The Clare Spark Blog

January 15, 2012

Prometheus Bound, but good

Rubens's Prometheus BoundThis blog responds to a heated interchange this last week over whether Republicans or Democrats were more “anti-science.” I complained bitterly about the foolish framing of the question, but since few non-scientists may understand my own indignation, I thought I had better explain.

There is no such thing as a “science” that encompasses all the worldly, materialist efforts to grasp the facts of life and death, thence to intervene to enhance life and forestall death. What the electorate is debating is the power of ultraconservative evangelical Protestants and Catholics to roll back the achievements (or, in their views, atrocities) of the modern world, a modernity that is held responsible for decadence and mass death, owing to the mistaken notions of progress and “enlightenment;” a secular wasteland that is gleefully responsible for “the death of God,” or, failing that, banishing Christian symbols from public space. Such a dive into the muck betrays “life” itself.  In other words, the question regarding “anti-science” serves culture warriors in both political parties and is intrinsic to the current polarization.

Scientism versus science.   In my book Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival, I made a distinction between the Radical and Conservative Enlightenments. The Radical Enlightenment (a 16th century development that educated and raised the morale of “the lower orders”) was co-opted by anxious elites fearing the leveling tendencies of science and its alleged worship of the Goddess of Reason. These “moderate conservative” elites formed the progressive movement, and used “scientific management” to forestall servile revolts, arguing that free markets, left unregulated, would generate mobs who would abolish private property tout court. Similarly, social psychology was harnessed to the New Deal, using statistics and other scientistic (i.e., pretending to scientific method) strategies to get a consensus behind the ever more powerful federal government and the authority of the presidency.  I call this co-opting of “science” the Conservative Enlightenment. The social bonds it advocates are based on mystical bonds between leaders and the led, not upon the convergence of real interests within groups. Such are the methods espoused by the troops of the allegedly “pro-science” Democratic Party.

Science versus Magic. Scientific method, i.e., relying on material evidence and following facts wherever they lead, does not come naturally to a growing child. As an infant and toddler, and even into adolescence, magical thinking will dominate the psyche. Seeing “things as they are” may be fraught with fear, pain, and conflict. In my own examination of Herman Melville’s writing, I have seen the anguish with which the idealizations of childhood are relinquished. His kaleidoscopic imagination, that constantly reconfigures the world we think we see, so apparent to readers who have gone that route themselves, is generally suppressed in the scholarship, or dismissed as “incoherence,” or as a pre-Freudianism that is easily dismissed as bogus, carnal, and hence “Jewish.” Melville himself never resolved his inner war between science and religion, at times demonizing his “dark” Promethean characters, including “Margoth” an apostate secular Jew, who bears comparison with Twain’s Yankee.

Dialectical materialism versus materialism. Realism and naturalism in the arts have gotten a bad rap because of their association with the marxiste notion of dialectical materialism. The latter is a form of Hegelianism that banishes the real world in favor of an unalterable march toward communism/the reign of Spirit, a march supposedly led by the politically-conscious working class, but in practice, guided by intellectuals. These same intellectuals decry (undialectical) “materialism” as atomization and hyper-individualism of the most hateful “bourgeois” variety. I have been called that atomic bomb by more than one Leninist. As culture critics, they purportedly espouse “realism,” which for them consists of unveiling the mystifications of the bourgeoisie, pulling back the curtain to expose exploited masses and wily magicians in the urbanized land of Oz. Where these mystical anti-mystics go wrong is in their condemnation of the Promethean bourgeoisie, a class that relies on science and technology to improve the world and the life chances of its inhabitants.

Science is not dogma, and is constantly self-correcting in the collective criticism of the community of scientists (unless they are bought off by patronage). But that is not the view of those relativists who now study the history of science in order to discredit is as “essentially, a swindle.” (See https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/ or https://clarespark.com/2010/01/03/this-witch-is-not-for-burning-science-as-magic/.)

In the world of true science, quacks are driven out, and commonly held beliefs subject to alteration in the face of new evidence. Would that our political culture were as discriminating in extruding frauds.

    

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October 9, 2011

Vox populi, vox Big Brother: Terry Moe’s new book

In a prior blog (https://clarespark.com/2011/08/01/alexander-hamiltons-rational-voice-of-the-people/) I quoted from Federalist #22, written by Alexander Hamilton. The last paragraph is especially striking:  [Hamilton:] The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure original fountain of all legitimate authority.” [Hamilton’s emphasis. p. 110, The Federalist, edited by Max Beloff, 1948, second ed. 1987]

[My comment on the prior blog:] “…what inspires me is the “elitist” Hamilton’s final remark affirming popular sovereignty (see Gordon S. Wood’s The Creation of the American Republic, for commentary on what he calls a “hackneyed” expression. I look at Wood’s book here: https://clarespark.com/2011/10/30/collectivism-in-the-history-establishment/). Throughout The Federalist we find the same commitment to reason, specifically to concrete analysis of the material challenges that faced the new nation. Though they are often labeled as elitists by those who identify with the debtor class, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison did not appeal to “tradition” that had ever favored King and Church as the fountainhead of “legitimate authority.” Even though the men who argued for the Constitution were sharply at odds over some policies, they agreed that the American republican experiment was unprecedented, and the most enlightened in human history. Measures for educational reform, insofar as they construct a better curriculum, cannot ignore the fundamental rationalism and materialism of the Founders. “Live free or die,” is not merely the motto of New Hampshire; it is the very essence of American exceptionalism.” [end prior comment]

Now comes Terry M. Moe’s recent book, Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America’s Public Schools (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2011). The author is a Stanford U. political scientist and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, who offers an institutional analysis of teachers unions, identifying them as the single most powerful special interest in the country affecting education, one that has successfully blocked efforts at education reform of the kind that would put the interests of students ahead of jobs for teachers. But the book ends on a hopeful note: not just globalization that has highlighted the deficiencies of American public education will turn the tide, but the internet will, over time, destroy the heretofore unbeatable teachers unions, through an unprecedented decentralization of power, accountability and choice for learners.

Here is where I find Moe’s utopia short-sighted, though of course I am on his side. Because he is an analyst of institutional structures and political power, and also, between the lines, a self-described progressive (he subtly aligns himself with the achievements of the New Deal, p.345), he is unable to identify the damage done to American children and their [progressive] educators over the last 120 years or so. For unlike the Founders, modern educators, fed by populism, statism, and ethnic or racial politics, have been anti-materialist and anti-rational; my website has been preoccupied with documenting this flight from science and from critical thought throughout the populist and progressive movements.

Terry Moe does not tackle either the curriculum that is everywhere contested, nor the fragmentation of vox populi, nor the nonstop partisan propaganda issuing from a multiplicity of groups, each vying to control what their children learn about past and present, almost invariably identifying the enemy as “narcissistic.” Big Brother is alive and well, and not just on the social democratic left that Orwell was worried about. Moe addresses a constituency that is dangerously polarized: the inevitable outcome of irrationalist political/social movements that do not always say directly what they really want.

Nevertheless, authoritarianism, whether it comes from the Left, Right, or “moderate middle”, is threatened by the proliferation of computers and the increasing possibility of self-education;* Moe is right about that. But before the much anticipated revolution in learning can be realized, students will have to learn to read and decode, i.e., comprehend,what they are seeing, whether words or images, or admired personalities, including their parents, teachers, and other idols.

*Larry Sand reminds me: “The change that Moe and most other online learning enthusiasts envision is one of ‘blended learning.’ In this model, students still attend school but  learn from online teachers and then have back-up from a live in person teacher.” He is correct, so the online research, properly conducted, does make it possible to become more self-directed and informed about competing historical narratives for all controversial events and partisan interpretations, including the words we use every day. See https://clarespark.com/2009/09/15/making-mobs-with-bad-words-and-concepts/.

July 20, 2010

German Romantic predecessors to multiculturalism

Bottoms-Up !

The German Romantics and their descendants have co-opted radical Enlightenment concepts (tolerance, the rejection of innate ideas and fallen flesh as determinants of “human nature,” the cultural biases of the participant-observer) and practices (introspection, scientific materialism, the comparative history and analysis of political and economic institutions). These “enlightened” concepts and practices were then turned against “the lower orders.” For instance, the social psychology of “progressivism” transforms the common-sense perception of objective social conflicts and clashing interests into personal, anti-social symptoms of “xenophobia,” “prejudice” or “scapegoating,” i.e., distorted vision of “the Other.” Insofar as they are conservative Freudians and Jungians, the progressive psychologists attribute negative “stereotypes” to individual weakness and social irresponsibility: Entirely inner conflicts (Oedipal or pre-Oedipal in origin) are projected onto the outer world; this social world could be made harmonious through “integration”; i.e., discreet purges aka correct adjustments or through the emotionally mature recourse to administrative remedies. In their moralistic, muckraking diagnostics it is possible to construct an entire Weltanschauung in which an entitity called “the Jews” possesses the god-like omnipotence attributed by Christians to the Devil; all modern social movements that question religious authority in favor of empirical investigation of both the natural world and the structures and practices of human institutions will be characterized as false friends to the people, for this world is controlled by our Great Adversary, the archetypal confidence-man represented by the power of filthy lucre aka “finance capital.”

It is my argument that the new social history, like “cultural history” has an antisemitic sub-text that few cared to identify after World War II. But before the murder of European Jewry, writers were less tactful. J. Mace Andress was head of the Boston Normal School; his lucid book of 1916 tracing the lineage from Herder to Franz Boas introduced this unknown forefather to fellow teacher-trainers. [ Johann Gottfried Herder as an Educator (New York: G.E. Stechert, 1916) It can be read online. ]

The Andress tolerance broke down, however, when giving advice about Bible appreciation: “The Bible Herder regarded as the deepest source of wisdom, and the biblical stories he considered as important means toward education. In the handling of the Bible stories he recommended the greatest care. All that was essentially Jewish, not Christian, should be avoided” (168). Like moderates before him, Andress was looking to moral reform as the basis for socially responsible capitalism; for a progressivism that restored the hierarchical organic social relations of the Middle Ages into micro-units, relieving local élites of competing loyalty to either the universal Catholic Church (directed from Rome) or to the universal brotherhood preached by the “Hebraic” Reformation. Andress’ rhetoric suggests that the essentially Jewish character (God as Devil) is construed as rationalism: “[The rationalist type] of philosophy had made a conquest of the intellectual world, and with self-complacency, looked upon its work and called it good. The millennium of life was a paradise guided solely by reason; that was sufficient unto itself for everybody at any time and under every condition. Reason was regarded as the only measure of the values of life. With contempt it turned to the past to see mirrored there the gloom, fanaticism, and ignorance due to irrationalism! This brand of philosophy was quite important, thoroughly dogmatic, and quite unsympathetic with historical thought. The world was to be created anew by man’s power of reason” (52). Herder, like his teacher Hamann, grasped the superior power of faith and spirit; these would unify humanity against the divisiveness imposed by [modern Jews, scientists, radical puritans] (53). Titans need not be Prometheans; ordinary folk, resisting the syren call of democratic citizenship could become gods. Here are some telling excerpts from his book:

[Andress:] Kant gave to the world…a new sense of spiritual freedom. He taught that the individual is able to build his own world. No matter what your condition in life, your world may become glorious if only you will make it so. “Its spirituality is your own creation, or else is nothing. Awake, arise, be willing, endure, struggle, defy evil, cleave to good, strive, be strenuous, be devoted, throw into the face of evil and depression your brave cry of resistance, and then this dark universe of destiny will glow with a divine light. For you have no relations with the eternal world save such as you make for yourself.” This sort of philosophy was a call to the individual to arise to self-mastery and self-realization. Kant believed that the world is not beyond us but is the deepest truth within us. As we master this truth we conquer the discordant tendencies of our own lives…With Kant [German idealism] said the world is indeed the world as built by self-consciousness; but the real world is the world of the genius, the poet, the artist. It refused to interpret the world according to reason or the moral law, but in terms of sentiment, emotion, and heart longings. Romanticism found its chief interest in man’s wealth of divine emotions (Andress, 29-30).

