YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

May 15, 2018

Eros and the Middle Manager: S-M with implications for Multiculturalism

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YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

Advertisement, Los Angeles Weekly, Nov. 10-16, 1989 Advertisement, Los Angeles Weekly, Nov. 10-16, 1989

I’m reposting in response to my enigmatic statement on Facebook that “Masochism Builds Character.” Also because of the wide distribution on a related blog https://clarespark.com/2014/09/21/spanking-sex-and-the-nfl-fracas/.

This  essay was originally delivered on Pacifica Radio as the first installment of my series, “How Do We Know When We Are Not Fascists?” [Added 3-24-10:  This essay contains my inferences from the study of one particular collection of materials, and is not intended as a formula or a scientific law. But compare it to Peter Gay, The Cultivation of Hatred: The Bourgeois Experience Victoria to Freud (1993), chapter one on the German dueling societies and bourgeois adolescent aspirations to join an aristocracy. Gay sees adolescent homosexuality as a defense against terrifying relations with women (see Gorer on Sade, mocking romantic love as slavery). Also, materials from the Steadman Thompson collection are scattered throughout this website, particulary in the essays…

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May 14, 2018

Cultural pluralism vs. multiculturalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 4:34 pm

YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

Pandora's_box

[Update: see https://clarespark.com/2017/04/10/a-reassessment-of-a-critique-of-pure-tolerance-42-years-later/, for this is a better antidote to the prevailing New Deal phony liberalism that goes by the name of cultural pluralism/multiculturalism.]

Abstract. Multiculturalism imitates cultural/religious pluralism, while undermining it by denying that we can understand persons of different “races” or genders, for each category is self-contained and indecipherable to other groups. Cultural pluralism should be about lots and lots of competing political parties and religions. The very fact that there is no state religion can call into question dogmatic upholders of any one belief system, religious or otherwise.Intellectual diversity can freak out the true believer, no matter how affiliated or indoctrinated.

Several Facebook friends have asked me to define my terms more carefully, because I assume too much when using academic jargon that is unfamiliar to them.  Today’s topic is “cultural pluralism.”

Cultural pluralism is a confusing term because of the word “culture.” Much of this…

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May 12, 2018

Ludwig von Mises’s Socialism

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von Mises SocialismI have some agreements, disagreements, and there are open questions regarding the renowned economist’s book denouncing the socialist movements of the nineteenth century and then, the Soviet revolution of 1917.

Agreements: 1.von Mises is a fan of science and Enlightenment. And yet, he does not denounce religion, but rather complains that “socialism” is a form of religion. But, like the 18th Century Enlighteners, he has standards, and affirms the meritocracy. (This separates him from populists.)

2. von Mises is appalled by the repressiveness of Big Government (socialism and communism).

Disagreements 1. Affirming supply and demand (the free market), von Mises favored open borders. This is an outmoded standard, taken up by liberals and globalists. von Mises’s standard made sense at the time he was writing this (in the early 20th century), but would he have agreed with the multiculturalists? Perhaps he would have, as he affirmed (somewhat?) the validity of racial and gender differences.

2. von Mises includes in one bag, social democrats (following FDR’s New Deal) and communists. I agree that Big Government/bureaucracy) is a bad thing, but have taken pains to distinguish liberals from communists (especially following the Popular Front Against Fascism (1935). Liberal anticommunism still prevails. Liberals of course co-opted some socialist demands, but distorted them, especially in their avid support of labor unions (also criticized by 1930s radicals).

3. The Enlighteners were empiricists, yet von Mises provides no facts to support his thesis that capitalist institutions do not exploit the workers.

Open question: Is Nazism to be grouped with Socialism? von Mises, using the standard of state control of prices and interest, said yes. Since he did not treat the cult of the Leader (or other cultural factors), I remain unconvinced.

May 1, 2018

The “balance” trap

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bigtimecity.com

“Balance” is a key word for liberals and moderates. It reassures us that we will not fall to the ground, that our parents will not drop us as infants, or, as we pass into adulthood, that we will avoid accidents or worse, that we will not eat of Eve’s Apple and learn too much of the Tree of Knowledge (of good and evil) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_the_knowledge_of_good_and_evil. Many Christians believe too that our earthly journey take place in a “fallen world.” Whereas conservative Jews believe that “balance” is attached to justice and integrity. (This contrast to liberalism relayed to me by my son-in-law Maimon Chocron.)

I have written about the balance trap before as a strategy to attain “common ground” and to resolve what may be irreconcilable conflicts. https://clarespark.com/2015/05/30/constructing-the-moderate-men-with-the-classics/, https://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/, https://clarespark.com/2015/04/07/who-are-the-moderate-men/.

