The Clare Spark Blog

June 17, 2019

Bad Fathers

patriotic tattoo/pinterest

This statement will be even more hostile than the first blog I wrote on the Wood prize-winning book: https://clarespark.com/2011/10/30/collectivism-in-the-history-establishment/

This particular blog is about the attacks on the American Constitution by liberal democrats, an attack facilitated by the renowned (and much honored) Gordon S. Wood, Professor Emeritus at Brown University. It is about the claims of his book, The Creation of the American Republic (1967), a lengthy work which might have raised the hackles of such as C. Wright Mills, a hero to the New Left (for the Gordon Wood book is repetitious, abstract, and possibly impenetrable for many readers (including me), and, I suppose, an apology for mainstream Democrats who laud “the living Constitution.” in favor of a dead letter.  For more about Wood, see https://vivo.brown.edu/display/gwood.

I will go on, since I have a clearer idea of the major players in this production of Democratic Party ideology. Attorney Mark Levin is surely not one of them, for he defends the republican-fathered Constitution weekly on (moderate) Fox News Channel, while (left-leaning moderate) Wood attacks modern-day Republicans who revere it. Make no mistake: Wood was out to get the Founding Fathers, but also to vindicate the Revolutionary generation that, unlike their elitist successors, responded to “the People.” The Federalists responded solely to “elites,” whose interests were opposed to real democrats attuned to the public interest, rather than “individualism.”

Indeed, self-identified “populist” Wood could have summarized his book with my opening sentences  .He is a very prominent academic, whose book was awarded  both the Bancroft Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize. and whose appearance at UCLA was honored with a reception at fellow-liberal’s Joyce Appleby’s home in Westwood, attended by much of the History Department. Professor Appleby’s  private office rant about “hating” Charles Beard is now explicable to me, for Appleby was a liberal, and definitely not a Marxist.

Charles and Mary Beards’ popular books, The Rise of American Civilization (1927) took a class-struggle view of The American Revolution and US development. (I have described it in two prior blogs.) Charles and Mary Beard thought that the Constitution was a “coup” engineered by the upper-class.

By contrast Wood frames his book as a struggle of Antifederalists (the real democrats) against elitist Fathers (—the Anglophile?) Federalists, whereas the Beards termed the British as the aristocrats whose stranglehold on America was interrupted by a  democratic uprising. So far Wood and the Beards partly agree, but Wood’s position is that “the critical period” leading up to the framing of the American Constitution was an imposition on the People. Now the Constitution is mistakenly revered as a testament to a pseudo-democracy. Wood thinks that this event was such a momentous conflict that he compares it to The American Civil War, a conflict which posed Union over States Rights. (Did Professor  Wood mean to stand with the South?)

Slavery (neither wage-slavery nor chattel slavery) was mentioned in the Index to this prize-winning book by renowned liberal historian, Gordon S. Wood

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June 16, 2017

Populist “momentum”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:57 pm

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Ministry127

Rereading Lawrence Goodwyn’s THE POPULIST MOMENT (1978), a must-read for graduate students in US history. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/05/us/lawrence-goodwyn-historian-of-populism-dies-at-85.html?_r=0.

I now may understand why the New Left veterans support what is obviously a petit bourgeois movement, devoid of working class identity, but nailing “finance capital.” There is a belief that “cultural” factors such as a loss of deference can lead to more searching critiques of society that could lead to transformational politics. This belief in momentum explains why Daniel Greenfield and other conservatives call social democrats “radicals.”

Goodwyn uses the phrase “cultural radicals” to characterize the Populists and Greenbackers. That aligns him with the cultural anthropology that has taken over economic determinism that characterized the writing of massive progressive histories of American history and that was foreshadowed by the Wilsonian progressives Charles and Mary Beard during the Jazz Age (The Rise of American Civilization,1927). https://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-enlightenment-corporatist-liberalism-and-the-revision-of-american-history/.

Competition and individualism bad, cooperation and collectivism good.

Hence we can understand why New Left intellectuals would support “race” and “gender” black power or girl power collectivist movements, rejecting individual differences among the groups that the New Left academics support.

It is true that populism was the most radical movement in US history. But if my intuition is correct, the leftward momentum theory would explain the generational support for the Democratic Party that we can observe today.

