Moldbuggery Redux

More tiresome calumny against New England Puritans from self-described scion of communist Jews "Mencius Moldbug". Moldbug's libels typically take the form of absurdly-reasoned ten-thousand-word posts supported by links to whatever obscure, barely-relevant, centuries-old text he happens to be browsing on Google Books that day. My impression has been Moldbug prefers to dazzle his audience with pseudo-erudition and sheer volume of words, leaving it to his dumber commenters to try to state his world-view in direct and concise terms. Because when put simply moldbuggery makes claims about history which are blatantly counterfactual and easy to refute.

But MM has now surfaced in a desisite comment thread giving every bit as much indication as Jeff Williams of having failed high school-level American history. (Since, in light of MM's claimed educational credentials and implied obsessive reading habit, I find it unlikely simple ignorance is behind his lies, the question becomes what exactly is MM trying to accomplish? Some combination of deception and self-deception is clearly at play. Considering its author's ethnic background, it does seem slightly convenient that moldbuggery's central tenet holds "Dissenting British Protestantism caused All Leftism Ever" -- the corrollary being "The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing". Moldbug goes so far as to claim Jewish immigrants only transformed into communists through assimilating toward the culture of the descendants of New England Puritans.)

before the 1950s jews and catholics were allied as white ethnics against the protestant ascendancy. the new deal coalition was to some extent the culmination of this, though even as far back as the 19th century the two groups had to coordinate to defend themselves against protestant nativist groups. in the 1950s post-protestant intellectuals abandoned their nativism, and turned their guns on traditionalist religion, and secularized their anti-catholic rhetoric.

This wording is a little misleading: it implies that the liberal, anti-nativist strain of the Puritan tradition is a post-WWII invention. Which, as I'm sure you know, is anything but the case.

Liberal mainline Protestantism shows an extremely clear continuity from the Second Great Awakening, through the abolitionists and Transcendentalists, to the Social Gospel, the settlement movement, the Progressive Era proper, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc, etc, etc. It has not always been politically dominant, but it has generally been socially dominant.

While I have little interest in tracing the intellectual development of Eleanor Roosevelt, in the interest of defending the descendants of New England Puritans, I'll point out that:
(1) Eleanor Roosevelt's ancestry was Dutch, Scottish, and Scotch-Irish. She had little or no New England Puritan blood.
(2) One of her grandparents was born in Georgia (or in Connecticuit to Georgian parents). Three were born in New York.
(3) She was an Episcopalian.
(4) She was an insecure child who (correctly) considered herself ugly.
(5) She was sent to a finishing school in England run by a French feminist, but I can't imagine that had any impact on her later politics.
(6) She campaigned in favor of Catholic Al Smith in 1928.

Moreover, this obscures a bit of geographical culture history: the "nativist," American-nationalist branch of mainline Protestantism (eg, Madison Grant) to which you refer, responsible for the Harding-Coolidge restoration and now pretty much extinct, has its roots in one branch of the Unionist coalition, namely the Midwestern (or as they said then, just "Western"). There were considerable tensions between the Westerners and the New Englanders - for example, the latter hated the South because it oppressed blacks, the former because it was full of blacks. The last remnants of Midwestern nativist politics are seen with the isolationists, Taft, etc.

This is just plain wrong, as others in the thread point out and as I've pointed out before. Rather than waste any more time than necessary reasserting reality, here are some links:

United States Presidential Election Results
Immigration Restriction League

And, while as someone with roots in the Midwest it might be nice to be able to claim Madison Grant, the idea that his thinking owes much in particular to that region is just bizarre. Grant was a New York progressive. Yankees such as Charles Davenport (born in CT), William Ripley and General Francis Walker (the latter two born in Massachusetts), on the other hand, undoubtedly did influence Grant.

The relationship with the Catholics is also more interesting than you describe. The Catholics were always Democrats. In 1932, someone had a bright idea: if the progressive wing of the Republican Party (which was the Northern Protestant party, containing both nativists and progressives) took over the Democrat name and the Democrat machine, they could wax fat on the votes of their enemies, the "hyphenated-American" inner-city white ethnics and the Solid South, for the next thirty years, before the suckers woke up. Done. Smooth move, gents.

[MM expands on the above claim in a later comment:]

Can you name names?

You mean, FDR? Or his advisers, like Louis Howe?

Of course, progressive takeover of the Democrats was nothing really new - see Wilson. But the level of cynicism was new. Wilsonians, for instance, aimed to smash the Democratic urban machines. Whereas the New Deal incorporated them, and raised vote-buying to an almost theological plane. (When you see Thomas Frank complaining that Kansans don't vote according to their "economic interests," basically what he's expressing is anger that they sold him their votes and didn't stay bought.)

Just bizarre. MM must be referring to some alternate universe, because these ravings bear little resemblance to actual history. As another commenter pointed out: "FDR was elected Democratic NY State Senator in 1910. Howe was an associate of FDR from around that time. The Democratic party in 1910 was not exactly an attractive vehicle for winning Presidential Elections, having held power for a grand total of 8 years in the previous 50. If either had previously been extreme progressive republicans, I don't know, but if they were - planning the New Deal coalition that arose out of the Great Depression 20 years before it happened - that would be some neat trick!" Moreover, Louis McHenry Howe hailed from Indianapolis, where he "began his journalism career at seventeen when he joined the staff of his father's Democratic-leaning weekly, The Sun". That sounds like one hell of a deep Yankee conspiracy.

Woodrow Wilson, of course, was of Scotch-Irish and Scottish ancestry. He was born in Virginia to Confederate loyalists. Thank god we have people like Jimmy Cantrell and Mencius Moldbug who can see past mundane facts and place the blame for Wilson where it's due: New England Puritans.

As for the Jews, being no suckers, they realized that they should assimilate into the most socially prestigious branch of the American tradition - the progressives. Again: done.

Brilliantly reasoned. This also helps explain why Jews in Russia assimilated so readily to local aristocratic norms.


Antimoldbugist said...

He's a retarded peasant pedant.

jen said...

So basically Moldbug is a pseudo-intellectual Whiskey, eh? Whiskey's "Leftist Jews are really debased Calvinists" line is remarkably similar.