YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

July 26, 2014

CV as of 2008: Clare Spark, Ph.D.

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 10:45 pm
Tags: , ,

clare early 1970s Ruscha show prankI could have used this for “About Clare Spark” for the website, but chose to do a different type of autobiography. Here is my CV as of 2008. Hundreds of blogs not included, but they are all grounded in prior research, all of it published or presented to peers at conferences. Pacifica and radio experience generally not included.

E-MAIL ADDRESS: clarespark@verizon.net
DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH: August 10, 1937, New York City
UNIVERSITY DEGREES: Ph.D. in History, UCLA; 6/93; M.A. in History, UCLA, Fall, 1984; M.A. in Teaching Science, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 6/59; B.S. with distinction, Cornell University, 2/58.


2008.Forthcoming review of Peter Moreira, Hemingway on the China Front: His WWII Spy Mission with Martha Gellhorn, Journal of Cold War Studies (withdrawn for publication on my website: http://clarespark.com/2011/06/30/links-to-review-essay-on-hemingway-spy-mission-to-china/).

2007. “Arthur Schlesinger’s Missing Vital Center.” History News Network. http://www.hnn.us/articles/36239.html., “Gunnar Myrdal’s A Lot More Complicated Than You Think.” History News Network, March 12.

2006-2008. Regular commentator on the politics of culture for Pacifica Radio Station KPFT (Houston), LivingArts, archived and streamed live on the web.

2006. Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival (Kent, Ohio: Kent State UP, 2nd ed. Paperback).

2004. “What Lies Behind the Multicultural Approach to History?” History News Network. http://www.hnn.us/articles/4533.html.

2004. “Ralph Bunche and the Jewish Problem.” UCLA Bunche Center for African-American Studies, 2-21 Symposium.

2002. “Melville’s ‘Private Faith’: Christian Antisemite or Crypto-Jew?” paper for Modern Language Association meeting, December 28, 2002, New York City.

2002. “Margoth v. Robert E. Lee: Melville’s Poetry and Rival Conceptions of National Unity,” paper for panel “The Nineteenth-Century Artist,” American Literature Association Meeting, June 1, 2002, Long Beach, California.

2002. “Herman Melville: Dead White Male,” History News Network, http://www.hnn.us/articles/665html.

2002. “Chomsky versus Lippmann,” posting on History of Diplomacy discussion group, Humanities Net, January 15.

2001. Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival (Kent, Ohio: Kent State UP). [Reviewed in London Review of Books (Oct.31, 2002), Harper’s (June 2002), Southern Humanities Review (Spring 2002), Christianity and Literature (Summer 2002), American Literature ( 2002 ), CHOICE (Nov. 2001), Library Journal (2001). Modern Language Quarterly (June, 2003), Bloomsbury Review, American Literary Scholarship, The Year’s Work in Literature, Leviathan (2003), Minutes of the Charles Olson Society (April 2004), Journal of Cold War Studies (Fall, 2005)

2001. “Race, Caste, or Class? The Bunche-Myrdal Dispute Over An American Dilemma,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society Vol.14, No.3 (Spring 2001): 465-511.

[Abstract: Few observers doubt that Gunnar Myrdal and Ralph J. Bunche had sharp methodological disagreements and differing approaches to tactics for ending “the Negro problem.” Myrdal has been criticized as a statist liberal and utopian moralist by recent cultural historians defending “progressive nationalism” (multiculturalism), while Bunche has been characterized as a vulgar Marxist, and, with Myrdal, a denigrator of “black culture.” Inspection of An American Dilemma in contrast with Bunche’s research memoranda suggests that Myrdal represented himself as a Burkean conservative, while Bunche’s analyses transmit the radical puritan libertarian tradition, but without rejecting social democratic remedies en route to working-class control of industry. Their shared emphasis on class-based remedies to end poverty and powerlessness, however, renders them similarly unassimilable in a period where the progressive left has generally embraced racial or ethnic “identity,” not class power, as the source of individual emancipation, mental health, and economic betterment.]

2000. “Moderating Melville.” Conference paper, American Literary Association, May 27, Long Beach, California.

1999. “Klara Hitler’s Son: The Langer Report on Hitler’s Mind,” Social Thought and Research, Vol.22, No. 1/2, pp. 113-37.

1998. “Hunting Captain Ahab: The Dark Side of the Melville Revival, 1919-1998,” September 25-26. Symposium in honor of Alexander Saxton sponsored by UCLA.

1996. “From Light Into Darkness: the modern artist as Promethean, explorer, psychoanalyst, moralist and materialist–the case of Melville’s Isabel.” Paper for session “Femme Fatale as Subversive Icon,” Conference on “Love and Politics in Literary Perspective,” March 1 and 2, sponsored by Departments of Classics and Comparative Literature, California State University at Long Beach.

1991. Enter Isabel: The Herman Melville Correspondence of Clare Spark and Paul Metcalf, ed. and annotated by Paul Metcalf (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press).

1991. Commentator, two papers on Pierre. Melville-Whitman Conference, Siena College, Oct. 4.

1991. Other talks on Melville and modernism vs. fascist and protofascist reaction delivered to the History Department, University of Connecticut Oct. 21, Undergraduate English Association, Fordham University, Oct. 29, WBAI-FM, New York City, November 1.

1991. “Who’s Crazy Now? An Essay Dedicated to Christopher Hill,” UCLA Historical Journal Vol. 10, 1990. Winner Theodore Saloutos Award, $500 annual prize for best essay. [Originally a Sermon delivered to the First Unitarian Church, 1/8/90: the legacy of radical protestantism, institutional double-binds specific to modernity, anti-Semitism as antimodernism directed against the Reformation and empiricism; organicism versus materialism on the Left, romantic anticapitalist movements in Anglo-American culture, and the significance of recently declassified government documents from the Psychological Strategy Board (1951-53) regarding government psychological warfare. Contrary to expectation I found no evidence of a U.S. plot to magnify the Soviet threat.]

1990. “Call Me Isabel: Herman Melville as Feminist,” paper delivered at the annual meeting of The American Studies Association, Nov. 2, the panel on “feminist perspectives.”

1987. “Pacifica Radio and the Politics of Culture,” American Media and Mass Culture, ed. Don Lazere (University of California Press).

1987. “Good Jews, Bad Jews, and Wandering Jews in Herman Melville’s Clarel,” Lecture co-sponsored by UCLA Department of History and the Program in Comparative Literature, April 23.

1986. “The Battle for Pacifica Radio,” Paper delivered to California American Studies Association, April 25, panel on Culture and Dissent: Women in Politics.

1982. [on the recent controversies within the Pacifica Foundation and KPFK], sponsored by the radical caucus of The Modern Language Association, annual meeting.

1981-82. “The Sour Apple Tree,” KPFK Folio: a monthly column on the theory and practice of alternative media; proposals for new directions in programming.

