YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

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

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January 7, 2018

“Are Historians Pundits?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 9:33 pm
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jurgenlobert.com

Whatever happened to the “context” that postmodernists/hipsters claim to embrace? Of course historians have lost credibility; we are all journalists now, and the “consensus” that “progressives” are imposing on our young people is alarming. The line between (factual) history and (partisan) propaganda has almost broken down. Cultural anthropology reigns supreme in academe and journalism alike, while classical liberalism is defenestrated.

This blog was inspired by interviews in Washington DC conducted by History News Network publisher Rick Shenkman at The American Historical Association. Shenkman is described as both a journalist and historian (http://www.rickshenkman.com/bio). According to his “bio,” Shenkman was educated at both Vassar and Harvard, but appears not to have completed a dissertation, but to have gone with the flow in condemning Andrew Jackson’s lowbrow electorate (?).

There probably is no liberal consensus (https://clarespark.com/2016/10/17/is-there-a-liberal-consensus/), but (liberal) elites are in agreement that the masses are asses (https://clarespark.com/2009/08/24/the-people-is-an-ass-or-a-herd/): thus Shenkman could publish a book condemning Trump voters as Stone-Age holdovers, easy prey for demagogues. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rick-shenkman/political-animals/.

Since HNN “published” (but buried) several of my articles, I have followed their progress/degeneration, noting how the profession has developed since the end of World War II, when “the liberal consensus” supposedly took hold, marking the triumph of The Popular Front Against Fascism.

 
If the profession of history seems one-sided, chalk it up to the New Left of the 1960s, and to the proliferation of social movements the “Left” engendered: civil rights, feminism (and gay rights), the “new” culturally focused labor history, and environmentalism. The “New” Left abandoned the 1930s emphasis on empiricism and class struggle for romantic primitivism/the counter culture. Science, like technology, was Out.

Whatever happened to footnotes?
While in graduate school, I was derided by a Trotskyist as “the last positivist.” And others on the Left claimed that I was an “atomizing” individualist/bourgeois. Apparently, not all radical claims need to be “sourced.” I am reading Eric Foner’s massive and footnoted book  Reconstruction (1988), which seems to me to feed into the most extreme claims of black cultural nationalism, conflating past and present and condemning both ante-bellum and post-bellum Amerikkka for the most horrid forms of racism and “white supremacy.” For Foner’s argument is not always sourced, nor does he explain why there was tension between the original civil rights movement and the followers of Malcolm X who famously followed.

The eminent “liberal” Columbia professor does not warn against present-mindedness (the reading of present values into the past). Neither do many of the social justice warriors who were students of New Left professors, and who may be training a new generation of “cultural nationalists” like themselves, all too given to collectivist discourses in thought and deed.

I suppose that footnotes, like facts, are sometimes atomizing and only convenient when it suits the Social Justice Warriors’ convenience.

jurgenlobert.com

December 26, 2017

Were Nazis “Socialists” (2)

Telegraph.com (UK)

For part one of this series see https://clarespark.com/2014/12/10/were-nazis-socialists/.

Opinion is sharply divided on this question, partly because libertarian conservatives tend to believe, following Ludwig von Mises SOCIALISM, that Nazi wage and price controls qualified Nazism as a socialist-type government, along with “interventionism” or “the third way” as a compromise between free markets and state planning. Indeed, Hitler himself talked of such a compromise during WWII, but with an emphasis on equal opportunity for the superior balanced rationalist (like himself):

[Hitler:]The English have to settle certain social problems which are ripe to be settled. At present these problems can still be solved from above, in a reasonable manner. I tremble for them if they don’t do it now. For if it’s left to the people to take the initiative, the road is open to madness and destruction. Men like Mosley would have had no difficulty in solving the problem, by finding a compromise between Conservatism and Socialism, by opening the road to the masses but without depriving the élite of their rights. Class prejudices can’t be maintained in a socially advanced State like ours, in which the proletariat produces men of such superiority. Every reasonably conducted organization is bound to favor the development of beings of worth. It has been my wish that the educative organizations of the Party should enable the poorest child to lay claim to the highest functions, if he has enough talent. The Party must see to it, on the other hand, that society is not compartmentalized so that everyone can quickly assert his gifts. Otherwise discontent raises its head, and the Jew finds himself in just the right situation to exploit it. It’s essential that a balance should be struck, in such a way that dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives may be abolished as well as Jewish and Bolshevik anarchists….(Jan. 27, 1942, Trevor-Roper translation from Martin Bormann’s notes)

[Clare:]Of course, von Mises did not consider Bolsheviks to be anarchists; rather he wrote that Socialism, inspired by Marx and Engels, had infected European sociopolitical movements (including all manifestations of the welfare state) with anti-capitalist rules and sentiments.

