YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

February 20, 2010

The Glenn Beck Problem

Pierrot collage by Clare Spark

[Added 9-1-10: This blog has obviously been evolving as I have tried to place Glenn Beck’s views in some recognizable historical narrative. For a liberal account of Beck as demagogue that I find disturbingly distorted see http://hnn.us/articles/130820.html. My search for Beck follows; I should say that Beck does urge his viewers to do their homework and to read primary sources, then challenge him if he is mistaken in his characterization of the Founders, or any other claim he makes. That is not the usual practice of a demagogue (who does not permit, let alone welcome, criticism from the crowd):]

Click onto the illustration and read what German agent George Sylvester Viereck wrote about Hitler in 1923: you will find the line “he storms their reserve with his passion.” Yesterday I posted my objection to Glenn Beck’s obsession with blaming everything wrong with our society on “the progressive movement.”  I also objected to his tendency to equate right-wing social democrats with communists, an error only a person with little knowledge of 20th century European history would make. Given the millions who tune into every program and who think he is a powerful weapon in the campaign against “Big Government,” it is not surprising that one of my Facebook friends immediately objected to my criticism of a man he thinks is a hero, but who, though I often agree with him, sometime suspect to be a power-hungry demagogue, taking advantage of ever-growing dissatisfaction with U.S. domestic and foreign policies to feed his ego and to line his pocket, while playing the earnest clown. Whatever his motives, there is no excuse for indicting “progressivism” as a “cancer….” as he did in his keynote address at CPAC, or his comments today (May 26, 2010) trashing Bernays and Lippmann. Usually  this is an antisemitic jibe from the Left and Chomsky, but Beck was vehement and nasty.  I am disgusted. See my widely circulated essay https://clarespark.com/2009/08/19/noam-chomskys-misrepresentation-of-walter-lippmanns-chief-ideas-on-manufacturing-consent/

[Added, March 19. I have been reading about Edmund Burke and his revival from the 1950s on. Paleoconservative Russell Kirk (a founder of National Review) and his ultraconservative Burkean allies in academe are probably the intellectual sources for Beck. Although on many points, he seems to be a libertarian, he is also opposed to any view that does not regard the Christian God as the source of order and liberty–along with Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich, his opponents are “secularists.” Hence his attempt to remake the Founding Fathers into believers in God as the chief lawgiver of “moral natural law”–the source of order, with the state as a usurper insofar as it threatens (upper- or middle-class) property, the ballast for “tradition.” This places Beck as a follower of Edmund Burke, as I believe Jonah Goldberg to be, who is as rattled by “the Jacobins” as the source of totalitarian/statist control.)* [Added 6-6-10: I was much mollified and gratified by Beck’s support for Israel during the last week. How this fits in with his general ideology, I cannot say. Added 7-18-10: Beck clarified what he means by rights being God-given: he was contrasting this position with the competing notion that rights are gifts from the State, a key Nazi idea.] [Added 10-30-10. I am taken aback by the Harvard UP published book by Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (2002). This book is more helpful in explaining the religious Right and their alarm at secularism than any other history book I have ever read. If intent matters, Hamburger bolsters the case that the writers of the Constitution did not banish religion from the public square, far from it. See https://clarespark.com/2010/11/05/hamburgers-separation-of-church-and-state/.]

