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A comment on Paul Gottfried’s review of Cultural Insurrections

Kevin MacDonald

April 18, 2009

Paul Gottfried is outside the mainstream of Jewish intellectuals in being associated with paleoconservatives rather than either the left or the neoconservative right. In my eyes, therefore, he is a force for relative good in a world where paleocons like Pat Buchanan have been relegated to the fringes of intellectual debate in the US and have long rap sheets at powerful, well-endowed organizations like the $PLC and the ADL.

Another reason I am predisposed to be positive about Gottfried is that he reviewed Cultural Insurrections respectfully, noting pointedly that there are completely different standards in discussing the activities and influence of other ethnic groups or religions. And he agrees with much of my analysis that Jews have in fact been deeply involved in erecting the culture of critique that now pervades the West.

Inevitably, however, despite a great many good things in Gottfried's review, my reply must necessarily discuss points of disagreement. As Gottfried notes, he has previously reviewed Culture of Critique in Chronicles, and we went back and forth on it in print, with a final rejoinder by me on my website. (The entire thread is here.) He makes some of the same points in his recent review, but it’s worth discussing them again because we have both refined our arguments a bit in last decade.  

Jewish IQ

The area of Jewish IQ has attracted quite a bit of research since my review in 1994. My estimate of an IQ of 115 for Ashkenazi Jews is higher than estimates based on more recent data. Richard Lynn’s work is exemplary: Lynn finds that Ashkenazi Jews in Britain and the US have average IQ’s of 110.7 and 110.4 respectively, and I am happy to accept those figures.

Assuming those averages, then one would expect there would be 4 times the proportion of Jews with >130 IQ and 6 times the proportion of Jews with >145 IQ. As Lynn notes, this goes some way to explaining Jewish overrepresentation among academic elites in the US and Britain (by factors of 7.0 and 7.6 respectively) and among winners of Nobel prizes (by factors of 8.0 and 12.3 respectively).

But none of these data shows that, as Gottfried phrases it, “Jews have a right to treat Euro-Americans as natural inferiors or as people probably unfit to sustain their civilization (or what remains of it) without a Jewish master class.”

In fact, even assuming those proportions, because Jews are such a small percentage of the population, there are far more European-Americans and native Brits with IQ’s above either 130 or 145. And, also consistent with my 1994 analysis, there are far more non-Jews among Nobel prize winners than Jews.

In fact, if we take an IQ of 145 as a cutoff for genius and assume that Jews were around 3.4% of the White US population in 1950, there were nearly 4 times more non-Jewish White geniuses in the US than Jewish geniuses. If we use 130 as a benchmark for at least vastly easing the path to upward mobility, there were over 6 times more non-Jewish Whites in this category than Jews. And there would have been a much greater disparity in England where Jews were less than 1% of the population.

Europeans certainly do not need Jews to develop or maintain their civilization. The successful erection of the culture of critique is much more about ethnic networking and dominating key points in the cultural food chain — especially elite academic institutions and the media — than it is about IQ.

For example, even correcting for IQ, Jews are massively overrepresented at Ivy League universities compared to Whites. In 1998, Jews represented around 25–33% of Harvard undergraduates compared to around 25% non-Jewish Whites. In 2000 the Jewish population was around 3% of the non-Hispanic White population. On the basis of IQ, the ratio of non-Jewish Whites to Jews should be around 7 to 1 (IQ >130) or  4.5 to 1 (IQ > 145). Instead, the ratio was at most 1 to 1. But even this may underestimate the gap because it's hard to believe that all Harvard students have at least an IQ of 130. Could it be that that Jared Kushner's route to Harvard is not at all unusual for Jews these days?

And what, then, to make of Jewish representation of 60% in studies of the American media elite? (See here.) Pretty clearly, IQ has very little to do with it. This is entirely compatible with Merlin Miller's recent TOO article on Hollywood where he notes that Jewish graduates of USC's film production program were able to achieve much more with the  same credentials than their non-Jewish counterparts.

