YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

May 29, 2018

“Come together”…. divisions and continuities in progressivism/Democratic Party

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:09 pm
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cowboy with lassoo.american history https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSM5MpKSnqE. (The Beatles: Come Together) This blog is about the confusion bequeathed by “progressives” to partisan politics; namely the labeling of “Left” beliefs to both social democrats AND to revolutionary socialists. This is impossible because social democrats co-opted many of the demands of socialism/communism while defanging the threat of transformed property relations. Both conservatives and liberals perpetuate this confusion, prefigured by those (sort of) Jeffersonian/Wilsonian democrats Charles and Mary Beard in their popular two volumes on The Rise of American Civilization (1927):

1. In their ambivalent discussion of the antebellum South, the Beards found it good because of the aristocratic flavor to Southern civilization, but the South was bad because of slavery. (The Democratic Party is still elitist, favoring the administrative state and the “money power” while simultaneously deploring, as moderates, its excesses.)[Update, 6/4/18: I was wrong about the Beards favoring the South. As Jeffersonian agrarians they admired farmers and labor (the latter in their fights for free land), but viewed expansionists as imperialists (especially in Volume 2, see below, item #3. OTOH, the Beards loathed the Northern capitalist class, as much as any socialists.]

2. The American Revolution against Britain was good because of the participation of farmers and workers (who later escaped to the West), and with the support of Edmund Burke (in his Whig phase but bad because it trashed British capitalists and (moderate)statesmen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGLGzRXY5Bw. (Revolution: Beatles)

3. Frontiersmen/farmers and hunters were good insofar as they were lower-class escapees from class domination (thus the image of the cowboy symbolizing US history), but bad as expansionists and imperialists (in both Volumes 1 and 2).

The Constitution was all bad, because this coup d’état was put over the (more local?) Articles of Confederation and elevated the class conscious Federalists. Charles Beard had already trashed Alexander Hamilton in his 1913 publication An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Current liberals prefer “the living Constitution,” spurning “originalist interpretations.”

Further similarities between Beards and current liberals: Beards are decidedly secular, thus despising Puritans as domineering and, as Protestants, fostering (forbidden) individualism; collectivist discourses, identity politics as Mary Beard (a feminist) plugged women back into US history; family values (of Jefferson and his expansionist followers); white male supremacy, Woodrow Wilson-style globalism (in Volume 2). The Beards deemed abolitionists “haters.” Whereas, all you need is love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oHeeEot35M (The Beatles)

These links are available to interested readers: :https://clarespark.com/2013/08/05/evil-puritans/; https://clarespark.com/2018/01/20/white-supremacy/; https://clarespark.com/2011/08/01/alexander-hamiltons-rational-voice-of-the-people/

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July 4, 2017

Ambivalence on Independence Day

Monday evening July3, 2017, Charles Krauthammer held forth on American history and its transformation since the 1960s when New Leftists began their long march through the institutions, now dominating US history, emphasizing America’s “sins.” His remedy: conservatives should copy the New Left project by entering academe, but with a different emphasis (I doubt that he was serious in suggesting a higher conservative birth rate.)

Krauthammer didn’t specify how US history should be taught, and here is my recommendation for a more mature approach.

When I was in history graduate school at UCLA, we were taught that there was a mighty debate on “present-mindedness.” [“Present-mindedness” signifies reading our current values into the past, which the better historians resist. It is even scandalous that New Leftists were sent up the ladders by (guilty liberal?) senior faculty at the Ivy League schools.]

Ironically, it was the demonstrably racist Woodrow Wilson who might have most inspired the progressivism of Charles and Mary Ritter Beard to write a massive popular history in 2 volumes, The Rise of American Civilization, publ. 1927, coming off the First World War. The Beards were not ambivalent, condemning even the Constitution as an elite plot against the people.

Not so Herman Melville, who lauded the sublime, vanguard project of the new American nation. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/09/06/the-hebraic-american-landscape-sublime-or-despotic/.) He even wrote in a letter that “The Declaration of Independence makes a difference.” And yet, Melville struggled with ambivalence most of his adult life, an internal fight that has escaped most of his revivers including Charles and Mary Beard.

I view ambivalence as a normal human emotion, and most appropriate to modernity on America’s birthday. The Founders celebrated liberty at the same time as many feared the too-excitable, too eager to govern, electorate. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/08/24/the-people-is-an-ass-or-a-herd/, most obvious in Madison’s Federalist #10.)

What Charles Krauthammer, a psychiatrist, might have stated on Tucker Carlson’s show is that ambivalence is a widespread and normal human emotion—That we need not succumb to excessive super-patriotism, nor should we bow down to America-hating and flight.

Here’s to mixed-emotions on July 4, 2017. Happy Birthday, America, always becoming and never entirely fixed.

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