Kevin B. MacDonald is an American psychologist. A retired professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), he is best known for writings that characterize Jewish behavior as a “group evolutionary strategy.”
Grégoire Canlorbe: It is not uncommon to employ the locution “Judeo-Bolsheviks” to designate the 1917’s revolutionaries in Russia. Yet one seldom speaks of “Judeo-Libertarians,” even though the main intellectual leaders of libertarianism (or free-marketism) in the twentieth century were Jews: let one think of Milton Friedman, Israel Kirzner, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, or Ludwig von Mises. How do you explain it?
Kevin B. MacDonald: CofC stands or falls depending on whether I have adequately described certain specific intellectual and political movements as Jewish. In doing so, I focused on movements that were or are influential and provide evidence of their influence. In describing these movements, I focus on the main figures, discuss their Jewish identities and their concern with specific Jewish issues, such as combatting anti-Semitism. I discuss the dynamics of these movements—the authoritarian atmosphere, the guru phenomenon, ethnic networking, and non-Jews who participate in the movement. I am not attempting to discuss all well-known Jewish intellectuals if they are not part of these movements. Thus, I never claim that Marx was part of a specifically Jewish intellectual/political movement, since he died long before the rise of the Jewish left in the twentieth century which is the focus of CofC. Milton Friedman was a well-known Jewish intellectual, but he may not fit into any of the movements I discuss, and I have never investigated the nature of his Jewish identity (or lack of it) or how he sees Jewish interests. He may well be a neoconservative, a Jewish movement whose members were quite critical of communism for entirely Jewish reasons (e.g., anti-Jewish attitudes of the USSR government ; Soviet and now Russian positions on foreign policy regarding the Middle East (see “Neoconservatism as a Jewish Movement”). Or one could point to a Jewish supporter of the populist positions of President Trump, but the existence of such a person does not make populism a Jewish movement or erase the effective opposition of the New York Intellectuals to American populism in prior decades as discussed in Chapters 5 and 6 of CofC.
- Individual influential Jews or a separate influential Jewish intellectual movement may be critical of a specific Jewish intellectual movement that I discuss, as Friedman was critical of communism — a movement that attracted many Jews, especially after the success of the Bolshevik Revolution, as discussed in Chapter 3 of CofC and in my reviews of Slezkine and Weingarten. Another example is the split beginning in the 1930s between the Stalinist left, which is the topic of Chapter 3, and the Trotskyist left which is a topic of Chapter 6 and “Neoconservatism as a Jewish Movement,” comes to mind. It is possible that opposition to the Israel Lobby may also be reasonably analyzed as a Jewish movement. I have not attempted this, although I have noted in several places that criticism of Israel is increasing among Jews and non-Jews. But in order to establish that critics of Israel constitute a Jewish movement, one would have to pursue the program presented in CofC: discuss whether participants have a Jewish identity and whether they see their activities as furthering Jewish interests as well as explore the dynamics of these movements—whether there is any evidence for an authoritarian atmosphere, the guru phenomenon, ethnic networking, and the status of non-Jews who participate in the movement.
This project would thus go well beyond the “default hypothesis” of Jewish IQ as explaining Jewish involvement in intellectual movements. Such situations may be analogized to arguments between different factions in the Knesset—both dominated by Jews but with different perceptions of Jewish interests.
- I am therefore not attempting to develop a general theory of Jewish viewpoint diversity. I am studying certain specific intellectual and political movements that I attempt to establish as influential. I am not trying to develop a theory of why each Jew or most Jews believe what they do—a much more ambitious project. Thus, for example, I have no interest in describing or explaining the diversity of Jewish attitudes on affirmative action— an interesting question, but not relevant to the thesis of CofC which is that certain specific Jewish movements have the features I describe and that they have been influential. Nevertheless, as discussed below, at particular times and places, there is often substantial consensus within the Jewish community on particular issues, e.g., immigration and refugee policy, Israel, and church-state relations.
- My writing in CofC is restricted to the movements discussed therein— movements that I have argued have been influential in the twentieth century and whose influence often extends into the present. In addition to these movements, it may well be the case that I have left out individual influential Jews, such as Milton Friedman whose attitudes would seem to be typical of Jewish neoconservatives.
This response is based on my Second Reply to Nathan Cofnas, posted in 2018.
