July 29, 2009
Editorial note: This is an elaborated version of an article appearing on VDARE.com: Suicide — Or Murder? Kaufmann’s Rise and Fall of Anglo-America
Table of Contents
Eric P. Kaufmann’s The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America presents the case that Anglo-America committed what one might call “suicide by idea”: White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants were motivated to give up ethnic hegemony by their attachment to Enlightenment ideals of individualism and liberty. Anglo-Americans simply followed these ideals of the Enlightenment to their logical conclusion, with the result that immigration was opened up to all peoples of the world, multiculturalism became the cultural ideal, and Whites willingly allowed themselves to be displaced from their preeminent position among the elites of business, media, politics, and the academic world.
Kaufmann explicitly rejects the proposal that the decline of Anglo-America occurred as a result of some external force. His view is therefore an important contrast to my view that the rise of Jews to elite status in the United States and particular Jewish intellectual and political movements (e.g., the movement to open immigration to all the peoples of the world) were critically necessary (not sufficient) conditions for the collapse of White America. My view is that the outcome was the result of ethnic conflict over the construction of culture. Indeed, the fall of Anglo-Saxon America is a textbook case of how deadly the conflict over the construction of culture can be.
In this review, I will show where Kaufmann goes wrong — mainly by committing sins of omission in ignoring the Jewish role in the decline of Anglo-America. But it must be said that he provides a fascinating historical overview of the decline of Whites in the US. As he notes, it was not very long ago that America strongly asserted that it was a nation of Northwestern Europeans and intended to stay that way. The 1924 Johnson-Reed Act was carefully designed to preserve the ethnic status quo as of 1890, thereby ensuring the dominance of Anglo-Americans. In 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act reiterated the bias toward Northwestern Europe and was passed over President Truman’s veto.
But only a decade later, in the 1960s, White America began the process of ethnic and cultural suicide:
By the 1960s, as if by magic, the centuries-old machinery of WASP America began to stall like the spacecraft of Martian invaders in the contemporary hit film, War of the Worlds. In 1960, the first non-Protestant president was elected. In 1965, the national origins quota regime for immigration was replaced by a “color-blind” system. Meanwhile, Anglo-Protestants faded from the class photos of the economic, political, and cultural elite — their numbers declining rapidly, year upon year, in the universities, boardrooms, cabinets, courts, and legislatures. At the mass level, the cords holding Anglo-Protestant Americans together began to unwind as secular associations and mainline churches lost millions of members while the first truly national, non-WASP cultural icons appeared. (pp. 2–3)
While it is certainly true that other ethnic groups have gone into historical decline or have been replaced by force, the decline of Anglo-America seems mysterious. There are no conquering armies that would easily explain their impending exit from the stage of history.
But despite its obvious importance as an historical phenomenon, as Kaufmann notes, there has been almost no academic attention to the causes of this very precipitous decline. Perhaps some things are better left unsaid, at least until the losers of this revolution are safely relegated to a powerless position.
In the first section, I sketch how a segment of elite White intellectuals saw themselves and America in the nineteenth century. This is an important part of Kaufmann’s narrative because he argues that the seeds of the displacement of Whites were sown in earlier centuries and merely came to fruition in the 1960s and later. The following are the main conclusions:
Many elite White intellectuals and political figures correctly saw that individualism and universalism were ethnic traits traceable to their Germanic ancestors.
White liberals during the 19th century often had a muddled view of race, thinking that environmental changes would quickly alter racial traits.
Even White liberals imagined that in the future America would be populated by people like them — White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
Liberal attitudes on race were part of elite culture emanating from the Puritan strand of American culture, and already in the 19th century there was a gap between elite and popular attitudes.
Freedom, Representative Government, and Individualism as Anglo-Saxon Ethnic Traits
Confident assertions of White ethnic identity are virtually non-existent these days. However, Kaufmann shows that in the 18th and 19th centuries, Anglo-Americans had a strong sense that they were the biological descendants of freedom loving Anglo-Saxon tribes: “The New England town meeting was likened to the Anglo-Saxon tribal council, and the statements of Tacitus regarding the free, egalitarian qualities of the Anglo-Saxons were given an American interpretation” (p. 18). (For example, Tacitus: “The king or the chief, according to age, birth, distinction in war, or eloquence, is heard, more because he has influence to persuade than because he has power to command. If his sentiments displease them, they reject them with murmurs; if they are satisfied, they brandish their spears.”)
