YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

August 3, 2017

Getting my goat

Two “liberals” appearing to “balance” Tucker Carlson on Fox News have prompted this irate blog. One is Canadian born and trained Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, now a University Professor at (liberal) Northeastern University, the other is Minnesotan Ethan Bearman, a Bay Area up and coming talk show host.

Dr. Barrett avers that potential speakers must promote “debate,” but not indulge in “hate speech,” while Bearman stated that “historically disadvantaged groups should get preferential treatment.” (That means that if your ancestors were “oppressed,” quota systems are okay, even if they discriminate against “white people,” Jews, and Asians.)

Neither guests emphasized the search for truth, for they echo the allegations of postmodernists/liberals. Discarding the search for (empirical) truth, signifies the ever-more pervasive lack of standards, and opens the door to the less obvious forms of racism, and the acquiescence to pseudo-moderation and the collectivist discourses/groupiness imposed by Big Government.

Which brings me to the “populism” admired by Fox News Channel. It is no accident that the American populists (identified by FNC with the President), were antisemitic (in their rage against all banks), but the current avatars of populism pretend to speak for “the People” against “elites.” I understand that many populists today resent Big Government, but it pretends to be a meritocracy that establishes “standards” of truth/rationality, creditworthiness, and of correct grammar and style, but it is not.

Whereas progressives like Barrett and Bearman embrace the collectivist discourses of the Left, disallowing individualistic (?) merit. Thus Dr. Barrett ignores the (hyper-individualistic) search for truth that may silence her version of debate, while Bearman in his present-minded zeal to repair the policies of the past, promotes one type of reparations.

I thought that  David Horowitz tried to discredit the “reparations” tactic years ago, for which he has gotten much grief from the Left (and more indirectly by epigeneticists and “Ancestry”-type websites).

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August 27, 2016

“Trump can’t win”

Viking gods tattoos

Viking gods tattoos

There are people who understand the ins and outs of “politics.” Don’t expect me to match the expertise of those glued to the ever changing map of party politics. On the other hand, since I started to focus on the big picture (such as the uneven transition from pre-capitalist societies to more developed ones, or the rise of fascism and/or progressivism in the interwar period and even before that), certain patterns became evident. This blog is about the issues in the 2016 political campaign that may be too obvious for the more attentive and practiced in “political” analysis.

In no particular order:

Race and racism. While in graduate school, I occasionally confronted liberal/red faculty with the (insulting?) question: Where is structural racism in current institutions? By the time I got up the nerve to ask, the faculty apparently knew to ignore me with silence and changing the subject. (The pro-union faculty should have mentioned at least the inner city treatment of minority children, but sectarianism precluded such an obvious answer, apparent to me now but not then, despite the UCLA History Department’s public emphasis on unequal treatment: they were all in for criticizing “white supremacy,” but mostly silent about any unsavory aspect of “the labor movement.”)

So it is hardly surprising that attacking the Democrat stranglehold on “the minority vote” should meet with resistance on the part of liberals. This last week was topped off by “trading insults” by cable news (including an indignant Fox), as if the Democrat Party was not threatened by the move of Republicans to court black and brown votes in the working class. Forget the ideology of progressivism that has sought to uplift individuals and discourses  in order to pacify and co-opt ex-slaves and immigrant masses, hence the shock that Trump would correctly label the Democrat candidate in impolite lingo.

Multiculturalism. Which brings me to the all too obvious fact that both political parties indulge in collectivist discourses built on an imaginary national unity in diversity: e pluribus unum. What has happened to the dissenting individual in this mish-mash of ideologies, indulged in by “moderates” of all stripes?

patriotic tattoo/pinterest

patriotic tattoo/pinterest

The moderate men. My proudest achievement in the study of modern history was the subject of quiet repression by the ever so “fair and balanced” moderates (who would never undermine what passes for “democracy.”) Enter Fox News Channel, the “moderate” answer to media monopoly by progressives. For Fox, “fair and balanced” seems to mean gaining the maximum number of eyeballs, while seemingly not taking sides. Since the guiding men of Fox cannot be too explicit in their bogus theory of balance (what has happened to the Enlightenment project of investigating and possibly clarifying disputed facts? Oh, I remember now, the French Revolution/science inevitably lead to communism (https://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/).

