But Nietzsche’s main contention, and his most controversial conjecture, was this: Christianity as Jewish revenge. He paints the following picture, to which I have added factual details as we understand them today.
Paul could see the growing oppression of the Jews. They had only limited ability to fight back militarily. They were increasingly frustrated and trapped, confronted by a larger and more powerful enemy than they had ever encountered before. So Paul, perhaps together with Luke, Mark (both educated, upper-class Jews) and Peter (the chandala apostle), concocted a plan. They could not use force against the Romans because the Jews were too few and too weak. The Romans were also few in number, and militarily strong. But the common man, the masses, especially the chandala Gentiles — they were many. If they could come to oppose the Romans then an overthrow, a revolution, might be possible; or at the very least, the iron-grip rule would be weakened. But the Gentiles did not have the same hatred that the Jews had; they were less oppressed, and had less to lose under Roman rule. And they were not naturally inclined to fight on the side of the Jews. Even if a leader were to emerge, the Gentiles would not follow a Jew — unless he was the Son of God.
A Jewish rebel, a fellow chandala, but a divine One sent by God — or better, the embodiment of God himself — might be able to win over the allegiance of the unthinking and superstitious Gentile masses. It would be a kind of ‘charm offensive’ against Rome — to steal away their moral authority and place it, ultimately, in the hands of a Jew who would sooth their suffering, and ‘save’ them. “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), as Nietzsche is fond of reminding us. This sort of stealth insurrection would avoid the kind of direct confrontation that would get the rebels imprisoned or killed, and it would be done in the name of nominally higher values like faith, hope, and love.
Tales of a Jewish messiah come to earth, however, would cause trouble with Paul’s fellow Jews. First, the messiah was supposed to save the Jews, not the Gentiles. Second, despite the urgent need, the ancient prophetic signs were not yet in place; any alleged messiah would be false. Furthermore Jesus apparently had a habit of working on the Sabbath, flouting Judaic law. These things were likely the source of Jewish antipathy toward him while he was alive.
The situation demanded a two-pronged strategy. One person — Peter — would work with his fellow Jews to convince them that, yes indeed, this savior would work to the benefit of the Jews; he could be a true ‘redeemer’ after all. The others — Paul, and perhaps Mark, Luke, and others17 — would undertake to spread the ‘Good Word’ to the non-Jewish masses. How do we know this? Paul tells us himself:
· “Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry…” (Rom 11:13);
· “[Jesus was revealed to me] in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles” (Gal 1:16);
· “Let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen” (Acts 28:28);
· “[Barnabas and Paul] related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles” (Acts 15:12).
This conversion of the Gentiles was the core of the overall plan; without them the insurrection would fail: “I want you [Gentiles] to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel until the full number of Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:25-26) — saved by the Redeemer from Zion.18 To this end, the doctrine of ‘original sin’ was essential. Every man was condemned from birth, unless he accepted the Jewish savior: “all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin” (Rom 3:9); “sin came into the world through one man [Adam] and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom 5:12).
Peter’s assignment is made clear in Galatians (2:7-8):
I [Paul] had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised [non-Jews], just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised [Jews], (for He who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles)…
So the plan devised by the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’ (Paul) and the ‘Apostle to the Jews’ (Peter) was well underway by the mid-50s ad. Nietzsche called it “the most subterranean conspiracy that ever existed” (sec. 62).
As far as we can tell, this small band of Jewish revolutionaries met with marginal success at first. Judging from the near complete lack of written documentation (apart from Paul’s own letters), they had little immediate effect. Once again, the chronology is telling: Jesus lived for 30-some years; 20 years then passed with no written record at all; and for 20 more years we have only the Pauline epistles. So: 70 years gone by, and the sum total of recorded history for this group of Christian Jews is a handful of letters by their leader, Paul.
