Failed Crypsis and Its Discontents: Past and Present

“Some accuse me of being a Jew; some excuse me for being one; some even praise me for being a Jew. But all think about it.” Thus wrote the nineteenth-century writer and journalist Judah Loew Baruch (1786—1837) who, after ostensibly converting to Christianity, assimilating, and renaming himself Ludwig Börne, struggled to understand why Germans insisted on seeing him as a Jew.

Börne’s lament is a classic of failed Jewish crypsis, and one of my personal favorites. Looking back, one wonders how Börne could ever be surprised. The reasons of the Germans were surely not that difficult to surmise. Börne was an acerbic ethnic activist who used his journalism to pour sarcastic scorn on German Romanticism and folk nationality that he clearly feared and despised. He was a key figure in the Junges Deustchland (Young Germany) movement, a social reform and literary movement in nineteenth-century Germany (c.1830—50), influenced by French revolutionary ideas, which acted as a vehicle for culturally hostile Jewish ideas and opposed the German Romanticism and nationalism then current. Members of Young Germany considered themselves to possess formidable intellectual and literary gifts, and they engaged in a scathing culture of critique. But they failed to inspire much enthusiasm, instead exciting widespread animosity. This is because “Young Germany” was more like “Young Israel,” being intellectually inspired by the Jewish converts Börne and Heinrich Heine, and given a European face by a ‘social justice’ gang of philo-Semites and Leftists who had married Jewish women (e.g., Georg Herwegh). In the words of one Young Germany leader, Karl Gutzkow, “It needed two Jews— Heine and Börne — to overthrow the old ideology and shake all illusions.”[1] Many Germans agreed, which resulted in the movement being discussed colloquially as “Young Palestine,” and the banning of many of its publications. When it came to Jewishness, much to Börne’s despair, all thought about it.

Ludwig Börne

This early alliance of Leftists and Jews, each aware of the destructive power and potential of the other, would result in the promotion of Young Germany novels like Wally, die Zweiflerin, (Wally, the Doubter) that attacked marriage and preached “sexual emancipation.” Such activities, now all too familiar to us, marked an initial confluence of interests between Jews and non-Jewish radicals, since both were keen, as Gutzkow put it, to “overthrow the old ideology and shake all illusions.”

We are now almost two centuries removed from the Young Germany-Young Palestine controversy of 1835, and this confluence of perceived interests seems to have sustained the Left-Jewish alliance for almost the entirety of the intervening years. And yet, if recent events are anything to go by, this alliance appears to be fraying at the edges. The main reason for this fraying, I suggest, is that the initial goal of overthrowing the old cultural and political status quo has now been largely achieved. As we progress into a Cultural Marxist endgame, the alliance is being revised by some, and the most radical on the Left are reassessing their erstwhile partners. What are they getting out of this? Who exactly are these people and what are their interests? How valid are their victimhood credentials? Most important has been the apparently novel discovery that far from being among “the oppressed,” Jews are incredibly influential and bear all the hallmarks of an elite. The mask slips and crypsis fails. The resurgence of Börne’s crisis — the lament of failed crypsis — and with it a revision of perceptions of interests, is thus an old/new characteristic of present-day politics. 

In both Britain (especially in the Labour Party) and the United States (see the recent panic over Ilhan Omar’s statements on Zionist influence), Jews are currently experiencing quite the political moment. Contemporary Jews, it should be added, are at least a little more entitled to feel surprised at these events than Ludwig Börne. After all, Börne was surprised to be discovered in an era when, in relation to the Jewish Question, “all think about it.” By contrast, today’s Jews have for the most part lived their entire lives in an era where the goyim can be imprisoned in some countries for thinking too much about it. Have Jews been too complacent? There have certainly been recurrent examples where Jews unabashedly assert their influence. These include a now infamous op-ed by Joel Stein on Jewish power in Hollywood,[2] Robert Frank’s triumphalism on the victory of Jews over WASPs,[3] sociologist Earl Raab’s well-known comment from 1993 that Jews took the lead in altering American immigration policy against the bias in favor of Northwestern Europe,[4] Amy Dean’s boast in Tikkun that Jews brought America “to the tipping point” on gay marriage, and the widely acknowledged power of the Israel Lobby over U.S. foreign policy.

