Jewish Influence

Why Has Mahler Become a Cultural Icon?

R. J. Stove has a delightful article on Mahler posted at the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation:

The Mahler symphonies … get me out of here. I keep surreptitiously cheering Kingsley Amis’s verdict “Mahler lacks talent even more spectacularly than he lacks genius.” …

The leap in Mahler’s stature from near-oblivion in 1960 (when, as Britain’s Spectatornoted on January 13, “[H]is impact on the general public was roughly the equivalent of, say, [Poland’s Karol] Szymanowski today”) to deification after that date, has little or nothing to do with musical merits and almost everything to do with external considerations.

And what might these external circumstances be?

Once it became widely known that Mahler had lamented being “a Bohemian in Austria, an Austrian in Germany, and a Jew in the world,” his identity-politics credentials became the aesthetic equivalent of a nuclear warhead, lacking only homosexuality to complete his posthumous triumph.

With the exception of a few musicians enthralled with the challenge of playing his music, the people who love Mahler love him because of who he is, not because they enjoy listening to his music.

Mahler has been the subject of TOO articles by E. R. E. Knutsson and Elizabeth Whitcombe. Knutsson described the Jewishness of Mahler’s music in the context of the fin de siècle cultural scene of Vienna:It has been arguedthat Mahler’s music has links back to the Hasidic music of Eastern European ghettos of the eighteenth century in which dance music is deployed as a remedy to misery.” An anti-Jewish critic at the complained, “What I find so utterly repellent about Mahler’s music is the pronounced Jewishness of its underlying character. … It is abhorrent to me because it speaks Yiddish. In other words it speaks the language of German music but with an accent, with the intonation and above all with the gestures of the Easterner, the all-too-Eastern Jew.”

Whitcombe links Mahler to T. W. Adorno: “Adorno claimed that the bourgeois musical world was repressing Mahler’s work because Mahler shunned ‘moderate peacefulness.’ In Adorno’s words: ‘The genuine significance of Mahler that can be discovered for today lies in the very violence with which he broke out of the same musical space that today wants to forget him’ (Mahler Today,” 1930).”

Stove’s comment does not get into the details of how Mahler became so important. I suspect that an argument can be made that Mahler’s incredible success since the 1960s has to do with ethnic networking and with peculiarly Jewish attitudes toward culture. The topic deserves a full treatment.

Mahler’s visibility these days is truly phenomenal. Leon Botstein labels Mahler “the most visible figure from the high-art classical music tradition since Mozart.” Whereas in the 1930s Adorno complained that Mahler was on the verge of being forgotten, by the 1960s the intellectual landscape had changed dramatically, bringing to the fore the intellectual movements discussed in The Culture of Critique, including Adorno’s Frankfurt School.  By several accounts, the two most important advocates of Mahler during the 1960s were Adorno and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Adorno’s campaign on behalf of Mahler did not bear fruit until his influential 1960 book Mahler: A Musical Physiognamy. An historian notes, “The effect [of Adorno’s book] on the cultivated, on many musicologists, on composers, has been immense.” The Culture of Critique shows that Adorno had a strong Jewish identity and a hostility toward traditional Western culture (viewed as inevitably leading to fascism and anti-Semitism) that colored all of his writing.  In his view, Mahler was attractive because he was the antithesis of the traditional muscial culture of the West. (The same can be said of Adorno’s attempt to promote Arnold Schoenberg; see TOO’s Knutsson and Whitcombe.)  Re Bernstein, Botstein notes that “Bernstein was Mahler’s most prodigious advocate in the seminal 1960s…. Bernstein implicitly set Mahler’s ambivalence to his fate as a Jew alongside his own proud assertion of Jewish identity and faith.”

The result was that Mahler has become a sainted icon of the new culture — another example of Jewish genius. Even if no one really enjoys listening to his music.

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The New Republic’s “High Shul phase”

Andrew Sullivan is busy attempting to exonerate himself from charges of anti-Semitism — always a difficult chore, and likely to consume quite a bit of his time given Leon Wieseltier’s rather long accusatory piece. Sullivan’s offense is that he circulated a comment of poet W. H. Auden that it would be to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the secular leftist TNR writers of the 1940s. How anyone could think of that as “anti-Semitic” is beyond me.

Sullivan’s first line of defense is to link to his “passionate defense of the Jewish people from Catholic bigotry.” I’m sure Sullivan is thinking, “Hey, I earned my stripes as a goy in the media by defending Jews. How dare you question my motives!”