1978. “The Rescue” (a montage concerning ideology in the public sculptures of Horatio Greenough), Journal of the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, June/July.

1978. “Masochism Builds Character,” in Education; Papers in Honor of Fletcher G. Watson, ed. Leo Klopfer (Harvard Graduate School of Education).Education in Science and Science

1976. “About the Culture,” (jacket notes), Sentimental Songs of the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Takoma Records, A-1048).

1975. “The Politics of Feminist Art,” member of panel chaired by Carl Baldwin for the annual meeting of the College Art Association.

SCHOLARSHIPS, GRANTS, HONORS: Post-doctoral fellowship, Williams Andrews Clark Jr. Memorial Library, “The Artist as Hero, 1680-1800,” (a seminar directed by Robert Folkenflik, summer, 1989; I studied the ongoing conservative response to Milton, and romantic anticapitalism in William Blake, William Morris, Eric Gill, D.H. Lawrence, and Aldous Huxley); Rosecrans Fellowship, UCLA Department of History 1987-1988, 1988-89; Graduate Division Fellowship, UCLA 1986-87; Distinguished Scholar Award, UCLA Alumni Association 1985-86; Carey McWilliams Fellowship, 1985-86; Alfred P. Sloan National Fellowship, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1958-59; New York State Scholarship, 1954-58.

The National Endowment for the Arts (1974: to produce 39 radio programs on the politics of the art world; 1977: to produce, write and direct a series of montages on the social roots of popular music in the age of Jackson); The National Endowment for the Humanities (1976: to write radio scripts on the politics of middle-class music 1820-1860); 1979-80: to direct the development of a radio series exploring unity and conflict in postwar America as documented in the Pacifica Archives); California Council for the Humanities (1982: to direct a series of symposia establishing social contexts for twelve contemporary plays originated at KPFK). 1972 Major Armstrong Award for FM Broadcasting (second place in educational documentary, for Jim Morrison: Artist in Hell). Appointed to Academic Senate Systemwide Affirmative Action in Hiring and Academic Programs Committee by UC Student Lobby (1984-86). Appointed to ASUCLA Communications Board by Graduate Students Association (1984-85). Nominated for membership on California State Council for the Humanities by Kathryn Kish Sklar, 1982.

EMPLOYMENT: Spring Quarter 1985, Field Studies Coordinator for UCLA undergraduate seminar in history of mass media; helped teach class and developed syllabus and bibliography for critical media studies with grant from UCLA Office of Instructional Development.

February 1981-August 1982, Program Director, KPFK-FM (Pacifica Radio, Los Angeles). It was my objective to clarify the identity of Pacifica Radio as alternative institution and to build credible programming and empathic relations with the audience consistent with Pacifica’s stated ideals. Significant progress toward the creation of an desegregated radio station, sensitive to the historical experience of women, people of color, and labor, was achieved. Subscriptions increased by 20%, I planned and organized the three most successful fund-drives in KPFK history to that date, listener-support was at a new high. The new direction in programming (critical and historically informed) attracted unusual and laudatory press coverage. I produced and/or developed 35 new regularly scheduled programs and numerous symposia: 6 “Teach-Ins” (on El Salvador, the arms race, Southern Africa, reproductive rights for women, Northern Ireland, and Reaganomics); 2 day-long Peace Festivals (involving every peace organization in Southern California and numerous artists and poets), and Peace Week (in support of the June 12, 1982 NYC demonstration).

The Pacifica Foundation Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution that I authored: Pacifica programming would encourage critical thought in culture and politics alike, adopting a principled opposition to racism and sexism. The controversy which erupted over implementation of this (“illiberal”!) resolution eventually drove me out of the station and back to graduate school (where I had started work in U.S. intellectual history, Fall, 1980). The history of “ethnopluralism” (which I traced while in graduate school) suggests that “multiculturalism” as currently practiced is a piecemeal and ineffective conservative liberal strategy to contain and redirect the unpredictable energies of postwar anticolonialism and antiracism, inducing further fragmentation/ghettoisation of the hitherto oppressed and excluded. In 1981 I viewed integrated programming simply as balanced history, comprehending the experience of all groups without idealization; some programming would deal with issues of particular relevance to specific groups, such as women, non-whites, etc., but these would be understood as part of a larger picture of political, economic, and cultural (i.e., institutional) conflict, often global in character. Our explorations would not presume any particular political outcome: our analytic method would be grounded in inductive, not deductive logic; the question would remain open as to what kind of social/economic organization would best encourage the release of human creativity and development. In its populist zeal to “smash capitalism” (without critical reflection), however, an unreformed Pacifica tends to promote separatism, alienation, and despair.

August-September 1980, Producer and Host, “The Afternoon Air,” KPFK. Researched and produced a daily (weekday) three-hour montage of news, public affairs features and documentaries, music and interviews. (I continued this assignment while Program Director, 2/81-10/81)

1971-73, Faculty, School of Critical Studies, California Institute of the Arts; taught Radio Workshop, Mass Media and the Audience (critical tools for analysis).

1972, UCLA Extension, Coordinator: “The Arts and Social Change.”

1971-72, Co-Director, Drama and Literature, KPFK.

1958, 1959-60, Chemistry, biology and general science teacher, Jamaica High School (Queens, NY), Los Angeles High School.

1979, Consultant to Executive Director, Pacifica Foundation (long-term program development and fund-raising)

1978-80, Consultant-expert, The National Endowment for the Arts. I served twice on the radio panel (Media Arts division) and represented all of radio at the policy review panel (Media Arts) in 1980, leading the protest against cultural imperialism in arts funding at the NEA.

1972-82, Public lectures/demonstrations, slide shows on the politics of alternative media, censorship in the arts, sex and violence in recent feminist art and photography. Sponsored by Berkeley University Art Museum, Aspen Design Conference, Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, UCLA Women’s Resource Center, UCLA Department of Art, UCLA Extension, AAUW of Los Angeles, etc. Also, lecture/demonstration classes at UC Irvine (Moira Roth), School of Visual Art (Joyce Kozloff), Cooper Union (Hans Haacke), The New School for Social Research, NYU Film School, and Otis Art Institute.

A featured speaker at invitational conferences, including Community Arts and Community Survival (American Council of the Arts in Education, 1972); Women in the Arts (University of Wisconsin, 1973); Women in Media (UC Berkeley, 1974); The Artist’s Survival (Associated Councils of the Arts, 1975); Critical Communications Conference (Stanford University, 1978, San Diego State, 1979); and attended Independent Radio Producers Conference, Markle Foundation, 1979).

