Western Culture

Leonard Bernstein and the Jewish Cultural Ascendency — PART 1

Introduction

2018 marks the centenary of the birth of Jewish-American conductor, pianist, composer and teacher Leonard Bernstein. This milestone has seen a global bonanza of 2,500 concerts, programs, exhibitions and theatrical productions. Bernstein features prominently in the pantheon of “Jewish geniuses” as designated by the West’s Jewish-dominated cultural and intellectual establishment. Bernstein’s centenary year inevitably yielded hagiography: for his Jewish biographer Allen Shawn, he was not just a “genius” but “a powerful cultural and political voice and symbol, transcending all categories.”[1] Mark Horowitz, curator of an exhibition at Philadelphia’s Jewish museum celebrating Bernstein’s “pride of tribe,” fully endorses this view, while for the Jewish music writer for the New Yorker, Alex Ross, Bernstein remains “American music’s dominant figure.”

Bernstein lived during the heyday of the recording industry, at the dawn of the television era and of video recording. He left behind what is possibly the most extensive documentation in recordings, films, and on paper of any musician in history. His archive at the Library of Congress already lists some 400,000 items.[2] During the 1950s and 1960s Bernstein was not only the best known of all American classical musicians; his fame rivalled that of Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe. Attitudes to Bernstein varied dramatically during his lifetime, and many responded negatively to the fact he was so visible, so outspoken, so dramatic, and so politically active on the left.

Famous for his flamboyantly extroverted temperament, Bernstein was a “personality on such a big scale that he would naturally manage to offend many people along the way. … His self-regard and need for attention were also, to be sure, extreme.”[3] Bernstein’s brash self-confidence and monstrous ego incurred the enmity of many of those he encountered. He “loved to be the center of attention, even if it meant being obnoxious” observed a fellow student at the Curtis School of Music who noted that his “extroversion was extreme.”[4] John Rockwell, writing for the New York Times in 1986, observed that “It is quite a remarkable personality, for better and for worse, the defines every aspect of his near-manic existence. There are those who still find him inherently annoying — when he shoots off what he likes to call his ‘big Jewish mouth,’ when he prances and gyrates on the podium, when he seems to squander his compositional gifts in flashy trivia or overwrought excess.”[5] Bernstein’s own children pointed out his unsurpassed ability to become emotional on his own behalf, to “move himself.”[6]

Bernstein’s unusual, extremely emotional, visual presentation was his trademark as a conductor. He conducted with his entire body in a style that led to much criticism and derision over the years. German composer Gunther Schuller, for example, observed that Bernstein was “one of the world’s most histrionic and exhibitionistic conductors.” Schuller saw Bernstein as a musician with “very little discipline and no shame,” whose interpretation of Brahms’ First Symphony contained “too much of an ‘oy-vey’ Weltschmerz to be bearable.”[7] Read more

“The Mightier Our Blows, the Greater Our Emperor’s Love”: The Crusader Ideology of Germanized Christianity in the Song of Roland

There is a mysterious quality to the first literature of any ancient nation. The earliest recorded poems are those produced right at the edge between the forceful spontaneity of barbarism and the dead letter of civilization. They almost invariably reflect a primordial and manly mindset very different from that of our own time. They express the psychology and values of conquering peoples, heeding closely to the law of life, by which nations prosper or die. So it is with the Iliad of ancient Greece,the Beowulf of the Anglo-Saxons, and the Song of Roland of the French.

The Song of Roland is the French national epic and the first great piece of French literature, emerging in the eleventh century, on the back of the First Crusade to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims. The poem’s author is even more mysterious than Homer, for we do not even know his name. The Song is a vivid and powerful expression of the values of medieval European chivalry and indeed of the centuries-long clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam, dating back to the Muslim conquests of Roman Christian Levant and North Africa.