We are all populists now, claiming the mantle of “the people.”

mobpopulism

Transl. from Japanese on WatchingAmerica.com

June 13, 2019

Re-reading Herman Melville (part two)

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 1:38 pm
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It was a fluke that I was allowed to write a dissertation on a major figure in literature in a department of history, but my being sympathetic to New Left radicalism and a Romantic, and having an advisor who had been a proletarian novelist, Professor Alexander Saxton, I was permitted to enter the ranks of literary criticism. Historians are expected to do archival research, but I was not prepared to find so many hidden motives in the men I investigated–all leading Melville biographers of one sort or another: they were Dr. Henry A. Murray, Jay Leyda, Raymond Weaver, and Charles Olson

The most controversial was gay Raymond Weaver, who was interested in Freud and early childhood relations (like myself) and who paid attention to HM’s conflicted relations with his mother and the character “Isabel” in Pierre l(1852); Jay Leyda was a Stalinist and later a Maoist who made his way through a forest of social democratic colleagues, who made hay out of his unflagging archival research and was even allowed entrance into the papers of Emily Dickinson; Harvard psychologist Dr. Murray, who seemed to have the ear of FDR, who left an unpublished Melville bio (including his notes), was more of a Jungian than a Freudian, who tried to cover up the existence of a real life half-sister; Charles Olson, poet, professor and a pioneer in the dissemination of a negative view of America, and who published an influential HM biography, Call Me Ishmael.

What did these figures have  in common? They were similarly purveyors of propaganda that distorted the facts that might be gleaned from a close reading of HM’s works. I plead guilty as I allowed my sympathy with the victims of slavery to distort my reading of Benito Cereno (1856). “Babo,” the leader was no exemplary rebel aboard a slave ship. Indeed, Agrarian and Christian Melville, lined up with the South, even saying in the voice  of Ishmael “Who ain’t a slave?….”

 HM was disdainful of all lower-class revolt. Rattled by the French Revolution, he identified with the aristocracy of Britain. And yet, he was proud of his heroic ancestors in the War of Independence. His democratic side was obvious to me, long ago, and I was taken in by his frequent protests regarding the treatment of the lower orders. But on the end, “Ishmael” sided with legitimate authority, like Edmund Burke.

Finally,  the Melville revivers preferred Queequeg-loving Ishmael over Captain Ahab; I gathered that the Ahab-Hitler  was too powerful in the 1930s-1940s for them to note  HM’s ambiguity and ambivalence throughout. Projecting a bisexual was less threatening to liberals intent upon co-opting hyper-individualist HM or his alter ego Captain Ahab. At the time of their publications in the 1930s-40s (Olson’s book was published later), social democrats accused the free market as producing “fascism.”

  

April 27, 2019

Re-reading Herman Melville, re-reading myself as Melville scholar/historian

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 11:55 pm

Being a perfectionist (like other upwardly-mobile middle class kids) I worried whether or not my big book, Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival (2001, and second edition paperback 2006), had errors of interpretation, now that I had become a classical liberal, instead of a quasi-Marxist. So I reread those major works that constituted “the Melville problem.” Though most of the scholars had recognized the difficulty of Melville’s texts: his blending of aristocratic and radical values often noted as (confusing) ambiguity and ambivalence, I had criticized their legit researches as propaganda for corporatist liberalism, a perplexing ideology to which I was strongly opposed at the time.

That was mostly wrong, and I apologize to those few who are still alive. If they didn’t have my particular historical indoctrination that was their training as literary critics, whereas I picked up the New Left emphasis on racism, but often failed to see it where it plainly existed in Melville’s short stories and novels. Melville’s texts could not be fit into any “socialist” proclivities. whereas the whole Melville, a sort of mirror to myself, was too much the family-proud aristocrat for that. Focusing on his pity for “suffering humanity” did not make him any the less of a snob, subject to the same social pressures as I had been; I.e. HM was a conflicted bourgeois though masculine (thus was more adventurous than even this educated “girl”).

Moreover, I did not pick up on his identification with a pro-slavery Agrarian Southern elite. Of course, he thought that we were all slaves, which could have been a projection for all of us.

So did that make him unique, ideologically speaking? What about his attitude toward a single truth? That comes out in his ambivalence toward Captain Ahab (in my view, his character Ahab was a radical Enlightener.) I make no apologies for that reading, for even in his post-Civil War crypto-Catholic Clarel (1876) he was still troubled by the conflict that beset the 19th Century: the antagonism between (materialist) science and (mystical) religion. Moreover, he had lost both his sons, then his favorite (?) sister and mother before the lengthy poem was published..

