Having read deeply into the Jewish Question for almost 20 years, I’m always fascinated by novel objections to anti-Semitism. This was the case when I was prompted to turn to the writings of Curtis “Mencius Moldbug” Yarvin by a recent Keith Woods video (“Unqualified Reservations on Moldbug”). I think I first heard about Yarvin around 8 years ago, but there never seemed to be a “hook” sufficient for me to want to read his work. It was only with the Woods video, and an interesting video response to the Woods post from the academic YouTuber “The Distributist,” that I learned that Yarvin had at some point discussed the Jewish Question, or at least his personal stance on anti-Semitism. It was finally time for me to bite. For the past few weeks, I’ve been giving serious consideration to Yarvin’s short 2007 essay “Why I am not an anti-Semite,” as well as many of his other essays.
Yarvin, probably the foremost thinker of the “Neoreactionary movement,” is in my opinion a talented and generally thoughtful writer. We seem to share a great interest in the writings of Thomas Carlyle, and while I disagree with what I perceive to be Yarvin’s glossing over of Carlyle’s old-form socialist (in a good sense) tendencies with the implication that they were a kind of youthful phase he imbibed from friends and later outgrew,Yarvin quotes Walt Whitman on the socialist tendencies of Carlyle, adding “You will indeed see Carlyle, especially in his early works—before he has entirely rid himself from his old group of Radical friends, to be exact—take just this tack. Much of it is still found in Chartism (1840).” Carlyle in fact wrote his excellent “Chartism,” a thoroughly socialist anti-establishment work, in his mid-40s, and reiterated some of its ethos in Latter Day Pamphlets around a decade later. It’s quite clear that throughout his life Carlyle had an intense sympathy for the White British working classes, and, unusually for his time, for the Irish as the worst victims of the excesses of imperial mercantile interests. I think we’d have a mutually enjoyable discussion on the subject of the “Sage of Chelsea.” My aim in this essay, however, is not to explore Yarvin’s writings in general, or to critique or otherwise examine the ideas behind the Neoreactionary movement. Quite frankly, there are many people better qualified and well-read in some of these ideas than I am, or ever will be. Instead, since my work is concerned primarily with the history of anti-Semitism, I want to focus specifically on “Why I am not an anti-Semite,” and to tease out and highlight some of its problems.
I have to confess to hesitating in writing this essay for a few reasons. The first is that the Yarvin piece dates from 2007, rendering it 13 years old at this point. How accurately it can be said to reflect Yarvin’s current ideas about anti-Semitism is therefore less than clear. Since he hasn’t issued any further statement on the matter, however, I am left to assume that it continues to represent his fundamental stance on the issue. My second reason is that Yarvin’s essay is, from my perspective, very short — a little over 1,600 words. As someone who regularly writes pieces around 4,000-8,000 words in length, I get the impression that Yarvin’s essay isn’t as complete or evidenced as it should, or could, be in terms of deserving a lengthy critique. I would certainly regard it as somewhat unfair if I’d simply written down a few thoughts, only for someone to invest several thousand more words in an effort to rubbish them. On this matter I can only say (and this is a compliment) that the relative novelty, even strangeness, of some of Yarvin’s comments, at least when compared with rather tired rebuttals to anti-Semitism from the likes of Jordan Peterson, Slavoj Žižek, and stereotypical Jewish apologists, are in fact deserving of a response, regardless of their brevity. Finally, a large part of my work over the last eight years has involved an attempt to offer an evidence-based apologetics for attitudes and beliefs, both historical and contemporary, that are regarded as anti-Semitic. A key part of this effort has been direct engagement with influential counter-narratives (see my recent long essay on the weaknesses of Middleman Minority Theory), and Yarvin’s renewed and ongoing influence in certain Rightist circles really does necessitate the production of a serious corrective view.Yarvin has only been discussed once previously at The Occidental Observer, where he has been discussed, in poor context in my opinion, by Marcus Alethia, as a “brilliant neoreactionary thinker and half-Jew.”
“Why I am not an anti-Semite.”
Before critiquing the relevant arguments, we should begin first with a representative summary, using his own words, of the reasons why Yarvin is “not an anti-Semite.” Yarvin opens by explaining the origins of his essay. One of his over-arching ideas is that of “the Cathedral,” a term he coined to describe the elite network of academics, mainstream journalists, media moguls and capitalist oligarchs who preach the official “faith” of political correctness. Yarvin has often characterised “the Cathedral” as fundamentally Christian, especially Calvinist, in origin. In mid-2007, however, Yarvin was challenged on Twitter by “a fan of Kevin MacDonald” who asked why:
in my classification of American castes and conflicts, and my discussion of the belief system of the ruling Brahmin caste, I neglected Jewish influence. Specifically, as per MacDonald, I neglected the importance of Jewish intellectuals in the transition of the American establishment from 1920s style “super-protestantism” to postwar secularism and multiculturalism.
Yarvin’s essay is therefore an extended response to the Twitter user and, more broadly, to MacDonald and those of like mind.
Admirably, Yarvin opens his essay by laying a few cards on the table. He moves first to a definition of anti-Semitism, initially expressing admiration for Murray Rothbard’s definition of an anti-Semite as “anyone who proposes legal disabilities against Jews,” before adding that “by this definition the creed is basically extinct.” Yarvin then asserts that “anti-Semitic” is instead a useful “adjective for anyone with negative views on Jews as a whole.” Yarvin then notes that there are “many bad reasons not to be an anti-Semite. For example, anti-Semitism is unfashionable. If you want to be fashionable, don’t be an anti-Semite.” In fact, Yarvin goes so far as to say:
Anti-Semitism MacDonald style is probably the most courageous political belief anyone can hold in 2007—at least if you live anywhere west of Gaza City. This does not make it right, but it certainly does not give anyone who believes in “diversity” and “the environment” any right to sneer. I admire conviction, I despise cant. Anti-Semitism was cant in Munich in 1936, or in 1886 for that matter. It is cant in Tehran today. In California in 2007, it can be nothing but conviction.
