- Chapter I • The Thesis of This Book
- Chapter II • The Denial of the Problem
- Chapter III • The Present Phase of the Problem
- Chapter IV • The General Cause of Friction
- Chapter V • The Special Causes of Friction
- Chapter VI • The Cause of Friction Upon Our Side
- Chapter VII • The Anti-Semite
- Chapter VIII • Bolshevism
- Chapter IX • The Position in the World as a Whole
- Chapter X • The Present Relation Between the English State and the Jews
- Chapter XI • Zionism
- Chapter XII • Our Duty
- Chapter XIII • Their Duty
- Chapter XIV • Various Theories
- Chapter XV • Habit or Law?
It is the thesis of this book that the continued presence of the Jewish nation intermixed with other nations alien to it presents a permanent problem of the gravest character: that the wholly different culture, tradition, race and religion of Europe make Europe a permanent antagonist to Israel, and that the recent and rapid intensification of that antagonism gives to the discovery of a solution immediate and highly practical importance.
For if the quarrel is allowed to rise unchecked and to proceed unappeased, we shall come, unexpectedly and soon, upon one of these tragedies which have marked for centuries the relations between this peculiar nation and ourselves.
The Jewish problem is one to which no true parallel can be found, for the historical and social phenomenon which has produced it is unique. It is a problem which cannot be shirked, as the last generation both of Jews and of their hosts attempted to shirk it. It is a problem which cannot be avoided, nor even lessened (as can some social problems), by an healing effect of time: for it is increasing before our eyes. It must be met and dealt with openly and now.
That problem is the problem of reducing or accommodating the strain produced by the presence of an alien body within any organism. The alien body sets up strains, or, to change the metaphor, produces a friction, which is evil both to itself and to the organism which it inhabits. The problem is, how to relax those strains for good and to set things permanently at their ease again.
There are two ways to such a desirable end.
The first is by the elimination of what is alien. The second is by its segregation. There is no other way.
The elimination of an alien body may take three forms. It may take a frankly hostile form—elimination by destruction. It may take a form, also hostile but less hostile—elimination by expulsion. It may take a third form, an amicable one (and that far the most commonly found in the natural process of physical nature and of society)—elimination by absorption; the alien body becomes an indistinguishable part of the organism in which it was originally a source of disturbance and is lost in it. These three ways sum up the first method, the method of elimination.
The second method, if elimination shall prove impossible or undesirable, is that of segregation; and this again may be of two kinds—hostile and amicable. We may segregate the alien element without regard to its own ends or desires: the segregation of it being upon a plan framed solely from the point of view of the organism invaded, and the reduction of the strain or friction it creates effected by the mere cutting of it off from all avenues through which it can affect its host.
But we may also segregate the alien irritant by an action which takes full account of the thing segregated as well as of the organism segregating it, and considers the good of both parties. In this second and amicable policy the word segregation (which has a bad connotation) may be replaced by the word recognition.
This book has been written under the conception that all solutions of the Jewish problem other than this last are either impracticable, or bad in morals, or both.
It is written to advocate a policy wherein the Jews on their side shall openly recognize their wholly separate nationality and we on ours shall equally recognize that separate nationality, treat it without reserve as an alien thing, and respect it as a province of society outside our own.
It is written under the conviction that any attitude which falls short of this policy or is very different from it will now soon breed disaster.
The solution by way of destruction is not only abominable in morals but has proved futile in practice. It has been the constant temptation of angry popular masses in the past, when the Jewish problem has come to a head not once but a thousand times in various parts of our civilization during the last twenty centuries. From the pitiless massacres of Cyrenaica in the second century to the latest murders in the Ukraine that solution has been attempted and has failed. It has invariably left behind it a dreadful inheritance of hatred upon the one side and of shame upon the other. It has been condemned by every man whose judgment is worth considering and especially by the great moral teachers of Christendom. It is, indeed, hardly a policy at all, for it is blind. It is a gesture of mere exasperation and not a final gesture at that.
The second form of elimination—expulsion—though theoretically sustainable (for a community has a right to organize its own life and no aliens therein have a claim to modify that life or to disturb it), is none the less in practice, and as regards this particular problem, only one degree less odious than the first. It means inevitably a mass of individual injustice, as well as common spoliation and every other hardship. It is almost impossible to dissociate it from violence and ill deeds of all kinds. It leaves behind it almost as strong an inheritance, if not of shame on the one side, at any rate of rancour upon the other, as does the first. And what condemns it finally is that it is not, and cannot be, complete.
For it is in the nature of the Jewish problem that this solution is only attempted at moments and in places where the strength of the Jews has declined; and this invariably means their corresponding strength in some other quarter.
A particular society attempting this solution of expulsion may succeed for a time so far as itself is concerned, but that inevitably means the reception of the exiled body by another district, and, sooner or later, the return of the force which it was hoped to be rid of. The greatest historical example of this is, of course, the action of the English. The English alone of all Christian nations did adopt this solution in its entirety. A strong national kingship, a government highly organized for its time, an insular position and a singular unanimity of national purpose promoted the expulsion of the Jews from England at the end of the thirteenth century; for more than three and a half centuries that expulsion was maintained, and England alone of the various divisions of Christendom was in theory free of the alien element and nearly as free in practice as it was in theory.
But, as we all know, in the long run the experiment broke down. The Jews were readmitted in the middle of the seventeenth century, and nowhere have they come to greater strength than in the very nation which attempted this solution of the problem with such drastic thoroughness five hundred years ago. None of the other parallel attempts up and down Europe were of the same thoroughness as the English attempt. Their failure came, therefore, more quickly. But such failure would seem in any case to be inevitable. Quite apart, therefore, from the moral objection which attaches to it, there is the practical experience that a solution is not to be found upon such lines.
Lastly, there is elimination by absorption. This would obviously be the most gentle, as it is the most evident, of all methods. It is further a normal and most usual method of nature herself when a living organism has to deal with disturbance excited by the presence of an alien body. So natural and so obvious is it that it has been taken by many men of excellent judgment upon both sides as a matter of course. It has been taken for granted that if absorption has not taken place in the past it has only been due to an ill-will artificially nourished and maintained against the Jews on our side, or by the unreasoning exclusiveness of the Jews on theirs.
Even to-day, in spite of a vast increase during our own generation, both in the public appreciation of the problem and in its immediate gravity, there are very many men who still regard absorption as the natural end of the affair. These, though dwindling, are still numerous upon the non-Jewish side; upon the other, the Jewish side, they are, I think, a very small body. For I note that even those Jews who think absorption will come, admit it with regret, and certainly the vast majority would insist with pride upon the certain survival of Israel.
But here again I maintain that we have the index of history against us. In point of fact absorption has not taken place. It has had a better chance than any corresponding case can show: ample time in which to work, wide dispersion, constant intermarriage, long periods of tolerant friendship for the Jew, and even at times his ascendancy. If ever there were conditions under which one might imagine that the larger body would absorb the smaller, they were those of Christendom acting intimately for centuries, in relation with Jewry. Nation after nation has absorbed larger, intensely hostile minorities: the Irish, their successive invaders; the British, the pirates of the fifth and eighth centuries and the French of three centuries more; the northern Gauls, their auxiliaries; the Italians, the Lombards; the Greeks, the Slav; the Dacian has absorbed even the Mongol: but the Jew has remained intact.
However we explain this—mystically or in whatever other fashion—we cannot deny its truth. It is true of the Jews, and of the Jews alone, that they alone have maintained, whether through the special action of Providence or through some general biological or social law of which we are ignorant, an unfailing entity and an equally unfailing differentiation between themselves and the society through which they ceaselessly move.
It is not true that conditions in the past differed from present conditions sufficiently to account for so strange a story. There have been generations and even centuries (not co-incident indeed throughout the world, but applying now to one country, now to another) where every opportunity for absorption existed; yet that absorption has never taken place. There was every chance in Spain at one moment, in Poland at another, but there was the best chance of all in the short but brilliant period of Liberal policy which has dominated Western Europe during the last three generations. That policy has had the fullest play: it has left the Jews not only unabsorbed, but more differentiated than ever, and the political problem they present more insistent by far than it was a century ago.
The thing might have come where there was a chaos of peoples, as in pagan Alexandria in the four centuries from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D., or in modern New York. It might have come where there was a particularly friendly attitude, as in mediaeval Poland or modern England. It might even have come, paradoxically, through the very persecution and strain of times and places where the Jews suffered the most hostile treatment: for their absorption might have been achieved under pressure though it had failed to be achieved under attraction. As a fact it has never come. It has never proved possible. The continuous absorption of outlying fractions, a process continually going on wherever the Jewish nation is present, has not affected the mass of the problem at all. The body as a whole has remained separate, differentiated, with a strong identity of its own under all conditions and in all places, and the a priori reasoning, by which men come to think this solution reasonable, is nullified by an experience apparent throughout history. That experience is wholly against any such solution. It cannot be.
There remains, then, only the solution of segregation; a word which (I repeat) I use in a completely neutral manner though it has unhappily obtained in this and other issues a bad connotation.
Segregation, as I have said, may be of two kinds. It may be hostile, a sort of static expulsion: a putting aside of the alien body without regard to that body’s needs, desires or claims; the building of a fence round it, as it were, solely with the object of defending the organism which reacts against invasion, and suffers from the presence within it of something different from itself.
Or it may take an amicable form and may be a mutual arrangement: a recognition, with mutual advantage, of a reality which is unavoidable by either party.
The first of these apparent solutions has been attempted over and over again throughout history. It has had long periods of partial success, but never any period of complete success; for it has invariably left behind it a sense of injustice upon the Jewish side and of moral ill-ease upon the other.
There remains, I take it, no practical or permanent solution but the last. It is to this conclusion that my essay is meant to lead. If the Jewish nation comes to express its own pride and patriotism openly, and equally openly to admit the necessary limitations imposed by that expression; if we on our side frankly accept the presence of this nation as a thing utterly different from ourselves, but with just as good a right to existence as we have; if we renounce our pretences in the matter; if we talk of and recognize the Jewish people freely and without fear as a separate body; if upon both sides the realities of the situation are admitted, with the consequent and necessary definitions which those realities imply, we shall have peace.
The advantage both parties—the small but intense Jewish minority, the great non-Jewish majority in the midst of which that minority acts—would discover in such an arrangement is manifest. If it could be maintained—as I think it could be maintained—the problem would be permanently solved. At any rate, if it cannot be solved in that way it certainly cannot be solved in any other, and if we do not get peace by this avenue, then we are doomed to the perpetual recurrence of those persecutions which have marred the history of Europe since the first consolidation of the Roman Empire.
It has been a series of cycles invariably following the same steps. The Jew comes to an alien society, at first in small numbers. He thrives. His presence is not resented. He is rather treated as a friend. Whether from mere contrast in type—what I have called “friction”—or from some apparent divergence between his objects and those of his hosts, or through his increasing numbers, he creates (or discovers) a growing animosity. He resents it. He opposes his hosts. They call themselves masters in their own house. The Jew resists their claim. It comes to violence.
It is always the same miserable sequence. First a welcome; then a growing, half-conscious ill-ease; next a culmination in acute ill-ease; lastly catastrophe and disaster; insult, persecution, even massacre, the exiles flying from the place of persecution into a new district where the Jew is hardly known, where the problem has never existed or has been forgotten. He meets again with the largest hospitality. There follows here also, after a period of amicable interfusion, a growing, half-conscious ill-ease, which next becomes acute and leads to new explosions, and so on, in a fatal round.
If we are to stop that wheel from its perpetual and tragic turning, there seems to be no method save that for which I plead.
The opposition to it is diverse and formidable but can everywhere be reduced upon analysis to some form of falsehood. This falsehood takes the shape of denying the existence of the problem, of remaining silent upon it, or of pretending friendly emotions in public commerce which are belied by every phrase and gesture admitted in private. Or it takes the shape of defining the problem in false terms, in proclaiming it essentially religious whereas it is essentially national. Worst of all, it may be that very modern kind of falsehood, a statement of the truth accompanied by a statement of its contradiction, like the precious modern lie that one can be a patriot and at the same time international. In the case of the Jews, this particular modern lie takes the shape of admitting that they are wholly alien to us and different from us, of talking of them as such and even writing of them as such, and yet, in another connection, talking and writing of them as though no such violent contrast were present. That pretence of reconciling contradictions is the lie in the soul. Its punishment is immediate, for those who indulge it are blinded.
All opposition that ever I have met to the solution here proposed is an opposition sprung from the spirit of untruth; and if there were no other argument in favour of an honest and moral settlement of the dispute, the one argument based on Truth would, I think, be sufficient. It is a social truth that there is a Jewish nation, alien to us and therefore irritant. It is a moral truth that expulsion and worse are remedies to be avoided. It is an historical truth that those solutions have always ultimately failed; the recognition of those three truths alone will set us right.
Such is the main thesis of this book, but it needs an addition if its full spirit is to be apprehended, and that addition I have attempted to express in the last chapter.
If the solution I propose be the right solution, it yet remains to be determined whether it should first take the form of new laws from which a new spirit may be expected to grow, or first take the form of a new spirit and practice from which new laws shall spring. The order is of essential importance; for to mistake it, to reverse the true sequence of cause and effect, is the prime cause of failure in all social reform.
As will be seen by those who have the patience to read to the end of my book, I have, in its last pages, pleaded strongly for the second policy. It would be impossible to frame in our society, and in face of the rapidly rising tide of antagonism against the Jews, new laws that would not lead to injustice. But if it be possible to create an atmosphere wherein the Jews are spoken of openly, and they in their turn admit, define, and accept the consequences of a separate nationality in our midst, then, such a spirit once established, laws and regulations consonant to it will naturally follow.
But I am convinced that the reversing of this process would only lead first to confusion and next to disaster, both for Israel and for ourselves.
I have stated the Problem. There is friction between the two races—the Jews in their dispersion and those among whom they live. This friction is growing acute. It has led invariably in the past (and consequently may lead now) to the most fearful consequences, terrible for the Jew but evil also for us. Therefore that the problem is immediate, practical and grave. Therefore a solution is imperative.
But I may be—and indeed I shall be—met at the outset by the denial that any such problem exists. Such was the attitude of all our immediate past; such is the attitude of many of the best men to-day on both sides of the gulf which separates Israel from our world.
I must meet this objection before going further, for if it be sound, if indeed there is no problem (save what may be created by ignorance or malice), then no solution is demanded. All we have to do is to enlighten the ignorant and to repress the malicious: the ignorant, who imagine there is an alien Jewish nation among them, the malicious, who treat as though they were alien, men who are, in fact, exactly like ourselves and normal fellow-citizens.
I do not here allude to the great mass of convention, hypocrisy and fear which pretends ignorance of a truth it well knows. I am speaking of the sincere conviction, still present in many—particularly those of the older generation—that no Jewish problem exists.
It is honestly denied by a certain type of mind that there is any such thing as a Jewish nation; there can therefore be no friction between it and its hosts: the thing is a delusion. Let us examine that mind and see whether the illusion is on our side or no.
It was the attitude familiar to the nineteenth century, and agreeable to that one of its political moods in which it found itself best satisfied: the negative attitude of leaving the Jewish nation unrecognized; of creating a fiction of single citizenship to replace the reality of dual allegiance; of calling a Jew a full member of whatever society he happened to inhabit during whatever space of time he happened to sojourn there in his wanderings across the earth. That was the attitude agreeable on the political side to everything which called itself “modern thought.” Such was the doctrine proposed by the great men of the French Revolution. Such was the attitude accepted almost enthusiastically by Liberal England, that is, by all the dominant public life of England during the Victorian period. Such was the policy which once obtained universal favour throughout the whole of our Western civilization. That was the attitude which the West actually attempted to impose upon Eastern States, and the last effect of its rapidly-declining credit is to be found in certain clauses of the Treaty of Versailles: for that attitude is still the official attitude of all our governments.
In the Treaty of Versailles and the other treaties following the Great War the Jews of Eastern Europe were put under a sort of special protection, but not in a straightforward and positive fashion. The word “Jew” was never blurted out—it was replaced by the word “minority”—but the intention was obvious. The underlying implication was: “We, the Western governments, say there is no Jewish problem. The idea of a Jewish nation is a delusion and the conception of the Jew as something different from a Pole or a Rumanian is a mania. If you in the East are still benighted in this matter, at any rate we will prevent your ignorance or obsession from leading you to persecution.” The same men who made these declarations proceeded to erect a brand-new highly-distinct Jewish state in Palestine, with the threat behind it of ruthlessly suppressing a majority by the use of Western arms.
Both actions were the consequence of that confused position I have just defined (history will call it the last example), which, though much weakened in public opinion, was still honestly taken for granted by some of the Parliamentarians who framed the Treaty, and was certainly felt to be of personal advantage to all: the position that there is no Jewish nation when the admission of it may inconvenience the Jew, but very much of a Jewish nation when it can advantage him.
Those who defended this position did so from various standpoints; but these may all be regarded as so many degrees in a certain way of looking at the Jewish people. It was till lately the attitude of the majority of educated Frenchmen, Englishmen and Italians. It was, so to speak, the official political attitude of Western Europe with its parliamentary governments and other corresponding institutions.
The most extreme form of this opinion was to be found in people who spoke of the Jew as nothing other than a citizen with a particular religion. A state would be dominantly Catholic or Protestant, but it would contain smaller religious bodies, eager minorities, for which a place had to be found, side by side with the more or less indifferent majority. Catholic France had a five per cent and wealthy Huguenot minority. Protestant England had a seven per cent and poor Catholic minority. Protestant Holland had a large minority—more than a third—of Catholics, and so forth. It had become odious to nineteenth century thought that religious differences (which it regarded as nothing more than shades of doubtfully-held private opinion) should be the concern of the State. A large number of people thought of the Jews, not as a race, but only as a religion; and regarding all religion thus, they concluded that it could involve no diminution of citizenship.
At the other end of the scale you had public men who fully appreciated the ultimate difficulties which would certainly arise from this inconclusive settlement of the matter. These regarded the Jews as a quite distinct nationality, and even as a nationality likely to clash with the national needs of its hosts; they would even (in private) express their hostility towards that nationality. None the less, they thought it must be treated in public life as though it did not exist. These men were most emphatic in their private letters and conversation—that the Jewish problem was not a religious but a national one. Nevertheless (they said) it was necessary to-day to mask that problem by a fiction and to pretend that the Jew was just like everybody else save for his religion. All other solutions (they said) demanded a knowledge of history and of Europe not to be expected of the public at large; again, the Jews were so powerful that if they desired the fiction to be supported they must be humoured. At any rate, recourse must be had, in our time at least, to this make-believe.
To the new and already antagonistic attitude towards the Jews now rising so strongly everywhere throughout Western Europe (which is in part a reaction from the nineteenth century position), this old-fashioned way of denying the Jewish race or ignoring its existence by a fiction appears morally odious, and we wonder to-day why it commanded universal support. It involved a falsehood, of course, often a conscious falsehood; and it was also undignified; for there appears to our generation something as grotesque in denying the existence of the Jewish nation as in denying our own. But that the fiction was maintained sincerely, and that the grotesque and undignified side of it went unperceived, we can assure ourselves in a few moments’ converse with any one of that older generation which maintained it and still represents it among us.
It might have continued to flourish for yet another generation, at any rate among the leading classes of this commercial community, but for two new developments which broke it down, each development the result of so large a toleration. The first was the growth of numbers, the second of influence. What made that old falsehood glaring and that old grotesque apparent was the enormous increase throughout all the West of the Jewish poor, accompanied by the enormous increase of the power exercised by the Jewish rich in public affairs. Men grew angry at finding themselves pledged to a pretence that Jews were not, when their presence was everywhere unavoidable, in the streets, and in the offices of government. The fiction was possible when a very few financiers, mixed with and lost in the polite world, were alone concerned. It became impossible in the face of the vast new ghettoes of London, Manchester, Bradford, Glasgow, and the formidable and growing list of Jewish and half-Jewish Ministers, Viceroys, ambassadors, dictators of policy.
This contempt for and irritation with what I have called the nineteenth century attitude, the Liberal attitude, was already apparent before the end of that century. It was muttering during the South African war in England and the Dreyfus case in France; it became vocal in the first years of this century, especially in connection with parliamentary scandals; with the Bolshevist rising in 1917 it became clamorous. It will certainly grow. We already have a formidable minority prepared to act against the interest of the Jew. It will in all probability become, and that shortly, a majority. It may appear at any moment, on some critical occasion, on some new provocation, as an overwhelming flood of exasperated opinion.
All the more does it behove us to treat the old-fashioned neutrality and fiction fairly; to examine it even with a bias in its favour; to set down all that can be said in its defence before we reject it, as I think we must now all reluctantly reject it. I say “reluctantly”; for after all it was the fixed mood of our fathers, who did great things: we feel their reproach when we abandon it, and there are still present with us very many of our elders to whom our new anxiety is abhorrent.
We must remember in the first place that the treating of the Jew in the West as no Jew at all, but a plain citizen like the rest, worked well enough for a time. One might almost say that there was no Jewish problem consciously present to the mind of the average educated Englishman or Frenchman, Italian, or even western German, between, say, the years 1830 and 1890. A very small body of Jews in England and France, in Italy and the rest of the West, were vaguely associated with wealth in the popular mind; a large proportion of them were distinguished for public work of various kinds; many of them with beneficence. The presence of such men could not conceivably lead to political difficulties—or at least, so it then seemed. The stories of persecution that came through from Eastern Europe, even examples of friction between great bodies of Jews there and the natives of the States where they happened to find themselves, were received in the West with disgust as the aberrations of imperfectly civilized people.
Even in the valley of the Rhine, where the Jew was more numerous and better known “in bulk,” the convention of the more civilized West was accepted. The doctrines, the abstraction of the French Revolution in this matter had prevailed.
Here any reader with an historical sense will at once point out that the space of time I have just quoted—1830 to 1890—is ridiculously short. Any treatment of a very great political problem, centuries old, which works for only sixty years and then begins to break down is no settlement at all. But I would reply that this period was especially a time in which historical perspective was lost. Men, even highly educated men, in the nineteenth century, greatly exaggerated the foreground of the historical picture.
You may note this in any school manual of the period, where all the four centuries of our Roman foundation are compressed into a few sentences, the dark ages into a few pages, the whole vast story of the Middle Ages themselves into a few chapters; where the mass of the work is invariably given to the last three centuries, while of these the nineteenth is regarded as equal in importance to all the rest put together.
This false historical perspective is apparent in every other department of their political thought. For instance, although capitalism, huge national debts, the anonymity of financial action and the rest of it, did not begin to flourish fully until after the first third of the nineteenth century, and though anyone might (one would think) have been able to discover the exceedingly unstable character of that society, yet our fathers took it for granted as an eternal state of things. Your Victorian man with £100,000 in railway stock thought his family immutably secure in a comfortable income, and what he thought about capitalism he thought also about his newly-developed anonymous press, his national frontiers, his tolerance of this, his intolerance of that, his parliaments and all the rest of it. It is no wonder if, under such a false sense of permanence and security, he lost historical perspective in this other and graver matter we are here discussing.
But apart from the argument that what I have called the nineteenth century or Liberal attitude towards the Jews worked well for its little day (at least, in Western Europe), there is also the fact that under special circumstances something very like it has worked well for much longer periods in the past. Take, for example, the position of the Jews in such a town as Amsterdam. The reception of a Jew as a citizen exactly like others, though he was present in very large numbers, the fiction denying his separate nationality, has held for generations in that community and it has procured peace and apparent contentment upon both sides. And what is true to this day of Amsterdam has been true in the past for long periods in the life of many another commercial and cosmopolitan society: that of Venice, notably, and, in a large measure, that of Rome; in that of Frankfort, of Lyons, and of a hundred cities at special times. It was true of all Poland for generations.
One might add to the list indefinitely, but always with the uncomfortable knowledge, as one wrote, that the experiment invariably broke down in the long run.
Again, there was to be advanced for this Liberal attitude of the nineteenth century the very powerful argument that while to one party in the issue, the Englishman, the Frenchman, the Italian, etc., it seemed well enough and certainly did no harm, it was highly acceptable to the other. The Jew as a rule not only accepted but welcomed this particular way of dealing with what he at any rate has always known to be a very grave problem indeed. For the Jew has a racial memory beyond all other men. The arrangement seemed to give him all the security of which his racial history (a thing of which every Jew is acutely conscious) had made him ardently desirous. I think we should add (though the phrase would be quarrelled with by many modern people) that this fiction satisfied the Jew’s sense of justice. For it is no small part of the problem we are examining that the Jew does really feel such special treatment to be his due. Without it he feels handicapped. He is, in his own view, only saved from the disadvantage of a latent hostility when he is thus protected, and he is therefore convinced that the world owes him this singular privilege of full citizenship in any community where he happens for the moment to be, while at the same time retaining full citizenship in his own nation.
Now, if in any conflict an arrangement seems workable enough to one party and is actually acclaimed by the other, it is not lightly to be disregarded.
If, for instance, a man and his tenant quarrel about the tenure of a field upon a very long lease, the tenant caring little about nominal ownership but very much about his inviolable tenure, the landlord quite agreeable to a very long lease but keen on retaining the titular ownership, that quarrel can be easily settled. One could give any name to the tenant’s position other than the name of “owner,” yet satisfy all his practical demands. A rough parallel exists between such a position and the attempt at a settlement which marked the nineteenth century.
What the Jew wanted was not the proud privilege of being called an Englishman, a Frenchman, an Italian, or a Dutchman. To this he was completely indifferent (for his pride lay in being a Jew, his loyalty was to his own, and what is more, he might at any moment fold up his tent and go off to another country for good). What the Jew wanted was not the feeling that he was just like the others—that would have been odious to him—what he wanted was security; it is what every human being craves for and what he of all men most lacked: the power to feel safe in the place where one happens to be. On the other hand, his hosts had not yet found any practical inconvenience in granting this demand. They did not know the historical argument against it, or they thought it worthless, because they thought the past barbarous and no model for their own action. So a compromise was arrived at, the fiction was solidly established, and the Jew, though remaining a Jew, became a German in Hamburg, a Frenchman in Paris, an American in New York, as he wandered from place to place, and for a long lifetime no one felt himself much the worse for the false convention.
The next argument in favour of this policy was the fact that it drew upon a number of ideas, each one of which at some time or another had been taken for granted by our ancestors in each one of their numerous (but unsuccessful) attempts to deal with the problem after their own fashion.
For instance, a modern objector says: “What rubbish to treat Jews as though they merely represented a religion! We all know they represent a nation!” But all manner of legislation in the past, even in times and places where the difference between Jews and Europeans was most marked, has perpetually fallen back upon that very point of religion alone. Over and over again you find it the test of policy: in early, and again in fifteenth century Spain, under Charlemagne’s rule in Gaul, in early mediaeval England, at Byzantium, and to this day in Eastern parts where the Jew is subject to perpetual interference. Exception was in all these made for the Jew who abandoned his religion. His nation was left unmentioned.
It is pertinent to quote such a simple and recent example as the body of Prussian officers, now happily extinct. It was a standing rule in the smarter Prussian regiments (I believe in nearly all) that no Jew could get his commission. The Prussian system left the granting of commissions, in practice, to the existing members of the regimental staff; they treated their mess as a Club and they blackballed Jews. But they would admit baptized Jews, and did so in considerable numbers. Was the Jew less of a Jew in race through his baptism? Throughout all the centuries that religious criterion, which the modern reformer cries out against as a piece of humbug and a mask for the real political problem, has been the criterion taken. It is true that the modern solution did not attempt a religious segregation. On the contrary, the Liberal thought of the nineteenth century held all such segregation in abhorrence; but it had this in common with the older fashion, that it made religion the point of interest, and to that extent masked the more real point of nationality and allegiance.
Lord Palmerston, making his famous speech on the sanctity of a Greek Jew’s bedstead, and insisting that the said Greek Jew was an English citizen; Lord Palmerston carefully avoiding the word “Jew” and pretending throughout his speech that the Greek Jew in question was as much an Englishman as himself, was in a very different mood from a Spanish fifth-century Bishop admitting a Jew to Office on condition of his conversion. Yet the two had this in common, that neither regarded the Jew as the member of another nation, but each (for very different reasons) as no more than the member of a religion.
To Palmerston, this Greek Jew about whose bedstead he made his famous speech, and onto whose bedstead hangs to this day the phrase “Civus Romanus Sum,” was above all a fellow-citizen. He may have seemed to Palmerston a doubtful sort of Englishman because his home was Greece, but he certainly did not seem doubtful because he happened to be a Jew. Palmerston would have thought that only a matter of private opinion, and would no more have regarded a Jew as an alien on account of this private opinion than he would have regarded as alien a fellow-Member of the House of Commons who preferred roast mutton to boiled.
Take, again, another aspect of the nineteenth century liberal idea: the recognition of citizenship. You have had that over and over again in the attempted solutions of the past. It was the very essence of the Roman method. For though the Government of the Roman Empire was much too concerned with realities and with enduring work to accept any fiction in the matter, or to pretend in practice that the Jew was not a Jew; though, on the contrary, the Romans recognized at once the gulf between the Jews and themselves, and recognized it not only by their cruelty to the Jew but also by the privileges they granted him; yet it was always their policy to admit citizenship as the primary distinction. The Jew who could claim that he was a full Roman citizen was, in the eyes of a Roman Tribunal, much more important in that capacity than in his social capacity as Jew. His “point,” as we should say in our modern slang, was his citizenship, not his Judaism. So, I say, this solution has for a further argument the fact that in one part or another it is in touch with the various attempts our race has made in the past to solve the problem.
There is yet another argument strongly in favour of the Liberal fiction which was attempted in the immediate past, and thought to have been successfully established. It is the consonance of that fiction with the whole body of modern custom and law, with the whole mass of modern economic and social habit.
We travel so much, we mix so much, our economic activities are at once so complicated, so interlocked, and (unhappily) for the most part so secret, that any other way of meeting the Jews would have seemed—at any rate if it had appeared in the shape of a positive law—a monstrous anachronism. A man must meet his friends’ friends and treat them as a normal part of the general society in which he moves. As the Jew permeated the society of the West everywhere (small though his numbers were in the West), as he everywhere intermarried with Europeans of the wealthier class, to insist in his presence upon his separate nationality would have been odious; it would have been like making a guest feel out of place in one’s home.
What is more, to by far the greater part of the wealthier and governing classes of the Western States the difference of race was so far masked that it had almost come to be forgotten. Sometimes a shock would revive it. An English squire would find, for instance, that a relation of his by marriage, whose Jewish name and descent he had never bothered about, was cousin to, and in close connection with, a person of a totally different name—an Oriental name—mixed up in some conspiracy, say, against the Russian State. Or he would learn with surprise that a learned University man with whom he had recently dined was the uncle of a socialist agitator in Vienna. But the shock would be a passing one, and the old mood of security would return.
With the growth of plutocracy the anomaly of treating Jews as individuals separate from the rest of the community increased. The most important men in control of international finance were admittedly Jewish. The Jew’s international position made him always useful and often necessary in the vast international economic undertakings of our time. The anonymity which had come to be taken for granted throughout modern capitalism made it seem absurd or impossible, always highly unusual, and probably futile, to search for a separate Jewish element in any particular undertaking.
There is one last argument for this Liberal policy, which has a strong practical value, though it is exceedingly dangerous to use it in the defence of that policy because it cuts both ways. It is the argument that the Jew ought to be thus treated as a citizen exactly like the rest and given no position either of privilege or disability, because he does, as a fact, mould himself so very rapidly to his environment.
When men say—as they are beginning to do—that a Jew is as different from ourselves as a Chinaman, or a negro, or an Esquimaux, and ought therefore to be treated as belonging to a separate body from our own, the answer is that the Jew is nothing of the kind. Indeed, he becomes, after a short sojourn among Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans or Americans, so like his hosts on the surface that he is, to many, indistinguishable from them; and that is one of the main facts in the problem.
That is the real reason why to the majority of the middle classes in the nineteenth century, in Western countries, the Jewish problem was nonexistent. Were you to say it of any other race—negroes, for instance, or Chinamen—it would sound incredible; but we know it in practice to be true, that a Jew will pass his life in, say, three different communities in turn, and in each the people who have met him will testify that he seemed just like themselves.
I have known a case in point which would amuse my non-Jewish readers but perhaps offend my Jewish readers were I to present it in detail. I shall cite it therefore without names, because I desire throughout this book to keep to the rule whereby alone it can be of service, that nothing offensive to either party shall be introduced; but it is typical and can be matched in the experience of many.
The case was that of the father of a man in English public life. He began life with a German name in Hamburg. He was a patriotic citizen of that free city, highly respected and in every way a Hamburger, and the Hamburg men of that generation still talk of him as one of themselves.
He drifted to Paris before the Franco-German War, and, there, was an active Parisian, familiar with the life of the Boulevards and full of energy in every patriotic and characteristically French pursuit; notably he helped to recruit men during the national catastrophe of 1870-71. Everybody who met him in this phase of his life thought of him and talked of him as a Frenchman.
Deciding that the future of France was doubtful after such a defeat, he migrated to the United States, and there died. Though a man of some years when he landed, he soon appeared in the eyes of the Americans with whom he associated to be an American just like themselves. He acquired the American accent, the American manner, the freedom and the restraints of that manner. In every way he was a characteristic American.
