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TOQ-Kevin MacDonald-Understanding Jewish Influence-Vol 3 No 2
Understanding Jewish Influence I:
Background Traits for Jewish Activism
Kevin MacDonald
Beginning in the ancient world, Jewish populations have repeatedly attained a position of power and
influence within Western societies. I will discuss Jewish background traits conducive to influence:
ethnocentrism, intelligence and wealth, psychological intensity, aggressiveness, with most of the focus on
ethnocentrism. I discuss Jewish ethnocentrism in its historical, anthropological, and evolutionary context
and in its relation to three critical psychological processes: moral particularism, self-deception, and the
powerful Jewish tendency to coalesce into exclusionary, authoritarian groups under conditions of
perceived threat.
Jewish populations have always had enormous effects on the societies in which they reside because of several
qualities that are central to Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy: First and foremost, Jews are ethnocentric
and able to cooperate in highly organized, cohesive, and effective groups. Also important is high intelligence,
including the usefulness of intelligence in attaining wealth, prominence in the media, and eminence in the
academic world and the legal profession. I will also discuss two other qualities that have received less attention:
psychological intensity and aggressiveness.
The four background traits of ethnocentrism, intelligence, psychological intensity, and aggressiveness result in
Jews being able to produce formidable, effective groups—groups able to have powerful, transformative effects
on the peoples they live among. In the modern world, these traits influence the academic world and the world of
mainstream and elite media, thus amplifying Jewish effectiveness compared with traditional societies. However,
Jews have repeatedly become an elite and powerful group in societies in which they reside in sufficient
numbers. It is remarkable that Jews, usually as a tiny minority, have been central to a long list of historical
events. Jews were much on the mind of the Church Fathers in the fourth century during the formative years of
Christian dominance in the West. Indeed, I have proposed that the powerful anti-Jewish attitudes and legislation
of the fourth-century Church must be understood as a defensive reaction against Jewish economic power and
enslavement of non-Jews. 1 Jews who had nominally converted to Christianity but maintained their ethnic ties in
marriage and commerce were the focus of the 250-year Inquisition in Spain, Portugal, and the Spanish colonies
in the New World. Fundamentally, the Inquisition should be seen as a defensive reaction to the economic and
political domination of these “New Christians.” 2
Jews have also been central to all the important events of the twentieth century. Jews were a necessary
component of the Bolshevik revolution that created the Soviet Union, and they remained an elite group in the
Soviet Union until at least the post-World War II era. They were an important focus of National Socialism in
Germany, and they have been prime movers of the post-1965 cultural and ethnic revolution in the United States,
including the encouragement of massive non-white immigration to countries of European origins. 3 In the
contemporary world, organized American Jewish lobbying groups and deeply committed Jews in the Bush
administration and the media are behind the pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy that is leading to war against virtually
the entire Arab world.
How can such a tiny minority have such huge effects on the history of the West? This article is the first of a
three-part series on Jewish influence which seeks to answer that question. This first paper in the series provides
an introduction to Jewish ethnocentrism and other background traits that influence Jewish success. The second
article discusses Zionism as the quintessential example of twentieth-century Jewish ethnocentrism and as an
example of a highly influential Jewish intellectual/political movement. A broader aim will be to discuss a
generalization about Jewish history: that in the long run the more extreme elements of the Jewish community
win out and determine the direction of the entire group. As Jonathan Sacks points out, it is the committed
core—made up now especially of highly influential and vigorous Jewish activist organizations in the United
States and hypernationalist elements in Israel—that determines the future direction of the community. 4 The third
and final article will discuss neoconservatism as a Jewish intellectual and political movement. Although I
touched on neoconservatism in my trilogy on Jews, 5 the present influence of this movement on U.S. foreign
policy necessitates a much fuller treatment.
Figure 1: Understanding Jewish Activism
Figure 1 provides an overview of the sources of Jewish influence. The four background traits—discussed in more
detail below—are ethnocentrism, intelligence, psychological intensity, and aggressiveness. These traits are seen
as underlying Jewish success in producing focused, effective groups able to influence the political process and
the wider culture. In the modern world, Jewish influence on politics and culture is channeled through the media
and through elite academic institutions into an almost bewildering array of areas—far too many to consider here.