The “Yeoman farmer” was considered the ethnic prototype. After drafting the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson stated that Americans are “the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and on the other side, Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs from whom we claim the honour of being descended, and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed” (pp. 17–18; emphasis in text).
Similar statements of ethnic confidence were common among intellectuals and politicians in the period preceding the Mexican-American war. For example, in 1846 Walt Whitman wrote, “What has miserable, inefficient Mexico … to do … with the mission of peopling the New World with a noble race?” (p. 22).
As a cultural historian, Kaufmann interprets ethnic self-conceptions as myths. But in fact it is entirely reasonable to look for the peculiar traits and tendencies of Europeans as adaptations to prolonged life in a situation characterized by harsh climates and the relative absence of between-group competition. I have arguedthat evolution in the North has predisposed Europeans to the following two critical traits that are entirely unique among the traditional cultures of the world:
1. A de-emphasis on extended kinship relationships and a relative lack of ethnocentrism.
2. A tendency toward individualism and all of its implications: individual rights against the state, representative government, moral universalism, and science.
In other words, Jefferson was quite probably correct to view the Anglo-Saxon tendencies toward individualism and representative government as ethnic traits. A critical feature of individualism is that group boundaries are relatively permeable and assimilation is the norm. As Kaufmann notes, even in the 19th century, individualism resulted in assimilation rather than maintaining impermeable boundaries with other Whites: “Interethnic relations followed a pattern of Anglo-conformity. … Immigrants were to be made into American WASPs by absorbing American English, American Liberty, and American Protestantism and, ultimately, by intermarrying with Americans” (p. 19).
For example, in the late 18th century, the response to large-scale German settlements in Pennsylvania was to reject German-American separatism and a multicultural model of America. Attempts to make German an official language and have laws written in German were rebuffed. German-Americans began Anglicizing their names to better fit into the American milieu.
There was an assumption, even among many liberals, that these ethnic others would look and act like Anglo-Americans. In the 19th century, liberals typically had “an optimistic, expansionist Anglo-conformism that accepted the immigrants, provided they looked like Anglo-Protestants and assimilated to the WASP mytho-symbolic corpus” (p. 37).
Double Consciousness: The Tension between Individualism and Ethnic Identity
Nineteenth-century American intellectuals tended to have what Ralph Waldo Emerson called a “double consciousness” — a tendency to think of America as committed to a non-racial liberal cosmopolitanism as well as a tendency to identify strongly with their Anglo-Saxon ethnicity. This fits with individualism because the ideal is to assimilate others rather than to erect strong ethnic boundaries.
During this period expressions of double consciousness can be found among the intellectual elite in which assertions of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity coexisted with statements of universalism.
Emerson himself was an example of double consciousness. He wrote that America was “the asylum of all nations. … [T]he energy of Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles and Cossacks, and all the European tribes, of the Africans and Polynesians, will construct a new race … as vigorous as the new Europe which came out of the smelting pot of the Dark Ages.” This very clear statement of universalism co-existed with the following statement from around the same time: “It cannot be maintained by any candid person that the African race have ever occupied or do promise ever to occupy any very high place in the human family. … The Irish cannot; the American Indian cannot; the Chinese cannot. Before the energy of the Caucasian race all other races have quailed and done obeisance” (pp. 44–45).
Despite Kaufmann’s claims, these ideas are not really contradictory — the idea that there are differences between the races is compatible with the idea that eventually the races will amalgamate and be better for it. In his book English Traits, Emerson acknowledges racial differences: “Race is a controlling influence in the Jew who, for two millenniums, under every climate, has preserved the same character and employments. Race in the negro is of appalling importance” (p. 27). However, he maintains that racial boundaries are weak and that “the best nations are those the most widely related; and navigation, as effecting a worldwide mixture, is the most potent advancer of nations” (p. 28).
