YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

June 13, 2013

Hollywood’s “pact” with Hitler?

Illustration used byTablet

Illustration used byTablet

The May 10, 2013 issue of Tablet magazine featured a review of a forthcoming book published by Harvard University Press, The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact With Hitler, that is said to reveal a “creepy love affair” with Hitler. See http://tinyurl.com/lnbengk. I had a negative response to this article nailing Hollywood executives such as Carl Laemmle Sr., Jack Warner, and (by implication) MGM’s Louis B. Mayer. For many decades, I have studied the U.S. appropriation of Nazi methods in controlling the” little people” that prominent German refugees held responsible for the rise of Hitler. Indeed, the Frankfurt School critical theorists, elitists that they were, blamed mass media for Hitler’s appeal. I have detailed analysis of the populist and progressive support for Nazi methods of mind control on my website, and have shared them here.

But what I find particularly ironic is that David Mikics, the author of the Tablet piece is a postmodernist exponent of Jacques Derrida (the hero whose dubious alliances have been questioned by other postmodernists), while the author of the forthcoming book Ben Urwand, is  a Harvard Junior Fellow. How ironic? Harvard was the site of many ardent proposals that Nazi and German methods of managing the masses be taken up by progressives and populists in America. See for example this series of essays posted on my website: https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/, https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/, and https://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sykewar-american-style/.

One of the principal disseminators of protofascist social psychological methods, Henry A. Murray, former director of the Harvard Clinic, has sealed papers at Harvard University Archives, controlled by his widow Caroline Fish Murray (I tried to get into them in 1995 and was rebuffed unless I provided Mrs. Murray with an outline of the book I planned to write!)  Murray’s role in these propaganda offensives has been effectively covered up by the professoriate. Other figures associated with Murray, such as Gordon Allport and Walter Langer, have been similarly protected from academic scrutiny.

All the facts unearthed in Urwand’s dissertation research are disturbing. But to neglect the widespread fascination with Hitler and Mussolini among American populists (Father Coughlin comes to mind), as well as the admiration of Mussolini’s corporate state by FDR, suggests to me that Urwand’s forthcoming tome on Hollywood may serve as revenge for the Hollywood blacklist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_blacklist), as if leftists and liberals were holding up Hitler signs in protests against the Tea Party and Republicans in general. It should never be forgotten that the Hollywood left and its sympathizers today nailed Republicans and big business in general for supporting the Third Reich. (For a recent interview with Urwand see http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/video/author-ben-urwand-talks-hollywoods-597114.) UPDATE: I have read the book once and will write something brief set of impressions and reservations for Friday the thirteenth and Yom Kippur.  It is a bad book, but I never dreamed that Harvard would publish anything this outrageous. [Update 12-21-13: the documentation of “fact” in the Urwand book is highly suspect and even unpersuasive to a professional historian or to any careful reader who checks footnotes. Mark Horowitz did a good job taking the book apart in a recent TABLET, probably in response to widespread academic skepticism on the social democratic Left, the political position that Urwand seems to represent.]


May 5, 2012

Unity and utopia: the case of David Horowitz

Akiva Gottlieb

( See a review of DH’s latest book Radicals here: https://clarespark.com/2012/09/22/materialist-history-and-the-idea-of-progress/.)

Tablet magazine, an online periodical dedicated vaguely to “a new read on Jewish life,” hired a liberal  journalist  Akiva Gottlieb, to “profile” David Horowitz, who famously switched his politics in the early 1990s, after a decade of relative silence and depression. You can find Tablet’s heartfelt hatchet job here, with a cartoon that declares its willingness to deploy Satanic, possibly antisemitic,* images against its opponents: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/98401/david-horowitz.  I am beginning this blog with a reference to David H. because 1. it is my view that no young writer (such as Gottlieb) can comprehend the lives of those in my age group, who have lived through the second world war, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the counter-culture revolt, and the rise of the New Right; not to speak of chronic illness, the loss of energy as we age, the loss of our parents and possibly other family members (or family members with different politics); and 2. I suspect that most people spent their lives in a fruitless search for “unity”.

The premise of the blog is that the search for unity is a fool’s errand, though it is understandable as a [regressive] longing to be reunited with protective, ever nurturing and inexhaustible parents, even to live our lives over again, without errors in judgment or crimes against the truth that divided us from our better angels.

In thousands of Catholic paintings, baby Jesus is lovingly watched over by benevolent protectors, and the Child has no siblings with which to contend. Nor will he ever have to contend with a “blended” family as the child of divorce or other forms of estrangement from the idyll of perfect familial unity. But if the soothing-seething emotions of “the perfectly happy family” color many of our political preferences across the political spectrum, then why do we appear to be nonplussed in the face of factionalized politics and party platforms that are fraught with internal contradictions, here or elsewhere?

Raphael, The Holy Family

Akiva Gottlieb wants to paint David Horowitz as friendless and hopelessly alienated from politics, alienated even from his own magazine. But DH has suffered multiple losses in his life (some but not all noted by Gottlieb), has looked death in the face, and neither political party offers a coherent political vision of past and present, or what social policies would best serve both individuals and the public at large. Indeed, hoping for such an outcome of American history is on the face of it, absurd, as I pointed out in my last blog (https://clarespark.com/2012/05/04/3957/, “Charles Murray Dreaming.”  (Murray’s overall project in his latest book was to reinstate his imagined unified civic culture among white people.)

Moreover, we are in the predictably violent throes of modernization in a globe noted for its uneven development and hostility to the American experiment; America itself is unevenly developed, and the phrase “E pluribus Unum” is a wish, not a fact. To imagine an “international community” is equally delusional. Still, artists make sculptures and paintings that reflect this longing for something more in what they depict as a coldly heartless, handless age of the machine. Like baby Jesus, this sculptor has outstretched hands reaching for succor.

*See Joshua Trachtenberg’s 1943 volume The Devil and the Jews. Even friends of “the Jews” may associate them with modernity and its anomie, predilection for demagogues, narcissism, Jacobin bloodthirstiness, etc. For a comprehensive survey see https://clarespark.com/2010/11/14/the-abcs-of-antisemitism/. For a blog that treats disunity within ourselves, see https://clarespark.com/2010/11/06/moderate-men-falling-down/. For a valuable talk on attachments and how parental stress affects the development of children’s brains see http://tvoparents.tvo.org/video/177892/dr-gabor-mat-parental-stress-and-its-impact-kids.

shoebox sculpture

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