Lee Siegel: Exuding Jewish Triumphalism

Kevin MacDonald


A bit of Jewish triumpalism by Lee Siegel in the Wall Street Journal (“Rise of the Tiger Nation“). The basic plot line is that Jews overcame WASP dominance to attain the high ground in American culture. Now there is a rising Asian minority which, according to a Pew  Research Center Study isthe highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.”

My basic premise is that it is entirely reasonable for elites to resist displacement. For Siegel, the Jewish displacement of the WASP elite is a morality tale, with Jews as the good guys. The WASPs resisted by establishing quotas at Ivy League universities. They resented Jewish incursions into “WASP bastions such as rarefied country clubs, exclusive professional clubs, white-shoe law firms, prestigious foundations and the like…[;] these were the very institutions that resisted them the most intensely.” Writing from his position as a dominant elite, Siegel is not shy at hinting that some complaints about Jews were quite reasonable:

One reason that anti-Semitism persisted even as Jews ascended in American life was that Jews were frequently in the vanguard of American social and political dissent, from the anarchist Emma Goldman to Yippie Abbie Hoffman and beyond. Not only that, but many of the architects of America’s archenemy, Soviet Communism, had been Jews. As the WASP establishment lost ground to Jewish newcomers, the words “communist” and “Jew” often became synonymous. The association of Hollywood with lax morality, and of Jews with Hollywood, heightened a kind of low-grade hum of anti-Jewish feeling, even as it proved the general acceptance of the Jewish sentiments and sensibility that permeated American entertainment.


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For all that, Siegel regards complaints about the rise of the Jews to cultural domination in America as nothing more than “toxic racism.” Indeed, he asks whether he as a Jew is resentful of the rise of Asians to elite status. Commenting on his negative review of Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Siegel asks

Was I, a Jewish-American writer, driven to pique, in part, by a member of a group that threatens Jewish-American cultural domination, just as American Jews once threatened the WASP mandarinate? Well, maybe.

So now we have the Jewish mandarinate. The implicit message is that Jews are concerned that Asians threaten Jewish hegemony because of their willingness to subject their children to a very intense, demanding upbringing, thus predisposing them to upward mobility where they might compete with Jews. This brings to mind a quote I used in my chapter on the Frankfurt School in The Culture of Critique:

Herz and Rosen (1982, 368) note, “Success is so vitally important to the Jewish family ethos that we can hardly overemphasize it. . . . We cannot hope to understand the Jewish family without understanding the place that success for men (and recently women) plays in the system.”

While never examining the Jewish focus on success and upward social mobility, the purpose of the Frankfurt School’s The Authoritarian Personality was to pathologize healthy families and successful child-rearing among non-Jews. Indeed, upward social mobility among their (entirely non-Jewish) subjects was seen as very dangerous because they claimed it was associated with that greatest of all sins in the Jewish world view: ethnocentrism in non-Jews. (My review shows this was a spurious finding made possible by psychoanalytic legerdemain.) Adorno et al. write that “We are led to suspect, on the basis of results in numerous areas, that upward class mobility and identification with the status quo correlate positively with ethnocentrism, and that downward class mobility and identification go with anti-ethnocentrism.” Not only is the intense upward mobility of Jews ignored, Jewish ethnocentrism is given a free pass, while the ethnocentrism of non-Jews is held up to close scrutiny.

According to Adorno, then, psychologically healthy non-Jews are unconcerned about being outcompeted by Jews and declining in social status. They are complete individualists with a strong sense of personal autonomy and independence, and they conceptualize Jews as individuals completely independent of their group affiliation. While non-Jews are censured for not being individualists, Adorno does not censure Jews who identify strongly with a group that historically has functioned to facilitate resource competition with non-Jews (PTSDA, Chs. 5, 6) and remains a powerful influence in several highly contentious areas of public policy, including immigration, church-state separation, abortion rights, and civil liberties (Goldberg 1996, 5). Indeed, social identity theory predicts that Jews would be more likely to have stereotyped, negative conceptualizations of non-Jews than the reverse (SAID, Ch. 1).

The Authoritarian Personality is thus a blueprint for pathologizing the entirely legitimate concerns among non-Jews about being displaced as an elite. Siegel, writing after Jews have attained cultural hegemony, can be frank about Jewish upward mobility, and even refers to their “frank super-competitiveness.”

