The Clare Spark Blog

September 16, 2012

Thought Crimes

During the High Holy Days, Jews are supposed to engage in strenuous self-examination. Even as a secular Jew, the solemnity and moral obligation of this time impels me to look inside and make reparations to those I may have neglected or lied to or otherwise misled as to my deep inner beliefs or opinions.

My thought crimes that everyone already knows about:

a. The subject of antisemitism is only partly understood, even by Jews and their friends;

b. The exact techniques of populist demagoguery always rely on an underlying antisemitic set of assumptions about “the money power.” If we knew even the basics of finance and economic history, the bogey man of Wall Street would disintegrate;

c. I enjoy Ayn Rand’s novels with some reservations (masochistic sex), but given her particular history, I brush them aside;

d. Even if there was “school choice” there is no guarantee that students would be prepared for citizenship, given the curricula in vogue, which do not begin to teach freedom of thought, dominated as they are by authoritarian, under-educated, or wimpy progressives;

e. Progressivism and communism are now so interpenetrating that it is hard to tell where Democrats leave off and hard leftists begin. Those scholars who have studied communist influence in the US and who think that the Reds are no longer relevant are mistaken;

f. Although left-wing anarchists and right-wing anarchists would appear to be immiscible, they are both counter-culture and probably acting out rebellion against the rules set by their parents. Anti-capitalism vs. anarcho-capitalism may not be as significant as enjoyment in prolonged tantrums;

g. Much of what passes for high art is primitivist, or at times, expresses nostalgia for an agrarian past that lacked cities, machines, and annoying Jews who make you think too much;

h. The sexual revolution of the 1960s on has been a disaster for most women, who have bought into the regnant masochism and degradation of our gender;

i. Freud is more relevant than ever, yet rarely understood: though a professed atheist, he is still too Jewish;

j. Many workers continue to be exploited and/or have boring, even dangerous jobs.

Thought crimes that nobody knows about:

a. People should not have children if they can’t support them. If marriages break down, the couples should stay together in most cases for the sake of family stability: children hate change and often are caught between parents, with bad life-long after-effects;

b. Some of the authors and artists I most admire are turning out to be either romantic rebels or reactionaries or downright offensive and I don’t care: I will defend their freedom of expression as long as I am breathing;

c. Being at odds with most of the world is downright fun. John Dos Passos admitted this in his old age (see Century’s Ebb), and I recognized my own proclivities. Call me joyfully alienated; (One relative through marriage rightly suspects me of these contrarian tendencies.)

d. As long as I am on hot on the trail of a new (for me) miscreant or set of ‘em, I am happy;

e. Nothing more exciting than changing my mind or reconfiguring a picture of the world: to see with fresh eyes. While I was making radio documentaries, was heard to say that a good edit was way better than sex. Collage will do that for you;

f. I was invited to submit a proposal for a class I would teach in the Los Angeles Woman’s Building. I submitted this title and nothing else: “PUNS KEY TO SECRET ORDER IN THE UNIVERSE.” No one signed up and I didn’t care.

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January 25, 2012

The State of the Union Stinks

Goebbels’ favorite object

Other writers have impressively discussed the flaws in the State of the Union speech last night. But neither Bryan Preston nor Barry Rubin has focused on the emotional appeals of Obama’s plea for national unity, nor on the underlying whiff of fascism (or authoritarianism) that was apparent to my nose as a student of fascist movements and their characteristic propaganda tropes—that are collectivist in the extreme.

All fascist movements have been heavily military in spirit. Although Obama proudly presents himself as an anti-imperialist and lover of peace, surely without expansionist ambitions, he started and ended his speech not only with tributes to the military branch of government, but the clear directive that all governing institutions, and indeed, individual citizens, should copy the military model. What is that model but a tightly bonded hierarchical entity led top down by generals, themselves subject to the control of the executive branch, especially the President/Leader? Indeed the bulk of his speech was filled with orders on how the government should control all those aspects of the economy that worry us. Government spending would have to go up, along with bureaucratic controls to enforce Obama’s directives. This statism is also common to fascist movements.

