The Clare Spark Blog

February 21, 2015

Oscar meets a Puritan and the Golden Calf wins

oscars-red-carpet---sandra-bullock-horizontal-large-galleryThis blog is about the Oscars and whether or not “Hollywood” is controlled by Jewish producers, agents, and other forceful types who will be effusively thanked and celebrated by gentile actors.

At stake is the question of the imputed Jewishness of those who notoriously have corrupted our country with materialism and its offshoots: designer gowns, jewelry, shoes, and purses. In what sense can the white slavers/magicians/sorcerers be considered Jews? How have they turned plain women into great beauties and femmes fatales?

The reader should know that I am reading Benzion Netanyahu’s books on myths spread about the origins of the Spanish Inquisition, a subject that engaged me ever since POTUS (that defender of “multiculturalism”) chastised critics of “radical Islam” for ignoring the horrors perpetrated by Christian crusaders and inquisitors.

Since my degree in history was awarded for my proficiency in the history of the modern period in American and European letters, I fled to some books on the crusades, and then the Spanish Inquisition, where I discovered, thanks to Bibi Netanyahu’s late father Benzion, that Jews were blamed by major Spanish scholars for inspiring the Inquisition; moreover that conversos/Marranos were believed to be crypto-Jews who had falsely converted to Christianity, and whose cunning, controlling ways thus infested the Middle Ages with the persecution of innocents.

Au contraire, said the meticulous Benzion N. The infamous conversos were indeed New Christians who had fully assimilated to a gentile world. Lay off “the Jews” advised this truth-seeking scholar.

What does this have to do with ‘Jewish’ producers, agents, etc. who have been accused by major leftists and Franfurters with corrupting the working class through “materialism”; i.e., via the “Jewish” control of mass media, thus thwarting their better (red) angels, which should have led the new industrial working class toward proletarian revolution, their supposed historical destiny?

The title of this blog contains the word “puritan,” a word used promiscuously by scholars and journalists, with a nasty antisemitic sub-text. Though the better scholars are careful to distinguish between “puritans,” attaching them to historical contexts (see https://clarespark.com/2013/08/05/evil-puritans/) many a social critic associates the word with kill-joy Victorian battle-axes, controlling mothers, conservative Judaism, and the right-wing of American politics. These excessively puritanical villains generate understandable revolt in their children, or so the argument goes in social psychology (if not among the better, mostly deceased, historians).

Pink performing at Grammy Awards; photo Matt Sayles

Pink performing at Grammy Awards; photo Matt Sayles

So on February 22, 2015, mostly women will be excitedly tuned in to the yearly Oscar ceremonies, and will be regaled with names of designers (“Who are you wearing?”), and if they are like me (at heart, a puritan), will feel depressed after the spectacle is completed, perhaps feeling dowdy and/or bored by the endless tributes to presumably Jewish producers, etc. by winning actors.

Here’s the rub: these ‘Jewish’ producers, etc. who have enslaved young actors to a phony set of values, are fully assimilated to the Democratic Party, just as Netanyahu’s conversos were to a hierarchy of Spanish Kings. But no matter who wields the Golden Calf Oscars, they will be viewed as race-traitors to the true faith, and who knows what that will be in the coming period? Currently it is “multiculturalism.”

oscars_cupcakes

[Update, post-Oscars 2-23-15; it was a boring, but weepy night and guilty white liberals were roused by the march on Selma, egged on by Oprah and the tearful Julianne Moore. Naturally, American Sniper got one measly technical award, despite the scaredy cats who promoted it chose to emphasize family and brave, torn soldiers rather than vindicating in any way the Iraq war. Once a doc celebrating Edward Snowden got an Oscar, it was clear why Obama cleans up when he comes to Hollywood to fund-raise. More: today on a local NPR station, the LA Times entertainment reporter noted the few women directors, including the one who directed Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s the state of race and gender relations in my town. This major industry is run by the brain dead.]

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January 8, 2014

The Frontiersman/Settler as all-purpose scapegoat

JacksonAs everyone knows who has followed this website, I have been trying to separate the early progressives from the post-New Left progressives, all the while noting shifts in the Leninist line. I have used changes in the teaching of the humanities as my guide to larger cultural shifts.

