YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

October 1, 2016

Pseudo-feminism and the Alicia Machado flap

Alicia Machado as depicted on HuffPo

Alicia Machado as depicted on HuffPo

[Ersatz “feminists” are prolonging this fight  on the grounds that Hillary was just “protecting her marriage.” So I ask, “what marriage”?]

This blog is about the political debate following Hillary Clinton’s criticism of Donald Trump’s alleged sexism at the tail end of the first debate. What is at stake here?

It is the mark of the upwardly mobile female to profess “feminism” while ignoring the facts of material existence. Many television figures, while promoting “inclusion,” ignore the controversies that have emerged since the second wave of feminism lapped at the shores in the late 1960s and 1970s. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-wave_feminism.

For instance, it is not clear that the claims of liberal feminists that men and women are biologically “equal,” stand up to scrutiny. One need not be a George Gilder-style biological determinist (see Sexual Suicide, published in 1973 as a critique of abandoned and abandoning women) to note that women who combine the roles of mother and breadwinner (i.e., who seek a career outside the home), may experience role conflict, apart from socialization in “sexist” institutions, as many feminists claim. Are such conflicts built into our female “nature,” or are they a symptom of the incomplete transition from home-bound Mom to female leader (e.g., in the media, military, or in politics and academe)?

Or take the pseudo-feminist outrage that Trump insulted Alicia Machado by allegedly calling her “Miss Piggy”. Do not these same defenders of science lecture us about obesity and the importance of exercise and nutrition? When Michelle Obama emphasizes such issues, do liberals carry on about her sexism and “fat-shaming?” (For a liberal feminist treatment of “fat-shaming see https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-reaction-to-trumps-fat-shaming-reinforces-toxic-ideas-about-fatness/2016/09/30/800fba0c-872b-11e6-92c2-14b64f3d453f_story.html?utm_term=.192c7341b412.)

(For another controversy within the dominant social democracy, see the fuss over (materialist) “male science” versus mystical “female science.” Feminist science, it is said by our betters, would prioritize Green politics as the sane corrective to bizarre male empiricism. The “posthumanist” Donna Haraways of the world are in the same bag as the female defenders of equality in all things.

Fabrizio Terranova still of Donna Haraway film

Fabrizio Terranova still of Donna Haraway film

Speaking of Hillary Clinton’s rumor mongering, how do we know when we are not fascists?

Who owns the facts?

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February 25, 2013

POTUS, Michelle, and the end of the democratic republic

MichelleOscarI didn’t expect to blog about the Oscars 2013, but the denouement, in which [naughty] Jack Nicholson handed over his duties in announcing the Oscar for Best Picture to the First Lady, dressed for the Red Carpet and surrounded by what appeared to be a private army (yes they were military, it was acknowledged today), has suggested to me that not only are Hollywood liberalism and the newly minted Democratic Party-in–name-only seriously in cahoots, but that the spirit roused by the excerpt from Les Miserables, ending with tricolors floating to the stage, along with Barbra Streisand reminding us of a 1973 movie in which she played a sweet young Stalinist—all this signals that our Leader and his followers in Hollywood and in the mass media intend to establish the Permanent Revolution in America, with the Obamas playing Lenin/Stalin/Trotsky. Someday, far, very far in the future, the state will melt away, and the “Parisian” poor will get their just deserts.

The signs were all there during the first campaign: Michelle’s Princeton thesis was outspoken in its support for black nationalism, as was her consort’s twenty-year stint in Reverend Wright’s whacked out antisemitic congregation. Non-white supremacy is in the air, while recent popular television shows, written by liberals, feature strong black characters who appear to be lamentably compromised in their sex lives, but who will likely expose and discipline corrupt white characters of great power and wealth. (Think SCANDAL or DECEPTION.)

During my days on the Left, it was obvious that Stalinists and anarchistic local artists admired angry black men, such as Malcolm X. In those radio days, I never heard of Ralph Bunche or his accomplished mentor Abram L. Harris until I started my Bunche researches at UCLA in the 1990s, and after I had gotten my doctorate. More along these lines: At the Oscars, the ever-cocky Quentin Tarantino was recognized for DJANGO UNCHAINED. That was yet another symptom of the blood lust that runs through the movie industry, a “business” supposedly controlled by older members (many of whom behave like the old Reds). Indeed, were not key movie stars sitting on their hands while movie buffs picketed outside, when the brilliant but “treacherous” director Elia Kazan was belatedly recognized a few years ago?

StreisandOscar

And what of the campaign to deny ZERO DARK THIRTY its award because it allegedly glorified “torture” in the hunt for Bin Laden?

