The Clare Spark Blog

October 11, 2013

What do liberals want?

power1This question was asked by Roger L. Simon 10-10-13, on Facebook, perhaps flummoxed by the conduct of Congressional Democrats and POTUS. I will try to answer that question, but in no particular order.

First though we must distinguish between anticommunist social democrats and those hard Leftists who have joined the progressive movement and who may formulate many of its political and cultural positions. This separation is not easy to determine, as even the communist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote like a social democrat in his last books. These are Popular Front tactics, and “liberals” today are more likely to be the “moderate conservatives” of yesterday, or, as I call them, “corporatist liberals.” (See This is the only link to prior blogs that  I will include in my overview of today’s pseudo-liberals.)

The POTUS appointment of Janet Yellin suggests Keynesian economics will rule the Fed. Even Maynard Keynes would not have approved of the promiscuous use of his demand-stimulus measures today; it was intended for the Great Depression, and many countries indulged in the bureaucratic collectivism that he sponsored during the 1930s. But Lord Keynes was a conservative economist, a point lost on today’s journalists, especially Paul Krugman.

To answer Roger L. Simon most directly, liberals advocate “social justice” through the welfare state. Since American history is a horror story as “liberals” tell it through their command of the textbook industry and school curricula, reparations are in order. Hence the preferential treatment for Green corporations, affirmative action, and separatist cultural studies departments, including “whiteness studies.”

The term cultural studies requires unpacking: Liberals abhor “the melting pot” that ostensibly turned out lookalike robots fashioned by Fordism, but advocate the furtively racialist notion of multiculturalism and the hyphenated American. The intent is to defame classical liberalism as racist, while promoting their racialist discourse as emancipating. Cultural relativism (distorted beyond recognition from its Enlightenment intent) has dissolved empiricism and science along with universally comprehended facts and cultural syncretism.

In practice Liberals have lengthened the Popular Front against Republicans. The Communist Party of the 1930s first abhorred the “social fascists” of the New Deal, but then adopted the Comintern–generated Popular Front against fascism, circa 1934-35. As late as the end of the red decade, CP writers (especially Stalinists) were blaming big business for Nazism, thus appealing to the strong (often anti-Semitic) populism and isolationism that characterized the US after the Great War. Oddly, movement conservatives sympathetic to small business are often equally anti-elitist, giving much needed ammunition to the failed Democratic Party that swears allegiance to the New Deal and the welfare state. Bereft of sound economic arguments (the New Deal failed), many liberals pursue social/cultural issues with as much zeal as movement conservatives. For instance, Democratic pols nail the Right’s supposed “war on women,” and put great energy into abortion rights, gay marriage, and “secularism.” It is my own suspicion that aggressive atheists are either agents provocateurs or convinced leftists seeing all religion as the opiate of the masses.

Many liberals don’t mind Jonah Goldberg’s best-seller Liberal Fascism. But his tirade against “the nanny state” conflates paternalism with maternalism, and in effect makes American Progressives the inspiration for European fascism. This was a mistake on Goldberg’s part, as a few academics noted, but who pays attention to these characters nowadays? The final effect is to make real American proto-fascism invisible.

Fascists opposed the labor movement and the Soviet experiment, and the forms fascism took in Europe were distinctive and historically specific. They were all movements of the Right, even though Hitler and Mussolini shared a populist past above all opposed to “laissez-faire capitalism,” and those aspects of modernity that emancipated the imagination and gave voting rights and free public education to the dreaded lower orders.

What corporatist liberals do NOT want, besides communism: Since the liberal base is composed of incoherent constituencies with widely differing demands, they cannot form a rational set of ameliorative changes. They are trapped in time, beholden to discredited ideas such as Wilsonian internationalism and the organicist rhetoric of the political family/nation.

The ideologies I have described are tackled in depth throughout this website and understood by many authors on the right, and I can only wonder why PJM’s ex- CEO Roger Simon is ever at a loss to explain “what liberals want.” Women may not know what they want in all cases, but as a writer himself, Simon must know that his opponents want to obliterate the very notion of the individual and to substitute collectivist categories for how we think of our unique, irreplaceable selves and the world. The “liberal” “will to power” (often discussed on the internet) is not power for its own sake, but “power” for well-meant, but finally utopian, objectives, as ”…experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny…..” (Thomas Jefferson, .


December 12, 2009

Switching the Enlightenment: corporatist liberalism and the revision of American history

Flyer for a 1993 talk with added notes by CS

[Added 12-17-09: see related blog, also

[Update: By the free-standing individual, I do not mean a narcissist incapable of seeing beyond his long and crooked nose, but a rational person aware of his/her responsibilities as a citizen in a would-be democratic republic. The policy of “multiculturalism” as currently envisioned by both Democrats and “moderate” Republicans confers terminal irrationality on the lower orders, leaving them to the tender mercies of an oligarchy.]

The blogs on this website comprise a series of focused studies on the modern practice of the historian’s craft. Their unifying theme is the attempt by “interdisciplinary” scholars to discredit the tools upon which historians have depended since the mid-nineteenth century, specifically archival research and the critical evaluation of sources in the interest of a relatively objective reconstruction of the past. Leopold von Ranke is dead, having been supplanted by classroom activists opposing the “essentially imperialist, racist, and patriarchal historical project” of this country” [Spanos]; such (essentialist) labeling cannot be sustained with empirical evidence, hence scientific method is under assault by cultural historians of science. This campaign by scholar-activists was not a post-1960s novelty, as some critics aver [Kimball].

Social psychologists and sociologists allied with the 1930s Popular Front against fascism, before, during, and after WWII, transformed the democratic Enlightenments, analyzing their ideologies as protofascist, and presenting their own vision of the paternalistic organic society as “genuine liberalism” [Adorno in The Authoritarian Personality].

I call this group the “corporatist liberals.” In their hands, “scientific” history morphed into “cultural history” [Carolyn Ware]; the Jeffersonian “melting-pot” (as publicized in Israel Zangwill’s play of 1908) was reinterpreted as forced assimilation to the materialist culture of a bourgeois liberal WASP elite [Filler]; and the conception of the free-standing, self-managing American citizen dissolved into the individual-in-society, molded by “cultural” context, and possessing group (ethnic or racial) identity, hence bearing “group facts” that were incomprehensible to other races or ethnicities [Robinson].

The corporatist liberals (led by Talcott Parsons and his circle at Harvard) fostered postwar definitions of fascism and nazism that looked retrospectively at “the puritan” (including the moral mother expanding her empire) as not only a dangerous American type (the narcissistic, hot-headed and cold-hearted imperialist), but “romantic puritans” were precursors to Hitler (reconstructed as a hyper-capitalist) and his genocidal policies: it was a straight line from New England antinomians to today’s right-wing militias [Brodhead, Bercovitch].

I believe my synthesis is original. Scientists and mathematicians (e.g. Paul Gross and Norman J. Levitt) have protested the postmodernist misunderstanding of science, while other historians (e.g. Windschuttle) are dismayed by “the killing of history” by the post-60s generation, but have not identified the possibly controlling sub-text of cultural histories explaining the rise of fascism/nazism: Fascism, abetted by science and technology in the hands of the upstart middle-class, the culturalists argue, demonstrates the failure of “mass politics,” i.e. popular sovereignty. This synthesis has already been introduced in my book on the Melville Revival, but requires further elaboration.

Writing on behalf of the American Historical Association in 1939, Carolyn Ware (married to New Deal economist Gardiner Means) advised that the cultural historian should not “rest upon the prescription of the scientific historians to let the facts speak and to be guided wherever the material may lead.” A particularist definition of tolerance was central to corporatist liberalism in the early twentieth century. Progressive social psychologists disseminating national programs of “civilian morale” in 1940-41 posited group diversity and advised the inclusion of minorities in government planning processes: Working toward common goals, while utilizing the special qualities of _different_ ethnicities, would serve social harmony. Such tolerance removed the threat of “rupture” by excluding the intellectual engagement of diverse belief systems with each other, a “moderate” strategy advanced by the Tory historian David Hume in the mid-eighteenth century as he contemplated unbalanced extremists: repressive Catholics and fanatical puritans, the latter seduced by the Old Testament and its “eastern poetic” or “eastern prophetic style”: Crusading puritans were all-too-given to the dictates of individual conscience, primary source research [reading the Tindal Bible], and unbounded curiosity [Hume, Vol.3]; while Catholic censorship was similarly disruptive as it created martyrs. Hume’s middle way, the promotion of rooted cosmopolitanism, is usually associated with the voelkisch thinker J.G. von Herder, and persists today as multiculturalism/ethnopluralism.

Following the tenets of romantic nationalism, all members of the same “ethnic” or “racial” group share inherited group character and economic interests– a corporatist formulation that compels dissenting individuals to submit to “the community” as defined by its natural leader(s) [Robinson]. But there is also a Left critique of cultural nationalism, asserting the socially constructed character of ethnicity, seen as a post-Enlightenment phenomenon [Sollors, 1989]. Other antiracist critics, following Elias and Foucault, attribute nationalism and genocide to the Enlightenment or “modernity” [Bauman]: “bourgeois liberals” fortified by science and panopticons, they say, emerged to assume the command posts of culture, and in the “civilizing process” [Elias] ruptured the bonds of traditional communities, erasing folk knowledges and proclaiming all non-adherents to their middle-class notions of technological rationality as “deviant.”

Moreover, while complaining that nationalism mystifies class antagonisms, postcolonialists have collapsed the analytic category of “class” into “race”;  “whiteness studies” confer a corporatist unity upon all white people or “the [imperialist] West.” While apparently rejecting “imagined communities,” these scholars deploy a communitarian discourse, embracing cultural pluralism, now corrected and updated as “dynamically emerging group identit[ies]” [Sollors, 1986, 279]. In practice, progressive cultural historians and literary scholars support identity politics.

The liberal component of the corporatist liberal ideology, then, consists in the tolerance of “diverse” groups with their unassailable “points of view.” The hyphenated Americans co-exist under the rubric of American nationality, as long as each group eschews the triumphalism Hume and his admirers ascribed to moralizing puritans or Catholics. Functionalist comparisons of Hebraic puritans with nazis served the objective of social “equilibrium” by removing the rationalist presence from the ethnopluralist “mosaic” or “symphony.” The multiculturalists were necessarily antisemitic, insofar as Jews, like radical puritans, interpreted “We the People” as an entity that resisted irrationalist methods of social control in their search for “a more perfect union.” This is a key point, for the social scientists and philosophers I am criticizing were irrationalists, rewriting American history to serve the higher goal of social cohesion in a pluralist society [Lynd, Allport, Murray, Murphy], reinterpreting the legacies of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson as precursors to the activist New Deal state [Becker, Clark], and similarly “integrating” potential bomb-throwers while relegating scientific method to a bounded sphere of influence distant from, and lower than, the humanities [Broughton], or, in cultural studies of science, going so far as to relativize scientific facts themselves as produced solely by institutional context in order to maintain a power elite [Biagioli].

The efforts of the corporatist liberals resulted in the erasure or marginalizing of some key figures in American history, who, notwithstanding diverse political goals, all shared the same, now often proscribed, Hebraic i.e., libertarian opinions and empiricist methods of analysis: that society was a collection of _individuals_; that the liberal state protected the human rights of every individual  by guaranteeing equal treatment and opportunity; that public education of high quality was indispensable for the attainment of popular sovereignty and the informed conscience; that the marketplace of ideas must not be bounded; and that American nationality consisted in the ongoing emancipation from illegitimate authority through appeals to reason.

Such emancipation was unthinkable without scientific method (empiricism), institutional transparency and accountability, and ethical universalism. The Yankee Doodle Society/Clare Spark website, then, has been devoted to libertarian figures whose motives and achievements have been denigrated either as causes of avoidable and catastrophic civil conflict (Hutchinson, Sumner), or as conniving elitists, arrayed against “the People” (Lippmann, Bunche) in postwar corporatist liberal accounts of their careers.

I. Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy (1636-38). While noting irreconcilable conflicts of interest between factions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the corporatist liberal critics of Hutchinson and her followers blame her for intransigence and lack of moderation. She may also be viewed as a representation of the newly emerging free market, personified as an intruder by adherents to the moral economy of pre-capitalist societies [Toennies].

II. Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was one possible model for Melville’s indomitable moral crusaders, Captain Ahab and Pierre. The main precepts of Sumner’s political principles were all publicized before Melville completed the writing of _Moby-Dick_ (mid-1851): equality before the law, integrated schools, and rejection of slavery on both moral and legal grounds (with the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution as precedents), along with the political struggle against the Slave Power as continuation of the American and French Revolutions. Sumner was defamed by contemporaries as Hebraic, monomaniacal, and a moral terrorist [Donald]; Sumner joins Melville’s Captain Ahab as advocate of the republican messianism that has in turn been linked to Hitler and the Master Race.

III. The Romantic Wandering Jew as emblem of antisocial science and empirical history, e.g. in Melville’s “geologic Jew” Margoth. Rival interpretations of the antebellum decades and the postwar basis for national unity are traced in the formulations of mechanical materialists (inheritors of the Enlightenment) versus those of organic conservatives, both in Melville’s texts and in accounts of civil conflict and its avoidance, by Melville’s contemporaries and the generation that followed.

IV. Walter Lippmann’s interwar writings on propaganda and the media have been misconstrued by Noam Chomsky and his followers as advocating “the manufacture of consent.” Their accounts of “spinmeister” Lippmann as master manipulator are contradicted by Lippmann’s constant reiteration of the pressing need for fact-finding in advanced industrial societies where competing truth-claims required evaluation by non-policy making experts, given the specialized knowledge produced in advanced industrial societies. The elitism of peer review would be mitigated by citizens allowed a rigorous scientific education.

V. Ralph Bunche’s political thought in the 1930s as related by recent cultural historians, who have either rebuked him as “too white” or claimed that he converted to Black Power late in life. Bunche headed the field research team for Gunnar Myrdal and the Carnegie Corporation in the preparation of _An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and American Democracy_ (1944). It was Bunche who instructed the Swedish economist in the precepts of “the American Creed”: America’s core values (democracy, rationalism, progress) were those of the Enlightenment, however resistant some Americans undoubtedly were to the full realization of equality for its black population. Myrdal, allied to corporatist liberals, rejected Bunche’s empiricism, deploying Bunche and his Howard University colleagues (“economic determinists”) as the red specter that would be unleashed were Southern segregationists to resist political and economic reform. Bunche, initially inspired by his evangelical Protestant grandmother, was writing in the radical puritan tradition, unlike Myrdal, praising the abolitionists, and confronting antisemitism in black nationalist (Garveyite) leadership and elsewhere; whereas Myrdal suggested (in the endnotes to his book) that Jews were the most egregious exploiters of ghetto Negroes.

VI. Parsonian functionalists have linked laissez-faire capitalism/unregulated markets to Hitler and the policies of the Third Reich [Kershaw, 2000, 67], ignoring the degree to which numerous societies, including nazi Germany, resorted to bureaucratic collectivism to manage interwar economic crises. Such attempts to distance New Deal policies from statist management in the dictatorships led to distorted accounts of Hitler’s appeal and the rise of nazism, for populists and progressives in America and in the NSDAP similarly attacked the rule of “finance capital” as the source of division and decadence in “the people’s community” or in various peoples’ communities. This study traces the intellectual history of multiculturalism (including its implementation as policy) from Herder to the present (e.g. Andress, 1916), to demonstrate that Parsonians have attempted to eject market-expanding puritans from the American landscape by linking the Enlightenment with Hitler’s terror state and supportive “fascist Republicans.” Hence Hitler was assigned stereotypical Jewish attributes in the wartime and postwar analyses of the functionalists (e.g. Henry A. Murray, 1943), as was America: the materialist Hitler, like the Chosen People, was a cynical swindler of the masses he purported to rescue from their oppressors [Bramsted, Kershaw, 1987, 3]. Moreover, nazism and Zionism are often linked: Zionism is alleged to be “essentially… voelkisch” [Noll, 75]. Presumably the proto-nazi American psyche would heal through proofs that puritan mad scientists [Hawthorne] had led the cynical, gullible mob to ruin [Arendt].