And then Paul dies — executed in Rome, so we are told. Coincidentally, it is just at this time (66 ad) that the first Jewish Revolt begins. The battle waxes and wanes for four years, until the Romans prevail in 70, destroying the great Jewish temple at Jerusalem. Suddenly, the game changes. The Jews are annihilated, defeated, and enraged. Their hatred knows no bounds. A burning resentment — ressentiment, according to Nietzsche — gives rise to a maniacal thirst for revenge: “The Romans will pay for this, if it takes a thousand years.”
As luck would have it a nascent insurrection was already underway, thanks to Paul and his band of “little ultra-Jews” (sec. 44). Unfortunately, Peter and Mark both died during the Revolt, and with Paul already gone the movement was decapitated. The only survivors were Luke and the chandala apostles Phillip and John.19 Someone then decided to launch a full-court press for Jesus. They decided that the story of his life needed to be written, clearly demonstrating his divine nature. Within a year of the destruction of the Temple, suddenly, miraculously, the Gospel of Mark appears.
As the first detailed account of Jesus, it was crucial that it reach and impress the non-Jewish masses. Hence it was written explicitly for them. Jewish terms and concepts are explained (5:41, 7:1, 13:46, 14:12, 15:42). Jesus employs simple-minded parables (4:10-12, plus many examples throughout). And the book is replete with miracles from the very first page; even the apostles performed them! (6:13). It no doubt had a great effect.20
The Gospel of Mark evidently sufficed, at least for some 10 years. Then, unknown persons for unknown reasons decided to embellish this text, but under different names. Thus came the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. (Again, expert consensus indicates that neither of these were written by their namesakes.) So by the year 90 we have the three ‘synoptic Gospels’ completed, all of which were constructed on a similar plan.
Finally, some time in the final decade of that first century, the Gospel of John appears — again, authorship unknown. It is notably different, both in content and tone, from the other three: no mention of the virgin birth or baptism of Jesus, no ‘casting out of demons’ miracles, clear separation from orthodox Judaism, only rare mention of the suffering and downtrodden peoples, many first-person references by Jesus, and, oddly, Jesus now carries his own cross (previously, Simon). In general, Jesus is portrayed as more thoughtful and philosophical. It seems to have targeted a more upper-class audience, both Jews and non-Jews. Perhaps it was meant as ‘Christianity for the intellectuals.’
By the early 100s, then, everything was in place. All NT books were complete, and they created — literally created — an image of Christ that was compatible with the OT, and, more importantly, suited the larger purpose of winning allegiance from the masses. The Pharisee Jews were not happy, because they understood that this Jesus was a false messiah, but they would come to accept the benefits of a Jewish Christ that could sway the public at large and undermine support for Rome. The plan was brilliant, and by all accounts, it worked. Christianity grew from being persecuted by Rome, to being tolerated under the reign of Constantine (306–337), to being installed as the official state religion by Theodosius in 380 — coincidentally, just 15 years before the disintegration of the Empire.
Of course, it is very difficult to know the extent to which Christianity was a causal factor in the collapse — many other forces were at work, including imperial overstretch, economic inflation, growing attacks by outside powers, barbarization of the Roman military, depopulation from recurrent plagues, environmental degradation, lead poisoning, and corruption within the leadership. Notably, the first modern era account of Rome’s collapse — Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1789) — was also the first to cite Christianity and Christian ‘moral decay’ as a leading cause; on this count Nietzsche was not original. Scholars since Gibbon’s time generally prefer some combination of the other factors. But the actual cause is not really at issue here. Christianity was certainly very influential during the period of decline, and it undeniably filled the void created when Rome finally collapsed in 476. Even if Christianity was merely the opportunist of the time, Nietzsche’s main contention holds.
* * * * *
Whatever the cause or causes, Christianity proved the victor. Unfortunately, says Nietzsche, this victory came at a tremendous cost. The Romans, in fact, had the nobler values. Having absorbed and assimilated the best of classical Greek culture, the Romans of that first century ad were the embodiment of strength, nobility, life-affirmation, and excellence — in short, all that was greatest in humanity.
For the Romans were the strong and noble, and nobody stronger and nobler has yet existed on earth or even been dreamed of: every remnant of them, every inscription, gives delight… (Genealogy, 1.16).
