The Clare Spark Blog

March 30, 2015

Hillary, Carly, and the triumph of gender studies

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:06 pm
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Only a woman will do to comment on HC

Only a woman will do to comment on HC

One of the ghastly features of multiculturalism and cultural studies in general, is the domination of the addled notion that “any woman will do.” For instance, Carly Fiorina (who lost her bid to be Senator from California), and whose career at Hewlett Packard did not end in a blaze of glory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carly_Fiorina) is considered to be the appropriate person to take down Hillary Clinton, for “any woman will do.”

If a male were to point out Ms. Clinton’s deficiencies, he could be taken down as a sexist. So into the breach steps a Republican female, for any woman will do. This is the predictable outcome of collectivist ideologies spun by the liberal establishment. (A reminder that until the late 20th century, the communists I knew, unlike liberals, considered feminism to be a “bourgeois deviation,” and it should never displace class conflict as the relevant, pressing structural problem. This position seems to have been modified as the newly minted field of gender studies was obviously dominated by leftists and the most avid environmentalists. “Class” as a variable is important to both leftists and free-market capitalists. For the Left, class struggle will bring communism; for conservatives and Republicans, “class” is a consideration for measuring upward mobility.)

Forget that Ms. Fiorina has few, if any, qualifications to hold such an office as POTUS. It is true that she fits into the upward mobility-meritocracy theme beloved by politicians in either party, for as she bragged on Fox News Sunday, she started out as a secretary before her rise to the top.

When I was in graduate school pursuing a doctorate in US history (UCLA, 1983-1993), I suggested at a crowded conference that the concerns of women should not be shunted off into a corner, but should be integrated into the curriculum (obviously referring to the humanities curriculum). This prompted guffaws from the mostly male, liberal, audience. After the presentations, Hayden White (head of the History of Consciousness program at UC Santa Cruz) approached me, and asked if I was in the job market yet. He wasn’t offering me a position, but warning me to lay off.

Not long before that, I displeased two powerful feminist professors, Kathryn Kish Sklar and Ruth Bloch, who cornered me in Sklar’s office because I had brought up class differences in women and criticized a famous article for conflating all women into one big bag. One of them (Bloch) even suggested that I should have been thrown out of the doctoral program for my gaffe.

purpleheart-1

I got similar screams of rage when I complained about separatist ethnic studies programs at yet another international conference. And when I was appointed as representative of all University of California students in the Affirmative Action Committee, I introduced a motion that all professors in relevant fields should integrate the concerns of minorities and women into their classes, without depending on separate “studies” programs. The next year, no one told me about the yearly meeting, but the year after that I made sure to attend, and was informed that my resolution (unanimously passed in our committee) was never voted upon because it infringed upon “academic freedom.”

New PC Look

New PC Look

Now we can look forward to a campaign for president where only the “crazies” will oppose separatist cultural studies. And for their pains, they will be labeled by the “moderate” and “balanced” press, as I was, “racist” and “sexist.” And at the top of their lungs.

March 28, 2015

The neglected virtues: self-discipline and politeness

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:53 pm
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panama-city-fl-spring-break-bars

(For a more recent blog on the virtues ofself-control see https://clarespark.com/2015/12/21/debates-as-pseudo-events-with-pseudo-moderators/)

Perhaps we are a decadent society, and anything we do to change course will be fruitless and too late. I don’t know. But I was dismayed by the “Spring Break” series featured on Sean Hannity’s Fox program this week. The antics at Panama Beach, Florida, reminded me of Fellini’s movie Satyricon that I found so repellent I couldn’t watch it.

Conservatives blame progressivism, the women’s movement, and the counter-culture, for the loss of standards and the subsequent moral laxity that is everywhere apparent. Their remedy: more strong fathers at the head of the family to offset mother’s allegedly softer (baleful) influence.

redfeministnuclearfamily

I view the matter slightly differently. Both parents must, and I emphasize MUST, set an example. By that I refer to acting like grownups: setting boundaries, and providing examples involving self-control (consideration for the feelings and rights of others), involvement with how children are spending their time, and discussing serious questions about the family, schooling, the local community, and the world (at appropriate ages, of course). Democracy makes unprecedented demands on individual would-be citizens, capable of independent thought.

But child-rearing in the nuclear family is about more than sex-roles and attentive parenting. It is also a question of labor, and the mother has often in “traditional” families, borne the brunt of the work. Ask any young mother how much sleep she has gotten since her first child was born. The virtue of a two-parent family is partly found in shared labor, as opposed to the stern father and the all-forgiving mother theme.

