Postscript to The Three-Thousand-Year-Old Enigma
Editor’s note: The following is Rolo Slavski’s translation of Igor Shafarevich’s “Postscript to The Three-Thousand-Year-Old Enigma.” The original citation is: Igor Shafarevich (2009), “Posleslovie k Trekhtysiacheletnei zagadke.”Nash sovremennik, No. 11. Nash sovremennik is a Russian literary magazine. Both footnotes were added by the editor.
I re-read my book on Jewish history (The Three-Thousand-Year-Old Enigma) and the feeling I experienced was one of dissatisfaction. Since the author (myself) has taken a stab at shedding light on such a broad historical phenomenon, I thought, he could have made more specific observations that shed light on the current situation and the possible future of the world. That’s what I want, to some extent, to try to make up for here. In this case, all the facts (including quotes) are taken from my book. Naturally, the conclusions I come to, to some extent, repeat the book (or are a refinement of the thoughts expressed there).
First of all, from all the facts collected in my book, it follows that no matter what peoples the Jews live among, they are always considered by these peoples to be dangerous strangers.
Of course, the relationship between the rich man and his debtor, the landowner and the peasant, etc., cause friction and often lead to ethnic conflicts. But it is striking that, along with the Armenian-Azerbaijani contradictions, friction between Russians and Ukrainians, etc. (throughout the entire period from which we have reliably dated sources), this other nation (or religious group? ) comes up. After all, this tension can be observed for about three thousand years! So it should be the subject of serious historical reflection. In periods of drastic change in the conditions of life, the same nation (or religious group?) often participates with unprecedented energy in these changes, and always as part of the more radical camp. (As could be seen in Germany during the “revolutionary situation” in the 1920s, and as happened in our country three times in the twentieth century: during the revolution of 1917 and its intensification, during the period of collectivization around 1930, and during time of “perestroika” in the 1990s). Moreover, as a result of such radical changes in life in our country, many millions of people died each time: peasants who defended their land, or peasants who no longer resisted, or just people (including children) who had not learned to “play by the new rules.”
The presentation of the facts itself can occur on various levels — from statements that are not substantiated and based on nothing (for example, Diodorus Siculus’s and Manetho’s claim that the Jews are Egyptians infected with some kind of skin disease and expelled from Egypt) to a more correct, competent, albeit very cautious, discussion of a particular situation, like Walt and Mearsheimer’s work, The Israel Lobby, but where the same basic question is implied. The “question” is that a small part of the country’s population determines the most important aspects of its life. Actually, a similar point of view is confirmed by the most ancient (from reliably dated) Jewish religious texts. A wide range of means are being used around the world (at different times) to counter discussion of this “issue”: prisons, courts, executions, journalism and the media are used. The fact that the majority of peoples who have encountered Jewry perceive it as a potential source of danger is explained by the words of a contemporary (and published in Russia) author, D. Furman: “Everywhere, all over the world, the role of Jews in progressive and revolutionary movements has always been completely disproportionate to their share in the population. That is (in accordance with the point of view expressed in my book) fundamental changes in society are carried out according to certain general laws, and Jews cannot be considered their initiators in any way. But when the course of history leads to the breakdown of tradition, to a sharp change in life, then “progressive and revolutionary movements” arise, in which the role of the Jews “has always been completely out of proportion to their proportion in the population.”
As the material collected in my book shows, in the last few centuries the influence of Jews around the world has increased dramatically — this, in recent decades, is associated with a process called “globalization.” It seems that the theses of the German publicist W. Marr, who wrote (in the 19th century) in the book The Victory of Jewry over Germanism: “We are subdued, and besides, we are forbidden to talk about it,” seem to have been proven. How will other peoples of the world exist in such a situation? (After all, from many of the facts given in my book, it is clear that vindictiveness is an essential feature of Jewish psychology and their participation in “progressive and revolutionary movements” was often stimulated by the desire for revenge for obstacles to the transformation they desired.) Therefore, it can be assumed that the victory of that “progressive movement,” which is now led by Jews all over the world, will lead the world to terror, similar to that which raged in our country in the 20s and 30s of the last century. It seems that humanity has no strategy to counter this. But it seems to me that such a way is possible. I wanted to talk about it here — this is the main content of this work.