In Hamburg his German name had been pronounced after the German fashion. In France, where German names are common, he retained it, but had it pronounced in French fashion. On reaching the United States it was changed to a Scotch name which it distantly resembled, and no doubt if he had gone to Japan the Japanese would be telling us that they had known him as a worthy Japanese gentleman of great activity in national affairs and bearing the honoured name of an ancient Samurai family.
The nineteenth century attitude almost entirely depended upon this marvellous characteristic in the Jews which differentiates them from all the rest of mankind. Had that characteristic power of superficial mutation been absent, the nineteenth century policy would have broken down as completely as the corresponding Northern policy towards the negro broke down in the United States. Had the Jew been as conspicuous among us, as, say, a white man is among Kaffirs, the fiction would have broken down at once. As it was, all who adopted that policy, honestly or dishonestly, were supported by this power of the Jew to conform externally to his temporary surroundings.
The man who consciously adopted the nineteenth century Liberal policy towards the Jews as a mere political scheme, knowing full well the dangers it might develop; the man only half conscious of the existence of those dangers; and the man who had never heard of them but took it for granted that the Jew was a citizen just like himself, with an exceptional religion—each of those three men had in common, aiding the schemes of the one, supporting the illusion of the other, the amazing fact that a Jew takes on with inexplicable rapidity the colour of his environment. That unique characteristic was the support of the Liberal attitude and was at the same time its necessary condition.
The fiction that a man of obviously different type and culture and race is the same as ourselves, may be practical for purposes of law and government, but cannot be maintained in general opinion. A conspiracy or illusion attempting, for instance, to establish the Esquimaux in Greenland as indistinguishable from the Danish officials of the Settlement, would fail through ridicule. Equally ridiculous would be the pretence that because they were both subjects of the same Crown an Englishman in the Civil Service of India was exactly the same sort of person as a Sikh soldier. But with the Jews you have the startling truth that, while the fundamental difference goes on the whole time and is perhaps deeper than any other of the differences separating mankind into groups; while he is, within, and through all his ultimate character, above all things a Jew; yet in the superficial and most immediately apparent things he is clothed in the very habit of whatever society he for the moment inhabits.
I say that this might seem to many the last and strongest argument in favour of the old-fashioned Liberal policy, but I repeat that it is a dangerous argument, for it cuts both ways. If a food which disagrees with you looks exactly like another kind of food which suits you, you might use the likeness as an argument for eating either sort of food indifferently. You might say: “It is silly to try to distinguish; one must admit, on looking at them, that they are the same thing”; but it would turn out after dinner a very bad practical policy.
There is indeed one last argument which to me, personally, and I suppose to most of my readers, is stronger than all the rest, for it is the argument from morals.
If the Liberal attitude of the nineteenth century had proved a stable one, omitting that element in it which is a falsehood and therefore a factor of instability, one could retain the rest; then it would satisfy two appetites common to all men—appetite for justice and the appetite for charity.
Here is a man, a neighbour present in the midst of my society. I put him to inconvenience if I treat him as an alien. I like him; I regard him as a friend. To treat such a man as though he were, although a friend, something separate, not to be admitted to certain functions of my community, offends the heart, as it also offends the sense of justice. Such a man may possess a great talent for, say, administration. Like all men possessed of a great talent, he must exercise it. You maim him if you do not allow him to exercise it. A rule forbidding him to take part in the administration of the society in which he finds himself, or even a feeling hindering him in such activities, creates, not only in him, but in those who are his hosts, a sense of injustice; and if it were possible to adopt a policy wherein the separate character of the Jew should be always in abeyance, so that he could be at the same time an Englishman and yet not an Englishman, or a Frenchman and yet not a Frenchman, then we should have a settlement which all good men ought to accept.
Unfortunately that solution is false because, like many appeals to a virtuous instinct, it is sentimental. We call “sentimental” a policy or theory which attempts to reconcile contradictions. The sentimental man will equally abhor crime and its necessary punishment; disorder and an organized police. He likes to think of human life as though it did not come to an end. He likes to read of the passion of love without its concomitant of sexual conflict. He likes to read and think of great fortunes accumulated without avarice, cunning or theft. He likes to imagine an impossible world of mutually exclusive things. It makes him comfortable.
Now we commit the fault of the sentimental man (the gravest of practical faults in politics) when we cling at this late date to a continuance of the old policy. You cannot have your cake and eat it too, you cannot at the same time have present in the world this ubiquitous fluid, yet closely organized Jewish community, and at the same time each of the individuals composing it treated as though they were not members of the nation which makes them all they are. You cannot at the same time treat a whole as one thing and its component parts as another. If you do, you are building on contradiction and you will, like everybody who builds on contradiction, run up against disaster.
* * * * *
I am minded to give the reader another anecdote (again taking care, I hope, to suppress all names and dates to prevent identification, which might irritate my Jewish readers or too greatly interest their opponents). As a younger man it was my constant pastime to linger at the bar of the House of Lords and listen to what went on there. I shall always remember one occasion when an aged Jew, who had begun life in very humble circumstances, had accumulated a great fortune and had purchased his peerage like any other, rose to speak in connection with a resolution or with a bill dealing with “aliens”—the hypocrisy of the politician, and the popular ferment against the rush of Jewish immigrants into the East End between them gave rise to that non-committal name. This old gentleman very rightly pushed all such humbug aside. He knew perfectly well that the policy was aimed at “his people”—and he called them “my people.” He knew perfectly well that the proposed change would introduce interference with their movement and would subject them to humiliation. He spoke with flaming patriotism, and I was enthralled by the intensity, vigour and sincerity of his appeal. It was a very fine performance and, incidentally (considering what the man was!), it illustrated the vast difference between his people and my own. For a life devoted to accumulating wealth, which would have killed nobler instincts in any one of us, had evidently seemed to him quite normal and left him with every appetite of justice and of love of nation unimpaired. He clinched that fine speech with the cry, “What our people want is to be let alone.” He said it over and over again. I am sure that in the audience which listened to him, all the older men felt a responsive echo to that appeal. It was the very doctrine in which they had been brought up and the very note of the great Victorian Liberal era, with its national triumphs in commerce and in arms.
Well, within a very few years the younger members of that very man’s family came out in Parliamentary scandal after scandal, appearing all in sequence one after the other—a sort of procession. They had been let alone right enough! But they had not let us alone. I ask myself, sometimes, How would it sound if some years hence any one of those descendants—having by that time been given his peerage (for they are rich men and all of them in professional politics)—should return to that cry of his ancestor and ask to be “let alone”? There would be no response then in the breasts of the contemporaries who might hear him. Manners will so much have changed in this regard that he would be interrupted. But I do not think that my hypothetical descendant of that rich old Jew is likely to make any such speech. I think that when the time comes for making it, the whole idea of “letting alone” will be quite dead.
I have quoted this old man’s speech with no invidious intention but only as an actual example of the way in which the “letting alone” of this great question breaks down. I am as familiar as any Jewish reader of mine with names that have dignified public life in the past, Jewish names, Jewish peers: and I recall in particular the honoured name of Lord Herschell to the friendship between whose nearest and my own I preserve a grateful and sacred memory.
* * * * *
But to return to the failure of the sentimental argument.
The sentimental argument fails because it involves contradictions—that is, incompatibility of fact.
Even if one had not this strictly rational principle to guide one, there is the whole of history to guide one. It is true that the pretence of common citizenship has worked now for a shorter, now for a longer, period, but never indefinitely. You always come at last to a smash. The Jew is welcomed in mediaeval Poland; he comes in vast numbers; all goes well. Then the inevitable happens and the Jew and the Pole stand apart as enemies, each accusing the other of injustice, the one crying out that he is persecuted, the other that the State is in danger by alien activity within. Spain alternatively pursued this policy, and its opposite; the whole history of Spain—the original seat of Jewish influence in Europe after the general exile—is a history of alternating attempts at the sentimental solution and a savage reaction against it: the reaction of the man, who, fighting for his life, strikes out violently in terror of death. That is the history not only of Spain but of every other country at one time or another.
Indeed, we have before our very eyes to-day the beginning of exactly such a reaction in the West of Europe and the United States of America, and it is the presence of that reaction which has caused this book to be written. The attempt at a Liberal solution has already failed in our hands; if it had not failed there would be no more to be said, or, at any rate, we could postpone the discussion until the actual difficulty began. But we have only to look around us to see that, after these few years, this one lifetime, during which the experiment has flourished in the highest part of civilization, it is already breaking down. Everywhere the old questions are being asked, everywhere the old complaints are being raised, everywhere the old perils are reappearing. We must seek some solution, for if we fail to find it we know from the past what tragedies are in store for us both. There is a problem, a most direct and urgent problem. Once it is recognized, a solution of it is necessarily demanded.
But it is not enough to show that the mere denial of the existence of that problem—the old nineteenth century Liberal policy—was false and bound to break down. It is just as necessary, if we appreciate how practical and immediate the problem is, to state it and illustrate it from contemporary events. It is not enough to show that the attempted Liberal policy has failed. One must also, before trying to discover a solution, analyse the nature of the problem as it presents itself at the moment, and that is what I propose to do in the next chapter.
I said in my last that the old solution of ignoring or denying the Jewish problem was bound to break down and had broken down, and this was tantamount to saying that the problem persists. But I said one must go farther and state the full nature of that problem as it stands at this moment before one could attempt a practical solution.
It is not enough to say that a person who imagines himself immortal and immune from disease is, as a fact, dangerously ill, and that the break-down of his health has disproved his theory. One must go on to find out exactly what is the matter with him, and, if possible, what the cure for the trouble may be.
The Jewish problem in its larger sense I have defined in the first chapter of this book, and that as I think every one defines it, including all the many Jews who have discussed the matter. It is the presence within one political organism of another political organism at friction with it: the strains set up by such an unnatural state of affairs; the risk of disaster to the lesser body and of hurt to both if it remain unremedied. The true solution therefore is only to be discovered in some policy which will permanently relieve the strain and re-establish normal relations. The end of such a solution should be the functioning, as far as possible, of both parties, at their ease and without disturbance one to the other.
But this general statement of the problem—that it is the presence to each party of an alien body and the consequent irritation and friction on each—is not enough. We must pursue it more closely and develop it in greater detail, describing how the friction and the irritation are increasing: insisting that they have even become a menace. Then only can we set out to discover as far as possible by analysis what exact character the disease bears and why it is of this character. Only after all this can we explore a remedy.
When we look round the modern world, say the last twenty years, we discover, in widely separate places, and among very different interests, and inhabiting the most diverse characters, the presence of what is for many a new political feeling: it runs from irritation to exasperation, from grumbling to invective; it is everywhere directed against the Jews. One activity after another, in which the Jews are variously in the right or in the wrong, or indifferent, has aroused hostility in varying degrees—but increasing—and though the danger-spots are still, as I have said, dissociated in the main, yet they are beginning to coalesce and to form large areas inimical to Israel.
It is objected of the Jew in finance, in industry, in commerce—where he is ubiquitous and powerful out of all proportion to his numbers—that he seeks, and has already almost reached, dominion. It is objected that he acts everywhere against the interests of his hosts; that these are being interfered with, guided, run against their will; that a power is present which acts either with indifference to what we love or in active opposition to what we love. Notably is it said to be indifferent to, or in active opposition against, our national feelings, our religious traditions, and the general culture and morals of Christendom which we have inherited and desire to preserve: that power is Israel.
These feelings grew as one example after another of the Jewish strength, the Jewish cohesion, arrived to feed them. How violent they were to become might be seen by taking as a special example their extreme form, called “Anti-Semitism.” When we come, later in this book, to examine that modern phenomenon, we shall find it to be not only a proof of the insistence and gravity of the problem we are trying to solve, but also some explanation of its nature.
Upon a world thus already exasperated, and in some large sections exasperated to the point of unreason—for the anti-Semitic drive was, and is, full of unreason—there suddenly fell the double effect of the Bolshevist revolution: a revolution which struck both at the benevolent who would hear no harm of the Jews, and those who had hitherto shielded or obeyed them as identified only with the interests of large Capital. It was a blow in flank under which staggered both the supporters of Jewish neutrality and the dependants upon Jewish finance.
The old Liberal policy still officially held the field; but when this shattering explosion came it compelled attention. Bolshevism stated the Jewish problem with a violence and an insistence such that it could no longer be denied either by the blindest fanatic or the most resolute liar.
Such was, in its largest lines, the recent historical sequence leading up to the state of affairs we now find. Let us trace that sequence in more detail and from a little farther back.
A lifetime ago, when the Liberal policy was founded and when conditions were favourable to its establishment, the populace might still nourish its traditional antagonism to the Jew, but in the West of Europe his numbers were very limited (only a few thousand in France and England combined, and hardly as many in Italy).
He belonged for the most part to the classes that did not come into direct competition with the poor of the large towns. From the countrysides he was absent. He had not attempted to govern his hosts as a politician, nor, in any large measure, to indoctrinate them through the Press. The rapid decline of religion at that time broke down one barrier, and the transformation of the governing classes from the old territorial Lords to the modern plutocracy broke down another. The convention that the Jew was indistinguishable from the citizens of the country in which he happened to live, or, at any rate, from that in which he had last lived, was further fostered by the break-up of that cosmopolitan aristocratic society which had marked the eighteenth century, and which could note and register the movements of prominent individuals from nation to nation. The new industrial fortunes and the new international finance both contributed to the same end, while the Jew also began to compete successfully in every one of the liberal professions without as yet dominating any of them. No conflicts had arisen between the Jewish race and the national interests of any European people, with the exception perhaps of the Poles; and these were subject and silenced.
Throughout all this time, from the years after Waterloo to the years immediately succeeding the defeat of the French in 1870-71, the weight and position of the Jew in Western civilization increased out of all knowledge and yet without shock, and almost without attracting attention. They entered the Parliaments everywhere, the English Peerage as well, and the Universities in very large numbers. A Jew became Prime Minister of Great Britain, another a principal leader of the Italian resurrection; another led the opposition to Napoleon III. They were present in increasing numbers in the chief institutions of every country. They began to take positions as fellows of every important Oxford and Cambridge college; they counted heavily in the national literatures; Browning and Arnold families, for instance, in England; Mazzini in Italy. They came for the first time into European diplomacy. The armies and navies alone were as yet untouched by their influence. Strains of them were even present in the reigning families. The institution of Freemasonry (with which they are so closely allied and all the ritual of which is Jewish in character) increased very rapidly and very greatly. The growth of an anonymous Press and of an increasingly anonymous commercial system further extended their power.
It is an illusion to believe that all this great change was Jewish in origin. The Jew did not create it, he floated upon it, but it worked manifestly to his advantage, and we find him at the end of it represented on the governing institutions of Western Europe fifty or one hundredfold more than was his due in proportion to his numbers. The Jews intermarried everywhere with the leading families and, before any sign that a turn of the tide had taken place, they had already achieved that position in which they are now being assailed and to oust them from which such strong efforts are preparing.
Perhaps the first event which cut across this unbroken ascent was the defeat of the French in 1870-1. Not that its effects were immediate in this field, but that a nation defeated is the more likely to raise a grievance, real or imaginary; in seeking a cause for social misfortunes following on its military disasters, it will naturally fix upon an international rather than a national one, and blame its alien population rather than its own. Moreover, the date of the French defeat was also the date on which was overthrown the temporal power of the Papacy. In this also the Jews had played their part. It gave them the opportunity to play a still greater part in the immediate future of the new Italy. Within a few years Rome was to see a Jewish Mayor who supported with all his might the unchristianizing of the city and especially of its educational system.
One small but significant factor in the whole business of these 70’s and early 80’s—the beginning of the last quarter of the nineteenth century—was the rise to monopoly of the Jewish international news agents, among which Reuters was prominent, and the presence of Jews as international correspondents of the various great newspapers, the most prominent example being Opper, a Bohemian Jew, who concealed his origin under the false name of “de Blowitz,” and for years acted as Paris correspondent for The Times, a paper in those days of international influence.
The first expression of the reaction that was at hand was to be found in sundry definitely anti-Semitic writings appearing in Germany and France, most noticeable in the latter country.
Their effect was at first slight, though they had the high advantage of extensive documentation. The great majority of educated men shrugged their shoulders and passed such things by as the extravagancies of fanatics; but these fanatics none the less laid the foundation of future action by the quotation of an immense quantity of facts which could not but remain in the mind even of those who were most contemptuous of the new propaganda. In these books special insistence was laid upon exposing what the Jews themselves call “crypto-Judaism”—that is, the presence everywhere throughout Western Europe of men in important public positions who passed for English, French or what not, but were really Jews.
In many cases (I have already quoted the poet Browning and the distinguished family of Arnold) these people were not hiding their religion but had simply drifted from the original Jewish community of which their ancestors had been members, but in most others there was more or less present an element of conscious secrecy. It was evidently the object of those who produced the literature I am describing to attack that secrecy in particular and to undo its effects; and, as I have said, even where their fanaticism was most ridiculed, the vast array of facts which they marshalled could not be without its effect upon the memory of their contemporaries.
There next appeared a series of direct international actions undertaken by Jewish finance, the most important of which, of course, was the drawing of Egypt into the European system, and particularly into the system of Great Britain.
Of more effect upon public opinion was the excitement of the Dreyfus case in France and, immediately afterwards, of the South African War, in England.
The characteristic of the Dreyfus case was not the discussion upon the guilt or innocence of the unfortunate man from whom it takes its title, but the immense international clamour with which it was surrounded. This local affair was made an affair of the whole world, and men took as passionate an interest in it in the remotest corners of civilization as though they had been the principals actually engaged.
Such a phenomenon could not but astonish the mass of onlookers who had hitherto not given the Jewish question a thought, and when there was added to it the great ordeal of the South African War, openly and undeniably provoked and promoted by Jewish interests in South Africa, when that war was so unexpectedly prolonged and proved so unexpectedly costly in blood and treasure, a second element was added to the growing feeling, not yet, indeed, of antagonism to Jewish power (half cultured France was Dreyfusard, and much more than half England favoured the Boer War at its origin), but of interest in the Jewish question, of curiosity, on the part of the average citizen, who had not hitherto heard of it.
The original minority which had begun to oppose Jewish power, with their extreme left wing of Anti-Semites, and their core of men whose quarrel was rather with the financial control of the modern world than with any racial problem, tended to grow. As always happens with a growing movement, events appeared to suit themselves to that growth and to promote it.
The Panama scandals in the French Parliament had already fed the movement in France. The later Parliamentary scandals in England, Marconi and the rest, afforded so astonishing a parallel to Panama that the similarity was of universal comment. They might have passed as isolated things a generation before. They were now connected, often unjustly, with the uneasy sense of a general financial conspiracy. They were, at any rate, connected with an atmosphere essentially Jewish in character.
Meanwhile there had already begun one of those great migratory movements of the Jews which have diversified history for two thousand years and which are almost always the prelude to each new disturbance in the equilibrium of the Jews and each new resuscitation of the Jewish problem in its most acute form.
The great reservoir of the Jewish race was, of course, that country of Poland which had so nobly succoured the Jews during the persecutions of the late Middle Ages. Poland had made itself an asylum for all the Jews who cared to go to it, and was now, after the infamous partition inaugurated by Prussia, still the home of something like half the Jews of the world. The hatred of the Jews entertained by all classes of Russians, the persecutions they suffered from the fact that Russia, since the partition, governed that part of Poland where they were most numerous, started the new exodus. The movement was a westerly one, mainly to the United States, but there also arose in connection with it a novel growth of great ghettoes in the English industrial towns, more particularly in London, while New York was slowly transformed from a city as free of Jewish population as London and Paris had been in the past, to one in which a good third or more of its inhabitants became either entirely Jewish or partly Jewish.
This vast immigration, which was in full swing just before the outbreak of the great war, and which was adding so active a leaven to the increasing ferment, which had even planted the beginnings of a ghetto in Paris and which was affecting the whole of the West, was supplemented by one more factor of the first importance.
Modern capitalism, by which the Jew had so largely benefited, but which he did not originate and in which prominent, though few, Jewish names, were so immixed, had for its counterpart and reaction the socialist movement. This, again, the Jews did not originate, nor at first direct; but it rapidly fell more and more under their control. The family of Mordecai (who had assumed the name of Marx) produced in Karl a most powerful exponent of that theory. Though he did no more than copy and follow his non-Jewish instructors (especially Louis Blanc, a Franco-Scot of genius), he presented in complete form the full theory of Socialism, economic, social, and, by implication, religious; for he postulated Materialism.
After Karl Marx came a crowd of his compatriots, who led the industrial proletariat in rebellion against the increasing power of the capitalist system, and began to organize a determined revolt.
Before the Great War one could say that the whole of the Socialist movement, so far as its staff and direction were concerned, was Jewish; and while it took this purely economic form in the West, in the East—in the Russian Empire—it took a political form as well, and the growing revolutionary force in that Empire was equally Jewish in direction and driving power.
Such was the situation on the eve of the Great War. Men were beginning to be thoroughly alive to what was meant by the Jewish problem. The old security was dispelled for ever; but as yet only a minority, though now a large one, was prepared to deal with that problem and to discuss it openly. All that was official, and particularly the Press, with its vast influence, had as yet refused in any department to face the realities of the position. The convention forbidding public allusion to the Jewish question was still very strong. On the surface it seemed as though the old Liberal policy still stood firm and, indeed, unshakeable. The Jews were in every place of ‘vantage: they taught in the Universities of all Europe; they were everywhere in the Press; everywhere in finance. They were continually to be found in the highest places of Government and in the chanceries of Christendom they had acquired a dominant power which none could question. But the challenge against this unnatural position necessarily worked against great odds, it remained private and had great difficulty in finding expression. None the less, it extended, and by 1914 had become serious.
The immeasurable catastrophe of the war—with which the Jews had nothing to do and which their more important financial representatives did all they could to prevent—fell upon Europe. It seemed at first as though, in the face of that overwhelming tragedy, what had been so rapidly growing—I mean the debate and conflict upon Jewish claims—would be silenced. The Jews were found fighting gallantly in all the armies. Their services were generously acknowledged, though the cruel ambiguity of their situation was hardly realized. Considering that they had no national interest in the fight, it must have seemed to them a mere insanity, crucifying their nation to no purpose. For Zangwill put the matter well indeed when he said that those who eagerly and spontaneously joined the first recruiting (and these were numerous) did so “for the honour of Israel.” The sacrifice was not without fruit. In its presence many a complaint was silenced and much was revealed which, but for it, would have remained unprobed. The Christian family in its bereavement saw at its side a Jewish neighbour who had lost his son in what was no concern of his race; the Christian priest witnessed the agony of the young Jewish soldier. The defender of the Western nations saw at his side not only the Jewish conscript (who should never have been called) but the Jewish volunteer. Thus, the first to enlist from the United States was a Jew, later promoted, whom I had the pleasure and honour of meeting on Mangin’s staff at Mayence. I hope he may see these lines.
It looked as though in the presence of such a suffering, which the Jews shared with us, the growing quarrel between them and ourselves would be appeased. Men who had been prominent not only for their discussion of the Jewish problem, but for their direct and open antagonism to Jewish power and even to the most legitimate of Jewish claims, were now compelled to silence. Reconciliation was in the air … when, in the very heat of the struggle, came that factor, incalculably important, which now rules all the rest; I mean the factor of what is called Bolshevism.
This new Jewish movement changed the whole face of things and, coming on the top of the rest, has transformed the problem for all our generation.
Henceforth it was to be discussed quite openly. Henceforth it could only become, more and more, the chief problem of politics and give rise to that menacing situation upon a solution of which depends the security of our future.
For the Bolshevist movement, or rather explosion, was Jewish.
That truth may be so easily confused with a falsehood that I must, at the outset, make it exact and clear.
The Bolshevist Movement was a Jewish movement, but not a movement of the Jewish race as a whole. Most Jews were quite extraneous to it; very many indeed, and those of the most typical, abhor it; many actively combat it. The imputation of its evils to the Jews as a whole is a grave injustice and proceeds from a confusion of thought whereof I, at any rate, am free.
With so much said let me return to the affair.
What is called “Labour,” that is, the direction of the proletarian revolt against capitalist conditions, had, as we have seen, been directed in the main by the Jew. His energy, his international quality, his devotion to a set scheme, prevailed. All this was not peculiar to Russia but present throughout the industrialized areas of the West.
By the word “directed” I do not mean any conscious plan. I mean that the Jews, with their perpetual movement from country to country, with their natural indifference to national feeling as a force counteracting class feeling, with their lucid thought and their passion for deduction, with their tenacity and intellectual industry, had naturally become the chief exponents and the most able leaders. They formed, above all, the cement binding the movement together throughout the world. It was they, more than any others, who insisted on a clear-cut solution upon the lines which their compatriot Karl Marx had copied from his greater European contemporaries, and made definite in his famous book on Capital.
But there was all the difference in the world between this intellectual leadership, this organization of socialism by Jews while Socialism still remained a mere theory, and the control and actual management of it in a great State when it passed from theory to practice.
The words “social revolution” were still but words in 1914 and men did not take them too seriously. But when in 1917 a socialist revolution was accomplished suddenly at one blow, in one great State, and when its agents, directors and masters were seen to be a close corporation of Jews with only a few non-Jewish hangers-on (each of these controlled by the Jews through one influence or another), it was quite another matter. The thing had become actual. The menace to national traditions and to the whole Christian ethic of property was immediate. More important than all, so far as the Jewish problem is concerned, many who had remained silent upon it on account of convention, avarice or fear, were now compelled to speak. From that moment, in early ’17, it became the chief political problem of our time: coincident with, intimately mixed with, but in all its implications superior to, the great economic quarrel on to which it was now grafted.
The story may be briefly told. The Russian State, ill-equipped for modern war, had passed during the end of the year 1916 through a strain which it had found intolerable. Russian Society, after the mortal losses sustained, was upon the eve of dissolution, and the formidable revolutionary movement which had for years left its direction and organization in Jewish hands broke out, for the third time in our generation: but this time successfully.
After rapidly accelerating phases it settled into the situation which has endured from the early part of 1918 to the present day. In the towns the freely-elected Parliament was repudiated and a “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” was declared. The workshops were in future to be run by Committees, in the Russian “Soviets,” and similar organizations were to control agriculture in the villages, where the peasants had already seized the land and were streaming back from the dissolved armies to their homes.
In practice, of course, what was set up was no proletarian Government, still less anything so impossible and contradictory in terms as a “dictatorship” of proletarians. The thing was called “The Republic of the Workmen and Peasants.” It was, in fact, nothing of the sort. It was the pure despotism of a clique, the leaders of which had been specially launched upon Russia under German direction in order to break down any chance of a revival of Russian military power, and all those leaders, without exception, were Jews, or held by the Jews through their domestic relations, and all that followed was done directly under the orders of Jews, the most prominent of whom was one Braunstein, who disguised himself under the assumed name of Trotsky. A terror was set up, under which were massacred innumerable Russians of the governing classes, so that the whole framework of the Russian State disappeared. Among these, of course, must specially be noted great numbers of the clergy, against whom the Jewish revolutionaries had a particular grudge. A clean sweep was made of all the old social organization, and under the despotism of this Jewish clique the old economic order was reversed. Food and all necessities were controlled (in the towns) and rationed, the manual labourer receiving the largest share; and none any share unless he worked at the orders of the new masters.
The agricultural land was in theory nationalized, but in practice the Jewish Committees of the towns were unable to enforce their rule over it, and it reverted to the natural condition of peasant ownership. But the Jewish Committees of the towns were strong enough to raid great areas of agricultural production for the support of themselves and their troops and of their dependants in the cities, who had come close to starvation through the breakdown of the social system.
What followed later is of common knowledge: the attempts at counter-revolution, led by scattered Russians and other military leaders, all failed because the peasants believed that their newly-acquired farms were at stake and eagerly volunteered to defend them, the greatly increased misery of the towns, the slow decline of industrial production (in spite of the most rigid despotism, enforcing conscript labour), and the general deliquescence of society.
If the motives of the men who thus brought the whole of a Christian State into ruins within a few weeks were analysed, we should, it is to be presumed, discover something of this sort: their main motive was the pursuit of the political and economic ideals of which they were the spokesmen and which already so many of their compatriots, the Jews, throughout the rest of Europe, had espoused—communism so far as property was concerned; the Marxian doctrine of socialist production and distribution; the Socialist doctrine imposed by arbitrary and despotic arrangements, favouring those who had in the past been least favoured. In this economic and political group of motives the leading motive was probably enough, the doctrine of Communism in which these men, for the most part, sincerely believed.
To this must be added an equally sincere hatred of national feeling, save, of course, where the Jewish nation was concerned. The conception of a Russian national feeling seemed to these new leaders ridiculous, as, indeed, the conception of a national feeling must seem ridiculous to their compatriots everywhere; or, if not ridiculous, subsidiary to the more important motives of individual advantage and to the righting of such immediate wrongs as the individual may feel. The Christian religion they naturally attacked, for it was abhorrent to their social theory.
They also had a certain crusading, or propagandist, ideal running through the whole of their action—the desire to spread Communism far beyond the boundaries of what had once been the Russian State. It is this which has led them to intrigue throughout Central, and even in Western, Europe, in favour of revolution.
Though these were the main motives, other motives must also have been present.
It is impossible that Committees consisting of Jews and suddenly finding themselves thus in control of such new powers, should not have desired to benefit their fellows. It is equally impossible that they should have forgone a sentiment of revenge against that which had persecuted their people in the past. They cannot but, in the destroying of Russia, have mixed with a desire to advantage the individual Russian poor the desire to take vengeance upon the national tradition as a whole; it has even been said—but denied, and I know not where the truth lies—that Jews were among those guilty of the worst incident which we now know in all its revolting details—the murder of the Russian Royal family—father, mother and girls, and the unfortunate sickly heir, the only boy. Further, it is impossible, with Jewish Committees thus in control of the Russian treasury and of Russian means of communication, that they should not have had some sympathy with their compatriots who were so largely in control of Western finance. However sincere their detestation of capitalism (for probably in most of them the opinion is held sincerely enough), it is in the nature of things that one of their blood and kind should, however misguided they may think him, appeal to them more than one of ours. And it is this which explains the half alliance which you find throughout the world between the Jewish financiers on the one hand and the Jewish control of the Russian revolution on the other. It is this which explains the half-heartedness of the defence against Bolshevism, the perpetual commercial protest, the continued negotiations, the recognition of the Soviet by our politicians, the clamour of “Labour” in favour of German Jewish industrialism and against Poland: all that has taken place wherever Jewish finance is powerful, particularly at Westminster.
But, be this as it may, the tremendous explosion which we call Bolshevism brought the discussion of the Jewish problem to a head. The two forces which had hitherto held back the discussion of that problem were that Liberal fiction which had ruled for more than a generation, according to which it was indecent even to mention the word Jew, or to suggest that there was any difference between the Jew and those who harboured him; and, secondly, the fact that the Jews were erroneously regarded by most of the well-to-do people in the West—that is, by most of those who had the control of the Press and therefore of all public expression—as so controlling wealth that they were at once the natural guardians of property and so placed that an attack upon them jeopardized the wealth of the critic. The man who had gone into the City, or who had his life spent upon the Bourse in Paris, or who was negotiating any great capitalist enterprise, who had to do in whatever capacity with the running of the great banks or with the international means of communication by sea and land, even the man who got his precarious living by writing—each and all had hitherto felt that a public silence upon the Jewish problem was necessary to his private welfare.
Those who recognized the gravity of the problem had hitherto been moved by fear to be silent upon it, at least in public, though in private they were often voluble enough. Those who recognized it in a lesser degree had also been affected by the same fear. Lastly, you had the large class who were under no necessity for restraint, whether from fear or any other cause, but who were quite content to leave things as they were so long as they received their regular salary or dividends, and who were profoundly convinced that any interference with the Jew would imperil those dividends or that salary.
The Jewish Bolshevist movement put an end to that state of mind. The people who had hitherto been silent through avarice, convention, or fear, now found themselves between an upper and a nether millstone. Hitherto they had at least believed that to keep silence was to secure or to advance their economic position. Now they found, suddenly risen upon the flank of that position, a new and formidable Jewish force determined upon the destruction of property. There was no longer any reason to keep silent. There was a growing need to speak. And though the old habit, the old secrecy, was still strong upon them, the necessity for combating Jewish Bolshevism was stronger still. All over Europe the Jewish character of the movement became more and more apparent. The leaders of Communism everywhere proclaimed that truth by adopting the asinine policy of pretending that the revolution was Russian and national; they attempted—far too late—to hide the Jewish origins of its creators and directors, and made a childish effort to pretend that the Russian names so innocently put forward were genuine, when the real names were upon every tongue. Yet at the same time they were receiving money and securities of the victims through Jewish agents, jewels stripped from the dead or rifled from the strong boxes of murdered men and women. In one specific instance the promise of a subsidy to a Communist paper in London was traced to this source; it was proved that the Englishman involved was a mere puppet and that the Jewish connections of the family through marriage were the true agents in the transaction. In another a Trade Deputation was pompously announced under Russian names, which turned out upon inspection to consist, as to its first member, of a man engaged all his life in the service of a Jewish firm, as to the other, of a Jew who was actually the brother-in-law of Braunstein! The diplomatic agent nominated and partially accepted by the British Government to represent the new authority of the Russian towns was again a Jew, Finkelstein, the nephew by marriage of a prominent Jew in this country. He passed under the name of Litvinoff. So it was throughout the whole movement, in every capital and in every great industrial town.