What is odd is Emerson’s belief that the English race could remain the English race even after absorbing other races. Emerson thought that immigrants to America would literally be assimilated to the English race: The “foreign element [in America], however considerable, is rapidly assimilated,” resulting in a population of “English descent and language” (my emphasis). This is an example of the muddled thinking on race that was characteristic of many intellectuals during the 19th century.
Kaufmann reviews the various strains of 19th-century liberalism that de-emphasized White or Anglo-Saxon identity. These were not majority views, but they do point to a robust strand among secular and religious intellectual elites associated with a New England Puritan background in the direction of a deracinated cosmopolitanism. Emerson, certainly, was a liberal, as were his fellow Transcendentalists and Unitarians.
Muddled Thinking about Race: The influence of Lamarck
The bottom line is that, as Kaufmann says, “a good case can be made that ethnic (“race”) thinking in the nineteenth century was largely a muddled, incoherent enterprise” (p. 54). The basic problem was that these thinkers wereLamarckians — that is, they believed that people could inherit traits that their ancestors had acquired during their lifetimes. With Lamarck rather than Darwin as inspiration, race and culture were conflated. Liberal intellectuals thought that blacks would become white with more education, like “the running of a dirty stream into a pellucid lake which eventually clears leaving no trace of mud” (p. 56). Immigrants of all strains could become good Anglo-Saxons.
Lamarck’s theory has always been a darling of the left because it holds the promise that inherited traits can easily be changed simply by changing the environment. It is no accident that Lamarckism became official ideology in the Soviet Union (and among many Jewish leftists) precisely because it implied that it would be quite easy to mold the new Soviet man — or, as Lysenko thought, to develop crops that could flourish in cold climates.
In the hands of the Anglo-Saxon assimilationists, Lamarckism was part of the optimistic spirit of elite 19th-century liberal intellectuals who envisioned a future America to be people just like themselves, no matter what their origins.
Self-interest and Liberal Ideology. An ethnic tendency toward individualism makes people less likely to erect barriers to other groups. But individualists are certainly capable of developing a sense of ethnic identity. In fact, we have seen that it was quite common for Anglo-Saxons to think of individualism as resulting from their ethnic heritage. However, individualists are relatively less ethnocentric, and as a result it is relatively easy for other motivations to predominate. These motivations can range from libertarian self-actualization to self-interested business practices that, for example, promote non-White immigration if there are economic benefits to be had.
Kaufmann points to a general tendency — still apparent today — in which elite Protestants made alliances with immigrant groups (including non-White immigrants such as Chinese on the West Coast in the 1870s) to encourage immigration. These forces opposed the forces of ethnic defense represented by middle and working class Anglo-Protestants of both parties. “To quell dissent within their party, Republican elites accused their populist wing of racism and ethnic bigotry” (p. 59) — a trend that remains quite common today.
As is the case today, people with the most liberal attitudes were not personally threatened by upholding liberal attitudes (e.g., pro-Chinese immigration in areas where there were no Chinese). Or liberals imagined that “divine providence … would keep Chinese numbers in the United States to a minimum” (p. 65). Again, there is quite a bit of muddlement: Republicans like William Seward “who backed equal rights for blacks and favored Chinese immigration, fervently believed in the separation of the races and in the homogeneity of the nation” (p. 65).
Four American Liberal Intellectual Traditions from the late 19th century to the present: Libertarian Anarchism, Liberal Protestantism, Academic Cultural Determinism, and the Secular Left
Americans like myself who are distressed at the decline and displacement of Whites, the rise of multiculturalism, and massive non-White immigration must acknowledge the strong strands of American culture that have facilitated these phenomena. On one hand, individualism and its cluster of related traits (moral universalism, science) are the basic features of Western modernization — the features that have allowed Western cultures to dominate the world and to colonize areas far away from their European homeland.
On the other hand, because of its relative lack of ethnocentrism and its tendencies toward assimilation rather than erecting ingroup/outgroup barriers, an important strand of American individualism has been to develop wildly optimistic and idealistic theories of the American future. We have seen that liberal theorists of the 19th century saw a future America as dominated by people who looked and thought like themselves: Even people from different races would ultimately become White Anglo-Saxon and Protestant no matter what their racial background.