RADIO PRODUCTION: 1969-1994. Hundreds of critical commentaries (closely analysing politics and structures in museum exhibitions), documentaries, “performances,” and interviews, many nationally distributed by Pacifica Program Service. Guests have included Herbert Marcuse, Anais Nin, François Truffaut, John Kenneth Galbraith, Dennis Brutus, Ntozake Shange, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Daniel Ellsberg, Richard Foreman, Roger Angell, and Harold Rosenberg. Long documentaries treated Jim Morrison and Nietzsche, Picasso’s politics, De Kooning’s patronage, “bad taste” in popular culture, authoritarianism and protofascism, artistic and cultural freedom, psychosurgery, etc. From 1988-98, I wrote and presented my series “How Do We Know When We Are Not Fascists?” that compared analyses of “fascism” before, during, and after World War II, and continued my study of the transmission of twentieth century European and American history in the major museums. Recent 90 minute programs presented Herman Melville’s suppressed annotations to Milton’s Paradise Lost, with readings of radical Melville passages by Roscoe Lee Browne, August 1, 1990, arguing for Melville’s oscillating identifications with both Ahab (a left-wing puritan) and Ishmael (a romantic conservative).

OTHER ACTIVITIES: In 1974, composer Joseph Byrd and I founded The Yankee Doodle Society, a production group of artists and scholars whose advisors and endorsers have included Julian Bond, Roscoe Lee Browne, David Brion Davis, Herbert Gutman, Michael Rogin, Roger Shattuck, Kathryn Kish Sklar, and Richard Slotkin. I have co-produced four narrated concerts of nineteenth-century popular music, two sets of recordings (4 disks: Takoma A-1048, Musical Heritage Society 834561) which reconstruct middle-class music of the early and mid-nineteenth century; and have produced, written and directed A Change of Tears: Sentimental Song and Purity Reform in the Age of Jackson, a 10 1/2 hour collage of dramatized documents and music from antebellum America demonstrating contradictory themes in the emerging industrial culture, for instance: “family values” can be seen either as conservative nostrum for social and economic ills or as the bulwark of democratic opposition to illegitimate authority. Actors included Hershel Bernardi, Roscoe Lee Browne, Beatrice Manley, David Birney and William Schallert. These activities have been funded through private contributions, NEH, NEA, and TOSCO. The collage was broadcast in its entirety on July 4, 1994, KPFK-FM, Los Angeles, rebroadcast Thanksgiving 1994 and Labor Day 1995.

DISSERTATION TITLE: The “Melville” Revival, 1919-1953: An Unclosed Case Study in Conservative Enlightenment.

DOCTORAL COMMITTEE CHAIR AND OTHER MENTORS: Alexander Saxton (Chair: intellectual/cultural/social/labor history); Gary Nash (colonial history); Margaret Washington Creel (slavery and reconstruction); Kathryn Kish Sklar (women and nineteenth-century reform movements); Robert Brenner (English history during the transition from feudalism to capitalism; attended all sessions of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History under his direction, 1988- ); informal study with other professors including Saul Friedländer (representations of the Holocaust), Simon Schaffer and Roy Porter (history of science and medicine), Albert Boime (18th-20th Century European and American art history, the recent controversy over NEA funding).

READING COMMITTEE: Alexander Saxton, Saul Friedländer, Carolyn Porter (UC Berkeley), Albert Boime, Robert Brenner, Katherine King.

DISSERTATION SUMMARY: Utilizing ignored or newly available sources (the papers of Raymond Weaver, Richard Chase, Charles Olson, Jay Leyda, and Henry Murray), I reconstructed patterns of censorship in “the Melville Revival” and challenged current interpretations of Melville and Melville criticism since 1919; the relevant context is the institutionalization of psychological warfare before, during, and after World War II, with Melville’s character Captain Ahab increasingly characterized with hostility as bearer of Radical Enlightenment. In the rhetoric of New Dealers and their left-wing allies, Ahab (a savage Hebrew prophet) is an “anticipation” of Hitler and Stalin: the ideological thrust of this Conservative Enlightenment tendency is explicitly antimaterialist and antidemocratic. I have contrasted Burkean conservatism, romantic anticapitalism, Christian Socialism, organicist Left and New Left thought, with the libertarian thought of Locke, Mandeville, Adam Smith, etc. Melville’s approach to biography is seen as alternating between (family-splintering) “British” empiricism and (family-reunifying) “German” Romanticism.

Archival research in the papers of leading Melville scholars disclosed widespread physical and emotional distress while writing about their subject, also ambivalence and/or hostility toward Melville in the published writings; moreover there has been widespread suppression of biographical and textual evidence in Melville studies since 1919, the year “America’s greatest writer” (1819-1891) was ostensibly rescued from philistine contemporaries. My account of the making of the “Melville” [ruin] is correlated with the varied endeavors of antifascist liberals in American Studies, social psychology, and the Committee for Economic Development (socially responsible capitalists adopting Keynesian economics in the early 1940s). These were pragmatists and ethnopluralists who nervously defined themselves against both Marx and Freud in the 1920s and 30s. I suggest that the periodization of “Cold War culture” (as the creation of “fascist” Republicans after 1947) is a disingenuous construction of the moderate men, organic conservative supporters of the New Deal; we do better to examine antidemocratic narratives and myths (Narcissus and Icarus, the apocalyptic sublime) extant since the emergence of science and democracy in ancient Greece, intensified after the Reformation and the invention of the printing press and the popular revolutions that followed.

For the moderate conservatives, Melville was the charismatic specter of the artisan autodidact/the romantic Wandering Jew, bearer of empiricism, freethought, dissent, republicanism, and internationalism. During the 1930s, at the same time that Hitler was constructed by scholars and journalists as a failed artist, narcissist, materialist and clown (the freak of mass culture), crazy Ahab (formerly recognized as abolitionist/Chartist/artist/Melville by many readers) was separated from his creator. New Left critics have tended to follow this conservative nationalist (Jungian) explanation for both fascism and Melville’s downfall; i.e. feminized bourgeois sentimental culture, not the right-wing coalition directed against modernity/the labor movement, explains “totalitarianism” in the twentieth century and Melville’s “crash” after Moby-Dick.

I account for censorship in Melville studies in this context: acting against fanciful “subjectivist” 1920s Melville critics who allegedly conflated autobiography and text, life and art, “objectivist,” fact-finding Melville scholars publishing in the mid-1930s and after have cast doubt on his veracity by (apparently) elevating his status as the “artist” who skillfully transformed plundered “literary sources”; crucially the “second wave” Melville critics have usually rehabilitated the later work (Clarel and Billy Budd). This ploy undermines his accuracy as a reporter of 1. structural antagonisms between the interests of naval officers and common sailors (White-Jacket) and 2. double-binds in supposedly benevolent institutions transmitting incompatible expectations for both truth and (conservative) order (Pierre). Here are potentially irreconcilable conflicts that may not be compromised or moderated; their perception is a threat to the legitimacy of the corporatist liberals; hence explosive issues in the Melville biography (family violence, imputed insanity, the possible existence of an illegitimate half-sister) have been uneasily managed, perhaps to protect the notion that Melville attained genuine (conservative) Enlightenment in his old age after his protracted narcissistic adolescence, his “pathological puritanism” (quoting Henry A. Murray). He could not have been responding to betrayals and structural antagonisms in the real world. In sum, the terms of enlightenment (history, science, progress, facts) have been co-opted by moderate conservatives in the humanities to discredit the radical Enlightenment embodied in the empiricist Melville, who has been reconstructed as a sadder-but-wiser ex-romantic, progressing from destructive Captain Ahab to the prudent Captain Vere.