In sum, corporatist liberals rejected an eighteenth-century conception of the liberal nation based, not on hyphenated Americanism–a congeries of rehabilitated “Others” and their repentant ex-persecutors– but upon a shared project: the cooperative search for truth and amelioration. Such an enlightened quest did not repudiate the past, thus alienating ex-slaves and immigrants from their cherished ancestors, but rather furthered understanding of the choices that shaped prior institutions and beliefs, without idealization of leaders or the led.

By substituting cultural (i.e. irrationalist) interpretations of history for empirical studies of the political and economic conditions (including their contending ideologies) that facilitated the rise and maintenance of fascist dictatorships, ethnopluralist progressives switched the Enlightenment and undermined an appropriately critical and functioning democratic polity.


Adorno, T. W. et al. _The Authoritarian Personality_. Harper, 1950.
Allport, Gordon W., and Henry A. Murray. “Worksheets on Morale: A series of explorations undertaken by a seminar in Psychological Problems in Morale in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University…” 1941. Harvard University Archives.
Andress, J. Mace. _Johann Gottfried Herder as an Educator_.  G. E. Stechert, 1916.
Arendt, Hannah. “The Concentration Camps.” _Partisan Review_. July 1948.
Bauman, Zygmunt. _Modernity and the Holocaust_. Cornell UP, 1989.
Becker, Carl. “What Is Still Living in the Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson?” Address to The American Philosophic Society, April 22, 1943.
Bercovitch, Sacvan. _The Rites of Assent_. Routledge, 1993.
Biagioli, Mario. “Civility, Society, and Scientific Discourse.” _Clark & Center Newsletter_ 21 (Fall, 1991): 2-3.
Bramsted, Ernest K. _Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda 1925-1945_. Michigan State UP, 1965.
Brodhead, Richard. “The Book That Ruined Melville.” _New York Times Book Review_, Jan.7, 1996, p.35.
Broughton, John M. “Babes in Arms: Object Relations and Fantasies of Annihilation.” In _The Psychology of War and Peace: The Image of the Enemy_, ed. Robert W. Rieber. Plenum Press, 1991.
Clark, Harry Hayden. Introduction. _Thomas Paine: Representative Selections_. American Book Co., 1944.
Cohen, I. B. Introduction. _Puritanism and the Rise of Modern Science_. Rutgers UP, 1990.
Donald, David Herbert. _Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War_. Knopf, 1960.
Elias, Norbert. _Power and Civility_.Vol. 2. Pantheon, 1982.
Filler, Louis. “Randolph Bourne.” Washington, D.C.: American Council on Public Affairs, 1943.
Gross, P. and N.J. Levitt. _Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Science_. Johns Hopkins UP, 1994.
Hume, David. _The History of England From The Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688_. Vol. 3. Boston, 1856. Vol. 6. London: Dove, 1822.
Kallen, Horace. _Culture and Democracy in the United States: Essays in the Group Psychology of the American Peoples_. Boni and Liveright, 1924.
Kershaw, Ian. _The ‘Hitler Myth’: Image and Reality in the Third Reich_. Clarendon Press, 1987.
____. _The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation_. Fourth ed. Oxford UP, 2000.
Kimball, Roger. _Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Education_. Harper & Row, 1990.
Lynd, Robert S. _Knowledge For What?_ Princeton UP, 1939.
______. “Who Calls The Tune?” _Education for Democracy: The Debate over the Report of the President’s Commission of Higher Education_, Gail Kennedy, ed. D.C. Heath, 1952.
Murphy, Gardner. “Essentials for a Civilian Morale Program in American Democracy.” In _Civilian Morale: Second Yearbook of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues_. Reynal and Hitchcock, 1942.
Murray, Henry A. “Analysis of the personality of Adolph [sic] Hitler….” Confidential report, Oct. 1943. FDR Library, Hyde Park, New York.
Myrdal, Gunnar. _Objectivity in Social Research_. Pantheon, 1968.
Noll, Richard. _The Jung Cult_. Princeton UP, 1994.
Parsons, Talcott. _Essays in Sociological Theory_. The Free Press, 1954.
Robinson, Armstead L. _Black Studies in the University: A Symposium_. Yale UP, 1969.
Sollors, Werner. “A Critique of Pure Pluralism.” In _Reconstructing American Literary History_, ed.   Sacvan Bercovitch. Harvard UP, 1986.
Sollors, Werner. Introduction. _The Invention of Ethnicity_. Oxford UP, 1989.
Spanos, Jr., William V. _The Errant Art of Moby-Dick: The Canon, the Cold War and the Struggle for American Studies_. Duke UP, 1995.
Toennies, Ferdinand. _Community and Civil Society_. Cambridge UP, 2001.
Ware, Carolyn F. Introduction. _The Cultural Approach to History_. Edited for the American Historical Association. Columbia UP, 1940.
Windschuttle, Keith. _The Killing of History_. Free Press, 1997.

November 10, 2009

White Walls and Shadows: Irrationalist explanations for Nazism, pro and con

Image (91)

A Pierrot painted in Sam Francis's Jungian phase

 ( This essay follows

[Untitled poem submitted to London Mercury by an Englishman, Lawrence Binyon (a William Blake reviver of the 1920s):] From the howl of the wind/ As I opened the door/ And entered, the firelight/ Was soft on the floor;/ And mute in their places/ Were table and chair/ The white wall, the shadows,/ Awaiting me there./ All was strange on a sudden!/ From the stillness a spell,/ A fear or a fancy,/ Across my heart fell./ Were they awaiting another/ To sit by the hearth?/ Was it I saw them newly/ A stranger on earth? 

 Here are some prestigious irrationalist accounts of Nazi antisemitism, a problem often linked to the scandal of Western immobility as the destruction of European Jewry proceeded apace.  The explanations I shall discuss have helped to shape postwar academic formulations of twentieth-century conflict and race relations, not only our understanding of the Holocaust.  There is much to recommend them, especially when we understand the great overarching, still disputed question: were the horrors of the Nazi period an aberration, perhaps exacerbated by propaganda and bad diplomacy? Indeed, were the horrors so singular, compared with the excesses of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and other brutal regimes?  How important was the presence of Hitler to the success of the Nazis, and to what degree were his racial beliefs common enough to explain his widespread support in all classes?  To the extent that the writers I discuss remind us both of Nazi uniqueness and of their continuities with other antidemocratic regimes of  past and present, I believe they are helpful to the vigilant libertarian.  But we must ask, how precise, comprehensive, and non-partisan is their cultural description of history; how scientific are their analytic categories?  A socially responsible historian may not mold events to fit a predetermined outcome.  I will continue my thesis (in numerous blogs on this website) that many antidemocrats view the Enlightenment itself as a Jewish plot–a shadow on the white wall of Authority, an uncanny innovation that estranged them from their families of origin; the aristocratic radicals, long entrenched in the humanities, are particularly energetic in promoting this interpretation. See and

 [From Alfred Rosenberg’s “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Jewish World Policy,” conspiratorial Rabbis are speaking:]  “We will adopt every liberal idea of all parties and persuasions and instruct our speakers to dilate upon them, until we have exhausted people with fine speeches and produced in them a disgust for speakers of all persuasions. In order to control public opinion, we must sow doubt and discord by allowing the different sides to express contradictory opinions for so long [that] the Gentiles get lost in the confusion: they will decide that it is best to have no opinion at all on constitutional questions, that the people lack the proper perspective on these things, and that only he who leads the people can really comprehend these things.” [1] 

[Hitler argues with Otto Wegener and Rudolph Hess regarding the possibility of a Jewish state in Palestine:] “The Jew notoriously likes to remain anonymous so long as he is not in our power. He takes off his mask only when he has gained domination—or at least when he believes he has. After the war, it seemed as if, thanks to the war, Jewry had won the upper hand throughout the white world.  So the time seemed ripe for the Jews to pose as the masters. In Germany that was, as it is now, indisputably evident.  Then, when he has succeeded in seizing the leadership in all the white nations, all that remains is the establishment of a headquarters to truly dominate the world.  And that would correspond to the Jewish state. Any sooner, such a state would make no sense, have no significance—it would even be a mistake.

   “The fact that now it is to be situated in Palestine, the Promised Land, the source, three or four thousand years ago, of the migration that would conquer the world—that is not only conceivable, but even proof that my train of thought is correct.

   “It also proves, however, that our struggle and our mission, which only we regard as the struggle and mission for Germany, is perceived by worldwide Jewry as if it were directed against its totality—against the Jews as such.  Therefore, wherever they wield power, they will use it to paralyze and prevent our work.

    “That is why no nation would take in the Jews as a whole if they were to be expelled from Germany, nor would the Jews agree to a Jewish state in the sense of a concentration of the entire Israelite tribe.  For in so doing, they would be betraying their faith in the promise; they would be giving up the struggle, at the very moment when they thought they had, in fact, won it.”

     “It is quite certain,” Hess said, “that we will have the entire Jew-dominated world against us if we simply throw the Jews out of Germany. This they cannot accept, because of the consequences. For in such a case, another nation will do the same, and others will follow in their turn.”

     “We have already reached that point,” Hitler resumed, “when we established the party program.  And to this day, I have been unable to find a better solution than the one we foresaw at that time.

     We must be very clear about the fact that we cannot remove the Jew as such.  Rather, we must make it impossible for parasites to exist; we must prevent them from continuing to gain a foothold on the body of our Volk, from infusing poison into that body or attempting to gain power over it.  At that point, the Jews will leave Germany of their own accord.  For when it becomes impossible for a parasite to live its parasitic existence in a certain place, it wanders off elsewhere, where conditions are more favorable to it, or it perishes.”

    “I truly believe,” I agreed, “that this is the only possible way to achieve our goal.” [“I” is Otto Wegener]

    “But it seems to me that the solution of the social question as we conceive it, and as I would like to bring to fruition and to success in my social economy, also contributes to the possibility of removing this parasitism.”

     “This is contradicted,” Hess interposed, “by the fact that the socialist movements all over the world are run precisely by Jews and were founded by them.”

     “No,” Hitler said.  “That is not a contradiction. The error of the economic order until now, and the error that exists in the general concept of the monetary system, has long been discovered by a few clever Jews, perhaps without their finding a solution.   And the industrialization of the economy and its world-wide expansion will bring it all the more into view—that, too, they have understood.  Therefore they could not help but fear that in time the world will come to the realization that the existing order must be changed—which will certainly also narrow their chances for parasitism, if it does not obliterate them.”

   “ …The Jew’s parasite brain works quickly with its sixth sense. It thinks: if I can no longer engage in my parasitism in its previous form, then I must simply look for some opportunity in the new, in the coming form.  Until now, it was my highest aim to gain power over the state in order to secure my domination and my way of life.  Now, if new forms of government develop, we must simply try to seize power in the newly formed state.  Since the new form will be brought about by revolution and the industrialization of the subjugated working masses, it will be simplest to start by assuming leadership during the revolution.  Then we will be able to use the revolution to bring about, by straightforward means, both the new state and our new domination: the state of the working masses, whom we command and which we rule!

    “It is hard for me to believe the Jew so purposeful and intellectually superior that he actually submitted these considerations so systematically in the councils of the Elders of Zion; that from the first he thought them through in the way just elaborated—that would be uncanny. But his sixth sense guides him instinctively and unconsciously along the correct path, where, admittedly, consciousness has long since come to him.”

   “But then you are dealing with two different methods of the Jews, which must oppose each other and are actually mutually exclusive,” I objected.

    “As long as the Jews use them,” Hitler explained, “they will not hamper each other.  A crow does not scratch out another crow’s eyes.  But if we, for example, wanted to implement such a social economy and establish a state along those lines, resembling the dictatorship of the proletariat, as they call it so splendidly, then you’d be surprised how both groups would pounce on us, the liberalist parasites who employ the methods of the past as well as the Marxist-Bolshevik parasites who practice the new method.  And since they have a firm grip on their populations, although they make up only two to five percent of their number, they will sic these people on us! For now we are dangerous to both: to the one group because we want to free ourselves from them, and to the other because our social economy once again cuts the ground from under them.

   “That is why I am still not at all clear about this social economy. Not that I think it wrong. On the contrary! I’ve already told you as much. But I ask myself whether it is expedient to burden oneself with two enemies at once.  And that is a political consideration.

    “Which is the more dangerous enemy—I mean, the one that threatens us most immediately? Without a doubt it is Bolshevism—we can safely call it Jewish Bolshevism. For if it were not Jewish, it could be given a different format.  In that case, we might even be able to come to terms with it at some later date. But we will never be able to come to terms with Jewish Bolshevism without signing our own death warrant.

“Once we have recognized it as the primary enemy, however, we must avoid rousing the remaining Jews in the world against us until the Bolshevik danger has been removed.  That is why we may not expel the Jews who live in Germany, we may not expropriate their goods, we may not harm a hair on their heads; and that is why we may not go public with our social economy and other problems and plans, with which we would rouse liberalistic world Jewry and the entire liberalistic world against us.  Rather, we must live peacefully with them!  We can keep liberalism in check—indeed we must do so—but it must be done very cautiously, sensibly, with economic expediency. And when we arrive at systematic economic control through the state, which is the problem everyone else is fiddling with, we must manage it in such a way that private property also survives for economic transactions and that private initiative is harnessed for our program.

    “This by no means signifies that we must relinquish or even betray our socialist aims.  The aims remain firm and unshaken.  But the means must be chosen and executed according to the dictates of reason and expediency.” [2]

      Christian antisemitism was conditional: Jews could overcome their badness by conversion to Christianity; whereas in the credo of scientific racism, Jews were genetically unconvertible: stiff-necks were a changeless feature of the national character.  According to Raul Hilberg, the Claude Lanzmann film Shoah, and the public television documentary The Longest Hatred, Christian antisemitism provided the chief precedent for scientific racism, Hitlerian scapegoating, and the toleration of the Holocaust by the Western powers.  The continuing salience of Christian antisemitism must not be ignored.  Whatever it says about complicity or indifference to the fact of the Holocaust on the part of millions of Europeans and Americans, however, this explanation does ignore the actual views of Hitler and his chosen antecedents.  Why should this be?  I would argue that Hitler’s economic response to the Depression may not resemble the carefully equilibrated welfare state created by American conservative reformers before and after the war. While denouncing racism, the leading writers have not relinquished a  pre-existent racialist discourse.

      Ruth Benedict’s Race and Racism (1942) was a warning meant for the upstart capitalists to the Right of the paternalistic New Dealers.  While at first the cultural anthropologist describes scientific racism in “the Third Reich…[as] following a long series of precedents in European anti-Semitism,” Benedict switches.  First she presents a materialist account of antisemitism as false consciousness diverting German workers from the source of their worsening condition: Hitler’s “armament program [which] cut consumer’s goods and increased hours of work and lowered real wages.”  But then she calls for more “social responsibility” with its corporatist, fascist-sounding solution:  “A democratic state, when it lives up to its minimum definition at all, is the one institution that represents all parts of the body politic.  It can propose for itself [sic] programmes which will eventually benefit the whole body.”  I.e., if the American Scrooge did not adopt the reformist tactics of the corporatist liberals, he could expect Nazi-type populist demagoguery directed against the stony-hearted, hyper-individualistic [Jewishly avaricious] bourgeoisie resisting “the regulation of industry,” hence intensifying “racial persecution.”