[Andress:] We have noted again and again [Herder’s] opposition to the rationalist philosopher. Men like Rousseau and Hamann had already led the way, but it was Herder who first put the reactionary movement on a firm basis and gave it solidity. This was not a result merely of his revulsion of feeling, but because he penetrated beyond to a conception of human life as an organic whole. He was the first to adopt the historical method in the effort to find meaning in the world as a whole. Bossert said of Herder that he “created the historical method which revived the study of language, literature and religion, and he applied it with such authority and such competence that he rendered for a long time any other method impossible”…In his search for origins both in science and history he foreshadowed the progress of culture for a century after his time…It is no exaggeration to say that Herder foreshadowed the modern trend in psychology…His method, as might be expected, is the genetic….(Andress, 278, 279).

[Andress:] Herder’s service to religion was monumental. Here again we find him a foe of the Aufklärung, which would make everything amenable to common understanding, which attempted to force truth into the narrow moulds of intellectualism. As a follower of Rousseau and Hamann, Herder entertained a profound contempt for such rationalistic procedure. He was not impressed by the merely traditional, the dogmas, the artificiality of churches. He tried to find the genuine religious feelings of the people which had become largely suppressed by rules and dogma. As a student of civilization, he went back to the study of the ancient and primitive religions with enthusiasm, intelligence and insight. Although often reflecting the spirit of traditionalism and the spirit of the past, he was remarkably open minded. The bigot finds nothing to praise in religions outside his own; but Herder was superior to the littleness of mind often characteristic of the theologian (Andress, 283-84).

[Andress:] When we stop to think that the science of sociology was unknown in the eighteenth century, we begin to realize how penetrating was Herder’s insight. He was mindful of the progress of the individual, his enthusiasm for individuality and his rebellion against formalism did not prevent his understanding the real significance of the past, the relation of the individual to the group, and the contribution of society as a whole to culture. In a broad way Herder in his philosophy of culture lays the foundation for a race pedagogy, which stated tersely would read: in the teaching of a people we should build upon their culture not try to destroy it. The world-wide efforts to convert primitive peoples to Christianity, the forcing of a foreign culture upon an alien conquered people, are examples of the violation of this pedagogy. The social philosophy of Herder suggests the beginnings of sociology and social psychology and the recognition of the social aspects of education and culture. Again we find Herder the Bahnbrecher, one standing on the tiptoe of expectancy for the gates of the nineteenth century to swing wide open, a blazer of new trails for humanity (Andress, 298).

A Change of Spectacles. This is the Herder/Andress argument: While class hierarchies and national character are natural, (Jewish) bigotry is not. The (Jewishly inspired) scientific revolution plainly ruptures traditional social bonds; like the national chauvinism which would impose “reason and the moral law” on “alien” cultures, such artifice could only be catastrophic. German Romanticism corrects the death-ray vision of the new science: in the process of self-cultivation or Bildung, sub-divided humanity, like Leibnitz’s monads, are properly seen as units in a grand, gradually evolving whole, judenrein, hence moving onward and upward toward God-like perfection, harmony and equilibrium, each living out its unique potential in the universal Becoming (Werden). Explicating the elusive concept of Bildung, the distinguished and revered cultural historian George L. Mosse approvingly cited Herder: “Man must grow like a plant, as Johann Gottfried von Herder put it, striving to unfold his personality until he becomes a harmonious, autonomous individual engaged in a continual quest for knowledge.” Although the German Romantics founded the disciplines of comparative literature, comparative religion, cultural anthropology, social psychology and “modern race pedagogy,” to insist on universal ethical rules or standards or analytic tools would violate the tenets of their “anti-élitist” progressive movement. For the “cultural materialists” among them “class” is a “socially constructed” category, with no more objectivity in the real world than ugly images of race; for these irrationalists, the inductive scientific method and the monolithic, hegemonic Enlightenment (“the West” as personified in comic-book characters like Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse) remain the sources of iconoclasm and genocidal fascist bureaucracies—the inevitable products of levelling, totalitarian “mass politics” and a discredited Whiggish, covertly imperialist “master narrative.”

The search for origins, the “genetic” method of their “new historicism,” exists solely to delegitimate the claims of science for universal validity; new historicists have mocked the “plodding bourgeois virtues” that “downplay” “character, individuality and point-of-view.” The searching spotlights of irrationalists, however, cannot be turned upon themselves lest their own schematic diagnostics be relativized as tendentious pronouncements from upper-class controlled institutions; hence the widespread antagonism to Freudian introspection or any declaration of personal interest in the outcomes of their own assertions (aka ‘investigations’). Such tactful silences would be intolerable if practiced by the scientists who, it is claimed by the new historicists, are inevitably bought and sold by the Big Money. Hitler, a self-styled critical, independent analyst, said the same about “Jewish Bolshevism” as a front for finance capital.
An orgy of obscurantism. This website retrieves the history of the antifascist “liberals” who have shaped social psychology in the twentieth century, and who have not been able to explain mass death in the past, nor to prevent its recurrence in the present. It has dealt with institutional sources of dead-end politics and other social pathologies, including primitivism, apathy, and sadomasochism. I have sometimes included artworks that show the difficulties in achieving autonomy (the precondition for democratic participation) in societies that refuse appropriate structural transformation while simultaneously promoting “freedom,” “democracy,” and “critical thought.” Racism, sexism, artistic censorship, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, family violence, and elitism as they have been defined in today’s social movements are re-assessed in this political and institutional context. Artists’ depictions of modernity and its alleged social pathologies are compared to those of leading journalists and academics treating the same issues.

We may observe that petit-bourgeois intellectuals–the sometimes defiant, sometimes conforming middle-managers who occupy the teaching and healing professions and who create media–have, owing to class origin, education, allegiance and interest, been structurally driven to identify with a declining “aristocracy.” The middle-managers tend to reject Eros (the life-affirming rainbow sighted by attractive popular democratic movements), for Thanatos (the bleak response of the still-controlling old order looking into a future in which it, the owning-class, could be dispossessed)–hence the flight of middle-management to sadomasochistic social relations as self-discipline or “adjustment” to élite-controlled, pseudo-democratic, unevenly emancipated institutions. For some progressives, pain melts away as they rosily merge into the All. To a rationalist like myself, amazed but not intimidated by the power of irrational psychological processes, the progressives are a disaster: in their “radical” and “pacifist” but finally völkisch and reactionary ideology there can be no unified social action, no self-management or informed consent to management by experts, no concept of the independent artist, scientist, or any (relatively) autonomous, dissenting individual, no constructively critical intellectual  meandering purposefully toward either provisional or solid conclusions. [For a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/.]

June 18, 2010

Whaleness (2)

Mortimer Adler, co-founder Great Books Foundation

[Alfred C. Neal writing about the achievements of The Committee For Economic Development in Business Power and Public Policy, 1981, p.10.]  I cannot conclude these introductory observations without disclosing why a policy-making process that combines academic, professional, and government expertise with business acumen is likely to be better than others that do not employ that combination.  Academic and professional people are highly skilled in formulating policy alternatives in a kind of game that employs the symbols, relationships, and intellectual constraints of their disciplines.  The number of possible policy alternatives for resolving problems in social science is limited only by the imaginations of the scientists, which is high, or by the condition and assumptions that they impose to reduce the almost endless proliferation of possibilities in a world of uncertainty.  Assumptions and conditions are the security blankets of the social scientist’s mind.  Policy-making executives are similarly constrained in their choices by considerations of goal-acceptability and costs and benefits, as well as by considerations of organizational capability, public acceptance, and effective leadership needed to initiate and carry out policy decisions.  The interplay of all these inputs to the policy-making process is seldom explicit, but the interaction of good minds employing their intellectual capabilities is, I am convinced, the basis for much better policy making than we have had.  It is the description and analysis of such interactions over many years and the consequences of the policies resulting from that process, that constitute the main stuff of this book.

[Cultural historian Sander L. Gilman maps and hops with the Other, Difference and Pathology, 1985, 129:]  Certainly no stereotypes have had more horrifying translations into social policy than those of “race.”  Tied to the prestige of nineteenth-century science, the idea of racial difference in the twentieth century became the means for manipulating and eventually destroying entire groups.  The following essays document how easily racial stereotypes have been linked with images of pathology, especially psychopathology.  In this case the need to create the sense of difference between the self and the Other builds upon the xenophobia inherent in all groups.  That which defines one’s group is “good,” everything else is frighteningly “bad.” The cohesiveness of any group depends on a mutually defined sense of identity, usually articulated in categories that reflect the group’s history….We cannot eradicate images of difference, but we can make ourselves aware of the patterns inherent in these images.

The goal of studying stereotypes is not to stop the production of images of the Other, images that demean and, by demeaning, control.  This would be the task of Sisyphus.  We need these stereotypes to structure the world.  We need crude representations of difference to localize our anxiety, to prove to ourselves that what we fear does not lie within….The stereotypical categories that we use are rarely without some point of tangency with reality (biological, social, medical) but their interpretation is colored by the ideology that motivates us. [S. Gilman, 240].

[E. L. Doctorow,”A Gangsterdom of the Spirit,” Nation, Oct. 2, 1989, 352-353.  Commencement address to Brandeis University, May 21, 1989, suppressed by The New Republic, printed as another blow for freedom of speech by Nation.]…I will venture to say that insofar as Mr. Reagan inserted his particular truth into the national American mind he made it the lobotomizing pin of conservative philosophy that has governed us and is continuing to govern us to this very moment.

…A decade ago you did not have college students scrawling racial epithets or anti-Semitic graffiti on the room doors of their fellow students.  You did not have cops strangling teen-age boys to death or shooting elderly deranged women in their own homes.  You did not have scientists falsifying the results of experiments, or preachers committing the sins against which they so thunderously preached.  A generation or so back, you didn’t have every class of society, and every occupation, widely, ruggedly practicing its own characteristic form of crime.

So something poisonous has been set loose in the last several years…To speak of a loss of cohesion in society, a loss of moral acuity, is tiresome.  It is the tiresome talk of liberalism.  In fact, part of this poisonous thing that I’m trying to describe is its characteristic way of dealing with criticism: It used to be enough to brand a critic as a radical or a leftist to make people turn away.  Now we need only to call him a liberal.  Soon “moderate” will be the M word, “conservative” will be the C word and only fascists will be in the mainstream.  And that degradation of discourse, that, too, is part of this something that is really rotten in America right now….As an unacknowledged legislator, I am giving you not a State of the Union Address but a State of the Mind of the Union Address.

