YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

December 12, 2013

The Wall Street Journal discovers lobotomy craze for vets

VA quackeryAs late as today, December 12, 2013, The Wall Street Journal, has discovered that traumatized veterans of WW2 and even later conflicts were routinely lobotomized, a procedure that is said to have its greatest application in the 1940s and 1950s. Written by Michael M. Phillips (pages A1, A8-A9), the author relies on “dusty” boxes found in the National Archives.  The surgery was primarily applied to “depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals.”

Where have journalists been all these years? Even anti-science, anti-psychiatry students of the history of medicine consider this lurid chapter to be closed, though my blog index to lobotomies remains popular. See https://clarespark.com/2010/11/29/index-to-lobotomy-blogs/.

But even more relevant to the WSJ alarming discovery is the series on military psychiatry, which remains in a primitive state, perhaps owing to the assumption that wars are inevitable, and that fighting men are expendable, whereas blundering diplomats and governments are not. Above all, we must maintain hierarchies and obedience to our betters, a message amplified by such favorite television series as NCIS, where the good father (Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon) protects his cohesive fighting family, ever the uncomplaining “team.” https://clarespark.com/2010/04/22/links-to-blogs-on-military-psychiatry/. On blundering diplomats see https://clarespark.com/2013/08/31/the-devil-in-history-a-j-p-taylor-vs-r-palme-dutt/ (with an addendum by Niall Ferguson).

As I have argued before, WSJ, like Fox News Channel or Commentary is an outpost of the moderate men. (See https://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/.) I had hoped that the WSJ article would exhibit some homework in other archives, hence pointing to our continued confusion over the causes of anxiety, depression, “shell shock,” “PTSD,” and other mental illnesses that might be preventable without the taboo associated with any of the “personality disorders” said to be curable now with cognitive behavioral therapy, guided by DSM-5.  (See https://clarespark.com/2009/11/16/nobody-is-perfect/, one of my items in the lobotomy blogs.)

Quacks

The point of this blog is that ordinary people take the rap when our “betters” give the orders and fail in their jobs to keep individual, social, and international peace. Is it possible that our world is run by quacks? Are we quacks for trusting them? If so, what can we do about it? Leave your comments on the blog.

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August 31, 2013

November 23, 2012

Historians vs. pundits: the Eric Hobsbawm synthesis

Liberty Leading the People

For a more recent assessment of Hobsbawm, see https://clarespark.com/2012/12/08/hobsbawm-obama-israel/.

I was going to write a straightforward few paragraphs on the irresponsibility of today’s journalists/pundits compared to archive-scouring historians. But in the meantime, I was reading Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 (1962), and my focus changed to the achievement of EH’s major work, and its precise transmission of Marxist-Leninist dogma, dialectical materialism and all, as he strives to fuse the Hegelian opposites of Romanticism and neoclassicism, letting vitalism and mysticism into his ostensibly rationalist synthesis explaining the rise of mass politics after the French Revolution.

For those who have missed the furious debate since the death of EH and his legacy on October 1, 2012, here is a sampling of what I have read. Ron Radosh’s essay was my favorite, for it was a fine survey of opinion, and also recounted some horrifying details missed by others, for instance, EH’s ferocious rejection of Israel, which he wished would be nuked, according to one unpublished account.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hobsbawm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/01/eric-hobsbawm-historian

http://frontpagemag.com/2012/bruce-bawer/intellectuals-rally-to-eulogize-stalinist-eric-hobsbawm/

http://pjmedia.com/ronradosh/2012/10/13/can-stalinist-be-good-historian/

Though I thought that EH was clueless regarding the contributions of the Romantic composers and authors (e.g. their exploration of human emotions as worthy subjects for art, often leaving more rigid forms for fantasy. Cf. EH condemning the Romantics as Satanists, or as flunkeys for the bourgeoisie and its heroic individualism/economic liberalism),  I came away with one valuable insight: EH explains that the creation of the new industrial working class kept both aristocracy and bourgeoisie on edge up to the present day. For it was the (middle-class) French Revolution and Napoleon that elevated the self-esteem of “the People” in what EH calls the double revolution: 1. The French Revolution, and 2. The Industrial Revolution. (He implied a third factor: the development of “national cultures” that would lead, in his later life, to the lauding of “liberal nationalism” as a spur to further progress, with capitalism yielding to communism and the defeat of the bourgeois oppressor.)