      Ironically, this type of historical explanation assigns responsibility for Hitler’s rise to power to his self-designated Other: brutal nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberalism.  Hitler’s völkisch populist politics and dreams of autarky, however, cannot be conflated with liberalism.  I am not saying that Benedict deliberately does that in her publication of 1942; later centrist or Popular Front ideologues  [3] have constantly likened fascists, however, to McCarthy-ite “fascist Republicans” or “big business” or “Wall Street” or “monopoly capital” or “heavy industry” or “Zionists” or the National Association of Manufacturers in order to distance Hitler from other bureaucratic collectivists (i.e., themselves) intervening in collapsing economies during the interwar period. [4]

      Nor was Hitler in any sense Christian, though many of his most ardent Protestant supporters were.  George Allen Morgan was a philosophy professor at Duke University; in the early 1950s a member of the Psychology Strategy Board of the National Security Council.  In a prestigious publication, What Nietzsche Means (Harvard U.P., 1941), Morgan clearly reformulated cultural conflict in the radical thought of Hitler’s immediate predecessors.  Which is not to say that Morgan made the connection; rather, Morgan and his admirers joyfully defended Nietzsche, and, probably like Jung in 1946, took Hitler for a materialist guttersnipe for whom Nietzsche was the antidote.  To nineteenth-century élite social theorists, Morgan wrote, the relevant antithesis was no longer Christian and Jew, but the sternly ascetic “moderate” pagan culture of aristocracy versus the sentimental bourgeois culture of Jews/Christians that ever incited slave rebellions and destroyed genius–the individuality of the displaced aristocrats.  Crucially, Heraclitean cultural relativism sought to delegitimate the universalist epistemology of science: “diversity” was deployed against Jewish-Christian notions of equality.  Indeed, in the Table Talk Hitler clearly specifies his pagan sentiments: Christ was good because he was an Aryan, not the good Jew he appeared to be; rather, he was destroyed by gold-worshipping Jewish materialists for his anti-capitalist revolutionary activity; Paul and his Christian successors were all levelling bad Jews.  Why?  Because they sentimentally defied the aristocratic principle in nature and protected the weak; for Hitler, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche were the world’s greatest philosophers.[5]  Morgan’s picture is consistent with the evidence I have seen; it does not jibe with the image of Hitler, the maven of sentimental mass culture, as both “Left” and “Right” factions in the American culture wars of the late 1980s and 90s would have it.[6]

      A second and related explanation holds that the Nazis were irrational because they attacked Good Jews (the assimilated German Jews) and/or confused capitalists with communists.[7]  If we could only get rid of such irrational antisemitism, these numerous social theorists may be saying, class envy would disappear.  According to Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, “A common mistake…is to attribute the existence of antisemitism to the antisemite’s jealousy of Jews’ economic success, instead of recognizing that the economic jealousy is a consequence of an already existing antipathy towards Jews.”[8] Here is the Harvard line: prejudice creates (correctable) class conflict. Similarly, cultural anthropologists like Gregory Bateson, Ruth Benedict, and Klaus Theweleit concentrate on “types” fruitfully quivering in bipolar allegiance/tension.[9]  As Parsonian functionalists they were responding to left-wing social democratic arguments:  that industrial capitalism creates the material conditions and class agency for democratic reform; thus capitalism and socialism are not Hegelian “opposites” or antitheses; rather the rationalist reform movements, led by the most educated and advanced members of the working class, could progressively realize the unfinished libertarian project of the radical bourgeoisie: privileges and pleasures hitherto reserved for the leisured class could be available to all in a context of material abundance or sufficiency.  This is of course was the socialist theory of the pre-Lenin European Left, the Second International, not the bleak ascetic vision promulgated by many Leninists, radical Catholic corporatists and deep ecologists.[10]  When fascists saw materialist capitalism and materialist communism as closely related, they were often merely following assumptions of other Europeans, from the Left and Right alike.  But there were popular conspiracy theories as well, theories that rely upon “the switch.”

      The refusal to examine class position and allegiance in ourselves and in our objects of critical inquiry has created the cuckoo-land of the postwar period.  Take the psychoanalytic theory of ambivalence, as we shall see, a central issue in Hitler’s psychobiography.  Although (as psychiatrists) functionalists will recognize “ambivalence” it is usually conceived as a static push-pull of love-hate, Eros-Thanatos, or action-passivity originating solely in the family, that is, in the play of innate conflicting instincts, not as an historically specific dilemma in which one may, like Hitler, be forced to please social classes that may be at odds with each other; or as other rebellious petit-bourgeois intellectuals, be torn between pleasing oneself and one’s patrons.  That is, the artist may identify with the fully observant, fully feeling [Romantic Wandering Jew] then disavow and demolish the family-shattering perceptions (perhaps attached to angry fantasies) that have briefly been experienced and which have destroyed (in fantasy) the good parent who pays the rent.  Nor do the functionalists address the concrete content and “plausibility” of such “histories” as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in which the communists are purveyors of false utopias, secretly in the pay of finance capitalists, who, controlling the media, mass desire, and the money supply, can make the masses rise at will (no conflict there!); nor do they examine the ongoing prestige of antidemocratic narratives–the linked cautionary myths of selfish (Jewish) Narcissus and over-reaching (Jewish) Icarus; nor the omnipresence of racial (i.e.,cultural) explanations for historical change, with history itself stigmatized as typical Jewish “reduction of religion.”[11]

      Alan Bullock (1991) emphasizes Hitler’s “twisted” antisemitism (madly confusing capitalist and communist, loathing miscegenation); but Bullock erases the tricky Jewish switch from emancipating communist to enslaving finance capitalist delineated in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which Hitler had read, believed, and promoted.[12]  Lord Bullock fortifies instead his construction of a crazy Hitler (earlier identified as narcissistic failed romantic artist produced by “the countryside,”7-8, 11, 5), while curiously suggesting rational reasons (“internationalism, egalitarianism, and pacifism”) for Hitler’s antimodernism.  Bullock reports Hitler’s views:

 “In international affairs Jewish capitalists sought to divert nations from their true interests and plunge them into wars, gradually establishing their mastery over them with the help of money and propaganda.  At the same time, the Jewish leaders of the international Communist revolution had provided themselves with a world headquarters in Moscow from which to spread subversion internally through propagation of the Marxist parties of internationalism, egalitarianism and pacifism, all of which Hitler identified with the Jews and saw as a threat to Aryan racial values.  [Not to “national communism, anti-capitalist on a world scale”; i.e., natural order? [13]]

[Bullock, cont.]   Turning the argument the other way, anti-Semitism provided Hitler with further justification for Germany to follow a policy of conquering additional living space in the East at the expense of Bolshevik Russia, which Hitler constantly identified with the Jewish world conspiracy.  Not only would this strengthen the racial character of the German people, but it would destroy the base of international Jewry, and cut off the poisonous plant of Marxism at the root.     In Hitler’s twisted cosmological vision, the eternal enemy of the Aryans, the race which possessed the power to create, was the Jew, the embodiment of evil, the agent of racial pollution which had undermined and destroyed one civilization after another…(161).  His was a closed mind impervious to argument or doubt (163).” [14]

      The antifascist ethnopluralists, themselves tied to the “identity politics” that disguise competing material interests as the primary locus of social conflict,[15] ignore the testimony of historical actors. For the Nazis, “class” analysis (of the type offered here) was the poisonous plant of false consciousness: the foregrounding of class antagonisms made the true community of interest within the racial group invisible; thus, as their argument runs, the Protocols would make sense.  For instance, Alfred Rosenberg complained that Italian Fascists were blind to the hidden connections between finance capital and Marxism, were oblivious to the racial brilliance of switching Jews in adapting to novel situations and manipulating them toward the goal of world domination, i.e., the defeat of the völkisch, participatory politics the Nazis would initiate:

  [From Alfred Rosenberg, “The Folkish Idea of the State”;  unlike the Italian Fascists, National Socialists are not duped by Jews:] “Fascism still lacks the insight to see that international private and stock-exchange capitalism, against which Fascism has not begun to fight, was and is the very same element which pays for Marxist propaganda throughout the world, that a community of interest between Marxism and international loan capital existed and still exists–namely, to make the national industries which are tied to the soil dependent on mobile loan capital.  And Fascism has not yet comprehended that this community of interest is symbolized by the fact that the leadership of one as well as the other power finds itself almost exclusively in the hands of the Jewish race or of a few personalities compliant to Jewish money.  The danger for Fascism in Italy consists of the fact that it won a great victory, thanks to one personality, but does not yet represent such a strong ideological system that one could hope it would survive the death of Mussolini.  That danger already exists today that Jewish stock-exchange capitalism naturally takes into consideration the new force as such, and in the realization that it cannot be fought against directly, approaches Fascism as a false friend.

[Rosenberg, cont.] …The internationalism of the Jewish world stock exchange, in league with world revolution, stands today at the highest point of its power.  And yet this internationalism is already fighting for its existence, for its strongest opponent–still invisible in many states, in some already under way, fully developed in National Socialism–is growing.  And the world political task of National Socialism consists of knocking one state after the other out of the world-political power system of today, and in the end, leaving no people under international management, but only a series of organic, folkish state systems on a racial basis.”   [16] 

    Rosenberg’s populist fascism opposes the duplicitous tactic of “the rabbis” (quoted above) whose deployment of intellectual pluralism and combat only confuses the masses, subjecting them to the demagoguery that will destroy normal racial solidarity and independence for the pernicious internationalism that is always, at bottom, a ruse for the rule of money.  Rosenberg, a national socialist, knows exactly what the competition is offering; he is neither confused nor inconsistent, given his racialist assumptions.  Bankers are the enemy and the word banker is “raced” as Jewish and bankers are opposed in interest to “national industries…tied to the soil.”

      A third explanation sees Nazism as bourgeois decadence.  Popular among nativist radicals, it brings out the latent antisemitism in some New Leftists and in counter-culture anti-imperialism.  Both the Soviets and American crypto-Tories have made Hitler (the consummate anti-bourgeois, anti-sentimentalist!) into a product of disintegrating capitalism and sentimental bourgeois culture.  They and similar thinkers have conflated American puritans/Jews and Nazis, functionally equating “genocides,” in this case, the extermination of European Jews, the American Indians, American blacks, the Vietnamese, etc.  Harvard professor F.O. Matthiessen, “a Christian and a Socialist,”identified Melville’s Ahab, a prototypical American, with the alleged savagery of the Hebrew prophets (1941, 1948).[17]  Also centered at Harvard were the Walter Langer team, authors of The Mind of Adolf Hitler, originally a 1943 report for the OSS but revised for publication in 1972 to diagnose hippie-fascists.  Langer, aided anonymously by Henry A. Murray, Ernst Kris, and Bertram Lewin, attempted to account for his subject’s “ambitiousness” and “extraordinary political intuition” (atypical of a “basically illiterate peasant family”); Langer and Murray actually gave credence to rumors that Hitler carried Jewish blood: Langer reported that Hitler’s grandmother might have been a servant in the home of the Baron Rothschild; Murray was impressed by a Jewish godfather to Hitler;[18] what’s more Hitler’s brilliant (Jewish) insights into the minds and hearts of the little men (the class base of fascism for the CIA and other moderates during the 1950s) should be adapted by American mind-managers.  Here are more excerpts from the declassified Murray report to FDR, 1943: 

 [The following diagnosis of Hitler’s condition was prepared by W.H.D. Vernon, under the supervision of Murray and Gordon Allport, all Harvard men:] “ Now it is known that syphilophobia often has its roots in the childhood discovery of the nature of sexual congress between the parents.  With a father who was an illegitimate and possibly of Jewish origin, and a strong mother fixation, such a discovery by the child Adolf may well have laid the basis of the syphilophobia which some adventure with a Jewish prostitute in Vienna fanned to a full flame. [fn: “This is mere conjecture and must be treated as such. But it is the sort of explanation which fits known psychological facts”]…Hitler’s personality structure, though falling within the normal range, may now be described as of the paranoid type with delusions of persecution and of grandeur.  This stems from sado-masochistic splits in his personality…Just as the father is the cause of his mixed blood, the source of his domination and punishment, and of the restrictions of his own artistic development; just as in the childish interpretation of sexual congress, the father attacks, strangles, and infects the mother, so the Jew, international Jewish capital, etc., encircle and restrict Germany, threaten and attack her and infect her with impurities of blood…But the mother is not only loved but hated.  For she is weak, besides he is enslaved to her affections and she reminds him all too much, in his role as dominant father, of his own gentle sensitive nature.  So, though he depends on the German people for his position of dominance, he despises and hates them, he dominates them, and because he fears his very love of them, he leads them into the destructiveness of war where multitudes of them are destroyed.  Besides, the Jewish element in his father identification permits him to use all the so-called “Jewish” tricks of deceit, lying, violence, and sudden attack both to subject the German people as well as their foes (78-80).”

 [Henry Murray: Hitler’s “revengeful dominance” is “a counteraction to insulted narcism” presumably inflicted by his (possibly half-Jewish) father:] “…Knowing something of the character of Alois Hitler, we can safely infer experiences of abasement and humiliation suffered by the son….(196)…Since many of the prominent positions in Vienna were held by Jews, some of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, as well as his hatred of Vienna, can be attributed to humiliations received from the upper classes during these years…(199)  [The “determinants” of Hitler’s antisemitism:]…3. The suitability of the Jew as an object on which to project his own repudiated background and traits: his Jewish god-father (and possibly his Jewish grandfather), his physical timidity and sensitiveness, his polymorphous sexual impulses…5. The realization, after having once embarked on the road to militarism, that the stirred-up aggression of his followers needed some outlet…7. In building his military machine the anti-militaristic Jewish people could not be of much help to him.  At bottom, Fascism is the advocacy of the aggressive drive over and above the acquisitive drive (with which the Jew has generally been identified), and, by the same token, it is the substitution of Power and Glory for Peace and Prosperity, a materialistic paradise on earth (with which Communism and the Jew have also been identified).  Finally, the Nazi doctrine of fanatical irrationality (thinking with the blood) is antipathetic to the intellectual relativism of the Jew.  Thus there are several fundamental points of opposition (as well as certain points of kinship) [where?!! C.S.] between Nazi ideology and Jewish ideology (207-209).

 [Murray, cont.]  Hitler has a number of unusual abilities of which his opponents should not be ignorant.  Not only is it important to justly appraise the strength of an enemy but it is well to know whether or not he possesses capacities and techniques which can be appropriated to good advantage.  Hitler’s chief abilities, realizations, and principles of action as a political figure, all of which involve an uncanny knowledge of the psychology of the average man, are briefly these: [21 items follow, including:]…Heiden speaks of “Hitler’s frequently noted incapacity to impose his will in a small circle, and his consummate skill in winning over a crowd prepared by publicity and stage management, and then, with its aid, vanquishing the small circle, too” (211).

     So what is this “Jew”?  Brutal/humiliating/hypermasculine or timid and gay?  Or both, as in Jewish switching, a.k.a. “sudden attack”/”intellectual relativism”?  Not surprisingly, Hebraic types (for Murray, Melville as Ahab) were deplorable to the crypto-Tories/New Dealers, because, after instructing guileless WASPS in mind-control, they turn around to blast good non-humiliating father-figures, to decode the mythic narratives that alone  confer national unity or group solidarity in a pluralist society.[19] 

       The writing of George L. Mosse, distinguished mentor to a generation of New Left cultural historians at the University of Wisconsin, similarly transmits the ambivalence of the moderate conservatives.    Mosse’s investigations into the sources of Nazi culture address modernization theory and develop a utopian, mass political lineage for Nazism.[20]  What were the Nazis: moderns, antimoderns, or a distinctive, confusing new blend of both?  In answer to my letter requesting a clarification of his influential formulations, Mosse replied that he once believed “National Socialism was largely a critique of modernity,” a view he has since revised: “…I think it was part of a protest of modernization…I would say that National Socialism masked modernity even as they were furthering it.” [21] Mosse seems to be saying that, on second thought, the Nazis were cunning and dishonest in their goals.  I wonder if Mosse’s “switch” overrelies on a definition of modernity as the advent of industrialization, not the institutionalization of civil liberties in the state; the unintended effect is to relativize Nazi brutality and level distinctions between autocratic and democratic bourgeois societies, a difference Mosse is elsewhere careful to maintain, cautioning me that I could “certainly compare völkisch movements to American conservatism,” but not “Nazi Germany to the United States.”  He does not say which American conservatives he thinks are völkisch; probably the right-wing populists, not the (élite) ethnopluralists!  Mosse went on to distance himself from analyses like my own that discern analogies between the world-views of ethnopluralism (identity politics) and national socialism.  He wrote, “I reject the current controversy over macho multiculturalism or postmodernism having anything whatever to do with Hitler’s psyche.  That seems to me totally unhistorical.”

