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Eric P. Kaufmann's The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America Part II

Kevin MacDonald

July 29, 2009

Table of Contents

Part I


19th-Century Trends

Four American Liberal Intellectual Traditions from the late 19th century to the present

Part II

The Period of Ethnic Defense: 1880–1965

The Rise of Jewish Influence

Conclusion: The Fall of the Anglo-Saxons 

The Period of Ethnic Defense: 1880–1965

We have seen that the view that America was the product of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity coincided with optimistic ideas among elite liberal intellectuals about an Anglo-Saxon future. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, as America was coming to grips with large-scale immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, such optimistic views of an Anglo-Saxon future were more and more difficult to defend, especially because a large number of the immigrants were (correctly) seen as politically radical and inassimilable. The decades leading up to the passage of the 1924 immigration law were a period of ethnic defense. Optimistic, liberal views on immigration persisted among a small group of intellectuals, but they were politically powerless.  And among many intellectuals, Darwinism rather than Lamarckism won the day.

The result was an effective alliance between the Boston, Puritan-descended intellectual elite and rural Whites in an effort to prevent being overwhelmed by this threat. “Whenever the northeastern ‘WASP’ elite make common cause with their less prestigious but more numerous provincial kin, Anglo-Protestant ethnic nationalism revives” (p. 26).

In 1885 a Congregationalist minister noted that “Political optimism is one of the vices of the America people…. We deem ourselves a chosen people, and incline to the belief that the Almighty stands pledged to our prosperity. Until within a few years probably not one in a hundred of our population has ever questioned the security of our future. Such optimism is as senseless as pessimism is faithless” (pp. 68–69). Optimistic, laissez-faire attitudes ended, and Protestant thinkers started to take labor’s side rather than capital’s because of a felt need for social cohesion. By the 1890’s the need for immigration restriction was “universally accepted” (p. 71) among Baptists, and similar trends were apparent in other Protestant sects, even including the elite and liberal-tending Congregationalists. True to their universalist intentions, Protestants did not oppose immigration until they realized that the new immigrants were not susceptible to conversion.

Kaufmann notes that business interests remained opposed to immigration restriction, but he fails to mention the very strong role that Jewish organizations played in delaying immigration restriction until the 1920s—long after popular opinion advocated restriction. For example, writing in 1914, the sociologist Edward A. Ross believed that liberal immigration policy was exclusively a Jewish issue:

Although theirs is but a seventh of our net immigration, they led the fight on the Immigration Commission’s bill. The power of the million Jews in the Metropolis lined up the Congressional delegation from New York in solid opposition to the literacy test. The systematic campaign in newspapers and magazines to break down all arguments for restriction and to calm nativist fears is waged by and for one race. Hebrew money is behind the National Liberal Immigration League and its numerous publications. From the paper before the commercial body or the scientific association to the heavy treatise produced with the aid of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, the literature that proves the blessings of immigration to all classes in America emanates from subtle Hebrew brains. (E. A. Ross, The Old World and the New: The Significance of Past and Present Immigration to the American People. 1914, 144–145)

Kaufmann attributes the rise in restrictionist sentiment to Social Gospel concerns among religious people: The Social Gospel movement “galvanized the process of ethnic closure by concentrating Protestant minds on this-worldly social factors such as the rise of the industrial city, capital-labor conflict and the need for legislation — forces they had traditionally been loathe to consider” (p. 81). But he also attributes it to the realization that the new immigrants would not convert to Protestantism and to the rise of race theories, although he doesn’t really discuss the latter.

The lack of emphasis on race theories is a major omission. One of the most important trends beginning around 1900 was the rise of Darwinian racial theories. As I noted elsewhere:

Christianity was a deeply embedded aspect of the culture of the Northern Europeans, but it played a remarkably small role in the battles with the emerging Jewish elite.  Far more important for framing these battles were Darwinian theories of race.  The early part of the 20th century was the high water mark of Darwinism in the social sciences.  It was common at that time to think that there were important differences between the races — that races differed in intelligence and in moral qualities.  Not only did races differ, but they were in competition with each other for supremacy.  Schooled in the theories of Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, Henry Pratt Fairchild, William Ripley, Gustav Le Bon, Charles Davenport, and William McDougall, this generation of U.S. military officers [and other American elites] viewed themselves as members of a particular race and believed that racial homogeneity was the sine qua non of every stable nation state.  They regarded their racial group as uniquely talented and possessed of a high moral sense.