This blog is about the danger of allowing any media personalities to do our thinking for us, and I am not speaking about Glenn Beck alone, nor do I wish to insult his viewers or listeners, but they should be on guard. As my long-time friend political scientist Stephen Eric Bronner wrote in one of his first books (this on German Expressionism), making a passionate work of art or viewing it, though valuable in itself, cannot substitute for the thoughtful study, investigating, organizing and other activity that resists illegitimate authority. Professor Bronner wrote enthusiastically about Rosa Luxemburg too, as well as other radical social democrats who were associated with the Second International. These activists were called left-wing social democrats, because they meant to educate the masses in the most advanced industrialized societies and through majority acquiescence (as opposed to bureaucratic centralism) make the transition from capitalism to socialism. Luxemburg herself was an anti-Bolshevik and argued with Lenin about issues that are still red-hot today, such as supporting anti-colonial social movements that were antidemocratic and backward. (I am updating the debate between Luxemburg and Lenin, originally about the nature of imperialism, and about self-determination in the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, not about Third World dictatorships of today. (Thanks to Steve Bronner for the correction. But as Robert Brenner and Perry Anderson taught the debate in a session I audited, the issue concerned  left-wing alliances with antidemocratic entities, so I extrapolated to the present, when the hard Left does ally itself with dubious entities. For an entirely negative view of Luxemburg and other “Non-Jewish Jews” see Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews. Johnson has the clearest exposition of twentieth-century politics and diplomacy affecting the future of Jewry that I have ever read. It is especially welcome at a time when a new “peace process” is under way.)

All this is to explain that “right-wing social democrats” like FDR were conservative reformers, similar in their views to those of Edmund Burke, ardent critic of the French Revolution and its threat of popular sovereignty. Bronner, though a prolific author, is not typical of today’s radical (Leninist) Left. And I have shifted my own position, as my Pacifica memoir makes clear. As an historian with a background in science education, my most positive contribution must be to encourage individuals to be skeptical of all pronouncements from politicians and other celebrities, and to withhold their support until they know among other things, who is financing their endeavors: Arab sheiks? Closet Islamic jihadists? Americans remain innocent, characters in a novel by Henry James. We remain child-like in our quickness to trust. We are not experienced in the ways of amoral and jaded Europeans or elites from other societies who would destroy democratic movements in their own countries and who seek to bring down the West tout court, for the West is full of bad examples, such as the American and French Revolutions. Do we know the extent to which their financing of university programs and media corporations such as Rupert Murdoch’s outfit is affecting their programming (Fox) or curriculum (Columbia U.)?

While reading Schiller’s and Goethe’s plays over the last few years, I was struck by the complexities of their plots, for they were writing in a time when court life was full of intrigue. Perhaps that is why I collect masks and images of Pierrot. Artists knew that it was bad, really bad out there.

* On the subject of Edmund Burke as a liberal constitutionalist and not an organicist, see Rod Preece, “Edmund Burke and his European Reception,” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation Vol.21, Number 3 (Autumn 1980): 255-273. Preece argues that Burke’s European admirers mistook him for an organicist thinker, and that for Burke, there was a contract between the state and the individual; moreover that he was opposed to Platonic guardians, but preferred practical men of affairs (the moderates) to be running things. But that Burke was horrified by Jacobins and the French Revolution, there is no dispute. If Preece is correct, then Russell Kirk’s name should be added to those who have misunderstood Burke.

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October 31, 2009

Assorted Degenerates

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George Sylvester Viereck's page on Hitler, 1923, plus Pierrot variants

September 21, 2009

Managerial Psychoanalysis: Jung, Henry A. Murray, and sadomasochism (1)

 

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progressive psychiatry in SURVEY GRAPHIC, 1947

This is the first of a three part essay on Jung and some of his followers, whose influence in America is probably underestimated; for instance he thrives in “New Age” thinking. The criticisms I lodge against Jung and the Jungians apply to “adjustment”-oriented ego psychology  and describe the eroticism favored by middle-managers I have studied. Since Dr. Henry A. Murray was one of the chief Melville Revivers, and identified personally with Melville, I have added materials taken from Murray’s essays on personology, as edited and collected by the late Edwin S. Shneidman, but also poems and sketches by other practitioners of sadomasochism. (These will appear in the blogs that follow this one.) The picture that finally emerges is fiercely anti-Freudian, misogynistic, and antisemitic.  Teachers and mental health professionals are asked to read these disturbed and disturbing materials, especially as Murray’s sadomasochism has been described in books by Forrest Robinson and Claire Douglas.

