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Tag: Marxism

Summarizing Descent

Marxism, despite its best efforts, is a mega-structure of ‘social constructs’, it is the tenets of Communism implanted onto culture and human interaction and is the source of the modern ‘social justice’ movement prevalent among youths and in universities.

Originally published at Sigurd-Strong

Liberal society strives for equality in all social and political areas, but fails itself in the economic department, though democratic governments practice welfare systems and equality in regards to work and education opportunities, it continually fails to practice true equality within economics. So although liberal society practices ‘Cultural Marxism’, it fails to put into practice the natural (historical) conclusion to the question of economic ‘equality’, which is Communism. Communism is an economic system rather than a political system – modern liberals seem to believe that economics will solve all problems within society, the redistribution of wealth, the levelling of material possession and the stripping of old concepts of (racial and social) superiority will cease conflict and ensure the abstract idea of equal human rights. It is true that communism does in fact strip the individual of his identity; it removes the natural element of competition and makes each man indistinguishable from the next, ultimately unveiling a sort of democratic totalitarianism – and if the isolated man has no rights (Rougier) until relationships are created, then the people under communism, as interchangeable outlines of men certainly have no ‘rights’. 

Marxism, despite its best efforts, is a mega-structure of ‘social constructs’, it is the tenets of Communism implanted onto culture and human interaction and is the source of the modern ‘social justice’ movement prevalent among youths and in universities. The focal points are that gender and race are constructs built to discriminatorily divide people and every person ‘deserves’ universal human rights (which contrarily is not a social construct). This process of unblinking despotism succeeds through firstly encouraging one to willingly throw off one’s oh so oppressive, presumptuous characteristics and either acquires new vetted titles or else entirely denies nationality, race, gender etc. Unfortunately these advocators are misty eyed over ‘equality’ and cannot see the ‘double-think’ for the teetering manipulation of words – “we are all the same, but different”.

So how do you convince a young person to throw off their identity? You baffle them with biased history lessons and sentimental ideas. You lead them to believe that their natural attributes are a representation of historical persecution (i.e. all white males were slave traders), so upon this illogical guilt they attempt to align themselves with the ‘persecuted’ by putting themselves in an ‘oppressed minority’ or as we’ve suggested, denying themselves, this then rids them of their guilt. ‘Oppressed minorities’ i.e. women, then convince themselves that they need to rid themselves of the memories of their collective oppression, i.e. femininity, which is a relic of the past –equally, men who’ve adopted this neurosis, rid themselves of masculinity which again is a reminder of patriarchy and the pattern continues. Their behaviour is self-destructive, akin to caged animals, performing obscenities in affront to their ‘persecutors’.

Alienating the individual is not nearly enough, however. The ‘diversity through homogeny’ stint must permeate all institutions, in every group imaginable – political, social, cultural is the apparent need for a universal attitude within (the group) regardless of its aim. It must allow representatives from every category; every gender, race, age and religion must be heard and represented. Exclusivity, pride and success are sins which create resentment, instead of dealing with conflict the natural way – division (tribal and national) or competition, we insist that that is wrong but what is more humane is making the two agitators more alike, and then surely they will cease fighting?

It’s widely believed that Judaism and its sequel Christianity are the progenitors of egalitarian thought and ‘human rights’ since ‘all men are equal under God’. The modern distaste for competition and pride, and the seemingly impossible task of accepting a plurality of truths, or rather ideas as well as the thinning integrity of borders (globalisation) is evidence enough that liberal ideas stem from the universalism of these Asiatic religions. To reverse to a time when these thought structures were not neatly entrenched, we’d end up at our pre-Christian ancestors who worshipped a pantheon of gods and spirits and competition and pride was at the centre of culture. Victory was its own justification and life was sacred for its ephemeral nature and not clung to, to the detriment of growth.

So this simplified explanation of Cultural Marxism aims to enlighten the individual, who finds the communistic ideas appealing on a superficial level, because ‘equality’ is an obvious truth in a society that revolves around money. When money and equality are synonymous, we have the growth of global trade and larger bodies of power to oversee it. We have Westerners involving themselves with ‘less’ civilised parts of the world to spread the truth (spot the Christianity again!). What is the result? Large corporations who own a complete trade where the cogs are paid little and the product is equally cheap, this causes the deterioration of local industry and ambition. This makes it increasingly difficult for people to own their own businesses, houses etc. This is where Cultural Marxism and Economic Marxism cease mirroring each other and actually meet to form all-inclusive Communism. There is no middle ground on the path we are on, because in the society that values ‘progress’ over sustenance (and tradition), there will reach a pinnacle of extremism.

Communism does not see the individual, you are interchangeable, replaceable and therefore your national identity matters little, your national identity encourages exclusivity which is detrimental to the growth of global economy. Your countrymen could be easily replaced or mixed with that of another, and the cogs would continue. There is no place for ‘aiming higher’, the schooling system and therefore public expectations are lowered to accommodate the lowest common denominator, the message is uniformity masquerading as tolerance and equality.

Your best form of defence is quite simply to value your national identity, your local community and its smaller businesses. Cultural Marxism is the process of willing Communism – so revolt against it by embracing tradition and your natural identity, changing your priorities from the materialism that sedates you to your innate spirituality. Enhance your self-esteem, not by demanding others opinions accommodate yours, but by arming yourself with intellectual and physical strength. What is popular is rarely there to inspire success, cultural Marxism is not a system of elevation but of degradation, encouraging the belief that self-destruction and lewd behaviour is ‘empowering’, in open revolt against healthy tradition.

Support true identity, not the merging and watering down of it.

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The Fourth Estate

The concept of the “middle class” is crucial for the liberal-capitalist ideology. Although it appeared later than the Marxist theory of class struggle and the famous communist doctrine of the two antagonistic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the very meaning of the term “middle class” has a much longer history and has its roots in the period of bourgeois revolutions and the rise of the Third Estate, which claimed henceforth a monopoly in political and economic spheres. 

 

The History and Meaning of the Middle Class


Science and Ideology: A Problem of Method

None of the words we use in the course of social and political discussions and analyses is ideologically neutral. Outside of ideology entirely, such words lose their meaning. And it is not possible to determine one’s attitude toward them unambiguously, since the content of any expression is shaped by context and semantic structures, a kind of operational system. When we live in a society with an obvious ideology, openly maintained as the dominant one, things are clear enough.

The significance of words flows directly from the ideological matrix, which is instilled through upbringing, education, and instruction and is supported by the active ideological apparatus of the state. The state forms a language, defines the meaning of discourse, and sets—most often through repressive measures, broadly understood—the limits and moral tint of the basic collection of political and sociological concepts and terms.

If we lived in a society in which communist ideology dominates, concepts such as “bourgeoisie,” “fascism,” “capitalism,” “speculation,” etc. acquire not only strictly negative connotations but specific meanings, with which capitalists, fascists, and speculators would categorically disagree. The disagreement concerns not only signs, but the very significance of words. The way a communist sees a fascist, or a capitalist seems to the fascist, might seem to a different party to be little more than a caricature or a distortion. And this, of course, works the other way around: fascism seems natural to the fascist, and communism, utterly evil.

For a capitalist, communism and fascism are equally evil. The capitalist most often does not think of himself as bourgeois. Speculation is for him a form of the realization of natural economic rights, and the system he defends he usually regards as a “free” society, an “open” society. Neither the Marxist analysis of the appropriation of surplus value, nor the fascist critique of the web of interest obligations and payments, and the international financial oligarchy, which usurps power over peoples and nations, ever convince him of anything.

Ideologies are similar to religions; hence Carl Schmitt speaks of “political theology.” Each believes sacredly in his own values and ideals, and criticism of or apology for alternative values most often has no effect (except for a few cases of confessional change, which occurs in the history of religion and in the history of political teachings).

Consequently, before speaking seriously about one or another term, it is necessary to determine in which ideological context we will be considering it. Someone will surely object: science must take a neutral position. That is impossible. In this case, science would pretend to the status of a meta-ideology, i.e. a kind of “true ideology,” of which all other ideologies are relative forms. But nobody will agree with this, even it should come into someone’s head to flaunt such ambitions.

In the religious sphere, syncretic teachings periodically arise, claiming that they are the expression of “absolute truth” and that all other historical religions are its relative manifestations. But as a rule, such tendencies do not enjoy great popularity, remaining the property of rather small circles and denied by major confessions as “heresies.” Science, likewise, cannot claim the status of a meta-ideology and remain relevant. But it differs from ordinary ideology by three features:

  1. It reflects distinctly upon the structures of the ideological paradigm it considers. (Ordinary people do not even suspect that what seems to them their “personal opinion” is a secondary or even tertiary product of ideological processing, the mechanisms of which are entirely hidden from them.)
  2. In the course of analysis of ideological discourse, it uses the techniques of classical logic (Aristotle’s laws and Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason).
  3. It is able to build a comparative matrix of the correspondences between diverse ideologies, juxtaposing structures in their foundations and establishing symmetries and oppositions between separate discourses and their elements.

Thus, in considering any concept or term, it is possible to proceed in two ways: either to interpret it from the position of one or another ideology, not digging into its foundations and not comparing it with other interpretations (this is the level of propaganda and low-quality applied analysis/journalism), or to attend to the scientific method, which does not free us from adherence to an ideology, but forces us to reason, observing the three above-mentioned rules of the scientific approach (paradigm, logic, comparison).

We propose to consider the concept of the “middle class” in precisely this scientific spirit.

From Caste to Class

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (15th century) Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (15th century)

The concept of the “middle class” is crucial for the liberal-capitalist ideology. Although it appeared later than the Marxist theory of class struggle and the famous communist doctrine of the two antagonistic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the very meaning of the term “middle class” has a much longer history and has its roots in the period of bourgeois revolutions and the rise of the Third Estate, which claimed henceforth a monopoly in political and economic spheres.

Before considering the “middle class,” let’s turn to the concept of “class” as such. Class is a concept of the social organization of modernity. Ancient orders and social-political systems were built on the caste principle. “Caste” should be understood as the doctrine that the inner nature of different people differs qualitatively: there are divine souls and earthly (feral, demonic) souls. The caste reflects precisely this nature of the soul, which man is not able to change during his life. The caste is fatal. The normal society, according to this conception, must be built so that those of a divine nature (the elite) are above, and those of an earthly (feral, demonic) nature remain below (the masses). That is how the Indian Varna system is arranged, as were ancient Jewish, Babylonian, Egyptian, and other societies.

This caste theory was replaced by a more flexible estate theory. The estate also proposes a difference in people’s natures (the existence of higher and lower), but here the fact of birth in one or another estate is not considered a final and natural factor in the determination of belonging to a certain social status. Estate can be changed if the representative of a lower estate accomplishes a great feat, demonstrates unique spiritual qualities, becomes a member of the priesthood, etc.