      The confusions of conservative Enlightenment permeate Mosse’s writing when he is not in his materialist mood.[22] In The Holy Pretence: A Study in Christianity and Reasons of State from William Perkins to John Winthrop (1968), a book about “emancipation of political action from moral restraint,” Mosse frets that “…the victory of the Dove can lead to unbridled idealism, and the ignoring of secular realities; while the victory of the Serpent means the total acceptance of what the sixteenth century called ‘Machiavellism’” (154).  Mosse lauds the Baroque synthesis that prudently balanced the Serpent and the Dove so that “neither obliterates the other.”  The realism of the secular world was not achieved through science and libertarian ideas, he argues, but through wise adjustments in religion itself (152) [cf. Dumont, 1977].

      The leftward trajectory of the Reformation is an ongoing concern for anyone who analyzes propaganda and fascism.  Writing seven years later in The Nationalization of the Masses (1975), Mosse makes the crucial point that the modern intellectual constantly historicizes and demystifies symbolic discourses; this habit militates against the maintenance of a stable national identity expressed through symbols.[23]  When inside the anti-materialist Aristotelian civic humanist tradition, Mosse will not turn around and demystify “moderate” mind-managers in the West, the followers of Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons.  Given his reputation among New Leftists and other antifascists, Mosse has presented a disturbingly inaccurate synthesis for the intellectual origins of fascist brutality in his “General Theory of Fascism.”[24]  Arguing against the “stereotype” that fascism is a reaction to liberalism and socialism (1), Mosse claims throughout that fascism (Nazism more than Italian fascism) selectively appropriated and, through its control of mass media, put a corporatist spin on Western ideals (5, 14, 17-19).  Hitler and Mussolini are carefully separated; Hitler came out of the jacobin antipluralist, antiparliamentary tradition of mass politics and popular culture (the repulsive part of the West); the more pluralist Mussolini allowed new and old élites to co-exist because he respected aristocratic culture and tradition; this aristocratic culture embraced the German idealism that Mosse suggests was foreign to Nazis (3, 10, 28, 33, 35).  Fascist violence originated in the brutality and camaraderie of World War I (which Mosse blurs with youth and the mobs of the French Revolution, aka Napoleon, “Romantic Nationalism,” “popular sovereignty” and “workers movements,” even “middle-class virtues”), not the medievalism of the aristocracy (4, 6, 9, 10, 17-19, 21, 25, 31, 37, 38).  There was no counter-revolution and no civil war; weak bourgeois institutions simply collapsed, and Hitler and Mussolini presented themselves to fill the void.  Conservatives left the Nazi government after six months (19).

      Mosse is politically allied to the pluralists and pragmatists of the moderate center (many of whom were intrigued with Italian Fascism during the 1930s) and who have abandoned the open-ended processes and unpredictable outcomes of liberal nationalism, instead redefining American nationality on the basis of a mosaic of rooted ethnic groups; i.e., they are ready to play ball inside the fences erected by élites.  With intellectuals like Talcott Parsons and Henry A. Murray, the moderate nationalists have recommended that the state rely on the manipulation of symbols to enforce “integration” and “national unity” while simultaneously denouncing the tyrannical animal called mass politics!

     Of course, as Mosse also realized, one problem with the formulation of a clear-cut Nazi radical conservatism or reaction [25] was Hitler’s desire to bring railroads, improved tools, and “welcoming farms” to central Europe; and, like other eugenicists, Hitler believed he was scientific, critical, and independent, following the truth wherever it might lead.  No less than the Burkean conservatives (including “socialists” like Karl Pearson, then the Fabians), the weaving, quilting Hitler wanted modernity and progress without the loss of a stable national/ethnic identity: capitalism without tears, slavery without guilt.  Sentimental Christians and Jews were de trop.

 [Hitler, Table-Talk, Oct. 15, 1941:]  Inflation is not caused by increasing the fiduciary circulation.  It begins on the day when the purchaser is obliged to pay, for the same goods, at higher sum than that asked the day before.  At that point, one must intervene.  Even to Schacht, I had to begin by explaining this elementary truth: that the essential cause of the stability of our currency was to be sought for in our concentration camps.  The currency remains stable when the speculators are put under lock and key.  I also had to make Schacht understand that excess profits must be removed from economic circulation….All these things are simple and natural.  The only thing is, one musn’t let the Jew stick his nose in.  The basis of Jewish commercial policy is to make matters incomprehensible for a normal brain.  People go into ecstasies of confidence before the science of the great economists.  Anyone who doesn’t understand is taxed with ignorance!  At bottom, the only object of all these notions is to throw everything into confusion (65-66).

 [Hitler, Nov. 5, 1941:]  The Jew is the incarnation of egoism…The Jew has talent for bringing confusion into the simplest matters, for getting everything muddled up…The Jew makes use of words to stultify his neighbors. And that’s why people make them professors….

     If the Jew weren’t kept presentable by the Aryan, he’d be so dirty he couldn’t open his eyes.  We can live without the Jews, but they couldn’t live without us.  When the European realizes that, they’ll all become simultaneously aware of the solidarity that binds them together.  The Jew prevents this solidarity.  The Jew owes his livelihood to the fact that this solidarity does not exist (119-120).

[Hitler, Feb. 3-4, 1942; Hitler identifies with heretics; Jews have instigated the “collective madness” of witch hunts carried out by organized Christianity:]  A Jew was discovered to whom it occurred that if one presented abstruse ideas to non-Jews, the more abstruse these ideas were, the more the non-Jews would rack their brains to try to understand them.  The fact of having their attention fixed on what does not exist must make them blind to what exists.  An excellent calculation on the Jew’s part.  So the Jew smacks his thighs to see how his diabolic strategem has succeeded.  He bears in mind that if his victims suddenly became aware of these things, all Jews would be exterminated.  But, this time, the Jews will disappear from Europe.

     The world will breathe freely and recover its sense of joy, when this weight is no longer crushing its shoulders (288).

                [1] See fn. below, Nazi Ideology Before 1933.

               [2] Henry A. Turner, Jr. ed. Hitler—Memoirs of a Confidant (Yale UP, 1985): 69-72. Otto Wagener “was a prominent oficial in the Nazi Party with close ties to Adolf Hitler from the autumn of 1929 until the summer of 1933. Wagener served as chief of staff for the storm troop auxiliary, the S.A.; headed the  Economic Policy Section of the party’s national executive (Reichsleitung); worked on special assignment for Hitler in Berlin; headed the party’s Economic Policy Office during the early months of the Third Reich; and briefly served as commissar for the economy.” [ix]

                [3] See the writings of Nation editor Cary McWilliams or the speeches of Michael Parenti.

                [4] Though he distances himself from Marxist explanations for Nazism/fascism as the rule of monopoly capital, Ian Kershaw does see entrepreneurship as a prominent value of Nazism. See The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives, Fourth edition (London: Arnold, 2000): 67. “The mammoth profits of the major concerns were no incidental by-product of Nazism, whose philosophy was closely tied in with provision of a free hand for private industry and eulogization of the entrepreneurial spirit.”

                [5] Table Talk, May 16, 1944, 720; but Hitler also admired Uncle Tom’s Cabin!  Could it be because the freed slaves were to be repatriated in Africa?

              [6] [From my letter to an historian of madness:] I’ve started to read the short book on Hitler and power by Ian Kershaw, and was fascinated to see that he follows a Weberian model of the charismatic leader casting a spell on the nationalized masses, and notes, without explanation, that Hitler sees everything in black and white, vulgarly simplifying complex historical events…And there is not a word about German Romanticism, or Herder, and only unexplained mentions of the volkisch Right. Hitler is treated as the man of the mob, its embodiment even, an outsider and autodidact. So for these conservative writers (like Kershaw), Hitler is fascinating as the encapsulated horror of five centuries of lower-class hubris. And the lower orders really are outsiders to the empyrean realms of traditional elites, are they not? 

                [7] For examples of German irrationality in confusing capitalists and communists, See J.P. Stern, Hitler: The Fuehrer and the People (U.C. Press,1975): 80; Arno Mayer, Why Did The Heavens Not Darken? (Pantheon, 1988): 92; Jeffrey Alexander and Chaim Seidler-Feller, “False Distinctions and Double Standards: The Anatomy of Antisemitism at UCLA,” Tikkun, Jan-Feb 1992, 12-14.  For the latter, genocide was waged initially against assimilated German Jews; it was not about class, rather “nonrational, psychological, and symbolic causes were more important causes of antisemitism than many had once believed.”  The crazy German explanation permeates New Left culture, see Ellen Willis’ well-known article on the myth of the powerful Jew, Village Voice, 9/3/79.  The oddness of the Germans in confusing capitalists and communists seems to be taken for granted by nearly every Jewish scholar I have consulted. See also Louis Harap, who applies the same formula to the Populists: “For Donnelly, the Jews were the preternaturally clever men who were both the money power and the brains of the revolutionary resistance to that power. (This was an example of the polar stereotyping that was to become more common in the twentieth century, culminating in the canard that the Jews were not only the banker- capitalists who were impoverishing the people, but also the leaders of the Bolsheviks, who were leading man into a subhuman state.” Louis Harap, The Image of the Jew in American Literature (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1974), 428. But evangelical Catholics in the 1930s were attacking materialistic civilizations (i.e., rational, secular society): Capitalism and Bolshevism had similarly elevated “natural man.”

     More recently, Saul Friedländer creates a set of opposites that are not antitheses: Referring both to rhetorical strategies in both Mein Kampf and the film The Eternal Jew, and noting that “images of superhuman control typically gives way to the second one, subhuman threats of contamination, microbial infection, spreading pestilence,” he writes, “Images of superhuman power and subhuman pestilence are contrary representations, but Hitler attributed both to one and the same being, as if an endlessly changing and endlessly mimetic force had launched a constantly shifting offensive against humanity.

“Many of the images, not only in Hitler’s vision of the Jew but also in Nazi anti-Semitism generally, seem to converge in such constant transformations. These images are the undistorted echo of past representations of the Jew as endlessly changing and endlessly the same, a living dead, either a ghostly wanderer or a ghostly ghetto inhabitant. Thus the all-pervasive Jewish threat becomes in fact formless and unrepresentable; as such it leads to the most frightening phantasm of all: a threat that looms everywhere, that, although it penetrates everything, is an invisible carrier of death, like poison gas spreading over the battlefields of the Great War.” In Nazi Germany and the Jews Volume 1, The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 (New York:  HarperCollins, 1997): 101-102. Friedländer begins the quoted paragraph by criticizing Hitler’s view of the Jewish conspiracy as implying “a stupefied, hypnotized mass of peoples completely at the mercy of the Jewish conspiracy,” but is he offering a similarly irrationalist explanation as “in fact formless and unrepresentable”? Although Friedländer describes “The Eternal Jew” exhibition of 1937 (p.253-54), an exhibition that presented “racially typical” images of Jews, he does not go on to review the Christian myth of the Wandering Jew (also  der ewige Jude) in all its variants; variants that suggest the wandering Jew as having the characteristics of the return of the repressed; i.e., the facts of the material world that cannot be successfully repressed, but that return in distorted and threatening forms that must be controlled or eliminated for the sake of social harmony.

                [8] Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Executioners, p.40. Cf. Ivan Illich, KPFK broadcast with Jerry Brown, April 5, 1996.  Class societies beset by political conflict (hence structurally discouraging friendship) arise from the artificial manipulation of needs and desires in the modern world.  Overstimulating music (whatever departed from quieting Gregorian chants) have contributed to [anomie].  Illich participates in the ongoing luxury debate, argued against materialism and on behalf of politeia.

                [9] See Gregory Bateson, “Morale and National Character,” Civilian Morale, Second Yearbook of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, ed. Goodwin Watson (Reynal and Hitchcock, 1942): 71-91; Ruth Benedict, Race and Racism, 1942, 163: “If we are to make good use of the great powers of education in combating racism, two goals should be kept clearly distinct.  On the one hand, it is desirable to teach in the regular social studies the facts of race and of the share of different races in our civilization.  On the other hand, it is necessary to hold up ideals of a functioning democracy; it is necessary to help children to understand the mutual interdependence of different groups; it is necessary to encourage comparison of our social conditions with conditions that are better than ours as well as with those that are worse.”  Of course, the idea that race yields other than superficial physical differences is denied throughout, so why is she so insistent on maintaining race as an analytic category?  Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies: Psychoanalyzing the White Terror (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1989) takes the same “moderate” position, defining its gentle, poetic, pacifist, fragment-loving antifascism against totalitarianism: both militarist (armored) Right and bourgeois scientific hyper-intellectual (armored) Left (including Marx and Freud).  Unlike these avowedly feminist theorists, the fascist type loathes the people he mobilizes (this is the conservative view of Hitler as bad Jew).

                [10] Cf. Meinecke, German Catastrophe, 72-73: “Hitler wanted to overtrump the bourgeois, class-egotistical nationalism of his heavy-industry patrons and money providers, and also the Marxism of the Russian bolshevists, which he attacked with special zeal and which wanted to condemn the bourgeoisie to extinction.  He therefore seized upon the idea that the creation of a new fruitful folk community need not rest upon the one-sided victory of the one or the other of the social forces contending against one another–that the natural groupings of society did not have to be unceremoniously destroyed–but that they must be steered around and educated to serve a community which included them all.  Hitler’s undertaking seemed to promise more continuity with the traditions and values of the existing bourgeois culture than the radical new edifice of bolshevism.  With this idea he bribed a wide circle of citizens.  The working class, he intended, should be inspired with the full pride that their productive work merited and thereby lose all their inferiority complexes which sprang from the beginning of the class struggle.  The same fundamental idea of nurturing the special pride of the professional classes and amalgamating them with the all-embracing community was also extended to the peasantry.  There was no lack of specious enticements for all classes–celebrations, festivals, and so forth…[To combat liberalism’s amorphousness, Hitler created] those youth organizations which were expected to give the whole coming generation uniform basic conceptions and at the same time to satisfy the natural impulses of youth.”

                [11] See editorial, “Psycho-analysis and Faith,” Times Literary Supplement, May 27, 1939, 313, quoted in Freud Without Hindsight: Reviews of his Work 1893-1939, ed. Norman Kiell (International Universities Press, 1988): 647-648: “What is perhaps most remarkable about this theory [Moses and Monotheism, that barbaric Europeans are scapegoating Jews because they (Nazis) are really anti-Christian] is that it is peculiarly Jewish in its reduction of religion to the plane of history, though this plane is conceived with a new comprehensiveness.  But unlike the similar attempt of another great and influential Jewish thinker, Karl Marx, Freud’s is based on the conviction that Jewish monotheism, and its creative development into Christianity, are definitely in the main line of human progress.”

                [12] See Norman Cohn, Warrant For Genocide (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968).  Cf. my account of the Protocols with Leonard Dinnerstein, “Antisemitism in Crisis Times in the United States,” Anti-semitism In Times of Crisis, ed. Sander L. Gilman and Steven T. Katz (N.Y.: N.Y.U. Press, 1991): 216.  “According to the “Protocols” Jews had an affinity for Bolshevism, manipulated economic and political power, and were determined to undermine the world order.  They allegedly favored alcoholism, spread pornography, subverted Christian principles, and would no doubt take over American government and society if allowed to do so.”  The Introduction argues that religious antisemitism was secularized: “…the perversity of the Jew’s nature in betraying Christ over and over again (throughout history) becomes the biologically determined quality of the Jew which leads to the Jew’s heartless role in the rise of capitalism (or communism–take your pick)….”  The functionalist authors, themselves wedded to “identity politics,” have erased the particular threat of “Jewish” science and anthropology which found a fluid “identity” in learned experience, not tradition or the acquired instincts of national character.

                [13] See Hitler’s Secret Book (N.Y.: Grove Press, 1961, written 1928): 132, 135: “…present day Russia is anything but an anticapitalist state.  It is, to be sure, a country that has destroyed its own national economy but, neverthless, only in order to give international finance capital the possibility of an absolute control…” p.135: “…we base ourselves [!] on the hope that one day the Jewish character–and thereby the most fundamentally international capitalistic character of Bolshevism in Russia–might disappear in order to make place for a national communism, anti-capitalist on a world scale.  Then this Russia, permeated once more by national tendencies, might very well come up for consideration in terms of an alliance with Germany.” This is a very damaging quote to those who think that Nazism was not a movement of the Left, or who while deploring the right-wing direction of nationalism, make tactical alliances with national liberation movements, no matter how anti-intellectual.

