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The National Premise Revisited

This is a much shortened and slightly revised version of the author’s article “Visions of the Ethnostate” which was featured in the Fall 2018 issue of The Occidental Quarterly.

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It is an interesting fact that in the already vast and ever-growing corpus of works, books, essays, articles and videos addressing the racial problem by those who can be, and often are, denoted as “White advocates” there is a glaring lack of actual advocacy. Of the varied aspects of the racial problem, the more obvious ones, including their history and causes, are typically covered in great detail. The less obvious aspects, such as the long-term consequences of the racial problem, admittedly requiring some degree of projection and speculation, receive much less attention. Given the grim prospect of their continued racially destructive course, and the stark either-or choices they present, a reluctance to address or confront these consequences is understandable. To fully confront them, considering the full extent of their effects, would force one to face the logical and much more controversial next step of advocating or proposing possible alternative courses or solutions.

In The Dispossessed Majority in 1972 Wilmot Robertson set a new standard for describing the racial problem, but he didn’t propose a solution for it.1 He addressed this omission in his second book Ventilations in 1974, proposing a solution of territorial racial separation in which the far greater part of the United States would be kept together in what he called “The Utopian States of America,” with minorities concentrated in semi-autonomous enclaves under White hegemony.2 For example, Jews would be concentrated in enclaves in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami Beach. All Blacks outside the south would be concentrated in the twenty largest urban ghettos, which would be enlarged as needed for this purpose, while Blacks in the south would be concentrated in those counties where they were already the majority. The exceptions would be the Latinos who would be ceded a 40-mile deep band along the full length of the Mexican border, and the East Asians who would be given the Hawaiian Islands except for some US military bases.

Soon after reading Ventilations I met Jim Feller. He had also read Robertson’s books and showed me a partition map he had drawn up that was mostly based on Robertson’s proposal but with a different plan for Black separation, and apparently a much wider band for the Latino country than Robertson’s 40 miles. Less than two years later I saw Feller’s map again on the cover of the April 1976 issue of Instauration (Figure 1) illustrating an article by Robertson titled “The National Premise” that proposed a racial partition of the United States.3 With the exception of the change in the location of the Blacks, and making the minority states independent, it was close enough to Robertson’s earlier proposal that he was probably happy to adopt it.

Figure 1: Feller Partition Map

At the end of a sidebar explaining the map Robertson wrote:

If all this sounds impractical, we ask our readers to think of the alternatives. If the races are not separated soon, the Majority [Whites] will have to fight for survival or go completely under. Already we have lost many of our largest cities . . . and if things continue at their present pace, it is quite possible that we may soon be reduced to a formal and permanent state of serfdom. Separation and the surrender of a great deal of our land and property may well be our only means of survival.

That was 43 years ago. Since then we have witnessed the continuing “browning” of America, the ongoing dispossession and replacement of the White population by invasion-levels of non-White immigration, the more than doubling of the non-White (i.e., non-European) proportion of the population from 20% in 1976 to 41% in 2016, non-Whites becoming a majority of the population under the age of ten and projected to become an absolute majority around 2040, the rate of White reproductive intermixture with non-Whites doubling about every twenty years (e.g., per CDC figures, from 5.2% in 1990 to 11.6% in 2010), and cultural changes corresponding to the demographic changes. Read more

Review of Ed Dutton’s Race Differences in Ethnocentrism

Race Differences in Ethnocentrism
Edward Dutton
Arktos, 2019.

“Those who advocate Multiculturalism seem to have lost an important instinct towards group — and thus genetic — preservation. Once a society, as a whole, espouses Multiculturalism as a dominant ideology then the society is acting against its own genetic interests and will ultimately destroy itself.”
Ed Dutton

Watching his incredibly entertaining Jolly Heretic You Tube channel, it’s easy to forget that Ed Dutton is also an extremely serious, and increasingly prolific, researcher, author, and scientist. The recent publication by Arktos of Dutton’s Race Differences in Ethnocentrism follows closely in the wake of Dutton’s At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What it Means for the Future (2018), How to Judge People by What They Look Like (2018),  J. Phillipe Rushton: A Life History Perspective (2018),  and The Silent Rape Epidemic: How The Finns Were Groomed to Love Their Abusers (2019). In Race Differences in Ethnocentrism, Dutton, who has collaborated with Richard Lynn on a number of occasions, builds impressively on the work of the latter and has offered, in this text, one of the most informative, formidable, pressing, intriguing, and poignant monographs I’ve read in years.

