YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

November 25, 2016

German Romanticism, Hitler, Herder, and multiculturalism

foreskinmanAs I start this rumination, the disappointed liberals and their media are pointing fingers and yelling about the nefarious influence of Richard B. Spencer (a white racist and anti-Semite, who had nothing to do with the proposed Cabinet picks) on the incoming Trump administration. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_B._Spencer).

This web post aims to review the connections that I see between German Romanticism, the Third Reich, and the all-controlling progressive ideology of multiculturalism. I have gone through this material constantly, but my research may have been too abstruse for some readers. What follows is a systematic account of some disturbing history that is not widely known: ‘cultural studies,’ (like comparative literature) will come out as either proto-fascist or simply neo-Nazi.

J. G. von Herder was an 18th century Protestant theologian, celebrated now as the founder of cultural anthropology and its offshoots. As a German nationalist, he rejected all French influences (such as the ‘mechanical materialist’ French Enlightenment).

There was a Herder revival during the Nazi period. (I found this out when the UCLA library still publicized the dates of Herder publications; not surprisingly the professoriate in cultural studies and comp lit professors appear to ignore this renewed interest in Herder during the period when Nazis burned books of ‘dangerous’ writers).

What Herder did that earned him Nazi kudos was his invidious distinction between (good) rooted and (bad) rootless cosmopolitans (who probably represented money, materialism, and the mercantile principle—all alleged ‘Jewish’ sins).

American progressives also admired Herder as well as his fellow German Romantics. Woodrow Wilson’s internationalism can be seen as indebted to Herder and his counter-Enlightenment followers. (The German Enlightenment—Aufklärungcannot be conflated with such developments as the scientific revolution of the 17th century. Aufklärung was rather a reactionary move by organic conservatives, and it is the source of multiculturalism and one type of internationalism in the early 20th century. https://clarespark.com/2013/09/17/the-illusion-of-national-unity/.) For more on Herder’s nationalism and his followers, see https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/. For the introduction of German Romanticism in progressive America, see https://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/.

Paris, June 28, 1919 Wilson in top hat

Paris, June 28, 1919 Wilson in top hat

What is the difference between a rooted cosmopolitan and a rootless cosmopolitan? This is a crucial distinction! Both Hitler and Stalin loathed ‘finance capital’ or the rule of money. These (grasping, uncompassionate) moneybag ‘Jews’ were rootless and indifferent to the plight of ordinary persons, it was held by the earthy and loving ‘rooted’ nationalists. (Both National Socialism and Soviet socialism would affix roots to the unpredictable wanderers of the working class.) The concept of the Volk or ‘people’s community’ was constantly promoted by the Hitler party.

How was the concept of rootedness carried forth in Hitler’s ‘secret’ book (1926)? The future Leader envisioned a world federation of volkisch states, each faithful to her group character, but all subordinated to the superior German people’s aims and objectives. (Here, the notion of der Führer-imposed state worship comes in.) For more discussion of this conception see https://clarespark.com/2015/06/13/hitlers-second-book-1928-his-war-aims-and-multiculturalism/.

It should be obvious now that multiculturalism, with its talk of ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity,’ in practice is the racist concept of rootedness. Multiculturalism is either fascist or proto-fascist in its implications for society. Upper-class Americans traveled in Germany during the late 19th century (after the onset of German nationalism culminating in Bismarck–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unification_of_Germany), and were perhaps impressed by the Iron Chancellor’s co-optative management of the red specter that had been haunting Europe during the Age of Revolution.

So when the pseudo-proletarians of the scribbling ‘Left’ media (such as the staff of Rolling Stone) sneer at the ‘white working class’ that voted for Trump, they are writing with the example of Nazi Hitler’s supposed compromise between capitalism and communism: the Third Way.

