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Tag: WASPs

Why I Can’t Stand St. Patrick’s Day

I’ve always instinctively disliked St. Patrick’s Day. Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I was inured to the multicultural calendar of ethnic holidays I didn’t resonate with or understand….

I’ve always instinctively disliked St. Patrick’s Day. Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I was inured to the multicultural calendar of ethnic holidays I didn’t resonate with or understand. But no one ever expected me to actually celebrate Rosh Hashanah—or wear T-shirts that read “I’ve got a little Jewish in me” or pinch anyone not donning a yarmulke. At one point, I started wearing Orange on March 17 . . . though the message was seemingly lost on most everyone I encountered.

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Gilmore Girls: An American Tragedy

“This whole thing is dead to me, anyway. It died with Richard.” – Emily Gilmore, Fall. Was the death of Richard Gilmore the death of White America? It’s not that…

This whole thing is dead to me, anyway. It died with Richard.” – Emily Gilmore, Fall.

Was the death of Richard Gilmore the death of White America?

It’s not that the Gilmore Girls revival is less White than the original show; it’s that it’s more honest. The original Gilmore Girls was a White liberal utopia: a single mother raising her young daughter in an idyllic, wacky, all-White village in Connecticut (except for some Koreans and one disdainfully snobbish mulatto Frenchman—we’ll come back to him). Known for its snappy dialogue and charming absurdity, it was a difficult show not to like—anecdotally speaking, I know almost as many men as women who quietly enjoyed Gilmore Girls, usually introduced to it by their daughters or girlfriends.

But of course, the original Gilmore Girls was a lie. In the real world, a sixteen-year-old pregnant rich girl who ran away from home wouldn’t stumble upon a Brigadoon-esque village and grow up to become a successful businesswoman while her genius daughter/BFF goes to the equivalent of Choate and then Yale. In the real world, women who make as many bad decisions as Lorelai Gilmore does aren’t happy, nor are they seemingly rewarded for all of them. But the world of Gilmore Girls was a world set apart, a frozen episode that looked like early 2000’s America on the surface but really hearkened back to a more idyllic time.

I went into the revival expecting more of the same. In the final episode of the original series, we’re left with a Lorelai who has finally gotten back together with Luke the diner owner, and a Rory who has turned down a marriage proposal from her long-term boyfriend Logan Huntzberger, in order to pursue a career in journalism. This latter decision was one of the more signal-y moments in Gilmore Girls history: the girl-power ending where she proved she didn’t need no man! I predicted a revival that showed a plucky reporterette, fully satisfied with her career; a script that covered over the reality of culture that tells women they don’t need marriage, of the sick society in which we live where ‘empowered’ women slowly eat themselves to death after returning from their desk job every evening, alone except for a cat or two.

But I was wrong. The Gilmore Girls revival, wittingly or otherwise, reveals the rot of American society—especially in comparison with the original. The difference is so striking that I have to believe it was not entirely intentional on the part of the show creator; rather, it is indicative of a distinct change in social mood that has taken place between when the show ended, in 2007, and today.

The new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life takes place over the course of a year, broken into four 90-minute episodes: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. (Obligatory disclaimer: I am going to spoil the ending.)

In the original show, there was very little political propaganda. This was one of the most appealing things about it. Lorelai made the occasional George Bush joke, sometimes mocked her wealthy WASP parents for being Republicans, and Rory had a Planned Parenthood poster in her dorm room, but that was basically it. (Of course, the original premise of the show was pro-life, so they had to balance it out somehow). In general, this was incredibly refreshing compared to the constant political signaling in network television shows at the time, and compared to what’s on television now it’s like a different world. But the reboot is a different story. Suddenly, the town of Stars Hollow is engaged in gender activism, with earnest plans to put on a gay pride parade that never materializes due to a lack of homosexual town residents. (Hard to believe given the sudden prominence given to homosexual townsfolk.)

But far more striking is the change in the character of Michel Gerard. Michel, an overbearing, impeccably-dressed Frenchman with a thick accent and a penchant for Celine Dion, is a White-presenting mulatto who works at Lorelai’s inn, The Dragonfly. The original character of Michel was infamously sexually ambiguous; he of course fit a certain gay stereotype, was a little too close to his mother, etc. Nevertheless, there were occasional references made in passing to dating women, and never any made to male liaisons. Within the first 20 minutes of the reboot, in the first scene involving his character, Michel is discoursing scornfully about his male partner Frederick’s desire to adopt children. Why the dramatic change?

The answer is pretty simple: the original Gilmore Girls was a break from reality, while the reboot is almost unbearable in its reality. The past 8 years have been dramatic in their psychological effect on American society, and it is reflected here. But it’s more than that, in the world of the show. The mirror has crack’d from side-to-side; Richard Gilmore is dead. And with the patriarchal Gilmore gone, the order of things begins to break down, especially for the three female Gilmores.

Emily

You don’t move or change ever. There’s a picture of you in the attic that Dorian Grey is consulting lawyers about.” – Lorelai to Emily, “Spring.”

The change in Emily is the most dramatic over the course of these four episodes. Unlike the two younger Gilmore girls, Emily is marble-constant, an American matriarch to make Tocqueville proud. As she points out to her unwed daughter Lorelai, who has been “roommates” with Luke the diner owner for 8 years, she, Emily, was married to the same man for fifty years. Her loss at his death is incomprehensible to someone like Lorelai. Ever her husband’s champion, after Lorelai makes a characteristically embarrassing scene at her father’s funeral, Emily chides her thus: “Your father was a great man, a pillar of the community, a man amongst men. And you dishonored him today like this in his own house.” None of the other males in this world come close to Richard Gilmore. The implication runs throughout the show: we shall never see his like again.

Much like the unappreciated WASP patriarchs who held America together for so long, but who also oversaw its slow doom, Richard died having paid for his illegitimate granddaughter’s education at his alma mater, Yale, where she learned—what, exactly? Richard died without having to seriously confront the fantasy he built around Rory, Yale, and ultimately, America itself.

Over the course of the year, Emily is in a tailspin. “I don’t know how to do this,” she says to Lorelai at one point. “Do what?” “Live my life.” It is a jarring thing to watch: Emily Gilmore, the woman who knew every customary form, the woman of exquisite taste, who could never bear to let anyone see her falter: spiraling.

Even her beloved Daughters of the American Revolution chapter holds no joys for her now. (This is where I think the show breaks continuity with the original character, but for the sake of argument, we may chalk it up to grief.) The DAR, of course, represents another aspect of the collapse of the American regime; we may recall that it was one of the only national organizations that fought the 1965 Immigration Act tooth and nail, alongside the American Legion. And if there is one thing Emily devoted her life to, besides her family, it was the DAR. Finally, in an outburst at a DAR meeting, Emily says the most un-Emily line of them all: “I can’t spend any more time and energy on artifice and bullshit.” This betrays more about the script-writer than about Emily, for Emily Gilmore before this would never have really considered her work for the DAR to be artifice: the seemingly frivolous work of choosing curtains and tablecloths and china patterns was an expression of an attempt to hold a fraying society together. As Emily says before she walks out the DAR doors, “This whole thing is dead to me anyway. It died with Richard.” Without Richard Gilmore, there’s no point in trying to save America anymore.

Lorelai

You never do anything unless it’s exactly what you want to do. You never have. You go through life like a natural disaster knocking down everything and everyone in your path.” – Emily to Lorelai, “Winter.”

Fact check: True.

Lorelai is as flighty and selfish as ever, so there isn’t much new ground to cover here. She and Luke have lived together since the end of the series, never married, and apparently never even discussed having children, so it suddenly becomes an issue now. With Lorelai nearing the age of fifty, she can’t have children, and so surrogacy becomes a plot device that goes nowhere (but allows for some great scenes with the inimitable Paris Gellar, who breathed life into the whole depressing mess). Between the surrogacy drama and going to therapy with her mother, Lorelai works herself up into a real midlife crisis, deciding to go and hike the Pacific Crest Trail a la the book and movie Wild. Granted, I know nothing about either, but while the whole adventure seemed out of character—until she doesn’t actually go through with it—there was a certain pathos to the conversations she had with other women seeking solace in the wilderness. As the lonely ladies sit around a fire drinking boxed wine, one of them says, “I’m so glad I’m doing this. I almost did ‘Eat Pray Love,’ but my miles were blacked out. So here I am.” She later adds: “God, I hope this hike works. I need a new life so badly.”