It matters not what we call the coming political dispensation. Obama’s constant campaigning (as if for a third term), his denunciation of the looming budget cuts while threatening national mayhem (even where localities, not the feds, control the hiring of first responders or teachers), growing evidence of electoral fraud and the cynicism of some black and brown supporters, suggest that social justice means one party dictatorship and the end of the Constitution, let alone of the meritocracy.

THE_WAY_WE_WERE

It is not too late to halt the slide toward the F-word. But the opposition (that may come to include disillusioned Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and conservatives) had better read the tea leaves and wake up.

September 5, 2012

Proto-fascism and the Democrat “people’s community”

Postcard Fiume 1921

I had already listed most of the incoherent elements in the Democratic Party base right here: https://clarespark.com/2012/04/06/diagnosing-potus/.  Historians are all aware that jamming competing interest groups into one “community” is a symptom of authoritarian control, even proto-fascist in its determination to create harmony through coercion from above. Sadly, we are not taught about fascism’s appeal in the 1920s and 1930s, extending even to the ever-more-statist New Deal in America. And even to use the term “proto-fascist” calls down obloquy on the “hothead” critic; in this case, that hothead is I.  And Christopher Hitchens, with his eagle eye for fascist ideology, is dead, while the moderate men are fearful of being labeled “extremist” in their denunciations of the obvious turn to an autocratic, illiberal regime that parades under the flag of inclusiveness—a new multicultural VOLK. (For a lucid explanation of the organic nation beloved of the far right see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/20/an-awesome-inauguration/, in which I quote Jacob Talmon’s clear explanation of that term.)

For instance, what have these occupations in common: government bureaucrats, doctors, nurses, college professors, kindergarten teachers, union bosses, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, entertainers, farmers, steel workers, single women climbing the corporate ladder, ditch diggers, domestics, and small business persons (to name a few)? Has the old antagonism between big cities and rural areas disappeared? Yet the rainbow-colored Democratic Party has absorbed them into one potentially happy family, striving together, praying together, if only we give POTUS and Mom-in-Chief the time they need to complete the Leader’s mission.

In today’s blog, I will take note of Michelle Obama’s speech, already noted by some commentators as deifying of her husband and promoting Big Government as the solution to the very survival of blacks and browns, Asians, Muslims, and single women. (I don’t include Jews because Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been deleted from the Party platform.) Obamacare stands not only for universal health coverage, but for a caring, ever truthful watchbird State that prepares all its citizens for peace and safety and the defeat of want.

First, some history. Michelle Obama’s Princeton honors thesis was a cry for more resources devoted to  separatist black studies programs at her university, and her tiny bibliography started with a book by black nationalist leaders. She was explicitly anxious about upward mobility for blacks like herself, because her ties with [the black community] would be attenuated.

The First Lady has made a remarkable adjustment from the days when she was definitely not proud of her country and its white-dominated elite institutions. Last night was a paean to a unified polity if it would only stay on the track the Democratic Party had laid down– the first, “first family”–a new people’s community, a plumped up “middle class” devoted to the health and welfare of racial minorities, women, children, and the poor. All are indebted to The Leader, a man of the People who intuits their every need, and who takes note of every fallen sparrow, and if necessary, would be justified in ruling by decree.

She did not have to name the “one percent” as the enemy of the renewed beloved community, for thousands of ideologues had already prepared the ground for that moniker. We all know who and what the enemy is: those Randian Wall Street big liars out to get the little guy (“the middle class”) and who are pouring their ill-gotten billions into Republican coffers. Populism was Hitler’s ticket to power, and don’t forget it.

[Illustrated: poet and journalist Gabriele D’Annunzio, sometimes viewed as a precursor to Mussolini (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriele_d’Annunzio).]

May 15, 2012

Progressive uplift vs. “New Left” nihilism

Bill Ayers, Weatherman

Several writers on the Right have been selling books with the premise that the Progressive movement in early 20th century America was protofascist, or fascist and racist. Their aim is to mobilize their constituencies to vote for organic conservatives like themselves in the hopes of halting “the nanny state.”  Similarly, they dwell on the President’s links to racist extremists in the period before he ran for office as a uniter, not a divider.

In this blog, I argue that it is an error to link in any way whatsoever the Progressive uplifters and more recent advocates of violence and anarchy. For uplift was an orderly process, an expression of the “moderate” strategies of the chief publicists of progressivism. It was also, at its core, defined against “revolutionary radicalism” as evidenced in the I.W.W. or anarchism in the labor movement. Here is a juicy example of their thought, taken from my book on Melville and from a previous blog. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/11/13/supermen-wanted-early-freudians-and-the-mob/, also https://clarespark.com/2010/03/10/jonah-goldbergs-liberal-fascism-part-one/.)