In whatever period I have studied since the Enlightenment, I have seen the red specter operating in the imaginations of every artist and writer. Certainly it is foregrounded in the work of Herman Melville, whose interpreters cannot make up their minds whether he is a Romantic individualist (of the type that EH excoriates) or a proper moderate conservative like themselves, hence the Ishmaelite repudiator of that arch-individualist and revolutionary Captain Ahab (or his successor, Pierre Glendinning).

EH mentions Herman Melville twice, though he does not go into any detail whatsoever. I presume that he viewed Moby-Dick as an allegory for the French Revolution and those that followed in 1848, perhaps dwelling upon the multi-colored crew of harpooners, as did C. L. R. James, a favorite of the New Left anti-imperialists. But this would make EH no better than the bourgeois primitivists EH attacks as perpetuators of the noble savage image. [Added, Nov. 23: In his second book, EH makes it clear that he believes that Moby-Dick is an indictment of American capitalist-imperialism; he has a superficial reading about whaling ships and the denouement near Japan. EH believes that Melville is the greatest artist of the American 19th century, for that reason, obviously.]

Alarmingly, EH’s book on the “Age of Revolution” laid out the synthesis that guided my graduate work in history at UCLA, and that now dominates textbook writing throughout the liberal school system in America. Prende garde, mes amis. Eric Hobsbawm, in death lauded by many communists, liberals, and conservatives alike, fused the roles of pundit and historian, leaving us with activists in both fields, while drowning in their wakes those historians whose regard for the truth is, well, undialectical. (For my assessment of “activist” scholars see https://clarespark.com/2013/05/06/the-new-left-activist-scholars/.)

June 16, 2012

The social history racket

 [Nothing in this blog should be taken as an attack on the writing of social history. What I object to is the abandonment of diplomatic and military history as “elitist,” a perverse populist move.]

I have not blogged the last several weeks because I have been immersed in the study of Ernest Hemingway and his relations with women. I have agreed to write a review of the widely seen HBO biopic Hemingway-Gellhorn (first broadcast May 28, 2012, starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman), and since the show elevates Martha Gellhorn above Hemingway, perhaps as some kind of feminist statement, I have been focusing on the startling arrival of the New Woman in Western culture, a development that was greeted with anguish and screams by numerous male artists, and no more insistently than in the Hemingway oeuvre. (See for example  the illustration by Edvard Munch, “Love and Pain,” widely interpreted as his “vampire” painting, unveiled in 1894.)

At the same time, I carefully studied Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War (1998). This massive history argues that it was not foreordained that Britain enter the Great War, and that it was the mishandling of the postwar economic crisis that laid the groundwork for WW2, not excessive reparations as Lord Keynes had averred in his famous Economic Consequences of the Peace. But more, Ferguson’s method is a powerful rebuke to the entire field of social history that gained legitimacy by allying itself with “the grass roots” and the suffering of “the people” victimized by the diplomatic and military elites. This nearly hegemonic move away from the “elitist” study of statesmen and their decisions, in effect, undermined any possible understanding of the causes of conflict and mass death, while pandering to a gruesome tendency of readers to get off on atrocity stories, presumably to mobilize them for either revolution or “progressive” reform. But most significantly, Ferguson reintroduced the notion of human agency, as against structural or teleological reasons alone in explaining great wars and revolutions. Things could have turned out differently, he says. Such a thought puts us on notice that we are not helpless witnesses to history.

