As I start this rumination, the disappointed liberals and their media are pointing fingers and yelling about the nefarious influence of Richard B. Spencer (a white racist and anti-Semite, who had nothing to do with the proposed Cabinet picks) on the incoming Trump administration. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_B._Spencer).
This web post aims to review the connections that I see between German Romanticism, the Third Reich, and the all-controlling progressive ideology of multiculturalism. I have gone through this material constantly, but my research may have been too abstruse for some readers. What follows is a systematic account of some disturbing history that is not widely known: ‘cultural studies,’ (like comparative literature) will come out as either proto-fascist or simply neo-Nazi.
J. G. von Herder was an 18th century Protestant theologian, celebrated now as the founder of cultural anthropology and its offshoots. As a German nationalist, he rejected all French influences (such as the ‘mechanical materialist’ French Enlightenment).
There was a Herder revival during the Nazi period. (I found this out when the UCLA library still publicized the dates of Herder publications; not surprisingly the professoriate in cultural studies and comp lit professors appear to ignore this renewed interest in Herder during the period when Nazis burned books of ‘dangerous’ writers).
What Herder did that earned him Nazi kudos was his invidious distinction between (good) rooted and (bad) rootless cosmopolitans (who probably represented money, materialism, and the mercantile principle—all alleged ‘Jewish’ sins).
American progressives also admired Herder as well as his fellow German Romantics. Woodrow Wilson’s internationalism can be seen as indebted to Herder and his counter-Enlightenment followers. (The German Enlightenment—Aufklärung—–cannot be conflated with such developments as the scientific revolution of the 17th century. Aufklärung was rather a reactionary move by organic conservatives, and it is the source of multiculturalism and one type of internationalism in the early 20th century. https://clarespark.com/2013/09/17/the-illusion-of-national-unity/.) For more on Herder’s nationalism and his followers, see https://clarespark.com/2010/10/18/the-dialectic-of-multiculturalism-helvetius-herder-fichte/. For the introduction of German Romanticism in progressive America, see https://clarespark.com/2010/07/20/german-romantic-predecessors-to-multiculturalism/.
What is the difference between a rooted cosmopolitan and a rootless cosmopolitan? This is a crucial distinction! Both Hitler and Stalin loathed ‘finance capital’ or the rule of money. These (grasping, uncompassionate) moneybag ‘Jews’ were rootless and indifferent to the plight of ordinary persons, it was held by the earthy and loving ‘rooted’ nationalists. (Both National Socialism and Soviet socialism would affix roots to the unpredictable wanderers of the working class.) The concept of the Volk or ‘people’s community’ was constantly promoted by the Hitler party.
How was the concept of rootedness carried forth in Hitler’s ‘secret’ book (1926)? The future Leader envisioned a world federation of volkisch states, each faithful to her group character, but all subordinated to the superior German people’s aims and objectives. (Here, the notion of der Führer-imposed state worship comes in.) For more discussion of this conception see https://clarespark.com/2015/06/13/hitlers-second-book-1928-his-war-aims-and-multiculturalism/.
It should be obvious now that multiculturalism, with its talk of ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity,’ in practice is the racist concept of rootedness. Multiculturalism is either fascist or proto-fascist in its implications for society. Upper-class Americans traveled in Germany during the late 19th century (after the onset of German nationalism culminating in Bismarck–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unification_of_Germany), and were perhaps impressed by the Iron Chancellor’s co-optative management of the red specter that had been haunting Europe during the Age of Revolution.
So when the pseudo-proletarians of the scribbling ‘Left’ media (such as the staff of Rolling Stone) sneer at the ‘white working class’ that voted for Trump, they are writing with the example of Nazi Hitler’s supposed compromise between capitalism and communism: the Third Way.
Does not all this sound like the dark meanderings of social democracy to you?