Dutton’s book is a work of science underscored by an inescapable sense of social and political urgency, and has been explicitly prompted into being by the need to address two questions “particularly salient during a period of mass migration”: ‘Why are some races more ethnocentric than others?’ and, most urgently of all, ‘Why are Europeans currently so low in ethnocentrism?’ In attempting to answer these questions, Dutton has designed a book that is accessible to readers possessing even the most modest scientific knowledge, without compromising on academic rigor or the use of necessary scientific language. The text is helpfully replete with explanatory commentary and useful rhetorical illustrations, and its opening four chapters are dedicated exclusively to placing the study in context and exploring the nature of the research itself. This is a book that can, and should, be read by everyone.

In the brief first chapter, Dutton explains ethnocentrism or group pride as taking two main forms. The first, positive ethnocentrism, involves “taking pride in your ethnic group or nation and being prepared to make sacrifices for the good of it.” Negative ethnocentrism, on the other hand, “refers to being prejudiced against and hostile to members of other ethnic groups.” Typically, a highly ethnocentric person or group will demonstrate both positive and negative ethnocentrism, although it is very common for people and groups to be high in one aspect of ethnocentrism but not in the other. It is also apparent that some countries and ethnic groups are very high in both forms of ethnocentrism while others are extremely low in the same. The author sets out to explore how and why such variations and differences have occurred, and are still fluctuating. This is clearly a piece of very novel research. Dutton remarks that “there exists no systematic attempt to understand why different ethnic groups may vary in the extent to which they are ethnocentric.” Dutton’s foundation is built on a deep reading of existing literature on the origins and nature of ethnocentrism, pioneered to some extent by R. A. LeVine and D. T. Campbell in the 1970s, and built upon most recently by Australia’s Boris Bizumic. These scholars advanced the argument that ethnocentrism was primarily the result of conflict. Another highly relevant theory in the study of ethnocentrism has been the concept of ‘inclusive fitness,’ which argues that ethnocentrism provides a method for indirectly passing on one’s genes.

Dutton closes his introductory chapter by providing an interesting overview of historical observations of differences in ethnocentrism. During the so-called ‘Age of Discovery,’ Europeans encountered large numbers of different and distant tribes, and many remarked on the reception they received from these groups. Some, such as the natives of Hawaii and the Inuit were noted as being extremely friendly, while the negrito tribes of the Andaman Islands, near India, remain notoriously hostile to outsiders, shoot arrows at passing aircraft, and kill intruding foreigners, including an American missionary in November 2018. The Japanese appear throughout history to have combined a moderate level of negative ethnocentrism with very high levels of positive ethnocentrism, resulting in a society typified by high levels of social harmony and in-group co-operation, and willing sacrifice for the nation in times of war. By contrast, the Yąnomamö tribe of Venezuela are very high in negative ethnocentrism but very low in positive ethnocentrism, resulting in a society riddled with lawlessness, extreme violence, poor social harmony, and an inability to form stable social structures of any kind. Differences in general levels of ethnocentrism are important because, as Dutton points out, those societies most welcoming of outsiders were subsequently colonized and fundamentally and permanently changed by migration. Meanwhile, those societies that displayed extreme hostility to outsiders have remained almost intact, and remain unchanged even centuries after the European ‘Age of Discovery.’ Read more

The Ministry of Liberty: How an Open-Borders Cult Will Ride Brexit into the European Parliament

All good-thinking leftists in Britain simultaneously love non-White immigration and hate Nigel Farage. This is entirely logical, because Farage is the hate-filled bigot who exploited White racism and xenophobia to win the Brexit Referendum back in 2016.

Brazen realism

As part of his successful campaign, Farage unveiled a “vile anti-immigration poster” called “Breaking Point,” which showed a caravan of dark-skinned refugees pouring into Europe. The poster was truly horrific: rather than portray refugees as weeping women and traumatized children, it resorted to brazen and unblushing realism. The refugees were portrayed as overwhelmingly young and healthy men of prime crime-committing and rape-gang-forming age. Appalled leftists promptly reported the poster to the police, claiming that “it incite[d] racial hatred and breache[d] UK race laws.”