Yarvin also makes it clear early in his essay that his father is Jewish. He explains, “This does not make me Jewish, but surely it makes me suspect, at least to some anti-Semites. But if this was my best reason for not being anti-Semitic, surely it would tend to confirm rather than refute MacDonald’s theories.” With these preliminaries out of the way, Yarvin proceeds to his reasons for rejecting anti-Semitism.
His first reason is that it isn’t at all obvious that Jews have an influential role in the direction of modern culture and politics. He flatly denies that they are in any way key players within “the Cathedral.” He writes:
Basically, the reason I neglected [Jewish influence] is that I don’t see it. But the point is certainly debatable. … The basic question is whether, as I argue, multiculturalism is best understood as a simple development of mainline Protestantism, or whether, as Anonymous believes, it should be seen as a Jewish-Protestant syncretism.
Yarvin rejects any such argument because it fails “the five tests of belief system classification,” something that he himself invented. Why exactly the rather simple and empirically testable idea that Jews are influential in culture and politics, and especially influential in multiculturalism, should be subjected to such a bespoke process is left unstated. Instead, Yarvin concedes that “many multiculturalists come from a Jewish background,” but counters with the assertion that “multiculturalism does not claim to be Jewish, and it’s pretty hard to get from massacring the Midianites to supporting open borders.” So, cutting out a lot of inconsequential and distracting filler, Yarvin’s first reason for rejecting the idea that Jewish influence has played a role within “the Cathedral” is that multiculturalism does not explicitly advertise itself as a tool of Jewish interests, and that ancient Jewish tales of racial genocides on their own soil don’t correspond well with hostile acts among non-Jews in the present.
Yarvin’s second objection to anti-Semitism is that be believes Jews do not act collectively. He argues that: “It’s not just that [MacDonald] believes in group selection—he believes in group action. I believe in human action. A group is not a person.” This is correct, but it’s not at all clear why such a strong distinction in terms needs to be made. I’m sure that Kevin MacDonald believes in individual human action also. The relevant point here is that a group is a collective of “human persons” who might have, or perceive themselves to have, individual interests “in common,” and who act according to those shared interests. In this sense, actions can be shared and steered by a group. Yarvin does accept that “Germans, Sioux or Irishmen” could:
act collectively in ways that favor Germans, Sioux or Irishmen. But in order for this to work, you need a cohesive belief system that rewards altruism on behalf of the group, and discourages “defecting” actions that would otherwise favor the individual. You need, in other words, an actual movement of ethnic nationalism.
Elaborating the point, Yarvin insists that Judaism, which he places in scare quotes, has this only “in theory.” He explains, “The whole Torah is a story of pure asabiya. The Jews get their asses kicked when they’re divided. They kick ass when they’re together.” In reality, Yarvin argues, Judaism is merely “an evolving system like any other,” and has abandoned this kind of system. Jewish ethnic nationalism is said to be found today only “among Zionists, Hasidim, etc., and certainly not among the Reform and socialist Jews who in the middle of the century became part of the American elite.” So Yarvin’s second reason is therefore that Jews in the American elite do not exhibit ethnic nationalism.
Yarvin’s third reason for rejecting anti-Semitism is that Jewish behaviour in twentieth-century America is less like infiltration and more like assimilation. He argues that Jews did not necessarily compete against the WASP elite, but rather imitated them, mimicked their ideologies, and ultimately grafted themselves onto them:
Basically, the Jews (like my ancestors) who came to the US were people who wanted to get ahead—as individuals. They were done with the ghetto and the shtetl. They wanted money and power. Doesn’t everyone? It was only natural, therefore, that they would be drawn to the social patterns of the most prestigious class in their new country—the mainline “super-Protestants.” Like most converts, they adopted the most fashionable views of the Brahmin elite, which was already well down the road toward secularization and Unitarianism in the modern sense of the word. Indeed, for the earlier-arriving and (much as I hate to admit it, since my ancestors spoke “jargon”) more cultured German Jews, much of this process had already happened in Europe. Reform Judaism is pretty much Protestantism in all but name, as is of course “scientific” Marxist socialism. Whereas the Brahmins had no reason at all to adopt Jewish ways of thought. Nor do I see any way in which they did. The assimilation was entirely in the other direction.
So Yarvin’s third reason for rejecting anti-Semitism is that any Jewish presence in “the Cathedral” is really the accidental result of early twentieth-century status-hungry Jewish migrants copying the attitudes and ambitions of American “super-Protestants.”
Finally, and this was the main focus of the Keith Woods video, Yarvin rejects anti-Semitism because it relies on “an enormous mass of corroborating evidence.” Yarvin rather strangely insists that:
A historian is not a mere collator of facts—he or she is creating an interpretation, much like a trial lawyer. The goal of history is to paint a picture of the past. The test, for any reader, is simply whether you find that picture convincing. Volume of evidence has not much to do with it. [emphasis added]
This last sentence, sure to stun every prosecutor and historian in the West, is the curious hill on which Mr Yarvin decides to die in the cause of rejecting anti-Semitism. Not only does he wish to die on it, but, it would seem, he wishes to do so in flamboyant fashion. Yarvin insists that masses of evidence in support of one’s case are in fact
a contrary indicator, because a lawyer with a weak case often feels the temptation to try to inundate the jury with a vast mass of detail. The strategy is essentially to demand that the reader either agree, or do the work of assembling the same detail into a counter-narrative. The canonical example is Johnnie Cochran’s great gambit, “if the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit.”
For a canonical example this is extremely poor, and the analogy of the trial lawyer is itself awful. For a start, Johnnie Cochran’s defense of O.J. Simpson, and the entire context of the above quote, wasn’t based on “inundating the jury with a vast mass of detail,” but on finding very small weak points in the prosecution case that could be critiqued and exploited ruthlessly — in this case, whether or not a single pair of gloves fit his client’s hands—hands that were swollen because Simpson stopped taking his arthritis medication. I also think that, rather than being the result of Johnnie Cochran’s often ridiculous defense strategy, O.J. Simpson walked free because the jury was majority Black — a canonical example of group action if there ever was one.