[Revolutionary Radicalism, “Epilogue”:] “In this rapid survey of a new and important educational idea we have carried Marja, the immigrant girl, from king and caste-ridden Europe to America, the land of hope and opportunity. We have seen her struggle with an unknown tongue and with ways of life unfamiliar to her. In the end we see her transformed, reborn–no longer foreign and illiterate, but educated and self-respecting. Later she will marry and her children, though they may have traditions of another land and another blood, will be Americans in education and ideals of life, government and progress. It was been worth while that one man has broken through this barrier and made the road clear for others to follow.

“All real education has the development of discipline as its basis. Poise, self-control and self-esteem are characteristic of the well-ordered mind, and the growth of these in the industrial worker makes for efficient service and better wages. Gradually there is an awakening of social consciousness–the awareness of one’s place in society and the obligations such membership entails upon the individual in respect to the group or racial mass, with a constantly developing sense of one’s personal responsibility in all human relationships.

“In conclusion, the higher significance of this work means that we must descend the shaft and share the lives of those that dwell in the lower strata–the teeming populations that never see the stars or the green grass, scent the flowers or hear the birds sing–the huddled, hopeless foreign folk of the tenements. We are living in the Age of Service, and are growing into a conviction that life is not a matter of favored races or small, exclusive social groups, but embraces all humanity and reaches back to God. To those of prophetic soul comes a vision of the day that haunted Tennyson when ‘The war-drum throbbed no longer and the battle flags were furled/ In the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the World.’ ” [From N.Y. State Legislature. Joint Committee Investigating Seditious Activities, Revolutionary radicalism: its history, purpose and tactics with an exposition and discussion of the steps being taken and required to curb it, being the report of the joint legislative committee investigating seditious activities filed April 24, 1920 in the Senate of the State of New York (Albany: J.B. Lyon, 1920), 2014, 2201, 3136-3137.]

Here we have a statement that is clearly ideological in favor of order and their version of Americanization; for a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/ .

Far different was the Prairie Fire contingent of Maoists (along with hippies and anarchists?): See /http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_Underground_Organization#Prairie_Fire_1974) who took over (replaced?) Students for A Democratic Society from the “Old Guard” in the late 1960s. First a bit of socialist history. In 19th century Marxist thought, it was the educated and urbanized working class that would comprise the vanguard of change. But after the stunning success of the Soviet coup in October 1917, Leninism (a branch of socialist thought that lauded bureaucratic centralism and the vanguard of intellectuals), the old Marxist anti-statist paradigm was discarded in favor of “Marxist-Leninism” with its attendant Trotskyist notion that the communist utopia could leapfrog over the bourgeois democratic phase, and stir the victims of imperialism to overthrow their European or American masters by any means necessary. (It was Stalin, not Trotsky, who insisted upon “socialism in one country.”) In China, a model for 1960s revolutionaries everywhere, the rural population was now the revolutionary vanguard, provided that they were taught by the correctly indoctrinated intellectual layer.

Such journalists as Theodore White and Edgar Snow transmitted the Maoist message to American radicals, where they received support from a communist-sympathetic faction in the U.S. Department of State.  (For details, see https://clarespark.com/2011/06/30/links-to-review-essay-on-hemingway-spy-mission-to-china/.)

To these developments in revolutionary theory, add the general brutalization caused by the slaughter of the Great War, much emphasized by George L. Mosse and his students at the U. of Wisconsin; while in the realm of culture, primitivism ruled the 1920s as a white response to the growing power or prestige of New Negroes, New Women, and working class radicalism. Indeed, Ernest Hemingway’s rise to cultural prominence as a manly prose stylist may be seen as a purification of the too-florid and feminized Victorian culture that had put white males on the defensive. Supermen were wanted, and supermen were provided by our leading writers in the Nietzsche fad that still finds adherents among ambitious students, for instance those who follow such decadent musicians as Jim Morrison and the Doors.