But Jews have always invested much more heavily in apologetic material and other measures designed to distance themselves from any perception that they may constitute an elite. An excellent example is Jonathan Freedland’s recent piece for The Guardian titled “For 2,000 years we’ve linked Jews to money. It’s why antisemitism is so ingrained.” Freedland is a latter-day Ludwig Börne, a Jew ‘of the Left’ who has attempted to disguise his ethnic interests as a crusade for ‘social justice.’ He has celebrated the demographic decline of White Britons and even penned a novel fantasizing about an assassination of Donald Trump. But it’s a standard feature of Freedland’s journalism for The Guardian that he never discloses his own Jewishness when discussing Israel or anti-Semitism. Note the “we” in the title of his recent piece. He instinctively places himself among the masses, cajoling them into the understanding that “we” have mistreated the poor Jews. “We” need to treat them better. “We” need to see them as the victims they are. “We” need to root out the virus of anti-Semitism. Like Börne, Freedland is the quintessential ethnic activist, artfully employing crypsis while pursuing a very clear program of social, cultural, demographic, and political change against the interests of the native Brits.

Freedland is at least intelligent enough to notice that the issue of money is the Achilles heel of the Left-Jewish alliance. Postmodern socialism may pay mere lip service to issues like wages, preferring instead to “liberate” those with deformed sexual instincts, but its origins in anti-capitalist protest retain at least some significance. The problem here is that the entirety of Jewish history and contemporary Jewish demographics more or less exclude Jews from any claim to genuine affinity with the working masses in these matters — for the very good reason that their activism has generally been utterly opposed to the interests of the native (White) working classes throughout the West, as indicated by the shift in leftist parties (e.g., Democrats in the U.S., Labour in the U.K.) from championing working-class interests to importing new peoples and promoting multiculturalism.

Jews are thus forced to present themselves as a very special category of victim. Of course, they respond to this opportunity with gusto, presenting themselves as the most special category of victim. In order to sustain this quite preposterous position, Jewish propagandists like Freedland have become masters of rhetorical inversion. If Jews are arch capitalists, then they reappear in the apologetic literature as the vanguard of the proletariat. If they are accused of being more loyal to Israel or each other, they reappear in apologetic literature as the ultimate patriots defending American, British, or European ‘values’ against a foreign-inspired ‘hate.’ And, as Freedland’s example demonstrates, if Jews have a demonstrably destructive and exploitative special relationship with money, then they reappear in the apologetic literature as the ultimate victim of money, or at least the concept of money.

Jonathan Freedland: A Creature of Habit

In my previous essay, a review of Paul Hanebrink’s Harvard-published The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, I noted:

The increase in apologetic propaganda activity in relation to Judeo-Bolshevism is no accident. Clearly Jews have been disturbed by the exponential growth in discussion of cultural Marxism over the last ten years. Although “cultural Marxism” is a different label from “Judeo-Bolshevism,” the curious will not need to investigate the former for long before they are confronted with the multitude of facts relating to the latter. Discussion and awareness of cultural Marxism is growing, and when cultural Marxism is discussed by figures like Tucker Carlson and (much as I dislike him) Jordan Peterson, millions are set on a path that features such landmarks as the Frankfurt School, the massacres of Béla Kun, and the Holodomor. Not everyone will reach those landmarks, but many will, and this is deeply concerning to those seeking to maintain control of the narrative. And so, it is entirely predictable that the establishment machine would stagger into motion, producing material intended to distance Jews from Marxism, and especially from any idea that there have been strong historic links between the two.

Just as Jews have felt the encroachment of a potentially dangerous discourse from the Right and reacted accordingly, the same machinery is also in operation to cope with discourse emanating from the Left. Thus, just as the last 18 months has witnessed the publication of books like The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, we have also witnessed the publication of texts like Julie Mell’s The Myth of the Medieval Jewish Moneylender (Palgrave, 2017). Equally ridiculous, the rhetorical strategies employed in each are absolutely identical. While Hanebrink makes it clear in his book that “the purpose of studying the Judeo-Bolshevik myth must be not to determine how true it is, [p.5]” Mell writes “this book is not a book about Jewish economic life per se. It is a study of the historical narrative of the Jewish economic function. [p.10]” In both cases, the authors provide provocative titles that are simply not supported by the content of the book — content that strenuously evades any confrontation with facts and statistics. Instead, these authors indulge in tenuous, crass philo-Semitic propaganda that pushes the weak but familiar narrative that historical anti-Semitism is the product of spontaneous irrationality. Perhaps the only useful element of Mell’s text is that she concedes that the idea that Jews were “forced” to become moneylenders is a myth, and she acknowledges the desire for profits and influence among Jewish moneylenders. Most importantly, she asserts that the “forced” meta-narrative is “not simply an academic historical narrative but a cultural memory. It shapes Jewish self-understanding. [p.7]”