During the last week, I have been slogging through Sydney E. Ahlstrom’s A Religious History of the American People (Vol1 Yale UP, 1972, Doubleday, 1975, second ed. Yale UP: 2004). It is the most boring possible book, more of antiquarian interest than historical interest, because Ahlstrom, a Yale professor of note, followed Max Weber’s lead, and stigmatized “economic determinism” as reductionist. So the reader is subjected to such notions as “the American character”, “the American mind” and “Puritanism” (especially the English variety) as the primary source of evil in the settling of the American continent. Indeed, Ahlstrom, seemingly attached to the medieval order,  trashes the Radical Reformation and the English Civil War, failing to note that puritanism changed its concrete content depending on what social movement it was attached to.

In my series on the Anne Hutchinson historiography (https://clarespark.com/2010/05/15/blog-index-to-anne-hutchinson-series/, or https://clarespark.com/2013/08/05/evil-puritans/), I quoted from an unpublished paper by UCLA professor Robert Brenner in part four on the subject of historicizing puritanism:

“…if it…makes sense, in the first instance, to see a certain unity in Puritan ideology in order to understand its broad connection to an emerging social order, and its incompatibility with an older one, it is necessary also to comprehend that this unity was, only to a limited degree, ever realized in practice.  This was because supporters of the Puritan cause were themselves drawn from different, conflicting classes within the emerging bourgeois society; in consequence, they tended to shape their religious conception in correspondingly different ways, in accord with their disparate experiences and conflicting needs.  Thus, there arose quite divergent, indeed ultimately incompatible, ideologically and organizationally distinct, tendencies within a broader, loosely-defined Puritan movement.  Puritan religious groupings were obliged, in fact, to develop their movements and ideas on two “fronts”: on the one hand, against the adherents of the old religious regime in order to replace it; on the other, against one another to impose their particular notions of both the contents of the Reformation and the structure of the new social order.  Thus, there arose quite distinctive Puritan trends, with conceptions corresponding to the different social strata from which different Puritan groupings recruited their membership: from the new aristocracy, from the small producers and tradesmen of town and country; from the ministers themselves.  Indeed, these conceptions changed and developed…with the changing activity of these religious groupings…in other words, in accord with the changing nature of the movements themselves.  It was only when Puritan-type ideas became associated not only with groupings from potentially revolutionary social layers, but with actual revolutionary political movements that they took on a revolutionary character.  This did not take place, as we shall see, until after 1640.”

This interaction of economic interest and culture is what I have attempted to trace throughout the website, distinguishing between “moderate” Enlighteners (i.e., social democrats) and the more materialist figures, whether these be on the Left or Right. By contrast, Ahlstrom’s book positions itself in the timeless Center. He welcomes the Enlightenment and science, but splits the difference, praising John Locke for his book The Reasonableness of Christianity.  What Ahlstrom detests is of course Indian killing, slavery, and uncouth religious revivalism on the frontiers, along with their uncertified lay preachers and circuit riders. Since these are labeled extremists and weirdos (along with women-led movements such as temperance), one can assume that we are in the territory of the moderate men, especially since Yale professor David Brion Davis is singled out for outstanding scholarship. Along with Ahlstrom, Davis had written an article condemning the anti-Catholicism of the mid 19th Century, when German and Irish immigrants poured into the still expanding continent. Indeed, “ethnicity” is Ahlstrom’s major analytic category.

Opinion on the Jacksonians drastically changed in the US field since the days of Claude Bowers (a racist Democratic politician: see https://clarespark.com/2011/12/10/before-saul-alinsky-rules-for-democratic-politicians/.)  Such luminaries as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and numerous other historians looked  to the Jacksonians as defenders of the Common Man, the stalwart enemy to bankers and other exploitative elites.

But all that changed with the ripening of the New Left, aroused by the civil rights movements and opposition to the war in Viet Nam.  My late friend and Forest Hills High School classmate Michael Rogin made a huge splash and engendered much controversy when he published his “Marxist “ “psychohistory”  Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian (Knopf, 1975). Rogin’s argument apparently lined up with critics of US imperialism such as William Appleman Williams, but the latter attacked Rogin’s thesis. (See Rogin’s response to Williams here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1975/oct/16/daddy/.)

