YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

December 3, 2016

Apocalypse today (post-election 2016)

Charlotte NC 2012  Getty Images

Charlotte NC 2012 Harvest Moon Grille
Getty Images

This posting is about my response to the mass media hysteria after the Trump victory and transition to the Trump presidency.

The media, controlled as they are by “moderates,” is unable to explain the quandaries that the progressive movement is facing as it tries to grapple with its future, especially as it relates to the “white working class.” I might have been similarly baffled had I not studied social movements in U.S. history. I refer to the sharp turn to the pseudo-Left enacted by the inheritors of the Mugwump-ish conservatives after the shock of the Bolshevik revolution and the growing sympathy in this country for revolt among the working class and its allies. Behold how the (“moderate”) Nation magazine reacted to another apocalypse—this time to Woodrow Wilson’s contribution to the Versailles Conference that ended World War I: https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. Briefly, editor Villard urged his readers to emulate the populist-progressives to prevent looming socialist revolution and the rule of the international Big Money.

(Yet Oswald Garrison Villard was no democrat in his preference for elite, non-Jewish rule. Such is the vexed lineage of social democracy. Is it any wonder that “the Left” is unable to unmask itself?)

“Nativist” is the more polite term for “racist”—a moniker that Democrats prefer to affix to their rivals among Trump supporters. It is no surprise, then, that liberals, unembarrassed by 20th century New Left history, should not publicly understand that affirmative action, like all of “identity politics,” is inherently a quota system that is racist in its conception. Some on the Right complain that reverse racism exists. Such persons are apparently oblivious to the leftist insistence on “white supremacy,” a variant on the anti-imperialism of the counter-culture/New Left. (I.e., Dems insist that white workers are structurally unable to modify their own racism, because they indirectly profit from non-white subordination; we remain mired in the social relations of slavery. Upward mobility is only a fond fantasy perpetrated by laissez-faire capitalists to fool “the people.”)

acceptancepetergriffin

The Old Left believed in “history”—in the inevitable triumph of socialism through class consciousness.

The New Left said goodbye to all that, and counted on its own inherited moralism, elitism and subtle racism to vanquish threats from below. Is it any wonder that the Democrat Party is boxed in, with nowhere to go?

Ben Tillman 1906, Pinterest

Ben Tillman 1906, Pinterest

March 12, 2016

The Chicago Riots: who caused them?

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 8:40 pm
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malcolmxThis website has been devoted to the wily ways of “moderate conservatives” (i.e., progressive Democrats) in appearing to address the problem of “race,” class, and gender subordination, while in practice intensifying pre-existent antagonisms that the hard Left attempted to wipe out with (utopian) revolutionary socialism. And “moderate” or even “conservative” Republicans are no better, blaming Trump for “violent rhetoric” instead of indoctrinated anti-“white supremacy” youth and political rivals, such as Bernie Sanders, and of course rival candidates.

I have never witnessed such a sickening campaign, and the “liberal”- controlled media have egged it on, by their outright refusal to report much news, if any, that would expose pseudo-liberal elites for what they are, as the latter invented “multiculturalism,” that had the effect of appearing to be anti-racist, while reaffirming the concept of “race.” (See https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/.) And most communists have gone along with the promotion of cultural nationalism, so we have the emergence of such irredentist movements as La Raza, Black Lives Matter, BDS, OWS, and radical jihadism— their militant activism most recently directed against “white supremacy” a.k.a. “white” Jewish supremacy.

Photo credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Photo credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Veterans of the 1960s should have publicized the takeover of the civil rights movement (an honorable set of intertwined campaigns) by cultural nationalists, and, to their everlasting shame, hard Leftists did little or nothing to combat these tendencies, most notoriously abandoning the 1930s campaign against bogus notions of “race” in favor of “cultural anthropology,” along with some positive Leftist estimations of the American future. (See https://clarespark.com/2014/03/13/what-is-cultural-relativism/.)

And why oh why have cable news outlets (such as Fox or CNN), in their laughable attempts to be “fair and balanced” refused to fact check their pseudo-debates, while candidates were spinning their outright prevarications and distortions of each other’s positions? Anyone who has studied the “objective” ways of “moderates” would expect such cover-ups of outright mind-management.

