The Psychic Iron Cage

This page leads you to two essays, each of which address the subject of ‘Who Placed American Men in a Psychic ‘Iron Cage?’ The first essay, Part I, is contained on this page. The second can be reached through a link to Part II in the summaries below.

Who Placed American Men in a Psychic ‘Iron Cage?’ Part I: The Radical Feminism Thread

Radical feminism is traced from its inception in the early 1800s from the idealistic Transcendental generation, the precursor generation to today’s Boomers. The radical idealist Transcendentals essentially precipitated a needless, bloody, and senseless Civil War. Today’s idealistic Boomer generation has the potential to become the most dangerous generation in our nation’s history.

Who Placed American Men in a Psychic ‘Iron Cage?’ Part I: The ’Cultural Marxism’ Thread

The elites of the counter-culture Boomer generation have been infected with a ‘political correctness’ which is totalitarian in spirit and socialist in its world view. During the 1990s, when they came to political power, as every generation in its turn does, they have become the ‘foot soldiers’ of the Frankfurt School gurus who immigrated to America to escape Hitler’s national socialism. These Marxists married Marx with Freud to form a blend of ‘soft’ totalitarianism, a ‘cultural Marxism’ and are applying it to every institution in America. Click here to read Part II of this series of essays.

Who Placed American Men in a Psychic 'Iron Cage?'

Part I

The Radical Feminist Thread


Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson

10 November 1997

Radical feminism was conceived and birthed in America in the 1820s by a generation which experienced the first stage of the industrial revolution. Women who were previously (over the two centuries of colonization) forced to share in the hardship of survival in a harsh agrarian society were becoming part of a 'middle class' gentry with time and energy spent writing novels and newspaper articles for their 'sisters' of the period. The initial stages of the 'feminization' of American culture has been dated from this time.

These radical feminists became a featured staple of the idealistic Transcendental generation which included David Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, and many ultra-radical Unitarian ministers of the day. These abolitionists were joined by others of their generation, not so well known, who were bent on destroying 'Southern' culture, at any cost. Driven by the rhetoric of Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin), Julia Ward Howe (author of the words to 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic'), and Margaret Fuller (the first radical feminist newspaper columnist), the men and women of this Transcendental generation pushed our nation into a needless,, and destructive Civil War.

Mythology has been kind to these young idealists of their day. They were the driving force behind the abolition of slavery, a goal that all present-day Americans support. But the methods of these 'non-violent, pacifist' Transcendentals of the Civil War period were not at all glorious. They provided the support, material and moral, for John Brown and his gang of cutthroats who, in the middle of the night, murdered in cold blood five innocent Southern settlers in Kansas who had committed no crime. That night, Old Brown left behind "...five mutilated dead men, two widows, and a number of fatherless children. And the peace of the region was in a shambles." The Transcendentals, including the radical feminists of the time, provided the support for this raid (and the subsequent raid on Harper's Ferry) through the Secret Six. Otto J. Scott reminds us that "...As the civil war moves toward legend their names [the Secret Six] have become enshrined among the best...[they] were really contemptible men who hired an assassin, armed a murderer, supported secret crime in the name of compassion and dealt their country a terrible blow while claiming the motives of angels."

It is only after several generations that it can be seen, with terrible clarity that, "...Old Brown -- by linking murder to his distorted version of religion, and by selecting victims who were innocent of any crime -- had reintroduced the old, evil and pagan principle of human sacrifice..." into American politics. The idealist Transcendentals, including America's first radical feminists, had a heavy hand in supporting this treachery.

Who were these Transcendental idealists and why is it important to be reminded of them today? The Transcendentals were a generation who were the precursors of today's idealistic Boomer generation. We can infer where we are headed under the leadership of the elite Boomers, with President Clinton as their titular head, by observing the behavior of the Transcendentals prior to and during the American Civil War.

