YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

April 7, 2015

Who are the moderate men?

hd wallpapers

hd wallpapers

[Update 1-31-17: briefly, the moderate men are bent upon resolving conflicts, no matter how irreconcilable others find them. This search for “stability” trumps the search for truth every time.]

My last blog (an ad from the Wall Street Journal) may have aroused confusion. Although I wrote a long essay/blog on the moderate men years ago, I should summarize why I find them repellent, even though I consider myself “moderate” in many ways, as eager to resolve conflict as the best of them. Whereas the moderate men I spurn are not concerned with finding truth (no matter how tortuous the trail).

1.Calling oneself the “moderate” alternative to “extremism” on either Left or Right is a strategy devised by psychological warriors in social psychology that was exposed as sykewar by Ellis Freeman in 1940, in his chapter “Beating the Dead Horse,” in Conquering the Man in the Street (see favorable abstract here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ellis-freeman/conquering-the-man-in-the-street/).Freeman explained that everyone is for “moderation”; but the term needs to be analyzed as a strategy in precise context, without necessarily implying that everyone who is “immoderate” is nuts.

2.Social psychologists allied to FDR and the New Deal (progressives) used to call themselves “moderate conservatives” (just like FDR, the conservative reformer, who viewed his Depression measures as averting red revolution), but using today’s argot, they should be seen as left-liberals or social democrats, or even populists. For they believe that such problems as “income inequality” can be solved through measures imposed by a strong, paternalistic state. I see them as pre-fascists, but not fascists, at least not yet.

beanforest etsy.com

beanforest etsy.com

3.The moderate men at the WSJ or Fox News aim to get eyeballs, whether on the left or on the right. They also believe fervently that the state is neutral and that all conflicts, no matter how structural in nature, can be arbitrated or mediated with a skillful “moderate” at the helm, capable of manipulating the “crazies” at the extremes. Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, who advertises himself as an “independent” comes to mind.

4.Another favored moderate term is “balance” as in “fair and balanced.” I wrote about the moderate men and “balance” here https://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/, and here: https://clarespark.com/2010/06/15/the-classics-as-antidote-to-science-education/, and here: https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/ (retitled, “Balance, equilibrium, and psychological warfare”).

Yesterday’s advertisement from a WSJ insert (https://clarespark.com/2015/04/06/the-moderate-men-endorse-spoiled-brats-in-readers/) was meant to convey that “moderation” is usually exercised upon behalf of an elite, who can have anything they want from life. More FDR again, and Franklin Roosevelt was misportrayed by his social psychologists (the ones whose views are reflected today on PBS and network television alike) as the polar opposite from such super-villains as Hitler: the good father sharply contrasted with the bad father.

FDR in top  hat: NBC News

FDR in top hat: NBC News

March 16, 2015

Who were the precursors of the New Left? The WASP establishment or Communists?

viperscoverUntil I read Philip Wylie’s best seller A Generation of Vipers (1942), I had assumed that the sprinkling of red-diaper babies who rose to prominence in the social movements of the 1960s, were the bearers of the intellectual ideas that gave rise to the women’s movement, the antiwar movement, the back to Nature movement, and to multiculturalism, with its emphasis on “race” over “class.”

(I should have known that no true communist would sort people out by “race” as the anti-racist Soviet Union was adamant about the conception of proletarian internationalism; moreover, communists wrote A World View of Race in the mid-1930s, that identified the fiction of “race” with the aims of the imperialist bourgeoisie, letting workers off the hook.)

I had already learned at Cornell U. in my course with David Brion Davis that “evil was back” with the renewed popularity of Reinhold Niebuhr, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne in the 1940s. And the “evil” within each of us (to cite Penny Dreadful), was there to offset excessive progressive optimism about the promise of American life, which enabled upward mobility for the Common Man or Woman.

What stunned me about the Wylie “sermon,” that echoed everything that Henry A. Murray and his Harvard associates alleged (e.g., Walter Langer, Talcott Parsons, Gordon Allport, etc.), was his diatribe against Cinderella turning into Mom, the source of all angst in the male sex, including the medical profession. Here is a sample of Wylie’s vituperative book of essays:

“MOM IS THE END PRODUCT OF SHE. She is Cinderella…the shining-haired, the starry-eyed, the ruby-lipped virgo aeternis,  of which there is presumably one, and only one, or a one-and-only for each male, whose dream is fixed upon her deflowerment and subsequent perpetual possession. This act is a sacrament in all churches and a civil affair in our society. The collective aspects of marriage are thus largely compressed into the rituals and social perquisites of one day. Unless some element of mayhem or intention of divorce subsequently obtrudes, a sort of privacy engulfs the union and all further developments are deemed to be the business of each separate pair, including the transition of Cinderella into mom, which, if it occasions any shock, only adds to the huge, invisible burthen every man carries with him into eternity….Mom is an American creation.” (Chapter XI, p.184)

Wylie, like Henry Murray, was a convinced Jungian and primitivist, and like the pagan Murray, was an avowed elitist, also a free-love kind of fellow (but not an advocate for gay rights, for “nances” were sub-textually tied to Mom.) So Wylie was obviously attacking “sentimental” conservatives of a fundamentalist religious bent. He shared with Murray an admiration for the true grit of the Russian people, a taste for internationalism, and for FDR’s personality, with Wylie going so far as to suggest that those who lacked the [independent, masculine, upper-class unsentimental education] should not even vote or hold elective office.

Moreover, the immigrants, preceded by the Nature-wrecking pioneers were a bunch of rowdy rascals. Anyone who denied this was a Mom-identified sentimental “patriot” and deserving of contempt—in short, a viper of the type that devout Christians embodied. Such conservatives, he alleged, had twisted the life and legacy of Christ, ignoring the imprecation to “know thyself,” i.e., to know thy limitations, that such (feminized) devils are not “trained to rule” (Murray’s notes to Melville’s White-Jacket).

