YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

June 16, 2017

Populist “momentum”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:57 pm


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.”


Transl. from Japanese on WatchingAmerica.com


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.



February 3, 2019

The hypocrisy of some “anti-racists”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:08 pm

were-different-were-the-same The media are falling all over themselves to denounce the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam for his alleged racism (while denying the serious gaffe regarding what amounts to infanticide: an obvious sign of privileging racism over my feminist concerns, but I must comment about Northam’s current emphasis on his anti-racism.

1. The first comment is about the salience of the race issue. There was a history of racism in the United States, not only affecting blacks. To deny this is ludicrous. The question is how we historicize it. Black nationalists want to claim that there has been little progress, and that such changes as affirmative action do nothing to remedy the condition of the black masses or of the presence of “white supremacy.” Is Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of integration irrelevant? Slavery has been over since the Civil War. Nevertheless, discrimination has been alleviated at least since the advent of mild reforms (although little has been done about anti-Semitism for obvious reasons). Nor has much been accomplished to denounce the very concept of racial difference.

2. The now defunct Yankee Doodle Society, in its effort to demonstrate that popular American composers and related figures sometimes fed into the regnant racism and [feebler] anti-racism (a project of both myself and the co-founder of YDS, Joseph Byrd). We were as concerned with other variables, namely sexual repression, authoritarian family influences, class differences and “the war against Nature.” Racism was held to be enmeshed in other instances of the status quo. More, the 19th century minstrel shows are occasionally defended as populist, as a reproach to the snobby upper classes.

3. It is odd that some defenders of “diversity” have failed to notice blackface in the tribute to Bojangles In Harlem dance number in Swingtime (1937), or the “Coon Song” in another popular movie (Meet Me In Saint Louis, 1944), especially as Northam’s Nickname was “Coon” for some time.

January 29, 2019

The assimilation debate (testing cultural nationalism)

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:26 pm


When the civil rights movement emerged in the 1960s, it was sometimes labeled as fascist. Today, there is a flap over whether or not Tom Brokaw and a Duke professor are going too far when they call for Hispanics to learn English as part of their assimilation. This very short blog is about the coercive aspects of separatist social movements, grounded in fantasies of reparations.

The original 60s civil rights movement was integrationist, as inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.. although there were fringe movements following separatist Marcus Garvey (in the 1920s) claiming to be “fascist” and before that, Henry Highland Garnett (in the 19th century).

The Chicano movement, as led by social democratic Cesar Chavez demanded unionization, not the return of the Southwest and California to Mexico. But the Democratic Party recently have gone over to separatism, with its antagonism to assimilation.

Multiculturalism has changed all that, and its racist content has been noted constantly on this website.

January 23, 2019

Are we already “fascist”?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:55 pm

I have been thinking that we are fascist/Nazi for some time now, especially with the rise of antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric, usually on “the Left.”
One very well-informed FB friend says that “fascism” is incorrect when applied to the current situation: he would probably prefer “proto-fascist.” Perhaps he refers to the presence of free speech in the USA. (Freedom of expression was not a feature of fascism between the wars.) But what about identity politics/political correctness? And even more salient is the 1930s-40s liberal characterization of the capitalist Right as essentially fascist. Ironic because liberals were and are not anti-capitalist, until the acceptability of anti-science and utopian thought was de rigueur among former New Leftists. Indeed, the 1960s focus on race and gender was considered by some to be fascist, though I continue to believe that that is unjust to the facts of US history, though inroads toward greater equality have undoubtedly been made since the 1960s.

Of course, some Reds claim that late capitalism is always fascist, controversially arguing that social democrats (advocates of unions rather than working class revolutionary activity) are always authoritarian and repressive.
One suggestion has been to ask, why do not the masses rebel? One of this website’s main themes has been the lack of critical, historical thought advanced by public education. Although a few scholar-activists have focused on world history (including the rise of fascism between the wars) and the history of authoritarian thought, not to speak of what is and what is not repressive counter–Enlightenment, or the significance of the American breakthrough (such as it was). we obviously are heading toward fascism.

Having been a child during WW2, I assumed that we were definitely not fascists. It has only been with great reluctance that I now see the US “Left” as fascist, or whatever you want to call it. Is “the Right” fascist as well? I think it depends on whether or not pluralism (guaranteed by the Constitution) still exists. Clearly, I am allowed to write this blog, however limited the audience that considers such matters.

December 15, 2018

Conspiracy theories

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:55 pm



“Jerry” Nadler(D, NY) condemned “conservatives” as “conspiracy theorists” this morning (Dec.11, 2018) during the Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google) Hearings of the Judicial Committee of the House. I thought it was rich considering that liberals PLAN [conspire) all the time. Nadler’s target was explicitly Rush Limbaugh, a very popular conservative radio commentator.