The reader may resist my analogy, for it could be objected that Nazism, especially, was a racial state, and that antisemitism in its most virulent form was practiced by the Third Reich. Here is how I answer that objection. Obama, in tandem with parts of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been blaming Wall Street and millionaires and billionaires for both causing the economic downturn through massive malfeasance, and from not paying “their fair share” through tax laws that blatantly favor them, laws that were instituted because of their thuggish influence on Bush 43. Obama actually blamed “the money power” during a recent  speech, and it was implied in his SOTU address. Everyone knows that code. Finance capital is the culprit, and finance capital is imagined as Jewish. Jews are, in the antisemitic mindset, notoriously avaricious and insular, eschewing Christian charity for generosity solely to other Jews, especially Israel, their home away from home. This language of the crypto-Jewish “one percent” will be deployed throughout the campaign. Obama wants to make them pay up, to pacify Warren Buffett’s suffering secretary, Debbie Bosanek, and her companion taxpayers in the 35.8% bracket. [She must get a high salary!]. This is populism at its crudest, and Hitler and his party were populists from the start.

So what is the true state of the union?  As we can see in the Republican presidential campaign, the nation is polarized, with the same sectional differences that existed before the Civil War in place. And more than Red State hostility to “Massachusetts moderates” is the ongoing culture war, in which Democratic or radical women and men may be placing reproductive rights and gay marriage ahead of fiscal solvency and national security. We are a sorely divided nation, ideologically and culturally. Adjurations to look out for one another and to put partisanship aside for the sake of the 99% [people’s community] smell to high heaven in the sensitive, wary nose of this historian.

For more of the warrior stance in Democratic Party strategies see https://clarespark.com/2011/12/10/before-saul-alinsky-rules-for-democratic-politicians/. For more speculation on Obama’s psyche see https://clarespark.com/2010/04/05/is-potus-crazy/. For more on military psychiatry, see https://clarespark.com/2010/04/22/links-to-blogs-on-military-psychiatry/. I may have made too much of the militarism theme in Obama’s speech, but I stand by my analysis. If he didn’t grasp the implications of the military model,  he should have. For more documentation of progressive movement appropriations of Nazi mind-management techniques, see https://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sykewar-american-style/. On the anti-Wall Street theme, see https://clarespark.com/2010/09/11/is-wall-street-slaughtering-the-middle-class/. On the ideology of a popular tv show see https://clarespark.com/2009/10/15/the-christianization-of-ziva-david-ncis/.

[Note: I took down the paragraph that linked Obama’s energy policy with autarky. I doubt that the desire for energy independence was anything more than a desire to co-opt Republican themes.]

September 11, 2010

Is Wall Street slaughtering “the Middle Class”?

 [updated 12-7-11] “Middle class” is the word of the week: Keynesians want workers to be consumers, for demand-stimulus is the only arrow in their quiver as preventive politicians and schemers. Just listen to POTUS. But who is in the “middle class” and why does nomenclature matter? Is class a “ladder” that one climbs, to be defined by income/consumption patterns; or is class position a particular relationship to the mode of production in historically specific societies, each of which must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis (Obama used the ladder metaphor in his 12/6/11 faux TR speech on the “New Nationalism”)?

Several Facebook comments lately have made this a pressing issue, for the term “middle-class” is a construction by progressive sociologists who were mystifying the more rigorous materialist definition of “class,” in particular “the working class.” These sociologists were probably deploying the older term referring to persons of “the middling sort” who had left England and the European countries to seek greener pastures in the New World. In other words, these were younger sons of aristocrats, artisans, small traders and merchants, and displaced peasants (small landholders). But what has come to be seen as the “Marxist” definition of the proletariat is another category altogether, and must not be confused with “the middling sort” –a group with options to seek a better deal in finding employment or starting a business, especially in a period with an expanding economy and a “virgin land.”