We must not neglect the very obvious truth that in all this there was ample fuel for the flame. The industrial proletariat throughout the world was equally disgusted and equally ready for revolt. The leadership of the movement may be Jewish but its current was not created by the Jew. To imagine that is to fall into the most childish errors of the “Anti-Semite.” The stream of influence arose from the sufferings and the burning sense of injustice which industrial capitalism had imposed on the dispossessed mass of wage earners. They were (and are) naturally indifferent as to whether those whom they hope may be their saviours come from Palestine, Muscovy or Timbuctoo. They are interested in economic freedom: in the doctrine of socialism and in its results, not in the personality of those who guide them.
Their position is comprehensible enough: but my point is, that the directing minority of Western European capitalism which had hitherto been silent upon the Jewish problems from the motives I have described were now released; they were free to speak their mind, and began to speak it. The volume of their protest cannot but increase. The cat, as the expression goes, is out of the bag, or, to put it in more dignified language, the debate will now never more be silenced. It is admitted that the revolutionary leadership is mainly Jewish. It is recognized as clearly now as it has long been recognized that international finance was mainly Jewish; and even those who would tolerate silence upon the one peril will certainly not tolerate it upon the other.
The danger is, indeed, not over. The debate will take place—that is no peril, but a good; the danger is rather that, as restraint is gradually removed, the natural antagonism to the Jewish race, felt by nearly all those who are not of it and among whom it lives, may take an irrational and violent form, and that we may be upon the brink of yet one more of those catastrophes, of those tragedies, of those disasters which have marked the history of Israel in the past.
To avert this, to discover some solution of the problem while there is yet time, to prevent deeds which would bring us to shame and that small minority among us to suffering, should be the object of every honest man.
The immediate cause of the new gravity apparent in the Jewish problem is the Revolution in Russia. The completely new feature of open discussion now attaching to it (a thing which would have seemed incredible in England twenty years ago) is the leadership the Jews have assumed in the economic quarrel of the proletariat against capitalism.
Most people, therefore, on being asked the cause of friction between the Jews and their hosts at this moment will reply (in England, at least) that it lies in the anti-social propaganda now running loose throughout Industrial Europe. “Our quarrel with the Jews,” you will hear from a hundred different sources, “is that they are conspiring against Christian civilization, and in particular against our own country, under the form of social revolutionaries.”
Such a reply, though it is the almost universal reply of the moment in this country, is most imperfect.
The friction between the Jews and the nations among which they are dispersed is far older, far more profound, far more universal. For a whole generation before the present crisis arose, the comparatively small number of men who were hammering away steadily at the Jewish problem, trying to provoke its discussion, and insisting on its importance, were mainly concerned with quite another aspect of Jewish activity—the aspect of international finance as controlled by Jews. Before that aspect had assumed its modern gravity the reproach against the Jews was that their international position warred against our racial traditions and our patriotisms. Before that again there had been the reproach of a different religion and particularly of their antagonism to the doctrine of the Incarnation and all that flowed from that doctrine. And there had been even, before that great quarrel, the reproach that they were bad citizens within the pagan Roman Empire, perpetually in rebellion against it and guilty of massacring other Roman citizens.
In another civilization than ours, in that of Islam, another set of reproaches had arisen, or rather another species of contempt and oppression. After long periods of peace there would come, in particular regions, the most violent oppression. Within the last few years, for instance, a Jew in Morocco was treated as though he was hardly human. He had to turn his face to the wall when any magnate was passing by. He had to dress in a particular manner to mark him off as something degraded among his fellow-beings. He might not ride through the gate of a town, but had to dismount. There were twenty actions normal to civic life in the Moroccan city which were forbidden to the Jew.
All this is as much as to say that the friction between the Jews and those among whom they live is always present, and has always been present, now latent, now rising furiously to the surface, now grumbling through long periods of uncertain peace, now boiling over in all the evils of persecution—which is as much as to say that this friction between Jew and non-Jew, while finding different excuses for its action on different occasions, has been a force permanently at work everywhere and at all times.
What is the cause of it? What is its nature?
The matter is very difficult to approach, because we are not dealing with things susceptible of positive proof. You can prove from historical record that the thing has existed. You can show its terrible effects, ceaselessly recurrent throughout all our history. But it is another matter to analyse the unseen forces which produce it, and any such analysis can be no more than an attempt.
I take it that the causes of this friction, with all its lamentable results, are of two kinds. There are, first, general causes for it, by which I mean those causes which are always present and are ineradicable. Their effort may be summed up in the truth that the whole texture of the Jewish nation, their corporate tradition, their social mind, is at issue with the people among whom they live. There are, next, special causes, by which I mean social actions and expressions which lead to friction and could be modified, the two chief of which are the use of secrecy by the Jews as a method of action and the open expression of superiority over his neighbours which the Jew cannot help feeling but is wrong to emphasize.
I will deal with these in their order, and first consider the general causes; though I must admit at the outset that a mere summary of them is no sufficient explanation of the phenomenon. There would seem to be something more profound and even more mysterious about it. For it will be universally conceded that, while the closest intimacy and respect is possible between individuals of the two opposing races, the moment you come to great groups, and especially to the popular instinct in the matter, the gravest friction is apparent. It is an issue too deep than to be accounted for by mere differences of temper. It is as though there were some inward force filling men on either side, not indeed with necessary hostility—it is against any such necessity that all this book is written—but certainly with conflicting ends.
It is first to be noted that most of the accusations made against the Jews by their enemies and most of the very proper rebuttals of those accusations advanced by the Jews and their defenders, miss the mark because they attempt to put in abstract form what is really something highly concrete. And this is equally true of the praise bestowed upon the Jews, of the special virtues ascribed to them and of the denials of these virtues.
They miss the mark because they attempt to express in terms of one category what should be expressed in terms of another. They are doing what a man does when he compares two pictures by their outline while in point of fact their interest lies in colour, or when he affirms something of a tune the fundamental point of which something is not the air at all but the instruments upon which it is played: as who should say that “God save the King” was “shrill” because he heard it played on a penny whistle or “booming” because he heard it played on a violoncello. The real point to note is not that the Jews appear to us (or we to them) to possess certain abstract qualities and defects, but that in their case each quality or defect has a special character, a special national timbre which it lacks in ours.
Thus you will hear the Jews arraigned by their enemies for three such vices as cowardice, avarice and treason—to take three of the commonest accusations. You examine their actions and you find innumerable instances of the highest courage, the greatest generosity and the most devoted loyalty: but courage, generosity and loyalty of a Jewish kind, directed to Jewish ends, and stamped with a highly distinctive Jewish mark.
The man who accuses the Jews of cowardice means that they do not enjoy a fight of his kind, nor a fight fought after his fashion. All he has discovered is that the courage is not shown under the same circumstances, nor for the same ends, nor in the same mode. But if the word courage means anything, he cannot on reflection deny it to actions of which one could make an endless catalogue even from contemporary experience alone. Is it cowardice in a young man to sacrifice his life deliberately for the sake of his own people? Did that young Jew show cowardice who killed the Russian Prime Minister, the antagonist of his people, after the first revolution following on the Russo-Japanese war? Was it cowardice to walk up in a crowded theatre, surrounded by all the enemies of his race, and shoot their chief in their midst? Is it cowardice to stand up against the vast alien majority, and to do so over and over again, perhaps through a whole lifetime, insisting on things that are grossly unpopular with that majority and running a risk the whole time of physical violence? You find Jews adopting that attitude all over Europe. Can one think it is cowardice which has permitted the individuals of this nation to maintain their tradition unbroken through two thousand years of intermittent torture, spoliation and violent death? The thing so stated is ridiculous, and it is clear that those who make such an accusation are confounding their own form of courage with courage as a universal attribute.
They think that because Jews show courage under other circumstances and in another way from themselves, corresponding to another appetite, as it were, therefore it is no longer courage: to think like that is to confess yourself very limited.
I can testify, myself, to any number of courageous acts which I have seen performed by Jews. I am not alluding to acts of courage in warfare, of which there is ample evidence, but to acts of a sort in which our race would not have shown the same quality or timbre of courage. I will cite one case.
Rather more than twenty years ago, when feeling on the Dreyfus case was at its height and when the feeling of the French Army in particular was at white heat, I happened to be in the town of Nîmes, through which, at the time, a body of troops was passing. The café in which I sat was filled with young sergeants. There were hardly any civilians present beside myself. There came into the place an elderly Jew, very short in stature, highly marked with the physical characteristics of his race, an unmistakable Jew. He was somewhat bent under the weight of his years, with fiery eyes and a singularly vibrating intonation of voice. He was selling broadsheets of the most violent kind, all of them insults against the Army. He came into this café with the sheets in his hand so that all could see the large capital letters of the headlines, and slowly went round the assembly ironically offering them to the lads in uniform with their swords at their side, for they were of the cavalry.
Every one knows the French temper on such occasions—a complete silence which may at any moment be transformed into something very different. One sergeant after another politely waved him aside and passed him on. He went round the whole lot of them, gazing into their faces with his piercing eyes, wearing the whole time an ironical smile of insult, describing at intervals the nature of his goods, and when he had done that he went out unharmed.
It was an astonishing sight. I have seen many others as astonishing and as vivid, but for courage I have never seen it surpassed. Here was a man, old and feeble, the member of a very small minority which he knew to be hated, and particularly hated by the people whom he challenged. Because he held one of his own people to be injured, he took this tremendous risk and went through this self-imposed task with a sort of pleasure in that risk. You may call it insolence, offensiveness, what you will: but you cannot deny it the title of courage. It was courage of the very highest quality.
I repeat: you may see evidence of that sort of courage in Jewish action throughout the world and in every age. You have the beginning of it in the Siege of Jerusalem; to-morrow, if the fear which we now all entertain should unhappily prove well founded, we shall see it again upon the same scale.
Take avarice. When the Jew is accused of avarice by his enemies they are reading into him that vice in a form of which they know themselves capable, which they themselves practise, which they fully understand, but which he never practises in their fashion. The Jew is adventurous with his money. He is a speculator, a trader. He is also a man who thinks of it in exact terms. He is never romantic about it. But he is almost invariably generous in the use of it. Our race, when it yields to the vice of avarice, is close, secretive, uncharitable. He is pitiless and sly in accumulation. He is vociferous in his insistence upon the exact terms of an agreed compact. He is also tenacious in the pursuit of anything which he has set out on, the accumulation of money among the rest. He is almost fanatical in his appetite for success in whatever he has undertaken, the accumulation of money among the rest. But to say that the money, once accumulated, is not generously used, is nonsense. There is not one of us who could not cite at once a dozen examples of Jewish generosity upon a scale which makes us ashamed.
Nor is it true to say that this generosity has ostentation for its root, or, as it is called, “Ransome,” either. Though a love of magnificence is certainly a great passion in the Jewish character, it does not account for the most of his generosity. It is a generosity which extends to all manner of private relations, and if you will take the testimony of those who have been in the service of the Jews and are not Jews themselves, that testimony is almost universally in favour of their employers, if those employers be men of large means.
They will tell you that they felt humiliated in serving a Jew; that the relations were never easy; that there was always distance. But not often that they were treated meanly. Just the other way. There has usually been present a spontaneousgenerosity. The same argument applies to the cry of “Ransome.” It is true that some of the more scandalous Jewish fortunes have thrown up defences against public anger by the return of a small proportion in the shape of public endowments: it is an action and a motive not peculiar to them. But that does not explain the mass of private and unheard benefaction to which we can all testify and which is as common with the middle-class Jew as with the wealthy. It is here as in the matter of courage a question of kind. Those of our people who happen to be generous (they are rare) do not calculate. They often forget or confuse the sums they have made away with, as though it were mere extravagance. The Jew knows the exact extent of his sacrifice, its proportion to his total means. Is he then less generous? By no means. He is, in scale more generous—but in a different fashion.
It might be argued that this generosity of the Jew is a consequence of the way in which he regards money. It comes and goes with him because he is a speculator and a wanderer. It has been said that no great Jewish fortune is ever permanent; that none of these millionaires ever founded a family. This is not quite true; but it is true that considering the long list of great Jewish fortunes which have marked the whole progress of our civilization it is astonishing how few have taken root. But though this conception of money may be an element in the generosity of the Jew it does not fully explain it, and at any rate that generosity is there, and contradicts flatly the accusation of avarice. Indeed the general accusation of avarice fails: and that is why it is a sort of standing jest permitted even where the Jews are most powerful. It is a jest they themselves do not resent because they know it to be beside the mark.
The accusation of treason is on the same footing—save that it is even more “to one side” than the others quoted. There is no race which has produced so few traitors. It is not treason in the Jew to be international. It is not treason in the Jew to work now for one interest among those who are not of his people, now for another. He can only be charged with treason when he acts against the interests of Israel, and there is no nation nor ever has been one in which the national solidarity was greater or national weakness in the shape of traitors less. Indeed, that is the very accusation their enemies make against them; that they are too homogeneous; that they hold too much together and are too fierce in self-defence; and you cannot have that accusation coupled with an accusation of treason. What is true is that the Jew lends himself to one non-jewish group in its action against another. He will serve France against the Germans, or the Germans against France, and he will do so indifferently as a resident in the country he benefits or the country he wounds: for he is indifferent to either. The moment war breaks out the intelligence departments of both sides rely upon the Jew: and they rely upon him not only on account of his indifference to nationalism but also on account of his many languages, his travel, the presence of his relations in the enemy country. And this is true not only of war but of armed peace.
But it is clear that in all this there are examples of what in us, would be treason. In him such actions are not treasons, for he does not betray Israel. But they all have an atmosphere repellent to us. They are things which if we did them (or when we do them) degrade us. They do not degrade the Jew.
One might continue the list of such accusations indefinitely, and in every one you would find that the root of the quarrel is not the presence of a particular defect but the presence of a difference in circumstances, temperament, character: a different colour and taste in the quality or defect concerned. It is that which offends. It is that which causes the misunderstandings and which leads to the tragedies.
While this is true of the accusations made against the Jewish people it is unfortunately equally true of the corresponding qualities which they and their defenders advance in the rebuttal. The Jew is essentially patriotic: that is true. But not patriotic to our ends or in our way. He is essentially self-respecting. But not self-respecting to our ends or in our way. A personal obligation which he cannot meet, a personal and intimate contract in which he may default, especially to one of his own people, is abhorrent to the Jew; but not in our way. He has not our shame of bankruptcy for instance, but much more than our shame of personal borrowing. Drunkenness, a vice most offensive to human dignity, is with him the rarest vice: with us the commonest. But our sense of dignity in repose he has not, nor does he feel our sense of injured dignity in mummery. His tenacity, which all know and all in a sense admire and which is far superior to our own, is also a narrower tenacity, or at any rate a tenacity of a different kind. He will follow one end where we will follow many. His wonderful loyalty to all family relations we know: but we do not appreciate it because it is outside our own circle. Even his intellectual gifts, which are less affected by this matter of timbre, have something alien to us in them. They are undeniable but we feel them to be used for other ends than ours: they are coldly used when ours are used enthusiastically: they are used with intensity when we use them with carelessness.
If we leave the controversial field and concern ourselves with an appreciation of Jewish qualities, apart from our like or dislike of them and apart from their difference in intimate texture, as it were, from our own, they may be summarized I think as follows:—
The Jew concentrates upon one matter. He does not disperse his mind. And this concentration carries with it strength and weakness. It has been said in connection with it (all such terms are metaphorical) that his mind is not elastic. But this is a great element in his success. I have noticed that the Jew having once taken up a particular task shows an indifference to other tasks which, from our standpoint, is marvellous. How many instances could not one cite of two Jewish brothers, the one occupied in finance, the other in science, or the one in politics, the other in music, and how clearly do we see in those instances the complete indifference of the Jew to things outside the province he has undertaken! How remarkable in our eyes is his resistance to any temptation which might lead him away from his end. The Jew who is devoted to science, for instance, remains completely indifferent to its opportunities for enrichment. The Jew who is devoted to philosophy (and what great names he can show in this sphere throughout the centuries!) lives in poverty and is perfectly content so to live. The Jew devoted to any particular ideal of social change devotes himself entirely to that, and ends his task often more powerful, hardly ever more wealthy, nearly always much poorer than when he began it. Above all he refuses to be distracted for a moment from his goal.
Another character which is affiliated to this first leading character of the Jew would seem to be the lucidity of his thought. The Jew’s argument is never muddled. That is one of his prime assets not only in all discussion but in all action. It is also, if a cause of strength, a cause of the enmity he arouses: or (to use my milder term) of the “friction.”
For an exactly constructed process of reasoning, from which there is no escape, has in it (for those less capable of it) something of the bully. A man may feel the conclusion to be false: perhaps he knows it to be false. He lacks the power to express his reasons. He may not know how to state the principles which his adversary has left out of account, or when to bring them into discussion, and he feels the iron logic offered to him like a pistol presented at the head of his better judgment. But for strength and for weakness also, lucidity is the mark of the Jew’s mind. He carries that lucidity into the smallest details of whatever he may perform.
One must add to all this a certain intensity of action which is very noticeable and which again is a cause of friction between himself and those about him. Hear a Jew speaking, especially a Jew speaking upon the revolutionary platform, and note the high voltage at which the current is working. The energy which he uses is not the energy of a large flame but of a well-directed blow-pipe: a stream of heat. He is wholly absorbed, not in his own expression, but in actively penetrating the mind of his hearers. And here again is that difference in quality to which I have alluded. One might say indifferently that the Jew is never eloquent or that he is always eloquent when he speaks upon things that possess his soul. He is not eloquent in our fashion; but he is at any rate astonishingly effective in his own.
The Jew has this other characteristic which has become increasingly noticeable in our own time, but which is probably as old as the race: and that is a corporate capacity for hiding or for advertising at will: a power of “pushing” whatever the whole race desires advanced, or of suppressing what the whole race desires to suppress. And this also, however legitimately used, is a cause of friction.
Men get the feeling of a swarm in the presence of such action. They also get the feeling of being tricked: and it breeds bad blood.
In the aspect of the deliberate use of secrecy I shall deal with this character in my next chapter, for I think in that aspect it is a particular cause of friction which can be eliminated. But the general capacity and instinct of the Jew for corporate action in the “booming” of what he wants “boomed” and the “soft pedalling” of what he wants “soft pedalled” is ineradicable. It will always remain a permanent irritant in its effect upon those to whom it is applied. The best proof of it is that after the most violent “boom,” after the talents of some particular Jew, or the scientific discovery of another, or the misfortunes of another, or the miscarriage of justice against another, has been shouted at us, pointed and iterated until we are all deafened, there comes an inevitable reaction, and the same men who were half hypnotized into the desired mood are nauseated with it and refuse a repetition of the dose.
The converse is true. Men who find that some important matter has been suppressed, some bad scandal in the State or some trick in commerce because Jewry desired it to be suppressed, are soon on the alert. They will not suffer the operation as quietly the second time as they did the first. Indeed they tend if anything to grow too suspicious. Anyhow, in both cases this ineradicable racial habit, a cause perhaps of Jewish survival and certainly an element of Jewish strength, is also a cause of acute friction between them and us.
But a mere category of this kind is, as I have said, useless to explain the fundamental quality, the hidden root, of the ceaseless conflict between the very soul of the Jew and the soul of the society around him. All these points are but manifestations of some profound, some subterranean power for contrast, the value of which we cannot grasp, but the effects of which are only too apparent. And there remains in the minds of those who most rely upon this race and of those who most suspect them the sense of an impassable gulf between them and ourselves. It is the recognition, the admission of such a contrast, the telling of the truth about it, the working upon it as a necessary condition, which must form the foundation for any solution at which we can arrive.
* * * * *
There is one feature in the European’s attitude towards the Jews which must be specially dealt with, and that is the false impression that the friction between us and them is in the main a quarrel with their wealth.
That impression has been greatly weakened by the recent revolutionary activity of the Jew surging up from the depths, appearing upon the surface, and producing the great upheaval in Russia, and the attempted upheavals elsewhere. But though the new Jewish revolutionary movement has shaken the old insistence on Jewish wealth it is hard to eradicate it. It has been present throughout the ages, and will remain at the back of people’s minds perhaps for ever, because the few Jews who do concentrate on piling up great fortunes concentrate on that task so entirely. Yet the impression is false and is the fruitful cause of the worst misunderstandings.
For the Jews are not a rich nation, and the very fact that they stand in the popular mind—and especially in the mind of rich people in times of corruption—for wealth, is an example of the way in which they are misunderstood and of the way in which injustice to the Jew arises.
The Jews are a poor nation. An enemy would say that they were poor because they did not work, but this again would be an injustice, because the Jew works exceedingly hard and has often in the past and does still in many places work hard, not only in negotiation and commerce but with his hands.
We see the Jews in the Middle Ages monopolizing important manual occupations in some districts—dyeing and shipbuilding, for instance. And there are many parts of Eastern Europe where they work upon the land to-day.
The Jews are a poor nation because they are an alien nation and because their activities are for the most part condemned to working against the grain, in a society which is not their own. But that they are a poor nation is not only true but abundantly evident to any one who has travelled and watched their various settlements with any sympathy.
Now that they have arrived in such great numbers in the West people are beginning to appreciate this. We have already seen how, a lifetime ago, when the Jews of the West (I mean especially in France and England and America) were a small number of merchants and financiers, the great wealth of a very small number among them was not counterbalanced in our experience by the exceeding poverty of the mass. But to-day we can see for ourselves how true it is that, once you get below the exceptional fortunes and a comparatively small middle-class, the Jewish nation is no more than millions of exceedingly poor families.
Those who have watched them outside the West, those who have seen them in their great eastern communities where the bulk of the race still resides, in the Marches of Russia, will abundantly agree. It helps us to understand the Jewish problem if we grasp the fact that a great part of the Jewish complaint against us is precisely this poverty to which the bulk of the Jews are condemned. It is all very well to sneer at the Jewish complaint of persecution and oppression and to cite ironically, whenever it arises, the immense fortunes of a few families like the Rothschilds and the Sassoons, the Monds, the Samuels and the rest. From the point of view of the average Jew that is not the way the thing looks at all. What he notices, and notices rightly, is that he has no part in that well-distributed, solid, permanent, inherited wealth which is the mark of a healthy European community.
Further (a most important point already touched on in passing), these great fortunes are ephemeral.
In the European nations you have a mass of great fortunes far larger in number, and even in total, than the Jewish financial fortunes. But those great fortunes have been in the past and are still, wherever our society is healthy, permanent. They run through European history in the shape of the great families, in the shape of the nobility.
The great territorial families in this country have been wealthy for centuries and remain in established wealth, and the same is in the main true of the great Italian families, it is obviously true of the great German families, and, in spite of the great changes of the last century and a half, it is still largely true of the old French families. It is not true of the Jewish families. The vast Jewish fortunes which have marked history rise suddenly and melt again almost as suddenly. A Jew will begin in some very small way—as a pawnbroker in Liverpool, for instance, or a very small bookseller in Frankfort. You will find his son a great banker, his grandson so wealthy as to command politics for a generation, and then (if you will watch the process in the past—to take a modern unfinished instance is of course misleading) at last, and soon, the name disappears again, and disappears for ever.
Whom have you representing to-day the few great Jewish fortunes of the early Middle Ages in England? They were all ruined before the end of the thirteenth century. Whom have you representing the later great Jewish fortunes on the Rhine, the fortunes of the sixteenth century and the early seventeenth? They have utterly gone. Who have you left representing the considerable Jewish houses of Medieval Venice? of Genoa? of Rome?
The causes of this rapid fluctuation are many. They all attach to the peculiar position, as well as to the peculiar character, of the Jew. We find them partly in the passion for speculation which the Jewish intelligence naturally harbours. We find them still more, I think, in the instinctive opposition to the Jew which his alien surroundings perpetually arouse.
It is, however, important to remember this last point. From our point of view the Jew, when he does get rich, seems to get much too rich and to get rich much too quickly, and he exercises far too much power through his wealth; for we think of him the whole time as an alien with no right to any position. But the Jew sees it in a very different light. In his point of view his effort to accumulate wealth is always heavily handicapped. When he succeeds he only succeeds through his own tenacity and the patriotic co-operation of his fellows, and he always holds his new-found wealth on an insecure tenure. What looks to us like the breakdown of a Jewish fortune through speculation, seems to the Jew the fatal recurrent result of unending opposition.
In connection with the illusion of a wealthy Jewish race, you have, of course, the matter which I briefly mentioned above, the connection between our wealthier, and therefore governing classes, and the Jewish wealth of the moment. A great part of the illusion, as I have said, is due to the fact that the gentry of every epoch come into contact with the Jew only as a rich man, and it is the capital modern vice of our own gentry, their passion for mere wealth and their subservience to it, which has largely accounted for this dangerous misunderstanding.
Look around you in Western Europe to-day and see what people mean by this story of Jewish wealth. See who the people are that allude continually to it and spread the idea of it. They are the rich Europeans, who, in their subservience to crude wealth, in their habit of gauging everything by that wealth and of submitting to almost any indignity for the purpose of obtaining more wealth, marry their daughters to Jews, serve Jewish interests, and, while perpetually sneering at the Jew behind his back, call him to his face by his most intimate name and make the most of his hospitality. Which of them ever knows a middle-class Jew, let alone a poor Jew? Why, most of them are actually ignorant of the fact that this mass of poor Jews exists at all! They serve the Jew when he is wealthy and only when he is wealthy. They envy him basely as a wealthy man and only as a wealthy man. They prostitute their dignity, they sell their fellow-Europeans, not from any genuine affection for the Jewish race—indeed there is no class in the community, closely intermixed with the Jews as they are, which feel the friction more than the gentry—but simply from a thirst for money, which they happen to find held in great masses by a few Jewish families.
It is most noticeable that other aspects of Jewish activity remain unused by the wealthy class, the gentry—and therefore by the State. Whether it would be wise to use them or not is another matter. At any rate, the motive for leaving them unused is the fact that they are not connected with wealth. The Jewish intelligence which might so often have served the policy of a Statesman is largely left unused. The cosmopolitan position of the Jew when it is used is used for little more than spying; and that profound force, the historical memory of the Jew, is neglected almost altogether. With this neglect goes a natural and evil result, the failure on the part of the European governing classes, especially to-day, to safeguard the community against the troubles which are bound to arise from the clashing of interests between the Jews and the people among whom they dwell.
It may sound paradoxical, but it is true, that if the Statesmen of Europe, and the hereditary families of the European nations who still take so much part in the conduct of those nations, had thought less of the Jewish money power and more of the Jews as a whole they would have benefited both parties in a very different fashion. We have seen the artificial protection of the Jews of Eastern Europe because individual Statesmen have been subservient to the commands of very rich individual Jewish bankers. But the thing has been done blunderingly. It has served only to anger the independent nationalities of the East, notably the Poles, the Roumanians and the Hungarians who have experience of the difficulties inseparable from an alien minority. Our politicians have treated the whole affair externally and mechanically, merely obeying orders without trying to understand.
The ultimate result of such interference by our Western politicians is unhappily certain. The last state of the Jews in Eastern Europe will be worse than the first. Their sufferings will be greater than in the past, and that because, instead of acting from attempted comprehension and sympathetic comprehension of the Jewish difficulties the politicians, who have acted as the servants of a few wealthy Jews, have merely obeyed the orders of these rich men and have done so with the secret reluctance that always accompanies self-surrender to a wage.
Is it not apparent, as we look through history, that the permanent power of the Jew or, at any rate, the celebrity of his nation is utterly distinct from those chance accumulations of wealth which a few individuals owe to the national passion for speculation and a cosmopolitan position?
One after another the striking Jewish names of history are the names of Jews who have ardently pursued some moral or intellectual thesis; most of them—I had nearly said all of them—were poor men, and for the most part men deliberately poor because they preferred, as it is in the Jewish nature to prefer, the immediate work in hand to any other consideration.
It is these names that remain and are permanent and are the glory of the Jewish race.
* * * * *
There is one aspect of this Jewish wealth which I hesitate whether to put among the general or among the particular causes of the friction between that nation and its hosts.
It falls certainly among the general causes in the sense that it is connected with the Jewish character as a whole and not with any special method in that character’s action. It is connected, I mean, with their very nature, and they cannot change that nature. On the other hand, it might be put among the particular causes on account of its quite modern and probably ephemeral character: it is, as it were, a particular cause of the friction proceeding from the general causes of character just enumerated, and this cause of friction is the presence of Jewish Monopoly.
It is an exceedingly dangerous point in the present situation. I do not think that the Jews have a sufficient appreciation of the risk they are running by its development. There is already something like a Jewish monopoly in high finance. There is a growing tendency to Jewish monopoly over the stage for instance, the fruit trade in London, and to a great extent the tobacco trade. There is the same element of Jewish monopoly in the silver trade, and in the control of various other metals, notably lead, nickel, quicksilver. What is most disquieting of all, this tendency to monopoly is spreading like a disease. One province after another falls under it and it acts as a most powerful irritant. It will perhaps prove the immediate cause of that explosion against the Jews which we all dread and which the best of us, I hope, are trying to avert.
It applies, of course, to a tiny fraction of the Jewish race as a whole. One could put the Jews who control lead, nickel, mercury and the rest into one small room: nor would that room contain very pleasant specimens of their race. You could get the great Jewish bankers who control international finance round one large dinner table, and I know dinner tables which have seen nearly all of them at one time or another. These monopolists, in strategic positions of universal control are an insignificant handful of men out of the millions of Israel, just as the great fortunes we have been discussing attach to an insignificant proportion of that race. Nevertheless, this claim to an exercise of monopoly brings hatred upon the Jews as a whole.
The thing is deservedly hated because it is exceedingly unnatural and exceedingly tyrannical. It would be tyrannical even for one of our own people to hold us up in the supply of things essential to us. It is intolerable in a people alien to us. When we come to discuss, in the next chapter, the unfortunate use of secrecy by the Jews (the most potent, perhaps, of the particular causes which have lead them into their present peril) we shall better understand another odious feature in this modern monopoly of control, which is the way in which it spreads underground and out of sight leaving the world in general ignorant that this, that and the other individual Jew is its master in the matter of some essential thing which he controls.
To put it plainly, these monopolies must be put an end to.
Before the Great War there was only one of which Europe as a whole was conscious, and that was the financial monopoly. Yet here the monopoly was far less perfect than in the case of the metals. The Great War brought thousands upon thousands of educated men (who took up public duties as temporary officials) up against the staggering secret they had never suspected—the complete control exercised over things absolutely necessary to the nation’s survival by half a dozen Jews, who were completely indifferent as to whether we or the enemy should emerge alive from the struggle.
Incidentally, the wealth of these few and very wealthy Jews has been scandalously increased through the war on this very account. And at the moment in which I write the French press, which has a longer experience in the free discussion of the Jewish question than any other, is exposing the abominable increase in value of the Rothschild’s lead mines, an increase mainly due to the use of lead for the killing of men.
But lead is only one of the monopolies, as I have said. A whole group already exists and the extension of the system is going on as rapidly as an epidemic. Not only must it cease before any solution of the Jewish question can be attempted, but the process must be reversed. If the various national Cabinets do not interfere to protect these monopolies, then good-bye to any attempt at justice for the Jew. In the legitimate anger against a few pitiful dozens among the worst specimens of the nation, Israel as a whole will be sacrificed.
There is in this formation of monopolies, as in the more reputable activities of the nation, even in its more justly famous activities, even in its glories, that element of racial character which is never absent from any Jewish action. And that is why I have put the point, modern and ephemeral as it is, among the general causes of trouble.
The reason these general monopolies are formed by Jews is that the Jew is international, tenacious and determined upon reaching the very end of his task. He is not satisfied in any trade until that trade is, as far as possible, under his complete control, and he has for the extension of that control the support of his brethren throughout the world. He has at the same time the international knowledge and international indifference which further aid his efforts.
* * * * *
But even were the quite recent monopolies in metal and other trades taken, as they ought to be taken, from these few alien masters of them, there would remain that partial monopoly (it is not at all a complete monopoly) which a few Jews have exercised not only to-day, but recurrently throughout history, over the highest finance: that is, over the credit of the nations, and therefore to-day, as never before, over the whole field of the world’s industry.
Should that partial financial monopoly remain uncorrected it will produce a sufficient hostility against the Jews to precipitate, of itself, the next general attack upon them.
It may be argued that this fear is groundless because the control has now lasted for a long time. It has lasted a lifetime even in its present hardly complete form: and it is secure because its operations are removed from general observation, and because it is mixed up with the interests of all the wealthier classes.
I am afraid these arguments will not hold. Although the Jewish control of finance is not a thing which touches the public at large, yet all educated men down to a comparatively low stratum of society are fully aware of it, and every man who is aware of it resents it. It is resented almost as much by the mass of poor Jews as by the non-Jews, but in a different way.
Again, although this financial monopoly does not directly affect the economic life of the private citizen, he is beginning to understand more and more how it indirectly affects it. It affects him, for instance, through his patriotism. He will not submit to be told that, in order to suit the convenience of these alien bankers, he must forgo the rights of victory and allow some enemy whom he has justly chastised to escape the consequences of that chastisement. Still more urgently will he deny the right of the Jewish bankers to interfere with the national reparation due to him for damage wantonly done in the course of hostilities.
Again, international finance does not live separate from private activities. It touches at last a mass of individual enterprises, and through those individual enterprises its action is questioned and examined by a host of private citizens.
