The Clare Spark Blog

October 18, 2010

The Dialectic of Multiculturalism: Helvetius vs. Herder, Fichte

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Meissen chocolate pot

Angela Merkel’s recent statement that multiculturalism in German has “utterly failed” has provoked blogs and other punditry. What is not generally understood is that MC did not assume that all cultures were equal. As the Herder quotes show, he imagined a Golden Age and a hierarchy of value, preferring the Greeks. Moreover, he was arguing against Enlightenment materialism and its assault on the idea of national character (as shown in the quote from Helvétius). Finally, Fichte, a German idealist, clearly realizes that Herder’s hierarchy suggests that German culture will master the world. The remainder of this blog quotes from sources in English translation and includes footnotes.

[Helvétius, 1748; quoted in Marvin Harris, The Rise of Anthropological Theory, 1968, p.456:]  Nothing is generally more false and ridiculous than the portraits drawn to represent the characters of different nations.  Some paint their own nation after the particular society they frequent, and consequently represent the people as gloomy or gay, dull or witty…Others copy what a thousand writers have said before them; they have never examined the changes necessarily produced in a people, by those which happen in the administration and in the alteration of manners.  It has been said, that the French are gay; and this will be repeated to eternity.  They do not perceive, that by the misfortunes of the times having obliged the princes to lay considerable taxes on the country people; the French people cannot be gay, because the peasants, who alone compose two thirds of the nation, are in want, and want can never be gay; that even, in regard to the cities, the necessity, it is said, the police of Paris is under of defraying a part of the expence of the masquerades performed on holidays at St. Anthony’s gate, is not a proof of the gaiety of the artists and the citizen; spies may contribute to the safety of Paris; but being carried too far, they diffuse a general diffidence through the minds of the people, that is absolutely incompatible with joy, on account of the ill use that may be made of them.

[J. G. von Herder, “On Diligence in the Study of Several Learned Languages,” 1764:]  That flourishing age is gone when the small circle of our earliest ancestors dwelt round the patriarchs like children round their parents; that age, in which, in the simple and noble message of our revelation, all the world was of one tongue and language. Instead of the burden of our learning and the masks of our virtues, there reigned rouch, simple contentment. Why do I sketch a lost portrait of irreplaceable charms? It is no more, this golden age.—-

As the children of dust undertook that edifice that threatened the clouds, the chalice of confusion was poured over them: their families and dialects were transplanted to various points of the compass; and a thousand languages were created in tune with the climes and mores of a thousand nations. When here the native of the Morn glows under a blazing noon, the rushing current of his mouth streams forth a heated and emotive speech. There, the Greek flourishes in the most sensuous and mild of regions, his body–in Pindar’s words—is bathed in grace, his veins pulse with a gentle fire, his limbs are charged with sensitivity, his vocal instruments exquisite; and thus there arose among them that exquisite Attic tongue, Grace among her sisters.

The Romans, sons of Mars, spoke more forcefully, and only later gathered flowers in the garden of Greece to embellish their tongue. More masculine yet is the speech of the martial German; the sprightly Gaul invents a skipping, softer language; the Spaniard gives his own an appearance of gravity, though this be merely by means of echoes. The languorous African mumbles weakly, waning away in broken tones, and the Hottentot, at last, loses himself in a stammer of gibberish. So this plant transformed itself according to the soil that nourished it and heaven’s breeze, that quenched its thirst: it became a Proteus among nations.

If thus, each language has its distinct national character, it seems that nature imposes upon us an obligation only to our mother tongue, for it is perhaps better attuned to our character and coextensive with our way of thinking. I may perhaps be able to ape haltingly the sounds of foreign nations, without, however, penetrating to the core of their uniqueness.

…[However, through commerce] state policy links languages together into a universal chain of peoples, and precisely in that way they also become a great bond of learning. So long as the scattered crowd of scholars is not governed by a monarch who would set one language upon the throne of the ruins of so many others, so long as the plans for a universal language belong among the empty projects and journeys to the moon, so long will many languages remain an indispensable evil and thus almost a genuine good.[1]

[Herder on patriotism and sacrifice: “Do We Still Have the Public and Fatherland of Yore?”:] …do we yet have the fatherland, the love of which will move us to the unselfish sacrifice of our selves; do we yet know the passion of the ancients to court the fatherland’s love, its honor and reward, as the patriot’s finest garland?–Whoever entertains noble feelings even for those above him, whose heart beats warmly in his breast for his brother, who seeks to be a link in the chain of the whole, and is so joyfully, will not answer no to this question.

Only a Helvetius, who claims to find only selfish urges in man; a Mandeville, who transforms us into mere bees; a Hobbes, who inscribes hostility upon each man’s forehead; a Machievelli, who creates that monster of a despot who sucks the blood through tax collectors, vampires, and ticks; only these base and cold misanthropes deprive us of the gentle sentiment of patriotism; and each rotten soul that tears itself away from its fatherland and after the Ptolemaic scheme of the world makes the self’s terrestrial clod the center of the whole, will deprive itself of this gentle sentiment.—

…If one should take away from a monarch, from an empress, the sweet awareness of laboring for a fatherland, of caring for subjects as children, what would he be but the image of Machiavelli, what should she be more readily but the mechanical queen bee of Mandeville? If one should take away the invigorating thought of the fatherland from a judge, from an authority who must sacrifice private business to the public weal, who exhausts himself and surrenders the advantage of the family and personal pleasure to the benefit of the whole, is it to be wondered at when such a one, instead of petty laurels, dons the green Jew’s cap, when such a one, instead of holding court, goes out to dig where no one will notice for gold and ecclesiastical treasures?…[2]

[Greeks, Germans, and Fichte resolve the conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, 1806-7:] “The patriot wishs that the purpose of mankind be reached first of all in that nation of which he is a member. In our day this purpose can only be furthered by philosophy (Wissenschaft). Therefore philosophy and its widest possible dissemination in our day must be the immediate purpose of mankind, and no other purpose can or should be fixed for it.

The German patriot wishes that this purpose be attained first of all among the Germans and that from them it spread to the rest of mankind. The German can desire this, for in his midst philosophy has had its origin and it is developed in his language. It may be assumed that in that nation which has had the wisdom to conceive philosophy there should also rest the ability to understand it. Only the German can desire this, for only he, through the possession of philosophy and the possibility given thereby to understand it, can comprehend that this is the immediate purpose of mankind. This purpose is the only patriotic goal. Only the German can therefore be a patriot. Only he can, in the interest of his nation, include all mankind. Since the instinct of Reason has become extinct and the era of Egotism has begun, every other nation’s patriotism is selfish, narrow, hostile to the rest of mankind.

…The Germans as the Urvolk, the original people, have learned to regard the state and the nation with truly religious spirit. Not in the manner of tyrants who preach religion as a cloak of despotism, urging submission, but in the manner of freemen who have learned to love their nation. For “a nation is the totality of all those living together in society, continuing its kind physically and spiritually, living under a special law of  the development of the divine out of itself.”  This law of development produces national character….The state must find its chief task in the education of its citizens for these higher ends.[3]

Johann Gottlieb Fichte


   NOTES.           [1] Johann Gottfried Herder, Selected Early Works 1764-1767, ed. Ernest A. Menze and Karl Menges. Transl. Ernest A. Menze with Michael Palma (University Park, Pennsylvania, Penn State UP, 1992), 29-31.

                             [2] Ibid., 61-62.

                             [3] H.C. Engelbrecht, Johann Gottlieb Fichte: A Study of his political writings with special reference to his Nationalism (N.Y.: AMS Press, orig. publ. 1933): 98, 117-18.    

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September 23, 2010

Woodrow Wilson’s internationalism vs. Obama’s

Woodrow Wilson on his feet

Many persons believe Barack  Obama is a crypto-communist; while others believe he is a crypto-Muslim. Both believe he is out to destroy this country. I see him as an inheritor of the Progressive tradition, especially as exemplified by Woodrow Wilson, who unsuccessfully attempted to get the USA to join the League of Nations. Wilson’s contemporaries were among the first to develop the tenets of multiculturalism, conceived as super-ethnicity (i.e., self-determination that defied individualism by elevating groupiness, nationalism, and cultural relativism) and deliberately designed as an antidemocratic panacea to the Enlightenment and the secular revolutions that were feared by all sorts of aristocrats, including “social democrats.” What follows are my research notes based on readings from Wilson’s major biographers.

[This blog has been heavily augmented. Here is the first version:]

Arthur Link’s Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era (1954) ends with a chapter “From Peace Without Victory To War”.  Hollywood liberals would profit from this detailed political history, not least because it dismisses the old Left cry that Wilson’s war was for the benefit of Wall Street and the merchants of war (i.e., J.P. Morgan and munitions makers). Link’s conclusion is partly reproduced here, in order to contrast Wilson’s vision of a [Christianized] democratic world with the hazy multicultural one articulated by Obama today before the United Nations.  I will place the key phrase that distinguishes their notions of democracy in bold face. [Obama’s view was that the desired democracy would be rooted in the cultural traditions of each people. This is the standard view of “rooted cosmopolitanism” not to be confused with the rootless cosmopolitanism of the Enlightenment and science. Not that Wilson was anything but an organic conservative and a racist, but his ethics were ostensibly universalist.]

[Arthur Link, pp.281-82] : The German decision to gamble on all-out victory or complete ruin…alone compelled Wilson to break diplomatic relations, to adopt a policy of armed neutrality, and finally to ask for a declaration of war–because American ships were being sunk and American citizens were being killed on the high seas, and because armed neutrality seemed no longer possible. Considerations of America’s alleged economic stake in an Allied victory did not influence Wilson’s thoughts during the critical weeks from February 1 to April 2, 1917. Nor did considerations of the national interest, or of the great ideological issues at stake in the conflict.

[Link, cont.: Wilson’s message to a joint session of Congress, April 2:] He reviewed the recent German warfare against commerce, which he termed “warfare against mankind.” He declared that armed neutrality was no longer feasible and that …the recent course of the Imperial German government was war against the United States. …The American people now knew the Imperial government, like all autocracies, was a natural foe of liberty. Therefore, “The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.” And then, with one great peroration, which has gone ringing down the years, the long ordeal of neutrality was over:

[quoting Wilson:] It is a distressing and oppressive duty, Gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, [white, C.S.] civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts,—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other. [end Wilson quote]

Wilson’s anti-imperialism cannot be understood, however, without acknowledgment of his racism. His advocacy of “self-determination” was probably grounded in a fear of merging with primitives in wars of conquest. With such a view, he reiterated the feelings and fears of earlier upper-class Americans who had opposed the Mexican war (and of course any annexation of a territory with non-white inhabitants).  But in this particular message to Congress, he was speaking from the universalist Christian (Presbyterian, Calvinist) side of his ideology, not the Southern racist side.

Second version: (For more on Wilson’s anti-materialist organicism views, see https://clarespark.com/2008/05/03/margoth-vs-robert-e-lee/. For more on the anti-materialist Counter-Reformation tendency in cultural studies see https://clarespark.com/2009/07/04/unfinished-revolutions-and-contested-notions-of-identity/.)