In contrast with later criticisms of Christianity as embodying a universalist “slave-morality,” in the Song we find Christian values perfectly fused, and perhaps subordinated to, the essentially Germanic warrior ethos of the French knightly aristocracy in the form of a novel crusader ideology. The Song presents a perfect case-study of what James C. Russell called the “Germanization of early medieval Christianity” or what William Pierce called “Aryanized” Christianity.[1] The heroes of the poem are obsessed with honor, family, nation, religion, and service to the emperor. I shall present the historical Charlemagne and the values of the Song of Roland. These can help us understand both the emergence and defense of European identity in past centuries. Read more

William Gayley Simpson on Christianity and the West

William Gayley Simpson in the early 1940s

The following is adapted from a book I wrote based on interviews with the late white activist William Pierce, The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds.

“Someone else you might want to include in this [book] project,” Pierce called out to me as I was leaving his office at the end of one of our evening talks, “is William Gayley Simpson.  Do you know about him?”

Very little.  All I knew about Simpson was that he had written a book called Which Way Western Man? (free pdf) and that Pierce had published it under his own imprint, National Vanguard Books.  I hadn’t read the book.

“Simpson was born in 1892, the same year as my father,” Pierce continued, “so he was a generation ahead of me.  In the ’30s he was interacting with the public in a big way, speaking at a lot of universities, mostly about peace issues, how we must never get into another world war and that sort of thing, and at one time he taught Latin, mathematics, and history at a boarding school around where he lived in New York state.  Somehow, he had gotten hold of something I had written—this must have been around 1975—and he wrote me about it.  At that time, he was over 80-years-old [he died in 1991 at 99].

“We started corresponding.  I found Simpson to be a deep, sensitive, and serious man.  He invited me to visit him up at his farm.   He had built a farmhouse with his own hands, a really nice house, and he had a shop and outbuildings.  He did some planting, but mostly he just lived there and thought and wrote and maintained contact [letters in those days] with people from all over the world.  I stayed with him a few days and visited him a couple more times after that.

“Simpson told me about a book he was finishing up, which turned out to be Which Way Western Man?  I read it and was very impressed and published it.  We sold that printing, and then we did two more printings, about seven thousand copies, and sold out on those.   Let me get you a copy of Which Way Western Man?

Pierce stood up from his desk, turned to his left, took a couple of steps, and turned left again through an open door into his library.  I followed.   It was dark in there—I could barely make out the titles of the books.  It was a good-sized room, about fifteen-by-twenty feet.  It reminded me of the stacks in a university library, the same kind of metal shelving.   Rows of shelves tightly packed from floor to ceiling with books spanned the room’s interior.  Pierce had labels taped onto the shelves categorizing his collection, so he knew right where to find the Simpson book.  I stood behind him and took in this tall grey-haired man standing in this gloomy library as he turned a few pages of the Simpson book, his eyes just a few inches from the print as he had very poor sight.  

Pierce handed me the bulky, dark blue paperback.  My hand gave way a bit from the weight of what I later learned was a 758-page volume.

I thanked Pierce for the book and told him I would spend the rest of that evening and the next day looking it over, and that if I could get my thoughts organized I’d talk to him the next evening about what Simpson had written.   Read more

Vince Lombardi. Italian taskmaster.

Football coaches provide one of the purest examples of true leadership in America, especially in the period since World War Two. This idea was slow to dawn on me, but eventually I realized that these men command all-male cohorts, train them to practice a violent craft in a quasi-brotherhood, and enjoy virtually dictatorial powers in doing so. Where else can a man claim this type of authority? In this era of hegemonic Cultural Marxism, even the armed forces don’t get to wallow in unfettered masculine violence. Modern officers have to manage and coordinate women, transsexuals, and homosexuals, with all the politically correct minefields that surround them. Football coaches do have to be more “sensitive” these days, but when most of them were active, it was a much different, less constricted world. These men, I found, had quite a few common traits—excellent ones—that apparently led to their success, and also, I would suggest, exhibit their racial essence in action.