Breaking Point: Nigel Farage’s infamous hate-poster

But although Farage’s campaign was successful and 17·4 million Brits voted for Brexit, the traditional rules of British democracy immediately re-asserted themselves. The elite in Britain do not want Brexit and have been thwarting it with bureaucratic delay and legalistic legerdemain ever since. For example, John Bercow, the arrogant and obnoxious Jewish Speaker of the House of Commons, has been working hard to “kill off Brexit” using fast talking and arcane parliamentary procedures. The same rules of elite control apply on mass immigration: it was never voted for and the majority of British Whites have always opposed it. But the elite wanted it and so it happened regardless. Brexit was, in part, a vote against mass immigration and the destruction of Britain’s White Christian traditions and history. That’s why the elite hate Brexit and want to stop it.

Hot to Trot

But it looks as though the elite are soon going to be badly stung again. Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has a jaw-dropping lead in opinion polls for the European elections on May 23rd. If the polls are right, the hate-filled bigot Farage and his allies will ride another wave of racism and xenophobia to victory, crushing both Labour and the Conservatives en route.

But here’s a funny thing. Three of the candidates for Farage’s party, Claire Fox, James Heartfield and Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, don’t simply believe in mass immigration. They support completely open borders, without controls of any kind on an influx of unlimited numbers of people from any and all countries on earth. This is because Fox, Heartfield and Cuthbert are part of a “weird [Trotskyist] sect” once called the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).

Trots on top: the Hungarian Jew Frank Furedi and his Irish-Catholic disciple Claire Fox

Under the guidance of their Hungarian-Jewish guru, a sociologist called Frank Furedi, the RCP and its later mutations have campaigned tirelessly for the greatest possible liberty of the greatest possible number. But their passionate belief in liberty and human possibility has had a very strange effect on their psychology. All members of Furedi’s Cult — let’s call it “FuCu” — believe in exactly the same things and express their opinions in exactly the same way. In effect, FuCu is a political hive buzzing on a single note dictated by the bee-keeper Frank Furedi. And FuCu have always buzzed loudly in support of open borders. During the so-called migrant crisis of 2015, Furedi’s disciples issued a simple message of “Let them in: We shouldn’t demonise or infantilise African migrants. We should welcome them.” FuCu went on:

We shouldn’t pity these migrants; we should admire them, for using guile, gumption and perseverance to come here. They’re precisely the kind of people sluggish Europe needs more of, an antidote to our students who can’t even clap without having a mental breakdown and our new generation who think that being told to ‘get on your bike’ to look for a job is tantamount to abuse. Let’s relax the borders and let them in to try their luck in our countries and see how they fare. If we do that, we’ll put the traffickers out of business, end the deaths in the Mediterranean, and, more importantly, do our part to enable the aspirations of human beings who have committed no crime other than wanting to realise their potential in our towns, our cities, alongside us. (Let Them In, Spiked Online, 21st April 2015)

That article ran in Spiked Online, an internet magazine where FuCu argue tirelessly in favour of both unlimited immigration and unlimited free speech. Of course, mass immigration by clannish and highly illiberal Muslims and other non-Whites is very bad for free speech, but this contradiction doesn’t bother FuCu. Trotskyists don’t believe in logic or objective reality but in whatever advances the cause of Trotskyism and their own power. After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, FuCu argued that the real problem was the attitudes of White liberals, not the illiberalism of Muslims. We must be strong in asserting Enlightenment Values, you see, and then Muslims will put down their machine-guns and pick up libertarian treatises by John Stuart Mill and Voltaire.

Whites need to lead the way

This need for guidance by Whites also applies to identity politics, in FuCu’s opinion. Yes, Western society is riven by racial antagonism, censorship and tribal thinking. But this is not because millions of tribalistic and censorship-friendly non-Whites have flooded across the borders. Not at all! It’s because Whites have not asserted Enlightenment Values loudly enough. Non-Whites are longing to embrace free speech and merit-based competition, if only they knew it. Alas, we Whites haven’t told them what they really want, so they demand censorship and special treatment instead. If you want to understand FuCu’s ideas, the Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski summarized them perfectly in his magisterial Main Currents of Marxism (1978): “The cultural atmosphere of Russia in those years [of the Revolution] had an adolescent quality, common to all periods of revolution: the belief that life is just beginning, that the future is unlimited, and that mankind is no longer bound by the shackles of history.”