Does not all this sound like the dark meanderings of social democracy to you?

diversity and inclusion Wilsonian style

‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ Wilsonian style


June 6, 2013

Morale in the time of crisis overload

MORALE_G_20110814213222[This blog is dedicated to the thousands of Americans and allies who gave their lives in the invasion of Europe: D-Day, June 6, 1944. They knew what a fascist was.] Here is an excerpt from my research in the Harvard University Archives that seems especially relevant today, in the light of multiple scandals, even panic, descending upon our electorate, for we may be in danger of losing the will to resist the juggernaut of anti-Americanism, surveillance, and corruption that has been revealed since the Benghazi affair last September:

[Book excerpt, Hunting Captain Ahab, chapter 2:] In the case of the [Henry A.] Murray-[Gordon] Allport worksheets [distributed nationally to progressive groups ca. 1941], those limits were scientistically delineated; the Jeffersonian tradition was co-opted and redefined in the indispensable “Values of the Past”: “The more awareness there is of the group’s heroic past the better the morale. (Freedom from Old World Oppression, Jeffersonian Democracy, etc.) The more awareness of a national tradition of which the group is ashamed or guilty, the worse the morale…The slogan “Make The World Safe For Democracy” was anchored neither in the historical past or future. A durable morale must be historically anchored in the past and in the future, as well as in the present (Worksheet #4, 4, 5).” So much for the messianic republican mission…. The ever-questioning, self-critical temper of the Enlightenment, the very Head and Heart of the libertarian eighteenth century, could only lead to bad morale. … they went on to say that racial or economic discrimination were bad for morale, that there could be no doubt about the prospects for a better postwar world. A hodge-podge of factors: “communism, fascism, economic chaos, depression, or uncertainty,” all would impair morale (6). Peace aims were suggested: an International Police Force would ensure that “There will be a better distribution of the goods of the earth; all classes will be benefited” (Red-bound typescript, 13).” But war aims must remain vague, for we were a “pluralist society,” not a “unified society”; there were different strokes for different folks: “Disparities of statements shouldn’t be too obvious or made visible” (#4, 7).Properly guided we would be historically anchored in promises of abundance and an illusion of unity, yet we were not fascists. [end excerpt https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/.]

I have been in red-hot conflict with some internet comments that insist we are already under the thumb of fascists (as opposed to, say, proto-fascists as the Murray-Allport worksheets suggested), and that civil war is inevitable. My line is this: as long as the internet and dissenting publications and television stations exist, the republic is not finished, and certainly not comparable to Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, or Franco’s Spain, at least not yet. (See https://clarespark.com/2013/04/21/fascism-what-it-is-what-it-is-not/.) These persons whom I oppose are either trolls, agents provocateurs (same as trolls), or paranoid. They have been egged on by the doom and gloom contingent of internet rightist magazines, that ask for our financial support in the emergency that never goes away. I am familiar with this technique having participated in innumerable Pacifica Radio fund drives.

However, I do remember David Dellinger at one of our KPFK teach-ins warning other post-60s activists not to lead “emergency lives” (his exact words). In warning against burn-out Dellinger echoed the advice of Murray and Allport, quoted above: too much emphasis on failure in the nation’s past is bad for morale. Instead they recommend that moral failures be corrected. (I didn’t care for their particular nostrums, but that is another story.)

There is something obscene in the claims of these trolls or deluded rightists that all is lost, and those who would stop this administration must mount the barricades.  It is true that thanks to checks and balances and the internal reformation of the Republican party (still in process), that there are reputable journalists who have uncovered lawbreakers and liars in the current administration. But there has been no military coup to shred the Constitution or any demonstrable move by POTUS to remain in office past his second term.

Instead, we have the most vigorous debates over key issues, possibly the best writers on the once impenetrable Middle East (Barry Rubin, David P. Goldman, a.k.a. “Spengler”) that I can remember. It is true that some conflicts seem confused and murky (such as the arguments pro and con immigration reform), and that not enough attention is paid to public education, but that too is changing.

Political affiliations are not carved in stone. We can collapse in exhaustion and depression, or we can take heart that our institutions have been exposed, which gives an opening for new political choices. Our future will depend on our ability to be flexible and alert for fresh coalitions, perhaps even to relegate the distractions of the culture wars to the bottom of our list of “must think about now.” (For my defense of secularism see https://clarespark.com/2012/04/01/secularism-and-the-affordable-care-act/.)