                [14] Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (Harper Collins, 1991).  See pages 160-61 for Bullock’s distortion of Hitler’s attitudes toward propaganda as revealed in Mein Kampf, taking his quotes out of context and implying the canard that Hitler cynically and consistently promoted the Big Lie (to bamboozle Germans), rather than fastening such deceptions on the Big Jewish Press and British propaganda during the World War,  but the good father/good teacher Hitler was protecting the masses from the confusion that resulted from ambiguity and uncertainty. ).

                [15] Not only between capital and labor but between producers competing on the market. Whether one is a Marxist or libertarian will affect one’s evaluation of market competition.

                [16] Alfred Rosenberg, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” “The Folkish Idea of the State,” Nazi Ideology before 1933, Introduced and transl. by Barbara Miller Lane and Leila J.Rupp (Austin: University of Texas, 1978): 57, 64-65, 70-71.  These ideas should be compared to David Welch’s reading of the 1934 Nuremburg rally (as presented in Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will) in which Welch ignores Hitler’s obvious attempt to affirm labor unity with the Party after the purge of the S.A.Rohm-Strasser faction, apparently in order (for Welch) to claim the over-riding interest of establishing “the principle of leadership” (i.e., Hitler is the hypnotist lacking a coherent ideology).  However, the theme disclosed in Welch’s evidence is not leadership as domination, but merging/the rebuilding of Germany as a proletarian nation/immortality.  See David Welch, Propaganda and German Cinema 1933-1945  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983): 156-157.  The lines Welch quotes that refute his own argument include “…Corpsmen. ONE PEOPLE, ONE FšHRER, ONE REICH!” ONE.  Today we are all workers together and we are working with iron… SONG. We are true patriots, our country we rebuild.  We did not stand in the trenches amidst the exploding grenades but nevertheless we are soldiers. VARIOUS..down with the Red Front and reaction. ALL. You are not dead, you live in Germany.  HITLER. My comrades, you have now presented yourself to me and the whole German people in this way for the first time.  You are representatives of a great ideal.  We know that for millions of our countrymen work will no longer be a lonely occupation but one that gathers together the whole of our country.  No longer will anybody in Germany consider manual labor as lower than any other kind of work.  The time will come when no German will be able to enter the community of this nation without having first passed through your community.  Remember that not only are the eyes of hundreds of thousands in Nuremberg watching, but the whole of Germany is seeing you for the first time.  You are Germany and I know that Germany will proudly watch its sons marching forward into the glorious future….”

     Cf. the introduction to the screening of Triumph of the Will, on public television, 9/17/92.  Film critic Michael Medved explained that the world’s greatest culture had succumbed to monstrous madness; the thrust of the propaganda was put vaguely as Hitler the Savior’s unification of Germany in response to the S.A. purge, the only source of divisiveness Medved mentioned.  The film was so compelling, he said, that only clips could be shown in Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series.  The issue of Nazi Germany’s pseudo-proletarian identity was entirely evaded by Medved, yet it was the principle theme of the film, with the frequent reiteration of Germany’s classless and casteless new social structure (at the same time legitimating the leadership of the most racially fit fighting minority that had selflessly brought the revolution to this stage).  In fact, the S.A. was not a source of division, but the stronghold of “left” populists who had demanded a völkisch, anticapitalist revolution that would abolish class divisions to restore racial unity; it was always the materialist bourgeoisie, Marxists and Jews who intruded, not the S.A. splitting the country.  I found the two hour film soporific; the claim that it is brilliant and irresistible supports the thesis that Hitler successfully deployed propaganda to put one over on the German people.

                [17] See F.O.Matthiessen, American Renaissance (Oxford U.P., 1941); From The Heart of Europe (Oxford U.P.,1948): 182-183.  See Lord James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Vol.II (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1891): 275-276, 278, 281-82, for a more ambivalent account of American [Chosen People]: “If you ask an intelligent citizen why he so holds [incorrect majorities will be persuaded of the right], he will answer that truth and justice are sure to make their way into the minds and consciences of the majority.  This is deemed an axiom, and the more readily so deemed, because truth is identified with common sense, the quality which the average citizen is most confidently proud of possessing.  This feeling shades off into another, externally like it, but at bottom distrust–the feeling not only that the majority, be it right or wrong, will and must prevail, but that its being the majority proves it to be right.  This feeling appears in the guise sometimes of piety and somtimes of fatalism.  Religious minds hold–you find the idea underlying many books and hear it in many pulpits–that Divine Providence has specially chosen and led the American people to work out a higher type of freedom and civilization than any other state has yet attained, and that this great work will surely be brought to a happy issue by the protecting hand which has so long guided it (276).”

                [18] Walter Langer, The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report (Basic Books, 1972): 102-103. Murray, op.cit.

                [19] Alex Bein (cited above) relies on Alan Bullock and the Langer report in his presentation of Hitler’s personality.  The influence of the crypto-Tories in American Studies is the terrain of my book on the Melville revival.  One of the central debates in American history surfaces in an essay by Barbara J. Fields, “Ideology and Race in American History,” Region, Race and Reconstruction, ed. J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson (N.Y.: Oxford U.P., 1982): 143-177.  This subtly argued essay challenged the New Left/American Studies interpretation of white supremacy (not class conflict) as the motor of American history.

         [20] Compare to Sternhell, Ze’ev. Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, translated by David Meisel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. Pre-fascist ideology in France set the stage for the Vichy Revolution in 1940-41. Revolutionary syndicalism and radical nationalism of the late 19th century were fused in the 1920s and 1930s to create a novel, mass based, youth-inspired revolt against materialism and decadence blamed on liberalism, democracy and reformed Marxism (i.e. social democracy). For the prefascists, the enemy was finance capital and monopoly, seen as Jewish, American and British. The deracinated individual was the source of decadence, and the compensatory discourse was corporatist/communitarian and meant to integrate the proletariat into the nation through a strong planning state, coterminous with the nation. Emphasized family, work (in tradition of medieval guilds), and region. Did not eliminate profit or private property. Neither ideology nor economic crisis alone could have created this revolutionary departure from the principles of 1789; hence the implicit warning to other social democrats: don’t allow economic crisis to develop: this ideology is still extant. Sternhell somewhat plays down the antisemitic, Christian character of the sources of the ideology, though he does not deny it. France was “impregnated” by the ideology of fascism (a revolution of the spirit: modern, aesthetic, and moral, exalting blood and soil, instinct, force, violence, the healthy body, sacrifice, and monkish asceticism, futurism, modern architecture of Le Corbusier, and Freud). The nonconformist journalist politicos in the 1930s penetrated popular culture; only a few of them, however, explicitly embraced nazism and fascism, though they came very close. Henri De Man the principle theorist of an idealist Marxism. (Sternhell does not consider historical materialism to be idealist.)

    This book is directed against Marxist interpretations of fascism as a reaction by monopoly capital to working class militancy in a period of economic crisis. Sternhell thanks A. James Gregor (a self-described fascist and biographer of Mussolini) in the acknowledgments.(vii) and places five of his books in the bibliography. Also Mosse’s General Theory of Fascism, and Masses and Man.

    Sterhell does not explain how Freud could contribute to fascist ideology, given that Freud did not advocate unleashing the instincts, as did Jung, for whom the unconscious, home of the racial ancestry and spirits, was a source of creativity.

                [21] Cf. Erik Levi, Music In The Third Reich (N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, 1994): 124, commenting on the paradoxical Nazi views of technological progress misted over with anti-industrial romanticism. , a conflict that was apparent in confused music policies.

                [22] See The Crisis of the German Ideology (1962), and Toward The Final Solution (1980).

                [23] George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany From the Napoleonic Wars Through the Third Reich (Howard Fertig, 1975).

                [24] See Mosse, “Introduction: A General Theory of Fascism,” International Fascism, ed. George L. Mosse (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979): 1-41.

                [25] Mosse’s Nazi Culture was criticized by readers as ignoring the role of technology in the Third Reich, he reports.  See also Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967)

September 29, 2009

Anne Hutchinson’s Red Regiment and the Cultural Historians, part three


Postwar readings.  Bernard Bailyn’s 1955 Ideologiekritik study of seventeenth-century New England merchants partly advanced preceding scholarship that had stressed only political rivalries; Bailyn’s book was a contribution to the study of political culture, a subset of the new cultural anthropology/ social history recommended by the American Historical Association in 1939.  Since it did postulate clashing economic interests between the Winthrop and Hutchinson factions, Bailyn’s was the first quasi-materialist analysis of the Antinomian controversy; subsequent writers (Battis, Williams), have followed his lead in attempting to synthesize cultural, economic, and political factors.[i]

     Bailyn pays less attention to inevitable structural conflict than to mistaken perceptions; his imagery suggested a preventible catastrophe: the “Antinomian schism…which rocked the Bay Colony to its foundations” hinged on the fact that immigrant tradesmen, including Anne Hutchinson’s husband, son, and brother-in-law, upwardly mobile and now prosperous merchants in the New World, were shut out from the highest ruling circles in Massachusetts Bay.  The organic and medieval ethos of the Winthrop faction, based on land as “security and stability” rather than “wealth,” suggested “authoritarianism” and “constriction and denial” to the new merchant class.  Winthrop and his allies saw the merchants as the embodiments of “brashness and insubordination.”  Bailyn noted that “the merchants, with striking uniformity, backed the dissenters,” those allegedly “dangerous mystics” and heretics who were threatening “civil and ecclesiastical polity” and refusing to abide by the demand that “conformity to the letter of the law, careful performance of religious duties, was essential discipline and that it should be evident in one before he was admitted to church membership.”  This merchant-farmer, city-country conflict was key to an inevitable confrontation for the merchants were thwarted on all fronts by farmers defending their rational and opposing interests.  The conflict became more “explicit,” less “voiced in hair-splitting theological disputes,” in fights regarding “overcharging, usury, taking advantage of a neighbor’s need.”  Bailyn’s remarks on the furor that erupted in the case of the guilt-tormented merchant Robert Keayne, condemned for overcharging, shows the degree to which self-serving, selective readings of the Bible were attached to an explosive but unanalyzed structural contradiction:

“The original charge against the distraught merchant fell like a spark into an incendiary situation.  The settlers, predisposed to believe middlemen parasites, found themselves utterly dependent on them for the most essential goods and equipment.  Incapable of understanding or controlling the workings of the economy, they sought to attribute the cause of the soaring prices and the shortage of goods to human malevolence.  Instances of merchants taking advantage of the situation confirmed them in their belief that only the most rigorous discipline of the businessmen could save them from misery.  In the same Calvinist social teachings that had justified his life to Keayne they had a grammar for the translation of economics into morality, and in the machinery of the Puritan church and state a means of effecting these ideas.  From the same texts the Puritan magistrates and the merchants read different lessons.  The former learned the overwhelming importance of the organic society which subordinated the individual to the general good.  Keayne learned the righteousness of those individual qualities whose secondary but attractive virtue it was to aid in the fight for success in business.” [ii]

   Bailyn is describing a fight over conflicting injunctions in Biblical texts: working hard to increase personal wealth versus controlling oneself on behalf of the commonweal.  Selective readings masked the underlying contradiction.  Merchants like Keayne would be forced to constant (and burdensome) self-regulation or “rationalization of one’s life” (p.44).

     The questions remain: was Bailyn’s clean boundary between merchant and farmer consciousness and interest accurate?  Has he not followed the (now disputed) model of bourgeois revolution, wherein a new progressive class bursts medieval fetters asunder to advance its economic interests?  Given that all but four of the Boston congregation were, for a time, sympathetic to Anne’s positions, could all the Hutchinsonians have been upwardly mobile entrepreneurs, while their antagonists engaged in a pre-capitalist mode of production?  And did not both upper-class factions believe in a paternalistic organic society, envisioning different strategies to keep the poor in place?  Was this not a multi-dimensional faction fight within a larger capitalist class consensus that carefully delimited free speech and the wandering imagination?  Shall we discover that Anne Hutchinson’s critics and her friends alike saw her as a witch because she represented the emerging market in goods and in ideas that, down the line perhaps, could undermine the class monopoly of legitimacy and political power, a development prefigured by her lower-class admirers?  And why would we have expected anything more advanced from the seventeenth century in a frontier setting?  Was Bailyn, no less than his predecessors, part of an intellectual trend powerful in the academy and at Harvard since the mid-1930s which advised entrenched elites  prudently to absorb challengers from below, so as to head off the suicidal intra-class conflict that, by distracting cooler upper-class heads, could allow lower-class hotheads to prevail?

     Other recent writers have similarly leaned toward cultural anthropological models to define the conflict and its dynamics; they focus on institutions and processes that either support or disrupt social cohesion; it is the integrity of the social fabric that compels their attention, not intellectual freedom.  The English historian Keith Thomas (1958) did not address the New England crisis directly, but absorbed Anne Hutchinson into a larger context of female mystics and radical sectaries threatening the family discipline which supposedly sustained social order.  Hutchinson was one of many women using religion as an outlet for public expression and arousing hysterical male fears of anarchy and revolt.[iii]   Emery Battis (1962), ostensibly following Bailyn, saw the faction fight between clerics, landed gentry and yeomen farmers vs. merchants and artisans, but drastically modified Bailyn’s analysis.  The conflict was needlessly exacerbated by the irrational power drives of the pathological, menopausal, and demagogic Woman and her atypically emotional, mostly upper-class followers. [iv] [Battis is dissected below.]

     Erik Erikson’s formulation of psychological development as the search for “identity” has yielded a festoon of explanations.  For his son, the sociologist Kai Erikson (1966), Anne Hutchinson’s gender was not decisive in causing the conflict, though he mentions that “men like Winthrop would have been annoyed by Mrs. Hutchinson’s belligerent intelligence whether they knew what she was talking about or not.”  Rather, Erikson emphasized a whole slew of ambiguities to which the group ritual of persecution, the purging of “deviants” gave reassuring definition.  The “lively enthusiasm” and “spirited individualism” of insurgent Puritanism, so appropriate to revolutionaries standing outside and jeering at the established order, was represented by Hutchinson.  But such a posture could not have served the “political maturity” (represented by Winthrop and his political descendant FDR) necessary to the responsible exercise of governmental authority; i.e., the predatory side of capitalism must be restrained.  Hutchinson’s trial drew the line between the older strain of Puritanism in England and that of the new clerical orthodoxy in Massachusetts.  Erikson did not draw Hutchinson as a political radical but believed her “metaphor” alarmingly echoed the Reformation’s “unresolved dilemmas.” [v]    Because there was no codified system of civil law until 1648, and the Scriptures did not address contemporary disputes, the Bay Colony was suffering, not from Hutchinson’s estrogen deficit, but a “boundary crisis.”  “By accepting the Bible as their spiritual parentage, England as their political parentage, a trading company as their spiritual parentage [they] owed their corporate identity to a wide assortment of elements.”  To make these “coherent” the Puritans had to be “doubly conscious of who they were and where they were going.”  By giving shape to the Devil (the “deviants” such as Anne Hutchinson, the Quaker martyrs, and Salem witches), Puritans could define themselves as the Devil’s negation.  Thus Hutchinson’s trials were a “tribal ceremony, a morality play, a ritual encounter” which revised the boundaries of the New England Way just as the investigations of the McCarthy era expressed the community’s interest in clarifying the murky, ambiguous boundary between democracy and communism after World War II, to give it the same sharp clarity that the distinction between democracy and fascism had enjoyed before the war (this distinction between democracy and fascism being “one of the baselines of the American way”).[vi] 

   Kai Erikson has relied upon reductive and irrationalist social psychology, arguing that the people of Massachusetts Bay did not understand what they were fighting about; moreover we, his contemporaries three hundred years later, still lack analytic clarity about the dynamics of the conflict (p.81). Not only does he attribute social processes, motives and feelings to an entire society without factual evidence, but fails to identify the structural contradictions and limitations (intra- and inter-class conflicts and economic scarcity) that would reveal the rational core at the center of the controversy.