Such a free market orientation would freak out current day “liberals” who might be expected to emphasize the destruction of the “independent” working class, who New Deal Democrats would prefer as trade unionists. Thus it is not surprising that post-Popular Front leftists would argue that Hitler was anything but a Socialist, having done in “Jewish Bolshevism.” (Moreover, leftists would emphasize the “cultural” over “economic” factors that have been missing from liberal polemics, perhaps to ingratiate themselves with the victims of the Holocaust. For a partial correction, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Nazi_Germany.)

Not so fast, insisted von Mises, for “Socialism” was roughly synonymous with “Fascism.” (He viewed Socialism and Fascism as overlapping but distinct authoritarian movements in his SOCIALISM, first published in English 1936, then revived after the war partly by libertarian conservatives.)

Finally, the question of whether or not Nazis were Socialists is complicated by the desire of leftists/liberals to tar the “alt-Right” with the Nazi connection. For the increasingly statist left, the free market is generically the wellspring of Nazism, even going after the President.

Boulder Weekly: Trump with supposed Hitler salute

And so it was in the arguably fascist 1930s.

November 29, 2017

“What do women want?”

Charles and Mary Ritter Beard, Amazon.com

Are today’s feminists “extremists”? Does the spate of “sex scandals” have a hidden agenda? A quick Google search reveals that feminists are linked with “progressives.” And conservatives denounce “progressive feminism.”

But were leading populist-progressives friendly to feminism? Do women have too much power in “the machine age”? I had been saving a quote from Charles and Mary Ritter Beard’s popular volumes, The Rise of American Civilization (Macmillan, 1927) because I was stunned by a passage condemning “extreme” feminism in a massive popular work that emphasized female contributions to our culture throughout. This is what I have read in wonderment for I had not connected feminism with paternalism, silly me.

[Charles and Mary Beard quote:] …Over law and precedent…women advanced toward the goal of equal rights in their children.
Having won the ballot, enlarged economic opportunities, freedom to bob their hair, wear men’s clothes, smoke and swear, and extensive powers in the domestic relation, women looked for new fields of enterprise. At this point a group of the more intransigent demanded “absolute and unconditional opportunity” in every sphere. To give effect to their doctrines, they proposed an amendment to the Constitution providing that there should be no discriminations against women on account of sex in any national or state regulation.

…the more extreme of this feminist school called for a repeal of all protective legislation not applicable to men, such as laws limiting the hours of women workers and closing to the sex the heavier and more dangerous trades such as mining and brickmaking….among the advocates of equal opportunity were those who looked forward to a day when industry would be regulated, if at all, on the basis of the common interests of men and women, whatever those might be.
…[quoting Edmund Clarence Stedman] “a united head would be a monster.”

[Clare:] It turns out that this apparent tirade by Wilsonian progressives (the Beards) was directed not against feminism as much as it was against the machine age that had displaced “patriarchal authority” for a monstrous equality in heading the family.
These Wilsonian “progressives” go on to condemn modernity/the rule of money:

[Beards, cont.:] In the new order prodigal members of the plutocracy set standards of reckless expenditure and high living which spread like a virus among all members of society, making the spending of money a national mania and casting the stigma of contempt on previous virtues of thrift, toil, and moderation.

JFK and Marilyn (alternet.com)

… the father, in losing his prerogatives, lost few of his obligations; indeed they were multiplied rather than diminished, especially for the males of the upper classes. Ever more relentlessly the increase in the number of things that could be bought with money and the rising standard of life drove him to the task of acquiring wealth. And his wife, besides defying and divorcing him, could still secure alimony if he possessed an estate or any earning capacity. The “lord of creation” appeared to be on the verge of an eclipse. (End Charles and Mary Beard quote: Vol. II, 725-727)

[Clare:] Add to the sins of “machine age” capitalism as opposed to (capitalist) agriculture: “extremism”, worship of The Almighty Dollar, the end of paternal authority in the home. So radical farmers (Populists) were virtuous (i.e., proper parents)? Who would have thought that “progressives” like the Beards were down on Progress?