SONS AND MOTHERS

     ” Marxism lies in ruins on the ground. It had to die in order that German labor might find its way to freedom, that our nation might again be a nation. Where formerly Marxist songs of hate resounded, there shall we proclaim brotherhood to the workers. Where once the machine guns of the Reds scattered bullets, there we will make a breach for class freedom; where once a spirit of materialism triumphed there we, resting on the eternal right of our nation to freedom, labor and bread, will proclaim the union of all classes, races and callings in a new glowing idealism before our own nation and before all the world.” [Goebbels, quoted Survey Graphic, Nov. 1933, 549, 550]

     “Another dimension of Lasswell’s achievement, and one largely missed by his readers and commentators, is its radical and even revolutionary commitment to democratic goals. Because Lasswell has always used a special vocabulary that most of his political science colleagues have never bothered to understand, and because, further, this vocabulary is notably free of emotive, polemical, and ideological expressions, Lasswell has been frequently misperceived to be an antidemocratic élitist and a reactionary who would do for and to society what B.F. Skinner has done for and to the pigeons….

     “The Lasswellian conception of democracy has always stressed the widest possible shaping and sharing of those values that promote or exemplify human dignity… To be sure, Lasswell has not identified the particular institutional transformations that would promote such values, but neither did Rousseau indicate the political system required for the operation of the “general will,” nor Marx produce a blueprint for the political economy that would follow the revolution. The fact is, we are so habituated by sloganizing about political and social change that we fail to recognize advocacy of such change unless it is accompanied by a certain barricade rhetoric. Hence the full import has been generally missed of what Lasswell means by political psychiatry and integrative politics. [Arnold A. Rogow, “A Psychiatry of Politics,” (University of Chicago Press: 1969), 141,142]

      “May Day came, with its processions of boys and girls, men and women, singing as they marched to Tempelhof, where they gathered, the largest single audience ever assembled in Germany, to hear the labor speech of the Leader. We listened to it over the radio with a little group of countrymen, all full of eagerness to know what the Nazi labor program would be, how they would deal with unemployment and with the great trades-unions. We got nothing but what we disrespectful Americans call ballyhoo. It was the sort of speech that would be made before a Civic Federation audience or a Manufacturer’s Association: flowery sentiments about the brotherhood of workers with brawn and workers with brain, about commonweal instead of individual profit, about a united country where employer and employe[e] march hand in hand for the Fatherland. There was nothing that could be called a program, a definite plan, and our little group of Americans marvelled that Hitler would dare to so disappoint his waiting followers.

     “But the next day his real plan was carried out without warning. The trades-unions were dissolved, a leader of labor was appointed (the Ley whom the labor representatives in Geneva refused to recognize), the “principle of leadership” was substituted for democratic majority rule, the funds and properties of the trades unions were taken over….

     ” I did my best to discover what the policy of the Nazis with regard to labor really was. The whole world has known for years that Hitler’s movement was financed by the great industrialists on his promise to drive out Communism and break up the trades-unions, but on the other hand we were told that many workers had been won to his cause by his promise to make Germany truly Socialistic, a country of equal opportunity, where there should be neither rich nor poor.” [Alice Hamilton, Survey Graphic, 1933, 550. Hamilton, a progressive, worked in industrial medicine. Her analysis of Nazism remains the view of Marxist-Leninists blaming monopoly capitalism, and ignores Hitler’s “Third Way” between communism and capitalism, resonant with American progressivism.]   

      “The era of campus violence seems to have passed. Students are no longer locking up administrators, burning buildings, or engaging in strikes. But the crisis in higher education is not over. Many colleges and universities are in financial trouble. Many students are still dissatisfied with some aspects of higher education. Professional pride is not keeping faculty members from joining unions.” [The Management and Financing of Colleges (The Committee for Economic Development: 1973) p.7]