WORK-IN-PROGRESS: 1. At the request of Pacifica listeners, I have compiled a syllabus and book-length illustrated reader, “Eros and the Middle-Manager,” consisting of radio talks from my series “How Do We Know When We Are Not Fascists?” (1988- ), essays on Melville’s ambivalent identification with the Romantic Wandering Jew (showing the dynamics of his oscillation between fully feeling, freethinking, incorruptible historian/sociologist and melancholic ex-radical), and a monograph that challenges postwar scholarship on Hitler’s psyche, suggesting that conservative nationalist psychoanalysts and political scientists (the progressives), in a distortion of the textual evidence, have disseminated the image of Hitler as an Ahab-ish Bad Jew, the Big Liar: crazy, sadistic, cynical, domineering, contemptuous of the masses, and protean. The gullibility of The People, their bad taste and susceptibility to demagoguery (not economic crisis, class position of the squeezed petit-bourgeoisie, the growing working-class movement, and Left sectarianism, the continuity with Wilhelmine expansionism and imperialism), is held to be the major cause of the Nazi rise to power. (Hitler, however, constructed himself as effective fatherly communicator, not Liar; the Jews, like Filmer’s People, were the Big Liars.) The Reader is evolving into a handbook for democratic communicators. My work suggests new directions for cultural studies, intellectual history, psychoanalysis and counseling, situating personal troubles and family interactions in the broader context of history and politics in the twentieth century, specifically in the social sciences and humanities as managed by “the antifascist liberals,” the moderate men, who, since the mid-1930s have attempted to forge a middle way against the extremes of laissez-faire capitalism and Nazism/Bolshevism (the latter sometimes understood as jacobin democracy/anarchism). Tracking the subtly antidemocratic social relations constructed by “vanguard” corporatists (presenting themselves as genuine liberals) and directed against artists, intellectuals, and autodidacts, is central to the project.
I also have numerous unpublished manuscripts, including a long article on the historiography of Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1636-38). All my work is focused on the teaching of the humanities and how ethnopluralism and other irrationalist ideologies have tended to undermine the independence and self-understanding of citizens.

Darren Mulloy and the John Birch Society

mulloyJBS.jpgThe author is quoted in the Vanderbilt University Press handout for reviewers, quoting the author: “I don’t see the John Birch Society as some part of the ‘lunatic fringe’ of American society, but as a part of the wider culture of the Cold War and as a bridge to the contemporary conservatism of the Tea Party.” VUP: “The John Birch Society played a significant role in the development of the conservative movement as we know it in the U.S.” This statement ignores that the book states unequivocally that it covers the period 1958-1968, with no materials justifying this p.r. guide to potential reviewers, who, presumably will take this book to establish the continuity claimed between the conspiratorial, demonized, and fantastical Welch and his followers and the current disparate foes to “big government.”

D. J. Mulloy is an associate professor in a Canadian university, where he is a member of the history department.A historian is peer-reviewed by the originality of his research and the novelty of the primary sources used. Here are the “primary sources” listed by Professor Mulloy (not one of these is considered to be a primary source comparable to private papers, letters, and diaries, though these must exist in the papers of chief actors in the postwar period from Eisenhower on through Nixon and Ford, not to speak of Buckley and other right-wing characters described in the book):
1. John Birch Society periodicals, pamphlets, and speeches
2. Website for JBS.
3. Books (written by eight authors, including Robert W. Welch, Jr.)
4. Newspapers and periodicals
5. Official documents and reports

This is an astounding publication to have emanated from an academic press (Vanderbilt UP, 2014). There are zero examples of either Welch diaries, his correspondence, or the diaries and private correspondence of the chief actors in the melodrama limned by Mulloy. One can only conclude that VUP published a hatchet job directed against all Republicans and conservatives. This despite the evidence supplied by the Venona documents, and the material unearthed by scholars allowed to examine the briefly opened Soviet archives, that did provide proof of Soviet sabotage and spying, as reported by established and more cautious scholars such as John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, Mark Kramer, Ron Radosh, Alexander Vassiliev, and Allen Weinstein.

Moreover, where extremely controversial events are concerned, Mulloy will often cite one book, rather than a variety of interpretations, including those that disagree with whatever claim he makes at the moment in his mad dash through the postwar period.

Chief among his targets is those who claim that the US military budget was justified in light of the fighting strength of the Soviet Union. This is one of the contentions of those Stalinists who accuse [fascist] Americans of starting the Cold War, and of exaggerating the Soviet military threat. Indeed, one prominent New Leftist alerted me to recently declassified CIA documents ‘proving’ that the US was guilty as charged by the Left. But when I looked at these documents, I saw no such materials, but rather, in reviewing the documents treating the Psychological Strategy Board of the 1950s (under the Truman and Eisenhower administrations), I found only disagreement and confusion in high government circles regarding the best approach to dealing with Soviet expansionism. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_Strategy_Board, and my detailed article “Who’s Crazy Now? An Essay Dedicated to Christopher Hill,” UCLA Historical Journal Vol. 10, 1990.)

Another of Mulloy’s professional lapses is his failure to distinguish between class interest and his imprecisely rendered notion of “conspiracy.” Nor is there even an entry in his index for the Popular Front, which might have explained why it was difficult for “extremist” conservatives such as Welch to distinguish between communists and social democrats, a problem that persists today as more and more professed revolutionary socialists deploy the argot of the counter-revolutionary social democrats. (Eric Hobsbawm is one example: see http://clarespark.com/2013/10/28/hobsbawm-israel-the-totalitarian-idea/.)

Moreover, what Mulloy never explains to the reader is this: Marx was never a conspiracy theorist; this was a theoretical point that the JBS didn’t understand, nor probably William F. Buckley either. Socialist revolution would not come from a small group of fanatical terrorists barking out orders from Moscow, but would result from working class revolt, owing to their increasing immiseration under capitalism (resulting from declining rates of profit—a prediction that failed to materialize as Marx had predicted). (Bureaucratic centralism and statism were “Marxist-Leninist” innovations.)

I suppose Mulloy is yet another social democrat who projects his elitism upon a social movement that it does not resemble at all. The populists described in Mulloy’s book were first and foremost suspicious of statist elites, and still are (http://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/ which is indeed elitist).

Working class agency/the labor movement is entirely invisible in Mulloy’s mural of postwar Amerikkka, the land of the easily duped.


July 20, 2014

“National character”: does it exist?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

nationalcharacterOne of the worst habits of journalists and academics is to refer to countries as if they were one individual, all virtuous or all evil, depending on the author: hence “America” or “Germany” as opposed, say, to the real material and ideological divisions in a particular country, and to individual differences and variations within those divisions. The same goes for class stereotypes, such as “bourgeois” or “working class.”

