YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

November 12, 2015

The “free speech” muddle, or cherchez la femme

Student protest, Philipp Arndt photo, Business Insider

Student protest, Philipp Arndt photo, Business Insider

[The following blog is a lengthy excerpt from my unpublished ms. Eros and the Middle Manager. Footnotes not included, but note quotes from primary sources. This ms. excerpt is intended to clarify the problem of “free speech, by analyzing how recent (idealist) sociology has created a muddle where rational discourse is hard to find.] 

The New Pluralism-without-Snakes-and-Spiders, the “multicultural” condition of the postwar progressivism, is stressful for everyone.  Progressive institutions are only vaguely and intermittently committed to the no-holds-barred search for truth, while the very fact of any pluralism and relativism frighteningly destabilizes authority for the vertiginous veteran of authoritarian families.  The persons I have studied, Herman Melville, the Victorian poet James Thomson (“B.V.”), Columbia professor Raymond M. Weaver, Picasso, Hitler, Jungian psychoanalyst Henry A. Murray, Charles Olson, and other Symbolists, are all disturbed by Mother, the emblem of inscrutable modernity; it is Mother who sows confusion with mixed signals.  Melville has described such behavior in Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852), exhibiting the institutional double binds that demanded both artistic truth and corporatist order, independence and loyalty, making it impossible for him to please authority whatever he did and terrifying him with the scowl that marred the placid maternal gaze, the cloud that scudded before the sun.  For Melville, one defense against such lingering big chills was to divide people (or himself) into all good or all bad (switching objects); he patrolled the wall that prevented the sadness of his own black bile from leaking into and depressing the happy mother giving her all to the “perfectly happy” family.  It is her failure that must be denied, her secrets that must be kept to spare the already overburdened mother further suffering.

Ideally (for the Symbolists) authority should be rational and lucid: the good objects are predictable; they are not hypocrites; they would not suddenly turn on the child who valiantly has been trying to please them.  For Melville’s Ishmael it was the noble savage Queequeg who provided such a rescue; several Leninist critics have seen, not Ahab, but Queequeg and other non-whites on board the Pequod potentially leading the revolution (C.L.R. James, 1953, H. Bruce Franklin, 1978).  In the attempt to recapture an image of innocence, the Symbolist will defend the self from unfair and unmerited accusations.  Such crimes include soiling oneself in infancy or early childhood before one was physically ready to be “clean”; later, the budding scholar’s (solicited!) criticisms of illegitimate authority.  For the bewildered child/student, then, the bad object is above all the one who has switched, perhaps in retrospect seen as the peddler of false utopias (Mother the switching Jew of the Home) who encouraged her victim to let down his guard and then put him on trial for unpremeditated, unremembered, indescribable, but gruesome crimes.  In other words, here the urge to split has a rational component: It is the “liberals” who make us “crazy”; there was a different problem in families that demanded moral purity, conformity, and obedience.  Such environments were repressive in the sense that renunciations were excessive, but, theoretically at least, one conformed to a clear set of rules.  There were myths and rituals that channeled aggression away from the adorable new baby to defeat clearly defined enemies.  I use the past tense, because the localism of traditional societies has been destroyed by the penetration of cosmopolitan mass media and an expanding global market; the corrupting city, moral ambiguities in tow, has invaded the country.

The Symbolists are complaining about socialization in families or universities that seem to demand autonomy and unbounded criticism of their practices, but turn on the child/student when “difference” turns into opposition; again, opposition not to core values, but to hypocrisy, or what appear to be two sets of rules.  The frantic “paranoid” maintenance of firm, impermeable boundaries between good and evil might be understood in this context.  So might be the eagerness of radicals to defend blackened oppressed groups from distorted and hostile representations–other innocent children unfairly stigmatized by “Victorian culture” or “bourgeois morality.”  As academics, these radicals will pursue image studies and other variants of idealist sociologyBelieving that images, like “hegemonic” institutional forces, mold and stamp their victims, these radical pluralists move the furniture around to prevent wild “outbursts” from either Right or Left.  For this they are handsomely rewarded by élite universities invested in preventive politics.  The pluralists write funny:

[Maurice H. Krout outlines the province of social psychiatry, 1933-34:]  “It is concerned with the motivation of the hobo, the delinquent, the would-be-suicide, the prostitute, the drug-addict.  From the point of view of individual participation social psychiatry is interested in mass movements, viz., financial crazes, booms, migrations and rushes, panics and stampedes, war manias.  From the point of view of adjustment effected by deviate personalities it studies revivals, mob action, political campaigns, and organized gang rule.”

[Neil Smelser, Talcott Parsons’ collaborator, declares his fitness to the Harvard Society of Fellows, 1959:]  “At the present time my research interests have turned toward the field of mass behavior–those occasions on which organized human activity gives way to outbursts such as riot, panic, fad, boom, craze, hysteria, revivalism and revolutionary activity.  The aim of this study is to locate some of the determinants of these kinds of behavior in the social structure, and thereby attempt to distinguish the occasions on which one, rather than another, type of mass outburst is likely to occur.  The intended contribution of the study is to assemble much of what is known about mass behavior into a more satisfactory theoretical framework.”