Recently, I came across a (liberal?) interpretation of HM’s politics as “alt-Right”! This gets me to my final point: that there  is not much difference between our time and HM’s (mid-19th C.) Yes, there have been unanticipated advances in technology and industrialization, but the same old ambiguities and ambivalences beset the artist, even a surpassingly great one such as Herman Melville.hunting-captain-ahab-psychological-warfare-melville-revival-clare-spark-paperback-cover-arthunting-captain-ahab-psychological-warfare-melville-revival-clare-spark-paperback-cover-art

April 20, 2019

Mark Levin, the Mueller Report and the moderate men

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:50 pm

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The sometimes vehement Mark Levin, lawyer, author, and commentator on the Constitution, had a field day commenting on the inner contradictions of the Mueller Report on Fox and Friends (4-19-19). He vindicated my own musings that collusion with Russia was the point of the two-year Mueller investigation, and therefore that the liberals, by pouncing on the obstruction matter, was superfluous and demonstrated bad faith. By so doing, he challenged the moderate men: he was off the (Fox/ Wall Street Journal) reservation.

The rest of this blog deals with what passes for “moderation.” It proposes that FNC operates within the parameters of “fair and balanced” discourse that tilts it toward Democratic politics. “Liberals,” like a few “moderate” conservatives,” eschew the search for truth in favor of (irrational) compromise, multiculturalism, postmodernism, and “civility” in favor of “many truths,” depending on race, class, and gender. Similarly, they advocate “unity” and the “living Constitution,” thus delivering a mixed message (how can there be “healing” a structural divide?)

Levin didn’t do this on 4-19-19. He further violated the moderate code by raising his voice, suggesting excessive love toward the original Constitution. In so doing, he violated the tenets of moderate pseudo-democracy: politeness and “rationality.”

April 6, 2019

Motives

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:47 pm

prayingmantistattoo.JPEG

blogs.discovermagazine.com

To those practiced in the law, motives are limited: one is not indicted for mixed motives, but according to one offense against “the people.” But historians and ordinary people are not so fortunate as to be able to pin down often complex motivation, such as sibling rivalry or Oedipal/Electral urgings welling up from the unconscious that may affect crimes against the truth.

Political and psychological motives, however reduced by some politicos, are examples of complexity. Sophisticates frown at long-distance diagnoses of mental states. This no-no is often characteristic of liberals, who often elevate feelings over (rational?) considerations, such as science/materialism/empiricism or religious values including “family” loyalty. (This latter complicates the heated debate over “immigration,” both legal and illegal.)

Conservative resistance to what passes for “feminism” may be added to this list; i.e., the flap over Joe Biden’s “touching” objected to by many women, as if the female objectors must be “feminists.”

Is it not obvious that politicians and/or citizens of both Left and Right both plump for “unity/”the American people” as if this collective entity should have the same motives? What ever happened to individuals or to good or bad institutions?

March 31, 2019

Is there such a thing as “the American people”?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:38 pm

American people

Of course we are bound together; as FB friend and lawyer Harry Lewis has reminded me, “the American people” is a legal concept dating from the American War of Independence. As such it asserted itself against Britain. But at a time of drastic polarization between laissez-faire and social democracy/communism, it worth asking about it as a concept.

I suppose that there is, insofar as “the American people” refers to participation in “Western civilization.” (That is, to capitalism, the rule of law, and the value of the individual; though much ink has been spilled to argue against “imperialism” and/or” cultural relativism.)

The phrase “the American people” is of course an example of the collectivist discourse that capitalism sought to displace with the concept of the individual (dissenting or not), and that fight is undermined by the German Romantic conception of “multiculturalism,” now hegemonic, including at Fox. It subsumes the supposedly “racist” conception of individual choice, because we must partake of cultural relativism and mystical identity with a group.(I have called this “groupiness” in anti-imperialist rhetoric.) As such, multiculturalism is a mixed-message, typical of (late?) capitalism facing “socialist” challenges to its rule.

I began worrying about collectivist discourses in graduate school, as it seemed to me that the notion of a unified “working class” erased the individual worker as we had clearly not made the transition to anything resembling communism, and as a sort of leftist, I was supposed to consider the working class as a fighting unit, But my bourgeois upbringing was at stake. Later on, as I tackled world history and US history, I saw that “individualism” was something new in the world, invented by the late 18th Century. Thus it is not surprising that collectivist discourses reasserted themselves through such mystifying conceptions as “the American people.”

Is it any wonder that such confusion persists today, to infect our uniquely American culture? We should tell the children in civics classes.

March 18, 2019

Unity as a problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:37 pm

assassins unity

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We long for inner unity in order to reconcile the warring parts of ourselves, thus it is a reliable propaganda strategy, adopted by both Right and Left. The Marxist Left wants unity as solidarity with the working-class majority, while the Right and “moderates” (compromisers) seem concerned with the perfectly loving unified family, Never-Trump-ers and other deviants from the President’s agenda.