The omnipresent “multiculturalists” try to correct this habit of personifying nations, by pointing to the need for “inclusiveness” in societies characterized by “diversity”. But they don’t mean that individuals count for anything, for their discourse is collectivist, whether applied to countries or classes. Thus American blacks, for instance, have group character that is incomprehensible to other groups (especially white people), unless they are “people of color” who know the White Man’s nasty habits. If the [dominant culture] is “good” (i.e., anti-racist) it will practice “toleration” and give a leg up to “people of color” through various state-imposed programs such as affirmative action or immigration reform. Since the multiculturalists control the dominant discourses, their opponents are ipso facto “racists.”

So don’t expect a revival of the [evil] melting pot, as that was a bourgeois, culture-crushing imposition on its victims. No, we will devolve into a society of grouplets, each with its own “group facts.”

This social theory we owe to German Romanticism, that was then revived in the 20th century, particularly by the “ethno-pluralists” of the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s, trying to explain Nazism. (See http://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/, and http://clarespark.com/2010/04/12/multiculturalismethnopluralism-in-the-mid-20th-century/. Hayek was up against this tradition in all his books: see http://clarespark.com/2010/10/09/david-riesman-v-friedrich-hayek/.

Ukrainian souvenirs

Ukrainian souvenirs

Is there anything, then, to this notion of “national character”? It comes down to this: either we have a collectivist discourse or we look at individual differences and deviations from imputed group character. There are numerous scholars who believe that “traditions” create national character. For instance, all native born Brits are stoic, all Frenchmen and other Latins are sensualists, while for many Marxist-Leninists, the working class has its own group character, which is pure and hell bent for revolution under the benign guidance of bureaucratic centralists and dialectical materialism.

In my view, we pursue such easy classification at our peril.

John Bull

John Bull

July 18, 2014

Sartre, existentialism, and red antisemitism

The Void Game ad

The Void Game ad

I have been reading Jean-Paul Sartre’s much lauded first novel Nausea (1938), followed by his canonical Anti-Semite and Jew (written ca. 1944).

It is difficult to imagine the younger Sartre as a future revolutionary socialist (though he presents himself, dubiously, as an anti-Stalinist) reading the novel, as compared to the wartime essay that nearly everyone quotes to the effect that society creates the Jew it needs for ideological purposes, i.e., actual Jewish behavior is irrelevant.

This blog continues the theme that I have developed on this website: it is increasingly difficult to separate social democrats from revolutionary socialists.
The early progressives made no secret of their counter-revolutionary goals, as I laid out here: http://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. These conservative reformers, no less than New Dealers, were frank about their politics: proletarian internationalism was their monster, and in its place they offered a paternalistic, elite-led welfare state that would contain any hanky-panky from below.

But the Soviet Union did a sharp about face with the rise of the various (irrationalist) fascisms in Italy, Spain, and especially Germany. At first appalled by the slaughter of revolutionaries in China (see Harold Isaacs’s famous book) that prompted a sectarian assault upon “Social Fascists” after 1928, the Soviets suddenly made common cause with the bourgeoisie through Popular Front politics in 1935—as long as there were bourgeois anti-fascists, as seemed to be the case during the Depression years, and especially after prominent intellectuals took up the Loyalist cause in Spain.

Someone should have told Sartre that, for in his novel, playing the Nietzschean, perhaps, he added to the voices of the resolutely anti-bourgeois, anti-modern voices of trendy European philosophers—Husserl and Heidegger to mention a few of the nihilists confronting the death of God. For “Roquentin” there was only the Void and the denial of progress, most importantly in the possibility of overcoming evil—the very staples of the Judeo-Christian world view.

Roquentin, a writer, seems paranoid to me, certainly disoriented, and hostile to his own body. Here is a striking passage from the novel:
“The thing which was waiting was on the alert, it has pounced on me, it flows through me, I am filled with it. It’s nothing: I am the Thing. Existence, liberated, detached, floods over me. I exist.” (p.98, New Directions paperback, my emph.) What struck me reading this passage was his quick association between liberation and detachment. I could not help thinking of the lyrics of the old song “After You’ve Gone” (1928) which are quoted several times in the novel. It was made famous by [Jewish] Sophie Tucker (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAuCSSLC-bk), and other major pop singers, but in the novel, Sartre is moved by its imagined Jewish composer and its “Negress” songstress. (Turner Layton was not Jewish, but a black songwriter, as was his lyricist Henry Creamer (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turner_Layton.)

Layton-Creamer Goodbye Alexander

Layton-Creamer Goodbye Alexander

Sartre was born into a Catholic family, and early on in the novel, I took him for a lapsed Catholic—his world was that bleak and dessicated, while his body or Nature was that repulsive, as horrifying, perhaps as the mother figure/vagina that was the real Thing. What if he became a communist because that creed and its mystical dialectical materialism reattached him to an abstract cause that did not frighten him?

Turn now to his influential essay written during the war years in France. Usually taken to be a philosemitic tract, condemning Europe for its pervasive antisemitism, I was startled to see how he ended it with a standard communist trope: the working class understands its situation in the material world and is free of antisemitism, while it is the (muddled?) bourgeoisie that uses “the Jew” as scapegoat, to deflect petit-bourgeois (lower middle class in today’s argot) discontent away from their masked masters. Jews escape their “inauthenticity,” he claims, by reading Hegel’s “Master and Slave,” and finding authenticity in revolt against the ever antisemitic bourgeois oppressor. Through communism, antisemitism will disappear.

In rereading Sartre’s essay I was struck by his attack on mob society (shades of Hannah Arendt), and the anomie [inflicted by cities and industrialization?]. An entire flood of academics, young and old, follow the nearly identical philosophy of Emile Durkheim/the Frankfurt School/critical theory/the New Left/counter-culture mystics seeking both attachment and detachment.

One wonders how many of them are similarly on the lam from Mom and her illicit sticky power in the modern world.


July 8, 2014

What is sexual freedom?

applesnakeIn my last blog (http://clarespark.com/2014/07/06/the-hobby-lobby-decision-and-the-war-on-women/), I predicted that the issue of sexual freedom would strongly affect the outcome of the next election cycle. A Facebook friend asked me what I meant by that. He took my ensuing response to express “responsibility” as the controlling value. I only partly agree with that judgment, but the issue bears more elaboration.

This blog expands the answer to my online acquaintance. It is partly  an opinion grounded in my particular experience, but also the result of historical research into changing mores. It is not a romp into relativism. I could come off as some kind of female ‘puritan’ and killjoy, though I don’t see myself that way.