As a (crooked) liberal, Nadler doesn’t see that

1. The (New Deal) planning state is a conspiracy, as is class rule in general.

2. Such recommended features (by liberals) as “compromise,” “bipartisanship,” and “globalism,” are similarly conspiracies that dissolve the realities of competing interests.

3. All social democrats/multiculturalists/levelers are bean-counting advocates of “inclusion” attacking the meritocracy while pretending to be egalitarians.

4. The desire for both “unity” and pluralism confers a double-bind/”catch 22.”

5. There is only one “scientific method,” and industrialism/technology is destroying the planet and human individuality.

6. America was never great.

7. The “Right” is fascist, racist, and full of conspiracy nuts and yet they should be compassionate for those less fortunate, except for Jews (“the money power”) who, through Israel. are persecuting “Palestinians” as stand-ins for non-Jews everywhere.

Readers of these blogs will recognize the major themes of my website, but will make their own lists of “liberal” conspiracy theories.

December 4, 2018

Moderate Heather Mac Donald on “identity politics”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 10:02 pm



The well-known political commentator/conservative, Heather MacDonald was interviewed by Mark Levin on Fox News Channel December 2, 2018. The subject was “identity politics,” My favorite subject. Here is how Wikipedia describes MacDonald’s general political views (with which I am usually in agreement):


Although Ms. MacDonald was introduced as an English major and a lawyer, she has not written on this subject to my knowledge. Here are the points where I found her presentation lacking in historical savvy:

  1. Her primary argument was that women and minorities were never oppressed to the point of justifying the imposition of speech codes, therefore identity politics must be superfluous. Although conservative and liberal women go out of their way to defend the family, speaking from my own experience, I find this hilarious and wrong. It is true that many females are contented with homemaking and large families, but many are not. The same could be said of the poverty of blacks and other minorities denied a suitable education and opportunities to climb the promised ladder.

The 60s “New Left” movements did not emerge out of nothing, and it is these movements that gave the impetus to “identity politics.” Liberals, who are good at co-option, made these policies mandatory. (It is true that “race” is a still unsettled subject, but it was substituted for class struggle by liberals, not New Leftists (many of whom became Maoists, whose commitments to communism were obvious).

  1. MacDonald should have known that melodrama (with its categories of heroes, villains and victims) is an ancient innovation and not specific to identity politics. Of course, the vocabulary of victimization is part of the argot of liberals and radicals who insist that women and minorities are indeed mostly oppressed, a position that she does not hold. Perhaps she is thinking of herself and others who have made it. (I share her belief in meritocracy, but see at least partial victimization.)
  2. When Mark Levin asked MacDonald what was to be done (to remedy the abuses of identity politics), she mentioned that alumni should desist from giving funds to universities that supported them. That was all she had to say (I took notes), and this followed from her assumptions, contested in this blog. There was no mention of multiculturalism or collectivist discourses, though as an alleged conservative, I thought that Heather MacDonald would defend the individual above Big Government practices.

November 21, 2018

What are “American values”?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 10:17 pm


This blog is written in response to the notion that the President flaunted “American values” in his willingness to continue [economic] relations with Saudi Arabia in spite of the Khashoggi act of barbaric murder, possibly at the behest of the Crown Prince.

At stake are the apparent commitments of “the moderate men” to the rule of law, unity, common ground, community, national character, and other categories ostensibly adhered to by other collectivists. And yet the Enlightenment promised to elevate individuals through a meritocracy. Instead we got a diluted form of “multiculturalism” that was covertly racist and that erased individual difference.

Has not “America” ever been “barbaric”? Indeed, are we civilized yet? How would we know if we are not fascists? I asked my FB friends how we could have been [civilized] when we failed to condemn Nazi Germany during the 1930s, but that provoked a complaint that we were in a depression and that Soviet Russia seemed the more menacing.

Class education is surely barbaric. When we have the opportunity to give the poor the same educational opportunities as the “middle class” and the wealthy among us, but decline to give the tools that enable resistance to various confidence-persons or to mass media.

Why do we settle for “moderation” when the word may connote propaganda? I do not want to belabor these objections when this website has been devoted to every kind of false consciousness, especially the hegemonic concept of collectivist discourses.

This is why I have left “the Left.”

November 18, 2018

Sherlock Holmes & Company

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 4:40 pm

FB friends asked me explain reasons for Jews to support 1. the antisemitic Left, or 2.terrorism in the feminist Left, or 3. The migrant crisis (which has further polarized Americans). I will try to address them, but briefly, as none of these subjects has been an academic interest of mine (leading to archival research or to a close survey of the secondary literature).