 BLOOD AND DIRT

      Ralph Bunche once said, “Democracy, to be lived at all, must be lived broadly.” The organicism that I analyze throughout this YDS series is not just a tic, more or less regrettable, but a consciously constructed strategy to delimit political aspiration by circumscribing political possibilities; it represents itself as acting in the interests of peace, science and democracy, meanwhile attacking the critical tools (materialism, empiricism, critical reason) that would make science and democracy realizable.  Organicism tries to blunt the critical tools that empowered lower-class autodidacts in a century whose central trope (they say, following Freud) was sexuality, not modernity as science and an excellent popular education.  For Sander Gilman there is no radical Enlightenment, no rational mind that could peer at irrational behavior, then imagine social arrangements that might reduce the “anxiety” Gilman finds natural.  Rather we are told (without self-criticism, even though we are all irrational) that there is an eternally given and inevitable “xenophobia” that would make talk of Rousseauvian solidarity (social bonds as contractual, not given) psychologically naive.  Finally we are left with the contradictory message that stereotypes are constructed, but also, in some unstated way, reflective of historical experience; although stereotypes are tangentially related to “biological, social, medical” reality, we should strive to understand that stereotypes are, in some unspecified way, bogus.

These thinkers are not allies of the labor movement as it once existed: their agenda was made clear in Gordon Allport’s influential and constantly reprinted post-war Freedom Pamphlet, The ABC’s of Scapegoating.[1]  Denouncing “prejudice,” Allport, a colleague and ally of Henry A. Murray at Harvard, advised Americans to learn to live with pluralism: whites should stop scapegoating blacks, Christians should stop scapegoating Jews, “labor” should stop scapegoating “the spokesmen for ‘business,’ and conservatives should stop confusing liberals with communists by scapegoating F.D.R.[2]  A Harvard psychologist has asked us to look inside and check our “moral cancer” (p.7), our projections or archetypes, as Jung and Murray would say.  But we do not look inside to probe physiological facts and relationships that link all humanity beneath the skin; we do not look outside to see the objective structures (class societies—and I include women as a class) that impede cooperation and development for all by constructing an unyielding “subjectivity” and a propensity to evil as the human condition.  Instead we fix our attention on “boundaries” and “roots” that may not be leveled or exposed as fiction by “Jewish” science and “Jewish” (because deracinating) internationalism.  Now that Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies have been institutionalized within academe as a conservative accommodation to potentially unifying social movements, blood and soil pluralism may be with us for the duration, as will therefore the contradictory and vague adjurations from “progressive” radical subjectivists who say that stereotypes are both rational and irrational.[3]

Not that the organicists are willing to allow contending pluralities to slug it out: that could eventuate in “the tragedy of the Civil War” as Frederick Jackson Turner warned Woodrow Wilson [AHR, 1942, 548].  William Diamond thought that “distinguished and stimulating” historians like Turner, armed with knowledge, must intervene; Turner knew best how to apply “American sectional and party history to world organization,” so as to keep the Bolsheviki serpent from creeping under the fence.  Alfred C. Neal of the Committee For Economic Development, told Americans that businessmen enlightened by academic experts knew best.  Doctorow told Brandeis students that poets knew best.  Turner, Neal and Doctorow, unacknowledged legislators all, advised their readers and listeners to go shopping for (or bring back) the moderate man who abides in the neutral state: the good father, a paragon of self-control and disinterestedness capable of harmonizing the conflicting and extremist demands of sections and biologically/culturally differentiated “groups,” tucking all his children into bed without favoritism.  The formula is plain: DO NOT try to merge your interests with those of your fellow-creatures, promiscuously defined; DO join the group in which you are naturally rooted; purge the system of venomous false promises and infantilizing utopian demands: evacuate these poetically-yet-scientifically designated poisons and heal the National Mind, then you will be ready for those very high levels of interaction and interplay that permit conciliation and compromise. And if all conflicts were susceptible to mediation, who could disagree?

Gentlemen prefer pre-modern societies (or do they?) because they are judenrein, free of complicating facts and dubious speculation: patriarchal, pastoral, holistic, communitarian, stable, healing, virtuous, and soulful.  There is a continuity between Burkean concepts of natural sublimity and terror and Carlylean romantic conservatism; the Anglo-American culture promoted by Melville’s closet American Tory monarchist in Mardi, the Oxford historian Edward Augustus Freeman (another source of Turner-type theories of expansionism mentioned in Mood, 1943) and James Thomson (“B.V.”); the Weltanschauung disseminated by the Macmillan family (publishers of The English Men of Letters Series, edited by the Fabian/Tory/Mussolini enthusiast J.C. Squire, which brought out the Tory John Freeman’s Melville biography in 1926, and publisher of the Journal of American History quoted above); Frederick Jackson Turner’s “American sectionalism and the geography of political parties”; the belief in “national character” promoted by Jungian psychologists, hereditarian racism in the eugenics of Lothrop Stoddard and William McDougall, the nativist radicalism of Van Wyck Brooks, Lewis Mumford, and Henry A. Murray, some nativist assumptions in the American Studies movement, and the “anticapitalism” of the New Left.  Gentlemen and sectors of the New Left speak with the accents of Jeffersonian agrarianism; gentlemen and some New Leftists prefer “Melville” and the delicious specter of whaleness that does him in.  In spite of family quarrels between bohemians and crypto-bohemians in the Melville industry, these men, along with “Melville,” occupy the vital center of the political spectrum, not the subversive margins as some critics might imagine.  In the vital center, it is not elites and non-elites that confront each other, but the Anglo-Saxon countryside and the Jewified city: the latter naughty and finally off-limits.  Using the oft-proscribed tool of comparative historical analysis, I have surmised that veterans of authoritarian families are not perversely blind to impersonal and abstract social processes, but have projected their forbidden resentment at being “moulded” onto bad Jews and modern women, the perverse manufacturers of modernity.  For romantic conservative Jungians (not many Freudians) “individuation” signified separation from the moral mother, Jew of the Home.  By contrast, the radical bourgeois Freud sought treatments that fostered autonomy and separation from idealized authority.  Perhaps Gilman and other semioticians are so merged with authority, so invaded by recoiling and alien Ishmaels (“fierce and irresistible” “English Tartars”), and so helpless and confused that they must constantly “beat the boundaries”[4] to differentiate themselves from the “m(other)” from whom they have never separated, and whose mixed-messages forced them to retreat from the task of autonomy [5] into an armored corporatism, [6] into an ironic acquiescence with the “narcissistic disorder” their analyses of stereotypes and “splitting” is supposed to alleviate.

“Modernism” (a misnomer) may be understood as a repository for genteel anti-Semitism insofar as artists are in “primitivist” revolt against the modern world that has nourished and elevated the critical spirit identified with “the corrosive Jewish intellect,”[7] the witch who unmasks the happy family and identifies incompatible expectations thus inciting “civil wars.” As a representation of the impersonal capitalist market, the Jewish principle destroys the warm, face-to-face interactions  that supposedly moderated relations between master and man, substituting the remote and faceless stock exchange for paternalistic bosses, balefully introducing “political class cleavage” [Mein Kampf, 1940, 432].  As a representation of modernity (gestating liberalism and its feared offspring, socialism), the Jewish principle destroys family and sectional unity (T. S. Eliot’s “native culture”), the shared blood and rootedness in the common soil that links the best of past and present. The Jewish principle would substitute a levelling, polluting internationalist identity thus confiscating a man’s wife, children, dogs, cats, cows and chickens, leaving him prey to “six-lane motorways,” Big Brother’s centralized machinery, and other rats. [8]

We are not accustomed to seeing such connections because official American culture since 1917 has drawn sharp distinctions between Western “democracy” and German or Soviet “autocracy.”[Gruber, 1975]  Since Melville’s death in 1891, “critical thought” has been increasingly on the defensive.  After 1945, the victorious West did not hold a conference to examine the economic, social, political, and cultural sources of fascism and genocide.  Rather, propagandists declared the German nation collectively insane, while covertly admiring Hitler’s methods of mind-control and pretended the Western powers knew nothing of the Holocaust until 1945.[9]  While some psychologists joined Theodore Adorno, inventing the F-Scale to measure the nuances of “the authoritarian personality” [10] (a spectrum of prefascist “types” who would be contrasted with the Genuine Liberal, [11] other conservatives claiming to be sane liberals [12] purged crazy and destructive (“Jewish”) leftists and left-liberals, spreading a miasma of fear that has never dissipated.  American Jews could read the handwriting on the wall: the noisy, abrasive culture of cities and class politics would have to be jettisoned as a condition of economic survival.  American Jews who wanted jobs in academia or in the media had better embrace the tradition of “honest Anglo-Saxon democracy” and shadow-dappled country lanes that had defined itself against both Jewish materialism and against fascism and Nazism. [13]  The marching bands and country airs, the discourse of organicism that had been recognized as imperialist and protofascist before the war,[14] was acceptable to such esteemed postwar Jewish intellectuals as Lionel Trilling, Harry Levin, and Alfred Kazin.  What the postwar intellectuals did was miraculous though not original: like earlier reactionaries, the protofascist material world was off limits, while the Christian-Platonic order became the sanely (s)mothered democracy.  There was no place for modern women or radical Jews in the protocols of the moderate men.

NOTES:


[1] Gordon Allport, ABC’s of Scapegoating (Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, 1983, ninth rev. ed., first publ. 1948).

[2] Allport, p.26 and passim.

[3] Robert Miles, Racism (London and New York: Routledge, 1989) is a summary and critique of scholarly literature, with a useful bibliography. Miles is writing from the Left and using semiotic analysis; he does not look at narratives and metamorphoses, but mechanically reifies Self/Other; such static formulations do not explain connections between the variables of class, gender, “race” and ethnicity.

[4] A ritual in rural England, in which the earth is flogged to delimit the land owned by the parish, a declaration of boundaries.

[5] Cf. Erich Fromm, Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), 135-136. “…Freud thought as a child of his time.  He was a member of a class society in which a small minority monopolized most of the riches and defended its supremacy by the use of power and thought control over those it ruled.  Freud, taking this type of society for granted, constructed a model of man’s mind along the same lines.  The “id,” symbolizing the undeducated masses, had to be controlled by the ego, the rational élite.  If Freud could have imagined a classless and free society he would have dispensed with the ego and the id as universal categories of the human mind.  In my opinion the danger of a reactionary function of psychoanalysis can only be overcome by uncovering the unconscious factors in political and religious ideologies.  Marx in his interpretation of bourgeois ideology did essentially for society what Freud did for the individual.  But it has been widely neglected that Marx outlined a psychology of his own that avoided Freud’s errors and is the basis of a socially oriented psychoanalysis.  He distinguished between instincts which are innate, such as sex and hunger, and those passions like ambition, hate, hoarding, exploitativeness, et cetera, which are produced by the practice of life and in the last analysis by the productive forces existing in a certain society, and hence can be subject to change in the historical process.”  I was impressed with this essay when I first read it, but now I think Fromm was unfair to Freud and to the radical liberals. What makes Marx different from his class conscious predecessors is his view of the inevitability of revolution at the hands of the working-class. Marxists have taken this prediction to mean that they should separate themselves from liberal reformers, designated as worse enemies to the toiling masses than the traditional Right.  I am arguing here that such positions are grounded in irrational institutional and psychological processes that Freud helped us to uncover; for purposes of this essay I am emphasizing the double-bind and the identification of liberal reform with the moral mother, seen as a hypocrite and crazy-making.