Kołakowski also explains why FuCu, who are still convinced admirers of the totalitarian Lenin and Trotsky, argue so loudly in favour of unlimited freedom, which is not something that Lenin and Trotsky ever granted to those over whom they won power. In accordance with orthodox Leninism, FuCu support anything that disrupts and disturbs the current system:

Lenin laid the foundation for the tactics which were soon to become binding on Communist parties: the right course was to support any movement tending to overthrow the system at any point, for any reasons and in the interests of any class: liberation in colonial countries, national or peasant movements, bourgeois national uprisings against the big imperialists. This was a generalization of the tactics he had been preaching in Russia for years: to support all claims and all movements against the Tsarist autocracy, so as to exploit their sources of energy and seize power at the critical moment. The victory of the Marxist party was the final aim … (Main Currents of Marxism, Vol. II, pp. 471-2)

Communist parties need to act like that because they can’t win power by truly democratic means. In the 1980s, FuCu ran a conference called “Preparing for Power.” They were about to stand for election as the Revolutionary Communist Party, you see, and were confident that the British people would be eager to embrace an openly Trotskyist party. Of course, they received almost no votes in the parliamentary elections that followed and thereby learned a valuable lesson: “Do not seek power under your true colours.”

The Furedi Cult is again preparing for power

Decades on, it looks as though three members of FuCu are going to follow that principle to victory in the European elections. The convinced Trotskyists Claire Fox, James Heartfield and Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, all of whom support open borders and unlimited non-White immigration, will be sent to the European Parliament by ordinary British Whites who oppose mass immigration and want Britain to stop turning into a Third-World country. Anti-Farage leftists like Nick Cohen are now writing exposés of Fox et al, pointing out that they have supported IRA bombing campaigns and opposed controls on child pornography.

I don’t think those exposés will stop Fox et al winning seats in the European parliament. But Cohen isn’t exposing FuCu as supporters of unlimited immigration. After all, Cohen and other leftists believe in that themselves. Does Nigel Farage believe in it? I don’t think so, which makes it difficult to understand why he’s allowed FuCu to practise entryism on his Brexit Party. Furedi and his hive don’t condemn the European Union for allowing so many Muslims and other non-Whites into Europe. Instead, they condemn the EU for creating “Fortress Europe,” which is a lying propaganda term used by the far left to demand open borders.

An open-borders Trotskyist cult

Claire Fox and her comrades in FuCu are not what they pretend to be. They claim to support unlimited freedom while really pursuing unlimited power for themselves. Another great writer who helps us to understand FuCu and its ideology is George Orwell. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, he satirized the way leftist organizations proclaim one thing in their names while pursuing the exact opposite by their deeds: “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.”

I therefore christen FuCu the Ministry of Liberty. It claims to believe in the maximum possible freedom. In fact, it believes in the maximum possible disruption, because it hopes to win power through chaos. I don’t think it will win the power it seeks, but I trust Frank Furedi as far as I could throw The Collected Works of Lenin (all forty-five volumes of them). Fortunately, I think Farage is much cleverer than Furedi. Then again, I don’t trust Farage either. The sight of an open-borders Trotskyist cult entering the European parliament with the votes of anti-immigration Whites is going to be an interesting one. Watch this space.

Frederick the Great’s Jewish Policy: Between Containment and Profit, Part 3

Go to Part 1.
Go to Part 2.

The Political Testament of 1752 and the Jews: “The Most Dangerous of Sects”

Frederick the Great’s two political testaments are significant documents—systematic presentations of political doctrine, which rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia had composed since the days of the Great Elector (apparently inspired by Richelieu). These expound not only many of Frederick’s general doctrines but also contain his longest and most explicit comments on Jews and justifications concerning his Jewish policy. These are therefore essential documents for understanding the monarch’s thinking.