Who would have thought that, if you scratched the surface of progressive feminism (in its original formulation), that an agrarian radical would emerge, or that the Beards were feminists only as long as paternalistic authority was unthreatened?

Are the recent sex scandals entirely unrelated?

Populist Weinstein cartoon, Federalist Observer.com

November 26, 2017

The Sex Scandals: where do we go from here?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Biggest Sex Scandals (radaronline.com)

Where we are now: women still emerging with horror stories about male sexual harassment in the media and politics; so far the debate has to do with male perversity and female victimhood. The melodrama continues with predictable finger pointing and sensational firings or demands for (political) resignations. (On melodrama’s categories see https://clarespark.com/2013/08/09/melodrama-and-its-appeal.)

What is missing? 1. The nature of sexuality, both female and male; 2. competition among women for the favors of potential husbands, a competition inflamed by all elements of popular culture, but especially mass media.

Have feminist movements helped or hindered the cause of female independence? What would a more constructive feminism look like?

Conservative women point to such 19th century classics such as Little Women (1868) and similar tracts supporting “domestic feminism” (the notion that women gain power by embracing the comparatively matriarchal domestic sphere or other agencies of uplift). Some radical or liberal feminists find power in invading what were once were male clubs, including the imitation of what is taken to be male aggressive and promiscuous sexuality.

No commentators, to my knowledge, point to built-in “pedophilia”—the glorification of “innocence”—- usually ascribed to early childhood (as if youngsters were not sensual beings). Add this consideration to the partly changing life expectancy, and you get mass amnesia: we may forget that biology fits both male and female to reproductive capacity after puberty (see https://clarespark.com/2013/05/02/teen-age-sex/.)

Is it any wonder that many adult males are attracted to [nymphets]? Is it any wonder that women try to prolong youthfulness/sexual attractiveness well into middle-, even old, age?

JFK and Marilyn (alternet.com)

How should we “take responsibility” for our actions when we are the playthings of our biological inheritance?https://clarespark.com/2013/05/02/teen-age-sex/

Sex scandals: where do we go from here?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 9:58 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Biggest Sex Scandals (radaronline.com)

Where we are now: women still emerging with horror stories about male sexual harassment in the media and politics; so far the debate has to do with male perversity and female victimhood. The melodrama continues with predictable finger pointing and sensational firings or demands for (political) resignations.

What is missing? 1. The nature of sexuality, both female and male; 2. competition among women for the favors of potential husbands, a competition inflamed by all elements of popular culture, but especially mass media.

Have feminist movements helped or hindered the cause of female independence? What would a more constructive feminism look like?

Conservative women point to such 19th century classics such as Little Women (1868) and similar tracts supporting “domestic feminism” (the notion that women gain power by embracing the comparatively matriarchal domestic sphere or other agencies of uplift). Some radical or liberal feminists find power in invading what were once were male clubs, including the imitation of what is taken to be male aggressive and promiscuous sexuality.

No commentators, to my knowledge, point to built-in “pedophilia”—the glorification of “innocence”—- usually ascribed to early childhood (as if youngsters were not sensual beings). Add this consideration to the partly changing life expectancy, and you get mass amnesia: we may forget that biology fits both male and female to reproductive capacity after puberty.

Is it any wonder that many adult males are attracted to [nymphets]? Is it any wonder that women try to prolong youthfulness/sexual attractiveness well into middle-, even old, age?

JFK and Marilyn (alternet.com)

How should we “take responsibility” for our actions when we are the playthings of our biological inheritance?

rainagain blog

November 18, 2017

Is Little Women still relevant?

Louisa May Alcott stamp 1940

Madelon Bedell’s populist-progressive scholarly “Introduction” to Alcott’s now classic Little Women (1868) evades the mixed messages that modern women receive for an explanation of Alcott that will not please 1. lesbians (who are convinced that the obviously autobiographical character of “Jo” and her attachment to “Marmee” as proof that Alcott was one of them) or to 2. Freudians (who would see Little Women as minimizing the attachment to Father, especially in her choice of a much older intellectual husband, but also her choosing to educate poor boys, not girls at the conclusion of the book). [On mixed messages delivered to women, see https://clarespark.com/2017/10/27/moral-chaos-of-womanhood-the-harvey-weinstein-scandal-and-lolita/.%5D We are asked to surmount the contradiction between virgins and whores all why we knock ourselves out to “realize our potential” –but as what?)

Bedell does however throw bones to anti-capitalism, the fashionable feminist theory of “domestic feminism” (i.e., women get power and status in the revitalized domestic sphere), unconscious motivation AND to behaviorism. It is as if Bedell wants to please everybody—a typical female tic that I recognize within myself.