A proletarian is a person with no land or tools to fall back upon in times of economic contraction or transformation. Thus subsistence farming cannot be the fallback position in the face of industrialization and the onset of machine or automated production. As the materialists explained, such a person has nothing to sell on the open market but her or his labor power. Before the days of protective legislation, you could work or starve, so the labor market became a site of social unrest and potential disturbance as cheaper labor (of women and children) or chattel slavery offered higher returns to the new industrial entrepreneurs. From the days of antebellum working-class abolitionism to the first important stirrings of labor unionism after the Civil War, workers fought for the right to organize themselves to protect their jobs and improve their life chances. Presented with a specter of revolution both in Europe and America, American proto-progressives were frightened by Marx’s predictions and impressed by Bismarck’s social insurance, as they were by the reforms in Britain brought about by mid-19th century Christian Socialists (see https://clarespark.com/2011/11/25/3293/) . Over the next one hundred fifty years or so, the conservative reformers pre-empted the revolutionary temptation from below through a sumptuous banquet of “reforms” or “adjustments”: the legalization of “good” labor unions who would limit their demands to higher wages and better working conditions such as the eight-hour day; worker’s compensation; the 19th century offer of cheap land in the American West; later state-administered welfare programs; birth-control measures; Americanization programs; “free” public education;  immigration restriction; the encouragement of home ownership; high taxation to pay for statist redistribution measures; female suffrage, social security, and now state-initiated quotas in many institutions based on race or gender, and so on.

Moreover, progressives switched the Jeffersonian notion of a “negative state” (defending slavery and state’s rights) to that of a “Jeffersonian” or “Enlightenment” “positive state,” with all the statist collectivism in the purported interest of “social justice” that transformation entailed– as “individualism” became a personality disorder, not liberty to choose a life path and to work toward the goal of upward mobility and the creation of plenty and new, life-enhancing and  labor-saving  technologies that would in turn serve the creative development of individuals and communities. Or, as some New Deal progressives put it, “Hamiltonian principles” (an energetic government guided by American exceptionalism) would produce Jeffersonian results, i.e., “the people” against the “economic royalists”. Has this synthesis worked?

But above all, some progressives aimed to shape the imaginations of the labor force, using different tactics as the occasion demanded. One of their more questionable accomplishments was the introduction of the word “middle class” to describe, not themselves as “middle management” (i.e., as administrators, corruptible journalists, bureaucrats, mental health professionals, mediators, and curriculum developers instilling “moderation,” and “liberal internationalism”). Rather they fastened that “middle class” label on labor (including female labor in the home), the better to form an electorate that would think of itself as “the people” and not as members of a specific class or other group that conceivably looked to its own interests above those in competing groups. In a related move, faced by the opposition of business interests focused on meritocracy, competition in every facet of the economy,  and free markets, some [WASP] progressives deftly separated “industrial capital” from “finance capital, ” thus pitting “Main Street” against “Wall Street” a.k.a. “the money power,” understanding that “Wall Street” was the natural habitat of [Jewish] rampaging greed, theft, and social irresponsibility. See https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. [Added 9-25: On 9-24, Matt Miller, the “moderate” moderator of “Left, Right, and Center,” a popular program originating in Los Angeles NPR station KCRW, made the exact same distinction as The Nation of 1919: Miller lamented the separation of Wall Street from Main Street when he proclaimed that the “finance engineers” were in charge [of  the national economic railroad] instead of adhering to their (?) role as “real engineers.”

Indeed, when President Barack Obama addresses factory workers and calls them “the middle class” has he unconsciously adopted the old Leftist belief that “the working class” has become “bourgeoisified”; i.e., jewified with lust for the golden calf? Or is he catering to their [illicit] desires for the consumer goods associated with middle class status, while simultaneously deflecting their resentments and fears toward the designated enemy in Woe Street and away from Leviathan?

Today is the ninth anniversary of the successful Islamist attack on the World Trade Center towers, and upon the Pentagon. Is it any wonder that a disturbingly large number of opinion makers, not just limited to leftist radicals, believe or imply that the hubristic materialistic, aggressive “Wall Street”-dominated U.S. brought this frightful assault upon itself? For a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2011/10/10/populist-catharsis-on-wall-street/, that focuses on the faux leftism of Occupy Wall Street.