In the Political Testament of 1752, the Jews are presented essentially as an economic problem. Their numbers in Prussia had increased substantially following Frederick’s conquest of Silesia in the 1740s, which had also lengthened the country’s border with Poland, where Jews had an important economic role. Under the heading, “On Rules for Commerce and Manufactures,” Frederick writes on the need for industrial policy, local manufacturing, and tariffs. In this context, he says of the Jews:

One must watch over the Jews and prevent them from getting involved in wholesale trade, prevent their numbers from increasing, and, at fraud they do, deprive them of the right of residence, for nothing is more contrary to the merchants’ commerce than the illegal trade done by the Jews.[1]

Frederick, a deist, was essentially contemptuous of all traditional religious stories and organizations. Under the heading “On Ecclesiastics and Religions,” he advocates religious tolerance rather than fanaticism, ensuring civil peace and prosperity for “Catholics, Lutherans, Reformists, Jews, and many other Christian sects.”[2]

All that having been said, Frederick notes that the Jews are nonetheless “the most dangerous of sects” due to their economic practices:

The Jews are the most dangerous of sects, because they harm Christian trade and are useless to the State. We need this nation for some trade with Poland, but one must prevent their numbers from increasing and fix them, not at a certain number of families, but a certain number of heads, and restrict their commerce and prevent them from wholesaling, so that they only be retailers.[3]

Frederick therefore opposed Jews not on religious grounds but because he thought them prone to fraud, detrimental to other businesses, and useless to the State, except in enabling trade with underdeveloped Poland. Frederick argues for Jewish policy to be motivated strictly on utilitarian economic grounds rather than on religious or racial ones: practical measures included both economic policy (keeping Jews out of wholesaling), and a voluntarist population policy aimed at limiting Jewish numbers (headcount not family count), but also including the forcible deportation of those found guilty of fraud.

The Political Testament of 1768 and the Jews: Against Usury and Fraud

Frederick’s Political Testament of 1768 still predates the first partition of Poland, during which the Jewish population of Prussia would grow with the annexations of Polish territory. Nonetheless, this Testament too dedicates significant attention to the Jews, essentially presented as an economic problem. Jews are denounced again, this time not only for fraud but also usury. Hence, under the heading “On the Bank,” dealing with lending, Frederick praises “the Lombards established in the big towns, who lend money for manufacturing and other works at low interest, to prevent the Jews from crushing the peoples through usury.”[4]

Under the heading “Views for the Future,” Frederick expounds on the need to develop the country, its agriculture, cities, and industry. Again, Frederick notes the Jews’ usefulness for trade with Poland, but otherwise finds them harmful:

We have too many Jews in the cities. We need some on the border with Poland, because in that country there are only Hebrew merchants. If a city is not close to Poland, the Jews become harmful by their usury, by the contraband among them, and by the fraud undertaken to the detriment of the Christian bourgeois and merchants. I have not persecuted the people of this sect; but I believe it is prudent to ensure that their numbers do not increase too much.[5]

Frederick mentions the Jews a final time under the heading “On the General Police,” charged with enforcing order, safety, and good manners. He writes that the police must, among other duties, ensure that “the Jews do not crudely conduct their usury.”[6]

Frederick’s basic attitude on Jews had thus not fundamentally changed between 1752 and 1768. Claiming to not be motivated by religious prejudice, purely economic and political reason, he denounced their “crushing the peoples through usury” and their “thousand scams [friponneries] which turn to the detriment of the Christian burghers and merchants.”[7] They were again only useful in Poland and their numbers ought to be carefully limited.

Conclusion: The Contradictions of Frederick the Great’s Jewish Policy

Frederick the Great’s attitudes and policies towards the Jews were free from religious or racial prejudice, animated by the Enlightenment’s spirit of toleration for religious minorities. In other words, because of Enlightenment values, he was naturally inclined in a theoretical, a priori sort of way to view Judaism as deserving tolerance, just like other religious sects. However, in practical terms, he realized the harm that Jewish business practices caused to the non-Jewish population whose interests, after all, were his main concern. And he inherited a contradictory set of policies from his predecessors which aimed at simultaneously limiting the Jewish population and the economic problems associated with it, while economically profiting from that population’s licit or illicit activities. Frederick’s own experience in government and warfare led him to essentially maintain, rationalize, and further develop these policies.