The Transcendentals supported abolition of slavery, women's rights, temperance, pacifism, and many other causes that we now observe as modern New Age popular culture. They delved in spiritualism (talking with the dead), eastern mysticism, and phrenology (foretelling personality by the shape of one's head). They would be right at home in today's New Age fascination with claims of impregnation by visiting aliens from outer space. But the Transcendentals had a darker side. They supported the introduction of terrorism into American politics.

For example, they nurtured John Brown, a cold-blooded assassin. Then, as now, political assassins desire not simply to murder, but also to attract attention -- to incite and terrify as many people as possible. In the late 1850s a new type of political assassin appeared in the United States. "He did not murder the mighty -- but the obscure. He did not pursue officials, or leaders, or persons in the public eye; he murdered at random -- among the innocent. Yet his purposes were the same as those of his classic predecessors: to force the nation into a new political pattern by creating terror."

Unlike those who murdered innocent people in the past, this new type of assassin was praised by many journalists and hailed by some as a hero of the people. His murders were blended, by skillful propaganda, into praises of the cause he claimed to represent and this, too, was a departure from standards of judgment that had distinguished civilization from barbarity throughout the centuries.

According to Scott, "...Such a clear break with the ethos of the ages was remarkable, but it was not sudden. It took generations to evolve and did not emerge from the poorly educated underclasses of society. It was the result of efforts by persons from privileged backgrounds, of outstanding abilities, famous for their eloquence and elevated by great success, who built an intellectual movement in which this new type of assassin was a welcome figure." These people were the elite idealistic Transcendentals of the period, the ancestral cauldron of today's idealistic Boomer elite.

Within this movement in the 1850s was a small cluster of conspirators (the Secret Six) who armed, financed and advised the assassin. The members of that cabal were "...persons of high standing in the community. All were in comfortable circumstances. Some were famous and others were wealthy. All of them were dissatisfied with the normal process of government, and all were obsessed with the desire to make their opinions -- and not the decisions of the elected leaders of the people -- the determining factors in the life of a nation."

Scott reminds us that the efforts of the Transcendentals led not only to bloody murder but to a great civil war and "...they were praised as patriots and humanitarians, and they became connected with the cause they claimed. Historians have written monographs and biographies of them that come close to [eulogies]. Schoolchildren are still taught that they were heroes." They, in fact, were contemptible people who fanned the flames for a civil war that even today divides Americans irreversibly.

Radical feminists were at the heart of the Transcendental movement. L.G. Williams, publishing his master's thesis at Harvard University, tells the riveting story of the death of Theodore Parkman, a Ph.D. and color-bearer of the 45th Massachusetts Regiment, and son of a Unitarian minister and a Transcendental feminist. Parkman, who is commemorated in Harvard's Memorial Hall of Heroes, was actually killed by a fratricidal artillery bombardment by Union forces at the battle of Whitehall, NC (Williams' ancestral plantation).

Theodore Parkman and his cousin, Robert Gould Shaw, embodied the sensitive, fair-haired, beautiful and awful [Whittier] 'angel of death' romanticized by the radical feminist, Lydia Maria Child, and other wealthy Transcendentals who also promoted temperance, women's rights and "...vigorous prosecution of the war at any cost." They were bent on destroying 'Southern' culture, one of the four different 'cultures' (ways of life and folkways) brought to America from four different and distinct parts of England in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Child wrote Robert Shaw's mother, another Transcendental, noting the "...solemn possibility that he [Robert] may also lie in his blanket at the foot of some distant tree ... like Theodore ... a worthy companion of the angels, to whom he has gone." Williams observes that Robert did not understand that, "[The abolitionists who controlled the political thought in Boston, New York and Washington] were hungry for martyrs and believed that socially-prominent casualties would pressure Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation..."