But, more importantly, whatever the talents and vulnerabilities of their race, they held it in the highest importance to retain control over the lands they had inherited as a result of the exploits of their ancestors who had conquered the continent and tamed the wilderness.  And despite the power that their race held at the present, there was dark foreboding about the future, reflected in the titles of some of the classic works of the period: Grant's The Passing of the Great Race and Stoddard's The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy and The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under‑Man.

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 ethnically defensive immigration law of 1924. A. Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard, Vice President of the Immigration Restriction League, and descendant of Puritans 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.

The prominence of Darwinian theories of race was not confined to the US but was dominant among intellectuals in Europe, including Benjamin Disraeli, Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Gustave Le Bon, and a large number of Jewish racialist theorists mostly associated with Zionism (see Separation and Its Discontents, Ch. 5).

Kaufmann’s lack of discussion of the eclipse of racial Darwinism is a major omission because the defeat of racial Darwinism was a major thrust of Jewish intellectual and political movements, particularly Boasian anthropology:

The defeat of the Darwinians “had not happened without considerable exhortation of ‘every mother’s son’ standing for the ‘Right.’ Nor had it been accomplished without some rather strong pressure applied both to staunch friends and to the ‘weaker brethren’—often by the sheer force of Boas’s personality” (Stocking 1968, 286).

By 1915 the Boasians controlled the American Anthropological Association and held a two-thirds majority on its Executive Board. By 1926 every major department of anthropology was headed by Boas’s students, the majority of whom were Jewish.

As John Higham noted, by the time of the final victory in 1965, which removed national origins and racial ancestry from immigration policy and opened up immigration to all human groups, the Boasian perspective of cultural determinism and anti-biologism had become standard academic wisdom. The result was that “it became intellectually fashionable to discount the very existence of persistent ethnic differences. The whole reaction deprived popular race feelings of a powerful ideological weapon.”

As indicated in the following section, the demise of Darwinism had major implications because it removed the only intellectually viable source of opposition to cosmopolitan ideology and a cultural pluralist model of America. In the absence of an intellectually respectable defense, ethnic defense was left to conservative religion and the popular attitudes of the less educated. These were no match for the cosmopolitan intellectuals who quickly became ensconced in all the elite institutions of the US—especially the media and the academic world.

The Rise of Jewish Influence

In the 1930s the secular tradition of the American left was energized by Jewish radicalism centered around Partisan Review, The Nation, and the New Republic. The crux of the issue is the relative weight of Anglo-Saxon and Jewish influence in this movement. Kaufmann claims that the Anglo-Saxon and Jewish influences were equal and influenced each other in dialectical fashion. In making this claim, Kaufmann relies on intellectual historian David Hollinger in his 1985 book In the American Province: “In David Hollinger’s estimation, these new intellectuals were formed from an equal fusion of Jewish and Anglo-Saxon radicalism and should be considered a united community, if not a surrogate ethnie. Nor was there asymmetry of influence: the two groups of ethnic exiles influenced each other in dialectical fashion,” citing (Hollinger 1985, 58, 63; emphasis in Kaufmann).

This view acknowledges Jewish influence but finds an equal influence coming from Anglo-Saxons. I believe that such an interpretation is inadequate for the following reasons:

1. Interpreting the New York Intellectuals as a Jewish movement. In a later work, Science, Jews, and Secular Culture, Hollinger (1996, 160) places more emphasis on Jewish influence, drawing attention to “a secular, increasingly Jewish, decidedly left-of-center intelligentsia based largely but not exclusively in the disciplinary communities of philosophy and the social sciences.” Rather than focusing on the suicide of White Protestants, Hollinger (1996, 4) notes “the transformation of the ethnoreligious demography of American academic life by Jews” in the period from the 1930s to the 1960s, as well as the Jewish influence on trends toward the secularization of American society and in advancing an ideal of cosmopolitanism (p. 11). Kaufmann at several points notes the importance of John Dewey as a White Protestant leftist critic of American culture. However, Hollinger notes the role of Jewish intellectuals in magnifying the influence of people like Dewey: “If lapsed Congregationalists like Dewey did not need immigrants to inspire them to press against the boundaries of even the most liberal of Protestant sensibilities, Dewey’s kind were resoundingly encouraged in that direction by the Jewish intellectuals they encountered in urban academic and literary communities” (Hollinger 1996, 24).

Other authors, including me, have interpreted the New York Intellectuals as a Jewish movement. Cooney notes “a continuity of perspective in the work of the New York Intellectuals running through the 1930s and 1940s. . . . [T]he New York Intellectuals embraced cosmopolitan values. . . . [T]heir loyalty to those values was intensified by their consciousness of being Jewish, and [that] consciousness helped to make the Partisan Review variant of cosmopolitanism a discrete intellectual position” (p. 245). Michael Wreszin (1994, 33) refers to Dwight Macdonald, another Trotskyist contributor to Partisan Review, as “a distinguished goy among the Partisanskies.” See also here.