   Like 1930s amateur historians nervous about puritanical state repression (Prohibition and Red scares), David Hall (1968) aligned himself with Charles Francis Adams’ allegedly favorable nineteenth-century assessment of Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson and Henry Vane as proto-liberals striking a blow for toleration and civil liberties, but Hall removed Hutchinson from center stage as “chief antagonist” in the Antinomian Controversy.[vii] It was John Cotton’s differences with other ministers that were decisive.  Like Battis and Erikson, Hall emphasized individual and group emotions, believing that antinomianism found fertile soil because of a mass “spiritual depression” following Cotton’s revival of 1633, popular anger at ministers who could not assuage the people’s personal anxieties over salvation, and the miseries of dislocation in “the bleak New England wilderness.” [viii]

     Ben Barker-Benfield (1972), a male feminist, concentrated on the shakiness of Puritan male identity made less stable by the Puritans’ inherent tendency toward “jacobinism”; extreme sex-role differentiation leading to male fears of passivity and dependency; Winthrop’s fears of Anne Hutchinson as midwife; and the male monopoly in selection of the elect, rendering females less confident of election.[ix] Lyle Koehler (1974, 1980), also a male feminist, believed that Puritanism worsened the status of women in New England because male helplessness in an authoritarian society compelled the subjection of women as compensation.  The Antinomian Controversy, like witchcraft, the Quaker invasion, and female criminality, represented women’s “search for power,” taking the form of gender revolt against oppressive male authority.  Hence Anne Hutchinson was a catalytic “role-model”; her mysticism leveled men and women by rendering both sexes equally helpless and dependent on God.  If men weren’t “better,” if earthly success was relatively insignificant, then this created the possibility of feminine “pride” and explained Hutchinson’s heroic defiance and resistance to the ministers as well as the loyalty of her female followers.[x] Some of these historians (Bailyn, Erikson, and Hall) have erased gender conflict to near invisibility.  Others, while bringing gender antagonisms to the foreground, have so abstracted Hutchinson from her own consciousness, lived experience, and the specific content of her interactions with Bostonians of different classes, that the historic figure seems to elude us, changing her shape from Good Witch to Bad, dissolving always into Hawthorne’s “the Woman,” a reiteration of Hester Prynne.

     By now it should be obvious that the authoritarian social relations revealed in the historiography on the Antinomian Controversy are not part of the quasi-medieval past: unidentified as such, they pervade our socializing institutions, including the family, the public schools, the humanities and social sciences, and the media.  Keith Thomas’ frequently cited article, “Women and the Civil War Sects,” does not set out to examine Hutchinson in the specific context of New England, 1636-38, though he often mentions her.  I review his arguments because he does not view women’s aspirations for autonomy and social influence as pathological and therefore requiring psychiatric explanation, and because his data give weight to my suspicion that Hutchinson’s “style” and “personality,” so derided by her critics, may have been highly distorted, and in any case, could not have been decisive in the defeat of her faction given the balance of power in New England at that time or since.

     Keith Thomas argued that the activity of some women in mid-seventeenth-century England posed both real and spectral threats to the social order and the security of the state.  By questioning women’s place within the patriarchal family, many female mystics and radical sectaries who were represented disproportionately in the radical sects of the Civil War period, seemed to be turning the world upside down (45). Mainstream Puritanism did not significantly raise the status of women.  The father was the master/king/priest of the household; marriage was women’s destiny; she was to be silent and obedient to husband, church and state; she owned no property in marriage. Such alleged Puritan improvements for women, brought about by their “exalted view of family life, protests against wife-beating and the double standard, and the denunciation of the churching of women,” were actually minor.  “As for the much-vaunted Puritan love, it should be remembered that it came after marriage not before; and that, as a popular manual remarked, ‘we would that the man when he loveth should remember his superiority’“ (43).

     For female mystics, preachers, and seers, “religious enthusiasm” with its claim to spiritual equality between the sexes, offered a degree of emancipation.  “Membership in the sects outside the Church [of England] or mysticism within allowed women self-expression, wider spheres of influence, and an asceticism which could emancipate them from the ties of family life” (56).[xi] Anne Hutchinson was one of many mystics and lay preachers who were arousing “a horrified chorus of opposition” in London, Dublin, the Universities, and New England.  Hugh Peter’s accusation against Anne was typical: “You have stepped out of your place; you have rather been a husband than a wife, and a preacher than a hearer; and a magistrate than a subject; and so have not been humbled for this” (49).  Theological disputation and political activity directed against the state were seen as inseparable.

     Thomas has limned the radical specter, a charismatic leader/agitator who would subject the state to the depredations of turned-on bachelors and masterless men refusing the ministrations of arbitrary power (42).  In the imagery he quotes, the specter is a witch-like phallic woman talking back to male authority and invading their space to unravel the body politic.  They were “agents of Satan,” “demagogues” rousing the “rabble” who were too “weak in understanding and reason to dispute them.  They were “ardent” desirers of fame, “puffed up with pride” and “insolent usurpers” (51).  Preaching women were destroying the family: “…the growth of the sects was…reducing the practice of household piety, alienating the affections of members of the family toward each other, and worst of all, rending the bonds of obedience which held them together” (52).   Thomas concluded that the challenge to “the organization and discipline of the family’“ was ended by the conservative turn taken by the radical sects after they became institutionalized (53).  Their long-term impact, however, was to redefine and limit paternal power and to create an altered discourse on the status of women.  “New standards of utility and reason were being sought to justify the subordination or men and women to each other” (56, 46).  The female sectaries were not forerunners of feminism because they based their claims on spiritual equality rather than natural rights and a lack of intellectual differences between the sexes (56).

      For purposes of analyzing Anne Hutchinson’s politics, the strength of Thomas’ interpretation is also its weakness.  By collapsing Anne into the category of (understandably) rebellious, even politically radical, women, he makes her less peculiar.  But by neglecting her class position and the specific dynamics of the Antinomian Controversy, he implies she is sympathy with the most democratic separatist and Civil War sects; thus Battis (288) and Barker-Benfield (67) could associate her with Lilburne or Winstanley or align her with the “Radical Reformation.”  Whereas Bailyn, by attaching her theology to the economic interests of the new merchant capitalists, does force the question: toward what social ends was Anne Hutchinson’s ambition directed?  Thomas’ description of the radical specter cannot answer that question, for he has separated women as a group from their concrete, historically specific connections to classes and social movements.  Koehler and Barker-Benfield write in the same idealist historiographic tradition, sympathetic though they are to the aspirations of women for equality.  Moreover, there is the imputation in all cultural history that a more egalitarian discourse creates massive macroeconomic change, as if lopsided social property relations could be set aright by sounder intellectual argument and poise.

       Unlike Thomas and the male feminists, Emery Battis, author of the “fullest account” of the Antinomian controversy, saw Anne’s personality as so bizarre, idiosyncratic, and attractive that it required book-length elucidation.  A distinction need not be drawn between Battis and Erikson; Battis, while presenting new data concerning the occupations of the Hutchinsonians, also emphasized Anne’s peculiar psychological configuration and its uncanny power to excite her normally well-behaved following, rather like some postwar social psychologists had analyzed Hitler and the Germans: anomie caused by science, the new philosophy, and economics made ordinarily sensible (urban) people uniquely susceptible to demagogues:

“Although some of the ‘disinherited’ were among Mrs. Hutchinson’s disciples, the backbone and sinew of the movement was drawn from an altogether dissimilar social element.  They were men (and women) of some affluence, eminence, and prestige in the community, people of education and gentle breeding who were not normally given to emotional excess.” [Battis, p.  ]

   Similarly Erikson had ignored class conflicts, pointing out that people such as Anne are always around, “driven to a deep excitement by the urgency of their own convictions.”  It was the townspeople who had placed her in a historical crossroads: the transition from individual religious experience to the doctrine of individual preparation.  Her banishment was the only available language to express this change (106-107).  Erikson aknowledged his debt to Perry Miller, Talcott Parsons, Erving Goffman and George Herbert Mead, men perhaps like him, beset with twentieth-century anxieties, bewildered by the divisive clash of subjectivities associated with the open-ended, free-wheeling modern condition, as Battis freely admitted in his Epilogue.

    The Battis biography sets out to balance the puffery by liberals, “to correlate the accessible data of her life experience in such a way as to provide a fresh understanding of her career.  Indeed…it seems fruitless to continue to write of her as if she were a thoroughly normal person, motivated by normal impulses” (viii).  Although Battis said he would “indicate the general outlines” of Hutchinson’s “psychological configuration” (ix), it is John Winthrop’s stern visage that greets the reader in the frontispiece of Battis’ book; after all, Winthrop, aided by Harvard medical school consultants, is the major source of data on Hutchinson.  Even though the moderate Battis takes pains to underline his dissatisfaction with the orthodox victory, he relies upon conservatives to diagnose Hutchinson, another Ahab or Hitler avant la lettre: “gentle” and “mild” John Cotton is the reasonable moderate to be defended; Anne Hutchinson is the overweening extremist to be discredited and disciplined.  Battis is both awed by and afraid of his subject’s power:

“Gifted with a magnetism which is imparted to few, she had, until the hour of her fall, warm adherents far outnumbering her enemies, and it was only by dint of skillful maneuvering that the authorities were able to loosen her hold on the community.  She was a woman, who, through some impulse now obscure, sought an emotional outlet which seemed to resolve itself most effectively in the acquisition of power and influence over the lives and spiritual destinies of her fellows.  Had she been born into a later age, Mrs. Hutchinson might have crusaded for women’s rights or even wielded a hatchet for temperance’s sake.  But for better or worse, her lot was cast in the seventeenth century, and her hand was to be felt in a theological tempest which shook the infant colony of Massachusetts to its very foundations (6).”

   The reader might infer that all women reformers are “not thoroughly normal,” but like Hutchinson, heavy-handed destroyers of “infant” colonies;  the hand that rocks the cradle should be hand-cuffed.  Battis, faced with a strong and maternal woman, cannot deal with her as a historic figure, so creates an ahistoric, irrational, reductive explanation to defend himself from an imago.  While appearing to admire Mrs. Hutchinson’s accomplishments he makes her crazy and hurtful; while appearing to add a more concrete economic dimension to Bailyn’s cruder typology, he undermines it by attributing irrational characteristics to all the Hutchinsonians: they fall–women, merchants, and the poor–under Anne’s spell.  I will show that Battis has duplicated Rugg’s corporatist liberal ambivalence and inherited her penchant for docudrama and melodrama. [xii]     

     For Battis, the decisive factors that explain Anne’s charismatic but aberrant personality, mysticism and destructiveness are to be discovered in her flawed interactions with three men.  First there was her domineering and disapproving father, Francis Marbury, with whom she identified.  Father too was defiant and persecuted; he had railed against unqualified clerics in the Church and was silenced.  The stamping father was the original source of her “notoriety and nemesis” (7-9).  Second was the over-fond and effeminate “man of a very mild temper and weak parts, wholly guided by his wife” (in Winthrop’s words), her husband William.  He “adored” Anne, but failed to provide her with “mental direction,” another cause of her disturbance.  The loss of her father’s “firm, directing hand” which the moonstruck William could not replace, left her “sailing full before the wind without a rudder” (11-13, 51-52).  In cases like Anne’s where the husband’s mental direction is absent, the blocked “libido” “settles back” upon “the ego,” resulting in “narcissism.”  Thus, as night follows day, she would need constant public affirmation: Anne became the prototypical political agitator (55, fn 18).  Like her seventeenth-century critics, Battis has sighted “an ardent desire to be famous.”  And he is concerned. “Although she could not have understood or explained it, nonetheless, [rudderless] Anne felt the lack and began obsessively to reach out in other directions for affective support and guidance” (13).  Third was John Cotton who filled her need for a “substitute mental director.”  Cotton provided a father substitute (his gentleness, like Henry Vane’s, did not “inhibit” her “expressiveness” and “spontaneity”), but his “mystical arcana” was a source of “delusions” and his naivet‚ and overly conciliatory “personality” allowed Anne to stray, plunging her and the colony into an avoidable disaster (38, 52, 20, 54, 226-228).  Battis dispenses some preventive politics to vigilant future leaders:

“It seems unlikely that Mrs. Hutchinson and her friends would deliberately use Cotton as a Trojan horse to dissemble their beliefs.  More probably they had accepted his doctrines in good faith, but unskilled in theological niceties and stirred to excess by the uncharitable example of their legalist opponents, had gradually tipped the delicate balance and deposited Cotton’s Covenant of Grace into the pit of heterodoxy.  Cotton had long foreseen such a possibility and should have guarded more carefully against it.  Had he done so, this crisis might never have arisen (228).”

        The reader now understands the deep causes of Anne’s neediness which have led to hysteria and mysticism, and her intransigence which stems from an insatiable craving for public approbation fatally mixed with the desire to replicate her father’s punishment (both his chastening at the hands of the Church of England and his stifling of her spontaneity).  While it is plausible and even likely that her father’s defiance affected her deeply, it is also possible to view Anne Hutchinson’s family and class as sources of strength, confidence, and endurance, but Battis, ignoring class and gender interests, has recreated her as a megalomaniac, citing Karen Horney, The Neurotic Of Our Time (1937) as his authority:

[Battis:] “The neurotic individual, seeking protection against weakness and helplessness, strives for power and constantly endeavors to offset the feeling of being insignificant, a tendency which generally results in an assertive and domineering attitude.  In due course Mrs. Hutchinson would find broad scope for such an inclination in her activities as religious teacher, malcontent, and dialectical opponent to the theologians of Massachusetts Bay.  The Antinomian philosophy provided another such release.  Theoretically, Antinomianism was a rejection of power by placing the human will in the hands of God, to be manipulated by Him as He saw fit.  Practically, however, it amounted to an assertion of unqualified personal power and autonomy.  The individual became a law unto himself and reserved the right to make all decisions affecting his actions without reference to the needs of the community.  Such a philosophy offered an incalculable advantage to a nature that was constantly striving to prove its own value.  Like the timid child who courts danger in order to draw attention and establish proof of his own courage, Mrs. Hutchinson wrenched herself free of narrowly defined social obligations and determined to steer her own course.  The very radicalism of the doctrine commended itself by contributing to that singularity with which she sought to win attention and approval (56).”

      If Hutchinson is the unmanageable Id, then John Cotton is the Ego, at peace with the Reality Principle: a salutary vagueness makes him all things to all men.  Cotton’s moderation is contrasted with Anne’s extremism in an account of Calvinist theology as practiced by the neurotic and the normal.  There were contradictions within Protestantism; orthodox Calvinism was modified to resolve its major dilemma, thus ensued Puritan rationalism.  The capacity of the theocracy to maintain social control through religion hinged upon reconciling the contradiction between God’s omnipotence and man’s moral responsibility for his actions.  Covenant theology explained that God still chooses the elect, but the ability to perform “works” demonstrates that a bond has been sealed with God.  As Thomas Hooker put it, “You must not think to go to heaven in a feather bed; if you will be Christ’s disciples, you must take up his crosse, and it will make you sweat” (62).  Battis cites fears of lower-class irrationalism and anti-intellectualism exemplified by “silly women laden with lusts” who threatened the “sobriety and control” of the rationalist order.  Puritans had to strike a balance between the extremes of “empiricism” and “mystical illuminism” (27, 28).  Grace, or regeneration, renovated reason, rescuing it from “unruly passions,” hence reason was able to “grasp” “the data of the world.”  John Cotton, while tending toward Calvinist orthodoxy, did not offer a “radical rejection” of the Puritan compromise.  “He emphasized the free promise of God’s grace without reference to man’s prior performance, but he stipulated clearly that after the original promise of God’s grace obedience to the law was a necessary stipulation of salvation.”  This strategy judiciously reduced factional conflict, but “humorless,” lawless, and paranoid Anne destroyed the compromise between the Covenants of Works and Grace, adhering stubbornly to the pure Covenant of Grace, minimizing “moral effort,” and wrongly asserting the indwelling of the spirit–the ultimate mental director. [xiii]

     Anne’s “fixed-idea” is explained through a multiplicity of factors: Two of her children had died in England, “undoubtedly under her care during their final illness.”  If she was unsure of her election, the tragedy would be construed as a sign of God’s wrath.  There was also the example of the “unnamed woman of Ely” who “captured Anne’s fancy” along with other female lay preachers.  Then there was the exalting effect of female hormones during pregnancy and [their loss?] in menopause, Hutchinson’s disease of the transition.  None of these could be counteracted by men, all of whom had let her down as described above.  Battis is silent on the possible effects of testerone, its ebb and flow, in the behavior of John Winthrop and Thomas Weld, with their wild-eyed, fantastic descriptions of “monstrous births” issuing forth from Hutchinson and her ally Mary Dyer, or in the vanity, opportunism and ambivalence of John Cotton (53, 43-44, 54-55, 248fn, 346).