The Tory biases of Krout and Smelser are obvious: for Krout, evangelical protestantism, criminality, politics, and mob action are similarly deviant.  Smelser adds revolution to the witch’s brew.

If institutional double-bind theory is more explanatory than the Krout-Smelser idealist sociology, the implications for psychological counseling would be clear: the issue for “splitting” liberals and radicals would not be owning up to one’s angry but forbidden impulses against authority, the repressed childhood memories to be retrieved in treatment so as to live with appropriately “mixed feelings” or “ambivalence.”  Probably this is the relevant problem for explicitly authoritarian families (Catholics,  evangelical Protestants, Marxist-Leninists) whose veterans have been forced to idealize authority and who may not criticize the rules, not even in fantasy.  But the more heimlich approach to splitting would recognize double-binds in pseudo-liberal institutions, the Kafka-esque worlds that may not disclose their rules until they are broken, which trap parent and child, professor and student alike, and which send some of us scurrying away from “bureaucratic domination” to “alternative” “simpler” cultures or subjectivist epistemologies or levelling S-M rituals that affirm human weakness and brutality, mocking hopes for enlightenment and universal tenderness.

We have become “self-consumer[s] of [our] woes,” tubercular addicts of the disappearing body (Schwindsuchter).  I am quoting from “I am,” by the nineteenth-century “mad” peasant poet, John Clare:

“I am–yet what I am, none cares or knows;

My friends forsake me like a memory lost:

I am the self-consumer of my woes–

They rise and vanish in oblivions host,

Like shadows in love frenzied stifled throes

And yet I am, and live–like vapours tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,

Into the living sea of waking dreams,

Where there is neither sense of life or joys,

But the vast shipwreck of my lifes esteems;

Even the dearest that I love the best

Are strange-nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod

A place where woman never smiled or wept

There to abide with my Creator God,

And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,

Untroubling and untroubled where I lie

The grass below, above, the vaulted sky.”

The “mad poet” laments the abandonment of intimates who trouble him because he has troubled them: they did not wish to know him as he was, really, to himself.  He yearns for a virgin nature (his own), neither touched nor touching, where he would be neither crushed by father’s disapproval nor confused and made guilty by mother’s switching emotions.  In The Future of an Illusion, Freud did not blame the unruly masses for acting out if their societies were economically exploitative; such class societies did not deserve to exist.  Moreover, his unambiguous allegiance to scientific method deflects charges of orthodoxy and reproaches those followers who ignore institutional sources of social violence or refuse to revise psychoanalysis.  Compare both John Clare and the radical Freud to conservative Freudians and Kleinians as they explain ambivalence and violence.

Persecuting parents or their surrogates are containers of the denied and split-off (Oedipal) rage of the child; the switch from friend to fiend is what Freud meant by “the uncanny,” the heimlich object which disconcertingly becomes unheimlich; it is the return of the repressed.  In the Kleinian formulation, the loved one becomes threatening because s/he is invested with forbidden (pre-Oedipal) hostile feelings projected into her/him by the child.  As the child becomes more upset, the “angry” parent/love object appears to be more and more hostile and must be controlled; thus the troubled patient has a boundary problem, confusing the Self and Other.

The usefulness of the concept of displacement and projection is said to have been born out in clinical treatment of anxiety hysteria, phobias, obsessive-compulsive neurosis, etc., but I question its application to all violent social interactions as numerous “progressive” social psychologists analyzing the “scapegoating” of blacks by whites, Jews by Christians, and “business” by “labor” had implied in the 1930s and 1940s.  Such cultural anthropologists and social psychologists were, like Ruth Benedict, adjusting society to the New Deal and circumscribing the proto-socialist imagination while deploying Marxian language.  If gut perceptions of danger are denied, will we not doubt our grasp on reality?  Is it not also possible that the troubled patient with fluid boundaries, thus unable to differentiate the self from the parent and hence experiencing “projective identification” has not developed (or has not been allowed to develop) autonomy; has not established a boundary that protects the legitimacy of personal rights and entitlements from the assaults and confiscations of authoritarian parents or parental surrogates, primarily because the culture is premodern or covertly protofascist or fascist, i.e., its corporatist rulers view “bourgeois individualism” (a.k.a. “mechanical materialism,” the body free of original sin) as the source of vanitas, feminization and decadence; that what is really threatening about “individualism” is the stubborn notion advanced by recent “mechanical materialists” that there are social-economic antagonisms that cannot be ignored or passed off as delusional; universal facts perceivable by anyone that are not “group facts” dependent on blood, soil, and institutional context as Frederick Jackson Turner and other “materialist” social historians or “new historicists” would insist?

[A former paranoid schizophrenic diagnoses modernity and fascism:]  “Protestantism has indeed its share of responsibility for the tragic situation of today, but that responsibility is largely a result of its very successes.  It has helped to produce a new mechanized and urbanized and depersonalized world with which it is unable to cope.  Its exaltation of freedom of inquiry and freedom of trade has unlocked a Pandora’s box of uncontrollable furies.  The hope of the future, as I see it, lies in the development of the inner control of conscience which is so repugnant to Dr. Fromm and of the loyalty to that which transcends the Hitlers and Mussolinis of this war-stricken world.”