First, consider the vogue for expensive weddings as no more than conspicuous consumption, female narcissism, and often absurd demands on the parental pocketbook. Note too that sentimental literature and romantic comedies are focused on that delicate period between puberty and marriage, where adolescent rebelliousness must be reined in for the sake of the status quo. Romantic love has long been associated with revolt from below. So a certain amount of order must be imposed on a process that could get out of hand. Free love, like free thought, has its limits.

The drama of the hunt and courtship dominates the mass media genres preferred by women, but stops at the usually humdrum period of marriage and parenting, where sexual passion almost inevitably fades, to be replaced by parenthood, community/political involvement, and the unforeseen demands of the aging body. Almost all our ideas about sex are shaped by maintaining our sexual attractiveness, including fashion, hair and skin care, “working out” and of course plastic surgery as if it is normal to be sixteen forever. While shopping the Bloomingdale’s July 4th sale, I heard one woman snort to another that Eileen Fisher’s flowing minimalist designs are meant for “menopausal women.”


What I have already written should be obvious. No pop culture group celebrates companionate marriage and growing old together, let alone the day to day challenges of managing family life; nor are there trendy analogs to the Thomas Moore poem and touching popular song “Believe me, if all those endearing young charms….” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Believe_Me,_if_All_Those_Endearing_Young_Charms.) Instead we have the dubious passion for redecoration and home-building—a creative act in some cases, but also escapist. Old people, a growing part of our population, are stowed away out of sight and out of mind, unless they are fabulously rich and can attract gold-diggers of either gender.

Second, I rejected libertinism (often a consequence of “existentialist” despair, and “what the hell”), mostly because, though Casanovas and Don Juans probably think it is their birthright to cat around, for women it is most certainly the case that sex is not a drink of water. There is not only the rational fear of STDs, there is the partly irrational (?) fear of abandonment. Add to that the rational fear that birth control technology is imperfect, and you have anxiety during and after the sex act. (I am not suggesting that males do not have their own anxieties, partly over performance, partly over arousing usually buried feelings about Mother and the mother-son bond that may be problematic; the same goes for women, who may be anxious about “unresolved” relationships with Father.)

But all these considerations pale in contrast to the issue of abortifacients and abortions—an issue that is said to be highly “emotional.” Let me make a more materialist observation: the timing of her pregnancies is the single most important economic issue that women make. That is why many feminists are adamant about controlling “reproductive rights,” and take it to be a women’s health issue, not to be negotiated under any circumstances.

I understand that many religious persons see the “pro-choice” position, a symptom of mass media-induced “hyper-sexualization,” as the moral issue of our time, for eternal hellfire is often at stake. Some of the faithful are ready to go to the mat to overturn such laws as Roe v. Wade. Hence the polarization that complicates every election, for no Republican candidate who deviates from the pro-life position, or the related stipulation that stem cell research cannot be conducted with discarded frozen embryos, only adult stem cells, can expect to be nominated or elected (except in New England, perhaps). Meanwhile, in much conservative propaganda, late term abortions and infanticide are trotted out as talking points, as if all liberals and libertarians were potential baby-killers and communists.

The controlling context of this debate over abortion rights is the growing power of the state in surveilling and presumably controlling even the most intimate affairs of individuals. Many conservatives are appalled by “feminism” as if all feminists marched in lock step over “women’s issues,” or were out to destroy the family as the only haven in a heartless world.

Because of cultural/religious pluralism, institutionalized in the law of the land, pro-lifers can practice their religion without imposing a theocracy. It puzzles me that some media conservatives take a triumphalist tone, as if they were theocrats. It should not be a requirement that all Republican candidates are forced to conform to the Catholic/Evangelical social agenda, opposing not only abortion rights, but gay marriage. If statism is to be reduced, then religious conservatives should get their priorities straight and lighten up: as I have written before, capitalism/free markets are on the line. The women’s vote cost Mitt Romney the election of 2012, did it not? (http://clarespark.com/2012/11/07/capitalism-is-on-the-line/)

Here, finally, is how I view my most important feminist commitment, in which the welfare of children trumps individual preference—say for no-fault divorces. Having been through one such divorce in the early 1970s, I was in a position to observe the grief and confusion inflicted upon my own children. I don’t understand why feminists have not written more about the complicated fates of She Who Is Dumped and her offspring.

My own conclusion: if you are unwilling to put children’s emotional stability above your own whims or passions, then don’t have children. Obviously, if the marriage is so abusive, physically and emotionally, to spouse and kids that divorce is the only possibility of rescue from a disastrous home life, then divorce is the only remedy, but be prepared for the fallout affecting every member of the broken family.


July 6, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Decision and the War on Women

silencedwomanThree events prompt this blog today: 1. Last night I saw the much praised “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” for the first time (out of anxiety in watching a fiercely antagonistic marriage told through an existentialist lens?); 2. There was a Masters of Sex marathon in preparation for the second season starting next Sunday on Showtime; and 3. One of the panelists on Fox News Sunday predicted that Democrats would benefit from the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision, one that upheld the right of businesses to withhold abortifacients from their employees in the cause of “religious liberty.” This blog is definitely NOT about government forcing pro-life advocates to provide free contraception/abortifacients.

Start with Lizzy Caplan’s character “Virginia Johnson”—a witty and streetwise young woman “ahead of her time” as the show is set in the repressed 1950s, and the bohemian Virginia (a divorced ex-singer with a swing band and mother of two children) is a model of sexual freedom, outspokenness, an advocate for “women’s health”, and a reluctance to commit to bourgeois marriage. (The women’s health argument is currently featured in the talking points of liberal feminists reacting with shock and anger at the Hobby Lobby 5-4 decision.)

Which reminds me: numerous professionals on current television series are depicted as monomaniacally devoted to their professions, and wary of marital commitments (both “Alicia Florrick” and the late “Will Gardner” on The Good Wife, “ “Dr. Katherine Black” and her doctor lover on Black Box, “Olivia Benson” on Law and Order: SVU, “Meghan Draper” on Mad Men, and even “Olivia Pope” on Scandal. Is it any accident that married women or “male feminists” created most of these shows?

I have written numerous blogs criticizing the focus on sexuality to the exclusion of the context in which sex happens or doesn’t happen; I have also written about “the family” as the site of strife and even bondage—a point that is obscured by political rhetoric deploying the rhetoric of heterosexual family unity either to buttress collectivist ideology, or to fend off the decadence and poverty that conservatives attribute to illegitimate birth and mother-headed (usually minority) families.

I have also written extensively about misogyny, a neglected subject in defenses of male homosexuality, even as male critics praise film noir as their favorite genre, a genre that gloried in representations of the “femme fatale,” carrying forth the stereotype of the terrifying “woman with book” (as Leo Steinberg called her, in one of his popular lectures: I believe that the newly literate woman is one of the monsters inhabiting the Tory imagination: Woman as Jew of the Home). (See http://clarespark.com/2011/04/27/james-m-cains-gorgon-gals-2/, retitled “Film Noir decoded”.)

