YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

August 17, 2018

H.G. Wells as moderate man

H.G. Wells Getty Images I had not read any of H. G. Wells’ fiction; but I did slog through his massive compendium of earth’s history (The Outline of History) but without the footnotes prominent in prior editions), though he was never a trained historian. He was not strictly a member of the counter-culture, for he was all in for science and technology (industrial progress), which would ostensibly culminate in the only slaves being machines, and liberating the (enslaved) masses from the rule of money (i.e., Jewish power). Here is Wikipedia’s sympathetic partial summary of his 1200 page much corrected work, initially completed in one year, in reaction to the horrifying mass death inflicted, Wells wrote, by (aristocratic) Great Powers. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Outline_of_History.

Wells started his synoptic book in 1919 (during a year of upheaval), but this edition was completed after WW2. However, Wells shockingly omitted the Nazi murder of European Jewry, a disaster not in Wells’s comprehensive chronology nor was it mentioned in Wikipedia, perhaps because such events did not jibe with the Wells assault on cultural and racial superiority, lauded by Wiki and affirming the moderate men. (His preference for male heroes and anti-heroes such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon (predecessors to “insane” Hitler?) was mentioned by Wiki.

Since I have focused many blogs on multiculturalism, antisemitism and the waywardness of 18th Century Protestant theologian J.G. von Herder’s influence, which culminated in “cultural anthropology,” race, “roots” environmentalism national character: result, antisemitism and Christian Socialism (one 19th Century precedent of Fabian Socialism, also omitted by Wikipedia).
Nor did Wiki see that American greatness contradicted by a Wellsian emphasis on globalism and its constantly reiterated wish for “peace.” Toward the end of peace was his obvious preference for the Muslim and Buddhist religions. His Christian Socialism was also hinted as he regarded Jesus as a revolutionary who opposed the rich.

Surprisingly, and unlike the popular books by the anti-imperialist, somewhat Wilsonian Charles and Mary Beard (1927), Wells expressed positive views of American promise (like Marx who lauded the American Civil War as a bourgeois revolution), but Wells did attack Stalinism, omitting however, antisemitism in Marx (who also railed against the rule of money as “the universal pimp.”)

So what are left with? Wells was a precursor of the counter-culture, notwithstanding his enthusiasm for machines who would presumably release the masses from toil. But first, the masses would take charge of the machines. And, being a Fabian Socialist, Wells was apparently the father of the Peace Studies movement, the father of other moderate men (the “socially responsible capitalists” of the Democratic Party) and of left-leaning Pacifica radio.

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July 11, 2015

Jobs, jobs, and less jobs

Muhammad-Ali-Quotes-on-Success-Hard-work-Life-Thoughts-Muhammad-Ali-Images-Wallpapers-Picture-PhotosAre we puppets on a string? It is striking that the would-be Presidents on the Right (whether “establishment moderate” or conservative) are all promising more “jobs” to the electorate, while entirely ignoring the labor question (assertions of exploitation, the nature of toil, labor competition between ethnicities, “races”  and genders) that has roiled the world since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. I took it up here, because I was struck by the constant repetition of the value of “hard work.” (See https://clarespark.com/2014/02/12/is-most-work-alienating-and-boring/.)

Back in the day when I read labor history, the emphasis was on bloody strikes, Taylorism, the Haymarket Massacre, competing labor organizations, the “de-skilling” of workers, the anarchist communes of the Spanish  Republic, and the “false consciousness” that prevented “the working class” from adhering to the precepts of dialectical materialism by making the revolution that would free the world from poverty, war, and the humdrum lives led by the toiling masses.

Such talk has faded from view partly because such countries as Soviet Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela turned out to be something other than workers’ paradises. Faced with obvious failures, even “progressives” turned to “race” and “gender” as the divisions that mattered, or, even more disturbingly, are now rehabilitating “the Middle Ages” with their Good Kings, mysticism, aristocratic hierarchies and allegedly happy peasants and artisans, kept in line through benign religions. Or, the Left took up critical theory that blamed workers for consumerism (and sports) made popular by the new mass media that misled them into 20th century dictatorships.

Ukraine collective propaganda poster

Ukraine collective propaganda poster

Right-wingers have nothing to offer the working class other than “meritocracy” (i.e., upward mobility out of the class into the petit-bourgeoisie, where immigrant families are free to “work hard” and exploit their families). As for the populists, they are haters, whether of finance capital, [red] atheists (https://clarespark.com/2015/04/24/multiculturalism-vs-yid-red-spies-which-agitates-the-right/), or the Northeastern liberal establishment that goes for education reform, free trade, and regulated “socially responsible capitalism.”