But then it gets interesting. We find that Jews think of TNR as a Jewish publication. Wieseltier himself is quoted as saying that TNR is a kind of “Jewish version of Commentary.” (Update: HelenChicago, a commenter on this blog writes, “”A Jewish version of Commentary“?!? Isn’t that a bit like “a kosher version of matzoh”? Wish I had thought of that. As we all know, Commentary is published by the American Jewish Committee.)

Sullivan notes that “my old friend, Frank Foer” (translation: “some of my best friends are Jews”) commented that Auden made his statement “before we entered our High Shul phase.” And he goes on to describe the “joke ubiquitous at TNR when I worked there . … We teased each other for years about my being one of the few goyim at the place, that I was a function of affirmative action, etc. Leon was particularly and often mordantly hilarious on this kind of theme.”

This reminds me of Michael Wreszin’s comment that Dwight Macdonald, a member of the New York Intellectuals and contributor to Partisan Review, was “a distinguished goy among the Partisanskies.” He stood out because he was a goy in a Jewish-dominated movement. Always good to have a few goyim for window dressing.

Pretty clearly, the Jews who run TNR think of it as a Jewish publication. But one dare not say that Jews influence the media or that Jews attempt to use their position in the media to advance their version of Jewish interests (or that the New York York Intellectuals were a Jewish intellectual movement). Auden’s quote happened before TNR became a High Shul — a presumably the consequence of Martin Peretz buying TNR and turning it into a fanatically pro-Israel publication. This is a passage in The Culture of Critique:

Jews have also been greatly overrepresented as editors, publishers and contributors to a variety of radical and liberal periodicals, including The Nation, The New Republic, and The Progressive (Rothman & Lichter 1982, 105). In 1974 The New Republic (TNR) was purchased by Martin Peretz, son of a “devoted Labor Zionist and right-wing Jabotinskyist” (Alterman 1992, 185) and himself a leftist student activist before moving in the direction of neoconservatism. The only consistent theme in Peretz’s career is a devotion to Jewish causes, particularly Israel. He reflects a major theme of Chapter 3 in that he abandoned the New Left when some in the movement condemned Israel as racist and imperialist. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, he told Henry Kissinger that his “dovishness stopped at the delicatessen door” (p. 185), and many among his staff feared that all issues would be decided on the basis of what was “good for the Jews” (p. 186). Indeed, one editor was instructed to obtain material from the Israeli embassy for use in TNR editorials. “It is not enough to say that TNR’s owner is merely obsessed with Israel; he says so himself. But more importantly, Peretz is obsessed with Israel’s critics, Israel’s would-be critics, and people who never heard of Israel, but might one day know someone who might someday become a critic” (p. 195).

Sullivan better watch it — he’s just getting himself in deeper. All those quotes from Jews who joke among themselves about Jewish control of particular media outlets like TNR are for internal consumption only. For someone like him — or me — to mention it will certainly draw the ire of people like Wieseltier and the ADL. Tune in for more on this as it unfolds.

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Mel Gibson to Dean Richards: "I’ve moved on; You’re an asshole"

Mel Gibson can’t avoid questions about his anti-Jewish comments. Dean Richards, a reporter for WGN in Chicago, brought up the topic once again, probably realizing that it was a great strategy for getting ahead. Gibson is obviously pissed off about it:

“That’s been almost four years, dude. I’ve moved on. But I guess you haven’t. …  That was a while back, and I’ve done all the necessary mea culpas, so … let’s move on, dude.”

Richards wrapped up the interview with a standard thank-you-for-coming, and Gibson, drinking coffee, gave the reporter a thumbs-up before muttering a loud-and-clear [“asshole”] right into his mic before the satellite feed was cut.

The mea culpas don’t matter. Apologizing doesn’t work and never has. This is the kind of realization that radicalizes people. One can only hope that Gibson, with all his wealth, his movie-making ability, his  fan base, and his connections in the movie industry will realize that there is no going back and that he will make movies that can change the world.

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The academic left’s involvement in politics

In today’s LA Times, the op-ed page was dominated by comments on Howard Zinn (“An experts’ history of Zinn”), who by all accounts was a leftist political activist as well as a professor of political science at Boston University. Zinn, who probably deserved a chapter in The Culture of Critique as an exemplar of a leftist Jewish intellectual activist, was involved in all the leftist causes of the last 60 years. He wore his political beliefs on his sleeve and was proud of his lack of neutrality in his writing, titling his memoir You can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train.  As one of the commentators, Sean Wilentz, notes,

He saw history primarily as a means to motivate people to political action that he found admirable. That’s what he said he did. It’s fine as a form of agitation — agitprop — but it’s not particularly good history.