2. Jewish Identification among the New York Intellectuals. It is certainly true that non-Jewish members of the New York Intellectuals had no sense of ethnic identity. However, Kaufmann implicitly interprets the New York Intellectuals as deracinated cosmopolitans and this is not the case. In Chapter 6 of The Culture of Critique I show that the Jewish members of the New York Intellectuals typically had a strong Jewish identity. For example, Clement Greenberg, the prominent art critic, took a leadership role in combating the last vestiges of anti-Semitism in the literary world during the 1940s. He stated, “I believe that a quality of Jewishness is present in every word I write, as it is in almost every word of every other contemporary American Jewish writer.” Philosopher Sidney Hook — who was a leader among the New York Intellectuals — had a strong Jewish identification; he was a Zionist, a strong supporter of Israel, and an advocate of Jewish education for Jewish children — and he was a strong advocate of the view that the principles of democracy required ethnic and cultural diversity.

Hollinger notes that Jewish identification of the New York Intellectuals became apparent after WWII. From the beginning, the New York Intellectuals were deeply concerned about anti-Semitism, and, as E. S. Shapiro notes (Judaism, 38, 1989), the fact that the “supposedly ‘cosmopolitan’ intellectuals should concern themselves with such a parochial matter as Jewish identity reveals the hold which Jewishness has had on even the most acculturated” (p. 286, 292). Shapiro shows quite clearly that New York Intellectuals such as Alfred Kazin, Irving Howe, Sidney Hook, and Philip Rahv had strong Jewish identifications — an analysis that accords with mine.

Indeed, the origins of the New York Intellectuals lie with Trotskyism, which, as Sydney Hook noted, was often seen by outsiders as a Jewish group to the point that non-Jewish Stalinists used anti-Jewish arguments against them. (As I noted elsewhere (see also here), there is a strong pattern in which Jewish leftists idolized other Jewish leftists, especially Trotsky and Rosa Luxembourg. In my view, this is an aspect of the ethnic nexus of the Jewish left.) This suggests that even at its origins in the 1930s, the nascent New York Intellectuals had a subtle, perhaps self-deceptive Jewish identity of the sort not at all uncommon among Jewish leftists generally. And the final resting place of many New York Intellectuals was neoconservatism — an attachment that was motivated by attachment to Israel and concern about the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.

Moreover, New York Intellectuals, such as future neocon Norman Podhoretz, had a life-long antipathy toward White Anglo-Saxon Protestants related to their Jewish identity. Like their radical cousins, Jacob Heilbrunn points out that they sought 

to overturn the old order in America. . . . After all, no matter how hard they worked, there were still quotas at the Ivy League universities. Then there were the fancy clubs, the legal and financial firms that saw Jews as interlopers who would soil their proud escutcheons and were to be kept at bay. Smarting with unsurpassed social resentment, the young Jews viewed themselves as liberators, proclaiming a new faith.” (p. 28) 

Heilbrunn mentions “the snobbery of the Columbia English department, where Jews were seen as cultural interlopers. This attitude, which also prevailed on Wall Street and at the State Department, produced a lifelong antipathy toward the patrician class among the neocons and prompted them to create their own parallel establishment” (p. 73). The result, as Norman Podhoretz phrased it, was to proclaim a war against the “WASP patriciate” (p. 83). It was a war that was motivated by their Jewish identity. 

3. Jewish Intellectual Movements that Influenced the New York Intellectuals. Kaufmann fails to acknowledge that the major influences on the New York Intellectuals were other Jewish intellectual movements — in particular psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School. Kaufmann does note that there was a flight of intellectuals to New York from Germany in the 1930s, but fails to note that many of the most influential refugees from National Socialism were Jews and that this group gave rise to the Frankfurt School and its landmark work, The Authoritarian Personality.

The elitist, anti-populist attitudes of the Frankfurt School paralleled the attitudes of the New York Intellectuals and likely influenced them; indeed some of the New York Intellectuals are also associated with the Frankfurt School (see Ch. 5 of CofC). Common themes in this body of writing are hostility to American populism, the need for leadership by an elite of intellectuals, and the belief that concern by Whites about ethnic displacement and the rise of the power of ethnic minorities is irrational and indicative of psychiatric disorder.