Yet again, the Jews who thus control international finance are at work in many other capacities. For instance, some of them stand behind those great Industrial Insurance schemes which are so detestable to the mass of the people. Action against these may arise any moment. If such action comes one may be certain that the individual attacked will be remembered in his capacity of international financier quite as much as in his capacity of a battener upon the lapsed premiums of the poor. Sooner or later the character of this monopoly, to which men of a lifetime ago were indifferent through ignorance but of which to-day all the educated part of the community is aware and deeply resents, will be appreciated and equally resented at a lower level still. When society is sufficiently filled with indignation against it, then the explosion will come. If that explosion only affected the rich Jews immediately concerned no one would much regret it. There would be little harm done. But the trouble is that it will almost certainly affect the whole nation to which those individuals belong.
I may be told that to put an end to this state of affairs is impossible so long as parliamentary government, with its profound corruption, endures; that the only force capable of dealing with the plutocratic evil of alien monopoly upon this scale is a king; and that a king we have not, among modern nations. To which I answer that the parliamentary system will not last for ever. It is already in active dissolution among ourselves, and badly hit elsewhere. The king may not be so far off as people think him to be.
At any rate, in one way or another the thing will cease, and will probably cease in violence. The danger is that if it ceases in violence a vast number of innocent will be involved with the guilty.
There are two special forces upon the Jewish side which nourish and exasperate the inevitable friction between the Jewish race and its hosts. It will be well to deal with these before passing to the corresponding forces upon our side. For to find a remedy it is necessary to diagnose the disease.
The two main Jewish forces which exasperate and maintain the sense of friction between the Jews and their hosts are first of all the Jewish reliance upon secrecy, and, secondly, the Jewish expression of superiority.
1. The Jewish Reliance upon Secrecy
It has unfortunately now become a habit for so many generations, that it has almost passed into an instinct throughout the Jewish body, to rely upon the weapon of secrecy. Secret societies, a language kept as far as possible secret, the use of false names in order to hide secret movements, secret relations between various parts of the Jewish body: all these and other forms of secrecy have become the national method. It is a method to be deplored, not because its indignity and falsehood degrade the Jew—that is not our affair—but rather on account of the ill-effects this policy produces on our mutual relations. It feeds and intensifies the antagonism already excited by racial contrast.
But before we go further it is essential to be just; for no one understands anything if he attacks it unjustly.
The Jewish habit of secrecy—the assumption of false names and the pretence of non-Jewish origin in individuals, the concealment of relationships and the rest of it—have presumably sprung from the experience of the race. Let a man put himself in the place of the Jew and he will see how sound the presumption is. A race scattered, persecuted, often despised, always suspected and nearly always hated by those among whom it moves, is constrained by something like physical force to the use of secret methods.
Take the particular trick of false names. It seems to us particularly odious. We think when we show our contempt for those who use this subterfuge that we are giving them no more than they deserve. It is a meanness which we associate with criminals and vagabonds; a piece of crawling and sneaking. We suspect its practisers of desiring to hide something which would bring them into disgrace if it were known, or of desiring to over-reach their fellows in commerce by a form of falsehood.
But the Jew has other and better motives. As one of their community said to me with great force, when I discussed the matter with him many years ago at a City dinner, “When we work under our own names you abuse us as Jews. When we work under your names you abuse us as forgers.” The Jew has often felt himself so handicapped if he declared himself, that he was half forced, or at any rate grievously tempted, to a piece of baseness which was never a temptation for us. Surely all this carefully arranged code of assumed patronymics (Stanley for Solomon, Curzon for Cohen, Sinclair for Slezinger, Montague for Moses, Benson for Benjamin, etc., etc.) had its root in that.
The Jew can plead something further in extenuation of this practice. Family names did not grow up naturally with them, as with us, in the course of the Middle Ages. The Jew retained, as we long retained in the middle and lower ranks of European society, the simple habit of possessing one personal name and differentiating a man from his fellows by introducing the name of his father. Thus a Jew in the sixteenth century was Moses ben Solomon, just as the Cromwells’ ancestor of the same generation was Williams ap Williams. He had not what we call a surname or family name. In the same way until varying dates, early in France and England and other Western countries, much later in Wales, Brittany, Poland and the Slav countries of the East, a man was known only by his personal name, distinguished, if that were necessary, by mentioning also the name of his father, or, in some cases, of his tribe.
Properly speaking the Jews have no surnames, and they may say with justice: “Since we were compelled to take surnames arbitrarily (which was the case in the Germanies and sometimes elsewhere as well), you cannot blame us if we attach no particular sanctity to the custom.” If a Jew of plain Jewish name was compelled by alien force to take the fancy name of Flowerfield, he is surely free to change that fancy name, for which he is not responsible, to any other he chooses. There was a good reason for the Government to force a name upon him. Only thus could he be registered and his actions traced. But forced it was, and therefore, on him, not morally binding.
All this is true, but there remains an element not to be accounted for on any such pleas. There are in the experience of all of us, an experience repeated indefinitely, men who have no excuse whatsoever for a false name save that advantage of deceit. Men whose race is universally known will unblushingly adopt a false name as a mask, and after a year or two pretend to treat it as an insult if their original and true name be used in its place. This is particularly the case with the great financial families. Some, indeed, have the pride to maintain the original patronymic and refuse to change it in any of their descendants. But the great mass of them concealed their relations one with another by adopting all manner of fantastic titles, and there can be no object in such a proceeding save the object of deception. I admit it is a form of protection, and especially do I admit that in its origin it may have mainly derived from a necessity for self-protection. But I maintain that to-day the practice does nothing but harm to the Jew. There are other races which have suffered persecution, many of them, up and down the world, and we do not find in them a universal habit of this kind.
Again, who can say that the bearing of a Jewish name to-day, or at any rate in the immediate past, is or was a handicap in commerce where Occidental nations were concerned? And as for the Eastern nations, the Jews there are so sharply differentiated that a false name can be of no service merely to hide the racial character of its bearer. There must be another motive present.
The same arguments apply for and against other forms of secrecy. A man may plead that if secrecy in relationship were not maintained the dislike of Jews would lead to false accusations. The Jew is highly individual, especially in intellectual affairs. He takes his own line. He expresses his opinions with singular courage. And such individual opinions will often differ violently from those of men with whom he is most closely connected. “Why,” I can understand some distinguished Jewish publicist in England saying, “should I be compromised by people knowing that such-and-such a Bolshevist in Moscow or in New York is my cousin or nephew? I am conservative in temperament; I have always served faithfully the state in which I live; I heartily disapprove of these people’s views and actions. If their relationship with me were known I should fall under the common ban. That would be unjust. Therefore I keep the relationship secret.”
The plea is sound, but it does not cover the ground. It is not sufficient to explain, for instance, the habit of hiding relationships between men equally distinguished and equally approved in the different societies in which they move. It does not explain why we must be left in ignorance of the fact that a man whom we are treating as the best of fellow-citizens should hide his connection with another man who is treated with equal honour in another country. There are occasions where national conflicts make the thing explicable. A Jew in England with a brother in Germany and a father at Constantinople might well be excused in 1915 for calling himself Montmorency. Yet we note that often where there is most need to hide the connection, the connection is not hidden at all. On the contrary, it is openly advertised. We all recollect the name of one Jewish financier who was most unjustly treated during the war. He had faithfully served this country and the breach of his connection with it was (to my mind at least, and I think to most people who can judge the matter) a very bad thing for Britain in the conflict. Yet there was here no change of name and no attempt to hide the connection between himself and his brother, who stood, in another capital, for the financial policy of our enemies.
Again, the Rothschilds, present in the various capitals of Europe, have never pretended to hide their mutual relationships, and no one has thought any the worse of them, nor has this open practice in any way diminished their financial power.
There must be more than necessity at work; I suggest that there is something like instinct, or, at any rate, an inherited tradition so strong that recourse to it seems natural.
Now it cannot be too forcibly emphasized that secrecy in any of these forms—working through secret societies, using false names, hiding of relationships, denying Jewish origin—specially exasperates this, our own race, among which the Jews are thrown in their dispersion. It is invariably discovered, sooner or later, and whenever it is discovered men have an angry feeling that they have been duped, even in cases where the practice is most innocent and is no more than the following of something like a ritual.
I doubt whether the Jews have any idea how strongly this force works against them. If a man were to say “my name is so-and-so; my father was born at such-and-such a place in Galicia; my brother is still there in such-and-such a business”—if he told us all that, he would not suffer upon our appreciating later on that members of his family abroad were connected with movements we disapproved: no, not even with a Government in active hostility to our own. Everybody knows the international position of the Jew. Everybody knows that he cannot avoid that position. Everybody makes allowances for it. And I conceive that the abandonment of this habit of secrecy is not only possible but would be very greatly to the advantage of the whole race.
Perhaps its most absurd form (not its most dangerous form) is the secrecy maintained by distinguished men with regard to their Jewish ancestors. They and their Jewish relations often suppress it altogether or, at best, touch on it rarely and obscurely. Why should they act thus? Take the case of two men at random out of hundreds whose names are universally known and by most people respected, the name of Charles Kingsley, the writer, and the name of Moss-Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Here are two men who in very different fields played a great part in English life and who both owed their genius and nearly all their physical appearance to Jewish mothers. I should have thought it to the advantage of the Jewish race and of the individuals concerned that this fact should be widely known. The literary abilities of Charles Kingsley, the organizing and other abilities of Booth are not lessened in people’s eyes, but, if anything, enhanced, by a knowledge of their true lineage. Yet the mention of that lineage is treated as though it were a sort of insult. I have heard it wrung out in some passionate plea for the Jewish race as a proof that they are not devoid of abilities, but never generally published.
Surely it would be more sensible to emphasize in every possible case the Jewish or partially Jewish origin of men who distinguished themselves, and thus to show under what a debt Europeans stand to the Jewish blood. To treat the matter as a sort of sacred labyrinth, as a mysterious temple into which one may now and then be allowed to peep is ridiculous. The Jews cannot have their cake and eat it too. If it is—surely it must be—in their eyes a matter for pride to belong to blood which they hold to be superior and to a tradition of such immense antiquity, then it cannot be at the same time a matter of insult. Yet the convention is desperately maintained by the Jews themselves. If a man tells me that he hates the English, and in reply I say, “That’s because you are an Irishman,” he does not fly at my throat. He takes it as a matter of course that the history of the English government in Ireland excuses his expression. So far from being insulted at being called an Irishman he would be insulted if you said he was not an Irishman. And so it is with many another nationality which has suffered oppression and persecution. I can find no rational basis for a contrary policy in the case of the Jews. Moreover the habit does this further harm: it makes men ascribe a Jewish character to anything they dislike, and thus extends undeservedly the odium against the race.
A foreign movement against one’s nation, an unpopular public figure, a detested doctrine, are labelled “Jewish” and the field of hate, already perilously wide, is broadened indefinitely. It is useless to say, “The Jews do not admit the connection, the names are not Jewish, there is no overt Jewish element.” He answers, “Jews never do admit such connection; Jews admittedly hide under false names; Jewish action never is overt.” And—as things are, until they change—there is no denying what he says. His judgment may be as wild as you will (I have heard Sinn Feiners called Jews!), but, so long as this wretched habit of secrecy is maintained, there is no correcting that judgment. A universal suspicion is engendered and spreads.
Meanwhile the same vice drags into publicity every ill-sounding Jewish act and name and leaves in obscurity the honoured names and useful public actions of Jewry. For a false name, like a forgery, advertises itself.
It is not always recognized in this connection that the Jewish “booms,” which are so fruitful a cause of exasperation, depend on this same policy of concealment and on that account add to the volume of anger as each new trick is discovered.
Not that the objects of these world-wide campaigns are unworthy of attention. The Jewish actor, or film-star, or writer or scientist selected is usually talented; the victim of injustice whose case is advertised on the big drum has often a genuine grievance. But that the notice demanded is out of all proportion and that its dependence on Jewish organization is always kept hidden.
So much for the element of secret action. A great deal more might be written upon it, but there are two reasons against enlarging thereon. First, a full discussion would take up far too much of my space; secondly, it would tend to add what I particularly wish to avoid in these pages, I mean emphasis upon the errors of the Jew. It would continue a quarrel, our whole object in which is to find peace.
2. The Expression of Superiority by the Jew
This is a very different matter. The mere sense of superiority is not something in which any special policy can be recommended, because it is there and cannot be remedied. It is part of the whole position. But it is possible to restrain its expression. For that purpose it is of value to define it, to put it upon record and to estimate its effect upon our issue.
The Jew individually feels himself superior to his non-Jewish contemporary and neighbour of whatever race, and particularly of our race; the Jew feels his nation immeasurably superior to any other human community, and particularly to our modern national communities in Europe.
The frank statement of so simple and fundamental a truth is rarely made. It will sound, I fear, shocking in many ears. To many others it will sound not so much shocking as comic, and to many more stupefying.
The idea that the Jew should think himself our superior is something so incomprehensible to us that we forget the existence of the feeling. If it be constantly reiterated, for the purpose of dealing with this great political difficulty, it is perhaps reluctantly admitted, but still held as sort of abnormal, bewildering truth. I contend that the forgetfulness of that truth, the attempt to solve the problem without that truth remaining constant and fixed in the mind of the statesman, is in a very large measure the cause of our failure in the past; and that the way the Jew openly acts upon it in gesture, tone, manner, social assertion, is a very important factor in the quarrel between his race and ours.
Consider the attitude of statesmanship in the past towards this vital conflict. In every such attitude I think the Jewish conviction of superiority has been omitted.
For the attitudes taken up by European statesmen in the past towards the alien Jewish element in their midst have always been one of three sorts:—
(1) Either they have acted as though there were no Jewish nation, as though the Jew were merely a private citizen like any other who happened to have peculiar opinions and customs of his own but who was not substantially different from the men around him.
(2) Or they have attempted to suppress, or to expel, or to destroy the Jew with ignominy and violence.
(3) Or, while recognizing the existence of the Jewish nation as something separate from their own fellow-nationals whom they have to administrate, the statesmen have tried to arrive at equilibrium by a sort of pact in which Jewish separateness was recognized, but under conditions of disability.
Now in all these three methods there is absent all recognition of the Jewish feeling of superiority.
In the first it is obviously lacking because the whole idea of a Jewish nation is absent. It is equally obviously lacking from the second method, that of persecution: the persecutor instinctively acts as though the Jew felt himself to be an inferior. In the third method it is also absent, not in theory but in practice. For the statesmen who have acted thus in the past have not attempted to give the Jews a separate status only, they have in point of fact nearly always given them an inferior status. By so doing they have exasperated the Jewish national sentiment.
For instance, certain nations have treated Jews as a separate people, as aliens, by forbidding them untrammelled residence, and enforcing registration. But when it came to taxation or freedom from military service, then there was no special recognition of the Jew.
There is indeed a fourth attitude which has occasionally appeared in history when States have been in active decline or have fallen into the hands of base and weak men, and that is the exaggerated flattery and support of a few powerful wealthy Jews by administrators who were bribed or cowed. We are suffering from that to-day. But these exceptional cases (they have always led to national disaster) do not form a true category of Statesmanship in the matter. Nor is there even in those who thus actually advantage a few Jews above their own fellow-citizens, and give them special prominence and power, so much a recognition of the Jewish sense of superiority as a secret hatred of their Jewish masters.
Bitter as is everywhere the secret attack on the Jews by those who have subjected themselves for gain or publicity, it is nowhere so bitter as in the private speech of the politicians.
It would seem in the presence of so many failures in policy, and all these failures having in common the non-recognition of this Jewish feeling, that success can never be obtained unless we fully allow for it. I submit that there will never be peace between any Jewish alien minority and the community within which it may happen to reside until those who administrate that community fully accept, and studiously avoid the exasperation of, this state of the Jewish mind.
In statesmanship, as in every other form of human activity, exact definition is of the first importance. We must distinguish at the outset between this Jewish sense of superiority and any real superiority. The statesman is not concerned with the rightness or wrongness of the Jewish attitude. It may be a most absurd illusion, or it may be a most profound vision. He has nothing to do with that. Having made up his mind that the small and quite alien minority must be tolerated and must be allowed to live as happily as possible in the midst of a community from which it so profoundly differs, his next duty is to know thoroughly the nature of the material upon which he is acting and with which he has to deal.
He may smile at the Jewish sense of superiority; he may even be privately indignant; but he must be quite sure that it is a permanent part of the nation with which he has to settle. It will never be removed. The Jew in the East End of London, the poorest of the poor, feels himself the superior of the magistrate before whom he is hauled, of the policeman who keeps order in the streets, and immensely the superior of the simple-faced soldiers and sailors, whose trade is the most typical of our own race. He even feels himself the superior of those whom he better understands—the negotiators: the people who live by cunning. The expression of our faces, our gesture, our manner; the very fact that our minds, less acute, are also broader, confirms his feeling.
This fixed idea of superiority which appears in every phrase and implication, is taken for granted by the Jew. It is felt, I say, by the poorest and most oppressed, the least rich and the most unfortunate of the Jewish people in our midst. Unfortunately—and this is the crux—it proceeds to unrestrained expression. It is this which is so violently resented. It is this which aggravates the quarrel. It is this which must be kept in control if we are to have peace; not the sense of superiority, that is ineradicable, but the expression of it. It appears, as we all know, with extraordinary emphasis in the action and manner of the few very wealthy Jews with whom the directing classes of the nation are better acquainted. But whether he be a rich man suffering only from alien and hostile surroundings, or a poor man suffering from all the lowering forces of squalor, of destitution and of contempt, the Jew feels himself the potential master of his hosts and shows it. He reposes in the same confidence as was felt by Disraeli when he said: “The Jew cannot be absorbed; it is not possible for a superior race to be absorbed by an inferior.” But unfortunately he does not only repose on that foundation; he also acts upon it, and that is intolerable.
We must, I say, allow for this feeling in any settlement we make; we have also to study its consequences. Otherwise we shall be baffled by phenomena which would seem inexplicable. But we need not allow for—on the contrary, we should actively condemn—an open attitude of Jewish contempt for ourselves.
Here are some consequences of this open expression of superiority—consequences which we all discover to-day in the relations between the Jewish people and ourselves and which are leading us into a situation very dangerous for them and for us.
First, you have that familiar handling of European things by the Jew, which is continually stirring the wrath of the European and as continually leaving the Jew in wonderment what possible harm he can have done. Thus, the Jew will write of our religion, taking for granted that it is folly, and will marvel that we are offended. He will appear in our national discussions, not only giving advice, but attempting to direct policy, and will be puzzled to discover that his indifference to national feeling is annoying. He will postulate the Jewish temperament as something which, if different from ours, must, whether we like it or not, be thrust upon us.
He acts in all these things as every one acts instinctively in the presence of those whom they take for granted to be inferiors, and when men talk of the “Jewish insolence,” or the “Jewish sneer,” they imply that attitude. We are wrong if we take these things as calculated insult. The action of the Jew, in so far as it proceeds from this sense of superiority, is no more calculated and no more deliberately hostile than are our own actions whenever we find ourselves in relations with those whom we think inferior to ourselves. But we are right to point them out, to resent them, to reprove them, and, if it became necessary, to end them.
The Jewish problem will never be solved unless we make allowances for the sense of superiority, take it for granted as an unavoidable evil, and restrain our indignation in its presence; but neither will it be solved if we permit its more and more open expression.
Another consequence of this attitude: The Jew, on account of it, makes no effort to get into touch with the mass of the race in the midst of which he may happen to be living. He is content to remain separate from it, and thinks he cannot help remaining separate from them. And he shows it. He consents to associate with the élite, with those who direct, with those who have some special sort of function, but it seems to him a waste of time to attempt communion with the rest. And he shows it. That is what Renan meant when he said that the Jews were the least democratic of all people. Renan, who was supported by Jewish money and lived, while he was doing his best work, dependent on a Jewish publisher; Renan, who was so fascinated by the history of Israel, and who decided himself to become a scholar in all Hebraic things, understood the Jew not at all. His judgments upon them are invariably superficial and to one side of the truth; the judgments of a foreigner—an admiring foreigner but not a sympathetic foreigner. And when he said that the Jews were not democratic he was, instead of passing a judgment upon an intimate political instinct of the Jewish people, simply noting an external phenomenon. For the Jews are, as a fact, strongly democratic—no nation more so—in their national relations among themselves; they only appear undemocratic to us because they openly look down on us among whom they live.
Another form taken by that open expression of the sense of superiority among the Jews: It lends to all their actions in our State a certain assurance and solidity which vastly strengthens their power of resistance, no doubt, but also provokes their misfortunes. The religious interpreter of history might say that they had been specially endowed with this sense by Providence because Providence intended them to survive as a national unit miraculously, in the face of every disability; to remain themselves for 2,000 years under conditions which would have destroyed any other people in perhaps a century: and yet intended to suffer. The rationalist will say that the expression of a sense of superiority, and the power of resistance that accompanies it are but different names for the same thing; that but for the presence of that expression of superiority the resistance could not have succeeded, but for the resistance there could have been no persecution; that there was no design in the matter, only the chance presence of a particular quality which has produced its necessary and logical effect. But whichever be the true explanation, the historical fact remains, that this sense of superiority produced an open and overweening expression of it whenever the Jews have been free to give vent to their feelings, and that while it has had, as one great consequence, the strengthening of the identity, permanence, survival of the Jewish people, it has also had, for another great consequence, their recurrent oppression following on every period of freedom.
There is one last thing to be said, which it is almost impossible to say without the danger of giving pain and therefore of confusing the problem and making the solution more difficult. But it must be said, because, if we shirk it, the problem is confused the more. It is this: While it is undoubtedly true, and will always be true, that a Jew feels himself the superior of his hosts, it is also true that his hosts feel themselves immeasurably superior to the Jew. We can only arrive at a just and peaceable solution of our difficulties by remembering that the Jew, to whom we have given special and alien status in the Commonwealth, is all the while thinking of himself as our superior. But on his side the Jew must recognize, however unpalatable to him the recognition may be, that those among whom he is living and whose inferiority he takes for granted, on their side regard him as something much less than themselves.
That statement, I know, will be as stupefying to the Jew as its converse is stupefying to us. It will seem as extraordinary, as incredible, and all the rest of it; but it is true, and it is a permanent truth. Unless the Jews recognize that truth the trouble will go on indefinitely. There is no European so mean in fortune or so base in character as not to feel himself altogether the superior of any Jew, however wealthy, however powerful, and (I am afraid I must add) however good. True, virtue has a superiority of its own which cannot be hidden, and the cruel, or the treacherous, or the debauched European cannot but feel himself morally inferior to a Jew who is just, self-governed, merciful, generous, and the rest of it. But we know how it is with national feelings. The type is stronger for us than the individual; and while we may recognize certain superior characteristics in the individual, we are thinking all the while of the race, of the communal form, and contrasting our own with the alien form to the disadvantage of the latter.
So difficult is it for the Jew to appreciate this factor in the problem that his lack of appreciation has been almost as great a cause of difficulty in the past as the same lack upon our side. We seem to him insolent when, in our own eyes, we are merely acting normally as superiors.
What emotion does it not create, I wonder, in some Jewish merchant or money-dealer who has purchased a high directing place in our plutocracy when he discovers from the gesture, the tone, the expression of some chance poor Englishman, perhaps no more than an embarrassed hack writer, a clear feeling of superiority? Must it not seem to him mere insolence? “What possible claim” (he will say within himself) “has this goy, and a poor unsuccessful goy at that, to treat me as though I were less than he! I, who am worth millions, who am ruling and doing what I will with his own national leaders, who dispose of his State very much as I choose, and who belong to that nation which is wholly above all others, the Jewish people?” Everywhere the Jew discovers the consequences of this feeling, even though that feeling be to him so incomprehensible that he can hardly admit its existence.
Well, whether he likes to admit it or not, it is there. Individual Jews may be flattered for the sake of their wealth or because of the fear of them, in which a commercial community stands. Such Jews as mistake the current printed word which they read for the spoken words they never hear may fall into the error of thinking that this sense of superiority on our part did not exist. They must be warned, if ever the problem is to be solved, that it does.
In their case, just as in ours, a right solution can only be arrived at by the frank admission that the feeling is there and by the fixed knowledge that, whether the feeling be an illusion or represent a reality, it will not change; but also by a repression of it in our mutual relations.
We may add to our summary of this subtle but profound cause of disturbance the further truth that a paradox of the sort is to be found, though perhaps less emphasized, in every other political problem. The diplomat resident in a foreign capital has to consider not only his own certitude that his hosts are inferior, but their certitude of their own superiority to him and his. The general in the field may be certain of his mastery over an opponent, but if that opponent is as yet undefeated he will do ill to forget that he is matched by a confidence equal to his own. Still more does the negotiator in commerce act upon this principle and recognize it, or at least if he fails to do so, he invites disaster. For when the commercial man is occupied in overreaching his neighbour, his chances of success very largely depend upon his treating that neighbour as though he really were what he believes himself to be. He may be dealing with a stupid and vain man easily to be overmatched and impoverished, but if he lets it appear that he regards his proposed victim as a vain and stupid man, then he will miss his bargain.
In general, there is no success over others, nor even (which is much more necessary), any permanent arrangement possible with others, unless we know, allow for, and act upon the self-judgment of others, however wrong we may believe that self-judgment to be.
It is clear that in this conflict between the Jew and, let us say, the European (for it is between the Jew and the white Occidental race that our present problem lies, though the same problem arises with all other races among whom the Jew may find himself), both parties cannot be right. A being superior to the race of man and looking on our petty quarrels might be able to decide which of the two opponents were nearer reality, and whether we are the better justified in our contempt of the Jew or the Jew in his contempt of us. But in working out our own solution without the aid of such guidance, there is no rule but for both parties to take for granted what each regards as an illusion in the other; to restrain its expression for the sake of reaching a settlement; and in the settlement they arrive at, to admit as a factor necessarily and permanently present what each still secretly regards as a folly, but an incurable folly, in the other.
The alternative to such self-restraint is a falling back into the old circle of submission, consequent anger accompanied by shame and violence, and these followed by remorse.
Having concluded a brief review of the causes of friction upon the Jewish side, we must turn to the cause of friction upon our own.
At first sight it might seem that the task was superfluous. Action and reaction are equal and opposite. If you have shown why A irritates B, you have also presumably shown why B irritates A. Or again, if you regard an alien minority in a community as an irritant (which it nearly always is and which it certainly is in the case of the Jews), you have, it would seem, sufficiently defined the position and need not trouble to examine what part the irritated play in the matter. What is parasitical at the worst preys upon the general body, at the best disturbs it. The general body would appear passive. It has no part in the business but to react against the cause of the disturbance and if possible get rid of it. As that cause is none of its making, one need not seek for any responsibility on its side.
The house is ours: the Jew is an intruder (an objector may say), and there is an end of it.
But the situation is not as simple as that. Quite apart from the fact that the Jew will certainly not allow such a description of his activity, there is the obvious truth that where you are dealing with two human factors, that is, with two factors which have a common nature and therefore common duties, you are also dealing with two known and analysable organic things. You are also dealing with two sets of wills, and these wills we know to be free, in spite of sophists. A man and a group of men can do well or ill, both absolutely, and relatively to some particular question in hand; and no group of men can escape responsibility in relation to any other group with which it is in contact. It is certain that we play a part ourselves in this quarrel between us and the Jews. It is a part which is in a measure inevitable, because it proceeds in a measure from the mere contrast between two racial characters. But there is a remaining part which can be remedied by the action of the will.
Though we cannot change that element which is inherent in our nature any more than the Jews can change theirs, yet an understanding of it makes all the difference; and we can certainly change those elements which are inherent in our wills.
The proof of this is that in the long story of the relations between the two races, there have been, in various times and places, those exceptional chapters of calm to which I have alluded on an earlier page, and these could not have been maintained had not the causes of friction been modified on either side, but especially upon ours.
All that cause of friction which arises from the mere contrast of character may be set down very briefly. It is included in what has just been said on the general causes, the difference in nature between the Jews and ourselves. If their form of courage, their form of generosity, their form of loyalty is, as it is, of a different quality from ours; if their defects show the same difference of quality or colour; if we perpetually feel, as we do feel, the friction caused by this contrast, so do they, presumably, feel a corresponding friction in their dealings with us. We shall neither of us be able to change that state of affairs. We must admit it, and we must try to understand its nature.
Above all, we must not take it for granted that a difference from ourselves is in itself an evil in another. That is a point to be insisted upon. When we are dealing with inanimate nature, or with unintelligent animate nature, we do not ascribe motive, for there is no motive to ascribe. A man does not go about with bitterness in his heart against wasps, though the purpose of the wasp is very different from the purpose of the man and their interests clash. He does not call the wasp wicked, nor, save as a relief to his feelings, give it moral names. He does not condemn the wasp. Still less does he condemn all wasps, or anything else in nature around him that works against his interest. But when he has to deal with other human beings, man at once begins to ascribe a motive. He must do so, because he knows that motive is the spring of all human action, including his own. When that motive differs from his, contrasts with his and is therefore in any degree inimical to his, he is inclined to ascribe an evil motive. All that is a truism as old as the hills.
If you have not to live with those who thus differ from you there is no great harm done, but if you have to accept them as part of your life, it is a different matter. It is then essential to the order of the State that this illusion of directly antagonistic motive should be watched and restrained.
But all this concerns rather our duty in the matter than the mere cause of friction.
The first cause of friction is that contrast which is the same whether we describe it from the alien’s point of view, as has just been done, or from our own.
The causes of friction which lie within the province of the will, and which are, therefore, directly a matter for reform, are of another kind. The first of them undoubtedly is our disingenuousness in our dealings with the Jew.
This disingenuousness extends from our daily habit to our treatment of history. It is more deep-rooted than most people are aware of, more widespread than those who are aware of it like to admit. It affects our relations with the Jews just as much when we are attempting to defend their position in the State as when we attack them. Indeed, I think it affects our relations more when we are trying to defend them than when we attack them. The only two kinds of men who show perfect candour in their dealings with the Jews are the completely ignorant dupe who can hardly tell a Jew when he sees one and who accepts as a reality the old fiction of there being no difference except a difference of religion (which he has been taught to think unimportant) and the person called an “Anti-Semite.”
Both these types certainly say what they think. That is why in their heart of hearts the Jews are grateful to both, although both are intellectually contemptible. The Jew feels, I think, when he meets either of these types, “At any rate I know where I am.” But the great bulk of men, especially among the more cultivated, are grossly disingenuous in all their dealings with the Jews. It is the great fault of our side which corresponds to the fault of secrecy upon theirs. And when you have allowed for routine, for the necessities of social intercourse, for convention and the rest, it remains a deliberately conceived moral evil.
A man and his friend meet in the street a Jew whom they know; they exchange ordinary civilities with him; they pass on. The moment his back is turned each comments to his companion upon the Jewish character of the man they have just left, and almost invariably to his disadvantage.
Now to blame this way of going on does not imply that when you meet your Jewish acquaintance you are to offend him by saying to his face the kind of things you say behind his back; that would be a monstrous piece of cynicism and, in practice, insane. We do not act thus in any relation of life. But it does mean that in the attitude, the gesture, the tone of the voice, we play a deliberately false part in our relations with Jews, which we do not play in our relations with any other people. A peculiar pretence, a pretence only practised with Jews, is elaborately maintained. There is no allusion to or admission of our real attitude, our sense of contrast. We therefore suffer an unnatural strain; and we relieve of the strain immediately afterwards by an exaggeration of the contrast we have pretended to ignore. It is blameworthy in a special degree because it is peculiar to that one case. If we admitted the Jew as a Jew, talked to him of the things that were uppermost in his mind and in ours, and treated him as we treat any other foreigner in our midst, there would have been no harm done. As it is the lie has done a double harm—to him and to us. To us by an exasperation which is entirely our own fault, to him by deceiving him as to his true position.
The Jews who mix with the wealthiest classes to-day, especially in London, have no true idea of their real position in the eyes of their guests; and the fault is with their guests.
I have cited an obvious daily example, but it is the least important, for it is passing and shallow. This disingenuousness spreads to relations more permanent. A man goes into business with a Jew, accepts him as a partner, works with him constantly and yet nourishes in his heart a disloyalty to that relationship. It is a phenomenon of constant recurrence and it poisons the relations between the two races. If a man is prepared to enter into one of these permanent relations with another man who differs fundamentally from himself in tradition and human character, he must face the consequences. One of those consequences, if he is to remain an honest man, is the acceptation of the position with all that it implies. He cannot have the advantage—as he hopes to have it—of the Jewish sobriety, the Jewish tenacity, the Jewish lucidity of thought, the Jewish international relationships, the Jewish opportunity of advancement through the aid of his fellows, and at the same time secretly indulge in a contempt and dislike for his companion, and relieve that suppressed feeling in his absence. Yet that is what men are doing daily throughout the business world.
Listen to the conversation of such a man as, having thus engaged in intimate commercial relationship with the Jew, falls upon misfortune. He spends the rest of his life denouncing the Jews as a race and his own companion in misfortune in particular. He has no right to do it. It is undignified; it is puerile, but, worst of all, it is unjust. He presumably knew what he was doing when he entered into what could not but be a difficult relationship. The consequences of that relationship he should accept whether they turn out well for him or ill.