I began a close study of Woodrow Wilson years ago while writing my book on the Melville Revival (Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival). His often eccentric conduct as a young man was brought out in Henry Wilkinson Bragdon’s revealing biography of Wilson at Princeton, for instance, some homoeroticism, cross-dressing and explicit antisemitism, but most important is WW’s dim view of science. He was ever the organic conservative adapting his overtly aristocratic social views later to agree with the populist and progressive mood of middle-class do-gooders in a rapidly industrializing society. That is what makes the final judgment of WW’s character in John Morton Blum’s important book, Woodrow Wilson and the Politics of Morality (1956) so interesting, for Blum reads him as a monomaniac, closed off to the moderation that would have secured The League of Nations, in his final assessment of WW’s diplomacy:

[Blum, pp197-98:]” …His basic, lifelong faith was in the individual as a distinct moral agent, inspired by and accountable to God; in the individual as the special object of a Christian education; in this individual, so accountable and so educated, as the judicious artificer of his own political and economic life. This was the essential belief of the America of Wilson’s time, a belief derived from Calvin and Adam Smith and Emerson at least. It presumed, as Wilson did, that normative man was a kind of William Gladstone, that a normative nation consisted of a mass of separate human particles, each like him. But within the United States in the twentieth century, giving these particles a chance to compete was not enough; they needed also help and cohesion. Particularly in this century, moreover, liberal constitutionalism was not everywhere a possible or an attractive prospect. Some products of Wilson’s faith therefore, had unwholesome, unintended consequences.”

Earlier in the book, Blum had said that WW paved the way for the New Deal (that he proudly supports). Blum undoubtedly knew of the German Romantic conception of Bildung, but the organicism of German Romantic culture is invisible to him as he lists WW’s precessors. Nor will he nor any other progressive historian call out the social psychologists of the New Deal for their copying of Nazi methods of mind-management to promote social “cohesion.” Nor will he be alarmed by the Carl Schmitt critique of (liberal?) constitutionalism in favor of the executive decree. Blum, like the invisible helpers to progressive thought described elsewhere on this website, contrasted social responsibility with the atomic “particles” who would explode social bonds, refusing “compromise” and realism in foreign policy. So WW had to be taken down a peg, but just a little.

Rewriting an earlier book on Wilsonian diplomacy, Arthur S. Link, also ignored the German side of Wilson’s social thought. In Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War and Peace (1979), Link began by lauding WW’s “splendid synthesis of Anglo-American democratic theories and traditions.” Then he tackles WW’s view of a necessarily disciplined human nature:

[Link, p.5] Everything depended upon Wilson’s view of the nature and capacities of humankind. He believed that all peoples were capable of self-government because all were endowed with inherent character and capacity for growth. He was too good a student of history to be visionary in these beliefs. He repudiated and condemned utopianism and taught that people learn democracy only by long years of disciplined experience.  As early as 1885, we hear him saying:

[Link quoting  Wilson:] “Democracy is, of course, wrongly conceived when treated as merely a body of doctrine. It is a stage of development. It is not created by aspirations or by new faith; it is built up by slow habit. Its process is experience, its basis old wont, its meaning national organic oneness and effectual life. It comes, like manhood, as the fruit of youth: immature peoples cannot have it, and the maturity to which it is vouchsafed is the maturity of freedom and self-control, and no other.”

[Link, cont.] Even so, Wilson deeply believed that all peoples, whether Mexican peons or Russian peasants, whites, blacks, or Orientals, were capable in the long run of being trained or self-trained in the disciplines of democracy and of learning to govern themselves. “When properly directed,” he said in 1914, “there is no people not fitted for self-government.”

Note that Wilson conflates a “people” with the “self” who governs itself. Here is the double bind, or call it the disappearing body if you like. It is apparent that no one should impute to Wilson any linkage to the concept of the rootless cosmopolitan, the figure embodied in the “mad scientist” or to the Adam Smithian participant in market societies and their peculiar notion of “liberty” and “individualism.” What connection is there then between Wilson’s internationalism and Barack Obama’s in his address to the United Nations? I cannot find any difference, for both are indebted to the volkisch ideas of German Romanticism, updated now by collectivist progressives, with their dubious genealogy dating back to Herder and Goethe discreetly erased by such eminent historians as Link and Blum.

On competing notions of individuality see https://clarespark.com/2014/06/11/karl-marx-on-individuality/, retitled “Individuality: the impossible dream?” The turn toward “culturalism” and groupiness was a novelty of the New Deal. For instance, historian Carl Becker turned Jefferson on his head, construing him as a defender of the positive, not the negative State, which brought agrarianism in line with New Deal statism.

September 26, 2009

NEA, NEH, and state worship

Friedrich Meinecke

Readers of this blog might profit from an earlier one: https://clarespark.com/2009/07/04/unfinished-revolutions-and-contested-notions-of-identity/. What follows is the mission statement  for the NEA and NEH. I have emphasized in bold face those items that demonstrate a fear of a science-driven market, hoping to use the arts and humanities (i.e. art as a substitute for religion) to moderate narcissism and to impose order on a dog-eat-dog modern world: i.e., history, insofar as it is solely “materialist” (fact-based) cannot illuminate either past or present, nor is it wise or a guide to an (orderly) future. Government funding of the multicultural arts and humanities seems to me to be directed toward state worship. What is not spoken is intellectual independence as a value in itself and as a route to discovery, apart from any contribution to social cohesion. The Renaissance notion that the individual has dignity and power is the essence of “humanism.” Do you find these qualities in the protocols? Is “multiculturalism” (the “democratic” recipe du jour) really intended to “empower” minorities or is it a sophisticated form of social control?

   First I present the mission statement of NEA and NEH, then provide quotations from Friedrich Meinecke, J. G. von Herder, and Fichte to demonstrate the intellectual lineage of government funding for the arts and humanities. That lineage is German Romanticism and its counter-Enlightenment thrust. But that genealogy also rejects or “moderates” the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolutions–all seen in undiluted form as the precursors to “totalitarian” ideologies.

NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES ACT OF 1965, NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS APPROPRIATIONS AS OF FISCAL YEAR 2006, AND RELATED LEGISLATION

20 U.S.C.

§ 951. Declaration of findings and purposes

The Congress finds and declares the following:

(1) The arts and the humanities belong to all the people of the United States.

(2) The encouragement and support of national progress and scholarship in the

humanities and the arts, while primarily a matter for private and local initiative,

are also appropriate matters of concern to the Federal Government.

(3) An advanced civilization must not limit its efforts to science and technology

alone, but must give full value and support to the other great branches of

scholarly and cultural activity in order to achieve a better understanding of the

past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future.

(4) Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster

and support a form of education, and access to the arts and the humanities,

designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of

their technology and not its unthinking servants.

(5) It is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to complement,

assist, and add to programs for the advancement of the humanities and the

arts by local, State, regional, and private agencies and their organizations. In

doing so, the Government must be sensitive to the nature of public

sponsorship. Public funding of the arts and humanities is subject to the

conditions that traditionally govern the use of public money. Such funding

should contribute to public support and confidence in the use of taxpayer

funds. Public funds provided by the Federal Government must ultimately serve

public purposes the Congress defines.

(6) The arts and the humanities reflect the high place accorded by the American

people to the nation’s rich cultural heritage and to the fostering of mutual

respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups.

(7) The practice of art and the study of the humanities require constant dedication

and devotion. While no government can call a great artist or scholar into

existence, it is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to help

create and sustain not only a climate encouraging freedom of thought,

imagination, and inquiry but also the material conditions facilitating the release

of this creative talent.

(8) The world leadership which has come to the United States cannot rest solely

upon superior power, wealth, and technology, but must be solidly founded

upon worldwide respect and admiration for the Nation’s high qualities as a

leader in the realm of ideas and of the spirit.

(9) Americans should receive in school, background and preparation in the arts

and humanities to enable them to recognize and appreciate the aesthetic

dimensions of our lives, the diversity of excellence that comprises our cultural

heritage, and artistic and scholarly expression.

(10) It is vital to a democracy to honor and preserve its multicultural artistic heritage

as well as support new ideas, and therefore it is essential to provide financial

assistance to its artists and the organizations that support their work.

(11) To fulfill its educational mission, achieve an orderly continuation of free society,

and provide models of excellence to the American people, the Federal

Government must transmit the achievement and values of civilization from the

past via the present to the future, and make widely available the greatest

achievements of art.

(12) In order to implement these findings and purposes, it is desirable to establish a

National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities. [end, mission statement]

 These items respond to 1. A particular aristocratic interpretation of the appeal of fascism/Nazism to one-sided technocrats and technical workers who are not “spiritual” (i.e., Nazism, like Communism, was atheistic, hence materialistic).

     [from Hunting Captain Ahab:] The concept of ethnopluralism could redirect and absorb the class resentments of the potentially explosive redundantly educated–the “disillusioned” worker or petit bourgeois, overtrained (in technology) and underemployed in the Depression, who had been spotted by other conservative intellectuals as shock troops for fascism between the wars. The famous historian Friedrich Meinecke’s postwar explanation for “the German catastrophe” resonates with the ruminations of earlier organic conservatives:[i]

[Meinecke:] “It often happens nowdays…that young technicians, engineers, and so forth, who have enjoyed an excellent university training as specialists, will completely devote themselves to their calling for ten or fifteen years and without looking either to the right or to the left will try only to be first-rate specialists. But then, in their middle or late thirties, something they have never felt before awakens in them, something that was never really brought to their attention in their education–something that we would call a suppressed metaphysical desire. Then they rashly seize upon any sort of ideas and activities, anything that is fashionable at the moment and seems to them important for the welfare of individuals–whether it be anti-alcoholism, agricultural reform, eugenics, or the occult sciences. The former first-rate specialist changes into a kind of prophet, into an enthusiast, perhaps even into a fanatic and monomaniac. Thus arises the type of man who wants to reform the world.

   Here one sees how a one-sided training of the intellect in technical work may lead to a violent reaction of the neglected irrational impulses of the spirit, but not to a real harmony of critical self-discipline and inner creativeness–rather to a new one-sidedness that clutches about wildly and intemperately…A technical calling, however, does not necessarily precede the world reformer’s intemperance. Men with hot heads, ambition, and an autodidactic urge for advancement, when forced into the technically normalized working conditions of the present day, may easily lose their inner equilibrium in the conflict of the spirit with the world about them and flare up in a blaze. The petty painter and quarellist Hitler, who once had to earn his scanty bread in construction work and in the course of it whipped up his hatred of the Jews into a general philosophy of world-shaking consequences, is a case of this kind (36-37).”

    In the transition from Homo Sapiens to Homo Faber, Meinecke explained, we had lost the integrative powers of religion:

[Meinecke:] This was no specific spiritual force, but a spiritual need springing from and existing for the totality of the soul, and called upon to preserve the inner community of the life of men and to knit the ties between the simple workingman and the cultured man of developed individuality (38).”

