YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

April 19, 2014

‘Totalitarianism’ (2)

pimpsup-hosdownOn April 17, I wrote this popular blog: https://clarespark.com/2014/04/17/totalitarianism/. It was preceded by a related blog that also was popular: https://clarespark.com/2012/09/05/proto-fascism-and-the-democrat-peoples-community. The blogs on ‘totalitarianism’ got lots of views probably because it was not widely known at that time that there was a pseudo-democratic movement afoot to eliminate the Electoral College and substitute the trappings of a popular democracy, in effect, reversing the Constitution and eliminating the notion of a constitutional republic in favor of [mob rule, urban domination]. In other words, such details as the marketplace of ideas, checks and balances, and separation of powers would be obsolete and “anti-democratic” because they are ultimately controlled and defined by “the big money”—or so such blue-state politicians as Andrew Cuomo would have to argue.

We have seen the signs of such a transition to authoritarian statism already: the expedited passage of the Affordable Care Act (and then lawlessness in its implementation), the increasing power of the executive branch, the takeover of academe by “Democrats” who shamelessly proclaim themselves the police force that will patrol dissident factions (i.e., the Tea Party and all those who fear Big Government: see https://clarespark.com/2014/04/12/the-organization-of-american-historians-taking-sides/), and the turnaround of Brandeis University in the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali—an insult supported by the Harvard Crimson staff, devoted as they are to multiculturalism, as opposed to the clash of civilizations thesis advanced by Hirsi Ali, who unequivocally states that there are no moderate Muslims. Similarly, the Secretary of State John Kerry’s deluded hope that he might broker a peace between Arabs and Israelis, reflects the assumptions of multiculturalism, as opposed to recognizing that there are some “differences” that are not only irreconcilable, but cannot be settled by mediation or “inclusion.” (And what the Left wants is a binational state, i.e., the end of a majority Jewish state, and the return of Jews to dhimmi status.) Soon we will all be requested to bow and scrape before our Platonic Guardians or the new nomenklatura.

Ever since I read Barack Obama’s two books in 2008, I have feared a bloodless transition to either fascism or communism. (Why bloodless? The population is so pacified/brainwashed, and force so unevenly distributed that I do not expect significant resistance.) BUT, I do not equate the two forms of statism, and have written extensively about this distinction in the past: The revolution of Communism promised to fulfill the promise of the Enlightenment with its ideal of individual emancipation, while Fascism (in all its variants) was a counter-Revolution that erased the Enlightenment, substituting the judenrein “people’s community” for the independent individual endowed with civil rights. Now look at the discourse of the Left and its stronghold in the Democratic Party: its key words are “families” or “the people” or “community”—entities that, in contrast to terroristic Republicans/Israelis/Goldfingers, are noted for their tender care and outreach to “the oppressed.”

One explicator of this crucial difference between fascism and communism was the late communist historian Eric Hobsbawm. See https://clarespark.com/2013/10/28/hobsbawm-israel-the-totalitarian-idea/. Sadly, Hobsbawm lacked the critical distance not to bash Israel and finance capital, as have other leftists, Karl Marx for instance in his early essay on “Money” as “the universal pimp.” But my most persuasive argument against the use of the word “totalitarian” is this: why are artists and dissidents murdered, locked up, or bought off in these omnipotent societies if it is so easy to impose total control on the population in societies with a tradition of cultural pluralism and at least a measure of free thought? Who but intellectuals benefit from this emphasis on the Soviets as compared to the Nazis and all their atrocities?

Two authors stand out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Nolte#The_Historikerstreit. Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism (Hannah Arendt’s “great book”). Whatever their motives, such books and arguments take our attention away from the dynamics of Hitler’s rise to power and the unspeakable consequences of the Third Reich. As I write this, the factions that make up the right wing in America (not to be confused with the European Right) are still fighting with each other. Until the magnitude of the crisis that confronts us is broadly recognized and addressed in solidarity, excising those fringe groups and behaviors that really ARE racist, terroristic, populistic, and lawless (the Klan, Neo-Nazis, usually blamed by the Left on “the Right”), there is little doubt about who wins and who loses. If we get to 2016 without a coup (call it what you will), I will be the most surprised of anyone. plato

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April 6, 2014

Standing up to bullying social democrats (2)

 

FatCatArt.ru

FatCatArt.ru

Yesterday (4-5-14) I posted a popular blog. https://clarespark.com/2014/04/05/standing-up-to-bullying-social-democrats/. There is no way of knowing why so many viewers came to it: was it the enticing title, the provocative illustration of a plump lady’s posterior flanked by fat cats, or the revelation that Ernest Bevin’s “socialism” was directed against finance capital (the Jews)? (The latter motivation could have fed into neo-Nazi fantasies that “the Jews” are to blame for the plight of the working class, everywhere.)

