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

Advertisements

June 16, 2017

Populist “momentum”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:57 pm

momentum1

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

August 13, 2019

Melodrama, Jeffrey Epstein, and “The Loudest Voice” Finale

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:58 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

This blog is about my conviction that, despite the plethora of conspiracy theories swirling about the death of Jeffrey Epstein, it is all too plausible that sheer incompetence could have accounted for his death by suicide. I am that disgusted with my media contemporaries who have excelled in technology, but abandoned to melodrama the masses of ordinary people whom they ostensibly serve. https://clarespark.com/2013/08/09/melodrama-and-its-appeal/.  

Turn now to the final segment in the Roger Ailes/Trump saga on 8-11-19, The Loudest Voice, which represented the triumph of victim Gretchen Carlson (played by Naomi Watts) in the downfall of the villainous power behind Fox News Channel (Ailes. played by Russell Crowe), which supposedly was the final nail in the coffin condemning its unethical, sexual harassing Roger Ailes to irrelevance and death. Few would deny that “fair and balanced” Fox is “moderate,” yet this cable news channel (Fox) was supposed to be a vehicle for Trump/Hitler by Showtime. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Loudest_Voice.

The Showtime miniseries received mostly bad reviews; some were horrified by the monstrous Ailes, but no one of the major entertainment publications mentioned the Ailes/Fox link to Hitler or the Klan. Nor did the “paranoia”-inducing Fox as represented by Showtime mention its heavy Democratic presence as the balancing part of its “moderate” self-presentation.

Princeton professor and Christian ethicist Robert P. George appeared on Fox News Channel 8-12-19 to lament the loss of a vital civic culture, one I assume with a respect for facts and morality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_P._George. The widely respected Professor Robert P. George is a moderate Democrat, though he harbors Christian conservative views which rhyme with the ethos of FNC. Surely, part of morality is presenting facts. We supposedly live in a Christian culture, which is devoted to self-improvement, civilization, and science. Yet we adhere to heroes, villains and victims, as if these outmoded categories had real-world corollaries. I suppose that heroes refer to the “objectively” neutral world of what turns out to be outright “liberal” propaganda.

To some knowable extent, women collaborate in their “victimization.” When will we grow up?

August 8, 2019

“Mental Health” as Ideology

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
Freedom by hnde

“Mental health” and gun control are the mottoes of the hour as different media try to come to terms with the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. This blog will try to express one historian’s (my) view of “mental health.” A warning to the reader: I am a Romantic who still believes in individualism, but not a follower of R. D. Laing nor of Ken Kesey. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/02/19/the-romantic-repudiation-of-freud-co/.) 1. What is the size of the much contested character of “mental health?” To me, it is a popular term that denotes a world-view, a Weltanschauung that can be translated as ideology. To partisan “moderate” Democrats like Joe Biden, the President is identical to a Klansman, a would-be Hitler. But to “non-partisan” psychiatrists, a worldview is a perspective that should not be judged while in treatment. But who is non-partisan in a polarized society? And who can afford therapy with a thoroughly trained psychiatrist? Anyway, the “talking cure” is so over; “therapy” now is controlled by behaviorism, which treats individuals as if they are objects (to be acted upon by the environment, including rewards and punishment). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behaviorism.

diversity

2. A lack of connectedness to persons in favor of modern machines (along with responses to bullying (Trump again!), the internet or “violent” videogames are often blamed for mayhem. but no studies are quoted. I have opined on the subject, see https://clarespark.com/2016/06/30/disconnectedness/. Definitely off-limits are relationships within the family or anything that deviates from the norm. We make choices, and some of these are very bad, even lethal.

3. Of course, the President has chosen violent rhetoric, which supposedly  inspires violence in others. Frankly, I don’t mind the rhetoric. Are words bullets?  asked “Kennedy” on FNC, yesterday.

4. I wrote to a more liberal friend of mine from my college class, a psychiatrist of some prominence, who agrees that “mental health” is ideological, but who went on to responded (in part): “…The El Paso shooter’s choice of methods to support white supremacy and punish people of color is an indication he should not be considered mentally healthy but he is not necessarily mentally ill. None of the white supremacist ilk should be considered mentally healthy. Returning to the El Paso shooter, his brain enabled him to carry out the massacre. That he chose that method to make a statement is the evidence for the lack of health. I do not see him as that different from those who support access to assault weapons and 100 bullet magazines for the general public. They are on a continuum with the shooter.

“A more interesting question is the mental health of a society. Ours shows impaired mental health compared to some of the Nordic countries who have evolved a more just social system A large proportion of the mass murder problem in the US is not related to the mental illness/mental health issue. Much suicide and murder by guns, the overwhelming means for harming self and others, is related to mental illness and abnormal brain function. It is diagnosable and treatable. …”

July 30, 2019

The Loudest Voice: social democratic or communistic?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 4:21 pm

This blog argues that The Loudest Voice on Showtime is a predictable showdown between anti-Trump New Left liberals or even Never-Trumpers vs. conservatives who watch Fox News Channel. It took me a while to see this.

The Loudest Voice with its emphasis on private property is better seen as communist propaganda, meant to take down capitalism. The series, starring Russell Crowe as the contemptible Roger Ailes, might be seen otherwise as social democracy by casual non-historians, for it contains the usual liberal talking points: white male supremacy, upward mobility, hypocrisy, and paternalism, even “Roger Ailes”/Trump as Hitler  

It was historian Richard Hofstadter who emphasized private property as the linchpin of capitalism and the series highlights property rights (as say, in anti-“democratic” zoning laws). Property is way more important than, say, blow jobs, suggestive fondling, marital infidelity, autocratic behavior, or the other sins imputed to (Catholic) Roger Ailes.