Here, alongside the caste principle, is the principle of meritocracy, that is, rewards for services. The meritocratic principle extends also to the descendants of the one who accomplished the feat (ennobling). Estate society was predominant in Christian civilization right to the end of the Middle Ages. In estate society, the highest estates are the priesthood (clergy) and the military (aristocracy), and the lowest is the Third Estate of peasants and craftsmen. Precisely the same way, in a caste society, priests and warriors (Brahma and Kshatriya) were highest, and lowest were peasants, artisans, and traders (Vaishya).

Modernity became the era of the overthrow of estate society. Europe’s bourgeois revolutions demanded a replacement of the estate privileges of the higher estates (the clergy and the military aristocracy, the nobility) in favor of the Third Estate. But the bearers of this ideology were not the peasants, who were connected with traditional society by the specific character of seasonal labour, religious identity, etc., but the more mobile townspeople and burghers. “Bourgeois” is itself formed from the German word “Burg” meaning “town.” Hence, modernity gave first priority to precisely the townsfolk-citizen-bourgeois as a normative unit.

The bourgeois revolutions abolished the power of the Church (clergy) and aristocracy (nobility, dynasties) and advanced the model of building society on the basis of the domination of the Third Estate, represented by the townsfolk-citizen-bourgeois. This is, essentially, capitalism. Capitalism, in its victory, replaces estate distinctions, but preserves material ones. Thus, the notion of class arises: class signifies an indicator of the measure of inequality. The bourgeoisie abolish estate inequality, but preserve material inequality. Consequently, precisely modernity’s bourgeois capitalistic society is a class society in the full sense of the word. Previously, in the Middle Ages, belonging to an estate was one’s primary social attribute. In modernity, the entire social stratification was reduced to the attribute of material riches. Class is thus a phenomenon of modernity.

Class War

Georg Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun (1926) Georg Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun (1926)

The class character of bourgeois society, however, was perceived most distinctly not by the ideology of the bourgeoisie, but by Marx. He elaborated his revolutionary teaching on the basis of the concept of class. At its foundation was the idea that class society and the material inequality characteristic of it, elevated to the highest criterion, exposes the essence of the nature of society, man, and history. In Marx’s class picture, there are always rich and poor, and the rich always get richer, and the poor, poorer. Consequently, there are two classes, the bourgeoisie and proletariat, and their struggle is the motor and meaning of history.

All of Marxism is built on this idea: when we speak of classes, we speak of two antagonistic classes, the difference between which is not relative but absolute, since each embodies in itself two irreconcilable worlds: the world of Exploitation and the world of (honest) Labor. There are two classes: the class of Labor (the proletariat) and the class of Exploitation (the bourgeoisie). In the capitalist system, the class of Exploitation dominates. The class of Labor must become conscious of itself, arise, and overthrow the class of Exploiters. They must create, at first, the Government of Labor—socialism. Then, after the last remnants of bourgeois society have been destroyed, communist society will appear, now fully classless. According to Marx, a classlessness is possible only after the victory of the proletariat and the radical destruction of the bourgeoisie.

For Marx, a “middle class” simply cannot exist. This concept has no independent semantics in Marxist ideology, since everything that is between the bourgeoisie and proletariat (for instance, the petty bourgeoisie or prosperous peasantry) relates essentially either to the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. For Marxists, the “middle class” is a fiction. It doesn’t exist, and the concept itself is nothing but an instrument of the ideological propaganda of capitalists, trying to fool the proletariat, promising a future integration into the class of the bourgeoisie (which, according to Marx, cannot happen, since the appropriation of surplus value prevents the proletariat’s enrichment).

We can draw the following conclusion: the term “middle class” is a fiction for Marxists, an artificial figure of bourgeois ideology, called upon to conceal the real picture of society and the processes occurring in it. At the same time, Marxists admit the fact of a transition from estate society to class society and, consequently, agree with the bourgeoisie that a society of material inequalities (class society) is “more progressive” than a society of estate inequality; they disagree with the bourgeoisie in that, for communists, this is not the “end of history,” but only the beginning of a full-fledged revolutionary struggle. Liberals, on the other hand, insist that material inequality is entirely moral and justified and maintain that the communists’ striving for material equality is, by contrast, amoral and pathological. For liberals, “the end of history” begins when everyone becomes “middle class.” For communists, it begins when the proletariat finally destroy the bourgeoisie and build a communist society of total equality.

The Middle Class within Liberalism

The concept of a middle class is implicitly present in liberal ideology from the very beginning. That said, it only receives full implementation in the course of the establishment of sociology, which endeavors to combine many avant-garde theses of Marxism (in particular, the centrality of the concept of class) and bourgeois conditions. Sociology is thus a hybrid form: ideologically, it is between communism and liberalism; methodologically, it emphasizes a scientific, analytic approach. We can distinguish two poles in sociology, the social (the school of Durkheim, the theories of Sorokin, etc.) and the liberal (Weber, the Chicago and “Austrian” Schools in the United States, etc.)

In any case, the specific character of the liberal understanding of class is the conviction that, in the standard bourgeois society, there is only one class, and all differences between the depths and the heights are relative and conditional. If, for Marx, there are always two classes, and they exist in implacable enmity, for liberals (Adam Smith, for instance) there is always ultimately one class—the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie nominally embraces the entire capitalist society. The poorest layers of this society are, as it were, incompletely bourgeois. The richest, on the other hand, area super-bourgeois. But the social nature of all people is qualitatively identical: all are given equal starting opportunities, setting out from which the bourgeois can either reach a certain level of success, or fail to reach it and tumble down into the incompletely bourgeois.

Hence, Adam Smith takes as a standard situation the following classical liberal narrative:

The baker hires a worker, who has recently come to the city for work. After working as an assistant to the owner, the hired worker learns to bake bread and observes the organization of processes of interaction with suppliers and customers. After some time, the hired worker borrows credit and opens a bakery. After first working independently, he eventually hires a helper, who has come to the city for work, and the cycle repeats itself.

In this model, we see the following. Not only is society thought of as middle class, but there exists the already-middle-class and the not-yet-middle-class. In this picture, the hired worker does not form a peculiar type, but represents the potentially bourgeois, while the ready baker is actually bourgeois (though even he, coming to ruin, can theoretically be in the position again of the hired worker, the not-yet-bourgeois).

According to Marx, the quantity of riches in society is a fixed quantity, and the presence of two classes is based on precisely this: those who have riches will never share them with the poor, since life in capitalist society is a zero-sum game. For Smith, on the other hand, riches constantly increase. As a result, the boundaries of the middle class continuously expand. Capitalism is based on the presumption of the constant growth of riches for all members of society; ideally, all humanity must become middle class.

At the same time, there are two approaches to the middle class in liberal ideology. The first corresponds to left liberals: they demand that the super-bourgeois (the big capitalists) consciously share a part of the profits with the middle class and petty bourgeoisie, since this will lead to the stability of the system and to an acceleration of the growth of the middle class globally.

The second approach is characteristic of right liberals: they object to the burden placed on the super-bourgeoisie by taxation and welfare projects; they believe these contradicts the spirit of “free enterprise” and slows the dynamics of the development of the capitalist system, since the super-bourgeoisie stimulates the growth of the middle-bourgeoisie, which, in turn, urges on the petty bourgeoisie and the not-yet-bourgeoisie.

Accordingly, the concept of the middle class becomes, for left liberals, a moral value and ideological slogan (as in, “We must build a stronger middle class!”). For right liberals, on the other hand, the growth of the middle class is a natural consequence of the development of the capitalist system and does not demand special attention or elevation to a value.

Class as Social Strata in Sociology

In sociology, this basic ideological attitude of liberalism concerning the primacy of the middle class manifests itself in the relativization of the model of stratification. Sociology divides society into three classes: upper, middle, and lower (to this is sometimes added the underclass of pure marginals and social deviants). These classes are not identical to Marxist, nor to strictly liberal class concepts (since liberalism knows only one class, the middle class, while the others are thought of as its variations). This division fixes the dimension of individuals along four indicators: material sufficiency, level of fame, position in administrative hierarchy, and level of education. On the basis of strictly qualitative criteria, any person can be related to one of three social strata.

Here, the concept of class does not have a direct ideological content, but, as a rule, it is applied to bourgeois society, where sociology as a science appeared. This sociological classes, identified with social strata, should be distinguished from Marxist classes and from standard liberal conceptions about the middle class as the universal and single class.

In this case, in a bourgeois framework, the struggle for the rights of the underclass or support of the lower class (in a sociological sense) can be thought of as a left continuation of the liberal approach: attention to the lower layer of bourgeois society stipulates striving to facilitate its integration into the middle class, i.e. to pull them up the level of the bourgeois. For right liberals, such an effort is “amoral,” since it contradicts the main principle of social freedom: initiative and honest competition (the strong win, the weak lose, but such are the rules of the game; all should endeavor to become strong). The extreme version of right or even far-right liberalism is the “objectivism” of Ayn Rand.

The Middle Class and Nationalism

Thomas Hart Benton, Steel in America Today (1930) Thomas Hart Benton, Steel in America Today (1930)

There is one other ideological system of modernity, which we have yet to consider—nationalism. Nationalism is a variation of bourgeois ideology, which insists that the standard horizon of bourgeois society should not be humanity (the “cosmopolitanism” and “globalism” of classical liberals) but society as defined by the borders of a nation-state. The nation or people is taken as the maximal unit of integration. The market is open within the boundaries of the nation. But in the inter-state system, economic activity transitions to the level of the state, not private actors. From here, there arises the legitimization of such instruments as tariffs, protectionism, etc.

Nationalism thinks of the middle class not abstractly but concretely, as the middle class of a given national formation of the state. Nationalism also, like liberalism, accepts as a standard figure of society the townsperson-citizen-bourgeois, but puts the accent precisely on citizen, and what’s more, the citizen of a given national state.

The “nation” as a political formation becomes a synonym of bourgeois society. For nationalists, beyond this society, there exists only a zone of national and social risk. The nation is thought of here as a community of the middle class. And the task consists in integrating the lower layers into the national whole, often with the help of welfare measures. That is why nationalism can possess numerous socialist features, though the ideological basis here is different: pulling the economically weak to the level of the middle class is a task of national integration, not a consequence of orientation towards justice and material equality. We see something similar with left liberals, who consider integrating the under-class into broader society as a condition for the stability of the development of the capitalist system.

Nationalism, as a rule, relates negatively to national minorities and especially to immigrants. This is connected with the fact that in the eyes of nationalists, these elements disturb the homogeneity of the national middle class. Moreover, some national minorities are blamed for concentrating in their hands too much material wealth, in other words, those who challenge the national middle class “from above.” Nationalist feelings of injustice are expressed in antagonism towards “oligarchs” and, often times, as “economic anti-semitism,” a sentiment that was not foreign to Marx himself. In turn, other non-nationals (usually immigrants) are blamed for increasing the numbers of the lower strata and underclass, the integration of which is complicated by national differences. A variant of anti-immigrant nationalism consists in the charge that the increase of cheap labor slows the process of enriching the “native” population and the “harmonious” (for nationalists) growth of the middle class.