Indeed, the larger point is that the rise of the West happened without any significant Jewish contribution. The age of Spanish conquest and exploration began in the same year that the Jews were expelled from Spain and not long after the Inquisition was launched in 1481. During this period, Spain became the wealthiest and most powerful country in Europe. Eventually, the main competitors with Spain were Western European countries — especially England — that had expelled Jews in the Middle Ages.

The “rise of the Jews” — Albert Lindemann’s term resulted ultimately from a Jewish population explosion among Hasidic and other fundamentalist Jews in Eastern Europe. But Eastern Europe remained a relative backwater compared to Western Europe and America despite the fact that, as Yuri Slezkine has shown, Jews completely dominated the economic and cultural life in those areas, at least until World War II.

Jewish Hostility toward the Peoples and Culture of the West

Gottfried writes, “I am also skeptical about the possibility of extrapolating from the way a particular Jewish subculture has behaved in the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to how Jews have conducted themselves everywhere at all times.”

But I am not making any such claim. Each country must be analyzed separately, and one can never make generalizations across time and place without examining the data.

Nevertheless, an important aspect of traditional Jewish attitudes has been animosity toward the wider, non-Jewish culture. In reviewing Cultural Insurrections, Gottfried presumably noticed Chapter 2 — my review of Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century, subtitled “Jews as a hostile elite in the USSR.” That essay reviews Jewish hostility toward non-Jewish national cultures throughout Eastern and Central Europe beginning in the latter 19th century and extending into the mass murders of cultural non-conformists of the Soviet period. Cultural subversion was also an important theme of the essays on Henry Ford and The International Jew which also appear in Cultural Insurrections.

The first chapter of Culture of Critique also traces a long history of Jewish hostility toward the people and culture of surrounding societies — Muslim, Christian and pagan — beginning in the ancient world. For the most part this hostility remained within the confines of the Jewish community — especially in Jewish religious writing. But this was due solely to the undeveloped state of the media and the self-segregation or exclusion of Jews from the wider society.

However, when Jews did enter the wider society, as in 15th-century Spain, the radical critiques of Jewish intellectuals appeared in the most prestigious academic and popular media. This has been the pattern in the contemporary history of the West, at least since the mid-19th century.

The point is that we should not minimize the tendency for Jews to create movements that are highly critical of the people and culture of non-Jews. One shouldn’t over-generalize this to all Jews. Paul Gottfried is certainly an exception, and he is doubtless correct that this tendency was at least muted in the contingent of German Jews who came to America in the mid-19th century. (In Germany, however, the association of Jews with cultural criticism was an important ingredient in anti-Jewish attitudes from the late 19th century up until the rise of National Socialism.)

Nevertheless, despite their relative lack of hostility, it should be noted that German Jews like Jacob Schiff, Louis Marshall, and Louis Brandeis were effective activists on behalf of Jewish causes that were at least arguably not in the interests of the United States or its non-Jewish citizens. For example, Jewish activists led by the American Jewish Committee influenced US immigration policy so that Eastern European Jews were allowed to immigrate two decades after the American public opposed further immigration. This group also successfully influenced US foreign policy to oppose Russia until the triumph of the Bolsheviks, and Brandeis was an influential Zionist.

In these cases, their motivation was not so much hostility toward the US as simply their perception of Jewish interests. On the other hand, Franz Boas, a German Jew with a great deal of animosity toward Prussian culture, was a seminal figure in erecting the culture of critique in America. And then there's the Frankfurt School of German-Jewish émigrés who, after being expelled from National Socialist Germany, brought to America their poisonous ideology that the group allegiances of non-Jews is a sign of psychopathology.

But in any case, there has been a clear tendency for at least some groups of strongly identified Jews to create influential intellectual movements that subject non-Jewish society to radical critique, and Gottfried seems to agree with this.