In this age of divorce-on-demand and “blended families” it is hard to live up to the expectations of “Victorian” or “bourgeois” families. We can either continue down this path to perdition or we can be more realistic about the objective requirements of marriage and parenthood.

Image from Fellini's SATYRICON

Image from Fellini’s SATYRICON

March 27, 2015

Did German/Austrian Jews assimilate to multiculturalism?

"Weltstar" Peter Pulzer getting award at U. of Vienna

“Weltstar” Peter Pulzer getting award at U. of Vienna

I have just finished reading a classic work by Peter G. J. Pulzer, The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria (1964), focusing on the late 19th C. and the pre-WW1 period (sometimes called the age of decadence). Since American conservatives frequently accuse “cultural Marxists” (i.e. German refugees of Jewish descent) of cultivating the foul soil in which socialism/communism has flourished on “the Left,” I thought that this German Jew, an academic Weltstar in Europe, who distanced himself from traditional Judaism, would be worth quoting and commenting upon. (On the Frankfurt Institute refugees see https://clarespark.com/2013/07/31/the-nefarious-cultural-marxists/.) (On Pulzer’s background see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_G._J._Pulzer.)

First, he seeks to distinguish the anti-Semites from the Social Democrats (i.e., in Germany, the Communists and Socialists), for he is no anti-Semite himself:

“Despite certain points of superficial resemblance—the radical language, the popular method of campaigning, the rejection of Liberal economics [i.e., laissez-faire capitalism, CS]—anti-Semites and Social Democrats were at opposite poles of the political world and their mutual enmity was deep and lasting. …in its moral appeal Marxian Socialism was clearly related to nineteenth-century Liberalism. It was inspired by a revulsion against tyranny and poverty, by optimism and a belief in progress, by the assumption that if a formula could be found to explain how society worked, spread by education, and applied, the world’s evils could be abolished. It was international in its appeal, its morality was universal. Against these factors…anti-Semitism was concerned not with more emancipation, but with less, with the interests of traditional, not of new classes, with the primacy of the national and the integral over the universal. In particular it could not fail to notice that many of the founders and leaders of international Socialism were Jews. (Chapter 27, p.259)”

A few pages later, Pulzer continues to attach himself to his environment (though he never admits his political affiliation): “It is in the main those Jews who attempted to cut themselves loose most completely from their environment who became the Socialist leaders…They were intellectuals who disavowed their own heritage and background and yet did not feel at home in the new tradition to which they tried to adapt themselves. It was not that they deliberately took up a revolutionary posture in defiance of some snub or indignity they had suffered, rather that they identified themselves emotionally with the ideology of protest that is nature to the uprooted intellectual, whether he is an “angry young man” or a bomb-throwing narodnik. Above all the ideologies of the Left, which promised to emancipate men from restrictive or divisive loyalties, also helped the Jew to reidentify himself with society.”

Now comes the most shocking part, where Pulzer reveals himself as the full-blown moderate man, not too hot, not too cold, oddly owning some of the antisemitic tropes he had identified in earlier chapters: “The influence of the closed Jewish community, too, continued to haunt the deraciné, however much he might try to exorcise it. It endowed him, first, with an exaggeratedly intellectual and cerebral view of the world’s problems, derived from the enforced, undilutedly urban culture of Jewish life and the Talmudic scholasticism which was the mainstay of ghetto education. (This gift also tended to make the Jew better than financial operations than industrial management and, with his international connections, to become the ideal “middleman.”) Second, he was heir to that legacy of the puritanical visionary, the Hebraic tradition, embodied by the Jew who does not feel comfortable unless the prophet’s cloak is warming his shoulders, the living communicant of Judaism’s greatest contribution to Western civilization. …We can see too, why more often than not, the Jew is likely to be associated with the extreme wing of his party.” (Chapter 27, p.262, bold-face my emph.)

This is an assimilated Jew writing, an Oxford academic superstar (and a child Jewish refugee from Austria) who has been tracing the progress of antisemitism in Germany and Austria for hundreds of pages, finally minimizing the prominence of Nazis in comparison to conservative anti-modern antisemitism. He most certainly does not want to be taken for an undesirable ghetto Jew or any type of puritan.