Greeks! Romans! The nobility of instinct, the taste, the methodical research, the genius of organization and administration, the faith in — the will to — man’s future, the great Yes to all things, become visible in the imperium Romanum, visible for all the senses, the grand style no longer mere art but become reality, truth, life. (Antichrist, sec. 59)
The Empire could withstand almost anything — “but it was not firm enough against the most corrupt kind of corruption, against the Christians” (sec. 58). They were the revolutionaries and anarchists, pulling on the great pillars of the Empire by draining it of its greatest strength, its system of values:
The Christian and the anarchist: both decadents, both incapable of having any effect other than disintegrating, poisoning, withering, bloodsucking; both the instinct of moral hatred against everything that stands, that stands in greatness, that has duration, that promises life a future. Christianity was the vampire of the imperium Romanum… (ibid.)
The defeat was total. “Which of them has won for the present, Rome or Judea?” Nietzsche answers:
But there can be no doubt: consider to whom one bows down in Rome itself today — and not only in Rome but over almost half the earth, everywhere that man has become tame or desires to become tame: in front of three Jews, as is known, and one Jewess (Jesus of Nazareth, the fisherman Peter, the rug weaver Paul, and the mother of the aforementioned Jesus, named Mary). This is very remarkable: without doubt Rome has been conquered. (Genealogy, 1.16)
When they were defeated, nobility itself was destroyed, and the Jewish chandala morality, the slave morality, arose victorious. For the slaves and Jews this was a happy outcome; for humanity at large it was a catastrophe of the highest magnitude.
How was this attack conducted? First, by countering every aspect of Roman morality and spirituality, and second, by establishing a system favorable to Jewish interests. Against Roman polytheism, the Jews placed monotheism (or “monotono-theism”, as Nietzsche would have it). Against a sense of privilege, nobility, and hierarchy, the Jews placed ‘equality before God’, and the notion of ‘equal rights.’ Against the ideal of human fulfillment and self-realization here on Earth, salvation now came in the afterlife. Against the gods of nature, who could be cruel and ruthless as well as beneficent, they placed a God of ‘pure spirit’ and love. Against the ideal of bodily strength and vigor, they placed the concept of spiritual health and bodily indifference. Against allegiance to men based upon leadership and the demands of the polity, they placed dependence on the priests. Against truth and reason, they placed lies and faith.
Nietzsche held out particular scorn for the three cardinal virtues of Christianity: faith, hope, and love (Paul, in 1 Cor 13:13). Faith is fundamentally opposed to truth, because one simply ‘believes’ for no rational reason, or worse, in spite of reason; “if faith is quite generally needed above all, then reason, knowledge, and inquiry must be discredited: the way to truth become the forbidden way” (sec. 23). Faith is a “form of sickness, and all straight, honest, scientific paths to knowledge must be rejected by the church as forbidden paths. Even doubt is a sin. … ‘Faith’ means not wanting to know what is true” (sec. 52). It engenders dependency, because one is not allowed to think critically, or for oneself; the believer becomes dependent on the priest, who in turn gains power over the believer. Hence “every kind of faith is itself an expression of self-abnegation, of self-alienation” (sec. 54).
Hope, Nietzsche reminds us, was the one evil that did not escape Pandora’s box. It strikes the modern reader as odd to think of hope as an evil, but in the hand of the Christian it becomes merely “a hope for the beyond” — an unfulfillable (or at least unverifiable) promise of a blessed afterlife. As such, Christian hope is meaningless; worse still, a tool for manipulation, “precisely because of its ability to keep the unfortunate in continual suspense” (sec. 23). To repeatedly promise with no ability to deliver — this is the function of the priest.