Also on this website, I have emphasized developments in the diagnoses of mental health problems, both aligning with and opposing the anti-psychiatry movement. I should have mentioned more frequently that individual psychiatry is no substitute for family therapy—a field that presumably closely examines how individuals in families relate to one another—or fail utterly owing to underdevelopment of the emotions in our supposedly “modern” society. Such family or couples therapy presumably avail themselves of attachment theory.

But most to the point, I have criticized the omnipresent, belabored usage of the phrase “hard work” especially as the key to achieving “the American Dream.” The subject of women’s labor in the home, with or without male participation, is rarely treated with the respect and caution it deserves: surely the second wave feminists were often on the lam and only partly deserved my scorn.

In one of my favorite episodes of Masters of Sex, Lizzy Caplan (“Virginia Johnson”) sings “You Don’t Know Me”—either a conventional love song about a triangle, or an ironic comment on a doctor lover who wants to tie her down, while her heart remains with another. She is in a booth in an amusement park, with the (temporary) boyfriend and her children looking fondly at her while she warns them through music not to presume anything about the content of her inner thoughts. (For the entire clip see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjfQwNXSfgo.) We have always lived in hierarchies, whatever the pretensions of democratic “egalitarianism” may be. Let those higher up in the food chain beware: You don’t know me/us.

As I have said over and over, “hierarchies breed deceit.” The Woman Question may never go away; in any case, the women’s vote may well decide the next series of elections. And it will be about sexual freedom. (For my explanation of “sexual freedom” see http://clarespark.com/2014/07/08/what-is-sexual-freedom/)

Image (84)-001

July 4, 2014

How “independent” are we?

laba.ws_USA_Independence_DayIn defining myself both for and against the postmodernists or existentialists, I have stated that we are all prisoners of our context. Our choices are limited by the institutions we have made, and which either loosen our lips or force us to bite our tongues, lest we lose our jobs or break up “family” unity. Still, “Pierrot” tries to break out of jail.

While watching Fox News Channel as it boxes the compass of its on-air anchors and other sympathetic celebrities, I notice that most assert their vaunted freedom to say whatever they damn please along with their fulfillment of the American Dream despite humble beginnings. The overall tone was one of nationalist pride and complacency. I found this, at best, self-deceived, if not cynical.

Only Shepard Smith emphasized that this country remains in process, that the goals of human rights celebrated in the Declaration of Independence are incomplete and require attention. (Looking up the spelling of his name, I saw that he is rumored to have been demoted after he asked Roger Ailes to acknowledge that he was gay on the air.)

Shepard Smith seems to have a moral compass whereas not all his Fox colleagues celebrating Independence Day share his realism. I remember how passionately he covered Hurricane Katrina, literally shouting from a New Orleans bridge, when government at every level was not acting with appropriate dispatch in rescuing Katrina’s mostly black victims.

Back to the “independence” of Fox spokespeople yesterday and today as FNC observed the glorious Fourth. Though FNC claims to be “fair and balanced” its format and objectives are designed to get maximum eyeballs. It was brilliant in discerning that the many factions of “the Right” were shut out from MSM, including NPR, hence an underserved population would be easy pickings for advertisers. But having some social democrat voice talking points, while a conservative or libertarian contradicts him or her with other talking points, is not the same as the search for truth. (To be fair, not all Fox commentators are so predictable or conformist, but most are “moderates.”)

Whereas the Declaration of Independence, the precursor to the Bill of Rights, breathes the air of the Enlightenment. “American exceptionalism” (like “popular sovereignty”) is built on separating truth from error, hence the demand for checks and balances, the separation of powers, and the refusal of a monarch in favor of popular sovereignty. Yet today, we defer, often uncritically, to “leaders” whether these “good father figures” are politicians, clerics, celebrity academics, artists, or media personalities.

Lipschitz: Pierrot escaping

Lipschitz: Pierrot escaping

Did anyone think that the Founders goals would be easily achieved? These men of the Enlightenment were educated in the classics, in economics, and in international relations. Were they lacking knowledge of history, or without self-interest or ambition? Were they in total agreement with each other? Only the naïve would make such a claim. Still, they took tremendous risks, as those of us who succeed in this wild and wooly experiment in self-government do every day, often with fear and trembling, for the more sentient among us acknowledge how much “American exceptionalism” rests on the bounty of Nature, a Nature that we, in our hubris, do not always study and protect with requisite attention and zeal.

Some of our children have noticed this flaw. But their voices are unheard on FNC. [For a related blog, see http://clarespark.com/2012/01/28/popular-sovereignty-on-the-ropes/.%5D


July 1, 2014

The Rightist Culture War Strategy Won’t Work

culture-war1It is not surprising that persons who make their living in publishing or writing on behalf of conservative or libertarian causes would envision “culture” as the battleground on which to halt the slide toward “fascism” or “totalitarianism” or “statism” or whatever you want to call the direction of the Democratic Party. The latest to enter the fray is publisher Adam Bellow, son of the illustrious Saul Bellow. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/381419/let-your-right-brain-run-free-adam-bellow. (For my one and only blog on Saul Bellow see http://clarespark.com/2011/11/12/the-woman-question-in-saul-bellows-herzog/.)

Leaving aside for the moment, whether there is a single, coherent right wing culture to spawn artists, let me ask some related questions: Do artists and filmmakers make revolutions in human relationships, or do material factors that are often avoided, put down, or erased by mystical science-hating organic conservatives? For these persons often view themselves as postmodernists or moderates or entirely alienated anarchists.

Think about the onset of modernity in the West for a moment. What factors enabled the elevated status of women? Novels and tracts by soi-disant feminists, or the Industrial Revolution that removed patriarchs from the home, hence raising the status of the women who were now more in charge of socializing children?


As for the sexual revolution, how can we discount the effect of “the pill” that prevented unwanted pregnancies and enabled greater freedom in sexual pleasure for both partners? Or do we want movies that take us back to the good old days when women were entirely subservient to husbands and children, lived for the family alone, and endured endless pregnancies? (See Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse (1927): her portrait of “Mrs. Ramsay.”)

It is true that the mass media have had a great effect publicizing social movements, but close examination of their politics reveals a motion toward populism, not social transformation in human relationships that would lead to wider acceptance of free markets, the end of racism and sexism, and to an aversion to overregulation by the State. Populists are not leftists, but petit-bourgeois radicals angry at “elites” (perhaps stand-ins for authoritarian parents). Such resentment may be found in much of the conservative movement, currently in an uproar over “progressives” in disguise as “RINOS.”
No culture produces so many geniuses that we can simply call out brilliant artists and/or critics who can move mountains and change consciousness to the degree required by our current polarization and sense of injustice on both sides of the great divide.