The Problem of the Middle Class in Contemporary Russia

After making these necessary methodological refinements, we can finally raise the question: what is the middle class for Russia? What are its prospects? Is it important for us or, on the contrary, are discussions about it optional and secondary?

It is impossible to answer this without turning to one of the three classical ideologies (including the versions contained in each through the polarities of left and right).

If we take the position of right liberalism, the answer is this: we should not pay attention to the middle class; the most important thing is to secure maximum economic freedom (that is, complete removal of government from business, taxes approximating zero, etc.), and everything will fall into place. Right liberals and consistent globalists are convinced that the growth of the middle class in Russia is not the goal; it is a consequence of the nation’s integration into the global economy, the opening of internal markets for external competition, and the prompt dismantling of an overbearing state.

If we take the position of left liberalism, then our attitude changes substantially. The broadening of the middle class is the number one task for our society, since the successful establishment of capitalism in Russia depends on precisely this, as does its integration into the international community. A small and weak middle class facilitates the degradation of society into “lumpens” and “oligarchs” and indirectly helps nationalistic and socialistic anti-liberal tendencies capture the minds of the population. Social injustice and inequality, the volume of the underclass, and the slow growth of the middle class demand special attention and the execution of goal-directed policies, since the fate of capitalism in Russia is at stake. Again, the struggle for the middle class is a slogan of left liberals. And they are the ones who would most likely focus this topic, since it is the core of their ideological positions.

If we are contemporary Marxists by inertia or conscious choice, then any mention of a middle class must evoke our rage, since this is the ideological platform of the sworn enemies of communism—bourgeois liberals. For communists, the following is correct: the narrower the middle class, the sharper the social contradictions and the more acute the imperative of the class struggle of proletariat against bourgeoisie. Thus, the communist perceives a large lower social strata and underclass against the background of prospering oligarchs as the ideal social picture. For communists, the middle class is a lie, an evil, and its absence or underdevelopment is a chance and window of opportunity for revolution. If some “communist” thinks otherwise, then he is not a communist, but a revisionist and compromiser with the bourgeoisie.

If we are nationalists, then the middle class acquires for us an additional dimension. It is thought of as the skeleton of national society in opposition to the “immigrant underclass” and “foreign-born oligarchy.” This is the peculiar notion of the middle class in the nationalist framework. And the cutting edges of this conception of the middle class are directed against oligarchs (the upper class) and immigrants (the lower class and underclass); the middle class itself is regarded as the national class, i.e. as the Russian class, which includes Russian entrepreneurs, Russian proprietors, the Russian bourgeoisie, etc.

It is impossible to speak of the middle class as such, without adhering (consciously or not) to an ideological position. But since in Russia, according to the constitution, there is no state ideology, theoretically we can interpret the middle class however we want. The fact that this concept has become the center of discussions attests to the fact that in contemporary Russia, by the inertia of the ‘90s and early 2000s, a liberal paradigm prevails. In the absence of a state ideology, liberals nevertheless strive to impose on us their paradigm as dominant.

Let’s conduct a thought experiment: a discussion about the middle class is taking place in a socially significant platform, for instance on one of Russia’s major television stations. Representatives of all possible ideologies of modernity are participating: Russian liberals, Russian communists, and Russian nationalists.

The first, a Russian liberals, would say:

The growth of the middle class and elevation of the level of wealth for the citizens of Russia is the main task of our society and government.

The second, a Russian communist:

Illegal privatization in the ‘90s put national property in the hands of oligarchs; look how our people live in the provinces in poverty and squalor!

The third, aRussian nationalists:

Illegal immigrants are taking jobs from Russians, and they’re all led by Jewish and Caucasian oligarchs. That is a catastrophe for the Russian middle class!

Despite the fact that the viewers might like all three positions, the jury and “respected experts” will, undoubtedly, grant victory to the liberals. For ultimately, we still find ourselves in the condition of the ideological dictatorship of liberalism. This would happen despite the fact that society, recognizing the right of liberal discourse, fully and persistently denies its supremacy and absolute right. (In contrast, for the political elite, liberal dogmas remain sacred and unshakeable.)

From this, we can draw a conclusion: the middle class and discussion about it reflect the ideological order of liberals among Russia’s political and economic elite. If we do not share liberal axioms, then we might not consider this topic at all, or else offer an interpretation (Marxist, nationalistic, etc.) that liberals will vigorously reject.

The Fourth Political Theory: Beyond Class

In conclusion, we can conduct an analysis of the middle class in the context of the Fourth Political Theory. This theory is built on the imperative of overcoming modernity and all three political ideologies in order (the order has tremendous significance): (1) liberalism, (2) communism, (3) nationalism (fascism). The subject of this theory, in its simple version, is the concept “narod,”roughly, “Volk” or “people,” in the sense of “peoplehood” and “peoples,” not “masses.”

In its complex version, the subject of this theory is Heidegger’s category of Dasein. We can say, as an approximation, that narod must be thought of existentially, as the living, organic, historical presence of Russians in a qualitative spatial landscape, in the expanses of Great Russia. But if the subject is the narod and not the individual (as in liberalism), not two antagonistic classes (as in Marxism), and not the political nation (as in nationalism), then all the obligatory elements of the modern picture of the world change. There is no longer materialism, economism, recognition of the fatefulness and universality of the bourgeois revolutions, linear time, Western civilization as a universal standard, secularism, human rights, civil society, democracy, the market, or any other axioms and buzzwords of modernity. The Fourth Political Theory proposes solutions and horizons knowingly excluded by liberalism, communism, and nationalism. (More on this is found in my book The Fourth Political Theory and my new book The Fourth Way.)

On the whole, The Fourth Political Theory, when applied to the problem of the “middle class” says the following:

The transition from caste to estate and from estate to class is not a universal law. This process can occur as it did in modern Western Europe, or it can fail to occur or occur partially, as is happening today in non-Western societies. Hence, the very concept of class as applied to society has a limited applicability. Class and classes can be identified in modern Western European societies, but whether they can replace the caste inequality of the soul and human nature is not at all obvious. Western societies themselves are confident that classes do so. But an existential approach to this problematic can call this into question.

The most important thing is how the human relates to death. There are those who can look it in the face, and those who always have their backs turned to it. But the origins of the social hierarchy, the fundamental distinction between people and the superiority of some to others consists in precisely this. Material conditions are not decisive here. Hegel’s interpretation of Master and Slave is based on this criterion. Hegel thinks that the Master is the one who challenges death, who steps out to encounter it. Acting in this way, he does not acquire immortality, but he acquires a Slave, one who runs from death, lacking the courage to look it in the eye. The Master rules in societies where death stands at the center of attention. The Slave acquires political rights only where death is bracketed and removed to the periphery. So long as death remains in society’s field of vision, we are dealing with rule by the wise and heroic, philosophers and warriors. This is caste society or estate society. But not class society. Where class begins, life ends, and the alienated strategies of reification, objectivation, and mediation prevail.

Hence, the Fourth Political Theory thinks that the construction of society on the basis of the criterion of property is a pathology. The fate of man and narod is history and geography—but in no way economics, the market, or competition.

The Fourth Political Theory rejects class as a concept and denies its relevance for the creation of a political system based on the existential understanding of the narod. Even more so does it reject the concept of the “middle class,” which reflects the very essence of the class approach. The middle class, like the middle (that is, average) person, is a social figure situated at the point of maximal social illusion, at the epicenter of slumber. The representative of the middle class corresponds to Heidegger’s figure of das Man, the generalized bearer of “common sense,” which is subject to no verification or examination. (Das Man is often translated into English as “The They,” in the sense of “They say so-and-so will win the election this year…) Das Man is the greatest of illusions.

The middle, average person is not at all the same as the normal person. “Norm” is a synonym for “ideal,” that to which one should strive, that which one should become. The middle person is a person in the least degree, the most ex-individual of individuals, the most null and barren quality. The middle person isn’t a person at all; he is a parody of a person. He is Nietzsche’s “Last Man.” And he is deeply abnormal, since for a normal person, it is natural to experience horror, to think about death, to acutely experience the finitude of being, to call into question—sometimes tragically insoluble—the external world, society, and relations to another.

The middle class doesn’t think; it consumes. It doesn’t live; it seeks security and comfort. It doesn’t die, it blows out like a car tire (it emits its spirit, as Baudrillard wrote in Symbolic Exchange and Death). The middle class is the most stupid, submissive, predictable, cowardly, and pathetic of all classes. It is equally far from the blazing elements of poverty and the perverted poison of incalculable wealth, which is even closer to hell than extreme poverty. The middle class has no ontological foundation for existing at all, and if it does, then only somewhere far below, beneath the rule of the philosopher-kings and warrior-heroes. It is the Third Estate, imagining about itself that it is the one and only. This is an unwarranted pretension. Modernity and capitalism (in the sense of the universality of the middle class) is nothing more than a temporary aberration. The time of this historical misunderstanding is coming to an end.

Thus, today, when the agony of this worst of possible social arrangements still continues, you must look beyond capitalism. At the same time, we must value and take interest in both what preceded it, the Middle Ages, and in that which will come after it and that which we must create—a New Middle Ages.


Translated by Michael Millerman


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The Real May Day

Today we witness the ancient holiday of May Day. On this occasion, I think it is appropriate to recall what May Day is, what it means, and why we need to keep it. 

May Day is traditionally the dead-center of Spring, and it is also the day we celebrate the impending arrival of Summer. It is a joyous time, and the festivities throughout Europe (for this is a celebration particular to the Northern Hemisphere) during the Middle Ages were famed for their gaiety, their special carols, and the general attitude of good will. 

Today we witness the ancient holiday of May Day. On this occasion, I think it is appropriate to recall what May Day is, what it means, and why we need to keep it.

May Day is traditionally the dead-center of Spring, and it is also the day we celebrate the impending arrival of Summer. It is a joyous time, and the festivities throughout Europe (for this is a celebration particular to the Northern Hemisphere) during the Middle Ages were famed for their gaiety, their special carols, and the general attitude of good will.

May Day is commonly known to have something to do with a Pole, the May Pole. People dance around it, and many believe it to be a phallic symbol. Which it is, but more than this, it is a symbol of the Center, like the lingam of Shiva. In Bulgaria, May Day is called Irminden. Irmin comes from the name of an ancient Germanic deity, whose shrine at the Externsteine in Germany was destroyed by Charlemagne. His symbol was a great pole or Tree, bifurcating at the top, with branches curling toward the heavens. This symbol may still be seen in ancient and medieval art, and at the Exernsteine itself. This tree is Irminsul, and it represented the World Tree, the Norse Yggdrasil, which sat in the Polar North and revolved the Nine Worlds. Thus, this God is really a Titan, for it is Atlas who bore and revolved the World.