John Collier: Lilith, 1892

When I was in graduate school, social history or cultural history were all the rage, and it was widely acknowledged that diplomatic history was tedious and passé: better to focus on the sufferings of the little people, the better to advance communist revolution, or at least progressive reform. True, we  had to rely upon court records and other non-literary sources, for common people did not always leave diaries or similar source materials, inarticulate as they were often held to be,  but that made them all the more amenable to our sympathies. What diplomatic or military history is, however, is labor intensive and demanding, for without the study of economics and finance, it is impossible to write about wars (or revolutions) at all. Not surprisingly, Niall Ferguson rapidly climbed to the top of his profession, having acquired these skills as part of his academic training,  and then applied them in books directed not only to colleagues, but to a general public.  The latter is a radical move in itself. (None of what I have written about NF implies that he is indifferent to human suffering: far from it.)

Niall Ferguson

But Ferguson is the exception. Our major historians (the ones with jobs) are too often an elevated version of the sob sister, attuned to the dreadful ways that wars affect ordinary people. Surely this was Martha Gellhorn’s strong point in her fiction and journalism. And she did it with competence and audacity, often risking her life to get to the fighting fronts where the mayhem could be seen up close and personal, and her indignation and compassion displayed.

The reason for this particular blog is to criticize the lamentable turn solely toward “compassion”  in both journalism and in academe. Are we not losing the capacity to pinpoint the causes of conflict? For instance, journalists affiliated with the Democratic Party and/or the Left are ignoring the Constitutional implications of Obama’s executive order to grant work permits to a class of young illegal aliens, a move by POTUS that is widely read by his critics to be a play for “the Hispanic vote.” Meanwhile, television news leads us to rejoice with the Latina UCLA graduate, educated at state expense, who feels a burden of anxiety magically removed. We can sing along together.

Are we more lawless than usual in 2012? Perhaps politics in America has always been corrupt, more’s the pity. Such a fine ideal, equality before the law: one set of rules for rich and poor alike. We should tell the children about it. (For more on Gellhorn’s populism see https://clarespark.com/2011/06/30/ernest-hemingway-and-gellhorn-in-china-1941-2/.)

October 7, 2009

Premature Ejaculations

shooting hoops 001    This blog is about the hastiness with which media pundits and bloggers rush into print with the latest scandal or portentous event, quick either to condemn or elevate persons and policies. I found this especially true of the Polanski scandal, which in my view is far more mysterious and complicated than those who quickly joined “the people” in their outrage and vindictiveness would admit. The same could be said of the polarized responses to “Obamacare,”  a subject that requires both expertise and diligence in investigating the accuracy of contending “facts” as interested parties make their public cases.

One of the reasons I went back to school after years of being in the situation of most journalists–on a deadline and on my own, without time to adequately digest and do background research, let alone examine my own feelings–was my uneasiness over the judgments I was making to an audience of working people that trusted me not to mislead them. It is also true that I was dependent on activist journalists of the Left for news and public affairs programming while I was program director at KPFK, and since I had studied primarily science as a young woman, I felt an obligation to study competing theories of history and politics after my two purges from Pacifica. For at that time (the 1970s), I traveled in entirely left-wing circles and trusted these intelligent and impressive personalities to do much of my thinking for me.

