YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

June 30, 2013

The origins of “political correctness” (2)

political-correctness2[Update, 9-20-13: rules against “hate speech” were enforced by the institutionalized censorship in the movie industry long before the 1960s. “Entertainment” was sharply differentiated from “propaganda” or any movie that portrayed other countries unfairly. I.e., “Love” trumped “hate”. Amor vincit omnia. Thank you Will Hays and Joseph Breen, and lately, Loretta Lynch!]

The Paula Deen affair has returned the subject of “hate speech” and “political correctness” to the headlines. In part one of this sequence (https://clarespark.com/2013/06/23/the-origins-of-political-correctness/ and https://clarespark.com/2013/07/04/independence-and-the-marketplace-of-ideas/.) I tried to correct the widespread impression on the Right that “cultural Marxism” was responsible for what is considered to be an infringement on the First Amendment. Indirectly, I sharply criticized “paleoconservatives” for aligning themselves with such as Willis Carto’s Liberty Lobby that blamed the imputed Jewishness of the German “Marxist-Freudian” refugees for gagging white, Christian Americans. (This was especially notable in Bill Lind’s piece on the origins of PC. See the dissemination of his line here: http://monroecountydailytest.blogspot.com/2011/06/politically-correct-attitudes.html. For more on Willis Carto see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willis_Carto).

In this blog, I will extend my discussion, taking into account 1. The hypocrisy of punishing Paula Deen for using the “N” word long ago while liberals deploy a racialist discourse that fails to criticize the very notion of “race”; and 2. The understandable confusion arising from the politics of the [Comintern initiated] “Popular Front” against fascism in the 1930s, wherein communists and New Deal liberals were seen as one coherent political entity, which they were not. Both were statists and bureaucratic collectivists, but whereas New Dealers were conservative reformers trying to stabilize capitalism, communists were revolutionary socialists, hoping to turn the world upside down.

First, the question of hypocrisy. Even before the Soviet coup, it was the progressive movement that dreamed up the notion of the hyphenated American in the nineteen teens (1916). Their purpose: to counter the then left-wing generated notion of proletarian internationalism with the notion of ethnicity. Out went the melting pot, and in came the hyphenated American, thanks to such as Randolph Bourne and Horace Kallen (the latter a teaching assistant to William James, the pragmatist philosopher).

(See https://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-enlightenment-corporatist-liberalism-and-the-revision-of-american-history/, and https://clarespark.com/2009/12/18/assimilation-and-citizenship-in-a-democratic-republic/. The latter blog quotes Horace Kallen.)

American nationality was thus redefined. The syncretic melting pot American was out. The hyphenated Americans were in. There would be a mosaic or salad of grouplets, sharing the same capacity for love and compassion. Hence was born “multiculturalism” prefigured by the German Romantics as a weapon against rootless cosmopolitans. The very notion of the individual was erased, for “individualism” was associated with narcissism, selfishness, jingoism, and hateful big business, the latter allegedly disgraced during the Gilded Age. The “individual” was all Head and no Heart; such a demon atomized society, leaving in its wake the lonely crowd. He was the generic “Jew,” and was indistinguishable from the WASP elite.

As a further weapon against class politics during the Great Depression, the big liberal foundations adopted the notion earlier popularized by William James as cultural pluralism: that social conflict could be managed with better intercultural communication: there would be no problem with “compromise” if we understood each other better. Later progressives would see that abusive language hampered the rational state of mind that would allow warring parties to submit to mediation. Ralph Bunche saw through the intercultural strategy in his lengthy memoranda to Gunnar Myrdal (ca. 1938-1940), and was stigmatized as an “economic determinist” for his pains in Myrdal’s An American Dilemma (1944). (See https://clarespark.com/2009/10/10/ralph-bunche-and-the-jewish-problem/. Also https://clarespark.com/2011/06/16/the-antiquated-melting-pot/.)

