YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

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

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September 10, 2012

“Populist demagoguery” and its respectable lineage

Lyonel Feininger Emeute

One way to look at the New Left ascendancy in the media and throughout educational institutions is to note that while separatist ethnic or women’s studies created mindsets of victimology, thus promoting an antidote to, and  insurgency against, “the Man” or against “white male supremacy”, history and other humanities professors and political scientists promoted anti-imperialism, depicting the U.S. as a hateful sham democracy. Some of the leading professors admired by New Leftists were Walter La Feber (Cornell), and William Appleman Williams (U. of Wisconsin-Madison), but these were preceded by such progressives as Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles Beard, and Richard Hofstadter.

It was Turner (1893, 1921) who warned that the closing of the frontier and its free lands would force the issue of socialism onto the stage of history; while Charles Beard attacked the money-mad founders (Hamilton), and Hofstadter suggested that the moderate men needed to tone down the conflict between labor and capital through co-option of movements from below; i.e., selective concessions. (See especially https://clarespark.com/2010/07/04/pacifica-radio-and-the-progressive-movement/ and  https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/ Some may dispute my characterization of Hofstadter, who did criticize populism and antisemitism in The Age of Reform and The Paranoid Style but his first book on Social Darwinism would support progressivism as remedy for laissez-faire capitalism, understood as nature red in tooth and claw. That stereotype persists today in pro-Democratic Party propaganda.)

Thus we find ourselves in a situation where mass media and the humanities are heavily weighted against the “vile” Republican Party, which is not only evil in itself, but which could force a communist revolution in reaction to its supposed repression of working class and middle class aspirations that progressives have so far successfully prevented.

Not one of the academic programs or anti-imperialist historians mentioned above lobbied for the study of antisemitism, not even after WW2. “The International Jew”, a.k.a. “the money power” occupies all of their imaginations, however hidden by monikers such as “Wall Street” or “Corporate greed”.  We ignore the power of their pervasive and largely undetected propaganda at our peril.

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/

https://clarespark.com/2011/02/02/the-legitimate-aspirations-of-the-___-people/ (the original Populist movement in the US with comment on Michael Kazin’s book)

https://clarespark.com/2011/03/28/index-to-multiculturalism-blogs/

https://clarespark.com/2011/10/10/populist-catharsis-on-wall-street/.

https://clarespark.com/2012/01/25/the-state-of-the-union-stinks/

https://clarespark.com/2011/12/10/before-saul-alinsky-rules-for-democratic-politicians/

https://clarespark.com/2012/08/05/hating-finance-capital/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/19/communist-ideas-go-mainstream/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/03/eros-and-the-problem-of-solidarity/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/05/proto-fascism-and-the-democrat-peoples-community/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/07/charisma-and-symbolic-politics/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/14/ron-paul-anarchist-in-chief/ (Phillip Smyth’s guest blog on right-wing populism)

https://clarespark.com/2012/12/01/petit-bourgeois-radicalism-and-obama/ (on James H. Cone and other black supremacists)

https://clarespark.com/2013/02/02/totalitarianism-polarization-and-single-issue-politics/

https://clarespark.com/2015/05/02/multiculturalism-and-the-persistence-of-feudalism/ (inspired by Mosby and the Baltimore events)

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