We find something perhaps even worse to note in the attitude of those who are successful in their business through an alliance with the Jew. For in this case gratitude should be added to justice, and that gratitude is very rarely shown. On the contrary, the non-Jewish partner is for ever in a mood of complaint about his share. He is perpetually in a grievance that he has been overreached, or that he has been bullied, or that he has been robbed, save in those very rare cases where the success is so overwhelming, the fortunes so rapid, that there is no room for a grudge. In almost every other case that I have come across there is that element of recrimination—behind the Jew’s back—even under conditions of success.
I know very well what can be said upon the other side. It can be said that what I have called upon a former page the “ruthlessness” of the Jew in commercial relations, as well as his tenacity and all the rest, make the contest unequal; that in a partnership between Jew and non-Jew the non-Jew is, as a fact, often overreached and is, as a fact, often left (as the pretty vocabulary of modern commerce has it) “in the cart.” But pray why did the non-Jew enter into the alliance at all? Was it not precisely in order that he should benefit, if he could, by those very qualities which he later denounces? He expected that those qualities which make for the success of the Jew in commerce would also benefit himself. He knew that there must always be a certain amount of competition, even within such an alliance. He backed himself to watch his own interests under conditions which he knew perfectly well when he entered into them. He has not a leg to stand upon in quarrelling with the results of the relationship, for in so doing he is merely quarrelling with his own judgment and, for the matter of that, his own plot.
If a man cannot tolerate the contrast between the Jewish race and our own, or if he regards that race as possessing energies which will invariably defeat him in the competition of commerce, then let him keep away from a Jewish alliance altogether. It is the simplest plan. But to immix himself with the Jewish commercial activity and then to grumble at the results is despicable.
All this is worse, of course, when one is dealing with relations even closer than those of commerce. Those relations are numerous in the modern world, and disingenuousness in them takes the worst possible form. Men, especially of the wealthier classes of the gentry, will make the closest friends of Jews with the avowed purpose of personal advantage. They think the friendship will help them to great positions in the State, or to the advancement of private fortune, or to fame. In that calculation they are wise. For the Jew has to-day exceptional power in all these things. They therefore have the Jew continually at their tables, they stay continually under the Jew’s roof. In all the relations of life they are as intimate as friends can be. Yet they relieve the strain which such an unnatural situation imposes by a standing sneer at their Jewish friends in their absence. One may say of such men (and they are to-day an increasing majority among our rich) that the falsity of their situation has got on their nerves. It has become a sort of disease with them; and I am very certain that when the opportunity comes, when the public reaction against Jewish power rises, clamorous, insistent and open, they will be among the first to take their revenge. It is abominable, but it is true.
And this truth applies not only to friendships, it even applies to marriages. Marriage between Christian and Jew is, in that rank, an affair of interest, and the bitterness the relation breeds is excessive.
This disingenuousness, then—lack of candour on the part of our race in its dealings with the Jew—a vice particularly rife among the wealthy and middle classes (far less common among the poor), extends, as I have said, to history. We dare not, or will not teach in our history books the plain facts of the relations between our own race and the Jews. We throw the story of these relations, which are among the half-dozen leading factors of history, right into the background even when we do mention it. In what they are taught of history the schoolboy and the undergraduate come across no more than a line or two upon those relations. The teacher cannot be quite silent upon the expulsion of the Jews under Edward I or upon their return under Cromwell. A man cannot read the history of the Roman Empire without hearing of the Jewish war. A man cannot read the Constitutional History of England without hearing of the special economic position of Jews under the Mediaeval Crown. But the vastness of the subject, its permanent and insistent character throughout two thousand years; its great episodes; its general effect—all that is deliberately suppressed.
How many people, for instance, of those who profess a good knowledge of the Roman Empire, even in its details, are aware, let alone have written upon the tremendous massacres and counter-massacres of Jews and Europeans, the mass of edicts alternately protecting and persecuting Jews; the economic position of the Jew, especially in the later empire; the character of the dispersion?
There took place in Cyprus and in the Libyan cities under Hadrian a Jewish movement against the surrounding non-Jewish society far exceeding in violence the late wreckage of Russia, which to-day fills all our thoughts. The massacres were wholesale and so were the reprisals. The Jews killed a quarter of a million of the people of Cyprus alone, and the Roman authorities answered with a repression which was a pitiless war.
One might pile up instances indefinitely. The point is, that the average educated man has never been allowed to hear of them. What a factor the Jew was in that Roman State from which we all spring, how he survived its violent antagonism to him and his antagonism to it; the special privilege whereby he was excepted from a worship of its gods; his handling of its finances—all the intimate parallel which it affords to later times is left in silence. The average educated man who has been taught, even in some fullness, his Roman History, leaves that study with the impression that the Jews (if he had noticed them at all) are but an insignificant detail in the story.
So it is with history more recent and even contemporaneous. In the history of the nineteenth century it is outrageous. The special character of the Jew, his actions through the Secret Societies and in the various revolutions of foreign States, his rapid acquisition of power through finance, political and social, especially in this country—all that is left out. It is an exact parallel to the disingenuousness which we note in social relations. The same man who shall have written a monograph upon some point of nineteenth century history and left his readers in ignorance of the Jewish elements in the story will regale you in private with a dozen anecdotes: such-and-such a man was a Jew; such-and-such a man was half a Jew; another was controlled in his policy by a Jewish mistress; the go-between in such-and-such a negotiation was a Jew; the Jewish blood in such-and-such a family came in thus and thus—And so forth: but not a word of it on the printed page!
This deliberate falsehood equally applies to contemporary record. The newspaper reader is deceived—so far as it is still possible to deceive him—with the most shameless lies. “Abraham Cohen, a Pole”; “M. Mosevitch, a distinguished Roumanian”; “Mr. Schiff, and other representative Americans”; “M. Bergson with his typically French lucidity”; “Maximilian Harden, always courageous in his criticism of his own people” (his own being the German) … and the rest of the rubbish. It is weakening, I admit, but it has not yet ceased.
Now this form of falsehood corrodes, of course, the souls of those who indulge in it. But that does not concern the matter of this book. Where it comes in as a cause of friction between the two races, and a removable cause of friction, is in the effect it has upon the Jewish conception of their position in our society. It falsifies that conception altogether. It produces in the Jew a false sense of security and a completely distorted phantasm of the way in which he is really received in our society. The more this disingenuousness is practised the more the surprise which follows upon its discovery and the more legitimate the bitterness and hatred which that surprise occasions in those of whom we are the hosts. It is not only true of this country; it is true of every other country in which the Jew has been harboured and for a time protected. Invariably he has complained that his awakening was rude, that he was bewildered by what seemed to him a novel and inexplicable feeling against him; that he had thought he was among friends and found himself suddenly among treacherous enemies. All this would have been saved to others in the past, and will be saved to ourselves in the near future, if this pestilent habit of falsehood were eliminated.
Disingenuousness is, on our side, the first main cause of the friction between the two races.
The second main cause of friction upon our side is the unintelligence of our dealing with the Jews. That unintelligence is allied, of course, to the disingenuousness of which I have spoken; but it is a separate thing none the less, and we can learn from the Jews its opposite, for their dealings with us are always intelligent. They know what they are driving at in those relations, though they often misunderstand the material with which they deal. But we, over and over again, would seem not even to know what we are driving at.
What could be more unintelligent, for instance, than the special forms of courtesy with which the Jew is treated? I am not talking of the elaborate, false friendship which I have just dealt with under the head of disingenuousness, but of the genuine attempts at courtesy towards this alien people—the courtesy expressed by those who have no intimate relations with them, and do not desire to have intimate relations with them. It is almost invariably, in those who commonly avoid the Jews, a courtesy which expresses patronage on the surface of it. It may be compared with the courtesy that rich men show to poor men—as offensive a thing as there is in the world.
And how unintelligent is our dealing with any particular Jewish problem; for instance, the problem of Jewish immigration! We mask it under false names, calling it “the alien question,” “Russian immigration,” “the influx of undesirables from Eastern and Central Europe,” and any number of other timorous equivalents. The process is one of cowardly falsehood, but the falsehood is not more remarkable than the stupidity, for no one is taken in and least of all the Jews themselves.
This unintelligence extends to many another field. How unintelligent are the efforts of the writers who would, as it were, make amends to the Jews for former persecution by putting imaginary Jew heroes into their books. In this particular we offend less than did our fathers of the Victorian period. Dickens’ offence was grave. He disliked Jews instinctively; when he wrote of a Jew according to his inclination he made him out a criminal. Hearing that he must make amends for this action, he introduced a Jew who is like nothing on earth—a sort of compound of an Arab Sheik and a Family Bible picture from the Old Testament, and the whole embroidered on an utterly non-Jewish—a purely English character.
How unintelligent are the various defences of the Jew by the non-Jew, even with the best intentions! You will hear people tell you solemnly, as a sort of revelation, that there are kindly, witty Jews, Jews who are good prize-fighters or good fencers. I well remember one old gentleman who tried hard to convince me (as though I needed convincing) that there were Jews who had taste. He said to me, “I do not myself go into Jewish houses, but my son does, and he assures me that much of the decoration is in good taste.” How unintelligent is the idea that because a man’s motives are not open and because he has not the same reasons for serving the State that you have, therefore he is to be perpetually under suspicion! How still more unintelligent is the conception that, although he is alien, yet you cannot use him in certain special services for the State.
This unintelligence is specially apparent in the treatment of the Jew in his international relations. The Jew is a nomad, the non-Jew a man with a fixed habitation. The Englishman, the Frenchman and the rest are perpetually approaching the Jew as though he also had a fixed habitation. We seem never to be able to get over the shock of surprise when we learn that a particular Jew abroad is the cousin, or nephew, or brother of another Jew with a different name in England, or with another Jew with yet another name in Pinsk or San Francisco. Yet, surely, this is of the very essence of the Jewish position. We ought to take it for granted that the Jew is thus nomadic, international, spread all over the world, migratory, as we take the same thing for granted in birds of passage. To adopt the attitude which we almost invariably do and to feel a shock of surprise when we discover what must in the nature of things be the most regular feature in the civic situation of the Jew, is to fall into that most stupid of all stupid errors, the reading of oneself into others.
I remember the horror and scandal with which men whispered their discovery that a man with a German name, who had got into trouble a few years ago, was the first cousin of a Cabinet Minister. Why not? They seemed to be struck all of a heap by the dreadful revelation that the names borne by Jews were not always their original names, that rich and important men often have poor relations, and that poor relations often get embarrassed.
In terms of their own society the thing would have been simple enough. They would have felt no surprise to hear that some man of our own race, who had made a rapid fortune and purchased a political position, suffered from a disreputable relative, also of our own race. But because in the case of the Jew there were the two unusual elements of a foreign name and distant origin, they were bewildered. They even thought it in some way specially scandalous. They had not appreciated the material with which they were dealing, and that is the mark of unintelligence. But the cream of unintelligence, the form in which unintelligent treatment of him most exasperates the Jew, is undoubtedly that typical, that ceaseless case of the man who is perpetually crying out against Israel, and purposing nothing—the man who nourishes a sterile grievance; who has not even the clarity or vigour to attempt suppression; who would be horrified at persecution, almost equally horrified at any breach of convention, and yet continues to cry out against a state of affairs which he does nothing to put right and for which he has not even a theoretic solution.
The last of the main causes of friction between the Jews and ourselves is lack of charity, and that in the simplest form of refusing to go half way to meet the Jew, and of refusing to put ourselves in the shoes of the Jew so as to understand his position in our society and his attitude towards it. It is a universal fault just as common in those who daily associate with, live off, and fawn upon Jews as in those who keep aloof from them. It never seems to occur to anyone on our side who has to deal with the Jewish problem, to make the imaginative effort required. And yet we have the parallel ready to our hands. The Jew feels among us, only with far greater intensity, what we feel when we are resident in a foreign country—a sense of exile, a sense of irritation against alien things, merely because they are alien; a great desire for companionship and for understanding, yet a great indifference to the fate of those among whom he finds himself; an added attachment, not, indeed, to his territorial home, for he has none, but to his nation. If we could perpetually bear in mind that parallel, the friction on our side would be greatly modified.
There are many Jewish societies which ask nothing better than to have occasional addresses from non-Jews. Those addresses are given, those Societies are visited, but not nearly as much as they should be.
There is a great Jewish literature—I mean a great mass of books dealing specially with the Jew’s position from the Jew’s own point of view. It is not read or known. I may be told that the fault of all this is largely that of the Jews themselves on account of their use of secrecy. I do not think the objection applies. With all his use of secrecy the Jew is there present among us for us to approach, if we will, and to understand as best we can. And I say that the approach is not made.
It is an effort, of course. No one knows it better than I; for on more than one occasion when I have addressed a Jewish audience I have found myself the object of very severe language. But it is an effort which every one ought to make who admits that there is a Jewish problem at all, and it is an effort very rarely made. It is not only an effort because it involves the crossing of a gulf, it is also an effort because we find this alien thing in many ways repugnant to us. Yet people make that effort for the purposes of the State continually where other races are concerned. It is far more important that they should make it where the Jews are concerned. For those other alien races, administrated for the moment by officials of our own race, will not permanently be so administered. The relations between them and us are for a brief time, and they are relations that constantly change. The Jew is with us always; and the type of contact between his race and ours will remain much the same through an indefinitely long future as they have through so very long a past.
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Here, then, is the summary, as I see it, of the causes of friction between the two races.
First, a general cause, which lies in the contrasting nature of the two and upon the irritant effect of that contrast. This cause is not to be eliminated, though its effects may be modified. It is a profound contrast and a sharp irritant constant in its activity. The essential is to recognize its real nature, not to give to it general terms of faults and vices, but to appreciate the difference of quality involved: above all, not to tell lies about it and pretend it is not present.
Secondly, as to special causes of friction—I mean causes which on their side, as on ours, can be, if not eliminated, at any rate modified—I suggest that the most prominent are: 1. The sense of superiority which, though it cannot be destroyed, can at least be checked in expression and which, by a pretty irony, is equally strong upon both sides. 2. The use of secrecy by the Jews themselves; partly as a weapon of defence, partly as a method of action, always to be deplored, and of a nature particularly exasperating to our temperament. 3. Upon our side, a persistent disingenuousness in our treatment of this minority. Unintelligence in their treatment: the whole made worse by an indifference or lack of charity, a refusal to make the effort necessary for meeting and understanding as well as we can the race which must always be with us and which is yet so different from our own.
Now these causes of friction permanently present tend to produce what I have called the tragic cycle: welcome of a Jewish colony, then ill-ease, followed by acute ill-ease, followed by persecution, exile and even massacre. This followed, naturally, by a reaction and the taking up of the process all over again.
In our own time we have seen, quite lately, the succession of the second to the first of these stages; we have passed from welcome to ill-ease. That passage threatens a further passage from the second to the third; from the third to the terrible conclusion.
We feel quite secure to-day from the last extreme of this cycle. We are certain it will never come to persecution: that is still inconceivable. But it is not inconceivable everywhere: and no society is free from change. Some now alive may live to see riots even in this quiet polity and worse in newer or less settled states.
Such a catastrophe is to be avoided by every effort in our power and a solution to the problem presented must imperatively be sought. But in passing we should note, for the consideration of those who may doubt the acuteness of the problem and the immediate practical necessity for a solution, the presence of a phenomenon which amply proves that it is acute and that the solution is necessary. That phenomenon is the presence to-day of a new type, the Anti-Semite, the man to whom all the Jews are abhorrent.
It is a phenomenon which has increased prodigiously; its rate of increase is accelerating, and as a warning of the peril, as a proof of its magnitude, I propose to examine that phenomenon closely in my next chapter.
To understand any problem one must study not only its real factors as they appear to a reasonable man who sees the whole affair steadily; one must also understand the insanities and distortions the problem has provoked, for they singularly illustrate its character and force.
It is not enough to consider only the actual in any difficulty to be solved, it is necessary also to consider the imaginary; because the legend or illusion is a direct product of the truth and shows how the truth has acted on other minds.
Thus a caricature brings out what we unconsciously know to be present in any personality, emphasizes it, and though false in its exaggeration, forbids us to forget it in the future. Thus any extreme, no matter how false its lack of proportion, is of the highest value to judgment.
In a practical problem of politics there is another most weighty reason for examining extreme and distorted opinion: which is, that in politics we deal not only with real things but with the liking or disliking of these things by living men: their exaggerated or ill-informed affection or repulsion. All statesmanship lies in the apprehension of enthusiasm and indifference.
Now there are in this great political problem presented by the Jewish race in our midst two extremes. One we have already studied: it is the extreme folly of falsehood, of pretending that the problem is not there.
That extreme was an almost universal folly in the immediate past, especially in this country. It is now abandoned by all of our generation save a few people of an official sort, and these will not long maintain an attitude outworn and already ridiculous.
But the other extreme remains to be studied. It is, in our society, quite a recent phenomenon, though it has gained very great strength in recent years and is increasing alarmingly. It is the extreme of hatred. It is the extreme manifested by those who have but one motive in their action towards the Jewish race, and that motive a mere desire for its elimination. It implies that there is no peace possible between the two races; no reasoned political solution. It relies upon nothing but antagonism. It is already very strong, and its adherents believe themselves to be on the eve of a sort of blundering triumph.
Every one who desires to deal with this grave political matter practically, that is, to establish a permanent policy, will be much more concerned with the extreme here examined than with the other extreme, which ignores the problem altogether. For this new extreme of active hatred is flourishing; that other, older extreme no longer functions.
The near future will have to deal, in practical politics, not only with the problem presented by the Jews as an alien power within the State, but (what will probably prove a more difficult matter) with the hater of the Jew, who is claiming, and rapidly achieving, power on his side. The type is as old as the problem; it is two thousand years old. But it waxes and wanes. Its modern name of “Anti-Semite” is as ridiculous in derivation as it is ludicrous in form. It is partly of German academic origin and partly a newspaper name, vulgar as one would expect it to be from such an origin, and also as falsely pedantic as one would expect, but the exasperated mood of which it is a label is very real.
I say the word “Anti-Semite” is vulgar and pedantic: that I think will be universally admitted. It is also nonsensical. The antagonism to the Jews has nothing to do with any supposed “Semitic” race—which probably does not exist any more than do many other modern hypothetical abstractions, and which, anyhow, does not come into the matter. The Anti-Semite is not a man who hates the modern Arabs or the ancient Carthaginians. He is a man who hates Jews.
However, we must accept the word because it has become currency, and go on to the more essential matter of discovering how those to whom it applies are moved, what the result of their action would be if (or when) they could act freely; and, most important of all, of what they are a sign.
The Anti-Semite is a man marked by two main characters. In the first place he hates the Jews in themselves. His motive is not a hatred of their presence in our society. His motive is not the hatred of concealment, falsehood, hypocrisy, corruption and all the other incidental evils of that false position. These things, indeed, irritate him, but they are not his leading motive. His leading motive is a hatred of the Jewish people. He is in intense reaction against this alien thing which he perceives to have acquired so much power in his society. The way in which it has exercised this power especially exasperates him. But he will remain a hater of the Jewish nation when they are despised, insignificant, and neglected, and he will remain a hater of it even if there be then attached to its position no accidents of secrecy, falsehood and financial corruption. The type increases rapidly when Jews have power: it becomes almost universal when they begin to abuse that power. It dwindles as that power declines. But it is always the same and is an index of peril.
The Anti-Semite is a man who wants to get rid of the Jews. He is filled with an instinctive feeling in the matter. He detests the Jew as a Jew, and would detest him wherever he found him. The evidences of such a state of mind are familiar to us all. The Anti-Semite admires, for instance, a work of art; on finding its author to be a Jew it becomes distasteful to him though the work remains exactly what it was before. The Anti-Semite will confuse the action of any particular Jew with his general odium for the race. He will hardly admit high talents in his adversaries, or if he admits them he will always see in their expression something distorted and unsavoury.
When an accusation is made against a Jew he cannot adopt the judicial attitude any more than could that other extremist, the humbug who denies the Jewish problem altogether. Just as that other person, now passing out of our lives, would not admit a Jew to be guilty under the most glaring evidence and was particularly unable to admit guilt in a Jew who might be wealthy; just as he proclaimed the Jews as a whole impeccable, so does the Anti-Semite approach every Jew with a presumption of his probable guilt, so does he exaggerate this prejudice when he has to deal with a wealthy Jew, and so does he consider the whole Jewish race in the lump as probably guilty of pretty well any charge brought against it.
The contrast was very well seen in the Dreyfus case, when the old type of extremist was still strong. He would not look at the evidence against Dreyfus, he would not, if he could help it, mention his race. All he knew was that Dreyfus was and must in the nature of things be innocent and that all the diverse men who testified against him were wicked conspirators. The new type of extremist, then but rising and not yet master, would not listen to the strong evidence in Dreyfus’ favour, refused to re-examine the case after the chief witness had been found guilty of forgery, made up his mind that Dreyfus was necessarily guilty and was convinced that all his supporters were dupes or knaves.
The mere fact that the Jews exist, let alone that they are powerful, poisons life for such a man. He is led by his lop-sided enthusiasm into the most ridiculous errors. In this country every name of German origin at once suggests a Jew to him. Every financial operation, especially if it be of doubtful morality, must certainly have a Jew behind it; wherever a number of partners, Jewish and non-Jewish, are engaged in some bad work (as, for instance, in one of our innumerable Parliamentary scandals), a Jew must always for this sort of person be the prime mover and the evil genius of the whole.
As is the case with every other mania, this mania rapidly obscures the general vision of its victim. His prejudices soon lose proportion altogether. He comes to see the Jew in everything and everywhere, and to accept confidently propositions which he would himself see to be contradictory, could he give a moment’s quiet thought to the matter.
Thus I have heard on all sides in the last few years these strange assertions proceeding from the same source, yet obviously incompatible one with the other: That modern scepticism was Jewish in its origin; that modern superstition, our modern necromancy and crystal gazing and all the rest of it, was Jewish in its origin; that the evils of democracy are all Jewish in their origin; that the evil of tyrannical government, in Prussia, for instance, was Jewish in its origin; that the pagan perversions of bad modern art were Jewish in their origin; that the puerility of bad church furniture was due to Jewish dealers; that the Great War was the product of Jewish armament firms; that the anti-patriotic appeals which weakened the allied armies came from Jewish sources—and so on. It is indeed true that there is a Jewish quality in all these diverse and contradictory things where a Jew mixes in them; just as there is a Scotch, or French, or English quality when a Scot, a Frenchman, or an Englishman is the agent. But to ascribe the whole boiling to the Jew, and to make him the conscious origin of all, is a contradiction in terms.
The Anti-Semite is a man so absorbed in his subject that he at last loses interest in any matter, unless he can give it some association with his delusion, for delusion it is.
In a sense, of course, this state of mind is a sort of compliment to the Jewish nation. If such a preoccupation with them be not amicable it is at least intense, and those against whom it is directed may well regard it as a proof of their importance in the world. But that aspect of the phenomenon is not consoling for the future of either of us—the Jew who now nervously awaits attack, and we who desire to forestall and prevent such attack.
The Anti-Semite is very much more numerous and very much more powerful than might be imagined from the reading of the daily press; for the press is still, for the most part, under the convention of ignoring the Jewish problem and under the terror of the financial results which might follow from a discussion of it. His universal activity is not yet to be read of in the great newspapers; but in conversation and in the practice of daily life we hear of it everywhere.
And here I may digress upon a modern feature which applies to all political problems and therefore to this Jewish problem among others. The great movements of our time have never originated in the press of the great cities. They rise and store up their energies in political cliques, in popular gatherings, and spoken rumours long before they appear in this main instrument for the spreading of news. That is because the press of our great cities is controlled by very few men, whose object is not the discussion of public affairs, still less the giving of full information to their fellow-citizens, but the piling up of private fortune. As these men are not, as a rule, educated men, nor particularly concerned with the fortunes of the State, nor capable of understanding from the past what the future may be, they will never take up a great movement until it is forced upon them. On the contrary, they will waste energy in getting up false excitement upon insignificant matters where they feel safe, and even in using their instruments for the advertisement of their own insignificant lives. In all this, the modern press of our great cities differs very greatly from the press of a lifetime ago. It was not always owned by educated men, but it was conducted by highly educated men, who were given a free hand. It therefore concerned itself with problems of real importance and it debated upon either side real contrasts of opinion upon those matters. This modern press of ours does none of these things; but precisely because it is so reluctant to express real emotion it does, when the emotion is forced upon it, let it out in a flood. Just as it would not tell the truth when a thing was growing, so when it reaches an extreme it will not exercise restraint. On the contrary, if the “stunt” be an exciting one, it will push it (once it has made up its mind to talk of it at all) in the most extreme form and to the last pitch of violence.
We have seen that plainly enough in the monstrous expressions of foreign policy during the last ten years, and we have seen it in the abominable hounding of individuals to which that same press has lent itself.
Now in the matter of Anti-Semitic feeling we shall have, I think, exactly the same phenomenon repeated. That feeling is now ubiquitous. It is spreading with an alarming rapidity, and the increase of its intensity is even more remarkable than the increase in the numbers of its adherents. Sooner or later—and fairly soon, I imagine—the press will give it voice. When it does, it will give it voice, we may be certain, in the most extreme, the most passionate, the most irrational form; and when that happens, in a field where passion is already so wild, God help its victims!
The Anti-Semitic passion, largely based though it is on imaginary things, has adopted one method of action highly practical. It is a method of action closely in touch with reality, and productive of formidable results. I mean its compiling of documents. It has here noted, all over Europe and America, with exactitude, and continues to put upon record, everything which can be said to the detriment of its victims.
It discovered at its origin, presented as a barrier against it, the Jewish weapon of secrecy. The folly of the Jews in using such a weapon was never better shown, for of all defences it is the easiest to break down. The Anti-Semites countered at once by making every inquiry, by collecting their information, by finding out and exposing the true names hidden under the mask of false ones, by detecting and registering the relationships between men who pretended ignorance one of the other; it ferreted all through the ramifications of anonymous finance and invariably caught the Jew who was behind the great industrial insurance schemes, the Jew who was behind such and such a metal monopoly, the Jew who was behind such and such a news agency, the Jew who financed such and such a politician. That formidable library of exposure spreads daily, and when the opportunity for general publication is given there will be no answer to it.
It is the greatest mistake in the world to regard the Anti-Semite in the vast numerical strength he has now attained all over our civilization as wholly unpractical and therefore negligible, as a man who cannot construct a formidable plan of action simply because he has lost his sense of values. While the movement was growing the method of meeting it was always that of ridicule. It was a false method. The strength of Anti-Semitism was and is based not only on intensity of feeling, but also on industry, an industry very accurate in its methods. The Anti-Semitic pamphlets, newspapers and books, which the great daily press is so careful to boycott, form by now a mass of information upon the whole Jewish problem which is already overwhelming and still mounting up: and all of it hostile to the Jews. You will not find in it, of course, any material for the Defendant’s Brief, but as a dossier for the Prosecution it is astonishing in extent and accuracy and correlation.
Now it is to be remembered in this connection that the human mind is influenced by documentation in a special manner. The exact citation of demonstrable things with chapter and verse convinces as can no other method, and the Anti-Semite is ready with such citation on a very large scale indeed, at the first moment when a general publicity, now denied, shall be granted to it.
* * * * *
Moreover, this reliance of the Jew upon the futility of the Anti-Semitic propaganda omits one very important feature. The Anti-Semitic group is built up of men differing greatly in experience, in judgment and policy. And it is built up of strata differing greatly in the intensity of their hatred. It includes many a man with administrative experience, many a man of great business capacity, of acquired fortune, of talent in affairs. It includes men with a thorough knowledge of European diplomacy; it includes men (in great numbers) with the literary gift of expression for persuading their fellows. Not only is this true, but, as I have said, it includes a large “right wing” which, because they are more restrained in expression than the rest, will exercise a greater weight; men who are not at all blinded by their hatred, though hatred has become their chief motive; men who retain full capacity for organizing a plan of action and for carrying it out. It is true that there is a definite line which divides the Anti-Semite from the rest of those who are attempting to solve the Jewish problem. It is the line dividing those whose motive is peace from those whose motive is antagonism. It is the line dividing those whose object is action, against the Jew, and those whose object is a settlement. But on the Anti-Semitic side of that line—that is, among those whose determination is to suppress and eliminate Jewish influence to the extreme of their power—there are now very many more than the original enthusiasts who created the movement.
The Jews should further remember that to-day every one outside their own community is potentially an Anti-Semite. Not every one, perhaps not even yet a majority, at least in the directing and wealthier classes, is other than friendly or indifferent to the Jews, but there has grown up in every one not a Jew something of reaction against the Jewish power. It requires but an accident to change this from the latent and slight thing it is in most men to an angry passion. I have noticed that among the most violent of Anti-Semites are those who had passed some considerable portion of their early manhood in ignorance of the whole problem. These come across a Jew unexpectedly in some relation hostile to them—they lose money through some Jewish financial operation, or they connect, for the first time, in middle age, several misfortunes of theirs with a common element of Jewish action, or they find Jews mixed up in some attack on their country: thenceforward they become and remain unrepentant Anti-Semites.
The dupe, when he discovers he has been duped, is dangerous, and there is even a considerable category of those who have suffered nothing, even by accident, at the hand of the Jew, yet who, when they discover what the Jewish power is, feel they have been played with, and grow angry at the trickery.
It has been and will be with Anti-Semitism as with all movements. When they begin they are ridiculed. As they grow they come to be feared and boycotted; but of those that are successful it may be justly said that the moment of success begins when they turn the corner and from a fad become a fashion.
It is still (doubtfully) the fashion to separate oneself from the Anti-Semitic movement. You still hear men, when they write or speak upon the Jewish problem, no matter with what hostility to the Jew, excuse themselves as a rule at the beginning of their remarks by saying, “I am no Anti-Semite.” For some flavour of the old ridicule still attaches to the name. But fashions change rapidly and the new fashion which comes in to support a growing thing, when it does arrive, arrives in a flood.
We can all of us remember the time when the talk of nationalization, the old State Socialist talk, was the talk of a few faddists who were everywhere ridiculed and despised. To-day it is the fashion; and the practice of State control, State support, the universality of State action, is such that it is those who oppose it who are now the faddists and the cranks.
We can all of us remember the day when, in the United States, a prohibitionist was a faddist, and a very unpopular faddist at that. We have seen fashion catch him up with a vengeance.
We can all of us remember the day when the supporters of women’s suffrage in England were a very small group of faddists indeed: we know what has happened there!
The forces driving men towards the Anti-Semitic camp are far stronger than the forces acting upon these old hobbies of women’s suffrage, of prohibition and the rest. They are personal, intimate forces arising from the strongest racial instincts and the most bitter individual memories of financial loss, subjection, national dishonour.
For instance, any German to-day to whom you may talk of his great disaster will answer by telling you that it is due to the Jews: that the Jews are preying upon the fallen body of the State; that the Jews are “rats in the Reich.” For one man that blames the old military authorities for the misfortunes following the war, twenty blame the Jews, though these were the architects of the former German prosperity, and among them were found a larger proportion of opponents of the war than in any other section of the Emperor’s subjects. That is but one example; you will find it repeated in one form or another in almost every other polity of the modern world.
The Anti-Semite has become a strong political figure. It is a great and dangerous error at this moment to think his policy is futile. It is a policy of action, and a policy which may proceed from plan to execution before we know it.
There used to be quoted years ago—and I have myself quoted it with approval—a famous question put by a close and reasonable observer of public affairs upon the Continent, to the most prominent of Continental Anti-Semites in that day. The question was this: “If you had unlimited power in this matter, what would you do?” The implied answer was that the Anti-Semite could do nothing. He could not make a law which would segregate the Jews for they could escape that law by mixing with those around them. He could not make a law exiling them; for, first, it would be impossible to define them; secondly, even if that were possible, those defined would not be received elsewhere. What could he do? The implication was, I say, that he could do nothing; he was supposed, in the presence of that question, to admit his futility.
Unfortunately we now know that he can do something. The Anti-Semite can persecute, he can attack. With a sufficient force behind him he can destroy. In much of this destruction he would have, in a present state of feeling and in most countries, the mass of public opinion behind him. He could begin with a widespread examination of Jewish wealth and its origins and an equally widespread confiscation. He could use the dread of such confiscation as a weapon for compelling the divulgence of Jewish origins where a man desired to conceal them. He could do this not only in the case of the wealthy men, but, through the terror of wealthy men, over the whole field of the Jewish community. He could introduce registration and with it a segregation of the Jews. Inspired as he would be by no desire for a settlement agreeable to them, but solely for a settlement agreeable to himself, he could aim at that harsh settlement, and even though he might not reach his goal, it is not pleasant to envisage what he might do on his way to it.
But even though the Anti-Semite fail to acquire full power, there remain attached to his great increase in numbers and intensity of feeling the prime questions, “What is the meaning of the thing? Why has it arisen? Why is it spreading? What are the forces nourishing it?”
These are the main questions which those who regret the presence of such a passion in the body politic, which those who are alarmed about it, which those who, like the Jews themselves, must, if they are to avoid a catastrophe, defend themselves against it, would do well to answer. There has not been as yet sufficient time to answer those questions fully or to appreciate this great reaction in its entirety, but we can already judge it in part. The Anti-Semitic movement is essentially a reaction against the abnormal growth in Jewish power, and the new strength of Anti-Semitism is largely due to the Jews themselves.
