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


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 connotes 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.

October 6, 2018

Historians vs. Journalists/Politicians

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:17 pm

I am writing this because it is important to specify the differences between trained historians and journalists, especially in this hyper-polarized time when half the country seems bent on reversing the 2016 election results and ostensibly defending abortion rights. (And partly to spell out the difference between my training in graduate school in the “red” history department at UCLA, and my prior experience as a program producer (1969-late 1990s) and director of programming at a left wing radio station (2-82 to 8-82, Pacifica Radio, KPFK-FM Los Angeles).

SOURCES/FOOTNOTES. Even at left-leaning UCLA, the emphasis on reliable sources was emphasized, as were footnotes specifying acceptable prior reconstructions of past controversies. Thus we were expected to be original, and likely confrontational, owing to our reliance on archival research. (This entailed travel to often distant college collections, thus ensuring that indigent students were excluded.) William L. Shirer, a journalist, wrote a best-seller that was a treasure trove for historians The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. (1960) because he had access to new sources (after the war, recovered Nazi documents) and his account was footnoted, although he gave too many opinions based on speculation for my taste.

IDEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS. Which brings us to the context in which history is written. In graduate school we were at once introduced to the term “present-mindedness.” It was bad form to impose current values on prior figures, that journalists today indulge (often indoctrinated by Old or New Leftists, such as Howard Zinn.) Historians are divided on this issue, but postmodernists deny “the pastness of the past,” as well as the entire concept of “objectivity” as a bourgeois imposition. Here, historians join with trendy(but disreputable)journalists.

MOTIVES OF PAST ACTORS. Here’s where I depart from left-leaning Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historian) Wiki says that historians should deal with motives. Insofar as prior historians are writing within a recognizable ideology (usually social democratic today), this makes sense. But with journalists constantly psyching out their subjects (i.e., POTUS), I must demur. We can know what President Trump said (as partial evidence), but our assessments of what he meant are always unknowable.

September 20, 2018

The “Townies” versus the “Gownies”: a guest blog by Tom Gelsthorpe

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 2:11 pm

Studentprotest Yale
For many years, I’ve felt the class war in America is not really between rich and poor, white and non-white, native vs. foreign born, or various religious factions. It’s the townies vs. the gownies.

“Townies” are people whose jobs and hobbies can be described with simple words that everyone understands: plumbers who hunt, nurses who garden, shopkeepers who make furniture.

“Gownies” are educated in abstruse skills from financial management, to the law, to medical research, to political consulting. Media personalities, a key cohort of gownies, are sometimes described as “symbol manipulators.” Gownies might do stuff on their day off that an ordinary adult can pronounce — say, tennis or golf — but their lifestyles are complex and mysterious to outsiders. They go to restaurants with foreign names, and order overpriced concoctions that people like me cannot pronounce.

Just so you know, I’m a townie. For over 30 years as a career farmer, I never got all the dirt out from underneath my fingernails. Gownies who can’t find the dipstick in their foreign cars look down their noses on me.

Plenty of townies are well-read and versatile, but tend not to be overly impressed by credentials. “What can you do?” is a more important question than, “Where did you go to school?”

The current President (as of 2017)is a townie. One reason for the bottomless hatred by the preppies at CNN and by limousine liberals, is for Trump’s apostasy. He did receive a degree from an Ivy League school (Wharton) but he’s still a tough kid from Queens who grew up in the construction business. You want some concrete poured on schedule? Call The Donald.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden are all gownies. Hence the pathetic photo ops of them pretending to be reg’lar folks, in contrast to their heartfelt contempt for bitter clingers, deplorables, and most recently, the dregs of society. If any one of these three slides into a ditch on a snowy road, they have to call a townie to pull them out, but they can only hide their disdain long enough to get the car running again.

Postscript by Clare Spark: For a historical view of the antagonism between town and gown see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_and_gown. It has a photo of an Australian social democratic attempt to merge town and gown. The picture on this guest blog is of a Yale University student protest.

September 2, 2018

Why classical liberals should resist Jordan B. Peterson

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 2:03 pm

Owing to popular demand, am making this my home page again.

YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

Jordan B. PetersonPeterson’s big book, Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018) has garnered furious debates between conservatives and liberals, ironically because Peterson makes no secret that he is a moderate man, confessing near the end of the book, that, although he is privy to many (unspecified) left-wing views, his antagonism to political correctness (particularly feminism) remains intact, and is noticed by his trendy enemies who view him as hyper-male. And, as a moderate, he does not see either ambiguity nor ambivalence.

I recommend that you read this review by a young, Roman Catholic postmodernist who concentrates on Peterson’s misuse of philosophers with whom he is familiar. https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2018/05/14/book-review-jordan-petersons-12-rules-for-life/. (Sam Rocha is a young Canadian professor of educational studies, a postmodernist who knows a lot about Heidegger and his misuse by Dr. Peterson).

My comments will focus rather on different aspects of Peterson’s ideology, namely his views on “truth

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September 1, 2018

Heroism As Sacrifice: thoughts on the death of John McCain and bipartisanship

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 8:38 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Although (moderate) Fox coverage has focused on McCain’s death as a military man who stood up to outrageous torture as an American prisoner in the Viet Nam war, and as a symbol for a positive image for America, I will probe a bit deeper, emphasizing the underlying message of the moderate men: that of compromise, for moderates emphasize sacrifice no matter how achieved, sacrificing principle or self- or national interest or one’s life, if necessary. to achieve “balance” (as defined by Progressives).