But first I want to finish up my conclusions after reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories— still a fixture of middlebrow culture. For the content of Doyle’s extraordinary efforts has been to reinforce the central tenets of social democratic thought patterns: identification with the aristocracy who controlled the government in the 19th century British Empire; an apparent love of science/materialism/progress; a fierce antagonism to socialist revolution along with the belief that communists were and are murderers; and a heartfelt compassion for the “lower orders” despite the frequent disdain for “savages,” and, as recipient of a Jesuit education, perhaps, Sir Conan Doyle had a taste for the Middle Ages and mysticism.

All these features of the Progressive Left have been taken up in prior blogs. But still they are worth reiterating Since the 1930s, Big Government and multiculturalism still glitter for the majority. Upward mobility and conformity are tickets for success in the USA, so it is no surprise that the children of Jewish immigrants should have adapted to the Democratic Party, especially since many in the postwar Republican Party were antisemitic, imagining that immigrants were inevitably all-too-secular communists.

Why should women in particular support “terrorism?” Women serve as “the emotional filling stations” (to appropriate an expression used by a 70s feminist social democrat) for society at large. Multiculturalism demands that we make room for everyone, despite their potential proclivities for violence.
“Racism” (along with militarism and nationalism) rejected by the politically correct as 19th century aberrations that led to horrendous world wars, though
they were embraced by the originators of German Romanticism.

Luckily, we have a Constitution, or do we?

October 28, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 9:52 pm


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. “the money power” (a target of some populisms) and b. intellectual combativeness (the latter unleashed by the de-masking gesture of the Enlightenment that revealed authoritarianism.) The radical Enlightenment, I have asserted, was combatted by the conservative variant that tried to reconcile French materialism and Locke’s tabula rasa with religion which is where we are today not only in MSM and the schools, but in multiculturalism.

4. The Holocaust and the foundation of the State of Israel. “Moderate” Fox News Channel and related “moderate” media try to equate the survivors of European and American collaboration in the extinction of 2/3 of European Jewry with the claims of “Palestinians.” Of course BDS is in league with the so-called antifascists of “Antifa.” Antifa has no idea of the history of “fascism” nor do these [freedom fighters?]learn of the factors that caused political actors to blame “fascism” on their enemies du jour.

5. The hard Left (I.e., revolutionary socialists and all other anti-imperialists) obliterate all moralism/religion except for their own utopianism. Thus they uneasily combine cultural relativism with nihilism.

Thus we have the collapse of the context-specific subject of antisemitism with “hatred.” Sadly, some conservatives (who should know better) participate in this horrid pseudo-historicism. Each form of antisemitism should be studied with respect to its epoch, and not conflated willi nilly with all other group or individual resentments.

October 13, 2018

How I became a feminist but lately not so much

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 4:52 pm

happy mothers

Happy Mothers (assets4.vo.uk)

I have written many “feminist” blogs on this website, for instance
https://clarespark.com/2015/01/10/the-case-for-feminism/. But when I first learned about the New York feminist movement in the late 1960s, I was appalled. These women were unnatural, I fumed. Of course I had been raising three small children during the 1960s, and found motherhood a pleasure and exhausting, though my internist called a halt at three pregnancies. At that time feminist demands seemed to be for equal opportunity, graduate education (in law, education, psychiatry and medicine, the arts, and even politics), and equal treatment as women entered those professions.

It was not till later (starting in the early 1970s) that sexual liberation became the prime motivator, apparent to all of us as women became more emotionally independent i.e., self-directed and (surprise!) anxious and depressed. Enter the vogue for self-realization and therapy as middle-class women made the adjustment for work outside the home.

So it was natural transition for me as an interviewer and commentator on the art world to promote feminism in the arts. At the time, I viewed feminism as an extension of the civil rights movement. My radio programs helped to elevate Judy Chicago, Sheila de Bretteville, and Dolores Hayden (to name a few). Imagine my surprise when I viewed “feminist theory” as a separate discipline while in graduate school in the early 1980s. By then, the more opportunistic femmes were allied with the New Deal coalition/social democracy, NOT to the hard Trotskyist Left, nor to the “Neo-Marxist” tendency as the Canadian Dr. Peterson insists, or to the New Left as Dr. Paglia asserts in this wide-ranging and stimulating video that covers current gender relations, postmodernism, families, inevitable suffering, and the current liberal policies on education; all from a conservative perspective:

Indeed, strict Marxists scoffed at the pretensions of feminism, which detracted from the working-class movement. Even Herbert Marcuse railed against “repressive desublimation.” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repressive_desublimation) though I don’t see Marcuse as a strict Marxist; rather as a radical liberal.

So, to sum up, my feminism was subsumed by classical liberalism: equal opportunity and education that aided individual development.

Am still a feminist? What about “abortion rights?” I agree with Ayn Rand’s feminism: first trimester abortions okay, but not after that.

It ain’t natural.

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