The Clare Spark Blog

About Clare Spark

Captain Charles Spark, Betty Spark, Clare and Barbara Spark, ca.1942

Captain Charles Spark, Betty Spark, Clare and Barbara Spark, ca.1942

Clare Spark is a historian, with degrees from Cornell University (B.S. ‘58), Harvard Graduate School of Education (M.A.T. in Science Teaching ‘59), and UCLA (Ph.D.’93). From 1969 through 1998 she produced hundreds of radio programs on the politics of the art world for Los Angeles Pacifica station KPFK, and was Program Director of the station from 2-81 through July 1982. (For a detailed CV focusing on academic work, see

Her most noticed accomplishment at Pacifica is a 1971 four-hour collage-documentary, Jim Morrison: Artist in Hell, which took second place in the Major Armstrong Awards in 1972, and has served subsequent biographers of Morrison and The Doors. Collage remains her favorite form of presentation, and this website can be read as one big collage, as is her later published work in academe. (See

Frustrated by the limitations of “quick and dirty” journalism, she took a degree in intellectual history starting in 1983. Her expanded doctoral dissertation was published by Kent State University Press in hardback in 2001 and in a paperback revised edition in 2006 as Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival. (By psychological warfare, she means the many techniques that elites use to damage morale in autodidacts who might, in a democracy, challenge established authority.) Prior to her “mango opera” another book (a collage!) was compiled and edited by Melville’s great-grandson: Enter IsabelThe Herman Melville Correspondence of Clare Spark and Paul C. Metcalf (U. of New Mexico Press, 1990). Another research interest is the career of Ralph Bunche and his changing politics from the 1930s through the 1940s, both while helping Gunnar Myrdal write An American Dilemma (publ. 1944), and then mediating the Arab-Israeli conflict for the United Nations (1947-49). A long article on Bunche and Myrdal was published as “Race, Caste, or Class? The Bunche-Myrdal Dispute Over An American Dilemma,” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, Vol.14, No.2 (March 2001): 465-511. See also for allusion to Bunche’s views on the proposed Jewish state (that he apparently viewed as “national communist,” i.e.  Nazi-like. Or

Clare’s major focus: the “ethnocultural turn” in history (1939) that substituted a collectivist notion of “cultural history” for empirical “scientific history,” e.g., the substitution of psychoanalytic conceptions such as projective identification for analysis of economic factors, such as monetary policy and taxes, class position, national and class interest, and class allegiance. The notion of scapgoating “the Other” was a strategy of conservative reformers who posited only “projection” of inner forbidden impulses to explain “prejudice” against Jews, women, and “racial” minorities. Such an entirely irrationalist orientation makes it impossible to separate irreconcilable conflicts grounded in competing material interests from those that can be compromised and resolved through mediation. Cultural studies generally exclude economic history and concrete social policies that impinge on “culture.” Psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and other therapists working in the mental health profession might benefit from collaboration with historians, political scientists, and others who reconstruct the institutional and political settings that possibly affect their assessments of mental and physical illness. Moreover, as she argues in the blog “Panic Attacks”, “modern” institutions such as the schools and mass media, insofar as they dispense mixed-messages (e.g. there is no conflict between Truth and Order), may well cause the symptoms that mental health professionals and physicians seek to alleviate. See also for a controversial article on the origins of multiculturalism as counter-Enlightenment, slightly revised here as

Clare has gone through the academic publishing route and found the academic presses to be as ideologically monolithic and unimaginative as the post-60s universities themselves (with the exception of Kent State UP that indulged her use of collage and gave no page limit). She uses this site to publish original work always experimental in form and content. She remains a maverick and unaffiliated with any partisan political grouping. An example of original scholarship is the series on the Jungians, especially the three part series on managerial psychoanalysis as exemplified in the career of Dr. Henry A. Murray. Also the Anne Hutchinson article that is too short for a book but too long for an article, but is so important to reading the regnant frame on the varieties of protestantism that it is on the website. (If you can only read one or two sections of the Hutchinson essay, try and also part four. If you are up for the whole essay, see Another article-length piece looks at the appropriation of Ernest Hemingway’s life and writing to make Maoist points about U.S. foreign policy. See Another short book-length series considers Hitler’s own writing in explaining what he meant by the Big Lie: Briefly, Hitler did not consider himself a liar, but rather blamed the Jews and the German Social Democrats for deceiving the masses he claimed to rescue.

