VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow writes: Listening to Ann Coulter’s interview on her new Substack [Video for subscribers, audio for free] with the heroic Andy Ngo, author of Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy (alas, he never responded to James Kirkpatrick’s invitation to appear on our VDARE Book Club podcast about the book, but we praised it anyway), I was reminded of Smith College political scientist Stanley Rothman. One of the staples of conservative journalism in the 1980s and 1990s was reporting Rothman’s voluminous academically unimpeachable studies of the emerging and unprecedented divorce between America’s elite and its citizenry. I was delighted to smuggle the article reposted below about his work into FORBES Magazine.
As Coulter and Ngo discussed, the sociology of Antifa is distinctive.
Some are dysfunctional street people, but a significant element are the children of the elite. (And Ngo has also found that a disproportionate number are transexual—something that nobody had ever heard of thirty years ago, difficult though this may now be to believe.)
Rothman’s analysis of the 1960s New Left (Roots Of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, And The New Left) substantially anticipated this.
But, undiscussed by Coulter and Ngo, Rothman, himself Jewish, was also struck by the extent to which the 1960s New Left was a Jewish phenomenon. He resented the fact that his publisher had played this interesting point down. And when I had to call him to tell him that that FORBES great editor James W. Michaels had, in fact, also insisted on playing it down—obvious in this reposted article—Stan’s response was incandescent: “SEE? SEE? THE GOYIM ARE SCARED SHITLESS!”
Another memory of Stan: meeting him for lunch near the FORBES offices in lower Manhattan when he was still shaken from having his wallet grabbed in the subway station by a black child. “They lack some sort of inner gyroscope,” he said.
I am saddened now to realize, perhaps another sign of my expulsion from the Conservatism Inc. circuit, that Stanley Rothman died as long ago as 2011—memorialized in this graceful essay by longtime National Association of Scholars president Stephen Balch.
Originally published in Forbes, July 17, 1995 under the headline
Newt Gingrich, Meet Max Weber: Drawing on his carefully researched data, Stanley Rothman arrives at gloomy conclusions about our society. Let’s hope his prognosis isn’t as good as his diagnosis.
By Peter Brimelow
”IT IS A CAPITAL MISTAKE to theorize in advance of the facts,” chortles Stanley Rothman, quoting one of his heroes, Sherlock Holmes (in ”The Second Stain”).
Rothman is big on facts. As director of the Center for the Study of Social & Political Change at Northampton, Mass.–based Smith College, Rothman has spent his prime years organizing minutely detailed objective factual studies of such interesting subjects as:
But now, at 67, Rothman is gearing up to theorize from the mass of facts he has spent decades gathering. He’s planning a magnum opus, whose dark conclusions are captured in two of its tentative titles (he can’t make up his mind): ”America in Decline?” or ”The End of the Experiment?”
This gloomy subject is not the only thing on Rothman’s mind. He is also, among other things, in the last stages of coauthoring two other books and fundraising for a couple of other major surveys, one of attitudes to quotas, multiculturalism and political correctness on campuses. ”I work hard, ” Rothman says.
Rothman is probably best known for ending the argument about whether media bias exists. In the early 1980s he, Robert Lichter and Linda Lichter established through objective polling that the U.S. major media are staffed by a surprisingly homogeneous group: upper-middle-class northeastern urbanites who are, as conservatives have always complained, disproportionately liberal. And they were able to show through content analysis that this viewpoint subtly shapes news coverage.
Despite some yelping—Washington Post Executive Editor Benjamin Bradlee reportedly announced that no one in his newsroom would admit to having answered the survey—Rothman’s findings are widely accepted. (Bradlee’s attempted evasive action, Rothman says grimly, shows why his polls have to be done by unimpeachable, and very expensive, outside survey firms.)
But Rothman’s main achievement as a political scientist may well be his definitive study of the 1960s New Left, coauthored, like the media study, with Robert Lichter: Roots of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, and the New Left (Oxford, 1982—to be reissued by Transaction Publishers shortly). Despite their image, New Leftists were not flower children, Rothman found through extensive personality surveys, but had strong authoritarian and power-seeking tendencies.
Rothman surmises that while the New Left’s rhetoric may have differed from that of right-wing radicals of the type who allegedly bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, their personalities might be quite similar. After all, both have bombmaking fringes and dream of Armageddon. Little Hitlers and little Himmlers.
”These personality types are always around, ” says Rothman of the radical authoritarian mentality. ”But they come out of the woodwork when society starts falling apart. Normally, Himmler would just have been an authoritarian schoolteacher.”
In his fascination with facts, Rothman was intrigued by differences he found between the backgrounds and personality types of Jewish radicals and Christian radicals. The Jewish radicals tended to be narcissistic, self-indulgent, anarchic, from upper middle class, liberal, reportedly matriarchal homes, where parents often sympathized with their children’s political activities. The Christian radicals tended to be ”rigid rebels’’: classic authoritarian personalities, estranged from lower-middle class conservative homes, in revolt against domineering fathers and contemptuous of society for its weakness.
Why do things like media bias and the authoritarian leanings of leftists make Rothman pessimistic about America? Hasn’t he followed the recent election returns? Isn’t he aware that corporate restructuring has made U.S. industry competitive again?
Yes, he reads the newspapers, but he puts more store in German sociologist Max Weber’s theory that capitalism in the West is the product of unusual cultural conditions: specifically Protestant Christianity, with its tradition of self-discipline, individualism and rationality
Rothman’s diagnosis: This religious tradition may be self-destructing. Its very rationality is undercutting the religious basis of its values. And its very economic success has financed the rise of what Rothman calls ”cultural strategic elites”—influential groups like his major media professionals and academics—who are divorced from the system and, his polls show, increasingly hostile to it.
Rothman’s prognosis: eventual decay into stagnant, authoritarian bureaucracy. Which, he points out, has in fact been the norm through most of human history.
So, yes, the Republicans swept the polls, there’s more talk about family values, the economy is growing and the stock market is celebrating. Rothman waves all that aside. The facts again. He says they reflect Weber, not Gingrich.
|’’Part of me continues to hope that, if I can just get the facts out there, somebody else will figure out what to do about it.”|
”Divorce, illegitimacy, crime—every indicator of social decay got worse under Reagan. And there’s no real sign of a cultural revival now.” In fact, he says, sociologists are expecting an increase in crime as the young male population starts to grow again.
How do we get out of this mess? Rothman shrugs and talks vaguely of a possible religious revival, although he himself is an agnostic.
Doesn’t that talk of religious revival sound like House Speaker Gingrich’s eulogizing the role of Methodism in Victorian England? Rothman is skeptical: ”Gingrich is a politician. You can’t tell people, go believe in God. You need a religious leader.”
But then Rothman shrugs again. ”Hey, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Part of me continues to hope that, if I can just get the facts out there, somebody else will figure out what to do about it.”
So, maybe things aren’t as bad as Rothman thinks. Diagnosis is what interests him, and in overcoming disease, proper diagnosis is at least half the fight. Thus, you can buy Rothman’s fact-based diagnosis without accepting his prognosis.
Peter Brimelow [Email him] is the editor of VDARE.com. His best-selling book, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, is now available in Kindle format.