   Martin Dies and James Conant, along with other American Progressives, had been similarly alarmed by the rupture in human history, a rupture that had prompted the desire for a complexly developed individuality in previously “simple” workingmen; hotheads and ambitious autodidacts were to be cooled out through incorporation into an organic community; special attention would be paid to suppressed metaphysical desires, unpredictably erupting in misguided attempts to reform the world. With class, the materialist analytic category par excellence, translated into the soulful völkisch discourse, the irrationalism of Conservative Enlightenment watered the growing field of social psychology, a developing discipline ever alert to the monomaniacal propensities of the one-sidedly educated and upwardly mobile protofascist middle class. [end, book excerpt, Hunting Captain Ahab]

     And earlier, the German theologian and founder of cultural anthropology, J.G. von Herder explained his counter-Enlightenment, anti-materialist views on patriotism and sacrifice: “Do We Still Have the Public and Fatherland of Yore?”:

“…do we yet have the fatherland, the love of which will move us to the unselfish sacrifice of our selves; do we yet know the passion of the ancients to court the fatherland’s love, its honor and reward, as the patriot’s finest garland?–Whoever entertains noble feelings even for those above him, whose heart beats warmly in his breast for his brother, who seeks to be a link in the chain of the whole, and is so joyfully, will not answer no to this question.

    Only a Helvetius, who claims to find only selfish urges in man; a Mandeville, who transforms us into mere bees; a Hobbes, who inscribes hostility upon each man’s forehead; a Machievelli, who creates that monster of a despot who sucks the blood through tax collectors, vampires, and ticks; only these base and cold misanthropes deprive us of the gentle sentiment of patriotism; and each rotten soul that tears itself away from its fatherland and after the Ptolemaic scheme of the world makes the self’s terrestrial clod the center of the whole, will deprive itself of this gentle sentiment.—

…If one should take away from a monarch, from an empress, the sweet awareness of laboring for a fatherland, of caring for subjects as children, what would he be but the image of Machiavelli, what should she be more readily but the mechanical queen bee of Mandeville? If one should take away the invigorating thought of the fatherland from a judge, from an authority who must sacrifice private business to the public weal, who exhausts himself and surrenders the advantage of the family and personal pleasure to the benefit of the whole, is it to be wondered at when such a one, instead of petty laurels, dons the green Jew’s cap, when such a one, instead of holding court, goes out to dig where no one will notice for gold and ecclesiastical treasures?…[1]

 2. These items respond to the liberal foundations’ beliefs that racial and ethnic conflict could be moderated through better communication, not changes in the funding of scientific education or political organization by those with grievances concerning the unequal application of the law.  [The Ralph Bunche Papers contain his indignant protests that upper-class foundations were oblivious to the material conflicts that perpetuated racism and kept blacks in their places. Such foundations offered better communication and inter-racial understanding instead of political and economic education for the downtrodden. I have published work on this topic.]

 3. These items echo the belief that there is no hierarchy in culture, that all diversities are equal, while, on the other hand, there is in fact a hierarchy of civilized expression that speaks to us today. (The greatest achievements of civilization has continuity irrespective of its meaning to those who created it. In practice, this privileges “Christian humanism” and a daisy chain of differing cultural expressions, each one rooted in blood and soil.)

 [J.G. von Herder, “On Diligence in the Study of Several Learned Languages,” 1764:]  That flourishing age is gone when the small circle of our earliest ancestors dwelt round the patriarchs like children round their parents; that age, in which, in the simple and noble message of our revelation, all the world was of one tongue and language. Instead of the burden of our learning and the masks of our virtues, there reigned rough, simple contentment. Why do I sketch a lost portrait of irreplaceable charms? It is no more, this golden age.—-

   As the children of dust undertook that edifice that threatened the clouds, the chalice of confusion was poured over them: their families and dialects were transplanted to various points of the compass; and a thousand languages were created in tune with the climes and mores of a thousand nations. When here the native of the Morn glows under a blazing noon, the rushing current of his mouth streams forth a heated and emotive speech. There, the Greek flourishes in the most sensuous and mild of regions, his body–in Pindar’s words—is bathed in grace, his veins pulse with a gentle fire, his limbs are charged with sensitivity, his vocal instruments exquisite; and thus there arose among them that exquisite Attic tongue, Grace among her sisters.

   The Romans, sons of Mars, spoke more forcefully, and only later gathered flowers in the garden of Greece to embellish their tongue. More masculine yet is the speech of the martial German; the sprightly Gaul invents a skipping, softer language; the Spaniard gives his own an appearance of gravity, though this be merely by means of echoes. The languorous African mumbles weakly, waning away in broken tones, and the Hottentot, at last, loses himself in a stammer of gibberish. So this plant transformed itself according to the soil that nourished it and heaven’s breeze, that quenched its thirst: it became a Proteus among nations. [Note that Herder has a hierarchy, unlike the multiculturalists who invoke him.]

    If thus, each language has its distinct national character, it seems that nature imposes upon us an obligation only to our mother tongue, for it is perhaps better attuned to our character and coextensive with our way of thinking. I may perhaps be able to ape haltingly the sounds of foreign nations, without, however, penetrating to the core of their uniqueness.

…[However, through commerce] state policy links languages together into a universal chain of peoples, and precisely in that way they also become a great bond of learning. So long as the scattered crowd of scholars is not governed by a monarch who would set one language upon the throne of the ruins of so many others, so long as the plans for a universal language belong among the empty projects and journeys to the moon, so long will many languages remain an indispensable evil and thus almost a genuine good.[2]

4. These items strongly suggest that the arts and humanities, funded by the government, bind the citizen spiritually to the State, and discourage an excess of “Egotism.” Through rooted cosmopolitanism, we, like the German Romantics, spin the divinity out of the nation, and sacrifice ourselves for the higher good, a gesture which is not submission, but an expression of national character.

  [Germans, the sole inventors of “philosophy” and Fichte resolve the conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, 1806-7:] “The patriot wishes that the purpose of mankind be reached first of all in that nation of which he is a member. In our day this purpose can only be furthered by philosophy (Wissenschaft). Therefore philosophy and its widest possible dissemination in our day must be the immediate purpose of mankind, and no other purpose can or should be fixed for it.

   The German patriot wishes that this purpose be attained first of all among the Germans and that from them it spread to the rest of mankind. The German can desire this, for in his midst philosophy has had its origin and it is developed in his language. It may be assumed that in that nation which has had the wisdom to conceive philosophy there should also rest the ability to understand it. Only the German can desire this, for only he, through the possession of philosophy and the possibility given thereby to understand it, can comprehend that this is the immediate purpose of mankind. This purpose is the only patriotic goal. Only the German can therefore be a patriot. Only he can, in the interest of his nation, include all mankind. Since the instinct of Reason has become extinct and the era of Egotism has begun, every other nation’s patriotism is selfish, narrow, hostile to the rest of mankind.

The Germans as the Urvolk, the original people, have learned to regard the state and the nation with truly religious spirit. Not in the manner of tyrants who preach religion as a cloak of despotism, urging submission, but in the manner of freemen who have learned to love their nation. For “a nation is the totality of all those living together in society, continuing its kind physically and spiritually, living under a special law of  the development of the divine out of itself.”  This law of development produces national character….The state must find its chief task in the education of its citizens for these higher ends.[3]


[1.]  Friedrich Meinecke, The German Catastrophe, trans. Sidney Fay ( Boston: Beacon Press, 1950), 36-38. Though he is writing after World War II, Meinecke’s analysis is typical of other organic conservatives. Similar identifications of the class base of fascism were made by Harold Lasswell before the war, and CIA-affiliated social scientists during the 1940s and 50s. George Mosse built an entire academic career on the claim. Cf. the mid-nineteenth century views of Radical Republican Charles Sumner, who vigorously advocated an excellent popular education for all American

[2.] Johann Gottfried Herder, Selected Early Works 1764-1767, ed. Ernest A. Menze and Karl Menges. Transl. Ernest A. Menze with Michael Palma (University Park, Pennsylvania, Penn State UP, 1992), 29-31.

[3] Ibid., 61-62.

 [4.] H.C. Engelbrecht, Johann Gottlieb Fichte: A Study of his political writings with special reference to his Nationalism (N.Y.: AMS Press, orig. publ. 1933): 98, 117-18.    

September 19, 2009

Populism, progressivism, and corporatist liberalism in The Nation, 1919

Oswald Garrison Villard

   In my last blog, I objected to David Brooks’s drastic separation of populism and progressivism. Here is an excerpt from the second chapter of my book on psychological warfare in the Melville revival (Hunting Captain Ahab (Kent State UP, 2001, second ed. paperback 2006). Readers of prior blogs will see ample evidence of the deletion of “Jewish” materialism in favor of “Christian humanism” in the fused populist-progressive movement. The influence of Hobson’s notion that finance capital was the cause of war is apparent in Villard’s Nation of 1919; it seems that international finance capital had dictated the peace as well. The Nation recommends a racially-inflected moderation as the remedy of choice to defeat class war and Bolshevism. For more on J. A. Hobson’s attack on “finance capital” see https://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/.

[Book excerpt:] Blue-pencil deletions in The Nation (1919) and in a book for Jewish immigrants (1925)

Raymond M. Weaver’s 1921 biography of Melville had emphasized Melville’s romantic propensity to buy the blissful illusions constructed by bourgeois sentimental culture; these “stupendous discoveries” necessarily evaporated upon contact and brought him down. It is a commonplace of liberal Melville criticism, following Raymond Weaver’s lead, that “disillusion” with the bourgeois idea of progress after the debacle of the Great War to end all wars explains the receptiveness of writers and the reading public to the ever disillusioned Melville, who not only saw through the duplicities of confidence-men before anyone else, but prophesied the totalitarian dictators, Stalin and Hitler. Historicizing gobbet-girls will interrupt: “Just a minute: who was disillusioned after the war, who had been betrayed, and what was to be done?”

Weaver’s essay celebrating Melville’s centenary appeared in the Nation, 2 August 1919, the year of (apparently contagious) international revolution; the negotiation and ratification of the Versailles Treaty; raging class, ethnic, and racial conflict in the U.S.; and violent right-wing reaction, including the establishment of the anti-Bolshevik division of the FBI. The Nation responded with hysterical entreaties for reform even before the conclusion to the Versailles Treaty negotiations, regarded by editor Oswald Garrison Villard as a betrayal by Woodrow Wilson.[i] An editorial of February 8 unabashedly urged repressive tolerance as remedy of choice:

[Nation editorial:] The process of turning the thoughtful working people of the country into dangerous radicals goes merrily on…Readers of the Nation do not need to be reminded that for half a century it has opposed socialist dogma as energetically as it could; and it will continue to oppose it. But in the present premises it is concerned with preserving to every law-abiding citizen and organization the right to present for public consideration his ideas, no matter how erroneous they may appear. The democracy that cannot preserve that right for its minorities cannot live. It is the men who are denying that right, and not the Socialists or I.W.W.’s, who are the most dangerous enemies of the social order today.

For we live in perilous times. Privilege in Russia and Germany has dissolved, and in Great Britain is on the brink of dissolution. The people have lost faith in their rulers and leaders. Let not our privileged classes imagine that the United States is immune. Signs multiply that precisely the same unrest is working here. Deny men the right to discuss their grievances and to redress them through changes in the law, and you develop the temper recently expressed by one of the Socialist leaders: “I, for one, have severed all relations with the enemy. I have stopped signing petitions or other instruments of a pleading nature. I will endorse demands only. It is time that we came out in the open…We must isolate ourselves–fight alone. This is the method by which we will be able to demand–not beg–our rights.”