      Although Battis insists that “the movement never generated into the extremes of “primitive revivalism” and that almost “all of Mrs. Hutchinson’s adherents,” “Puritans of a rational-dogmatic type” “while thoroughly sympathetic to her teachings, continued to excercise a critical judgment that restrained them from following the immoderate course their enemies feared they would take,” Battis’ rhetoric and accounts of her following strongly suggests that Anne primarily appealed to their emotions, rather than to the rational self-interest that his phrase “critical judgment” implies.  In fact, he concludes, “the Antinomian dissent was not a social movement at all…The goals of the Hutchinsonian group were vague and ill-defined, its leadership diffuse and uncertain; its relations disorderly and incoherent” (280).  The dissenters would have prevailed had their teacher held her tongue at the civil trial, and had her upper-class followers who held a measure of political power, exercised it with greater political maturity and sophistication.  As Battis accounts for the growth of Hutchinson’s following, he indicates the degree to which appeals to irrational “secular anxieties” generated emotional and destructive political responses, while at the same time, he clearly indicates that there was an irreconcilable conflict between sectors of the “haves.”

     Battis insists that this was no poor people’s pietistic movement (284-285).  Anne built her following largely from the more affluent Bostonians, all entrepreneurs (268), scapegoaters made anxious by ambiguity (282).  They were “enthusiastic housewives” and their husbands: “frustrated” merchants and artisans along with a few resentful members of the lower orders.  With Boston short of professional medical “practitioners,” Anne Hutchinson was able to convert her female followers through her activity as a busy, skilled and effective midwife and healer; i.e., she exploited the vulnerability and gratitude of sick and weakened women.  Battis imagines a scene where Anne successfully treats an ill housewife, helping her with housework, sitting by her bedside and inquiring “gravely into [her] soul’s estate.”  She then promotes the Covenant of Grace, pointing out that the legalistic doctrine of Works “held out no hope of salvation.”  Both in her home meetings and in such intimate encounters, Anne unconsciously confused her views with those of John Cotton, thus adding to her credibility and rapidly enlarging her flock of [queer black sheep].[xiv]

    Battis believes that the women proselytized their husbands.  Among males, Anne derived her “core” support from among the “power elite” of merchants and artisans, “either quite prosperous or at least moderately well-to-do,” “alienated” and on the defensive against a coalition of clergy, yeomen farmers and landed gentry who were attempting to regulate economic activity in anger over mercantile profiteering and rising costs of labor and commodities.  The Covenant of Grace made their “immoral” behavior irrelevant to their elect status.  Thus the Hutchinsonians had “economic interests…frustrated by the organic morality of the orthodox clergy and gentry.” [xv]

      A subtle but crucial distinction between Battis and Bailyn emerges here.  Bailyn has the “magistrates and merchants” reading “different lessons” “from the same [Calvinist] texts” in a structurally “incendiary situation”; their opposing economics and morality clearly fused in the consciousness of the contending factions, each side seeking to vindicate its behavior by citing contradictory Biblical injunctions: guided by market conditions, the nascent free traders work diligently while the incipient New Dealers/communitarians intervene in the economy with wage and price controls.  Battis, by contrast, has the merchants unconsciously and indirectly aware of the extent to which the Covenant of Grace supported their rational economic interests.  Yet, as we have seen, Battis has chastised them for not organizing rationally to prevail over the Winthrop faction; he does not see them as unalterably opposed to the “basic moral pattern of the community”: [xvi]

“The leading merchants of Boston had not calculatedly adopted Mrs. Hutchinson’s tenets with this mundane consideration in mind [that their economic practices and salvation were no longer linked]: the commitment was doubtless made without conscious awareness of related goals.  But being only human it was essential to their psychological well-being that the framework of events and relations in which they were implicated should have meaning for them–such meaning as would confirm each man’s sense of his own worth.  The orthodox theology had failed to satisfy this need, and Mrs. Hutchinson had unwittingly provided a felicitous conjunction.  Although neither she nor her companions were disposed to abandon the basic moral pattern of the community, this altered perspective allowed greater latitude to define what was morally sound and what was not.  Furthermore, it permitted them to rest confident in their regeneration despite all contrary claims founded on a paternalistic and organic philosophy.”

    Here we get to the heart of corporatist liberalism and its crazy-making logic.  Words and their meanings have no weight for Battis.  How can a pattern both be basic and yet stretch? Are basic moral codes like rubber bands?  Battis has never limned a consensus pre-existent to the pointless ruckus; does he mean that they are all putative Christians?  No, he has asserted, not demonstrated, a balance or compromise, the flexible middle way à la Hume, that could have led Protestants to peaceful and rational conflict resolution.  A moral economy with its customary and just prices, however, is either there or not there; pre-capitalist and capitalist social relations have yet to be harmonized, no matter how gracious the management style, but the necessary rupture is erased by the utopian corporatist liberal.

     Additional followers, a “slender minority” came from the lower class; they are anti-intellectual and irrational.  First Battis quotes Edward Johnson’s description of an “incendiary” proselytizer:  “Come along with me. I’le bring you to a woman that preaches better Gospel than any of your black-coates that have been at the Ninniversity, a Woman of another kinde of spirit, who hath many revelations of things to come, and for my part…I had rather heare such a one that speakes from the meere motion of the spirit, without any study at all, then any of your learned Scollers, although they may be fuller of Scripture.”

   Battis does not tell us that Edward Johnson, a militia captain, was no impartial onlooker.  Philip Gura quotes Johnson as complaining “that Hutchinson and her followers’ emphasis on ‘rare Revelations of things to come from the spirit’ not only ‘weaken[ed] the Word of the Lord in the mouth of his Ministers’ but was part of an attempt ‘to put both ignorant and unlettered Men and Women, in a position of Preaching to a multitude,’ a goal exemplary of their ‘proud desires to become Teachers of others.’ [xvii]   Later, Battis characterizes the entire “peripheral” group (ninety men of whom only seven were not poor):

“In summation, it appears that the members of the peripheral group were, for the most part, less specifically goal-oriented than those in the other groups.  Unsettled and rootless, frustrated in the attainment of various individual needs, they were suggestible to an interpretation of the situation that would sustain their own self-evaluation.  But most of them probably found adequate vindication of their own worth in an uncritical acceptance of the condemnatory stereotypes in which the opposition was portrayed, rather than through adherence to the positive doctrinal ideals of the movement.  Participation in a concerted attack on the official guardians of sanctity and on those “hypocrites” who labored under a Covenant of Works would release feelings of hostility, and help support the emotional conviction that even those who did not pursue the disciplinary rigors of Puritan orthodoxy might be of worth.” 

   Battis has found a scientistic way of saying that the peripherals (no less than the gentle core group, see above) were a protofascist rabble, easily aroused and full of unfocused resentment, prey to a demagogue who would feed their wilting narcissistic needs with negative images of the established clergy.  Left to their own devices the peripherals would never have thought of the Winthrop-controlled clergy as their enemies.  Judicious planners reading Battis’ book would make sure that the marginalized were “included” in the system and provided with positive sources of self-esteem not dependent on scapegoating.  As I have tried to show, all of the Hutchinsonians are tarred with this condescending characterization, whatever Battis may say about their “critical judgment.”

     As Battis describes the persecution of the Hutchinsonians, he continues to contradict himself, like Winnifred Rugg, ending by blaming the victims.  Why does he think Anne was persecuted?  Starting in the sixteenth century with the rise of the nation-state, heresy was punished as a civil crime.  Toleration was unthinkable for national security would be imperiled by ideological pollution.  Boston was facing rioting sailors, angry Pequot Indians and the need to recruit a militia to fight the Connecticut tribe (116-119).  But these “external threats” were not uppermost in Winthrop’s mind, for they could be managed through “diplomacy or force” even though the Hutchinsonians refused to fight the Pequots.  Rather, Anne was “the worm that gnawed within their vitals and threatened to turn the Saints against each other.”  The unity of “new Zion” was endangered by a “meddling woman” who should have stayed in the kitchen (120).  Winthrop was also galled that people might be independently consulting Scripture to check upon the accuracy of their ministers’ citations and interpretations, as Battis shows in his account of the civil trial.  The following passage illustrates, line by line, the underlying anxiety that explains the hysterical response of the Winthrop faction: clerics and magistrates were fearful of the new literacy, hence of potential insubordination in the laity.  The last paragraph illustrates Battis’ unflagging habit of attributing feelings and ideas to his characters that he could not have known:

“I teach not in a publick congregation,” she insisted.  Her meetings were private, held within her own home, and those who came were unsolicited.  “The men of Berea are commended for examining Pauls doctrine; wee do no more but read the notes of our teachers Sermons, and then reason of them by searching the Scriptures.”

     Unhappily she had stumbled onto the very path which Winthrop was most eager to explore.  “You do not as Beareans search the Scriptures for their confirming in the truths delivered, but you open your teachers points, and declare his meaning, and correct wherein you think he hath failed…as if hee could not deliver his matter so clearely to the hearers capacity as your self.”

     “Prove that!” she hotly challenged, “That anybody doth that.”  But she knew full well that this sally had touched her closely.  Anne sagged under the strain.  The stolid figures at the far side of the table blurred and swam dizzily in her view (193-194).

     Earlier, Battis had shown that the leaders needed to control definitions of morality and immorality to regulate political and economic behavior.  He also noted that Anne was married to a member of the merchant group that was opposed in interest to the Winthrop faction.  He has described Winthrop’s horror that Anne had left her kitchen for the parlor, a venue which was now a university to foment sedition or the conditions that could make sedition more likely: private meetings and critical independent thought.  Yet throughout his account, Battis admonishes Hutchinsonians for extremist tactics, as if less evangelism and more decorum, a more tactful style would have provoked less opposition.  Unlike the conciliatory Cotton, these “true believers” were filled with “fervor.”  “Emboldened” Hutchinsonians, mostly women, were confrontational and disruptive in church (105, 137).  Wheelwright was “perverse” and “inflammatory” in the Fast Day Sermon, and Anne’s gratuitous admission of “immediate revelation” after Cotton had already saved her was sheer crusading zealotry.  Battis speculates that she disobeyed Winthrop’s order to be quiet because she may have wanted to “rise triumphantly from the ashes of humiliation and annihilate her persecutors with the terrible brilliance of her heavenly champion” (202).  Her ill-timed outburst (like those of her supporters) brought down repression onto her entire faction.  “Had she modestly kept silence, gratefully accepting a providential deliverance from catastrophe, her story might well have had a different ending.”  In one conclusion, Battis states “The Antimonians had struck a heavy blow–if not for freedom of thought, certainly for that heterogeneity which leads to freedom of thought–but in so doing, they had aroused a fresh and inordinate dread of heterodoxy” (78).  He is saying that had the Hutchinsonians not been bamboozled by a psychopathic demagogue, but instead had promoted their interests (assumed now to be identical between women, merchants, artisans, and the poor) with a lighter touch and better political organization, they could have averted what David Hall has described as a century of formalism and increased authoritarianism caused by the Antinomian controversy (Hall, 20).

       I have described the historiographical tradition in which Battis writes as corporatist liberal, reductive, and irrationalist.  In the misappropriation of Freud disseminated by Talcott Parsons and other Hobbesians, potentially destructive natural impulses are fundamental to the explanation of human behavior.  This line is argued against a materialist analysis that describes social property relations and the total ensemble of human relationships that spring from these relations, many of which are contradictory.  For the Parsonian “structural functionalists” a politically effective, well-adjusted individual develops the inner controls to subordinate unruly emotions, hence rationally may maximize the political and economic opportunities made available in our society.  Such mature individuals are integrated with a minimum of disruption, for they have adjusted to pre-existent administrative remedies.  Women, at the mercy of female hormones, are less capable of rational behavior than (upper-class) men and are probably rightly excluded from the public sphere where their all-too-attractive emotionalism can “tip the delicate balance” (Battis, 288) which insures social stability.  How does Battis fit this old model?  First, he sees Anne as motivated solely by unconscious forces and female hormones, removing her from her social context.  Second, he relies upon irrationalist corporatist liberal social theory to account for the Hutchinsonian defeat.

     Battis views Anne’s mysticism, tenacity, and militancy as symptoms of “delusions” and worsened by the changes of menopause.  He does not pursue the question as to what degree, if any, Anne understood that her theology was self-serving to her social group, the new mercantile capitalists; instead he has characterized the “felicitous conjunction” between free Grace and merchant interests as “unwittingly provided” by Anne.  Such a question need not be pressed because the primary determinants of her behavior are unconscious, whipping her about because she lacked a “rudder.”  Furthermore, it is men, not women and men in classes who shape female behavior.  Thus Battis dismisses the possibility that Anne’s theology might have been influenced by her Puritan mother and/or have been fortified by lived experience, her social practice as a mother, midwife, healer, and female preacher, i.e., as a member of a female culture composed of women in different ranks but sharing many identical problems.  Second, Battis criticizes the irrationalist Hutchinsonians for style and disorganization, as if through politeness, discretion, and “dexterity” they could have made frontier institutions work for them.  They could have organized themselves into a proper interest group as if they had at their disposal democratic procedures which then could have forced a neutral state peacefully to adjust to new social configurations and new, rationally expressed demands from below.  Yet he has shown that the state was autocratic; that there were numerous irreconcilable conflicts, that is, disputes that could not have been negotiated and compromised without sacrificing or endangering fundamental economic interests and social identities (Chapter XVII and passim).

     What does Battis say, then, about the significance of Anne’s class position?  He seems to be worried about the upper-class Antinomians, who should have been able to check their narcissism to balance the incorrigible lower orders.  Even though he insists, perhaps wrongly, that her core following was almost entirely prosperous and entrepreneurial (268),[xviii] Battis saw Anne as analogous to nineteenth-century conservative feminists and as a “herald” of the “individualistic” “new man” “delineated by Rousseau,” along with the Levellers Hampden and Lilburne and the Digger Gerrard Winstanley.  Rugg (whom Battis barely cited), while admiring Anne’s feminism, also criticized her for radicalism and anarchism, but took care to dissociate her from contemporary middle-class democratic movements emanating from urban artisans and shopkeepers.  Rugg commented that Hutchinson found the deference accorded to her intoxicating, but also postulated that her social leadership gave legitimacy to the grievances of women and lent respectability to a gentle religion.

     What have other historians said about upper-class “radicals”; and what do Hutchinson’s trial records reveal about the significance of her class position to contemporaries?  Christopher Hill notes that the gentry in seventeenth-century England were not to question authority for this could set a bad example and encourage servile revolt.[xix] T. Wilson Hayes agrees, arguing that had the cleric John Everard, an upper-class Familist agitator, been a member of “the lunatic fringe” of “ill-bred laymen,” he might not have been so “tenaciously” persecuted.  But while Everard’s status and achievement conferred authority upon radical ideas, he was not co-opting these ideas by making them respectable or providing outlets for previously unfocused resentments:

“…after his conversion he adopted the task of providing working people with the means by which they could validate ideas already implicit in their own radical tradition, ideas which recognized no absolute separation between the world of nature and the world of grace.  Among the heresies Everard finally admitted in 1639 was ‘that the visible world was but God clothed with accidents,’ that there would be no resurrection of the dead….’that scripture, literally understood, was false,’ all ideas that Niclaes himself had espoused….the true inheritors of Everard’s legacy were literate working people such as Gerrard Winstanley, the Digger leader, who based his plan on making the earth into a common treasury on the Familistic interpretation of Scripture which Everard did so much to substantiate (66-67).