I have reported elsewhere that Murray thought that Hitler had Jewish blood (https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/, footnote 2), and I didn’t understand this until I read Wylie on the Jews. Wylie spurned vulgar beliefs that upper-class Jews controlled the world (they were but a small portion of the elite, though they controlled the new media), but agreed with Talcott Parsons (Murray’s colleague) that the Jews were vain and believed in their chosen-ness and separateness. And Hitler’s crime was not just to persecute the Jews, but to imitate Jewish pridefulness; the Germans were the new Chosen People.

Where could Hitler have gotten this horribly mistaken idea unless he was something of a Jew himself, putting on airs and vain…rather like Mom.

The Wikipedia bio of Wylie states that he went on to become an early Green and fierce opponent of nuclear power. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Wylie.)

Philip Wylie, nature-lover

Philip Wylie, nature-lover

Although recent research has to some degree vindicated Joe McCarthy, uncovering the presence of Communist spies out to steal secrets for the benefit of Soviet-style internationalism, we should pay more attention to the dour pessimism of the old WASP establishment, who were the true parents of New Left movements, all smacking of the populism and “middle way” espoused by Philip Wylie and his contemporaries.

Wylie’s daughter, a novelist herself, has insisted that her father was no misogynist, it should be noted that “Mom” is a middle-class clubwoman married to a businessman, beguiled by materialism/consumerism/: the Northeastern elite’s idea of a Republican. And such benighted sentimentalists shouldn’t be trusted to vote.

January 3, 2015

Cass Sunstein: Nudnik-in-chief

Execmed007014Before you read this blog you might want to consult these sources:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Sunstein (“libertarian paternalism”)


Harvard Magazine’s first issue of 2015 features an eight page profile of Cass Sunstein, author, Harvard Law professor, and former Obama administration official. Sunstein, who has made enemies on both Right and Left, served as the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012. Lauded as “The Legal Olympian,” Sunstein remains a major player in propagandizing for the New Deal and the welfare state it spawned.

Indeed, the author of the piece, the liberal lawyer and journalist Lincoln Caplan, takes care to quote from FDR’s [populist] “Second Bill of Rights” (equated by Sunstein with The Declaration of Independence): “…rights to ‘a useful and remunerative job”; for “every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies”; to “a decent home”; to “adequate medical care”; to “adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment”; and to “a good education.” “For unless there is security here at home, there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

Caplan assumes that Sunstein quoted from the “Second Bill of Rights” because “no one really opposes government intervention” (quoting Sunstein’s italicized sentence) but the date of Roosevelt’s fireside chat, 1944, suggests that FDR was aware that wartime spending, not New Deal largesse in the spirit of Keynes, was responsible for increased employment during the war years, and that many Americans predicted another Depression when the war was over.

But Harvard’s purpose in featuring the profile of the controversial Sunstein, seems to me to be an affirmation of typical Harvard strategies. Note that the cover photo of Sunstein shows some of his library: many books on social psychology are present. This cover article probably is intended to continue the irrationalist social theories of the Harvard social relations department; one that has been described frequently on this website as proto-fascist. A kinder term would be the continued rule of Ivy League philosopher-kings. For are they not all Olympians in their fields, now annexing the new fields of neuroscience and “choice architecture,” the better to control the masses, strategically placing food choices so that apples will be freely chosen, and not Fritos? Behind this lengthy puff piece that attempts to convince ordinary people that the biggest possible government is desirable in this best of all possible worlds, is the notion, clearly stated in the Jungian pschoanalyst Henry A. Murray’s notes to Melville’s novel White-Jacket, is that the masses are not trained to rule. Indeed, in Carl Jung’s opinion, Hitler was a guttersnipe, the man of the mob who had too much power in the modern world. Here is what Jung had to say about Hitler at the end of World War 2: mass politics had produced the modern wasteland.

[Jung:] “As I said before, the upheaval of mass instincts corresponds to a compensatory move of the unconscious. Such a move became possible because the conscious state of the people had become estranged from the natural laws of human existence. Because of industrialization, large parts of the population became uprooted, and they were herded together in large centres. And because of this new form of existence–with its mass psychology and its social dependence upon the fluctuations of markets and wages, an individual was created who was unstable, insecure, and suggestible…Germany…is by no means the only nation threatened by this dangerous germ. The influence of mass psychology has spread far and wide. It was the individual’s feeling of weakness, and indeed of non-existence, which was compensated by the upheaval of hitherto unknown desires for power…Nothing but materialism was preached by the highest intellectual authority….Hitler…was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was a highly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic individual, full of empty childish fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this is another reason why they fell for him.” C.G. Jung,”Individual and Mass Psychology,” Essays on Contemporary Events (London: Kegan Paul, 1946): xiii-xv. Originally broadcast on the BBC, Nov. 3, 1946.

And just to make sure that we get the point, the Caplan essay concludes with this adjuration derived from Cass Sunstein: “He argued that the justices of the Supreme Court should resolve questions before them as narrowly as possible, to encourage elected officials to deliberate on decisive issues and test their answers before the voters….It would energize American democracy by making it more deliberative.” Caplan goes on to defend the [living Constitution], now the preferred opponent to “tradition’s constitution.”

And so Harvard Magazine continues to leave the reader in the same old double bind: advocating for both freedom and welfare, ever the “moderate men.” We may not know what is good for us, left to our own flawed devices, but cleverly manipulated environments, arranged by nudniks, will nudge us in the correct direction, choosing apples, not Fritos.

December 29, 2014

The Leader Principle

FDRIn the late 1930s-early 1940s, Harvard psychologists tried to nullify the Führer-Prinzip (detestable) with an FDR version whereby Franklin Roosevelt would embody the Eros they attributed to Democracy, for Hitler was obviously a hater, while the FDR they were promoting was a lover of humanity, as was obvious (to them) by New Deal legislation and its concern for the “common man.” (Or as Barack Obama would say, the middle class.)

