[I apologize for my nonexistent posting lately. At a certain point, it felt like I didn't have anything interesting to say that wasn't being said already, and there are only so many "In Praise of Wretchard" posts I can write before it gets repetitive. Fortunately, I just got a job in legislative analysis, which should be enough to get my creative juices flowing again. Plus, there's grad school in the Fall…
In the meantime, here's something that I've been mulling over for some time, but hesitated to write about because it seemed to smack of the navel-gazing victimology for which I typically have no patience. As to whether I fall into that trap, you may judge for yourself.]
Jew-hatred is a fascinating topic for study, most of all because there are innumerable variations of it. One can tell a lot about a society by looking at the precise nature of its Jew-hatreds. (That some form will exist seems an immutable law of history, aside from being explicitly foretold in the book of Deuteronomy.) It seems, to my eye, that Jew-hatred generally starts with the common concerns of a society, takes them to grotesque lengths, and then puts the Jew in the center of it all.
Many forms of Jew-hatred exist today, of course. Some are simply variants of basic tribalism; some are sparked by envy for an economic competitor, much as ethnic Chinese are despised across Asia for their business savvy. Some are derived from religious ideas, a phenomenon that goes back thousands of years. But two broad strains today seem relatively new, both in that they have only existed for a century or two, and in that they are both based on non-religious or even anti-religious philosophies. For the sake of convenience, I shall call them Right-Wing Jew-Hatred (RWJH) and Left-Wing Jew-Hatred (LWJH). Both terms are gross misnomers, just as the terms Right and Left are misnomers; but since neo-Nazis and their ilk tend to be called right-wing, and Noam Chomsky and his ilk tend to be called leftist, the terms are readily understood.
These two ideologies hate Jews for precisely inverted reasons, as will be discussed below; yet ironically enough, both of them will find common cause with Jihadi Islam, despite Jihadism being their enemy as well when all is said and done.
RWJH takes inspiration from a love of the soil, of skilled craftsmanship, of tight-knit communities. The ideal that followers of this philosophy pine for, in some obscure sense, is a nation in which people are united around bonds of kinship, deeply in harmony with the land around them through the work of their hands. The concreteness of life, the labor among tangible surroundings such as the land or artisanship, is expected to produce a sturdy type of citizen, ruggedly pure, courageous, and the undisputed master of his domain. D. H. Lawrence's ideas of "blood knowledge" would agree well with this philosophy (as would much else that he wrote, to be frank).
The nation is seen as a large extended family, tied together by history and a shared connection with the land. Other nations are outsiders; while the home nation might not bear outsiders ill will (a rare state of affairs, to be sure), it certainly has no obligation to see to outsiders' welfare. Least of all can the nations mix into an undifferentiated mass; if so, the unique heritage of each one is lost.
Thus far the ideas may be discordant to the ear of the modern sophisticate, but there is much here that is praiseworthy. Indeed, many of these ideas can be found in one form or another in many stouthearted communities in America: the importance of family and history; the sense of harmony with the land (less that of the hippy than of the veteran hunter, feeling closer to the animals around him than can any who have not killed); satisfaction with the work of your hands; deep patriotism and love of country.
But RWJH takes these virtues and turns them into a Manichaean struggle between the true citizen and the corrupt. For as these Jew-haters admit, this idyllic vision is not reality; in the real world, the deepest nature of the people is constantly frustrated by the work of the Jew. The Jew, an eternal wanderer between nations, is cut off from the deep connection to the land that true citizens enjoy. Similarly, the Jew cannot enjoy the blood ties to his neighbors that all true citizens possess, and is in a constant state of alienation. His soul is therefore twisted and warped, unable to derive satisfaction from the manly labor of the craftsman or the farmer.
Yet the Jew does not suffer his fate in silence. Sick with envy of the hearty folk around him, he plots to reshape society in his own image. Thus, the Jew promotes ever-more-abstract forms of capitalism, in which people are reduced to commodities and ripped from their wholesome communities. Rather than developing blood knowledge of the earth around them, capitalist drones exchange their labor for money, the ultimate abstraction. The Jew thrives on abstraction; he also knows that true citizens are starved by it. Eventually, the connection between true citizens and the physical world is severed entirely by the artificial system in which they labor.
The Jew also seeks to undermine the traditional institutions of the community. "Tolerance," "internationalism," and the like are simply avenues for the Jew to subvert the integrity of the nation, and thus reduce all peoples to one undifferentiated mass. The Jew also spreads perverted practices in order to destroy the traditional family, thus making all people as alientated from each other as he is. The end state for which the cunning Jew works is for all peoples to be adrift in a sea of symbols, with no deep connection to their neighbors, their homes, or their own native skills. Then, the Jew will be content, for he is innately suited for such an environment.