Grégoire Canlorbe: According to anthropologist Carleton S. Coon’s classic classification, the human species is divided into five races: namely, the caucasoid race, and the congoid, capoid, mongoloid, and australoid ones; and both Jewish ethnicity and Arab peoples are parts of the caucasoid race—along with the different European peoples and ethnicities. Do you see this classification as still relevant today?
Kevin B. MacDonald: It’s still accurate. But remember, Coon’s classification is a broad characterization and that there are significant genetic distances among Jews, Arabs, and European-descended peoples. Although they are more closely related to Jews and Arabs than they are to, say, Chinese or Africans, Europeans have a very distinct genetic history and remain genetically distinct from these other groups. Europeans are relatively genetically homogeneous compared to other groups, and they are quite closely related to each other (see Frank Salter’s On Genetic Interests).
Grégoire Canlorbe: The selfish gene theory—according to which the gene is metaphorically selfish, i.e., the only level of selection in the process of biological and cultural evolution—is commonly invoked to justify race cohesion. For its part, group selection theory holds that kin selection—which deals with the customs and the instincts rendering a given individual able to sacrifice himself in the interest of the genes he shares with the people who are sufficiently related to him on a genetic level—cannot account for the cohesion of the group beyond the strict field of family.
From tribe to race, from nation to empire, and from business enterprise to intellectual and religious movements, the group’s interests—i.e., its survival, its cohesion, and its supremacy—outweigh those of the individual, including the transmission and the posterity of his genes. Do you agree with this line of thought?
Kevin B MacDonald: My view, which I think is mainstream, is that kin selection theory implies that kinship affects the calculus of how adaptive it would be to engage in self-sacrificing behavior. Kin selection does not render people automatically altruistic toward their kinship group. I agree that it can’t explain higher levels of social organization. However, humans (and not animals) have a long history of being able to create effective, highly cohesive groups by being able to punish people who do not conform to the values and behavior expected of group members. Again, the behavior expected in such a group need not be altruistic. It could be based on reciprocity within the group and exploitation and warfare against other peoples and groups. The group I have studied most, Jews, need not be self-sacrificing and in general they have not been. Jewish members of Jewish intellectual movements typically receive a lot of benefits—positions in the media or elite universities. But if they stray from the ideas that form the basis of the movement (e.g., dissenting from the Oedipal Complex in psychoanalysis), they will be expelled, as Alfred Adler was. But such a group can be a vehicle of selection: The genes of the members of such cohesive groups may do better than those of people not in the group, just as the genes of those in a cohesive military unit (and the people they are fighting for (say, other Jews or other Spartans) may do better than the genes of the people they are fighting against.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Quite often, Israel is thought of as the headquarters of a Jewish cosmopolitan plot to eradicate the racial and national identities in the world—through mass migration, the anti-racist legislation, and the erectng a world government from the UN. Yet Israel ranks among the few states refusing to sign the Pact of Marrakech; and Benyamin Netanyahu openly castigates and fights Georges Soros. Does all of this really square with the notion of an Israeli plot to enforce the “New World Order”?
Kevin B. MacDonald: In general, Jews who advocate for open borders or world government exempt Israel from the process — The Occidental Observer has dozens of articles in that category. Israel has very restrictive immigration laws, effectively limiting immigration to Jews who can prove their Jewish ancestry, including using DNA tests on immigrants of doubtful heritage. Recently Israel under Netanyahu has been siding with the nationalist, anti-immigration governments of Eastern Europe as its own politics become ever more obviously based on racialist attitudes. In general, Diaspora Jews in European societies (Eastern and Western) have advocated open borders in these societies while also supporting Israel.
Regarding Soros, he may have different, rationally based perceptions of Jewish interests regarding immigration and Israel. Soros is famously in favor of open borders in the West but his criticisms of Israel do not imply that he can properly be labeled as advocating a multicultural, multi-religious Israel open to immigration of all the peoples of the world. In any case, he has not been influential in altering Israeli immigration policy but I worry that he has had a great deal of influence on the EU and he is a generous donor to liberal causes in the U.S.