This point should be emphasized. The New York Intellectuals and the Frankfurt School developed a widely disseminated theory, based on psychoanalysis (itself a Jewish intellectual movement [see Ch. 4 of CofC]), in which concern for ethnic displacement and the rise of minority power were indications of psychopathology — a result of the ease with which psychoanalysis could be used to rationalize political goals. Although this theory lacked empirical support and would have been viewed as ridiculous had Darwinism prevailed in the social sciences, the displacement of Whites had developed an intellectually respectable and thus powerful theoretical rationale.

Although these intellectuals began their careers as Marxists, they framed their ideas in language that was more acceptable to an American audience and often appealed to American ideals of democracy and freedom. For example,  Sidney Hook argued that democracy required multiculturalism. An influential paradigm of this approach is The Authoritarian Personality, a product of the Frankfurt School that was funded by the AJCommittee — and the subject of Chapter 5 of The Culture of Critique.

The Frankfurt School advocated radical individualism not because of their allegiance to the Enlightenment, but as a useful tool for ending anti-Semitism and preventing mass movements of the right. As I noted of Theodore Adorno, the lead author of The Authoritarian Personality, "The former communist had become an advocate of radical individualism." The epitome of psychological health for the authors of The Authoritarian Personality is the individualist who is completely detached from all ingroups, including his or her family. They have a strong sense of personal autonomy and independence.

The Authoritarian Personality influenced a number of influential Jewish sociologists and historians associated with the New York Intellectuals either centrally (Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Seymour Martin Lipset, David Riesman, and Edward A. Shils) or peripherally (Richard Hofstadter, Oscar Handlin). All of these writers were professors at prestigious academic institutions (Harvard, Columbia, University of California-Berkeley, University of Chicago). Several of these academics, notably Oscar Handlin, wrote about the desirability of ending the national origins provision of US immigration law.

4. The Role of the Organized Jewish Community. Jewish organizations were involved in funding research in the social sciences (particularly social psychology, and there developed a core of predominantly Jewish academic activists associated with the New York Intellectuals who worked closely with Jewish organizations. For example, the American Jewish Committee financed the Authoritarian Personality project and the research of Franz Boas. It also published Commentary, a flagship journal of the New York Intellectuals. The ADL funded the Patterns of American Prejudice Series that included books written by New York Intellectuals and Jewish activists such as Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab.

There was also smooth congruence between the New York Intellectuals and the organized Jewish community in their support for ending the Western European bias of US immigration policy throughout the entire period leading up to the 1965 law. The organized Jewish community was the most important force in enacting the 1965 law which changed the ethnic balance of the country, ensuring that Whites will be a minority in the US well before 2050. In historical perspective, the 1965 law will prove to be the biggest single factor in the decline of Anglo-America.

Stuart Svonkin shows that cultural pluralism was a hallmark of the intergroup relations movement that was spearheaded by the organized Jewish community following World War II. The Boasian ideology that there were no racial differences as well as the Boasian ideology of cultural relativism and the importance of preserving and respecting cultural differences deriving from Horace Kallen were important ingredients of educational programs sponsored by these Jewish activist organizations and widely distributed throughout the American educational system.

By the early 1960s an ADL official estimated that one-third of America’s teachers had received ADL educational material based on these ideas. The ADL was also intimately involved in staffing, developing materials, and providing financial assistance for workshops for teachers and school administrators, often with involvement of activist social scientists from the academic world—an association that undoubtedly added to the scientific credibility of these exercises.

Finally, the organized Jewish community was pivotal in advancing the cause of civil rights — another pillar of the cosmopolitan revolution. Jews contributed from two thirds to three quarters of the money for civil rights groups during the 1960s. Jewish groups, particularly the American Jewish Congress, played a leading role in drafting civil rights legislation and pursuing legal challenges related to civil rights issues mainly benefiting Blacks. David Levering-Lewis notes that “Jewish support, legal and monetary, afforded the civil rights movement a string of legal victories. . . . There is little exaggeration in an American Jewish Congress lawyer’s claim that ‘many of these laws were actually written in the offices of Jewish agencies by Jewish staff people, introduced by Jewish legislators and pressured into being by Jewish voters.’”

5. Anti-Nationalist Tendencies among Jewish Intellectuals in Other Countries. Yuri Slezkine shows that Jewish intellectuals were associated with anti-nationalist cultural movements throughout Eastern and Central Europe in the period prior to WWII. Thus, their activities in opposition to the traditional culture of America is part of a larger pattern. Indeed, Kaufmann correctly points to the fierce criticism of regionalism by the New York Intellectuals, as represented, for example, by Meyer Schapiro’s critique of Thomas Hart Benton:

The appeal to national sentiment should set us on guard, whatever its source. And when it comes as does Benton’s with his conceited anti-intellectualism, his hatred of the foreign, his emphasis on the strong and masculine, his uncritical and unhistorical elevation of the folk, his antagonism to the cities, his ignorant and violent remarks on radicalism, we have good reason to doubt his professed liberalism.