Love is the most striking of the three, born as it is, paradoxically, out of Jewish hatred and revenge. Rather than teaching the non-Jews to hate the Romans — for which there was no real basis — Paul and his fellow Jews used ‘God’s love’ to seduce the masses. This necessitated, first of all, a certain conception of God: “To make love possible, God must be a person,” not merely some abstract metaphysical entity. To truly personalize God, he must come to Earth in human form — hence Jesus. ‘Jesus’ (of the Pauline persuasion) now serves a specific purpose: to allow us to ‘love God’ more easily. Once we are in love, we both tolerate more, and are ripe for manipulation. “Love is the state in which man sees things most decidedly as they are not. … In love man endures more, man bears everything” (ibid). So once the masses are drawn to the Jewish Messiah by love, they accept what he says unquestioningly, and are willing to submit to trials and hardship — a perfect combination for the Jewish priest. Accept the Jews, those chosen people of God; don’t resist the Jews; love thy neighbor, the Jew (Rom 13:9) — this is the message:
The Christian…is distinguished by acting differently: by not resisting, either in words or in his heart, those who treat him ill; by making no distinction between foreigner and native, between Jew and non-Jew (‘the neighbor’ — really the coreligionist, the Jew); by not growing angry with anybody, by not despising anybody… (sec. 33)
Because the goal was to convert and mobilize every available person, Jesus (God) must love all people equally. Paul thereby negated one of the most ancient realities of human society — the hierarchy of rank among individuals — with his doctrine of a God that gives his blessing to all. He also negated the existence and importance of ethnic and national differences and conflicts among different ethnic and national interests: All people are essentially the same in the eyes of God. All men have an immortal soul that can be saved, and thus are inherently equal: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks [i.e. non-Jews], slaves or free — and all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13); “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). In Nietzsche’s paraphrase, “Everyone is the child of God…and as a child of God everyone is equal to everyone.” There could scarcely be a more pernicious lie than this, he argues. If no one is worse than anyone else, then no one is better — no one can get better. This is counter to the whole thrust of life and evolution, which is toward the greater, the higher, the more refined, the nobler. But it is as necessary as it is destructive, if the masses are to be mobilized.
Thus emerged the slave morality of the Christians, out of the hatred and revenge of the Jews. And it was all based upon lies: the lie of equality, the lie of the miracle, the lie of the resurrection, the lie of God, the lie of Christian love. It is so profoundly opposed to nature and the natural order of the world that it creates a deep sickness within humanity. This “world of pure fiction” and its “hatred of the natural…of reality!” actually has an interest in creating a sickness that only it can assuage:
Christianity needs sickness just as Greek culture needs a superabundance of health — to make sick is the true, secret purpose of the whole system of redemptive procedures constructed by the church. (sec. 51)
Christianity also stands opposed to every spirit that has turned out well; it can use only sick reason as Christian reason, it sides with everything idiotic, it utters a curse against the spirit, against the superbia of the healthy spirit… [S]ickness is of the essence of Christianity. (sec. 52)
The sickly, the weak, the enfeebled, the ignorant, the repugnant — we know these are the essence of a Jewish-contrived Christianity because…Paul tells us:
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are… (1 Cor 1:27-28).
“This was the formula,” says Nietzsche; under this sign, “decadence triumphed” (sec. 51). This, in a single passage, contains the essence of Christian depravity and decay.