      Throughout my study of the Melville Revival, I have dwelled upon postwar psychological warfare and preventive politics to suggest the relevant context for “the Melville boom” of the 1940s.  Although Ahab’s usefulness to Cold War ideologues has been noted,[1] the iconography of Ahab has not been linked to a particular Tory diagnosis of “romantic” fascism as an excrescence of democracy, of autodidacticism run amok, as the inevitable outcome of forces unleashed in the American and French Revolutions.  Nor has the Melville Revival been viewed as one episode in the perennial struggle within universities and the media to define and circumscribe radicalism in America, to set limits to the wandering Protestant imagination, to the mobility and penetration ascribed to the Romantic Wandering Jew.  Nativist radicals (Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Lewis Mumford, Henry A. Murray, all admirers of Carlyle and Jung) have rejected “Marx” and “Freud”[2] as alien, dogmatic, deterministic, and divisive; the “class hatred” jacobinical Marxism spawns is held to be the product of heartless ratiocination.  Murray, Lasswell, and their circle (Mumford, Walter Langer, et al) have reproduced Melville’s most antimodern attitudes while claiming a vanguard, emancipating identity for themselves.  Murray, for instance, was offended by Melville’s sympathy with Melville’s character Pierre, in my opinion, not because Melville so nakedly attacked his parents, but because he exposed the family double bind: the structural conflict between truth and order suggesting that pluralist remedies could not harmonize classes and other antagonistic groups; that “virtuous expediency” was not an acceptable option for moralists torn up by the contradiction between Christian theory and practice.

     Although “pluralism” was once our official ideology, an exclusionary organicism called “multiculturalism” is enforced by corporatists who define and enforce “mental health”: the repressed alternative is free-thinking liberalism made efficacious through self-knowledge and social knowledge, through the retrieval of an accurate history.  Therefore, in practice, “pluralism” is hegemonic: gender, ethnic, and “racial” (or other “interest-group”) politics are legitimate, while class politics are Jewish and toxic unless populist, in which case the enemy is the International Jewish Mother grinding the face of the poor.  Unmanageable conflicts (today called “stress”) originate within individuals (no longer “victims”), who then are the major locus of reform.  The mind-managers have exploited the findings of depth psychology, co-opting it to diagnose and control potential dissidents.  They replicate Melville’s consciousness at its most defended and paranoid, that is, where he projects forbidden rage onto class enemies who must then be controlled.  These alluring villains are 1. the insatiably demanding and perfectionistic moral mother (usually masked by the scientific Jew: together they represent the Market) and 2. the mob generated or aroused by the hot brain and cold body of the Jewish scientist/moral mother/demagogue.  But this defense (projective identification as termed by object-relations theorists) cannot be acknowledged as such; Melville, a “great American writer,” like American élites should be manly, i.e., finally rational and in control, even as he drowns.  His obvious problems (both artistic and personal) are either delimited and suppressed or attributed to the aggressions and deficiencies of irrational women (who control the family) and other philistines (who control the market).

     However, Melville’s achievement may have been limited and distorted by his class position; his confusing switches may express the sado-masochistic social relations of middle-managers, of the professionals and intellectuals whose (partial) freedom of expression is contingent upon their willingness to dominate “the lower orders” on behalf of their superiors in the caste/class system; who “excel” by switching off the connection between idea and emotion, art and life, theory and practice, diagnosing Icarus instead.  Such ethereality leads to promotions: the reformed over-reacher enters a higher class as a molten disembodiment, a skylark.  Rescuing the confusing Lover/ Mother/Jew of the Home he has angered and worried, another celebrated poet (Sir John Collings Squire) privately recounted the submission and impassibility that suggests metamorphosis:[3]

 “Beloved, do not fret or knit your brow,/  Never be feared for me,/  You have forced my heart to red eruption now: I am full of fire and free.

 It hurt me in that shaded room, you were/ So logical and blind,/  It hurt me in the autumn woods, you were/ So lovely and so kind.

 Whatever I see of you hurts me, visions come/ Of you, chameleon-wise,/ Surprising, expected, voluble and dumb-/ Oh, enigmatic eyes!

 Go on as you’ve begun/ With voice and form and face,/ Do what you will with me, for at their height,/ Great joy, great pain embrace.

 Hurt me, oh, hurt me, press the ichor out,/ Torture the thing that’s I,/ Let me but bear my destined fruit, I’ll shout/ With joy, and happy die.