I. Jews are Hyperethnocentric
Elsewhere I have argued that Jewish hyperethnocentrism can be traced back to their Middle Eastern origins. 6
Traditional Jewish culture has a number of features identifying Jews with the ancestral cultures of the area. The
most important of these is that Jews and other Middle Eastern cultures evolved under circumstances that
favored large groups dominated by males. 7 These groups were basically extended families with high levels of
endogamy (i.e., marriage within the kinship group) and consanguineous marriage (i.e., marriage to blood
relatives), including the uncle-niece marriage sanctioned in the Old Testament. These features are exactly the
opposite of Western European tendencies (See Table 1). 8
Table 1: Contrasts between European and Jewish Cultural Forms.
European Cultural Origins
Jewish Cultural Origins
Evolutionary History
Northern Hunter-Gatherers
Middle Old World
Pastoralists (Herders)
Kinship System
Weakly Patricentric
Strongly Patricentric
Family System
Simple Household;
Extended Family;
Joint Household
Marriage Practices
Marriage Psychology
Companionate; Based on Mutual
Consent and Affection
Utilitarian; Based on
Family Strategizing and
Control of Kinship Group
Position of Women
Relatively High
Relatively Low
Social Structure
Charismatic Leaders
Relatively Low
Relatively High; "Hyper-
Relatively Low
Relatively High; "Hyper-
Stresses Independence,
Stresses Ingroup
Identification, Obligations
to Kinship Group
Intellectual Stance
Dogmatism; Submission to
Ingroup Authority and
Charismatic Leaders
Moral Stance
Moral Universalism:
Morality Is Independent of
Group Affiliation
Moral Particularism;
Ingroup/Outgroup Morality;
"Good is what is good for the Jews"
Whereas Western societies tend toward individualism, the basic Jewish cultural form is collectivism, in which
there is a strong sense of group identity and group boundaries. Middle Eastern societies are characterized by
anthropologists as “segmentary societies” organized into relatively impermeable, kinship-based groups. 9 Group
boundaries are often reinforced through external markers such as hair style or clothing, as Jews have often done
throughout their history. Different groups settle in different areas where they retain their homogeneity alongside
other homogeneous groups, as illustrated by the following account from Carleton Coon:
There the ideal was to emphasize not the uniformity of the citizens of a country as a whole but a
uniformity within each special segment, and the greatest possible contrast between segments. The
members of each ethnic unit feel the need to identify themselves by some configuration of symbols. If by
virtue of their history they possess some racial peculiarity, this they will enhance by special haircuts and
the like; in any case they will wear distinctive garments and behave in a distinctive fashion. 10
These societies are by no means blissful paradises of multiculturalism. Between-group conflict often lurks just
beneath the surface. For example, in nineteenth-century Turkey, Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived in a sort
of superficial harmony, and even inhabited the same areas, “but the slightest spark sufficed to ignite the fuse.” 11
Jews are at the extreme of this Middle Eastern tendency toward hypercollectivism and hyperethnocentrism. I
give many examples of Jewish hyperethnocentrism in my trilogy on Judaism and have suggested in several
places that Jewish hyperethnocentrism is biologically based. 12 Middle Eastern ethnocentrism and fanaticism has
struck a good many people as extreme, including William Hamilton, perhaps the most important evolutionary
biologist of the twentieth century. Hamilton writes:
I am sure I am not the first to have wondered what it is about that part of the world that feeds such diverse
and intense senses of rectitude as has created three of the worlds’ most persuasive and yet most divisive
and mutually incompatible religions. It is hard to discern the root in the place where I usually look for
roots of our strong emotions, the part deepest in us, our biology and evolution. 13
Referring to my first two books on Judaism, Hamilton then notes that “even a recent treatise on this subject,
much as I agree with its general theme, seems to me hardly to reach to this point of the discussion.” If I failed to
go far enough in describing or analyzing Jewish ethnocentrism, it is perhaps because the subject seems almost
mind-bogglingly deep, with psychological ramifications everywhere. As a pan-humanist, Hamilton was acutely
aware of the ramifications of human ethnocentrism and especially of the Jewish variety. Likening Judaism to
the creation of a new human species, Hamilton noted that