Thomas Hart Benton: From His "The Sources of Country Music" Series

Thomas Craven, an ally of Benton, returned the favor, describing Alfred Stieglitz, “a prominent village radical” as “a Hoboken Jew without knowledge of, or interest in, the historical American background” (p. 163). Clearly the New York Intellectuals were attacking populism in favor of themselves as an intellectual elite. The New York Intellectuals associated rural America with

nativism, anti-Semitism, nationalism, and fascism as well as with anti-intellectualism and provincialism; the urban was associated antithetically with ethnic and cultural tolerance, with internationalism, and with advanced ideas. . . . The New York Intellectuals simply began with the assumption that the rural—with which they associated much of American tradition and most of the territory beyond New York—had little to contribute to a cosmopolitan culture. . . . By interpreting cultural and political issues through the urban-rural lens, writers could even mask assertions of superiority and expressions of anti-democratic sentiments as the judgments of an objective expertise. (Cooney 1986, 267–268; italics in text)

The last line bears repeating. The New York Intellectuals were engaged in a profoundly anti-democratic enterprise given that they rejected and felt superior to the culture of the majority of Americans. The battle between this urbanized intellectual and political establishment and rural America was joined on a wide range of issues. Particularly important was the issue of immigration. In this case and in the entire range of what became mainstream liberal politics, the New York Intellectuals had the enthusiastic support of all of the mainstream Jewish organizations.  

Conclusion: The Fall of the Anglo-Saxons

In the final analysis, I agree with Kaufmann that “What occurred, therefore, was an attempt by the  new avant-garde ‘ethnic’ community to replace the Anglo-Protestants as the culturally dominant group in the nation, an event that was to hasten the WASP-to-Cosmopolitan shift in the nation’s identity” (p. 165; emphasis in text). The only difference is that I would delete the quotation marks around ‘ethnic’: This was not an imaginary or quasi-ethnic community but an actual community that had as its background a cohesive group of intellectuals dominated by people who were not only Jewish ethnically but also identified as Jews and were motivated at the psychological level by typically Jewish fear and loathing of Anglo-America as the culture of an outgroup. And, at the end of the day, this assault on Anglo-America furthered Jewish goals in displacing Anglo-Saxons as a dominant elite.

As Kaufmann notes (p. 165), a critical source of the success of the New York Intellectuals (and, I have argued, the other influential intellectual movements discussed in CofC) was that they were welcomed by elite universities and the media. Kaufmann states that there emerged “The new liberal value consensus, in which artists, writers, academics, and the U.S. government were united, was social democratic, cosmopolitan, and modernist” (p. 166). The New York Intellectuals achieved “cultural hegemony” (p. 166); they had captured America from the top-down, leaving American dominant ethnicity “rudderless. It was now only a question of time before cosmopolitanism would achieve the institutional inertia necessary for it to triumph as a mass phenomenon” (p. 166). As noted above, it would be more accurate to say that American dominant ethnicity was left defenseless because of the triumph of Boasian anthropology and the demise of Darwinism in the social sciences.

The new cosmopolitan culture occupied the high grounds in American society, particularly the mass media and the academic world. Kaufmann cites sociologist Mario Diani: “Social movements tend to succeed to the extent that leaders of a movement possess ‘social capital,’ in the form of social ties to the mass media, corporate cultural intermediaries, and the state intelligentsia—where dominant interpretations of reality are generated.” This was certainly true of the New York Intellectuals and the other Jewish intellectual and political movements discussed in The Culture of Critique.

Kaufmann also stresses the rise of the national media with liberal values, resulting in broad exposure to “the New York/Washington/Hollywood elite” (p. 189), with the result that “increased exposure to social idealism brought on by higher education and, vicariously, by a higher-educated media, socialized a larger proportion of Americans into a liberal worldview” (p. 190). Kaufmann stresses the role of expressive individualism and its promotion by the media as a factor in Anglo-Saxon decline. Expressive individualism is confined to Anglos, while embracing ethnic identification is for other ethnic groups. “In aggregate, this individualism results in a transcendent attitude toward the ‘bland’ WASP background culture but endorses a conservationist posture toward what are perceived to be more interesting ‘foreground’ ethnic cultures” (p. 227). Ethnic identification by non-Whites is welcomed, partly “as a means of increasing the diversity of experience available to the expressive self” (p. 227). A good example is modern art where abstract forms produced by Anglos co-exist with expressions of ethnic assertiveness by non-Whites.