This is my advice in part two of this series, for I speak out of long experience with Democrats and leftists (who now seem to be inseparable, see https://clarespark.com/2012/07/19/communist-ideas-go-mainstream/):

Unless you have an independent income and/or are in a family that is exceptionally tolerant and libertarian, it is best to hold your tongue. Do not expose yourself to more strife and rejection. SDs, in their own minds, have, since the mid-nineteenth century, identified with an updated, paternalistic aristocracy (the Disraelian type of Christian Socialist). Witness the educated audience for Downton Abbey.

No amount of facts or rational arguments will persuade SDs to stop their 1. state-worship; or 2. “anti-Zionism.” In their compassionate hearts, they “know” they are correct. They believe in the statistics that other progressives have compiled, even though such statistics render them ciphers, lacking individuality and an appropriately curious, questing mind. As members of volunteer groups or the “healing” professions, they are invested in group identities (“we are the good people”) and such soothing perks as academic tenure. Moreover, the SDs believe that they are standing up to bullies of the Neanderthal Right!

stand-up-to-bullies-2

Conclusion: it should be obvious that SDs must be defeated at the polling place—venues that may be fraudulent. So it should be the primary task of libertarian believers in capitalism, equal opportunity, equality before the law for rich and poor alike, and limited government, to make their votes count. (For statistics and other issues see http://tinyurl.com/p3k3quh.)

Save your breath, unless you are talking to your pre-adolescent children or advocating for charter schools with curricula that encourage critical thought: no amount of pop cultural appropriation, father-led families, or overt attempts at persuasion will lure the dependent population away from the welfare state.

We are running out of time.

April 5, 2014

Standing up to bullying social democrats

 

FatCatArt.ru

FatCatArt.ru

I have been reading Peter Weiler’s biography of Ernest Bevin, a leading social democrat in early 20th century Britain, and it is a lucid guide to what social democrats (i.e., the moderate men) are and how they came to power. Weiler also explains populist antisemitism, which may be intrinsic to the social democratic world view. For labor reformer Bevin, socialism was all about controlling Shylock (p.74). (SD will be my shorthand for social democrats.)

The SD world view is this: they are not militants of the labor movement: their goal is not a worker’s state. Rather, they aimed for better wages, working conditions, and life chances for the once growing industrial working class. For the SDs, this would be accomplished through trade unionism and state power that would regulate capitalism, especially the financial sector. Professor Weiler calls this strategy corporatism or labourism. I call it proto-fascism. Many scholars refer to Italian Fascism as the “corporative state” or the “ethical state,” For the corporative state mediated between employers and workers, imposing harmony through state power. Many scholars compare the New Deal to the Mussolini solution to class warfare.

ENTER THE JEWS. As Weiler tells it, Bevin saw industrialists as natural allies to workers, whereas the money men were managing affairs in their own interests alone, cutting down profits for industrialists. Lowered profits meant that workers would have to take it on the chin, lowering wages so that fat cat financiers could maintain their outrageous life styles, while workers languished, unprotected and unloved. “Money” and heartlessness were ever associated with a fictional un-Christian animal called “the Jews.” Some major social theorists blamed “the Protestant spirit” for capitalism (e.g. Max Weber, C. Wright Mills), Protestantism being tinged with Hebraism and a particular love for the Old Testament. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/10/07/christian-socialism-as-precursor-to-orwell/.)

J. A. Hobson, a journalist, was read by “progressive” Brits and Americans alike (including Bevin), and it was he who was most aggressive in spreading the word that “the international Jew” not only was a cabal of money men, it controlled all newspapers and the media. (The Nation magazine in 1919 cited Hobson’s work: see https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. Also https://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/.) The widely circulated Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a hot item in the Arab world today) made the further claim that the cabal would urge their readers to rise up and overthrow their nationalist masters, so that “the Jews” could move in, attack religion, and thus control the world, as was their inheritance as the Chosen People. Reform Jews ran away from this stereotype and many are ready to cave into a “binational state” in Israel as a way of pacifying their SD rulers and the Muslim world.