Decadence is only a means for the type of man who demands power in Judaism and Christianity, the priestly type: this type of man has a life interest in making mankind sick, and in so twisting the concepts of good and evil, true and false, as to imperil life and slander the world. (sec. 24)
In Christianity all of Judaism, a several-century-old Jewish preparatory training and technique of the most serious kind, attains its ultimate mastery as the art of lying in a holy manner. The Christian, the ultima ratio of the lie, is the Jew once more — even three times a Jew. (sec. 44)
Nietzsche closes Antichrist with guns ablaze:
Paul, the chandala hatred against Rome, against ‘the world,’ become flesh, become genius, the Jew, the eternal Wandering Jew par excellence. What he guessed was how one could use the little sectarian Christian movement apart from Judaism to kindle a ‘world fire’; how with the symbol of ‘God on the cross’ one could unite all who lay at the bottom, all who were secretly rebellious, the whole inheritance of anarchistic agitation in the Empire, into a tremendous power. ‘Salvation is of the Jews.’ Christianity as a formula with which to outbid the subterranean cults of all kinds…and to unite them: in this lies the genius of Paul. His instinct was so sure in this that he took the ideas with which these chandala religions fascinated, and, with ruthless violence, he put them into the mouth of the ‘Savior’ whom he had invented… This was his moment at Damascus: he comprehended that he needed the belief in immortality to deprive ‘the world’ of value, that the concept of ‘hell’ would become master even over Rome — that with the ‘beyond’ one kills life. (sec. 58)
The whole labor of the ancient world in vain…the whole meaning of the ancient world in vain! Wherefore Greeks? Wherefore Romans? All the presuppositions for a scholarly culture, all scientific methods, were already there… Everything essential had been found, so the work could be begun… All in vain! Overnight, nothing but a memory! … [R]uined by cunning, stealthy, invisible, anemic vampires. Not vanquished — merely drained. Hidden vengefulness, petty envy become master. Everything miserable that suffers from itself, that is afflicted with bad feelings, that whole ghetto-world of the soul on top, all at once. (sec. 59)
Parasitism as the only practice of the church; with its ideal of anemia, of ‘holiness’, draining all blood, all love, all hope for life; the beyond as the will to negate every reality; the cross as the mark of recognition for the most subterranean conspiracy that ever existed — against health, beauty, whatever has turned out well, courage, spirit, graciousness of the soul, against life itself. … I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great innermost corruption, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means is too poisonous, too stealthy, too subterranean, too petty — I call it the one immortal blot on mankind. (sec. 62)
What an incredible feat: to turn Europeans away from their own western heritage — a noble, life-affirming Greco-Roman culture — and toward a foreign, alien, decadent, Oriental worldview. And it was done as revenge, out of hatred, and built upon lies. An ancient religion — Judaism — born of falsehood and lies, creates another born of falsehood and lies. It is done for reasons of power, control, wealth, and survival. And the lie prevails.
Judaism never did fully accept Christian morality or the notion of a Christian Messiah — even if he were a Jew. Though there was considerable overlap in the two religions — both are variations on the slave morality — Judaism retained its insularity, suspicion of Gentiles, need for control, exploitation, and power, and inclination for revenge. As Christianity took flight it became, of course, a non-Jewish religion. Christian morals thus emphasized compassion, love, ‘resist not evil’, ‘turn the other cheek’, ‘blessed are the meek.’ There could obviously be no suspicion of non-Jews within Christianity, but this was replaced by a suspicion of all that was great, strong, and noble — the exemplar, the outstanding individual who put the lie to the notion of universal equality.
Implications for the Contemporary Scene
So what are the consequences of all this for today? There are many, of course. If indeed the essence of Pauline Christianity is sickness, and if it indeed is anti-natural and neglects all that is healthy and strong, then we should see some tangible evidence of this. For example, given that ultimate value lies in spiritual salvation, we might expect that the more pious, church-going nations would have less concern about bodily health. And in fact there seems to be a correlation between the two. Using obesity rates as a rough measure of physical health, an analysis of public survey data shows that the most religious Christian nations are also the most obese. Specifically, about 60 percent of the people in the U.S. and Mexico consider Christianity “very important,” and these same two nations have the highest obesity rates — 30 and 25 percent, respectively. Conversely, France, Germany, and the Czech Republic are less than 20 percent religious, and are also less than 15 percent obese.21 Of course, correlation is not causation, and we cannot say that Christian beliefs cause or promote ill health. But even if the converse is true — if the sick, the ill, the obese are drawn to Christianity — this does not speak well for the religion. Either way Nietzsche’s point appears confirmed: Physical health is not a big deal; God loves us no matter what.