For instance, Gordon Allport and Henry A. Murray wrote worksheets for civilian morale that advised “Linking of Present Leader to the Idealized Leaders of the Past”: ”The more the present leader is seen as continuing in the footsteps of the great idealized leaders of the past, the better the morale. (Picture of Roosevelt between Washington and Lincoln would encourage this identification.) The more the present leader is seen as falling short of the stature of the great idealized leaders of the past, the worse the identification. By effective leadership the group’s latent communality may emerge through identification with the leader. If this smacks of the Führer-Prinzip, we would insist that identification is a process common to all societies, and that what distinguishes the democratic leadership from the Nazi leadership is not the process of identification but the content of what is identified with. It is the function of the democratic leader to inspire confidence in the democratic way of life, in its value for the individual or the society and not mere identification with his person, or the mythical Volk.”

[Clare:] Virtually the entire postwar program of “liberal” reform was foreshadowed in these pages. As formulated in the mid-nineteenth century, abolitionist and working-class demands for universal education, equal rights, and enforcement of the Constitution would be redirected into the quotas of affirmative action or multiculturalism. In worksheet #17, “Long Term Aspects of Democratic Morale Building,” a program of integration and deferential politeness would rearrange the American people’s community: “…far from ignoring or suppressing diversities of intelligence, the objective of democratic morale-building should be their conscious integration into an improving collective opinion. The techniques of such integration exist. They are inherent in the democratic tradition of tolerance and the democratic custom of free discussion. They exist, however, in outline rather than in any ultimate or perhaps even very high state of development. [sic!CS]


[Quoting Gordon Allport:]…Our pressure groups [the Jews complaining about Nazis?] are loud, their protests vehement and our method of electioneering bitter and sometimes vicious. In the process of becoming self-reliant Americans have lost respect, docility, and trust in relation to their leaders. Our habit of unbridled criticism, though defended as a basic right, brings only a scant sense of security to ourselves in an emergency, and actively benefits the enemies of the nation.”

[Clare:] Such are the imprecations of integral nationalism, brought to you by Harvard social psychologists who viewed themselves as fighting fascism while imitating its chief tenets. But we are not now, nor have we ever been, fascists, right?

Happy New Year! (For the complete blog see https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/.)

March 20, 2014

Role models, Talcott Parsons, and Structural Functionalism

Tinguely construction

Tinguely construction

The persistent theme of this website is to decode the propaganda of all political factions, tracing their histories back to the invention of the printing press, when ordinary people first became at least partly independent of “traditional” hierarchies. So began the modern world in my lexicon, where anything can happen in relations with “authority” and new strategies for “order” were invented by threatened elites.

Reading comprehension (my strongest suit) became my preoccupation, for language, music, and visual symbols are powerful forces that may either aid emancipation from illegitimate authority, or may fasten “ordinary people” to bad “role models” as they are called today.

The phrase “role model” is constantly trotted out as THE solution to upward mobility for “victims” of capitalism and the modern world in general. The “leaders” we encounter are held to mold our characters and desires: parents, teachers, entertainers, artists, the media, public intellectuals. These figures may be forces for positive growth as unique individuals, capable of seeing through confidence men, or, as now-and-then rebels/protesters, they may relieve the negative aspects of “tradition,” allowing us to blow off steam—a process that leaves oppressive elites undamaged.

Or these designated role models may be so ambiguous as to be indecipherable, even as they appeal to our needs for safety and sense of belonging to what is called either “family” or “community.” It is my view that multiculturalism is one pervasive elite strategy that appears to “include” everyone in the “international community”, but in practice, divides groups from one another. Enter cultural anthropology and its spin-off: “interdisciplinary cultural studies” that avoid “economic determinism” like the plague.

For economic factors are too central to understanding the material world we live in, and too close to science, especially to the empiricism that strengthens “ordinary people.” They also buttress the claims of classical liberals (the Founders and framers of the US Constitution); try to read the Federalist papers without understanding the economic disaster of the Articles of Confederation, or without understanding the liberating conception of equality under the law—and the laws are at bottom about economic factors and their interpretation.

One reason I mention the moderate men so frequently is not out of antagonism toward moderation as such, but because “moderate conservatives” (the progressives) changed their spots with particular effectiveness at the end of the Red Decade (the 1930s), in order to lure “ordinary people” away from either communism or “laissez-faire capitalism” as it was derisively called by its elite antagonists. (FDR, a conservative reformer, called his opponents “economic royalists,” all the while courting allies such as Harvard social psychologist Dr. Henry A. Murray, whose notes on Melville’s White-Jacket insisted that ordinary people were not “trained to rule.”)

Central to that project of counter-Enlightenment were the fields of social psychology, social relations, and sociology. No longer would professionals in these fields follow the procedures of science (either “pure” or “applied”), following material evidence to its logical conclusions, but now, echoing British Tories and Whigs, their aims were “social cohesion” and “political stability”—sometimes called the Third Way.  If this meant abandoning the authority of (unreliably changeable) science, so be it. After all, materialist procedures buttressed the arguments of the Enlightenment (see https://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-enlightenment-corporatist-liberalism-and-the-revision-of-american-history/.) Here are some of Parsons’s other achievements: 1. The declaration that free speech should be tolerated solely in a psychiatrist’s office; 2. An essay in a volume on antisemitism that described the Jewish God as domineering and genocidal; and 3. The blaming of native Nazism on “romantic puritans”. These claims were not hidden away in private communications or notes, but published in 1942, where I found them, with my eyebrows raised to my hairline.

Indeed, the great achievement of progressive sociology (as exemplified by Parsons and other authoritarian “liberals”) was to place the academic reader in a double bind: society was ideally a self-contained smoothly functioning machine, similar to that of the plant world. But social bonds were mystical, not materialist as the puritan romantics would have it.

Enter the role of language: “communities” substituted for identity of material interests, let alone the rule of law.  “Role models” became a useful form of identity formation, stopping moves toward individual judgment, for role models originated within “the system”—hyper-“individualists” must be outside agitators, troublemakers too reliant on their sense impressions and readings of key texts.