What does this have to do with standing up to bullying social democrats? As long as our intellectuals look to the state or any other bureaucracy or tribal entity to enforce “social justice” we are doomed to an eternity of authoritarian rule. Human rights do not encompass the rights of the corporative state (a.k.a. the welfare state) to substitute for individual choice and individual responsibility. Human rights are about standing up to illegitimate authority, wherever it may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of our consciousness. This task is not as easy as it sounds. (For part two of this essay see https://clarespark.com/2014/04/06/standing-up-to-bullying-social-democrats-2/.) midwest-map

March 15, 2013

Nirenberg’s mischievous ANTI-JUDAISM

David Nirenberg

David Nirenberg

[Abstract: Norton has published a wandering, lengthy, unreadable book whose unintended consequence may be the weakening of the current coalition between Jews and their (conservative) Christian allies in defense of Israel and of Western values.]

Nirenberg summarizes his argument here. http://chronicle.com/article/Anti-Judaism-as-a-Critical/136793/.  It is reviewed by poet and critic Adam Kirsch in a publication aimed at assimilated Jews who are either social democratic or “moderate.” http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/123971/a-world-without-jews.

I recently heard that the hot new book for students of relations between Jews and Christians was David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism (Norton, 2012). Though I wondered why this superstar cultural historian did not deploy the usual phrase “antisemitism”, I looked forward to learning how Jews were viewed in periods where I had neither languages nor deep reading knowledge: Egypt, ancient Greece, and medieval Europe. (Nirenberg is an endowed professor in the University of Chicago’s History of Social Thought department, educated at Yale and Princeton: see publications http://home.uchicago.edu/~nirenberg/publications.shtml.)  Not content to remain within his specialty, DN takes us up through the present, for this is a cross-over book, intended for the eyes of the lay reader.

I tried valiantly to make my way through this long tome, but finally gave up on it, for I find it unreadable and one step above gossip, skipping back and forth in time. I did note along the way that Nirenberg had done no archival research himself, but had mined the labors of the trendiest historians working today. The project of the book seems to be an assault not only on the bigoted West (and Islam too), but a rough ride through thousands of years of history, quoting the famous and the less famous, but ever noting continuities in “civilization’s” negative references to Jews and Judaism. (We never learn what Judaism is or was, for his topic is images disseminated by pagans, Christians, deists, atheists), nor does he adequately explain why he discards the customary phrase antisemitism.) It is my view that in a book addressed to the lay reader, an author has a responsibility to be organized, chronological, and to clearly state arguments, with constant guideposts to the uninitiated reader. For instance, you first lay out the project of the book and why non-scholars should care about it, acknowledge prior scholarly and popular literature on the subject, state an allover argument that breaks new ground, then recapitulate the journey in the conclusions. Conclusions should synthesize a new narrative, something for the reader to take away, something new in the world of thought and feeling that corrects and refines the work of colleagues.

antisemiticart

What to make of this failure to commit to either method or objectives, especially since in his last chapter he quotes Hannah Arendt, Adorno and Horkheimer, though distancing himself from their particular rationales for antisemitism or counter-Enlightenment (e.g., Jews were really “overrepresented” in commerce and finance, so who can entirely blame Hitler’s base, an accusation I have heard from other bigots.). He does, however, cite Edward Said, famously anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist. (See long footnote on the anti-Western Said in https://clarespark.com/2009/09/06/the-hebraic-american-landscape-sublime-or-despotic/.)

It was not until I googled “Judeo-Christian heritage” that I could guess at the project of the book (that may be invisible to Nirenberg): besides throwing yet more red meat for the nourishment of living, active antisemites (not noted in the Tablet review), Nirenberg may intend to break up the alliance of many Christian Zionists, other non-bigoted Protestants and Catholics, with their Jewish partners in defense of Israel and of “the West” in general. It is all suggested here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian. (The Judeo-Christian coalition began in the 1950s, and is strong today on the conservative New Right.) Call me Paranoid.

Finally, consider the jacket to the hardback edition ($35, no pictures). It refers to anti-Judaism being built into the “genome” of the West. This is a misappropriation of genetics for a tendentious argument that “the West” has transmitted its deplorable characterizations of “Jews” through its very DNA. I have already written about such binary opposites as Nirenberg describes, but for the purpose of understanding Nazi ideology, not in undermining (consciously or not) a political coalition that is aimed to protect Jewish life and those humanistic values that are shared by Christians and Jews, notwithstanding a problematic history of persecution and religious/political/economic antagonism. See https://clarespark.com/2010/08/15/nazis-exhibit-der-ewige-jude-1937/ or for a more refined distinction between two strands of “Western” thought, see https://clarespark.com/2013/03/18/babel-vs-sinai/.

Judaism and Christian Art

Judaism and Christian Art

February 14, 2013

Is there a “culture of violence”?

Tintoretto Origin of the Milky Way

Tintoretto Origin of the Milky Way

Ever since the Newtown massacre, in addition to calls for “gun control,” pundits have been tossing around the term “culture of violence” as yet another way to blame mental illness on the modern world, in this case, popular culture as manufactured by Hollywood, the music industry, and television producers.