“[On persecution delusions: the paranoid fantasy contains a “kernel of truth”: the patient may experience empathy with an unconscious wish of the persecutor; also]  The ‘truth’ may also relate to the observations of events during childhood that were denied at the time.  These elements later return to consciousness distorted and magnified in an irrational, delusional form.”

“Paranoid character is the term applicable to an individual whose personality structure is dominated by marked suspiciousness, querulousness, and persistent rationalized hostility against other persons or groups.  The use of scapegoats or “enemies,” the need to ‘defend’ against a hostile world (representing externalized aggressive impulses within the individual himself), the tendency to fight excessively over minor causes (often becoming litigious), and frequent contempt for others are the traits usually observed in this disturbance.  Here the characteristic and most frequently observed defense is projection–the displacement of the individual’s unacceptable wishes and thoughts onto others, who then are felt to direct these ideas back to their source (i.e., I hate him; no, he hates me, and therefore I am justified in attacking and beating him).  This permits the rationalization of the individual’s hostility, and allows him to defend his megalomanic image and fantasies.  In spite of their pathology, however, certain paranoid characters have contributed to some of the basic systematic research in science, as well as classic works in art, music and literature.

“…No personal experience has come to light which could help to explain the intensity of Hitler’s hatred of the Jews…It is a disturbing question to consider when was the last occasion on which this man, who was responsible for the death of six million Jews, actually spoke to or met a Jew in person.  But “the Jew” as one encounters him in the pages of Mein Kampf and Hitler’s ravings bears no resemblance to flesh-and-blood human beings of Jewish descent: he is an invention of Hitler’s obsessional fantasy, a Satanic creation, expressing his need to create an object on which he could concentrate his feelings of aggression and hatred.” [The last two paragraphs from Alan Bullock, writing about Hitler.]Melissa Click

 The Kernel of Truth.  For conservative Freudians the return of the repressed marks a paranoid episode; for purposes of my argument here, reading Melville, reading myself, reading my friends, the return of the repressed may be the empirical reality that we have screened out while longing for good objects to rescue us from brutality and alienation.  In the discussion of stereotypes that follows, I do not want to be misunderstood as reinforcing the “truth” of “negative images”; rather I want to defend the common sense of “ordinary people” asking for realism; I want to criticize the tactics of recent media and curriculum reformers seeking “balance” through “positive images” rather than the thoroughgoing, unbounded pluralism that makes the achievement of more accurate histories a possibility.

Social critics (including some feminists) condemn some or all of Freud’s ideas as neurotically or opportunistically formulated, while the rough formulations of anti-Freudian, Jungian social psychologists go uncriticized.  In order to demonstrate that group prejudice is irrational, the latter postulate an entirely socially constructed “Other” and, when it suits them, they deplore “scapegoating.”  Nor is it common to decry their definitions of fascism.  It is argued that the armored fascist/authoritarian personality projects his negative identity onto the Other or Alien.  We should be very suspicious of these tactics in “left” cultural criticism.  Such analyses are not only reductive, collapsing the various fascisms of the 1920s and 1930s into one vague and ahistoric hyper-nationalism and hyper-racism, moreover conflating negative images reinforcing sexism, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia, and class resentment into one all-purpose, “dirty” or “inferior” Alien (what an insult to protean Devils!).

The theory of “projective identification” (a name object-relations psychoanalysts use instead of scapgoating or projection) can be a victim-blaming maneuver that implicitly requests the “prejudiced” person to cleanse himself  by embracing and then incorporating the evil he attributes to others; by regressively and primitivistically merging with his real “nature”as a diversion from possible political action.  (Hence the vogue for sadomasochistic forms of eroticism as mass media bring more and more of the world’s suffering to our attention, situations begging for intervention?)  Gordon Allport and his Harvard colleague Henry Murray criticized scapegoating as irrational when the target of lower-class wrath was upper-class or member of a protected group; scapegoating was encouraged when conflict managers needed to redirect resentment away from themselves toward a common enemy to enhance “group morale” or “group cohesion” (See worksheets for their seminar in Civilian Morale, Harvard 1941).  To be awarded the blue ribbon for social responsibility, then, the tolerant citizen must believe that his common sense evaluations of stubbornly hostile others are only projections of his own inner conflicts and deficiencies: there are no real individual or group conflicts out there resistant to mediation.  Sadly, the unwary youth who falls for such corporatist liberal ruses is already marching down the road to herrenvolk democracy and fascism.