Earlier in the book, Pulzer brought up Herder (p.34), not as a multiculturalist but as nostalgic for the Holy Roman Empire and a greater Germany. But Herder was indeed a cultural nationalist and a subtle precursor of the racialism that Pulzer went on to denounce throughout as associated with the most venomous of the German Rightist parties and factions.  (On Herder’s cultural nationalism see https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/.)

Pulzer gave a nod to refugee German-Jew George L. Mosse, in his acknowledgments, but I believe that Professor Mosse would have read and reacted to Pulzer’s book with the same amazement as I have done. Mosse knew a safely rooted cosmopolitan when he spotted one.

rootless cosmopolitan as radical Jew

rootless cosmopolitan as radical Jew

March 21, 2015

Great Goddess feminism: the Phyllis Chesler model

Stone Age Venus of Willendorf

Stone Age Venus of Willendorf

I have been rereading Phyllis Chesler’s Women and Madness (Doubleday 1972), and wonder if it is still relevant, and how Chesler’s Jungian, mythic approach to female sex-roles and role models fits into the second wave of feminism.

This blog will focus on the promise of sexual liberation as opposed to what experience hath shown are more realistic approaches to the demands of motherhood and the welfare of children.

Phyllis Chesler and son

Phyllis Chesler and son

First, we examine the context of second wave feminism. College-age women, active in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, deeply resented being relegated to waitresses and secretaries, serving the males coffee and typing manifestoes, while such heroes as black power advocate Stokely Carmichael relegated them to sex objects (though his intended meaning is contested by allies; in 1964 he had declared “”The position of women in the movement is prone”).

So the second wave of feminism came out of the Left, and then some argued about whether or not they should be “Marxist-feminists” or “Feminist-Marxists.” At the same time, real communists (Stalinists) were dismissing feminism as a bourgeois deviation. As I have suggested here, the intellectual ancestors of feminist stars were not 1930s leftists, so much as anti-killjoy womanizers of the 1940s social democratic “left”; i.e., anticommunist “liberals” who admired Jung, but not his mentor Freud, another killjoy with his settling for “everyday unhappiness” as opposed to the adrenalin rush of Romantic defiance. (See https://clarespark.com/2015/03/16/who-were-the-precursors-of-the-new-left-the-wasp-establishment-or-communists/. The New Deal-affiliated social psychologists I studied all identified Hitler with Romanticism,  e.g., with the arch-Romantic, Lord Byron.)

Enter numerous feminists (arguably the progenitors of the gay rights movement) who were averse to what was imagined as the humdrum life of MOM, stuck indefinitely in boring marriages and chained to motherhood. Unlike the leftist feminists, they were attracted to Goddesses and “spirituality,” and aroused the ire of the (materialist) Left. But whatever the flavor, feminists were of course reacting (indirectly?) to “attachment theory” as presented by John Bowlby in 1958. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory, and note that Bowlby was describing the infant’s need for object constancy, but not a jail for ambitious women that would last forever.)

Numerous activist women in the arts and humanities saw a chance for instant fame when they promoted a distinctive woman’s sensibility and the loveliness of free love, including lesbianism. Of all these book-writing young women, psychologist Phyllis Chesler remains relevant today, for she has not only offered a Goddess/Amazon book in her youth (who doesn’t enjoy the pagan, naughty Greek myths and Jungian archetypes?), but she claims expertise in the “new antisemitism” that speaks to renewed fears for the safety of Israel. But even more, Chesler saw Muslim abuse of women up close in her marriage to an Afghani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Chesler). So while her competitors are either mocked, deceased, or forgotten, Phyllis Chesler has developed an appreciative lay audience for the emancipation of women.

Amazonmom

Meanwhile, feminism seems to have adopted Chesler’s brand. The Hunger Games trilogy is a boffo success with youngsters and mothers alike (at least in my family), and the challenge of monogamous marriage and competent child-rearing is taken up all too rarely, and when it is, as in the NBC miniseries The Slap (the intelligent woman’s guide to motherhood: exhausting, negligent, over-indulgent in turn), it arouses howls of rage in television critics, who don’t want to tamper with archetypes of the Happy Mother and/or “likeable characters.”

happy-mothers-day-mothers-love-card-quotes

I helped promote the women artists’ movement on the radio, and considered myself to be one of them. I continue to believe that it is a man’s world, and bitterly resent all double standards.