May Day was not well-digested by Christianity, and remained a kind of Pagan festival, with songs often being sung to honor various goddesses like “The Queen of May”—sometimes associated, as in the famous Huntingdonshire May Carol, with the Virgin Mary. Let’s take a look at the language of that song.

God Bless Aunt Mary Moses,
in all her Power, and Might-o
And send us peace to England,
both now and ever more-o.

This is a very strange invocation in the midst of the pagan revelry that occupies the rest of the song, with its crown of horns (“have no scorn”), a reference to the ancient horned gods like Pan and various Celtic deities, and the obsession with death and resurrection, a theme the Medievals would have just celebrated at Easter. But the appetite of our ancestors for feasts, dances, and merriment knew no bounds—in fact we even took our parties to the heavens. Not only were the Gods of Olympus perpetually engaged in feasting and carnal pleasures, but the Norse concept of Valhalla featured a perpetual and highly symbolic feasting on a Boar that was resurrected every night—a fascinating myth. To quote the favorite song of the great Pagan Englishman, D.H. Lawrence “There’s red wine, and feast for heros. And harping too.”

But back to the subject of Aunt Mary Moses. “Aunt” is merely a Cornish honorific for a respected lady. Mary refers to the Virgin. It is now widely understood that the Virgin Mary, at least in the form we know her, is a survival from an era long before Christ. In her blue garments, her maternal and matrimonial relationship to God, even in those places where she is or was at one time patroness, she mimics the attributes of the Goddess Isis. The cult of Isis is known to have spread all throughout Europe during Roman times, and as a mystery religion, it was greatly in vogue with women. We see blatant marks of this today: Paris comes from Iseos, the grove of Isis, and, indeed, the Virgin was patroness of Paris during the Early Middle Ages. There are also in Europe numerous shrines to the “Black Virgin.” I will pass over the disgraceful (not to say blasphemous) theories about a sub-Saharan origin for this, and point out that this also has its roots in the cult of Isis, who was depicted as Black, though with Aryan features; black, like the rich soil of Egypt (before the encroachment of the desert); black, like the seemingly endless night of the furthest Polar North. I should not neglect to point out that the parallels between Mary and Isis do not preclude her taking the aspects of many other local pagan goddesses. This is clearly the case in the Celtic countries, for instance.

“Moses” is stranger, harder to explain. Some speculate that this is included because it is common surname in Cornwall, or that it is code for the exiled King Charles, but this begs the question. Others claim that the name comes from a misunderstanding of the Bible dating to the attempts of early missionaries to depict Christianity as a warrior religion (which is what it became, regardless of the intentions of Christ, which were ambiguous at best). These missionaries might have spoken of a great Moses dynasty from which sprang a great line of Kings, Virgil’s famous “lineage of gold,” the last and greatest of which would be Jesus, the Kristos, the “Anointed One.” This is a very interesting theory, and should not be discounted entirely.

I submit a new theory. One of the famous “translation errors” in the Vulgate is the description of Moses as having horns. This is the Moses we recognize in Medieval Art, right on down to the sculpture of Michelangelo. I think that this is not an error so much as the possession of St. Jerome by an archetype, a heritage of his Mediterranean blood. Moses is, for the medieval, the image of the Great God Pan. He is Cernunnos, perhaps he is the Shiva of Mohenjo Daro. It really does not matter that he bears little in common with these deities upon close examination. He was an image, a symbol of something greater, something that came before. Like the Green Men that populate the Cathedrals of Europe, the Horned Moses lent to the younger religion an air of authority, mystery, and hidden power. Mary Moses would thus be referent to that, and to those legends. And it is not amiss to note that Mary Moses connotes a conjugal relationship, of the Virgin possessed by the God, a perennial Archetype.

May Day is an inescapable part of our illustrious past, a glorious time. It should not surprise us then that it is fading away so rapidly. Who among us has danced around a May Pole? Who has left flowers and gifts in secret on a neighbor’s doorstep? Fewer and fewer. May Day was first subvert by communists for their “International Worker’s Day.” Shamefully, in many countries, the celebration of atheistic, subversive Communism, which does nothing but uproot and destroy Tradition and put up barriers between men of common blood and destiny, is more prominent than traditional festivals. In other countries, the failure of the demon of Capital to adequately monetize and quantify the celebrations resolved them to merely ignore them and deemphasize their importance.

Today, May Day celebrations are not promoted publicly with a few very slight exceptions, most of which are tainted by the pathetic spirit of “historical reenactment,” a wretched term, as we ought to “reenact” or better “re-live” our history every day of our lives, not only as part of ridiculous costume parties at prescribed times and places. It is up to us to keep up these traditions, and to further them, and to conquer again the psycho-spiritual space of our people, the first and foremost Lebensraum.

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STIHIE: Libido for the Stupid

In the last decade, the real-state, home-building, and financial industries ran out of enough middle-class buyers to maintain their expansion; they thus looked down market, to a previously untapped pool of “subprime” suckers.   Similarly, as the “higher education” industry recognizes that its certificates can barely guarantee a job folding sweatshirts at the Gap, it, too, is beginning to view the left-quadrant of the Bell Curve as a source of growth.  

A new term should be added to the language.

Emotional Porn
Noun
A form of self-gratification, in which a postmodern White person confuses indulgence in pity or sentimentality with political action.
See Also Upworthy.com, Squee

Exhibit A: “Noah is going to college!”

In the last decade, the real-state, home-building, and financial industries ran out of enough middle-class buyers to maintain their expansion; they thus looked down market, to a previously untapped pool of “subprime” suckers. Similarly, as the “higher education” industry recognizes that its certificates can barely guarantee a job folding sweatshirts at the Gap, it, too, is beginning to view the left-quadrant of the Bell Curve as a source of growth.

And something deeper is at work as well. Americans pride themselves in resisting the two siren songs of totalitarianism: socialism, Marxism, and Leninism, on the left, and fascism, nationalism, and racialism, on the right. America, it is maintained, achieved a glorious “middle-ness,” a free, middle-class society, where government guarantees basic rights and dignities for all.

What this rosy view overlooks is the fact that, for at least the past 50 years, America has pursued a new kind of socialism—one that might be more enduring than the socialism of yore but which is equally unsustainable and equally dependent on myths, lies, and wishful thinking.

Washington is loathe to nationalize an industry; and it has never been willing to redistribute wealth with any seriousness. However, Washington does use its powers and seemingly infinite ability to issue debt to create the semblance of what a society would look like if liberalism and egalitarianism were actually true.

Hence, the government doesn’t nationalize the healthcare industry and provide services to low-income citizens; instead, it organizes an elaborate and unworkable system that putatively helps the poor get health insurance, just like rich people. The government doesn’t directly provide the hungry and needy with provisions; instead it issues EBT cards that allow the poor to pretend that they have credit cards, just like rich people.

Finally, the government doesn’t seek to foster excellence in higher learning; instead, through affirmative-action and the lowering of standards, it creates a parallel universe in which innate cognitive differences and heritability no longer have any effect. Everyone goes to college! And now Noah is going to college!

The average IQ of a person with Down Syndrome is 50; the top one percent have an IQ of 70, according to the Down Syndrome Foundation. Surely, there are ways for such people to live fulfilling and productive lives. To send them to university, however, amounts either to denying the existence of intelligence altogether or else to converting universities into massive day-care centers for every featherless biped with a pulse.

Emotional Porn like “Noah is going to college”—porn that appeals to the American “right” as much as the “left”—gives us a glimpse into America’s peculiar egalitarian imagination, and its libido for the stupid.

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The Ideology Of Totalitarian Humanism

Yet it would seem to me that such metaphors as “cultural Marxism” or “liberal Nazism” are not really the best characterizations of PC. The best label for PC I ever encountered was “totalitarian humanism.”

In light of Mozilla’s CEO having to step down for his opposition to same-sex marriage, here’s Keith Preston’s take on the ideology that dominates the West today

Many on the alternative Right are inclined to refer to PC as “cultural Marxism.” In some ways, this is an apt metaphor, as the PC ideology bears a resemblance to the reductionist concept of class antagonism that orthodox Marxism advances. If the dualistic class dichotomy of “proletarians and bourgeoisie” is replaced with a newer dichotomy pitting feminist women, minorities, gays, immigrants, the transgendered and others having been or believed to be oppressed against the “hegemony” of “straight, white, Christian, males,” then similarities between PC and Marxism do indeed emerge. However, PC could in some ways be compared with totalitarianism from the other end of the political spectrum. If the duality of “Aryans” believed to be oppressed by and in mortal struggle with “the Jews” is replaced with the aforementioned dichotomy advanced by PC, a reductionism of comparable crudity likewise becomes apparent. Yet it would seem to me that such metaphors as “cultural Marxism” or “liberal Nazism” are not really the best characterizations of PC.

The best label for PC I ever encountered was “totalitarian humanism.” I can’t take credit for this term. I lifted it from an anonymous underground writer some years ago. Read the original essay here. Here’s a particularly enlightened part:

When one looks up the word ‘Humanism’ in an encyclopedia it states that Humanism is an ideology which focuses on the importance of every single human being. That it is an “ideology which emphasizes the value of the individual human being and its ability to develop into a harmonic and culturally aware personality”. This sounds fair enough, right? Indeed it does, but it is my firm belief that the explanation here does not match the humanism of our time.

The so-called Humanists I have met have been putting a strong emphasis on humanity as a gigantic community rather than on the individual. Often one will even find alleged humanists who insist that the views, aspirations and basic happiness of indigenous Europeans is of no importance. Instead, these Humanists say, indigenous Europeans should bow down and forget about their own wants and desires for the greater good of humanity. The greater good of Humanity usually seems to be to take no interest in Europe’s cultural heritage and integrate into a grey, world-wide, uniform “globalization” with the Coca-Cola-culture as loadstar.

Totalitarian humanism is a derivative of the classical Jacobin ideology that loves an abstract and universal “humanity” so much that its proponents don’t care what has to be done to individual human beings or particular human cultures in order to advance their ideals. Perhaps the best summary of the political outlook of totalitarian humanism was provided by the maverick psychiatrist and critic of the “therapeutic state,” Thomas Szasz:

In the nineteenth century, a liberal was a person who championed individual liberty in a context of laissez-faire economics, who defined liberty as the absence of coercion, and who regarded the state as an ever-present threat to personal freedom and responsibility. Today, a liberal is a person who champions social justice in a context of socialist economics, who defines liberty as access to the means for a good life, and who regards the state as a benevolent provider whose duty is to protect people from poverty, racism, sexism, illness, and drugs.