There is simply no methodological comparison to be made, despite the rhetorically attractive style of Yarvin’s presentation. Taken to its logical conclusion, Yarvin’s reasoning would suggest a poor level of evidence produced in support of a history would be a positive indicator of its quality — a theory I urge Mr Yarvin to test by submitting something un-referenced and poorly-backed to any respectable history journal. Alternatively, he can try a new career as a prosecutor while employing the same nonchalant dismissal of detail and see just how successful he can be. For now, however, we need only summarise that Yarvin’s fourth reason for rejecting anti-Semitism is that it boasts too much evidence.
Yarvin’s four reasons for rejecting anti-Semitism are therefore:
- Multiculturalism does not explicitly advertise itself as Jewish.
- Jews in the American elite do not exhibit ethnic nationalism.
- Jews merely copied the attitudes and ambitions of WASPs.
- Anti-Semitism relies on an excess of evidence.
Response to Yarvin
In trying to gain my own understanding of Yarvin’s approach, I felt it necessary first to address his Jewishness. Other than his essay on anti-Semitism, I don’t find much in the way of a Jewish identification in his work. This corresponds well with findings that mixed-ethnicity children of Jewish fathers tend to have a much lower sense of Jewish identity than those with Jewish mothers:
A higher ratio of non-Jewish mothers is linked to a lower ratio of Jewish attachments within mixed-married homes. … Every systematic study of the Jewish community has shown that Jewish mothers provide more intensive and extensive connections to Jews and Judaism than do Jewish fathers in mixed-married households. Whether the measure is cultural, institutional, social, or religious, having a Jewish mother in the household (born or converted) makes the households far more likely to incorporate Jewish activities and values.S.B. Fishman, Double or Nothing? Jewish Families and Mixed Marriage (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2004), 128.
Having a lower level of Jewish self-identification, of course, doesn’t translate automatically to having no identification with Jews at all. Yarvin’s assertion that having a Jewish father “does not make me Jewish,” probably needs to be problematised, not because Yarvin is Jewish, but because he is extremely likely to hold simple familial sympathies that lend themselves to a certain level of affection or affinity with Jews and Judaism. His employment of the analogy “If your father is Catholic, are you not allowed to be an anti-Catholic?” is also more than a little disingenuous given the rather obvious skirting of the issue that Jewishness is a matter of ethnicity as much as religion; of blood as much as belief. There’s an entirely different social and psychological texture between telling your Italian Catholic father you don’t believe in Christ and, for example, saying you’ve developed a distaste for Italians. For these reasons, Yarvin is correct in explaining that having a Jewish father “makes me suspect, at least to some anti-Semites.” It certainly makes him suspect to me. To borrow the notorious phrasing of Mel Gibson, Yarvin has a “dog in the fight,” even if it’s a little on the small side. Objecting to anti-Semitism, and offering arguments against it, is likely to bring some form of reward, even if in this case it’s limited purely to the psychological relief of absolving one’s paternal kin of certain charges. This understanding doesn’t help to unravel the specific arguments proposed by Yarvin, but it does assist with comprehending their origin, as well as helping to explain the resistant and strange quality they uniformly demonstrate.
Yarvin’s essay opens, very cleverly in my opinion, by mixing surface-level magnanimity with subtle salvos. For example, hidden beneath the early, somewhat patronising, praise of Kevin MacDonald is a barb left glaringly undeveloped for the rest of the essay. This, of course, is the denunciation of anti-Semitism as “cant in Munich in 1936, or in 1886 for that matter. It is cant in Tehran today.” Why exactly negative views on Jews as a whole should be regarded as cant (insincere, hypocritical, sanctimonious, quasi-fashionable speech) in any of these time periods or locations is left undeveloped. In fact, the essay is striking for its overwhelming neglect of history and the antagonistic advance of Zionism, seeming at times to proceed from the idea that the phenomenon began in 1950s America. There’s a clear implication in Yarvin’s phrasing that anti-Semitism was “easier,” or at least more fashionable in Germany (1886 and 1936), an argument that while true in one sense (it was more culturally pervasive) is misleading in its neglect of certain key interim periods. The Weimar Republic, for example, had a wide range of speech laws at least commensurate with those found in modern Europe, and more extensive than anything found in contemporary America. Anti-Semitic speech was prosecuted very regularly,See, for example, C. Levitt, “The Prosecution of Antisemites by the Courts in the Weimar Republic: Was justice served? Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, vol. 35. (London: Secker and Warburg, 1990), 151-167. and many of the leading anti-Semitic ideologues of 1936, including the likes of Julius Streicher, had surely demonstrated “conviction” in their beliefs during their many terms in prison before 1933.See R. Bytwerk, Julius Streicher: Nazi Editor of the Notorious Anti-Semitic Newspaper Der Sturmer (New York: Cooper Square Press, 2001), 24. See also the example of Arnold Spencer Leese, an Englishman imprisoned for publishing anti-Semitic pamphlets.
Additionally, there are very few periods in history in which anti-Semitic arguments could be regarded as the product of insincere cant. The overwhelming trend has been that anti-Semitic speech has been a risky anti-elite activity, bringing the possibility of death or mutilation under certain medieval European monarchiesFor English examples see J. Gillingham, Anglo-Norman Studies: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, Volume 25 (Woodbridge, 2003), 145. For French examples see, N. Roth, Medieval Jewish Civilization: An Encyclopedia (New York: Routledge, 2003), 605. There are many examples from medieval Germany of anti-Semitic agitators having limbs severed, or being executed. See, for example, Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1998), 12., and the risk of severe social ostracism and imprisonment in more recent times, even for figures of significant public standing such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Henry Ford, and Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, all of whom underwent periods of extended personal angst or troubles over the impact that expounding anti-Jewish ideas could have on their lives.For Nietzsche and Wagner see R. Holub, Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem: Between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015). For Lindbergh see K. MacDonald’s Preface to The Culture of Critique.