Lorelai realizes that she doesn’t actually need a new life, and goes home to Luke having discovered that all she wants is to get married to him, leading to one of my favorite lines of the show: “I’ve gotta tell ya, before this thing goes on, the only way out is in a body bag.”

As infuriating as Lorelai is, she finally grows up enough to marry the man she loves. That’s something.

Rory

You’re glowing! You must be in love.” – Emily to Rory, “Winter.”

But Rory isn’t in love.

She’s not in love with her boyfriend Paul, whom she has dated for two years and whose existence she regularly forgets. (The callous treatment of forgettable Paul is supposed to be funny, but comes off as cruel.) She’s not in love with her work. She doesn’t even seem to be in love with her lover, Logan Huntzberger, who, it turns out, she has been having an extended sexual relationship with, we can assume for many years. Logan is engaged to a French heiress, but Rory stays with him whenever she’s in London, which seems to be quite often. In the series finale Rory turned down his offer of a diamond ring and a life together—apparently only to exchange it for the life of a mistress, a high-class call girl. This is why it is almost impossible to have any sympathy for the girl when Logan tells her that his fiancé is finally moving in, and that they’ll have to conduct their liasons in a hotel in the future. It suddenly dawns on Rory that she is, indeed, the other woman—and that rather than romantic, her life looks tawdry.

Lacking sympathy for Rory is the popular thing to do in reviews of the reboot, but for the wrong reasons. Sure, it’s true that Rory comes across as a spoiled child who has never been called to account for her poor choices. And yeah, her career isn’t going well. But it seems to me that that’s not because she’s arrogant or entitled: it’s because her heart just isn’t in it anymore. Even when she steels herself to get something done and goes out into Manhattan to interview people for a ridiculous story, instead of successfully completing her task we are treated to the cringiest scene of the entire show, when she returns to tell her mother that she’s had her first one-night stand with a man in a Wookie costume. (Yes, at this point she’s still supposedly dating Paul and sleeping with Logan.) She expresses no horror at her own disloyalty, but only at her choice of partner.

So who, or what, does Rory love?

She expresses a sincere nostalgic love for her ex-boyfriend Dean when she runs into him in the grocery store. And she drops everything to save the Stars Hollow Gazette from extinction, even taking over as editor—a truly thankless task.

It’s clear that Rory is in love with her childhood. Stars Hollow, her first boyfriend, and her mother are all emblems of this. Other reviewers see this as a failing; I do not. There’s nothing wrong with loving a place and trying to make it better, even sacrificing more prestigious dreams in order to do so. In some ways, Rory makes peace with this over the course of the episodes. She finally makes a clean break with Logan; she begins writing a book about the story of her relationship with her mother; and of course, in the shocking final scene, she tells her mother, “I’m pregnant.” While the show creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, has suggested that Rory might have an abortion, the reviewer at Vox was horrified that Rory might actually think of keeping the child:

“Is this really what Rory wanted for herself? Or is she too deeply wedded to the mythos of Stars Hollow to know what her own desires are at this point?

The narrative’s cheerful, almost totally uncritical sublimation of millennial women’s individual agency to the cause of more babies is utterly enraging. To accept this plot as a natural conclusion to the show means either rewriting Rory herself into a passive noncommittal bore, or twisting Stars Hollow itself into something unrecognizable: a distorted version of American life where individual dreams and goals are repressed and subsumed into the larger collective. Stars Hollow, in this view, becomes a pro-life argument for the need to continue the legacy of Stars Hollow at any cost — even if it means dismantling the dreams of one of Stars Hollow’s finest.

It’s an abysmal, bittersweet way to part with a beloved fictional town. Rory will have the illusion of happiness, surrounded by community and family. But if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that false comfort won’t make America great again, and it definitely won’t make Rory Gilmore great again.”

You see, the real tragedy would be having a community and a family, and thinking of yourself as happy. The horror!

Conclusion

The transformation of the town and its characters shows us that nothing is free of politics after the era of Obama, not even Stars Hollow.

Emily Gilmore is never really going to recover, because her world is gone.

Lorelai is getting married but isn’t going to have a child, while Rory may have a child, but isn’t getting married. It’s unclear whether or not she’ll have her baby, but either way, it won’t be raised with a father, just as Rory wasn’t raised with one. It’s a fatherless world. No fathers, no kings, no Richard Gilmores.

And yet the show isn’t really capable of pretending that everything is fine. The darkness shines through the charming humor, which isn’t as charming as it used to be. The gods left the earth a long time ago, but this seems to be a world entirely bereft of men. The result isn’t a feminist fantasy: it’s just sad.

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“Mad Men”: The Dispossessed Elite on TV

“All I’m going to be doing from here on is losing everything.” – Roger Sterling

Some of my friends across the Ocean have asked me what I had been up to lately. Well, I’ve mostly been catching up with TV series.

TV drama is a genre I had neglected for years, mainly because of its inferiority to movies (or so thought I). However, being a movie buff is painful these days, with the obvious “creation crunch” that is crippling the industry.

So, before Marvel releases another Iron-Man 28 or The Avengers 42, I wanted to pay a tribute to some TV series I have been watching these last months. Most have made me reconsider the unjustified contempt in which I was holding fiction on TV.

Today I will begin with AMC’s Mad Men. This may not be the most obvious choice, compared to shows that have been far more successful, and that are maybe more relevant to our purposes: Breaking Bad, House of Cards, or Game of Thrones, among others.

Nevertheless, I think that for “craftsmen of the word” like us, the story of a creative director in an ascendent advertising agency is full of precious lessons. Besides, the whole show seems to revolve around a hidden theme that is familiar to Radix readers: the dispossession of the Old Anglo Elite by a new class using its verbal skills to gain power.

For a cultural contrarian, there is always a risk of overreading the producers‘ intent. However, while I believe they wanted to depict this Old Elite negatively, and express some relief about its downfall, I can’t help thinking that the initial expectation wasn’t fully met (think of Cabaret or American History X as similar failed attempts).

For the sake of clarity, I won’t recount the 85 episodes, as I assume most of you have watched the show (for the others, you can keep reading; there will be spoilers, but the general plot is not as important as the atmosphere).

That being said, a rough summary should be done. The story takes place in New York, in the 1960’s. When the show begins, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is the creative director of Sterling Cooper, a relatively small ad agency on Madison Avenue. He’s tall, strong, handsome, always perfectly-dressed, smart (though not particularly educated), socially savvy and uncannily successful. Successful in his work, and, of course, successful with women. Despite having a wife that would be rated as a “9” if not a “10” in the manosphere (Betty Hofstadt, played by Nordic beauty queen January Jones), he enjoys the company of many other women, who enable him to escape the sanitized boredom of his white-picket-fenced suburban house®.

We don’t see Don Draper work much. He’s always late, even for meetings, spends most of his office time smoking, drinking (Canadian Club rye at work, “Old Fashioned” cocktails at bars), and taking naps to recover from it all. When the afternoon comes, he often calls it a day to join some mistress in a luxurious hotel room. Despite that, every one of his pitches to the clients is a home-run, making him the main money-maker of the agency (his jaw-dropping Kodak carousel presentation should be turned into a mandatory training in communication and marketing programs). This reminds us that creation requires laziness as much as hard work. All those who write for a living know that their best ideas pop up when they are doing something else, or doing nothing at all.

Alpha/Übermensch Don Draper is “just too good to be true,” to the point that NBC did a spoof “Don Draper’s guide to picking up women”, in which the viewer learns that all he has to do to be as successful as Don is… impossible to fulfill.

So, why do the opening credits show a cartoon version of Don falling from a skyscraper into a sea of advertisement junk? In a Hollywoodian clichéd way, the character can’t be that successful without having a secret flaw, which, in time, will be revealed to be fatal.

As we soon learn, Don’s secret flaw is nothing less than identity usurpation. His real name is Dick Whitman. Son of a prostitute (who dies giving birth to him) and a drunk farmer (who is killed by a horse), Dick grows up in a whorehouse. When he turns 25, he takes the opportunity of the Korean war to flee. There, a field officer named Don Draper is mortally burnt in a fire Dick accidentally starts. Since the officer is totally disfigured, Dick manages to switch the identification tags and become the man who just died, giving him his former identity. This identity theft is symbolized by Season 5’s finale, which ends with Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice.” The story takes place in 1967, which is the year the eponymous James Bond movie was released. (By the way, the song’s powerful lines “You drift through the years — And life seems tame — Till one dream appears — And love is its name” could summarize the dissident rightists’ increasing impatience; just replace “love” with some synonym, like “power,” “victory” or “glory.”)