But on more philosophical points, four items in particular stand out as clear implications. First, a heavy emphasis on freedom. The Judeo-Christian slave morality arises from an extreme lack of personal and social freedom, and thus it should exhibit a clear preoccupation, or even obsession, with freedom. This seems transparently clear in the U.S., at least, where ‘liberty’ is a core value, along with ‘life’ and ‘happiness.’ One recalls President Bush (Jr.)’s 2002 State of the Union speech, peppered with some two dozen references to it. We could point to our ‘war on terror,’ of which a prime objective is to “bring freedom” to the oppressed. We could cite our military adventurism in the Middle East, with its “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation Enduring Freedom” (Afghanistan). Our leading enemies in the world today are those who “hate our freedoms.”
The current, popular, governmental form of freedom is a debased concept. It is a freedom of capitalism, a freedom of exploitation, and a decadent, soft, amoral form of personal freedom; ‘liberalism,’ as Nietzsche would have it. Liberal institutions
undermine the will to power, they set to work leveling mountains and valleys and call this morality, they make things small, cowardly, and enjoyable — they represent the continual triumph of herd animals. Liberalism: herd animalization, in other words… (Twilight of the Idols, sec. 38).
True freedom, on Nietzsche’s view, is something different. It is the Greco-Roman conception of the idea — something felt, something lived. The Greeks and Romans did not speak of freedom or rights at all. They were free, they lived as free men, and thus did not obsess about it. And this is precisely the point: A truly free people does not obsess about freedom, or about rights. Only those enslaved, or those laboring under a slave morality, continue to do so. True freedom, Nietzsche says, is the struggle to maintain one’s personal independence and integrity in the face of countervailing forces. “What is freedom? Having the will to be responsible for yourself. Maintaining the distance that divides us. Becoming indifferent to hardship, cruelty, deprivation, even to life. … A free man is a warrior” (ibid).
Second, the natural extension of ‘equal before God’ is ‘equal before the law’. This implies a natural affinity to both democracy and equality of rights. Democracy is contemptuous precisely because it is the politics of the herd; it finds sustenance in the Judeo-Christian herd morality: “the democratic movement is the heir of the Christian movement” (Beyond Good and Evil, sec. 202). For Nietzsche, “the democratic movement is not only a form of decay of political organization but a form of the decay, namely the diminution, of man, making him mediocre and lowering his value” (ibid: 203). The Roman Empire flourished because it was anti-democratic.
On the general critique of democracy, Plato was in full agreement. For him (as for Aristotle), democracy was rule by the uneducated masses, and hence the lowest common denominator. Consequently it was nearly the worst form of government — surpassed only by tyranny.22 The pre-Christian world knew that brute democracy was something to be avoided.
Of course, the mere adoption of a Christian morality did not ensure democracy — as demonstrated by the Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the many Renaissance dynasties of Europe. Nor is it the only path to modern democracy — witness the Hindu democratic system in India. But for Europe at least, large-scale industrial democracy was the “heir” to Christianity, and it took several centuries to become manifest. It represents only the latest stage in the decline of western man.
The other implication of spiritual equality is that of equal rights. “The poison of the doctrine of ‘equal rights for all’ — it was Christianity that spread it most fundamentally” (sec. 43). It was a kind of gross flattery to tell even the lowest of the low — the chandalas, the masses — that they were equal to the highest, and deserved equal standing; this “miserable flattery of personal vanity” was a key element in the success of Christianity. It created the herd, and the herd would be led by their divine Shepherd. But this is not reality. In the real world there is order of rank, of lesser and greater individuals. Rights based on meaningless equality are themselves meaningless. Men are by nature unequal, and thus the only possible rights are those appropriate for each station — in other words, of unequal rights: “The inequality of rights is the first condition for the existence of any rights at all” (sec. 57). Rights are something one holds against another; when all have them, none have them.
Convinced of his equality and his rights, the chandala is willing to fight for them. Here the Christian rebel takes to work, inciting the masses against those stronger and nobler who would deny their equality — yet another justification for Nietzsche’s contempt:
Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker’s sense of satisfaction with his small existence — who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of ‘equal’ rights. … The anarchist and the Christian have the same origin. (ibid)
The passions of the common man are inflamed, envy is fostered, and the result is discontent. Once the hierarchy of the strong (e.g. the imperium Romanum) is undermined, then the herd becomes the dominant force. It is thereby easily manipulated by the priestly shepherds.