In graduate school at UCLA, I began as a rather pure Marxist (but not a Leninist), believing that it was an axiom that there was a structural antagonism between capital and labor, and that class analysis would be the primary tool in my study of culture and politics in the interwar period, also in the study of nineteenth-century reform movements. At that time (1983-93), the U.S. field in the history department seemed less interested in preparing us to do pathbreaking research that might modify or even shatter existing paradigms (the task of research scientists), than indoctrinating us in the evil deeds of white-male dominated Amerika and in supporting separatist movements that I have described in prior blogs as cultural nationalist and even protofascist. “Class” had been collapsed into “race” and “gender,” while the “cultural anthropological” approach to science was pushing a Foucauldian notion that science was indeed a plot to advance universal surveillance, and that “science is a swindle.” And there was no mention whatsoever of embedded antisemitism of the kind I have described here in nearly all of the earlier blogs, particularly in my discussions of progressivism.  Nor was there much discussion of intellectual history, particularly the history of political thought, for such fields were tainted by “elite sources”: bottoms-up history was in fashion, even though there were few records of what ordinary people were thinking and feeling. One had to rely primarily on court records or similar recondite sources, and the conclusions drawn would be collectivist, not revealing of the psychology of the forgotten men and women as individuals. Furthermore, the field was so fragmented into specialties (economic history, diplomatic history, social history, black history, women’s history, labor history, chicano history, cultural history), and it was so rooted in events on the North American continent, that it was difficult to form an overall synthesis for all of U.S. history in its global context that would help us evaluate our own limited researches that led to the dissertation.

What rescued me from impotence as an historian was my dissertation topic. Because Alexander Saxton had once been a proletarian novelist and liked Melville for his description of the work process as carried out by common sailors, I was allowed to combine history and literature while getting a history degree. It was the breadth of Herman Melville’s interests and preoccupations that led me inevitably into the study of European intellectual and political history, and later into the hitherto almost forbidden realm of conservative political theory. Moreover, before Freud, Melville, unlike most men perhaps, was examining his innermost, very powerful, feelings and exposing them and their switches to the reader.

Because Melville’s views on race were considered to be advanced for his time (1819-1891), I looked into the state of race relations and racial theory during the interwar period, especially at a turning point in estimations of Captain Ahab (1938-1939). It was this interest that led me to the voluminous papers of Ralph Bunche, housed at UCLA. As I was reading his correspondence with other black intellectuals along with his extensive memoranda to Gunnar Myrdal (for Bunche was Myrdal’s most important and informative collaborator in the writing of An American Dilemma), I noticed that there was no difference in the quality or scholarly tone of  Bunche’s writing or that of his colleagues at Howard University from that of the white intellectuals responsible for the Melville “revival.” I also remembered that I had taught many black youngsters both in Queens and in Los Angeles when I first arrived here, and there was nothing wrong with the brains of little black children in my experience.  My best chemistry student at Los Angeles High School was a black male, and until I encountered the arguments of those arguing for deep racial differences in aptitude and mentality–differences that demanded a different “race pedagogy”– I had no inkling that my view would be considered “racist” at UCLA when I criticized separatist ethnic or women’s studies programs; I thought that those histories of women and minorities  should be integrated into an overall synthesis. [Added later: I had become so accustomed to the ghetto drawl affected by black nationalists that I must have thought that I would find some deviation from standard English in the Bunche Papers.]

So if I have given much attention in prior blogs to Arne Duncan or Howard Gardner or any of the other leaders in the formulation of educational policy, contrasting them with the policies advocated by such as Charles Sumner, who in 1849 argued for school integration in Boston (see the blogs on Sumner’s writings or Margoth v. Robert E. Lee https://clarespark.com/2008/05/03/margoth-vs-robert-e-lee/), you will understand the high priority that I place on science education. Niall Ferguson has been presenting a class at Harvard on the Western Ascendancy, 1600–present, and several reasons for the ascendancy of the West over many competing empires were the invention of the printing press and the publicizing of the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution and the power of related Enlightenment ideas, while in America, the presence of religious pluralism, high literacy (led by New England educators, including Sumner, by the way), and a Constitution that stressed the separation of Church and State, the separation of powers, and checks and balances, including the high premium placed on “liberty,” were important factors in American success. (In the description of Ferguson’s class, I blended his lectures on the West with my own application to the U.S. scene. Don’t blame him for my additions.)