The question remains as to the tactical benefit of dismissing historical anti-Semitism, or contemporary middle eastern anti-Semitism as “cant.” Quite simply, one of the major problems facing Jewish apologists is the ubiquity and uniformity of anti-Semitism. Common coping strategies invariably involve attempts to artificially break up the historical pattern, either by suggesting that anti-Semitism “mutated” over time like a virus, that it was carried from one culture into another, that it has been more sane in some time periods than others, or, as Yarvin seems to suggest, that it is more of a fad in certain contexts. By opening his essay with a denunciation of “cant,” even glossed over with praise for MacDonald, Yarvin in fact signposts his work, consciously or not, as being related to the tradition of Jewish apologetics.
Yarvin’s first major argument for rejecting anti-Semitism is that he “doesn’t see” the “importance of Jewish intellectuals in the transition of the American establishment from 1920s style “super-protestantism” to postwar secularism and multiculturalism.” Clarifying his point, Yarvin stresses that “multiculturalism does not claim to be Jewish,” as if this is in any way evidence. It in fact only raises a number of questions:
- “Claims” aside, is there any objective evidence that Jews have a played a special role in promoting pluralism, tolerance, and multiculturalism in Western societies?
- Since multiculturalism is an idea and cannot itself “claim” to be anything, isn’t the better approach to ask if Jews claim to be multiculturalists?
- Is there any evidence that Jews played an important role, as Jews, in the transition of American immigration policies between the 1920s and 1960s?
Is Multiculturalism Jewish?
Have Jews played a special role in promoting pluralism, tolerance, and multiculturalism in Western societies? The historical record is clear that the first advocacy of multiculturalism in its modern political form arose in the works of Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786), the German Jew and proto-Open Borders philosopher who pushed Enlightenment ideas on tolerance to their limit with such questions as: “For how long, for how many millennia, must this distinction between the owners of the land and the stranger continue? Would it not be better for mankind and culture to obliterate this distinction?”M. Mendelssohn, “Anmerkung zu des Ritters Michaelis Beurtheilung des ersten Teils von Dohm, über die bürgerliche Verbesserung der Juden,” (1783), Moses Mendelssohn gesammelte Schriften, ed. G. B. Mendelssohn (Leipzig, 1843), vol. 3, 367. Mendelssohn’s primary motivation, in the context of the decline of the absolute monarchies, was to ensure that Jews could preserve their unique identity within the framework of a future multicultural society — a combination he felt would ensure Jewish safety and continuity in Europe. The primary requirement for such a future would be the delegitimisation of the notion of a core, hegemonic culture to which others are expected to assimilate. Mendelssohn was in fact the pioneer of an entire movement (Haskalah) of Jewish intellectuals known as the maskilim, all of whom disseminated the philosophy of tolerant multiculturalism in Enlightenment circles, and who provided the ghetto Jews of Europe with a methodology of superficial assimilation and an ethnically safe Jewish secularism — that of being “European outside, Jewish inside.” Scholar Ephraim Nimni has argued that present-day multiculturalism is inextricably linked to benefits for Jews and represents the accomplishment of Haskalah ideas:
If the Haskalah model was severely undermined by the rigidities of the European nation-state model, a post-Haskalah model is eminently feasible in the era of multiculturalism and multinational states, and consistent with the lifestyle and wishes of secular Jews in contemporary liberal democracies. … Diaspora Jews have a common project with other ethnic and national minorities, and post-Haskalah Jewish communities will find a sense of mission and an imprint of their collective personality. This sense of mission is appealing and mobilising, for it relates to an immediate Jewish interest as well as having a wider application in favour of other minorities … all of which is entirely congruent with the goals and aims of a post-Haskalah Jewry.E. Nimni, The Challenge of Post-Zionism: Alternatives to Fundamentalist Politics in Israel (New York: Zed Books, 2003), 138. [emphasis added]
Mendelssohn’s Haskalah ideas, borrowed from, but also contrasted with, the attitude of European atheists, Deists, and liberal Protestant philosophers, especially Rationalists like Bayle and Locke (who, to be fair to Yarvin, were both Calvinists), who believed in a common humanity that could move toward a world of no religion, or of a single religious truth.M. Mendelssohn, Moses Mendelssohn: Writings on Judaism, Christianity, and the Bible (Brandeis University Press, 2011), 53. For Mendelssohn, the notion of a future common humanity was merely territorial — European lands and communities would essentially become home to atomised individuals who were entitled to hold their own beliefs without pressure to assimilate to the values and traditions of a wider culture. In short, Mendelssohn’s multiculturalism would mean little more than the majority giving up its position of political, cultural, and demographic group hegemony as exemplified in the homogenous nation-state.Ibid, 40. In Mendelssohn’s words, “It is obviously the duty of the stronger to … stretch out his arms and, like Augustus to cry out “Let us be friends!”
(M. Mendelssohn, Moses Mendelssohn: Writings on Judaism, Christianity, and the Bible (Brandeis University Press, 2011), 53.) His ideas were also linked to activism for the legislative enforcement of multicultural tolerance and ongoing Jewish immigration. In Austria, for example, Joseph II’s 1781 Edict of Toleration (which Mendelssohn printed and distributed as propaganda) was the result of a literary scene that Mendelssohn had fostered in the cities, as well as the intervention of wealthy Court Jews.A. D. Low, Jews in the Eyes of the Germans: From the Enlightenment to Imperial Germany (Philadelphia: Ishi, 1979), 17. Menasseh ben Israel (1604–1657) the Jewish intellectual behind the readmission of Jews to England under Cromwell, was also viewed as a proto-Haskalah figure by Mendelssohn, who looked at ben Israel’s efforts to promote “tolerance” in the Netherlands as a template for action, and who translated ben Israel’s apologetic The Vindication of the Jews into German in 1782. Perhaps the pinnacle of Mendelssohn’s career was his publication of Jerusalem (1783), a work of Utopian multiculturalism that propagandised the separation of Church and State, religious freedom, and the idea that “a man’s racial origin or religious affiliations would play no part in any sphere of life except that of religion.”J. Katz, Exclusiveness & Tolerance: Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times (New York: Schocken, 1975), 179.