I certainly do not consider football itself to be very important. Indeed, it is often a distraction from the important issue of racial survival, its attraction explained by the attraction that men have to “a violent craft in a quasi-brotherhood.” But these men nevertheless provide us with a certain physiognomy of race—a portrait of race in action, if you will. And a telling aspect of traditional American culture.

These men exercised leadership in a manner peculiar to White culture. They shared a handful of crucial attributes that are common to many leaders, but they added to them a Faustian knife’s edge in their quest for glory and fame and championships. One can think of football coaches as like leaders of Indo-European war groups, intent on conquest and—more importantly—enduring fame—the “fame of a dead man’s deeds.”. These attributes include the confidence to insist on total control in their field of operation, an extraordinary and demanding attention to detail, high intelligence, and a restless, individualistic creativity that craves the next breakthrough, the next leap forward. This last quality is the Faustian edge that, in different hands and different realms, has seen Western man best the field in every higher endeavor.   Read more

Biopolitics, Racialism, and Nationalism in Ancient Greece: A Summary View

The following is a brief summary of the ancient Greek theory and practice of biopolitics, racialism, and nationalism. These themes, which are so taboo in the West today, were integral to the Hellenic way of life at the founding of our Western civilization and of our unique tradition of civic self-government. I will also refer to some of the copious mainstream academic literature documenting this.

The Greeks believed that, despite their political divisions, they belonged to a common nation, defined by shared blood, language, religion, and culture. According to Herodotus, the Greeks were“one race speaking one language, with temples to the gods and religious rites in common, and with a common way of life” (Histories, 8.144). Patriotic Pan-Hellenic rhetoric – on the supreme value of Greece and the glory of sacrificing oneself to save Greece – is pervasive across centuries of Greek literature and political discourse.[1]

The Greeks had a primitive and unsystematic racial theory. They believed that peoples gradually acquired characteristics due to their environment (e.g. Ethiopians became black because of the heat) and that these traits became hereditary.[2] These observations certainly prefigure Darwin’s later evolutionary theory.

The Europeans north of Greece were generally considered barbaric and spirited, while Asians inhabiting Persia were considered effeminate and submissive. Barbarians were often thought incapable of civic self-government. The Phoenicians were sometimes perceived as having certain Semitic stereotypes (mercantile, dishonest, greedy, mercenary) but were also sometimes perceived as a fellow advanced people, comparably organized and capable in terms of trade, warfare, and civic self-government.

The Greeks did not talk about anything analogous to racial differences in IQ and it is often unclear to what extent they believed ethnic characteristics to be due to culture, geography and climate, or heredity. The Greeks were however certainly very struck by the physical differences of the few Blacks they encountered, producing pottery contrasting Caucasian and Negroid features, in styles rather reminiscent of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Greeks had a primitive theory and practice of eugenics. Following the practice of animal breeding and simple observation, the Greeks understood that human physical and psychological traits were at least partly hereditary. It was often said that men should choose the best women as wives so as to have the best children possible. Due to economic difficulties, infanticide through exposure was a cruel accepted practice, at the parents’ discretion. In Sparta and Rome, the killing of deformed children was mandatory, an exercise in negative eugenics. Read more

Lothrop Stoddard’s “The French Revolution in San Domingo,” Part 2

Go to Part 1.

There were complex combinations of oppositions according to race and class. On one hand, poor Whites and wealthy Whites saw a common interest in opposing the mulattos, some of whom were wealthy. From the standpoint of the poor Whites, the wealth of his perceived racial inferiors was particularly galling. In 1789, when the French Revolution had compromised the power of the Royal government, the wealthy Whites “anxious for poor white support, were not likely to embroil themselves to protect their race opponents [i.e., the mulattos]. By this time the local offices were becoming filled with poor whites, and to the will and pleasure of these new functionaries, the mulattoes were now delivered almost without reserve.”

On the other hand, the lower-class Whites (described by Stoddard as “mostly … ignorant men of narrow intelligence”) engaged in class war against wealthy Whites: They were “too short-sighted to realize the results of white disunion or too reckless to care about consequences.” They excluded upper-class Whites from voting by “violence and intimidation.”