As I have tried to show, all conflations of social/historical processes with processes of natural history (catastrophic or gentle) is a mystification that may contribute to immobility in the face of objective dangers to our species and to the earth.  Classes are not strata, revolutions are not volcanic eruptions or avalanches, either “gradualism” or “revolution” may be unnecessarily cruel and violent to the living who suffer (the latter a point made by Mark Twain).  There can be no archetypal rule for radical conduct, no cast of characters that retain their auras, no escape from analysis grounded in the specific and unique matter at hand.

[6] Turner did not advocate ethnic separatism; rather he, like Thomson, imagined a welding together of various (white) European stocks into one nationality, but discreetly guided by a class unmistakably English in its imputed administrative skills.

[7] Jung, quoted in Webb, Occult Establishment.

[8] Cf. Hitler, Mein Kampf on “filth and fire” spawned by parliamentary democracy; the credulous, swindled masses: the Big Liars were the Jewish press: 66-84,99,328, 379.

[9] See Deborah Lipstadt, Beyond Belief, 1986. Also NYT Book Review, April 4, 1948, p.7.  J.R. Rees, The Case of Rudolph Hess was described as “but one more page in the history of mentally ill people who governed a continent.”  A photograph of Hess emphasizes his crazed and staring eyes; both Hess and Hitler are described as romantics and mystics, not as bearers of conservative Enlightenment.  Murray report (Hitler was a combination of Byron and a thug); and Langer report, for FDR and the OSS, 1943 (see below).

[10] Here is Horkheimer’s formulation in the Preface to the influential work of 1950, The Authoritarian Personality:  “This is a book about social discrimination.  But its purpose is not simply to add a few more empirical findings to an already extensive body of information.  The central theme of the work is a relatively new concept–the rise of an “anthropological” species we call the authoritarian type of man.  In contrast to the bigot of the older style he seems to combine the ideas and skills which are typical of a highly industrialized society with irrational or anti-rational beliefs.  He is at the same time enlightened and superstitious, proud to be an individualist and in constant fear of not being like all the others, jealous of his independence and inclined to submit blindly to power and authority.  The character structure which comprises these conflicting trends has already attracted the attention of modern philosophers and political thinkers.  This book approaches the problem with the means of socio-psychological research.  Max Horkheimer, Preface, The Authoritarian Personality, 1950, ix.  Cf. Meinecke on the technocrat/monomaniac as base for Nazism, below.

[11] T.W. Adorno, et al, The Authoritarian Personality, 1950; Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman, Prophets of Deceit, 1949.

[12] T.W. Adorno, et al., Authoritarian Personality, 975.  This is the prescription pessimistically bequeathed by the Adorno group as it advocates revolutionary changes in child-rearing, understanding that without structural economic change, no adjustment is possible; here they conservative reformers defending the embattled New Deal. (Both Henry Murray’s and Harold Lasswell’s works are listed in recommended reading): “It would not be difficult, on the basis of the clinical and genetic studies reported in this volume, to propose a program which, even in the present cultural pattern, could produce nonethnocentric personalities.  All that is really essential is that children be genuinely loved and treated as individual humans…For ethnocentric parents, acting by themselves, the prescribed measures would probably be impossible.  We should expect them to exhibit in their relations with their children much the same moralistically punitive attitudes that they express toward minority groups–and toward their own impulses…[Many other] parents…are thwarted by the need to mould the child so that he will find a place in the world as it is.  Few parents can be expected to persist for long in educating their children for a society that does not exist, or even in orienting themselves toward goals which they share only with a minority.”

[13] Villard, 1919, Frederick Jackson Turner, 1921, Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here, 1935.  In a group of essays written in 1893-1918, and fearing the “recoil” now that free lands were used up, Turner called for a class-conscious social history to compete with un-American Marxist historical materialism; the state university would dig deep into the earth to extract the golden nuggets of the talented lowly, who would then mediate the antagonisms between capital and labor: “By training in science, law, politics, economics and history the universities may supply from the ranks of democracy administrators, legislators, judges and experts for commissions who shall disinterestedly and intelligently mediate between contending interests.  When the words “capitalistic classes” and “the proletariate” can be used and understood in America it is surely time to develop such men, with the ideal of service to the State, who may help to break the force of these collisions, to find common grounds between the contestants and to possess the respect and confidence of all parties which are genuinely loyal to the best American ideals” (“Pioneer Ideals,” 1910, Frontier, 1921, 285).  George Rawick commented to me upon Turner’s ugly anti-Semitism that surfaces in his papers. I have not yet examined Turner’s unpublished works, but Turner, no less than T.S. Eliot, would say that “freethinking Jews” could not be an American “type;” perhaps they were the “European type” into which freedom-loving Americans were apparently evolving in the early twentieth century.

[14] See Ellis Freeman on proto-Nazi propaganda in Western culture and in America, Conquering The Man in the Street (N.Y.: Vanguard Press, 1940).

March 10, 2010

Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism

Fuseli’s precursor to Captain Ahab

Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large for the conservative-libertarian National Review Online, wrote a popular intellectual history intended to remedy the common practice on the Left of characterizing Italian Fascism and Nazism as movements primarily of the Right. He tells me that he started formulating a book proposal in 2002, partly in response to his father’s ongoing concerns, partly in response to a talk by Michael Ledeen in the 1990s. It was published with endnotes in 2008 and became a runaway best-seller, a remarkable performance in itself. Perhaps reacting to the growth of the so-called “Tea-Party” movement in 2009, in late January of this year, some professional historians and journalists strongly objected to Goldberg’s thesis that Nazism and Fascism were entirely movements of the Left.

This and subsequent blogs will try to tease out the underlying narrative in JG’s book, one that was not spotted in the symposium mounted by History News Network on January 25, 2010 (with JG’s response January 28): briefly, Liberal Fascism is not only a crusade, a critique of “progressivism” as the eugenics-inspired spur to European“ fascism” and mass death in the twentieth century, but more deeply, LF is an attack on the science and “secularism” that have invaded the cultural space previously furnished with “traditionalism” by which JG means religion and undisputed paternal authority in the family: the consequence in JG’s text is an intrusive nanny-statism TODAY that is fascistically totalitarian and seeks to impose draconian rules on all aspects of everyday life, but most awesomely, will destroy “liberty” with the same resolve as the Jacobin mob and their spawn: Blackshirts, Brownshirts, and Bolshies. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/12/08/hobsbawm-obama-israel/, for one possible source for the linkage between the French Revolution and the Soviet Union, particularly the first volume of Hobsbawm’s tetralogy, in which EH draws a straight line between the French Revolution and Leninism. In this he agrees with liberal Jacob Talmon or the conservative Catholic Francois Furet: see https://clarespark.com/2013/02/02/totalitarianism-polarization-and-single-issue-politics/.)

    After reading the book twice, I maintain that the actual social structures and practices of the Third Reich and Italy under Mussolini (partly taken up by Robert Paxton in the HNN symposium) are of less concern to the author than “the smothering love” and feminized “niceness” of any American political faction that considers the national government to be a prospective locus for ameliorative reform and regulation. Like the most reactive Christians in history, but especially those who emerged after the Reign of Terror, JG seems to see “liberty” as the freedom for Everyman to suffer in this world, owing to (sinful) “human nature,” though I doubt that he has consciously taken his argument for “liberty” or the frictionless “pursuit of happiness” to its logical conclusion; he may simply be refuting the social engineering conception that man is infinitely malleable and that proper social organization will eliminate aggression and the will to power. That he blames Rousseau and the Jacobins for “totalitarianism” is everywhere apparent in his book. The Committee Of Public Safety has morphed into the Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA—and that specter and reality is where he has put his authorial energy. He would have stood on firmer ground had he blamed the social theorists of the eighteenth and nineteeth centuries, described so well in Frank E. Manuel’s The Prophets of Paris: Turgot, Condorcet, Saint-Simon and others who had no connection to the likes of Robespierre.* (For a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2009/07/04/unfinished-revolutions-and-contested-notions-of-identity/.)

[Added 4-4-10 and 4-6-10: Though I agree with much of what is in Liberal Fascism, it is not a work of history, for he does not reconstruct the historical context in which the various “fascisms” appeared. Ideas (e.g. “Jacobinism”) do not give birth to other ideas. JG could have, but did not, specify the class coalition with conservative nationalists that brought Hitler to power. By sticking with a left-wing genealogy for Hitler, he erases traditional right-wing support (support that was present during the Weimar Republic). Moreover, I have written extensively about “the progressives” and their role in formulating what we take to be mental health. What I found over a period of forty years is as alarming as anything in JG’s book. For instance “progressives” (who were really organic conservatives –“corporatist liberals”–adjusting to the growth of mass literacy and an industrial working class), because of their simultaneous support of “liberty” (e.g. dissent) and “community,”  could immobilize persons who sought to make an original contribution to society. Some of that research is elsewhere on this website,  but much of it can be found in my book Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival, where I show how Melville identified the double bind in his own family, and how he was labeled insane by some in his family and in the writing of his academic revivers.  (By double bind, I do not concur with Gregory Bateson’s definition that rests on the presence of a rejecting Janus-faced mother: rather the incompatible demands to be original in one’s discoveries, but not to disturb traditional institutional arrangements; to be both loyal to one’s country of origin and a member of an international “community”, and more.) 

   JG is on sounder ground when he critiques multiculturalism as derived from Herder. In my own work I trace Herder’s impact on German Romanticism and then nazism. JG should have said something about the dubious Herder-derived notions of national character and zeitgeist. He should have contrasted Herder’s rooted cosmopolitan and the rootless cosmopolitan of science and urbanity. But the possibly worst part of Liberal Fascism is the notion that some readers may absorb: that the entire Democratic Party is already entirely totalitarian, instead of incoherent, given the clashing elements inside the Democratic coalition. The Dems may be heading in that direction, but as a tactic to mobilize libertarian opposition, JG’s bleakness may create more apathy than informed resistance to illegitimate authority. And by constantly combining the word “liberal” with “fascism,” all statist activity is stigmatized, which would have amazed Hamilton, Hayek, and the Friedmans. ]

[Added 4-18-2010:] I am reading George E. Mowry’s excellent political and intellectual history of the period 1900-1912: The Era of Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of Modern America (originally published in 1958). The variability in what was considered to be “progressive” is laid out clearly. By contrast, the polemical and narrow focus of JG’s book becomes apparent. Given that Mowry and the other historians in the series of readers that Harper and Row published are writing within the progressive tradition, he (and probably they) are remarkably objective. Mowry brings the look of the period to life, and you will never read Edith Wharton again without seeing what a fatalist and traditional conservative she was.

[Added 4-23-10:] Mowry’s highly regarded account of the Republican Party contribution to progressivism certainly sees Theodore Roosevelt as a radical statist, but Mowry remains grounded in the period under study, and never calls T.R. style progressivism protofascist. I wish that journalists who write about politics today would be as attentive to detail and primary sources (and as broad in their interests) as did Mowry. This is a great book.