Though more conservatives inhabit Fox than in the competition (network television, CNN, MSNBC) Fox must not be too obviously one-sided. I have been watching their election coverage with the eyes of a skeptical historian,  and wonder if their “moderate” alternative is to allege that Trump has only the slimmest chance of winning the Presidency.

I expect this trend (at alt-Fox) to intensify between now and November 8, 2016 unless Trump should take the lead decisively.

deathtattoo

 

August 6, 2016

Krauthammer diagnoses Trump, long distance

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
New Theater Hitler as narcissist, 1936

New Theater Hitler as narcissist, 1936

Read these short entries first. http://www.mediaite.com/online/krauthammer-diagnoses-trump-beyond-narcissism-has-infantile-hunger-for-approval/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-and-the-fitness-threshold/2016/08/04/b06bae34-5a69-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html

I used to revere Charles Krauhammer as Fox’s resident genius, until I saw the homage documentary designed (?) to debut CK’s collected essays (Things That Matter); that “documentary” produced a blog that focused on CK’s search for unity https://clarespark.com/2013/10/26/krauthammer-fox-news-channel-and-the-search-for-unity/. This search for coherence in a polarized polity would suggest that he is an organic conservative, despite his claims to be a moderate, which would align him with other “moderates” on Fox News Channel. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Krauthammer), In other words, CK is a mystic, not a scientific materialist, as his medical training would suggest.

I learned from the Wiki entry that CK had indeed never been in independent clinical practice as a psychiatrist (he is board-certified), but had gone on from being chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (three whole years as a resident!), directly into politics, working for the Carter administration in “psychiatric planning.” (Wiki also states that CK contributed to DSM III, though they are not detailed.)

In other words, CK had little experience in clinical practice, yet he is a respected diagnostician of persons he seems not to have ever closely examined. (I have written extensively about another Harvard graduate, a Jungian: Dr. Henry A. Murray, who, like CK, made long-distances inferences about major figures; for instance, Murray testified at the trial of Whittaker Chambers, opining that Chambers had a “psychopathic personality” (based on reading! and linking him to CK’s highly respected opinions. (On Murray’s methods see https://clarespark.com/2012/03/26/henry-a-murray-and-the-tat/.)

Just as CK has labeled Barack Obama a “narcissist,” Dr. Krauthammer judges Donald J. Trump to be unstable, and more than a bit mad. Oddly, Adolf Hitler was judged to be a nutty criminal/psychopath by Dr. Henry A. Murray and assorted Stalinists, though none of these had any professional (psychiatric) relationship with the object of their scorn. Dr. Murray went so far as to infer that Hitler must have had Jewish blood, setting the stage for later Harvard social psychologists (https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/).

Dr. Krauthammer famously switched political allegiances mid-career. But his haughty opinions on the Republican nominee’s mental states, bear comparison with those of other “moderate men” seeking to be “fair and balanced.”

July 25, 2016

Jews vs. atheists: the Wiki-leaks hubbub

image by Eleanor Davis

image by Eleanor Davis

Yesterday (July 24, 2016) Fox News Channel was excited about the email wondering about Bernie Sanders possible “atheism” (a stance that would have sunk Dems in Southern Baptist country).

Being a connoisseur of anti-Jewish subtexts, I pricked up my ears. This blog will comment on what was said, and what was not.

First, the possibility that Bernie Sanders, an alleged “socialist,” might have a lingering “Jewish heritage” is by itself a racist assumption. “Heritage” would only make sense if all Jews, no matter how red, retain the mental and moral characteristics that much of the non-Jewish world attributes to all Jews.