 There was a time when you, with eyes averse,/ Said that I was a fool:/ I was hurt and glad: you’ll never hear me curse,/ Flogged in Apollo’s school!

 I cannot any longer separate/ One prompting from another,/ Or yet distinguish mate from inspiring mate,/ Joy sister, and pain brother.

 Everything pains, and everything exalts,/ The world’s ablaze with light,/ I do not think of merits or of faults,/ Even of wrong or right–

 Only I live for Poetry, only I long/ To fructify; only I cling/ To this conviction, now so sure and strong,/ That I was born to sing. ” [4]  

     For the ultra-conservative poet and critic, J.C. Squire (a British supporter of Italian Fascism), the incestuous intermingling of pain and pleasure produced numbness, then enlightenment: an object (“thing”) became subject (“I”) under “torture”; Squire was uplifted to a realm beyond good and evil, beyond pain, perhaps beyond the scrutiny of the hypercritical and constantly changing parent.  At the poem’s climax he is freed from competitors, blissfully confident of his identity as sole legitimate creator (or is he? there is more than a touch of irony in the strange ending).  Perhaps other fascist sympathizers have felt the same longing to “press the ichor out” to achieve a similar transcendence, but then are equally uneasy with their victories.

     To the extent that middle management refuses to know itself and evolve, it perforce must be either protofascist or ineffectual when faced with authoritarian challenges from the Right.  Refusing painful and embarrassing (because delegitimating) self-explorations, the social thought of the Melville Revivers is situated among Terror-Gothic responses to mass politics; as political Symbolists they may not analyze fascism except as irrational: their anti-intellectualism, revealed in a root-and-branch rejection of “science” is defined as entirely rational.  For the remainder of this section, we will examine the failure of Murray and other authoritarian psychologists (either Jungians or “ego psychologists”) to assess the enemy, protect life, and advance cultural freedom.

     Like Picasso, Murray resorted to primitivist escape, apparently from “civilized” women, but more likely from the rationalism, perseverance, and indignation associated with the working class brain.  Such irrationalism in high places has had consequences for public policy today.  One example was spelled out in my exegesis of the Langer report psychoanalyzing Hitler for the OSS in 1943, and made public in its “original” form in 1972 as a response to the “hippie-fascists” of the 1960s and 1970s, and as a demonstration that psychohistory could prevent errors in managing relations with other recent and future dictators.  The mostly favorable newspaper reviews suggest that antifascist intellectuals will not read a code they should have mastered, for instance that Langer’s portrait of Hitler resembled that of the German agent, George Sylvester Viereck, who, in 1923, imagined the explosive Hitler as Pierrot: androgynous, decadent and a Jew; that is, a mask for the New Woman (or woman with book), breeder of the new Hun (Eve/Cain: Ahab/working class).  The treason of the intellectuals reflects an ideological imperative to explain Nazism as the revolt of the masses, invidiously contrasted to the American people’s community managed by corporatist liberals, for instance, in the Committee for Economic Development.  A comparative structural analysis would have taken the heat off psychopathic Germany, making fascism one common response to economic crisis, and not simply identical with “monopoly capitalism” (the latter a populist or Stalinist formulation). 

    As I have been using the word, fascism is a cultural revolution seeking to reinstate authoritarian social relations and predictable outcomes in open-ended liberal, rationalist, democratic societies moving forward by educating its populace in the ways of critical thought and universalist ethics.  New Leftist critiques of mass culture should be compared to the nativist radicalism of Murray and his circle; there is an intertwined anti-Semitism and misogyny in recent radical scholarship that has not been identified, and which cripples attempts to diagnose structural determinants of cultural pathology.  This study should be contrasted with other analyses of censorship that see cultural pluralism as the norm, repression as aberrant, and invariably produced by extremists of the right and left; extremists whose type is Melville the frontiersman, the desperado defined against impartial liberal élites.