Indeed, the Parsons cohort had elaborate plans to enhance “national morale” that effectively identified gritty individuals before they ascended to positions of power. (See https://clarespark.com/2010/06/19/committee-for-economic-development-and-its-sociologists/ followed by https://clarespark.com/2011/01/02/the-watchbird-state/. These are excerpts from my book on the Melville Revival and are unknown or off limits to most researchers.)

Is it any wonder that artists have resisted the process by which they were invited to enter the machine world of the structural functionalists and their allies in the progressive movement, even as they, like Jean Tinguely, proclaimed the superior “social” qualities of the “self-sufficient” world of the artist? http://www.moma.org/pdfs/docs/press_archives/4149/releases/MOMA_1968_July-December_0081.pdf?2010. Would they have been exhibited under a different banner?


February 10, 2014

“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” NOT

Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda

One of the Humanities-Net discussion groups, the History of Diplomacy (H-Diplo) reviewed a recent book by Mary E. Stuckey.  The Good Neighbor: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Rhetoric of American Power.  Rhetoric and Public Affairs Series. East Lansing Michigan State University Press, 2013.  376 pp.  $59.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-61186-099-3.

Here are some paragraphs from the review; they avoid the actual commercial trade components of Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor policy” –a goal declared as early as 1933 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Neighbor_policy), in favor of its “rhetoric,” which is applied, willy-nilly to today’s updated version of Wilsonian internationalism. This misplaced emphasis on language reflects the fashionable postmodernist and culturalist turn in the humanities, which sees words as constitutive of reality. Hence the word below, “performative”:  saying that words create the real world. It follows that “hate speech” must be banned, as opposed to other non-linguistic strategies for improving economic opportunity.

I am asking you read this material, because it suggests to me that “American exceptionalism” is obliterated in favor of the foreign policy embraced by the Obama administration, that often appears to abandon the notion that the 18th century Enlightenment was the vanguard of humanity. Is it true that blatantly authoritarian societies share alleged “universal values”?

[Excerpt from H-Diplo review by Monica A. Bank:] “Stuckey identifies the elements of the good neighbor in five distinct characteristics: first, believing in the notion that right thinking people embraced a set of universally shared values; second, shaping the nation as a political community united by rhetoric that emphasized shared hardship, sacrifice, and interdependence; third, employing various types of political rhetoric, such as educative, invective, and performative speech; fourth, defining friends and enemies according to a specific set of values that coincided with the concept of “good neighbor” and “bad neighbor”; and fifth, emphasizing equality and mass participation under a strong executive as vital components of a strong neighborhood. The five subsequent body chapters follow these characteristics and delve more deeply into how these qualities constituted the Roosevelt administration’s concept of the national and global neighborhood.

“Stuckey sets up the book by explicating the way that Roosevelt understood the nation’s shared values, and how he framed the national neighborhood as a foundation for the global neighborhood. For Roosevelt, the nation was held together by a set of Judeo-Christian values, such as privileging spiritualism over materialism and committing to social justice. Social justice, for Roosevelt, was defined broadly as access to a decent home, the ability to work, and a safeguard against misfortune. Stuckey points out that Roosevelt tied Judeo-Christian values to the benefits that liberal capitalism could provide but that he also aimed to protect the vulnerable from the dangers and inconsistencies inherent within the liberal capitalist system. Such a framework allowed him to make compelling arguments about the nature of the economic crisis brought about by the Great Depression and, significantly, allowed him to offer a specific prescription for recovery that blamed his political enemies while simultaneously maintaining the greatness of American traditions. Stuckey’s analysis of shared Judeo-Christian values is also vital for understanding how Roosevelt’s move to significantly strengthen the role of the executive fit within the metaphor of the good neighbor. She points out that many Americans viewed the president with an almost religious fervor and that Roosevelt subtly employed rhetoric that encouraged comparison of him with celestial beings that became increasingly common and accepted during his administration. To counter concerns over his expanding executive authority, Roosevelt employed a religious discourse that portrayed his presidential role as one of service rather than of ruler. He also portrayed the expansion of executive power as a helpful and effective way to enact the will of God for the good of the American people.

Furthermore, his rhetoric conflated notions of religion, nation, and democracy as vital and interrelated points of a strong civilization.

This association allowed him to privilege national identity over the local and to position himself as the natural and benevolent leader driven by service to the spiritual needs of the community.” [End, review excerpt]

What are these “universally shared values”? Diversity, ethnicity, multiculturalism, tolerance? How could America both be in the vanguard of nations and respectful of less democratic, even tribal, nations? One or the other must yield, and it should be obvious that in today’s postmodern academy, “America” is a conception to be despised, unless it conforms to the current notions of “progress.”

For a related blog, see https://clarespark.com/2013/02/27/american-exceptionalism-retold/.

The "muse" of Good Neighbor policy

The “muse” of Good Neighbor policy

December 7, 2013

Ben Hecht v. Ben Urwand, the un-Jewish Left, and ‘assimilated’ Jews

Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht

I have read four times the controversial Ben Urwand book that claims that Hollywood was in bed with Hitler. Upon rereading, I saw that Urwand’s sensationalistic argument that Hollywood moguls and established Jewish organizations had failed to oppose the Third Reich in the 1930s and even afterwards, reached its climax with the trotting out of novelist, journalist, polemicist, screenwriter, and playwright Ben Hecht as Urwand’s role model and inspiration. Urwand  appropriated Hecht’s life and politics to demonstrate that there was indeed one Jew who protested against weak-kneed “Hollywood’s” toleration of the Third Reich’s antisemitism,  but who was, like much of the New Left, no “Zionist.”

And so I wrote the following three blogs, but these were formulated before reading Hecht’s autobiography, in which I could see how Urwand, an aspiring screenwriter himself, could pounce on the imagined “collaboration” by moneybags moguls, while distancing himself from “Zionists”—and more, that Urwand failed to understand that Hecht was, for eight years, a strong ally, even a leader, to the “terrorist” Irgun, and that when Hecht referred to “Zionists” he referred solely to the Jewish Agency that was baring its neck to the British Empire that, I suspect, had no intention of giving up the Palestine Mandate and that wanted Moslem allies. Hecht was harshly critical of such Anglophiles as Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, Moshe Shertok, and Golda Meyerson (later Golda Meir), in the last section of A CHILD OF THE CENTURY (1954). That the “moderate” Palestine Jews could have killed fellow Jews in the sinking of the Altalena and the murder of some of the fighting  underground’s greatest heroes would seem to have broken Hecht’s heart, for he quickly wound up his book after this (intra-Jewish) world-shaking event.



https://clarespark.com/2013/10/10/urwand-undoes-chaplins-dictator/ (Hecht was an admirer of Chaplin’s “great” artistry.)