This is a spirit that cannot be put down by threats or suppression, and woe to that society in which it becomes rampant. We desire no violent revolution, and therefore we adjure the holders of privilege and power solemnly to consider whither their present course of repression leads. Perhaps it is not even yet too late.[ii] [end editorial]

The progressive but counter-revolutionary theme was constantly reiterated: “reconstruction” in the conciliatory mode of the Anglo-Saxon heritage. The search for “common ground” would lead the masses away from proletarian revolution and dictatorship; against the Spartacist Manifesto (reprinted in the Nation, March 8) claiming only socialism could bring peace and order, Anglo-Saxon progressives summoned another voice from Germany. Berlin professor and pacificist, F.G. Nicolai, argued that Karl Liebknecht, the recently murdered Spartacist leader, could have been brought into the system: “Revolution must come; not the revolution which is put through by force, but ordered revolution fought with spiritual weapons.”[iii] Another article opposed the “efficiency scientist,” pleading for a reformed academic humanism to protect “ordered progress,” the alternative to [Ahab-cancer]: “rampant Bolshevism” “malignantly seek[ing] to slay the great serpent, or at least scotch it into impotence.” The triumph of materialism would result in pseudo-humanism–chaotic, sentimental and dilettantish. In a pre-emptive strike, the reformed Ph.D. would promote Christian humanism: gentlemanly art was a moderating criticism of social evil.[iv] Freed from [Jewish] materialist science, [Christian] scholarship–once more liberal and courteous, prudent and restrained, spiritual and holistic–would not present a clear and present danger to capitalist and (patriarchal) family order.[v] Structural change was somewhere else, far, very far into the future.

The “disillusion” explanation for the Melville Revival has truth in it, but has been misunderstood. Internationalism was in the air; the world was confronted with two sublime visions after 1917, Lenin’s and Wilson’s. Both would find intellectual support in Melville’s White-Jacket: the perception of irreconcilable conflicts of interest between haves and have-nots, and the peace, order, and prosperity projected by the Protestant mission. Although Wilson’s and Lenin’s visions were apparently contradictory, at times the Left supported both. As Socialist H.W.L. Dana wrote to James Graham Phelps Stokes:

[Dana to Stokes:] The propaganda which I find most necessary here in Massachusetts is one in favor of Wilson’s ideals. So anxious do I feel myself to protect Wilson from attack, that I find myself ready to hold a position more radical than his in order to draw the fire of the reactionaries upon us. What does it matter if we are crushed out, so long as his liberal ideals remain…I am willing to sacrifice those things which one holds dearer than life, my reputation and the understanding of my fellow men, if I can only contribute a little toward that great solution of the problem of war; so that my bleeding brothers may not have bled in vain. [vi]

Thus Villard’s vehement opposition to the League of Nations gains added significance. The following is a synthesis of diagnoses and presciptions transmitted by the Nation, January-August 1919, reproducing the Judgment Day discourse of Villard and other writers. Materialism was linked both to Shylock/Wilson (international finance capital, the source of imperialism), and to Russo-Semitic mud of Greenwich Village (Freud’s “nauseous juices”).[vii] The “hostile spirit” of mass politics (likened to “white ants”), was eating at the foundations of society. Mammon, Freud, Eros, science, and cities marched past shriveling Anglo-Saxons.[viii]

Villard (who had once believed that the Fourteen Points would end war and arms races) howled at the betrayal of the Versailles Treaty, more or less denouncing Wilson as a hypnotic confidence-man, long aware of the Allies’ secret agreements to divest Germany of land and colonies.[ix] At the “mad” Peace Conference, Wilson’s disguise had been discarded of necessity; the lone wolf and egotist was snuggled in [Shylock’s [x]] pocket, international finance capital. Thought by the pathetically eager and gentle millions to be the carrier of the Christian mission, Wilson was sponsoring the League of Nations to promote peace, while conniving with other insider imperialists to dominate the world.[xi] Meanwhile, Europe lay in smoking ruins, bankrupt and hungry. The red flame of revolution leapt from Moscow to Munich, to Budapest, to Vienna, to London, to Paris, to Milan: Americans should be quarantined with a “Chinese Wall” to block the news (or “whirlwind”) from Europe.[xii] The disappointed, suspicious masses everywhere were tinder for the conflagration to come. Workers in Winnepeg, New York, Seattle, Toronto, Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), and Waltham (Massachusetts) were poised to take power. In the vacuum left by the fallen Wilson, the most deluded, stubborn and headstrong false messiahs would be taking the van, pointing away from the calm, careful, and free deliberations of Anglo-Saxon politics, most plainly exemplified in the Puritan town meeting and its spawn, the “honest populism” of the North Dakota Non-Partisan League. They were moving toward the savage (Jewish) vengeance of socialist revolution, mind-control, and the bureaucracy that would follow in an inefficient, decadent worker’s state.[xiii]

Under these desperate circumstances, what should a moderate man do? While praying for another Savior/Superman (an economic dictator or a Lord Robert Cecil), Villard’s action-oriented magazine (with very few exceptions) put out a familiar appeal to rational conservatives. The Right, in its crusading zeal to stamp out the Left, was destroying the Constitution and every semblance of civil liberty, driving orphaned Wilson children into the arms of [Jewish Bolshevism] where presumably they would be betrayed once again, this time for good.[xiv] Similarly, by invading the Soviet Union, America and the Allies were only consolidating the irrational hold of the Bolsheviks. Unmolested, the Russians would revert to type and turn inward; meanwhile, a profitable trading relationship with the Russian masses beckoned.[xv] To avert the bloody massacre of class war, Christian conservatives were to make a few needed sacrifices, move sharply to the Left, and engage Labor as partners to Capital in a Christian, decentralized, associationist state of humanistic, anti-materialist but productive brothers and sisters.[xvi] Alien and exploitative international finance capital (up in the air) should be banished; native commercial capital (close to the ground) would remain. If even twenty intelligent industrialists set their minds to it, conferred and planned, the problem of class warfare could be solved in a matter of weeks.[xvii] The socialist claim for international solidarity through “workers’ control”[xviii] was jettisoned in favor of spirituality and a reinstated family of democratic Christian gentlemen, one or more of whom would befriend the common people: a “builder of more stately mansions.”[xix] In spite of the Nation’s occasional support for liberal internationalism and opposition to racism and national chauvinism, (12 April, 540), the scientific but Jewishly-divisive suggestion of opposing interests between Capital and Labor had been discarded for the mystical but (internally[xx]) unifying glue of race and national character. Honest Anglo-Saxons invited shifty immigrants to rationally assimilate through class collaboration, even if they were racially unfit to get it, quite.

An anonymous review of George Woodberry’s “Nathaniel Hawthorne: How to Know Him” clarified American historicism in the Nation. Every writer (not only Hawthorne) should be first considered with regard to his all-shaping environment and the ideas of his time. Second, the writer, now located geographically and molded accordingly, should be considered with regard to his peculiar and idiosyncratic responses. These are the relevant factors of his biography. “Art,” however, was a separate category from life. “Aesthetics” were related to standards of universal literature; unity was found only in the aesthetic realm. Alas, non-Anglo-Saxons could only hope to peer at Hawthorne. As the reviewer noted of literary scholar George Woodberry: “[However singular and parochial Hawthorne might have been] there is no one now living who is so peculiarly fitted by racial inheritance to speak of Hawthorne with sympathetic understanding.”[xxi] Relations between Hawthorne and Woodberry were guaranteed to be harmonious since, happily, a similar biological environment had pre-soaked their individualities; why, they nearly had the same name. (Relations between Hawthorne and the Melville revivers would be as trouble-free; it shall be seen that Hawthorne’s insights into Melville’s obsessive character, especially as recorded in the former’s English Notebooks, would influence assessments of twentieth-century Melville revivers, almost as if a blood brother could not be contradicted.)

But such a rooted, blood and soil historicism would logically have to sabotage the rational search for “common ground” so strenuously advocated by Progressives as the approved Anglo-Saxon solution to class warfare. This impasse was addressed six years later by Nation reader Rabbi Lee J. Levinger, a pluralist and pragmatist, who was the self-proclaimed intellectual descendant of Kant, Comte, Spencer, LeBon, Durkheim, McDougall, Cooley, and John Dewey. Levinger identified two brands of extremism: 100 percent Americans pursuing the “lost cause” of anti-Semitism; and maladjusted Jews suffering from “oppression psychosis.” In his book Anti-Semitism in the United States: Its History and Causes (1925), Levinger softly explained that American “soil” sprouted neither Marxists nor nativist hysterics: “class consciousness” and “prejudice” disappear when hard hearts melt and rationally adapt to new conditions. Jewish immigrants should leave behind their rigid European formulations of Fascismo versus Socialism, Czarists versus Bolsheviks. In racially and ethnically diverse, sprawling, brawling America, unity would yet be found in the “higher synthesis” of “group minds” admiring their “ideal self.” An all inclusive God-figure smiled on equal opportunity, experiments in group adjustment, and a “scientific” sociology in which “group mind” (an “empirical fact”) confers “functional unity.” Worrisome dissension, hate and inter-group violence were produced solely by “hysteria,” the residual “high emotional tone” left in the dissolution of artificial wartime unity. With corrected “gradation of loyalties” and discreetly harmonized “overlapping” “group affiliations,” groups, not individuals, would be possessed of the “individuality” for which democrats yearned. The national (nascently international) symphony should commence. As for domination, there isn’t any. Levinger explained after quoting James Mark Baldwin, a sociologist:

“The real self is always the bi-polar self, the social self.” Empirically, not only are civilization, history and government the products of social heredity; the individual himself as we have him owes his mental content, many of his feelings and motor responses, and his ultimate ideals to the group in which he was born and has developed. On this basis the ancient conflict between the isolated individual and the group domination becomes unimportant, if not meaningless, from the empirical point of view (32).”

Regretfully, Levinger’s “exceptional individual,” the “genius or social discoverer” was linked to the “criminal or social rebel.” Mad and tragic misfits–like stubborn, hypersensitive, primitivistic Jews regressively merged with their “alters” or “other”– refused the “tolerant” “social self.”[xxii] By the end of the 1930s, Melville’s isolatoes (Ahab, Pierre, Isabel, Margoth) would be desaparecidos. Wholeness (but not whaleness) commanded “American” literature.

The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed equal rights to every individual citizen. The new social psychology was sanely designed to wrest the concept of individuality from individual persons to groups: races, ethnicities and business corporations.[xxiii] There might be no commitment to civil liberties in the practice of corporatist intellectuals had not the bloody repression of oppositional political speech during the first two decades of the twentieth century apparently propelled workers and their allies toward socialism, forcing moderate conservatives to forestall revolution in the disillusioned lower orders after the Great War by incorporating libertarian ideals and subversive writers. But the inspiring enlightenment rationalism of John Locke, Condorcet, and the Founding Fathers [xxiv] was vitiated by the racialist Progressive discourse derived from German idealism and the ideas of J. G. Von Herder, the hyphenated Americanism promoted after 1916 that advocated antiracist social and educational policies persisting today as “multiculturalism.” [xxv] Horace Kallen’s Culture and Democracy in the United States: Studies in the Group Psychology of the American Peoples (1924) [xxvi] linked blood and soil determinism with anti-imperialism, boldly asserting an eighteenth-century völkisch social theory against materialist class analysis, proletarian internationalism, and war:

[Kallen:] “The experiments on the salamander and the ascidian, on the rat and the rabbit, make a prima facie case, the importance of which cannot be seriously questioned, for the inheritance of acquired physical traits. The experiments upon the white mice make an even more significant case for the inheritance of acquired “mental” traits (29). …The American people…are no longer one in the same sense in which the people of Germany or the people of France are one, or in which the people of the American Revolution were one. They are a mosaic of peoples, of different bloods and of different origins, engaged in rather different economic fields, and varied in background and outlook as well as in blood…The very conception of the individual has changed. He is seen no longer as an absolutely distinct and autonomous entity, but as a link in an endless historical chain which is heredity, and as a point in a geographical extent involving political, economic, social organization, and all the other factors of group life, which are his environment (58-59).