Thirdly, under the dictate of equality of all men, and the moral prescription to love thy neighbor, one is compelled to accept some form of multiculturalism, and even cultural relativism. All of humanity is part of the great Christian herd, at least potentially so. Those not explicitly Christian are converts-in-waiting. God does not discriminate amongst souls, nor should we. All are welcome to our flock; the bigger the herd, the better.
Finally, the primary goal of the whole scheme: benefit to the Jews and the Jewish state. In this sense we have, on the whole, and in spite of periodic pogroms throughout the centuries, a tremendous success story for the Jewish people. It cannot be anti-Semitic to point this out. In fact it is to their credit that such a small and beleaguered people could achieve such influence in an uncertain and dangerous world.
Especially in recent times, Jews have profited immensely from public sympathy — a sympathy frequently rooted in Christian theology. With Christianity, “we are among Jews”: Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles, ‘salvation is of the Jews’ — even God is a Jew:
When the presupposition of ascending life, when everything strong, brave, masterful, and proud is eliminated from the conception of God; when he degenerates step by step into a mere symbol, a staff for the weary, a sheet-anchor for the drowning; when he becomes a god of the poor, the sinners, and the sick par excellence…just what does such a transformation signify?
To be sure, the ‘kingdom of God’ has thus been enlarged. Formerly he had only his people, his ‘chosen’ people. Then he, like his people, became a wanderer and went into foreign lands…until ‘the great numbers’ and half the earth were on his side. Nevertheless, the god of ‘the great numbers,’ the democrat among the gods, did not become a proud pagan: he remained a Jew, he remained a god of nooks, the god of all the dark corners and places, of all the unhealthy quarters the world over! (sec. 17)
Hence: to love Christ and to love God is to love God’s chosen, the Jews — an ideal situation, if you’re Jewish. How much the easier to exploit the sympathies of the masses; to curry favor and gain support; to manipulate and mislead. And as before, survey data show that the more Christian the nation, the greater its sympathy to Israel and Jews generally.23
As a practical consequence, Americans in particular seem satisfied to allow Jewish-Americans an unprecedented and hugely disproportionate role in their nation — in other words, to be their shepherds. Though less than 2 percent of the population, American Jews are extremely influential in the cultural and economic life of the nation.24 Likewise in the political sphere, where the Israel Lobby — led by AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the CoP (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations) — wields immense power.25 The end result is that, through a hammer-grip on the American superpower, Jewish and Israeli interests are able to influence events throughout the world. As former Malaysian president Mahathir Mohamad said, “Today Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” Indeed — the sheep must occasionally be led to slaughter.
And yet…the system is not perfect. There is, as we know, a lingering anti-Semitism within Christianity. Some are angry that ‘the Jews killed Christ.’ Many dislike their dominance and corruption of American society. Others are dismayed at the criminal actions of Israel in the occupied territories. They are upset by the virtual apartheid that exists there today, the anti-Arab discrimination, and the driving out of Christians from the holy land. People are unhappy with Jewish manipulation of media and entertainment, with the billions of dollars in annual foreign aid to Israel, with the costly wars in the Middle East that serve primarily to protect Israel — and yet they cannot bring themselves to openly oppose the Jews. Such internal conflict is easily manifest in various forms of anti-Semitism.
I wonder if many Christians don’t somehow know, deep inside, that their very faith is based on Jewish lies and resentment. I wonder if they know they have been duped. There are also, perhaps, subconscious worries that, just maybe, other popular legends might also be fanciful exaggerations built on hatred and lies.26 When governmental and institutional leaders have proven themselves corrupt and unreliable, and occasionally outright liars, then one does not know whom to trust.
Even if Nietzsche was right — if Christianity was in fact “the most subterranean conspiracy that ever existed” — it still cannot go unexposed forever. People seem to be more willing than ever to challenge age-old (and not-so-old) religious myths. Perhaps the accumulated sense of manipulation, illness, and moral decadence will cause people to break out of their stupor, ask tough questions, and demand real answers. If so, then Dr. Nietzsche will have earned his keep.