Kaufmann points to four different liberal intellectual traditions all of which had their origin in the 19th century and all still present today. Each of them may be seen as a different expression of individualism.
Libertarian Anarchism. The 19th-centuiry liberal intellectual tradition of the Transcendentalists and Unitarians stemmed from the Puritan tradition centered in New England and its elite universities. Another strain of New England liberalism is represented by the libertarian anarchists, typified by Benjamin Tucker, a believer in unfettered individualism and opposed to prohibitions on non-invasive behavior (“free love”, etc.). But even these libertarians were conscious that their attitudes sprang from their ethnic heritage. As Kaufmann notes, “the radical tradition [of anarchic individualism] did not necessarily point in a cosmopolitan direction, but, as with radical figures, such as Thomas Jefferson, Horace Greeley, Emerson, and Walt Whitman, often reinforced ethnonational pride. … Anarchist logic did not wipe clear all traces of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant attachment. Evidently, the cosmopolitan paradigm had yet to fully shake its cognitive ballast of dominant ethnicity” (pp. 88–89).
A large part of the vision of what Kaufmann calls the “expressive pathfinders” in the early 20th century was a rebellion against small-town Protestant America, its sexual repression, and its other mores which resulted in exclusion of some (e.g., homosexuals). This expressive individualist avant-garde culture of New York was not significant in the 19th century, being overshadowed by the genteel radicalism emanating from New England. The new Bohemians in Greenwich Village (ca. 1910–1917) were led by Max Eastman (1883–1969) and defined themselves by cultural liberation defined as freedom from constraints—an early version of 1960s hippies: self discovery, emotion over logic, intuition, rebellion, free love, Black jazz, and leftist politics. They developed an ingroup ideology that functioned like a pseudo-ethnic identity: They had shared attitudes as boundary markers, founding myths, iconic figures, and a utopian vision of an expressive, egalitarian future. Another important figure in this mold was H. L. Mencken(1880–1956) who opposed Puritanism as “moralistic, aesthetically barren and an impediment to American intellectual development” (p. 153).
Many were in open rebellion against the Christian, small-town culture they grew up in. Rebels like Hutchins Hapgood were attracted to Jews because they were the “other”: “I was led to spend much time in poor resorts of Yiddish New York, through motives neither philanthropic nor sociological, but simply by virtue of the charm I felt in men and things there.” Horace Kallen, the Jewish philosopher of cultural pluralism, commented in 1915 on the effects of the individualism of American intellectuals of the period:
The older America, whose voice and spirit were New England, has … gone beyond recall. Americans of British stock still are prevailingly the artists and thinkers of the land, but they work, each for himself, without common vision or ideals. They have no ethos, any more. The older tradition has passed from a life into a memory. (quoted by Kaufmann as an epigraph to Chapter 7, p. 144)
Expressive individualism remained a marginal phenomenon until it became an integral part of the counterculture of the 1960s — especially the hippie component of the 1960s counterculture. At that point, it became ingrained in American mass culture as a component of “Left-wing modernism” (p. 204), spreading “from the intellectual elite to the better-educated sections of the political and economic elite: the mass media, executive, judiciary, and top bureaucrats” (p. 205). The movement of expressive individualism to the center of American culture therefore followed rather than preceded the major cultural changes brought about, in Kaufmann’s view, by the success of the New York Intellectuals (see below). Expressive individualism therefore cannot be seen as causing the eclipse of Anglo-America.
Liberal Protestantism. Kaufmann notes several strains of liberal Protestantism in 19th-century thought. The Free Religious Association (founded in 1867) was a more liberal offshoot of the Unitarians — the most liberal strain of American religion. But again the members of the FRA thought of their liberal attitudes as stemming from their ethnic heritage. After stating that his religious movement intended to humanize (not Christianize) the entire world, Francis E. Abbot, founder of the FRA, stated “The rest I need comes no longer from spiritual servitude, but must be sought and found in the manly exercise of freedom. It is to those who feel this Anglo-Saxon instinct of liberty stirring in their hearts that my words are addressed, — not to those who feel no galling pressure from the easy yoke” (p. 90; my emphasis).
