YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

August 26, 2017

The Monument Business

Robert E. Lee monument, Charlottesville VA

This blog is about one aspect of the fight over American history: the question of modernist abstraction versus “naturalistic” representation. (I have put on my art historical hat/immersion in leftist cultural criticism.)

First read this: https://clarespark.com/2014/03/20/role-models-talcott-parsons-and-structural-functionalism/. (This suggests that statues may be “role models” for “the masses”).

In the spate of demands by “antifa” protesters, the numerous monuments/memorials to Confederate luminaries (and, of course, Columbus) must be taken down by social justice warriors, for they point to a shameful past that had best be forgotten and/or replaced by different monuments that commemorate the resistance to slavery and the glory days of the civil rights movement.

Rosa Parks House, Detroit, now in Berlin Germany

Presumably, such monuments (to black/brown power) will hasten the demise of “white supremacy” (a feature of Amerikkka), surely an apocalyptic fantasy with no grounding in the real world.


Modernism vs. conventional representation.

What are the “white supremacists” protesting? Might it be the growth of progressive nostrums to soothe the structural antagonism between “the money power” and the masses (populism), realized today in the fight between Big Government and ordinary people?

Or is the fight about labor competition exacerbated by labor unions and other policies that co-opt “dissent”—all embodied in “realistic” monuments (unlike modernist abstraction or dialectical notions showing the pull of opposing forces).

Bibliography: Victor Davis Hanson and David Horowitz have both written about this culture wars event: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450749/confederate-statues-removed-while-racist-progressive-statues-remain, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450689/erasing-history-censoring-confederate-past-rewriting-memory-mob-vengeance; https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/08/24/the_progressive_war_against_the_dead_134819.html.

Other National Review commentary: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/450706/what-do-confederate-statues-say; http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450551/confederate-statues-republicans-democrats-should-let-them-be.

And, by David Horowitz: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267676/racist-attacks-america-and-trump-david-horowitz. (I agree with DH on the connotations of “white supremacy” but he doesn’t go far enough. “Cultural Marxism” was not  primarily about the “racism” that DH deplores, but about balance/stability as delivered by “antifascist” social democrats in the “Popular Front.” (See https://clarespark.com/2009/08/25/t-w-adorno-and-his-funny-idea-of-genuine-liberalism/.)

Here are some neglected aspects of the “culture wars”: https://clarespark.com/2013/01/02/index-to-blogs-on-culture-wars/).


August 14, 2017

Skin in the game

Adam video game

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fights-in-advance-of-saturday-protest-in-charlottesville/2017/08/12/155fb636-7f13-11e7-83c7-5bd5460f0d7e_story.html?undefined=&utm_term=.ffba0ee1bc89&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1. Compare to  http://althouse.blogspot.com/2017/08/there-was-no-police-presence-we-were.html, a fine analysis by Harry Lewis regarding the role of the police in failing to separate the warring sides and more.

This blog is mainly about the missing terms in the media discussion of the Charlottesville riot: the fantasy of “unity,” present-mindedness, “fascism,” and discipline.

Moderation. The press has reverted during and after the weekend Charlottesville riot to its “moderate” position: condemning both (equally culpable) “extremists” as evil, while implying that its “moderation” is laudably (progressive). So the “moderate men” continue to hold the “center.” (See Yeats’s famous formulation.) Also, https://clarespark.com/2015/04/07/who-are-the-moderate-men/.)

This a deeply deceptive way of talking, for analysis suffers when we cannot identify class interests: what social groups inhabit the so-called “alt-Right”? Are they all “white” workers? Do the  protesters know the first thing about actually existing “fascism” (that was distinctive in say, Italy, Germany, France and Spain?)

Unity. And Fox News Channel (like the others) has been united in the hope that we can “come together” to defeat the dark forces on both sides. I have been wondering for some time if we are living in some variant of a “fascist dictatorship,” for (populist) Nazism stressed the Volk or the “people’s community,” in the effort to stamp out (divisive) communism, and the longing for an impossible unity reminds me of Hitler’s utopian deadly premise.

Any student of US history knows that sectionalism is paramount, and defies any attempt to reconcile the conflicting regions of our country. (https://clarespark.com/2014/03/13/what-is-cultural-relativism/.)

Discipline. Which brings me to the traditional Jewish imperative to subdue the negative part of “human nature.” This sets up a conflict with those ideologies that see the self as all good or all bad. So the press (including many assimilated Jewish journalists) calls for “love” all around, presumably encompassing faith, hope and charity.


Arthur Szyk, Lodz, Poland, ca 1939; pinterest.com

But the racism that is and was opposed by progressives/the New Left is not quickly or easily eliminated, for it is embedded in the existing major ideologies, each requiring separate analysis. For we must refrain from reading our current values into the past (present-mindedness), while still recognizing those pseudo-progressive institutions holding minorities back (e.g., teachers unions).

But such analysis is missing from our dumbed down culture where “ignorant armies clash by night.” (Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold)

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