Dr. Szasz wrote this passage nearly twenty years ago. Nowadays, the laundry list of “poverty, racism, sexism, illness, and drugs” might be lengthened to include classism, ageism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, looksism, fatphobia, thinism, beautyism, transphobia, producerism, “appearance discrimination,” speciesism, adultcentrism, pedophobia, chronocentrism, and other creative efforts at dictionary expansion. Likewise, the therapeutic component of totalitarian humanism has expanded so as to include the supposed necessity of state action to save us all from fatty foods, salt, smoking, and soda vending machines in public schools. Like all totalitarian ideologies, totalitarian humanism has its contradictions, hypocrisies, and absurdities. For instance, public acts of anal intercourse are regarded as virtuous and courageous manifestations of human liberation and personal fulfillment, while smoking in bars or even in strip clubs is a grave menace to public health. Suggestive music videos and violent video games are symptomatic of an oppressively patriarchal and testosterone-fueled society, while surgically altering one’s “gender identity” is just routine day-to-day business, like getting a tattoo.

As one with something of a taste for the bizarre and eccentric, I might find the PC circus to be little more than a philistine but amusing bit of outrageous entertainment, akin to professional wrestling or the old freak shows of carnivals past, if it weren’t for the fact that these folks are hell-bent on imposing their “ideals” on the rest of us by force of the state. Totalitarian humanism is a war on sovereignty. It is a war on the sovereignty of individuals against arbitrary and coercive authority, the sovereignty of non-state institutions against political authority, the sovereignty of organic communities against a centralized leviathan, the sovereignty of nations against global entities, the sovereignty of history, tradition, and culture against prescriptive and prohibitive ideology. Totalitarian humanism is an effort to reduce all of us to the level of dependent serfs on a plantation ruled by an army of overly zealous concerned mommies and busy-body social workers backed up by the S.W.A.T. team and paramilitary police. Give me beautyism or give me death.

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A Case for the English Landed Aristocracy

The following was delivered as a speech to the Britain-based Libertarian Alliance on February 10th.

 

The following was delivered as a speech to the Britain-based Libertarian Alliance on February 10th. You can listen to the speech there.

To understand the rubbish heap that England has become, it is useful to look at the circumstances that prompted the emergence of the modern State in Europe.

Around the end of the thirteenth century, the world entered one of its cooling phases. In a world of limited technology, this lowered the Malthusian ceiling – by which I mean the limit to which population was always tending, and beyond which it could not for any long time rise. Populations that could just about feed themselves during the warm period were now too large.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, this pressure was suddenly relieved by the Black Death, which seems to have killed about a third of the English population, and probably about a third of the human race as a whole. The result was a collapse of population somewhat below the Malthusian ceiling. In turn, this led – in England and Western Europe, at least – to an age of plenty for ordinary people.

However, continued cooling and a recovery of population led, by the beginning of the sixteenth century, to renewed contact with the Malthusian ceiling. So far as we can tell from the English statistics – which are the most complete and generally accurate – ordinary living standards fell rapidly throughout that century. With mild variations, they continued to fall until the last third of the eighteenth century. While the ceiling tended to rise during this period, the corresponding tendency to higher average living standards was offset by rising population. Living standards began to recover strongly only after the middle of the nineteenth century, when renewed warming, joined by the Industrial Revolution, lifted the ceiling out of sight. Even so, living standards in England did not recover their fifteenth century levels till about the 1880s. It was later elsewhere in Western Europe.

I think these natural forces go far to explaining the sudden emergence of religious mania and political unrest in Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Reformation and Wars of Religion can be explained partly in terms of an unfolding intellectual change. Ideas are an autonomous force. At the same time, the force of the explosion we date from 1517 has its origin in perturbations of the Sun, or whatever other natural cause drives changes in the climate.

One of the responses of the governing classes to the spreading wave of instability was to centralise and greatly to strengthen power. Most notably in France, but in Western Europe generally, kings were exalted far above their mediaeval status. Because they were unreliable members of the new order, nobilities were brought under control, and power was shared with humble officials, who might collectively grow powerful, but who individually could be made or broken as kings found convenient. The various divine right theories of this age were the legitimising ideology of the new order.

In France, the King withdrew to Versailles. The leading nobles were required to live with him, thereby breaking their connection with the land from which they were allowed to continue drawing their wealth. Much government was given to a class of office holders, who multiplied their functions and arrested much tendency to economic improvement in ways that I do not need to describe.

I turn now to England. In some degree, there was a growth of absolutism here during the sixteenth century. The Tudor Kings ended the civil wars, and made themselves supreme and unchallenged. Because England was an island with only one land border – and Scotland was easily managed – there was no need for a standing army; and standing armies, and the consequent arms race between states with land borders, were a secondary cause of the growth of absolutism. Even so, the Tudor Monarchy ruled England through a strong administration centred on London.

This growth was arrested and reversed in 1641, by the abolition of nearly every body of state unknown to the Common Law. The Privy Council remained, but its subordinate institutions – Star Chamber, for example, and the Council of the North – were swept away. The immediate result was civil war, followed by a republic run by religious maniacs. But this soon collapsed, and the Monarchy was restored in 1660.

However, the Restoration was of the Monarchy in name only. It is best seen as an aristocratic coup. The Restoration Parliament finished the work of 1641, by abolishing the feudal tenures, by which the Monarchy had kept control over the nobility. The landed aristocracy gained something like absolute title over their estates, untouchable by the King. The network of fights and obligations that tied them to those who worked the land was simplified to a relationship of landlord and tenant.

From the 1660s, we can see the emergence of an aristocratic ruling class checked only at the margins by the Crown. Before then, Members of Parliament were often humble men from their localities, who needed to look to their localities for expenses and even salaries. Very soon, the Commons was flooded with the younger sons of peers and aristocratic nominees. Andrew Marvell was one of the last of the last Members of Parliament who needed to draw a salary. The commons became an aristocratic club. This process was hastened by the decay of many boroughs and the growth of the more or less unrepresentative system that was ended only after 1832.

There was one attempt at reaction by the Crown. Charles II presided over the growth of a new official class. Samuel Pepys is the most famous representative of this class. But there is also Leolyn Jenkins, the son of a Welsh farm labourer, who was educated in the Roman Law – not the Common Law – and who led the parliamentary resistance to the Exclusion Bills by which the aristocracy in effect tried to seize control over who could be King of England.

But James II overplayed his hand, and was deposed and exiled in 1688. Thereafter, the aristocracy did control appointment to the Crown, and was able to monopolise every institution of state – allowing those that failed to serve its interest to atrophy.

During the eighteenth century, the internal administration in England became largely a matter of obedience to the Common Law. History was written backwards, so that it became a narrative of struggle to maintain or to restore a set of ancient liberties that were usually over-stressed, or even mythical. I suspect that any educated man brought forward from 1500 to 1750 would have failed to recognise his own England in the standard histories. The tension between competing institutions and legal systems that shaped his life had been reduced to a set of struggles over a Common Law that was only one element in what he considered the legitimate order of things.

I repeat that ideas are an autonomous force. The whiggish ideologies that dominated the century were strongly believed by the ruling class, and were beneficial to the people as a whole. Opposition to Walpole’s excise, and the Theatres Bill cannot be simply explained as the play of sectional interests, or the work of politicians hungry for office. There was an almost paranoid suspicion of government within the ruling class, and a corresponding exaltation of the liberties of the people. But English liberty was also a collateral benefit of the aristocratic coups of 1660 and 1688. Self-help and a high degree of personal freedom were allowed to flourish ultimately because the enlightened self-interest of those who ruled England maintained a strong bias against any growth of an administrative state – the sort of state that would be able to challenge aristocratic dominance. People were left alone – often in vicious pursuits – because any regulation would have endangered the settlements of 1660-88.

Our understanding of English history in the nineteenth century is shaped by the beliefs of the contending parties in that century. The liberals and early socialists demanded an enlarged franchise and administrative reform, because they claimed this would give ordinary people a controlling voice in government. The conservatives claimed that extending the franchise would lead to the election of demagogues and levellers by a stupid electorate.

This does not explain what happened. Liberal democracy was a legitimising ideology for the establishment of a new ruling class – a ruling class of officials and associated commercial interests that drew power and status from an enlarged state. The British State was not enlarged for the welfare of ordinary people. The alleged welfare of ordinary people was merely an excuse for the enlargement of the British State. The real beneficiaries were the sort of people who thought highly of Sidney and Beatrice Webb.

If this analysis is correct, men like John Stuart Mill and even Richard Cobden were at best useful idiots for the bad side in a struggle over which group of special interests should rule England. The real heroes for libertarians were men like Lord Eldon and Colonel Sibthorp, who resisted all change, or men like Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Salisbury, who, after the battle for “reform” was lost, found ways to moderate and, in the short term, to neutralise the movement of power from one group to another. Or the greatest hero of all was Lord Elcho, who kept the Liberty and Property League going until he nearly and hundred, and who fought a bitter rearguard action for an aristocratic ascendency that was intimately connected with the rights to life, liberty and property of ordinary people.

This is not to romanticise the aristocratic ascendency. Eighteenth century England was a brutal place filled with injustice – the game laws, the press gang, a chaotic civil and criminal law, pervasive corruption. All the same, utopia has never been on offer. I will end by addressing myself to left-libertarians like Kevin Carson and Keith Preston. Their critique of the corporate elites and the plutocracy that are hurrying us into tyranny is fundamentally correct. But they are wrong to denounce the aristocratic ascendency that preceded the system under which we now live. It would have been nice for England to emerge into the modern world as a land of masterless men – of yeomen farmers and independent craftsmen and tradesmen. But this was never on offer. By the time the eighteenth century radicals found their voice, the only alternatives on offer were aristocratic ascendency and middle class bureaucracy. Old Lord Fartleigh had his faults. He hated the Papists, and thought nothing of hanging poachers. But he would never have thought it his business to tell us what lightbulbs we could buy, or whether we could smoke in the local pub.

Let it never be forgotten that the demolition of aristocratic rule was largely completed by the Liberal Government elected in 1906. This was the Government that also got us into the Great War, and kept us in it to the bitter end. The kind of people who formed it had already given us most of the moral regulation that we think of as Victorian – regulation that was usually resisted in the Lords. Since then, these people have taken up one legitimising ideology after another – national efficiency, the welfare of the working classes, multiculturalism, environmentalism, supranational government. The common thread in all these ideologies has been their usefulness as a figleaf behind which ordinary people could be taxed and regulated and conscripted, and generally made to dance as their rulers desire. Perhaps the main reason why Classical Marxism never became important in England was that, just when it was very big in the world, Keynesian demand management emerged as a more suitable legitimising ideology for the ruling class we now had.

I therefore commend the English landed aristocracy. If I am now, in middle age, an increasingly radical libertarian, it is only because I have realised that the system raised up by that class can no more be restored than the class itself can be made supreme again.

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Remaking the Right

Norman Podhoretz is something of an anomaly. His entire life has been centered around his Jewishness, but he sees himself as an outsider in the mainstream Jewish community. He shares a great many of the attitudes typical of that community, but draws different conclusions about how to navigate the contemporary American political landscape in a way that is “good for the Jews.”

Under Discussion: Why Are Jews Liberals? By Norman Podhoretz. Doubleday (2009), 337 pages.