July 29, 2009

A Synthesis for Antisemitism since the American Civil War

Filed under: 1 — clarelspark @ 9:27 pm
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Ignatius Donnelly, author, leader, antisemite

A hedge fund manager asked me if there was a generational conflict between the baby-boom generation and the younger Americans; also mentioning that there is a great deal of animus now being directed against Wall Street. In his view, such attacks were quite antisemitic. So I wrote something that would address the question of “the Jews” and American politics since the American Civil War, a conflict that unleashed the forces of industrialism and expansion that the South, in charge of the antebellum government, had opposed unless the industrial economy would retain slave labor. What follows is that compressed history.

The WASP ruling group in America (including segments both of the Northeastern establishment and the Southern agrarians)  compromised in the face of industrial capitalism and the swarm of immigrants that it attracted,  as the industrial society dramatically accelerated after the Civil War. The WASP populist-Progressive strategy (beginning with some Mugwump reformism, then the Progressive institutions that took off in 1900) was to oppose unbridled capitalism (nailing it on the profit-crazy Jews), and to concede the great cities to the Democratic machines, with all the corruption and patronage that entailed. The Irish and Italians carved out their own urban mini-empires, while the immigrant Eastern European Jews, predisposed to socialism (especially after the Soviet coup of 1917 that promised an end to antisemitism), joined Roosevelt’s New Deal with joy, thinking that this patrician was their special friend and protector; moreover that social democratic remedies would end the depression (it didn’t: the war did). Or they went all the way to become communists, and were parents to the most activist and effective organizers of the 1960s generation: their offspring had no trouble finding favor with an already antisemitic, anticapitalist, “liberal internationalist” Northeastern establishment, and instead of being crushed, went on to take charge of the mass media, the humanities, the schools of education, and journalism, supported morally and financially by the “liberal” foundations, such as Rockefeller and Ford (derived from famously anti-Semitic families). In other words, these “moderate conservatives” a.k.a., social democrats, were very skilled at co-opting and defusing oppositional individuals and movements, and rewriting prior American history to make “the American empire” [sic] uniquely imperialist, evil, and deadly to minorities.

The “moderates” would change all that, and they have been in charge for some time. What they appear to fear most is growing “inequality” for that portends revolution or other servile revolts. The super-rich and their heirs will sacrifice much of their wealth to reduce the appearance of inequality. (Indeed, the latest cover of Harvard Magazine (July-August 2008) shows a bloated bird with a mouthful of worms, oblivious to three skinnier birds fighting over a single worm: The headline: “Unequal America, The growing gap.” The birds stand on an American flag. The Harvard Corporation does not harbor supply-siders, apparently.

So the defense of free markets and equal opportunity was relegated by default to the anticommunist Right, that was, until recently, almost entirely isolationist, nativist, and heavily antisemitic too (the neocons call this old guard paleoconservatives). The “neocons,”  many of whom are former (Jewish) Trotskyists or ex-social democrats, want both social liberalism and pro-growth economics, understanding that there is a positive role for the state in regulating and stabilizing markets, but that a balance must be struck, so that the state does not discourage investment and self-reliance. But safety nets are also a requirement, for innovating markets can be brutal in their effects (and these effects can be permanent and irreversible). To achieve such a balance (or an approximation thereof), old policies and programs require constant reevaluation and tweaking.

Sadly, the social democratic (redistributionist) establishment has hardened its positions, demonizing “neocons” and sponsoring reparations of various kinds to abused minorities, rather than cleaning out the corruption of the cities and in the unions. Thus we have the national polarization of today, with populists in both the extreme Left and the extreme Right attacking each other but also attacking the centrists (who want to devise a more rational capitalism in line with such as Hayek and Milton Friedman). Populists are always at least latently antisemitic, for they have internalized a discourse that conflates all Jews with what used to be called “the money power,” and, like the Jew-hating European Right, populists (perhaps unconsciously) identifying “the Jews” with Wall Street, the profit motive that causes class warfare, control of mass media, and the popular culture that has, in their view, caused decadence and coarsened the culture.

I have laid out an all too compressed way of defining social history since the Civil War with its often embedded antisemitism. To answer the question originally posed to me by a hedge-fund manager, I don’t think that an historian would see the “baby boomers” as a unified group, but rather as a highly diverse large population that will, as a class, bankrupt entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

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