*Earlier critics than JG must have been comparing the welfare state to the various fascisms because Frank Manuel complained about the comparison in his The Prophets of Paris (1962): ” The specter of emotional and moral as well as scientific and industrial control hovers over the Saint-Simonian system, and Rousseau’s censor rears his ugly head. Nevertheless it seems farfetched to relate the Saint-Simonians on these grounds to the monster states of Hitler and Stalin. True, the Saint-Simonian political formulae emphasized emotion rather than reason, plus the hierarchy, an elite, the organic, and in this respect their theories bear superficial resemblance to the lucubrations of twentieth-century fascism. The ecclesiastical nonsense of the cult, however, should not obscure the fact that their image of society was founded first and foremost upon the expectation that there would be an upsurge of Eros in the world, that men would become more loving–a rather dubious assumption, though one that is not to be laughed out of court by the true skeptic. The Saint-Simonian society was founded upon relations of love among members of a hierarchy. This may be ridiculous, unfeasible, nonrational humbug, but it is totalitarian only in the sense that love may be. The Saint-Simonians were committed to the winning of converts solely through preaching and persuasion. To relate all the images of “authoritarianism” and “totalitarianism” to these tender failures of the 1830s entails driving their ideas to conclusions they never entertained. Saint-Simonians talked and quarreled far more about love, all sorts of love, than they did about authority. They never spilled a drop of blood in their lives and in middle age became respectable bourgeois. There was something unique about the German experience under the Third Reich. Remembrance of it should not be diluted by the discovery of antecedents that are of a qualitatively different character. The Saint-Simonians may be cast into liberal hell, but there they will probably encounter as many lovers and passionately fixated men as Dante did in the Christian hell.” (p.184)

[Added 4-30-2010: JG has an article on Obama’s “neosocialism” in the May issue of Commentary. The phrase “liberal fascism” does not appear there. But he still does not know about the contribution of the organic thinkers of nineteenth-century France (some of whom were reconstructing a more secular Catholicism) to Marxism and twentieth-century political thought, including the creators of the welfare state. These are Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Comte. Manuel distinguishes their organicism from that of their predecessors Turgot and Condorcet, though the latter were strong advocates of a science-driven progressive future.]

[Added 12-10-11: If JG had written about populism, I would have agreed with him about its protofascist potential. See https://clarespark.com/2011/12/10/before-saul-alinsky-rules-for-democratic-politicians/.]

February 18, 2010

Nazi sykewar, American style, part four

“Opossum” by Godeleine de Rosamel

Today, the image of the Nazi has become a boring cliché, moreover the label is thrown around to the point of satiety.  Some appealing to “the right” believe that statist progressives are Nazis or Fascists, while the New Left, and the democratic left alike, pin the label on “fascist Republicans,” “the military-industrial complex,” “Wall Street,” various narcissists, and most recently, “tea-baggers.”

This is a terrible development, because we may be so bored by the subject of propaganda and its deployment by rival ideologies that we jeopardize our own sense of reality, and it is that firm grip on the real that constitutes a healthy identity in the individual (I am rejecting “identity” as constituted by ethnicity or by some indeterminate, fluid, interaction with the environment–both definitions dominate the academy today). The point of this series on undeservedly obscure book German Psychological Warfare, now concluding, is to alert my readers to the centrality of military psychiatry for the presumably protofascist masses (“the little man”) from the first world war on through to the present. My research into this subject was a direct result of Major Nidal Hasan’s jihad in Texas. I realized that although I had been studying various types of mental health therapies and their usually invisible ideologies for decades, I knew almost nothing about the U.S. military and its preferred treatment of troubled and traumatized soldiers, sailors, and marines.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered the leadership role of Dr. Roy R. Grinker, Sr. (See https://clarespark.com/2010/02/10/a-brooding-meditation-on-intimacy-and-distance/ for some of psychiatrist Grinker’s chief ideas.)

Grinker, a “functionalist” to the core, was a follower of the literature professors, sociologists and social psychologists who were major figures in transforming Melville’s character Captain Ahab from a romantic artist or tragic hero into a hyper-individualist, a demagogue, a symbol of Amerika, and an “anticipation” of Hitler and Stalin. And this shift in Melville readings from creative individualism to group-thinking, mind-deadening “adjustment” (the latter seen by such as Grinker as the favorable outcome of vanguard “general systems theory” or “interdisciplinary” studies) happened exactly at the same time that leading “progressive” capitalists were adopting Keynesian economics and supporting the mushrooming state of the New Deal. Which is to say, with great dismay, that the dread “right-wing” neoliberals are more plausible than the various factions of “the left” when they call their rivals “fascists” or “Nazis.” (I personally find the comparison ahistoric and damaging to a rational political discourse. I would rather call these particular progressives and their followers in mental health services and education as authoritarian liberals or scientistic conservative enlighteners, which is both accurate and less incendiary.)

The purpose of this particular series was not to write tiresomely on Hitler, Goebbels, and their all too familiar abuse of language in the new mass media (as one Facebook friend assumed), but to demonstrate that the “progressive” American defensive posture as world war once again loomed in the late 1930s was disgracefully contemptuous of ordinary citizens. In its zeal to combat midwestern isolationism or potentially subversive ethnics of German Italian, or Japanese ancestry (as one sociologist has advised me), this cohort was in some ways indistinguishable from mind-managing  Nazis. The idea that Harvard professors could appropriate Nazi methods and defuse their content to make it adaptable to democratic practice was hubris of a kind that has not been widely publicized, though I spelled it out in my book Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival, and also in an article posted here:  https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/.  My published study of the humanities curriculum as managed by “progressives” from the Civil War on (and in their organicism, a.k.a. ‘moderation’, reminiscent of the antebellum South) got many wonderful notices, but no reviewer reported the disturbing content I have just laid out.

I have also made clear in prior blogs that I am not against appropriate regulatory or stimulatory functions of the federal government because of an ideological commitment to root-and-branch “local control” and “laissez-faire economics.” So I am not attacking all forms of statism in this series, just the ones that are crazy-making and authoritarian while pretending to be sane and emancipating from illegitimate authority. Parts one, two, and three should have made the relinquishing of independent critical thought obvious to the reader, for instance in Kimball Young’s concluding remarks (see part three).

In this final blog on the content of German Psychological Warfare, edited by Ladislas Farago, and published in several editions by the prestigious Committee For National Morale in 1940, I will quote a sampling of the bibliography that suggests convergence between the statism of the Nazis in inculcating the “organic” society and the brand of “democratic traditions” perpetrated by leading social scientists who continue to dominate the mental health profession (though there may be resistance of which I am not aware). As advised by a German author (quoted below), their common aim was to tame the overly curious, overly skeptical, modern urban masses, who had sufficient education to question policies over which they had had no oversight or input.  Just as Grinker stigmatized as deviant the pushy and childish flier who criticized the suicide missions ordered by his superior officer (see https://clarespark.com/2009/12/09/strategic-regression-in-the-greatest-generation/), the social scientists associated with the Committee For National Morale quietly erased the dissenting individual and called such practices appropriate adaptation to democracy in the interest of national defense. But we were definitely not fascists.

The remainder of this blog lists some of the prominent members of the Committee For National Morale, and copies some of the bibliographic entries that support my argument as laid out above, but mostly in my book:  the little men would be merged emotionally with their comrades and “stable” leaders, leaders who were protecting them from their boastfulness in thinking Everyman should know the truth, and stuffing cotton in their collective (upper-class) ears to shut out her/his hypercritical kibbitzing.

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AUTHORS AND CONSULTANTS TO THE BOOK

The book was edited by Ladislas Farago “with the cooperation of” Harvard professors Gordon W. Allport and Edwin G. Boring, along with other figures associated with Harvard University: Dr. John G. Beebe-Center and Dr.  Stanley S. Stevens;  also Dr. Floyd L. Ruch of USC. “Interpretative Summary” by Prof. Kimball Young of Queens College.  Others prominent in the Committee and quoted in my book Hunting Captain Ahab are Arthur Upham Pope, Gregory Bateson, Gardner Murphy, Henry A. Murray, Goodwin B. Watson, Geoffrey Gorer, and Horace Kallen. Members either of the executive- or of sub-committees whose names will be familiar to many students of the period include Gifford Pinchot, Dr. Frank Kingdon, Herbert Bayard Swope, Dr. David M. Levy, George Gallup, Frank M. Stanton, Walter Wanger, Louis Adamic, Eliot Janeway, Margaret Mead, Elmer Davis, Owen Lattimore, Edgar A. Mowrer, and A. Philip Randolph.  The page that lists their membership also lays out the purpose of the Committee: (besides research and “the formulation of controlling principles of Morale)…3. The planning and promotion of practical measures to protect and enhance the country’s Morale in all groups and in every typical activity.”

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MORE SUGGESTIVE EXAMPLES FROM THE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

“43. Spengler, O.  Preussentum und Sozialismus. Muenchen: Beck, 1920.

PRUSSIANISM  AND SOCIALISM. Spengler, a philosopher turned political prophet, ‘discovered’ during the war years the close identity of Prussianism to Socialism. Prussianism and “genuine Socialism”—not of Marx, but of Friedrich Wilhelm I, which was authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-revolutionary—are consolidated in the old Prussian spirit and are equal to each other because both mean power. This thesis was taken up by the Nazis in what was called ‘Socialism of action.’ Socialism meaning comradeship, service, and duty, not class struggle.” [And what “moderate” would not find this appealing? CS]

“85. Vershofen, W.  Fuerung im Arbeitsleben. Ber. Kongr.dtsch.Ges. Psychol., 1935.

LEADERSHIP IN INDUSTRY AND LABOR: Moral and mental qualities are considered more indispensable for factory management than technical skill. The author deals with his subject from the Nazi leader-principle angle. An extreme interpretation of this principle, as presented in this paper, leads Vershofen to describe the producer as a leader and the consumer as a follower. All conflicts of leadership in industry and labor must be settled by the state.” [So the Americans will find a moderate statism to harmonize conflicts? CS]

“192. Hesse, K. Wandlung des Soldaten. Berlin: Mittler, 1930.

TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOLDIER: Hesse considers the officer a pedagogue as well as a leader. His relationship with his subordinates should be that of a teacher to his students. He must set himself up as a model soldier and awaken military virtues, spirit of comradeship and a consciousness of ‘military socialism’ in his charges. The training of the professional ‘leader-soldier’ should include motor mechanics, electricity, photography, architecture, gliding, stenography, military geography, a knowledge of foreign languages (French, English, Polish, and Russian), theatrical arts, and singing.”

“249. Bircher, E.  Militaerpsychologie. Schweiz.Milit.Blaetter, 1919….

MILITARY PSYCHOLOGY: Dr. Bircher is a prominent Swiss physician, now serving as a military commander in Switzerland’s citizen army. …He maintains that, regardless of new weapons in the technological sense, the balance between victory and defeat depends on the solution of individual and mass morale problems.”

“329. Pinschovius, K. Die seelische Widerstandskraft im modernen Krieg. Oldenburg: Stalling, 1936.

THE POWER OF MENTAL RESISTANCE IN MODERN WAR: The author, an army psychologist of great reputation and a poet in his own right, states that mechanized wars present new and dangerous psychological problems which “superficial remedies like propaganda” are unable to solve. His book, a courageous and original critique of the mass-psychological approach to these problems, demands the recognition of the ‘rational qualities of modern man whom life in the city and technological skill have accustomed to asking questions before making up his mind.’ The book is a veritable mine of interesting conclusions especially valuable for a democracy where a rational approach to problems raised by mechanized war is still permissible.” [Cf. part one of this series. So did the Committee believe that their approach to Morale was not irrational and propagandistic? What would their psychologists mean by “balance” and “adjustment” and how would that be achieved in the patient/client?]

“446. Schoenemann, F.  Die Kunst der Massenbeeinflussung in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlagsanst, 1924.

