The Clare Spark Blog

October 11, 2012

October 29, 2009

The Enigmatic Face of Philosemitism

Image (78)[Update, 10-1-13: I have come around to rejecting the word “totalitarianism”, but possibly for different reasons than Heni’s. I also agree that the Holocaust, like fascism, was historically unique. I.e., I am comfortable with historicism. But the distinctiveness of the Holocaust does not preclude a new attempt to murder “the Jews.” ]

A new journal on the history of antisemitism has just appeared, featuring a stellar advisory board of scholars, and purporting to be philosemitic and pro-Israel. It is part of their intellectual mission to distinguish antisemitism from “prejudice” or “racism, ” but also to attack the theory of “totalitarianism” that would equate Nazi and Soviet forms of terror. Clemens Heni, one of their authors and a founding member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East,  in his blog “The Prague Declaration, Trivialization of the Holocaust, and Antisemitism,” argues that the moral equivalence of Stalinist and Hitlerian murder denies the uniqueness of the Holocaust; indeed that habit is taken to be a mini-form of Holocaust denial! As if Stalin had not had his own plans for the Jews, embodied in the Doctor’s Plot and cut short only by his death in 1953. (For details on Soviet treatment of Jews during the second world war, see Niall Ferguson’s War of the World.)

You can find the first issue at http://jsantisemitism.org/pdf/jsa_1-1.pdf. I have read Dr. Heni’s article,  “Antisemitism as a Specific Phenomenon,” who writes of the irrationality of antisemitism:  “No group of people but the Jews has ever been singled out and blamed even for opposite developments, such as both capitalism and communism, and being weak-willed but powerful enough to take over the planet.” (Heni took his degree in political science, and was for a year a post-doctoral researcher at YIISA (The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism. One of his two books is Salonfähig der Neuen Rechten–a sarcastic title indicating that the author is writing from somewhere on the Left.)

It is my view that we are in the murky territory of the moderate men again. [Added 3-22-10: When I wrote this blog, I had not studied the Burke revival in the twentieth century. It was particular organic conservatives (following Burke) who twinned Nazism and Stalinism, constantly using the term “totalitarianism.” Both Nazism and Communism were seen as the effluent of puffed-up Jacobins and other mechanical materialists, displacing religion by worshipping the Goddess of Reason, re-inventing the State and hence usurping God. Cf. Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism.] It depends on what we mean by rationalism and irrationalism. “Irrational” suggests to me that the theory of projection, advocated by social psychologists allied to moderate conservatism, is in play. (See my prior blog on Adorno’s harmonizing of Freud’s theory of incessant conflict, substituting in its place of constant struggle to achieve civilized behavior, a “balance” between id, ego, and superego; the happy outcome would be “genuine liberalism;” see that chapter in The Authoritarian Personality and https://clarespark.com/2009/08/25/t-w-adorno-and-his-funny-idea-of-genuine-liberalism/. In other words, what is presented as a bold new approach to the history of antisemitism is probably yet another defense of “moderate” statism, hence the outrage at equating Nazism and Stalinism. Nazism is usually hung on “the Right” or “fascist Republicans” by  Stalinists. But see R. Palme Dutte blaming social democrats in 1934, prior to the Popular Front.)

Take the quote from Heni’s article, above, describing the “irrationality” of antisemitism for confusing capitalists and communists–a claim I have seen countless times elsewhere. Convinced antisemites had no trouble with this supposed cognitive dissonance: Gentlemanly organic conservatives understood that atheistic science-plagued modernity had bred lucre-loving capitalists, and then in reaction to their [typically “Jewish” capitalist greed and exploitation] communism raised its ugly head. The solution to the onset of a disenchanted modern world would be a Christianized capitalism. Look no further than Christian Socialism, Bismarck’s welfare state, the Fabians in Britain, Rerum Novarum ( the encyclical issued by Leo XIII in 1891)  or the social gospel movement in America, followed here by populism and progressivism. Hitler himself advocated a “third way” between capitalism and communism,* meanwhile opposing “Jewish Bolshevism” in the Soviet Union as a mere front for “finance capital” and not socialism at all. My point is that these mostly European movements were reacting against the displacement of an aristocratic elite by the new men—the moderns, whose elevation of hard science, hard work, novel financial instruments, and free markets threatened the property and lifestyles of the landowning class and  their employees, dependents, and allies. In Britain, Young England represented a coalition between aristocrats and the working class against the rising industrial bourgeoisie (see Disraeli’s Sybil, or The Two Nations for their outlook; detail here: https://clarespark.com/2011/07/16/disraelis-contribution-to-social-democracy/).

So far I have mentioned as examples of rationality (as opposed to ostensible antisemitic irrationality) the Third Way of the moderate men. But think now of the benefits to Nazis and other antisemites if the Jews were either removed from their regions (as in Israel) or from their nations (as in the Third Reich): the expropriation of Jewish property and the elimination of Jewish rivals in business and the professions, or relief from the unpredictable chaos brought about by political and technical innovations in general, let alone the restless and “skeptical” Jewish mind that so frazzled Hitler and probably Stalin. Think especially of antisemitism as backlash against the emancipation of the Jews after the French Revolution, with all the reasons just mentioned.