To assess the whole situation, it is important to note that the “Jewish question” existed, as it is explained in my book, about as long ago as can be traced using written sources. More precisely, in the era in which mankind existed in the form of states. (And we are not going to discuss a broader historical epoch.) Thus, a number of ancient authors refer to the Exodus from Egypt, which the Bible tells us about, as “exile”. In any case, that era can be considered the first manifestation of the “Jewish question” recorded in writing. Since then, it was by no means “resolved”, as evidenced by the entire subsequent history of Jewry. Already in our (at least in my) memory, Hitler spoke more than once about the “final solution of the Jewish question,” but what this “final solution” consisted of, as is often the case when discussing Hitler’s plans, was not clear. After all, most of the Jews were then in America, and Hitler could not influence their fate in any way. This is the historical range of the “Jewish question” — the range in which it manifests itself. From this (and other facts collected in my book) we can conclude that the “question” is in principle unsolvable (at least in the era of peoples existing in states). This thesis is discussed in more detail in my book. That is, at least in the coming centuries, we are doomed by history to live with the Jews, and they with us. In other words, the reasonable way out is to learn to live with this question, which, apparently, cannot be “resolved” in the present historical conditions (just as, for example, it is impossible to completely “eradicate crime”, although it is possible to take measures to so that crime does not ruin our lives. The “question” for us then, is how, in this coexistence, we can preserve our national identity.
A hint of a way of dealing with the problem that could satisfy these conditions is contained in a remark by V.V. Rozanov. In an obvious connection with the same “question,” he draws attention to the fact that a similar situation exists in the animal world. Namely, most animals known to us are either herbivores or carnivores. Moreover, as Rozanov notes, herbivores unite in large herds, and the number of carnivores is somehow kept at a relatively low level. This analogy between non-Jewish herbivores and Jewish carnivores is supported by many arguments.
Firstly, this is the argument of the number, as indicated by Rozanov. Indeed, even during the period of enjoying a dominant position in any society (for example, in our country in the 1920s or now in Israel), the Jews, despite their well-known “fertility,” are kept within strict limits by some unknown force, while the surrounding people continue multiplying, although they are in worse material conditions.
Secondly, the fundamental role of carnivores and herbivores in life is quite similar. Actually, it is plants that ensure the existence of all animals, because they turn sunlight into nutrients. Herbivores eat plants, while carnivores eat herbivores. But still, herbivores are part of the process of nutrition, which is used by carnivores and without which they could not exist. In confirmation of the analogy under consideration, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the Jews are active and often useful in their activities, but they are only able, so to speak, “to work on an already plowed field.” For example, Mendelssohn, Mahler and Berg were undoubtedly talented musicians. But they were able to express themselves only when Western music was created — by Gabrielli, Schutz, Bach, Haydn, etc. Or, in Russia, Jews were very active in recent centuries (we will not discuss the difficult question of whether it was for good or to the detriment of the natives), but in any case, this became possible only after the country was plowed up and the Russian state was created. And it is the same with any kind of activity, as detailed in my book. But the main contribution to world culture usually attributed to Jewry is the creation of a monotheistic religion. However, this was the direction in which the thought of all mankind was moving to in those centuries! So, Homer often has the expression “Zeus and Fate decided so.” In Plato, instead of the words “Gods” we often meet — “the higher Deity.” Finally, the most radical step towards monotheism was the reform of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, about 1350 BC. It clearly had a decisive influence on the religious thinking of the entire Near East. So here we meet a manifestation of the same feature.
Yes, finally, I myself have come across this phenomenon. I had many Jewish students. And a number of Jews from whom I studied. They were talented and (what is especially important) hardworking mathematicians. But we must not forget that the very physical and mathematical concept of the world, within which we all worked, was created by the Western European (Romano-Germanic) peoples. And representatives of other nations — Jews, Russians, Chinese, Indians, etc. — are only continuers of an already established tradition.
The third argument in favor of the aforementioned analogy is that carnivores (predators, for example, cats) can exist and hunt only if they are hardly noticeable. In particular, they must lick themselves all the time, eliminating the smell (this remark belongs to a friend of mine). This can be related to the hostility of the Jews to the discussion of the “Jewish question.” For example, in my book, V. Toporov’s book Double Bottom is quoted several times. In the preface, the author describes his paradoxical position of being “not among his own” in any national group, which gives his observations a peculiar interest. In particular, speaking of the “Jewish type of behavior,” he writes: “among the identifying signs, one must undoubtedly point out a painful reaction to the very formulation of the Jewish question, which is often inherent in people of non-Jewish origin who are married to a Jew or Jewess, especially if there are children.”
There is a direct connection between these comparisons and the real problems that humanity is now facing (or will face in the next century). Let us pay attention to the fact that the influence of Jews throughout the world (in the development of capitalism, in the socialist movement and in the post-socialist era) has become especially noticeable in recent decades, coinciding with the period of dominance of European (or, as it is sometimes called, Western) civilization in the world. But in several of my works (published for the last 10 years) I have made arguments indicating that this civilization is now on the decline. The current economic crisis is just one of the confirmations of these thoughts. Probably, Western civilization will be able to somehow get out of this crisis, but it is only a rehearsal for its global collapse. One might think that the inevitable (as it seems to me) collapse of the dominance of Western civilization over the whole world will provide an opportunity to build relations between Jewry and other peoples in a new way. Actually, the Jews themselves are also interested in this, since other peoples must first “plow the field,” in which, as noted above, the Jews are able to work. But it is unlikely that they themselves are able to realize it. In their “genetic program” there is firmly embedded the belief that they are called to be “teachers of mankind.”
