiene, anatomy, and knowledge of the natural world; about child development, and raising children to maximize their own gifts and readiness for participation in the larger world outside the family).

Brueghel the Elder Tower of Babel

Brueghel the Elder Tower of Babel

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6 Comments »

  1. […] http://clarespark.com/2013/03/18/babel-vs-sinai/ (mentions political correctness as the mode preferred by “Babel” not “Sinai”) […]

    Pingback by The origins of political correctness | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — June 24, 2013 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  2. […] assimilated Jew, Lippmann awarded that honor to Christianity; he might have mentioned Judaism See http://clarespark.com/2013/03/18/babel-vs-sinai/.) Before that, the Massachusetts Senator who was notorious for his aggressive arguments against […]

    Pingback by Thought police on Fox? | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — March 21, 2013 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

  3. […] [Here is a new blog that relies on this earlier one on the rhetoric of "family." See http://clarespark.com/2013/03/18/babel-vs-sinai/. […]

    Pingback by Obama and the rhetoric of the political “family” | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — March 18, 2013 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

  4. […] Finally, consider the jacket to the hardback edition ($35, no pictures). It refers to anti-Judaism being built into the “genome” of the West. This is a misappropriation of genetics for a tendentious argument that “the West” has transmitted its deplorable characterizations of “Jews” through its very DNA. I have already written about such binary opposites as Nirenberg describes, but for the purpose of understanding Nazi ideology, not in undermining (consciously or not) a political coalition that is aimed to protect Jewish life and those humanistic values that are shared by Christians and Jews, notwithstanding a problematic history of persecution and religious/political/economic antagonism. See http://clarespark.com/2010/08/15/nazis-exhibit-der-ewige-jude-1937/ or for a more refined distinction between two strands of “Western” thought, see http://clarespark.com/2013/03/18/babel-vs-sinai/. […]

    Pingback by Nirenberg’s mischievous ANTI-JUDAISM | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — March 18, 2013 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  5. Well put Clare! Collectivism (Babel) is not concerned with aspirations other than “Come, let us build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, Lest we be dispersed across the whole earth” Gen. 11. No mention of any code of conduct by which Babel would live…..If we all want something for ourselves, we can get it. This is in contrast to the Sinai experience where, although gathered as a community, the congregation is addressed in terms of adherence to principles as individuals: You (singular in Hebrew) shall (or shall not). Power in numbers (Babel) is a false feeling of belonging unless the collective actually agrees to observe a set of principles (Sinai) which insures social balance. It is interesting to note that the fear of dispersion in the Babel discourse (see above) is not shared by the Sinai congregants who would later become dispersed without losing their observances and sense of belonging.

    Comment by Maimon Chocron — March 18, 2013 @ 8:32 pm | Reply


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