As reviewed in The Culture of Critique, the psychological basis for this is straightforward: Members of strongly identified ingroups tend to have negative views of outgroups, especially outgroups seen as historical enemies. And for many activist Jews — the ones who end up having so much influence on culture, Western history begins with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans, fast forwards to marauding Crusaders, the Spanish Inquisition, and expulsions from Western Europe, and culminates in Czarist persecutions, Henry Ford, and the Holocaust.

In saying that, I am agreeing with Gottfried that the animosity of Jewish intellectual movements is firmly rooted in their perception of history. (Ironically perhaps, this makes Gottfried much more on board with the general thrust of my writing than the review by “Garnet James Wolseley” that appeared in The Occidental Quarterly. See my reply.) I do not use the phrase “resource competition” to describe conflicts between Jews and non-Jews in Culture of Critique. The use of this phrase stems from my earlier books on historical patterns of Jewish behavior (e.g., the tendency of Jews to make alliances with oppressive elites) and historical anti-Semitism (e.g., hatred toward Jews competing for similar economic niches).

Culture of Critique formulates the conflict quite differently. The main framework is the psychology of ingroup/outgroup conflict, and there is little question that historical grudges have played a major role in that. Indeed, the theme of Jewish historical grudges is prominent in Chapter 1 of Cultural Insurrections: "Background Traits for Jewish Activism."

Incidentally, others who have thought long and hard about Jews have come to a similar conclusion about the role of Jewish hatred as a motivating force. Consider Pat Buchanan’s pointed analogy between the hatred that is driving the persecution of John Demjanjuk and the hatred that drove the crucifixion of Christ: “The spirit behind this un-American persecution has never been that of justice tempered by mercy. It is the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.”

This is clearly a barely veiled reference to the “blood libel” of classic Catholic theology. But the point here is that the persecution of Demjanjuk is motivated by hatred and revenge for historical grievances— exactly the motives that Gottfried and I are ascribing to the creators of the culture of critique.

But having said that, there is little question that besides hatred and revenge, another very important part of the equation is displacement and domination. As I noted in my recent VDARE.com article on the Jewish left, it is more than the hostility of former ghetto dwellers suddenly released into the modern Western world — the phenomenon that was described so well by John Murray Cuddihy. It is about displacement and domination:

The displacement of the genteel white Protestant culture at Columbia that [Mark] Rudd hated is part of the general displacement of non-Jewish whites. … There is no doubt it was bent on a similar displacement of white elites. All of its policies led inexorably in that direction. To a considerable extent, the current malaise of whites in the US can be directly traced to the triumph of the attitudes of the New Left—especially non-white immigration, the rise of multiculturalism, and the steady erosion of whites as a percentage of the electorate.

Ultimately, it is about resources — political, economic, and cultural. When Whites become a minority in the US as a result of the mass immigration unleashed by Jewish activism and the culture of critique, they will come to realize how devastatingly true this  is.

I also agree with Gottfried that other historically aggrieved groups have been hostile toward societies seen as oppressing them. The only difference is that, as Gottfried, notes, Jews are so much better at this game than other groups —  much better at becoming an influential component of elite and popular culture.

There is no question that African Americans have legitimate historical grudges against the American past. However, there can be little doubt that, by themselves, they would not have had much of an influence in erecting a culture of critique. The culture of critique was successful because it emanated from Harvard, Hollywood, well-connected law firms, and the New York Times — the most prestigious academic and media institutions.

But of course this is exactly why we have to concentrate on Jewish influence, not Black influence or Latino influence, much less Huguenot influence.

Biological Reductionism?

In commenting on this general ethnic tendency, Gottfried states that “although friend-enemy distinctions are evident here, it is doubtful that these dividing lines operate strictly according to biological conditioning.” And again: “What MacDonald highlights looks like unfriendly behavior; and one may certainly question the biological reductionism used to explain it.”

My theory is that the tendency for hostility toward outgroups is indeed a psychological universal stemming from our evolutionary past, although it is doubtless true that Jews are far more motivated by ingroup/outgroup distinctions than typical Westerners — what I term Jewish "hyper-ethnocentrism." But even so, invoking the evolutionary psychology of group competition certainly does not make me a biological reductionist.