As Jacob Katz has noted, deception about the nature of Judaism has been a central element of Jewish promotion of multiculturalism from the time of Mendelssohn. Because of the decline in power of the European monarchies and the rise of democracy, older Jewish privileges (e.g., tax farming and avoiding conscription) were also declining. The early Jewish promotion of multiculturalism was designed in part to enable Jews to acquire equal rights in legislation with the natives of European nation-states, thus providing Jews with opportunities to establish influential relations with new, rising native elites — parliamentary, commercial, and professional — and to obtain a new set of privileges. To use Yarvin’s terminology, Jews fully intended to become an integral part of, if not to lead or dominate, “the Cathedral.” The push for equal “rights,” and its justification, of course, was, as Katz points out, based on the lie that Judaism was “a broad-minded and tolerant religion.”Ibid, 186.
(J. Katz, Exclusiveness & Tolerance: Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times (New York: Schocken, 1975), 179.)
This was the ruse presented by the “Grand Sanhedrin” of Jewish representatives convened in Paris by Napoleon in 1807, after which Jews were formally acknowledged within legal proclamations for the first time as Frenchmen, and citizens of the French Empire.E. Benbassa, The Jews of France: A History from Antiquity to the Present (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 89. In a legal sense, and in terms of meaningful precedent, we can pinpoint the date on which Europe became multicultural as March 17 1808, a fact that is tied directly to the history, activism, ideas, and indeed the deceptions, of the Jews. The consequence was the perpetuation of an ethnocentric nation [Jews] within an increasingly atomised culture [that of the Europeans] in which the very notion of citizenship had been fundamentally diluted. From this proto-multiculturalism derives the intense suspicion of anti-Semites in the post-Enlightenment period that Jews had essentially deceived their way to citizenship, and that their assimilation was purely superficial, with the Jews remaining a “nation within a nation.” The fears of the anti-Semites thus reflected not only their antagonism toward Jewish clannishness and the reality of Jewish privilege, but also a growing awareness of the disintegration of their own ethnic and cultural cohesion. Such has been the fundamental dynamic of Western multiculturalism ever since.
Aside from the philosophy of the Rationalists and the activities of Mendelssohn and the maskilim, and the legal watershed of 1808, Western multiculturalism, in a radical demographic sense, is a very recent phenomenon, dating from the period 1945–1965 and accelerating rapidly over the last 30 years. This event, again, is inseparable from the Jewish historical trajectory, since the Holocaust narrative has been ruthlessly employed to destroy the moral foundations of the claims of Europeans to their own lands, to demonise any European employment of the language and ideas of race, to instigate a culture of European guilt and reparations, and to facilitate a perverse deification of the Jews and the revived “values” of Mendelssohn — tolerance, diversity, and pluralism.See P. Gottfried, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2002). The Holocaust is the lynchpin of modern education in multiculturalism and human rights, without which it is difficult to imagine anything on the scale we are currently witnessing in the form of mass migration, White marginalisation, and the endless pushing of the frontiers of “tolerance” into new forms of the Different, be they sexual perversions, psychotic identities, or White radical self-abnegation.
In my forthcoming book On the Jews, I put forth the theory that there have been three sustained “Great Reactions” of long duration against the Jews in European society, between which Jewish populations adapted their positions and increased in strength. Anti-Jewish violence during the Crusades, the evolution of the so-called ‘Blood Libel’ and associated folklore regarding Jews, and the earliest expulsions of usurers, were key elements of the “First European Reaction” (1095–1290). Increased involvement of Church and State, and a somewhat sociological turn in the Church’s view of the Jews (e.g., the activities of Martin Luther in Germany and the war on the conversos in Spain) in the late medieval and early modern periods comprised the ‘Second European Reaction” (c.1380–1535). The “Third European Reaction” (c.1870–1950) was relatively short-lived, but was highly focused on the aftermath of Jewish emancipation and the fulfilment of Mendelssohn’s pluralist vision — the economic, social, and political impact of the Jews on European society. What began as opposition to Jewish political “emancipation” developed into a coherent political philosophy and ideology based on several key precepts:
- Jews are a separate and distinct ethnic group, inherently different in traits and characteristics from Europeans.
- Jews are incompatible with nationalism because they possess cultural and national aspirations of their own, cannot be integrated, and thus represent a state within a state.
- The modern state has become subject to an aggressive, speculative, and exploitative capitalism pioneered, and in many cases operated, by Jews.
- Jewish influence in public life is closely connected with the negative aspects of modernity and European racial decline.
- The excesses of Jewish influence in public life under democracy required the democratic mobilization of anti-Semitism under anti-Semitic parties, an anti-Semitic press, and the expansion of anti-Semitism in culture.
As was the case in previous Reactions, Jews developed a formidable response. In the West, they strengthened existing ties with friendly European elites and formed their first formal, secular defense committees, from which they agitated for speech laws and other oppressive legislation. In the East they had two primary strategies. In the first, they began one of the largest propaganda hoaxes ever conceived and, under the guise of mass pogroms purportedly instigated by Russian elites, mass migrated to the West, especially the United States, accompanied by waves of media-induced sympathy. In the second, they threw their demographic bulk and intellectual aggression into Communism, forming its vanguard and using its momentum to exact revenge on a Russian elite that they felt had failed to support their interests, and against an East European peasantry they often viewed as little better than animals.See Haim Nahman Bialik’s poem “The City of Slaughter,” a masochistic pogrom fantasy, which describes Ukrainian peasants as “wild ones of the wood, the beasts of the field.” In a final strategy, the Jews developed Zionism, with Palestine postulated as a Jewish homeland but instead coming to represent a colonial halfway house, a safe haven from which to operate in tandem with a growing and increasingly powerful Diaspora in the United States, and a nuclear-powered “safe space” to be utilized in the event of a Reaction. These strategies would be so successful that they would prompt historian Yuri Slezkine to describe the twentieth century as “The Jewish Century.”Y. Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
World War II was comprised of a series of overlapping conflicts, one of which, the Third European Reaction against the Jews, unleashed decades, if not centuries, of suppressed inter-ethnic tensions throughout Europe. Jews were frequently active, and violent, participants during the war, meaning mass casualties were inevitable.See B. Ginsberg, How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). The number of deaths on all sides was significant. But honest, full, and unbiased accounts of why this inter-ethnic catastrophe occurred, and the true nature of its extent, remain absent from the mainstream, and extremely rare in scholarship. What instead emerged in the aftermath of the war was a “Holocaust Industry” that initiated an era of “White Guilt” that has, in turn, contributed heavily to the Western cultural paralysis and inertia of the present time.