To a point, he helped correct mainstream popular conceptions of American history that were highly biased. But he ceased writing serious history. He had a very simplified view that everyone who was president was always a stinker and every left-winger was always great.

But other historians are much more sympathetic to Zinn. Eric Foner, who is described by one reviewer as the “sainted PC commissar for US history and Reconstruction fabulist” is, like Zinn, an academic radical activist. Foner says about Zinn:

The idea that historians have to be neutral about everything they study is the death of history. Every historian has beliefs and feelings about what they’re studying. Howard made them very explicit. The teachers you remember are the ones with a passion for history who made it clear what they thought. They were not polemicists. They respected the canons of historical scholarship, as Zinn did, but they cared deeply.

Well, I’m not sure how much Zinn respected the canons of scholarship in creating what one commentor called an “eternal struggle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.” The print version of the Times op-ed provides some quotations from Zinn’s work A People’s History of the United States. The Western culture = evil, native peoples = good theme is obvious. Europe of the Renaissance was “dominated … by the religion of the popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western Civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.” The natives, on the other hand, are all about hospitality and sharing, and they have no concept of war. (Imagine the horror if someone made blanket assertions about Jews as having a frenzy for money.)

As an evolutionist, the idea that Western culture is uniquely evil is ridiculous, but the idea that it is uniquely evil has been common among Jewish intellectual activists, most notably the Boasian anthropologists. As I noted in The Culture of Critique,

one consequence of the triumph of the Boasians was that there was almost no research on warfare and violence among the peoples studied by anthropologists (Keegan 1993, 90–94). Warfare and warriors were ignored, and cultures were conceived as consisting of myth-makers and gift-givers [or, as hospitable, loving, and sharing people, as Zinn would have it]. (Orans [1996, 120] shows that Mead systematically ignored cases of rape, violence, revolution, and competition in her account of Samoa.) Only five articles on the anthropology of war appeared during the 1950s. Revealingly, when Harry Turney-High published his volume Primitive Warfarein 1949 documenting the universality of warfare and its oftentimes awesome savagery, the book was completely ignored by the anthropological profession—another example of the exclusionary tactics used against dissenters among the Boasians and characteristic of the other intellectual movements reviewed in this volume as well. Turney-High’s massive data on non-Western peoples conflicted with the image of them favored by a highly politicized profession whose members simply excluded these data entirely from intellectual discourse. The result was a “pacified past” (Keeley 1996, 163ff) and an “attitude of self-reproach” (p. 179) in which the behavior of primitive peoples was bowdlerized while the behavior of European peoples was not only excoriated as uniquely evil but also as responsible for all extant examples of warfare among primitive peoples. From this perspective, it is only the fundamental inadequacy of European culture that prevents an idyllic world free from between-group conflict. 

The reality, of course, is far different. Warfare was and remains a recurrent phenomenon among prestate societies. Surveys indicate over 90 percent of societies engage in warfare, the great majority engaging in military activities at least once per year (Keeley 1996, 27–32). Moreover, “whenever modern humans appear on the scene, definitive evidence of homicidal violence becomes more common, given a sufficient number of burials (Keeley 1996, 37). Because of its frequency and the seriousness of its consequences, primitive warfare was more deadly than civilized warfare. Most adult males in primitive and prehistoric societies engaged in warfare and “saw combat repeatedly in a lifetime” (Keeley, 1996, 174).

Howard Zinn was obviously in this tradition. But because he plugged into the anti-Western zeitgeist of the academic left, he had a long and happy career at Boston University — untroubled by student activists trying to get him fired.

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Kevin MacDonald: Minnesota's German Studies Disaster

Kevin MacDonald: My fate in life is to work at a university. What that means right now is to be completely immersed in the culture of the left. Trudie Pert’s current TOO article shows that in the humanities right now it’s all about queer theory and the Frankfurt School, with supporting roles for psychoanalysis and Marxism. Prof. Ruth Joeres describes her course:

In this course the contributions of ‘German’ women of ethnic heritage such as Afro-German, Turkish-German, Japanese-German women are studied. What does it mean to be called, ‘German”? 

We can guess that it has nothing to do with being ethnically German. In the eyes of these people, Germany too has doubtless become yet another proposition society.