It is only in retrospect that I have come to realize how intellectually and emotionally demanding motherhood (like marriage) really is. Moreover, the time frame when developing youngsters need ’round-the-clock mothering and fathering is shorter than young, single women realized in the salad days of second wave feminism.

salad-days-2343071

March 16, 2015

Who were the precursors of the New Left? The WASP establishment or Communists?

viperscoverUntil I read Philip Wylie’s best seller A Generation of Vipers (1942), I had assumed that the sprinkling of red-diaper babies who rose to prominence in the social movements of the 1960s, were the bearers of the intellectual ideas that gave rise to the women’s movement, the antiwar movement, the back to Nature movement, and to multiculturalism, with its emphasis on “race” over “class.”

(I should have known that no true communist would sort people out by “race” as the anti-racist Soviet Union was adamant about the conception of proletarian internationalism; moreover, communists wrote A World View of Race in the mid-1930s, that identified the fiction of “race” with the aims of the imperialist bourgeoisie, letting workers off the hook.)

I had already learned at Cornell U. in my course with David Brion Davis that “evil was back” with the renewed popularity of Reinhold Niebuhr, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne in the 1940s. And the “evil” within each of us (to cite Penny Dreadful), was there to offset excessive progressive optimism about the promise of American life, which enabled upward mobility for the Common Man or Woman.

What stunned me about the Wylie “sermon,” that echoed everything that Henry A. Murray and his Harvard associates alleged (e.g., Walter Langer, Talcott Parsons, Gordon Allport, etc.), was his diatribe against Cinderella turning into Mom, the source of all angst in the male sex, including the medical profession. Here is a sample of Wylie’s vituperative book of essays:

“MOM IS THE END PRODUCT OF SHE. She is Cinderella…the shining-haired, the starry-eyed, the ruby-lipped virgo aeternis,  of which there is presumably one, and only one, or a one-and-only for each male, whose dream is fixed upon her deflowerment and subsequent perpetual possession. This act is a sacrament in all churches and a civil affair in our society. The collective aspects of marriage are thus largely compressed into the rituals and social perquisites of one day. Unless some element of mayhem or intention of divorce subsequently obtrudes, a sort of privacy engulfs the union and all further developments are deemed to be the business of each separate pair, including the transition of Cinderella into mom, which, if it occasions any shock, only adds to the huge, invisible burthen every man carries with him into eternity….Mom is an American creation.” (Chapter XI, p.184)

Wylie, like Henry Murray, was a convinced Jungian and primitivist, and like the pagan Murray, was an avowed elitist, also a free-love kind of fellow (but not an advocate for gay rights, for “nances” were sub-textually tied to Mom.) So Wylie was obviously attacking “sentimental” conservatives of a fundamentalist religious bent. He shared with Murray an admiration for the true grit of the Russian people, a taste for internationalism, and for FDR’s personality, with Wylie going so far as to suggest that those who lacked the [independent, masculine, upper-class unsentimental education] should not even vote or hold elective office.

Moreover, the immigrants, preceded by the Nature-wrecking pioneers were a bunch of rowdy rascals. Anyone who denied this was a Mom-identified sentimental “patriot” and deserving of contempt—in short, a viper of the type that devout Christians embodied. Such conservatives, he alleged, had twisted the life and legacy of Christ, ignoring the imprecation to “know thyself,” i.e., to know thy limitations, that such (feminized) devils are not “trained to rule” (Murray’s notes to Melville’s White-Jacket).

I have reported elsewhere that Murray thought that Hitler had Jewish blood (https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/, footnote 2), and I didn’t understand this until I read Wylie on the Jews. Wylie spurned vulgar beliefs that upper-class Jews controlled the world (they were but a small portion of the elite, though they controlled the new media), but agreed with Talcott Parsons (Murray’s colleague) that the Jews were vain and believed in their chosen-ness and separateness. And Hitler’s crime was not just to persecute the Jews, but to imitate Jewish pridefulness; the Germans were the new Chosen People.

Where could Hitler have gotten this horribly mistaken idea unless he was something of a Jew himself, putting on airs and vain…rather like Mom.

The Wikipedia bio of Wylie states that he went on to become an early Green and fierce opponent of nuclear power. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Wylie.)

Philip Wylie, nature-lover

Philip Wylie, nature-lover

Although recent research has to some degree vindicated Joe McCarthy, uncovering the presence of Communist spies out to steal secrets for the benefit of Soviet-style internationalism, we should pay more attention to the dour pessimism of the old WASP establishment, who were the true parents of New Left movements, all smacking of the populism and “middle way” espoused by Philip Wylie and his contemporaries.