In other words, (only when this change happens) will a change of attitudes become possible. But whether this actually happens depends on our behavior (and the behavior of our descendants). Here comes to mind the thought expressed by Dostoevsky in a rough draft: “All these parliamentarisms, all the civil theories now professed, all the accumulated wealth, banks, sciences, Jews — all this will collapse in an instant and without a trace — except, perhaps, the Jews, who will adapt; what can be done to put them to work?”. (Sobr. soch. M., 1984. Vol. 26, pp. 167–168). This statement now sounds rude due to the use of the word “zhid,” which is currently abusive. But when Dostoevsky wrote, it was not like that. It is worth replacing this word with any synonym in use now, and we will get a strikingly accurate prediction of what really happened in Russia, formulated forty years before the predicted events.
In such a situation, it is natural to recall the discussed analogy. After all, both herbivores and carnivores have existed on Earth for many millions of years. And, using this analogy, one can notice forms of possible coexistence of Jews and other peoples that do not encroach on the national existence of these “other” peoples. After all, one must believe in the lessons of life!
In particular, herbivores exist by grouping together in large herds. Parallel to this, it can be assumed that the peoples of the Earth are able to ensure their autonomous existence in the form of more or less nationally homogeneous states, which is a phenomenon that has been happening throughout history (modern Russia is an example). Nations, united in such states, must develop in themselves the understanding of the phenomenon of the “predator,” which is dangerous for their national existence. Peoples, following the instinct of self-preservation, should strive to push them out of positions that are essential for the life of the nation. They must protect the nation from the penetration of “foreigners.” I came across an example of such behavior when I once walked around the Moscow region (outside the city) in the company of my dog. The dog clearly reminded the cows of a wolf and fit neatly into their “image of the enemy.” Therefore, when they saw her, the cows united in a herd lowered their heads and, putting out their horns, stepped on the dog. Once, as a shepherd I met told me, they even trampled a small dog. This technique seems to be effective — it allows wild herbivores to protect themselves from predators. For example, as zoologists say, wolves rarely attack a deer inside the herd, otherwise they risk being killed by the horns or hooves of the deer. More often, wolves bully a sick deer that has lagged behind the herd.
Thus, a number of techniques developed long ago by nature serve to maintain the number of the herbivore populations at a constant level. These same methods, with appropriate modifications, can serve (and have long served) a similar goal in the social life of mankind. Of course, changes will take place — after all, Homo sapiens has existed for thousands of years in the more developed state of mankind. A difference between modern nations and a herd of cows must have developed in this time!
 From Diodorus, Book 34:
King Antiochus besieged Jerusalem. The Jews withstood the siege for some time; but when all their provisions were used up, they were forced to send ambassadors to him, to seek terms for a truce. Many of his friends urged him to storm the city, and to root out the whole nation of the Jews; for they only of all people hated to mix with any other nations, and treated them all as enemies. They suggested to him that the ancestors of the Jews were driven out of Egypt, as impious and hateful to the gods: for seeing that their bodies were infected with white marks and leprosy, by way of expiation the Egyptians gathered them all together, and expelled them out of their county, as profane and wicked wretches. After they were thus expelled, they settled around Jerusalem, and were afterwards united into one nation, called the nation of the Jews; but their hatred of all other men descended with their blood to their posterity. And therefore they made strange laws, and quite different from other people; they never will eat nor drink with any of other nations, or wish them any prosperity. His friends reminded him that Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, after subduing the Jews, entered into the temple of God, into which none was allowed to enter by their law except the priest. When he found in there the image of a man with a long beard, carved in stone sitting upon an ass, he took it to be Moses, who built Jerusalem and brought the nation together, and who established by law all their wicked customs and practices, abounding in hatred and enmity to all other men. Antiochus therefore, abhorring their antagonism to all other people, tried his utmost to abolish their laws. To that end he sacrificed a great swine at the image of Moses, and at the altar of God that stood in the outward court, and sprinkled them with the blood of the sacrifice. He commanded likewise that the books, by which they were taught to hate all other nations, should be sprinkled with the broth made of the swine’s flesh. And he put out the lamp (called by them immortal) which burns continually in the temple. Lastly he forced the high priest and the other Jews to eat swine’s flesh.
When Antiochus’ friends had spoken about all these things, they earnestly advised him to root out the whole nation, or at least to abolish their laws, and compel them to change their former manner of living. But the king, being of a generous spirit and mild disposition, received hostages and pardoned the Jews: but he demolished the walls of Jerusalem, and took the tribute that was due.
 This refers to a 1984 Russian edition of the complete works of Dostoevsky.