When this angry enthusiasm re-arose in its modern form, first in Germany, then spreading to France, next appearing, and now rapidly growing, in England, it was novel and confined to small cliques. The truths which it enunciated were then as unfamiliar as the false values on which it also reposed. That universal policy of the Jews against which it is part of my thesis to argue, a policy natural but none the less erroneous, the policy of secrecy, the policy of hiding, at once took advantage of what was absurd in the novelty of Anti-Semitism. The Jew, in spite of his age-long experience of menace and active hostility, in spite of his knowledge of what this sort of spirit had effected in the past, did not come out into the open. He did not act against the new attack with open indignation, still less with open argument, as he should have done. He took advantage of its absurdity, at its beginnings, in the eyes of the general public. He used all his endeavours to make the word “Anti-Semitic” a label for something hopelessly ridiculous, a subject for mere laughter, a matter which no reasonable man should for a moment consider seriously.
For something between a dozen and twenty years this policy was successful. The method though less and less firmly established as time went on, has not yet quite failed. None the less that policy was very ill-advised. It was used not only to ridicule the Anti-Semite, but what was quite illegitimate, quite irrational (and bound in the long run to be fatal), it was used to prevent all discussion of the Jewish question, though that question was increasing every day in practical importance and clamouring to be decided.
It was the instinctive policy with the mass of the Jewish nation, a deliberate policy with most of its leaders, not only to use ridicule against Anti-Semitism but to label as “Anti-Semitic” any discussion of the Jewish problem at all, or, for that matter, any information even on the Jewish problem. It was used to prevent, through ridicule, any statement of any fact with regard to the Jewish race save a few conventional compliments or a few conventional and harmless jests.
If a man alluded to the presence of a Jewish financial power in any region—for instance, in India—he was an Anti-Semite. If he interested himself in the peculiar character of Jewish philosophical discussions, especially in matters concerning religion, he was an Anti-Semite. If the emigrations of the Jewish masses from country to country, the vast modern invasion of the United States, for instance (which has been organized and controlled like an army on the march), interested him as an historian, he could not speak of it under pain of being called an Anti-Semite. If he exposed a financial swindler who happened to be a Jew, he was an Anti-Semite. If he exposed a group of Parliamentarians taking money from the Jews, he was an Anti-Semite. If he did no more than call a Jew a Jew, he was an Anti-Semite. The laughter which the name used to provoke was most foolishly used to support nothing nobler or more definitive than this wretched policy of concealment. Anyone with judgment could have told the Jews, had the Jews cared to consult such an one, that their pusillanimous policy was bound to fail. It was but a postponement of the evil day.
You cannot long confuse interest with hatred, the statement of plain and important truths with mania, the discussion of fundamental questions with silly enthusiasm, for the same reason that you cannot long confuse truth with falsehood. Sooner or later people are bound to remark that the defendant seems curiously anxious to avoid all investigation of his case. The moment that is generally observed, the defence is on the way to failure.
I say it was a fatal policy; but it was deliberately undertaken by the Jews and they are now suffering from its results. As a consequence you have all over Europe a mass of plain men who so far from being scared off from discussing the Jewish problem by this false ridicule are more determined than ever to thrash it out in the open and to get it settled upon rational and final lines.
That would perhaps be no great harm in itself. It would merely mean that a false policy had failed, and that proper frank and loyal discussion would succeed all this hushing up and boycott. Unfortunately the false policy had other and much worse consequences. It exasperated men who had already begun to interest themselves in the political discussion and who would not tolerate undeserved ridicule. It heaped up a world of determined opposition to the Jews. It is not exactly that the Anti-Semite has already won or even is as yet certainly on his way to winning, but he now has his chance of winning. Whereas, some few years ago, he had the tide against him, he is now, through the fault of the Jews themselves, at its turn. He now finds himself on an extreme wing, it is true, but attached to a very large body which is already strongly biassed against the Jews, dislikes their presence among us, and is determined to act against them, not only where they still have great power, but also where that power is visibly declining, and even where they are in danger.
It must not be forgotten, as we survey this growing menace, that a policy which reaches no finality is not on that account futile. It must not be forgotten that in the minds of many men (one might say in the minds of most men) during periods of excitement, a policy of repression, though always failing to reach finality, may still be continuous: it may become a habit and may endure indefinitely in the vast suffering of its victims. The Jews have seen that happen in many a small nationality other than their own. They have seen, no doubt, that continued repression acting in an atmosphere of equally continuous rebellion has usually in the long run failed, but they must admit that the maintenance of such repression, with all its accompaniments of moral and physical torture, confiscation, exile and all the rest, has often been a policy long drawn out. It has been drawn out in some cases for centuries. It is not true that, because a policy does not aim at a complete settlement, therefore it cannot be undertaken and vigorously pursued. It can. Time and again a hostile force has attempted to eliminate opposition, or even contrast, and to eliminate it by every instrument, including massacre itself. Sometimes, very rarely, it has succeeded. Usually it has, in the long run, failed. But in the great majority of cases it has at any rate continued long after its failure was apparent. That is the danger which menaces from the phenomenon I have examined in this chapter. It would be madness in the Jews to neglect that phenomenon. It is now so strong in numbers, intensity of conviction, and passion that it menaces their whole immediate future in our civilization. Its ultimate causes we have explored. Its immediate cause, the cause of its sudden development and present startling growth, we have seen to be the Jewish action in Russia, and to this, which I have already touched upon in my third chapter, where I sketched the sequence of events leading up to the present situation, I will next turn, in order to make a more detailed examination of it. For undoubtedly it is the sudden appearance of Jewish Bolshevism that has brought things to their present crisis.
The Bolshevist explosion, which will appear in history I think as the point of departure from which shall date the new attitude of the Western nations towards the Jews, is not only a field in which we can study the evil effect of secrecy, but one in which we can analyse all the various forces which tend to bring Israel into such ceaseless conflict with the society around it.
It merits, therefore, a very special examination, both as an opportunity for the study of our subject and as a turning-point of the first moment in history.
Why did a Jewish organization thus attempt to transform society? Why did it use the methods which we know it used? Why was that particular venue chosen? What aim had the actors in view? What measure of success did they hope to achieve? By what method do they propose to extend their influence? When we can answer those questions we shall have gone far to discovering the almost fatal causes of conflict between this peculiar nation and those among whom they move.
The answers usually given to these questions by the avowed enemies of the Jewish race are always inadequate and often false. When they contain an element of truth (which they often do) that truth is quite insufficient to account for the full phenomena. But the accretions of falsehood and exaggeration render the whole thing inexplicable—indeed, these explanations of the Russian revolution are very good specimens of the way in which the European so misunderstands the Jew that he imputes to him powers which neither he nor any other poor mortal can ever exercise.
Thus we are asked to believe that this political upheaval was part of one highly-organized plot centuries old, the agents of which were millions of human beings all pledged to the destruction of our society and acting in complete discipline under a few leaders superhumanly wise! The thing is nonsense on the face of it. Men have no capacity for acting in this fashion. They are far too limited, far too diverse.
Moreover, the motive is completely lacking. Why merely destroy and why, if your object is merely to destroy, manifest such wide differences in your aims? One may say justly that there is always a tendency to reaction against alien surroundings, and in so far as that reaction is intense and effective it is destructive of those surroundings. One may point out that such reaction in the case of the Jews, as in the case of all other alien bodies, is in the main unconscious and instinctive. All that is true enough; but the conception of a vast age-long plot, culminating in the contemporary Russian affair, will not hold water, any more than will the corresponding hallucination which led men to believe that the French revolution (a thing utterly different in kind from the Russian) was the mere outward expression of a strictly disciplined secret body. In the case of the French Revolution everything was put down (by the forerunners of to-day’s Anti-Semitic enthusiasts) to the secret agency of The Order of Templars acting unweariedly through six centuries, and finally bringing down the French monarchy. In the case, of course, of the Bolshevist anarchy a still longer range is given to the final result: for “Templars” read “Jews,” and for “600” read “2,000” years. It is all smoke.
More serious is the statement that this combination of Jews for the destruction of the old Russian society was an act of racial revenge. There is a great element of truth in that. There is no doubt that the greater part of the Jews who took over power in the Russian cities four years ago felt an appetite for revenge against the old Russian State comparable to that felt by any oppressed people against their oppressors. Probably it was more intense even than any other example that could be quoted. We are all witnesses to the way in which the Russian people, religion, and government, and particularly the person and office of the Emperor—were attacked and decried by the Jews in Western Europe, of the way in which the Jews ceaselessly conspired against the Russian State, and of the brutal repression to which they were subject. When you release a force of hatred so violent it may run to any length. That sudden release, that sudden opportunity for satisfying the thirst for vengeance, must explain a very large part of what followed. But even that does not account for the whole. It would account for mere massacre and mere chaos. It would not account for the attempts—rather pitiful attempts—at construction and for the obviously designed system of direction which has continued on the same lines since the Jews first assumed power and is still fully manifest after nearly five years of that power.
Still less is it sufficient to say that the Jew is everywhere the organizer and leader of revolution and that we only see him at work in Russia with greater vigour and thoroughness because the opportunity is there greater.
The Jew is not everywhere a revolutionary. He is everywhere discontented with a society alien to him: that is natural and inevitable. But he does not exercise his power invariably, or even ordinarily, towards the oversetting of an established social order by which, incidentally, he often largely benefits.
You do not find the Jew in history perpetually leading the innumerable revolts which citizens in the mass make against the privileged or the superior conditions of the minority. He has sometimes benefited by these movements in the past; more often suffered. We often find individual Jews sympathizing with the revolutionary side, but we also find many individual Jews sympathizing with the other. The Jew is not, in the history of Europe, the prime agent of revolution: quite the contrary. The great acts of violence, successful and unsuccessful, which have marked our society from the agrarian troubles of pagan Rome to the French Revolution, the land war in Ireland, the Chartist Movement in London, or whatever modern movement you will, have appealed much more to the fighting instincts and political traditions of our race than they have to the Jews. They are marked everywhere by an attitude towards property and patriotism which are the very opposite of the Jews’ characteristics. The Revolutions of the past were for the better distribution of property and for the betterment of the State. Often they were openly undertaken because patriotism had been offended by defeat in war and because the Nation was thought to be betrayed. Usually they were jingo and always for distribution of wealth.
It is the unique mark of the Russian revolution and of its attempted extension elsewhere that it repudiates patriotism and the division of property. In that, it differs from all others; and it is markedly, obviously, Jewish. But why had the Jews a chance of action in Russia which they lacked elsewhere?
What were the special characters in the Russian opportunity which made the Jew the creator of the whole movement?
There are, I take it, three main factors present in this case peculiarly suitable to the Jewish effort.
In the first place, this revolution fell upon, and was directed towards, a particular social phenomenon in which that profound instinct in the European, the desire for settled property, had decayed. It fell upon the state of affairs called Industrial Capitalism, the chief mark of which is the destruction in the mass subjected to it (or, at any rate, the atrophying) of that essential part of the European soul—ownership. The Jew is, undoubtedly, unable to sympathize with us in that central core of our civic instincts. He has never understood the European sense of property and I doubt if he ever will.
But in Russia Industrial Capitalism was quite new. The resentment against it was keen. The victims were the sons of peasants, or had themselves been born peasants, so that this proletarian mass in the Russian towns, though less than a tenth of the whole nation, was peculiarly open to propaganda against its masters. And an attack successfully conducted, on that weakest point of modern Capitalism, might easily succeed and then spread to neighbouring industrialized centres in Poland, Germany, and so westward.
Now the attack on this international phenomenon, an attack directed against Industrial Capitalism, required an international force. It needed men who had international experience and were ready with an international formula.
There are two, and only two, organized international forces in Europe to-day with a soul and identity in them. One is the Catholic Church, and the other is Jewry. But the Catholic Church, for reasons which I will discuss in a moment, cannot and never will directly attack industrial capitalism. It will undoubtedly attack that system in flank and indirectly destroy it in the long run wherever the Faith has a strong hold upon masses of people. But it will not and cannot directly attack it. The Jew, on the other hand, is free to attack it precisely because our sense of property means nothing to him, is to him something strange, and even, I think, comic. Further, the Jew was present, he was on the spot. The Church was not.
Of the two international forces present, therefore, the Jews alone could act.
Here I must digress and say why the other great international force, the Catholic Church, has not been able—and will never be able—to attack Industrial Capitalism as a whole and directly, though, as I have said, it acts indirectly as a solvent of this evil and will destroy it wherever society remains Catholic. The Catholic Church, not only in its abstract doctrine, but acting as the expression of our European civilization, is profoundly attached to the conception of private property. It makes the family the unit of the State and it perceives that the freedom of the family is most secure where the family owns. It perceives, as do all Europeans, instinctively or explicitly, that property is the correlative of freedom, or, at any rate, of that only kind of freedom which we Europeans care to have: that it is the safeguard of spiritual health (the mark of which is humour), of breadth and diversity in action, of elasticity in the State, of permanence in institutions. Property, as widely distributed as possible, but sacred as a principle, is an inevitable social accompaniment of Catholicism.
Apart from this, it is also a definite feature of Catholic doctrine to deny that private property is immoral. No Catholic can say that private property is immoral without cutting himself off from the Communion of the Church, any more than he can say that the authority in the State is immoral. He cannot be a communist, in abstract morals any more than he can be an anarchist.
Now Industrial Capitalism is a disease of property. It is the monstrous state of affairs in which a very few men derive their vast advantage from the corresponding fact that most men whom they exploit do not own.
But it remains true that the sheet-anchor of Capitalism is a sense of ownership in the mass as well as in the privileged few. The only moral force remaining to Industrial Capitalism, the only spiritual tie which prevents its dissolution, is this admission by the European mind that property is a right—even property in a diseased and exaggerated form.
The whole of the operations of Industrial Capitalism rely upon the sanctity of property and the sanctity of contract which develops from the sanctity of property. And whenever society loses this sense, industrial capitalism will fall into chaos. The Church cannot deny that one moral principle. Its action will always be towards the dissolution of the great accumulations promoted by capitalism. It always will work indirectly for the establishment of well-divided property, an ideal defined by the voice of its great modern Pope, Leo XIII, who explicitly states it in his Rerum Novarum. But the Church can never take the short cut of destroying Industrial Capitalism root and branch and at once, by erecting against it the doctrine of Communism or (as many people call diluted Communism) “Socialism.” It never can do so in theory, and still less will it ever do so in practice. A Catholic society will always tend to be a society of owners: with all the elements of co-operation, with the Guild, with masses of corporate property attached to the State or connected with the city, with the college, with the corporation. For without such corporate property in a State, property is never well founded.
The Jew has neither that political instinct in his national tradition nor a religious doctrine supporting and expressing such an instinct. The same thing in him which makes him a speculator and a nomad blinds him to, and makes himactually contemptuous of, the European sense of property. When therefore we have reached, through Industrial Capitalism, or any other social disease, a state of affairs in which the practical denial of property is possible because the mass of men have lost the desire for it, and when the repudiation of property offers an immediate solution for intolerable evils, then the Jew can appear at once as a leader.
One must find in such a movement an international leader because the disease is international, and still more because the proposed cure of that disease, through Communism, must be international if it is to succeed. A Communist society may stand apart from the general society of owners in other countries, but if it is to succeed in competition with them it must convert them to its own creed.
The Jew took international action for granted. He took the narrow and false economic view of property—that it was a mere institution to be modified indefinitely, and, if necessary, abolished. He had an obvious opportunity for leadership accorded to him when international action against property was demanded. Again, our national sense, patriotism, which is incomprehensible to the Jew save on the false analogy of his own peculiar nomadic and tribal patriotism, is a check upon Communism, and, indeed, against revolution of any kind. The process of thought in the patriotic citizen—largely unconscious but none the less efficacious—is somewhat as follows:
“I cannot function save as a citizen of my nation, and, what is more, that nation made me what I am. It is my creator in a sense and so has authority over me. I must even give up my life in its defence if necessary, because but for itsexistence I and those like me could not be. My happiness, my freedom of individual action, my self-expression are all bound up with the existence of the civic unit of which I am a part. If something which appears to me good in the abstract, or which apparently will procure for me a material good, involves danger to that civic unit, I must forego the good, regarding the continued existence and strength of my people as a greater good to which the lesser should be sacrificed.”
That, I say roughly, is the expression of the patriotic instinct in the European man. That is what he has felt for many and many a great State in the past and for every polity to which he has ever belonged; that is what he feels to-day for his country.
The Jew has the same feeling, of course, for his Israel, but since that nation is not a collection of human beings, inhabiting one place and living by traditions rooted in its soil, since it has not a strong, visible, external form, his patriotism is necessarily of a different complexion. It has different connotations and our patriotism seems negligible to him.
The implied fallacies current in the modern industrial revolutionary formulæ, in such phrases as “What does it matter to the working man whether he is exploited by a German or an English master?” or, again, “Why should the individual Tom Smith be sacrificed for an abstraction called England?” or again, “Nationalism is the great obstacle to the full development of humanity”—all that sort of thing, which we feel by instinct and can, if it is necessary, prove by reason to be nonsense in our case, sounds, in Jewish ears, as very good sense indeed. For in his case these things involve no fallacies at all; they apply to him vividly and exactly. Why should the Jew be sacrificed for England? In what way is England, or France, or Ireland, or any other nation necessary to him? Again, is it not obvious in his eyes that these terms, “France, Ireland, England, Russia,” are but abstractions? The real thing in his eyes when he thinks of us, is the individual and his certain needs, especially his physical and material needs; because upon these there can be no doubt; upon these all are agreed; these are visible and tangible. “England,” “France,” “Poland” are whimsies.
It is true that if you were to put his special case to the Jew with similar force and say, “No Jew should run any risk for Israel,” “no Jew should suffer any inconvenience by trying to help a fellow Jew in distress,” “the idea of Israel is a vague abstraction—all that counts is the individual Jew and especially his physical requirements”; if you said that sort of thing you would be offending the most profound instincts of Jewish patriotism and you would, in fact, clash with the overt and covert action of the Jews throughout the world. But the Jew would answer that, as his was an international polity, the argument applying to our national polity did not apply to him; that his feelings, though analogous to ours, were of a different kind, and that, at any rate, he cannot sacrifice a fine idea of his like Communism for our provincial and local habit, called by us Europeans “the love of our country.”
There is more than this in the business. Even those truths which we know to be truths have little effect upon us, unless they enter into the practice of our lives. There are, no doubt, a number of Jews who would admit at once the truth of any nationalist statement made by a European. When a Frenchman, or an Englishman, or a Russian says to him, “My first duty is to my people; I must keep them strong as well as in being and I must sacrifice my interests to theirs when it is necessary,” there are many Jews who would answer: “You are quite right. The theory is sound. Man can only function as a part of a particular society,” and so forth; but it is one thing to recognize a truth and another thing to experience it in one’s bones, as it were, and these truths, even where he is admitting them, are truths indifferent to the Jew.
Therefore when, as in the particular case of Russia, a national feeling stood in the way of an abstract ideal, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to the Jew that the national obstacle should go to the wall in order that his ideal of Communism might triumph.
There lay behind this great change in the Russian towns, and the capture of what remains of Russian government by the Jewish Committees, a force most positive. It was the sense of social justice, the indignation against indefensible evils.
That sense of social justice, that indignation against indefensible modern evils, we all feel. There may be men among the wealthier classes of Western Europe who are so ignorant of the past, or so stupid, that they do honestly believe Industrial Capitalism to be an inevitable and even perhaps a good thing. But such men must be very rare. Not only must they be rare, but they cannot have any wide social experience. A man has only got to live the life of the poor in the great industrial cities for a day to see the enormity of the wrong that has to be righted. There are, of course, not a few but many thousands of individuals who try to find arguments for Industrial Capitalism, either because they benefit themselves through the system and are the richer by it, or because they are the hired servants of those who so benefit—and of this kind are the writers in the capitalist press. But all these, who are hired advocates, or advocates with a direct proprietary interest in the continuance of the modern disease, may be neglected; for they are not in good faith. They are not really arguing that the thing is good in itself, they are only trying to find arguments as lawyers do for something which they have to defend and which in their hearts they admit is evil; or to the evil of which they are indifferent so long as it gives them a disproportionate share of material enjoyment.
We must add to these the sincere man who will admit the domination of Industrial Capitalism because he honestly believes that, bad as it is, it is now become inevitable and that to tamper with it would bring the whole State into anarchy. “Such as it is,” he would say, “the structure of our society now depends upon it. We may palliate its evils, we may try very gradually to transform its worst features. But in its essence it must remain as it is, or our last state will be worse than our first.”
Of this kind are those who argue that any social experiment antagonistic to Industrial Capitalism, if pushed sufficiently far, would result in famine and chaos and even physical evils far worse than the physical evils which the mass of men have to suffer in the great towns which capitalism has produced.
Apart from these categories, the masses of men, I say, to-day are convinced that Industrial Capitalism is an evil, an evil of the grossest sort; an evil of a sort unknown to the greater part of human history and unknown to-day in the greater part of the human race; an evil which those peasant societies, or societies of well-divided property throughout Europe, are happy to have escaped; and an evil from which we, who are caught in it, are trying to escape as best we may.
In that modifying phrase “as best we may” lies the crux, for the great mass of Europeans feel that any attack on Industrial Capitalism which denies the nation its supreme place, or which impedes the superior task of keeping the nation strong and wealthy, is barred; they also feel instinctively that any attack which denies the general right of private property and the value of that institution to the healthy conduct of our affairs is also barred. The great mass of our race, when faced by the problem of Industrial Capitalism, feel that it has to be solved in some way that will neither destroy property nor the nation through which the individual alone can function.
But this, which is true of the great mass of our race, is not true of the Jews. Therefore they were able, in the case of the Russian Revolution, to go straight for their object, and that object was (apart from the obvious object of revenge, of love of power, and the rest) the destruction of an economic inequality.
These Jews who have destroyed what we knew as Russia were undoubtedly possessed of a political ideal: the ideal of Communism. No doubt many individuals among them (all ultimately) would prefer the good of Israel to the good of any Russian. No doubt the wreaking of vengeance upon former oppressors was strong, as also the appetite for destroying a general and a national sentiment alien to them and even repulsive to them; but there remains, as a positive motive behind the whole affair, the ideal of Communism. The Jews alone of the forces present were capable of heartily entertaining that ideal, and were free of all obstacles against the achievement of it—the obstacle of patriotism, the obstacle of religion, the obstacle of the sense of property.
These considerations, I take it, are what explains the Jewish character of the upheaval in the East, with its destruction of the Russian nation, its enormous experiments in social economy, its inevitable impoverishment of the State as a whole, its enthusiastic support by the minority which accepts its doctrine.
Those very few men and women who have been witnesses of the Jewish experiment in Russia (excluding those engaged in propaganda upon one side or the other) give us a picture which is much what we should have expected of the situation.
It seems that the great mass of the nation has affirmed the instinct of private property with the greatest vigour, and that some nine-tenths of the Russians have settled down upon the land to which they always claimed ownership and in which their sense of ownership is more fierce than ever. In the towns the unnatural system—unnatural because it opposes all our instincts as Europeans—works more and more slackly as the original system of terror weakens. For it is clear that Communism needs a despot, and the active rule of a despot is necessarily short: it is a system incapable of transition and therefore of duration.
The perfectly explicable but deplorable exercise of vengeance by the Jews has been directed against what we euphemistically term the governing directing classes, who have been massacred wholesale and whose remnants are subjected to perpetual persecution.
The productivity of the industrial masses has naturally sunk to a very low level, because under Communism it can only work through something like military discipline, and work done under those conditions is on a much lower productive level than free work.
But the real interest in the Jewish revolution in Russia, to which is now permanently affixed the name of Bolshevist (which is nothing more than the Russian for “whole-hogger”), lies in these two points: first, the continued propaganda of Communism throughout the world (which propaganda in organization and direction is in the hands of Jewish agents); secondly, and much more important, the effect of the Jewish revolution in producing hostility to the Jews throughout the world.
I say this second fact is much more important because it is the more real and the more enduring. You will never make a Communist of the highly-civilized, tenacious, intelligent and humorous Occidental European. You will no more make a Communist of him than you will make him walk on all fours or permanently abjure the use of good liquor. You may get middle-class faddists to accept Communism as a mere creed, and of course you can easily get exasperated men, ground down by capitalism, to accept any theory, any system, which promises them relief. But you will not get Communism working in men who boast the old European blood, in the descendants of those who created our past and its monuments. They will certainly preserve their traditions and their character. Though the peril must be combated, and is being successfully combated everywhere, it is not a peril of great magnitude to the West.
The other effect of the Jewish revolution in Russia—the peril into which it has put the Jews themselves—is permanent and is of the first magnitude. I know no way to meet it except to explain why that revolution was almost necessarily a Jewish revolution, to emphasize the sincerity of the Jews who have led it, to exculpate them as far as possible, and, at any rate, to shield their unfortunate compatriots abroad from the consequences of what was certainly a very bad piece of tactics so far as the future of this people was concerned.
We ought, I think, not to nourish a new and special hostility against the Jew on account of what he has done in Russia, but, on the contrary, to excuse him, especially because he is a Jew. We ought, as it seems to me, to say: “He had reasons for action and excuse for action which men of our race would not have had, and though we must prevent that action from spreading, we must not allow what seemed quite natural under the circumstances to the Jew to warp our attempted solution of the Jewish problem. We ought to work for its solution as impartially and as soberly as though the provocation of Bolshevism had never been given.”
That sounds an extreme thing to say, and I fear it will be ridiculed by most of those who (as they tell us) have had their eyes opened by the Bolshevist explosion and who are now confirmed enemies of the Jewish people. But though it sound fantastic, I am convinced that it is a right attitude. To lose one’s judgment on a permanent problem through panic or heat, to forget the elements of such a problem merely because it has been presented to us suddenly in an acute form, is the negation of reason. As well might a man who is dealing with the problem of fermented liquor, and trying to get people to use it rationally, let his judgment be overcome by a case of delirium tremens and rush thereupon into some scheme of prohibition. The very test which distinguishes good statesmanship from bad is the power to keep one’s head under provocations like these; to maintain a middle course and to aim at whatever solution our reason tells us to be just under normal circumstances. We who saw the gravity of the Jewish problem long before the recognition of it was general, and who studied it under calmer conditions for many years, have a right to be heard now: now that the tide is making against these people and that the fear of anarchy threatens to turn men’s heads.
We were long blamed for attacking the Jews, we are already blamed for defending them. It is a proof that our attitude is well grounded and unaffected by fashion.
The Bolshevist revolution will not last. Its Jewish character was inevitable. It had a side to it of Jewish enthusiasm for a sort of incorporeal justice, and, in any case, it ought not to be allowed to deflect us from a conclusion which the much larger lines of history and all general considerations of reason impose.
Our conclusion, as I have said, is a recognition and protection of the Jewish nation as something quite different from ourselves and yet necessarily inhabiting our society. Such a full recognition leaves us fore-armed against the tendency in the Jew (which we cannot avoid) to forget our national feelings and to misconceive our sense of ownership. It would render impossible the conspiracies and the vengeance which have destroyed Russia, and I believe that had the former Russian Government treated the Jews as I say they should be treated, it would be in power to-day.
The danger of the Jewish nation in the world to-day may be summed up in this phrase:—
“The Jews are obtaining control and we will not be controlled by them.”
That is the simplest formula, and the one which would be immediately subscribed to by the whole mass of those outside the Jewish community who are alive to the question at all. Being the simplest form of the truth, it needs, when applied to a highly complex situation, detailed modification.
This modification proceeds from three sources:—
First, the extent of the Jewish control and the extent of the resentment against that control vary very largely from one community to another.
Secondly, the civic tradition of each community in its treatment of the Jewish question also differs from that of every other, though these various traditions fall into certain fairly well-defined groups.
Thirdly, the position is modified according to the presence, in varying degrees of strength in different communities, of certain international forces even more powerful than the Jews themselves. The four principal of the international forces are:—
(1) The Catholic Church;
(3) The forces of international Capitalism; and
(4) The international reaction against it of the industrial proletariat.
We must in the first line of this inquiry make an important premise. The fact from which we proceed, namely, the uneasy feeling that the Jews are getting control and the determination not to tolerate that control, will be denied by the Jews themselves. It is denied sincerely—I have entered upon too many discussions with them and heard too many of their protestations to doubt that; and if the denial were valid, not only the particular survey I propose in this chapter, but the whole of the argument of this book, would fail. For if there is a Jewish question to-day, and if it is present in the acute form in which we all know it to be present, it is not due merely to the contrast and friction between the Jews and their hosts, but especially to this feeling of domination.
But the Jewish belief in this matter is not valid, sincerely as it is held. To the great majority of Jews it will, of course, seem common-sense. What has the unfortunate poor Jew in the slums of our great cities to do with controlling the modern world? How in his eyes can the phrase have any meaning at all? If you pass from him to the comparatively small Jewish middle class, you would hear a denial almost equally vigorous. The Jewish scientist will tell you that he is concerned with his researches and laughs at the idea of interfering with his neighbours; the Jewish historian that he is concerned with his documents, that nothing is further from his thoughts than interfering with people outside his trade; the little Jewish shopkeeper will tell you that he is in active competition with his non-Jewish neighbours and by no means always successful in that competition; the Jewish lawyer will tell you that he is concerned with the system of law in which he happens to be immersed—the Napoleonic Code, the English Common Law or what not—and that any idea of his personally wanting to control the vast non-Jewish majority among whom he lives is moonshine: and so it is.
The great Jewish banker, though he is fully aware of his power, would tell you that in his daily business he comes up against forces to which he is subject, and has competitors who are at the best neutral, and more commonly hostile, to Israel; and even the man who is to-day more powerful—if that be possible—than the Jewish banker, I mean the Jewish monopolist, and especially the Jewish monopolist in metal, though he would be extremely annoyed to have the extent of his control exposed, will feel that it is due to his superior abilities and in no way designed for mastery.
All these individual replies are true; but if you make of them a composite and general reply, if you put it as a reply of all Israel to all the world outside, crying, “I have no desire for supremacy; I never act in such a fashion that my domination can be felt or shall increase; the motive is not present, even subconsciously, among my people”—then that general reply would be false.
In point of fact the Jew has collectively a power to-day, in the white world, altogether excessive. It is not only an excessive power, it is inevitably a corporate power and, therefore, a semi-organized power. It is not only excessive and in the main organized, it was, until the recent reaction began, a rapidly increasing power—and most people believe it to be still increasing. To that the whole world outside the Jewish community will testify.
The criterion by which we may judge whether any form of power is irritant to those whom it affects is not the testimony of those who exercise the power, but the testimony of those over whom it is exercised. There never was a tyranny in the world, not even one of those personal tyrannies (which have been so much more highly organized and so much more direct than this power of the Jews), there never has been a despotism in history, which would not tell you that it was accidental, or necessary, or, in any case, innocent of any motive of oppression. And history universally replies: “To judge that, you must ask those who felt the pressure; not those who exercised it.”
Now those who feel the pressure in the matter we are now examining are unanimous. They differ in the degree of their resentment from those to whom the thing is so intolerable that they are already in active revolt against it, to those who feel it merely as a distant though an approaching discomfort. But everybody feels it in some degree. It is a universal sensation running throughout the nerves of the modern world and it is growing too fast in degree and extent to be ignored.
I have already quoted the effect upon those hundreds of educated men taken into the temporary Civil service during the late war, when they found, holding the locked gate of one monopoly after another, the international Jew. His control of finance needs no discussion. If the individual banker or financier is not aware of it, the most of those who are affected are acutely aware of it. Men exaggerate in giving it a sort of conscious personality, but they certainly do not exaggerate when they point to its effects. The Jew must remember, what it may be difficult for him to accept and what is certainly true, that not only is his domination very bitterly resented but that his presence in any position of control whatsoever is odious to the race among which he moves. Everybody feels that about any form of alien control, much more do they feel it about that form which they instinctively know to be most alien of all. Every one has noticed this control exercised in the form of keeping silence upon what it was to the disadvantage of Israel to have known; in the form of the advertising of what it was to the advantage of Israel to have advertised; in the form of the giving and withholding of credit; in the form of attack in the Press against nations with whom Israel had a quarrel and the defence in the Press of those (they have now almost disappeared) upon whom Israel, in the immediate past, relied for defence. And everybody has discovered—what is not unjust, indeed, what is inevitable, but what is none the less a source of exasperation—the solidarity of the Jewish race where the interests of any member of it were concerned.Except, of course, an outlawed member. The case of Dr. Levy turned out of this country by his compatriots in the Government for having written unfavourably of the Moscow Jews will be fresh in every one’s memory.
But if the thing were felt everywhere as acutely and as consciously as it is felt in special groups to-day—as it is felt, for instance, in one particular section of English opinion already represented in the Press, is felt in a wider section of French opinion, and in a still wider section of Polish opinion—then the matter would be simple. We could then say that an issue of the clearest kind had arisen, and forbid a small alien minority to decide the destinies of those among whom it lives and of whom it is not. The answer would be obvious, and the only difficulty would be how the Jewish control might be lessened without grievous injustice to innocent individuals.
But the thing is not so felt. It is modified, as I have said, by the varying degrees of intensity in which it is recognized and by the other international forces which come into play.
If we consider the varying political traditions and the varying international forces, if we examine the world’s national groups, we shall find something like this: In the vast body of Russia a position most paradoxical. For years the Jew was everywhere openly attacked and hated in those parts of the Russian Empire where he was allowed to live in large numbers. These were nowhere within Russia proper but upon the western outskirts of that empire, within what was once the old Polish kingdom and largely within what is now the restored Republic of Poland. But the Russian traditional antagonism to the Jew changed in a few weeks of chaos to something not opposite but novel and different. The Russian allowed a prodigious revolution to be made by the Jews, he accepted the loot of that revolution which the Jew secured to him; he has submitted wholly in the towns, partly in the country, to a tyranny exercised by Jews ever since that complete reversal of his national history, now four years old.