Merrill Gates (1848–1922), President of Rutgers College and a Congregationalist preacher, also combined his religious commitments with a belief that his political attitudes stemmed from his ethnic heritage: “There is no other ‘manifest destiny’ for any man [than Liberty]…. To this we [liberals] are committed, by all the logic of two thousand years of Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon history, since Arminius … made a stand for liberty against the legions of Rome” (p. 90). Kaufmann points out that “we should bear in mind that FRA members at this point had failed to relinquish their Anglo-Protestant psychic redoubts, and none spoke of stripping the nation of its implicitly white, Anglo-Saxon, or Protestant heritage” (p. 91).
Many Protestants believed that all Americans would eventually voluntarily become Protestants. Religious leaders, particularly Methodists and Baptists, rejected the idea of writing Christianity into the US Constitution, but they retained the belief that the U.S. government was Christian. “Anglo Protestants wanted their tradition to be supreme, but their universalist liberal commitments would not countenance boundary-defining measures of legislative origin” (p. 47). Christianity would retain its special place by persuasion, not coercion. As indicated below, the liberal cosmopolitanism of the late 20th century has taken the opposite strategy: Once it achieved power, it developed strong overtones of coercion, including attempts to limit freedom of speech and remove people from their jobs for beliefs and attitudes that conflict with the cosmopolitan zeitgeist — an indication that liberal cosmopolitanism of the late 20th century is in a critical sense not in the individualist tradition of America.
Moreover, even though they did not approve of Catholicism, Protestant religious leaders in the 1840s did not oppose Catholic immigration, believing that they could convert them to “the ‘American’ faith” (p. 47) and absorb them into the Anglo-Saxon race. Indeed, all races would immigrate to America for the new millennium: In the words of a prominent Baptist, “In the gathering of all nations and races upon our shores, do we not witness the providential preparation for a second Pentacost that shall usher in the millennial glory?” (p. 49). All races would be absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon race, their better qualities absorbed, “yet remaining essentially unchanged” (p. 49). Kaufmann comments that “it is necessary to understand that liberal and Anglo-Protestant attitudes were not opposing viewpoints, but part of the same myth-symbol complex of dualistic ethnic beliefs whose contradictions were obscured by a giddy, expansionist spirit of optimism’ (p. 50).
Indeed, this is an extreme form of egocentrism. What the good minister is saying is that all peoples will eventually assimilate in race and religion to look and behave pretty much like he does.
The period from 1900–1910 also saw the beginnings of a liberal Protestant elite willing to sacrifice the dream of conversion for universalist, humanitarian ethics. The idea that Anglo-Saxons would convert the world to Protestant Christianity—common in the late 19th century—faded after 1910. This elite was more open to religious relativity and criticized the implicit Whiteness of Christian missionaries. The Federal Council of Churches (FCC, estab. 1908) became a key organizing body for liberal Protestantism. In 1924, at the time when the US Congress was overwhelmingly passing an immigration restriction bill biased toward immigration from Northwestern Europe, the FCC resolved that
the assumption of inherent racial superiority by dominant groups around the world is neither supported by science nor justified by ethics. The effort to adjust race relations on that basis and by the use of force is a denial of Christian principles of the inherent superiority of ethical values and the supreme worth of personality. As it applies to the white and Negro people in America it is a philosophy that leads only to suffering and despair. (p. 124)
The FCC used universalist passages from the New Testament rather than passages reflecting Jewish ethnic interests from the Old Testament. This was an elite point of view, and there was a major gap with popular attitudes. The 1920s saw the Protestant masses devoted to immigration restriction and fearful of Communism and other forms of political radicalism associated with immigrants, with many sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan. Despite these popular sentiments, the Protestant media and ministers in the North and the South attacked the KKK throughout the 1920s. Some liberal ministers were forced to leave their congregations because of popular attitudes.
This elite established itself at the highest levels of the culture well before the final fall of Anglo-America: “From 1918 to 1955, the concept of national identity held by Anglo-Protestant university administrators, intellectuals, federal bureaucrats and the federal executive underwent a shift from a WASP conception to a more pluralist construct” (p. 130). This elite attitude embraced pluralism rather than assimilation.