THE ART OF INFLUENCING THE MASSES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The author, a prominent professor at the Berlin University and the Propaganda Ministry’s own Hochschule fuer Politik, is recognized as the Nazi’s foremost expert on the United States. In this book he analyzes the factors and forces influencing public opinion in the United States. In another lecture, he distinctly warned against the prevalent German tendency of underestimating America as a potential world power when he said: ‘America is much more important for us and it has much greater influence on the development of European politics than most of us realize. It would be wrong either to underrate and slight or fail to study the United States just as thoroughly and systematically as other great powers in the world. Such past short-sightedness caused us to make a serious blunder and we simply cannot afford to repeat it.’”

[Schoenemann directed the first German Melville dissertation, by one Karl Sundermann, filed in 1937. Did he think that Herman Melville had revealed the essential (“fissured”) American character? National character was a preoccupation of many of the Germans or Nazis cited. CS]

September 22, 2009

Managerial Psychoanalysis: Jung, Henry A. Murray, and sadomasochism (3)

   [In the following conclusion to the three part study of Murray’s managerial psychoanalysis/psychiatry, “Isabel” refers to the Dark Lady of Melville’s novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852). She was characterized by Philip Rahv (the editor of Partisan Review) as a “rebel and emancipator.” For a related blog to this one see https://clarespark.com/2014/09/08/why-progressive-social-psychologists-make-us-crazy/.

Eleven years before he lengthily denounced Melville’s Pierre, Dr. Henry A. Murray had unmasked the Red Decade’s “Radical Sentiments” as irrational and insincere:

    “[The radical]…favours modern art, the rejection of sex taboos, socialism, the freedom of the press, the elimination of religion, nudism, progressive schools, the humane treatment of criminals, etc.  Radicalism is usually opposed to authority, to any force that restrains liberty.  It favours the weak, the dissatisfied, the oppressed minority.  Thus [!], radicalism is often an indication of suprAggression (inhibited) and infraNurturance.  It may be an expression of the stern father and rebel son thema.” [But these people don’t act]…the most radical sentiments were expressed by succorant, abasive and infavoidant subjects. “[1]

In 1940, working on his Melville biography (which he would relinquish that year, ostensibly because of “the fall of France,” but perhaps he was also agitated by the subject of shifting and murky identities, revolution and counter-revolution in art and life), Murray sharply defined himself against experimental psychologists, behaviorists, and Freud’s rigidly contained following; arguing however for the partial incorporation and reform of psychoanalysis.  Ever the optimistic pragmatist and Progressive, Murray viewed psychoanalysis not only as an efficient and efficacious diagnostic tool in the treatment of physical and mental illness, but  indispensable to the prediction and control of the future through preventive politics: a regular lighthouse from which presidential brains could monitor the night-time antics of flooding limbic legislators [292, 298].  Murray, offering himself as a Lincoln-esque tower of rectitude and appropriately democratic fatherhood, explained that Freud’s (corset) is

“clearly limited to certain spheres of functioning and is more applicable to some types and some conditions of men than to others.  It is chiefly designed to interpret what a man says when he lies on a couch and his memories are canalized by his desire to appease an analyst’s consuming and insatiable interest in his sexual adventures.  It does not fit all of the people all of the time.  Consequently it will have to be expanded to encompass much that up to now has been neglected.”  [2]

   Murray was a primitivist rebel, whereas Freudian psychoanalysis would modernize the unconscious, renouncing childish things and replacing destructive ids with adaptive egos (in a never-ending contest for control).  Murray agreed that individuals would always be at war with social strictures [299], but Freud had wrongly compared sex with aggression.  The latter was not a positive appetite (like hunger and sex) that must be satisfied periodically” but was “probably due to some residual tension in the need engendered by a long series of frustrations, which tension can generally be dissolved by reciprocated love or recognized achievements.” [302]  Against Freud’s allegiance to “St. Augustine and the Calvinists,” Murray, ever the progressive optimist, sided with the better id forces which are the source of “romantic idealism,” prophecy, and pacifism, and suggested that the ego function is not so bad:

 [Freud has left out “two classes of phenomena”]: “those associated with the will and the satisfactions of self-mastery, and those associated with integration and the reasonable ordering of one’s drives–the Hellenic ideal of harmonious expression.  In practice I am inclined to assign moral responsibility to the ego, and I attempt to judge the work it has to do by estimating the strength of the insurgent tendencies (which vary from one individual to another) that must be managed.” [302-303]

Murray, like Melville, comes home to classicism where (he hopes) balance is pleasantly restored:  he understands (along with Greek rationalists and other ego psychologists) that the “insurgent tendencies” “must be managed.” Indeed, they can be managed, hardly the tragic vision of Freud or Melville [303].[3]  But lest Protestant psychoanalysts be accused of deviations from the American way, Murray distances his management style from fascism. As in the Walter Langer report of 1943 (which gave weight to the rumor that Hitler’s grandfather was the Baron Rothschild), Murray linked other autocratic Jews to Hitler. Freud, a Bad Jew, having been turned into “the Fuehrer” by the “cocksure inflexibility” of his “apostles” [307] could be Americanized (rescued and purified) by revision and selective appropriation. Only as Good Jew could Freud be recruited to surveillance in the guise of the Great Emancipator: (Jewish) negativity, pessimism, and passivity had to be detached from Freud’s critical method and banished from the Republic. Temporarily elevated (then fenced in and walled up?), perhaps Isabel’s brilliance could be exploited without the anxiety of a hostile takeover. “Genius is full of trash,” said the liberal Murray, quoting Mardi, urging his listeners to cast off dogmatists (“clinging slavishly to all of Freud,” in whose “psychoanalytic society free speech is as expensive as it is in Nazi Germany”), but to preserve the adventuresome, independent, creative, scientific side of the master by availing themselves of this “Alberich[‘s]” “ravished gold” which “has the power of casting long rays into the heretofore mysterious and appalling regions of the psyche….” [306]:

” What a man does and says in public is but a fraction of him. There is what he does in private, and the reasons he gives for doing it. But even this is not enough. Beyond what he says there is what he will not say but knows, and finally, what he does not know. Only a depth psychologist can reach the latter. “[298]

Murray thought that Freud had been too hard on the id and too much under its sway: Murray’s id (later identified not only with Hitler, but with Isabel and darkest Africa), properly directed, like Freud himself, could be transmuted into a treasure trove of mineral resources and higher intelligence: where id was, let a tactical alliance between man and nature, management and labor, be.

 Better Beaten Boundaries

Murray believed that academic psychologists should merge their discipline with rectified Freudian psychoanalysis, and reconceive the training of “personologists,” who would  study not only hard sciences but anthropology, sociology and the arts. (Murray does not mention history or politics). As for the contentious issue of psychology, Murray’s audience was invited to follow his and Jung’s rebellious path into holistic psychoanalysis and away from every type of philistinism. Murray confessed that he, like other unanalyzed, myopic academic psychologists, had once naively  reduced “a groomed American in a business suit, traveling to and from his office, like a rat in a maze [to] a predatory ambulating apparatus of reflexes, habits, stereotypes, and slogans, a bundle of consistencies, conformities, and allegiances to this or that institution….”[299].

   But really, the body (imagined as an explosive legislative branch of government), is full of surprises. Murray’s advice was to know thyself (and thy businessmen subjects or patients) through psychoanalysis:

“A personality is a full Congress of orators and pressure  groups, of children, demagogues, communists, isolationists, war-mongers, mugwumps, grafters, logrollers, lobbyists, Caesars and Christs, Machiavels and Judases, Tories and Promethean revolutionists. And a psychologist who does not know this in himself, whose mind is locked against the flux of images and feelings, should be encouraged to make friends, by being psychoanalyzed, with the various members of his household.” [299]

Repressed, impersonal, bureaucratizing psychologists and unreconstructed  Freudian psychoanalysts (Murray’s Margoths and Nazi slaves) are probably too far gone to respond to Murray’s (Rolfe’s) appeals. But perhaps more doctors might be returned to natural history  [unskeptical religion? 295] if they would look away from the blank-making, stony, sublunary wasteland of modernity, the rusty iron-colored soil of melancholy (that the Judases created, Murray/Melville tells us throughout his writing). Murray would prefer us to linger in  the densely informative, premonitory (and moist) museum somewhere inside us all (and which created, then evacuated, but still manipulates and sheds light on, Margoth, Ahab, Judas, Freud, you and me):

“…Hinting of the nature of id processes we have dreams and fantasies, and the mental life of children, savages and psychotics. Their thought, primitive and prelogical, is marked by more emotive and symbolic imagery (fewer abstract words) and exhibits a greater number of instinctive, lower-order tendencies than does that of normal adults.

” The theory of the unconscious (of the alter ego or shadow-self) helps to explain contrasting phases of behavior, ambivalence, sudden explosions, regressions, conversions (“He was not himself”; “I would not have known him.”) It throws light on fixed and refractory frames of reference, settled sentiments and beliefs. It is essential to an understanding of illusions, delusions, morbid anxiety, compulsions and insanity. It is invaluable in interpreting neurotic accidents and illness. The unconscious is an historical museum of the breed and of the individual, exhibiting tableaux of development. But also, in a sense, it is the womb of fate, the procreating source of new directions, of art, and of religion. It is here that one must seek for novelty, for the incubating complex that will govern the next move. No creator can afford to disrespect the twilight stirrings of the mind, since out of these arise the quickening ideas that are his life. [italics added, 298].

Jung and Murray understand that there is more, much more than sex and aggression down there: Freud’s unconscious was too narrowly conceived:  In contrast to the mediocre, spell-binding “Nibelungs” (Freudian Bad Fathers like Hitler, inflated and egotistical [306]), Murray presented Jung and himself as judenrein Good Fathers, scientifically objective and universalist, hard-bitten undeceived materialists, but kind, and thus the bearer of values firmly opposed to gold-abuse, self-delusion, the Seven Deadly Sins and moral relativism:

“[By limiting his theory of instincts to sex and aggression] It is evident that Freud was attempting to bring order out of chaos by pure thought; for at no time did he review the simple facts, subjective and objective. It seems he never asked himself, What motives and actions are universally distinguished? or what behavioral trends can be objectively discerned in animals and men? He was guided, without doubt, by some obscure unconscious frame of reference. Otherwise he never would have omitted thirst, excretion, repulsion, acquisition, the lust for power and approval….

” A number of drives might well be added to the list; to begin with–since the analysts are interested in vice–two or three of the five remaining deadly sins: Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, Pride and Envy. Is there any significance in the fact that fancy-priced practitioners have never acknowledged the profit motive, the immorality of greed, robbery and exploitation? May their superegos work on this!” [301].

     Alberich and the dwarfs are not only perverts and the blinkered agents of Mammon, decimating concepts of Mind and Soul, but seducers, declining to exercise their paternal responsibilities by picking up the pieces and applying the expertise of “mental hygiene,” the “knowledge” which Murray hopes “will lead eventually to power, to a more sagacious management of infant life, to fruitfulness and the self-development of finer men and women, to happier societies.”[291].

 “…Freud’s theory, I submit, is an utterly analytic instrument which reduces a complex individual to a few primitive ingredients and leaves him so. It has names–and the most unsavory–for parts, but none for wholes. It dissects but does not bind up the wounds that it has made. Unconcerned with psychosynthesis and its results, it is of little use either in formulating progress in personality development or in helping a patient–after the transference neurosis and the levelling [!] that an analysis produces–to gather up his forces and launch out on a better way of life. This is the flaw which Jung was quickest to detect and remedy, by directing his therapeutic efforts to an understanding of the forward, rather than to the backward, movements of the psyche. The unconscious, in his opinion, is more than an asylum of but half-relinquished infantile desires; it is the breeding ground of enterprise….