The external political power of what was once the Russian Empire has disappeared. The Jews have killed it. But the great mass of Russian humanity remains strongly affected by this curious change. Where popular instinct works untrammelled the old and violent passionate antagonism between the Russian and the Jew survives. You see it in the hotch potch of the Ukraine, the inhabitants of which, in spite of all theories, are of Russian race and tradition, and the central town of which is the sacred region of Russia as a member of Christendom. There, for all the Jewish Committees with large towns under their complete control, there have been repeated revolts. But in the greater part of European Russia at least, and in much of what was once the Asiatic Empire, the Jews hold what is left of the Executive government.
So far as we can judge from the very imperfect accounts which reach us (for nowhere is the weapon of secrecy more ruthlessly used), the mass of the Russians, that is, the peasantry, are in two minds. To the action of the Jewish despotism in the town they are indifferent, but to his early attempts against themselves they were bitterly opposed. They have suffered at his hands and they thought him a tyrant. But the Jew seems to have dropped this interference and the Russian soil to have settled down as a peasant proprietary. On the other hand, it was a revolution guided by those same Jewish Committees which secured the peasant in the possession of his land. The Russian peasant has always regarded the land as his own. He had, I understand, regarded that odd, pedantic measure, “The Liberation of the Serfs,” as only another name for the robbing him of his land; and when the organization of Russian society dissolved in the strain of war, he poured over the great estates and took back what he thought was his own.
For the strange Jewish conception of Communism, a million miles removed from our European racial instincts and our high civilized traditions, the Russian peasant could have nothing but a bewildered contempt. None the less he was conscious that the Jewish revolution had permitted him, if not to take the land (he did that himself), at least to hold it; and the revolution is indistinguishable from the Jewish control of the towns.
Within the towns, again (our information is most imperfect and I can only piece together what eye-witnesses have told me), although the Jew is, of course, individually hated, yet his control does stand for certain things which the mass of the people still support. He organized the resentment of the poor against the rich. He erected before their eyes the pleasing spectacle of a social revenge. He carried out, fairly consistently, his Communist programme, one aspect at least of which is practical enough; for the man that works with his hands finds that he is as well, or better, fed out of the meagre common stock, than those who were once his masters.
In general I think it true to say that the Jewish control over Christians, if, in a way, stronger in what was once the Russian Empire than anywhere else, is also there least resented. I do not say it would not be resented if it were to excite action again against the peasants, but we cannot forget that the peasants were eager to fight for the new Russian regime because they identified it with their new property in land. The situation is absurd enough. Men in hundreds of thousands willing to fight for Communist masters because by so doing they believe they can secure themselves in an absolute form of property! But that is what the “red” army was.
In that belt of nations, vague in boundary, which used to constitute the Marches of the East and which now stand between what was once the Russian Empire and the Germanies, the position would seem to be this.
There are in these countries everywhere a very large proportion of Jews. The largest by far are in Lithuania and Galicia, where, of whole towns, from a third to a half and sometimes up to two-thirds, of the population are Jewish. Very large also is the proportion within the admitted frontiers of modern Poland; very large in Roumania, and considerable in Hungary.
In all these countries the Jewish problem is something quite different from what it is farther West. The Jews are in these countries admittedly a separate nation. Even as I write I hear the complaint, sounding strange in our Western ears, proffered by the Polish Jews who have been appealing to the West against what they claim to be the oppressive practice of writing them down as Poles! In Roumania for two generations it has been the fixed principle of the State, now latent, now overt, but always acted upon in social practice, that the Jew is not a Roumanian at all and cannot be one. Of course he cannot be one really, any more than he can be an Englishman, or a Frenchman, or an Irishman. (Fancy a Jew an Irishman!) But I mean, not even one by fiction or by convention. In Poland the greater part of these people have a different language and all of them have a different social custom and a different life from the world around them. In Hungary, where the numerical pressure of the Jew is less, there is, of course, a most lively memory of the attempted revolution under Cohen in 1918, the massacres of Hungarians, the setting up of an ephemeral Bolshevism and the necessity of its suppression. In Bohemia the pressure is far less and in the Balkan States south of the Danube and the Drave. It is only present as a pressure of numbers in the group of States which lie between the Baltic and the Black Sea South and North and between the Russian people and the German people East and West.
When we come to Occidental Europe, in which must be included, though it is hardly a true part of it, Germany beyond the Elbe; when we come to the Scandinavian countries, to France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Low Countries, the problem changes. The numerical proportion of Jews sinks enormously. Fairly large in one or two Dutch towns, it is almost insignificant in Scandinavia, and though we have had into the great English towns and to some extent into the northern French towns (particularly Paris) a considerable recent influx of Jews, yet the total number of these people in the West remains far, far smaller than the great masses of the East of Europe. The same is still more true of Italy, and, in spite of the absorption of a great deal of Jewish blood in the past, of Spain.
But while the numerical proportion of Jews in these western countries is much smaller, and while therefore the peril of Jewish domination is very different in form from what it is farther East, it is clearly marked. It is exercised primarily through finance; next through the sceptical Universities, the anonymous Press and the corrupt Parliaments, and, lastly, in a more general form, by the presence of institutions which greatly favour the rise of the Jew in competition with his hosts; each favours international knowledge; each favours anonymity; each still favours the old Liberal nonsense which called itself “toleration” and was really an indifference to that most fundamental of all social motives—religion—save, of course, where an exception is made to permit attack upon the Catholic Church.
Under influence of this sort, both sincere and hypocritical, both generous and mean, the Jew acquired in all the larger communities, and especially in France, Italy, Germany and England, a power out of all proportion to his numbers, and I may add, without, I hope, offending any Jewish reader, out of proportion to his abilities; certainly out of proportion to any right of his to interfere in our affairs. It was a Jew who produced the divorce laws in France, the Jew who nourished anti-clericalism everywhere in that country and also in Italy; the Jew who called in the forces of Occidental nations to protect his compatriots in the East, and the Jew whose spirit has so largely permeated the Universities and the Press.
Ireland is an exception. In Ireland the Jew (outside the little industrial corner in the north-east) is nobody. And here it must be remarked that the migrations of the Jew which give him numbers here for a time and afterwards numbers elsewhere, in places where previously he had not been known; which give him influence here for a time, and sees it followed by the decline of that influence, do not seem to obey any law which we can trace, and are certainly not the product of any conscious action. It is one of the strangest phenomena in history, this odd, spasmodic flood movement of the Jewish race. Is it concerned with commerce? That is one element undoubtedly; that is what explains the exploitation of England by Jews after the Conquest, of Spain in the later Middle Ages, of the Valley of the Rhine; but then, why not other commercial centres as an attraction? Venice was not one, though the Jew was well tolerated there; nor was Paris after the early Middle Ages, and while some of the Dutch towns formed such centres of attraction the Belgian towns did not.
Was it asylum? That would account, of course, for the great influx of Jews into mediaeval Poland, but then why not into eighteenth century England? Why not until very late in the nineteenth century? England, which gave the Jews a more complete civic position than he could find anywhere else in the world, was not invaded by them. Why these very recent influxes into the United States, which has for now a century and a half been perfectly open by its Constitution, and was by all its civic tradition an ideal asylum for the Jews? Until quite recent times the Jew was hardly known there, and to this day he is not known outside a few great cities.
No. There would seem to be no law, or at least no discoverable law, for this mysterious movement, the ebb and flow of Israel—but that is a digression. To return to the national situations.
If we leave the Old World and turn to the United States, we find a novel condition of affairs still in process of development and very puzzling to the foreign observer. I do not pretend to analyse it completely in a few lines, nor even accurately, for I am dependent upon the observation of others, and the United States are so utterly different from us that we have difficulty in following their contemporary history; but something of this sort would seem to be passing there.
* * * * *
In the United States the Jews were present, till the last few years, in numbers even smaller in proportion to the population than their numbers in France, England and Italy, far smaller than their numbers in what was formerly the German Empire. In the agricultural part of America, which is still, I believe, one half of the population, the Jew was almost unknown. You find him here and there, as a lawyer or a storekeeper, but that world was not familiar with him any more than our English country-sides are familiar with him to-day. With the growth of the great industrial towns, of course, the Jew came, but he was still no “feature in the landscape.” There was a certain social prejudice against him among the wealthier classes in the East, and—this is very important—the truth was always told about him. There was in America no convention—the Jew was always recognized as a Jew and there was never any of the nonsense we had over here of pretending that he was something else.
Of that phenomenon of which the history of Europe is full, which is so marked in the eastern counties to-day and which is beginning to rise in the West, there is nothing traceable in the early and middle nineteenth century, nor even till the close of it, in the United States.
Then came the change. It is a change which has taken place in the lifetime of men much younger than myself. It is a change, I am told, most marked since I last visited the United States more than twenty years ago. A regular and organized Jewish emigration began to pour in, especially from the Baltic. It flooded New York, where it now forms probably a third of the population; it created Ghettoes in most of the large Northern industrial towns, and all the phenomena we associate in Europe with these movements began to show themselves. There was the growth of the financial monopoly and of monopolies in particular trades. There was the clamour for toleration in the form of “neutralizing” religious teaching in schools; there was the appearance of the Jewish revolutionary and of the Jewish critic in every tradition of Christian life. The Jews went also—as they usually do—to the heart of things, and the Executive was attacked. The last and apparently the most unpopular of the presidents, Mr. Wilson, seems to have been wholly in their hands. Anonymity in the Press came, of course. A very marked example of it is a journal called The New Republic, which, though it has but a small proportion of Jewish writers upon it, and though its capital is (I believe) not Jewish, is yet to all intents and purposes the organ of the Jewish intellectuals, always joins in the boycott of any news unfavourable to European Jews, always joins in the clamour for anything favourable to them, and in general adheres to the Jewish side, like the Humanité in Paris, or, let us say, The New Statesman in England.
But the novel presence in the United States of this phenomenon with which in the west of Europe we have now been familiar for a long time, provides a more direct and a very different kind of reaction from what it has among us. This reaction against Jewish powers was not (to use a Stock Exchange metaphor) “sticky.” There was no hesitation; there were no uneasy patches of silence. The Jewish question was discussed from the moment it was first felt and to-day it is discussed beyond all others. Of political topics I have found it the first in the conversation of the Americans who have visited Europe since the War and with whom I have discussed the affairs of their country. It ranges, as that reaction always does, from the wildest Anti-Semitism to strong and open defence of the Jewish position, not only by Jews but by the very small minority of their admirers outside the Jewish community, especially among the wealthy. The characteristic of the whole thing in the United States is that it is only just beginning. It is capable of becoming one of those sudden growths of which the past history of the Republic has made us familiar, and indeed it is too early yet to judge, even on the largest lines, what forms it may not take. It is enough to say that there is behind the reaction against the Jew in that country a growing intensity of feeling with which we, as yet, in Western Europe, for all the advance we have made in the matter, are unfamiliar. If a test be required, contrast the silence about the Jews in ’96, during Bryan’s great attack upon the gold standard, with the work of Mr. Ford and all that he stands for to-day!
The rest of the world is either of Islam or heathen. In the heathen world, so far, the Jew has little place. He has a strong grip on India, of course, but only through the British Raj, not through the native population; and in China, except as a quasi-European merchant, he has no power at all; neither has he over the strong and organized nationality of Japan.
Such are the degrees, very roughly, of the problem; such the differences of its quality in the various national groups to-day. Of these the two most interesting states of the problem by far, because they are changing with the greatest rapidity, are found in France, in England and in the United States.
I have said that the second modifying condition was the difference of civic traditions of the various nations. Here again you have a differentiation from East to West. But within it a differentiation, ultimately due to religion, from North to South. In Russia there was never any tradition of keeping silence upon the Jew, or of respecting the Jew at all. He was, until the recent revolution, the national enemy, and there was the end of it. Similarly in Poland, Roumania and the vaguer populations of their borders, and even in the old Hungary, the Jew was talked of openly as belonging to a separate nationality and, on the whole, a hostile one.
But as one got west another spirit emerged, another tradition. It was “the thing” to treat the Jew as a citizen. This fashion was weaker in the Germanies than in the Low Countries, France, or England; it was everywhere present west of the Elbe.
It was a tradition flowing from two sources: the commercial and protestant England of the seventeenth century, the sceptical France of the eighteenth. The Jew (according to this spirit) merited special protection and special respect. He must be protected and respected even in his passion for secrecy; so that at last the mere mention of his existence in the cultivated and directing classes of the west became something of an oddity.
From this spirit proceeded the Liberal fiction or convention which I dealt with in the second chapter of this book. It was clinched, it was given permanent form, by the enthusiasm and severe doctrine of the French Republicans, which arose at a moment when Israel was regarded as a religion and its national quality was forgotten. Since all religion was thought to be dying, since, further, an enthusiasm had arisen against almost any religion which exercised civic power (notably the Catholic Church), this Jewish religion, formerly regarded as inimical to the State, or at any rate separate from it, was naturally accorded a special privilege. That strange system arose, the death of which we are now watching after its brief life of somewhat more than a century, whereby the Jew was permitted to wear the mask of nationalities other than his own, and to function everywhere as though he were a citizen, not of Israel, but of the nation in which he chanced to find himself.
Against this attitude arose at last the powerful plea of nationalism. In England, as we shall see in the next chapter, this plea was less strong than elsewhere, because the interests of international Jewish finance and of British commerce were for so long nearly identical. In Italy, where the Jew was naturally closely connected with the nationalist movement on account of its antagonism to the Papacy, national feeling clashed little with the anomaly of the Jew. But in France, especially after the defeat of 1870, the contrast became stronger and stronger, just as it is strengthening to-day in Germany after the defeat of 1918.
It was that clash between the “city” of Israel and the other “cities” in which we Europeans function, to which allusion has been made on a former page. It would be very convenient, no doubt, to the “City” of Israel if all other “cities” disappeared and left an open field for Jewish operations. But they do not propose to disappear; and though our devotion to them may seem inexplicable to the Jew, he must accept it as a permanent force; for the patriotism of the European will not weaken.
In the United States this Liberal tradition or convention, this conception that the Jew must be treated as a full citizen, was far stronger even than it was in the West of Europe. It was in the very soul of the Constitution, and, what is more important, in the very soul of the people. For such a spirit was nourished not only in doctrine but in practice by the appearance, in vast quantities, of immigrants from many different countries, all of whom were absorbed in and merged by the American spirit. If ever there was a field in which the false conception that a Jew could be a Jew and at the same time the full citizen of another nation, that field was the United States of America. Yet it is there that the problem is now reaching its most acute form; and the reason is that side by side with this strong civic tradition there goes a complete freedom of speech and a very active public opinion. The reality became too much for theory and the Jew was recognized as something apart. He will never fall into the background again.
There remain to be considered the international forces which modify this general truth that the quarrel with the Jew is a quarrel with his increasing control over our affairs.
Those international forces are Religion—Islam and the Catholic Church—the force of Modern Capitalism, and the Reaction against that force of the Industrial Proletariat, the Reaction summed up in the term Socialism. All four are international.
The position of the Jew in Islam can be simply defined. In Islam he is treated with less method and therefore with less continued oppression than in Christendom, but always and permanently as something base and inferior, save in a few rare moments when he has the favour of particular rulers or is necessary to some special society, or is admired in a moment of intellectual brilliance.
Normally the Jew in Islam is an outcast. I know very well that the game is played of pretending that Islam is in some way kinder to him than we are. It is but a game: the playing of one party against another—of Islam against Christendom—by Israel, which is of neither. In Islam his superior position in Christendom is equally famed. History is too strong for such pretences. All the history of Islam, all the social spirit of Islam, to which there are countless witnesses to-day, give the same verdict about the general treatment of the Jew in that society.
So it was in independent Islam. But Islam, politically controlled to-day by the Western Christian powers, is another matter. Under that unstable state of affairs (no one can say how long it will last; the conflict between Islam and Christendom seems eternal and the rise and fall of that tide is indefinitely successive) the problem takes on quite another shape. France and England appear in Islam as the artificial supporters of the Jew.
Until quite lately it was the French who bore the worst odium of this in the eyes of the Mohammedans. Under the French the Jews in North Africa were often given a special, a superior position, which was an insult to every Mohammedan and which is still an insult to him. It is the weakest point of the French regime. In Algeria the Ghetto Jew may vote. The Arab may not. Even in Morocco, where things have been done more wisely than in Algiers, the difficulty is felt. How are you to treat a Jew differently in Morocco from the way in which he is treated in France? He is common to the two countries. If you treat him as if he were French, and therefore a member of the governing power, what of the pride of those lords of the Atlas and of Fez?
In the vastly larger field of Mohammedan control exercised by Britain, which, directly and indirectly, is ten times that of France, there was until lately less of this friction; but the tables have been turned, and to-day it is Britain which stands to the Mohammedan as the thruster-in of the Jew. It began with the support of Jewish finance in Egypt; it went on with the extended control over Indian commerce by Jews; it continued in the control of Indian currency by Jews. It has ended in the grotesque appointment to the Indian Viceroyalty and the extraordinary experiment of Palestine.
To-day, at the moment in which I write, there is no doubt on the matter whatsoever: From Rabat on the Atlantic to the Bay of Bengal, the Western Powers are regarded as the agents of a Jewish intrusion which is intolerable to Islam. And whereas the chief blame lay, until quite a few years ago, upon the French, to-day it lies upon the British Government.
* * * * *
The rôle of the Catholic Church in the debate between the Jews and Christendom is the most discussed, the worst understood, of any point connected with the general problem. But it is capable of simple definition. Wherever the Catholic Church is powerful, and in proportion as it is powerful, the traditional principles of the civilization of which it is the soul and guardian will always be upheld. One of these principles is the sharp distinction between the Jew and ourselves. The Rationalist would say that this distinction was racial, and that it only found religious expression on account of its racial reality. His opponent would say that the origin of the quarrel was mainly religious; that it was a difference in religious tradition which formed the contrast between the Jew and Christendom. The former can cite as evidence the violent original contrast between the Roman Empire and the Jew, the latter the truth that religion, philosophy, is the formative force in every human society.
But whichever theory you adopt, the fact is there. The Catholic Church is the conservator of an age-long European tradition, and that tradition will never compromise with the fiction that a Jew can be other than a Jew. Wherever the Catholic Church has power, and in proportion to its power, the Jewish problem will be recognized to the full.
On the other hand, there never has been and never will be, or can be, admission by Catholic morals of warfare against the Jew. Those morals are plain. That doctrine has been defined over and over again and acted upon throughout history. If indirect hostilities are opened against the majority by a minority in its midst, they may be repressed and punished. Still more important, insincere and pretended conversion, used as a cloak, may be repressed and punished. But though a community has the right to determine its own life, and (if it think it possible) even to eliminate (with justice, not with cruelty, violence or injustice in any form) an alien, a hostile minority; yet that minority has its own right to live, if not there, then elsewhere. It has its right—once it is rooted and traditional—to its own convictions, to its own tradition. If you allow it to live among you, you must allow it to live its own life save where that life threatens yours. The Catholic Church will always maintain reality, including the reality of that sharp distinction between the Jew and his hosts.
The opponent of the Catholic Church will tend, other things being equal, to support the Jew, because, under that distinction, the Jew may find himself ill at ease. The whole Protestant tradition of the North was for more than 300 years favourable to the Jew, partly indeed on account of its reliance upon the Jewish Scriptures, its absorption in the inspired Jewish folk-lore, but more because the alliance with the Jew was an alliance against the Catholic Church. Strong traces of that spirit still remain. What has warred against it has been the sheer necessity in every country, Catholic or Protestant, Liberal or anti-Liberal, to preserve society against what each began to feel as a disruptive and an alien domination.
There remain the two novel forces—Modern Capitalism, and, protesting against it, its victim, the Modern Industrial Proletariat.
A few years ago anyone would have said that the opposition to the Jew was an opposition to capitalism alone; the Jew was the representative of capitalism, and Jewish finance was the particular aspect of Jewish power in which that power was universally hated. But we have seen all that change. To-day the strongest force against the Jew is on the other side. It is mainly aroused, not by the fear of capitalist forces, but by the fear of revolutionary forces.
I make bold to say that when the feeling against the Jew comes to the point of action, the Jew will necessarily, and in self-defence, fall back upon the leadership of the proletariat against industrial capitalism. He will—he must, from mere instinct, quite apart from calculation—use the line of cleavage which divides a society hostile to him. He will rely on the line of cleavage driven by the vast modern quarrel between the few possessors in the modern industrial world and their victims, the exploited millions.
So put, the opportunity of the Jew, if he be driven to extremities to raise an army in his defence, seems a great opportunity enough. It would seem easy for him to deflect all animosity against himself into animosity against the rich—safeguarding, of course (as he has done in Russia), the Jewish rich. But we must remember three formidable conditions which weaken that opportunity.
The first condition is this: The industrial millions are still quite a small minority and will probably in the future be an even smaller minority of the civilized white world. The war dealt them a heavy blow. The fact that the industrial proletariat is a town population, and therefore less and less productive, is another cause of weakness; their decline in health another. The fact that industrial capitalism depends upon the machine being kept going, and that its serfs are less and less willing to keep the machine going, is another.
Secondly, the area (and that is important) occupied by industrial capitalism is but a very small area of the surface of the civilized world.
Thirdly, the revolt of the Industrial Proletariat, if the Jews provoke it, will be short-lived. Either it will be defeated, or after destroying its masters it will, under Jewish leadership, destroy its own powers of production, as in Russia.
When the fury is exhausted, in a very short time the Jewish problem will reappear.
The proletarian battle may rage intensely, but it will be far from universal, and will not be sufficient, I think, to distract mankind from that other cross-problem of Jew and non-Jew, to which his attention is being more and more steadily directed.
The various nations of Europe have every one of them, in the course of their long histories, passed through successive phases towards the Jew which I have called the tragic cycle. Each has in turn welcomed, tolerated, persecuted, attempted to exile—often actually exiled—welcomed again, and so forth. The two chief examples of extremes in action, are, as I have also pointed out in an earlier part of this book, Spain and England. Spaniards, and in particular the Spaniards of the Kingdom of Castile, went through every phase of this cycle in its fullest form. England passed through even greater extremes, for England was the only country which absolutely got rid of the Jews for hundreds of years, and England is the only country which has, even for a brief period, entered into something like an alliance with them.
Though it is the present position of the British State—that is, the position of official British politics towards the Jew—with which we are concerned, it may be of service to introduce the matter by a word upon past relations.
The Jewish element in this island, whatever it may have been during the Roman occupation, was of small account during the Dark Ages. Things changed at their close in the eleventh century. The Jew is the camp follower of each new economic movement among us and that is why one finds him in the wake of the Norman Conquest. Throughout the economic development which it began appears the secondary rôle of the Jew. Every one knows the mediaeval rule of Jewish Status. It was established here as everywhere else in Christendom. The Jew was the King’s; that is, under the special protection of the State. If he were the subject of popular attack, that attack was an attack on the King’s peculiar, and liable to speedy repression. The individual attacker was punished with special severity because the danger of mass-movement is always great where the populace is free to act in masses as it was throughout the middle ages, and the necessity for preventing individual attacks from spreading was correspondingly great. Now and then the popular feeling got out of hand and the monarch had to deal with numbers which he could not control; but as a rule the Jew, especially the rich Jew, enjoyed a privileged position, both in Northern France and throughout England. The Jew of the early Middle Ages in England was normally a well-to-do man and often an exceedingly rich man. Then, as now, a small number of Jews were much the richest men of their time.
He had most of the finances in his hands, and this immense privilege (which he has lost), that he alone was allowed to practise usury. Here we must pause a moment to define usury.
Usury then (as now) signified the receiving of interest upon unproductive loans. It is a practice which all moralists and all philosophers have condemned and which the Church in particular condemns. If you lend money to a man for a productive purpose: if, for instance, he is to buy a ship and trade with the money you advance, or to buy a farm and grow produce, then, of course, you are perfectly free to stipulate for a portion of the profit. But if you lend the money for a purpose not directly productive, as, for instance, to a man in grave necessity, or in lieu of charity, or to build such a building as a church, which will not produce a rent, or if in any other fashion you lend money to one who (to your knowledge) will not spend it in some reproductive agency, then it is immoral to demand interest.
Now an exception was made in mediaeval Christendom in favour of the Jew. He was allowed to lend money at interest, even in the most grievous cases of necessity, and for services as unproductive as religion or war. The only stipulation was that the moneys saved from this lucrative practice returned to the Crown (in theory) upon the death of the licensee. In practice no doubt a very large part remained with the accumulator, who during his lifetime was enjoying the income he had acquired by usury, who could give it to his heirs while still living, and could use opportunities for secret investment, or pass it to the custody of others throughout international Jewry. But liquid sums left by him, the product of his usury, returned to the Crown upon his death. This was a great advantage to the Crown, not only in protecting the Jew from the native hostility of his alien hosts (and particularly of the populace), but in giving him that great privilege—a monopoly.
The rate of interest was enormous. It varied from nearly 50 per cent to over 80 per cent. When Jews lent money on security the King was party to the safe custody of the security, and their privilege extended so far that they were exempt from the common law, and a case between an Englishman and his Jewish creditor could only be tried by a mixed jury in which the Jew’s own compatriots were present in equal numbers with the English.
All during the Angevin period Jewish financial domination continued, up to the end of the twelfth century and even into the beginning of the thirteenth. But with the first half of the thirteenth century, for some reason of which I have never seen a sufficient historical analysis and of which, perhaps, the full causes have been lost, the Jewish power began to decline very rapidly, so far as England was concerned.
And here it may be noted that the misfortunes of the Jews in any country never begin until their financial position is shaken. As long as they are the financial masters of the Government they are protected; but woe to them when they begin to lose their financial power! Then there is no longer any reason for supporting them either on the part of the governing classes in general or of the Executive in particular. Popular passion is let loose and disaster follows.
At any rate, the thirteenth century saw in England a rapid decline of Jewish financial power and at the same time a rapid rise of official animosity towards them. They got poorer and poorer as the century proceeded. Their activities were at the same time more and more restricted. They had lent money largely upon land and yet, in the public interest, were at last forbidden to foreclose upon it. The final step came when their special licence to practise usury was withdrawn by Edward I in the earlier part of his reign; and at last, in 1290, after increasing severities, they were all expelled the country under penalty of death.
The unhappy people, already reduced by two generations of falling fortune, were hurried out of the country, carrying, by permission, their money and movables. They were protected, indeed, at the ports by the royal officers, who even paid the passage of the indigent among them; but they were plundered at sea and some even murdered. The murderers were punished, but the memory of the persecution remained in the Jews’ mind and England became a natural object of their hate. The Jewish community expelled by the English was surprisingly small, not 17,000, and suggests the historical truth that in the Middle Ages, and indeed until quite modern times, the Jewish community in Northern France and England was a community of people in the main well-to-do. It so remained until quite modern times.
There followed three and a half centuries and more during which England was the one example in Europe of a State that would not tolerate the Jews upon any terms whatsoever. There certainly remained throughout this time, or at any rate visited the island, not a few of what the Jews themselves called “Crypto-Jews,” that is, Jews who outwardly deny their nationality and practise our religion for the purpose of private gain. These, when they could defeat the law successfully, remained within the British seas. But their effect was slight; and the English people during the whole of their great military advance in France, during the whole period when their language and culture was forming, during the whole great national episode of the Tudors and of the Reformation, formed the one great exception out of all Europe in that the Jew remained unknown to them and was rigorously excluded from their Commonwealth.
They returned, as everybody knows, under Cromwell. Their numbers, and still more their wealth, increased at the end of the seventeenth century and concomitantly with this, partly as an effect of it (but here we must not exaggerate), a number of novel financial features appeared in the English State each of which shows the increased power of the Jews. The institution of the Bank, of the National Debt, of speculation in Exchange and in the fluctuation of stock.
But the real causes of that alliance between the English and the Jews which is seen in the late seventeenth century, which quickened throughout the eighteenth and became so very marked in the nineteenth century, was the cosmopolitan position of England as the leading commercial State. This it was which led to something like identity between the interests of Israel and the interests of Britain, an identity which has lasted so long that now, when divergence is beginning to appear, it still seems odd and novel to the older generation that there should be any Jewish action which is not favourable to England. They cannot understand what the new indifference to Jewish interests, let alone the new hostility to them, can mean.
There were, of course, many other causes contributory to the peculiar position which the Jew came to enjoy in modern England, a position which he has not yet lost in external circumstance, though it is so badly shaken morally. There was the fact that England was the Protestant power of the West.
This religious motive played a great part. Between the Catholic Church and the Synagogue there had been hostility from the first century. In so far as it was possible to take sides in that quarrel it was natural for the Protestant power to take sides against the Catholic tradition and therefore in favour of the Jews. Again, the English were not only Protestant, their middle classes were steeped in the reading of the Old Testament. The Jews seemed to them the heroes of an epic and the shrines of a religion. You will find strong relics of this attitude in Provincial England to this day. One should add a certain national distaste for violence, which feeling was exasperated by hearing of the Jewish persecution abroad. One should also further add the pride which modern Englishmen take in the feeling that their country is an asylum for the oppressed.
Meanwhile there was not, until quite lately, any considerable body of poor Jews in the country to excite the animosity of the populace. That was an important negative factor in bringing the Jew within the boundaries of the English State. But with all these factors fully considered, it remains true that the main cause of the accidental Jewish position in England was the cosmopolitan character of English commerce and the essentially commercial character of the English State. As English export and English shipping began to cover the globe, the English financial system covered it as well. London became after Waterloo the money market and the clearing house of the world. The interests of the Jew as a financial dealer and the interests of this great commercial polity approximated more and more. One may say that by the last third of the nineteenth century they had become virtually identical.
Every new economic enterprise of the British State appealed to the Jewish genius for commerce and especially for negotiation in its most abstract form—finance. Conversely, every Jewish enterprise, every new conception of the Jew in his cosmopolitan activities (until these became revolutionary) appealed to the English merchant and banker.
The two things dovetailed one into the other and fitted exactly, and all subsidiary activities fitted in as well. The Jewish news agencies of the nineteenth century favoured England in all her policy, political as well as commercial; they opposed those of her rivals and especially those of her enemies. The Jewish knowledge of the East was at the service of England. His international penetration of the European governments was also at her service—so was his secret information. With the consolidation of the Indian Empire after the Mutiny the Jews were again an ally from their traditional hatred of the Russian people, which hatred has led them in our time to wreak so awful a vengeance upon their former oppressors. The Jew might almost be called a British agent upon the Continent of Europe, and still more in the Near and Far East, where the economic power of England extended even more rapidly than her political power.
And the Jew pointed to the English State as that one in which all that his nation required of the goyim was to be found. He here enjoyed a situation the like of which he could not hope to enjoy in any other country of the world. All antagonism to him had died down. He was admitted to every institution in the State, a prominent member of his nation became chief officer of the English Executive, and, an influence more subtle and penetrating, marriages began to take place, wholesale, between what had once been the aristocratic territorial families of this country and the Jewish commercial fortunes.
After two generations of this, with the opening of the twentieth century those of the great territorial English families in which there was no Jewish blood were the exception. In nearly all of them was the strain more or less marked, in some of them so strong that though the name was still an English name and the traditions those of a purely English lineage of the long past, the physique and character had become wholly Jewish and the members of the family were taken for Jews whenever they travelled in countries where the gentry had not yet suffered or enjoyed this admixture.
Specially Jewish institutions, such as Freemasonry (which the Jews had inaugurated as a sort of bridge between themselves and their hosts in the seventeenth century), were particularly strong in Britain, and there arose a political tradition, active, and ultimately to prove of great importance, whereby the British State was tacitly accepted by foreign governments as the official protector of the Jews in other countries. It was Britain which was expected to interfere, within the measure of her power, whenever a persecution of the Jews took place in the East of Christendom: to support the Jewish financial energies throughout the world, and to receive in return the benefit of that connection.
We shall have a most imperfect picture of the causes which gradually made the Jews regard this country as their centre of action if we omit one essential point.
England was secure.
During the whole period which saw the rise of the Jews to eminence in this island and their ultimate alliance with its political and commercial system, English society enjoyed a profound peace. Save for the petty incidents of the ’15 and ’45 (the first of no effect south of the border, the second ephemeral and confined to the North), no hostilities took place upon English soil between the rebellion of Monmouth under James II and the bombarding of London by the Germans from the air during the late war. There has been (save for some quite insignificant local riots) complete security for property and especially for large property. There have been since the middle of the eighteenth century no confiscations, and of commercial fortunes none since the middle of the seventeenth: no invasion, no civil war, and therefore no loot: no personal danger from violence.
Such conditions formed an environment ideal for the permanent establishment and rooting of Jewish power, and for the organization of a Jewish base.
The political situation reflected itself, as it always does, in literature. The Jew began to appear in English fiction as an exalted character, quite specially removed to his advantage from the mass of mankind. He is already a hero in Sir Walter Scott, but the full development was much later. You could still have a Jewish villain as late as Oliver Twist, but with writers as different as Charles Reade and George Eliot we reach a time where the Jew is impeccable. The worst any writer dares do at the end of the process is to be silent. The best is to flatter the Jewish type out of all knowledge. This singular interlude was in part due to the divorce between literature and popular feeling in the middle and latter part of the nineteenth century; at least, it was permitted by that divorce. But the active cause of it was the reflection of the Jew’s political position upon the mind of the educated class as expressed in its literary art.