By contrast, the theorists of democracy, from Locke to Jefferson to Walter Lippmann, have argued that the senses and universal reason produce useful knowledge of the visible world.  For Enlightenment rationalists the problem lay not in necessarily deluded perception by ever-passionate People, but in the invisible world erected or blanketed by arbitrary, secretive authority.  For Lippmann, stereotypes (“the pictures in our heads”) exist where we have not first-hand experience with the faraway or sequestered; such distortions were inevitable in complex industrial societies, but could be corrected by political scientists who would serve the public interest as independent fact-finders (i.e., experts separated from the policy-making function), who would then pass on their accurate pictures of reality via newspapers to laymen and their elected representatives.  Lippmann referred only to situations where people could not encounter each other face-to-face over time.  Of course, for ordinary people today, unflattering “stereotypes” opposed by the media reformers are not confined to second-hand impressions, but are felt to be verified in everyday life; such shared perceptions have been the basis for popular humor and common sense.  The problem with such stereotypes may lie in their interpretation.

The angry, frightened “bigot” or “paranoid” imagines class, gender, racial or ethnic “character” as the primary source of threatening social evil (the bloated capitalist, the deceitful woman or “Oriental” or Jew, the lazy/violent black or brown person).  But this is a misconception: people are not born to be cunning or greedy; they respond to historically specific, systemic institutional imperatives; no one has yet demonstrated genes for troubling behavior resistant to self- or social correction.  Therefore to the extent that “negative” stereotypes are accurate, their “kernel of truth” is situational, a reflection of structural position (business or job competition, exclusion, dependency) not a typical or imperishable attribute like fallen flesh necessarily to be erased through mass death or iconoclasm, or its rage diverted into Sade’s/Gorer’s “constructive Sadism.”  So denying the validity of at least part of the cultural “stereotype” by labeling and ostracizing the frightened person as “hysterical” or “paranoid” or “racist” or “misogynist” disarms persons who need to defend themselves now against real (partly) hostile adversaries, who should not be asked to wait for the structural change (the reform or revolution) that promises relief.  The antidote to “negative” images of “The Other” is not a switch to a “positive image” or to an impossibly benign pseudo-pluralistic society, a “multicultural curriculum” curiously lacking dissenting individuals, structural antagonisms, or hierarchy.  Rather, as Lippmann insisted in 1922, we must “see the world steadily and see it whole”; to be informed of current events is not the same as knowing the truth.  We urgently require an historical analysis which reconstructs all the institutional structures and the social relations such structures necessarily call forth, precisely recording the measurable behaviors of the state, the family, the market, education, and the media.  How do these institutions legitimate authority or create and discover new knowledge?

Only after this question is answered, will we understand the opportunities and constraints within which individuals or artists are asked to make political, moral, or “aesthetic” choices in order to function and survive.  An historian might argue that moral choices are ultimately produced or limited by abstract and impersonal social property relations; hence “stereotypes” are personified or frozen (“reified”) social processes.  Crucially, our analysis should note the presence or absence of social movements offering realistic options for more humane behavior and more cultural freedom by achieving the material preconditions for universal creativity, meaningful participation in decision-making, equality and tolerance.  The longed-for “self-esteem” that upper-class reformers would bestow upon “the oppressed” comes with increasing understanding and mastery of the material world, not moralistic admonitions and glorious ancestors.

September 30, 2015

Pacifica Radio and how I achieved free speech

The day I got my Ph.D. 1993

The day I got my Ph.D. 1993

Several Facebook friends have sent me the same Guardian article claiming that the Pacifica Foundation is dying and on its last legs. That Pacifica is on its last legs may be true, but the blog is about how loose organization at the top enabled my own intellectual development and courage.

As I have mentioned in my sort of scholarly Pacifica memoir, Pacifica was a creation of corporatist liberals in coalition with such as the Ford Foundation and many Stalinists or Quakers.

Its glory days were at the height of the 1960s civil rights movement, which is when I got involved with it. From 1969 on, that decade was a happy and productive time for me, because I had my own radio program, The Sour Apple Tree, which was devoted to the internal politics of the art world, which few of the radicals then in charge knew of or cared about. These uncensored years were the happiest decade of my life, for management hardly noticed me, and I developed a following of curious listeners, many of them in the arts, academe, or even math or science.

Being connected to a diverse audience willing to put up with long, detailed interviews and an increasing number of essays (all initiated after I had started graduate school in history, 1983-1993, especially during the Bush campaign of 1988) gave me courage to strike out wherever the evidence led me, and I felt loyal to a growing, supportive, audience.

It was not until I became Program Director in 1981 that I learned that free speech at KPFK was sharply circumscribed by Stalinists whose influence till then was unnoticed by me. As I have written before, multiculturalism was enforced at all the stations shortly before I was appointed PD, and I misunderstood it, thinking it to be some kind of inclusive history with no holds barred. (The complete history is laid out in this set of links: http://clarespark.com/2010/07/04/pacifica-radio-and-the-progressive-movement/.)

I have written this very brief blog because many on the internet and Facebook believe that they are, in fact, practicing free speech. I questioned this assumption here: http://clarespark.com/2015/01/12/what-free-speech/.

Two factors enabled my political and intellectual development: lack of editing by higher ups, and connection to an audience that cared about the issues I raised. If my graduate education in US and European history was fraught with conflict and took many years, it was because I had already experienced relatively “free speech” and had no intention of regressing to the docility and ignorance that had marked my young adulthood. Loyal to my audience of autodidacts who expected me to “kick against the pricks,” I spoke up where other graduate students or faculty were silent.

