Towards ‘Kosher Nationalism’? (2): On Jewish Intellectual Power Struggles

Part 1.

I do not think there is a conscious Jewish endgame[1] but I would like to suggest a pattern, whether caused by Jewish culture, social position (especially, being a minority) or psychological predisposition, in the behavior of many Jewish intellectuals and their power struggles. It goes something like this:

  • The young intellectual settles into an ideological system, which is, consciously or unconsciously, a rationalization of his ethnic interests in that particular time and place.
  • The intellectual will then powerfully and eloquently argue for this intellectual system, ruthlessly criticizing and ridiculing alternative systems (after all, all systems and societies have flaws). If he triumphs, he attains prestige and cultural power for both himself and, indirectly, his community.
  • The intellectual will enter into pitched battles with other Jewish intellectuals if they have sharply opposing systems, typically challenging the ideology of Jews from a previous generation or different social milieu. The most eloquent critics of a particular Jewish ideology are often rival or successor Jews. (For example, Alan Dershowitz on the previous generation’s Communism or the current ongoing struggles between liberal Jews like Paul Krugman and Glenn Greenwald and overtly ethnocentric Jews such as American neoconservatives and Israeli nationalists).

In this context, an ideology is a system of rules and values which is turned into a kind of “cultural programming” for any given society. The society’s trajectory will be powerfully influenced by the particular rules, values, norms, taboos and so on that it has internalized. Ideology determines what is normal behavior, who is moral, and who are pariahs.

As the historian Paul Johnson has noted:

For 1,500 years Jewish society had been designed to produce intellectuals… Jewish society was geared to support them… Rich merchants married sages’ daughters; …Quite suddenly, around the year 1800, this ancient and highly efficient social machine for the production of intellectuals began to shift its output. Instead of pouring all its products into the closed circuit of rabbinical studies, …it unleashed a significant and evergrowing proportion of them into secular life. This was an event of shattering importance in world history.[2]

This heritage appears to have made for redoubtable “cultural warriors” as opposed to dispassionate scientists. Intellectuals like Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud or Stephen J. Gould showed intellectual intolerance for opposing views and led work which was often pseudoscientific (including Marx, for he tried to steal the prestige of European natural sciences by terming his political ideology “scientific”). They were essentially engaging in the kind of intellectual competition for hegemony that had dominated the ghetto, based on mental and rhetorical mastery of various basically spurious and obtuse theoretical systems. This tradition is antithetical to Ancient Greek and Modern Enlightenment traditions of scientific observation and free debate characteristic of the West.[3] (There are Jewish jokes about the hair-splitting pedantry of the Talmudic tradition;  “There’s No Such Thing as Judeo-Christian Values.”)

Contrast this with the work of Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton or Charles Darwin: here the scientist dispassionately observes natural reality and tries to draw theoretical principles from them, following the truth wherever it might lie, including if it might be politically unpopular. If these scientists were “politically incorrect,” it was not with a preset goal of changing the culture for self-interested ethnic or political ends, but simply because the objective truth they discovered happened to threaten the ideology of the political or religious establishment. (And one could of course say the same thing of the careers of Arthur Jensen, Philippe Rushton, Charles Murray, Richard Lynn, Kevin MacDonald and others.)

The Jewish intellectual will, generally, soft-peddle his criticism when it comes to fellow Jews. He will show ethnic bias. Double standards will typically be rife — most notably now in the support of Western Jewish elites for immigration and multiculturalism in the West versus support for Jewish ethnonationalism in Israel. This, we have to recognize, is the standard modus operandus: traditional/majority European culture and behavior is to be ruthlessly criticized and lampooned to the point that considering it ridiculous or evil is the norm, whereas any criticism of Jewish culture and behavior as such is to be the supreme taboo (only the stupid, deranged, hateful, etc., do so; they must be defamed, demonized, hounded from their jobs and any source of income, etc.). Jews being both over-represented and more ethnocentric (often fiercely or hysterically sensitive), they enforce taboos far better in the media than do “conservatives” or Christians (who have been steadily losing the cultural war in the United States since at least the 1920s).

Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn or Tim Wise, for example, have based their careers on basically denouncing all of American history and politics as evil. As Steve Sailer once memorably noted:

Western history has been distorted by the politically correct to emphasize its dog-bites-man aspects—its episodes of ethnocentrism and inequality, which are universals—and ignore its man-bites-dog accomplishments, of which citizenism is one of the most important.

Critics of Western civilization then focus on what is unremarkable about it — cases of slavery, war, authoritarianism and ethnocentrism — while ignoring what is uniquely moral about it — Greek and Enlightenment scientific thought, the rule law, citizenship, moral univeralism such as the abolition of slavery, and so on.

While Chomsky, Zinn and Wise will criticize Israel, they will not criticize Jewish power and influence as such. Indeed, in the case of Chomsky this moral blinder meant that he rejected the thesis of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s celebrated book The Israel Lobby. Instead, Chomsky argued, I think rather implausibly, that support for Israel was grounded in selfish U.S. national interest (I cannot grasp how needlessly antagonizing oil/terrorist-producing Arab countries is in the interests of the American Empire or its big business interests). Chomsky would have us believe that Sheldon Adelsons donating more to the Republicans than the next nine donors put together, Jewscontributing as much as two-thirds of Democratic campaign money (something even a liberal like Matt Yglesias has recognized has a significant impact) or the influence of neoconservative Jewish political/cultural networks have played a negligible role in determining U.S. policy towards Israel and the wider Middle East. This is not credible.

The number of Jewish intellectuals who subject their own culture to the same kind of ruthless critique they reserve for gentile cultures is witheringly small. By my count: Israel Shahak, Philip Weiss and Gilad Atzmon (all on the “altruistic left”). That’s it. A few Jewish conservatives will occasionally gently criticize their community — Éric Zemmour, Ron Unz or Raymond Aron — generally motivated it seems to me by the self-interested and enlightened realization that Jewish organizations’ ethnocentrism and double standards are going so far in certain cases that they risk a backlash hurting the Jewish community. Jewish leftists, it seems to me, are less likely to recognize the existence of Jewish influence as such but, in the rare cases they do so, are the most critical. Among historical figures, self-critical Jews are few and far between, although one thinks of Otto Weininger, Baruch Spinoza and …  Jesus Christ. (Also note that Weininger converted to Christianity and committed suicide at age 23, while Spinoza and Jesus were considered apostates by contemporary Jewry, the former being ostracized for life and the latter being tortured to death.)

The fierceness of Jewish critiques of gentile society was acknowledged by Franco-Jewish political scientist Raymond Aron. He quoted the historian André Siegrief on Jewish intellectuals, noting that this generalization was not necessarily antisemitic: “When the Jew, indeed, criticizes the society in which he lives, we have already noted that he does not criticize it as he would his mother, one discerns something implacable and merciless.”[4] This description can only ring true to readers of TOO and The Culture of Critique. This lack of sympathy, solidarity, identification or sense of sanctity with the wider gentile culture — indeed hostility to it — may explain the willingness to criticize it and indeed debase it with pornography, gangster rap, and obscene comedy,  among a thousand other expressions. Nothing is sacred.

One is struck at how much the statement applies to Jewish intellectuals as diverse as Paul Krugman, Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky or indeed Jon Stewart. This came to mind when Greenwald, himself an interesting case, was in a rather infantile manner mocking on Twitter the British monarchy’s official rules of protocol, dress and decorum. Look at the stupid goyim taking themselves so seriously with their silly arbitrary institutions!

Each Jewish intellectual generation and milieu will then, if conditions require, have a different ideology to suit particular needs. Generational opportunism is the order of the day.

Go to Part 3 of 4.

[1]    Alain Soral suggests that organized Jewry and “Talmudo-Zionism” are working to fulfill the promise of the Tanakh and the Talmud: a racial elite lording over humanity through lies and hypocrisy, in alliance with the selfish elite elements of other peoples.

[2]    Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1988), p. 340-1. Quoted in Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (2002), p. 1.

[3]    See Chapter 6 of Kevin MacDonald’s The Culture of Critique.

[4]              Quoted in Raymond Aron, Essais sur la condition juive contemporaine (2007), p. 206.

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