And what were the order-loving nativists of the Progressive movement doing after the war? They were certainly not manning the outposts of the grand innovations of mass media, including radio and the movies. Rather, that task fell to recent immigrants, who sought audiences among the masses whose instinctive populism was fully exploited, as I described here in my blog on Charles Murray (https://clarespark.com/2012/05/04/3957/):

“Early Hollywood had no illusions about mass taste, and provided adventure, sex and violence to a readymade audience that already was alienated from snooty and exclusive nativist old families. The Mayers or Goldwyns or Laemmles and their movie or television offspring still adhere to populist feeling and a hefty dose of primitivism. Social realism and didacticism do not sell, except as a warning to other “liberals” that the natives are restless and gun toting, or that criminals may be running everything. But Murray is worried that the white working class is obese and watches too much television, as if the skinnier upper classes do not enjoy the more sophisticated adventures, romance, soft porn, escapism, and even artiness provided by the younger writers and producers, affected as they have been by counter-culture naughtiness, identification with Marlon Brando or James Dean, clever parodies, and fun.”

When I first started my Pacifica radio programs on the art world in the early 1970s, I noticed that the Los Angeles hipster male artists were fans of Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X. Since I was relatively uneducated in the ways of black supremacy or nihilism* in general, I was not on guard. Not long ago, I checked out a copy of a manifesto titled Prairie Fire (1974), a production of the Weather Underground (authors William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and Celia Sojourn). It was so violent in its language and in its aims, that I had to put it down; it was simply unbearable in its stridency. For a fictional peek into the European nihilists who were their contemporaries, see William Herrick’s Love and Terror (1981), a brilliant and disturbing work that reveals the mindset of the Baader-Meinhof gang. The intellectual antecedents of such urban terrorists are not to be found in the utopian thought of Marx, but in the ravings of such radicals as Marx’s rivals: Proudhon and Bakunin, earlier Babeuf, later George Sorel. For all of them “property is theft” and no crime is too vicious, no product of human labor off limits to their fury and defiance.

I wrote this blog because I see the some of the same thuggery in some protest movements (the “Red-Greens”, the Occupy Wall Street troops, Chicano irredentism, or black liberationist tendencies–see photo of Michelle Obama associating with the Nation of Islam below). I worry that the Baby Boomer parents of the antiwar generation who raised their children to be spontaneous and creative, will only egg on the mindless acting out in which they, the sadder but un-wiser generation, frequently indulged as young women and men. These nouvelle enragées owe nothing to the progressives who led both American political parties to dominance in the 20thcentury. It is also true that Communists infiltrated the progressive movement, using the Popular Front as their entry. The writing of “cultural history” has been deformed accordingly.

*By nihilism, I do not refer to anthropology that argues for cultural relativism and historicism, but to the apparent promotion of “beast of prey” by Nietzsche in such works as Beyond Good and Evil or The Genealogy of Morals, both read and studied by Jim Morrison (see comment below that defends Nietzsche against such readings).

Michelle Obama and friends

March 16, 2012

Index to blogs on popular tv shows

Dick Wolf and Judith Light

I haven’t commented on all the crime shows. It is enough to say that we are to believe that good cops will eventually triumph over bad cops, and that most criminals are tracked down and punished. I.e., the State is looking out for you and me, with all the tools that modern science (including profiling) can muster. Law and Order: Criminal Intent (not analyzed here) adds a flourish: the Vincent D’Onofrio character is often dissatisfied with normal procedures, co-opts Freud, and seemingly obeys a higher (more compassionate) law.

https://clarespark.com/2009/10/15/the-christianization-of-ziva-david-ncis/

https://clarespark.com/2009/10/02/roman-polanski-and-his-critics/

https://clarespark.com/2010/05/20/criminal-minds-and-the-pathology-of-rural-america/

https://clarespark.com/2010/10/24/mad-men-and-the-jewish-problem/

https://clarespark.com/2010/12/12/hbo%e2%80%99s-in-treatment-and-boardwalk-empire/

https://clarespark.com/2011/04/27/james-m-cains-gorgon-gals-2/

https://clarespark.com/2011/05/20/the-mentalist-melville-blake-and-israel/

https://clarespark.com/2011/07/07/network-and-its-offspring/

https://clarespark.com/2012/02/04/blue-bloods-freud-trauma-911/

https://clarespark.com/2012/02/09/glee-goes-la-raza/

https://clarespark.com/2012/05/18/smash-season-finales-and-the-demonic/

https://clarespark.com/2012/06/26/aaron-sorkins-scottish-blood/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/03/andy-griffiths-greatest-performance/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/09/hbo-does-gellhorn-in-red/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/23/homeland-and-the-idea-of-the-fifth-column/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/29/girls-or-the-new-lost-generation/

https://clarespark.com/2013/02/14/is-there-a-culture-of-violence/

https://clarespark.com/2013/01/26/decoding-call-me-ishmael-and-the-following/ (Read this first)