L’il Friends of Kelly

But perhaps the greatest lapse in this College Edition is Alcott’s obvious connection to sentimental reformism of the American antebellum period, which Bedell ignores in her Jazz Age-style dismissal of the moralism of Alcott’s life and art, an attachment to melodrama that persists today as political figures portray themselves in the archetypes of Christianity* (Alcott mentions in passing, the large nose of a Rothschild, while emphasizing “Amy’s” turned up nose. See https://clarespark.com/2015/06/15/hillary-clinton-and-second-wave-feminism-looking-backwards/, https://clarespark.com/2015/11/07/the-change-of-heart-explanation/, and https://clarespark.com/2013/08/09/melodrama-and-its-appeal/.)

What would an unconfused feminist write today? Is such an outcome even possible, given the overriding value placed on family/state cohesion and stability?

*Ann Douglas denounced Protestant reformism in her widely reviewed The Feminization of American Culture (1977), but she let Catholicism off the hook. Now I view her as being an apologist for a Christian consensus (in the spirit of Rerum Novarum, 1891) and a rehabilitator of the happy family that, as a feminist, she should not have done. See https://clarespark.com/2012/09/22/materialist-history-and-the-idea-of-progress/.

Madelon Bedell, biographer of Alcott family

November 11, 2017

My flagging sense of “propriety”

NBC News photo

This blog is about the notion that loss of self-control by males regarding the pawing of young girls is a breach of “propriety.”

As I write this, the press is roiled over the Roy Moore pedophile question, with many media (and Republican “moderates”) demanding that “Judge Moore” step down for the allegations that he was guilty of “sexual improprieties” while a mature man of 32. But this riveting case may mask a larger problem: the invasion of women into the male sphere. In this posting, I look broadly at the Roy Moore problem.

I have watched aghast as a parade (or “avalanche”) of male miscreants have been outed by indignant ladies and a sympathetic press. Why am I amazed? It is the salience of [pedophile] sexuality as a political issue in an era of anti-Freud propaganda.

(See https://clarespark.com/2017/10/27/moral-chaos-of-womanhood-the-harvey-weinstein-scandal-and-lolita/, https://clarespark.com/2014/03/02/roy-porter-and-the-anti-psychiatry-movement/ and https://clarespark.com/2012/02/19/the-romantic-repudiation-of-freud-co/.  It is a major claim of Freudians that sexuality and aggression are primary human instincts that must be recognized to explain neuroses, war, and violence in general.) It is true that the wave of feminism coming out of the New Left has concentrated on sexual liberation (https://clarespark.com/2012/10/03/the-sexual-revolution-2/), but most women would probably agree that males are in dire need of “civilizing” and that male sexual aggression is more of the norm than social conservatives are likely to admit.

Witness the phrase “sexual impropriety” (of which Roy Moore is supposedly guilty) as if self-control was a subset of politeness.

Most readers of this website are not looking for “politeness” but for an empirical, historical look at current controversies. As I look over my long development, I have concluded that emulation of my father the doctor is the key factor, for I went into science teaching as a substitute for a career in medicine. As a science major at the Cornell University State College of Agriculture in the mid-1950s, I had to take a semester of practice teaching to get my degree. It is that story of my alleged impropriety in the Fall of 1958 at Ithaca High School that is the focus of this posting.I was anything but a feminist in that conservative decade, but I did take myself seriously as a prospective chemistry teacher (a deviant choice for a young female, I was to learn).

My supervisor was Mr. Ming, who would take a brown bag lunch with other male science faculty. In my 1950s naiveté, I thought that they would be discussing matters of scientific relevance during their lunch break, so zealous Clare improperly showed up at their confab. Mr. Ming punished me with a bad grade: a“65” because I had an inadequate “sense of propriety,” a grade that my (male) Cornell professor changed to a “90.”

I am resuscitating this memory to make a larger point than some conservative or “moderate” commentators snowed by an “avalanche” of belated confessions: that women of my generation were politely and punitively excluded from the “male” sphere, and that this situation was of more interest to me at that time in the mid-to-late 1950s than various clumsy male gropings of adolescent-looking females seem to be today (https://clarespark.com/2017/10/27/moral-chaos-of-womanhood-the-harvey-weinstein-scandal-and-lolita/).