So if I am wary of jumping into controversies without adequate preparation, and if I am reluctant to take sides, be warned. The scramble for celebrity, combined with the lingering effects of New Left ideology,  has corrupted journalism and the educational system. Serious intellectuals betray their readers when they ejaculate without thorough research and reflection, including the most stringent self-examination. Go back and read https://clarespark.com/2009/10/01/perfectly-progressive-parenthood/ if you have stayed with me so far. E. Mark Cummings is wildly successful and influential in his profession, and the New York Times Book Review has noticed the book about his research written by his promoter, Bo Bronson. And don’t miss the paragraph on Freud’s essay of 1915: it is my prescription for avoiding undue optimism about social engineering (with its perfectionist Rousseauvian underpinnings that privilege “natural virtue” over civilization) and related follies. Remember Lysenko!

September 14, 2009

Historians, journalists and polarization

Jean-Jaques Rousseau

I suppose you could call this blog a kind of discourse on method, with apologies to Descartes.

The term “polarization” does not mean that a group (in this case the U.S.) simply has sharp disagreements over policy. Rather it describes a situation that is highly irrational, in which hatred of the opposition is the dominant emotion. In such heightened emotional states, it is pointless to ask that we step back and 1. Describe with accuracy the status quo that the policy aims to reform; 2. Analyze proposed policies in detail, asking whether the reform in question can achieve the stated goals of its proponents; 3. Imagine better alternatives, describing these in sufficient detail to elicit either assent or opposition from concerned voters.

That sounds reasonable, right? But it is impossible to get agreement over the basic facts, or to even want to know them, in a society that is moved by partisan propaganda, often vitriolic, and where key words mean different things to different individuals and groups. (Take the word “secular” for instance. More on that later.)

Note that I did not specify what polarizing policy I had in mind. These (rational) protocols listed above could be applied to any of the current debates that roil the country: health care (or health insurance) reform; the war in Afghanistan; U.S. relations with Israel; whether or not radical Islam poses a deadly threat to the security of the West; the chief cause of the recession and measures that would aid recovery. (The latter dispute could include the causes of the Great Depression and how we got out of it.); gay marriage and compliance with the SCOTUS  decision; and immigration reform, etc.

During the month of August and early September I blogged here almost every day, hoping that an historical perspective that was also informed by depth psychology might contribute to the return of curiosity and rationality in a public sphere that seems to me to be spinning out of control toward either violent confrontations, even race riots, or toward the instituting of dangerous, misconceived policies that could hurt people with even greater inhumanity. In particular, I have emphasized embedded antisemitism in popular culture, an ever more visible phobia that defeats the rational scrutiny of controversial subjects as listed above. Not every historian does this kind of analysis, and why this is so is in itself historically determined.

First, there is the chasm between 1. Those whose intellectual and emotional makeup leads them toward skepticism to all authority until that authority is able to justify its existence and power to affect individual life; and 2. Those who are driven by faith in leaders, and who generally submit to their will, without too many questions. Let me stipulate here that historians are, by training, supposed to line up with the first group, whether their emphasis is on institutional structures, cultural patterns, the decisions of leaders, or the imperatives of the natural world and its slow or rapid transformations. Preferably, historians should provide an explanatory synthesis that comprehends, however tentatively, all of these great forces for change or stasis, but few have the training, the imagination, and the nerve to attempt it. Could it be that some do not want to appear as ”Jewish” troublemakers and catalysts of social change?

Unfortunately, given the immensity of the task facing the historian who wants to explain any conflict of significance, it is rare to find one with the imaginative skills and time to develop a satisfactory theory on all but a limited terrain. That is why I wish historians would shake off their graduate school training and its approved “lines” of interpretation coming from senior faculty, and move toward greater intellectual independence. “Faith” in our dissertation directors or other mentors must give way to bold forays into uncharted waters, where we identify those areas and conceptions most helpful in depolarizing the conflicts that rule the day.* One challenge is deciding the level of detail and context needed by a broad public in assessing foreign and  domestic policy. (I tried to do that yesterday in my account of oil politics and Obama’s framing of the Arab-Israeli conflict: I drastically reframed the conflict as generally transmitted in schools and in the media.) Another area of activity would be to define key words as they are deployed by competing social movements, for instance “secular” forces as opposed to “traditional” ones.