      Historians should compare these contemporary “heretics” before classifying Hutchinson as either consciously or accidentally connected to revolutionary Puritanism.  Was she criticizing the sanctity of upper-class property, or teaching toleration and pluralism, or encouraging her flock to think for themselves, so as to overthrow illegitimate clerical domination; or was she fighting for control of Massachusetts Bay in the interest of her own merchant family?  Certainly she was perceived as a “radical.”  The record is replete with images of social dissolution at her hands, and her social leadership was seen as enhancing her threat to the moral magistracy.  John Cotton was alarmed that an “eminent Christian” should even be questioning the notion that the body of Christ was not resurrected, ergo the bodies of “sinners” would not burn in Hell, thus removing a major weapon in the arsenal of elite psychological warriors in their struggle to perpetuate and reproduce class rule. [xx] John Winthrop worried that Familistically inclined “Teachers,” no matter how “truly godly” they might be throughout life, would likely spawn “Scholars” in the next generation who would become “hereticks and schismatics.”

     Emory Battis, echoing Winthrop, remarked, “The insurrectionary bent of the Hutchinsonians derived in no small measure from the inherent Jacobinism of Protestant theology” (254).  Philip Gura shares the view that Puritanism generates radicalism (monstrous births).  Wondering where Anne’s mortalist heresy could have originated since it did not surface until her church trial, he writes, “The mystery is where such radical propositions came from, there being no hint in the earlier account of testimonies of such doctrinal vagaries; and for explanation one perhaps should rely on Hutchinson’s own account, that she ‘did not hould any of thease Thinges before imprisonment’ in the winter of 1637-38–that is, that she progressively generated the ideas from her initial Puritan tenets.”  Gura believes that “a very similar pattern emerged” in such radicals as Richard Overton in England during the 1640s.  “In this light, the evolution of the New England antinomians’ doctrine directly anticipated the inevitable fragmentation of Puritan doctrine in England, where in the 1640s and 1650s radical ideas proliferated in a land in which no strong orthodoxy had emerged, as it had in Massachusetts, to check them” (261).  Gura’s balance-of-power chessboard politics are at odds with Brenner’s (see below) but not that of Gura’s acknowledged mentor Christopher Hill.  Hill argues that radical sects emerged from the underground and proliferated only because the ruling class was split and busy fighting each other; a mistake they would never repeat.

     This idealist formulation has been central to many writers on the Antinomian controversy including the feminists Koehler and Barker-Benfield.  The remainder of my essay will criticize the idea that “Protestant theology” as such, is inherently either radical or conservative. 

20. Bernard Bailyn, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1955).  Although apparently structuralist, Bailyn’s Weberian, Parsonian and interactive account considers status group conflict.  He explains that the merchant faction were “uprooted radical puritans”: former carpenters and masons, husbandmen and East Anglian cloth workers; while the Puritan gentleman who never lost control of the colony were economically embarrassed by inflation and annoyed by uppity servants (36).  As he tells us in his preface, Bailyn was studying how political roles and social position affected entrepreneurship.  A structural analysis would have looked more closely at Hutchinson’s following, which was by no means entirely composed of prosperous merchants (as Battis later revealed), then gone on to delineate which conflicts were irreconcilable.  Moreover, the Winthrop faction was not operating under pre-capitalist assumptions; they were all capitalist planners, experimenting with wage and price controls which had not effectively controlled inflation in a situation typical of new settlements: scarcity in food, provisions, and skilled labor (32-33); see below.

21. Bailyn, 39-43.

22. Keith Thomas, “Women and the Civil War Sects,” Past and Present 13 (April 1958).

23. Emery Battis, Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Chapel Hill: U. North Carolina Press, 1962).  Although Bailyn does not include the artisans as Hutchinsonians (except as former “workers”), Battis does not adequately acknowledge his debt to Bailyn, as if he were the first scholar to notice the merchant-farmer split.  “Most studies of the Antinomian Controversy make no effort to discuss the nature of Mrs. Hutchinson’s following beyond the simple assumption that it comprised almost all the members of the Boston congregation plus a few people from the neighboring towns.  Their backgrounds and stations are not analyzed, the degrees of their enthusiasm or complicity are not examined, and their motivations are not explored.”  Bailyn is cited briefly and vaguely in two footnotes, p. 67 fn 9, and p. 100 fn 27, complimenting his “discerning discussion of the influence of the merchants in the 1630s” and “for an excellent discussion of the commercial situation.”  Battis has been favorably cited and relied upon by Erikson, Colacurcio, Demos, and Gura. Hall, Rutman, Koehler and Barker-Benfield have offered vague, weakly argued and non-systematic criticisms of parts of his judgments and methodology.

24. Kai T. Erikson, Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance (N.Y.: Wiley, 1966): 82, 93, 71-74, 87.

25. Erikson, Wayward Puritans,  67-70, 54-59, 64, 101, 102, 70.  Erikson adopts a centrist propaganda objective, sharply distinguishing between organic entities: democracy and communism, or democracy and fascism, as if such boundaries were real, not hypostasized. Such a ploy masks the fact that many governments intervened in the economy during the crises of the 1930s with bureaucratic collectivist policies, and no democratic capitalist society protected the rights of independent labor unions perceived as strengthening the socialist left.  New Dealers who had been accused of “social fascism” by Stalinists before the Popular Front period, were sensitive to the need to distance themselves from the various discredited fascisms after the war, while Stalinists cooperated by nailing Republicans, not the corporatist liberals, as “fascists” during the McCarthy years and even earlier.

26. Hall, op.cit. See above for Adams’ dour view of all New Englanders, persecuting Hebraists to a man.

27. Hall’s judgment was made after he examined previously unpublished material.  But see Rutman, Winthrop’s Boston, 1966, Chapter V for the conflict of Cotton with his colleagues.

28. Ben Barker-Benfield, “Anne Hutchinson and the Puritan Attitude Toward Women,” Feminist Studies I (1972): 55-78.

29. Lyle Koehler, “The Case of the Feminine Jezebels: Anne Hutchinson and Female Agitation During the Years of Antinomian Turmoil, 1636-1640,” William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, XXXI (1974): 55-78.

30. Cf. Phyllis Mack, “Women as Prophets,” The Origins of Anglo-American Radicalism, ed. Margaret C. Jacob and James Jacob (London, 1984): 214-230.  In the short run, the activity of women prophets failed to improve their status because they had drawn upon and reinforced typical negative female qualities: irrationality and hysteria, but worse, their “Utopian visions…were projected…outside historical time…Until the Apocalypse, women would–and should–remain weak and despised in the natural order (225-226).”

31. Rugg often indicates where she created an imaginary reconstruction of an episode in Anne’s life (although this does not excuse the lamentable lack of footnotes), while Battis presents fictional scenarios that could not have been derived from the sources cited, yet are presented as historical events.  Cf. Rutman’s abrupt change of tone when he describes the Antinomian Controversy: “Anne Hutchinson was disruption personified” (119).  Her followers “were but a mob scrambling after God, and like all mobs, quickly dispersed once their leaders were dealt with (121).”  They “heckle,” “badger” and “twist”; i.e., they are the embodiments of anti-intellectualism and irrationalism.

32. Battis, 27, 34-35, 57, 56, 54.  Cf. Ziff’s analysis of Cotton as standing outside the ascetic Protestant tradition in The Career of John Cotton, 150-153.

33. Battis, 82-86, 91, 92, 102, 103, 109, 249-285. Gary Nash suspects that the artisans would have been poor (letter to me, 1984).  Cotton clearly approved of Anne’s proselytizing activities as midwife during this early phase of recruitment (see Hall, 411-413).  Battis may have abused this source, conveying the impression that Anne misinformed her patients as to the identity of her views with Cotton’s, and even that Cotton criticized her for doing so.  Battis wrote,” point by point husband and wife probed and measured Mrs. Hutchinson’s monitions, held them up against the known light of Gospel, weighed them against the familiar teachings of Mr. Cotton.  At last, weary but exultant, they may have concluded that the three were as one, and thanked God that this good woman, their neighbor, had such light to bestow on them (86).”  Is Battis hinting that the triad, husband, wife and Anne, had usurped God (the Trinity)?

34. Battis, 257, 95-100, 263.  Although merchants and artisans were both affected by wage and price controls, Battis has lumped them together as if they had no antagonistic interests requiring discussion.  For instance, artisans were dependent upon merchants for raw materials.

35. Battis, 103-104. See also Ziff, Puritanism, 76.  “Anne Hutchinson spoke theoretically, with no conscious reference to material conditions, when the vocabulary of free trade was as yet unthought of.  But the group who supported her show in their makeup the early stirrings of resistance to impediments to such freedom.”

 36. Philip Gura, A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory: Puritan Radicalism in New England, 1620-1660 (Middletown, 1984): 244.

37. The occupations of 56 of the 187 Hutchinsonians were unknown.  Battis found 7 professionals (teachers and ministers), 14 merchants, 38 craftsmen, 23 husbandry, 12 services, 7 maritime, 2 military, 10 skilled servants, 16 unskilled servants.  In the core group, out of 38 there were only 2 professionals, 9 merchants, 8 craftsmen, with 4 farmers and 7 of unknown occupation (suggesting marginality) (297).  This seems to be a more heterogeneous group than Bailyn had described.

38. Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down (London: Temple Smith, 1973): 20.

39. See Gura, Sion’s Glory,  p.91 for a different interpretation of the mortalist heresy: it undermined the purpose of founding New England, that is to hasten the Second Coming.  There would be no Last Judgment because Christ was already present in the heart.  However the examination records of Anne Hutchinson suggest that it was the threat to social control that was at issue.

August 8, 2009

Hitler, switches, modern art, and more, much more

Wilhelm Trubner, 1877: Combat of the Titans

Here are three pages from my unpublished manuscript that criticizes existing psychoanalytic/social psychological explanations of Hitler’s psyche, using Hitler’s own words about himself as a primary source. I am posting this on the Yankee Doodle Society website as an enticement to read more from this chapter, as the footnotes are lengthy and survey the literature existing at the time I wrote it, in the late 1980s-early 1990s. If viewers here want to see the entire 32 page excerpt from my larger manuscript (tentatively titled Eros and the Middle Manager), please write to me at or see the last three blogs here:  If you have been reading prior blogs here, you will recognize the themes I have tried to develop on the Yankee Doodle Society website, overall an attempt to rescue the radical Enlightenment from the “moderate men” who have co-opted “the Enlightenment” and turned it against “the lower orders.” The sample follows below, and Hitler’s words were taken from his Table Talk (1973) with introductory essay by H. R. Trevor-Roper, and translated by Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens. I challenge the widespread notion that Hitler is best understood as a failed artist. In my view, Hitler views the skeptical, switching, restless Jewish mind with panic, but his fears are also class fears of the squeezed petit bourgeois.

I should add that this and the rest of the ms. was read by Robert Brenner, Frederick Crews(this section only), and the late Roy Porter. I was encouraged by their responses to press on.

[From my manuscript:]

[Hitler, Feb. 3-4, 1942; Hitler identifies with heretics; Jews have instigated the “collective madness” of witch hunts carried out by organized Christianity:] A Jew was discovered to whom it occurred that if one presented abstruse ideas to non-Jews, the more abstruse these ideas were, the more the non-Jews would rack their brains to try to understand them. The fact of having their attention fixed on what does not exist must make them blind to what exists. An excellent calculation on the Jew’s part. So the Jew smacks his thighs to see how his diabolic strategem has succeeded. He bears in mind that if his victims suddenly became aware of these things, all Jews would be exterminated. But, this time, the Jews will disappear from Europe. The world will breathe freely and recover its sense of joy, when this weight is no longer crushing its shoulders (288).

[Hitler, June 13, 1943:] I cannot make up my mind to buy a picture by a French painter, because I am not sure of the dividing line between what I understand and what I do not understand. I have the same feeling when I look at paintings by Corinth and Trübner–to mention only two of our German artists. These men started by painting pictures of great merit, and then, urged on by pride, they started to produce the most startling and extraordinary works. [THE SWITCH] In literature the Jew has already blazed the same pernicious trail, and artists like Corinth and Trübner have followed them. The result is the frightful daubs with which they now inflict us (703-704).

Less is more. Like many critical theorists, George L. Mosse has placed Nazi excess in the tradition of mass politics and youth revolt, i.e., Jacobin democracy and terror. But Hitler’s own writings place him securely in the ranks of the reactionary romantic anticapitalists; he was a typically vulnerable petit-bourgeois, railing against fluctuating money markets, terrified of status loss, and choking off the intellectual curiosity and expression that will cast him into the abyss reserved for lapsed conservative Christians and blue-collars. He wants an enduring structure, a familiar terrain. How many of those who have attempted to analyze him and/or the appeal of national socialism pay attention to his panic in the face of naturalistic romantic art and poetry? As with other neoclassicists, the consequence for Hitler is a deficient vocabulary; he cannot define his situation in concrete, descriptively precise language—words, tones, and gestures that chart the rise and fall of feelings, their switches, subtle interpenetrations and metamorphoses. How might the scientistic social critic (his vocabulary similarly limited insofar as he turns away from the living world to his non-interactive models, ideal types and abstractions) react with phobic intensity to the finely differentiated emotions of everyday life, emotions that he cannot grasp without the words and detail that match the distinctive qualities, nuances and motions of each? Might his own person become the loathsome, super-demanding, ever elusive creature that Hitler disowned as Jewish, the muddling (female) body that even after repeated exterminations inevitably returned to terrorize him again? Might the tasteful planner or architect taken with structural models that may be encompassed at a single glance feel the same? Are there not escapist, mystical, and submissive longings , underneath such “aesthetic” preferences; postures or dreamy states that quiet the rage of seeing, mop up the blood on the floor?
The blurred formulations of Nazi ideology crowding the field of cultural anthropology and cultural history sharply contrast with the clear view of the enemy available in the straightforward writing of Hitler and other National Socialists. They explicitly and plainly oppose independent labor unions, the rootless cosmopolitanism associated with “international finance capital,” liberalism and international socialism, and the universalist ethics and the too-attractive no-holds-barred intellectual procedures associated with science and democracy, all products of the radical Enlightenment and identified with “the International Jew.” Because the idealist social theorists described above are corporatist liberals wedded to the calming closures of Christian eschatology (and unconditional surrender?) their explanations for Nazi antisemitism are marred by the abstractness and vagueness of ideal types and antitheses.

Above all they must carve a clear channel between Hitler and themselves as supporters of FDR and other self-sacrificing good fathers; as bureaucratic collectivists supposed to be different from fascists they necessarily construct Hitler as a creative figure, the failed, unbalanced romantic artist concocting an original, eclectic, incoherent ideology that may not be construed as another case of corporatist liberalism. .

[Harvard social psychologist, Dr. Henry A. Murray to FDR, 1943:] [Hitler] was a compound, say, of Lord Byron and Al Capone (143)…It was not Germany as it was or had been that Hitler represented but rather the ideal social pattern which he wished to impose on the country. Not only during his days of rumination in Vienna but later it was necessary for him to construct an ideology from diverse sources in terms of which he could preach to the people. None of the elements were original with him but some inventiveness was required in developing the precise combination of principles that became the creed of the Nazi Party. Besides this, he was continually preoccupied with inventing means to his goals, which involved a considerable amount of creative thought; thus, to a certain extent, he functioned as a creative artist and certainly conceived of himself as such (178-179).

The only switch visible to the moderate men is the metamorphosis of extreme nationalism to antisemitism and xenophobia, a change that “moderate” nationalism resists after social psychologists have cooled it out. In the mass media that have interpreted the Third Reich to millions, the outsider Hitler’s own voice has been presented, perhaps invariably, as a rant in the German language, shadowed by domineering Jewish blood, lapped up by cheering fresh-scrubbed German Aryan women. [end of excerpt from Eros and the Middle Manager]

Lovis Corinth, 1905: Die Jugend des Zeus

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