*[From Hitler’s Table Talk:] The English have to settle certain social problems which are ripe to be settled.  At present these problems can still be solved from above, in a reasonable manner.  I tremble for them if they don’t do it now.  For if it’s left to the people to take the initiative, the road is open to madness and destruction.  Men like Mosley would have had no difficulty in solving the problem, by finding a compromise between Conservatism and Socialism, by opening the road to the masses but without depriving the élite of their rights.  Class prejudices can’t be maintained in a socially advanced State like ours, in which the proletariat produces men of such superiority.  Every reasonably conducted organization is bound to favour the development of beings of worth.  It has been my wish that the educative organisations of the Party should enable the poorest child to lay claim to the highest functions, if he has enough talent.  The Party must see to it, on the other hand, that society is not compartmentalized so that everyone can quickly assert his gifts.  Otherwise discontent raises its head, and the Jew finds himself in just the right situation to exploit it.  It’s essential that a balance should be struck, in such a way that dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives may be abolished as well as Jewish and Bolshevik anarchists….(Jan. 27, 1942, p. 253).

[Illustrated: Picasso’s La Dama de Azul, with the Pierrot mask as I read it]

August 25, 2009

T.W. Adorno and his funny idea of “genuine liberalism”

Paul Klee, Captive Pierrot

[Added 12-5-09: I have been reading up on military psychiatry and found this primer on psychology (Discovering Ourselves) directed at an educated audience. It declares itself to be Freudian, Jungian, and Adlerian, and quite up to date. Recall that Freud’s 1915 essay on thoughts of death in wartime emphasized the never ending struggle between the civilizing impulses and the agressive ones that were in full operation during the Great War (and noted again below). By contrast, the “progressive” and optimistic view of psychotherapy was obviously an attempt to impose “harmony” or “balance”* on the competing superego, ego, and id forces in the psyche; it also declared itself against destructive materialist science (described by them as behaviorism).  Here is the last paragraph in the chapter on the superego–a force that can cause rebellion when it is too harsh and punitive. It should be obvious that the Superego is the State, the (strong) Ego the pragmatic, moderate Leader/psychiatrist/Mental Director, and the Id: the chaotic lower orders or perhaps the market, given to unregulated sex and aggression. [On the Mental Director advocated by Wilfred Trotter, see https://clarespark.com/2009/11/13/supermen-wanted-early-freudians-and-the-mob/. Trotter is lauded in Discovering Ourselves, see below.]

“We see, then, that the superego of man, while it represents a great moral achievement, holds within it the seeds of distress, downfall, destructiveness, and disease. It can be a relentless foe that refuses to be placated. It can be hostile, cruel, and remorseless. It is only when a harmonious relationship exists between the superego, the ego, and the primitive urges of the id that the individual’s personality can be considered well-integrated. A wholesome superego can be and often is a guiding force to health, happiness, and scientific and social progress. It can be a partner in great cosmic or religious affirmations and endeavors.” [Strecker and Appel, Discovering Ourselves: A View of the Human Mind and How it Works (Macmillan, 1943): 99.] Now compare this to Adorno’s view of Freud’s map of the psyche: gone is Freud’s eternal struggle to understand and overcome irrationality, resulting in “everyday unhappiness;” up comes the structural functionalism of Talcott Parsons and the progressives at Harvard. Put a smile on that Leviathan, Dr. Murray!

Here is a footnote to my book, Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival, chapter two, part of which is excerpted in the blog on Left-liberal psychologists at Harvard promoting “civilian morale.”

[Note:] See T.W. Adorno et al, The Authoritarian Personality (New York: Harper, 1950), 71, 781-783. The “Genuine Liberal” type is anti-totalitarian and free of narcissism; in Adorno’s appropriation of Freud, the genuine liberal possesses “that balance between superego, ego, and id which Freud deemed ideal” (71). Adorno’s example of the type is a politically naive, but frank and independent twenty-one year old woman, not given to ultra-femininity/ feminine wiles; she is the daughter of a hiring manager at a railroad; in the family sexual division of labor, her loving mother represents emotions, her father, facts. She is religious (“Perhaps we will all be saved”) and reads Plato for Utopian inspiration. When asked how she felt about Negroes and Jews, she was “guided by the idea of the individual,” but she wouldn’t want to marry a Negro with dark skin or a man with a big nose. However, as a nurse’s aid [sic], she did not object to caring for Negro patients. Adorno quotes her “joke” [what would Freud have said?]: “Maybe if the Jews get in power they would liquidate the majority! That’s not smart. Because we would fight back.” Admirably free of bigotry, she is also free of “repression with regard to her feelings toward her father: ‘I want to marry someone just like my father’ ” (783).

Distinguishing themselves from “manipulative” fascists, the authors, in their concluding sentence, prescribe an antithetical appeal to the emotions: “…we need not suppose that appeal to emotion belongs to those who strive in the direction of fascism, while democratic propaganda must limit itself to reason and restraint. If fear and destructiveness are the major emotional sources of fascism, eros belongs mainly to democracy” (976). Henry A. Murray’s Thematic Apperception Test was used by Adorno’s colleagues creating “the F-scale” (the potential for fascist behavior); Murray’s and Lasswell’s books are recommended in the bibliography. [end footnote]
Adorno, not his collaborators wrote the section on the genuine liberal. His notion of Freud was, of course, wrong. Freud believed that there could be no “balance” between ego, id, and superego, rather that the primitive instincts were so strong that life was a constant struggle to maintain the fragile veneer of civilization. See especially his essay from 1915 reflecting on the appalling war between so-called civilized European nations. For more details on this cohort and their crypto-fascism see https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/.

*The authors of Discovering Ourselves apply balance in several instances: Introversion and extroversion (both are Jungian categories) should be “balanced.” This advice is directed toward dreamy do-nothings (introverts) and executives or clubwomen housewives (extroverts), all of whom have not yet climbed on board the New Deal ship of state. The wandering housewife example is particularly interesting, because she should be at home raising balanced children, able to master the challenges of early childhood and adolescence, hence raising socially responsible adults.

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