In a reply to Nathan Cofnas, I noted:
Soros is a complex, fairly inscrutable figure when it comes to Jewish identity and interests. He opposes deporting Africans back to Africa where they might be endangered, a position that is compatible with the ADL’s agreement with a UN plan that would stop deportation and resettle about half of these migrants in the West. (The UN plan was eventually scrapped because of opposition from the Israeli right which wants all the migrants removed immediately; because of a border wall, Africans are now unable to come to Israel as illegal immigrants. American Jewish groups have adamantly opposed a border wall in the U.S. but have not criticized Israel’s anti-migrant wall with Egypt [e.g., here].)
Soros clearly identifies as a Jew. A biographer notes, “If he [Soros] derived any lesson from the Holocaust, it was that minorities—as the Jews were in Europe—had to be protected in the future and the best way to assure that was by building pluralistic societies where minorities were given their rights” (p. 216)—a view that is entirely mainstream among Diaspora Jews and a theme of the treatment of this issue in CofC. On the other hand, the picture that emerges is of someone with a very weak Jewish identification or even a negative Jewish identification in his early years to an increasing interest in Judaism and Jewish culture in his later years [a common phenomenon among Jews], while still remaining a lukewarm Zionist at best and with a strong desire to see an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Of course, promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not the same as wanting Israel to cease being a Jewish state, nor is it the same as promoting the idea that people of all races and religions should be allowed to immigrate Israel. And again, whatever Soros’s views, they haven’t made an impact on Israeli policy, either on immigration or on the conflict with the Palestinians.
Even strongly identified Jews may have different perceptions of Jewish interests. I suspect that many Jewish critics of Israel are similarly motivated to want an end to the 50-plus-year occupation, the ethnic cleansing, and the apartheid but would still want Israel to be a Jewish state and limit immigration to Jews.
Grégoire Canlorbe: As debatable as the Indo-European character of Jews may be, the sacred texts of Judaism were undoubtedly incorporated and assimilated within the Aryan Weltanschauung—presumably in virtue of the affinity between Aryan mythologies and that of Jews. After all, the difference is not so great between Samson and Heracles, both gifted with superhuman strength and heading for their destruction in the arms of a woman. And the difference is not so great, either, between Theseus and David, both starting their ascension towards royal power with an exploit against a colossus, and both unifying—through conquest or synoecism—a kingdom around a holy place: namely, the Acropolis of Athens and the Temple of Jerusalem.
Why does the Alt-Right persist in dismissing the Old Testament, even though the protagonists of the Old Testament have their rightful place in the pantheon of Aryan heroes?
Kevin B. MacDonald: Speaking for myself, the clear message of the Old Testament is Jewish ethnocentrism. Whatever the status of these stories, the general message of the Old Testament —a message that recurs continually like a drumbeat throughout — is the preservation and advancement of the Jewish gene pool. As I note in Chapter Three of A People That Shall Dwell Alone:
This chapter has three purposes. The first is to show that the Tanakh (the Jewish term for what Christians refer to as the Old Testament) shows a strong concern for reproductive success and control of resources. The second purpose is to show that there is also a pronounced tendency toward idealizing endogamy and racial purity in these writings. Finally, it is argued that the ideology of Judaism as an evolutionary strategy for maintaining genetic and cultural segregation in a diaspora context is apparent in these writings.
In other words, the Old Testament is a document that serves specifically Jewish interests. It is not part of our story. We need an analogous ideology specifically for our people.
Grégoire Canlorbe: What is commonly called the religion of Holocaust—the belief that the white man should abandon race consciousness, and let himself be crossbred with Black-African and Maghrebian settlers, as an expiation for the genocide perpetrated on Jews during the World War II—is also commonly perceived as a plot of Talmudic Judaism to reverse Christianity.
Yet it rather resembles a new sort of Christianity: more precisely, a new Christian heresy in which the sacrifice of rabbi Jesus (whose crucifixion must render humanity aware of its sins, and redeem the latter) is replaced with the sacrifice of deported and gassed Jews (whose genocide must get the sin of race consciousness across to the white man, and get him to expiate the Holocaust in letting himself be subjugated and absorbed); and in which Talmudic Judaism keeps being rejected—however no more for its alleged legalism and its theology denying the divinity of Jesus, but henceforth for its race consciousness and its warlike and sacerdotal values (which contravene the contemporary bourgeois reign of materialism and cosmopolitanism).