While I can’t see into the Sanders psyche, as a “democratic socialist” he would surely hold to the view that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” But this would not be the case if Jews are a race (transmitting ancient beliefs through heredity). Second, some “Christians” believe that Jews and [Hebraic] Protestants are similarly heretics, notwithstanding the celebrated “Judeo-Chistian heritage” that supposedly rules the land. Third, it has been claimed by one influential social psychologist (Dr. Henry A. Murray) that religious pluralism weakens the hold of religion on the mass mind.

But most striking to this writer is the fact that Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation from the DNC was not met with cries that she too is a Jew and the first Jewish female congressperson from Florida (her Wikipedia biography shows no signs of her being an observant Jew.) That would make her a typical American assimilated “Jewish” liberal, the perfect scapegoat for the miscreant DNC: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debbie_Wasserman_Schultz).

debbie-w-s

November 6, 2015

Ben Carson’s appeal to Republican primary voters

Ben Carson valuesThis blog (supplemented by https://clarespark.com/2015/11/07/the-change-of-heart-explanation-for-dr-ben-carsons-redemption/) attempts to lay out reasons for the politically inexperienced neurosurgeon’s broad appeal to segments of the Right.

  1. The conversion narrative is always a winner to conservatives; the claim that divine intervention changed Dr. Carson from a pathologically violent adolescent to the mild figure he cuts in the debates, is of obvious appeal to many born – again conservatives.
  2. Detroit’s Dr. Carson may stand for the urban black population as a whole; many conservatives hope to solve the problem of the decadent black underclass through a religious revival, perhaps led by the nuclear father-led family. The rags to riches theme is a staple of conservative ideology.

Many Republican voters seek to remove the stigma that they, as a whole, are racists and/or anti-science; with Carson there is a double pay-off: not only will Republican voters support a black President, there is no conflict between science and religion. Hence Fox News Channel leaped to Dr. Carson’s defense on the Megyn Kelly show on November 5, 2015, interviewing him sympathetically and without skepticism or much curiosity regarding his proclaimed innocence of the CNN charges.

What remains to be explained is why the connection between Dr. Carson and Armstrong Williams, his close adviser and promoter of the allegedly “moderate” Nation of Islam as a solution to urban violence in Chicago , has gone virtually unexamined, even though the conservative journals American Thinker and The Daily Caller have raised the issue. Certainly, no one on Fox News Channel in the prime time shows has explored such a troublesome connection, but then presumably “moderate” Fox has generally ignored the alarming rate of rising antisemitism/anti-Zionism, preferring either silence or the moral equivalence narrative favored by President Obama (see this widely read blog https://clarespark.com/2009/09/11/oil-politics-and-obamas-view-of-israeli-history/).

dr-ben-carson-net-worth1

Bibliography:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/05/politics/ben-carson-2016-childhood-violence/index.html.

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/10/support_of_farrakhan_organization_may_force_ben_carson_to_separate_from_longtime_adviser.html

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/04/armstrong-williams-on-ben-carson-campaign-they-cannot-stop-this-revolution/

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/251180-the-man-behind-ben-carson

http://dailycaller.com/2015/10/17/top-carson-aide-wants-taxpayers-to-fund-farrakhan/

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/11/armstrong-williams-to-curb-chicago-violence-bring-/

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ben-carson-holocaust-theory-prompts-outcry-jewish-groups/

http://www.salon.com/2015/03/24/ben_carsons_cringe_inducing_foreign_policy_ignorance_israel_edition/

October 17, 2015

The October 2015 Political Scene in a few words

Credit SodaHead

Credit SodaHead

I apologize for the satirical, repulsive picture of Mrs. Clinton, but Hillary is turning into a hag/Medusa/Gorgon because aging women can’t yell as she often does. They are already suspect as crones. I noticed that the 1960s rallies featured speakers who hollered. The more feverish part of the Sixties are partly over, though their effects linger in the Democrat Party.

Hillary is also evoking the image of the unreliable mother: too many switches from smiling protector to scolding and disapproval, turning her opponents to stone. She has flip flopped frequently in her move to out-“socialist” Bernie Sanders: gay marriage, free trade, and the Keystone Pipeline (that the State Department approved under her watch as Madam Secretary).