Norman Podhoretz is something of an anomaly. His entire life has been centered around his Jewishness, but he sees himself as an outsider in the mainstream Jewish community. He shares a great many of the attitudes typical of that community, but draws different conclusions about how to navigate the contemporary American political landscape in a way that’s “good for the Jews.”

One area where Podhoretz is absolutely mainstream among American Jews is his sense of history. The first half of his recent book, Why Are Jews Liberal? lays out his version of the “lachrymose” theory of Jewish history in Europe and America in which the Diaspora has been one long vale of tears since the beginnings of Christianity. Whether or not this view of history is correct, the important point is that this is how the great majority of Diaspora Jews see themselves and their history. (My view is that many outbreaks of anti-Jewish feelings result from our evolved ingroup/outgroup psychology.)

This lachrymose view has major implications for understanding contemporary Jewish political behavior in the Diaspora. It proposes that, beginning with an unfortunate theological belief (that Jews killed God), Jews have been passive, innocent victims of marauding non-Jews. The lesson that Jews learned from the Middle Ages carries down to today:

[The Jews] emerged from the Middle Ages knowing for a certainty that—individual exceptions duly noted—the worst enemy they had in the world was Christianity: the churches in which it was embodied—whether Roman Catholic or Russian Orthodox or Protestant—and the people who prayed in and were shaped by them. It was a knowledge that Jewish experience in the ages to come would do very little, if indeed anything at all, to help future generations to forget.

Jews were thus wary and mistrustful (at the very least) of all manifestations of Christianity. But the demise of Christianity as the central intellectual paradigm of Europe didn’t improve things for Jews. During the Enlightenment, anti-Jewish ideologies smoothly morphed into non-theological views in which Judaism was a superstitious relic that prevented Jews from shedding their attachment to their people—in Podhoretz’s words, “giving up their sense of themselves as a people whose members were bound together across national boundaries wherever they might live.”

The Enlightenment implied that Jews should accept the atomized individualism implied by the modern nation state. As Count Clermont-Tonnere expressed it in addressing the French National Assembly in 1789, “The Jews should be denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals… . The existence of a nation within a nation is unacceptable to our country.”

In the 19th century, Jews began to be seen by their enemies as an economically successful alien race intent on subverting national cultures wherever they lived. Podhoretz is squarely within the Jewish intellectual mainstream in his attack on the idea that Jews and non-Jews are biologically different and in competition—“the new racist rationale [that] manifested itself in the portrayal of a war between Aryans and Semites as the central drama of history.” For example, Ivan Aksakov, a leader of Slavophiles in Russia, viewed Jews as a competitive threat intent on destroying Christianity:

The Western European Christian world will be faced in the future, in one form or another, with a life-and-death struggle with Jewry, which is striving to replace the universal Christian ideal by another, Semitic ideal, also universal, but negative and anti-Christian.

Even in the United States—the “golden land” as seen by Jewish immigrants—there was exclusion and antipathy from “the upper echelons of the WASP patriciate.” In America, Jews were excluded by WASP elites, and Christian forms of anti-Semitism (e.g., Father Coughlin) remained strong through the 1930s. Isolationists such as Charles Lindbergh also tended to see Jews as an interest group aiming at getting America involved in war with Germany. (Podhoretz refers to Lindbergh’s famous speech as “notorious.”)

Jews concluded, as they had ever since the political Left and Right came to be defined, that their enemies were on the right. But the main lesson Podhoretz draws is that over the centuries, Western intellectuals produced a variety of Christian and non-Christian anti-Jewish ideologies, each with the same result: Irrational hatred toward Jews. So it’s not just Christianity, but European civilization itself that is the problem for Jews.

And, although Podhoretz doesn’t explicitly make this move, it’s a very short jump from blaming the culture created and sustained by Europeans to the idea that Europeans as a people or group of peoples are the problem. Ultimately, this implicit sense that Europeans themselves are the problem is the crux of the issue.

Podhoretz generally underplays the reality that Jews tended to make alliances with elites wherever they lived. The main exception to this is an important one: The situation of Jews in Russia from around 1880 to the Bolshevik Revolution. But even here, Podhoretz fails to note that most Jews were better off than most Russians, and he fails to acknowledge legitimate, often-stated concerns by the authorities to protect the Russian farmers from Jewish domination of the rural economy and to protect the nascent Russian middle classes from Jewish competition. Most importantly, he fails to discuss the very large rate of natural increase among fundamentalist Jews in Eastern Europe in a situation where they had overshot their traditional economic niches. The result was widespread poverty among Jews and attraction to messianic ideologies of Zionism and, most importantly for the history of the West, Marxism.

As Podhoretz notes, Jews, even when wealthy and powerful, had always been attracted to the Left much more than their non-Jewish counterparts. But the result of this Jewish population explosion and widespread Jewish poverty in Eastern Europe was that the tradition of Jewish opposition to national cultures—well known and commented on at least by the latter part of the 19th century—was now embedded in an ideology of Marxist revolution—often combined with Zionism. Podhoretz’s background places him firmly within these two most important strands of 20th-century Jewish intellectual life.

These Marxist radicals emigrated in droves to the United States and other Western countries. In a few short decades, this politically radical Jewish sub-culture became not only the dominant political culture among American Jews, it became a major force on the intellectual and political left generally. In this Jewish subculture, being merely a socialist was considered “right wing.” The very strong Jewish identity of these Jewish leftists—Podhoretz among them—reminds us once again that a strong Jewish identity is and was entirely compatible with an ideology of Marxist universalism.

Podhoretz grew up in this mindset and, by his account, he remained a radical until the late 1960s. His central intellectual question is why Jews remained on the left despite what he sees as changes in what’s good for the Jews.

Podhoretz sees being on the left as good for the Jews for most of their history in America. In the early 20th century, the enemies of Jews were the “conservative upholders of the old order”—WASPs who prattled on about the importance of retaining ethnic homogeneity during the era of WASP ethnic defense that culminated in the 1924 immigration law. F. Prescott Hall, founder of the Immigration Restriction League, wrote, ”It must be remembered … that … our institutions were established by a homogeneous community, consisting of the best elements of population selected under the circumstances under which they came to the New World.“ And some of the enemies of the Jews were concerned with Jewish competition—“the Hebrew conquest of New York,” as Henry James phrased it.

Is the Left good for the Jews?

In presenting the case that circumstances have changed so that it is now irrational for Jews to be liberals, Podhoretz has one or two paragraphs on the idea that affirmative action is bad for Jews (not likely), the role of the Left in quelling debate on IQ other issues related to diversity on college campuses, and on alleged anti-Semitism by radical Blacks during the 1960s. Then he devotes 160 pages on the relative failure of the Democratic Party, and the Left generally, to protect the interests of Israel. It’s not hard to fathom what his real concerns are.

But despite his labors, the case is unconvincing.

Podhoretz certainly doesn’t have any difficulty finding anti-Israel attitudes on the left. For example, he devotes an entire chapter to Gore Vidal’s “The Empire Lovers Strike Back“ article that appeared in The Nation in 1986 – “The most blatantly anti-Semitic outburst to have appeared in a respectable American periodical since World War II.” Vidal’s article included this quote discussing Podhoretz and his wife, Midge Decter: “Although there is nothing wrong with being a lobbyist for a foreign power, one is supposed to register with the Justice Department.”

But whereas there was “complete silence from the left” regarding Vidal’s indiscretion, William F. Buckley is praised for not only condemning Vidal but also for expelling Joe Sobran from National Review.

The problem for Podhoretz is that there are also anti-Israel views on the right. Indeed, Podhoretz goes to great lengths to show that Buckley and National Review didn’t do enough to condemn Pat Buchanan for his “Amen Corner” column and his culture war speech at the 1992 Republican Convention. And because of failure to condemn Buchanan, there was “great damage to the prospect of a significant move by Jewish voters in a more conservative direction.”

So how are Jews to choose between the anti-Israel voices on the left and those on the right? One consideration is that, although there are anti-Israel voices on the left (Podhoretz would label them ‘anti-Semitic’), with the exception of Jimmy Carter’s activities after his presidency, he doesn’t provide any examples from within the Democratic Party (which, after all, is by far the most important institutional embodiment of the Left in the U.S.) Does the fact that Carter allowed certain anti-Israel resolutions to go un-vetoed at the UN and that since his presidency, Podhoretz sees him as “openly and virulently hostile to Israel” constitute reasons why Jews should not support the Democrats today? Indeed, Carter was prevented from speaking at the 2008 Democratic convention by Jewish activists, notably Alan Dershowitz.

What about Bill Clinton? Podhoretz notes that Clinton helped himself by tapping the “strongly pro-Israel” Al Gore (also a Democrat!) as vice-president, but then showed his true colors by appointing Warren Christopher as Secretary of State and Anthony Lake as National Security Advisor. (Both committed the sin of favoring withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza.) Podhoretz doesn’t seem to think it relevant that in fact Israel was never under serious pressure to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza during the Clinton years.

Although tough talk on settlement expansion characterized the early Obama administration, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has “dramatically changed her tone,” praising an offer of Israeli “restraint” on settlement expansion, whatever that means. Now we learn that Mahmoud Abbas has withdrawn his candidacy for president of the Palestinian Authority because he feels betrayed by the Obama administration.

Recently Congress approved by a lopsided margin a resolution calling on the Obama administration to “oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ [i.e., the Goldstone Report, a scathing indictment of Israeli actions during the Gaza invasion of 2008–2009] in multilateral fora.” Democrats voted for it by a margin of 179 yea to 33 nay, while Republicans voted for it by a margin of 165 yea to 3 nay votes.

Podhoretz is correct that Republicans in Congress are more likely to be slaves to the Israel Lobby—for reasons to be discussed below. But in any case, there are certainly no signs of a groundswell of anti-Israel sentiment among the Democrats.

On the other hand, examples of anti-Jewish or anti-Israel attitudes on the right are quite close to the Republican Party. Exhibit A is Buchanan himself.  And then there’s George H. W. Bush and his “I’m just one lonely little guy” up against “something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill”—said in the context of attempting to get Israel to freeze settlement activity by delaying a housing loan guarantee to Israel. And then there’s Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker who is widely reported to have said, ”Fuck the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway.”

Podhoretz bends over backwards trying to reassure Jews about anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes on the right. For example, he gets into his legal-brief mode when trying to exonerate Pat Robertson on charges of anti-Semitism because of “certain crackpot ideas originating in the eighteenth century about a conspiracy between Jewish bankers and Freemasons to take over the world.” One would think that such ideas would make Robertson completely anathema to Jews. But for Podhoretz, Robertson is okay because of his “unwavering support of Israel.”

Indeed, Podhoretz is willing to forgive pretty much anything if its accompanied by pro-Israel attitudes. In the same passage, he forgives Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn his views on the role of Jewish revolutionaries in bringing communism to Russia for the same reason. (To Podhoretz’s credit, he even acknowledges, “Solzhenitsyn’s ideas about Jewish revolutionaries were based on an uncomfortable historical reality.”)

Oddly, Podhoretz fails to mention Robertson’s claim that “the part that Jewish intellectuals and media activists have played in the assault on Christianity may very possibly prove to be a grave mistake… .

For centuries, Christians have supported Jews in their dream of a national homeland. But American Jews invested great energy in attacking these very allies. That investment may pay a terrible dividend.
In a 1995 Commentary article, Podhoretz defended Robertson even on this, noting that in fact Jewish intellectuals, Jewish organizations like the American Jewish Congress, and Jewish-dominated organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union have ridiculed Christian religious beliefs, attempted to undermine the public strength of Christianity, or have led the fight for unrestricted pornography. I couldn’t agree more.

Oddly, Podhoretz makes no mention of his defense of Robertson on these issues in the book under review – perhaps because he realizes that this is a bridge too far for the vast majority of Jews. However, he does note, “If you scratch a liberal organization like the American Civil Liberties Union or the United Nations Association, you will find Jewish members and Jewish money sustaining it, and if you scratch a Jewish organization, you will find a liberal agenda.” Jews also contribute 50–60 percent of the funding for the Democratic Party.

Without question, Jews fund the left in America.

One wonders if Podhoretz would take such a principled stand on other conservative issues like affirmative action, immigration, or big government – not caring about ideas deemed by some to be anti-Jewish (e.g., “the Jews control Hollywood”) as long as one opposes affirmative action or massive non-White immigration.
The answer would be no.

The good news is that someone like me could be rehabilitated within the Jewish community even though I do believe in the uncomfortable historical reality that Jews control Hollywood and that this influences the content of movies by, among other things, denigrating Christianity. All I would have to do is come out as rabidly pro-Israel.
Ummm, sorry, but I can’t go there. Different countries have different interests—a simple fact that escapes an unregistered lobbyist of a foreign government such as Podhoretz.

Grand New Party

I conclude that Jews reading Podhoretz are unlikely to be convinced that they are better off with the Republicans or by becoming conservatives. Podhoretz is correct that the Republicans are a tad more likely to be slavishly pro-Israel. But he completely ignores another uncomfortable historical reality – that neoconservative Jews have been very active in purging true conservatives like Buchanan from mainstream Republican politics and that the neocons have remade the Republican Party in their own image. Indeed, as he phrases it (without evaluating the evidence one way or the other), paleocons believe that neocons like Podhoretz are “liberals in disguise who … succeeded in kidnapping and corrupting the conservative movement.”

This brings us to the heart of the issue. Podhoretz’s enterprise is fundamentally a fraud.
His issue is not whether American Jews could ever stop being liberal. His issue is whether they could bring themselves to vote for the Republican Party if the Republican Party was better for Israel. It has nothing to do with liberalism or conservatism, Big Government or Constitutionalism.

And the best proof of this is that Jewish neoconservatives – by far the most important group of Jews who (at times) advocate voting for the Republicans – are not really conservatives at all. Their one and only concern has always been to steer U.S. foreign policy in the direction of Israel. They have consistently advocated liberal positions within the Republican Party and have only adopted conservative positions as “positions of convenience” designed not to imperil their larger pro-Israel agenda. The fact that the overwhelming bulk of Podhoretz’s book deals with support for Israel rather than any specifically liberal or conservative issue confirms this.

Exhibit A for this is immigration. Jewish neoconservatives have been staunch supporters of the most destructive force associated with the left since WWII – massive non-European immigration into America and other Western countries. As neoconservative Ben Wattenberg has famously written, “The non-Europeanization of America is heartening news of an almost transcendental quality.” Such attitudes typify the entire Jewish political spectrum, from the far Left to the neoconservative Right.
And when it comes to opposing illegal immigration, the neocons jumped on the bandwagon only after it became politically expedient to do so. Bill Kristol, whose comments in the Commentary symposium on Podhoretz’s book indicate that he doesn’t want to think too deeply about why Jews are on the left (my paraphrase: “Just keep on being Jewish and things will take care of themselves”), is a good example of a neocon who navigates Republican politics to achieve his more basic goal of supporting Israel. As John O’Sullivan noted regarding Kristol’s activism on an amnesty bill,

Kristol, representing many neoconservatives disposed to favor the bill, came out against it. He did so in part because it had serious drafting defects but, more importantly, because it was creating a bitter gulf between rank-and-file Republicans and the party leadership. That in turn was imperiling Republican objectives in other areas, notably Iraq.

Peter Brimelow says it best:

Kristol will return to immigration enthusiasm once he has helped persuade Bush to attack Iran.

In a passage that should be required reading for all Republicans, Samuel Francis recounted,

[T]he catalog of neoconservative efforts not merely to debate, criticize, and refute the ideas of traditional conservatism but to denounce, vilify, and harm the careers of those Old Right figures and institutions they have targeted.
There are countless stories of how neoconservatives have succeeded in entering conservative institutions, forcing out or demoting traditional conservatives, and changing the positions and philosophy of such institutions in neoconservative directions…. Writers like M. E. Bradford, Joseph Sobran, Pat Buchanan, and Russell Kirk, and institutions like Chronicles, the Rockford Institute, the Philadelphia Society, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute have been among the most respected and distinguished names in American conservatism. The dedication of their neoconservative enemies to driving them out of the movement they have taken over and demonizing them as marginal and dangerous figures has no legitimate basis in reality. It is clear evidence of the ulterior aspirations of those behind neoconservatism to dominate and subvert American conservatism from its original purposes and agenda and turn it to other purposes…
What neoconservatives really dislike about their “allies” among traditional conservatives is simply the fact that the conservatives are conservatives at all—that they support “this notion of a Christian civilization,” as Midge Decter put it, that they oppose mass immigration, that they criticize Martin Luther King and reject the racial dispossession of White Western culture, that they support or approve of Joe McCarthy, that they entertain doubts or strong disagreement over American foreign policy in the Middle East, that they oppose reckless involvement in foreign wars and foreign entanglements, and that, in company with the Founding Fathers of the United States, they reject the concept of a pure democracy and the belief that the United States is or should evolve toward it.

So Podhoretz is exhorting Jews to defect from liberalism while his wife is deploring “this notion of a Christian civilization.” With conservatives like this, who needs liberals?[1]

In Commentary’s symposium on Norman Podhoretz’s Why Are Jews Liberal? historian Jonathan D. Sarna calls attention to the fact that “outside the United States liberalism is nowhere near so dominant a faith among Jews. In Israel, to take an obvious example, Jewish liberals and Jewish conservatives are fairly evenly matched.”

Actually, Israelis who might remotely be described as liberal are a distinct minority—the old Labor Party founded by Zionist socialists is on its last legs, accounting for only around 10 percent of the Knesset and functioning mainly to provide a fig leaf of respectability for the dominant ethno-nationalist Right.

Identification with the Left is not a general characteristic of Jews; it is, however, a definite phenomenon within countries in the Jewish Diaspora, indicating that in searching for an explanation of the attraction of American Jews to the left, one must also look to this Diaspora experience in Europe and other European-derived societies.

Thankfully, Podhoretz does not try to explain the Jewish attraction to the Left as resulting from a moral imperative stemming from the very nature of Judaism itself.

Such a self-conception remains strong among many Jewish liberals, including Deborah Lipstadt, who opines, “The Torah repeatedly instructs us to care for the ‘widow, the orphan, poor, and the stranger.’” Jewish advocates for non-White immigration sometimes use this rationale—Gideon Aronoff’s Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, for example:

Drawing strongly on Jewish tradition, we provide services to Jewish immigrants, refugees, and others in need—without regard for their religion, nationality, or ethnic background. We are guided by our Jewish values and texts. The Torah (Hebrew Bible) tells us 36 times in 36 different ways to help the stranger among us. This, and our core belief that we must “fix the world” (tikkun olam, in Hebrew), are the driving principles behind our work.

But the idea that the Jewish religion makes Jews into altruistic world-healers is an obvious non-starter, and not only because, as Podhoretz notes, the highly religious Orthodox are less prone to liberal attitudes than the rest of the Jewish community. More decisively, even the most out of touch among us are now becoming aware that Israel is an apartheid state dominated by the most extreme religious and ethnocentric factions of the Jewish community. The Palestinians are treated brutally and are dependent on the largesse from the rest of the world.

The morally uplifting Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and pretty much the entire organized Jewish community in the U.S., aid and abet Israel as an aggressive, racialist ethno-state, or at least they turn a blind eye to it. Whatever else one might say about it, the Jewish religion does not make Jews into moral paragons or champions of the oppressed. And it certainly doesn’t make Jews into champions of religious and ethnic diversity.
Podhoretz’s explanation is that liberalism has become the religion of American Jews—an irrational set of beliefs resistant to disconfirmation. As he notes, the same was true of the long Jewish love affair with Marxism, and it was certainly true of Jews in traditional societies.

Liberalism is not a “substitute for religion”: it is a religion in its own right, complete with its own catechism and its own dogmas … obdurately resistant to facts that undermine its claims and promises.

The idea that Jewish political ideologies and behavior have religious overtones is attractive. My book Separation and Its Discontents has two chapters on rationalization, apologetics, and self-deception among Jews, beginning with a quote from a famous Talmudic scholar describing the ideology behind an example of classic Jewish religious writing: “Things never are what they seem because they cannot be.” In traditional societies, Jewish scholars interpreted any and all historical events as conforming to the messianic hope of a return to political power and worldly riches in a restored Israel.

All religious thinking tends to be impossible to refute, while at the same time it promises to explain everything. The interesting thing about Jews, however, is that they have dominated several intellectual movements that masqueraded as “science” while nevertheless having strong religious overtones.

Podhoretz is quite correct that the powerful Jewish attraction to Marxism was fundamentally religious in this sense. I have made similar comments, not only about Jewish involvement in Marxism, but also in psychoanalysis and other movements of the intellectual left. These movements were centered around charismatic rabbi-like leaders, and they were constructed in a way that allowed them to explain everything and be impossible to disconfirm. As in all religions, dissenters (heretics) were simply expelled.

Therefore, I have no problem agreeing with Podhoretz that there is a strong streak of religious thinking among Jews—even among the “secular.” In my view, religious thinking has been highly adaptive throughout Jewish history because it resulted in a powerful ideology of the ingroup. No matter what happened, the fundamental rationale for group cohesion would not be threatened. Whether in synagogues during the Middle Ages, in Marxist cells in the 20th century, or at conventions of psychoanalytic societies, true believers make good group members. Nothing can cause them to waver in their allegiance to the group.

But the fact that Jewish identification has always had religious overtones—even among secular Jews in the 20th century—does not explain why Jews in the Western Diaspora are liberal—only that their belief systems are immune from conflict with empirical reality.

Moreover, contra Podhoretz, liberalism seems awfully compatible with Jewish self-interest. In America, both the Democratic and Republican parties are Israeli occupied territory. So it’s hard to see that Jews are being “irrational,” as Podhoretz claims, in not voting for Republicans. For rational Jews concerned only about Israel, it’s pretty much a toss-up.

The clincher is that, as Podhoretz himself notes, citing an academic study, Jews “back Republicans only so long as they adopted the liberal position on ’such bellwether issues … as immigration, abortion, gay rights and the separation of church and state.”

In other words, Jews have been opposed to the traditional culture of America and the West and are strong advocates for the displacement of Whites via immigration.

In attempting to understand this, a good place to start is John Murray Cuddihy’s classic, The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss and the Jewish Struggle With Modernity:

With the advent of Jewish Emancipation, when ghetto walls crumble and the shtetlach begin to dissolve, Jewry – like some wide-eyed anthropologist – enters upon a strange world, to explore a strange people observing a strange halakah. They examine this world in dismay, with wonder, anger, and punitive objectivity. This wonder, this anger, and the vindictive objectivity of the marginal nonmember are recidivist; they continue unabated into our own time because Jewish Emancipation continues into our own time.

In psychological terms, Jewish identity in the Diaspora is based on psychological mechanisms of between-group competition. A strong sense of Jewish identity has always been accompanied by negative attitudes toward non-Jews—ranging from the laws of cleanness in traditional Judaism (according to which anything associated with non-Jews was unclean) to the revolutionary hatred of the non-Jewish power structure by Jewish Marxists, to the adoption of values in opposition to the traditional culture of America and the West. These negative perceptions are exacerbated by the lachrymose theory of Jewish history accepted by Podhoretz and the mainstream Jewish community: It is not simply that Christianity is evil, but that Western culture itself is poisonous to Jews.

The implication therefore is that Jews will be much more likely than non-Jews to have negative attitudes toward the traditional culture of America and the West. Importantly, Jewish voters are liberal on all issues, from government power to welfare. But as Podhoretz notes, it is especially on social issues where Jewish liberalism becomes “unmistakable and undeniable.” A 1996 poll of Jewish attitudes indicated that

Jews are firmly committed to permissive social codes, sexual codes in particular. The gap between Jews and others in polls regarding non-marital sexual behavior, marijuana, and divorce laws is quite substantial: 58 percent of Jews had liberal responses on these items as opposed to just 31 percent of non-Jews. In like fashion, huge gaps separate Jews from others on abortion (86 percent vs. 44 percent) and control of pornography (71 percent vs. 45 percent).

There are similar differences even when controlling for socio-economic class. Not surprisingly, support for gay marriage and for Roman Polanski are good career moves in Hollywood.  Moreover, Jews are dead last among all American groups in “confidence in the military,” but they favor gun control laws more than any other American group. And Jewish antipathy to the culture of America and other Western Diaspora societies extends to hostility against the formerly dominant White Protestant elite. Podhoretz quotes sociologists Mark Lipsett and Earl Raab, noting that Jews “are more at ease with the kinds of people they find in the Democratic Party – their fellow ethnics with whom they grew up in America – than with the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants still predominant in the Republican Party.”

So it’s not just Christianity that keeps Jews away from social conservatism. Latino Catholics, Black Southern Baptists, and Asian Christians are much preferred to the formerly dominant WASPs, who represent the traditional American culture and erstwhile ruling class. It’s not really about religion but ethnicity and race.

Nevertheless, it is indeed the case that White Christians are an object of special Jewish hostility. In the Commentary symposium, Michael Medved describes Jewish atavistic phobia about Christianity as the religion of the outgroup: “Jews fear the GOP as the ‘Christian party.’” And Jewish hostility towards Christianity unites the most Orthodox and conservative Jews with the most secular and liberal.

It is the hostility of the outsider against the culture of the White majority. As a result, expressions of hostility toward Christianity have a special place of pride in the contemporary culture of the West. A good recent example is Larry David pissing on a picture of Jesus in HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm—an event which evoked yawns from the rest of the media.

The Moral Status of the Outsider

This status of being an outsider with deep historical grudges has grave moral implications. As Benjamin Ginsberg notes, the social marginality of Eastern European Jews made them useful instruments for the imposition of Soviet rule over reluctant populations, not only in the first genocidal decades after the Bolshevik Revolution when they acted as Stalin’s “willing executioners,” but also during the post-WWII period in the USSR’s satellite states (Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, and Romania). Throughout Eastern Europe after WWII, because Jews were outsiders and dependent upon Soviet power for their positions and even personal safety, they could be trusted to remain loyal to the Soviet Union.

This has been a pattern throughout Jewish history. Jews as outsiders in traditional societies allied themselves with elites – often oppressive alien ruling elites engaged in exploiting the people under their control. In the Commentary symposium, Sarna gives a rather tepid version of this, quoting historian Ben Halpern, “They depended for their lives on the authorities, on the persons and groups who exercised legitimate power.” Quite correct. Jews were protected by the government, but their outsider status also made them more willing to engage in unpopular activities, such as collecting taxes for rapacious elites with no allegiance to the people they ruled.

The self-conceptualization of Jews as outsiders certainly should not make the European-descended population of America confident about the Jewish role in future governments when they are a minority.

However, the Jews-as-outsider theory does not adequately get at the role of Jews as a nascent elite displacing previously dominant non-Jewish elites. The Jewish identification with the left should also be seen as a strategy designed to increase Jewish power as an elite hostile to the White European majority of America. As I have argued, Jewish intellectual and political movements have been a critically necessary condition for the decline of White America during a period in which Jews have attained elite status.

All of these movements have been aligned with the political left. As Democrats, Jews are an integral part of the emerging non-White coalition while being able to retain their core ethnic commitment to Israel. Indeed, the organized Jewish community has not only been the most important force in ending the European bias of American immigration laws, it has assiduously courted alliances with non-White ethnic groups, including Blacks, Latinos, and Asians; and these groups are overwhelmingly aligned with the Democratic Party.

Whereas the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly non-White (the last Democratic president to get a majority of the White vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964), 90 percent of the Republican vote comes from Whites. In the recent off-year elections, Democratic candidates for governor received only about a third of the White vote.

America will soon realize that it is at the edge of a racial abyss.

Because the Republican Party remains an important force in American politics, Jews are well advised to retain an influence there as well. Republican Jews retain their core liberalism on all the key issues like immigration and culture by aligning themselves with the “moderate” wing of the Party. Like Podhoretz, Republican Jews are motivated mainly to keep the Republican Party safe for Jews, in their estimation, and to promote pro-Israel forces within the party. In general, Republican Jews have acted to make the GOP as much as possible like the party they left behind and to influence it to eschew nationalistic attitudes, especially self-consciously White or Christian identities.

At the end of the day, Podhoretz’s enterprise is an exercise in deception. He erects an image of irrational Jewish liberals who cling to liberalism as a set of religious beliefs completely beyond the reach of logic or empirical data. In fact Jewish liberalism is quite clearly a Diaspora strategy designed to obtain power for Jews at least partly by building coalitions with non-White ethnic groups. Moreover, he erects an image of principled, rational Jewish conservatives as true conservatives, while in fact they are leftists who have been a prominent force in elbowing out true conservatives within the Republican Party in order to pursue their pro-Israel agenda and make the Republican Party into something they deem safe for Jews.

Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland world of Jewish political thought.


  1. Indeed, it would be a good project to find out exactly what Jewish intellectuals think conservatives are. In the Commentary symposium, historian Jonathan D. Sarna labels Louis Marshall a “stalwart conservative.” In fact, Marshall (1856–1929) was a Republican, but, like the neocons, he cannot be called a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Marshall was a director of the NAACP and a champion of minority rights. He was also the point man for the Jewish thrust for unrestricted immigration during the period. At a time when the population of the United States was over 100 million, he stated at a Congressional hearing on the ethnically defensive 1924 immigration law, “[W]e have room in this country for ten times the population we have”; he advocated admission of all of the peoples of the world without quota limit, excluding only those who “were mentally, morally and physically unfit, who are enemies of organized government, and who are apt to become public charges.”Obviously, Marshall, a Zionist, did not believe that the American majority had a right to defend their ethnic interests by controlling immigration policy. The neocons would be proud.  ↩

The article was originally published at AlternativeRight.com in 2010.

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Re: Rainbow Nation

If the American experiment was doomed to failure because of the Founders’ materialistic and rationalistic professed ideals, then why couldn’t it be argued that in the same manner, Christianity’s universal outlook enabled later heresies like the People’s Temple?”

I enjoyed reading Andrew Rurikson’s recent article, which describes Jim Jones’s People’s Temple 1978 mass suicide in Guyana as an allegory of the liberal West’s own disintegration. Jim Jones is an embarrassing figure for the liberal Left, indeed.

Though Jones has conveniently been requalified as a “religious extremist” after the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan, he had somehow embodied the multicultural experiment when he was officiating in the United States. At a time when many churches were still racially separated, Jim Jones gained some fame for racially integrating his church and drawing a predominantly Black following.

A superficial examination — which happens to be the official one — would be that the People’s Temple started drifting towards a totalitarian sect because of Jones’s personal failings, chiefly his fantasy that he was some kind of messiah.

Thus, Andrew’s piece was spot on in stating that far from being an “accident,” the Jonestown massacre, during which 913 followers were forced to drink lethally poisoned Kool-Aid, was the logical conclusion of Jones’s fanatical inclusivism.

Any ideology or religion that negates the necessity for it to be rooted in a particular people and a genuine tradition will, sooner or later, devolve in an oppressive cult, since only coercion can make different people keep being part of the same religion, nation or civilization. Western liberalism, which was intended as a a liberating doctrine for the ascendant bourgeoisie — and only for it — became a totalitarian ideology once its proponents had deplored that men being born unequal, freedom had paradoxically to be equally enforced on societies so that everyone could become equally “free” at last.

This seeming paradox—the transformation of a supposdely liberating doctrine, classical liberalism into a totalitarian ideology, modern liberalism—was noted by James Burnham in his prophetic essay Suicide of the West.

Burnham convincingly argued that this transformation of liberalism—which explains why the word “liberalism” has a more modern meaning in the Anglo-Saxon world than in continental Europe, where it retains a more classical sense—was inevitable because of the antagonistic nature of liberty and equality. A society, Burnham argues, cannot be free for all; either it renounces equality, or liberty. Though he failed to recognize the devastating effects of liberty itself, Burnham provided a compelling case for radicals who want to understand why what happened had to happen because of structural flaws.

Which brings me to a minor problem I see in Andrew’s article. If we are to believe that only a bad tree can bear bad fruits, according to the Biblical parabola, how can a Christian explain why Jim Jones, who started as a Christian priest, became a self-proclaimed atheist and Marxist who ended up founding a religion dedicated to himself and comitted to a multiracial worldview? If the American experiment was doomed to failure because of the Founders’ materialistic and rationalistic professed ideals, then why couldn’t it be argued that in the same manner, Christianity’s universal outlook enabled later heresies like the People’s Temple? This question is opened and, at this point, I do not have a definitive answer to it, so I would like to leave it open for Andrew and our readers.

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