Many of the longer pieces have been vetted by major scholars in the field. This is not a site for “vanity publishing.” For more, see the consistently popular blogs, or the equally revealing And for others who think the mother-son bond has been insufficiently examined, see

To sum up, there are thousands of bloggers who stay on top of breaking news and post their often partisan or uninformed opinions. Similarly, many a public intellectual has made a reputation with grand abstractions, and the liberal anticommunists could be as irresponsible as the schematically-minded Stalinists and Maoists they rejected. This is not the way of the Yankee Doodle Society or Clare Spark’s essays. They are more concerned with the individual life history, the case-study, the particular cultural artifact or genre, the particular social policy under consideration. The art historian Aby Warburg once said that “the dear God lurks in the details.” How that was transmuted into “the devil is in the details” is a question for the ages. Readers of this site will find sound and thorough research and very close readings of materials. Opinions and impressions will be labeled as such.

Clare Spark is composing these blogs as a volunteer, and as her contribution to the Yankee Doodle Society. She is not paid for her history blogs. Those who have found these essays original and valuable are urged to subscribe to the blogs, and where possible, to contribute to the Society (YDS). All donations are tax-deductible.

As of today July 20, 2013, there have been 10, 089 views of About Clare Spark. Over 400,000 blogs have been visited as of September 2014.


  1. I was hoping that this retro would go back t0 12-25-2000, but no such luck. I have looked for stuff pertaining to you for some time, but my data mining skills are not what they should be. Specifically, I want to find a copy of a paper you wrote [hope I’m getting this right] on the many links between Christmas and materialism. I was so impressed by it, and every Christmas I think to myself:”Now, this year, I ‘m going to make sure that I contact Clare Spark and….” I’m finally trying to bring it off. The exigencies of those years (financial, emotional, chemical, etc ).were such that I was never able to do it until now. Quick sidenote: I started listening to KPFK around September of 1960 (Alan Watts only, to begin with), but it started a valuable habit with me that I’ve never regretted Did not read “The Way of Zen” until ’63, but gobbled up things like like the Dharma Bums along the way. That “way” included Gregory Corso’s “Gasoline” and “The Happy Birthday of Death,” John Clellon Holmes’s “The Horn” Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel,” and like that. But the music I got exposed to was incredible. I met and weirdly enough, (why “weirdly?” Mostly difference in age) became friends with the famous Kansas City Blues singer, Jimmy Witherspoon..He invited me to his home, and also to the Monterrey Jazz Festival that fall. Go figure. Another book I’d read was Lawrence Lipton’s “The Holy Barbarians,” so so when I arrived to stay in Cali (summer of ’60), I headed straight for Venice. Free Jazz (musically, anyway)was big right then, and was often featured at Big Daddy Nord’s club called the “Gas House.” Also routine were raucous parties at Tamboo’s house (noted bongo and conga drum musician). Also, heard some protean Lefty diatribes at a place called the Venice West (Remember: This was still a couple of years before Hayden popularized the Port Huron Statement). I did not dip my toes into such until I read (in ’63)”The Rebel” by Camus. Man, that opened up a LOT (no italics font) of avenues for me. Incidentally, I received a Bachelor’s from UCLA in summer of ’72. Profs included John G. Burke (Science and Technology), Hines, Kincaid, a psychohistory guy named Schwartz (associate of Norman O. Brown’s as I recall), and especially Stanley Coben (also Cultural History-you probably knew him). My degree is in History, but took some Econ. courses as well. Now, for some genuine weirdness: I think I met your dad once; was he a Psychiatrist? This was at a Passover meal in San Antonio, Texas in the late winter of ’61. He was introduced to me as something like “The Head of the Psych Wards at Lackland Air Force Base Hospital.” Sound right?Why would I remember such a detail? Well, ’60 and ”61 were HUGE years for me, especially musically. I saw Ray Charles at the Crescendo, Jimmy Witherspoon at the Club Renaissance in Hollywood almost weekly, Dave Brubeck at San Diego State’s Men’s Gym ( first time I ever smoked weed), saw John Hendricks’s “Evolution of the Blues at Monterrey. Spoon played a prominent role in it, and on and on. Those (post-beatnik, pre-hippie years were not nearly as drab and Eisenhoweresque as many would have you believe. Wow! Long text. Really really would like a copy of “that Christmas paper” of yours. Think it can be done? Hope this wasn’t horribly boring. Got to go. Thanks a lot. Mike Cox