[Kallen, cont.:] …The fact is that similarity of class rests upon no inevitable external condition: while similarity of nationality has usually a considerable intrinsic base. Hence the poor of two different peoples tend to be less like-minded than the poor and the rich of the same peoples. At his core, no human being, even in a “state of nature” is a mere mathematical unit of action like the “economic man.” Behind him in time and tremendously in him in quality, are his ancestors; around him in space are his relative and kin, carrying in common with him the inherited organic set from a remoter common ancestry. In all these he lives and moves and has his being. They constitute his, literally, natio, the inwardness of his nativity, and in Europe every inch of his non-human environment wears the effects of their action upon it and breathes their spirit (93-94)…Americans are a sort of collective Faust, whose memories of Gretchen and the cloister trouble but do not restrain the conquest of the new empire, and perhaps, the endeavor after Helen (265). (my emph.)”

Researchers would not examine unique individuals with highly variable life experience, capabilities and allegiances: more or less informed individuals making hard choices in shifting situations that were similarly available to empirical investigation, reporting their findings to anyone who cared to listen and respond. For many “symbolic interactionists” or “structuralists,” “society” or “the nation” was a collective subject composed of smaller collective subjects or “sub-cultures”: classes, races, ethnicities, and genders; these collectivities each possessed group “character” expressed in distinctive languages; we communicated solely through the mediations of symbols or “institutional discourses,” and badly. The dissenting, universal individual (the mad scientist) had been swallowed up, while at the same time the conservative reformers claimed to protect or restore individuality in their rescue of deracinated immigrants. Such confusing policies, I believe, are a futile attempt by planners from the right wing of the Progressive movement to impose a sunny, placid, crystalline exterior upon social actors–both individuals and groups–riven by unrecognizable but seething inter- and intra-class conflicts.[xxvii] Although Progressive “corporate liberalism” has been derided by recent populists and New Leftists, its critics have not brought out the organicist sub-text, which, curiously, many radical critics carry but do not seem to see. Melville as Ahab and other dark characters diagnosed the demented character of ‘moderate’ social nostrums;[xxviii] his conservative characters blinkered themselves for the sake of family unity. Why this semi-visible racialist discourse on behalf of a more rooted cosmopolitanism was deemed indispensable to many Progressives is one theme in my book. The construction of the Jungian unconscious as site for Progressive purification and uplift is further developed below as I draw a straight line between some aristocratic radicals of the 1920s and their New Left admirers in the field of American literature.


[i]. Villard believed that the Peace Conference would degenerate into a contest for spoils without the presence of Wilson, The Nation, 2/15/19, 252. On 2/22, “The Net Result” (on the Peace Conference) argued that leaders were failing to perceive the importance of class conflict as national alignments gave way to those of class (268).

[ii] “Danger Ahead,” The Nation, 2/8/19, 186-187. (In the same issue, Nathaniel Hawthorne was lauded as a genius whose writing, formerly held to be parochial, was now to be judged in competition with universal art.) According to revolutionary socialists, tolerance is repressive when it masks social impotence; expression is “free” but may not be translated into measures for structural change beyond social democratic reformism.

[iii] “The Future of the World,”The Nation, 3/22/19, 298.

[iv]  Norman Foerster, “Reconstructing the Ph.D. in English,” The Nation, 5/10/19, 747-50. See also Richard M. Gummere, “The Modern World and the Latin Classroom,” 1/4/19, 13-14; Grant Showerman, “Measuring the Immeasurable,” 7/5, 12-13. Study of the classics would stave off the catastrophe resulting from the scientific vogue for quantitative results. See Norman Foerster, Literary Scholarship: Its Aims and Methods (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1941). Foerster et al were reforming the teaching of literature, seeking “to sort, order, weigh, apply—what the scholarship of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth so devotedly accumulated” (29-30); they will “expose and counteract the unbounded appetite for material power, combined with the self-deception of flimsy ideologies from eighteenth-century sentimentalism to twentieth-century totalitarianism” (31).

[v]  See Nation 1/25, 136. Jews are perennial radicals, no matter how wealthy; 4/19, 664-65; 4/26, 646-647; 5/3, 668, 675, 678.

[vi]  See the James Graham Phelps Stokes papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Collection, Butler Library, Columbia University. The Second International supported Wilsonian diplomacy, the Third did not support Wilson’s “alternative to Bolshevism” (the League, the International Labour Organization) until 1933, when Stalin felt himself menaced by both Germany and Japan. See Kathryn W. Davis, The Soviet Union and the League of Nations 1919-1933 (Geneva: Geneva Research Center, 1934), 3-23. Also see Arno J. Mayer, Wilson vs. Lenin: Political Origins of the New Diplomacy 1917-1918 (Cleveland: Meridian Books, 1964), 368-393. Mayer saw both visions headed in the same direction: “Lenin’s immediate aim was destructive: class war in preparation for the transitional dictatorship of the proletariat. However, his ultimate objective of the classless society in a warless world had the same hopeful and utopian quality as Wilson’s search for a peaceful community of sovereign democratic nations of unequal power” (393).

[vii]  See the hostile review of Albert Mordell, The Erotic Motive in Literature, 7/19, 94. Freud’s only God is Venus who “rages like a fire” “defaming and defacing” noblest names like Galahad and Lancelot. See also Walter A. Dyer, “The New Order at Juniper Hill,” 7/26, 104-106. The “Anglo-Saxon race” is free from ideas of “class revolution” (106); Fabian Socialism (bearing “inherent common sense”) is contrasted to the Greenwich Village “red radical[s]” with their “Russo-Semitic” “lineage” (104). The Right (a banker, an economist, an editor) is not characterized racially. The same issue notes that British conservatives in a “National Unity Movement” will remove false teachings from the working class (131).

[viii] “Mental Reconstruction,” a review of five recent books, 5/31/19, 871-873.

[ix] See Oswald Garrison Villard, “The Truth about the Peace Conference,” 4/26, 646-647. See also 2/15, 252; 2/22, 268; 5/10, 721, 728-30; 5/17, 826; 7/5, 30. Also, “The Failure of Moral Leadership,” 7/5, 4 (the hypnotic Wilson to which even The Nation had succumbed; the need for a spiritual revival); 5/5, 14-16; Lincoln Colcord, “Why Wilson Was Defeated at Paris,” 5/17, 782-84. Colcord explained that the secret treaties of the Allies had been published by Trotsky, November 1917; Wilson had them, but would not act. “With the ineluctable knowledge of their existence and terms, he outlined, a month later, his famous Fourteen Points…It is only fair to assume that he himself was deluded; at all times he promised himself that he would rectify the error when the Peace Conference came” (783). The preceding article, “Madness at Versailles” was harsher: “His rhetorical phrases, torn and faded tinsel of thought which men now doubt if he himself ever really believed, will never again fall with hypnotic charm upon the ears of eager multitudes. The camouflage of ethical precept and political philosophizing which for long has blinded the eyes of all but the most observing has been stripped away, and the peoples of the world see revealed, not a friend faithful to the last, but an arrogant autocrat and a compromising politician.” With the sane liberal center abandoned, there are two hostile camps: radicals and reactionaries. Wilson is with “the staunch supporters of power and privilege, the controllers of great wealth and dictators of social favor, the voluble champions of the established order against every form of revolution, the preachers of hate and prejudice, and the timid and dependent whose souls are not their own”(779). See also 7/19, 68.

[x]  Although Polish pogroms were vigorously protested, anti-Semitism in The Nation was implicit in its characterizations of finance capital and foreign radicalism. See especially W.G. Roylance, “Americanism in North Dakota,” 7/12, 37-39, a defense of the populists and their Anglo-Saxon antecedents the Lollards. “The League in North Dakota represents the organized revolt of the farmers, who make up the majority of the population, against long-continued exploitation of financial Shylocks and marketing profiteers.” The populists are not “European [dishonest] radicals” but examples of “honest American progressive democracy.” Failure will only come from outside the system (autocratic forces that hate democracy). In a review of a pamphlet, Shylock Not a Jew, by Maurice Packard and Adelaide Marshall, 6/28, 1018, the reviewer belittled “the little brochure” as unilluminating and belaboring the obvious.

[xi]  See the reprint of a pamphlet by the English anti-imperialist, J.A. Hobson, “The New Holy Alliance,” 4/19, 626-628: Wilson “willingly poured his idealism into the Smuts plan”; a “conspiracy of autocrats” will defeat true internationalism and control the world. Also, Lincoln Colcord, “A Receivership for Civilization,” 6/28, 1009-1010: The press has been hiding this story–American boys will be giving their lives to protect bond investors in Europe. Cf. 5/24, 820: U.S. soldiers will die to protect loans to China; Anglo-American imperialism will rule the world; progressives in the Republican Party are splitting from the Old Guard on this. Also, 7/5, editorial, Elihu Root, the servant of finance capital is swaying Republican opinion away from the progressive bloc to join Wilson and the Democrats, all of whom are in their pockets. Also, “[P]ossibly other inner circles” of finance capital for the benefit of Wall Street are mentioned in connection with the Treaty, 8/2, 140-141. The anti-Semitism of Hobson’s influential study of imperialism (1905) has been noted by Lewis Feuer, but from the Right. See Lewis Feuer, Imperialism and the Anti-Imperialist Mind (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1986).

[xii]  4/15/19, 485, “the whirlwind approaches across Europe.” Villard, “Germany Today: Food or Chaos,” 3/29, 464-465.

[xiii]  2/15, 246-247; 3/29, 464-66, 496-497; 4/26, 650-652; 4/12, 542-49; 4/19, 601-603; “Reason in Revolution,” 6/14/19, 932. If we open lawful channels for change, labor can realize its demands. 5/10, 726 on “May Day Rioting”: we should stick to “the Anglo-Saxon method [the moderate way] of settling our difficulties by peaceful means and no others.” Also, 6/7, 899, The “Anglo-Saxon way of altering social and political institutions by free debate and discussion” contrasted to “Prussian intolerance.” Also, Allen McCurdy, “Wanted–A Ballot Box,” 7/5, 9-10. Also, W.G. Roylance, “Americanism in North Dakota,” 7/12/19, 37-39. William MacDonald, “North Dakota’s Experiment,” 3/22, 420-422, “The Technique of Revolution,” 3/22, 417; 5/10, 738-39; 6/7, 899; 3/15, 396; 5/5, 10-11; 6/14, 955-56; 3/29, 460, 467-68; 5/17, 839-40; 5/31, 871-72; 7/5, 23; 7/12, 43.