Or, if we dig deeper, is the entire Roy Moore flap better seen as yet another assault on Southern and Western “cowboys” by neo-Progressive liberals?

 

November 9, 2017

Feminist in Love (2)

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 9:19 pm
Tags:
Image (52)

Collage by Clare Spark, early 1990s

November 3, 2017

The American Dream?

Queen on top, RavePad.com

This blog is about the pursuit of unhappiness by three modernist writers: Melville, Freud, and Nabokov, all of whom doubted “the American Dream” while emphasizing subjectivity in their works.

 

 

The controversial modernist writer, Vladimir Nabokov, was famously anti-Freudian. Nevertheless, he emphasized subjectivity no less than other Romantic/”modern”/postmodern writers (including Melville). So why was Nabokov hostile to Sigmund Freud, a disdain recapitulated in 1970s feminism?
Nabokov, author of the “pornographic” novel LOLITA (1955), was greeted with derision for having written a dirty but widely read book. So was Freudian theory denounced for pan-sexualism in the early 20th C.

 

But would it not be puritanical (heaven forbid!) to denounce Freud (or Nabokov) for lasciviousness? Yet, even as a young writer, Nabokov (like his admired precursor “crazy” Herman Melville) was treating “Freudian” themes. I am referring to VN’s (updated) KING, QUEEN, KNAVE (1928) published in English after LOLITA, and translated from the Russian by his son Dmitri after Nabokov became both notorious and celebrated (1966). And, like LOLITA, the earlier novel was made into a movie (1972), suggesting that its triangle theme was acceptable to a popular audience, even as that popular audience was (seemingly) stigmatized by all three major moderns (VN, Melville, and Freud).

 
It is subjectivity that is the major focus of this posting. For it is rarely noted that dirty old Freud was advocating “the observing ego” at the same time that he was outlining the family romance. Thus, idealizations and all caricatures would be thrown out by the successful analysand (or even the unanalyzed reader of Freud), in favor of objectivity as the “Reality Principle” was finally attained. Out went the perfectly happy family (as limned by Melville in Pierre), in came modernism (as stoic?) adjustment to “everyday unhappiness,” and a fight that stills preoccupies me as it does the authors enumerated here.

More: I attended Cornell U. at the same time that Nabokov was lecturing there; I heard that Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina’s first paragraph was his constant emphasis: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” So both Freud and Nabokov were interested in families—happy and unhappy. But Pierre was ambiguous. So was Herman Melville, who, like Nabokov’s narrators, was similarly preoccupied and weird, and Melville, like Nabokov turned out to be an anti-bourgeois modernist/postmodernist, and as interested in decoding the unhappy Western family as Freud.

Full cast King, Queen, Knave (1972) Herzbube.com

[Blogs related to this posting: https://clarespark.com/2013/01/17/bondage-and-the-family/, https://clarespark.com/2011/10/01/updated-index-to-melville-blogs/, https://clarespark.com/2013/03/16/blogs-on-freud-and-anti-freudians/

October 27, 2017

Moral chaos of womanhood: the Harvey Weinstein scandal and LOLITA

The Harvey Weinstein scandal and LOLITA are connected in my mind for both cast reflections on the confusing rearing of the middle class female who supposed to be innocent and knowing at the very same time.

We are supposed to please men by not growing up. Hence Humbert Humbert’s obsession with “nymphets.”

Nabokov ostensibly wrote a parody and a novel about the act of writing (that makes him a postmodernist linking Kafka-esque nihilism and trendy modernism). But I noticed that Humbert Humbert viewed young actresses with disdain (as whorish), which made me think that Harvey Weinstein’s proclivity for undeveloped actresses had literary precedents.

Perfectly nice girls are supposed to be both prim and slutty enough to attract a superior male, but who can discern the boundaries between classes?

Or what constitutes pornography (as contrasted with serious literature that can masquerade as porn, as LOLITA does)?

It helps to know that females (especially “middle class” women) experience a lifetime of mixed messages. We are urged to attain independence and professional achievement, but not to lose sight of the overwhelming importance of family life. We crave “love,” whatever that may be. As mothers, we are lectured about the importance of early attachments, but then urged to let our children grow up and find their own path.

movie lobby card, abaa.org

Similarly, we are supposed to be patriotic, but not too patriotic. In a polarized society, how can we find “the golden mean” (a relic of classical antiquity)? And yet we are bombarded by images of “moderation,” of reconciling opposites!

No wonder Vladimir Nabokov put “reality” in quotes.

 

rainagain blog

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