Bernie. The idea that he is a communist or some kind of ultra-leftist boring from within is absurd; real communists abolish private property altogether, would never tweak the system as vindictive populists would. He is a regular social democrat, imitating the (failing) West European states. The Old “McCarthyite” Right was understandably confused. Statist New Dealers, statist Stalinists, and statist Fascists were all conflated in the notion of “totalitarianism,” a notion perpetuated by social democrats and other New Dealers. (On their secret thoughts see https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/, retitled “Balance, equilibrium, and psychological warfare.”)

Black Lives Matter. Anyone reading the history of black people in this country may be tempted to erase boundaries between past and present. Our transformation to a non-racist society creeps along, but it is untrue that there has been no black progress. Dems still push the idea of white supremacy to mobilize the black base, all the while ignoring labor competition as a factor not to be ignored, lest they be labeled as Reds, which is a no-no for social democrats. For origins of the movement, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter. They don’t mention black nationalism, however.

Renee Jones Schneider Star Tribune 4/29/15 Minneapolis

Renee Jones Schneider Star Tribune 4/29/15 Minneapolis

The Mid-East. Fox News Channel continues its moderate approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, criticizing POTUS for not seeing that Israelis are victims, not morally equivalent perpetrators. But they don’t review the history of the region: Arab elites were horrified that Europeans were cooperating in parking modernizing Jews in “their” neighborhood. “Palestinians” still insist on the Right of Return, which would destroy the notion of a Jewish national home. Oil politics matter too.

September 12, 2015

Why is gay marriage a hot button issue for religious conservatives?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 7:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Alabama protest

Alabama protest

The culture wars have overtaken the 2016 political campaign, as the Kim Davis incident in Kentucky, along with the overwhelming importance of “faith” now becoming a favorite topic on Fox News Channel, and no one, including Fiorina, seems to know how to analyze Donald Trump’s put down of Carly’s “face” that he blatantly describes as un-presidential (and indirectly as ugly).

This brings me back to misogyny, and the taboo against excessive androgyny (or blurring of male and female characteristics, apparently the case in ambitious Carly F., who dares to invade male turf).

First, misogyny. It is not widely acknowledged (though obvious) that women compete with other women to snag the most desirable males, and both model and resent gorgeous women, who simultaneously “plain” women strive to emulate, putting themselves through time consuming and expensive regimens of perfect hair, makeup, and recently, toned bodies as desirable as Greek goddesses are imagined to be. Pre-nup agreements guarantee that powerful, successful males can dump their wives with minimal consequences, while competition with younger women adds compulsion to wives striving against the inevitable status of “crone” as she transitions from middle to old age, keeping plastic surgeons busy.

Is it any wonder that social conservatives strive to perpetuate heterosexual marriage as a sacred obligation? Is it any wonder that many women find mothering and housework to be a desirable alternative to competition in the workplace, either as workers or professionals trying to balance the multiple demands of home and work, all the while fearing that husbands will “work late” with presumably more attractive women?

No one is free of some misogyny, unless s/he has worked through ambivalent relations with Mother. As more and more women gained status in the modern world, the rage against MOM became overt for reasons I outlined here (https://clarespark.com/2015/05/09/monster-moms/).

Second, on gay marriage: No other issue, other than abortion, has aroused so many negative emotions in persons of “faith.” I have known gay men and lesbians ever since the 1970s, and have never seen a gay relationship that was free of similar power struggles common to heterosexual relationships. (https://clarespark.com/2013/03/27/power-in-gay-andor-heterosexual-attachments/.)