I have watched four episodes so far; when is Showtime going to treat Fox News Channel as “fair and balanced”—the “moderate” cable channel, paired with the equally “moderate” Wall Street Journal ?

As it stands so far, the series, emphasizing private property is vintage anti-American and communistic, not social democratic.

July 19, 2019

Is “America” racist?

LibertarianRepubllic.com

Is “America” racist? I have already written about “the Squad” and their mistaken women of color meme, here: https://clarespark.com/2019/07/15/the-women-of-color-meme-is-bogus/.

Since the liberal media won’t let go of “the Squad’s” antics, another blog is merited; this one is about their claim that “America” is racist. But is “America” racist? “America” is a collectivist category; we do better to emphasize individuals.

What is “racism”? The belief that physical, mental, and moral characteristics are inherited.

Upon reflection, In our history men did indeed remove and kill Indians, fight Mexicans for the Southwest, and exclude and exploit Chinese and other workers, inter Japanese during WWII, enslave blacks….but that was in the past.

 Antisemitism (a separate category from racism) was fierce after WWI and WWI and is still present in many persons, some unconsciously. But that does not mean that racism is utterly vanquished;  that does not mean that ”America” is racist, though some persons clearly are.

The accusation that “America” is racist (and ecocidal), is part of the hard Left’s repertoire, and now, it appears that moderates and social democrats are picking it up. Just read the Wall Street Journal and watch Fox.

Again, I ask, are we fascists yet?

July 15, 2019

The “women of color” meme is bogus

The “Women of Color” meme is ungrounded in historical reality. Even Fox News conservative guests like savvy Buck Sexton, while criticizing “The Squad,” have failed to identify what is confusing or incorrect about the “women of color” meme (or perhaps their minds are on more pressing issues). No wonder, for that meme is leftover from the all-encompassing 1960s civil rights movement that a few conservatives still oppose. or misunderstand.

  One cannot simply blend “the Yellow peril” (Chinese), Reds (the dissimilar but  often lumped together Indian tribes), Blacks, recent immigrants from Central America (“Mexicans” or Africans), all Latinos and women, yet moderates like Heather Mac Donald, deny the basic facts of American and/or World history.

Enter “multiculturalism,” that ostensibly exists to eradicate “discrimination” based on “race” or gender, while erasing individual difference in favor of collective discourses. The same goes for “people(s).” Take ex-slave Blacks, originating in West Africa during the age of expansion. Yet “multiculturalism” (a holdover from German Romanticism), designates “African-American” as if Africa, a huge continent, is a single society (which hides the history of Muslim enslavement of other black Africans.)

The German theologian J.G. von Herder, whose collectivist followers or inspirations included Kant (a comtemporary) and Fichte (a follower), is considered to be the founder of “cultural history” are legion (including postmodernists), got the ball rolling in the late 18th century. There was a Herder revival in The Third Reich (1933-1945), which is damning enough, but leave the question of Western “fascism” aside for now. What is the matter with Herder and postmodernists? Like other collectivists, they omit individual difference, thus all blacks are supposed to share the same personalities and interests, enabling multiculturalists to claim that there is no difficulty in lumping them together. Clearly, “the pomos” are not figures of the Left, for class difference is also eliminated.

No matter how corporatist liberals appeal to “white supremacy,” their protestations fall onto (my) deaf ears. You don’t have to a Marxist to smell rats.

What about the other “colors”? “Asian-Americans” are not a category at all. Chinese are not Japanese or Vietnamese or Indonesians, though Chinese workers were a threat to  working-class “whites” as did foreign labor in general in the 19th Century. Labor competition is invisible to most liberals.

But to conflate Indian “removal” or near-extermination with slavery or immigration is also ridiculous. What about Mexicans or other (often part-Indian and un-removed) “Latinos” who are part of the debate over open borders vs. current laws? We may look to current cultural nationalist tendencies since Mexico lost a substantial amount of land in the 19th C. War with Mexico. I see the current immigration flap as enmeshed in the understandable desire to reverse that victory of “Yankee imperialism” as if William Walker (have you heard of this Southern adventurer?) was from New England.

The case of “women of color” is more complex, since “white women” are considered to be exploiters of the “colored,” as some surely are. But one cannot conflate working-class women with other “whites.” “The Squad” may have a point in this restricted case, but I have not, for personal reasons, investigated that crucial matter.

I do know that I am not a Marxist, having too much regard for individuals and, also, I look askance at actually existing “socialist” movements and countries. Forgive me for belaboring the obvious, but I am a historian.

June 29, 2019

“Health care” and the Body

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 11:30 pm

Health Insurance for illegal immigrants was a major item in the Democratic debate on June 27, 2019, yet the participants skipped over the cost, bureaucratic control, long wait times for care (under “rationing”), payment to doctors, doctor shortages, etc.

No Democrat mentioned (age-appropriate) education in history, science(hygiene) and nutrition, medical economics, mental health (whatever that is), sexuality/reproduction, hygiene or other relevant matters..

And speaking of education, though some “debaters” mentioned race or gender, no one mentioned teachers’ unions (sacrosanct, like other “liberal” Initiatives), even though US student scores are abysmally low in comparison with the charter schools competition.

If US voters fall for “liberal” nostrums (the emphasis on globalism, open borders, identity politics, and the Welfare State) we deserve to go down in history as traitors to the limitless promise of enlightened capitalist democracy.

June 13, 2019

Re-reading Herman Melville (part two)

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 1:38 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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

T

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.”

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.