    Comment by James Michael Cox — December 7, 2020 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  2. Very interesting to run into Clare’s work, even if late. A fascinating person, no question. I’m somewhat surprised by her criticism of behaviorism and its clinical applications. She seems to be operating under the same silly misconceptions that many cognitive psychologists adopt, and appears not to have consulted any original literature. If she had done so, she would have discovered that B.F. Skinner, that most contemptuous of behaviorist scoundrels, was a proponent of individual organism research, and inveighed regularly against the large-group, null hypothesis testing research designs that would eventually come to dominate the social and behavioral sciences. The life trajectory of an individual is always more interesting, both conceptually and empirically, than the statistical “averages” that large sample research makes possible. Skinner understood this more than perhaps any behavioral scientist, and both his epistemology and science reflected it.

    Comment by david morgan — November 13, 2019 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

    • I have indeed heard of B. F. Skinner and posted the Wikipedia account of his life and contributions. Perhaps you have not seen it, or maybe I misremember/

      Comment by clarelspark — January 15, 2020 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  3. Happy Birthday, Clare!
    I hope that you are having a great day!

    Comment by Stereo Realist — August 10, 2018 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  4. Via a talk by Morris Berman, I was made aware of Sacvan Bercovitch. You, almost certainly, are well versed in his thought, as well as that of Immanuel Wallerstein.

    I’ll be grateful for most any response, though won’t take it amiss if none comes.

    Comment by Claude Horvath — November 10, 2017 @ 9:46 pm | Reply

  5. […] could have used this for “About Clare Spark” ( for the website, but chose to do a different type of autobiography. Here is my CV as of 2008, […]

    Pingback by CV as of 2014: Clare Spark, Ph.D. | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — June 21, 2015 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  6. […] the son of Ronald and Clare Spark Loeb— a lawyer and a historian/Melville scholar, respectively— grew up in sunny Santa Monica, […]

    Pingback by Dan Loeb turned $3 million into a $17.5 billion hedge fund empire in 20 years — here’s his fabulous life | Ide Bisnis — June 1, 2015 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  7. Hello,
    I just discovered your blog and will be reading through the material. I am purchasing your book from Amazon. I like the premise of the autodidact as perceived threat: not having a shiny resume, therefore unemployable, they may be the only persons with leisure enough to pursue such an undertaking. Am reading Leviathan and much other Hobbes at the moment and can’t help thinking of Melville. There seems to be much disabuse of the Hobbes oeuvre due to ideological sculpting. Maybe Melville understood him the best. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts it is truly a fresh surprise.

    Comment by Robert Guthrie — January 4, 2014 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  8. Regarding your comment on the link between mysogyny and antisemitism, a number of scholars have described a medieval and early modern Christian belief that Jewish men menstruated. This indicates an identification between women and Jews that is part of the Christian tradition. Sander Gilman’s statement about this, in his book Jewish Self Hatred, is probably the best known. Willis Johnson wrote an article in the Journal of Medieval History in 1998 arguing that this belief was not an ancient one, but originated the early modern period, around 1500. Either way, it is a fascinating and revealing belief.

    Comment by Fredric Weizmann — July 20, 2013 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

  9. proofreading: In the second paragraph of this description of the author, the word ‘took’ is used twice.

    I very much enjoy reading your blog. I discovered you while reading ‘Frontpage Magazine’.

    Comment by thomas w. vinson — January 12, 2013 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

  10. Yale’s DBD pointed me via Google to YDS, though I see you found him helpful at Cornell. It’s fascinating to see credited one’s initial scholarly influence. What might you add of DBD’s influence? Just curious.