It has been the contention of this website that all human relationships are problematic and ambivalent, and that no amount of religious conviction can erase the difficulties between even non-sexual contacts. Yet, social conservatives continue to live in denial, imagining that sex-role polarization within the heterosexual family (fathers are the warriors, providers, and disciplinarians, while mothers offer an unconditional love that may be associated with Jesus, hence his notorious “feminization” in the 19th century) can solve the problems of unemployment and illegitimacy in urban minority communities. (This issue is apparently too hot to handle, see https://clarespark.com/2015/08/08/the-moynihan-report-march-1965-and-instability-in-the-black-family/, one of my least read blogs).

hc-christ-sacredheart21

I admit to being androgynous, like many other writers or artists, for I do not concede to males a monopoly on intellect, rationality, or insight. When I was in college, my zoology textbook described males as rational and women as irrational; an assumption that I didn’t protest at the time. That was the late 1950’s . Can we move on, please?

gaymarriage

August 14, 2015

The Trump Phenomenon: a triumph or a disaster?

Trump on the stump in Iowa

Trump on the stump in Iowa

[Update 3-16-16: Read this carefully. Trump’s position on Israel has been distorted by his rivals. He has said that he would like to see peace in the Middle East but that it would be the “toughest negotiation” ever. No signs of anti-Semitism in my view.]

[Update 3-10-16: I didn’t compare Trump to Hitler here, but as a populist and nationalist, he does resonate in some respects with the Strasser brothers. I want to distance myself from liberals and even conservatives who are calling him a Nazi. I  have thought of taking this down owing to inevitable mis-readings; I am now supporting him because I believe that the system is terminally corrupt, and that he will be an improvement over Hillary. A reminder: I am an Independent and a scholar, not an ideologue.]

[Update 12-12-15: I agree with David Horowitz that if Trump’s ban on all Muslims entering the US  (temporarily) is unconstitutional, the GOP should find a Constitutional proposal to prevent more terror. (I hope I got that right.]

[Update 10-15-15: I would be very unhappy if this blog was used by anarchists or lefties for anti-Trump propaganda. After seeing the Democrat debate 10-13, it is that party that more closely resembles fascism (for the S. A. was always populistic, hence anti-Semitic). Trump has since been less vague about his policy objectives, and, in my view, is clearly superior to any Democrat, especially Hillary Clinton, the most likely to win the Donkey nomination.]

[Update 9-19-15]: Since writing this, several arguments might be added to my  argument that Trump’s followers resemble the populist members of the S.A. under Hitler. 1. The appeal to national greatness was deployed by Hitler after the defeat in WW1. His followers, many of them humble and feeling crowded out by other rising groups, may long for vicarious “greatness”; 2. Hitler was a Pan-Germanist, calling for an all German-speaking unity. Trump’s nativism echoes such grandiloquent notions; 3. Hitler lifted Germany out of the Depression by remilitarizing, defying the terms of the Versailles settlement. Similarly, Trump calls for a massive military expenditure, which can only raise the fantasy of more jobs for the unemployed and semi-employed; and 4. Trump lies a lot. His mob followers are as cynical as he is. (End update)].

Even Fox News Channel can’t make up its collective mind over Donald Trump’s candidacy. Hannity loves him and O’Reilly subtly pushes him, while Charles Krauthammer, their most respected pundit, doesn’t take him all that seriously (though that may change).

I do.

For most of my adult life I have studied the influence of fascism in Europe and America, in all its manifestations. While others castigate Trump as a bully, a fraud, a celebrity tied to mass culture, a narcissistic businessman allied with dubious companies (such as ACN, see page one story in WSJ (8-14-15), I agree with my son-in-law who nailed him as a street fighter and a primitive. I go even further, for he reminds me of a parody of masculinity, but more, the S.A., Hitler’s populist Brownshirts, led by the Strasser brothers, who made trouble throughout the 1920s and early 30s until they were [partially] purged in The Night of the Long Knives, June 30, 1934, an event that led William E. Dodd, the US Ambassador to Hitler’s Germany, resign his post. (https://clarespark.com/2011/08/14/review-in-the-garden-of-beasts-by-erik-larson/.)