Although he emphasizes the role of the media in the decline of Anglo-Saxon America, Kaufmann fails to discuss the very prominent role of Jews in the media. My review of this topic is here where I note that “ethnic Jews have a very large influence on the media — far larger than any other identifiable group” (See also here, p. 53 ff.) .” And I show that the attitudes promoted by Jews in the media are influenced by their Jewish identity and reflect the liberal/left/cosmopolitan attitudes of the wider Jewish community.  Relevant to Kaufmann’s emphasis on expressive individualism as contributing to the decline of Anglo-Saxon America, the difference between the Hollywood elite and both the traditional elites and the general public is clearest on “expressive individualism”—a dimension tapping ideas of sexual liberation (including approval of homosexuality), moral relativism, and a disdain for religious institutions. The movie elite is also more tolerant of unusual or deviant lifestyles and of minority religions and ethnic groups.

Like the New York Intellectuals, the media also has a very negative attitude toward small-town America, as noted by Ben Stein among writers in Hollywood:

The typical Hollywood writer ... is of an ethnic background from a large Eastern city — usually from Brooklyn [i.e., they have a Jewish background]. He grew up being taught that people in small towns hated him, were different from him, and were out to get him [i.e., small town people are anti-Semites]. As a result, when he gets the chance, he attacks the small town on television or the movies....

The television shows and movies are not telling it 'like it is'; instead they are giving us the point of view of a small and extremely powerful section of the American intellectual community — those who write for the mass visual media.... What is happening, as a consequence, is something unusual and remarkable. A national culture is making war upon a way of life that is still powerfully attractive and widely practiced in the same country.... Feelings of affection for small towns run deep in America, and small-town life is treasured by millions of people. But in the mass culture of the country, a hatred for the small town is spewed out on television screens and movie screens every day.... Television and the movies are America's folk culture, and they have nothing but contempt for the way of life of a very large part of the folk.... People are told that their culture is, at its root, sick, violent, and depraved, and this message gives them little confidence in the future of that culture. It also leads them to feel ashamed of their country and to believe that if their society is in decline, it deserves to be.

The result was that even people in Middle America who fancied themselves intelligent wanted to have attitudes approved by their intellectual superiors. Whereas from 1900–1920 magazines typically featured biographical sketches of military leaders, politicians, and businessmen, thereafter the media promoted “idols of consumption and leisure” (particularly entertainment figures), leading to modernist consumerism. Kaufmann concludes that “the American myth-symbol complex was purged by the nation’s cultural leaders of its white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant components. With this intellectual backing removed, American dominant ethnicity had only its less educated, traditionalist population to fall back on, a constituency that would decline markedly in the decades ahead” (p. 174).

Kaufmann also highlights the importance of the “education explosion” after WWII in the context of the fact that academics were overwhelmingly liberal, especially in the social sciences and humanities from the 1930s on. This is a key theme also of The Culture of Critique: Boasian anthropology, Marxism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, and the New York Intellectuals attained the pinnacle of academic respectability and collectively dominated thinking in the social sciences and humanities. As a result, educated people were socialized within these mutually reinforcing frameworks, and academics engaged in status competition within the boundaries defined by these movements.

Public opinion surveys bear out attitude change in a liberal direction correlated to greater education in children than parents. If education level remained the same, there was little change in attitudes (p. 191). Kaufmann notes that in 1965 only 32% favored eliminating the national origins provisions from US immigration law. Since 1965, the public has become more restrictionist and has always favored a decrease in numbers of immigrants. For example, in 1992, 74% of Anglos said there were “too many immigrants” in the US, a percentage similar to other groups. However, college-educated people have more liberal attitudes on immigration, religious toleration, and racial boundary issues. Kaufmann proposes that the national media and education are the prime movers of attitude change as the country became more literate and educated and more middle class as opposed to working class. I agree, but my point is that ultimately these changes would not have happened without Jewish ethnic activism among Jewish intellectuals, Jews in the media, and the organized Jewish community.

Kaufmann charts the decline of Anglo-Saxons and the rise of the Jews in all areas of the American elite, from university departments of Political Science to the federal civil service. “For twenty years, the de-WASP-ing of the ruling elite in America has proceeded at a breathtaking pace.” Kaufmann cites the important study  of Lerner et al. (American Elites, 1996) showing that Jews were highly overrepresented in several areas of the elite, especially in the media and the legal profession. Jews outnumbered Anglo-Saxons 58–21 among elites in television, 48 to 25 among “public interest” elites, and 40 to 21 among legal elites. The same study found that, “in stark contrast to the Jews, WASPs were not overrepresented within the ranks of the national elite.”  Frank Salter has shown that on issues of concern to the Jewish community (Israel, immigration, ethnic policy in general), Jewish groups have four times the influence of European Americans despite representing approximately 2.5% of the population. 