Not a day passes without a thurifer of anti-racism comparing Israelis to Nazis and Palestinians to deported Jews; and expressing his disgust for the cruelty of Yahweh, the military and sexual exploits of King David, the alleged racism of the Talmud towards Gentiles, and the proud ethnic homogeneity of contemporary Hebrew state. Your thoughts?
Kevin B. MacDonald: I’m not sure where you are going with this, but I agree that the main message of the culture of the holocaust is to inculcate White guilt. This relies on the exaggerated tendency of White people for guilt, compared to the other peoples of the world. In my opinion, this is part of the evolutionary psychology of Europeans, particularly Northwest Europeans, as a result of their unique evolutionary history. This is a topic of my forthcoming book Western Individualism and the Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future.
The behavior of the Israelis is increasingly condemned by the Left and has led to major splits within the Labour Party in the U.K. Since the election of two Muslim Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, this issue is increasing in importance, with some predicting that the Democrats will eventually go the way of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. Among Democrat presidential candidates, Beto O’Rourke has been quite critical of Israel — a phenomenon that would have been unheard of in mainstream American politics only a few years ago. It’s quite difficult for an honest social justice warrior to support Israel when it is engaging in apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Such behavior is exactly as expected on the basis of the ideology expressed in the Old Testament, any moderation explained by fear of repercussions from the international community. But even such moderation is disappearing as the most radical ethnocentric Jews establish ever greater control of Israeli politics and Israel establishes close ties with nationalist regimes, such as those in Eastern Europe. (President Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are very close.) This will eventually lead to less support in other countries, but Jews are already acting to contain these forces.
Grégoire Canlorbe: You famously analyze Nazism as an anti-Jewish evolutionary strategy. Yet anti-Semitism was absent from the principles of Mussolini’s Fascism until 1938’s racial laws—so that about 10% of Italian Jews were among the early supporters of Fascism, and many key positions would be occupied by Jews in the state administration and in universities under Mussolini’s rule. The Duce would assert in a 1929’s speech to the Camera dei deputati: “The Jews have lived in Rome since the time of the Kings, perhaps it is them who provided clothes after the rape of the Sabine. They were 50 000 in Augustus’ time, and they asked to cry over the corpse of Julius Caesar. They will stay here in peace.”
At the beginning of the thirties, many German Jews—including Rudolf Arnheim, Max Rheinhardt, Max Ophüls, Max Neufeld, or Walter Benjamin—took refuge in Fascist Italy; even minister of education Giuseppe Bottai, who would take charge personally of the expulsion of Jews out of Italian universities and schools in 1938, was initially hostile to Nazism and anti-Semitism: he was accordingly involved, in 1933, in the creation of private schools for the German-Jewish children threatened with expulsion out of their education system. The repression itself under the racial legislation would be quite accommodating—with respect to that in Hitler’s Germany or Pétain’s France—; until the German occupation, few Jewish families would be deported: namely, 3 552 out of a total of 15 000.
How do you account for the anti-Semitic specificity of Nazism with respect to Fascism?
Kevin B. MacDonald: National Socialism was a specifically German movement that developed out of the long history of German-Jewish relations going back to the Middle Ages, the highly salient Jewish economic overrepresentation and cultural influence in Germany in the Weimar Era, and the disastrous situation Germany found itself in after World War I — all combined with the energy and political genius of Adolph Hitler. Italian fascism had quite different roots and a quite different history, as Guillaume Durocher explains in his review of Storia della cultura fascista by Alessandra Tarquini.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Far from preaching cosmopolitanism and “progressivism” for the Gentiles, most Jewish intellectual leaders of the two last centuries have been eminent voices of Western conservatism and white nationalism. After all, it was Jewish sociologist Max S. Nordau who coined the expression “degenerate art,” just as it was Queen Victoria’s Jewish Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who the most forcefully expressed the idea that “race is the key to history.” Not content with making his own the wording “degenerate art,” Hitler would acknowledge his debt to Disraeli in a speech to Reichstag in 1941: “The British Jew, Lord Disraeli, once said that the racial problem was the key to world history. We National Socialists have grown up with that idea.”