What must the RWJH do? Stand vigilant against contamination, of ideas or of blood. When it seems necessary, resort to violence to vanquish the Jewish menace. Yet in large part the battle is lost before it is begun; today's world is increasingly a world of ideas, of the intellect, not of virtuous labor. In particular, the "Jewish" banking and economic system is self-sustaining and omnipresent; even if ties of kinship and nationality etc. took on a new prominence for true citizens, the enervating effects of their financial environment would continue. I have not seen the RWJH community suggest a single serious alternative. Even Fascism would be insufficient; the Nazis used international banks just as much as the next government. In short, RWJHs are fighting what amounts to a desperate, doomed rearguard action. The modern world has left them behind.
LWJH is ultimately motivated by the desire to build a peaceful world, a better world. The view of many on the Left is that humanity's ills are almost entirely the result of our brutish tribalism (expressed in the modern nation-state), the influence of irrational ideas such as religion, and most of all the failure of people to feel empathy for one another. For people to stop going to war, they must simultaneously feel no loyalty to discrete groups of people and feel a deep love and loyalty to all people, as fellow-citizens of the world.
A few seminal philosophers are worth citing here. First, Immanuel Kant proposed that war would inevitably be abolished once all nations were subsumed into a world government, an idea enthusiastically taken up by many. (That Kant also predicted that such a world government would be a "soulless tyranny" is immaterial.) The irrational loyalty that many have for the United Nations, whose peacekeepers are best known for sexually abusing young children and for leaving "protected" civilians to die in Bosnia, Rwanda and elsewhere, is due to the UN's promise to be a true global government.
(In case you doubt the ecstasy with which the Left views a world government, check out this post and remember that the sign in question was paid for with tax dollars.)
Second, Immanuel Levinas wrote extensively about how the act of cognition forces the rational mind, or logos as he referred to it, to construct "themes" or imperfect representations of the object being studied, since the logos cannot deal with an object's entirety. Therefore, nobody can truly know the totality of another person on an intellectual level; instead, you are dealing with a caricature.
That people are able to do evil to each other, Levinas wrote, is only possible because of this tendency of the logos. If a man would experience the totality of another, he could not bring himself to cause his fellow injury. Hence, violence is routinely accompanied by instinctive or deliberate depersonalization.
The only way to break out of this stranglehold of the logos is to experience people before the act of cognition, on a pre-cognitive or emotional level. Cognition, and especially language (which inherently captures meaning incompletely), cannot be allowed to rule our minds. They are useful tools, to be sure, but to rely on them is to allow people to caricature each other and do evil. Only the purest experience of empathy with others, in which the distinction between Self and Other breaks down and all that is left is the We, can ensure peace.
This idea was taken further by Levinas's student, Jacques Derrida, who wrote that since all formal systems are inherently incomplete, they cannot be depended on to dictate truth or standards of behavior.
In the real world, these ideas and others like them have inspired many on the Left to work against the idea of the nation-state and other such "artificial" dividing-lines between people, such as religion or race. Once all people see each other as brothers in a world fellowship, once there is no reason for conflict and only the "oceanic feeling" of total empathy, then the world will see peace.
Again, while the specifics of such ideas are sometimes unnerving, they are often built around laudible foundations. Peace should be beloved by all righteous people. Reflexive nationalism, and tribalism more generally, has been the cause of horrifying bloodshed throughout history, as have religions and entrenched power structures. Willingness to break free of convention, when that convention merely perpetuates harm, is indisputably good.
But again, these ideas are taken to a grotesque extreme. And as with the RWJHs, the LWJHs must admit that their ideal world does not yet exist. Men still make war on men, traditions are fiercely defended from attempts to nullify them, and tribalism is if anything increasing. Most galling to many LWJHs is the world economic system, i.e. capitalism, a system of endless competition between people in which there are winners and losers. That such a system is unmatched at improving the physical and technological well-being of humanity is beside the point; by setting people in conflict, capitalism makes a world of total empathy and We-ness impossible. And cooperative economic systems that would foster this empathy are inexplicably unpopular.
Jews are an especially severe problem for the LWJH. Jews (and note that LWJH will rarely speak of "the Jew" as RWJHs sometimes do) cannot be safely dismissed as an unenlightened people like African aborigines, unable to grasp the true way of globalism. To the contrary, Jews are at the forefront of every field of intellectual endeavor. Indeed, Levinas and Derrida were both Jewish, as are many in the vanguard of the globalist project. Yet the Jews had the effrontery to found a country based explicitly on an ethnic/religious identity, Israel. Moreover, Jews tried the socialist system in its least unsuccessful instances, the kibbutzim, before concluding that they were unsustainable as purely socialist redoubts.
