YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

December 3, 2016

Apocalypse today (post-election 2016)

Charlotte NC 2012  Getty Images

Charlotte NC 2012 Harvest Moon Grille
Getty Images

This posting is about my response to the mass media hysteria after the Trump victory and transition to the Trump presidency.

The media, controlled as they are by “moderates,” is unable to explain the quandaries that the progressive movement is facing as it tries to grapple with its future, especially as it relates to the “white working class.” I might have been similarly baffled had I not studied social movements in U.S. history. I refer to the sharp turn to the pseudo-Left enacted by the inheritors of the Mugwump-ish conservatives after the shock of the Bolshevik revolution and the growing sympathy in this country for revolt among the working class and its allies. Behold how the (“moderate”) Nation magazine reacted to another apocalypse—this time to Woodrow Wilson’s contribution to the Versailles Conference that ended World War I: https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. Briefly, editor Villard urged his readers to emulate the populist-progressives to prevent looming socialist revolution and the rule of the international Big Money.

(Yet Oswald Garrison Villard was no democrat in his preference for elite, non-Jewish rule. Such is the vexed lineage of social democracy. Is it any wonder that “the Left” is unable to unmask itself?)

“Nativist” is the more polite term for “racist”—a moniker that Democrats prefer to affix to their rivals among Trump supporters. It is no surprise, then, that liberals, unembarrassed by 20th century New Left history, should not publicly understand that affirmative action, like all of “identity politics,” is inherently a quota system that is racist in its conception. Some on the Right complain that reverse racism exists. Such persons are apparently oblivious to the leftist insistence on “white supremacy,” a variant on the anti-imperialism of the counter-culture/New Left. (I.e., Dems insist that white workers are structurally unable to modify their own racism, because they indirectly profit from non-white subordination; we remain mired in the social relations of slavery. Upward mobility is only a fond fantasy perpetrated by laissez-faire capitalists to fool “the people.”)

acceptancepetergriffin

The Old Left believed in “history”—in the inevitable triumph of socialism through class consciousness.

The New Left said goodbye to all that, and counted on its own inherited moralism, elitism and subtle racism to vanquish threats from below. Is it any wonder that the Democrat Party is boxed in, with nowhere to go?

Ben Tillman 1906, Pinterest

Ben Tillman 1906, Pinterest

Advertisements

September 10, 2012

“Populist demagoguery” and its respectable lineage

Lyonel Feininger Emeute

One way to look at the New Left ascendancy in the media and throughout educational institutions is to note that while separatist ethnic or women’s studies created mindsets of victimology, thus promoting an antidote to, and  insurgency against, “the Man” or against “white male supremacy”, history and other humanities professors and political scientists promoted anti-imperialism, depicting the U.S. as a hateful sham democracy. Some of the leading professors admired by New Leftists were Walter La Feber (Cornell), and William Appleman Williams (U. of Wisconsin-Madison), but these were preceded by such progressives as Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles Beard, and Richard Hofstadter.

It was Turner (1893, 1921) who warned that the closing of the frontier and its free lands would force the issue of socialism onto the stage of history; while Charles Beard attacked the money-mad founders (Hamilton), and Hofstadter suggested that the moderate men needed to tone down the conflict between labor and capital through co-option of movements from below; i.e., selective concessions. (See especially https://clarespark.com/2010/07/04/pacifica-radio-and-the-progressive-movement/ and  https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/ Some may dispute my characterization of Hofstadter, who did criticize populism and antisemitism in The Age of Reform and The Paranoid Style but his first book on Social Darwinism would support progressivism as remedy for laissez-faire capitalism, understood as nature red in tooth and claw. That stereotype persists today in pro-Democratic Party propaganda.)

Thus we find ourselves in a situation where mass media and the humanities are heavily weighted against the “vile” Republican Party, which is not only evil in itself, but which could force a communist revolution in reaction to its supposed repression of working class and middle class aspirations that progressives have so far successfully prevented.

Not one of the academic programs or anti-imperialist historians mentioned above lobbied for the study of antisemitism, not even after WW2. “The International Jew”, a.k.a. “the money power” occupies all of their imaginations, however hidden by monikers such as “Wall Street” or “Corporate greed”.  We ignore the power of their pervasive and largely undetected propaganda at our peril.

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/

https://clarespark.com/2011/02/02/the-legitimate-aspirations-of-the-___-people/ (the original Populist movement in the US with comment on Michael Kazin’s book)

https://clarespark.com/2011/03/28/index-to-multiculturalism-blogs/

https://clarespark.com/2011/10/10/populist-catharsis-on-wall-street/.

https://clarespark.com/2012/01/25/the-state-of-the-union-stinks/

https://clarespark.com/2011/12/10/before-saul-alinsky-rules-for-democratic-politicians/

https://clarespark.com/2012/08/05/hating-finance-capital/

https://clarespark.com/2012/07/19/communist-ideas-go-mainstream/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/03/eros-and-the-problem-of-solidarity/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/05/proto-fascism-and-the-democrat-peoples-community/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/07/charisma-and-symbolic-politics/

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/14/ron-paul-anarchist-in-chief/ (Phillip Smyth’s guest blog on right-wing populism)

https://clarespark.com/2012/12/01/petit-bourgeois-radicalism-and-obama/ (on James H. Cone and other black supremacists)

https://clarespark.com/2013/02/02/totalitarianism-polarization-and-single-issue-politics/

https://clarespark.com/2015/05/02/multiculturalism-and-the-persistence-of-feudalism/ (inspired by Mosby and the Baltimore events)

July 19, 2012

Communist ideas go mainstream

Rosa Luxemburg

[This blog should be read in tandem with https://clarespark.com/2012/08/20/ernest-hemingway-carlos-baker-and-the-spanish-civil-war/.]