In the wake of the New Zealand Muslim massacre, their elected leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, stated that “we are united by grief.”

Fox News Channel (in its move toward the Left) declared that “white supremacy” (as opposed to China-style authoritarianism, admitted by a few Fox anchors) was responsible for the shooting spree that took 60 lives.

Nobody blamed the intrinsic polarization (disunity) conferred by multiculturalism. See https://clarespark.com/2016/11/25/german-romanticism-hitler-herder-and-multiculturalism/. (As I have explained Herder was a racist, see https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/.)

But Democrats and most Republicans regularly denounce “racism,” which contradicts the longed for solidarity/unity.

Does “tolerance” (aka MC) amplify or diminish our recognition of ambivalence and ambiguity? Is the Behaviorist objection to ideological conceptions of unity the primary reason for anti-Freudianism?

Integration, like unity means to overcome divisions. Isn’t this a contradiction?

March 14, 2019

“Narcissistic personality” explanation for latest college scam

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 4:37 pm

The notion that narcs are responsible for bribing coaches in pursuit of personality aggrandizement is the latest fallout from the “scam” bomb. J’accuse television personality Dr. Drew Pinsky of this generalization.

Is the old fight between individualism and collectivism behind this diagnosis? After all, Dr. Pinsky (who has appeared on the Greg Gutfeld show on Fox) should be an avatar of individual distinction, for Pinsky is flawlessly bourgeois. Since time out of mind, discourses were tribal (collectivist). Enter bourgeois revolution in the late 18th century (the American and French Revolutions) that highlighted individual rights and talents.

The recoil against such “individualism” came quickly from “traditionalists,” who emphasized collectivism. Although Sigmund Freud (who both attacked and defended the family), I don’t remember any reference to “narcissism” in Freud’s writings. Indeed, he was frequently condemned as pan-sexual.

So I am wondering what prompted Dr. Drew (who has written about the turn toward narcissism in his latest book) to nail the narcs in this latest instance of corruption among the bourgeoisie, most notably female actresses.

(It should be clear that I am criticizing the diagnosis of narcissism and not defending the conduct of those arrivistes (?):the wealthy scammers who bribed their way into the colleges that would supposedly enhance their class positions.

March 4, 2019

“Jew-hatred”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 2:49 pm

No matter how I kvetch, there is no diminution of “Jew-hatred.”

The Clare Spark Blog

Lodz Arthur Szyk, Lodz, Poland, ca 1939; pinterest.com This blog will try to address the Pittsburg massacre. Why am I not surprised by misleading reactions on MSM, that collapse the specific and varied features of antisemitism into “hate”? Since I began this blog I have stressed as comprehensively as I am able a few of the attitudes toward Jews and Jewry; here are some of the subjects that I have raised:

1. Vast numbers of anti-Semites and well-meaning persons of all religions are resentful of modernity that apparently emancipated dirty Jews and “bad” women. Not many scholars have studied this confluence of antisemitism and misogyny.

2. The contrast between rooted cosmopolitans and the “rootless” kind. Tyrants of all types believe in the reality of blood and soil. The detached seeker after truth is a threat to illegitimate authority.

3. The failure to understand these images of the bad Jew: a…

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February 7, 2019

Socialism or social democracy

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:32 pm

This blog is about the misnaming of “Socialism” for “Communism.” For instance, Seth Barron in City Journal, 2/7/19 wrote, praising the President’s SOTU speech: “The last few months have seen an ascendency of socialist ideas about wealth, property, and the role of the state. Suddenly, the rhetoric of Occupy Wall Street and Z Magazine has gone mainstream, with prominent Democrats demanding confiscatory federal taxes on wealth, the abolition of the private health-insurance industry, and centralization of planning and production.”

Barron makes a case for “Socialism” as communism, but his prescription is reminiscent of the New Deal (which was also statist and confiscatory through high taxes, though it did not institute a single-payer health plan). And 1930s liberals did tar their laissez-faire opponents as “fascists,” just as some current liberals have done, though there is some evidence (in Shirer) that FDR sympathized with Nazis; but less controversially, with (statist) Italian Fascists.

Fox has also erred by hinting that the new Socialism in the Democratic Party is communistic, though, briefly, Fox has noted that Socialism existed in the first two decades of the 20th Century.

It should be obvious that there has been no call among the “Leftist” Democratic candidates for a revolution in property relations that would place all economic decisions in the State among a collection of bureaucrats (though a single-payer health plan would do just that).

Rather, the “Left” candidates who seek to unseat the President in 2020 seem to view themselves through the lens of identity politics and populism, since the 1960s, the chief planks in the Democratic agenda.

communism

medialib.glogster.com

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