Ben Hecht, though clearly an ally to “the common man” even threw FDR overboard, as he recalled FDR’s betrayal of Holocaust survivors seeking a haven in Palestine (soon to be Israel), by making promises to the Nazified Ibn Saud that FDR would keep refugee Jews out of Palestine.

Make no mistake: Ben Hecht was no lover of Hollywood  movies, which he wrote, he says, to replenish his ever dwindling coffers. Nor was he an admirer of the moguls, nor of the quality of the trash that Hollywood generally turned out, to the detriment of the high culture that Hecht embraced as a lifelong autodidact and genius. Hecht admits that his sympathy for Jewish life was aroused initially by his poor immigrant Yiddish-speaking relatives, and then his shock and horror that the Nazi massacre of European Jewry was proceeding apace without publicizing by “good Jews”, e.g. Rabbi Stephen Wise, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, and the entire Jewish establishment. There were two American Jews who stood by him, as he tells it: Moss Hart and Kurt Weill (the latter a refugee from Germany of course).

(For more on Ben Hecht’s pageant that raised funds for the Irgun and the committee led by Peter Bergson, aka Hillel Kook, Google “WE WILL NEVER DIE”.)

Scene from We Will Never Die pageant

Scene from We Will Never Die pageant

I have been through the previously restricted Ralph Bunche UN papers at UCLA, and can testify that Hecht’s rage at the United Nations was entirely justified. Bunche’s early opposition to antisemitism among blacks in America would seem to have been inspired by the communist Left’s opposition to antisemitism in the 1930s. No sooner had Bunche been co-opted by liberals, he was on board with the US Department of State and the British Empire in opposing “Jewish” expansionism.  Ben Hecht, by contrast, ended his autobiography with a shout out to Eretz Israel, a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River. (Hecht may have been the most articulate inheritor of Vladimir Jabotinsky.)


Ironically, Ralph Bunche made a secret visit to Menachem Begin in 1947, and was enthused about an enlarged Eretz Israel, in which there was room enough for all. But all that was before Bunche got the message from on high, and succumbed to his fellow persons of “color,” the classy Egyptians who courted him, unlike the vulgar Jews who assassinated Count Bernadotte, the latter a flunkey for Brits and antisemitic Americans in the State Department.

For the Wiki biography of Ben Hecht see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Hecht. But better still, read all the Hecht you can get your hands on, especially A CHILD OF THE CENTURY (1954). It will clear your head of cobwebs.

June 14, 2013

“Father, dear father, come home with me now”

TennightsinbarroomThere will be many tributes to fathers in the next few days. This one will deal 1. with my own father, and 2. with the efforts by social psychologists of the 1940s to rehabilitate the image of the Good Father in order to advance their moderate conservative agendas.

First, my own father, Charles Spark, M.D. My father the doctor was born in NYC, and was the child of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. During the 1930s he was a research fellow in endocrinology at Montefiore Hospital, and before that he had published a pioneering research paper while still in college. Immediately after Hitler was appointed Chancellor, he wrote and directed an antifascist play at his workplace. After Pearl Harbor, he volunteered to join the medical corps even though he was over-age (he may have been drafted, and lied to me). Henceforth, we followed him around the country as he ran pathology laboratories at army bases in Texas, Missouri, and California. His precocity, versatility, and willingness to sacrifice himself for his country was impressed upon me from early childhood. I prayed every night that he would not be killed, even though he never saw combat. That is how children think.

He was shipped off to Guadalcanal where he had a violent allergic reaction to the environment, and was shipped home, claiming later that he almost died. For reasons that escape me, he gave up medical research for general practice and we moved into a veteran’s housing project in Elmhurst, NYC. We had never lived high, so the cramped material surroundings were not deeply shocking. All that mattered was that our family was reunified and my father practiced medicine for enlisted men and their families next door.

So my father assumed the proportions of a family hero. He was not only a high achiever in his field, I was expected to live up to his accomplishments, and later in life when I asked him why he gave up medical research, he wrote to me that I was to be his “greatest contribution to medicine.” What I could not know as a child was that neither he nor my mother had any parenting skills. They were nothing like the elites of Europe, who, early on prepared their offspring to take a leading part in world affairs, to travel broadly, and to imbibe high culture and languages, preferably from tutors.

Call it benign neglect. Both parents assumed that I would be an outstanding student and would find a suitable mate (though he frequently warned me about the duplicity of men, binding me to him in the process: he almost didn’t attend my wedding in 1959). So it was their examples as intelligent individuals with high expectations for me that set me up for the future. I learned nothing from my family about sexuality, the other emotions, and neither of them had an interest in Freud or his followers. But neither indoctrinated me in any religion or ideology, though my mother often mentioned her pride in her rabbinic ancestors (see https://clarespark.com/2013/05/12/i-remember-mama-betty-spark/.) I had the impression that they must be liberals of some kind. Sadly, they are both deceased, and I cannot interrogate them on these interesting questions.

It was not until I was at Pacifica and made the acquaintance of numerous New Leftists that I began to look into masculine versus feminine roles. From political scientist Carl Boggs I learned that paternal authority had been eroded for centuries. From feminists, I learned that there was a furious debate over the status of women: hard left women tended to believe that women had greater status when their labor was visible (e.g. Mary Kelley), while another faction (social democratic, e.g. Kathryn Kish Sklar) argued that domestic feminism leading to the welfare state marked the advance of all women. It was noted that by all that under industrialization, the father was no longer the paterfamilias who distributed resources in the household: father was now out of the house and the role of religious training fell more and more on mothers. (Ann Douglas wrote a best seller, still highly regarded, but controversial: The Feminization of American Culture. Douglas preferred the terrifying Calvinist God, not the feminized Jesus of the 19th century.) Hence the widespread nervousness among conservatives about “the [encroaching] nanny state.” 1970s feminism was the last straw (see https://clarespark.com/2012/09/04/links-to-blogs-on-feminism/) .