[xiv]  “While They Dance the Tango,” 3/22, 452; Spartacism is unchecked, we need an economic dictator, also 459: labor and capital must sit down and transform industry; John Kenneth Turner, “A Pledge to the World,”7/5, 14-16: Lord Robert Cecil (like the model subscriber to The Nation?) had departed from the feudal and reactionary ways of his Vere de Vere type ancestors, standing for peace and cooperation with labor, in control of all the impulses that made for irresponsible demagoguery of the past. 3/8, “Poisoning the Wells”; 3/29, 485-486; 4/12, 553-54; 4/19, 595, 626-628; 5/3, 692, 699; 5/17, 806-808; 6/28, 1000; 7/12, 37-39; 7/26, 97.

[xv] 2/8, 188-190; 3/22, 413; 4/5, 522-25; 5/10, 792.

[xvi] See the review of M.P. Follet, The New State, 1/18, 97: the neighborhood group would be the embodiment of the “group state” that replaced the “crowd state.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Louis Brandeis [ideological successors to Melville’s father-in-law, Lemuel Shaw, Chief Justice of the State of Massachusetts] represented the change from a state that protected individualistic privilege to a conception of law as the “outcome of community life and bound to its service.” 3/1, 314-15; 3/29, 459, 463, 478-79; Richard Roberts, “England in Revolution,” 5/17, 784-85; “The League of Nations in Danger,” (sermon by Charles Gore, Bishop of Oxford, who fears  education and science as promoters of competition, not Christian corporatism), 806-808; 5/31, 866-67; “The Problem of the State,” 8/2, 137.

[xvii]  6/7, 931-44; Lincoln Colcord, “The Carving of Russia,” 6/14, 940-941, for the distinction between “industrial bankers” versus “financial bankers.” The “international bankers” stand in the background of the negotiations in Paris, arranging the destinies of men.” Commercial bankers are “outside” this scenario. Unlike the “financial” bankers, the commercial ones (e.g. National City Bank connected to Standard Oil, American International Corporation, and the banking-engineering firm of Stone and Weber) are close to production, wisely making concessions to labor. The former (e.g. J.P. Morgan) see the state as existing to clamp down on debtors. 7/12, 28: The Non-Partisans are not Socialists; they want to buy cheap and sell dear; alien speculators and alien control of markets and terminals are to be eliminated. In the same issue, a review entitled “Immanent Idealism” (a synthesis of the old idealism and pragmatism) recommends its formless self as best counter to emancipated, atheistic, international democracy (23). 2/15, 243; 3/22, 452; 4/12, 536.

[xviii]  2/8, 217, 241; Special Correspondent, “The Shop Stewards Movement,” 2/22, 277-279 (favorable towards worker’s control); 3/22, 451; 3/29, 477-78; 5/3, 680; 5/10, 722.

[xix] A.A. Berle, Jr., “The Betrayal at Paris,” 8/19/19, 170. Cf. 160, “An Appeal to America Not Yet Written by Woodrow Wilson,” in which the ideal leader is not a friend of one class over another, but helps classes to understand each other, then see their common interest and common justice.

[xx]  Internal to “the race,” not the individual psyche.

[xxi]  Unsigned review, 2/8, 202, possibly Carl Van Doren.

[xxii]  Rabbi Lee J. Levinger, Anti-Semitism in the United States, Its History and Causes (N.Y.: Bloch, 1925), 29, 333-34, 39-44, 51, 71, 78, 94-95, 110, 115.

[xxiii]  A clipping preserved by Carey McWilliams is revealing in this regard: Woodruff Randolph’s editorial in the Typographical Journal 9/4/37, protested recent right-wing offensives; the headline read “Incorporate Unions? Step Toward Fascism, Says ‘Typo’ Secretary.” Randolph contrasted the business corporation “partly a person and partly a citizen, yet it has not the inalienable rights of a natural person” with “A labor organization [which] is organized to do in numbers what each may do individually under his inalienable rights.” Carey McWilliams Papers, UCLA Special Collections, Box 14.

[xxiv] James W. Ceaser, Reconstructing America, Chapter 2. Ceaser differentiates among the Founders, arguing that Jefferson’s political rationalism existed in tension with received ideas on race; the overall effect was to replace political science with natural history as the guide to sound government. Condorcet, the most comprehensively democratic philosophe, the champion of internationalism, popular sovereignty, public education, feminism, and progress, and enemy to separation of powers and checks and balances (as ploys of elites to subvert democratic will), was annexed to the conservative enlightenment to give liberal credibility to the New Deal elevation of the executive branch of government over the legislative branch. See J. Salwyn Schapiro, Condorcet and the Rise of Liberalism (N.Y.: Octagon Reprint, 1978, orig. pub. 1934, repub. 1963), 276-277: “Security for both capital and labor is essential if freedom of enterprise is to survive…Responsibility in government can be more efficiently maintained by giving more authority to the executive, who would wield power, not as an irresponsible dictator, but as a democratically chosen official responsible to a legislature whose essential function would be to act as the nation’s monitor. Progress has been the peculiar heritage of liberalism to which it must be ever faithful in order to survive.” Condorcet joins Paine and Jefferson as fodder for the moderate men of the vital center.

[xxv]  I am using 1916 as a milestone in the promotion of ethnopluralism because of the publication of the Randolph Bourne article, “Trans-National America,” and a now forgotten book by the head psychologist of the Boston Normal School, J. Mace Andress, Johann Gottfried Herder as an Educator (New York: G.E. Stechert, 1916). The latter introduced Herder as the precursor to Franz Boas and advocated the new “race pedagogy.” There was no ambiguity about the welcome counter-Enlightenment drift of German Romanticism in this work. For Andress, the German Romantic hero was a rooted cosmopolitan, fighting to throw off [Jewish] materialist domination to liberate the Volksgeist. In 1942, Herder was presented as a Kantian, pantheist, cosmopolitan and quasi-democrat, even a supporter of the French Revolution in James Westfall Thompson, A History of Historical Writing, Vol. 2, 33-138, especially 137.

Some more recent intellectual historians are rehabilitating Herder along with other figures of the Hochklarung, similarly held to be avatars of the freethinking emancipated individual. In his talk at the Clark Library symposium “Materialist Philosophy, Religious Heresy, and Political Radicalism, 1650-1800,” (May 1, 1999) John H. Zammito declared that Herder’s philosophy (the demolition of mechanical materialism?) cleared the way for the further development of natural science in Germany. The key figure for these scholars is Spinoza, his pantheism the apex of “vitalist materialism.” Margaret C. Jacob, author of The Radical Enlightenment, 1981, was organizer of the conference, but we are using the term with differing assumptions about scientific method and what, exactly, constitutes the radical Enlightenment.

[xxvi]   Horace M. Kallen, Culture and Democracy in The United States: Studies in the Group Psychology of the American Peoples, (N.Y: Boni and Liveright: 1924), recognized in Alfred E. Zimmern’s review in The Nation and the Atheneum, 5/17/24, 207, as a shift away from Lockean environmentalism toward hereditarian racism, however (benignly) characterized as “a cooperation of cultural diversities”; Zimmern linked Kallen’s pluralism to that of William James. He did not mention Randolph Bourne’s Atlantic Monthly essay of 1916, “Trans-National America.” See also Robert Reinhold Ergang, Herder and the Foundations of German Nationalism, (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1931), Chapter III. On the explicit and implicit antisemitism/Counter-Enlightenment in Herder’s position, see p. 92: “The Hebrews ‘were a people spoiled in their education, because they never arrived at a maturity of political culture on their own soil, and consequently not to any true sentiment of liberty and honor.’ ” There it is, the Big Lie of rootless cosmopolitanism. See p.95 for the basis of Herder’s anti-French revolt: Rousseau’s Contrat social is not the force that binds a nation, but nature’s laws of blood and soil; Nature, not Culture creates interdependence; for Herder there is only Nature and all history is natural history; environmentally acquired characteristics are inherited by the corporate entity.

[xxvii] See for instance, Louis Filler, Randolph Bourne (Washington, D.C.: American Council On Public Affairs, 1943). The Council was a Progressive organization producing pamphlets during the war and promoting cooperation between capital and labor. Louis Filler (also a Nation writer) explained why Randolph Bourne, espousing an orderly “international identity” for America and explaining war as an outgrowth of nationalism, had been wrongly deemed as irrelevant to the youth of the 1930s; we need Bourne today. Filler explained, “Alien cultures, Bourne declared, brought new forces and ideas to American life. [Those bossy, snobbish Anglo-Saxon assimilationists who controlled everything, so] discouraged retention by immigrants of their Old World heritage did not thereby create Americans. They created “hordes of men and women without a spiritual country, cultural outlaws, without taste, without standards but those of the mob.” Moreover: “those who come to find liberty achieve only license. They become the flotsam and jetsam of American life, the downward undertow of our civilization with its leering cheapness and falseness of taste and spiritual outlook, the absence of mind and sincere feeling which we see in our slovenly towns, our vapid moving pictures, our popular novels, and in the vacuous faces of the crowds on the city street. This is the cultural wreckage of our time, and it is from the fringes of the Anglo-Saxon as well as the other stocks that it falls. America has as yet no compelling integrating force. It makes too easily for this detritus of cultures. In our loose, free country, no constraining national purpose, no tenacious folk-tradition and folk-style hold the people to a line.” What would be done about such a state of affairs? “America is a unique sociological fabric, and it bespeaks poverty of imagination not to be thrilled at the incalculable potentialities of so novel a union of men. To seek no other good but the weary old nationalism–belligerent, exclusive, inbreeding, the poison of which we are witnessing now in Europe–is to make patriotism a hollow sham, and to declare, that, in spite of our boastings, America must ever be a follower and not a leader of nations.” Do not, therefore, denigrate any culture that has driven stakes into the American soil: do not, certainly, term it un-American: “There is no distinctive American culture.” Do not, above all, set up American material achievement as a token of American fulfillment: “If the American note is bigness, action, the objective as contrasted with the reflective life, where is the epic expression of this spirit?” We were patently inhibited from presenting in impressive artistic form the energy with which we were filled. The reason was that we had not yet accepted the cosmopolitanism with which we had been endowed. Americans of culture could be made of the Germans in Wisconsin, the Scandinavians in Minnesota, and the Irish and Italians of New York. “In a world which has dreamed of internationalism, we find that we have all unawares been building up the first international identity (76-78)…[Bourne’s] ideas, his experiences, the warp and woof of his personality were not necessary to a generation that believed it had discovered impersonal economic laws that (properly applied) would at last bring about a settlement of human affairs (133).”

[xxviii]  Cf. David Leverenz on the “Ugly Narcissus,” Ahab: “He certainly is not afflicted with contradictory or discontinuous role-expectations. But he does start to experience a desire for [sadomasochistic] fusion, previously blocked by his obsession.” In Manhood and the American Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1989), 294.