from a humanist point of view, were those "species" the Martian thought to see in the towns and villages a
millennium or so ago a good thing? Should we have let their crystals grow; do we retrospectively approve
them? As by growth in numbers by land annexation, by the heroizing of a recent mass murderer of Arabs
[i.e., Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Arabs, including children, at the Patriarch’s Cave in Hebron in
1994], and by the honorific burial accorded to a publishing magnate [Robert Maxwell], who had enriched
Israel partly by his swindling of his employees, most of them certainly not Jews, some Israelis seem to
favour a "racewise" and unrestrained competition, just as did the ancient Israelites and Nazi Germans. In
proportion to the size of the country and the degree to which the eyes of the world are watching, the acts
themselves that betray this trend of reversion from panhumanism may seem small as yet, but the spirit
behind them, to this observer, seems virtually identical to trends that have long predated them both in
humans and animals. 14
A good start for thinking about Jewish ethnocentrism is the work of Israel Shahak, most notably his co-authored
Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel . 15 Present-day fundamentalists attempt to re-create the life of Jewish
communities before the Enlightenment (i.e., prior to about 1750). During this period the great majority of Jews
believed in Cabbala—Jewish mysticism. Influential Jewish scholars like Gershom Scholem ignored the obvious
racialist, exclusivist material in the Cabbala by using words like “men,” “human beings,” and “cosmic” to suggest
the Cabbala has a universalist message. The actual text says salvation is only for Jews, while non-Jews have
“Satanic souls.” 16
The ethnocentrism apparent in such statements was not only the norm in traditional Jewish society, but remains
a powerful current of contemporary Jewish fundamentalism, with important implications for Israeli politics. For
example, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, describing the difference between Jews
and non-Jews:
We do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather we have
a case of…a totally different species…. The body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from
the body of [members] of all nations of the world…. The difference of the inner quality [of the body]…is so
great that the bodies would be considered as completely different species. This is the reason why the
Talmud states that there is an halachic difference in attitude about the bodies of non-Jews [as opposed to
the bodies of Jews]: “their bodies are in vain”…. An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul.
Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish
soul stems from holiness. 17
This claim of Jewish uniqueness echoes Holocaust activist Elie Wiesel’s claim that “everything about us is
different.” Jews are “ontologically” exceptional. 18
The Gush Emunim and other Jewish fundamentalist sects described by Shahak and Mezvinsky are thus part of a
long mainstream Jewish tradition which considers Jews and non-Jews completely different species, with Jews
absolutely superior to non-Jews and subject to a radically different moral code. Moral universalism is thus
antithetical to the Jewish tradition in which the survival and interests of the Jewish people are the most
important ethical goal:
Many Jews, especially religious Jews today in Israel and their supporters abroad, continue to adhere to
traditional Jewish ethics that other Jews would like to ignore or explain away. For example, Rabbi Yitzhak
Ginzburg of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus/Shechem, after several of his students were remanded on suspicion
of murdering a teenage Arab girl: “Jewish blood is not the same as the blood of a goy.” Rabbi Ido Elba:
“According to the Torah, we are in a situation of pikuah nefesh (saving a life) in time of war, and in such a
situation one may kill any Gentile.” Rabbi Yisrael Ariel writes in 1982 that “Beirut is part of the Land of
Israel. [This is a reference to the boundaries of Israel as stated in the Covenant between God and Abraham
in Genesis 15: 18–20 and Joshua 1 3–4]…our leaders should have entered Lebanon and Beirut without
hesitation, and killed every single one of them. Not a memory should have remained.” It is usually yeshiva
students who chant “Death to the Arabs” on CNN. The stealing and corruption by religious leaders that has
recently been documented in trials in Israel and abroad continues to raise the question of the relationship
between Judaism and ethics. 19
Moral particularism in its most aggressive form can be seen among the ultranationalists, such as the Gush
Emunim, who hold that
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