In retrospect, I understand why my blog posts seem to be eccentric or ornery at times. Once you have experienced real intellectual freedom (limited only by your ignorance), you can’t go back to unquestioning deference to individuals or institutions. Luckily, I have found kindred souls (other misfits?) on Facebook and elsewhere.

The Pacifica Foundation has been ruined by underdisciplined anarchists or overdisciplined Stalinists. But I shall ever be grateful for the experiences that unleashed me before it was too late.


July 18, 2015

Political Correctness and Chattanooga shooting

Painting by Jeff Wilkie

Painting by Jeff Wilkie

The moderate men have done it again in generally declining to investigate a precise motive for the Chattanooga shooting, while using the word “extremist” to designate their enemies on either Left or Right.

This will be a short blog, for I have beaten this horse to death, investigating the origins of political correctness in German Romanticism, the hegemony of multiculturalism (shockingly taken up by the once anti-racist Left), and the reluctance to admit to antisemitic subtexts in our political discourses. (For one example among many see http://clarespark.com/2013/07/02/groupiness-group-think-and-race/.)

In the weekend Wall Street Journal, for instance, linguistics professor at Columbia U, John McWhorter, ostensibly a neocon, writes at length about changing meanings of curse words as if they evolved, without identifiable causes. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-dare-you-say-that-the-evolution-of-profanity-1437168515.) What he left out in his essay was the time-tested tactic of the liberal establishment, acting in the interests of the neutral state, to promote politeness as a tactic in bringing warring factions into line, so that artful mediators could promote social harmony and their version of stability. For these liberals, offensive language only polarizes the conflict, promoting hate, not love and mutual “understanding.”*

Image by Jesse Lenz

Image by Jesse Lenz

Even Andrew McCarthy, in a National Review piece that correctly identifies the Palestinian background of Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421346/chattanooga-shooting-muslim-jihad-muhammad-abdulazeez), does not identify the stakes in the widespread reticence in even suggesting that international terrorism, not some radicalized “lone wolf” was responsible for the mayhem. For we cannot suggest that all Muslims might not be agreeable to peaceful co-existence. That would evade the tenets of mandatory collectivist discourses, prompting broader investigations into individual motives, and in this bogus “lone wolf” case, polluting the dominant “moderate” view that finds moral equivalence in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Social media, rightly or wrongly, has become the new facilitator of terrorism. Yet these media are our only route to dissent in the cultural monopolies staffed by the moderate men.

*In fairness to McWhorter, in his WSJ piece, he does historicize taboo expressions, brings up middle class mores, and mentioning that groups may not be stigmatized by outsiders, but he doesn’t go far enough. All we are left with is changing times, with examples of outdated naughty speech. This from an author frequently identified with the Republican “right-wing.”


June 19, 2015

Multiculturalism and the Charleston Massacre

RoofcapturedThe Wall Street Journal completed an editorial on June 19th, 2015 with “…the reality that evil still stalks the land.”

The notion that racism can be overcome by moralistic arguments is grotesque and misguided. What ever happened to clashes of economic interest, for instance, labor competition? Oh, I forgot, we don’t do materialism any longer. That would be too “modern.”

Instead the event has been interpreted through a medieval religious framework: Human nature is evil; this world belongs to the Devil. “Reality” is too mysterious or deceptive to penetrate—again the (lying) Devil’s work, and he is out to get us.

Entirely missing from this discourse is the assumption that “multiculturalism” (MC) is an effective remedy against “racism.” (I will use the abbreviation MC for multiculturalism in the rest of the blog.)

This entire website has been devoted to the insight that MC was a product of German Romanticism, aka German Idealism in the late eighteenth century (Loren Goldner, a leftist, warned me about it years ago, then I read the intellectual history of the concept in English translations for years, noting how the liberal establishment institutionalized MC as a weapon against “racism.” For links to prior blogs on the subject see http://clarespark.com/2013/07/02/groupiness-group-think-and-race/).

H. Strickland Constable, Harper's Weekly 1899

H. Strickland Constable, Harper’s Weekly 1899

Briefly, the collectivist notion that racially or ethnically defined groups can peacefully co-exist is an evasion of all the material considerations that actually divide groups. 19th C. “scientific racism,” supposedly transcended in the new dispensation, persists when we imagine that all whites, all Jews, all blacks, all Latinos, etc. each share a common, indivisible rootedness and world-view, incomprehensible to other groups. Nostrums such as “tolerance” or “diversity” supposedly avert conflicts that are only understood (by enlightened persons) through analyses of clashing material interests within the “collective” entity. Marxists and advocates of free market societies disagree about how to resolve such clashes, but no materialist would deny that they exist..

