Alexander Jacob is a bit of an oddity. An American-educated Anglo-Indian, he writes from a continental European orientation. His fourth book, European Perspectives, consists of six essay chapters written between 2000 and 2019. Three of the essays appeared online at Counter-Currents.com. The book’s back cover suggests that one purpose for this volume is to dissuade the European Right from adopting “vulgar populist ideologies” originating from America. Jacob makes his distaste for the Anglosphere, especially all things American, quite evident. To find an authentic European ideology one needs to go back one hundred years or so to the German Conservative Revolution of the 1920s.
One useful feature of European Perspectives is its assessment of a number of important European thinkers most of whom the reader will have at least a passing acquaintance, plus a few less familiar names: Werner Sombart (1863–1941), Oswald Spengler (1880–1936), Erik von Kuehnelt–Leddihn (1909–1999), Julius Evola (1898–1974), Theodor Adorno (1903–1969), Hans–Jürgen Syberberg (b. 1935), Max Weber (1864–1920), Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) and Theodor Herzl (1860–1904).
The first essay, “German Socialism as an Alternative to Marxism,” originally appeared in the print journal The Scorpion. It is interesting to note that the term “socialism” is now the bugaboo of the American Right. Thirty-five years ago, I think, it was the “L word” (liberal) that played that role. Jacob seeks to differentiate Jewish-derived Marxist socialism from the German-derived spiritual socialism. Although “a professed anti-Semite,” Marx had a “Jewish mentality” that manifested itself in a “materialistic view of life” (8). This is in contrast to what might be called the communitarian ethos of Werner Sombart’s German socialism and Oswald Spengler’s Prussian socialism.
Sombart, one of Jacob’s favorite scholars, believed “that the modern system of commercial capitalism was due not mainly to English Protestantism as Max Weber had proclaimed . . . but to Judaism” (11). His German socialism was aligned with the Conservative Revolution of the Weimar period and thinkers such as Oswald Spengler. Jacob is an admirer of Prussian culture and Spengler’s Prussian socialism which does not seek to destroy capitalism. It is similar to corporatism, emphasizing the common weal, collective structures, and cooperative goals. Early on Spengler saw that “democracy, in general, is an unholy alliance of urban masses, cosmopolitan intellectuals, and finance capitalists. The masses themselves are manipulated by the latter two elements through their specific agencies: the press and the parties” (22).
Post-war developments have shown that both Sombart and Spengler underestimated the power of world Jewry which “is virulently opposed to national cultures and to the natural, hierarchical, and autarkical ordering of European society” (25). The author concludes that establishing an authentic version of European socialism is the only path to salvation for the continent.
The second essay looks at two books written in the early 1950s by two “authentic noblemen.” One is Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of Our Time and the other Julius Evola’s Men Among the Ruins. Kuehnelt-Leddihn, born into the Habsburg aristocracy of the early twentieth century, was a Catholic monarchist who opposed both democracy and capitalism. He believed there was an “inextricable connection between democracy and tyranny,” and that the “rule of money and technology . . . was culturally sterile” (29). “Kuehnelt-Leddihn squarely places the blame for democratic degeneration on Protestantism” (35). The solution was not to be found in national socialism for he opposed a mass movement based on ethno-nationalism. K-L was a true reactionary who looked to the priest and the sovereign to restore the cultural integrity of Europe.
The Sicilian nobleman Julius Evola, who wrote the second book surveyed in this chapter, was critical of many of the same forces that troubled Kuehnelt-Leddihn — liberalism, individualism, materialism and utilitarianism — which he saw as originating from the bourgeoisie. Yet he did see a role for mass politics, and he was sympathetic to fascism, especially as expressed by the philosopher and fellow Sicilian Giovanni Gentile. As do many on the European Right, Evola favored a corporate economy: “autarky should be encouraged rather than the internationalism of global commerce” (42).
Men Among the Ruins purposes a specific governmental structure with a bicameral legislature. The Lower House would deal with economic issues, while “the Upper House should be the sole representative of the political life of the nation” (44). Its members would be men with life-time appointments selected from a new elite based on the Männerbünde warrior ideal. “Nationalism . . . should be avoided if it is of the popular sort,” because, according to Evola, “nationalism has a leveling and anti-aristocratic function” (49). Rather than the nation state, Men Among the Ruins suggests an imperium perhaps similar to the medieval Holy Roman Empire. For Evola racialism is too naturalistic or material. He celebrates the sacred and the spiritual.
Unlike Kuehnelt-Leddihn, however, Evola does not believe that Catholicism can provide a political-religious foundation for society. He has even less regard for “another international sect, Judaism.” Jewry is largely responsible for “the disorder of recent times,” and for the “thorough economisation of modern life” (50–51). Evola also identifies Marxism, Darwinism, and Nietzsche’s nihilism as useful tools of the Jews.