From The  Root: Thinkstock Images

From The Root: Thinkstock Images

Give me an indignant “extremist” armed with research and facts any day.

May 26, 2011

Who is a racist now?

Antique Japanese Swords

Following are two prior blogs and a bill that is before the California legislature that would further mandate the multicultural teaching of history in California schools. It is recommended that you consult them either before or after reading this new blog.

https://clarespark.com/2011/03/26/race-class-and-gender/

https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/

http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/SB_48/20112012/.

During the early 1970s, a complaint was made to the Pacifica Foundation’s local advisory board regarding one of my collages for The Sour Apple Tree (my weekly program on the politics of culture). The complaint objected to the mocking of Asian-Americans because an actor had improvised an allegedly offensive riff on the subject of Japanese swords, which were then on exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  In my ignorance, I thought that it was bizarre to aestheticize a weapon, no matter how beautifully crafted.

But what did I know? The age of political correctness was upon us, and any organized group of angry ethnics or “races” could make trouble if the media were not relaying “positive” images of their group. Here was the triumph of “identity politics” in all its manifestations. Disappeared were the material facts and institutional structures and practices (including ideals) that made history.

The identity politics lobby, following the precepts of German Idealist epistemology, argued that language and images were constitutive of “reality” and that prior racisms and discrimination could be erased through the presentation of “strong” “role-models” in the schools and media.  Or, following the lead of earlier opponents of “prejudice,” if there was a bad person of color,there must be a good person of color in order to achieve “balance,” and as my dissertation director Alex Saxton used to say, that “good” minority group member was in league with the [fascist] ruling whites. The “bad” [black, red, or yellow] man was ipso facto someone to be admired for his defiance. Enter the criminal as hero and the romantic identification with rebels of color, the badder the better.

As I have written here before, the advent of social history in the hands of populist-progressives, the Stalinist Left and then the New Left of the 1960s, displaced from the curriculum the record of  actual decision makers of history (say the statesmen and generals studied by von Ranke), for these were now prejudice-tainted “literary sources” who covered their tracks, lying even to their personal diaries. The obvious populism of this move was not a departure from the practices of the “consciousness industry,” for it had always been directed to its mass audience, which had buttons to be pushed—class resentment, a suspicion of Wall Street and bankers, and of competing savages (including the wild man within)–and the designated monsters were standing athwart the path to upward mobility.

I have traced on this website the German Romantic influences that led progressives to adopt their collectivist lingo as part of their view that “national character” could be ascribed to every race or nation.  That this “cultural nationalism” was racialist in its very conception is not widely seen, and it now rules the anti-imperialist Left and the school curricula in California and other states.  The U.S.A., rather than being an exemplar of equality before the law, self-correction and (in its Puritan origins) republican simplicity, became conflated with the most vicious totalitarian societies or with the rigid war-crazed aristocracies of the Old World. For these racist “anti-racists”, there are no boundaries between past and present: the achievements of Freud and Einstein are supposed to shed their grace on me, but such ancestor worship does not help me master life skills. In spite of “Jewish” triumphs in psychology and physics, the rampaging White Man continues to infect and infest all “peoples of color,” and if we look very closely, we can often detect a Jewish nose, dragon claws, and a tail upon that oppressor.

February 8, 2010

“Who ain’t a racist? Tell me that.”

Herman Melville in old age

Melville readers will recognize the source of my title: Ishmael demands to know “Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that.” He might have been referring to Christianity and its warning not to be a slave to the passions. (See https://clarespark.com/2011/04/10/who-aint-a-slave/.) In the text of Moby-Dick, however, the statement refers to the condition of common sailors who must submit to harsh hierarchies on ships. Even so, it is an odd statement. Was Ishmael preternaturally free from 19th century racist sentiments?

There is a hot debate in Facebook over whether or not the Tea-Party brigade is racist or not. One person accused Tom Tancredo of racism in his efforts to end illegal immigration. Elsewhere on the web, scholars are debating whether or not the word “slave” is racist, preferring “enslaved” to describe what used to be called “slaves” and slavery.