Perhaps meritocracy is the best we can do. But the Republican Party should stop pretending that the labor question is a dead letter. As for the opposite party that ostensibly celebrates “the Common Man” while favoring teachers unions over kids, they deserve all the terrible things that could happen to this country under another Democrat administration.

The Labor Question (vintage postcard)

The Labor Question (vintage postcard)

September 19, 2012

Bullies

Harvard Gr.School of Ed. magazine

[A note to the reader: Bullying is indeed a social problem, but the most prestigious education school in the land has nothing to recommend but nostrums that have been in place since the 1960s, and that have never worked. Nowhere does this article stress the search for truth as the highest value. There are only “points of view.” I don’t remember such a line being taught when I attended this school, holding the only Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship for projected leadership in science teaching. They offered me another full fellowship in Guidance, but I got married instead. It took me many years to begin to vindicate my fellowship, even as it brings me into conflict with Harvard as it currently exists. OTOH, the school may always have been progressive, and I didn’t recognize the regnant ideology as a science major.]

The Harvard Graduate School of Education devotes six pages in its Fall 2012 issue of Ed to what it sees as the all-consuming problem of bullying in the schools. Their solutions exactly mirror the prescriptions of “socially responsible capitalists” and multiculturalists, all of whom have focused on the affective side of public education: We are too focused on intellectual achievement (measured in standardized tests) to the neglect of “empathy, perspective-taking, and mindfulness”.  They have nothing more to offer other than the names of Lady Gaga and her friend Oprah Winfrey, who agree with them that we are Born This Way.

And yet their first example of the bullied student was not Born This Way. I quote their opening paragraph: “High school student Zachary Kerr didn’t know what to do. As a sophomore transitioning from female to male, he was met with comments in the classroom from whom one might least expect it: a teacher who voiced his disapproval of Kerr’s gender change. ‘It was hard to figure out what to do because it was a teacher,’ Kerr, now 18, says about his experience. ‘Do I complain about it? This teacher was responsible for grading me, and [his] was one of my favorite classes. Do I let it go and be uncomfortable? My decision was to let it go.’ He spent the rest of the year not speaking in the class about his transition.” [No mention in the article of any rebuttal by the teacher. I am pro-gay rights, but wonder why this particular example of unconfirmed bullying was the LEAD item in a six-page article.]

Skip a few paragraphs (one mentions a suicide, with no explanation as to the cause) to the meat of the article: Lecturer Richard Weissbourd, Ed.D.’87 explains his remedy for this apparently intractable problem: “’It’s a window into our failure to develop empathy in kids, or caring and responsibility in kids,’ he says. ‘It’s an opportunity to talk about social-emotional learning, moral development, responsibility for others, standing up and having courage, and also an opportunity to talk about the ways schools function and what we are doing and not doing to prepare adults to connect to students and to be helpful to them around peer troubles. You can’t prevent bullying without doing most of these things.’”

Next, Harvard tries to find the right balance: Headline: SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE. “In the era of standardized testing, incorporating these aforementioned lessons in the classroom isn’t easy. Across the board, experts and educators agree that with an increased focus on academic achievement comes an inadvertent decreased focus on social-emotional learning—the process for recognizing and managing emotion and how to develop concern for others.”

The author gives an example: a five-year old grabs a toy from another child. The [badass] kid is asked, how would you feel if someone took your toy by force?  Dear reader, this article I am quoting from was not written by Republicans but by the Democratic Party education establishment, or as I like to call them, the moderate men.

Note that Harvard educators of educators are not worried that our young adults cannot read or comprehend Shakespeare or Milton (say Hamlet, King Lear, The Tempest, or Paradise Lost), let alone such American classics as Moby-Dick). It is not bullying to throw out the masterpieces of civilization as written by dead white males, but it is bullying for a teacher to express disapproval of a sex-change operation, assuming that the interaction even took place as reported by “Zachary Kerr.” (The teacher was not given a platform to respond.) Victims never lie or exaggerate. (For more on the smashup of the old literary canon see https://clarespark.com/2010/06/10/herman-melville-dead-white-male/.)

When I was briefly a student at P.S. 13 in Elmhurst Queens, right after the war, a gang of boys and maybe girls chased me home, as they brandished a knife. (I was the only Jewish kid in the class, and was perhaps resented as a teacher’s pet.) My mother went to the school and complained, only to be told by the principal, one Lillian Eschenbecker (of German descent?), that “Clare is like an apple: beautiful on the outside, but rotten at the core.” She really said that, and my mother told me about it. Perhaps she even believed this authoritative principal. I don’t know. Maybe I was Born This Way.

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/.]

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