In the aftermath of the Third Reaction, this paralysis and inertia was furthered by the further entrenchment and adaptation of the Jews within European civilisation. The period since 1945 has witnessed growing Jewish influence in Hollywood, academia, and the press, and the truly extraordinary growth in power of the Jewish defense leagues, most notably New York’s Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Buoyed by the financial support of wealthy Jewish donors from the worlds of international finance and the mass media, the ADL and similar organizations throughout the West have assumed an importance in public life far out of proportion to the size of the population they exclusively serve. Their legacy has been the rapid expansion of speech legislation in White-majority countries, the invention of so-called “hate crime” legislation, the slow creep of mass censorship, and, finally, the ceaseless promotion of the multicultural state.
Multiculturalism can be regarded as the zenith of Jewish adaption in the wake of Third Reaction. Any discussion of a modern-day “Cathedral” of interests that does not take into account the role of Jewish intellectuals and oligarchs in the expansion, promotion, and protection of the multicultural state is simply disingenuous. There is clear and unambiguous evidence that Jews played an important role, as Jews, in the transition of American immigration policies between the 1920s and 1960s, and that Diapora Jews, generally speaking, continue to describe themselves, and behave, as conspicuous multiculturalists (e.g., see the work of Kevin MacDonald on the United States, and Brenton Sanderson on Australia, as well as my own work on the U.K., Ireland, and the international mass migration scene — here and here).See also, Frank, Gelya. “Jews, Multiculturalism, and Boasian Anthropology.” American Anthropologist, New Series, 99, no. 4 (1997): 731-45. Of further interest is Judith Goldstein’s recently published, and extremely interesting, The Politics of Ethnic Pressure: The American Jewish Committee Fight Against Immigration Restriction, 1906–1917, in the course of which Goldstein writes that:
The AJC was the most active and important anti-restrictionist lobbying group. … It allied with Italian, German, and Scandinavian groups, but none of them displayed the interest, knowledge, and sophistication on the immigration issue that characterised the AJC effort. … In each of the legislation battles the AJC sought to delay consideration of test bills and to block their passage. … In their anti-restrictionist campaign, Jewish spokesmen glorified the long-time policy of open immigration and the practice of “cosmopolitan nationality.”J. Goldstein, The Politics of Ethnic Pressure: The American Jewish Committee Fight Against Immigration Restriction, 1906-1917 (New York: Routledge, 2020).
That the historical relationship between Jews and multiculturalism, and the concept of “cosmopolitan nationality,” has recently dovetailed with the drive of international finance for mass migration and the liquidity of labor does not detract from the deeply historical and intense Jewish interest in, and involvement with, the multicultural project. Modern multiculturalism assists the cultural survival of non-host populations while suppressing the host via “antiracism” legislation, education, and social propaganda. As Stuart Schoenfeld has pointed out, Jews are prime beneficiaries of both.S. Cohen, National Variations in Jewish Identity: Implications for Jewish Education (New York: SUNY Press, 2012 ), 146.
Do Jews in the American Elite Exhibit Ethnic Nationalism?
It really does defy belief that anyone could deny the strength of ethnic nationalism and identification among Jews in the American elite. In fact, the argument runs so strongly against common sense and popular knowledge that one can only conclude that the argument is being made entirely in bad faith. Jewish ethnic nationalism, in the form of Zionism, is at the forefront of American elite politics, something more than capably demonstrated in Walt and Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007). Zionist politics is supported tactically and financially by a considerable number of very influential Jewish politicians and oligarchs, who in turn represent some of the wealthiest figures in the contemporary American elite.
More than half of the top twenty political donors in America are Jews, and of these at least eight are committed Zionists (Sheldon Adelson, Stephen Schwarzman, Donald Sussman, Jeffrey Yass, Michael Bloomberg, Henry and Marsha Laufer, Josh Bekenstein, Bernard Marcus), with the precise political affiliations of Stephen Mandel, Deborah J. Simon, and James H. Simons unclear (Thomas Steyer would appear to be less inclined towards Zionism and is half-Jewish). Of the nine sitting Jewish Senators in Congress, eight (Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Chuch Schumer, Ben Cardin, Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Brian Schatz, and Jacky Rosen) have demonstrated more or less consistent support for Zionism as a political project, as well as legislation strengthening the position of Jews in the United States (e.g. legislation outlawing anti-Semitism). Only Bernie Sanders would appear to have a more ambiguous position on these matters.
The key point here is that these donors and politicians are the driving force of American policy on Israel, and are much more influential than either individual “Calvinist” or “super-Protestant” donors, and certainly much more influential than grassroots relatively less wealthy Christian Zionists who are themselves the puppets of a lucrative propaganda machine. Curtis Yarvin has attempted to explain away the nature of this kind of influence by making the argument that money is not directly linked to power (for a scholarly counter-argument, see here), even stating in a recent podcast “I don’t think [Jeff] Bezos has a lot of power.” With this level of reasoning, tied to Yarvin’s apparent deification of ultra-capitalists, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see a similar denial of reality in the face of obvious Jewish influence and strong Jewish identity in the American elite.
Did Jews want to imitate WASPs, or to topple them?
I agree with Yarvin’s statement that Jewish immigrants to America “wanted to get ahead … They wanted money and power.” I disagree with the emphasis he lays on the individual nature of this drive for money and power. Historically, Jews have placed a very heavy emphasis on economic, political, and social group co-operation. Jews remain notable for high levels of in-group philanthropy, and Jewish defense bodies tend to be extremely well-funded.