“New Balance” sneakers promise returning youth (given the appropriate exercise regimen), while (moderate) Fox News Channel tries to please warring factions in the “body politic” through its pairing of liberal and conservative commentators, presumably to appeal to a diverse audience. And “equilibrium” is a term favored by balanced economists.

I prefer “ambiguity” over the notion of “balance,” while it may be a lifelong project to determine the “good” that prevails over the “evil” supposedly bequeathed by our “first parents.”

Does “ambiguity” undermine the search for unity?

April 27, 2018

Trump as moderate, creeping fascism, hate speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:31 pm
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TrumpHitlersalute

Boulder Weekly: Trump with supposed Hitler salute

This is a bad time for labels. Since the Democratic Party has deemed the President as a fascist (like the “alt-right”), we may wonder if our country is going down the path of twentieth century interwar dictatorships. (And New Deal liberals did fix the fascist label on laissez-faire Republicans: their opposition in the growth of the Big State).

But it is likely that the President (a lifelong Democrat) ran on the Republican ticket because he thought that the Democratic Party was moving farther to the Left, toward socialist revolution with its confiscation of the Big Money. It is worth considering whether President Trump is in crucial ways, a New Deal liberal, nipping fascism around the edges, but more of a FDR man than traditional Republicans had been in the 1920s. That would explain his focus on jobs, his concern for racial minorities (especially blacks), his toleration of “multiculturalism,” his advocacy of “bipartisanship,” and his peace offensive (verging on globalism).

As for creeping fascism, some critics deemed the social movements of the 1960s fascist, and there are signs of proto-fascism in the Democratic Party, but as long as we have a nominal commitment to free speech, we are clearly not there yet. Trump is no Hitler, nor was FDR, nor prior Democratic Presidents, despite the fulminations of many prominent liberals.

It is now being debated whether or not “tenure” allows Lefty professors to indulge in “hate speech.” The remedy may be to examine how the vagueness of “amor vincit omnia” (with what constitutes “love” undefined) has commanded both major political parties.

Perhaps we should abandon labels in favor of more precision and greater regard for individual histories.

April 9, 2018

Ralph Ellison’s ambivalence re white racism

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Ralph_Ellison_photo_portrait_seated

racism_1

Shutterstock.com/allyy

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was copyrighted in 1947, but the book was not published until 1952. It has become a classic of “Negro” literature. This blog is about his mixed message concerning black nationalism, for Ellison took care to separate himself from the separatist movement headed by Marcus Garvey in the 1920s. And yet he gave much testimony regarding the appalling degree of what would be called today “white racism.” Moreover the last one-third of the book is a round condemnation of betrayal by the Communist Party (of which, like Richard Wright and other blacks in the American branch of the CP, the invisible man was an ex-member).

And yet Ellison was heaped with honors by the literary establishment; similarly he always seemed to me to be the most level-headed analyst of the (unfulfilled) promise of American life as it pertained to black citizens. This blog is also about the Herman Melville declaration that “the Declaration of Independence makes a difference.” For Melville shared Ellison’s ambivalence about the future of American democracy and the rationalism advanced by the Enlightenment. The “Epilogue” to Invisible Man suggests that Ellison had backtracked on his initial mocking words about “social responsibility,” just as Melville separated himself from Captain Ahab in the Epilogue to Moby-Dick.

One review of Ellison’s masterpiece (and his single published novel) mentions that the author became more conservative in temperament as he got older. Such is the case with many ex-communists. Perhaps Ellison, like Melville, was always upwardly mobile, and yet his emphasis on (white racism), so persuasively presented in the novel Invisible Man, must ingratiate him with today’s liberals and other moderates who support such separatist movements as “Black Lives Matter.”

 

March 3, 2018

Spengler, decline, postmodernism, myth

Until I opened Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West (1918-1922) . I had no idea how influential this author was and is, especially in the anti-science/technology, “postmodern” counter-culture.

But Spengler was a failed academic, a German nationalist who voted for Hitler. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswald_Spengler). And like Hitler, Spengler was an avowed follower of (the organic conservative) Goethe and of Nietzsche.

What Spengler did was to enhance the notions of “culture” and “relativism”(https://clarespark.com/2014/03/13/what-is-cultural-relativism/) to the point where “cultural history” and “rootedness” have taken over the humanities and the mass media alike; thus, we doubt the achievements of “science” and “the search for truth” as oppressive inventions of the dread West and “white male supremacy”.

(Instead we are supposed to worship “Nature” and the “Green” movement to avert the mass death incurred by the failed diplomacy of the 20th Century.)

Is Prometheus dead, not just “bedeviled” as my late friend Norman Levitt lamented? Am I on the wrong team, arguing that “science” is not a myth?