The better historians understand that ideology attempts to create consensus through scapegoating. Dylann Storm Roof, perhaps egged on by deteriorating “race” relations, blames blacks for “taking over the world.” This is racist ideology, pure and simple. Although family relationships should never be discounted, we don’t have to look only for mental illness specific to his family history as psychiatrist Keith Ablow declared on Hannity (March 18, 2015, the day that Fox News Channel mostly focused on the massacre made even more somber by its taking place in an historic black church). Ideologies provide the representations that feed into specific cases of mental illness.


There is blatant racism, acted out by the shooter, but there is the more subtle racism inherent in MC. We are one species, and MC, the moderate (Wilsonian) solution to war and conflict, has joined other völkisch movements, in confusing well-meaning progressives with a bogus solution to hateful aggression. When the arguably racist but “internationalist” Woodrow Wilson called for “self-determination” he didn’t refer to individuals, but to the group-think/collectivism inherent in cultural nationalism (http://www.e-ir.info/2014/04/17/what-is-self-determination-using-history-to-understand-international-relations/).

MC is a mental illness (i.e., it distorts reality), and it is hegemonic in America and in the United Nations too.

photo Keith Bacongco

photo Keith Bacongco

June 13, 2015

Hitler’s Second Book (1928), his war aims, and multiculturalism

1944 Hitler Stamp

1944 Hitler Stamp

I had already read an earlier edition of Hitler’s Second Book (1928), and wondered if my summary of his international program was correct. I had described his program as German domination of an international system of völkisch states. In this blog, I will quote some passages from Gerhard L. Weinberg’s 2003 edition (transl. Krista Smith) that bear out my prior summary. My intention is to show Hitler’s indebtedness to earlier theorists of national character (i.e., “rootedness” and cultural nationalism as articulated by J. G. von Herder http://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/, and http://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/); but also to compare Hitler’s vision of the “racial community” with the multiculturalism that was institutionalized during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in 1935 (described here: http://clarespark.com/2011/06/16/the-antiquated-melting-pot/).

[Hitler:] Peoples that do not understand [the racial] value, or for lack of natural instinct no longer feel it, then begin immediately to lose it. The mixing of blood and the decline of the race are…in reality an  under-appreciation of one’s own cultural value in comparison to that of foreign peoples… [Such a people] renounces the power that lies in the harmony of its blood and the cultural life that springs from it…Then the Jew can move in, in every form, and this master of international poison concoction and racial debasement will not rest until he has completely uprooted and thereby corrupted such a people.…For this reason, the internationalist [i.e., universal ethics, or “universal thinking”–Hitler’s term C.S.] disposition can be viewed as the deadly enemy of this value. Instead, the commitment to one’s own people’s value must be in line with and determine the collective life and behavior of a people.” (p.33, my emph.)

Internationalism as diversity

Internationalism as diversity

[Hitler:] I am a German nationalist. That means I am openly committed to my Volkstum. All of my thoughts actions belong to it. I am a socialist. I see before me no class or rank, but rather a community of people who are connected by blood, united by language, and subject to the same collective fate. I love the people and hate the current majorities only because I do not see them representing either the greatness or the happiness of my people. [p.48]

[Hitler:] The general European democracy will either be replaced by a system of Jewish-Marxist Bolshevism, to which state after state falls victim, or by a system of free and unfettered nation states which, in the unrestricted play of forces, will impress upon Europe the stamp of their character according to their population and importance. It is also not for fascism as an idea to be isolated in Europe…. (pp225-226]

[Clare:] I wrote this blog because 1. long ago two major scholars accused me of distorting “cosmopolitan” Herder, who was allegedly concerned only with “culture,” not “race”(note that Hitler says that culture springs from blood: I attribute the same blood and soil belief to Herder); and 2. though Hitler’s Second Book was mostly about Lebensraum (i.e., the conquest of Eastern Europe, already articulated in Mein Kampf), his long term intentions for all states to become fascist are made clear in his conclusions; and 3. Hitler was no “socialist” in the sense we use today. For German völkisch thinkers, “socialism” connoted solely the willingness to sacrifice oneself for “the people’s community.” Today’s populist demagogues come to mind.

WW2 poster

WW2 poster

May 2, 2015

Mosby, multiculturalism and the persistence of feudalism

A populist take on feudalism

A populist take on feudalism

I have been  reading both older and newer scholarship on European history from late antiquity to the late Middle Ages, and am struck by several features that persist in our political culture: obedience to “authority” (stable hierarchies); and the search for “leaders” reminiscent of the Good Kings of feudal times—the King who, unlike “the Jews,” was not money-mad or selfish. Populists from Left to Right yearn for his return, for he makes us feel safe in an unpredictable and hostile world.

It has occurred to me that the nostalgia for the Middle Ages that I have noted earlier (see http://clarespark.com/2012/09/22/materialist-history-and-the-idea-of-progress/ or http://clarespark.com/2013/05/30/nostalgia-for-the-middle-ages/), is not nostalgia at all, but a sign that capitalism, individual opportunity, self-reliance, and mass participation in politics as individuals weighing facts (as opposed to ethnic identification—the hyphenated Americans) has not yet been achieved, though such 19th century figures as Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote about “self-reliance.” (http://www.emersoncentral.com/selfreliance.htm.)