    Comment by Styles — December 3, 2012 @ 4:46 am | Reply

    • If you are referring to David Brion Davis, he introduced me to American intellectual history, and his breadth of interests (including family relationships), then his later meticulous scholarship on slavery was always inspirational. I believe many of his students revere him and felt lucky to have known him. He agreed to endorse the Yankee Doodle Society when we first got started in the mid-1970s.

      Comment by clarespark — December 3, 2012 @ 7:11 am | Reply

  11. I was at a talk recently by a historian, Thomas Schneider, of the University of British Columbia. His talk was on Egyptology under the Nazis. One interesting revelation was a telegram sent to the University of Göttingen, telling the director that these professors were to be immediately relieved of any assignments (but to be paid in full): Honig, Courant, Born, Emmy Noether, Bernstein, and Bondi. All but Honig and Bernstein are well-known and prominent in scientific circles. (The other two are prominent but less well-known.)

    His source for that is “Mathematicians under the Nazis”, by Sanford L. Segal (Princeton University Press, 2003).

    Some professors joined the Nazis, a few even joining the SA.

    I later found that at least 5 other telegrams were sent to other German universities.

    Comment by lectorconstans — November 6, 2012 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  12. I’ve been reading your site on and off for a few months. Earlier today, I checked it at a local Chick-Fil-A. It came back “blocked”. I didn’t note the precise wording, but I think it had something to do with “hate speech”. That was a bit of a shock.

    See if you have anyone near another Chick-Fil-A who might try logging on there, to see if it’s company-wide, or just this one location.

    Comment by lectorconstans — November 6, 2012 @ 7:48 am | Reply

  13. […] About page describes her journey (much more to read at the […]

    Pingback by Multiculturalism explained — questions answered « Churchmouse Campanologist — November 9, 2011 @ 10:05 pm | Reply

  14. I have just discovered your blog, glad I did, and find it very interesting. I am hearing impaired so never listen to the radio, and hope any videos also have CC.

    Comment by K. Ohana — October 26, 2011 @ 11:10 pm | Reply

  15. […] demagoguery and rhetorical bullies, even if we agree with them on issues. We see danger in what Clare Spark calls “organic conservatism”, the modernist “progressive” movements of the […]

    Pingback by What is a Promethean? | Stereo Realist – Depth and Clarity — October 21, 2011 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

    • I have revised my reading of HM’s work. See my blogs on rereading.

      Comment by clarelspark — January 15, 2020 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  16. 1: Hunting Captain Ahab seems to have disappeared
    from the circulating portion of the New York
    Public Library.

    2: Here’s a cartoon that was published on page 89
    of the June 13 & 20, 2011 edition of The New Yorker:

    Comment by Claude Horvath — August 11, 2011 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

  17. I’ve spent the past three hours or so reading your blog and writing comments and replies to some of what you’ve posted here. You seem to me to be a public intellectual without a tenured position. That makes you life tenuous, unless you have a steady income, which you might have from social security and/or pensions.

    I pictured you to be a lefty, but after reading much I think you’re closer to a libertarian. If you a libertarian, I picture that you nonetheless support social security.

    I would enjoy writing letters to you about your work. Thank you for what you are doing here on this blog.

    Comment by BigGuy — March 26, 2011 @ 1:44 am | Reply

  18. Hi Clare,
    I enjoyed meeting you at Jimmy’s book signing party last night. I now know that you are much more than the lady with the jack russell!
    See you!

    Comment by Leslie — March 4, 2011 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  19. Dear Clare,

    I was facinated by your writing and the subject matter on the Germans and Goebbels’ propagada
    and persuasion. What are your views on “Goebbels’ 19 Principals of Propaganda relevant in a contemporary context?”.

    I’m at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and would value your opinion on the asbove question that I have posed to you.

    Kind regards,
    Anthony McCall

    Comment by Anthony McCall — October 31, 2010 @ 12:49 am | Reply

  20. Hello Clare

    I will be following your Blog….very interesting.

    Best Regards,

    Petrie Mason Robie

    Comment by Petrie Robie — October 26, 2010 @ 3:11 am | Reply

  21. Hi Clare,

    I greatly enjoyed meeting you the other night at Rosanne Cash’ s book party.
    I am looking forward to reading your blog, I like the layout/ format, photos and of course the material.
    You are so interesting and cool, go Clare!