But we can read good literature from many sources to our children, and we can teach them to extract the messages contained in specific texts. The same goes for music and art. That is what European and American “elites” did, and they ended up ruling the world, enhancing life for the billions, and continuing to ask the big, still unsolved questions. If we want to let “the right brain run free,” we have still to look for excellence in whatever genre or artist we can find. Forget political correctness on both left and right: Study how individual works of art work on us to get us thinking and moving again.
Will satire and spleen of the sort recommended by Adam Bellow and other culture warriors change hearts and minds on the liberal Left? Or will it be taken as yet more agitprop and bad faith emanating from reactionaries?


June 28, 2014

Bat Ye’or’s EURABIA: more relevant than ever

anti-women-2Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis was written by Bat Ye’or and published in 2005 by Associated University Presses. The author had already published other books on this and related subjects, mostly in French and translated into English, Hebrew, and Russian. Her general terrain has been the transformation of Europe in its ill-conceived alliance with the Arab world; she dates the turning point in 1973 (the oil crisis), but also alludes to Charles De Gaulle’s foreign policies in the 1960s.

Her argument is easily summarized: European elites made common cause with Pan-Arab elites, establishing the EAD (Euro-Arab Dialogue) to further the aims of 1. Muslims interested in re-establishing the caliphate that would compensate for its losses in Spain and Southern Europe during the late medieval and early Renaissance periods; and 2. A mostly French elite that wanted to challenge US supremacy in the world after the second world war.
The result was an aggressive (as opposed to a peaceful) multiculturalism. I.e., Ye’or holds to the school of international diplomacy that rejects Wilsonian internationalism/the United Nations for Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis.

The outcome of the Eurabian cultural offensive has been intensified immigration of non-assimilating Muslim immigrants into Europe, and the propagation of what she calls the “Andalusian myth” that the misnamed Western civilization itself owed everything to Muslim arts and sciences, and nothing to ancient Greece and Rome, the Byzantine Empire, “the Judeo-Christian heritage,” or to all societies prior to the propagation of Muslim religion from the 6th century onward. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Islam.)

Scholars such as the late Edward Said have been prominent adherents to Eurabian thought: their goal, she states, has been to attack the legitimacy of Israel, to undermine Christianity, to devalue the United States, and to establish a condition of “dhimmitude” (limited freedoms characterized by servility to the Muslim master and the Sharia law) in all regions where militant jihadists seek hegemony. Her book, written after 9-11, accentuates the cultural offensive or a one-sided “dialogue” between the West and jihadism in which the West has yielded its achievements to the claims of militant Islam and putting cultural pluralism (her “peaceful multiculturalism”) in dire jeopardy. These policies are supported, the author notes, by ambitious Muslim elites, some of their striving middle classes, communists everywhere, and nazified social movements of the far Right. (She does not include, obviously, those European politicians and social movements who oppose sharia law as advanced by Muslim immigrants.)


Wikipedia dismissed her claims as a “conspiracy theory”; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurabia. But it is well known that Wikipedia is controlled by the same “postcolonial” leftists who oppose Israel and the West as hopelessly imperialist and repressive. Eric Hobsbawm himself could have written this curt dismissal of Eurabia as entirely lacking in academic merit. (See http://clarespark.com/2012/12/08/hobsbawm-obama-israel/.)


A daring work such as Bat Ye’or’s should be judged on its documentation as well as its predictive value. With Iraq now threatened by ISIS a.k.a. ISIL, Eurabia deserves a second look. (You will absorb her argument if you read the introduction and conclusions. The book has endnotes and multiple appendices.)
For a CV, see http://www.dhimmitude.org/d_bycv.html.


June 25, 2014

Penny Dreadful’s sinister significance

Frankensteinpenny-dreadfulIn the US, late 19th century dime novels were the precursors to early movies; while in the UK, their similarly cheap, sensational analogs were “penny dreadfuls” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_dreadful).

Surely working class males are not the target audience for the Showtime series Penny Dreadful that is winding up its first season this Sunday; otherwise how can we account for its deliriously positive reception in, say, The New York Times and Vanity Fair?


When I commented on the postmodern slant of this serialized horror thriller with pretensions to serious high art, one of my Facebook friends groaned. This blog explains why I think the fact of its existence and its considerable success is of more than passing interest. I had thought that horror movies with their vampires, zombies, and werewolves, were for adolescents with kinky tastes. But the successful writer for screen and theater, John Logan, author of the series, is no kid (born 1961), but as a graduate of Northwestern University, he may have been exposed to the techniques of postmodernism, along with a fine cast of actors who probably think that this is a high class production, appropriately critical of this entirely mechanized, overly rational and complacent world we supposedly inhabit. I sometimes think that the production is a postmodern emphasis on “acting” and the theatricality of everyday life, along with the postmodern/youthful preoccupation with “real or fake”–a question I have taken up before on this website. What ever its intentions, it surely plays up the irrational and could not be more emphatically counter-Enlightenment, and even anti-American, particularly “America’s” treatment of its indigenous peoples, cruelly uprooted from their native culture and languages by the White Man.

The “pomos” deploy pastiche, distort prior genres, and appropriate prior cultural figures at will, all to comment on the horrors of modernity, most famously rendered in the Tory Terror-Gothic genre, and exemplified in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus. Wordsworth and Keats are quoted, while one of the characters is lifted out of Oscar Wilde—Dorian Gray. Significantly, Jack the Ripper hovers over the production, as if the overarching theme is that the social fabric is ripped to shreds by 19th century optimism and confidence in progress through market capitalism. Logan’s target is clearly the empiricism and leftish Romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries. For the theme of the series, despite its mysterious plot twists and turns and lurid developments, is this: science (including medicine) is destroying our humanity and fellow-feeling, by ignoring the invisible world of demons—the monsters within, and who lead us to perdition when we deny their existence. Even the Catholic Church, possibly represented in the lead character “Vanessa Ives” cannot overcome the unpredictable demon(s) who torments her. And that demon, if we are to believe the publicity surrounding the series, may be inescapable “destiny”–a doctrine opposed by Catholic emphasis on free will and personal responsibility for our actions. Or compare the emphasis on “fate” with Milton’s Mammon, a puritan character who argues for “hard liberty” instead of submission to an unaccountable deity. (See http://clarespark.com/2013/07/09/preconditions-for-hard-liberty/.)


Prometheus, along with the rest of the Judeo-Christian West, is so over. As for individual moral accountability, that too is gone with the desert wind: we are left with a reproach to God as Frankenstein’s omnivorously reading monster quotes Adam’s lament in the season finale: “O fleeting joys Of Paradise, dear bought with lasting woes! Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me Man?”[ Paradise Lost, Book 10]. More: in the last words of the season finale, a Catholic priest asks Vanessa (the femme fatale who stands in for the demon-touched, hence “sacred” Romantic artist, i.e., Logan himself) “Do you really want to be normal?”

For in Logan’s Terror-Gothic world, a world shared by many opponents of “modernity”, “reality” exists solely in a chaotic invisible world that is inaccessible to our eyes, brains, and control. Could anything be more reactionary, hence agreeable to antidemocrats?

« Previous PageNext Page »

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,273 other followers