And then there’s professor Morris (Moskowitz) and her idea that fraudulent Holocaust memoirs are to be preferred to the real thing because they are more moving. (Why does a Jewish activist in a department of Jewish/German Studies use a non-Jewish sounding name? I can understand why Jewish communists did it in the 1930s or post-WWII Eastern Europe, but why now?) And Prof. Zipes and his campaign to  the minds of young children. My favorite title: Down with Heidi, Down with Struwelpeter: Three Cheers for the Revolution: Towards A New Socialist Children’s Literature in West Germany.” In other words, down with every vestige of traditional German culture. 

The academic food chain is starkly obvious here. Pert notes that the professors at Minnesota received their doctorates at elite Eastern universities, and their students will staff the second-level colleges, universities, and K-12 schools throughout the mid-West. It’s a top-down system, with zombie-like grad students emerging to carry on the revolution of the left at the lower levels of the educational system.

What’s striking is that Jews and other non-Europeans wear their ethnic identity and sense of victimhood proudly and explicitly. The Whites typically have their own sense of victimhood — as gays or as women. In my experience, the heterosexual White males become adept at effusive expressions of guilt in order to be accepted into the system. In this culture of victimhood, all the rewards go to those who make alliances with other victims.

It’s easy enough intellectually to point out that gays and women have ethnic interests too, and that White identity and interests are entirely legitimate. But getting academics to think and act on that basis means disrupting mutually reinforcing networks where all the rewards come from allying oneself with the culture of victimhood.

And it means that real change must start at the top of the academic food chain. In the social sciences, one clings to a hope that this could happen because there is still a scientific tradition with some power. But in the humanities, it’s a lost cause. The triumvirate of the Frankfurt School, psychoanalysis, and Marxism is impervious to scientific findings and is intensely political; it will strenuously resist significant change. The revolution will have to happen without a very large part of the educational system.

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Wilhelm Marr’s The Victory of Judaism over Germanism: Viewed from a Nonreligious Point of View

I decided to mention current TOO articles in the blog as a general policy, thereby facilitating discussion in this forum. I just posted an article based on a recent English translation of the 1879 edition of Wilhelm Marr’s  The Victory of Judaism over Germanism: Viewed from a Nonreligious Point of View. My article attempts to hit the high points of Marr’s presentation, with a bit of commentary thrown in. Marr’s pamphlet is a provocative and prophetic read.

Wilhelm Marr

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Martin Webster: Fabrication published by the London Times

Martin Webster: In my recent TOO article Is there a revolt against the Israel Lobby brewing in Britain?” I noted that The Times (London), like all of Rupert Murdoch’s media properties, had become a mouthpiece for Zionism. The Times editor, Richard Harding, is Jewish and a strong Zionist, as is his assistant editor and chief leader-writer Danny Finkelstein, as is his chief political columnist David Aaronovitch, as are a large and increasing number of his editorial staff in all departments and at all grades. Finkelstein, Aaronovitch and other Times journalists write guest columns in the Jewish Chronicle, while the JC‘s editor Stephen Pollard often writes a column in The Times. (See Kevin MacDonald’s blog on a particularly loathsome article by Pollard published recently in The Times.)

It’s a wonder the two papers don’t merge.

It’s therefore not surprising that on December 14 The Times published an article (“Secret document exposes Iran’s nuclear trigger“) on an Iranian report describing plannedwork on a “neutron initiator” for an atomic weaponhead. The article asserts that “independent experts confirm [the neutron initiator] has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon.” Former CIA official Philip Giraldi now claims based on his sources in the US intelligence community that US intelligence has determined that the report is a  fabrication, most likely by Israeli intelligence. Giraldi notes that “The Rupert Murdoch chain has been used extensively to publish false intelligence from the Israelis and occasionally from the British government.”  

The article goes on to note that The Times is part of a Murdoch publishing empire that includes the Sunday Times, Fox News and the New York Post. All Murdoch-owned news media report on Iran with an aggressively pro-Israeli slant.”

The publication achieved its intended aim: “The story of the purported Iranian document prompted a new round of expressions of U.S. and European support for tougher sanctions against Iran and reminders of Israel’s threats to attack Iranian nuclear programme targets if diplomacy fails.”

US intelligence has not made any pronouncements on the authenticity of the document despite its being out for more than a year. Interestingly “foreign intelligence sources” (presumably Israel) dated the document to early 2007. The article suggests this dating was motivated by an attempt to  “discredit the U.S. intelligence community’s November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Iran had discontinued unidentified work on nuclear weapons and had not resumed it as of the time of the estimate.”

One can only imagine the intense pressure on US intelligence not to release its findings if they do in fact implicate Israel — and its willing minions in the media.

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