    Kindest regards from the Canadian


    Comment by Marcia Mishaan — August 28, 2010 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  22. Dear Clare,
    Thanks for alerting to your blog via H-HOAC. There is so much to read, learn and think. I’m a Russian “U.S. historian,” who has sort of lived through (intellectually) much of the history discussed in this blog, at least since 1969, when I was a third-year history student at the Moscow State University. My early field was the ideology of the New Left, Black nationalism, the ascent of Black Power, what I called “canalization and institutionalization of protest” in the follow-up of the riots, and so on. Although trained as a “Marxist historian,” I can rather describe myself as following in the American liberal tradition. Although I had to abandone this field after 2001, your writing is a fascinating coming back!

    Comment by Svetlana Chervonnaya — July 20, 2010 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  23. You’re Ayn Rand, aren’t you ?

    Comment by RBishop — July 5, 2010 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  24. Thanks Victor for that remarkable response to work done long ago. I put everything I had into the documentary, so there are no transcripts or other materials that I remember from the participants in the documentary. The fellow whose name you did not catch was Dennis Jacov, and he was not well liked for what he said. I hope you stay with the website and read what I learned after going to graduate school in U.S. history. And spread the word! And your English is just fine. If you like my collages, do read my book Hunting Captain Ahab. It is one big collage, as is this website.

    Comment by clarespark — April 21, 2010 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  25. Dear Clare,

    I found this web page with great pleasure. For a couple of years I tried to get more information about the person that was responsable for the great documentary “Jim Morrison: Artist in Hell”. It’s hard for me to describe how hypnotic and wonderful is the sensation every time I hear this documentary. Yes, it might sound as a silly Doors fan but I don’t think that of myself. Your documentary has strengthen my convictions about how deep (and many times forgotten by the media) was the intelectual side of Jim Morrison and how this was the basis for his internal demons and concerns with the consequent exteriorization of personal contradictions and angers. Yes, I was reading his poetry books and noticing how apparently far this person was from the one I noticed first while listening Doors records.

    Are there available the full readings of Actor David Birney, full coments of Professor Victor Wolfenstein, Harvey Perr and the other persons that contributed so significantly for this programs? Do you think Pacific Radio has this stuff for selling? I have a particular interest in one particular participant in the show which was that Jim’s friend from his Venice days (which sadly I could never decipher his name…).

    I don’t think your radio show has put some standards for radio shows that came after about this artist and poet and the band he integrated from 1965 to 1971. I think no other has even come close and I have listen to a lot. The equilibrium between music, interviews and poetry readings is simply fantastic. I don’t know some other radio shows from you but I believed that many themes and the treatement you gave them are most probably of great interest. Of course being a portuguese person, born in 1968, I’m probably far from the American reality of those times. I suppose that Pacific Radio may sometimes broadcast some older programs directed by you. I will try to pay attention.

    Sorry about my english
    Thank you very much

    Comment by Victor — April 21, 2010 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  26. You appear to be insinuating Edward Said was an anti-Semite in some of these comments. Could you please explain how?

    Comment by Michael Johnson — February 1, 2010 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

    • I didn’t think that Edward Said’s antisemitism was in dispute. He was also anti-American as part of his anti-imperialism (and hence anti-Israel), and a mystical cultural nationalist. I used to read his writing aloud on Pacifica Radio and took heat for it, and when I was purged as program director by the Communist Party, he refused to write a letter in my support. In later years, I studied his work in greater depth, and came to the sad conclusion that you object to. But my animus was not personal, he was no different from much of the Left (or the paleoconservative Right).