Sadly for Robert, one of the more devout Transcendentals was his own mother who wrote the governor of Massachusetts in praise of her son, that "...I believe this time [i.e. civil war] to be the fulfillment of the Prophecies, the second advent of Christ..." Her son, Robert, who wanted to transfer to the Regular Army, earn his own money and get married, must have wondered about his mother's state of mind. Why pressure him to take a post where his death was a political necessity? "Was his own 'death' her attempt to even the loss for Theodore or was she jealous of her sister's martyrdom [in having lost a son in the war on the side of the abolitionists]?" Indeed, the radical feminists of the period treasured 'the cause' above the life of their own sons. They showed a me, me, meism even stronger than any demonstrated by today's elite Boomers.

Williams reveals a larger theme. "The Abolitionist forces that drove the war represented in the main by the civil-rights movements for Blacks and women, had great distrust of the 'Democratic' Federal Army. They believed, correctly, that many of the soldiers detested Anti-Slavery and Feminist politics. This knowledge may have produced apathy toward any particular soldier's fate among Abolitionists." For example, the famous Irish Brigade was composed of Irish immigrants who were victims of the famine years in Ireland and came to America only to face poverty and bigotry in their adopted country. When the Civil War broke out, they joined the Union Army in droves, even though many rejected the North's mission to abolish slavery.

Williams informs us that Northern soldiers, like the Irish Brigade, cursed emancipation and insisted that they fought to preserve the Union. They had fears that, after the war, freed slaves would flood northern cities, taking their jobs thereby forcing them into poverty. Many of these Yankee soldiers were recent immigrants imported from Europe as labor for the industrial North. Moreover, many men saw women as a privileged class who, if they received the vote, would establish socialism by combining their votes with those of the slaves who would become citizens. According to Williams, "Added to this general confusion, was the thirst for blood by formerly-pacifist Abolitionists who cared little for the consequences. Their cries for ceaseless fighting demoralized soldiers on both sides and made them believe that some maniacal force drove them into a frenzied attrition of each other."

The Confederate General, R.S. Ewell wrote in August of 1862 that, "Some 100,000 human beings have been massacred in every conceivable form of horror, with three times as many wounded, all because of a set of fanatical abolitionist and unprincipled politicians backed by women in petticoats and pants, and children."

Meanwhile, the Transcendentals, abolitionists and wealthy business interests, intensified their efforts in U.S. Government offices to become rich and powerful. They exerted relentless pressure on Lincoln in the final weeks of 1862 demanding that he issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He did, but the Proclamation did not give them immediate success -- neither did winning the war.

Williams points out that, "Freed slaves secured the vote only after the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments (ratified in 1870), but women fared worse. They did not receive the vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. However, the substantial political victories that these groups achieved [during the Civil War period] guaranteed that they would remain allies. Today, their political organizations dominate every aspect of society, politics and education in America -- including the military." Indeed, the present-day radical feminist assault on VMI and the Citadel, the only two remaining bastions of 'Southern' culture involving male-only education, has a direct political link to the Transcendental activists of the Civil War period. This assault is a continuation of the century-old effort to destroy 'Southern' culture.

Indeed, Transcendental history poses a precedent for today's society and the U.S. military, bogged down endlessly in Bosnia with pronounced 'moral' justifications by today's idealistic generation -- the elite Boomers. Consider Williams, "The Abolitionists championed the Boston men who went to [Whitehall] as 'bearers' of women's rights and anti-slavery banners. However, their support drew the wrath of weary veterans who believed that the Abolitionists started the war for their own benefit and left years of bloody fighting to them. This belief weighed on the minds of the new arrivals [the 45th Massachusetts Regiment] and their convictions about the war began to change as they shared campaign rigors with veterans and realized that Boston knew little of the South, Southerners, slaves, slavery and Negro life."

"Dismayed by their [soldiers'] bitterness, Reverends, wives, girlfriends, mothers and fathers hastened to [Whitehall] with rewards that most field soldiers never received. They brought money, clothing, food, supplies; even ice, to ensure that their men kept faith with the 'holy cause,' Abolitionism. This further angered the veterans and made the young men warier of their association with civilians promoting the war." Williams speculates that, "Perhaps many of them marched in front of their own artillery at Whitehall in a hapless attempt to somehow wash away this perceived disgrace and regain their self-respect."