February 16, 2018

Nikolas Cruz and his undefined “mental illness”

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magical thinking Mother Jones.com

The Florida shooter has been identified as “the epitome of evil” by one (or many?) anchors on Fox News Channel, with an astounding conformity to the resistance of the media to any but religious (specifically Manichaean) definitions of the moral spectrum: presumably, a strong dose of “love” would have eliminated the horrors of “hate” wrought by this young adult.

What is missing from this prescription? In no particular order:

1. Mixed feelings (of “love” and “hate,” aka “ambivalence”), especially in regard to his family, living and departed. What were the bonds and/or values encouraged in either Cruz’s adopted family or family of origin?

2. What are the politics of young Cruz? Facebook was initially pushing the notion that Cruz was a “white nationalist,” a typical liberal diagnosis. But that “trending” item has been removed.

3. What are the politics of Superintendent Runcie and the faculty of the high school that was the scene of the recent Valentine’s Day Massacre? I.e., what was Cruz learning about before he was expelled (the answer appears to be “social justice,” according to Runcie’s bio: (http://browardschools.com/superintendent/bio). Did Cruz’s various schools target any individuals or groups as “the enemy”?

Other related topics tackled by “moderate” Fox News include the notion of depression, to be cured by “connectivity,” as if “atomization” encourages “personality disorders.” (https://clarespark.com/2013/05/18/friendship-in-the-era-of-anti-freud/). Cure that patient of bourgeois values and presto-chango, magical thinking does it again, namely cures dis-order. Moreover, affected families suffering devastating losses will eventually “heal” (as if the loss of a child can ever be repaired: more magical thinking).

Finally, what constitutes “mental health” is widely contested. For religious conservatives, the father-led family is vital to national “unity.” For (liberal?) practitioners hoping to alleviate (unnecessary) psychic pain, a patient history is a prerequisite to any degree of cure.

From Harvey Weinstein or Rob Porter to Nikolas Cruz, that history is missing from mass media treatments of “abuse,” notwithstanding our current preoccupation with “relationships” and “identity.” (https://clarespark.com/2013/08/01/power-relationships-identity/.)

February 13, 2018

Shylock and antisemitism

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I have a new insight on antisemitism (https://clarespark.com/2013/05/11/index-to-blogs-on-antisemitism-2/) that also illuminates what passes for liberalism today: If you read THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, the contrast between the evil Shylock and the “rational” Christians is drawn out. What Shylock stands for is legality and contract (i.e., the honoring of civil obligations, like most of today’s conservatives standing up for lawn and order and supporting Israel).

The Christians (Antonio, Bassanio and Portia) are all about mercy and forgiveness, looking backwards to Judaism that stressed compassion (love/mercy/not holding grudges) and forgiveness, but foreshadowing the Christian appropriation of Judaism in the forms of Christian Socialism and social democracy. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/10/07/christian-socialism-as-precursor-to-orwell/; https://clarespark.com/2011/07/16/disraelis-contribution-to-social-democracy/)

Shakespeare’s play regarding Shylock is starkly controversial, but the contrast Shakespeare suggested and that (Christian) Shakespeare scholar David Bevington drew out for me between liberals and conservatives is rarely drawn.

Have we not gotten beyond late medieval England?

February 10, 2018

“Black supremacy?”

One thing I will say for W. J. Cash’s “famous classic” The Mind of the South (1941), though it had typical Leftist tropes (e.g, group mind, or what postmodernists would call a “collectivist discourse”). At least Cash did not glorify the consciousness of slaves and freedmen— unlike some black nationalists who, out of one side of their mouths stigmatize Amerikkka as incorrigibly corrupt (and Jewified) and out of the other side identify their group as the most likely antidote to “white supremacy.”

Witness the leftist offensive to take down the statues that commemorate Southern generals AND the Founders, or other miscreants (Columbus!) held to have turned the virgin land into a killing field.

Rather, Cash, unlike more recent liberals and radicals, took slavery seriously enough to blame it for a romantic, hedonistic, “individualistic” (but conforming) mind-set that was typical of the pseudo-aristocratic planter class and that permeated landowning white AND black folks to their detriment as the South became bourgeoisified after the Civil War.

Cash would like to have seen ex-slaves and poor whites join together to overthrow the “Babbittry” that many liberals today identify with Trump voters, for the Democratic name-calling reminds me of Cash’s list of horribles. Like H. L. Mencken, Cash viewed Southerners as “yokels”/”fundamentalist” fools.

The black nationalists have a point, for their antagonist, Martin Luther King, Jr., was not a Leftist (though the Communist Party did infiltrate the civil rights movement, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Party_USA_and_African_Americans), but the black nationalist separatism (and implied black supremacy) would not sit well with W. J. Cash, who looked to a coalition of labor activists black and white to improve their condition. (Cash reminds me of Ralph Bunche, during the late 1930s, an Asa Philip Randolph enthusiast, who advocated for a more humane capitalism.)

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