I write this blog to remind us that there are rational reasons to worry about social services (including education, medical care, welfare, and the prison population) that are overburdened because of the availability of cheap immigrant labor. It has always been the case that semi-skilled workers have lost out to immigrants (and before that, slaves) who could work cheaper, hence driving down the cost of labor. Moreover, in my own state, California, the rapid influx of Latino labor (some of them employed by fellow Latinos at low wages) has strained the budget beyond endurance.

As for the debate over the use of the word “slave,” those who object to that word probably believe that language creates reality, and that the “slave” by being so named was deprived of “agency,” and was probably seen as a slave by nature. Whereas the term “enslaved” suggests that there is an oppressor to be stigmatized. Professor David Blight of Yale has rightly condemned this torrid discussion on H-Slavery (part of Humanities Net) as ignoring the old unresolved questions, such as whether abolitionists were motivated by morality or economics, or whether slavery was or was not part of the capitalist system. I agree with him and would like to see debate on the questions he raises. As for Herman Melville’s Ishmael, it was Captain Ahab who took little black Pip into his cabin, while Ishmael asked a question that would irritate current sensibilities. (Feminists in the 1970s sometimes pointed to sexism as equivalent to racism and slavery, and caught hell for saying it.)

September 15, 2009

Making mobs with bad words and concepts

Hiram Powers, The Greek Slave

Few have left comments on my blogs. I take this personally. One friend tells me that my views are too unorthodox, even though I look at class interests, which should at least elicit some response from the left and from left-liberals. The same friend tells me that I use too many big words. What is a big word or a big concept today? Here are some words in common use that few fully understand, though they throw them around in political speech in the media and in schools, with the consequence that we create mobbish political emotions, not thoughtful individual citizens, teaching each other how to think like participants in an advanced democracy:

1. FASCISM. It seems that both statists (the “big government” Left) and anti-statists (conservatives, small businessmen, and libertarian economists) are “fascists” if we are to look at signs at protest demonstrations, whether these be tea-parties or antiwar demonstrations. How many of us, if asked what is meant by the corporate state, would know how to describe its ideology and institutions? Does journalist Jonah Goldberg know, whose Liberal Fascism is popular on the Right, but to me is a scandal? [Why is it a scandal? Because he is tarring social democrats with the fascist brush, even though he makes the disclaimer that of course we have free speech here, so he is really only nailing the American Progressives for their production of the nanny state, eugenics, and other crimes against humanity that had parallels in states we abhor. As I have said earlier (https://clarespark.com/2009/09/09/preventive-medicine-and-preventive-politics/), state investment or state sponsorship does not necessarily imply state control, and the arguments against any form of “statism” are often mounted by those authoritarians who fear losing control of their children to such theories as science, evolutionary biology, or evidence-based medicine, including psychiatry.* Why do we not all know about Hayek and Rose and Milton Friedman as they call for both a public and private sector? OMG, I must be a neoliberal.]

2. NATIONAL CHARACTER. I could have substituted “group mind” for this. Why do few pundits, in academe or in the media, squash this absurd formulation? It is true that a set of customary laws, or religious pluralism can create a large segment of the population bound by common cultural patterns (such as skepticism toward arbitrary authority in America), but those who devised the concept had collectivist mentalities, and were hostile to dissent and the very concept of the individual as a person with rights, not merely duties to a presumably like-minded “community.” [See prior blog “The Fallen Flesh Brigade (repaired).”]

3. MODERATE. One of the first books I read on psychological warfare was by a forgotten social psychologist, Ellis Freeman, author of Conquering the Man in the Street (Vanguard Press, 1940). It was about organicism through the ages, starting, as I recall, with Plato and ending with fascism and Nazism. It was a primer for me on how to do sykewar (or recognize it), and the strategy I remember best is “flogging the dead horse.” In this one, you call yourself a moderate, and everyone wants to be such a balanced person, though no one knows exactly what you mean by it. Unless you get down and dirty by specifying concretely what the conflict is that you are supposedly moderating, you are appealing to a fictional feel-good word, not to a specific policy proposal or tactic that can then be criticized on its merits. Richard Crossman also wrote a book along these lines: Plato Today (1938). The organic conservatives (the pseudo-moderate men) are those protofascist historians who don’t write materialist history, but write history as a subset of poetic natural history. (See for instance my blog https://clarespark.com/2009/09/06/the-hebraic-american-landscape-sublime-or-despotic/, or https://clarespark.com/2009/09/03/advice-for-the-lovelorn-with-thoughts-on-hero-worship/, retitled “Manifest Destiny or Political Liberty?”) They may be avowed “anti-racists” but their discourse is racialist; i.e., they believe in group character transmitted through heredity and rootedness in a specific environment. The enemy is the rootless cosmopolitan, that unreliable and uncontrollable wanderer.