The analogy would be if Asian-American intellectuals coalesced around an ideology what pathologized Jewish behavior because they see Jews as ethnic competitors. Of course, Jews, unlike the WASPs, would fight tooth and nail to resist such an ideology becoming mainstream. Consider the difference between the success of the anti-apartheid campaign in the West and the relative failure of the campaign (so far) against Israeli apartheid. While the great majority of Whites in the West turned against their racial brothers in South Africa, the vast majority of Jews and the power of the organized Jewish community are furiously combating the image of Israel as an apartheid state. (As Justin Raimondo notes, a clear majority of Israeli Jews (58%) unabashedly acknowledge that Israel is an apartheid state.)

And given the Jewish cultural hegemony that Siegel acknowledges, it is difficult to see how such an ideology could gain traction. There is a deafening silence in the mainstream media and academic world about any indication that the Jewish role as cultural hegemons is contrary to the interests of the traditional American White majority. A book like The Culture of Critique is simply prevented from having any significant public discussion, either in the news media or the academic world. This is a powerful indication of the determination of the current elite to protect itself.

Jewish triumphalism regarding its domination of American culture is one thing. Siegel can do that and get it published in the Wall Street Journal. What the new elite will strenuously resist is any mainstream public discussion of the fact that not only has their culture been taken away from White Americans, but the new culture of displacement-level immigration and multiculturalism inaugurated by the new Jewish elite is fundamentally opposed to their interests. Books like The Culture of Critique must therefore be completely ignored.

The psychological stance of elites matters a great deal. It would not matter at all that Jews are the new hegemonic elite if they identified with the interests of America’s traditional White population. But they don’t. Siegel notes that Jews have long been in dissent against American society—from opposition to Christianity in the public square to the long association of Jews with the left and its promotion of displacement-level immigration, multiculturalism, and impending minority status for White Americans. It has been repeatedly emphasized here that the new Jewish elite is a hostile elite—hostile to the traditional people and culture of America just as the Jewish elite in the Soviet Union was hostile to the traditional people and culture of Russia. A large part of the hostility of the new Jewish elite is their perception of the history of anti-Semitism as irrational victimization of Jews. But it is more than that—hostility as the ultimate form of ethnic competition. The millions of dead Russians during the period of Jewish cultural hegemony is a stark warning of the ultimate consequences of displacement by a hostile elite.

The old WASP elite did not see itself as fundamentally opposed to the people and culture it ruled. The new elite on the other hand sees itself exactly that way. In fact, Siegel himself is a great example of Jewish fear and loathing of Whiteness.

Siegel hates everything White, down to clean shirts. To be authentically White is to be overly clean, robotic, insincere, bland, sentimentally patriotic, and living in the time warp of small-town America—the bogeyman of two generations of Jewish intellectuals—and to believe that the Founding Fathers (those dead White guys who established the hopelessly evil White America before it was redefined by our hostile elite) may have had some good ideas that should inform how we do things in the contemporary US. (See “Lee Siegel: The Horror of Implicit Whiteness”).

Jews like Siegel can hardly wait for the promised land of White eclipse. He realizes that the dragon is not slain yet. A vote for Romney is a vote for the Old America. Would that it were so.

Of course, Asians are a threat to White representation in a variety of areas. For example, at the University of California–Berkeley (the flagship university of the UC system), Asians make up 43% of undergraduates while constituting 14% of the California population. Siegel refers to quotas on Jews in Ivy League colleges. It will be interesting to see if the rise of Asians lowers Jewish representation from its current ~20% at institutions like Harvard. (Jews are overrepresented at elite universities even when controlling for Jewish IQ.) I suspect that the effect will be a further decline among non-Jewish Whites (who are already vastly underrepresented), but no change in Jewish overrepresentation.

Siegel asks what influence Asians are likely to have on American culture. As he points out, Asians tend to vote liberal—they are part of the non-White coalition that is the backbone of the Democratic Party. Asians seem to implicitly understand that even though Jews are a hegemonic elite in America and provide well over half the funding for the Democratic Party, the traditional American White population is the greater enemy. Siegel certainly thinks so. The article is replete with dark intimations of ”American bias and hatred,” American “toxic racism.”

On the other hand, Asians do not have the primal animus against White America that has traditionally energized Jewish influence on culture. In general, overseas Asian communities (e.g., the Chinese in Southeast Asia) have not been engaged in cultural criticism but have been content to develop business networks and generally keep a low profile (see here, p. 26ff).

Nevertheless, the American context characterized by a hostile Jewish elite and a great many compliant, guilt-ridden White liberals encourages cultural aggressiveness by non-White groups in a way that would never occur, e.g., in Southeast Asian societies. The fact that Asians have joined the non-White Democratic coalition suggests they see their interests as opposed to White interests. As they indeed are. White interests are to prevent themselves from becoming a minority, and few Asians would see that as in their interest.

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