I wish that Gottfried had read and commented on “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism” — another chapter in Cultural Insurrections and one that I think is perhaps the most important in the book. (This is the academic version of that chapter.)

Viewed as a whole, my work is much more about culture than it is about biology — else why write a book titled The Culture of Critique? Hostility toward outgroups is indeed a biological universal, but the result is that Jewish intellectual movements then create a culture that is hostile to White people, their culture and their history. This culture of critique then has important consequences because culture is able to have a strong influence on human behavior for the reasons described in “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism”:

The culture of critique has become the explicit culture of the West, endlessly repeated in media messages but packaged differently for people of different levels of intelligence and education, and for people with different interests and from different subcultures. The message of this paper is that by programming the higher areas of the brain, this explicit culture is able to control the implicit ethnocentric tendencies of white people. … It’s the explicit culture, stupid!

Whatever else one might call me, 'biological reductionist' is not one of them. (Nor is it likely that anyone who has seen me would call me “small-boned.” And, for the record, I am not a clinical psychologist: Evolutionary/developmental/personality psychologist would be more or less accurate.

What's Wrong with White People?

Finally, we come to perhaps the most important and difficult point — the fact that, as Gottfried says, “the majority group, including those who describe themselves as 'conservatives,' have lost their cotton-picking minds." I completely agree with this, and it is certainly something that I have thought a lot about.

For starters, this is why I have always phrased my claims about Jewish influence as a necessary condition rather than a sufficient condition.

Secondly, I have emphasized how the reward and punishment structure of multi-cultural America provides a great many opportunities for self-interested Whites who  have no concern for their own people. Gottfried does a good job in recounting my emphasis on goyish careerists who flock to neocon think tanks, with the result that American conservatism is pretty much non-existent. (The “conservative” Heritage Foundation recently advocated a massive increase in H1B visas in the middle of a recession. Sometimes it seems as if "conservatives" and liberals are competing to see which group can speed up the displacement of Whites the fastest.)

But it’s not just about careerism in a world where Jews are a very substantial component of the American elite. As Gottfried notes, it’s also about White guilt. But here Gottfried ignores the chapters of Cultural Insurrections where I develop my ideas on the psychological tendencies of Whites that make them predisposed to support the culture of critique, particularly “What Makes Western Culture Unique?” and “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism.” This builds on earlier work, particularly the Preface to the Paperback Edition of Culture of Critique. 

In general, my view is that these cultural transformations are the result of a complex interaction between preexisting deep-rooted tendencies of Europeans (individualism, moral universalism, and science) and the rise of a Jewish elite hostile to the traditional peoples and culture of Europe. At the psychological level, I have proposed that because Whites evolved in small groups where individual reputation rather than kinship relatedness was of the upmost importance, Whites are more prone to guilt for transgressing social norms. One’s reputation rather than one’s place in a kinship structure became of exaggerated importance for Europeans.  

Christian Lander's Stuff White People Like has the following example showing the powerful sense of guilt at transgressing social norms that seems to haunt most whites, even for trivial things like not recycling:

If you are in a situation where a white person produces an empty bottle, watch their actions. They will first say 'where’s the recycling?' If you say 'we don’t recycle,' prepare for some awkwardness. They will make a move to throw the bottle away, they will hesitate, and then ultimately throw the bottle away. But after they return look in their eyes. All they can see is the bottle lasting forever in a landfill, trapping small animals. It will eat at them for days, at this point you should say 'I’m just kidding, the recycling is under the sink. Can you fish out that bottle?' And they will do it 100% of the time!

Following the social norm of recycling is motivated by avoiding guilt that will "eat at them for days." White people are easily shamed if they think they are violating a social norm. It's easy to see how this was adaptive in small groups that we evolved in. where your place in the kinship structure was less important than your reputation as a team player. But when the most important social norms in the West demand suicidal behavior by whites, upholding them becomes a pathology.