      Comment by clarespark — February 1, 2010 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

  27. I’m so glad to have stumbled onto the Clare Spark blog – what an original!
    I look forward to further reading…

    Comment by Edwin — December 31, 2009 @ 1:29 am | Reply

  28. Some readers of these blogs may wonder about my return, again and again, to the subject of antisemitism. While I was at Pacifica, I had almost no knowledge of the subject, and although I had attended major universities and later functioned in a supposedly educational radio station, it was not until the art historian Leo Steinberg urged me to make a systematic study of the subject in 1986 that I learned the depth of my ignorance. I am horrified that while I was Program Director of KPFK, I read articles by Edward Said on the air that I endorsed, and these recent blogs are a kind of reparations for the damage I may have inflicted through a faulty education–an education that was not rectified by anti-Zionism on the Left. This desire for a Tikkun also explains my dogged interest in Ralph Bunche’s mediation of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the late 1940s, and in the competing narratives describing the founding of Israel. Readers of my blogs may want to consult the writings of Werner Cohn on the subject of anti-Zionism among Trotskyists, easily found on the web.

    Comment by Clare Spark — August 15, 2009 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for this profound statement.

      I may have listened approvingly to such a program in my youth; I too am trying to provide some leadership today with better thinking. One of my back-burner projects is a memoir with a current working title of Brainwashed. I heard Patricia Hearst on TV a few years ago when one of her kidnappers was run to ground, and I realized I had no idea who this sensible woman was and what she had experienced, but I did have a clear image in my mind of who I had been taught to think she was. She was asked in this on-air interview about another then-current news item, the so-called American Taliban Johnny Walker Lindh (sp?) — she said she had been getting that question a lot and that she was quite disappointed that people might imagine she would have sympathy with him; he reminded her of her kidnappers, someone who was looking for trouble, which is easily found. After that I read Hearst’s book and a lot of things fell into place. I realized that I had myself been in a sense brainwashed by my culture, and I started working hard to undo the damage. Looking around of course I now see a generation of zombies. And narcissists, etc. We are all in this together… It seems that perhaps the Internet (along with Beauty) may save us in the end.

      Comment by Sarah Rolph — June 19, 2010 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  29. Hi Clare,

    I just had time to read your piece on the Planet. You are such a great advocate of independent thought! Your focus on the ideology of enlightenment thinking always stimulates and provokes ideas, and then some. I think about your psychoanalytical position, I suppose we can call ita social metaphor, about the dysfunctional family and its endearing tendencies that make fracture all right as insecurity plays to erode a stabilizing point of view. Wisdom grows up to make its own difference the reigning virtue. Identity becomes social diversity rather than ego. I suspect the imperfections of forefather American champions of the ‘melting pot as an enlightened individual will for a long time be mistaken by multiculturalists and the purists they attract, as they employ the either/or fallacy. If the modern enlightenment thinkers hadn’t attained their own goals, then we shouldn’t follow them. They were wrong, so we are right. More disturbing are those who equate enlightment thinking with grandiose plans for world domination, as if science should be held suspect for the manmade global problems. For all the pride and worth of diverse cultures, I cannot subscribe to diversity ideology wholecloth because it does privilege what in traditional philosophy is called the accidentals or secondary traits, which exclude the demand for an integral system of analysis itself. Ironically, given your interest in the Nazi’s, rationalism is often attributed with meglomaniacal behavior, assuming that abstract thought leads to dehumanized thinking and reifying people for grander schemes.

    I wonder, however, if you don’t exclude the material forces that make choosing diversity a necessary, even if subconscious, ideology. Are the boys just seeing the writing on the wall, or don’t those who do see that what they sowed in benefitting from ethnic prejudice have seen the coming harvest, and have choosen academians who see or have material interest in which side of the bread they’re handed. (So many metaphors!)

    On a somewhat different note, I wonder how one might frame the discussion of diversity by politics to be respectful of the empowerment felt by neglected and/or abused people whose ‘accidental’ characterists were themselves the occasion and justification of cruelty, abuse, and even terrorizing torture and death. No one here, I am sure, disrespects a Myan temple, but the preferencing of either Myan or European cultures due to region, historical place, skin color, and the like puts us back in the problem of religion and faith. Also, purveyors of multiculturalism know damn well that ‘color’ doesn’t unite cultural identity. As a rule, Blacks don’t like Latino’s just because both come from non-privilege. It think the ruling class has an interest in confusion. In a specific example that turns it a bit, an Irish-American won’t hear he has the identity, culture or fielty of an English-American, and so on.