     Bartleby’s mysticism, immobility, and self-exile may express the remorse that followed Melville’s wicked, contaminating identification with the atheistic, materialistic, revolutionary bourgeoisie and their incendiary offspring, the combination whose deadly ambition has caused the absolutist Good Father to disappear: “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions in life, and his relations with his kind,” observed Marx and Engels in a provocation of 1848.  “Where dat old man?” Melville asked in the voice of his infant son Malcolm, throughout his European travels of 1849.  But this parent never existed: he was always a phantom, perhaps what the child/apostate fears he demolished, the victim of his little (short Margothian) “gibes.”  Melville presented the type in his portrait of the Indian-hater, Colonel Moredock, an Ahab (or a Pierre, later a Nathan) of the backwoods: self-reliant, instructed by the unmediated contact with nature, and obsessed with avenging the massacre of his family, but unsated, finally killing Indians for the art and craft of it.  The frontiersman Moredock and his disease (monomania) were the predictable outcome of a world deprived of good kings: that is, patriarchs who obeyed God by fulfilling their paternal obligations toward their dependents, in this case enforcing an orderly western, i.e., Whiggish, expansion that would not arm and inflame the people.

      Only a mask can represent the non-existent “moderate man”; Picasso’s seated Pierrot, like Nietzsche’s wanderer, empty, a spectator and a nihilist, drops the mask to beg for “another mask.”  For Dr. Henry A. Murray (1893-1988), a “moderate conservative” strategically masked as a “left-wing democrat,” the longing for a tolerant father to protect him from the perfectionism of his mother represents a broader, equally hopeless, social yearning for a unifying myth to reconcile groups or forces that seem increasingly intent on annihilating one another; it is the imminent disaster that some of Melville’s characters thought they recognized in the class polarizations of the Civil War and the Gilded Age that followed.  For the merchant and proto-Christian Socialist Rolfe in Clarel (1876, and held by many Melvilleans to be Melville’s mouthpiece), the antagonists in one corner were all-too-liberal protestant pluralists who had abandoned the sane children of the vital center and who, like Derwent (a Matthew Arnold type), were fellow-travelling with the irreverent “Hegelised” German-Jewish geologist Margoth (“such a Jew!”); and in the other corner, their opposition: the deceptively reformist but ever tyrannical Catholic Church.  Where was the good father of the Center who would restrain the predatory side of capitalism that was driving workers into suicidal opposition?[5]


     [1] Donald Pease in Ideology in Classic American Literature, ed. Bercovich  and Jehlen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

    [2] The errors and weaknesses of either figure are pounced upon to discredit institutional analysis, historical memory, and introspection, while what is valuable and original may be annexed to projects at odds with their goals.

     [3] Here is a montage J. C. Squire preserved in his scrapbook: The headline reads “We Nominate for the Hall of Fame”:  Underneath the romantic photo of the black-haired, suited, pipe-smoking, calmly gazing young Squire, the caption reads: “Because his parodies have been as critical and amusing as any of our generation; because he is one of the best known of the Georgian poets; because as a critic he is the most able young man in England, devoted to upholding conservative standards; because he is the  editor of the London Mercury, which under his direction has become the most successful literary magazine in England: and finally because he is now, happily, on a lecture tour of the United States.” Below, Squire pasted two cartoons: one apparently of G. K. Chesterton heading toward the Statue of Liberty on a miniature ocean liner; the other purporting to be “a study by an American girl of eleven” entitled “Do You Recognize Her?” The woman is a frightening figure whose attributes are literally present: “Raven hair, star-like eyes, arched eyebrows, seashell ears, rosy cheeks, pearly teeth, cherry lips, swan-like neck, and lily-white hands go to make the picture.”  (The eyes are actually represented by stars of David: are they the eyes that detect frauds?) I am certain that Squire did not recognize himself in the laudatory remarks quoted above. His letters and notes, his alcoholism, reveal the same self-loathing and sense of inauthenticity that I have found in all the Symbolists under examination.

            [4] Ms. “They Learn in Suffering,” J.C. Squire.  The last four verses were crossed-out.

           [5] See George Mosse on nationalization of the masses, Lasswell’s technocratic military élites; Murray’s call for an eclectic sacred text to replace the Bible; Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1940s.

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