Thus the stage was set for Ivy League professors and big liberal foundations to bargain with troublemaking blacks during the late 1960s. (See https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/.) I have shown in this review of progressive politics that there was no critique of race or ethnicity, but rather an assault on the dissenting or “different” individual. Paula Deen was caught like a fly on flypaper, and no public figure has, to my knowledge, criticized the liberal media for hypocrisy, for it is they who persist in the racialist language of groupiness, and who believe that keeping the “N” word to oneself will solve major structural problems, e.g., the opposition of teachers unions to school choice and/or merit pay.

Second, the confusing Popular Front. Some readers were unconvinced by part one of this blog sequence. They persist in seeing a purely communist lineage for PC. For many on the Right, the boundaries between social democrats and communists have been blurred. For this, we can blame the Comintern that initiated the coalition of bourgeois parties and revolutionary parties from 1934 onward. But make no mistake: the Democratic Party remains a bourgeois party, making strategic gestures that only appear to be anti-racist, but this strategy will not bear close scrutiny as I argued above.

This passage from Hugh Thomas on Spanish politics at the time of the Popular Front (1934) may help to explain why there are divergent views on the origins of political correctness:

“At this time, with the shadows of war and fascism alike growing, the Soviet Union had a good reputation in Spain as elsewhere among Left and progressive people. The great Russian experiment did not yet seem to have betrayed its ideals. Thanks to an extraordinary programme of propaganda and unprecedented secrecy, the facts of agricultural collectivization were as yet unknown, and the persecution of Trotsky not understood. The communist party was to claim that they were responsible for the pact of the Popular Front which fought the Spanish general elections of February 1936. But it required little prompting for the socialists to adopt the salute with the clenched fist and bent arm (originated by German communists), the red flag, the revolutionary phraseology, the calls to unite in the face of international fascism demanded throughout the world by communist parties. ‘Anti-fascism’ and ‘the Popular Front’ were becoming powerful myths, almost irresistible to those who both loved peace and liberty and were impatient with old parties. Equally important on the Right were the myths of empire and national regeneration. The appearance in the Cortes elected in 1933 of a fascist and a communist was a portent and a warning.” (p.117, The Spanish Civil War)

In Thomas’s account, communism and social democracy bled into one another, thanks to the [preventable] polarization in Spain. Extend that bleed to Europe and to the United States, and you have the impasse of today.  Bereft of history, but armed with groupiness, the First Amendment becomes an item in the arsenal of demagogues where “ignorant armies clash by night.”

Paula Deen is road kill.

Paula Deen


October 21, 2011

Did Frankfurters kill the white, Christian West?

[For a more recent blog on this subject see https://clarespark.com/2013/07/31/the-nefarious-cultural-marxists/.]

This video linked below has recently been uploaded to Youtube.com, and is produced by a paleo-conservative outfit calling itself the Free Congress Foundation. It entirely misconceives the origins of “political correctness” and the establishment of separate academic departments for women’s studies, black studies, and ethnic studies or cultural studies in general. I suggest that my readers view both parts of this travesty of history. You also might want to google Willis Carto and Kevin MacDonald who peddle the same ultra-conservative, white supremacist, panicky line. Martin Jay, one participant in the video, recently denounced the entire right-wing for promoting the antisemitic anti-critical theory line, here: http://ecologicalheadstand.blogspot.com/2011/08/martin-jays-dialectic-of-counter.html.


[Wikipedia entry on Free Congress Foundation, producers of the video claiming that Frankurt School critical theorists invented political correctness and were out to destroy the West:]

[Wiki:] FCF played a founding role in galvanizing religious conservative political activism. By the late 1990s, [Paul] Weyrich declared that social conservatives were no longer a majority having a liberal agenda forced on them by an elite but rather are a dwindling minority that have lost control over the culture; that traditional culture and the counterculture have traded places. He acknowledged the need for continued political involvement as a matter of self-defense but stated that politics could not restore traditional values, nor could what were in his views hopeless efforts to recapture institutions such as prestige media, academia and mainline churches that had been lost to the Left.