    There is a dominant American preference for white skin among powerful instituions: witness any ‘class’ picture of the affluent: bankers, congress, faces on money, richest 500 people in America or the world. I always struggle with the reality that privilege looks like a sandy-haired man in an expensive suit, though the politics of that are definitely changing. The rule of power, if money is security and worth, is predominantly Euro-American if the measure is comforts of privilege. This power isn’t the only power (motherhood is a power males don’t share to any great degree) but it does determine the basics, for one needs money to have food, shelter, and the basics.
    Thank as always for your great posts, and I look forward to having more time here.

    Best to you and yours.

    Comment by Michael — August 2, 2009 @ 6:09 am | Reply

    • Thanks, Michael for your long and thoughtful questions. I will try to address a few of the issues you raise.
      First, on the money power. It is not that power of money itself that determines our prosperity or poverty, but monetary policy, as Niall Ferguson has shown in book after book, most recently The Ascent of Money, but also in The War of the World. You might want to read Maynard Keynes book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace on this subject. Had different arrangements been made during the settlement after the Great War all subsequent history would have been different. For one who is concerned about mass death, as you obviously are, this book is crucial. What I have said in my various blogs is that “the Jews” should be left out of it. Criticize capitalism to your heart’s content, but as long as the image of a fat Jewish plutocrat with his claws encircling the globe or, with his hypersexuality, polluting innocent Christian or Muslim womanhood inhabits the political imagination, there can be no progress, any more than a belief that this world is controlled by the Devil.
      Second, the question of “material forces.” This sounds like standard Marxist boiler plate to me. To be sure, material conditions are very important, but so are the decisions made by individual leaders. Had Woodrow Wilson used his influence at the Versailles conference to stop the excessive punitive ambitions of France and the U.K., there might not have been a second world war with all its horrific suffering and lingering effects. In thinking about diversity in the multicultural university, administrators could have, but did not, integrate the history of women and minorities into the general curriculum. Because they chose segregated departments of Women’s Studies or Ethnic Studies, they relieved white male professors of the necessity of thinking about these movements in a rigorous way and then teaching their students appropriately. So instead of creating a new synthesis, historians could ignore the woman question or the history of various peoples if they chose, for some other course would make up for their deficiencies. The most we got was “whiteness studies” that were no more than covers for Leninist anti-imperialist orthodoxy and yet another capitulation to anti-Western cultural nationalism (see the lethal influence of black liberation theology, and its shameless annexation of Martin Luther King, Jr.).
      As for the power of motherhood that you mention, this is one of the great lacunae in the work of scholarship. The issue of separation from the omnipotent good/bad mother is one of the themes most urgently explored by too few theorists of the psyche, and I am going to post my talk on panic attacks today. I have thought a lot about this issue as Herman Melville is obsessed with it in his novel PIERRE, OR THE AMBIGUITIES. There is an obvious link between misogyny and antisemitism that has not gotten the attention it should. I would add here that feminists do not always recognize that men feel women, especially modern women, have too much power over their lives, and put cotton in their ears when feminists speak. Meanwhile other women use their sexual/maternal power to advance themselves at the expense of other women. It is a huge subject that I suppose a few others have explored at greater length than I can here.
      Finally, I would note that the feminists of the 1960s and 1970s were acceptable as long as they joined the anti-imperialist Left, and that meant that they did not subsequently defend “the West” but instead attacked it (along with Israel, often), notwithstanding the deplorable condition of women in non-Western societies. This gave the Christian far Right a great excuse to attack feminism as such.
      I will stop here and try to address your concerns in further blogs.

      Comment by Clare Spark — August 3, 2009 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  30. You are a fine scholar. Please stay in touch. I also like your orchard and Sammy, the squirrel chaser.

    Comment by John Gretchko — May 29, 2009 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  31. what a joy to see you again! [and hammsters]

    i’ll help you to rule from your preferred comfort zone ….. the net and any netherworld you choose ….

    terrific program today.

    love, r

    Comment by redredrio — February 9, 2008 @ 1:08 am | Reply

  32. Wonderful girls. And what a young grandma!

    Barbara; Cologne

    Comment by Barbara Sibold — December 27, 2007 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

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