De Chirico: The Terrible Games, 1925

De Chirico: The Terrible Games, 1925

January 21, 2013

Citizen Obama, political pluralism and the elusive search for Unity

Raft of the Medusa

Raft of the Medusa

Although POTUS nodded in the direction of “the enduring strength of our Constitution” and quoted lines from the God-given Declaration of Independence, and with a cynical reference to “American exceptionalism,” the statism of Citizen Obama’s second inaugural brought us closer to the French Revolution, with its Jacobin emphasis on equality of condition, than to the American Revolution that promised a meritocracy grounded in equality of opportunity. (Recall that France, unlike England, always had a strong central state; recently France voted in a Socialist government that has levied a 75% income tax on the rich.)

What struck me about today’s awesome inauguration speech was its frank partisanship, indeed, its appeal to class warfare, but not only did Citizen Obama appeal solely to his Democratic constituency, he defined “the Nation” in terms that can only be described as anti-pluralist and either socialist or proto-fascist (see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/20/an-awesome-inauguration/, also https://clarespark.com/2012/09/05/proto-fascism-and-the-democrat-peoples-community/).  If Citizen Obama has his way, political pluralism will give way to one party dictatorship, perhaps to rule by executive decree. (See the juridical thought of Carl Schmitt, who made the transition from social democracy theorist to Nazi without difficulty.)

Many “rightist” pundits have noticed the offensive against the Republican Party, that reiterated accusations made by the hard Left during the waning New Deal years that Republicans were, by temperament and policy, Nazis. The line continues that all Republicans are Southern racists, while the Democratic Party, as led by Obama and his multiculturalist followers, are the true inheritors of the civil rights movement, making corrections and reparations to overcome the white male supremacy that was supposedly the basis for American nationality pre-Obama. In this, he has the support of the New Left and the American Studies academics—and all of the cultural studies crowd, who take pride in their freedom from “economic determinism.” In other words, they cannot explain the difference between the economic policies of Lord Maynard Keynes versus Friedrich Hayek versus Milton and Rose Friedman.

guilt and anxiety

But we must not push the analogy to the French Revolution too far. For the French Revolution came to signify war and Napoleon’s bourgeoisification of Europe.  Echoing (?) the infamous appeaser Neville Chamberlain, Obama stands for “peace in our time.” In other words, he is boiler plate anti-imperialist and antiwar, except for the class war necessarily waged on behalf of “the rising middle class,” his new name for what used to be called “the working class”.  Even progressives used to know a petit-bourgeois radical (Obama) when they saw one, but today’s progressives have abandoned accurate nomenclature for populist, triumphalist politics. “Off with their [Federalist] heads.”

Many of the pundits on Fox News recognized the speech for what it was (a socialist screed), while a few seemed to expect a call for a middle ground, that no man’s land where erstwhile progressives feel comfortable in making compromises for the sake of ‘social cohesion’ and ‘political stability’. These are the buzz words of ‘moderate’ conservatism, the “Democratic” inheritors of the New Deal  and Wilsonian “internationalism.”

With the country divided and anxious, this day of bogus unity and bogus reverence for the American Constitution can only be a caesura in an ongoing civil war that was present from the beginning of the United States. (For a recent installment see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/24/culture-wars-and-the-secular-progressives/.)


December 1, 2012

Petit-bourgeois radicalism and Obama

Black Jesus poster

Black Jesus poster

A spirited discussion broke out on my Facebook page over a recent article in the New York Times characterizing Thomas Jefferson as a “monster.” (http://tinyurl.com/d6cnc3o.) During the course of the discussion, I decried hatchet jobs in general, pointing out that there was usually a lurking target that was not obvious to the reader. For instance, in the case of Jefferson and slavery, the historian author (Paul Finkelman) might be solely interested in Jefferson’s racism and moral failures regarding slaveholding, or there might be a larger agenda:  namely the post-60s campaign to regard the Founding Fathers and the framing of the Constitution as morally tainted, with subsequent Americans battening off their ill-gotten gains. (See https://clarespark.com/2011/10/30/collectivism-in-the-history-establishment/. )