During my dissertation research, I discovered that social psychologists at Harvard University were frantically attempting to rehabilitate the good father, merging the figures of Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, in order, they said, to raise “civilian morale.” Feminization, it was believed, would lead to Marxism, not to the conservative reform that such as Henry A. Murray, Gordon Allport, Talcott Parsons, and their Harvard colleagues preferred as moderate men. Indeed, Talcott Parsons published an article in an anthology edited by Isacque Graeber and Steuart Henderson Britt, Jews in a Gentile World (Macmillan, 1942) that limned the bad father: the Jewish God was nailed as brutal, militaristic, and domineering. Whereas Murray and Allport in their notebooks on civilian morale praised the Leader/ Father/God as loving and committed to democracy, the very embodiment of Eros. (On this topic see https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/, also the postwar planning intended to continue this “moderate” agenda: https://clarespark.com/2010/06/19/committee-for-economic-development-and-its-sociologists/ .)

So on this Father’s Day, 2013, we find ourselves in a quandary. Do we want Father to be the stern disciplinarian, the masculinist role model for boys who will divert libido from too-compassionate, radicalizing mothers to [moderately] Democratic fathers (as these social psychologists suggested)? Can women raise children without a husband? Conservatives and liberals are still slugging it out on this question.

As for my own father the doctor, I remain deeply attached to him, notwithstanding his many flaws. Both he and my late mother believed in me, in some ways stimulated me, and in other ways left me alone. Perhaps by default, they encouraged me to be curious and to admire and emulate the most daring thinkers in Western civilization.

Charles and Betty Spark mid-1930s

Charles and Betty Spark mid-1930s

February 17, 2013

[Aristo-democrats?] want pre-school for four-year-olds?

Evelyn Waugh aristocratsThis is more of an autobiographical blog than a scholarly one. There is no more agreement over how to raise children than there is over what constitutes mental illness or mental health, or how to fix our public schools. (For related blogs, see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/16/gun-control-laws-quick-fixes-undoing/, and https://clarespark.com/2011/08/31/review-steven-brills-class-warfare/.)

Nevertheless, as one of his magic bullets, POTUS proposed in his State of the Union speech that “pre-school” for all middle class and poor kids would go far in lifting them out of poverty and on to employability in the [brave new world] created by social media and other math-science-heavy fields.  Charles Krauthammer had a good time making fun of this proposal, suggesting that four year olds would no longer be allowed to dawdle and play without being pushed in a direction that did not even pay off with results past the third grade, as some studies of Head Start have shown.

This blog attempts to inject a bit of realism into the endless debate over child-rearing, with most of the Right lamenting the lack of father-headed households, and the decline of religion; presumably both repairs, bypassing overindulgent (yet pistol-packin’) mammas, would inject the sort of paternal superego that reduces crime and postpones gratification in favor of distant goals: family harmony, success in life, and fitness for family re-unification in Heaven. (Take three minutes to hear http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b39ALX4neIk.)

Almost no one utters the curse word “Puritan” any longer, for they, in all their variety, have been discredited as axe-wielding killjoys (Carrie Nation!), or worse:  Harvard’s Talcott Parsons identified “romantic puritans” in America as resembling Hitler in his world-destroying rage, as if the temperance “crusade” and its related Protestant reform movements had been disastrously feminized. (There is an entire academic bibliography on whether or not Victorian women were good or bad for today’s feminists.)

Carry Nation

Carry Nation

I do not pretend to be any kind of expert on child-development, and in my own case, relied upon maternal instinct and my own favorite activities, shared with my three children.  After I found a housekeeper, I amused myself and them by reading good children’s literature aloud (A.A. Milne, E. B. White, Roald Dahl), playing both classical music and folk songs on the piano or guitar, and with frequent trips to the local hardware store that sold art supplies. And then there were museums and concerts, with a few family trips to exotic locales such as Yosemite and New Mexico.

Had I not been a grandchild of immigrants, but rather a European aristocrat (or the child of a “political” family), I would have discussed world affairs at the dinner table as my children grew older (and returned from elite “public” schools), for it would have been assumed that my children would someday be running the world  as men of affairs, probably with their wives as powers behind the thrones and competent, stylish hostesses for an elite,  with both parents as experts in hiring multi-lingual governesses and/or tutors,  and in selecting clothing, interior décor, and gardens as proof of class position and legitimacy.

What the President is proposing is typical for an inexperienced elite, who wave their magic wands to lift up the poor through government-imagined programs, without sufficient consideration of the dire material conditions in which inner-city ghetto kids live, and the likely confusion of their single mothers, whose education would  have been inadequate to begin with, owing to outdated and/or partisan curricula (assuming that they were not high school dropouts owing to teen-age pregnancy).

My most popular blogs have been given to speculating on Barack Obama’s “narcissistic” personality and ambiguous politics. This I can say with rare certainty. No leftist would propose such a pathetic Band-Aid for the poor and badly educated as an enlargement (?) of Head Start (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_Start_Program.). This hit and miss proposal should be pinned on welfare statists, formerly known as “aristo-democrats” by the more sophisticated observers.

FDR, Lucy Mercer, Eleanor R.

FDR, Lucy Mercer, Eleanor R.

November 3, 2012

The social work of Progressives

Anna Andlauer

Review: The Rage to Live: The International D.P. Children’s Center Kloster Indersdorf 1945-46. By Anna Andlauer, transl. and revised by Tobe Levin. (E-book, 2012, ISBM 978-1479322893) (Originally publ. in German as Zurück inse Leben. Das international Kinderzentrum Kloster  Indersdorf 1945-46, Antogo Verlag, Nuremberg, 2011.