4. MIDDLE-CLASS. Do you remember when this term was either mocked as absurdly vague and too comprehensive to be descriptive, and at best, referring only to status, as if class was a ladder? No, you are too young. Today, our President uses it to refer to what used to be called the WORKING-CLASS. Now like it or not, there was and is such a thing as an industrial worker, and to conflate such workers with owners of small businesses, or members of the service sector, or bureaucrats, is meshugah to use my favorite word when I am very frustrated.

5. WHITE MALE SUPREMACY. Here is another example of political degeneracy in the spread of “whiteness studies.” It rests on a view ofAmerika” as one marauding individual, raping the environment, slaughtering Indians, grinding the faces of the [non-white] poor, and performing patriarchy on hapless females. It is the chief arrow in the quiver of cultural nationalists who really do behave like fascists under the banner of “self-determination,” but who are given a pass by guilty liberals. That is why this entire series of blogs has been devoted to combating the premises of multiculturalism, which is not the same as the non-discriminatory equality of opportunity that we strive for in a secular state. And of course the term “white supremacy” conflates the entire white working-class with the worst nativists who really did hate Jews, immigrants from Southeastern or Eastern Europe, blacks, Mexicans, the Chinese, and anyone who did not “build this country” and cross the plains in covered wagons, or earlier, defeat the British. (For a prime example of the type, see anything by Thomas Dixon, author of The Klansman, and a champion of the Scots-Irish, the true American Heroes. Now there was a true American fascist, see his Flaming Sword.)

6. FREEDOM. Need I elaborate this one? Years ago, I heard a famous leftist explain to an art student that freedom was yielding to the laws of historical necessity. And what was historical necessity? Ask any dialectical materialist, or Leninist for that matter as he attempts to co-opt the authority of science. For Herder (mentioned above) freedom signified freedom from the French language in favor of the German vernacular–the native language that would create a people’s community, the Volk, so as to express the natural Zeitgeist. The same goes for “the oppressed” who long to be free from “the West,” the banks, big business, white people, men, you name it. Social historians believe that they are striking a blow for freedom when they study “the people” instead of “literary sources” (by which they mean the documents that describe the actions of elites, whether these are diplomatic records, memoirs and diaries, high culture, or anything else that powerful people create). But for any thoughtful, introspective person, it is always ambiguous to separate “structures” from “agency”–how do we know when we are exercising free will or whether we are reacting to inherited qualities or events from the past or present that shape our preferences?

When I refer to intellectual freedom in these blogs, I usually mean the freedom of access to all primary source materials that could help us reconstruct the lives of others assessing them as friends or opponents. Whether or not we have access to our own interior lives is the subject of literature and its allied psychotherapies. If Melville, speaking through his character Captain Ahab, couldn’t figure out the free will-fixed fate conundrum, how can any of us? We need to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty. Now that is a form of freedom I can live with. (See https://clarespark.com/2013/01/08/is-ahab-ahab-the-free-will-debate/.)

7. Rugged individualist. For a Democrat or a leftist, this is the worst thing you could call someone. It means a Randian and randy selfish money-mad s.o.b. who lacks compassion, will cheat you out of house and home and senior medical care. In fact, such a one is exactly what our Constitution protects. But the rugged individualist was erased in the 1930s in favor of “the individual-in- society.” For these collectivists, we are all embedded in our historical context, and any hope of relative autonomy and objectivity is the blackest of propaganda. For details, see https://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-enlightenment-corporatist-liberalism-and-the-revision-of-american-history/.

*A psychiatrist friend explains it this way: “Non-evidence based medicine is when a doctor or other health care provider orders a test or prescribes medicine for which there is no peer reviewed evidence to support the practice.  Some think it is equivalent to off-label prescribing but there can be evidence for some of that but it has not reached legal standards. Some of it clearly harms patients or at the least deprives them of recommended treatment options.”

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