But Liberal Progressivism was not characteristic of the great mass of American Whites: Liberal Progressives “soon found themselves marginal not only to American society, but to the Progressive mainstream as well” (p. 105). During the 1920s there was a rise of fundamentalist, non-elite Protestantism typified by figures like Billy Sunday, and Carl McIntire in opposition to the liberal elite establishment. The masses of Protestants, even in liberal denominations, did not buy into the cosmopolitanism of the elites. The FCC and the religious media opposed the Reed-Johnson act of 1924—a position which was very much a minority point of view. During the 1930s and the early stages of WWII, the only successful attempt to get Protestants to respond positively to refugees was when they were British. Jewish refugees were harder to place and the response was not enthusiastic (p. 137). The FCC had no success in lobbying for the Wagner-Rogers Bill that called for 20,000 German Jewish children to be admitted outside the quotas.
The FCC entered the mainstream when it condemned communism after WWII. But the leadership of the FCC (now called the NCC) remained well to the left of its constituents throughout. A study in the late 1960s showed that 33% of laity advocated civil rights activism versus 64% of clergy; 89% of laity felt Black problems were their own fault, versus 35% of clergy. 42% of laity backed the national origins provisions versus only 23% of clergy. Kaufmann says that the elite had little effect on the attitudes of the laity.
The Liberal Progressives and ecumenical Protestants were an elite of university-educated people who self-consciously thought of themselves as a “better element” — that is, they had a sense of moral superiority. But Kaufmann acknowledges that this “genteel Liberal Progressive vision was limited” (p. 144) and by itself probably would not have resulted in profound cultural change. In general, the liberal elite among the religions moved in step with their secular liberal brethren. That is, they followed secular trends rather than led the trends, and as a result they are ultimately of little importance for understanding the fall of Anglo-Saxon America.
Academic Cultural Determinism and Anti-Darwinism. In academic history in the late 19th century, Frederick Jackson Turner thought of America as a melting pot in which the frontier environment fused immigrants into an American race. The new race would not be Anglo-Saxon or English but distinctively American. Turner was therefore a Lamarckian — a believer in the idea that acquired traits could be inherited: The American frontier environment shaped the characteristics of the new race which were then passed down as genetic traits.
Nevertheless, Turner was not sympathetic to the new immigrants. “Evidently, Turner had merely emphasized one part of his inherited American ethnic mythology (frontier, liberty, agrarianism) without jettisoning the other symbols (Protestantism, Nordic whiteness)” (p. 52). But, as Kaufmann, notes, it was a short step from Turner’s ideas to even more radical forms of liberal cosmopolitanism. His general perspective was assimilationist — distrust of new immigrants combined with hope that they would become culturally assimilated to Anglo-Saxon culture and a common racial identity.
In the 20th century, Franz Boas and his students dominated the American Anthropology Association and had a wide influence in other academic disciplines. Boasian anthropology is the premier cultural determinism theory of the 20th century and may be considered a Jewish intellectual movement. Kaufmann almost completely ignores Boas’s influence, but, as discussed below, the Boasians were critical to the demise of Darwinism in the social sciences and the demise of Darwinism was a critical linchpin in underlying any viable intellectual basis for Anglo-Saxon ethnic defense. As discussed below, without a Darwinian theory, the way was open to the erection of a culture in which the intellectual establishment would view the eclipse of Anglo-America as a moral imperative.
The Secular Left. Kaufmann credits two Jews, Felix Adler (1851–1933) and Israel Zangwill (1864–1926), with pushing the 19th-century American universalist tendencies to the point of completely rejecting ethnicity altogether. Adler founded the New York Society for Ethical Culture in 1876 and became president of the Free Religious Association (see above) in 1878. Kaufmann quotes Adler as advocating the dissolution of Judaism via assimilation and eventually withering away: “Individual members of the Jewish race [will] look about them and perceive that there is as great and perhaps greater liberty in religion beyond the pale of their race and will lose their peculiar idiosyncrasies, and their distinctiveness will fade. And eventually, the Jewish race will die” (p. 92). However, Adler believed that Jews should only “universalize themselves out of existence when the task [of ethnic dissolution of non-Jews] was complete” (p. 92). Indeed, Adler declared that “So long as there shall be a reason of existence for Judaism, so long the individual Jews will keep apart and will do well to do so” (p. 92).
According to Adler, then, the “reason for existence” of Judaism was to evangelize his new universalist religion of ethical culture until the whole world was converted. Kaufmann observes that under Adler’s influence “Anglo-Protestant thinkers would call for [Anglo-Protestantism’s] termination as forthrightly as Adler did for the Jews” (p. 92). In fact the Anglos applied Adler’s doctrine more thoroughly than he advocated for his own ethnic group.
Indeed, Adler’s ideas are remarkably congruent with the ideas of prominent Reform Judaism rabbis of the period. Kaufmann Kohler (1843–1926) is an important example of the Reform tendency (also seen, e.g., in Kohler’s mentor, David Einhorn (1809–1879), and Samuel Hirsch (1815–1889 ) to assert that Jewish ethics is universalistic while at the same time maintaining that Israel must remain separate while presenting a moral beacon to the rest of humanity — a beacon of universalism and ethnic dissolution of non-Jews. As I note inSeparation and Its Discontents (Ch. 7), “one cannot underestimate the importance of the fact that the central pose of post-Enlightenment Jewish intellectuals is a sense that Judaism represents a moral beacon to the rest of humanity.”
This suggests that Adler retained a Jewish identity. Adler was married to a Jewish woman and maintained Jewish associates — for example, a close friendship with Louis Brandeis. Brandeis, who was an important Zionist activist of the period, was married to a sister of Adler’s wife. But Adler “left Judaism for a more rigorous, universalist and humanist non-theistic ministry that was combined with progressive social action.”
Adler was thus the prototype of the 20th-century secular, leftist Jewish political activist: opposing Anglo-Saxon ethnic hegemony and making alliances with non-Jews with similar political sympathies.
My review of Jewish leftists shows that they typically retained a strong sense of Jewish identification — often not explicitly and not religiously, but rather in their friends, associates, spouses and attitudes toward Jewish issues, especially anti-Semitism. Many Jewish leftists who denied having Jewish identities found that they had a profound commitment to Judaism with the rise of National Socialism in Germany and to Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. In general, Jewish identification of non-religious Jews is complex, with Jewish identity more likely to surface during perceived threats to Jews.
Israel Zangwill, the other Jewish advocate of ethnic dissolution highlighted by Kaufmann, had a strong Jewish identity. Despite marrying a non-Jew and advocating the dissolution of all ethnic groups, Zangwill was a prominent advocate of a Jewish homeland and was active in Jewish politics throughout his life.
Indeed, Zangwill was well aware that Anglo-Saxon ideals of individualism and universalism could be used in the battle against immigration restriction. During the debate on the 1924 immigration law, the House Majority Report emphasized the Jewish role in defining the intellectual battle in terms of Nordic superiority and “American ideals” rather than in the terms of an ethnic status quo actually favored by the committee:
The cry of discrimination is, the committee believes, manufactured and built up by special representatives of racial groups, aided by aliens actually living abroad. Members of the committee have taken notice of a report in the Jewish Tribune (New York) February 8, 1924, of a farewell dinner to Mr. Israel Zangwill which says:
Mr. Zangwill spoke chiefly on the immigration question, declaring that if Jews persisted in a strenuous opposition to the restricted immigration there would be no restriction. “If you create enough fuss against this Nordic nonsense,” he said, “you will defeat this legislation. You must make a fight against this bill; tell them they are destroying American ideals. Most fortifications are of cardboard, and if you press against them, they give way.”
Although Kaufmann represents Zangwill as advocating the melting together of all racial groups, the reality is a bit more subtle. Zangwill’s views on Jewish-gentile intermarriage were ambiguous at best and he detested Christian proselytism to Jews. Zangwill was an ardent Zionist and an admirer of his father’s religious orthodoxy as a model for the preservation of Judaism. He believed Jews were a morally superior race whose moral vision had shaped Christian and Muslim societies and would eventually shape the world, although Christianity remained morally inferior to Judaism. Jews would retain their racial purity if they continued to practice their religion: “So long as Judaism flourishes among Jews there is no need to talk of safeguarding race or nationality; both are automatically preserved by the religion” (Zangwill, quoted in Israel Zangwill, by Joseph Leftowich, 1957, 161).