Instead he urged conservatives to invest their time and money in alternative institutions, which would, in his viewpoint, eventually become the norm due to the superior efficacy of traditional values. This sparked a firestorm of criticism from other conservatives who accused Weyrich of giving up.

FCF has also been willing to spark controversy on other fronts. It rejects what it calls Political Correctness, dubbing it “cultural Marxism” and blaming it on the Frankfurt School of left-wing thinkers. Accordingly, it has been more willing than many other conservative groups to endorse or entertain views that some, especially on the left, would consider offensive and evidence of bigotry. It is arguably hostile to Islam as a whole, rather than confining its criticism to extremist Islam or Islamism. With regard to Judaism, in his column of April 13, 2001 (Good Friday) titled Indeed, He is Risen!, Weyrich argued that “Christ was crucified by the Jews…. He was not what the Jews had expected so they considered Him a threat. Thus He was put to death.” [end: Wikipedia entry]

[My comment:]   It is true that critical theory has had a foothold in some universities. Martin Jay, for instance, is a famous and honored professor of history at UC Berkeley, and his major work has been in writing the history of the Frankfurt School (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Jay). But what the video neglects to mention is the meshing of “critical theory” (the Frankfurt School advocacy of “negative critique”) with long-term developments in 20th century American culture, for instance, the revolt against puritanism/laissez-faire capitalism, starting in the last third or quarter of the 19th century, then exacerbated after the Great War as “the lost generation” turned against the idea of progress, specifically the Providential Protestant mission to save the world.

To imagine that five or six immigrant (non-cohesive, unobservant) German Jews (T. W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse,Leo Lowenthal, maybe George L. Mosse) could have debauched a “traditionalist” American culture is simply paranoid, and reflects the hold that the racist myth of the omnipotent Jew has over some American imaginations. Moreover, the main message of “critical theory” was to blame Nazism on the revolt of the masses, i.e., the kitsch-loving, obedient masses who preferred Hitler-style demagogic tricks or Big Lies to Marxism as guides out of the Depression (https://clarespark.com/2011/06/19/index-to-links-on-hitler-and-the-big-lie/). The imbibing of high culture and the rejection of consumerism would have prevented such catastrophes that were blamed on “mass culture” (as if such a thing really existed as a coherent entity). True, Erich Fromm and, earlier, Lukács blamed “false consciousness” or working-class authoritarianism for the failure of communism to mobilize the Western working classes. And Wilhelm Reich, later echoed by Marcuse, argued that fascism was anchored in the puritanical psyche, so the flowering of Eros was recommended as antidote, but such 1960s faddishness was no more potent in corrupting the American young than the bohemianism of Greenwich Village before and after the Great War, and that was imitated by the upper-class misinterpreters of Freud, and by the Jungians who did throw off the genteel tradition in private carnivals of primitivism and paganism.

The other project of critical theory, especially in the writing of Adorno and Horkheimer, was to blame the Enlightenment for the Holocaust. Thus the high value placed on technology, science and empiricism could only lead to “bureaucratic rationality” that in turn enabled the automated killing of millions (Zygmunt Bauman). This counter-Enlightenment stance endeared critical theorists to reactionary critics of urbanization and modernity (catalysts to the preeminence of “the money power” or “Wall Street”), especially during the 1960s counter-culture.

But of most significance is the false notion, perpetuated by the FCF video, that PC was part of the program of “cultural Marxism.” Rather, the moves against hate speech and the promotion of muliculturalism were the progressive elites’ attempts at co-opting oppositional movements from below during the 20th century, and publicized throughout this website. That is, liberal elites micromanaged group conflict from the commanding heights. These were the efforts of “moderate conservatives” adhering to “the golden mean”, not to extremists of any stripe. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/08/25/t-w-adorno-and-his-funny-idea-of-genuine-liberalism/, also https://clarespark.com/2011/10/15/baltzell-on-the-good-jews/, Or, some documents and comment here: https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/. On Freud’s conservatism, see https://clarespark.com/2013/02/23/peter-gays-freud/.