This blog looks at some of the “culture of violence” explanations, criticizing them as ideological and non-explanatory. My villains are academics, pundits, and other “experts.”

The Marxist-Leninist slant: violence is built into the relationship between capital and labor, or employer and employee. The big guy confiscates the product that should rightfully belong to the little guy, who are not only the victims of (usually finance capital), but who are thoroughly alienated from the work process. Some call this “the Marxist theory of alienation.”

The Frankfurt School critical theorists (synthesizers of Marx and Freud): mass culture destroyed the radical will of the working class, bourgeoisifying what should have been the vanguard of the communist revolution and corrupting them with desires for material comfort. Erich Fromm, for instance, complained about The Escape From Freedom, and blamed the rise of Hitler on working class authoritarianism. More Eros recommended, but only a moderate amount. Tame that [Puritan] superego that sends revolting children off the deep end!

Antisemitic populists: Hollywood and the mass media have wrecked the family, particularly respect for paternal authority, aided by feminists. Male Jews are primarily blamed for their worldliness, love of gold (gelt), unleashed aggressiveness, thuggishness, and insatiable desire for the flesh of female Christians. This sounds weird and sick, but it is probably the most widespread form of protest today, though few will cop to it.

Cultural historians and the New Left. Only a follower of the famous German sociologist Max Weber would be so dopey as to find culture the route to understanding the emotions, expunging economic and political factors and substituting the power of myths, symbols, and [mis]representations in general that have fooled the masses into believing that we have a functioning democracy (I have some sympathy for this view). The entire cultural studies gang will describe America as possessing a culture of violence, for there can be no escape from the past in which prior white Americans slaughtered native Americans, raped the environment, prolonged chattel slavery, stole the Southwest from the Mexicans, marginalized women and gays, etc. etc. Thus violence is built into the American character.  To deny this is to align oneself and one’s associates with the most heinous characters in world history. 1930s Communists had a more favorable version of American history, seeing the bourgeoisie as having developed the productive forces that would enable working-class control. Some Progressives agreed with them, and feared the worst. (See the followers of Frederick Jackson Turner and his frontier thesis for this scenario. See https://clarespark.com/2010/06/18/whaleness-2/. )

Clare’s musings: There is no such thing as a culture of violence. Horror movies are probably deployed to serve as catharsis for necessarily repressed rage against the parents who have the thankless task of socializing their children from narcissistic little savages, into citizens prepared to participate in a democratic republic, to earn a living, and to rear responsible citizens of their own. However, our species is also suggestible. I do not know how those suffering from mental illness process the gory images so omnipresent in movies and crime shows on television. It would be a fine thing if “behaviorist” psychologists and psychiatrists tackled such problems, and were less attuned to labeling the various “disorders” in order to satisfy the FDA and other regulatory agencies, plus the drug companies who are sedating millions of Americans. (See https://clarespark.com/2010/05/17/beethoven-and-some-rosy-prometheans/, for its critique of behavior modification, the parent of cognitive psychology?)

terrier valentine

Liebestod. Happy Valentine’s Day and welcome to our Brave New World.

August 5, 2012

Hating finance capital

Big Money crushing the People

Much of this website has been devoted to decoding “liberal” propaganda, especially the repetitive strains of populism that will constitute the Democratic Party playbook in 2012 as we move toward an election that will either push us yet further on the path to communism or dirigisme (a form of elite rule where the state not only regulates the economy but directs investment), or that will reverse course and could restore the American economy along more laissez-faire lines. The rhetoric of “families” can be seen as entirely about collectivist identities, or it can be seen, also, as a plea to corporations to look upon their employees as children whose demands should be met through further concessions. The index that follows is only a small portion of what has been my major concern: the authoritarian character of American political culture since the New Deal. Sadly, Popular Front politics have masked the penetration of communist and other statist ideas into the mainstream political discourse.

In sum, the State exists to cage the octopus of “finance capital.” That is the unifying theme of today’s “progressives” and before that, the Progressive movement: such populist scapegoating provides a bogus image of unity in fragmented societies. And recall that Hitler thought that the Soviets were not really socialists like himself, but were the puppets of “finance capital” a.k.a. the Jews.

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/ (David Brooks separates populism from progressivism, which is wrong.)