The word “secular” has changed its meaning: no longer commonly understood as a reference to the separation of church and state, i.e., a plurality of institutions affecting our orientation to public policy, hence enhancing “choice,”  “secular” now is often a curse word for some opinion leaders on the Right who take it to mean the mindless destruction of American values, as these are embodied in the beliefs of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. Whereas, instead of using scary words implying parricide and patricide, they could be doing real, appropriately detailed investigations, assuming that they are allowed to by their colleagues and employers. Or how about historians decoding the omnipresent admonition to “take responsibility” for one’s health? How can there be meaningful choice when determining structures remain invisible, and where we have only limited understanding of the emotions within ourselves that muddle “rational choice?”

One more word about journalists who are not trained historians, but who work for the media, and for whom loyalty to the organization often trumps loyalty to seeking the truth and educating the public about events and their causes. Newspapers and other media are in my view, adding to the polarization owing to the political postures of the owners and their advertised intentions to act as the “newspaper of record” or to achieve “fairness and balance.” Of course, the New York Times and Fox (owned by Newscorp) provide neither a complete record, nor fairness and balance, for few even know what “balance” signifies (as I have argued in a previous blog); nor is it widely known that “balance,” like “equilibrium” is a word used in psychological warfare to soothe the target audience. That is why the failure of the Pacifica Foundation remains such a bitter disappointment in my own personal history, for I once thought that listener-sponsorship would remedy the structural causes of bias and finally bring about a vibrant marketplace of ideas, but I did not take into consideration the overwhelming influence of corporatist liberalism and its concealed collectivist (“multicultural”) outlook, a matter discussed on this website at length.

Will the internet provide the much-needed way out of this imbroglio, a tangle of clashing opinion pushing us into some form of madness? As long as our schools and families do not prepare children to “quarrel with God” as Herman Melville did throughout his literary career (and for this he was read as a “Jew” by some prominent critics), the internet will add to the noise, but will not help us distinguish between true and false claims as to the crucial facts that affect public policy-making in a democratic republic: a democracy that does not call the primitivist Rousseau its intellectual parent, but is the creature of  Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century.

[Added 1-9-11:] I did not mention demonizing as a habit of the media, along with demonic possession as an explanation for psychosis or sociopathy. If your core readers believe in the Devil or in innate evil in human nature, calling out the dark forces is another strategy for selling newspapers and increasing traffic on cable television and websites. Goethe (illustrated) made a dramatic intervention in the Faust legend when he wrote his two-part drama in which Faust does not sell his soul, but makes a bet with Mephistopheles, a point that is ignored by those who don’t study intellectual history. But the Romantic Goethe, like Schiller, did become more conservative after the French Revolution, and it shows in their dramas.]

*One such historian is Niall Ferguson, whose masterful synthesis explaining Western ascendancy is of intense interest to me.

Tischbein portrait of classicist Goethe

August 6, 2009

The “Money Power,” material forces versus leader decision-making, separatism as strategy for women and minorities, and misogyny/antisemitism

 This blog is an expanded answer to “Michael” who wrote a lengthy comment to one of my recent blogs (see the comments on this site). First, Michael thinks that I am asking readers to ignore money altogether. This is a crucial point. It is not the power of money itself that determines our prosperity or poverty, but appropriate monetary policy, as economic historian Niall Ferguson has shown in book after book, most recently The Ascent of Money, but also in The War of the World (the latter work arguing that the first and second world wars are better seen as one continuous global conflict). Also, if you saw the recent Bill Maher show on HBO with Ferguson as panelist, he vigorously defended “the Fed” against the ignorance and misconceptions of populists. You might want to read John Maynard Keynes book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace on the question of monetary policy after the Great War. Had different arrangements regarding German reparations been made during the post-armistice settlement  subsequent history would have been different, and there would have been no Nazi victory. For one who is concerned about mass death, as Michael obviously is, this book is crucial.