We must understand all the ways in which this is a challenge to the globalist idea. Jews, certainly familiar with the ideas of globalism, rejected it in favor of (seemingly) the most primitive tribalism. The state they found is not simply tribalist; it is inspired (in some indeterminate fashion) by a religion, a religion that says that Jews are set apart from the world around them, that they must hold themselves within a code of law manifested by a God. The Jews as a nation declare that national identity has meaning, and that they are (in some sense) better than all other men. How abhorrent to the LWJH. Worst of all, the existence of a Jewish nation throws into question the bona fides of the Jewish globalists, who can be accused (in a supreme irony) of dual loyalty: to the idea of a global society, but also to their unique nation.
The Jews as a coherent body, and especially the State of Israel, are therefore a deadly threat to the LWJH dream of utopia. The LWJH must in turn work to stamp out this dangerous idea of Jewish peoplehood and religion, both through intellectual means and through physical means. (Thus we have such marvels as Noam Chomsky visiting Lebonan just long enough to extoll the Islamist Hizbullah. Why on Earth should Chomsky give such people the time of day? They are violent, they are religious, they are tribal — yet they are trying to destroy Israel, and that makes all the difference.) For the Jews, through their infuriating nationalism and religious delusion, are the most stubborn of a shrinking group of obstacles to world peace. (Another obstacle, of course, is the militant Jingo Christianist arrogant imperial unilateralist United States; this explains why on the Left, Jew-hatred and anti-Americanism often go hand-in-hand.)
Most of all, the LWJH must continue to chip away at the established hierarchies and moralities, subverting the very foundations and justifications of Judaism and religion/nationalism generally. The goal is to slowly convince the Jews to give up their selfish ideas on their own; LWJHs do not want an actual genocide like RWJHs, merely an intellectual genocide in that the Jewish people as such would cease to exist.
As I noted above, RWJHs and LWJHs hate Jews for precisely inverted reasons. Yet they are both reacting to real phenomena. Jews are simultaneously alienated and clannish, abstract and rooted in the physical, iconoclastic and fiercely protective of tradition. True, a given subset of Jews will often manifest some of these traits and not others, yet there is no inherent reason for this. The traits listed are all implicit in Judaism. This permits two groups that agree on nothing else (RWJHs and LWJHs) to find common ground in their despite of Jews, if for different reasons.
It is worth pointing out that both ideologies have a pathological hatred for modern capitalism. RWJHs believe capitalism to stand in the way of "blood knowledge" and true vital connections to the world and our neighbors; LWJHs believe capitalism to stand in the way of progress away from the State of Nature and towards global harmony. Both, again, are reacting to legitimate concerns with capitalism, concerns which were noted by Schumpeter no less than by Marx. But neither ideology has a true alternative that works in the real world; scapegoating the Jews for their failures is a convenient way of obscuring this inconveniency.
And, of course, both RWJHs and LWJHs frequently work in concert with Jihadi Islamists. For RWJHs, this is a simple matter of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"; they view Islamists with contempt for the most part, but see them as the best hope of breaking the Jewish deathgrip on the world.
The attitude of LWJHs is more complex. Even though the Islamists are guilty of the same sins as the Jews, they are excused because they have not yet been enlightened. LWJHs unconsciously believe that the Muslim world must inevitably accede to the superior wisdom of the Left, as must the whole world; therefore, any actions they do in the meanwhile are less significant. Best to use them to chastise the Jews, who are not ignorant savages but spiteful heretics.
On the other hand, LWJHs recognize, even as they seek to deny it, that the Islamists have something they lack. Fundamentally, the ideology of the Left is hollow because it seeks universal brotherhood for its own sake, and nothing higher. In the absence of a metaphysical standard (e.g. a Supreme Being), what inherent meaning can be found in the life of a self-replicating collection of complex carbons? Islam, meanwhile, is built around submission to the will of God. The lives of believers are infused with meaning, leading to a certitude and self-sacrifice that LWJHs find awe-inspiring. Their identification with Islamism is in part a pathetic attempt to experience such certitude for themselves.
Ultimately, Islamism is the greater beneficiary of this strange parnership. For if the Left should succeed in sweeping away the old system in favor of their utopia, it will immediately crumble before the onslaught of the Jihadis. Indeed, it is crumbling already all across Europe. RWJHs are about as dangerous in the long run as a caveman stubbornly insisting he doesn't need to learn how to use tools; but LWJHs, advancing a seductive yet flawed philosophy, are setting the stage for their own enslavement.