Some observers have argued that the revolutionary ideals of moral universalism were an ingredient in the revolt of the non-Whites. Stoddard quotes approvingly an observer who attributes the fervor for revolt among slaves and mulattos to their being exposed to revolutionary rhetoric.  “To discuss the ‘Rights of Man’ before such people—what is it but to teach them that power dwells with strength, and strength with numbers!”  Stoddard expresses his own view that “there seems to be no doubt that the writings and speeches of the French radicals did have a considerable effect on the negroes.” And he provides the conclusion of contemporary investigations: “Both the existing evidence and the trend of events combine to show that the great negro uprising of August 1791 was but the natural action of the Revolution on highly flammable material.” Read more

Lothrop Stoddard’s “The French Revolution in San Domingo,” Part 1

This is a foreword that I wrote for Lothrop Stoddard’s The French Revolution in San Domingo, published in 2011.

*  *  *

Lothrop Stoddard on the French Colonists in San Domingo

Historian Frank Moya Pons, writing in The Cambridge History of Latin America, describes Lothrop Stoddard’s The French Revolution in San Domingo as “a book now out of fashion because of its racism, although retaining some interest.” [1]

Interesting indeed, because it reflects the racial views of an important set of American intellectuals in the early twentieth century. There was a time when evolutionary thinking was widely considered to be the key to racial self-defense.[2]  Although it didn’t play a role in the Congressional debates (itself an indication of the rapidly changing intellectual context), evolutionary thinking was prominent among some of the elite intellectual proponents of immigration restriction in the 1920s. This was the heyday of eugenics—motivated by concern about deterioration of the gene pool because modern civilization had increased the moral and intellectual burdens of life at the same time that natural selection had been relaxed because of advances in medicine, hygiene, and nutrition. Lothrop Stoddard’s The Revolt against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-Man exemplifies these trends.[3]

Race is indeed central to Stoddard’s volume. Written at a time when the science of race, race differences, and eugenics were at their height, Stoddard sees the conflict as fundamentally about race. But his view is that of a race realist. Unlike the vast majority of contemporary intellectuals, he sees race for what it is: a gargantuan fault line that separates humans.

However, Stoddard never comes across as a cheerleader for the Whites in their conflicts with Blacks and mulattos. Indeed, the Whites are described in highly unflattering terms—an important corrective to the view one might glean from previous chapters emphasizing the high-mindedness of Whites in the anti-slavery movements. Many are “shady characters”—opportunists out to make money and without any moral scruples. Heavy drinking and gambling are pervasive. The Whites are the consummate individualists. They are not a people but “only a mass of individuals.”  Poor Whites were adventurers, unable to compete with slave labor and therefore forced to make a living by any means necessary. However, we also see strains of moralistic idealism noted in previous chapters as a characteristic of northern Europeans.

It’s difficult to have sympathy for the White planters. They live in a world of “material crudity … intellectual poverty and mental isolation.” They are surrounded by outrageous retinues of slaves, living like an Oriental potentate. Stoddard quotes a contemporary observer, Moreau de Saint-Mery: “That crowd of slaves which hangs upon the master’s lightest word or sign, lends him an air of grandeur. It is beneath the dignity of a rich man to have less than four times as many servants as he needs. The women have an especial gift for surrounding themselves with a useless retinue.”

The rich Whites are unsocial and quarrelsome with their neighbors. Another observer, DeWimpffen describes the “pretensions, either ill-founded or ridiculous; jealousies of each other’s fortune, more ridiculous still; disputes about boundaries . . . and finally trespasses committed by the negroes or the cattle — occasion such a misunderstanding, or such a coolness, that all reciprocal communication is out of the question. Consequently, as nothing is so savage as the recluse who is not so by choice, you must not be surprised that each owl rests in his hole, and that so little sociability reigns among men who have few or no sociable qualities.” Read more