Frederick himself had a liberal reputation as an “enlightened despot.” The French philosopher Jean le Rond d’Alembert wrote him:

[The Austrian emperor] is apparently granting the Jews freedom of conscience and the status of citizens, which his ancestors the august emperors would have regarded as the greatest crime. It is you, Sire, whom humanity and philosophy must thank for all which the other sovereigns are doing and will do to favor tolerance and suppress superstition; because it is [Your Majesty] who gave them the first great example.[8]

In fact, Frederick’s policies were quite restrictive on the whole, but this statement is symptomatic of the secularizing Enlightenment’s move away from religiously-defined citizenship and toward the gradual recognition of Jews as individual citizens, free of any group loyalty or ethnic bias.

In fact, assimilation and shedding of group identities and ties did not occur at any level of the Jewish community, including the movement of Reform Judaism, and it was never intended by any significant segment of the Jewish community. Jews had warmly greeted the Enlightenment and “emancipation” but refused to accept the Enlightenment’s premise that group ties would be rejected in favor of a thoroughgoing individualism. As Israeli historian Jacob Katz noted,

The predicament of emancipated Jewry, and ultimately the cause of its tragic end, was rooted not in one or another ideology but in the fact that Jewish Emancipation had been tacitly tied to an illusory expectation—the disappearance of the Jewish community of its own volition. When this failed to happen, and the Jews, despite Emancipation and acculturation, continued to be conspicuously evident, a certain uneasiness, not to say a sense of outright scandal, was experienced by Gentiles. . . . If gaining civil rights meant an enormous improvement in Jewish prospects, at the same time it carried with it a precariously ill-defined status which was bound to elicit antagonism from the Gentile world.[9] (Katz 1983, 43)

Jewish writers on this period have rightly emphasized the self-contradictory and even self-defeating quality of Frederick’s policy of accepting Jews for economic reasons but seeking otherwise to limit their numbers and influence. As the number of wealthy Jews gradually rose, these steadily increased pressure on the government to eliminate checks against them, a self-reinforcing pattern common in Western history. The Jewish Encyclopedia writes:

During Frederick’s entire reign the Prussian Jews continually protested against harsh edicts, but without much success. In 1763, however, succession to the rights of the Schutzjuden was extended to second sons on condition that these take up manufacturing. For this privilege the Jews had to pay 70,000 thalers. For further privileges the Jews had to purchase a definite number of pieces of porcelain from the royal porcelain manufactory.[10]

The Jewish Virtual Library confirms this trend, also reinforced by the large Jewish population Prussia acquired by conquering parts of Poland:

In Berlin, Breslau, and Koenigsberg the upper strata of the Jews, who were rich and influential, took the first steps toward assimilation, acquiring the General-Privilegium, which granted them the rights of Christian merchants (such as freedom of movement and settlement). Through the First Partition of Poland (1772) Prussia’s Jewish population had almost doubled, and Frederick feared above all an influx of Jews from the newly annexed province of West Prussia.[11]

It is no wonder that Frederick’s policy proved unsustainable and was gradually dismantled by his successors. The Jewish Virtual Library notes: “Frederick’s nephew, Frederick William II (1786–97), inaugurated a period of liberalization and reform in Prussia. As crown prince, he had borrowed large sums from Berlin’s Jewish financiers.”[12] The vicious circle of Jewish emancipation, Jewish economic, political, and cultural empowerment, and anti-Semitism would of course culminate in the apocalyptic conflict between Jews and Germans in the first half of the twentieth century.


[1] Gustav Berthold Volz (ed.), Die Politischen Testamente Friedrich’s des Grossen (Berlin: Von Reimar Hobbing, 1920): http://www.archive.org/stream/diepolitischente00freduoft/diepolitischente00freduoft_djvu.txt

[2]Ibid. Frederick added, in a manner typical for Enlightenment politicians, that while he was contemptuous of religions one ought to be respectful in public:

It is indifferent in politics whether the sovereign has a religion or not. All religions, when examined, are based on some fabulous and more-or-less absurd System. It is impossible for a man of good sense to enter into these matters and not witness Terror; but these prejudices, these errors, this wonder are made for men, and one must know how to respect the public to not scandalize them in their religious practice, whatever their religion be.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Ibid.

[5]Ibid.

[6]Ibid.

[7]Ibid.

[8]Frederick, Œuvres, 25/214.

[9] Jacob Katz, “Misreadings of anti-Semitism,” Commentary 76, no. 1 (1983):39–44, 43.