How does multiculturalism undermine the virtues we attribute to market societies, and the rule of law for rich and poor alike, equality that is presumably built into our Constitution and the notion of “liberty”?

First, we might go back to the late 18th century and look at Herder and other German Romantics (all reactionaries fearful of “materialism” and the singularity of the rootless cosmopolitan).  For it was Herder and his followers who popularized the notions of ethnicity and national character—collectivist notions that would be institutionalized in the Aryan supremacist Nazi State (a time when Herder’s notions were revived, and in vogue, though the 19th century racists had already become popular).

But the major impetus to multiculturalism in the US was the fear of proletarian internationalism and a feisty new industrial working class (much of it immigrant), that seemed to be taking power after the American Civil War unleashed industrial development and then after the Soviets mounted their revolution in 1917, prefigured by socialist movements in the US and Europe. So such figures revered by liberals as Randolph Bourne and Horace Kallen stressed the long-standing idea of ethnicity as way more important than class conflict or even so an elastic concept as “class interest.”

What does this have to do with black nationalism and the future of the six black cops in Baltimore, charged by Marilyn Mosby in the death of Freddie Gray?


The most relevant feature of cultural nationalism is the belief that each “ethnicity” or “race” is incomprehensible to members of other designated groups. Out goes any potential agreement on “facts” in the upcoming trial of the black cops, for black nationalists will view the three black cops as “race traitors” who should have acknowledged that the forces of law and order are out to get them in the interests of “white supremacy.” All of a sudden, Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore, has no particular bias as an opportunist taking advantage of token reformism as a response to the condition of blacks in Democrat-run urban ghettoes, for all blacks, like all whites, share the same (class) interests in the argot of multiculturalism/racism.

Such is the deadly logic of multiculturalism with its outdated, but persistent, notion of “ethnic” tribalism, a leftover from pre-capitalist periods in history, periods notorious for their hostility to dissent, innovation, and agreement on universal facts (independent of “perspectivism”/“point of view”). Is it any wonder that we are polarized to the point of collapse of the rule of law, for decades and centuries of indoctrination and experience have convinced much of our black population that there is no justice and no peace.

Maoist conception of the vanguard

Maoist conception of the vanguard

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/.)


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. For instance, after all the decades I spent around the Left, no one, repeat, no one ever mentioned Saul Alinsky (born a Jew). His significance and influence are figments of certain conservative imaginations.


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

February 21, 2015

Oscar meets a Puritan and the Golden Calf wins

oscars-red-carpet---sandra-bullock-horizontal-large-galleryThis blog is about the Oscars and whether or not “Hollywood” is controlled by Jewish producers, agents, and other forceful types who will be effusively thanked and celebrated by gentile actors.

At stake is the question of the imputed Jewishness of those who notoriously have corrupted our country with materialism and its offshoots: designer gowns, jewelry, shoes, and purses. In what sense can the white slavers/magicians/sorcerers be considered Jews? How have they turned plain women into great beauties and femmes fatales?

The reader should know that I am reading Benzion Netanyahu’s books on myths spread about the origins of the Spanish Inquisition, a subject that engaged me ever since POTUS (that defender of “multiculturalism”) chastised critics of “radical Islam” for ignoring the horrors perpetrated by Christian crusaders and inquisitors.

Since my degree in history was awarded for my proficiency in the history of the modern period in American and European letters, I fled to some books on the crusades, and then the Spanish Inquisition, where I discovered, thanks to Bibi Netanyahu’s late father Benzion, that Jews were blamed by major Spanish scholars for inspiring the Inquisition; moreover that conversos/Marranos were believed to be crypto-Jews who had falsely converted to Christianity, and whose cunning, controlling ways thus infested the Middle Ages with the persecution of innocents.

Au contraire, said the meticulous Benzion N. The infamous conversos were indeed New Christians who had fully assimilated to a gentile world. Lay off “the Jews” advised this truth-seeking scholar.

What does this have to do with ‘Jewish’ producers, agents, etc. who have been accused by major leftists and Franfurters with corrupting the working class through “materialism”; i.e., via the “Jewish” control of mass media, thus thwarting their better (red) angels, which should have led the new industrial working class toward proletarian revolution, their supposed historical destiny?

The title of this blog contains the word “puritan,” a word used promiscuously by scholars and journalists, with a nasty antisemitic sub-text. Though the better scholars are careful to distinguish between “puritans,” attaching them to historical contexts (see http://clarespark.com/2013/08/05/evil-puritans/) many a social critic associates the word with kill-joy Victorian battle-axes, controlling mothers, conservative Judaism, and the right-wing of American politics. These excessively puritanical villains generate understandable revolt in their children, or so the argument goes in social psychology (if not among the better, mostly deceased, historians).

Pink performing at Grammy Awards; photo Matt Sayles

Pink performing at Grammy Awards; photo Matt Sayles

So on February 22, 2015, mostly women will be excitedly tuned in to the yearly Oscar ceremonies, and will be regaled with names of designers (“Who are you wearing?”), and if they are like me (at heart, a puritan), will feel depressed after the spectacle is completed, perhaps feeling dowdy and/or bored by the endless tributes to presumably Jewish producers, etc. by winning actors.