This 92-episode series (the seven final ones will be broadcast next year) would get boring if it wasn’t for the supporting characters. Though Jon Hamm’s acting is excellent, the contradiction between Don Draper’s rise to success and his growingly incapacitating original sin wouldn’t be sufficient to support the show from Season 1 to 7. The main thing that can be said about Don Draper is that in the age of materialism, which has been the Postwar era so far, such a talented man couldn’t express his genius in a meaningful field. Rather than being an artist, a scientist, or a statesman, he had to devote his talents to selling laxatives, ketchup, and lipstick.

Still, being an outsider, Don Draper is generally benefitting from the cultural revolution of the 60’s, that he fully embraces, despite losing his own family in the process:

Completely different is the fate of other characters, who embody the declining WASP elite. Here are the most representative ones:

Roger Sterling

If there had to be a single one quintessential elite Anglo-Saxon on screen, that would be him. Heir of the original agency’s co-founder (hence his “name on the building” he’s so proud of), Roger always had it easy until the 60’s. To paraphrase one of my famous countrymen, Roger “took the trouble to be born, no more,” except during the Second World War. Roger’s wittiness and charms enable him to be very efficient in handling clients, but can’t shield him from the cultural tsunami that washes America throughout the 60’s. Unable to resist the sexual revolution, he repudiates his wife Mona in favor of an Ashkenazi secretary, Jane, who will give him no heir. Once high on LSD, Roger realizes it was a bad move, which will leave him with two alimonies to pay for. His former wife Mona only gave him a daughter, who ends up living in a rural commune with degenerates after having abandoned her “beta provider” husband and her son.

Drugs are not enough to make him forget his feeling of void, which results in an explicit recognition of his own dispossession:

Having received a Classical European education, Roger thinks he can afford the luxury of playing dumb, for example when he intentionally mixes Spanish conquistadores, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, and “Mexicans” in a single sentence. In an other episode, he explains to Pete Campbell what “Munich” (i.e., surrender) means when it comes to negotiation, only seconds before he attributes to his mother the famous Churchill quote “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obviously, someone who knows what “Munich” means also knows who delivered this statement after the Munich Agreement of 1938. Unfortunately for Roger, the 60’s are no longer the time for playing dumb, especially since his leadership is under siege.

“Duck” Phillips

While he’s not a very important character, Herman “Duck” Phillips plays the role of a scapegoat in the official narrative about the ’60s. Everything in his behaviour is wrong, to the point that the whole character becomes rather incredible. Incapable of self-mastery when he’s drunk, “Duck” makes fun of the speaker during an adverstising awards ceremony and tries to defecate in Roger Sterling’s office (believing it’s Don Draper’s) after having been fired from the agency. In spite of all these flaws, he’s always impeccably attired, very charming, and quite well-spoken. He’s also a war hero, having killed 17 Japanese soldiers in the Battle of Okinawa. The message seems to be as follows: when a man is handsome, well-educated, and successful, there must be something deeply wrong about him. This should explain why such types have almost entirely been driven out of Western elites in favor of ugly, incompetent, and sociopathic ones . . . but I digress.

Bert Cooper

Cooper is the other co-founder of the initial agency. Unlike Roger Sterling, who is a generation younger than he, Bert Cooper is a self-conscious conservative. He is very skeptical of “civil rights,” and implicitly asks she-office manager Joan Holloway/Harris to make sure the receptionist girl remains White. Bert Cooper is why conservatives can’t win. Though he disagrees with the triumph of the Moral Left in the ’60s, he never dares express it. Quite symbolically, he lost his testicles in a surgical operation that went wrong. He dies childless and heirless, the day Neil Armstrong sets foot on the Moon. One small step for a man, indeed . . . and one giant leap to the dustbin of history for country-club Republicans.

Conrad Hilton

Speaking of the Moon, the only real character of the series, hotel chain-founder Conrad Hilton (“Uncle Connie”), is a very telling one. He randomly meets Don Draper at a . . . country club, and then becomes a client for a short time. He ends his contract with the agency when Don fails to give him “Hilton on the Moon,” a literal request Don thought was only figurative. In a monologue that leaves the viewer wondering whether Hilton is mentally ill, he displays a worldview that is actually quite typical of the postwar Right:

Can we see “Uncle Connie” as a member of the dispossessed elite? Yes, if we bear in mind who one of his great-granddaughters is.

Lane Pryce

In his three-part review of the series at Counter-Currents, James J. O’Meara defined Lane Pryce as the agency’s sacrificial victim. That is true, though in my opinion, O’Meara doesn’t really explain how Lane Pryce is so. Pryce is a former auditor from the British company that had bought the initial Sterling Cooper agency. Then he becomes a junior partner in the new agency started by Sterling, Cooper and Draper. Due to fiscal problems with the United Kingdom, he tries to steal money from the agency. When Don confronts him about his forged check, Pryce resigns and hangs himself in his own office. I would suggest that Pryce is sacrificed for his very Britishness, the same way the Cosmic America fantasized by Conrad Hilton was born out of the sacrifice of English and British heritage. Jared Harris, who stars as Pryce, looks like the usual caricature of the English people in rival countries: a toad face at the top of a fat, listless body.

Pete Campbell

Pete Campbell is maybe even more representative of this dispossession: being 10 years younger than Don Draper, he has been deprived of his birthright before he was even born. At some point in the series, the viewer learns that his ancestry in America goes back as far as the Mayflower. Yet his father found a way to dilapidate his family’s fortune before dying and leaving his two sons with crumbs. Still believing in the American myth of the self-made-man, Pete thinks he’s going to make up for his father’s failures with hard work, only to discover that the dices have been rigged from the start against young, ambitious men like him (which, of course, is more of a concern for our generation than Pete Campbell’s, who is a baby-boomer; this is not the only way the writers managed to inject contemporary issues into the series). In a half-drunk rant, Campbell expresses his impatience about being patronized by the former generation. That reminds me of something.


I could go on and on, since there’s no shortage of examples, from the clients to the employees, as well as their families.

I keep thinking that the producers wanted to celebrate the replacement of this Old Anglo Elite by a Rainbow Coalition including women, gays, and minorities, chiefly Jews, given that the production crew is predominantly Jewish. In the very first episode, Roger Sterling asks Don Draper whether the agency has ever hired a Jewish copywriter. “Not on my watch,” jokes Don. It’s 1960. In the coming decade however, the agency is going to recruit many Jewish copywriters and Black secretaries.

Nevertheless, to show how hard it was for the Rainbow Coalition to overthrow this Old Anglo Elite, the producers had to depict it as a formidable enemy: a caste of good-looking, refined, well-mannered, educated aristocrats. By thus doing, they made this elite appealing, and many viewers could conclude that they would rather be ruled by such a gang than by the current one.

That said, one could have the same feeling watching Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (which was arguably the last liberal movie Kubrick made, before he started making conservative films, or outright reactionary ones like Eyes Wide Shut). The 18th-century aristocracy was, in many ways, admirable by its style and its brilliance. But it adopted the set of ideas and values that would lead to the removal of English rule in the thirteen colonies and of the King’s head in Paris. In like manner, Roger Sterling’s capitulation before the sexual revolution and Don Draper’s abandonment of his own family were foreshadowing the Great Erasure that was just about to happen. In the early 60’s, the agency sells a patriarchal and hierarchical American Dream. At the end of this crucial decade, the agency promotes alternative lifetsyles, women’s independence from their husband and family and minorities’ march through the institutions, with the partners hardly noticing this radical shift, and completely ignoring that it might undermine their rule.

Don Draper may embody all a man could dream of being and may succeed in all ways imaginable. He is also the last specimen of a dying breed. Let’s hope that the next European elite will know better and not confuse the Will to Power with the suppression of the very institutions that make it sustainable.

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The Dispossessed Elite

In the multiracial, postmodern world, the Anglo-Saxon Protestant has become the identity that dare not speak its name. Kevin MacDonald  goes in search of the forbidden race.

This article first appeared in Radix Journal (Vol. 1 / 2012). Purchase here.


Andrew Fraser, The WASP Question, Arktos Media (2011).

Andrew Fraser is a legal scholar who has been forced to brave the slings and arrows of outrageous anti-White attitude in his position as Professor of Public Law at Macquarie University in Sydney. His book The WASP Question is a detailed presentation of his views on the self-destruction of the once-proud group of Anglo-Saxons who colonized vast areas after departing from their native England, but who are now very much threatened by loss of power and, even more disastrously, loss of identity. The book is an attempt to answer the question why WASPs (which he describes as “a subtly, perhaps deservedly derogatory acronym coined sometime in the late Fifties to denote White Anglo-Saxon Protestants”) have failed to protect their bio-cultural interests in the contemporary world.

This is indeed the fundamental question of our times—true not only of WASPs, but of all Whites, although it must be said that WASPs seem to embody this pathology to a greater extent than other White groups. Fraser’s answer is an intellectual tour de force, encompassing very wide swaths of history and pre-history, evolutionary thinking, the psychology of racial differences, and academic theology. Far from being a paean to his ethnic group, the book is nothing less than “an attack on my co-ethnics, mainly the American WASPs who for over two centuries now have waged a reckless, revolutionary, and relentless cultural war on the ethno-religious traditions which once inspired the Anglo-Saxon province of Christendom to greatness.”

At the heart of this project is an attempt to understand WASP uniqueness. As he notes early on, “European man alone bears the spirit of civic republicanism, a tradition still largely alien to other races and peoples.” Whereas WASPs eschew ethnic nepotism as a matter of enlightened principle, “there is no shortage of evidence that the Changs, the Gonzales, and the Singhs (not to mention the Goldmans with their well-known animus toward WASPs) still practice forms of ethnic nepotism strictly forbidden to Anglo-Protestants.”

Fraser’s search for unraveling this mystery begins with the Germanic origins of Anglo-Saxon society. Relying on recent population genetic data, Fraser suggests that beginning in the mid–5th century, the Angle, Saxon, and Jute invaders contributed beyond their numbers to the gene pool of what was to become England. Males from indigenous Britons were forced to migrate to the outer reaches of the island, but with high levels of intermarriage with native women. The result was that the population was distinct from the Germanic groups left behind on the continent.

Fraser points to “an institutionalized predisposition towards both local autonomy and individual liberty” as characteristic of Northern European peoples, based on monogamy, the nuclear family, paternal investment in children, and a relative de-emphasis on extended kinship groups, leading to the rise of non-kinship-based forms of reciprocity. These traits were adaptive when confronting difficult ecological conditions during the Ice Ages.

However, these tribal groups also had a strong sense of internal cohesion and in-group solidarity, and kinship ties were, indeed, of considerable importance, as indicated by the long history of blood feud and wergeld.

An important manifestation of non-kinship-based reciprocity was the Männerbund or comitatus—groups formed for military purposes and based on the reputation of leaders and the followers rather than on their kinship relatedness. Indeed, Fraser quotes James Russell (from The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity[1]): “The intensity of the comitatus bond seems to exceed even that of kinship.”

Fraser makes the interesting point that “there were striking differences in the relative importance of lordship and kinship in Anglo-Saxon England,”

as compared with southern Denmark and northern Germany from which the Angles, the Jutes and the Saxons originated. In Friesland and Schleswig-Holstein, throughout the Middle Ages there was a preponderance of free peasant proprietors with few great territorial lords endowed with seigneurial privileges. In England, by contrast, the prevalence of lordship was much more marked.

Based on Berta Surees Phillipotts’ wonderfully titled Kindred and Clan in the Middle Ages and After: A Study in the Sociology of the Teutonic Races[2], there is the suggestion that these differences were caused by the relative lack of strength of kinship groups in areas, like England, that became dominated by lords. According to this hypothesis, kinship relationships were compromised as Germanic groups left their native areas in southern Sweden, Denmark, and northern Germany.

Anglo-Saxon kings possessed “a sacral quality by virtue of their royal blood.” Kings combined religious and political functions, and their relationships with their subjects were ultimately based on reciprocity. And because kingship had religious overtones, “the ethnogenesis of the English people was very largely a religious phenomenon, proceeding in tandem with the success of Christian missionaries into the fold of the Church. By the 8th century the Angelcynn—people of the English race—had been formed from the mélange of Germanic tribes that had entered England.”

This shift to Christianity was accomplished without losing touch with Germanic folk religions. The Norman conquest had no fundamental effect on English institutions, since “Normandy itself had been conquered by sea-borne Teutonic invaders and, as a consequence, kindred groups had been weakened there just as they had been in England. Anglo-Saxon men may have been disinherited by their Norman overlords but ‘their daughters married Normans and taught their children the meaning of Englishness,’” quoting Phillpotts.

Despite the differences among different social groups of Englishmen, there was a common sense of being English based on “common blood nourished by a common faith.” Jews were regarded as outsiders precisely because they were not of common blood or common faith, so much so that the Magna Carta had clauses explicitly protecting English families from the Jews. Royal responsibility for the welfare of subjects meant that “English kings were compelled eventually to place definite limits on Jewish exploitation of their Christian subjects.” Jews were not merely outsiders, but tough economic competitors. When the Church sided with the people by petitioning the king to “protect his people against Jewish economic aggression,” the king expelled the Jews, but only after being assured that the revenue they provided to the king would be made up by revenue from the Church and the nobility.

The fact that the king tried first to convert the Jews indicates that European societies were not self-consciously based on blood ties. Attempts to convert Jews were a common phenomenon during the Middle Ages throughout Europe. The only important case where Jews actually converted was in Spain, but then the issue became the sincerity of the converts and their continued ethnic cohesion and cooperation, leading ultimately to the Inquisition.[3] The desire of Europeans to assimilate with the Jews was always a one-way street.

In the absence of kinship ties, reputation was everything. Fraser spends quite a bit of time on oath-taking as a peculiarly English pre-occupation, so much so that “the commonplace spectacle of Third World immigrants reciting oaths of allegiance at naturalization ceremonies is calculated to warm the hearts of WASPs committed heart and soul to the constitutionalist creed of civic nationalism.” Oath-taking is a public affirmation that is fundamentally about one’s reputation. It is, of course, a bit of WASP egoism that they think that other peoples have a similar sense of public trustworthiness.

WASPs are trusting souls. For that very reason they can be exploited easily by those who promise one thing and do another… . Mass Third World immigration imposes enormous risks upon Anglo-Saxon societies grounded in unique patterns of trusting behavior that evolved over many centuries. If newcomers do not accept the burdens entailed by the civic culture of the host society—most notably the need to forswear one’s pre-existing racial, ethnic and religious allegiances—they are bound to reduce the benefits of good citizenship for the host Anglo-Saxon nation.

I couldn’t agree more. And all the evidence is that these groups will not forswear these allegiances, any more than Jews have forsworn their ethnic and religious allegiances despite centuries of living among Europeans.

The next great historical step for the Angelcynn was the step from a Germanized Christianity to a far more universalist form of Christianity as a result of the expansion of the power of the centralized Church during the 11th–13th centuries. This momentous process began with the papal reforms of Pope Gregory VII that had as their basic aim an increase in ecclesiastical power at the expense of the kings. The result was a Kirchenstaat—Church-state—that eventually compromised the Anglo-Saxon Christian cult of sacral kingship. But rather than a unitary society based on sacral kingship, there was a split between the realm of religion, dominated by the Church, and the secular realm, dominated by the kings. This development also weakened the already fragile ties of kinship, as the Church actively campaigned against endogamy by restricting marriage of relatives and developed a concept of marriage in which the individuals to be married, not relatives, had an absolute right to choose marriage partners.[4]

This development facilitated individualism, and especially among the English. Fraser is aware that the roots of Western individualism may be found in Classical Greece. But “by the thirteenth century, the English were already set apart from the rest of Christendom by their pronounced predisposition towards liberty, independence and individualism”— tendencies that, as he notes, are in stark contrast with the Chinese (and all other cultures of which I am aware).

Kings responded to the ecclesiastical power grab by setting up their own secular institutions of justice independent of the Church courts. Political authority became “disenchanted”—removed from any connection to the sacred; royal authority became “a function of the king’s temporal body politic; no longer was his natural body the medium through which an emanation of sacred Heil descended directly from the gods.”

Basic to the period was the concept of “double majesty” in which both the king and his leading men had power. This concept was based on the comitatus concept—what Ricardo Duchesne terms “aristocratic egalitarianism.”[5] The king is first among equals. He had power, but his acts required the approval of the magnates and they could act to restrain him from rashness. As Fraser notes, the baronial class had power within this system, but the arrangement excluded the “vast majority of ordinary folk.” One result was that the great barons retained considerable power over local affairs, while the king tended to affairs that affected the kingdom as a whole.

The Tudor revolution eclipsed both the power of the nobility and the power of the Church. But the events unleashed by this upheaval resulted in an even more revolutionary and radical revolution in English political culture: the rise of the Puritans. The Puritan revolution represented a fundamental break in English history, and Fraser is deeply critical:

It was the Puritan refusal to recognize the established Church of England as the synergistic unity of society, politics and religion that finally sealed the fate of the ancient regime in England.

Puritans rejected the past-oriented, this-worldly folk religion of their Germanic ancestors and embraced instead a future-oriented, salvation history of sin and redemption in which the “Godly” were radically estranged from conventional society. Separating themselves from their “lukewarm” neighbors, Puritans withdrew into select, independent and voluntary communities composed solely of equals. Their virtuous communities of the elect existed in a state of grace that knew no national boundaries.

The result was “a radically new social character” that resulted in the “embourgeoisement of English elites.” This New Order cut off the possibility of an Anglican commonwealth; it was focused on the accumulation of wealth for its own sake.

The radicalism of the Puritan Revolution was that it completely destroyed the old tripartite Indo-European order based on the classes of sovereignty, the military, and commoners. This revolution was far more radical than the revolution whereby Christianity destroyed the pagan gods of old Europe:

Christianity formally proscribed the old religions but it did not uproot the social ideals embodied in the pagan gods. Even after the Papal Revolution, tradition-directed English Christians preserved the Trinitarian cosmology that their Anglo-Saxon ancestors shared with the Celts, the Scandinavians and the Romans.

The Puritan spirit of capitalism not only turned that ancient worldview on its head: it also launched Anglo- Saxons into a novus ordo seclorum that brought religion down to earth in an economy enchanted by the cornucopian myths of modernist Mammonism. … Before we can hope to escape our self-imposed domination, we must understand how the Puritan Revolution flattened the foundational myths of the trifunctional social
order characteristic of all Indo-European peoples.

In short, the Puritan Revolution meant the end of the Indo-European world and its Christian version: the Church (“those who prayed, oratores”), the king and aristocracy (“those who fought, bellatores”), and the commoners (“those who worked, laboratores”). It was thus the quintessential modern revolution, a fundamental break in the history of the West.

The revolution, although begun in England, was slow to reach its completion there, whereas in the United States, “as a consequence of the Civil War, the absolute hegemony of the leveling, acquisitive and utilitarian society pioneered by the Puritan Revolution was firmly entrenched.” The Civil War pitted “the Cavaliers of the Old South [who] recalled the highest ideals of European chivalry” against “the soulless materialism of Northern capitalism.”

The Puritans had won, but in Fraser’s analysis, their victory heralded the end of a highly adaptive social order in favor of a social order that eventually led to the eclipse of WASPs. The new order was far more egalitarian than the older order. Congregations elected their ministers, and they served at the pleasure of the people they served. Whereas war had been the province of the nobility, Cromwell’s New Model Army was based on citizen participation.

It was also profoundly spiritual and created enormous energy. Unfortunately, the spiritual capital of Puritanism “was squandered by their WASP descendants. The saintly secularism of the Puritan has degenerated into the nonchalant nihilism of the postmodernist.” “Possessive individualism” and “tasteful consumption” had come to define the highest expression of Anglo-Saxon character and culture. The governments of England and other Anglo-Saxon areas became dominated by financial interests.

When the intellectuals of the new order looked at the English past, they did not see a social order of liberty and reciprocity. Rather,

they insisted that “Old England had been steeped in slavery” and only after the Whigs had triumphed in the Glorious Revolution did the English begin to enjoy their present freedoms. … “To bring the government of England back to its first principles is to bring the people back to absolute slavery.” In the dark days of the past, “the people had no share in the government; they were merely the villeins, vassals, or bondsmen of their lords, “a sort of cattle bought and sold with the land.” Those slavish ancestors had submitted, more or less willingly, to the yoke fastened on their necks by those who prayed and those who fought. Such a servile mentality, it is said, had no rightful claim to a voice in the political community of the modern English commonwealth.

Indeed, White slavery continued to exist in the New World as indentured servants were bought and sold—“a situation not unlike Negro slavery.”

This new social order requires endless economic expansion. If that fails to come to pass, there will indeed be a crisis, and it’s clear where Fraser’s sympathies lie:

One hopes that such a state of emergency will trigger the need to return to the long-forgotten original principles of the tripartite social order, however “atavistic” such needs may seem to the modern managerial mind. The day may yet come when ineffectual WASPs give way to a new generation of Anglo-Saxon leaders possessed of both the sovereign wisdom to revive the communitarian ethos of the ancient republics and the selfless nobility to defend unto death the bio-cultural interests of their people.

However, before discussing in detail his proposal for a return to a primeval Indo-European cultural paradigm, Fraser discusses the rise and fall of WASPs in the United States. His basic proposal is that WASPs are a superior group in terms of IQ and other traits necessary for success in the contemporary world. He accepts the idea that different races and ethnic groups are in competition for survival. This race realist perspective, explicitly based on sociobiology, is combined with the idea that WASP talents should be seen as a gift from God and that WASPs require an ethno-theology capable of serving their biological interests in survival and reproduction. Fraser fundamentally disagrees with the idea that the sacred and secular ought to inhabit two separate worlds. Rather, they should be joined by fostering an ethno-religious sense of peoplehood in which the biological imperatives of survival, reproduction and sense of being part of an ethnic group are embedded in religious belief—a rejection of what he sees as the deformity of Christian theology that occurred as a result of the Medieval papal reforms discussed above. Fraser therefore takes Frank Salter to task for developing a theory of ethnic interests based solely on “mature Enlightenment values”—on reason rather than theology.[6]

Fraser does not see the future as a reconquest of lands once controlled by WASPs, but rather as the creation of WASPs as a diaspora people capable of retaining their ethnic and religious ties in a “postmodern archipelago.”

The Jewish Diaspora based on strong ethno-centrism and in-group altruism and ethnic networking thus becomes the implicit model for a WASP future. As he notes, the original Puritans also had many of the traits that define successful groups—the willingness to suppress individual goals for the good of the group by enacting laws that, for example, prohibited excessive profits.

Part Two deals with America as an experiment in WASP culture, and in particular with “the pathogenesis of Anglo-Saxon Anglophobia.” For Fraser, the pathogenesis starts with a rejection of the religious basis of Anglo-Saxon peoplehood. The entire concept of America independent of Britain is anathema: The American Revolution “suppressed the spirit of ethnoreligious loyalty owed by all British colonists to the blood and faith of Old England.”

Freed of the hereditary aristocracy and the religion of England, during the Jacksonian era, “the few remaining conservative influences in religion, politics, and law” were swept aside. The result was an exultant radical individualism in which every individual was to have direct, unmediated access to God. This radical individualism distrusted all manifestations of corporate power, including chartered private corporations, and Fraser agrees, writing that “a perversion of Christian theology permitted the modern business corporation to establish itself as a secular parody of the ecclesia.”

From a biocultural perspective, the most important consequence of the managerial revolution in corporate governance was the recasting of Anglo-American social character into a novel form, one particularly susceptible to Anglo-Saxon Anglophobia.

The corporation eventually metastasized into a monster “incapable of preserving either the class boundaries of the bourgeoisie or the ethnic character of the Anglo-American nation as a whole.” In the hands of recent and contemporary Anglo-Saxons, the modern business corporation is analogous to the “proposition nation” concept: merely a concatenation of contracts, with no ethnic character, although Fraser is quick to note that corporations dominated by other groups do not lose their ethnic character.

The American Revolution is still “a work in progress.” There have been three transformations thus far: the Constitutional Republic dating from the American Revolution to the Civil War and based on political decentralization, liberty, and egalitarianism; the Bourgeois Republic resulting from the victory of the North in the Civil War and lasting until FDR, typified by the 14th Amendment and a large increase in federal power; and the Managerial/Therapeutic leviathan since that period, characterized by even greater concentration of power at the federal level, combined now with energetic attempts to change the attitudes of Americans in a liberal and eventually in an Anglophobic direction. None of these were explicitly Anglo-Saxon Protestant: even at the outset, “the Anglo-Saxon character of the Constitutional Republic was merely implicit” [emphasis in original]. The fourth, as yet unrealized, republic is slated to be the Transnational Republic where all traces of White domination have been erased and WASPs have become “a shrinking and despised minority.”

For Fraser, the leveling, egalitarian tendencies of the Constitutional Republic went much too far because they fundamentally opposed the aristocratic Indo-European tripartite model which resulted in a leisured aristocracy:

A natural social order dating from time out of mind had been leveled. The egalitarian sense that every free man must participate in labor now outlawed “invidious” social distinctions between those who worked, those who prayed, and those who fought. It also aggravated the growing split between the North and South. Both the celebration of work and the disparagement of idleness made “the South with its leisured aristocracy supported by slavery even more anomalous than it had been at the time of the Revolution.” Combined with the anti- institutional fervor of evangelical revivalism, the democratic ideology of free labor eventually lent its mass appeal to a multi-pronged crusade against Negro slavery… . The conquest and destruction of the Old South marked the second phase of the permanent American Revolution.

The triumph of the North in the Civil War meant that the U.S. was even further removed from its Indo-European roots than before. Congruent with his sympathies for the aristocratic culture of the South as far more compatible with traditional Indo-European social organization, Fraser is unapologetic about slavery: “Not only could a strong scriptural case be made in favor of slavery but a strict construction of the Constitution also favored the pro-slavery argument.”

The result of Lincoln’s victory was that limits on federal power “were swept aside by executive decree and military might”:

By crushing the southern states, Lincoln fatally weakened the federal principle; his arbitrary exercise of emergency powers laid the foundations for executive dictatorship whenever exceptional circumstances justify the suspension of constitutional liberties. The war was an exercise in constitutional duplicity; the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 18 6 8 was accomplished only by means of blatant fraud and military coercion. Nonetheless, once securely enshrined in the Constitution, the amendment provided both the Second [i.e., Bourgeois] Republic and the Third [i.e., Managerial/Therapeutic] Republic with their formal constitutional warrant. … By the standard of the First (Federal) Republic, the Fourteenth Amendment was unconstitutional. But, despite some initial resistance, the legal priesthood of the Republic soon elevated the amendment to the status of sacred writ.

Following the Civil War, there were disagreements among elite Anglo-Saxon intellectuals on race and the ability to successfully absorb the former slaves. For the race realists, Fraser emphasizes William Graham Sumner, a social Darwinist, who thought that social class divisions and competition were part of the natural order of things. Writing in 1903, he noted that “the two races live more independently of each other now than they did” during the slave era. But during the same period, self-styled WASP “progressives,” like Supreme Court Justice John Harlan, “labored ceaselessly to promote the egalitarian myth of the color-blind constitution.”

This was also the period when immigrants from eastern and southern Europe were flooding the country, threatening to change its identity. For a time, at least, the forces of Anglo-Saxon ethnic defense, spearheaded by New England intellectuals like Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, and Edward A. Ross in alliance with the South and West, won out, culminating in the short-lived victory of the immigration law of 1924.

Fraser sees the Managerial/Therapeutic Republic as flatly unconstitutional. The original constitution has been jettisoned to the point that it has no relationship to the actual structure and operation of the federal government. A new managerial class, first described by James Burnham, had come to power. The result is a “multiracialist managerial revolution” that is “an explicitly post-Christian civil religion;

a free-floating Constitutionalism has displaced the implicitly Anglo-Saxon Protestantism of the first ‘white man’s country.’ Since the New Deal … the myth of the Constitution has been severed from its biocultural roots in Anglo-Saxon Christendom.”

Anglo-Saxons have abdicated their leading role to a rainbow coalition of groups, including Jews, Blacks, and Catholics, feminists, and homosexuals.

In Part Three, Fraser concludes with his prescription for the future of Anglo-Saxons. While acknowledging the difficulty of the task, Fraser hopes that WASPs will rediscover themselves as an ethno-nation by rallying around a redefined British monarchy and the Christian tradition: Crown, Church, and Country. Following 18th-century political philosopher Henry St. John, Viscount of Bolingbroke, Fraser advocates a “Patriot King come to deliver them from evil, seizing victory from the jaws of defeat.” The king will be a living icon, inspiring but without real power. He envisions a diaspora where the Anglo-Saxons are given formal recognition as a group and are able to form their own autonomous institutions with “binding norms of in-group solidarity”—in effect governing themselves as traditional Jewish diaspora groups (i.e., Orthodox and Hasidic Jews) have always done. As with Jewish groups, the result would be a global network—a network that will be indispensable in what Fraser sees as a “New Dark Age” of global disorder about to engulf the world. This impending “Long Emergency” of “catastrophe and collapse” can only be negotiated by groups with strong ethnic and cultural ties and a willingness to engage in within-group altruism. In this new age, the Anglican Church will play a central role: “The next Protestant Reformation must recall the Anglican Church to its original mission to shepherd the Anglo-Saxon race into the Kingdom of God.”

Fraser has done an extraordinary job in charting the outline and key turning points in the history of the Anglo- Saxons, and the decline of the West more generally. I agree with Frank Salter, whose comments are reproduced on the cover, that Fraser provides “a fresh analysis of the ethno-religious foundations of the English people.… Agree or disagree with Andrew Fraser’s prescriptions, his combination of originality and scholarship deserves to find a place in literature dealing with ethnicity, nationalism, constitutional history, biosocial science, and advocacy for Anglo-Saxon ethnic identity and biocultural continuity. Be prepared to read, reread, and ponder.”

What follows are some of my own ponderings.

The Non-unitary Ethnic Basis of Anglo-Saxons

I agree with Fraser that the fundamental break in the history of the Anglo-Saxons is the rise of the Puritans and the overthrow of the primeval Indo-European social order in England, to be followed eventually by other European societies. Fraser correctly notes the strong egalitarian tendencies of the Puritans. As noted elsewhere[7], however, these egalitarian tendencies are far more compatible with the hunter- gatherer model of European origins than the Indo-European warrior elite model. So the question is where these strong egalitarian tendencies came from. My proposal is that these tendencies toward egalitarian individualism, which characterize the peoples of Europe, particularly northern Europe, date from the Ice Ages and existed prior to the Indo- European invasions in the 4th millennium BC. This analysis is compatible with relatively small income- and social-class differences characteristic of Scandinavian society throughout its history, including the absence of serfdom during the Middle Ages—a pattern that reflects a hunter-gatherer model far more than an aristocratic model.

Fraser is certainly aware of differences among the Anglo-Saxons—he several times cites David Hackett Fischer’s classic Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America[8]; but he does not see them as ethnic differences. In this regard it is noteworthy that, as Fischer notes, the elitist, hierarchical model of the West Saxons was already apparent in southwest England dating from at least the 9th century. This group had large estates with lower-middle class servi and villani— essentially slaves.

As Fraser notes, the perception of the newly liberated classes after the English Revolution was that “Old England had been steeped in slavery,” and they had no desire to return to that. It is easy to romanticize the tripartite Indo-European social form, but the problem is that the aristocratic model did result in exploitation, and “those who worked” often reasonably resented the powers and riches of “those who fought” and their oftentimes unholy alliance with “those who prayed.”

My view is that the Puritans exemplify the egalitarian-individualist trend of Western society dating from before the imposition of the Indo-European model tripartite model. As Fraser is well aware, Puritan culture does not at all fit the warrior elite model. Puritans produced “a civic culture of high literacy, town meetings, and a tradition of freedom,” distinguished from other British groups by their “comparatively large ratios of freemen and small numbers of servi and villani[9]—phenomena quite the opposite of the Indo-European aristocratic model. These patterns date from Anglo- Saxon prehistory.

One may deplore the passing of the aristocratic model, as Fraser does, but it’s quite clear that in any case, one must attempt to understand the dominant Puritan influence on WASP culture as a pre-condition for an analysis of contemporary WASP pathology. Briefly, my take is that this subgroup is highly intelligent (e.g., they established Harvard and other elite universities shortly after arriving in America), innovative (as Charles Murray shows[10], inventors derived from the northern European peoples are responsible for a hugely disproportionate number of the important inventions that define the modern era), and capable of producing high-trust societies based on individual reputation rather than kinship relationships. Fraser deplores their materialism, their rational approach to the world, and their concern with worldly success. He is quite correct that in the absence of a strong sense of ethnic cohesion and loyalty, these traits certainly become components of ethnic suicide; but they resulted in extraordinarily successful economies that have been the envy of the world.

Whereas the aristocratic-egalitarian military group was based on the comitatus model emphasizing cohesion and loyalty as a result of fealty to a successful leader, the Puritan model for cohesion was the creation of a morally defined in-group.[11] These two models are thus variants on the individualist theme. The Puritans famously imposed penalties on people who departed from the moral/ideological strictures of the society. Puritan “ordered liberty” was the freedom to act within the confines of the moral order. This might be called the “paradox of individualism”: In order to form cohesive groups, individualists have at times erected strong social controls on individual behavior in order to promote group cohesion. They were also willing to incur great costs to impose their moral/ideological version of truth: Puritans were prone to “altruistic punishment,”[12] defined as punishment of people who depart from the moral-ideological consensus that costs the punisher. And for the secular-minded descendants of the Puritans in the 19th century, slavery and the aristocratic model of Southern society were anathema to the point that their destruction warranted huge sacrifices.

The logic connecting these tendencies to the individualist hunter-gather model is obvious: Like all humans in a dangerous and difficult world, hunter-gatherers need to develop cohesive, cooperative ingroups. But rather than base them on known kinship relations, the prototypical egalitarian-individualist groups of the West are based on reputation and trust. Egalitarian-individualists create moral-ideological communities in which those who violate public trust and other manifestations of the moral order are shunned, ostracized, and exposed to public humiliation—a fate that would have resulted in evolutionary death during the harsh ecological period of the Ice Age—the same fate as the derelict father who refused to provision his children.

The point here, and I am sure that Fraser would agree, is that the culture of the West as it developed in the modern era owes much more to the egalitarian individualism model of the Puritans than to the Indo-European model of aristocratic individualism.

Beyond Puritans and Cavaliers

Fraser is certainly aware of differences among different WASP groups, and thus far, the discussion has emphasized the Cavalier-descended Southern aristocratic culture and the Puritan-descended elite that became dominant, especially after the Civil War. Besides these groups, David Hackett Fischer discusses two other British groups: the Quakers, who are even more universalist and egalitarian than the Puritans, but nowhere near as culturally influential or economically dominant; and the Scots-Irish, who came from Northern England, Ulster, and the lowlands of Scotland. This group had a great deal of influence on culture of the American South and West. Fraser is surely right that the Puritan-descended WASP elite that dominated the board rooms and the elite universities have lost their religious faith, and what is left of it is little more than a mild version of cultural Marxism; they have generally succumbed to the destructive forces of the new cultural dispensation. This is not the case with the descendants of the Scots-Irish. Fischer describes their “prevailing cultural mode as profoundly conservative and xenophobic”;[13] historically, they detested both the Cavalier-descended planters and the Puritan-descended abolitionists. “In the early twentieth century they would become intensely negrophobic and antisemitic. In our own time they are furiously hostile to both communists and capitalists.”

There is some indication that they were less individualistic than other groups originating in England: to an extent far greater than their Puritan co-ethnics, they were more involved in clan relationships of extended families rather than merely lineal descent.“Marriage ties were weaker than blood ties,” and there was a tendency to marry within the extended family—both markers of greater collectivism.

The Scots-Irish certainly have not lost their faith. They showed “intense hostility to organized churches and established clergy on the one hand and [an] abiding interest in religion on the other.” They rejected the Anglican Church, religious taxes, and established clergy, but for all that, they were intensely and emotionally religious. Indeed, this group is the main force behind the culture of the American Bible Belt—the religious fundamentalism that is such an important aspect of contemporary American politics. They are, indeed, socially conservative and a great many of them are involved in the angry protests of the Tea Party movement. They are the epitome of implicit Whiteness,[14] flocking to White cultural events like NASCAR racing and gun shows.

The problem is that, along with the rest of White America, they are channelled by the media, federal government, legal system, and their own religious leaders to be silent on the matter of race; moreover, quite often their brand of evangelical religion is decidedly pro-Israel, which makes them avid supporters of the foreign-policy programs of the Israel lobby and the Republican Party (as defined by the Jewish dominated “neoconservatives.”) Nevertheless, this group of WASPs is likely to be a thorn in the side of the elites well into the future.

Rationality

Fraser deplores the rationalist tendencies of WASP culture because they ultimately undermined religion and ultimately the Anglo-Saxon ethno-nation.[15] Thus, Fraser sees scholastic philosophy, which was heavily influenced by Aristotle, as leading to “the divorce of God from man.” Darwin’s “bleak and disenchanted vision” was simply the endpoint of a centuries-long process that displaced God from the Western mind, rendering Westerners defenseless against the onslaught of other peoples.

However, I would argue that the rationality of Anglo-Saxons is just as fundamental as the irrational, emotional and religious aspects. As Ricardo Duchesne points out, one aspect of European uniqueness originated with the Greeks, who invented scientific reasoning by offering explanations of natural events that were entirely general. Duchesne defends Max Weber’s claim that, far more than any other civilization, the West exhibited a greater level of rationalization of all aspects of life. He comments on the greater extent to which “social activities involving the calculation of alternate means to a given end were rationalized, and in the higher degree to which theoretical beliefs about the nature of the universe, life, and God were rationalized through the use of definitions, theorems, and concepts.”[16]

There are deep relationships between rationality and individualism: individualists are prone to seeing the world in universalist terms, objectively and without biases resulting from in-group allegiances. This accounts for the strong tendency for moral universalism in Western philosophy, and as Weber notes, this rationalistic stance predisposes the West to create rational bureaucracies “managed by specialized and trained officials in accordance with impersonal and universal statuses and regulations formulated and recorded in writing.”[17]

It is certainly the case that this proneness to universalism and rationalism can result in failure to defend the legitimate particularlistic ethnic interests of the West in the name of universalist ideals. That is, indeed, what we are seeing now. However, there is no question that particularist ethnic interests are defensible from a rational, scientific perspective.[18]

Indeed, the WASP ethnic defense of the 1920s, resulting in the Immigration Restriction Law of 1924, was energized partly by an intellectual understanding of Darwinism and race, not by a religious sensibility. The strong emphasis on rationality meant that public discourse on immigration policy in the 1920s necessarily took place in an atmosphere where scientific ideas and rational discourse had pride of place. The basic argument of the restrictionists was that all groups in the country had legitimate interests in retaining their share of the national population, including Whites (or, more accurate in the case of Madison Grant and the eugenicists, Nordics).[19]

Nevertheless, for Fraser, the rational basis of the WASP ethnic defense was why it ultimately failed:

Lost altogether was the primordial understanding that Anglo-Saxon identity is inseparable from the blood faith of a Christian people. Once American political theology fell under the influence of scientific modernism, racial realists lost interest in the ethnoreligious traditions of Anglo-Saxon Christendom… . Scientific racism… bore the stamp of a soulless and self-defeating materialism. Racial realism was too cold and aloof to regenerate a sense of ethnoreligious solidarity among Anglo-Saxon Protestants. It left middle-class Americans unable to decide whether they were simply whites, or one of several more exotic breeds such as the Nordics, Aryans, or Caucasians. Lacking firm roots in the historical literature and popular culture of a folk religion, in ancestral myths of heroism, chivalry, and romantic love, Anglo-Saxon racial solidarity had little purchase within the collective machinery of social control that increasingly governed industrial America.

The WASP ethnic defense doubtless had emotional roots (more apparent in the non-Puritan-descended Anglo- Saxons of the West and South), but it was justified in a scientific, rational manner. The ultimate defeat of the WASP ethnic defense occurred because of the rise of the “Culture of Critique”—particularly Boasian anthropology, the Frankfurt School, and the general academic culture of the left.

It is probable that the decline in evolutionary and biological theories of race and ethnicity facilitated the sea change in immigration policy brought about by the 19 65 law. As Higham (19 84) notes, by the time of the final victory in 19 65, which removed national origins and racial ancestry from immigration policy and opened up immigration to all human groups, the Boasian perspective of cultural determinism and anti-biologism had become standard academic wisdom. The result was that “it became intellectually fashionable to discount the very existence of persistent ethnic differences. The whole reaction deprived popular race feelings of a powerful ideological weapon” (Higham 19 84, 58–59). Jewish intellectuals were prominently involved in the movement to eradicate the racialist ideas of Grant and others.[20]

In other words, the failure of WASP ethnic defense occurred because the high ground in rational, scientific debate had been seized by Jews as ethnic competitors. Note also John Higham’s point that the intense emotions felt by the restrictionists eventually failed because of the failure of restrictionist science. In the absence of an intellectually legitimate grounding, the WASP ethnic defense was doomed.

This is an incredibly important object lesson for contemporary attempts to defend White interests: We must be able to seize the rational, scientific high ground because that is essential to public debate in Western societies and ultimately to the emotional commitment of Whites to a sense of having group interests as Whites—in other words, to their very survival. In my view, a well-grounded scientific understanding of White genetic interests that rationalizes the intense natural motives of ethnic affiliation is likely to be far more effective in rallying Whites, especially elite Whites, than religious feelings. As Fraser is all too well aware, the story of religious feeling in the modern age has been to either sink into irrelevance for secular Whites (who are likely to be more educated) or be diverted into causes that are suicidal for religious Whites.

Jewish Influence

Fraser is quite aware of the ethnocentric aspect of Judaism and Jewish hostility toward Christianity. Indeed, I agree with his comment that “for most Jews … inveterate hostility toward Christianity is more important to their collective identity than ‘solidarity with Israel.’” Moreover, Fraser is not unaware of Jewish influence. He has a nice comment on Felix Adler’s universalist Ethical Culture society which promoted Anglo-Saxon cosmopolitanism and ethnic disappearance while promising that Jews would lose their ethnic coherence only after everyone else had done so. This sentiment—actually a mainstream ideology among Reform Jews of the period—would put off the sacrifice of their own ethnicity until “the arrival of a ‘post-ethnic’ utopia.” He credits them as “major players in the design and execution of the new constitutional order” underlying the New Deal. He also has a nice section of the Jewish campaign to rid the public square of any trace of Christianity.

Fraser also asks whether the abdication of the WASP has really resulted in a better society now that it is dominated by “an increasingly corrupt corporate plutocracy in which Ivy League Jews are heavily over-represented… . Worse still, Jewish elites harbor a deep-seated animus toward the Christian faith professed by most Americans.” And he notes the hypocrisy whereby “the Jewish civil religion explicitly disallows the desire of both Anglo-Saxon Protestants and ethnic Catholics to live in predominantly European Christian societies. At the same time organized Jewry loudly insists that Israel’s character as an explicitly Jewish state must be preserved and protected.” Moreover, Fraser notes that “ethnocentric Jewish elites bear a large, unacknowledged (but glaringly obvious, to those with eyes to see) share of responsibility” for militant Islam, moral decline, financial collapse and economic depression.

Nevertheless, he fails to deal with the Culture of Critique—Jewish intellectual domination, their very large influence on the media and the political process, and their role in promoting massive immigration of non-Whites which, after all, is the root of the entire problem.[21] As noted above, the triumph of the Jewish intellectual elite after WWII spelled the death knell of the WASP ethnic defense that culminated in the immigration law of 1924. The organized Jewish community was also pivotal in promoting massive non-White immigration beginning with their triumph of the 1965 immigration law. WASPs indeed have their weaknesses. But in the absence of the rise of a hostile Jewish elite, there is no reason to suppose that America would now be confronted with 100,000,000 non-Whites, many harboring historical grudges against Whites, and under threat to have a non-White majority in the foreseeable future.[22]

Whites Versus WASPs

Fraser’s appeal is to WASPs, not the “dangerously over-inclusive racial phenotype” of White. But, as he notes, “in the first ‘white man’s country,’ age-old ethnic differences between English, Scotch-Irish, Scots, Welsh, German and French Huguenot colonists literally paled into insignificance.” Fraser argues that the concept of Whiteness “always implied the inherent equality of anyone passing” for White, a logic that repelled conservatives, who were attracted to the talented members of other races and capitalists who cared more about the cost of their workers than their race. Fraser advises WASPs to shed the label of “White” in favor of “reasserting their ancestral identity as Anglo- Saxons.”

I do think that different White subgroups should continue to remain separate, particularly in Europe where it would be a very large loss to lose the different languages and cultures of the various European groups. Even in the United States, it is nice to see celebrations of Scottish, Irish, and other European cultures by their descendants.

However, it would be foolish indeed to organize politically solely on the basis of these sub-groups. The term “White” in the American political context refers to all 200 million people of European descent—a very large and politically powerful group, whereas the descendants of Anglo-Saxon Protestants are a much smaller group. The obvious strategy is to legitimize a sense of White identity and White interests in the current climate, dominated as it is by elites hostile to the traditional White peoples and White culture of America. Having an identity qua White need not compromise identifications with sub-groups of Whites. There are important differences among these groups, as emphasized in this review. However, we are all quite closely related—indeed, Europeans are the most genetically homogeneous continental group on Earth. And we should all have a sense of our common cultural heritage, spanning from the Classical Age to the Italian Renaissance to German Romanticism to the English drama.

Such a rational construction of our ethnic interests in the contemporary world is therefore not without a strong biological basis of near kinship, but also carries with it an intense emotional appreciation of the common European culture and its accomplishments. My hope is that these two strands can eventually win the day, despite the current very large threat to our people and culture.


KEVIN MACDONALD is Professor of Psychology at California State University–Long Beach. He is the author of more than 100 scholarly papers and reviews, as well as A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (1994), Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism (1998), and The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (1998). He is Editor of The Occidental Observer and The Occidental Quarterly. Cultural Insurrections, a collection of essays, appeared in 2008.


  1. James Russell, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).  ↩
  2. Berta Surees Phillipotts, Kindred and Clan in the Middle Ages and After: A Study in the Sociology of the Teutonic Races (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913).  ↩
  3. 3 See Kevin MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998), Chapters 4 and 7.  ↩
  4. Kevin MacDonald, “The Establishment and Maintenance of Socially Imposed Monogamy in Western Europe,” Politics and the Life Sciences, vol. 14, 1995.  ↩
  5. Ricardo Duchesne, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2011).  ↩
  6. Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethny, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2006).  ↩
  7. Kevin MacDonald, “Review of Ricardo Duchesne’s The Uniqueness of Western Civilization.” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 11 (3), Fall, 2011, pp. 47–74.  ↩
  8. David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1989).  ↩
  9. Kevin Phillips, Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, Civil Warfare and the Triumph of Anglo-America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), p. 26. See also MacDonald, “Review of Ricardo Duchesne’s The Uniqueness of Western Civilization.”  ↩
  10. Charles Murray, Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 8 00 B.C. to 1950 (New York: Harper Perennial, 2004).  ↩
  11. Kevin MacDonald, “American Transcendentalism: An Indigenous Culture of Critique.” The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 8, Summer 2008, pp. 91–106.  ↩
  12. E. Fehr & S. Gächter, “Altruistic Punishment in Humans,” Nature 415, 2002, pp. 137–140.  ↩
  13. Fischer, Albion’s Seed, Ibid.  ↩
  14. Kevin MacDonald, “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism.” The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 6 (4), Winter, 2006–07, pp. 7–46.  ↩
  15. See. Kevin MacDonald, “Neoconservatism as a Jewish Movement,” The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 4, Summer 2004, pp. 1–18; “The Neoconservative Mind.” The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 8 (3), Fall 2008, pp. 1–18.  ↩
  16. Duchesne, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, p. 248.  ↩
  17. Ibid., p 249  ↩
  18. Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests.  ↩
  19. Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998), Chapter 7.  ↩
  20. MacDonald, The Culture of Critique, pp. 252–253. The inner quotations are to: Carl Degler, In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); John Higham, Send These to Me: Immigrants in Urban America, rev. ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984).  ↩
  21. MacDonald, The Culture of Critique.  ↩
  22. See my review of Eric P. Kaufmann’s The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America; The Occidental Observer, July 29, 2009: http://www. theoccidentalobserver.net/articles/MacDonald-Kaufmann.html (accessed May 1, 2012).  ↩
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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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