Contrary to Yarvin, there is very little evidence that Jews were “drawn to the social patterns of the most prestigious class in their new country—the mainline “super-Protestants.” In many cases, these positions were frankly impossible due to direct clashes of interest. As discussed above, some of the key concerns of the “super-Protestants” in the years of mass Jewish immigration (c.1880–1930) included controlling the demographic make-up of the country via immigration restrictions, and attempting to promote racial hygiene in the form of eugenics. Jews were very strongly opposed to both.
There is little question that Jews were keen to obtain the outward signs of social climbing in America — by, for example, entering certain professions or joining fashionable golf clubs. But underlying many of these economic advances was an outright hostility to the culture, politics, and behavior of the Protestant Brahmin class. In this regard, Yarvin’s definition of “assimilation” needs to be problematised. As I’ve argued elsewhere, and developed further in my forthcoming book, it is highly doubtful whether genuine Jewish group assimilation has ever occurred in any nation at any time. In the United States, Jewish “assimilation” has involved the academic deconstruction of WASP cultural heroes (e.g., T.S. Eliot, Richard Wagner), the pathologization of the WASP family (Freud, the Frankfurt School, and their intellectual followers), and the weaponisation of WASP children during the 1960s “New Left” revolution (perversely caricatured — using a phenotypically WASPish Jewish family — in Philip Roth’s American Pastoral); the Jewish identifications of the Jewish participants in the New Left are well-documented. With the vanishing of the WASPs as a visible cultural elite, the Jewish cultural elite has distinguished itself not by following old paternalistic WASP cultural patterns, but by moving its gaze onto less privileged White classes and targeting them with the same hostile attitude — the denigration and demonisation of rural Whites and their culture, the ongoing promotion of mass migration, and the pathologisation of White identity in its entirety.
The central problem with Yarvin’s argument is that none of the worst ideas and activities at the forefront of what he calls “the Cathedral” are Calvinist or “super-Protestant” in origin. Feminism, Cultural Marxism, modern consumer credit, international vulture fund capitalism, transgenderism and the concept of fluid sexual identities, Whiteness Studies, cosmopolitan pluralism, and open borders philosophies are simply stunning in the uniformity of their Jewish origins. Yarvin implies that because these ideas cannot be found in the Old Testament (“The Midianities!” he cries) then the fact they’ve been innovated by Jews is meaningless. We are expected to believe that these Jews are just wannabe-WASPs, despite their Jewish upbringing, Jewish spouses, and often explicitly Jewish self-explanations. What Yarvin neglects is that old-form Judaism is merely a template for “getting on in the world” and that Jewishness has been divorced from its exclusive reliance to the finer points of Judaism since at least the era of the maskilim. (This is one of the main reasons for the intense Jewish celebration of Spinoza, who was seen as ushering in a new method of “being Jewish.”) As Robert Amyot and Lee Sigelman have pointed out, “Jewish identity has been transformed from predominantly religious to predominantly ethnic.”Amyot, Robert P., and Lee Sigelman. “Jews without Judaism? Assimilation and Jewish Identity in the United States.” Social Science Quarterly 77, no. 1 (1996): 177-89. What we see today is not an accidental elite. It’s not an elite built on mimicry. It is the culmination of the historical trajectory of the post-ghetto Jew — a hostile elite in power.
One need only look to the example of the old Russian Empire to see how Jews tend to view their relationships with elites, relationships that are built on self-interest more than imitation. For centuries Jews were content to be close partners with Russian nobles in the economic exploitation of the peasantry. Once the peasants were emancipated, however, and a new paternalistic attitude took hold among the nobles, resulting in the removal of certain Jewish privileges (tax farming and tavern keeping), Jews threw themselves first into attempts at the financial dispossession of their former partners and, when that failed, into the Bolshevik drive for their total elimination as a class.
Does anti-Semitism boast “too much” evidence?
When I first started looking into anti-Semitism and the history of the Jews, I was struck by the way in which anti-Jewish criticisms were often summarily dismissed in mainstream literature as vague and bigoted accusations built on stereotypes. The standard characterisation of anti-Semitic material has often been that it is based on a kind of lazy reasoning (e.g., “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools”) replete with gross generalisations about “the Jew.” There is certainly some material, normally centuries old, to which these descriptions could arguably be applied.
In more recent periods, however, anti-Semitism has come to rely on evidence and facts, with a certain focus on named individuals and their ideas and actions, as the only possible counterweight to the overwhelming power and influence of opposing forces. With nothing but truth on their side, the anti-Semites have thrown themselves ever harder on the need to offer as much as they can in defense of their arguments. As Hillaire Belloc remarked in his The Jews (1922), when men like German historian Heinrich von Treitschke were silenced for complaining publicly about “the unjust influence of the Jews in the press,” and later had their writings denounced as “the extravagancies of fanatics,” they were ultimately able to frustrate their opponents only “by the quotation of an immense quantity of facts which could not but remain in the mind.” The idea that someone can analyze Jewish power and influence credibly without being well armed with facts and data is ridiculous.
The simple fact remains that writing or speaking about Jews is a very difficult task — not just intellectually in terms of gaining a grasp of the relevant ideas and the vast quantity of literature, but in terms of the extremely negative reception such writings will inevitably meet. In some countries, writing negatively about Jews will lead to imprisonment. In most, it can lead to a loss of livelihood. In all, it will lead to a level of derision, scorn, and dismissal. This is the case regardless of the level of effort and scholarship that might be invested in such a work. I honestly can’t think of a more thankless task, which leads me to the belief that there must be at least some level of fanaticism in all who take up the pen in this way.
I recall my first encounters with the work of Kevin MacDonald, and being impressed with the bibliography and scale of reading involved — much greater than anything I was used to in some of the standard histories I’d read. I was quite stunned then, when I began to read some of the early criticisms of MacDonald’s trilogy, some of which have been regurgitated as recently as the Cofnas intervention in 2018. I’m thinking mainly of the accusation that MacDonald had taken some of his many hundreds of quotations “out of context,” as if taking an objective fact from an author’s book means that we are also bound to adopt or include his or her subjective opinions. Some of the criticisms of MacDonald’s use of texts were so infantile and pedantic that, rather than making me reconsider the utility of MacDonald’s thesis, it drove me to reflect on the absolute necessity of making claims about Jews as “watertight” as possible. Of course, nothing would ever be enough to appease certain elements, but, for the right people, it seemed to me that well-referenced, evidenced-backed work would be the only way of getting past those running intellectual interference. There could simply never be “too much” evidence.