No one sensible person would be opposed to “compromise” as such: see https://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/ and https://clarespark.com/2015/04/07/who-are-the-moderate-men/. More controversial perhaps is the focus on “unity,” espoused by Big Government moderates, even as I and others have denounced mindless “unity”–derived from medieval Christian unity imposed from above on warring tribes. Unity is what you get from compromise and, hence, bipartisanship (also an emphasis on the Fox coverage on the endless week of encomiums by Democrats; it is part of Fox’s “fair and balanced” DNA).

It is sad for me to view New Left aspirations for a fairer, more equitable world degenerating into unworthy alliances with pseudo-moderate Progressives. The apotheosis of John McCain’s notion of “balance” is a testament to that ever-swampy “middle ground.”

August 29, 2018

Why classical liberals should resist Jordan B. Peterson

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 10:20 pm

Jordan B. Peterson [Update 10/12/18: since writing this blog, I have renewed respect for JBP’s views on gender relations, not to speak of his attitudes toward child-rearing. Moreover, he is more Freudian than Jungian (?), in his appreciation for inevitable suffering. Peterson, unlike the racist Jung (according to Erich Noll; there is also a Youtube video claiming that Jungians hate Peterson owing to his views on dominance as natural.]

Dr.Peterson’s big book, Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018) has garnered furious debates between conservatives and liberals, ironically because Peterson makes no secret that he is a moderate man, confessing near the end of the book, that, although he is privy to many (unspecified) left-wing views, his antagonism to political correctness (particularly feminism) remains intact, and is noticed by his trendy enemies who view him as hyper-male. And, as a moderate, he does not see either ambiguity nor ambivalence.

I recommend that you read this review by a young, Roman Catholic postmodernist who concentrates on Peterson’s misuse of philosophers with whom he is familiar. https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2018/05/14/book-review-jordan-petersons-12-rules-for-life/. (Sam Rocha is a young Canadian professor of educational studies, a postmodernist who knows a lot about Heidegger and his misuse by Dr. Peterson).

My comments will focus rather on different aspects of Peterson’s ideology, namely his views on “truth” and “responsibility.” As a classical liberal and secular Jew I resented the focus on a single “truth” (in Dr. Peterson’s book, the veracity of Christian truth, although Peterson both praises and laments the lifelong suffering taken for granted by Buddhists). Closely related to the notion of a single truth believed by religious people, is the conception of “context,” which tends to vitiate the belief in a single truth. For example: the view that slavery was inevitable was more and more discontinued after The Declaration of Independence.

Also related to context is Peterson’s emphatic belief in “taking responsibility” for one’s actions (i.e., failures to take his “rules” seriously). (Perhaps he is talking about himself).

Dr. Peterson’s focus on family relationships (including pets) as well as his rejection of political correctness partly explains his popularity among conservatives, but I wish that they would pay more attention to the real historic oppression suffered by certain groups (women, blacks, Latino farm workers, Jews, etc.) Wishing away these historic difficulties will not alleviate unnecessary suffering, no matter how skilled we are in communication.

August 17, 2018

H.G. Wells as moderate man

H.G. Wells Getty Images I had not read any of H. G. Wells’ fiction; but I did slog through his massive compendium of earth’s history (The Outline of History) but without the footnotes prominent in prior editions), though he was never a trained historian. He was not strictly a member of the counter-culture, for he was all in for science and technology (industrial progress), which would ostensibly culminate in the only slaves being machines, and liberating the (enslaved) masses from the rule of money (i.e., Jewish power). Here is Wikipedia’s sympathetic partial summary of his 1200 page much corrected work, initially completed in one year, in reaction to the horrifying mass death inflicted, Wells wrote, by (aristocratic) Great Powers. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Outline_of_History.

Wells started his synoptic book in 1919 (during a year of upheaval), but this edition was completed after WW2. However, Wells shockingly omitted the Nazi murder of European Jewry, a disaster not in Wells’s comprehensive chronology nor was it mentioned in Wikipedia, perhaps because such events did not jibe with the Wells assault on cultural and racial superiority, lauded by Wiki and affirming the moderate men. (His preference for male heroes and anti-heroes such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon (predecessors to “insane” Hitler?) was mentioned by Wiki.

Since I have focused many blogs on multiculturalism, antisemitism and the waywardness of 18th Century Protestant theologian J.G. von Herder’s influence, which culminated in “cultural anthropology,” race, “roots” environmentalism national character: result, antisemitism and Christian Socialism (one 19th Century precedent of Fabian Socialism, also omitted by Wikipedia).
Nor did Wiki see that American greatness contradicted by a Wellsian emphasis on globalism and its constantly reiterated wish for “peace.” Toward the end of peace was his obvious preference for the Muslim and Buddhist religions. His Christian Socialism was also hinted as he regarded Jesus as a revolutionary who opposed the rich.

Surprisingly, and unlike the popular books by the anti-imperialist, somewhat Wilsonian Charles and Mary Beard (1927), Wells expressed positive views of American promise (like Marx who lauded the American Civil War as a bourgeois revolution), but Wells did attack Stalinism, omitting however, antisemitism in Marx (who also railed against the rule of money as “the universal pimp.”)

So what are left with? Wells was a precursor of the counter-culture, notwithstanding his enthusiasm for machines who would presumably release the masses from toil. But first, the masses would take charge of the machines. And, being a Fabian Socialist, Wells was apparently the father of the Peace Studies movement, the father of other moderate men (the “socially responsible capitalists” of the Democratic Party) and of left-leaning Pacifica radio.

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