[10]“Frederick II,” JE: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6334-frederick-ii

[11]“Prussia,” JVL: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/prussia-virtual-jewish-history-tour

[12]Ibid.

Frederick the Great’s Jewish Policy: Between Containment and Profit, Part 2

Voltaire at the court of Frederick the Great.

Go to Part 1.

Frederick, Voltaire, and the Jews

Frederick the Great and the famous French philosopher Voltaire had one of the most celebrated relationships between prince and intellectual of the Enlightenment. Indeed, on this rests some of Frederick’s claims to being an “enlightened despot.” Voltaire himself was a vociferous critic of both the Jewish religion and Jews as a people. He wrote in his Philosophical Dictionary: “It is with regret that I speak about the Jews: this nation is, in many respects, the most detestable which has sullied the earth.” Voltaire’s letters to Frederick have numerous critical comments on Jews. For instance, reacting to Catherine II of Russia’s sending a Jew to Egypt to investigate the situation in the country, he said: “The Jews have always loved Egypt, whatever their impertinent story [Exodus] says.”[1] Voltaire appears to have been much more emphatically anti-Semitic than Frederick.

Frederick and Voltaire fell out for various reasons, one of the most important being displeasure over crooked financial dealings between Voltaire and a Jew, Abraham Hirschel. According to Voltaire’s biographer Wayne Andrews:

On November 23, 1750, [Voltaire] called upon Abraham Hirschel, a Jew known for his talent in making money in forbidden transactions, and requested him to buy up for his account in Dresden a certain amount of Saxon bonds. These were then selling at thirty-five per cent below par, but according to a Prussian-Saxon treaty, could be redeemed at par by Prussians. This was such an easy invitation to attack the Saxon treasury that Frederick, on the eighth of May 1748 agreed that the bonds could no longer be imported. Despite this, Voltaire went ahead. Offering a bill of exchange on Paris for forty-thousand francs and a draft on a Berlin Jew for four thousand shillings, he made Hirschel his agent. As agent, Hirschel turned over certain diamonds as security. But then Voltaire saw fit to cancel the bill of exchange that Hirschel cashed, and a nasty quarrel followed with Hirschel demanding the return of his diamonds. Voltaire lost his temper, snatched a ring off Hirschel’s finger, and the affair had to be settled in court. [. . .]

Frederick was not pleased, and the dignity with which he behaved on this occasion was, for once, kingly. He would not allow Voltaire in his presence until the case was settled. He knew that Voltaire was lying when he claimed he had sent Hirschel to Dresden to buy furs and diamonds and was irritated by his language.[2]

Frederick laconically described the affair: “[concerning] Voltaire’s trial with the Jew: it’s a matter of a scoundrel who tried to hoodwink a crook.”[3] This scandal concerning a Jewish financial speculator and a greedy Frenchman contributed to the brevity of Voltaire’s stay in Berlin. Read more

Frederick the Great’s Jewish Policy: Between Containment and Profit, Part 1

Frederick the Great’s Jewish Policy: Between Containment and Profit

Frederick II of Prussia, known as “the Great,” is one of the celebrated figures in Western history. On the one hand, he was an accomplished statesman and military leader, who through skill and dogged determination in wars with far larger states, doubling the size of his vulnerable and relatively poor north-German realm, turning Prussia into one of Europe’s great powers. But Frederick was also an almost unique example in history of a statesman who was also a genuine intellectual, the paradigmatic “enlightened despot,” who undertook reasonable reforms and could converse with the great minds of his day.

Frederick’s political works are a classic statement of autocratic good government.[1] Certainly, while the republican tradition is in a sense characteristically and almost uniquely Western, we should not forget that for most our history we have been governed by monarchs. Roman emperors and medieval and early-modern kings certainly presided over as many our great achievements as did the Hellenic city-states or the modern republics.

In this article, I would like to detail a little-known aspect of Frederick the Great’s government: Jewish policy. Frederick had inherited somewhat contradictory policies from his forefathers: on the one hand preventing the growth of the Jewish population (notably by limiting the right of residence), for Jews were considered to be involved in illicit trade and would drive Christians out of business, and on the other hand exploiting Jewish business acumen, whether by taxing them, getting loans from them, or using their skills for complex, and sometimes dubious, monetary transactions.