 Since this harrowing and yet optimistic book is a tribute to the unsung heroic social worker Greta Fischer, primarily for her work in Germany on behalf of UNRRA (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNRRA) ,  I begin this short review with an overall look at progressive/postmodern views of the human psyche and social organization. We shall see that though the author nods to Anna Freud as major proponent of the lifelong benefits of a tight mother-infant bond (p.173), the general approach of the Kloster Indersdorf D.P. Children’s Center was “behavior modification” toward the goal of “physical health and the beginning of a moral and spiritual rehabilitation” (p.160, quoting Greta Fischer, p.161). The notion that Anna Freud would have approved of the appropriations of her work for the encouragement of either ego psychology or behavior modification is misguided. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Freud.  Did Anna Freud ever recover from her depression and/or her inner conflicts?

Anna Freud

Which raises crucial questions about the overall ideology guiding the immense field of “social work,” especially given the triumphalist tone of Anna Andlauer’s book, which tells the stories of hundreds of severely traumatized displaced children, uprooted during World War 2 (many of them Holocaust survivors), but identity politics inform Andlauer’s view of recovery, and she uses the code words we associate with that ideology: a healthy “identity” is understood as “rootedness,” hence a reconstituted self is maintained through renewed contact with native language and local cultures. Indeed, Andlauer provides numerous photos of individual survivors of varied nationalities, smiling broadly and showing their names in placards covering their presumably healed hearts, but she is less enthused about the value of “assimilation”, for the youngsters who made it to Palestine/Israel and various kibbutzim are mildly criticized for accommodation to a “sabres”[sic]  identity (p.167). Especially troubling to this reviewer is the notion of “resilience” as applied to these survivors, given to the “rage to live,” notwithstanding watching or learning about the destruction of their entire families, then the deplorable waiting for the Western Democracies to either allow them into their countries or to go to the newly constituted Jewish State.

With respect to “behavior modification,” although that term is not used until the last pages of the book, we understand that cleanliness, medical treatment for scabies, lice, and infectious diseases, family-style meals, plentiful food, different china for different courses, vocational training for farming and other “trades,” behavioral boundaries intended to return the often aggressive youngsters to traditional  notions of order, plus contact with kindly but firm and trustworthy mentors listening to the children’s stories (over and over), presumably prepared the deeply traumatized children for a healthy adjustment to life in either their countries of origin or in the few societies that allowed them entrance (for the Jews, Palestine/Israel, or the U.K., Canada, Australia, and the U.S.).

Another project of the Kloster Indersdorf Displaced Persons Center was to reverse “Germanization” in those children who had been performing forced labor either in Germany or in the Third Reich’s occupied zones. It is unclear what this means: were some of the children not only replacing their original mother tongues with German, or was it necessary to de-Nazify them?  I have asked the translator for the original German word, and am awaiting her response. This is no minor point, for the overall project of “identity politics” is indistinguishable from Nazi Blut und Boden racialist theories. [Added 11-4-12: Tobe Levin tells me that the original German word in Andlauer’s text was Germanisierung. The Wikipedia gloss of this word explains that under Nazi rule, this conception signified the extinction of all other languages (e.g. Polish), as an outcome of Nazi expansion for the purpose of Lebensraum. Hitler, writing earlier in Mein Kampf, rejected the notion that other races could become German. In my own research, I found that in Hitler’s second “secret” book, he called for a global völkisch form of social organization, without racial mixing. Compare to völkisch multiculturalism as social policy.]


Here is the Wiki quote that aligns “social work” with the major tenets of postmodernism, multiculturalism, and the contemporary writing of cultural or social history: “The International Federation of Social Workers states, of social work today, that

‘social work bases its methodology on a systematic body of evidence-based knowledge derived from research and practice evaluation, including local and indigenous knowledge specific to its context. It recognizes the complexity of interactions between human beings and their environment, and the capacity of people both to be affected by and to alter the multiple influences upon them including bio-psychosocial factors. The social work profession draws on theories of human development, social theory and social systems to analyse complex situations and to facilitate individual, organizational, social and cultural changes.’”

In one part of my book on Herman Melville and his 20th century revivers, I included this excursus that delineates the organicist methodology underlying contemporary theories of pedagogy and psychiatry: https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/. (This was a controversial inclusion to the late Roy Porter, the famed historian of science, medicine, and psychiatry, himself torn between materialist and idealist pictures of the human psyche, but I finally brought him around, or perhaps wore him down.)

To complete this compressed survey of Anna Andlauer’s book, I remind the reader of Herman Melville’s bitter chapter on the interactions between the Invalid Titan and the “herb-doctor” in The Confidence-Man (1857). Melville’s relatives were impatient with his own brooding and prolonged suffering, probably adding to his malaise. It is ever so much more comforting to believe that all psychic wounds, no matter how profound, can be healed and managed with positive thinking and other progressive nostrums. One of the more entertaining ones is appended below.

Appendix: Henry A. Murray advises FDR, 1943:

[Dr. Henry A. Murray, Director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic, advises FDR, October 1943, on the best ways to apply the lessons of (patrician) psychoanalysis to the postwar treatment of the German people:]

It can be predicted that we will find the German people profoundly humiliated, resentful, disenchanted, dejected, morose, despairing of the future. Accustomed to obeying an arbitrary external authority, they will have no dependable inner guides to control behavior. There will be a wave of crime and suicide. Apathy will be wide-spread. Having passed through a period of intense unanimity and cooperation, Germany as a social system will fall apart, each man to suffer pain and mortification in private.

Disorganization and confusion will be general, creating a breeding ground for cults of extreme individualism. A considerable part of the population will be weighted down by a heavy sense of guilt, which should lead to a revival of religion. The soil will be laid [sic] for a spiritual regeneration; and perhaps the Germans, not we, will inherit the future.

It is assumed that the Allies will demilitarize Germany, will insist on efficient guarantees against future conspiracies, will take steps to liquidate the Junker Class, will prevent rearmament and the misuse of raw materials. As Dr. Foerster has said: a soft peace for Germany will be a very hard peace for the German people, delivering them to the Prussian caste who led them astray.