” This is not the place to examine the probing, disintegrating, and deflating tendency in psychoanalytic practice. Well might someone write a treatise on the subject, fixing his eye on the intention that designed it, that decided what data should be chosen for consideration, what aspects exhibited in concepts, how the whole dissection should proceed [Murray’s mother]. It would be noted first of all that the patient, who in the end almost invariably seeks, and needs, advice–since it is as hard for him to synthesize as to analyze himself–gets none; gets none from the only man–his analyst–who knows him well enough to judge his powers, the man who has reasons to be much concerned, selfishly and unselfishly, in his future welfare, the man whose business it is to know not only what makes for illness but what makes for health. An inquirer into such matters would listen skeptically to the analyst’s rationalizations of his refusal to give positive suggestions. He would note his lack of interest and talent for just this, and his sharply contrasting eagerness to impose the dogma of analysis–more and more analysis, reversing the life process. The direction of the will that underlies all this, the theory and therapy is fairly obvious. One might have thought that the Freudians, so quick to see perverted streaks in other men, would have been polite enough to tell us frankly what sublimated promptings were back of their sublimated labors. It would then have been unnecessary for some rude unmasker like myself to speak of voyeurism, depreciating sadism, and the id’s revenge on culture, the superego and the ego. Why not expose and prove the value of these motives? Being sociable with the id myself, I cannot but sympathize with its efforts to get on to a new Declaration of Independence. But the question is, have the Freudians allowed the id enough creativeness and the ego enough will to make any elevating declaration? What is Mind today? Nothing but the butler and procurer of the body. The fallen angel theory of the soul has been put to rout by the starker theory of the soulless fallen man, as result–as Adam, the father of philosophy, demonstrated for all time–of experiencing and viewing love as a mere cluster of sensations. Little man, what now? Freud’s pessimism, his conviction that happiness was impossible, his melancholy patronage of the death instinct, should put us on our guard….”[305,306].

Murray thought that  his type of managerial psychoanalysis could effectively unmask and oppose “the mechanical advance of mediocracy.” This type however was curiously both tolerant and controlling: “…I am inclined to assign moral responsibility to the ego,” but the ego is instructed by the psychoanalyst.  He recommended full disclosure (such as the one he had just made) and an ongoing commitment to truth (“with the theories of all schools democratically assembled in my head” [295], Freud worked); there is even a word of comfort:

“To be psychoanalyzed is, in my opinion, not a requisite for all, but highly desirable for most. If you can afford it, pick a trained analyst whom you respect, and enter into the experience humbly and without reserve, prepared to render up the whole confused welter of your being. You need not be ashamed or proud.  You are only a little bit responsible for what you are. And when you come to weave what you have learnt into the structure of psychologic theory and deliver lectures, do not water down the facts, palliate, and equivocate.  Science cannot grow by subterfuges.” [310]

In this and other publications, Murray has told us that “depth psychology” is the most valuable (golden) way to extract hidden fantasies from the men whose personalities and behavior élites may wish to assess, predict and control; men who, having toured “the womb of fate,” will inform on themselves before the fact! But etiquette requires that the matter be put less plainly. So the Progressive antifascist psychoanalyst dispenses fatherly advice: Trust me. The managed impulses are potential members of one harmonious family (like the Harvard clinicians who created Explorations in Personality (1938), including democrats, fascists, communists, anarchists, etc.).

However, in other writings, Murray lamented the superficiality of intercourse in a pluralistic society, the lack of a common belief system in English-speaking countries, their pragmatism and materialism, and the disparate objectives of soldiers in World War II. [OSS, 26, 27]. Murray was  comfortable neither with polite evasions nor unmanageable impulses: he admired Michael Rogin’s psychoanalytic study of Melville but angrily criticized its “Marxism;” he was a fervent anticommunist (but not a Reagan supporter); and (apparently) he was quicker to gather the secrets of other Melvilleans (a trait bitterly resented by the other scholars), than to disclose his own (however shadowy), even to himself [author interview, 11/4/87; Leyda Papers].

Much as he raged against Freudian dualisms [301], Murray refused to be emancipated into the world of acceptable mixed feelings: he tells us that he abandoned his own nearly-forgotten psychoanalysis with Franz Alexander after a “nine month’s voyage,” a journey during which Murray (perhaps revising an earlier attachment) was “too busy, other-wise attached and happy to be transferable.” [295] In other words, Murray avoided the crucial relationship with the analyst which could have brought out repressed anger at the sins of the fathers, illuminating the paradoxical question he posed for himself but never answered: “My own father was a mild, good-natured, unreproachful man, and yet I am peculiarly quick to jump at the throat of tyranny and dogmatism.”[295] By refusing grey, by wandering off from the negative and divisive feelings (anger, rage, guilt, shame) that accompany disillusion with “the lovely family” (in this case, surely the weak father who failed to protect the nine-year old son from the authoritarian, intolerant, fascinating mother), Murray consigned himself to the darkness of unattainable neo-Tory perfectionism (the goal of the S-M ritual). “Give me a present to take along to the Underworld,” he ordered in his Ahab-ish, charming and self-deprecating way during our interview, pumping a ruthless Isabel seven months before he died, and wondering what she had on his hero and bête noir, Herman Melville.[4]

In the Fall of 1943, Murray psychoanalyzed Hitler for President Roosevelt (a project begun in 1938). Hans Gatzke insists that the OSS-sponsored Langer report on Hitler’s mind (also produced in 1943) leaned heavily on Murray’s production, a point hotly, but unpersuasively refuted by Walter Langer in 1973. But there are distressing resemblances between Murray’s and Langer’s historical imaginations in ways not mentioned by Gatzke: the Langer team  suggested that Hitler had been sexually indulged by his mother, was accordingly effeminate, and also possibly Jewish. Four years later (while fretting about “our shocking crime record,” “scientific criticism, skepticism” and “cynicism” in the colleges, and the glorification of Huckleberry Finn), Murray portrayed an adolescent, feminized [Jew] as the source of American decline: Pierre was the impediment to Manifest Destiny.

Murray’s article in Survey Graphic, March, 1947, “Time for a Positive Morality,” is illustrated with a 5”x6” photo of a pensive and grave young man with likely Jewish  features (and posed as a thinker, like Murray and Melencolia in the frontispiece to Shneidman’s edition of collected Murray essays). The photo caption reads “What positive ideal do we set before today’s insecure youth?” [196] Murray had warned on the page preceding:

” A good boy often means a namby-pamby sort of fellow, tied to his mother’s apron strings. There is no exhilaration, no adventure in the picture. Or our ideal is that of mere respectability, too low an aim to offer a challenge to the child.” [195]  Murray then challenged the legatees of negative Puritanism and of “vague and unreal” notions of “moral excellence” inherited from the Victorian middle-class: ” We have demonstrated that as a nation we are capable of mobilizing all our powers to destroy something, but we have not shown that we can mobilize on a comparable scale to create something–good world citizens and a good world order [196].” [5]

The October 1948 issue of Survey Graphic carried Murray’s article “America’s Mission,” reporting that Murray’s article of 1947 had been “widely quoted and reprinted.” Now Murray was joining Benjamin Rush (who viewed the passion for pluralism as having destroyed “the Grecian Union”; 415) in mobilizing the Progressive élite: delegating certain powers  to an unequivocal  global government  was the only hope in averting a catastrophic nuclear war: “…the survival of our society hangs by a thread and one member’s action or inaction might make the minute difference that will save or wreck the whole.” Murray held up the federalism of American Founding Fathers as the  model for an international order that would “settle disagreements among nations in an orderly and peaceful manner”; that would end the sacrifices demanded by wars without reducing freedom. Rather, One World, like “the city police force,” would permit us to “gain the privilege of pursuing our different paths without having to devote time and energy to the defense of our lives and our possessions.” But there were cowardly congressmen and diplomats, either reluctant to meet the responsibilities of world leadership or irrationally attached to nineteenth-century diplomatic theories of balance of power and compromise.  Worse, there was the stubborn trickiness of Soviet Mothers who might not see the advantages to joining up, and the irresistible attraction they will exert on the credulous and weak “smaller nations”:

“If Russia proves adamant it will mean she is determined to carry out her present plan to convert by infiltration one country after another (if possible by not committing any action that would justify the declaration of a shooting war) and thus to build step by step a world order of her own, ruled dictatorially from Moscow. What can check the advance of this endeavor except an equally competent and sustained endeavor to organize a more mature, just, and humane form of world order?

“It is not likely that many of the smaller nations can for long resist independently the relentless terror tactics of Russian-trained Communists in their midst. They must go to one side or the other. [cf. Jung] Food may lure them to our side for a hungry season, but their affections can not be won and bound with dollars.

“Nor can we make a strong impression by preaching the virtues of democracy to peoples who are not inclined by temper [!] or fitted by training to make democracy work–at least in a chaotic environment with the storm cloud of Russian Communism looming over their horizon. Nations must be offered the assurance of mutual friendship and security within a dependable world order. This world order can not be another totalitarian dictatorship with Washington as its capital. It must be a democratic world order with a superordinate government in which all nations are properly represented.” [413].

Murray does not really expect Russian leaders to abandon “Lenin’s assumption that war with the non-Communist nations is inevitable.” If Russia is unrelentingly opposed to world federation, it indicates that she does not want to abolish war, but to wage it when her time for it has come.” We must act quickly before Russia massively re-arms with atomic weapons; with the rest of the federated world perhaps we could fight her and win:

“Thus [cf. Lasswell’s “hence”: Murray implies that his speculations have already been proven], if we fail, through lack of sagacity or courage, to form a partial world government to checkmate her at her own game, we shall lose our sole chance to create the one institution which could eventually eliminate war, or could, if war is thrust upon us, unify all the rest of the world in subduing the aggressor.” [414].

Murray’s readers would understand that the democratic world order will not be designed  by nervous nellies who flunked the OSS recuitment test (that selected leaders who were unseduceable, cool and inspiring team players, able to meet the unforeseen and to solve problems); the heroic task falls to moderate conservative élites:

” One thing we must all concede [certainly not our property, C.S.]: the advance to world government will be impeded by countless obstacles and pitfalls, foreseeable and unforeseeable. It is perhaps the most difficult enterprise that fate [Jung’s id!] has ever required of mankind. But what of that? Is the genius of the human race played out? If our physical and biological scientists [elsewhere referred to as Judases] have proved capable of inventing the perfect means of exterminating societies, our political scientists, jurists, and statesmen should prove capable of inventing the perfect means of conserving them.” [414]

Murray’s conclusion, formulated in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, should give pause to New Leftist critics who believe Melville and his critic share a common conception of Manifest Destiny and the Protestant mission to renovate mankind:

“To take the initiative in the creation of a democratic world government–this is our mission, our manifest destiny, because it is in our power to achieve this thing and in no other nation’s power; and mankind expects it from us. [cf. “no bloody hands will be lifted” by the “political pagans” to stop us, WJ.]   A hundred and sixty years ago our ancestors successfully performed a comparable experiment; they conceived a federal government and made it work, and all breeds of men and women who  have since migrated to this land and learned to live here side by side in peace and confidence have found it good. The United States is the abstract of the One World which now awaits creation. It seems fitting then, that leadership in executing this last and most difficult experiment should have fallen to our lot.”