Jacob’s ideology synthesizes Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Evola’s beliefs. He accepts Evola’s criticism of Jewry and the bourgeoisie, but appears to reject his disparagement of Catholicism. K-L plainly believed that the throne and pulpit were essential for a return of authentic European culture. Considering his ethnicity, it is not surprising that Jacob would concur with Evola that race is more of a spiritual than a physical attribute.
In the next chapter, Jacob discusses post-war German culture from two perspectives, that of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg a film director and cultural historian, and Theodore Adorno, the Jewish-Marxist co-founder of the Frankfurt School. Syberberg realizes that despite its “economic miracle,” Germany has not yet recovered from its defeat in 1945 because its culture is just a hollow shell. One reason for this situation is that the nation has not been able to do the work of mourning — Trauerarbeit. “Germany had for too long been forbidden to grieve for its own losses, while the Jews, on the other hand, have been allowed to commemorate the massacre of their people as a turning point in world history” (58).
Much of the responsibility for the deplorable state of German culture can be traced to the efforts of Adorno and his colleague Max Horkheimer who returned to Germany after the war. They went to work for “the so-called ‘Congress for Cultural Freedom’ funded by the CIA to de-Nazify the post-war German educational system and cultural institutions” (63). Adorno is infamous for his statement that, “to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Only the most insipid and discordant modern music and art would be permitted in post-war Germany. Everything else would be barbaric.
“According to Syberberg, art is virtually impossible without a nationalistic and aristocratic social system” (64). And the inspiration for art is found in nature, “blood and soil,” if you will. Modern art prohibits beauty because National Socialism “was considered as an ‘aestheticism of politics’” (64). Jacob concludes that Syberberg wanted to use “art as a redemptive influence on society,” while Adorno used it “as an instrument of revenge” (66).
In the fourth essay Jacob shifts gears to examine two books, both written in 2011, that analyze the success of Western civilization: The Uniqueness of Western Civilization by Ricardo Duchesne and The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson.
Duchesne’s thesis is that the West has always been different, more creative, than other civilizations. The source of this creativity is the “aristocratic egalitarianism” of Indo-European societies. This unique aristocratic egalitarianism was made possible by a political arrangement that provided “relative freedom and autonomy from centralised authority” (79). According to Duchesne, Western individualism was not the product of Christianity, as conservative writer Charles Murray proposed,Charles Murray, Human Accomplishments: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950 (New York: HarperCollins, 2003). rather it has its origins on the Pontic steppe culture of the fourth millennium BC. Jacob supports Murray’s position.
Jacob is dismissive of Duchesne’s thesis. Citing a lack of evidence from early Indo-European cultures, he characterizes the Pontic steppe theory “as an exercise in sociological fantasy” (80). He sarcastically refers to Duchesne’s work as a “paean to Indo-European individualism” (85) and disdains “his romantic hypothesis about the migrations southward from the Pontic steppe” (86) — despite what is now overwhelming anthropological and historical evidence, much of which is reviewed by Duchesne (see also Kevin MacDonald’s Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition, Ch. 2). Jacob, who emphasizes the functions of the altar and the crown in Western civilization, criticizes Duchesne for neglecting the roles played by the priestly or religious caste and the monarchy in supporting an aristocracy.
It appears that Jacob also finds Ferguson’s explanation of Western ascendency unsatisfactory as well, though his criticism is less theoretical. For Ferguson, the West’s greatness can be found in: “competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic” (92). Like Duchesne, Ferguson sees a lack of centralized power as a Western asset as opposed to the centralized bureaucracy of China. He believes property rights are closely associated with “the rule of law and representative government” (93).
While Ferguson celebrates “the triumph of jeans and rock music — apparel and noise of the American proletariat,” Jacob contends that “all these tawdry American productions are precisely what a truly cultured person of the Old World — the real West — finds so repulsive in American society” (96). The consumer society that Ferguson applauds is the plebeian capitalism manifest in “the general vulgarity and lack of style of Americans” (96).
Ferguson is not, however, completely sanguine regarding the future of the Occident. He warns that the greatest threat to the West is “our own loss of faith in the civilization we inherited from our ancestors,” while Duchesne expresses similar concerns about the “nihilism, cultural relativism, [and] weariness” of the West (98).
Speaking of triumphalism, in the next chapter Jacob confronts Francis Fukuyuma’s The End of History and the Last Man (1992). Writing at the end of the Cold War, Fukuyuma, the Japanese-American neo-conservatove, sees the final victory for a liberal-capitalist world order. To Jacob’s thinking, what Fukuyama considers the end of history is Jewish “economic utopianism which manifested itself in the twentieth century as totalitarian Communism . . . [and] was transformed in the new ‘promised land’ of the Jews into totalitarian liberalism of the ‘American Dream’” (102). Jacob concludes that Fukuyama’s neo-conservatism illustrates “the incompatibility of the American with genuinely European systems of political thought” (103).