Much as Mell’s book is a more or less typical offering of mainstream pro-Jewish historiography, I welcome any mainstream academic recognition of the fact that Jews are beholden to myths about themselves, and this one is crucial.

Jonathan Freedland is clearly beholden to all manner of such self-deceptions. He worries that “from Judas to Shylock, Jews have been blamed for the evils of profit and capitalism. To some leftists, that story still appeals.” A major problem that Jews like Freedland are experiencing with the Left is that, unlike with targets on the Right, the pejorative use of the term “anti-Semitism” has had very little traction in stemming the tide of criticism levelled at Jews and their special interest lobbies. The emerging terminology, intended to replace “anti-Semitism,” that is now coming notably into fashion among Jews active in Leftist Jewish apologetics (and features strongly in Freedland’s piece) is “anti-Jewish racism” — the goal being to influence the discourse by trying to shame self-styled “anti-racists.”

Thus Freedland’s remark that “anti-Jewish racism might exert a particular appeal to some on the left — even, paradoxically enough, those who might otherwise proudly regard themselves as anti-racists.” Jews have therefore been forced to pursue two discursive apologetic strategies: the old one geared against criticism from the Right in which Jews present themselves as unique victims of a unique hatred, and a more novel strategy geared towards the Left (where the contest for victimhood credentials is particularly fierce) in which Jews must depend on the cryptic strategy of presenting themselves as victims of a more generic racism.

How successful this strategy will be remains to be seen. Perhaps the bigger worry for Jews is the growing anti-elite discourse that cuts across the political spectrum. Freedland writes:

Labour has embraced a form of left populism that “tends to present the very real failings of modern capitalism not as a matter of anything systemic, but as the work of a small group of people who are ruining things for the rest.” Such thinking immediately invites a question: who, exactly, are these people who have wrought such havoc? Who makes up this wicked cabal? Antisemitism is there to provide an answer, the same answer it has provided for so long and in so many places: the Jews. That Momentum recently felt the need to produce a video urging its members not to be seduced by the age-old conspiracy theory that the Rothschilds secretly rule the world confirms that a certain kind of leftist — one who blames capitalism’s deformities on evil individuals, rather than structures — can be susceptible to the lure of antisemitism. But that should scarcely come as a shock, especially in the western societies of Christian Europe, including — perhaps especially — Britain. For in these societies capitalism — money — has always been linked to, even deemed synonymous with, Jews.

As a corrective, Freedland suggests that leftists visit an exhibit opening on March 19 at the Jewish Museum London called “Jews, Money, Myth,” as well as consult Trials of the Diaspora by Anthony Julius — described by Freedland as “the definitive history of English antisemitism.” Trials of the Diaspora, as I demonstrated more than six years ago in the course of a 10,000 word dissection, is in fact a vast tapestry of psychoanalysis, misrepresentation, and outright lies. Aside from a prescription for a course in such stellar examples of Jewish propaganda, what screams out from the page is the classic Jewish fear of masses angry at the reality that Jews form an integral and essential component of the elite throughout the West — an elite that is using its very large influence against the interests of European descended peoples.

For all their pretensions in the past to sympathy with the “proletariat,” Jews have always been deeply suspicious of “the people.” Historically, Jewish strategies in Europe have consisted of very close alliances with the native elite, and sometimes even intermarriage with them. Jewish security has to a large extent been determined by very strong central governments that exert high levels of control over the population. This was the case from at least the ninth century (see the example of Agobard of Lyon) through the era of the hofjuden in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and into the present with strident Jewish demands for gun control and legislation against free speech. The Jewish sense of security is simply inseparable from big government and a cowed populace.