https://clarespark.com/2013/02/25/potus-michelle-and-the-end-of-the-democratic-republic/

https://clarespark.com/2013/04/26/the-television-season-goes-dark/

https://clarespark.com/2013/05/27/smash-the-perfect-liberal-backstage-musical/

https://clarespark.com/2013/06/20/james-gandolfini-as-tony-soprano/

https://clarespark.com/2013/09/22/the-newsroom-season-two/

https://clarespark.com/2014/03/24/the-good-wife-and-bad-timing/

https://clarespark.com/2014/06/25/penny-dreadfuls-sinister-significance/

April 3, 2010

Liberals and “Jewish” racism

Rockwell Kent

An astonishing number of liberal journalists are accusing the entire opposition to the President as either covertly or overtly racist. These accusations may take many forms, depending on the context. For instance, one liberal friend of mine referred to John Silber’s opinion that Jews were “phenomenal” in their racism because they did not welcome non-Jewish spouses or converts into the fold. What he did not state was that Silber (a Protestant then in divinity school, later the controversial President of Boston University and a candidate for Governor) held that opinion circa 1947, as he described it in a 1990 interview in the Boston Globe. At that time, he was considering converting to Judaism, not knowing that his own father, a German-Jewish emigrant and an architect, was a Jew. *

From what I have read, many refugees and/or survivors wished to spare their children the agonies of European Jewry, and hid their “identities”. At the same time, other Jews, including the Orthodox, were traumatized by the Shoah and felt that their culture, i.e., their sense of belonging to a larger family, was being systematically demolished, and that it was hence the duty of living Jews to resist intermarriage and assimilation, and thus to reconstitute the lost, ever-threatened world of Judaism. Not to do so was to betray their cultural heritage and their own ancestors who had stubbornly struggled to hold onto an ancient religion as the route to Diaspora survival. Perhaps a Freudian would surmise that most or many Jews were in a panic state as their world with its libidinous communal connections (no matter how imaginary), was disintegrating, before, during, and after the second world war. (See Freud’s Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 1922, esp. Chapter V: “Two Artificial Groups: The Church and the Army”).

   Indeed, Freud’s passing remarks stopped me short, as I thought about Michelle Obama’s honors thesis at Princeton, a paper that riled me up when I read it in 2008. Having grown up in a working class family, she was obviously anxious about upward mobility, and whether white people would ever accept her, a feeling that was tied with the (perhaps idealized) memory of a tightly knit black community in Chicago. Her bibliography featured black nationalists and she recommended more funding for the Black Studies Center at Princeton. I was very critical of her thesis because of the alliance with militant cultural nationalists and my aversion to separatism generally, but I failed to recognize her emotional defenses. It is true that many successful people, in whatever group, reject or stigmatize those in their group who are left behind, or who cling to what they think is a retardataire way of thinking and living. And those left behind may return the favor by shutting down all empathy for the successful among them. It is true that assimilation into the dominant culture extracts a high price for majority acceptance—a degree of conformity to a new set of rules compelling “moderation” in all things, a pose of serenity in their new social environment, and the denial that prejudice against them still exists. It is also true that those who are left behind feel abandoned and betrayed. On both sides of the class divide, conduct may not be pretty, but don’t look to me to throw stones at either party.

* [From the Boston Globe, 2-11-90, this excerpt from an interview with Silber during his campaign for governor of Massachusetts:]

As a 21-year-old divinity student, he took over a Baptist congregation in Connecticut when the minister he had been assisting quit. “I helped him leave because at the end he had asked me what I thought of his sermons and I would tell him,” he said. “They were awful. They were really bad.” The church was not Southern Baptist; he said it was “much more latitudinarian” than his own Presbyterian church.

To help pay for divinity school, he sang in the choir of a Jewish reform synagogue, where he found “the music was wonderful and the sermons were excellent.” He considered converting to Judaism. “I thought about it, and then found out that the racism of Jews is quite phenomenal,” he said. “If you are goyim considering becoming a Jew, you are going to be second-class in that synagogue, and I didn’t have any interest at all in moving into that congregation as a second-class citizen. I also thought that Judaism made a great mistake in not recognizing Jesus as one in the line of the great Hebrew prophets.”

In 1959, after Yale, while he was studying at the University of Bonn on a Fulbright scholarship, Silber said he discovered that his father was Jewish. He knows nothing of the Jewish background. In fact, his father had become so assimilated in the United States that a stained glass window in the First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio is dedicated to his father’s mother. “If she had been a practicing Jew, I don’t believe my father would have done that,” Silber said. [end Boston Globe excerpt]

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