Wylie’s daughter, a novelist herself, has insisted that her father was no misogynist, it should be noted that “Mom” is a middle-class clubwoman married to a businessman, beguiled by materialism/consumerism/: the Northeastern elite’s idea of a Republican. And such benighted sentimentalists shouldn’t be trusted to vote.

March 9, 2015

Did racial theory take off in medieval Spain: Benzion Netanyahu’s big book

Moshe Maimon "Marranos" 1892

Moshe Maimon “Marranos” 1892

It is unbelievable to me that in the race-obsessed press and liberal academy, few have bothered to trace the origins of racial theory, let alone how such theory as racial struggle supplanted class interest or class struggle as the engine of history, to the point where “economic determinism” or “materialism” are discarded as wayward, hellish “Jewish” inventions.

During the last two weeks, I have been absorbed in reading Bibi Netanyahu’s father’s big book on the origins of the Spanish Inquisition, a tome that was subjected to furious, dismissive reviews when it was first published in 1995 , though it is obviously a masterpiece of scholarly detective work. Indeed, it was presented to Pope Francis by Bibi in 2013. See this brief account here: http://tabletmag.com/scroll/154767/why-netanyahu-gave-pope-francis-his-fathers-history-of-the-spanish-inquisition. The author correctly states that the Inquisition was not owing to papal interference but was political and secular in its origin.

The elder Netanyahu argued that racial theory in the form of antisemitism may be said to have originated in late medieval Spain as an attempt by envious “Old Christians” to drive ‘crypto-Jews’ (i.e., the “New Christians” or conversos) out of their positions as tax farmers, tax collectors, state administrative offices, the professions, and artisan crafts. The same competitiveness and animus, drawing from the antisemitism of the Patristic Church Fathers that labeled all ‘deicide’ Jews evil by nature, would not only explain the expulsion and expropriation of the Jews from Spain in 1492, but would account for the application of racial theory in Nazi Germany.

Neo-Nazi "Hidden Heritage"

Neo-Nazi “Hidden Heritage”

It is very hard to pin down the origins of racial theory. The earliest reference I could find ended up as an endnote in my Melville book, citing John Block Friedman, The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought (Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1981): The Attic sensibility was viewed by medieval (Aristotelian) Catholics as moderate, disciplined and balanced, while its monstrous antitheses represented “emotion, redundance, and formal disorder”; monstrosity was correlated with “the enigmatic, the inflated and the grandiose.”  The hot, deserted antipodes were linked to the vaguely situated Ethiopia, and found at the most extreme distances from the Greek center of the world; its perverse inhabitants had feet turned backwards and walked upside down; i.e., they were out of reach of the Christian gospel. [my footnote ends here] This is not inconsistent with the Netanyahu thesis, though it draws upon Pliny the Elder, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_History_(Pliny).

Google race theory, and you will find references to Linnaeus and his conception of speciation, and everyone notes the popularity of “scientific racism” in the 19th century. George L. Mosse’s widely read book Toward The Final Solution is ably summarized here: http://www.nationalismproject.org/books/bookrevs/toward.htm (Briefly, Mosse sees racism as originating in the Enlightenment and in Pietism. He did not look for the material and ideological origins of racial theory in late Medieval Spain, though he is generally grouped with the “cultural Marxists.”)

This is what I take away from Benzion Netanyahu’s major contribution to scholarship: while advocates of “the Judeo-Christian heritage” minimize the degree of leftover antisemitism of the most virulent kind, Bibi’s father (writing from the meritocratic Right) spared no sensibilities in his search for truth. Although Netanyahu thought he was setting the stage for Hitler’s deployment of racial theory in Nazi propaganda, I draw a second lesson from his work, perhaps more relevant today.

Just as the New Christians (or Marranos) imagined themselves safe from persecution after their conversion to the dominant culture, today’s Democrats and other leftists of Jewish descent imagine that they are integrated into the political class as friends and equals. In many cases they probably are, but who can see into the heart of another?

The “assimilated” may be living in a fool’s paradise. Are the Inquisitions finished for good? What about the debate over Israel and rising antisemitism in Europe and America? Who is teaching our children about the precise content of antisemitism, past and present? Who is teaching them about the anarchy, constant warfare, and sadistic horrors of the Middle Ages, or the progress achieved by the humanitarians of modernity?

Goya, "Tribunal...." 1812-1819

Goya, “Tribunal….” 1812-1819

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