Hitler with S.A. comrades

Hitler with S.A. comrades

Although propagandists and even historians emphasize “the Nazi seizure of power” the better scholars emphasize Hitler’s coalition with monarchists and conservatives opposed to the social democratic Weimar Republic. Hitler was appointed Chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg in order to destroy communism (a communism that today’s Right frequently associates with the Democratic Party), and the 1933 elections were no Nazi landslide, but garnered only 43.91% of the vote (almost the same plurality that elected Bill Clinton). For my blog on how the Democratic Party has absorbed ideas originally associated with Marxist practice, see https://clarespark.com/2012/07/19/communist-ideas-go-mainstream/.

Sturmabteilung poster

Sturmabteilung poster

As for big lying to the public, Trump has already delivered some whoppers. For instance, he takes credit for introducing the subject of illegal immigration, when anyone following the records of other Republican candidates is familiar with how and when the views of Bush and Rubio have been modified regarding amnesty. Similarly, in an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump mentioned “health savings accounts” as if he had just dreamed it up. (Both Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have supported such accounts, but see the idea’s origins here: http://www.afcm.org/hsahistory.html.)

I have my own suspicions of why so many voters are wowed by The Donald. Noting the popularity of The Godfather, The Sopranos, and lately, the wealthy can-do, know-it-all killer played by James Spader on NBC’s The Blacklist, it is not surprising that another larger-than-life character would suddenly capture the imaginations of many populist voters.

So we now have a choice: creeping fascist/populism on the Left with Hillary Clinton/Sanders/Warren/, or creepy populism on the Right with Donald Trump, our latest Knight in Shining, Glitzy, Armor.

[Update: I now believe that our biggest threat of fascism comes from (welfare statist) social democrats. I still don’t like glitz, but understand its appeal to the child in all of us.]

Trump Tower Atrium, NYC

Trump Tower Atrium, NYC

July 31, 2015

Is there life after birth? Dogs, children, Henry Kissinger, and the breakdown of civil society

“Sugar” as depicted in the Mike Masnick blog

Here (below) is the astounding number of dogs in America. For those attentive to television advertising, dogs are the new love objects (for either sex), and earn the personal sacrifices once reserved for children: even old, feeble dogs warrant backbreaking devotion in a recent Aleve commercial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuhAKS6Ee0o, also the Subaru Love commercial: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/709i/subaru-impreza-make-a-dogs-day-song-by-willie-nelson). The stats suggest to me that I was correct to ask if we love our dogs more than our children, in my blog on depraved indifference to the fights over school choice. (https://clarespark.com/2015/07/14/depraved-indifference-to-education-reform/.)

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html, and, http://www.statista.com/statistics/198100/dogs-in-the-united-states-since-2000/

I haven’t blogged in a while because I have been immersed in the lengthy, sometimes lascivious, biography of Henry Kissinger, as attempted by an inside dopester moderate man, Walter Isaacson (1992). (Isaacson is a celebrity himself, and featured interviews or memoirs with Kissinger’s famous former associates.)

HK as power behind the throne (Corbis photo in The Economist)

HK as power behind the throne (Corbis photo in The Economist)

I have several responses to this mammoth, detailed, behind the scenes effort. The author has not the foggiest idea where the notion of “human rights” came from, incorrectly identifying them with Wilsonian internationalism, with its bogus “self-determination.” (For my own views see https://clarespark.com/2011/10/24/turning-points-in-the-ascentdecline-of-the-west/. I see the invention of the printing press as a key turning point making possible mass literacy.) And such internationalism was “idealistic” compared to Kissinger’s Realpolitik approach to foreign relations, which sought stability through European balance of power politics this author associates with Metternich, Castlereagh, Talleyrand, and Bismarck.

Along the way, he also praises HK for brilliance, wit, and charm, but faults him for backbiting, malevolent gossip, and over-the-top ambition. I.e., HK is an uppity German Jew whose secret, previously hidden maneuvers fulfill the antisemitic stereotype, and proves the author to be properly assimilated, unlike his subject HK (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Isaacson).