This tale, told by a U.S. Army Reserve officer, a Gulf War veteran, L.G. Williams, prompts him to conclude, "For the soldier, the battle of Whitehall reflects the tragic politics of war: hidden agendas, corrupt policies, self-serving strategies and senseless tactics. This inevitable sequence murdered Theodore Parkman and millions of others, before and after. His death is a perfect example of the useless waste of men sent to war for reasons that most of them do not understand no matter how hard they try." This conclusion is as valid today, in response to the foreign policy adventures of the elite Boomer generation in Bosnia as it was in the Transcendental days. Indeed, history is repeating itself.

The feminization of American culture continues to this day. Radical feminists demand that women be allowed to 'choose' entry to the infantry, artillery, special forces, and combat engineering positions in the Army and Marine Corps. These demands follow the current 'feminization' of combat aviation in the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Army since 1993.

The feminization of American politics was completed in the 1996 Presidential election when both parties produced 'feminized' conventions featuring soft, emotional, Oprah Winfrey-type orations and sentimental film clips of the presidential candidates. Both candidates were portrayed as soft, gentle, emotion-driven creatures sufficiently in touch with their feelings that women across America would feel 'comfortable' in their care. With 60 million female votes at stake, both political parties pandered to America's 'feminine' side.

There is no doubt that the 'man of the 90s' is expected to be a touchy-feely subspecies who bows to the radical feminist agenda. He is a staple of Hollywood, the television network sitcoms and movies, and the political pundit talk shows. This 'feminization' is becoming so noticeable that newspapers and weekly monthly magazines are picking up on it. For example, The Washington Times and National Review magazine combine to tell us that, "...behind the breezy celebration of 'guy stuff' in today's men's magazines lurks a crisis of confidence. What does it mean to be masculine in the 1990s?" It is revealed that today's men's magazines (Esquire, GQ, Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Men's Journal, Details, maxim, Men's Perspective) "...are all geared to a new feminized man..."

What has happened? First, the old masculine attitude toward personal appearance has all but disappeared. If childhood memory serves, our fathers' acts of personal upkeep were mostly limited to shaving and putting on a tie. So, "'s hard to imagine [them] interested in articles on 'A Flat Belly for the Beach' (Verge), or, the three new men's fragrances for the fall season (GQ), or even, for that matter, 'The New Fall Suit' (Esquire). But somewhere along the line men became less concerned with being strong and silent, and more worried about making themselves pretty." Indeed, the feminization of American culture is nearly complete. The last bastion of male domination, the U.S. military, must be conquered by the radical feminists in order to complete the process.

If this 'feminization' trend, driven primarily by radical feminists bent on destroying a perceived male-dominated hierarchical culture, were the only aspect of American life that appears ominous, we could probably rest assured that the 'cycles' of American history would take care of it. Clearer heads would prevail over time. The grinding march of history would move America toward a more stable accommodation between men and women, based on cooperation and mutual respect, in the future as it has in the past.

But 'feminization' is not the only disturbing thread in American culture today. Another thread, apparently linear in affect, but in concert with other threads, including the 'feminization' of American culture, has the potential to create an explosion that we may not be able to contain. That thread is 'cultural Marxism.' The confluence of radical feminism and 'cultural Marxism' in a single generation, the elite Boomers (a throwback to the destructive Transcendentals), renders the complex, non-linear feedback system of American Civilization susceptible to a chaotic disintegration.


Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson, CDR USN (Ret.) is the author of "The New Totalitarians: Bosnia as a Mirror of America's Future," published in 1996 and "From Trust to Terror: Radical Feminism is Destroying the U.S. Navy," published in 1997. A detailed description of these books is available at Atkinson's Web Site at: