Reflections on Hilaire Belloc’s “The Jews” (1922) [Part Two of Three]

Part 1.

After discussing denial among non-Jews on the issue of the “Jewish problem,” Belloc moves in the third chapter to his thoughts on how that problem had manifested in his lifetime. He describes Jewry as a “political organism” which, like any independent organism, seeks after its own interests. The author writes (44):

It is objected of the Jew in finance, in industry, in commerce — where he is ubiquitous and powerful out of all proportion to his numbers — that he seeks, and has already reached, dominion. It is objected that he acts everywhere against the interests of his hosts; that these are being interfered with, guided, run against their will; that a power is present which acts either with indifference to what we love or in active opposition to what we love. Notably it is said to be indifferent to, or in active opposition against our national feelings, our religious traditions, and the general cultural and morals of Christendom which we have inherited and desire to preserve: that power is Israel.

Although these objections had, for the most part, merely simmered under the surface of Western liberal convention, Belloc argues that the Bolshevik revolution shocked Europeans. The leading role of Jews in the Russian catastrophe “struck both at the benevolent who would near no harm of the Jews, and those who had hitherto shielded or obeyed them as identified only with the interest of large Capital (45).” Although liberal convention on the Jews officially held the field, the Bolshevik menace “compelled attention. Bolshevism stated the Jewish problem with a violence and an insistence such that it could no longer be denied either by the blindest fanatic or the most resolute liar (46).”

However, the Bolshevik shock was only part of a gradual change in the Jewish interaction with Europe. Belloc describes early modern Jewish settlement in the West as involving very small numbers of Jews in a given location. These Jews belonged to classes which kept them out of direct competition with the poor of the large towns. They were absent from the countryside. They refrained from interference in politics or in the press. It was relatively easy to admit such a collection of non-descript characters to equal citizenship. But changes were afoot. Religion declined and with it some of the last barriers to certain professions and avenues to power. This small number of Jews now entered the liberal professions, but still in numbers too small to dominate or influence. Conflicts were minimal. But with time, even this small group acquired influence vastly out of proportion to its numbers. Between 1830 and 1870,

the weight and position of the Jew in Western Civilization increased out of all knowledge and yet without shock, and almost without attracting attention. They entered the Parliaments everywhere, the English Peerage as well, and the Universities in very large numbers. A Jew became Prime Minister of Great Britain, another a principal leader of the Italian insurrection; another led the opposition to Napoleon III. They were present in increasing numbers in the chief institutions of every country. (47)

Within the same period, the Papal States were broken up, and the Pope confined to the Vatican. “Within a few years Rome was to see a Jewish Mayor who supported with all his might the unchristianizing of the city and especially of its educational system (48).” Jews like Paul Reuter began to take the lead in international news transmission and became owners, editors, and journalists of many European newspapers.

The perennial friction between Jews and non-Jews had increased to intolerable levels. The first writings on the increasing friction — what would today be called “hate speech” — emerged in Germany and France in the 1870s. In 1879 the famous and respected German historian Heinrich von Treitschke complained publicly about “the unjust influence of the Jews in the press,” but was shouted down as an anti-Semite. Belloc states that men like von Treitschke had their writings denounced as “the extravagancies of fanatics (49).” But, argues Belloc, “fanatics” like von Treitschke frustrated their opponents “by the quotation of an immense quantity of facts which could not but remain in the mind (49).” The object of many of these early writers was to expose “crypto-Judaism,” and the conscious secrecy which lay behind Jewish networking in Europe’s corridors of power.

Such work was necessary given the increasing number of international Jewish financial scandals. These included a war between the British and the Boers in South Africa in 1899 — a conflict Belloc argues was “openly and undeniably provoked and promoted by Jewish interests (50).” Jewish politicians in France and Britain were also exposed by brave writers as participating in large-scale fraud in conjunction with their cousins in finance:

The Panama scandals in the French Parliament had already fed the movement in France. The later Parliamentary scandals in England, Marconi and the rest, afforded so astonishing a parallel to Panama that the similarity was of universal comment [see also “Free to Cheat: ‘Jewish Emancipation’ and the Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood“] They might have passed as isolated things a generation before. They were now connected, often unjustly, with the uneasy sense of a general financial conspiracy. They were, at any rate, connected with an atmosphere essentially Jewish in character. (51)

Then, on top of the rise to power of those Jews already settled in the West, the great Eastern reservoir of the Jewish race was opened up in the 1880s, and the borders of the Western states were pried open with fabricated tales of pogroms and persecution. By the time Westerners became attuned to the fact that those “ignorant Slavs” might have had good reason to resent the “poor innocent victims” now calling for revolution on the streets of New York and London, their mouths had been muzzled. Belloc writes that “The Jews were in every place of advantage: they taught in the Universities of all Europe; they were everywhere in the Press; everywhere in finance. They were continually to be found in the highest places of Government and in the chanceries of Christendom they had acquired a dominant power which none could question (53).” Following this was the Russian catastrophe, which was motivated by the Jewish communists’ “sincere hatred of national feeling, save, of course, where the Jewish nation was concerned (59).” Such was the “Present Phase of the Problem” when Belloc penned his work, and with this he concludes his third chapter.

Having discussed the immediate context of his own times, Belloc moves in his fourth chapter to an examination of the more timeless qualities of conflict: “The General Causes of Friction.” I found this to be one of the better chapters in the book. Here Belloc is careful to point out that the “Jewish Problem” is more than the contemporary context he described in the previous chapter: “The friction between the Jews and the nations among which they are dispersed is far older, far more profound, far more universal (69).” It is a force which has been “permanently at work everywhere and at all times (71).” The causes of this friction, argues Belloc, are both “general” and “special.” The general cause is summed up “in the truth that the whole texture of the Jewish nation, their corporate tradition, their social mind, is at issue with the people among whom they live (71).” The special causes are “the use of secrecy by the Jews as a method of action and the open expression of superiority over his neighbors which the Jew cannot help but feeling but is wrong to emphasize (71).”

Belloc argues that the different ‘texture’ of the Jewish nation from our own is self-evident. He takes three common charges levelled against the Jews — cowardice, avarice and treason — and argues that these have the opposite qualities but with a “special national timbre.” Thus among the Jews you will find “innumerable instances of the highest courage, the greatest generosity and the most devoted loyalty: but courage, generosity and loyalty of a Jewish kind, directed to Jewish ends, and stamped with a highly distinctive Jewish mark (73).” It is upon the non-Jew to realize that the Jew will be courageous on behalf of his own people, that he will be generous toward his own people, and that he will be loyal to his own people. His defects to us, are his virtues to his own. Belloc writes that “there is no race which has produced so few traitors. It is not treason in the Jew to be international. It is not treason in the Jew to work now for one interest among those who are not of his people, now for another. He can only be charged with treason when he acts against the interests of Israel, and there is no nation nor ever has been one in which the national solidarity was greater or national weakness in the shape of traitors less (78).”

Thus, to use an example from the present, Jonathan Pollard is a loyal Jewish hero who has attracted unceasing support from global Jewry since his arrest by the US government for “treason.” Belloc urges us to see that such cases are to be expected. Pollard, as a Jew, did not commit treason. He was in fact very loyal — to his own people. Our crime is in adopting a dog and expecting it not to bark. In permitting loyal Jews, such as Pollard, to positions of power and influence in our society, it is we who harbor the greater amount of traitors, and it is we who commit treason daily by ceding power, influence, and money to a foreign nation.

Belloc moves on to a survey of Jewish traits which again are similar to our own but differ in quality or direction. Thus “his tenacity, which all know and all in a sense admire and which is far superior to our own, is also a narrower tenacity, or at any rate a tenacity of a different kind. He will follow one end where we will follow many. His wonderful loyalty to all family relations we know: but we do not appreciate it because it is outside our own circle. Even his intellectual gifts, which are less affected by this matter of timbre, have something alien to us in them. They are undeniable but we feel them to be used for other ends than ours (80).”

I found this last sentence quite haunting. Bear in mind that Belloc was writing prior to the rise of Jewish intellectual movements, and that ‘Jewish timbre’ was not so clearly evident in academia during his lifetime.

In a further example of the unchanging nature of the friction between Jews and non-Jews, and the observations of difference at the core of that friction, Belloc precedes scholars like Kevin MacDonald in identifying psychological intensity as a background trait of Jewish ethnocentrism and activism. In addition to a marked single-mindedness, Belloc describes “a certain intensity of action which is very noticeable and which again is a cause of friction between himself and those about him. Hear a Jew speaking upon the revolutionary platform, and note the high voltage at which the current is working. … He is not eloquent in our fashion; but he is at any rate astonishingly effective in his own (82).”

This intensity, argues Belloc, is most often employed in “a corporate capacity for hiding or for advertising at will: a power of ‘pushing’ whatever the whole race desires advanced, or of suppressing what the whole race desires to suppress (82).” Such corporate action “will always remain a permanent irritant in its effect upon those to whom it is applied.”

Belloc uses the example of the nausea which is eventually felt following the incessant Jewish propaganda about “the talents of some particular Jew [see, e.g., my series on the promotion of Spinoza, “Pariah to Messiah: The Engineered Apotheosis of Baruch Spinoza”], or the scientific discovery of another, or the misfortunes of another (83).” And conversely, when men discover “that some important matter has been suppressed, some bad scandal in the State or some trick in commerce, because Jewry desired it to be suppressed,” they will not suffer the operation as quietly the second time as they did they first.

A final significant cause of friction is also related to the intensity of the Jewish corporate capacity — the strong tendency toward monopoly (94). Belloc contends that “the Jew is international, tenacious and determined upon reaching the very end of his task. He is not satisfied in any trade until that trade is, as far as possible, under his complete control, and he has for the extension of that control the support of his brethren throughout the world (94).”

The increase of Jewish monopolies in various public, political and financial spheres is dangerous for everyone, including Jews. Belloc closes his fourth chapter by prophetically anticipating the rise of a dictatorial mode of government and the backlash against the Jews:

To put an end to this state of affairs is impossible so long as parliamentary government, with its profound corruption, endures. The only force capable of dealing with the plutocratic evil of an alien monopoly upon this scale is a king; but a king we have not among the modern nations. But the parliamentary system will not last forever. It is already in active dissolution among ourselves, and badly hit elsewhere. The king may not be so far off as people think him to be. At any rate, in one way or another the thing will cease, and will probably cease in violence. (96)

The fifth chapter concerns the “special” causes of friction. These are the Jewish reliance upon secrecy, and the Jewish expression of superiority. Belloc states that the centuries-old Jewish habit of secrecy has now almost become an instinct. This is expressed in “secret societies, a language kept as far as possible secret, the use of false names in order to hide secret movements, and secret relations between various parts of the Jewish body (99).” Such behavior should be deplored because it “feeds and intensifies the antagonism already excited by racial contrast (100).” In particular, the author singles out the Jewish habit of denying the influence of his nationality upon his thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Belloc writes:

If a man tells me that he hates the English, and in reply I say, ‘That’s because you are an Irishman,’ he does not fly at my throat. He takes it as a matter of course that the history of the English government in Ireland excuses his expression. So far from being insulted at being called an Irishman he would be insulted if you said he was not an Irishman. And so it is with many another nationality which has suffered oppression and persecution. I can find no rational basis for a contrary policy in the case of the Jews (106).

But the Jews do, of course, pursue a different line of thought altogether. Accuse of Jew of bearing a grudge against Europeans for past conflict, and you will quickly find yourself accused of being a “rabid anti-Semite” or some such nonsense. Your crime has been to pierce the veil of secrecy thrown over Jewish nationality. His membership of the Jewish nation is a matter of private pride, and only the mask of outward patriotism to the goy State is permitted to be up for discussion. Thus, during World War II, New York Jews were protesting as democracy-loving Americans against the Jewish policies of National Socialist Germany. People like Charles Lindbergh, who dared to rip off the mask and describe the situation plainly, were monitored and attacked by the distinctly Hebraic Anti-Defamation League.[1]

Although he concedes that a great deal more could be written on the subject of Jewish secrecy, Belloc moves on to a discussion of expressions of Jewish superiority. He writes that “the Jew individually feels himself superior to his non-Jewish contemporary and neighbour of whatever race; the Jew feels his nation immeasurably superior to any other human community (108).” This fixed idea of superiority, linked to the concept of Jews as “a light unto the nations,” often creates friction.

The Jew will write of our religion, taking for granted that it is folly, and will marvel that we are offended. He will appear in our national affairs, not only giving advice, but attempting to direct policy, and will be puzzled to discover that his indifference to national feeling is annoying. He will postulate the Jewish temperament as something which, if different from ours, must, whether we like it or not, be thrust upon us. He acts in all these things as everyone acts instinctively in the presence of those whom they take for granted to be inferiors. (113)

This superiority also connects with Jewish contempt for the masses of non-Jews, particularly the rural folk.[2] Belloc writes that it is an overwhelming and incontrovertible truth that the bulk of Jewry makes no effort to get in touch with the race in the midst of which he may be living. He is content to remain separate from it, and deludes himself into the belief that he cannot help but remain separate from it. “He associates with the elite, with those who direct, with those who have some sort of special function (114).” But to him it seems, at best, a waste of time to attempt communion with the rest.

Jewish resentment is increased when his sense of superiority is forced to contend with the European’s own sense of superiority. He loathes this as insolence. (One is reminded of the hatred of Franz Boas toward the idea that Europeans were the pinnacle of humanity, a major motivation for his theory of cultural relativism; here, p. 24.) He feels his position and his security threatened. He attempts to gain a more solid position by extending his power, but succeeds only in provoking stronger assertions of superiority by the European, indignant at having to fight for mastery on his own soil. Friction escalates, and sometimes violence ensues.

Belloc concludes the chapter by urging the restraint of the sense of superiority by both parties, and the adoption of more natural and truthful societal positions — that of host and guest — with impermeable boundaries. Only by doing so can we avoid “falling back into the old circle of submission, consequent anger accompanied by shame and violence, and these followed by remorse (119).”

Go to Part 3 of 3.

[1] B. Ginsberg, How The Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), p.46.

[2] A good example of the hostility toward rural folk by Jewish intellectuals can be seen in the New York Intellectuals. 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. (Terry Cooney, The Rise of the New York Intellectuals 1986, 267–268; italics in text)

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