July 1, 2010

The New/Old (anti) Americanism

Thomas Dixon, The Ku Klux Klan

This blog has a simple purpose: to distinguish between the ugly nativism (sometimes called 100% Americanism) that characterized an earlier America and that deserves to be repudiated, and the anti-Americanism propagated by the New Left and that reached its apogee in the election of Barack Obama, for some an act of reparation for the sins of white supremacy. For these and others the Obama presidency is the supreme outcome of the multiculturalism that New Leftists found agreeable in their long march through the institutions, including not only academe, but the mass media.

Everyone knows who the villains were as they flourished in the early twentieth century. Here are a few names that are most notorious:  Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, Henry Pratt Fairchild, William McDougall, Henry Ford, and the novelist Thomas Dixon, author of the The Clansman and the screenplay for Birth of a Nation (enjoyed and praised by Woodrow Wilson in its White House screening).  After all, nativists argued, it was their ancestors who had tamed a continent in covered wagons, killed hostile Indians, fought the Civil War and blocked Reconstruction—that period of “misrule.” Dixon (see his fascist Flaming  Sword of 1939 and equally bizarre earlier novels) went so far as to argue that the Southern Scots-Irish race had fought and were decisive in the Revolutionary War against Britain, and their later descendants paternally protected the freedmen until nosy red unreconstructed Yankees tried to educate them, unleashing sexual chaos upon the land, and in the process killing good middle-class white folk.  Nativist propaganda helped pass the Immigration Act of 1924, and many a professor (John Higham for instance) made his reputation denouncing these bigots, while younger scholars  were training their students to despise the American past, finding it essentially racist, patriarchal, ecocidal, and capitalist/imperialist. That meant that American “identity” was demonic, we were all infected, and hence all American institutions must be denounced, and if possible, dismantled, with reparations delivered to all non-whites, here and everywhere.  Even the abolitionists were motivated by greed, it was alleged (and it is still argued). Enter “whiteness studies.” Exit a view of American history that looked to its promise, its freedoms, its largely successful (though co-opted) labor, feminist, and civil rights movements, and achievements in raising the living standards of millions.*

It was not just that all the “isms” (Indian removal, slavery, racism, etc.) were contested at the time when these events and institutions existed, but that capitalism (especially as manipulated by “the [accursed] Jews” ) was seen as the root cause of American evil, especially by organic conservatives masked as “progressives.” (Where is Charles Sumner in our historiography? See https://clarespark.com/2008/05/03/margoth-vs-robert-e-lee/, for an analysis of the contrasting rhetoric of such liberals as Sumner with that of Woodrow Wilson and other organicists whose view of governance is paternalistic and evocative of the unreconstructed Southern plantation owner.)

To conclude: the nativists reacting to mass immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mentioned above were politically defeated and marginalized (though some paleoconservatives are still noisily active). The New Left, however, though they were supposedly anti-Stalinist, taught and still teach a view of the U.S. that is identical with Stalinist and Nazi anti-American propaganda, for example that “Zionists” control America, and that “institutional racism” still exists under its maleficent aegis, as if a jewified, trigger-happy John Calhoun had just been elected as the President of a slavocracy. Now it is time for a more realistic view of the American past, neither idealizing it nor casting it into the pit.

*I left out environmentalism for two reasons: first, it has been infiltrated by communists and/or hippie-ish “deep ecologists”; second, I think the situation is even worse than most think, but then I have a strong science background (was instructed in ecology at Cornell). It is my impression that we don’t know enough about our impact on the environment to press ahead at the industrializing pace we have to date. And if America has failed in this respect, so has the rest of the planet.

Thomas Dixon II

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