     What I have implied in my various blogs is that “the Jews” as some kind of cabal should be left out of discussions of the source of the most recent and previous financial crises. Criticize capitalism and either its flaws or its corrupt operatives to your heart’s content, but do it with the tools of material analysis, not with the manipulation of negative images. As long as the image of a fat Jewish plutocrat battening on the misery of “the goyim,” or King of Jews Rothschild with his claws encircling the globe or, the carnal Jewish whoremaster, with his hypersexuality, polluting innocent Christian or Muslim womanhood, inhabits the political imagination, there can be no amelioration in the lot of the poor and deprived,  any more than the belief that this world, unlike the next, is controlled by the Devil. And do not underestimate the salience of the Devil to the historical narratives propagated by the “Christian Right” and other authoritarian ideologies opposed to science, the rule of law, and the materialist analysis attributed to the Jews by their most extreme nativist, white supremacist proponents or other premoderns.
    Second, Michael raises the question of “material forces” as the primary source of historical change. This sounds like standard Marxist boiler plate to me. To be sure, material conditions and conflicts are very important, but so are the decisions made by individual leaders. Had Woodrow Wilson used his influence at the Versailles conference to stop the self-serving ambitions of France and the U.K., there might not have been a second world war with all its horrific suffering and lingering effects. Or to take a different case, in thinking about diversity in the multicultural university, administrators could have, but did not, integrate the history of women and minorities into the general curriculum. Because they chose segregated departments of Women’s Studies or Ethnic Studies, they relieved white male professors of the necessity of thinking about these movements in a rigorous way and then teaching their students appropriately. (And moreover, many professors had already incorporated the travails of women and minorities and labor into their syntheses.) So instead of creating a new synthesis, the more retrograde historians could ignore the woman question or the history of various peoples if they chose, for some other course would make up for their deficiencies. The most we got was “whiteness studies” that were no more than covers for Leninist anti-imperialist orthodoxy and yet another capitulation to anti-Western cultural nationalism (see the lethal influence of triumphalist black liberation theology, and its shameless annexation of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the side of his bitterest enemies in this vast and influential body of pseudo-scholarship).
    As for the power of motherhood that Michael mentions briefly, this is one of the great lacunae in the work of scholarship. The issue of separation from the supposedly omnipotent good/bad mother is one of the themes most ignored by theorists of the psyche, and I refer the reader once again to my essay on panic attacks that summarizes recent thought among professionals on the subject, along with some references to reactionary modernism,  Goldfinger, Pandora’s Box, film noir, and Captain Ahab’s “monomania.”  I have thought a lot about this issue as Herman Melville is obsessed with the mother-son attachment in his much-abused novel PIERRE, OR THE AMBIGUITIES (1852) There is an obvious link between misogyny and antisemitism that has not gotten the attention it should. I would add here that feminists do not always recognize that men feel women, especially modern women, like Jews or other advancing groups, have too much power over their lives, and put cotton in their ears when feminists speak. Meanwhile some women use their sexual/maternal power to advance themselves at the expense of other women and give weight to the claims of misogynists. It is a huge subject that I suppose a few others have explored at greater length than I can here, but I did notice as I researched my book on the revivers of Herman Melville between the world wars that the most conservative of them were terrified of modern women and felt themselves to be puppets manipulated by these castrating and ever-changeable scheming women, leading to my slogan that “Woman is the Jew of the home.” Think about it. Captain Ahab as the Bad [Jewish] Mother.

     Finally, I would note that the feminists of the 1960s and 1970s were acceptable as long as they joined the anti-imperialist Left, and that meant that they did not subsequently defend “the West” but instead attacked it (along with Israel, often), notwithstanding the deplorable condition of women in non-Western societies. This gave the Christian far Right a great excuse to attack feminism as such.

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