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

https://clarespark.com/2009/12/16/perceptions-of-the-enemy-the-left-looks-at-the-right-and-vice-versa/

https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/

https://clarespark.com/2010/09/11/is-wall-street-slaughtering-the-middle-class/

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

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

https://clarespark.com/2012/06/03/connecting-vs-connecting-the-dots/

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

https://clarespark.com/2011/03/28/index-to-multiculturalism-blogs/ (On German Romantic predecessors to political correctness)

https://clarespark.com/2013/06/15/the-politics-of-family-vs-mass-politics-altered/ (retitled Decoding Les Miserables and the superhero)

July 29, 2009

A Synthesis for Antisemitism since the American Civil War

Filed under: 1 — clarelspark @ 9:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Ignatius Donnelly, author, leader, antisemite

A hedge fund manager asked me if there was a generational conflict between the baby-boom generation and the younger Americans; also mentioning that there is a great deal of animus now being directed against Wall Street. In his view, such attacks were quite antisemitic. So I wrote something that would address the question of “the Jews” and American politics since the American Civil War, a conflict that unleashed the forces of industrialism and expansion that the South, in charge of the antebellum government, had opposed unless the industrial economy would retain slave labor. What follows is that compressed history.

The WASP ruling group in America (including segments both of the Northeastern establishment and the Southern agrarians)  compromised in the face of industrial capitalism and the swarm of immigrants that it attracted,  as the industrial society dramatically accelerated after the Civil War. The WASP populist-Progressive strategy (beginning with some Mugwump reformism, then the Progressive institutions that took off in 1900) was to oppose unbridled capitalism (nailing it on the profit-crazy Jews), and to concede the great cities to the Democratic machines, with all the corruption and patronage that entailed. The Irish and Italians carved out their own urban mini-empires, while the immigrant Eastern European Jews, predisposed to socialism (especially after the Soviet coup of 1917 that promised an end to antisemitism), joined Roosevelt’s New Deal with joy, thinking that this patrician was their special friend and protector; moreover that social democratic remedies would end the depression (it didn’t: the war did). Or they went all the way to become communists, and were parents to the most activist and effective organizers of the 1960s generation: their offspring had no trouble finding favor with an already antisemitic, anticapitalist, “liberal internationalist” Northeastern establishment, and instead of being crushed, went on to take charge of the mass media, the humanities, the schools of education, and journalism, supported morally and financially by the “liberal” foundations, such as Rockefeller and Ford (derived from famously anti-Semitic families). In other words, these “moderate conservatives” a.k.a., social democrats, were very skilled at co-opting and defusing oppositional individuals and movements, and rewriting prior American history to make “the American empire” [sic] uniquely imperialist, evil, and deadly to minorities.

The “moderates” would change all that, and they have been in charge for some time. What they appear to fear most is growing “inequality” for that portends revolution or other servile revolts. The super-rich and their heirs will sacrifice much of their wealth to reduce the appearance of inequality. (Indeed, the latest cover of Harvard Magazine (July-August 2008) shows a bloated bird with a mouthful of worms, oblivious to three skinnier birds fighting over a single worm: The headline: “Unequal America, The growing gap.” The birds stand on an American flag. The Harvard Corporation does not harbor supply-siders, apparently.

So the defense of free markets and equal opportunity was relegated by default to the anticommunist Right, that was, until recently, almost entirely isolationist, nativist, and heavily antisemitic too (the neocons call this old guard paleoconservatives). The “neocons,”  many of whom are former (Jewish) Trotskyists or ex-social democrats, want both social liberalism and pro-growth economics, understanding that there is a positive role for the state in regulating and stabilizing markets, but that a balance must be struck, so that the state does not discourage investment and self-reliance. But safety nets are also a requirement, for innovating markets can be brutal in their effects (and these effects can be permanent and irreversible). To achieve such a balance (or an approximation thereof), old policies and programs require constant reevaluation and tweaking.

Sadly, the social democratic (redistributionist) establishment has hardened its positions, demonizing “neocons” and sponsoring reparations of various kinds to abused minorities, rather than cleaning out the corruption of the cities and in the unions. Thus we have the national polarization of today, with populists in both the extreme Left and the extreme Right attacking each other but also attacking the centrists (who want to devise a more rational capitalism in line with such as Hayek and Milton Friedman). Populists are always at least latently antisemitic, for they have internalized a discourse that conflates all Jews with what used to be called “the money power,” and, like the Jew-hating European Right, populists (perhaps unconsciously) identifying “the Jews” with Wall Street, the profit motive that causes class warfare, control of mass media, and the popular culture that has, in their view, caused decadence and coarsened the culture.

I have laid out an all too compressed way of defining social history since the Civil War with its often embedded antisemitism. To answer the question originally posed to me by a hedge-fund manager, I don’t think that an historian would see the “baby boomers” as a unified group, but rather as a highly diverse large population that will, as a class, bankrupt entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

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