As for Sigmund Freud, he never meant the psychoanalysis to be a tool of subversion against good morals and authority, even endorsing Mussolini—whom he praised as a “hero of culture” in a dedication of Why War?—and stating in his correspondence with Albert Einstein: “The human cannot escape the inequality, which is an integral part of the innate and which divides them into leaders and led. The latter are the great mass, they need an authority that makes decisions for them, and that they usually accept unconditionally.” Nowadays many prophets of white race consciousness are Jews—such as astrophysicist Michael H. Hart and philosopher Michael Levin, both of whom endorse racial partitioning of the US and call for defending the Aryano-Christian world of the white man.
How does your thesis on the Jewish “culture of critique” apply to such intellectual voices?
Kevin B. MacDonald: Again, as noted in my answer to the first question, Jews have had and continue to have many different viewpoints. My purpose was to focus on specific movements with a great deal of influence, movements that have collectively shaped the contemporary world. Nevertheless, it’s a gross mischaracterization to claim that “most Jewish intellectual leaders of the two last centuries have been eminent voices of Western conservatism and white nationalism.” Jews have in general been on the left, as my Chapter 3 of The Culture of Critique shows regarding the twentieth century; see my review of Norman Podhoretz’s Why Are Jews Liberals? for a longer historical context. As I note in the latter, Jews have had a long history of making alliances with elites, as with medieval aristocracies, and it is also true that many Jews got caught up in racial Zionism in the early twentieth century (in congruence with trends among many non-Jewish intellectuals of the period), some even to the point of wanting to make agreements with National Socialist Germany to establish a Jewish state (Chapter 5 of Separation and Its Discontents). These movements tended, as did Disraeli, have a racial view of Jewish superiority. Freud had a similar view of Jewish racial superiority, as I discuss in Chapter 4 if CofC, but he clearly combined that with hatred toward the West, as I also document. Such racialist views of Judaism are not at all incompatible with hatred toward the West perceived, as he did, as an outgroup that has persecuted Jews. Moreover, as Chapter 4 documents, psychoanalysis has been firmly entrenched on the left in the West throughout its history and has been one of the most important tools in the destruction of the family in the West as well as in developing critiques of Western culture.
I appreciate the work of people like Michael H. Hart and Michael Levin (although I doubt either would endorse my work on Judaism). But they do not represent the mainstream of Jewish power and influence in the West during the twentieth century. Even if they have a strong Jewish identity and sense of Jewish interests, they are very much outliers among Jews and are not members of any Jewish intellectual or political movement as far as I know. And frankly, they are not all that important among White identitarians.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Whatever may be the preponderance of (intellectual or emotional, folkloric or political) anti-Semitism among the ranks of “white nationalism,” it is undoubtable that Jewish esotericism has become—at least since the Christian Kabbalah of the Renaissance—an integral part of European esotericism. Kabbalah is constitutive of the European occultism (which has won over America); and therefore, constitutive of Caucasoid-European civilizations: in other words, the culture of the white man. At the risk of exaggerating, Aleister Crowley will write in The Book of Thoth: “In the last instance, the only theory of interest concerning the Tarot is that it is an admirable symbolic image of the Universe, based on the data of the Holy Kabbalah.”
Do you see it rather as a good or a bad thing?
Kevin B. MacDonald: In my opinion, a claim that Kabbalah or occultism in general have won over America is vastly overstated. These movements are simply not part of the mainstream of American culture, although I have heard of a few pop stars like Madonna who have been into it. Elite culture in America and Europe has by far the greatest influence. It pervades the universities and the media, especially the elite media. It is influenced far more by faddish social science created by liberal/left activists and anti-White ideologies of the left than anything else I can think of.
Grégoire Canlorbe: Thank you for your time. Is there something you would like to add?
Kevin B. MacDonald: Thanks. An interesting set of questions.
Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar who has conducted numerous interviews with economists and social scientists for academic journals such as Man and the Economy, which was founded by the Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coase. His subjects have also included a wide range of renowned personalities such as Harvard’s astrophysicist Willie Soon, Yves-Saint Laurent’s co-founder and former President Pierre Bergé, Greenpeace’s co-founder and former President Patrick Moore, leader of the Alt-Right Jared Taylor, and former Czech head of state Václav Klaus. Besides his journalistic activities, he is the author of several metapolitical and philosophical articles; and is the Vice President of the French party Parti National-Libéral (nationalist, archeofuturist, and free-marketist).