Michael Rogin

Michael Rogin

Rogin pulled together all the 1960s major themes:  the monomaniac Jackson (another Captain Ahab) committed genocide against the native Americans, providing a model for future adventures in white domination, militarism, and violence. About this time, we renewed our friendship, and Rogin supported my work at Pacifica and at the Yankee Doodle Society. I know how shocked he was at the reception of his book, and also that he was in a friendly correspondence with David Brion Davis of Yale, who had taught American intellectual history at Cornell while I was still there, decades earlier. What I did not see at the time was that the turn toward ethnicity (as opposed to class) was a calculated response to the red specter, made worse by the Soviet upheavals in 1905 and 1917. (For an example, see quotes from Horace Kallen here: https://clarespark.com/2009/12/18/assimilation-and-citizenship-in-a-democratic-republic/.)

Rogin also recommended that I read Richard Slotkin’s Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier (Wesleyan U. Press, 1973). It was the same attack on popular Protestant religion in the 19th century that had earlier been mounted by D. B. Davis and Sydney Ahlstrom.

It was Lenin, not Marx, who criticized the imperialists, for him these were generically the international Jewish conspiracy of finance capital, as publicized by J. A. Hobson.  (By contrast, Marx hoped that the workers and their allies in the advanced industrial democracies made possible by the progressive bourgeoisie, would lead the way to socialist revolution. He was not anti-American, but rather praised the Northern victory in the Civil War as a great achievement.)

Why is this relevant today? The Leninist Left and the Social Democratic Left seem to have merged sometime after the 1960s upheavals, but they drew upon longstanding efforts by “progressives” to fend off the red specter, with the Left upholding Popular Front antifascist politics. Today, white males are seen as the enemy by the reigning academics in the humanities: like Ahlstrom’s frontiersmen they are individualistic, self-reliant, overly emotional, antinomian, ecocidal, racists, sadistic killers (Cormac McCarthy’s targets in Blood Meridian? or see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_of_the_Hunter_(film)), and probably given to (communitarian) country music, even some rock and roll. And white males (especially those in the wild South and West) are the chief villains of US history, and of course comprise the unregenerate population of the Republican Party and the even more unspeakably “anti-Christian” conservative movement. For a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2013/11/30/railroading-captain-ahab/.

Jackson swatting Indian

Jackson swatting Indian

November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: the power of a national symbol

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Jasper Johns Flag, 1954

The following link will take you to the Museum of Modern Art’s commentary on Jasper Johns’s first flag painting, of which there are many variations. If you watch the video, you will see that they link it to McCarthyism and the Cold War, because of the date, 1954. What they do not tell you is that Johns is from the South, where he also received much of his education. Does formalist criticism alone reveal all the possible resonances of this image?

http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?object_id=78805.

Turn now to Thanksgiving, the day that celebrates Union, family union and national union alike. Its traditional foods relate strongly to the New England puritan colonists of the 17th century, whose survival was aided by friendly Indians. It was, however, Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday with a predictable date (but his appeal to the Almighty was in place since Thanksgiving was originally proclaimed in 1789, in gratitude for the Constitution). Here are his very words:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union. [end, Lincoln’s proclamation, Oct.3, 1863]

   Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I posted an item heard on National Public Radio, in which a female author was interviewed regarding the salutary benefits of telling off annoying relatives at the family dinners, though it punctured the spirit of union. Many comments followed. My own view was that given the difficult travel conditions in reuniting far-flung relatives, the labor gone into the preparation of the feast, the labor of cleaning up afterwards, the gratitude for life and survival during centuries of mass death, gratitude to the bounteous Earth, that it was a time to put personal animosities and resentments aside and to celebrate family unity, i.e., the good of the whole: this was no time for the airing of festering resentments.

Lincoln was a moderate man and a puritan, one who believed in the possibility of religion and symbolic gestures as a road to national healing. Jasper Johns is held to be a neo-Dadaist by the authors of his Wikipedia page. Perhaps on this day, we need more Lincoln and more gratitude to Mother Nature and labor, more moral seriousness (with or without Providence), and less irony and railing.

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