But there is more to be said about this book, which links the subjects in the title to this blog:

  1. I was aware of the crises of the 1960s-1980s mostly as filtered through Pacifica radio, an outfit controlled by Stalinists and pitched to the counter-culture. I simply had no time as a mother of small and adolescent children to pore through contending published versions of the civil rights movement or the women’s movement, let alone US diplomacy regarding arms control, China, détente with the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa, Chile, East Timor, Israel,  etc. –all subjects taken up in the Kissinger biography. Even my unique radio shows on the art world were irrelevant to the larger questions convulsing the world, and can be viewed as an extension of women’s work.
  2. The behind the scenes diplomacy uncovered by Isaacson (minus its gratuitous digs at HK) suggests that no matter what publications we may scour for an accurate account of what our government is doing, all we have to participate in as citizens is partisan propaganda of one stripe or another.

Which brings me to my first and last question: “Is there life after birth”?

That query was prompted by the Fox News Channel obsession with Planned Parenthood and the alleged chopping up of “babies” by sinister forces (although the last video is alarming and the questions raise by the Right are reasonable).

I asked my Facebook friends what are our obligations to children as parents? One would guess that there would be dozens of responses, but it is “summertime and the living is easy.” So here are my own answers, in schematic form: we owe our living children attention to their developing brains, to their maximum health, to an education in hygiene and science, especially physiology, and above all, to critical awareness of the often confusing, even impenetrable, world outside the family, which they will have to navigate on their own someday without parental guidance.

wish list

We do not owe them messages that reinforce human weakness and deference to illegitimate authority. It will take the focused effort of all of us, old and young, to rebuild the civil society that has been snatched away from us by authoritarians of many stripes.     

July 2, 2015

Are secular societies devoid of “virtue”?

Rationalism defended by Nirmukta

Rationalism defended by Nirmukta

(This is the second of two blogs on the gay rights decision by SCOTUS this week.https://clarespark.com/2015/06/27/gay-marriage-and-what-liberty-signifies/)

I was stunned to read these lines in Dan Henninger’s weekly op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, July2, 2015: “In the North, on campuses and in sophisticated circles, we are rapidly becoming unchurched, secularized. Which raises a question: Where will a predominantly secularized society learn virtue?”

I should not have been shocked, for I am aware that WSJ, like Fox News, is run by the moderate men, whose ersatz moderation masks their organic conservatism. That is, they are not embarked on a search for truth, let alone virtue; rather, they want national unity (no matter how illusory): political stability and social cohesion above human rights and facts. (See https://clarespark.com/2013/09/17/the-illusion-of-national-unity/.)

The moderate men are thus aligned with the “ethical state,” a state that is antagonistic to the Enlightenment and its materialism and preference for individual human rights over group-think. According to these organic conservatives, mystical bonds unite warring factions, with the management of opinion-elites who scaled the Olympian heights by their discreet and mostly unseen, or deliberately hidden, stratagems.

There is no contradiction between secularism and virtue except in the minds of various hysterics. Secularism as understood by the US Constitution guarantees that there is to be no established religion.(I recall from my reading of the Federalist papers that God is mentioned only once.) This disturbs ultramontane Catholics and communists alike, for pluralism and individuality, like scientific evidence,* is damnable and a threat to aristocratic or bureaucratic leadership and their version of social control. Meanwhile, a few cranks fulfill the worst fantasies of ultraconservatives by Romantic identification with Satan, or by seeking to banish all religious artifacts from public spaces.

Such militant atheists are then deployed as weapons in the culture wars, distracting the public from pressing issues such as education reform, health reform, a high divorce rate, the real or imagined threat of climate change (a controversy that only science can solve), and foreign policy.

Here is how one Orthodox Rabbi suggested that we move on toward more pressing issues: https://www.facebook.com/RabbiShmuleyBoteach/videos/10153022077966089/.

It is my own view that the gay rights decision raises the dread specter of blurred gender identity, but that horse has already been beaten to death on this website. Artists will know what I mean.

*It is objectively true that we are interdependent with each other and with Nature.

Newton imagined by William Blake

Newton imagined by William Blake

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