September 5, 2009

The Fallen Flesh Brigade (repaired)

    As I have been trying to demonstrate in prior blogs, free thought in the academy has been circumscribed, generally away from the public eye.  Led by cultural anthropologists and other social theorists of the Right (masquerading as the Left), science tout court has been vigorously opposed by the humanities, not for its excesses, but for its allegedly flawed methodology. These positions can be subtle and invisible to readers not acquainted with the contested history of the West.  For instance, intellectual historian David Hollinger, a professor teaching at UC Berkeley (the top-rated history department in the country) has begun his collected essays Science, Jews, and Secular Culture (Princeton U.P., 1996) by invoking Walter Lippmann, who thought that universities had a crucial part to play in public life. “A faith in the unique importance of secular inquiry to the making of a good society had been inherited from the people who built the American universities between the Civil War and World War I, and was then renewed and expanded during the prodigious growth of American higher education that followed World War II.” Hollinger goes on to argue that the Jews who “quietly entered” university faculties since the last war have further weakened the hold of Christian ideas. Did he mean to imply that Jewish professors manipulated science as their weapon, a weapon that produced the Bomb? Hollinger does not think there is anything antisemitic or anti-intellectual about his book; indeed, he is an avowed pluralist, an anti-essentialist, and faithful defender of the Enlightenment repudiating “blood and history”; it is just that he thinks ethnicity/religion is an overarching and explanatory category that applies whether or not “Jews” like Lippmann or J. Robert Oppenheimer had any ties to Judaism whatsoever.       

 

      Like other cultural historians, Hollinger believes that “Protestant hegemony” persisted until the 1960s (with a brief interlude of ethnopluralism in the thought of Randolph Bourne and Horace Kallen before the Immigration Act of 1924).  There is no consideration of the ethnopluralist vision of Hitler and Goebbels or their primitivist predecessors, entailing the leadership of the Socialist racial State that would bring joy to the weeping world once the tyrannical Jews and their materialist analyses were removed. Nor does he examine the ways in which the Jews who were awarded professorships might have accommodated their thought to a WASP establishment, adopting cultural explanations for conflict that had never lost their supremacy over materialist ones in history or literature, namely that the flowering of national character from the grass roots would reanimate decadent societies, that “individuation” meant freedom from the repressive and depressing rule of law that had originated with the Mosaic code.

 

         Thanks to the sociologists following Durkheim and Weber, we can deal with conflict on the expansive terrain of the culture wars, inside cultural formations that “have a life of their own.” Gone is the concept of society as a collection of individuals, positioned with regard to economic interests and political choices and curious about the decisions and motives of powerful individuals and agencies who make policy in response to social forces that are not always visible or explicable on rational grounds.  The anti-racist liberals in the universities tell us we must have “affiliations,” multiple and overlapping, else there can be no national identity, no unum in the rooted pluribuses, just the easy-to-recognize uniforms of the racial community (that no sane conservative could bear). Also disappeared are the macro-economic changes that would explain the increased polarization of the 1980s and 90s.[1] 

 

 One would think that the academic Left would have cleared all this up with some hard facts and a review of racial theory as it has evolved, but no; it is the failure of those who profess to represent the interests of workers and the neglected and abandoned of our country that I find most distressing.  “The Left” has brought neither history nor analytic clarity to this momentous debate; it is indeed one of the players in obscuring the long and short-term causes of the so-called culture wars. This lapse is linked to other errors, instances of amnesia, namely, the intellectual lineage of the democratic tradition that leftists are supposed to be carrying forward against all challenges from the forces of reaction.

 

 

       Hollinger is at one with New Dealers and their allies on the Left in his periodization of repression directed against free thought.  “The Cold War” or “McCarthy-ite” assault on critical thought did not launch the repression associated with the establishment of the national security state in 1947 and the Republican backlash against the New Deal as they have argued. With this formulation the democratic pluralists, as these conservative reformers call themselves, mask ongoing upper-class resistance to democratic processes and mass education since notions of science and democracy took hold in antiquity. It was a defensive élite response intensified after the Reformation and the invention of the printing press, formulations and reformulations of cosmopolitanism, species-unity, natural law, natural rights and equality in the Enlightenment debates over slavery, and made particularly urgent in mid-1930s America as domestic radicalism/antifascism made significant gains, provoking “moderate” solutions to economic crisis and creeping fascism.

 

   

     The subject of prior blogs was this very clique of social psychologists and “cultural historians; it is they who dominate the humanities in America and who put forth the diagnosis of scapegoating to explain “prejudice,” powerfully affecting the direction of postwar ameliorative social movements and demands for better race relations. Following their lead, cultural nationalist media reformers demand positive images to build esteem in stigmatized ethnic or racial groups, often holding the bad Jews of Hollywood and/or the secular academy responsible for maliciously disseminating negative images as the means to further their own nefarious schemes to dominate the world.  But for these Progressive social pathologists, bigotry is rarely viewed as plausible, adaptive, and inevitable because (however crudely) it feeds off and rationalizes rivalry and subordination in either autarchic or competitive free market economies. Economic relations tend to be absent from their analyses because cultural, i.e., religious, explanations explain all of social life: God made diversity and we celebrate the perfection of the world as it is. The vivid and earthy polyglot culture of cities, properly understood, could be the antidote to the etiolating genteel tradition.

 

  

     Social conflict, they argue, arises from hubris; the rationalistic scientists think their models have absolute authority, usurping God’s.  Mammon, like the moral mother of the nineteenth-century, has overstepped her bounds. Told as the story of Icarus such overreaching explains the horrors of human history.  Discreetly bounded “communities” are the longed-for alternative to “consumerism.” When thinkers like Hollinger criticize Protestant hegemony, it is the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament they may have in mind; their target is the Hebraic radical puritan whose egalitarian, universalist and messianic ideals could not be absorbed and deflected by the Christian-Platonic organic conservatives—the classicist Robert Hutchins for one. By conflating the most right-wing and nativist Protestant evangelicals with the radical protestants, Hollinger and other ethnopluralists make their elimination a victory for the forces of democracy, not a rout for radical liberals. 

 

 

    Of course “negative images” may function to confuse and further split groups who must unite to further their own class interests, and who should be wondering if abstract, impersonal social forces and property relations are the root sources of their suffering or malaise; e.g., physicians continue to locate the sources of “stress” primarily in (poorly managed) individuals, not structurally flawed class or caste institutions.  Lacking such curiosity, troubled individuals and persecuted groups may fatally misdirect their righteous indignation, resorting to conspiracy theories and terror to explain and ameliorate their condition, unable to decide whether structural transformation or incremental improvements are appropriate measures to effect their aims.  

 

 

     The romantic conservatives/cultural nationalists I have introduced reify distinctions between “Self” and “Other,” embracing ethnopluralism–a “rooted” localism that, while apparently condemning elitism, in practice may be exaggerating differences between groups needing, and already possessing, common ground.  Even the past becomes Other; each incomparable, finally inscrutable event is an example of historische Individualität. [2]  For intellectual descendants of J.G. von Herder [3] and other German idealists, history is a subset of a poetic natural history: unlike the mechanical Staatsnation (whose bogus liberties are the source of selfishness and anomie), the Kulturnation is rooted in blood and soil; each nationality is uniquely shaped by a combination of instinct and the physical environment.  No culture is inferior to any other as long as each one springs from the Volksgeist; toward that end the Volk must throw off alien cultural domination.  Following Kant and Herder, one modern pedagogue resisted what he called the arbitrary, repressive and formalistic devices of the Middle Ages in coping with the racial mingling that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.  Such harsh discipline in the process of assimilating the foreigner hampers true, because rooted, individuality and freedom: [4]  We don’t have to be, must not be, “Jewish.”  

 

 

       Recent research into the history of the humanistic sciences suggests that sociological investigations of human institutions are conducted with ideal organic models lurking in the background: progress has been understood as the throwing off of an invading force (e.g. the “jewified” bourgeoisie) to permit “natural growth” to return.  We need the tools of eighteenth-century materialism to determine exactly how established institutions have actually operated by studying their evolution and the political context in which institutions developed or became obsolete.  How else can we devise new experimental institutional forms to further human development in democratic, scientifically informed directions?  

 

 

     Liberals and leftists have not systematically examined the nuances of antidemocratic propaganda in the West though they confidently denounce the overpowering influence of “the media.”  This cultural failure is partly a product of conservative ascendancy since the radical 1890s-World War I period in which corporatist liberals (the “progressives” or “moderate” conservatives) appropriated the prestige of science and progress to discredit the radical liberals. In reaction the corporatist liberals promoted a new/old species of organic conservatism widely practiced in Europe; the Christian-Platonic Great Chain of Being was revitalized in the pseudo-democratic idea of an international federation of folkish states, sometimes known as aristo-democracy (see the writings of Randolph Bourne, Horace Kallen, or the eugenicists Stoddard, McDougall).  Romantic anticapitalism, expressed today as communitarianism and a resurgent arts and crafts movement, was transmitted by the German Romantics and common to Herder, Kant, Burke, Goethe, Hegel, Blake, Coleridge, Carlyle, Ruskin, the von Humboldts and William Morris, to name a few.  In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries this irrationalist ideology was represented as “materialism” and “the new social history” derived from Frederick Jackson Turner; after the war as “genuine liberalism” represented by T.W. Adorno in The Authoritarian Personality (1950).     

 

    Some Marxists and New Leftists (the critical theorists) have similarly rejected radical liberalism for this reactionary but “cosmopolitan” and “progressive” ideology: such Leftists are more accurately joined to the defensive progressive reaction to the mass politics furthered by the American and French Revolutions; they too have stigmatized the critical processes associated with empiricism (an epistemology grounded in observable facts, experience, and inductive logic) as excessively cerebral, detached, cancerous and corrosive to “cohesion” or “the Heart.” In their demonology, radical liberals sometime appear as the rootless cosmopolitan or the defiant Romantic Wandering Jew, but also as the domineering market or the jacobin or crazy scientist or as a (switching) two-faced femme fatale/moral mother.

 

 
Bottoms-Up. The German Romantics and their descendants have co-opted radical Enlightenment concepts (tolerance, the rejection of innate ideas and fallen flesh as determinants of “human nature,” the cultural biases of the participant-observer) and practices (introspection, scientific materialism, the comparative history and analysis of political and economic institutions).  These “enlightened” concepts and practices were then turned against “the lower orders.”  For instance, the social psychology of “progressivism” transforms the common-sense perception of objective social conflicts and clashing interests into personal, anti-social symptoms of “xenophobia,” “prejudice” or “scapegoating,” i.e., distorted vision of “the Other.”  Insofar as they are conservative Freudians and Jungians, the progressive psychologists attribute negative “stereotypes” to individual weakness and social irresponsibility: Entirely inner conflicts (Oedipal or pre-Oedipal in origin) are projected onto the outer world; this social world could be made harmonious through “integration”; i.e., discreet purges aka correct adjustments or through the emotionally mature recourse to administrative remedies.  In their moralistic, muckraking diagnostics it is possible to construct an entire Weltanschauung in which an entitity called “the Jews” possesses the god-like omnipotence attributed by Christians to the Devil; all modern social movements that question religious authority in favor of empirical investigation of both the natural world and the structures and practices of human institutions will be characterized as false friends to the people, for this world is controlled by our Great Adversary, the archetypal confidence-man represented by the power of filthy lucre aka “finance capital.”  