In the remainder of this essay Jacob traces how the English, and later the Americans, deviated from traditional European values. In essence: the rise of Puritanism and its anti-monarchical ideas led to the English Civil War, the Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution. Puritans with their individualism and industry came to see “citizens as economic units of production not unlike those of the later Communist utopia of Marx” (106). Plus, according to Jacob, Puritanism has always been heavily influenced by Judaism. Then, increasingly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Jews in America were able to transform the remnant of Puritanism into their own political/economic system. It was “the re-entry of the Jews into England during the Puritan revolution” that began the unraveling of European culture, with the end results that we see today (121).
The last essay in European Perspectives deals with Hannah Arendt and Zionism. Arendt was a German-Jewish political philosopher who studied under Martin Heidegger, among others, before eventually emigrating to the US in 1941. Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, saw Zionism as a solution to anti-Semitism. Arendt became a socialist Zionist which she saw as the joining of two of nineteenth-century Europe’s main ideologies — nationalism and socialism. Some might say nationalism + socialism = national socialism for Jews, but this is not what she had in mind.
Jacob writes that from the beginning Zionism was much more of a secular than a religious project, and there were, and are, some anti-Zionist Jews. Also, in the early years there was the idea of a one-state solution with an “Arab-Jewish bi-nationalism and [this proposal] was supported by Arendt herself” (134). Over the decades the left-wing socialist faction of Zionism has weakened while the far-right parties gained ascendency. “Arendt thus came to consider Israel as a capitalist and colonialist — and perhaps also imperialist — state” (138).
Arendt realized that without reconciliation and cooperation between Arabs and Jews continuing military and economic aid from the US would be necessary for Israel’s survival. Alternative renditions for a Jewish homeland, with or without a Jewish state, are suggested by Jacob and Arendt. As expected, America shares a large measure of blame for the present impasse. The neo-con/neo-liberal US political establishment gives carte blanche support to the Zionist rightwing. Jacob agrees with Arendt that if Jews would retain or resume “their peculiar ‘pariah’ status as Jews . . . and not attempt to distort European culture with American-Jewish vulgarity . . . , it is possible that the Jewish Question may yet be resolved in a reasonable manner” (143).
So, what can the reader take away from Perspectives? First a couple of lesser criticisms: At this critical time, is it wise to accentuate the religious and national divisions among Westerners? Is there a need to refight the wars of religion? Jacob supports the Catholic Church, but today Protestants are not Catholics staunchest opponents. Plus, there is an inconsistency here as Jacob has a particular regard for Prussian culture, yet Prussia was a predominately Protestant nation. Second, as an American who has lived and worked in Europe, I do not minimize the cultural differences between these two branches of Western civilization. Nor will I defend the disgusting American political and cultural establishment. That said, there can be, and should be, more that binds us together than separates us.
As mentioned at the start, the author is an unusual person and the book has an unusual orientation. Though written in English, it appears to be addressed largely to the German and Italian Right. These two nations, losers in the tragic conflicts of the last century, are also the home of some of Jacob’s favorite thinkers: Sombart, Spengler, Gentile, and Evola. Jacob’s heart, if not his head, belongs to the Conservative Revolution and reaction. The back cover tells us that the author received a doctorate in Intellectual history from Penn State, and Perspectives will probably appeal most to students of European ideologies.
Jacob looks to the church and monarchy to save the West. But look at the present Pope and the current royal families of Europe. It is hard to see the practical application of Catholicism and monarchism to twenty-first century Europe’s existential crisis. Yet Jacob is an erudite analyst who makes some perceptive points. There is a desperate need for a new aristocracy in Western societies. It is a truism that every society, except perhaps the most primitive, is ruled by one or more elite groups. In social science, this is sometimes referred to as the iron law of oligarchy. Not every elite, however, is aristocratic, and aristocracies take time to develop, time the West does not have. At present we are ruled by elites who are hostile to the interests of Western peoples. Before an aristocracy can develop, we need to create a revolutionary cadre from which a new elite will emerge.
Jacob is also certainly correct that a spiritual rebirth is an essential component for a Western renewal. Christianity, theologically speaking, appears to be a spent force. If this is not the case it is up to Christians to prove otherwise. The West is in dire want of a new religion that is naturalistic and science-based, yet still contains an element of faith that is part of all religions.I briefly discuss some possible avenues for spiritual development in: Nelson Rosit, “Ernst Haeckel Reconsidered,” The Occidental Quarterly, 15. 4 (Summer 2015) 30-42.
I respect Jacob’s scholarship, but his ideological prescriptions will not suffice for the twenty-first century West. While we need guidance and inspiration from the past, mass migrations and globalized economies are rapidly and radically changing the cultural landscape of the Occident. The historical peoples of the West are now slated to become minorities in their own homelands. We need new elites to propagate a new ideology that will be part of a new spiritual awakening. That is a monumental task. Nothing could be more difficult, yet nothing less will do.
 Charles Murray, Human Accomplishments: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950 (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).
 I briefly discuss some possible avenues for spiritual development in: Nelson Rosit, “Ernst Haeckel Reconsidered,” The Occidental Quarterly, 15. 4 (Summer 2015) 30-42.