The most important idea in this blog: that the original Progressives wanted a regulated capitalism that would stave off the specter of red revolution. Their enemies were Gilded Age robber barons/ finance capital, but more so, a militant working class that seemed to be on the march, especially during the riotous year of 1919, but before that, in the take-off period for industrial capitalism after the Civil War. In the first eight months of 1919–in August introducing the first article publicizing the ostensibly forgotten Herman Melville (1819-1891), The Nation magazine advised its conservative readers to move sharply to the left, outflanking the Industrial Workers of the World and its evil twin the Socialist Party. Oswald Garrison Villard’s influential magazine preached “honest Anglo-Saxon populism” of the communitarian sort that such Anglo-Saxon upper-Midwesterners such as Ernest Hemingway would embody in his novels, for instance in A Farewell to Arms (where war is blamed on the upper classes, and suffered by hapless peasants), and then For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940, written shortly before EH was to be recruited by the KGB as revealed in The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, 2009, see https://clarespark.com/2012/07/09/hbo-does-gellhorn-in-red/).

Nation writers in 1919 also made a vital distinction between industrial capital and finance capital: the latter were Shylocks, while industrial capital was, by contrast, close to the earth, *suggesting the same primitivism, earthiness, and regressive use of language [childish prattle?] that Hemingway (a.k.a. “Hemingstein”) admired. They also posited mystical bonds to unite society, for they were at heart organic conservatives, hostile to anything that smacked of empiricism or “materialism.” Above all, they preached deference to gentlemanly, compassionate Anglo-Saxon experts, who, properly reconstructed, would avoid the extremes of heartless laissez-faire capitalism and communist revolution (Jew/Jacobin-led mob rule). That is why I call them the moderate men, and these moderates can be found in both political parties today, arguing for “the neutral state,” while at the same time, the moderate men are attuned to life among the lowly (see https://clarespark.com/2012/06/29/the-neutered-state/, with its bizarre notion that all conflict can be reconciled by the artful, manipulative “mediator” bringing progressive ideas of order to the “mixed-economy”).

For a detailed account of The Nation line in January-August 1919, see https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. For more on the separation of finance capital from industrial capital see https://clarespark.com/2010/09/11/is-wall-street-slaughtering-the-middle-class/.

In a more recent blog, I summarized the main ideas of Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes in their detailed summation of the Communist movement in the U.S. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/06/03/connecting-vs-connecting-the-dots/. ) As Klehr and Haynes demonstrate the heyday of American communism was the Great Depression, or as literary scholars say, the Red Decade, where virtually every important writer studied Marx and Lenin, with many joining the communist movement, though there were vicious animosities between Stalinists and Trotskyists that remain relevant today (for instance, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, between readers of The New Masses and Partisan Review). Klehr and Haynes argue that the communist movement today is weak and nearly defunct, but did not trace the infiltration of Leninist statism into the progressive movement and the New Left, though they mention several instances where New Deal strategies such as social security were first introduced by the CPUSA (but see Professor Cherny’s objection to this claim below in his lengthy comment).

Marcus Garvey

New Left developments: The civil rights movement, under infiltration by communist thinkers and organizers, quickly turned from an integrationist movement (the MLK Jr. line) to a militantly cultural nationalist movement, drawing on both the cultural pluralism introduced by earlier progressives, and the separatism advocated by avowed fascists such as Marcus Garvey (a petit-bourgeois radical and precursor to Malcolm X), or by Communists  advocating a Black Belt in the deep American South as reparations for the horrors of slavery, debt-peonage, and Jim Crow.

Schine, McCarthy, Cohn

The New Left (many of whom were readers and admirers of the anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist British Left still reeling from the 1956 revelations about Stalin) defined itself as “anti-anti-Communist,” with a great horror of McCarthy and his vile [Jewish] henchmen, Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, arguing that anticommunism was a (continued) cover for right-wing opposition to the statist New Deal, and of course that we had not “lost China” as “right-wing loons” had insisted. It was this 1960s generation that turned once again to history from the bottoms up, or social history or cultural history, histories that had already been made fashionable and appealing by 1930s progressive journalists, authors, songwriters, filmmakers, and playwrights  celebrating the Common Man/the Salt of the Earth.  See https://clarespark.com/2012/06/16/the-social-history-racket/, but also recent blogs on such figures as Edna Ferber, Oscar Hammerstein, and Martha Gellhorn. Today, NPR, the Pacifica Foundation, and academic departments of humanities  continue the populist-communitarian strain extant since the last decade of the 19th century, antisemitism and all. What a shock it must have been when Yale University Press published its series of books that delved into the briefly opened Soviet archives, revealing that Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs, et al, were guilty of espionage after all, that Whittaker Chambers was no sociopath, and though McCarthy was a vile opportunist, he was not so far off the mark as liberals had insisted.

TIME Cover, March 8, 1954

Although in prior blogs I have made sharp distinctions between liberal anticommunists (social democrats) and hardcore communists and fascists, the statism and crypto-elitism advanced by “progressivism” have so blurred the boundaries between social democracy and full-fledged Marxist-Leninism that I cannot blame those on the Right who conflate all the variant statisms into one huge encroaching monster. Popular Front politics did not stop in 1939, but persist into the present.

*It was Nation writer Lincoln Colcord who draw a distinction between “international bankers” versus “commercial bankers”; the latter were closer to the site of production, hence would make concessions to labor, whereas the international bankers were solely involved with the extraction of profits. Cf. J. A. Hobson, also favorably cited by The Nation in this period.

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.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.