Conservatives: Kagan Quote from 1905 German Sociologist Means that She’s a Nazi

From Human Events:

SHOCKING: Kagan’s Princeton Thesis Cited German Socialist Who Endorsed Nazis

A complete non-story follows, prompted by some passing comments in Elena Kagan’s undergraduate thesis derived from Werner Sombart. In the introduction to her thesis, Kagan observed that

Ever since Werner Sombart first posed the question in 1905, countless historians have tried to explain why there is no socialism in America.

Indeed; his translated book Why is there No Socialism in the United States? has spurred ongoing academic discussion. Kagan’s thesis famously was on American socialism, so naturally she referred to it – but she recognised that it was the first word on the subject, not the last:

In the first two decades of the twentieth century the American socialist movement, whose very existence Sombart refused to consider, grew if not by leaps and bounds at least by inches…

…historians have often called attention to various characteristics of American society that have militated against widespread acceptance of radical movements. These societal traits – an ethnically divided worked class, a relatively fluid class structure, an economy which allowed at least some workers to enjoy what Sombart termed ‘reefs of roast beef and apple pie,’ – prevented the early twentieth century socialists from attracting an immediate mass following. Such conditions did not, however, completely checkmate American socialism.

Anyone who has had even a casual encounter with the social sciences will understand why Sombart is being cited here: his book set the ball rolling for a particular research agenda, and much of the later discussion will have engaged with his book – not as an “authority” to be slavishly followed, but as a resource to be drawn from, adapted, critiqued, or even exploded. Had Kagan not cited Sombart, her examiners might have questioned how well she knew the field – it would be like writing on Protestantism’s relation to the development of capitalism without showing knowledge of Weber or Tawney.

However, Sombart  became increasingly reactionary, and by the time of his death in 1941 he was a Nazi. He also went on to write critically about the “Jewish spirit” of rationalism, which he saw as in conflict with German “creativity”. Human Events doesn’t go so far as to say that because Kagan cited his book on American socialism she must therefore sympathise with any of this, but that’s obviously what’s inferred – they just know it would look too stupid to state outright.

The disgusting Pamela Geller, though, has no such qualms; she has reposted the article, with an added mock-up of Kagan dressed in a Nazi uniform (provided by “BigFurHat”, responsible for Geller’s various graphics; see my blog entry here), and her own deranged commentary:

How broken are we that we would consider an admirer of an architect of German national socialism, Nazism, to sit in one of the most powerful judicial chairs in the world? The Obama freak show continues and we are his victims…

What’s worse here? Is it the insult to our intelligence? Is it the McCarthyist anti-intellectualism, by which a person is denounced through the most tenuous association? Or is it, as is so common these days, the complete trivialisation of Nazism?

Surely such debased rhetoric must be an embarrassment to John Bolton, who wrote a foreword for Geller’s recent book?