Notes to Part 2
18] The passage in Romans continues: “The Deliverer [Redeemer] will come from Zion,” referring to the OT prophecy that “deliverance for Israel would come out of Zion” (Ps 14:7). See also Isaiah 59:20. [return]
20] Lindemann (Esau’s Tears, 1997: 31) describes it this way: “Both Paul and the writers of the Gospels radically redefined the traditional Jewish notion of messiah, from [an ordinary man] to that of a supernatural figure much resembling the dying and reviving salvation gods that were common to many pagan mystery cults of the day. There were certainly many overlaps between those cults and early Christianity.” [return]
21] Obesity data from www.nationmaster.com. Religious attitudes are reported in the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 19 December 2002. Data from nine nations shows a strong linear correlation (R2 value = 0.58). Interestingly, the correlation between obesity and religiosity seems not to be found in Islam; Turkey, for example, is very religious (65% consider it ‘very important’), but has only a 12% obesity rate. [return]
22] For Plato’s critique see Republic, Book 8. On his view aristocracy was the ideal form, followed by timocracy and oligarchy; democracy and tyranny were the worst. Aristotle saw democracy as a degenerate form of ‘rule by the masses’; see Politics, Book 3. This may strike some as odd, given ancient Greece’s reputation for having invented democracy, and thriving because of it. And relative to barbarism or anarchy, it was superior. But it works best as participatory democracy, in a very small state. Large, modern nation-states, of the kind Nietzsche considered, brought out the worst aspects of democracy. [return]
23] As the most religious nation (59% ‘very important’), the U.S. is also most sympathetic: 48 percent of the population sympathizes more with Israel in the conflict in Palestine (Pew Research survey, 19 July 2006), a figure that rises to 57 percent among Christian Zionists. Conversely, the European countries are both less religious and less sympathetic to Israel (which run 38 percent in France, 37 percent in Germany, 24 percent in the UK, 9 percent in Spain). [return]
24] According to Vanity Fair (October 2007), they make up more than half of the “100 most powerful people” in the world. Of the top 400 richest individuals in the U.S., at least 149 (37%) are Jewish (top 400 reported in Forbes, 30 September 2009; Jewish count by Jacob Berman, www.blogs.jta.org [5 October 2009]). Fully half of the top 50 political pundits are Jewish (top 50 list from Atlantic, September 2009; Jewish count by Steve Sailer [www.isteve.blogspot.com]). In media and entertainment the dominance is almost total. Jewish executives lead all five of the top U.S. media conglomerates — Time-Warner (Jeff Bewkes, Edgar Bronfman), Disney (Robert Iger), News Corp (Rupert Murdoch, Peter Chernin), Viacom (Sumner Redstone, Leslie Moonves, Philippe Dauman), NBC-Universal (Jeff Zucker). All are Jewish except possibly for Murdoch. Six of the top seven American newspapers have Jewish management. Virtually every major Hollywood studio exec is Jewish — see “How Jewish is Hollywood?”, Los Angeles Times, 19 December 2008. [return]
25] In the political sphere, Jewish-Americans comprise 7 percent of the House and 15 percent of the Senate. Even more impressively, some 80 to 90 percent of both chambers reflexively support Jewish interests. The reason: pro-Jewish individuals and lobbies supply half or more of political campaign contributions — for both major parties; see “Candidly speaking: Obama, Netanyahu and American Jews” Jerusalem Post (11 May 2009). The lobby AIPAC is among the top two or three most powerful in Washington, and they have absolute dominance in U.S. foreign policy. All major presidential candidates bend over backward to placate Jewish interests. For details on the American political scene, see Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007). [return]
26] The Holocaust and the 9/11 attacks being the prime examples. For the Holocaust, see my book Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides (www.debatingtheholocaust.com) or G. Rudolf, Lectures on the Holocaust. On the 9/11 controversy, see D. Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking. [return]