     But Murray wonders: ambiguity and materialism have made dangerous inroads; we may simply wander off, but he insists there are untapped resources (in Jung’s revised Unconscious?) that will bring us to transcendence, which means accepting the leadership of the WASP élite which has brought so much peace and confidence to “Indians,” Latinos, African-Americans, “Manilla-men,” Jews, workers, women, &c. Herman Melville agrees with him:

  ” Perhaps fate has summoned us at a time when we are not capable of acquitting ourselves with honor. On all sides one sees the classical symptoms of moral breakdown, manifestations, to quote Lewis Mumford, of the “cult which denies the fundamental discriminations between good and bad, between higher and lower, which are the very bases of human development.” But despite these discouraging evidences, I hold that there is still some unspoiled latent stuff in us which, quickened by this emergency, can carry us beyond our common selves to become once more “the pioneers of the world,” as Melville described us, “the advance guard, sent on through the wilderness of untried things, to break a new path.” [6]

Finally, the good Fathers (“at the top level, a few constructive statesmen of the caliber of Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Mason, Morris, James Wilson, and at least one man whose charity is as inexhaustible as Lincoln’s”) or, he says (protecting his left flank from populist criticism by quoting The Texas Spectator), even the people, (atypically) rising to greatness “without a leader” will bring us to “the only prospect of security that can counteract the lures of every form of totalitarianism.”[415].

In 1962, Murray’s colleagues in social psychology were still undetached from the “immaculate Scientism” he had criticized throughout his career, ever since the Melville rescue in the mid-1920s. In his presidential address to the American Psychological Association (1962), Murray reviewed “The Personality and Career of Satan,” linking the destructive Satanic spirit to Ahab and Hitler. He was still concerned about do-nothing (pseudo) radicals:  “In this day of non-authoritarian parents, of independence training, of the precocious emancipation of youth, and of teenage killers, Satan’s ascensionist hopes (perfect illustrations of the Adlerian craving for superiority) are not likely to be regarded as ample cause for everlasting ostracism and damnation. But of course this judgment of our time may be nothing but a consequence of the Devil’s having pretty nearly realized his unswerving ambition to subvert our natures.” [527]

Certain creeds: Judaism, Catholicism, Mohammedanism, Communism [sic], Murray argued, continue to embody the Satanic spirit, and are propagating views of human nature that impair self-transformation and social reconstruction (unlike the conservatively enlightened Protestant élite which does not suffer from narcissistic self-inflation), promoting only nihilism and despair.

There is an etiquette of victimization; strenuous acrobatics are required to fulfill its requirements. The tight-lacer who accommodates to permanent dubiety by saying this is sanity, this is integration, is held to be the mature, blissful, whole person.[7] And yet these “mavericks,” (Joseph Campbell) these “conscious primitives” (Cabanne on Picasso) scour the earth for masks. At one point in a friendly four hour interview, a short time after I had observed that he was skillful at strewing misleading clues to conceal his true identity, Murray suddenly turned his face away, covered his eyes and exclaimed, “Don’t look at me; I’m afraid you can see into all my secrets.”

[1] Written by staff at the Harvard Psychological Clinic, Explorations in Personality (New York: Science Editions, 1938), 226-27. “Infavoidant” means the need to avoid criticism and humiliation. Murray wrote most of the book, including this passage. The group that formulated the theory of personality included “democrats, fascists, communists, anarchists,”[xi]. Walter Langer was in the group that produced the study.

[2]”What Should Psychologists Do About Psychoanalysis? reprinted in Shneidman, p.300. Paper given to American Psychological Association symposium, printed in Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 35, 1940, 150-175.

[3]Exemplified in Murray’s well-known menage a trois. Shneidman felt Murray’s Introduction to Pierre was a roman a clef; that he felt guilty about his long-standing affair with Christiana Morgan, co-originator of the Thematic Apperception Test. Murray gave me “a present” during our  interview, Nov. 4, 1987: “I’ll give you a symbol, a tower,” he said.  Shneidman told me Murray had built a tower for Christiana in which mystic symbols were displayed.

[4] I told him about the recently discovered letter from Maria to Augusta commanding her to pressure Lizzie into marrying Herman.

[5] Several months later, Survey Graphic printed a cartoon in which another tousle-headed thinking adolescent is explicitly reading Marx and worrying mothers.

[6] Rigid classifications, e.g.,“obdurate Persian dualism” in the tyrant, Freud, were denounced by Murray in 1940 (300-301), applauded in Mumford in 1948.

[7] Joseph Campbell’s claim in his interview with Bill Moyers, broadcast May 23, 1988, KCET, part of a popular series praised for its profundity and challenge to the public television audience.

September 18, 2009

Bad Sex in the New York Times

J. A. Hobson, author of Imperialism, a Study

According to a young curator from a significant local arts institution, the younger scholars are in backlash mode against their Marxist, Maoist or New Left professors. Instead of looking at artworks from the standpoint of whether or not the artist is a right-on revolutionary or a tool of the bourgeoisie, they are doing archival research! GOOD NEWS! In passing, he mentioned that there was a widespread belief amongst the post-60s professoriate that there was something called “the system” (the oppressor) and that “the system” has “agency,” which is to say that its tentacles extend to every aspect of the society and TOTALLY determine the content of its cultural productions. Such a postulation did not meet his approval. Which signifies to me that art historians are starting to look at the art object first, then moving on to the conditions of its production, as opposed to starting with “the system” (always an art-crushing system).

This is the best news from academe and its associated institutions that I have had in years.

If you have been reading the blogs on this website, you already know that I focus on the curriculum and how the teaching of the humanities can affect mental and even physical health. As I reflect upon changes in the university from the 1960s on, I believe that the New Left generation did behave like a gang, muscling its way into the universities and the media in fields that were most susceptible to their influence: sociology, journalism, U.S. and European history, American Studies, art history, and literary history/theory. One wonders how they pulled it off. Perhaps the preceding generation of liberals (take Lionel Trilling for instance) were too invested in moderation (progressivism as conservative reform) to recognize the threat to what I have been calling true liberalism posed by their proudly “activist” graduate students. And of course the activists were pointing to real weaknesses in American institutions, which the civil rights movement had pounced upon for decades. So the guilty liberals virtuously caved to “anti-imperialism,” and we have the current polarization that I have been criticizing here as creating a mobbish political culture, but for this I blame the Left with its fictional “system” more than I do the tea party protesters, who are currently sounding more libertarian and fiscally conservative  than bent on foisting “traditional values” on those of us who are proudly secular in separating church and state.

David Brooks, the “moderate” Republican who writes for the New York Times made a distinction in his column of Sept. 17, 2009 between the progressives and the populists. (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/opinion/18brooks.html?emc=eta1) Brooks opines that the tea-party  protesters should not be dismissed as racists, but as [misguided?] Jeffersonian “populists,” to be contrasted with the “Hamiltonian” progressives [progressives were Jeffersonians, not Hamiltonians]. In the historiography on the progressive movement in the early 20th century, however, populists and progressives are generally grouped together as a single movement. Both wanted the state to break up monopolies. One might argue that aspects of the Populist Party program of the 1890s were co-opted by the Progressives under Woodrow Wilson, but the populist-progressive ideology posited a “system” (the omnipotent money power/ laissez-faire capitalism) that had to be fought on behalf of the little guy. (David Brooks should have read Edward Berkowitz and Kim McQuaid, Creating the Welfare State (1980), which traced the transformation from Wilsonian localism though Hoover’s New Era on to Roosevelt’s ever more statist New Deal.) One of their most important publicists (whose ideas were in sync with Christian Socialism and Fabian Socialism) was the popular British journalist and economist  J. A. Hobson (1858-1940), author of Imperialism: A Study (London: Constable, 1905), and an important influence on Lenin. Here are my notes from this seminal book:

p.51 [finance capital/Jews] “These great businesses—banking, broking, bill discounting, loan floating, company promoting—form the central ganglion of international capitalism. United by the strongest bonds of organization, always in closest and quickest touch with one another, situated in the very heart of the business capital of every State, controlled, so far as Europe is concerned, chiefly by men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them many centuries of financial experience, they are in a unique position to manipulate the policy of nations. No great quick direction of capital is possible save by their consent and through their agency. Does any one seriously suppose that a great war could be undertaken by any European State, or a great State loan subscribed, if the house of Rothschild and its connexions set their face against it?” From his chapter “Economic Parasites of Imperialism.” P.54: they control the Press, and hence “public opinion.”

Page 149: On racial and national antagonisms that preclude international cooperation: “I can only repeat that this is a matter for experiment, and that the experiment has never been tried. Racial and national antagonisms have been so fed, fostered, and inflamed, for the class and personal ends and interests that have controlled politics, that the deeper underlying sympathies and community of different peoples have never been permitted complete expression, much less personal assertion. The most potent and pervasive forces in the industrial, intellectual, and moral life of most European races, so far as the masses of the peoples are concerned, have so rapidly and closely assimilated during the last century as of necessity to furnish a large common body of thought and feeling, interests, and aspirations which furnish a “soul” for internationalism.” Cf. p.198. Laissez-faire capitalism is “ethically indefensible.” [end, Hobson quotes. As I reread these notes I am reminded of the founding principles of the Pacifica Foundation, which echo Hobson, almost word for word. See my blog https://clarespark.com/2009/08/13/my-life-at-pacifica-radio-a-memoir-part-one/]

Is it any wonder that during the prewar late 1930s and 1940s, Nazis were linked by corporatist liberals, not to the populist, antisemitic left (its primary origin as a social movement), but to the laissez-faire Right, to “fascist Republicans?”* (I am not ignoring the conservative nationalists who thought they could use Hitler as a tool to defeat communism, or the monarchists in the military who hated the Weimar Republic.) Similarly, Brooks’s “populists” are small-town or rural Social Darwinists, hard-hearted, possessed by the puritan work ethic, and anal-retentive.

David Brooks’s essay is the second most emailed article in the NYTimes. [9-19, it is now number one, which means that Brooks’s revisionism may have gone viral on the net.] It appears that we are still arguing about this crucial assignation/assignment.

*The left-populist Strasser wing was lopped off after Hitler was put in power, and in his Table Talk, Hitler presented himself as a Third Way moderate:

[Hitler:] The English have to settle certain social problems which are ripe to be settled.  At present these problems can still be solved from above, in a reasonable manner.  I tremble for them if they don’t do it now.  For if it’s left to the people to take the initiative, the road is open to madness and destruction.  Men like Mosley would have had no difficulty in solving the problem, by finding a compromise between Conservatism and Socialism, by opening the road to the masses but without depriving the élite of their rights.  Class prejudices can’t be maintained in a socially advanced State like ours, in which the proletariat produces men of such superiority.  Every reasonably conducted organization is bound to favour the development of beings of worth.  It has been my wish that the educative organisations of the Party should enable the poorest child to lay claim to the highest functions, if he has enough talent.  The Party must see to it, on the other hand, that society is not compartmentalized so that everyone can quickly assert his gifts.  Otherwise discontent raises its head, and the Jew finds himself in just the right situation to exploit it.  It’s essential that a balance should be struck, in such a way that dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives may be abolished as well as Jewish and Bolshevik anarchists….(Jan. 27, 1942, p. 253).

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