Imagine my surprise, then, on seeing Curtis Yarvin’s claim that anti-Semitism now boasts “too much” evidence. I’ll grant Yarvin this — he is original. His main grievance seems to be that in order to disprove the claims of anti-Semites he’d have to wade through vast amounts of evidence in order to disentangle truth from fiction. His main problem with MacDonald’s work therefore seems to be that he doesn’t want to go through the same two hundred or so texts for each volume in order to offer a different interpretation. Having nothing to respond with, he simply denigrates the need for a response, walks away, and calls that a victory.
All of this, to use Yarvin’s metaphor, is a canonical example of glove waving. Who is really engaged in distraction here? Who is really holding up the trial by asking if the gloves fit, or, rather if they fit “the five tests of belief system classification”? Who is calling for acquittal if these gloves don’t fit? In Moldbug’s world, money doesn’t equal power, Jeff Bezos is a political “average Joe,” and the Jews are just Calvinist WASPs who like bagels. In Moldbug’s world, we live our lives under a “Cathedral” of interests dominated by the ideals of “super-Protestantism.” In Moldbug’s world, anti-Semitism is cant, and our best future lies in the kind of materialistic techno-oligarchy offered by Peter Thiel, the sickening personification of the Republican Party’s surreal combination of stale mercantilism and the international promotion of sodomy.
I’m glad I don’t live in Moldbug’s world. In my view, if I walk into a Cathedral and find it full of Jews, the chances are that I’ve walked into a synagogue by mistake. And so here we are, locked in together, along with history and a certain uneasy sense of inevitability. How to close the essay? Perhaps with Carlyle:
These days of universal death must be days of universal rebirth, if the ruin is not to be total and final.
Latter Day Pamphlets, No.1
 Yarvin quotes Walt Whitman on the socialist tendencies of Carlyle, adding “You will indeed see Carlyle, especially in his early works—before he has entirely rid himself from his old group of Radical friends, to be exact—take just this tack. Much of it is still found in Chartism (1840).” Carlyle in fact wrote his excellent “Chartism,” a thoroughly socialist anti-establishment work, in his mid-40s, and reiterated some of its ethos in Latter Day Pamphlets around a decade later. It’s quite clear that throughout his life Carlyle had an intense sympathy for the White British working classes, and, unusually for his time, for the Irish as the worst victims of the excesses of imperial mercantile interests.
 Yarvin has only been discussed once previously at The Occidental Observer, where he has been discussed, in poor context in my opinion, by Marcus Alethia, as a “brilliant neoreactionary thinker and half-Jew.”
 S.B. Fishman, Double or Nothing? Jewish Families and Mixed Marriage (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2004), 128.
 See, for example, C. Levitt, “The Prosecution of Antisemites by the Courts in the Weimar Republic: Was justice served? Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, vol. 35. (London: Secker and Warburg, 1990), 151-167.
 See R. Bytwerk, Julius Streicher: Nazi Editor of the Notorious Anti-Semitic Newspaper Der Sturmer (New York: Cooper Square Press, 2001), 24. See also the example of Arnold Spencer Leese, an Englishman imprisoned for publishing anti-Semitic pamphlets.
 For English examples see J. Gillingham, Anglo-Norman Studies: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, Volume 25 (Woodbridge, 2003), 145. For French examples see, N. Roth, Medieval Jewish Civilization: An Encyclopedia (New York: Routledge, 2003), 605. There are many examples from medieval Germany of anti-Semitic agitators having limbs severed, or being executed. See, for example, Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1998), 12.
 For Nietzsche and Wagner see R. Holub, Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem: Between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015). For Lindbergh see K. MacDonald’s Preface to The Culture of Critique.
 M. Mendelssohn, “Anmerkung zu des Ritters Michaelis Beurtheilung des ersten Teils von Dohm, über die bürgerliche Verbesserung der Juden,” (1783), Moses Mendelssohn gesammelte Schriften, ed. G. B. Mendelssohn (Leipzig, 1843), vol. 3, 367.
 E. Nimni, The Challenge of Post-Zionism: Alternatives to Fundamentalist Politics in Israel (New York: Zed Books, 2003), 138.
 M. Mendelssohn, Moses Mendelssohn: Writings on Judaism, Christianity, and the Bible (Brandeis University Press, 2011), 53.
 Ibid, 40. In Mendelssohn’s words, “It is obviously the duty of the stronger to … stretch out his arms and, like Augustus to cry out “Let us be friends!”
 A. D. Low, Jews in the Eyes of the Germans: From the Enlightenment to Imperial Germany (Philadelphia: Ishi, 1979), 17.
 J. Katz, Exclusiveness & Tolerance: Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times (New York: Schocken, 1975), 179.
 Ibid, 186.
 E. Benbassa, The Jews of France: A History from Antiquity to the Present (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 89.
 See P. Gottfried, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2002).
 See Haim Nahman Bialik’s poem “The City of Slaughter,” a masochistic pogrom fantasy, which describes Ukrainian peasants as “wild ones of the wood, the beasts of the field.”
 Y. Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
 See B. Ginsberg, How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).
 See also, Frank, Gelya. “Jews, Multiculturalism, and Boasian Anthropology.” American Anthropologist, New Series, 99, no. 4 (1997): 731-45.
 J. Goldstein, The Politics of Ethnic Pressure: The American Jewish Committee Fight Against Immigration Restriction, 1906-1917 (New York: Routledge, 2020).
 S. Cohen, National Variations in Jewish Identity: Implications for Jewish Education (New York: SUNY Press, 2012 ), 146.
 Amyot, Robert P., and Lee Sigelman. “Jews without Judaism? Assimilation and Jewish Identity in the United States.” Social Science Quarterly 77, no. 1 (1996): 177-89.