These are very high overrepresentations indeed. White Protestants became underrepresented in corporate elites by the 1980s, and there is a steady decline in political power in Congress. Even people of mixed European heritage tend to identify with the non-Anglo-Saxon side of the family. For example, people of Italian-Scottish descent chose to identify themselves as Italian by a 3-1 ratio. There was also a heavy decline in White associational patterns and social capital, as described by Robert Putnam: Elks, Shriners, Jaycees, Masons all suffered major declines.

Kaufmann is also correct in noting the gap between elite and non-elite White opinion.  Kaufmann emphasizes the class difference among Whites: “We may even surmise a long-run scenario in which lower-status whites retreat to a rural, interior ethnic ‘homeland,’  while upper-status whites pursue their  modern lifestyle orientation in the nation’s more dynamic, increasingly hybridized, white-minority cities” (pp. 262–263).  Kaufmann quotes Michael Lind: “during the years that the political class has been almost unanimously in favor of present or  higher levels of legal immigration, an overwhelming majority of Americans of all races have favored restriction, a fact that speaks volumes about the alienation of the American ascendancy from the majority’s interests and  concerns … like free-market globalism, immigration is an issue that pits the affluent top 20 percent against the wage-earning majority below.”

Kaufmann’s theory is that the rise of expressive individualism (which attacks ethnic identification) and cultural egalitarianism (which attacks the idea of dominance) led to the decline of dominant ethnicity. This is compatible with my analysis, but I argue that the New York Intellectuals were a Jewish movement and I argue that two other intellectual movements, psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School, provided the intellectual basis for the decline of ethnic identity and the movement of expressive individualism to the center stage of American culture. And I argue that another Jewish movement, Boasian anthropology, was the intellectual basis for the decline of legitimacy of cultural and racial/ethnic dominance by Anglo-Saxons. (It is no accident that while Jewish intellectuals were the main force for the decline of Darwinism in America, the racial Zionists have triumphed in Israel where there is an obvious Jewish interest in subscribing to a theory that rationalizes ethnic dominance.)  

As noted above, this mutually reinforcing set of ideas was promoted not only by  Jewish intellectuals, but by  Jews with access to the media. And it was lavishly funded by Jewish organizations and promoted by activists targeting public policy (e.g., activism in Congress) and other areas important for shaping public opinion (e.g., the educational system).

Another strong influence on egalitarianism was Marxism an important component in the ideology of the Frankfurt School (Ch. 5 of CofC) as well as among the Jewish radicals who formed the backbone of political radicalism in the US throughout the 20th century (Ch. 3 of CofC). Indeed, another large gap in Kaufmann’s treatment is the lack of coverage given to the Stalinist Jewish subculture in America from the 1920s through the 1960s. The Stalinist Jewish subculture was much more numerous than the Trotskyite subculture that developed into the New York Intellectuals, and it was quite influential — for example as the stalking horse for Joe McCarthy and as the main protagonist in the cultural battles of the 1950s. (This was at a time when prominent New York Intellectuals, such as Sidney Hook, had become staunch anti-Communists and Hook himself was working in a CIA-funded operation to seize the high ground in the intellectual Cold War.) The large number of Jews among McCarthy’s targets and the response of the organized Jewish community are topics of a recent book on the period. Moreover, the Red Diaper Babies — children of Stalinist Jewish radicals from the 1930s and 1940s — became a very important force in the 1960s campus radicalism (see Ch. 3 of CofC; see also my “Memories of Madison”). Kaufmann’s analysis identifies the 1960s as a critical decade in the decline of Anglo-Saxon America, but he fails to address yet another important Jewish influence on the 1960s counterculture.

Also congruent with the argument in The Culture of Critique, Kaufmann proposes that  once the new value set was institutionalized, it became the focus of status competition within the boundaries set by these movements (p. 247). Kaufmann rejects a rational explanation for Anglo-Saxon decline due to “mass mobilization from below." However, he does not even consider Jewish influence as a factor, even though he does cite data showing that  Jews are vastly overrepresented in the new post-Anglo-Saxon elite. (Kaufmann does claim that half of the New York Intellectuals were Jewish, but never links their attitudes to their Jewish identity.) Kaufmann also correctly rejects business interests as the moving force for the end of the Western European bias in American immigration policy. The decisive Jewish role in the passage of the 1965 immigration law is the subject of Ch. 7 of The Culture of Critique.