Despite the fact that the country as a whole had moved toward ethnic defense, often with an explicitly Darwinian rationale, Adler was part of a network of leftists who worked to undermine the cultural and ethnic homogeneity of the US. An important node in this network was the Settlement House movement of the late 19th century–early 20th century. The settlements were an Anglo-Saxon undertaking that exhibited a noblesse oblige still apparent in some White leftist circles today. They were “residences occupied by upper-middle-class ‘workers’ whose profile was that of an idealistic Anglo-Saxon, university-educated young suburbanite (male or female) in his or her mid-twenties” (p. 96). The movement explicitly rejected the idea that immigrants ought to give up their culture and assimilate to America: “To put the immigrants (as individuals) on an equal symbolic footing with the natives, a concept of the nation was required that would not violate the human dignity of the immigrants by denigrating their culture” (p. 97). Cultural pluralism was encouraged: “The nation would be implored to shed its Anglo-Saxon ethnic core and develop a culture of cosmopolitan humanism, a harbinger of impending global solidarity” (pp. 97–98).
The leader of the Settlement House movement, Jane Addams, advocated that America shed all allegiance to an Anglo-Saxon identity. Addams came from a liberal Quaker background — another liberal strand of American Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture, like the Puritans stemming from a distinctive British sub-culture. In general, the Quakers have been less influential than the Puritans, but their attitudes have been even more consistently liberal than the Puritan-descended intellectuals who became a dominant intellectual liberal elite in the 19th century. For example, John Woolman, the “Quintessential Quaker,” was an 18th-century figure who opposed slavery, lived humbly, and, most tellingly for the concept of ethnic defense, felt guilty about preferring his own children to children on the other side of the world.
A connection between Jane Addams and the Puritan intellectual tradition was that Harvard philosopher William James influenced Addams and approved her ideas. James was a member of Felix Adler’s Ethical Culture society— a group that Kaufmann terms “the fount of Jewish cosmopolitanism” (p. 101), and his student was Horace Kallen, the premier theorist of a multicultural America—and an ardent Zionist. William James was a moral universalist: “Moral progress is a value that outweighed group survival,” a point of view that “reaffirmed Felix Adler’s cardinal dictum that particular ethnic groups had a duty to sacrifice their existence for the progress of humankind. … The dominant Anglo-Saxon group had no case for its preservation but instead needed to devote itself to bring about the new cosmopolitan humanity” (p. 102). This was a rarified phenomenon of a small but elite minority — even many settlement workers believed in an Anglo-Saxon America and favored immigration restriction.
Randolph Bourne’s Atlantic Monthly article (1916) is a classic statement of a multicultural ideal for America. Bourne (who, as Kaufmann notes, was a disciple of Horace Kallen; see also here) acknowledged the concern that different nationalities hadn’t blended, but he advocated that America become the first “international nation” — a “cosmopolitan federation of national colonies.” All other ethnic groups would be allowed to retain their identity and cohesion. It is only the Anglo-Saxon that is implored to be cosmopolitan. In particular, Bourne wrote that “it is not the Jew who sticks proudly to the faith of his fathers and boasts of that venerable culture of his who is dangerous to America, but the Jew who has lost the Jewish fire and become a mere elementary, grasping animal.”
People like Bourne, H. L. Mencken, and Sinclair Lewis had a strong sense of intellectual elitism and rebellion against Protestant, small-town America. A character in Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street complains that the townspeople have a “standardized background … scornful of the living. … A savourless people, gulping tasteless food … and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world” (p. 158). The character was mildly excited by Scandinavian immigrants but deplored the fact that they were absorbed without a trace into the mainstream Protestant culture of America.
These attitudes could also be found among Jewish intellectuals. Walter Lippmann called America “a nation of villagers” (p. 156)—a harbinger of the hostility of Hollywood to small-town America discussed below.
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 (seeSeparation 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, asSydney 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 uncommonamong 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 ofCofC). 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 theAuthoritarian 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 alsohere, 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 shownthat 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 ofThe 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.