Here’s the rub: these ‘Jewish’ producers, etc. who have enslaved young actors to a phony set of values, are fully assimilated to the Democratic Party, just as Netanyahu’s conversos were to a hierarchy of Spanish Kings. But no matter who wields the Golden Calf Oscars, they will be viewed as race-traitors to the true faith, and who knows what that will be in the coming period? Currently it is “multiculturalism.”


[Update, post-Oscars 2-23-15; it was a boring, but weepy night and guilty white liberals were roused by the march on Selma, egged on by Oprah and the tearful Julianne Moore. Naturally, American Sniper got one measly technical award, despite the scaredy cats who promoted it chose to emphasize family and brave, torn soldiers rather than vindicating in any way the Iraq war. Once a doc celebrating Edward Snowden got an Oscar, it was clear why Obama cleans up when he comes to Hollywood to fund-raise. More: today on a local NPR station, the LA Times entertainment reporter noted the few women directors, including the one who directed Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s the state of race and gender relations in my town. This major industry is run by the brain dead.]

January 23, 2015

What is an organic conservative?

Gene  Wilder as young Frankenstein

Gene Wilder as young Frankenstein

I congratulated a well-known conservative journalist for bringing up “multiculturalism” as an obstacle to defeating jihadism. His response shocked me, for he declared that he was defending a “common culture” against the presumed divisiveness of “multiculturalism.” Some organic conservatives (including “liberals”) will agree with admirers of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. For who does not long for “order” and a route to uniting divided families, polarized political parties, and the fragments of our memories and consciousness? The longed for “union” is glamorous, even glitzy.

Such responses, however, alarm me, for I had taken it for granted that this conservative journalist would prefer intellectual and religious pluralism/diversity to the implicit racialism that underlies the term “multiculturalism.” I don’t know if he sees the racialist underpinnings of the now hegemonic pseudo-solution to racism, one that was invented by [covertly racist/German nationalist] German Romantics in the late 18th century to stave off the “mechanical materialism” they saw looming in the French Enlightenment. The French pox was an epistemology that led inexorably to worship of the Goddess of Reason that noted academics condemn today, irrationalist social democrats that they are, despising Jacobinism and its guillotine, you know, the guillotine that to the Gothic mentality resembles a printing press. (I am not nostalgic for Jacobins, but rather favor Condorcet, the Girondist, who was hounded to death by Jacobins.)

German printing press, 1811

German printing press, 1811

But America already has a common culture, and we didn’t need Edmund Burke to invent it, nor the Frankenstein monster to scare us half to death. That common culture is embodied in the social contract that separates church and state, and that guarantees the freedoms in the First and subsequent Amendments to the Constitution, not to speak of the property rights that enable economic growth and equal opportunity. Indeed, the very structure of the American Constitution, with its checks and balances, its separation of powers, enables us to agree to disagree. For conflict is normal and productive, unlike the dogma of “tradition” (unless that tradition favors literacy, numeracy, skepticism and close reading of texts). (Perhaps that is what the conservative journalist meant by a “common culture.” I sent him this blog and he agrees with me: his notion of a common culture is “secular and civic” and he firmly stands behind the First Amendment.)

Standing apart from these vanguard institutions are the dragons devised to scare us by less attractive conservatives like Mary Shelley, the author of the timeless Gothic thriller, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Her message, typical of all reactionaries, is reiterated in the popular Showtime series Penny Dreadful, where Victor Frankenstein is an actual character intended to remind us that the evil within us is too powerful to achieve the goals of the American and French Revolutions with respect to human rights. (See http://clarespark.com/2014/06/25/penny-dreadfuls-sinister-significance/.)

Frontispiece to 1831 edition of Frankenstein

Frontispiece to 1831 edition of Frankenstein

It is not only far-Right conservatives who prefer the Terror-Gothic style of social organization, wherein mystical bonds are the source of social cohesion, not the rule of law and individual human rights, including property rights. Social democrats and even revolutionary socialists are just as eager to resuscitate Edmund Burke when it suits them. (On Edmund Burke’s frantic response to the French Revolution, inverting freedom and obedience, see http://clarespark.com/2011/09/17/edmund-burkes-tantrum/.)

Consider the abandonment of class or gender interest as an analytic category by today’s academic leftists. Gone with the wind are the days when revolutionary socialists forbade any social analysis that ignored “class struggle.” We are all multiculturalists now, Trotskyists and Stalinists alike. (See http://clarespark.com/2011/03/26/race-class-and-gender/. Underneath that shift to social democratic tactics is organicism brought about by the worship of the administrative state, the one that brought us permanent divisiveness and opened the gates to barbarian hordes.

All we fallen angels have to look forward to is the apocalypse. Goodbye Areopagitica; goodbye Paradise Lost. When I was a small child, I made a crayon drawing of a “happy harem girl” lacking sharp elbows. Perhaps I was more clairvoyant than Clare Spark.

Amazon ad for Frankenstein

Amazon ad for Frankenstein

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