Another critical lapse in Kaufmann’s argument is that he never mentions coercion and the penalties that are imposed on people who dissent from the elite consensus. However, Whites who violate these strictures are severely censured — a phenomenon with which I have considerable personal experience. Kaufmann presents the views of elite Whites who are cooperating in the demise of their own people as nothing more than the enlightened opinions of an intellectual and moral elite. But it is far more than that. At least since the 1960s, Whites who depart from the cosmopolitan consensus have been penalized in a wide variety of ways — from lack of access to the mainstream media, to firing from their jobs, to social opprobrium.

Moreover, the same forces that have legitimated and institutionalized the cosmopolitan zeitgeist for Whites are endeavoring to make this revolution permanent by enacting “hate speech” laws prohibiting the expression of ideas that conflict with their version of reality. For example, the organized Jewish community is deeply involved in advocating restrictions on free speech in America and throughout the West. The result is that conservatives are forced to couch their ideas in the universalist language of cosmopolitanism. Kaufmann points out that even measures of White ethnic defense (such as English-only measures and immigration restriction) have had to be couched in the language of civic universalism. Indeed, Kaufmann, who is part Jewish, part Chinese, and part Hispanic ethnically, is entirely on board with the idea that cosmopolitanism will have to resort to social controls on White consciousness to make its victory permanent: “Institutional pressure must be brought to bear on ethnic revival [of Whites], prompting the communitarian impulse to discharge itself along liberal lines” (p. 301).

This shows that although the cosmopolitan revolution took advantage of pre-existing Anglo-Saxon tendencies toward individualism, in the end the institutional structure that is being pursued after attaining power is profoundly anti-individualist. Indeed, the future of the West is likely to be far more like traditional Jewish society (or, ironically, traditional Puritan society) with high levels of social control over behavior and thoughts than America as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

America remains somewhat of an exception to these trends throughout the West because of the First Amendment. But other Western societies, lacking such formal declarations of rights, have succumbed to a stifling political correctness that essentially legislates the triumph of cosmopolitanism and the suicide of the West. In his classic 1975 essay “Ethnic Diversity, cosmopolitanism, and the emergence of the American liberal intelligentsia,” David Hollinger makes the point that “cosmopolitanism … is difficult to maintain as a prescription for society at large unless one is willing — as most American intellectuals have not been — to attribute to the general population a prodigious capacity for growth” (p. 73). He is quite right, but it’s also clear that Americans will have no choice but to express cosmopolitan attitudes and engage in cosmopolitan behavior, except perhaps in the privacy of a closet in their home.

My alternate view of the 20th century in America is that if a robust Darwinian intellectual elite had remained in place despite the assaults of the Boasians, the Frankfurt School, the Marxists, and the New York Intellectuals, the cosmopolitan revolution never would have occurred and the Anglo-Saxon movement of ethnic defense culminating in the immigration law of 1924 would have succeeded and become institutionalized. The liberal, cosmopolitan Anglo-Saxon tradition would have persisted at the fringes of American society, advocated by those for whom the confining Anglo-Saxon small town culture was an overly confining burden. And, quite possibly, with a more sophisticated biological and evolutionary understanding of human behavior, Anglo-Saxon culture itself would have changed in a direction to be more inclusive of various forms of recurrent, biologically-based non-conformity, such as homosexuality.

But a robust, sophisticated Darwinian culture would have provided a powerful argument for ethnic defense. Critically, such a Darwinian ethnic defense would have emphasized creating a culture in which individualism was seen as a valuable Anglo-Saxon ethnic trait — as was the case during the 18th and 19th centuries. Immigration policy would have been carefully formulated to ensure that immigrants were genetically similar to the founding stock and to ensure the continued dominance of peoples prone to individualism — just as American immigration policy was crafted until 1965.

This ethnic defense would have been energized by the sociobiological revolution of the 1970s and the firm mathematical grounding for the understanding that all peoples have ethnic genetic interests. Instead, in cosmopolitan America, even the sociobiological revolution has been stripped of its most dangerous and powerful ideas. As Frank Salter has shown, the revolution in population genetics of the1970s showed very clearly that people controlling a piece of land have a huge genetic interest in preserving their control. But this finding has been suppressed and misinterpreted by people at the highest levels of the academic hierarchy.

This suppression will continue because cosmopolitanism has a hopelessly shaky intellectual basis. Built on theories that were motivated far more by ethnic interests of the rising elite of Jewish intellectuals than by a respect for scientific truth, cosmopolitanism has no choice but to secure its future by coercion.

And for the Anglo-Saxons and the rest of White America, it is a defeat of cataclysmic proportions.

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

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