Historical instances in which Jews have appeared to be on the side of “the people” are largely illusory, the Bolshevik revolution being an excellent example. Almost no socialist utopian ideals were achieved by the coup, with the masses being either starved to death or forced to continue working in factories as wage labor. The most significant change other than mass death and repressive legislation was the targeted removal of the Russian upper class and other elements of the population long perceived as irredeemably hostile to Jews, and the near annihilation of organized Russian Christianity. The language of Bolshevism and Marxism used by Freedland may be replete with talk of capitalist “structures,” but their polemics invariably invoke “evil individuals” whether they are the abstract “bourgeois” or the targeted kulak. The growing popularity of the term “populist,” itself rapidly becoming a pejorative, is indicative of yet more terminology targeting the real masses as opposed to a shackled, gagged, and obedient “proletariat.” And of course, whether these forces were targeting the “bourgeois” or the kulak, the result was always the same — the mass murder of Europeans by a strong centralized government in which Jews constituted an elite hostile to the Russian people and in which Jews occupied conspicuous positions in the apparatus of mass murder.

Behind Freedland’s talk of “structures” we see a very personal agenda against those he perceives to be “evil individuals.” This is the same man who views the decline of White Britain as, in his own words, a “triumph.” This is the same man who felt compelled to write an entire novel of his fantasy that Trump the “populist” would be assassinated. How many other “populists” would Freedland like to see assassinated? In the eyes of Jews, populism commits the dual sin of defining a people and defining an elite. Both endeavors are potentially catastrophic to Jewish interests. As with Ludwig Börne, Jews have an instinctive fear of being considered Jews, and therefore that the masses may not think of Jews as being “of the people.”

A useful example in this regard is the panic that ensued in June 2018 when the populist Bjorn Soder declared that Jews were not Swedes. All of the fallout over Ilhan Omar’s comments on Zionist influence, as well as the civil war in the Labour Party in Britain, is essentially about the struggle to define Jews as members of the elite. Indeed, many of the most radical leftists have been very open and vocal in asserting that Jews are an extremely powerful elite, and perhaps the most powerful elite. Labour Party member Kayla Libby’s controversial tweet depicting an alien Jewish/Israeli parasite fixed to the face of the Statue of Liberty is probably the best recent example.

The recent deluge in material attempting to explain “myths” about Jewish communism and Jewish capitalism (Freedland has also written about the “mythology of the ‘Israel Lobby’) should be seen as part of the Jewish effort to evade description as an elite and maintain crypsis — despite incontrovertible evidence that Jews constituted an elite within Bolshevism, have always constituted an elite within European finance capitalism, and that the contemporary Israel Lobby is one of the most well-funded and influential players in Western politics. Moreover, it is nothing short of miraculous that it should have taken this long for the cracks to begin to appear in the mask of Jews on the Left.

Even just taking the issue of money, the picture is staggering. Britain’s most notorious businessman is, after all, the Jewish Philip Green. Jews utterly dominate the contemporary exploitative payday loan industry. Israel is the global capital of the online gambling industry, but prohibits its own citizens from falling prey to it. And the 2008 financial crisis was largely precipitated by sub-prime mortgage lenders, the most predatory of which were Quicken Loans and Ameriquest, owned and operated by the Jews Daniel Gilbert, Gary Gilbert, Ron Berman, Lindsay Gross, and Roland Arnall. It was Arnall, whose companies were ultimately responsible for almost $75 billion in bad sub-prime loans, who originated the “stated income loan,” often called “liar loans,” because they were loans given without verification of income — a massive factor in causing the global crash.

Jonathan Freedland worries that growing populism on the Left “tends to present the very real failings of modern capitalism not as a matter of anything systemic, but as the work of a small group of people who are ruining things for the rest.” He should be worried.

The facts about Jews and money and about Zionism in Western politics aren’t going to go away, no matter how much effort is expended on apologetic propaganda. And the discontents of the hostile elite are equally likely to persist. The problem, to paraphrase Ludwig Börne, is that some are accusing the Jews; some are excusing the Jews; and some are even praising the Jews. But all are thinking about them.

[1] Paul Lawrence Rose, German Question/Jewish Question: Revolutionary Antisemitism in Germany from Kant to Wagner (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 173.



[4] MacDonald, Culture of Critique, 246.

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