 

 

     It is my argument that “the new social history,”  like “cultural history” has an antisemitic sub-text that few cared to identify after World War II.  But before the murder of European Jewry, writers were less tactful.  J. Mace Andress was head of the Boston Normal School; his lucid book tracing the lineage from Herder to Franz Boas introduced this unknown forefather to fellow teacher-trainers.  His tolerance broke down, however, when giving advice about Bible appreciation: “The Bible Herder regarded as the deepest source of wisdom, and the biblical stories he considered as important means toward education.  In the handling of the Bible stories he recommended the greatest care.  All that was essentially Jewish, not Christian, should be avoided” (168).        Like moderates before him, Andress was looking to moral reform as the basis for socially responsible capitalism; for a progressivism that restored the hierarchical organic social relations of the Middle Ages into micro-units, relieving local élites of competing loyalty to either the universal Catholic Church or to the universal brotherhood and egalitarianism preached by the “Hebraic” Radical Reformation.  Andress’ rhetoric suggests that the essentially Jewish character (God as Devil) is construed as rationalism: “[The rationalist type] of philosophy had made a conquest of the intellectual world, and with self-complacency, looked upon its work and called it good.  The millennium of life was a paradise guided solely by reason; that was sufficient unto itself for everybody at any time and under every condition.  Reason was regarded as the only measure of the values of life.  With contempt it turned to the past to see mirrored there the gloom, fanaticism, and ignorance due to irrationalism!  This brand of philosophy was quite important, thoroughly dogmatic, and quite unsympathetic with historical thought.  The world was to be created anew by man’s power of reason” (52).  

     Herder, like his teacher Hamann, grasped the superior power of faith and spirit; these would unify humanity against the divisiveness imposed by [modern Jews, scientists, radical puritans] (53). Titans need not be Prometheans; ordinary folk, resisting the syren call of democratic citizenship could become gods. Excerpts from the Andress protocols for the new race pedagogy follow.

 

 
“Kant gave to the world…a new sense of spiritual freedom.  He taught that the individual is able to build his own world.  No matter what your condition in life, your world may become glorious if only you will make it so.  ‘Its spirituality is your own creation, or else is nothing.  Awake, arise, be willing, endure, struggle, defy evil, cleave to good, strive, be strenuous, be devoted, throw into the face of evil and depression your brave cry of resistance, and then this dark universe of destiny will glow with a divine light.  For you have no relations with the eternal world save such as you make for yourself.’  This sort of philosophy was a call to the individual to arise to self-mastery and self-realization.  Kant believed that the world is not beyond us but is the deepest truth within us.  As we master this truth we conquer the discordant tendencies of our own lives…With Kant [German idealism] said the world is indeed the world as built by self-consciousness; but the real world is the world of the genius, the poet, the artist.  It refused to interpret the world according to reason or the moral law, but in terms of sentiment, emotion, and heart longings.  Romanticism found its chief interest in man’s wealth of divine emotions (Andress, 29-30).” 
 
“We have noted again and again [Herder’s] opposition to the rationalist philosopher.  Men like Rousseau and Hamann had already led the way, but it was Herder who first put the reactionary movement on a firm basis and gave it solidity.  This was not a result merely of his revulsion of feeling, but because he penetrated beyond to a conception of human life as an organic whole.  He was the first to adopt the historical method in the effort to find meaning in the world as a whole.  Bossert said of Herder that he ‘created the historical method which revived the study of language, literature and religion, and he applied it with such authority and such competence that he rendered for a long time any other method impossible’…In his search for origins both in science and history he foreshadowed the progress of culture for a century after his time…It is no exaggeration to say that Herder foreshadowed the modern trend in psychology…His method, as might be expected, is the genetic….(Andress, 278, 279).” 
 
     “Herder’s service to religion was monumental. Here again we find him a foe of the Aufklärung, which would make everything amenable to common understanding, which attempted to force truth into the narrow moulds of intellectualism.  As a follower of Rousseau and Hamann, Herder entertained a profound contempt for such rationalistic procedure.  He was not impressed by the merely traditional, the dogmas, the artificiality of churches.  He tried to find the genuine religious feelings of the people which had become largely suppressed by rules and dogma.  As a student of civilization, he went back to the study of the ancient and primitive religions with enthusiasm, intelligence and insight.  Although often reflecting the spirit of traditionalism and the spirit of the past, he was remarkably open minded.  The bigot finds nothing to praise in religions outside his own; but Herder was superior to the littleness of mind often characteristic of the theologian (Andress, 283-84).” 
 
     “When we stop to think that the science of sociology was unknown in the eighteenth century, we begin to realize how penetrating was Herder’s insight.  He was mindful of the progress of the individual, his enthusiasm for individuality and his rebellion against formalism did not prevent his understanding the real significance of the past, the relation of the individual to the group, and the contribution of society as a whole to culture.  In a broad way Herder in his philosophy of culture lays the foundation for a race pedagogy, which stated tersely would read: in the teaching of a people we should build upon their culture not try to destroy it.  The world-wide efforts to convert primitive peoples to Christianity, the forcing of a foreign culture upon an alien conquered people, are examples of the violation of this pedagogy.  The social philosophy of Herder suggests the beginnings of sociology and social psychology and the recognition of the social aspects of education and culture.  Again we find Herder the Bahnbrecher, one standing on the tiptoe of expectancy for the gates of the nineteenth century to swing wide open, a blazer of new trails for humanity (Andress, 298).” 
 
A Change of Spectacles.  While class hierarchies and national character are natural, (Jewish) bigotry is not.  The (Jewishly-inspired) scientific revolution plainly ruptures traditional social bonds; like the national chauvinism which would impose “reason and the moral law” on “alien” cultures, such artifice could only be catastrophic.  German Romanticism corrects the death-ray vision of the new science: in the process of self-cultivation or Bildung, sub-divided humanity, like Leibnitz’s monads, are properly seen as units in a grand, gradually evolving whole, judenrein, hence moving onward and upward toward God-like perfection, harmony and equilibrium, each living out its unique potential in the universal Becoming (Werden).     

 

     Explicating the elusive concept of Bildung, the distinguished and revered cultural historian George L. Mosse approvingly cited Herder: “Man must grow like a plant, as Johann Gottfried von Herder put it, striving to unfold his personality until he becomes a harmonious, autonomous individual engaged in a continual quest for knowledge.” [5]  Although the German Romantics founded the disciplines of comparative literature, comparative religion, cultural anthropology, social psychology and “modern race pedagogy,” to insist on universal ethical rules or standards or analytic tools would violate the tenets of their “anti-élitist” progressive movement. [6]  For the “cultural materialists” among them “class” is a “socially constructed” category, with no more objectivity in the real world than ugly images of race; for these irrationalists, the inductive scientific method and the monolithic, hegemonic Enlightenment (“the West” as personified in comic-book characters like Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse) remain the sources of iconoclasm and genocidal fascist bureaucracies—the inevitable products of levelling, totalitarian “mass politics” and a discredited Whiggish, covertly imperialist “master narrative.”

 

       The search for origins, the “genetic” method of their “new historicism,” exists solely to delegitimate the claims of science for universal validity; new historicists have mocked the “plodding bourgeois virtues” that “downplay” “character, individuality and point-of-view.” [7]  The searching spotlights of irrationalists, however, cannot be turned upon themselves lest their own schematic diagnostics be relativized as tendentious pronouncements from upper-class controlled institutions; hence the widespread antagonism to Freudian introspection or any declaration of personal interest in the outcomes of their own assertions (aka ‘investigations’).  Such tactful silences would be intolerable if practiced by the scientists who, it is claimed by the new historicists, are inevitably bought and sold by the Big Money.  Hitler, a self-styled critical, independent analyst, said the same about “Jewish Bolshevism” as a front for finance capital. 

 

 

An orgy of obscurantism. My review of the Fallen Flesh Brigade, then, retrieves the history of the antifascist “liberals” who have shaped social psychology in the twentieth century, and who have not been able to explain mass death in the past, nor to prevent its recurrence in the present.  I continue to study institutional sources of dead-end politics and other social pathologies, including primitivism, apathy, sadomasochism, and necrophilia.  I have summoned the ghost of Herman Melville to show the difficulties in achieving autonomy (the precondition for democratic participation) in societies that refuse appropriate structural transformation while simultaneously promoting “freedom,” “democracy,” and “critical thought.”  Racism, sexism, homophobia, artistic censorship, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, family violence, and elitism as they have been defined in today’s social movements will be re-assessed in this political and institutional context.  Artists’ depictions of modernity and its alleged social pathologies should be compared to those of leading journalists and academics treating the same issues.  

 

 

     We may observe that petit-bourgeois intellectuals–the sometimes defiant, sometimes conforming middle-managers who occupy the teaching and healing professions and who create media–have, owing to class origin, education, allegiance and interest, been structurally driven to identify with a declining “aristocracy.”  The middle-managers tend to reject Eros (the life-affirming rainbow sighted by attractive popular democratic movements), for Thanatos (the bleak response of the still-controlling old order looking into a future in which it, the owning-class, could be dispossessed)–hence the flight of middle-management to sadomasochistic social relations as self-discipline or “adjustment” to élite-controlled, pseudo-democratic, unevenly emancipated institutions.  For some progressives, pain melts away as they rosily merge into the All. To a rationalist like myself, amazed but not intimidated by the power of irrational psychological processes, the progressives are a disaster: in their “radical” and “pacifist” but finally völkisch and reactionary ideology there can be no unified social action, no self-management or informed consent to management by experts, no concept of the independent artist, scientist, or any (relatively) autonomous, dissenting individual, no constructively critical intellectual: open-minded and, along with a collective of other critical thinkers, meandering purposefully toward either provisional or solid conclusions.

           [1] See David A. Hollinger, Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism (N.Y., Basic Books, 1995); James L. Nolan, Jr. ed., The American Culture Wars: Current Contests and Future Prospects (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996).

            [2] See Jerry Z. Muller, The Other God That Failed: Hans Freyer and the deradicalization of European conservatism (Princeton U.P., 1987).

            [3] My description of German Romanticism and its core beliefs is taken from J. Mace Andress, Johann Gottfried Herder as an Educator (New York: G.E. Stechert, 1916).

            [4] Andress, p.251.

            [5] George L. Mosse, Confronting The Nation: Jewish and Western Nationalism (Brandeis U. Press, 1993): 133; he was citing Hans Weil, 1930.  But Mosse qualified his approbation, perhaps in defense of his stigmatized homosexuality.  The concept of Sittlichkeit anchored the individual in the “restrictive moral order” of middle-class respectability.

            [6] Andress, p.303.

            [7] George Levine, “The Ambiguous Ethics of Self-Annihilation,” paper given 4/26/97, UCLA symposium, “The Values of Science.” Levine argued that Victorian scientists (e.g., Darwin) had merely substituted submission to Nature for the old submission to religious authority; the fantasy of liberty gave power to their bogus heroic efforts; enabling servants were absent from their narratives; (referring to the followers of Gross and Levitt, authors of The Higher Superstition) their moralistic rhetoric is full of vehemence and rage.  Similar arguments were offered by the other participants: “all knowledge is local,” there is no such thing as “value-free inquiry” or “absolute objectivity” in the academy or anywhere else, etc.

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