Nothing permanent, however, can be achieved by such measures alone. What is required is a profound conversion of Germany’s attitude: abandonment of the idea (1) that they are innately superior; (2) that they are destined to govern the earth; (3) that there is no human law or authority higher than the good of the German State; (4) that power is to be admired above everything; and (5) that Might makes Right.

In treating the Germans psychologically we must realize that we are dealing with a nation suffering from paranoid trends: delusions of grandeur; delusions of persecution; profound hatred of strong opponents and contempt of weak opponents; arrogance, suspiciousness and envy–all of which has been built up as a reaction to an age-old inferiority complex and a desire to be appreciated.

Possibly the first four steps in the treatment of a single paranoid personality can be adapted to the conversion of Germany. In attempting this we must not forget that the source of their psychic sickness is wounded pride.

3.(a) First Step.-The physician must gain the respect of the patient. (i) Individual paranoid.– Paranoids cannot be treated successfully if they are not impressed (consciously or unconsciously) by the ability, knowledge, wisdom, or perhaps mere magnetic force, of the physician. Special efforts must sometimes be made to achieve this end, since paranoids, being full of scorn, are not easy to impress.

(ii) Germany. The regiments that occupy Germany should be the finest that the United Nations can assemble – regiments with a history of victories, composed of tall well-disciplined soldiers commanded by the best generals. Rowdiness and drunkenness should not be permitted. The Germans should be compelled to admit: “These are splendid men; not the weak degenerates (democratic soldiers) or barbarians (Russian soldiers) we were led to expect.” The Germans admire orderliness, precision, efficiency.

3. (b) Second Step. The potential worth of the patient should be fully acknowledged. (i) Individual paranoid.-The indwelling burning hunger of the paranoid is for recognition, power and glory–praise from those he respects. This hunger should be appeased as soon as possible, so that the paranoid thinks to himself: “The great man appreciates me. Together we can face the world.” It is as if he thought: “He is God the Father and I am his chosen son.”

(ii) Germany.– Germany’s countryside, its music, historic culture, and monuments of beauty should be appreciated and praised. The army of occupation should manifest intense interest in the culture of Old Germany and complete indifference to all recent developments. The troops should be instructed and coached by lectures and guide-books covering the district they will occupy. They should be told that the war is not won until the heart of the German people has been won.

Germans of the old school should be hired to teach the German language, to guide the soldiers on tours of the country and of museums, to teach native arts and skills. Concerts should be arranged, omitting pieces that have been specially favored by the Nazis. Editions of books burned by the Nazis should be published and put on sale immediately.

All this will serve a double purpose. It will provide education for our troops and occupy their time; thus helping to maintain morale. Also the submerged inferiority feelings and resentments of the Germans will be alleviated.

3 (c) Third Step.Insight should be tactfully provided, a little at a time. (i) Individual paranoid.– Very gradually, step by step, the patient is enlightened as to his own paranoid mechanisms. Pride in being uncriticizable and always in the right must be gradually replaced by pride in being able to rise above his own mechanisms and criticize himself, pride in being strong enough to admit some weaknesses and erros [sic]. He should be made to understand that he has been victimized by unconscious forces which gained control over his proper self. During the course of these talks the physician should freely confess his own weaknesses and errors, the patient being treated as an equal.

(ii) Germany. The last ten years of German history should be interpreted as a violent infectious fever, a possession of the spirit, which took hold of the people as soon as they gave ear to the false prophets of Fascism.

A series of articles, editorials, essays and short books should be written now by Germans in this country (Thomas Mann, Reinhold Niebuhr, Foerster, and others), aided possibly by suggestions from psychiatrists, to be published in German newspapers and distributed soon after the occupation. They should be therapeutic essays essentially- perhaps signed by a nom de plume as if written by a minister, physician, or writer in Germany.

Not too much should be said in any one paper; but, in time, the lies, delusions, treacheries and crimes of the Nazis should be reviewed objectively and in historical sequence. The German people should be made to understand that the world regards them as unwitting and unhappy victims of instinctual forces. The Allies should be magnanimous enough to admit their own errors and misdeeds.

3. (d) Fourth Step. The patient should be insociated in a group. (1) Individual paranoid. Having attained a measure of satisfaction by winning the respect and friendship of his physician and then having gained some insight and control, the patient is ready for group therapy. Later, he can be persuaded to join outside groups. Gradually he must learn to take his place and cooperate on an equal basis with others. The group he joins should have a goal.

(ii) Germany. If Germany is to be converted, it is of the utmost importance that some strong and efficient super-government be established as soon as possible, providing a new world conscience, that her people can respect. As said above, Germans must have something to look up to – a God, a Fuehrer, an Absolute, a national ideal. It can not be a rival nation, or a temporary alliance of nations. It must be a body – a strong body with a police force–which stands above any single state. A supranational symbol would eventually attract the deference that is now focussed upon Hitler. Lacking such a symbol, many Germans will certainly fall into a state of profound disillusionment and despair. At the proper time Germany should be insociated as an equal in whatever league or federation of nations has been established.

From here on the therapy of a single paranoid personality fails as an analogy, principally because the German people will not be in the position of a patient who comes willingly to the physician’s office. The Nazis will be in no mood to be educated by their enemies. Furthermore it would be very presumptuous of us to try it. The most that the Allies could do would be to close all schools and universities until new anti-fascist teachers and faculties had been recruited. The greatest problem will be in dealing with a whole generation of brutalized and hardened young Nazis. (Perhaps exhibition games of soccer, football, lacrosse and baseball between American and English regiments would serve to introduce ideas of fair play and sportsmanship; but much else must be done – by German educators).

For the conversion of Germany the most effective agency will be some form of world federation. Without this the Allied victory will have no permanently important consequences.[3]

(For how I contextualized Murray’s report on the website see https://clarespark.com/2009/09/20/jungians-on-the-loose-part-one/.)

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