Recently, I have expanded on these ideas in my essay on how the Puritans erected a home-grown culture of critique in 19th-century America. There I discuss the psychology of moralistic self-punishment exemplified at the extreme by the Puritans and their intellectual descendants, but also apparent in a great many other whites. 

Gottfried is correct that the culture of critique could have developed without Jews in 20th-century America. But it didn’t. The Puritan culture of moralistic aggression that rationalized the Civil War and the utopian idealism of the 19th century lost out to Darwinism by the early 20th century. (Hence the opposition to Darwinism that is at the heart of all the Jewish intellectual movements discussed in The Culture of Critique.)

At that time it was common for intellectual elites to believe in the reality of racial differences and the reality of competition between races and ethnic groups. Bluebloods like Henry Cabot Lodge and Madison Grant who descended from the Puritans were extolling the virtues of Northern Europeans and funding the movement to end immigration — a battle that ended with the restrictive immigration law of 1924.  A. Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard and Vice President of the Immigration Restriction League, opposed the nomination of Louis Brandeis as a Supreme Court Justice because of Brandeis' ardent Zionism, supported quotas on Jewish students (15%), supported racial segregation, and opposed homosexuality.

As recounted by Jerome Karabel, Lowell lost the battle to explicitly restrict Jewish enrollment to a coalition of elite German Jews (notably Walter Lippmann) and elite Protestants led by former Harvard President Charles W. Eliot representing the older strand of Yankee universalism. Nevertheless, Jewish enrollment was reduced from a high of around 27% to around 15% by instituting a more covert process of student selection.

I think that my research shows that the destruction of this world was the result of the Jewish intellectual and political movements I describe in The Culture of Critique and Cultural Insurrections. Gottfried is skeptical of this:

Plainly MacDonald is not playing by the establishment rules when he observes that Jews have worked at weakening those non-Jewish societies in which they have lived. Although this thesis seems to me to be a bit too generalized, I have no objection to letting MacDonald go on trying to prove it.

I think that at this point the fair thing is for skeptics like Gottfried to show precisely where I am wrong. This requires far more than simple assertions of skepticism and claims that my claims are "too generalized."

For example, over a decade after I originally showed that Jewish activism was by far the most important force behind the changes in US immigration law that has resulted in dramatically altering the politics and ethnic composition of the US, no one has even attempted to show that I am wrong. Yet this is by far the most important conclusion of The Culture of Critique because, quite simply, immigration is at the absolute center of the rise of multiculturalism and the displacement of Whites. 

Critics like Gottfried need to mire themselves in the details of the  historical record, as I did. And if they show I am wrong, I will be the first to rescind my views.

Realize, however, that my views are entirely mainstream. Thus, my conclusion has been reinforced by Vanderbilt University historian Hugh Davis Graham: 

Most important for the content of immigration reform [i.e., anti-restrictionism], the driving force at the core of the movement, reaching back to the 1920s, were Jewish organizations long active in opposing racial and ethnic quotas. These included the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the American Federation of Jews from Eastern Europe. Jewish members of the Congress, particularly representatives from New York and Chicago, had maintained steady but largely ineffective pressure against the national origins quotas since the 1920s.... Following the shock of the Holocaust, Jewish leaders had been especially active in Washington in furthering immigration reform. To the public, the most visible evidence of the immigration reform drive was played by Jewish legislative leaders, such as Representative Celler and Senator Jacob Javits of New York. Less visible, but equally important, were the efforts of key advisers on presidential and agency staffs. These included senior policy advisers such as Julius Edelson and Harry Rosenfield in the Truman administration, Maxwell Rabb in the Eisenhower White House, and presidential aide Myer Feldman, assistant secretary of state Abba Schwartz, and deputy attorney general Norbert Schlei in the Kennedy-Johnson administration. (Hugh Davis Graham, Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America (New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 56–57). 

To be sure, the destruction of the Darwinian world of early 20th-century America would not have been possible with a group less prone to guilt and moralistic aggression against their own people. But without the establishment of a hostile elite dominated by strongly identified Jews, it simply would not have happened.  

Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.  


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