Frederick’s attitude towards this inheritance is of interest because, as monarch of the Enlightenment, he held no religiously-motivated hostility towards the Jews, nor was he affected by the anti-Semitic racial theories which would become popular in the nineteenth century. Instead, the Prussian king’s policies were determined by his classical education, which informed his outlook in general, political pragmatism, and his actual personal experience with Jews.

Frederick essentially upheld his predecessors’ approach, justifying hard-headed population policies limiting Jewish growth by the need to protect the economic balance, mores, and well-being of Prussia as a whole. In this, Frederick’s approach appears reminiscent of the muscular communitarian population policies of Plato and Aristotle, two philosophers whom he had carefully studied. As we shall see, while Frederick maintained and reinforced the policies of his predecessors, he was not able to overcome their contradictory character, paving the way for their dismantlement under his successors. Read more

Man, Beast and Enlightenment: The Special Place of Humans in Nature

It is said that Pythagoras could recognize, by means of certain signs, when the soul of a friend had been reincarnated in an animal. Belief in the transmigration of souls was common in antiquity; even Plato toyed with the notion in the myth of Er. But the Pythagoreans used it to support vegetarianism and even an early form of animal liberation. Here’s a cautionary tale from a likeminded contemporary. A farmer’s son dies and is reincarnated as an animal. The farmer chooses this animal for a sacrifice. The killing makes the farmer a filicide even as he desecrates his offering and angers the gods. Then, in the Greek way, the farmer burns the fat and organs and he and his remaining family eat the meat. Now they are all cannibals. So put down that hamburger, you never know who might be in there.

What interests me about this argument is how it is framed. Ancient philosophers took for granted that men are superior to animals. The discovery that the animal was a friend or relative makes it an exception to that general rule. But the exception comes at the cost of incoherence. It isn’t clear what it means to say that the dead friend and the living animal are the same person, since they share no memories, dispositions or abilities. That’s why it’s so easy to generate absurd counterexamples. If the farmer’s son dies before I repay him the $10 I borrowed, do I owe $10 to the animal? I am persuaded, contra Pythagoras, that a person is his mind (sometimes called his soul) and his body, so if both are different, replaced with those of an animal, there is nothing of the person left over.

If ancient animal liberationists tried to lift a few animals up to the level of human beings, nowadays animal liberationists press for the full admittance of animals to the moral community. The reason for this change in tactics is that between the ancient and the modern world falls the long shadow of the period that named itself “the Enlightenment.” The Enlightenment’s understanding of community is still with us today: a community is a group of equals. A nation-state made up of citizens is such a community of equals, for nobody is more of a citizen than anybody else. Enlightenment ethics mirror Enlightenment politics. The moral community is like a nation state, with each member possessing moral citizenship. What makes one a moral citizen? The Enlightenment and its heirs supplied many answers, from the experience of pleasure and pain (Bentham, Mill) to being an end in oneself (Kant) to having rights (Paine) to having ‘dignity’ (I am sorry to say that the Church is to blame for this last one). That there really is a slippery slope that leads from Enlightenment ethics to animal liberation was never clearer than when Thomas Paine wrote his Rights of Man. The book was followed almost immediately by Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and then by the anonymous Vindication of the Rights of Brutes. Although the last was satire, all three made the same point: if rights alone make you a ‘citizen’ of the moral community, then we can’t exclude anyone, including animals.

One of the crucial differences between conservatives and reactionaries is that conservatives embrace the Enlightenment picture of the moral and political community of equals. That’s why conservatives invariably lose arguments to animal liberationists. To win, conservatives would need to find a way to exclude animals from moral citizenship. They can only do this if they find a morally significant criterion which makes all humans moral citizens but which not even a single animal possesses. Animal liberationists only need one counterexample to blow the whole thing up.

Every five years or so, some conservative will charge into the argument about the place of animals, confidently waving a new or rediscovered criterion of the moral uniqueness of human beings, and then the game of finding a counterexample begins. Aristotle said that men have reason and animals don’t. Could the criterion be reason? But lots of research shows that some animal species have quite sophisticated reasoning ability. For example, New  Caledonia  crows  are  able  to  develop  a  causal rule that enables them to solve novel problems and learn from watching other birds use tools (here, p. 45).

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