As I have written frequently, for leftists and left-leaning corporatist liberals alike, America is seen as essentially racist, sexist, imperialist, and anti-environment. In other words, we not only fail to historicize the individual and intellectually diverse Founders in their 18th century context, we are reiterating the most virulent Soviet and even Nazi propaganda. (In the latter case, it was held that Jews controlled the US, pushing it to such atrocities as the extermination of the Aryan-like indigenous “Indians,” or, during WW2 and more recently, Nazis and their sympathizers argued that Americans were fighting what was in effect a war that solely benefited “the Jews.”)

Since the election that re-elected the first black president, I have seen much gloom emanating from Romney supporters. I myself have suggested that there is something proto-fascist about the current direction of our country, while others declare that POTUS is a straight out Communist/Third Worlder, seeking to destroy America, aiming at its very foundations as a capitalist, free market society.

Both these pessimistic, if plausible, views are speculative, but perhaps we can get more precise if we understand the rationale behind “petit-bourgeois” radicalism (populism), both as it has existed in “middle class” America, and as an explanation for Hitler’s base in the so-called Mittelstand (i.e. the lower middle-class in Germany, dominating the working class and resentful of the haute bourgeoisie). For after WW2, liberal journalists and academics seized upon the petit-bourgeoisie as responsible for Hitler’s rise to power, stressing their mobbish susceptibility to propaganda and the class resentments that Hitler exploited so effectively. Unfortunately, they ignored the conservative nationalists who put him in power, and even worse, structural continuities with Weimar social democracy and Bismarckian strategies against the rising German Left. Instead, they depicted Hitler as crazy and/or as a failed artist/thug, and explained his popularity as the effectiveness of images and propaganda in general. (This was the legacy of German Idealism that held images to constitute “reality,” a view that ignored institutions and other structural and cultural factors.)

Young James H. Cone

Young James H. Cone

During the period of my life starting in 1969 at Pacifica Radio and on through getting my doctorate (1983-1993) and then shopping my expanded dissertation (1993-1999), I watched the direction of the civil rights movement/the women’s movement that had stirred me out of somnolence during the 1960s. What stunned me was the success of upwardly mobile persons of color and women in climbing the ladders of academe, the media, and to some extent, in business and the professions. What I was not prepared for was the failure of the integrationist project in favor of cultural nationalism and even black supremacy as urged by such theologians as James Cone and his allies in the Chicago Democratic machine. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hal_Cone.) I was even more startled to see that black nationalism had pretty much taken over the civil rights movement by the mid-1960s (see https://clarespark.com/2009/10/31/the-offing-of-martin-luther-king-jr-and-ralph-bunche/, or https://clarespark.com/2012/11/09/race-and-the-problem-of-inclusion/.)

The Way We Live Now

The Way We Live Now

What does this have to do with Obama’s character and motives, open or hidden? We might do better to see him as an ambitious petit-bourgeois radical, i.e., a populist, rather than as either a fascist-in-waiting or a communist. Like his wealthy liberal supporters, he protects his own reputation by attacking [Republican] elites as the originators of “inequality,” while he satisfies his minority constituencies by increasing public sector employment and supporting teachers unions who promulgate the anti-American history curriculum described above. The aim is to instill liberal guilt and hence unquestioning support of the first black president, even as he moves toward dictatorship and reverses prior economic positions that gained him support as a “moderate.”

But keep in mind that although Marxist-Leninism supposedly focuses on the working class as the agent of revolutionary socialism, there is a strong populist appeal to this ideology, for instance in the demonization of “finance capital.” (See https://clarespark.com/2012/08/05/hating-finance-capital/.)  For more on populism see https://clarespark.com/2009/12/16/perceptions-of-the-enemy-the-left-looks-at-the-right-and-vice-versa/. And right-wing populism was undoubtedly the decisive factor in Hitler’s rise to power and to popular support for his entire regime.  I remain worried about the transition from populism/progressivism to full-throated dictatorship, call it what you will.

September 5, 2012

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

Postcard Fiume 1921

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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