YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

March 23, 2017

Multiculturalism and the London terror attack

Khalid Masood london attackerThe London terror attack by Khalid Masood, an Islamic jihadist (Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new essay http://www.hoover.org/research/how-counter-political-islam) raises for me the question of multiculturalism: a project advanced by German Romantics (especially Herder) and their followers in the progressive movement. Multiculturalism is explicitly reactionary with respect to the (French) Enlightenment with its enlightened advocacy of science, “materialism,” and the individual’s search for truth. Whereas Herder and his followers promoted “unity” and a collectivist discourse in order to quell any such “leveling” as science (or the recovery of a hidden history) implied.


So the misnamed “progressives,” fearing an abundance of free thought among “ordinary” people, came up with a plausible set of substitutes for the questing individual—“toleration,” (group) “identity,” and “diversity” in the interest of the particular types of stability and cohesion that would further their pseudo-democratic rule. We may note the “progressive” predilection for Big Government as opposed to the unpredictable “marketplace of ideas.” Upwardly mobile intellectuals (with few exceptions) went along with the masque, reaching back in history for a respectable family tree, one that was distinctly counter-revolutionary. Locke (like Hobbes) was denigrated as a “possessive individualist.” (Hip historians now link John Locke to the racism they ostensibly reject, so “bourgeois”/atomizing historians should take note.)

Multiculturalism (displacing dangerously enlightened intellectual diversity) is touted as the corrective to such “bourgeois” missteps. In our zeal to correct the errors of the past, are we rehabilitating the notion of “race” but under the rubric of cultural nationalism, which we are expected to “tolerate” in the name of diversity? https://clarespark.com/2013/09/26/cultural-pluralism-vs-multiculturalism/.


Given the hegemony of progressivism today, it is worth emphasizing the origin and establishment of multiculturalism, over and over. Although its advocates will deny it, MC has nothing to do with tolerance, mental health, immigration, or human rights. Like the (almost) invisible Herder’s reach into current day terrorism, Multiculturalism is a reactionary protocol. (See https://clarespark.com/2013/01/02/culture-warriors-and-the-enlightenment/, or from an entirely different angle, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_multiculturalism).

November 25, 2016

German Romanticism, Hitler, Herder, and multiculturalism

foreskinmanAs I start this rumination, the disappointed liberals and their media are pointing fingers and yelling about the nefarious influence of Richard B. Spencer (a white racist and anti-Semite, who had nothing to do with the proposed Cabinet picks) on the incoming Trump administration. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_B._Spencer).

This web post aims to review the connections that I see between German Romanticism, the Third Reich, and the all-controlling progressive ideology of multiculturalism. I have gone through this material constantly, but my research may have been too abstruse for some readers. What follows is a systematic account of some disturbing history that is not widely known: ‘cultural studies,’ (like comparative literature) will come out as either proto-fascist or simply neo-Nazi.

J. G. von Herder was an 18th century Protestant theologian, celebrated now as the founder of cultural anthropology and its offshoots. As a German nationalist, he rejected all French influences (such as the ‘mechanical materialist’ French Enlightenment).

There was a Herder revival during the Nazi period. (I found this out when the UCLA library still publicized the dates of Herder publications; not surprisingly the professoriate in cultural studies and comp lit professors appear to ignore this renewed interest in Herder during the period when Nazis burned books of ‘dangerous’ writers).

What Herder did that earned him Nazi kudos was his invidious distinction between (good) rooted and (bad) rootless cosmopolitans (who probably represented money, materialism, and the mercantile principle—all alleged ‘Jewish’ sins).

American progressives also admired Herder as well as his fellow German Romantics. Woodrow Wilson’s internationalism can be seen as indebted to Herder and his counter-Enlightenment followers. (The German Enlightenment—Aufklärungcannot be conflated with such developments as the scientific revolution of the 17th century. Aufklärung was rather a reactionary move by organic conservatives, and it is the source of multiculturalism and one type of internationalism in the early 20th century. https://clarespark.com/2013/09/17/the-illusion-of-national-unity/.) For more on Herder’s nationalism and his followers, see https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/. For the introduction of German Romanticism in progressive America, see https://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/.

Paris, June 28, 1919 Wilson in top hat

Paris, June 28, 1919 Wilson in top hat

What is the difference between a rooted cosmopolitan and a rootless cosmopolitan? This is a crucial distinction! Both Hitler and Stalin loathed ‘finance capital’ or the rule of money. These (grasping, uncompassionate) moneybag ‘Jews’ were rootless and indifferent to the plight of ordinary persons, it was held by the earthy and loving ‘rooted’ nationalists. (Both National Socialism and Soviet socialism would affix roots to the unpredictable wanderers of the working class.) The concept of the Volk or ‘people’s community’ was constantly promoted by the Hitler party.

How was the concept of rootedness carried forth in Hitler’s ‘secret’ book (1926)? The future Leader envisioned a world federation of volkisch states, each faithful to her group character, but all subordinated to the superior German people’s aims and objectives. (Here, the notion of der Führer-imposed state worship comes in.) For more discussion of this conception see https://clarespark.com/2015/06/13/hitlers-second-book-1928-his-war-aims-and-multiculturalism/.

It should be obvious now that multiculturalism, with its talk of ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity,’ in practice is the racist concept of rootedness. Multiculturalism is either fascist or proto-fascist in its implications for society. Upper-class Americans traveled in Germany during the late 19th century (after the onset of German nationalism culminating in Bismarck–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unification_of_Germany), and were perhaps impressed by the Iron Chancellor’s co-optative management of the red specter that had been haunting Europe during the Age of Revolution.

So when the pseudo-proletarians of the scribbling ‘Left’ media (such as the staff of Rolling Stone) sneer at the ‘white working class’ that voted for Trump, they are writing with the example of Nazi Hitler’s supposed compromise between capitalism and communism: the Third Way.

Does not all this sound like the dark meanderings of social democracy to you?

diversity and inclusion Wilsonian style

‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ Wilsonian style


July 20, 2010

German Romantic predecessors to multiculturalism

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 of 1916 tracing the lineage from Herder to Franz Boas introduced this unknown forefather to fellow teacher-trainers. [ Johann Gottfried Herder as an Educator (New York: G.E. Stechert, 1916) It can be read online. ]

The Andress 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 (directed from Rome) or to the universal brotherhood preached by the “Hebraic” 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. Here are some telling excerpts from his book:

[Andress:] 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).

[Andress:] 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).

[Andress:] 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).

[Andress:] 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. This is the Herder/Andress argument: 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.” 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. 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.” 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. This website 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. It has dealt with institutional sources of dead-end politics and other social pathologies, including primitivism, apathy, and sadomasochism. I have sometimes included artworks that 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, artistic censorship, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, family violence, and elitism as they have been defined in today’s social movements are re-assessed in this political and institutional context. Artists’ depictions of modernity and its alleged social pathologies are 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  meandering purposefully toward either provisional or solid conclusions. [For a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/.]

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