At the same time a parallel movement appeared on the historical side of literature. A convention arose that in the clash between the Jews and the English of the Middle Ages the Jews were invariably right and the English invariably wrong. Where the struggle was between the Jew and the non-Jew abroad, the historian exceeded all bounds. The European hostile to the Jew was a senseless monster, and the Jew hostile to the European was a holy victim.
The whole story of Europe and of this country, in so far as it was affected by this very considerable factor, was distorted through suppression, and false emphasis and quite exceptional lying.
The general reader of history neither knew what part the Jewish question had played nor the claims that could be advanced for his own race in the conflict. And as historians live by copying one another, the legend was established in every school and college.
At the end of the process the Jews, in proportion to their numbers, held a power in this country beyond anything that has been seen in any other of the world. Poland at the end of the Middle Ages, when that country was most nearly comparable to Britain for the harbouring and support of the Jewish people, is the only parallel, and that a remote one.
Every English Government had (and has) its quota of Jews. They had entered the diplomatic service and the House of Lords; they swarmed in the House of Commons, in the Universities, in all the Government offices save the Foreign Office (and even there representatives of the Jewish nation have recently entered); they were exceedingly powerful in the Press: they were all-powerful in the City. No custom unsympathetic to their race, from the duel to popular clamour, survived. They could boast that England was not only the country where no distinction whatever was made in practice, let alone in law, between the Jew and the native, but that England was the only country where the Jew was always well received, where his natural defects counted least and where his natural abilities had most scope.
Such a state of affairs could not last. It was not natural. It was not consonant with hidden but deep popular tradition or with popular appetites; it corresponded only to the mood of one European community in its wealthier classes. A divergence between the cosmopolitan financial interests of the Jew and the particular national interests of Britain was bound to come. War on a large scale, though it did not imperil the country itself, was a warning of change. It appeared with the South African campaign before the end of the century. The position of the Jew was altered. Some dissatisfaction with his power began to stir. It was already muttering and beginning to show itself with the rise of commercial and maritime competition in the new German Empire which, in its turn, had become led, upon all its commercial side, by Jews. There was bound, I say, to be a reaction and a permanent one. While it was yet taking place, in the heat of the Great War, before it had reached the official world, that one of the English politicians who was best fitted to speak for the Jews, who was most intimate with them through manifold ties of friendship and hospitality, Mr. Arthur Balfour, was chosen to make the famous pronouncement in favour of Zionism. It came within a month of the great crisis of the war. Its object was to divide the general influence of the Jews throughout the world, which had hitherto been upon the whole opposed to the cause of the Allies, because, like every other neutral, the Jews were more and more convinced, as the campaigns dragged on, that the Central Empires were certain of victory.
Though this was the motive, the effect was to tie the British state yet closer to the fortunes of Israel, for here was England pledged to support, to defend, to act as a special protector over, the peculiar interests of the Jews, just where those interests would most challenge the whole of Christendom and of Islam, just where it would be most acutely difficult to confirm Jewish claims.
The declaration in favour of Zionism, the solemn pledge of the forces of the British State to an exceptional support of the Jew in a matter wholly to his benefit and not in any way to that of England, coming though it did after the climax of Jewish power had been reached and passed, was the last stage of that long process of alliance between the British commercial policy and its ruling classes on the one hand and the Jews upon the other.
Already, as I have said, that alliance was morally shaken. The great influx of poor Jews had shaken it. The mere effect of time, the inevitable revolt of the human conscience against an unnatural pretence and an obvious fiction, was bound to come, and was overdue. But although the alliance was already shaken, the English State remained officially closely interlocked with Jewry, and its last action, the demand for the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine, was, as has so often happened in the story of human development, at once the term and the turning-point of a process which had reached its conclusion; for it will be remarked throughout history that any force is most expressive, its manifestation of power most crude and most emphatic, in the perilous interval after its real strength has begun to decline and before its first open defeat.
But the problems presented by this experiment in Palestine merit a separate examination. To this I will now turn.
The question of Zionism has been discussed from every possible aspect save one, and that one is the only factor which relates to the thesis of this book.
It has been argued, as a purely Jewish matter; there has been debate upon its justice or injustice among the Jews themselves, as to its advantage or disadvantage to their race; debate among the various non-Jewish forces concerned as to the advantage or disadvantage it would be to them; debate upon the rights and wrongs of the native population among which the Jews might find a home; debate as to whether that home should be in Palestine or elsewhere—and so on.
All these discussions avoid the ultimate issue. Some of them, of course, are of evident importance within the Jewish community, but so far as the essential problem we are discussing in this book is concerned, they do not apply. The one question which is at issue from the point of view of our thesis is this:—
Whether the Zionist experiment will tend to increase or to relax the strain created by the presence of the Jew in the midst of a non-Jewish world.
That, and that only, is our concern, and from that point of view we may examine the theory of Zionism which has now emerged into an attempted practice.
First let us consider its necessary general implications: the implications which Zionism involves, no matter where or how the experiment were tried.
The Zionist theory is that Israel would benefit if of its many millions (some twelve millions, counting those of the partly Jewish fringe, who are sufficiently Jewish to make one with the race) a core—say a tenth—were to have a fixed territorial “city,” a country of their own, a habitation. This country, wherever it might be chosen, should be, as far as possible, a purely Jewish State: “as Jewish,” one of its exponents has said, “as England is English.”
Now, suppose the place chosen were (to-day we may say “had been”) an empty or almost undeveloped country, and supposing the Jews had found that their own people could bear the expense of reaching that place with sufficient capital, and of colonizing it in large numbers. Supposing a small State of a million to a million and a half inhabitants to be thus formed, to be wholly Jewish in character, and independent in the fullest sense. The question immediately arises: Would the Jews throughout the world be:—
(a) permitted to regard themselves as citizens of that State?
(b) regarded in any case as citizens of that State, whether they willed or no, and registered as such, with or without the consent of the registered person?
If not, what would be the status of the Jew outside this territorial unit, which he had chosen to be much more than a symbol of his national unity—its actual seat and establishment?
That is the question which, so far as I have watched the discussion, everybody hesitates to face; yet that is the question which will have to be faced sooner or later as the main political crux of the whole affair.
Observe that there is no question of establishing a State wherein the whole or even the great mass of the Jewish people shall reside. No one would repudiate such an idea more vigorously than the chief pioneers of Zionism. The great mass of Jews would, of course, ridicule it as impracticable and refuse it as extremely undesirable. They live and they desire to live following their present interests in the nations among whom they are dispersed. They live and they desire to live the semi-nomadic life, the international life, which has become theirs by every tradition, and which one might now almost call instinctive in them. Also the greater part of them desire to pursue those careers which go with such a life, especially the careers of negotiation and of intermediary work. They not only feel the advantage of such a position, they also feel a need and appetite for such a condition.
Whatever form Zionism might have taken before it appeared in its present experimental form, whatever was said of the theory in the past, this point was always capital:
The Jews as a nation would remain as they were, moving among all the peoples. The new Zion was to be no more than a fixed rallying point, an established but small territorial nationhood, which should do no more than proclaim their unity. It follows, therefore, necessarily, that the great mass of Jews, outside the territorial settlement, would have, after such a settlement had been formed, to obtain a definition of their political character. What is that definition to be?
I think myself the Jews would answer: “It is to be precisely what it is to-day, or, rather, what it has been in the Occidental nations during the past generation.” That is, the Jew is to be regarded as the full national in the nation in which he happens to be for the time. Nothing shall debar him from any position whatever in that nation. He shall be regarded in exactly the same light as all the other citizens, and, conversely, he shall obtain no privilege. In countries where there is conscription, for instance, he shall be a conscript like anybody else; where a nation in which he happens to find himself goes to war, he shall be compelled to risk his life for it like any other citizen. If he happens a year or two before the war to have settled in the enemy’s country, then he shall be equally compelled to fight for the enemy against his former country. He shall in every respect be regarded, by a legal fiction, as identical with the community in which he happens to be settled for the moment, but at the same time he is to have some special relation with the Jewish State.
He and he alone is to be (certainly in practice and, of right, in legal decisions) eligible for admission to that city, for office in it. His opinion is to count in the conduct of that State, wherever he may personally be placed in the world. He is to regard himself—indeed that is inevitable from the definition of the new State—as personally allied to it, if not a member of it. He cannot dissociate himself from its fortunes nor be indifferent to its success or failure. He must in effect be loyal to it. He owes it allegiance of a moral kind. He will necessarily be in much the same position as are men of Irish descent in the Colonies, in England, and in the United States, to the surviving and now increasing remnant of their race which has clung to its native land. But in the particular case of the Jew this allegiance will not diminish with time. It will remain ever vivacious. The race, as its individual components pass from one country to another, will make one body, generation after generation, with the fixed polity settled in the New Zion. That certainly is the ideal, as I hear it expressed on every side in conversation and in writing by the Jews who support it.
Well, if the ideal is left in that condition (and it is admitted to be in practice in that condition), it will result in a grievous prejudice to the Jewish people, and will be a source of more permanent evil to them than any other policy they could have undertaken. It will emphasize that very point of dual allegiance which it must be their object to soften if the Jewish problem is to be solved.
The existence of a Zionist State will bring into relief the separate character of the Jew. The Jewish nation will no longer be able to depend for one of its defences upon the indifference or the ignorance still widely present among its hosts. Whereas before the experiment was attempted, many of those hosts could forget the difference between him and them, many had no experience of it and many remarked it without its affecting their attitude towards the Jew; after the experiment has been put in practice there must necessarily be a change.
To give a concrete instance, no one could in his anger say to a Jew, “You disturb our repose; you are an alien element in our community; you must leave it.” For if he meant that, he was at the same time condemning his victim to universal exile. But once an established national State exists, once you have in the world a considerable number—say a million and a half Jews—who are not the nationals of any other nation, but are the citizens of a Jewish nation with a known locality, an organized State, then the suggestion of exile changes its meaning. The opponent of the Jew is now able to say: “Go back to your own country,” and you may be very certain that he will say that unless some other solution than the legal fiction of full citizenship in one country and of moral allegiance to another is dropped.
The presence of the new Zion will do for the Jewish people what a frame does for a picture. It will not be universal to them; it will not cover the whole field of Jewish activity. It will be but a fraction of the whole. But it will inevitably emphasize the separation, the individual and alien character of the whole. It will concentrate attention upon all those things which the nineteenth century—in what I have called “the Liberal solution”—carefully put in the background and tried to forget. It will militate against an honest solution which would recognize the completely distinct character of the Jew and yet refuse to subject them to any indignity or suffering on that account.
There is more than this. The various nations, taken as a whole—the Roumanians as a whole, the Poles as a whole, the French, the Italians, the English as a whole—take up very different attitudes at any one time toward Israel, and in each the attitude varies from generation to generation; there is always, at any one time of history, including our own time, a certain number of national units which are openly hostile to the Jew, regretting his presence among them, restricting his activities and determined, above all, to separate him, by a sharp legal definition if possible, at any rate by universal social practice, from the rest of the community.
Now these hostile peoples cannot possibly be prevented from using the weapon put into their hands by the existence of a new Zion, with the implications I have just defined. It is difficult enough even now for the countries where Jewish finance controls the politicians (and these are still the most powerful countries) to restrain the anti-Jewish feelings in the lesser nations. It is only done by elaborate rules which are imperfectly obeyed and which are felt in these smaller nations to be imposed by alien interference with their domestic rights. The protection by the French, English and American Governments of what are called by a euphemism “national minorities”—which means, of course, everywhere the Jews—is a perilous affair, and one which can only be carried out most imperfectly even as it is. But the one foundation for that task, the one argument which its promoters appeal to, is the fact that the “national minority”—that is, the Jews present in a hostile community—can plead universal exile.
If you turn them out in order to suppress them, they can only leave for another country. They have none of their own to go to. Or again, if your treatment of the Jews is harsher than that of your neighbour, you are virtually directing a Jewish emigration over your neighbour’s borders, and to that your neighbour has a right to object. But once an independent Jewish seat is established, this argument falls to the ground. It is no reply then to tell these nations that the new Jewish State cannot contain the whole Jewish race. It will answer that it is not concerned with the whole Jewish race but only with its own section of that race.
Further, it will of course always be to the interest of those who desire to be rid of the Jewish element in their midst to argue that the Jewish State could be more peopled and that there is plenty of room for more citizens. Again, those hostile to the Jews in their midst can say: “Very well. Since there is no room for the whole mass of our Jews in your new State, we will not deal with the whole mass; allow us to suggest that such and such individuals shall leave our State, where they are not wanted, and shall go to their own.” And they would pick out the Jews whose exile would most weaken the Jewish community in their midst.
In the present state of affairs, with the Cabinets of Rome, Washington, London and Paris still heavily influenced by Jewish finance, they have, for the moment, a military force behind them sufficient to impose their orders in some measure upon the reluctant nations of Eastern Europe and in some measure to create an artificial protection for the Jews there. Even if this protection were to last another generation (which is unlikely), the presence of Zionism, interpreted in the sense I have just quoted, would be enough to undermine its work. On any change in the situation, in case of any conflict between these Western powers, or of any change by one or more of them in its attitude towards the Jews, Zionism, thus interpreted, would be the ruin of the Jews in the Centre and East of Europe. The danger is of such great practical importance that it ought to be the very first matter for discussion. It is only our acquired habit of falsehood and secrecy upon the Jewish problem which has thrust it in the background. In the nature of things it must come to the front, and it would be far better to have the lines of some solution laid down before it becomes insistent.
What are those lines to be?
Their general character is clear enough.
Whether it be of advantage or no to have a purely Jewish State (I mean whether it be of advantage to Israel or no) may be safely left to the Jews themselves to discuss. But one thing is certain: if they decide in favour of its continuance, then they must decide also in favour of some form of recognition for the purely Jewish nationality of the Jews outside that State.
Thus only will the situation become open and therefore innocuous. If they try under the new conditions to maintain the old fiction that a Jew is at the same time a Jew and yet not a Jew, that he can be at the same time a Jew and an Englishman, or a Jew and a Russian, or a Jew and an Italian, they will be trying to maintain it under conditions quite other than those of the past, and under conditions where the falsehood will break down in practice.
Suppose you were to make such recognition partly voluntary, and leave it to the Jew wherever he might be to claim or not to claim his nationality as a Jew; to be regarded, if he so willed, as a national of the Jewish nation in Zion, or as a national of the people among whom he happened to be living for the moment. You may say that under this purely voluntary system (which would, I suppose, be more just) very few would choose for Zion. The great majority would like to go on under the old fiction. That is certainly true of the West; but would it be true of the East? Would it be true of either East or West in a moment of persecution? I think it would not. Even if it be true of the East to-day, it certainly would not be true of any body of Jews suffering there, in the future, any degree of molestation.
But apart from that: Supposing but a small minority availed themselves of this voluntary form of recognition, supposing only a small minority to claim Jewish nationality as defined in the terms of the Zionist State, there would still be the contrast between those who had thus publicly proclaimed themselves nationals of Zion and those who hung back. In other words, short of a general admitted maintenance of the old fiction (of which Zionism more than any other force must accelerate the breakdown), you must have, through Zionism, an accelerated tendency to treating Jews throughout the world as being, whether without the New Zionist State or within it, a separate people. And they are a separate people, they cannot be other. My whole plea is that this truth should be recognized and acted upon; for if it is shirked or denied it will take its revenge. Reality always takes its revenge upon unreal pretence.
There remains in connection with Zionism another consideration which is also of importance, though of a very different kind. Is the new Jewish State to rely upon its own military strength and its own police—though perhaps guaranteed (for what that may be worth) by international agreement—or is it to be a protected State occupied, defended and policed by the strength and fighting qualities of some other kind of men, not Jews—Englishmen, Frenchmen or what not?
As we know, the particular solution attempted, the particular Zionism of which the experiment is now being made in Palestine, plumps for the second solution. The protection of Jews from natives is to be undertaken by a garrison of Englishmen. It plumps for this solution under conditions as adverse as they well can be. The present experiment is, as we noted at the end of the last chapter, not an independent Jewish State, national, guaranteed, standing in its own strength; but a protected State; and that State protected by one nation: Great Britain. The new Zion does not depend for its internal peace, for its establishment against highly hostile forces, for the ex-propriation of the local landowners, for the keeping of the peace between local elements highly hostile to itself, upon Jewish soldiers and Jewish courage. It depends upon British soldiers, British organization and British sacrifice. Those who have promoted the Zionist experiment have deliberately chosen the very worst moment for such a folly.
Granted that whoever was to be the Protector he must be a friendly Protector, no worse solution could have been devised. A little nation is always morally guaranteed in its independence, if only by the balance of the greater nations. The violation of the neutrality of Belgium offers nothing of a rule; on the contrary, it was an odious exception. And an exception it would have been just as much if the neutrality had not been officially guaranteed under Prussia’s own hand. The smaller nations, of which the modern world is full, will have, we may be very certain, a long lease of life. The larger nations envy but applaud their security and happiness. They will not be allowed to disappear. The same, I think, would be true of the Jewish national seat, could it be established, inhabited wholly or mainly by men of the Jewish race, religion and culture; presenting to the world the same aspect as does, for instance, Denmark to-day. But to depend for its establishment upon the superior power, upon the military and financial sacrifice, of another and totally different people, is a challenge and a provocation. It is the building of the pyramid upwards from its apex. It is an experiment in the most unstable of unstable equilibriums.
The matter is, of course, being discussed everywhere from the point of view of Great Britain, and nowhere more eagerly than among those who have to do the policing and the armed protection. But we are not here concerned with the ill effects such a situation must have on Great Britain—effects so ill that the experiment as a merely British Protectorate is bound to break down—we are rather concerned with the effect it may have upon the Jews themselves. No great nation will sacrifice its foreign policy, will admit a point of acute weakness, simply to please the Jews. Sooner or later such a nation is bound to say: “We cannot sacrifice our interests to yours. Look after yourselves.” And that is where the peril to the Jews of this system, a protectorate, comes in.
If there were any reason to suppose a natural alliance between the British Army and the Jews; if we could imagine British officers and men taking a natural pleasure in ousting the Arab and making way for the Jew, it would be another matter. If there were something in the nature of things which made that alliance permanent and stable, if the Jews were a fully accepted part of the British Commonwealth as are, for instance, the Scots or the Welsh, some permanent arrangement might be possible. But they are nothing of the sort. The position is wholly unnatural. It cannot last. And if it cannot last with the British connection, how should it last with any other? How shall the transition be made from a British Protectorate to another protectorate? Or how, seeing what violent hatreds have already been roused by the mere beginnings of the experiment, shall the conflict which makes the protectorate necessary be avoided?
So far the dislike of the position, which is very far-reaching, and already very deep in England, is a passive dislike. No English soldier has yet been killed; there has been but little necessity, as yet, to repress the Arab and create hostility, though even what little necessity there has been was odious to the troops concerned. But things cannot remain in that state. The conflict is inevitable. When the conflict comes the feeling which has hitherto been passive will become active. People will not tolerate the loss of sons and brothers in a quarrel which is none of theirs, which cannot possibly strengthen the British State; which, if anything, must weaken it; which is felt to be precarious and ephemeral, and which will be undertaken against those with whom British sympathy naturally lies, and in favour of those with whom the average soldier and citizen—unlike the professional politician—has no ties and no sympathy.
The matter can be very plainly put thus:
If a Zionist experiment is necessary, or advisable, then let it be made in such a fashion that it can be dependent upon Jewish police and a Jewish army alone. Let it not rely upon a foreign protectorate, which will not last long, which is a weakness to the directing power, and which creates a false position.
If it be answered that the Jews are not capable of producing such an army or such a police, that they would inevitably be defeated and oppressed by the hostile and more warlike majority among whom they would find themselves, then let them make the experiment elsewhere. But it is certain that the present form of the new Protectorate is the most perilous form which could have been chosen for it, so far as the Jews themselves are concerned. I appeal confidently to the near future to confirm this judgment.
From one most poignant aspect of the matter which we all have in mind I deliberately abstain—I mean the effect of the experiment upon Christian and Mohammedan feelings throughout the world of an attempt to establish Jewish control over the Holy Places. I abstain because of the emotions aroused by it, which are violent and universal, and are of the sort I have deliberately determined, as my Preface has informed the reader, to keep out of this essay. Things indeed are not yet at the point of open quarrel in this most perilous of all the results of Zionism. We must trust for a solution before it is too late, but that solution will not be reached if we select for discussion matters upon which there can be no agreement, and on which there is now aroused the most passionate feeling.
Still, though I abstain from discussing that point, I would beg the Jewish readers of this my book to bear it in mind. If they believe the religious emotions to be dead in the modern world, or even to be lessening, they may find themselves terribly disillusioned.
I also refrain from making comment here—I have made it strongly enough elsewhere—upon the strange selection made by the Jews for their first ruler of the Arabs and Christians in Palestine. I will do no more than to say that a desire to shield the less worthy specimens of one’s race is natural and even praiseworthy. One may even take a certain glory in that one is able to protect them from outsiders. But to give them too great a prominence is a mistake, and it is indeed deplorable that of the whole world of Jews—from crowds of Jews eminent in administration, and political science, known for their upright dealing and blameless careers—Mr. Balfour’s Jewish advisers (whoever they were) should have pitched on the author of the Marconi contract and the spokesman of the famous declaration in the House of Commons that no politician had touched Marconi shares.
The solution which I propose, which I believe could be made stable, and which I further believe is the only stable one, demands a greater, a more necessary effort upon our side than upon that of our guests.
It is the average man who must do his duty in the matter, and it is upon him that the responsibility will fall, if we take up once again that wretched sequence of ill-ease, persecution, reaction, which has marked so many centuries.
We are the vast majority, we are the organism within which this small minority moves. We are, or could be if we chose, the makers of our own laws, and we are certainly the makers of our own political moods.
I know it is the custom to throw all the responsibility upon the other side, to be perpetually devising instruments for their guidance which soon become instruments for their oppression, and in general to imagine a problem wherein the part of the European is purely negative and all the work has to be done by the Jewish stranger.
That attitude is not only false but grossly undignified. When men accuse some one weaker than themselves of interference with, and even of acquiring power over, them they condemn themselves. It is in the main our fault if an equilibrium has so rarely been reached in all these sixty generations of debate. For however alien, however irritant the foreign body be, it is we who have in our hands the solvent of that irritant and of relieving the strain which it causes.
Here let me recall at the risk of repetition (for repetition is necessary to lucidity in such arguments) the logical process with which I opened this essay. I say that the vast majority, the fixed race through which in fluid and nomadic form Israel goes moving from century to century, is not free to discharge its responsibility by any one of those attempted solutions which I have condemned. No man, I trust, will have the cynicism to say that mere persecution, let alone its horrible extreme, is or should be a solution. No man can predict the same of exile either. No man can discharge our responsibility by pretending that any solution arrived at must be for our good alone and may disregard that of those who live among us.
It is a statement one hears frequently enough that the masters of house have alone to decide what shall be done under their roof: that the interloper, the alien element, has no standing and no right to complain of whatever measures may be taken for the protection of the household. The thing so put sounds plausible. It is essentially false. It is comparable to the argument applied to private property—that because private property is a right, and that because a man “may do what he likes with his own,” therefore he may use it to the manifest hurt of others. Moreover, the analogy is false; for when a man is talking of “the master of the house” having the right in his household to decide its own way of living and of treating its guests, he is considering a very small unit in a great community; his household in the whole nation: a little body which, if it discharge or in any other way deal with something alien to itself, will inflict no great injury upon that foreign body, since there is all the world for it to turn to outside. But in the relations between the Jew and Christendom, or the Jew and Islam, the parallel fails. It is precisely because there is no “outside” to which the exile can turn that a duty is imposed on us.
It is true indeed that when a small and alien minority assumes to dictate the policy of the rest, to regard its own advantages alone and subordinate to those advantages the life of all, the claim is grotesque and must be disallowed. But we should remember upon the other side that it is only by exaggerating its claim that a minority can live at all. It is only by fierce insistence upon its right to survive that its survival is guaranteed. We can arrive at justice in this matter by the process of putting ourselves in the shoes of those in relation to whom we propose to act.
Put yourself in the shoes of the Jew and ask how this doctrine of “doing what one likes with one’s own” and being “the master of one’s own household” would look to you.
A public example which very rightly made a stir a few months before this book was published, may serve as text. A learned and distinguished Jew, Dr. Oscar Levy, a man who was an asset to any community, was turned out of the country under circumstances which many of my readers will recall. He pleaded with perfect justice that as a Jew such an exile left him homeless; that the original country of which he was nominally a citizen (under the broken-down fiction that Jews can be Germans, or Austrians, or what not, and cease to be themselves) would not have him; that his interests, his livelihood had attached him to this country; he had never hidden his true nationality nor changed his name, nor used any of those subterfuges which, even when excusable, are dangerous and contemptible in so many of his compatriots. There was no conceivable reason why such rigour should be used against this man, save indeed that he was a Jew.
Put yourself in his shoes and see how the thing looks. There is no nation to which you could have returned: there is no society to receive you as a member of it. You are not permitted to remain in the atmosphere with which you have grown familiar, in the surroundings which have become those of your later life, and your consonance with which it is too late for you to change. Could there be a grosser cruelty or a grosser injustice? It is the very core of the whole problem that somewhere the Jew must be harboured, and therefore to some one of us the question must be put, “Will you harbour him, and if so upon what terms?” If each man answer, “No, I will not,” then all collectively become oppressors. It is no answer to say, “These men are not of us, and therefore they may conspire against us,” or “Their interests are divergent from ours and therefore may and do clash with ours.” All that is granted. That is merely stating the problem, not solving it. What do we say in daily life of men who merely state their grievances, harp upon them, and make no effort to put them right? What do we think of men who perpetually complain of something naturally weaker than themselves, make no effort to understand its necessities and attempt only to rid themselves of the nuisance without considering reciprocal duty and mutual relations? The same should we think of those who so act towards the Jewish community in our midst which, for all its domination and exaggerated modern power, is ultimately at our mercy, far weaker than we are in numbers and situation. Without further elaboration of what should be an obvious political and moral principle, let us consider our part in the task.
It consists, I conceive, in two very different determinations: two very different but allied lines of conduct to which we must pledge ourselves. The first, until recently the most difficult, is the determination to speak of the Jewish people as openly, as continuously, with as much interest, with as close an examination as we speak of any other foreign body with which we are brought in contact.
The second, which will perhaps be the more difficult duty to practise in the future, will be to avoid, in the individual public recognition of those with whom we must live, all futile anger and all mere reaction. I mean by mere reaction, blind reaction. The instinctive thrusting back against a thing which presses on us, the uncalculated and animal return blow, the consequences of which, either to ourselves or to others, are not weighed when it is delivered; the futile complaint, the futile rage, the futile cruelty.
Unless those two duties are undertaken together, unless the determination to practise both be of equal weight, the solution I propose will fail. To discuss the problem presented by the presence of the Jewish people, to talk of them as one would of any other, openly and frankly, to interest oneself in their history and in their present doings: all this is only to aggravate the trouble if we use that open dealing for the purpose of doing them a hurt, or if, in the course of it, we allow ourselves (merely from irritation or contrast, from the sense which all must have of opposition to things alien) to react against them without consideration of the immediate and ultimate consequences not only to themselves but to us.
Conversely, the determination to regard their interests and to avoid every possible occasion of conflict, to hold a just measure with them, is quite useless if we falsify the whole relation by secrecy and false convention.
The moment that comes in, there comes in with it a secret dissatisfaction with oneself and with the whole situation. The position is falsified, the seed of animosity greatly stimulated, the danger of mutual contempt made inevitable.
Now let us look at these two branches of what we have to do in the matter, and see what difficulties lie in the way.
In the way of frankly recognizing, examining, taking an open interest in the Jewish minority in our midst there lie three very powerful obstacles. First the inherited convention of polite society; secondly, and much the most powerful, fear; and thirdly, the very reputable desire to avoid offence.
The first of these, the fear of convention, has many roots—the necessity for harmony in a leisured life, that is, the desire to avoid friction even at the expense of truth, the mere momentum of a quiet habit, the fear of misunderstanding which may come from one side casting ridicule upon the other, which may offend the person whom we have misunderstood, or make us ridiculous in his eyes and those of our audience.
There is also, of course, as a cause, more powerful than any other, the force which lies behind all convention, the force which makes a man take off his hat in a church, which forbids his walking without boots in the street on the driest day, that is, the pressure of general practice. But the thing to realize is that in this form—I mean as distinct from any feeling of fear or of charity—the thing is a convention and a convention only. Difficult as it is to break with conventions, unless this convention is broken once and for all, the Jewish problem remains with us unsolved and growing in acuteness and peril.
You can meet an Irishman and discuss with him the conditions of his nation. You can ask an Italian when he was last in Italy, or congratulate a Frenchman upon his acquisition of your tongue or tell him that it is difficult for him to understand your own customs: but a convention arose under the Liberal fiction—to which I have devoted so much space in the earlier part of this book—that to do any of these very natural things in the case of a Jew is monstrous. Your audience is shocked if you ask some learned Jew at a public table a question upon his national literature or history. It is a solecism to refer to his nationality at all, save perhaps now and then in terms of foolish praise—in nine times out of ten praise not to the point and not desired by its recipient. And even praise must be approached most gingerly. You may not ask a Jew in London, however keen your desire for information, whether he had cousins in Lithuania or Galicia who have told him of the conditions of those distressed countries. You may not ask him when his family came to England, nor, if he be a recent arrival, what he thinks of the country. The whole thing is taboo.
More than this: you must, you are expected (or were until quite recently expected) to emphasize in a most extravagant manner the complete identity of your Jewish guest with the people among whom he lives. I do not take offence if some chance acquaintance, noting my French name, talks to me about France, and is interested in my experience as a conscript long ago in that country. Mr. Redmond did not feel himself insulted when those he met in London discussed Irish matters with him, from the most acute difficulty in politics, to the most general allusion to the Abbey Theatre. The editor of an Italian review visiting England is not shocked if you ask him when he left Florence, nor are those around you horrified at the ill-breeding of your question. But in the matter of the Jew there stands this convention cutting you off from any such straightforward and simple way of dealing with a fellow-being. That convention, I say, must be broken down if we are to get any results at all and to establish a permanent peace.
The thing was not, of course, entirely irrational in origin. No custom is. It was to be excused upon several grounds.
First, there was the fact that many people were known to cherish so strong an hostility to Jews that to emphasize the Jewish character of anyone present might awaken that hostility.
Then there was the peculiar rapid transition both of Jewish movements and of Jewish fortunes. In the case I have suggested, of asking a London Jew whether he had relatives in Galicia or Lithuania, you might be stumbling upon relations much poorer than himself in the East End of London; or, again, you might seem to be emphasizing the nomadic character of the race and thereby also emphasizing the contrast between it and our own.
But much the strongest excuse for the convention was the well-founded idea that its exercise pleased the Jews themselves. Men avoided direct mention of Jewish nationality because it was felt that such direct mention was almost an insult. It was a thing which the Jew in whose presence you found yourself desired to have kept in the background; and though we might not understand why he desired it, yet we respected his desire as we do that of anyone with whom we wish to preserve harmonious relations. Most men, for instance, are indifferent upon, say, the matter of smoking. Most men are quite at their ease when they are asked whether they smoke or not, and if they do, whether they prefer this or that brand of tobacco. But now and then one comes across a man who, from some accident of training (as, for instance, a man whose mother brought him up to think smoking a mortal sin), does not like to have it alluded to.
I myself know the case of a man of the highest culture and of considerable social position to whom you may not say anything about pigs either in connection with farming or in connection with food; for his sympathies are Mohammedan. In these exceptional cases, when we know of our guest’s particular desire, we yield to it for the sake of harmony and of right living. So is it in this matter of the former convention against alluding to Jewish nationality or Jewish interests in any form. Whether the Jews were wise or not to cherish that convention, as they undoubtedly did, does not concern this part of my argument. I am talking of our duty and not of theirs. But I say that unless the convention is softened and at last dissolved, nothing can be done. Both parties should know that it only does harm. It renders stilted and absurd all our relations; it fosters that suspicion of secrecy which I have insisted upon as the chief irritant in those relations, and it creates a feeling of exception, of oddity, which is the very worst service that could be rendered to the Jews themselves.
Some little time ago the convention went so far that even a mention, a neutral—nay, a laudatory mention, of anything Jewish in a general company led to an immediate awkwardness. Men looked over their shoulders, women gave downward glances right and left. A sort of hunt began, to see whether anyone present could possibly in any remote connection be offended by the monstrous deed. If a man said, “What a poet Heine was and how thoroughly Jewish is his irony!” and said it in a room full of people, the adjective “Jewish” acted like a pistol shot—could anything be more absurd! Yet so it was.
But the point I make is not against the absurdity of this convention but against its peril. It is an obstacle to all right handling of what is becoming daily a more and more insistent and acute difficulty.
It is obvious that the getting rid of such a convention is not to be effected by violent methods, nor immediately. But our duty is to accelerate its decline and, within reason, to enlarge every opportunity for treating the Jewish nationality precisely as one treats any other. I mean precisely as one treats any other in conversation or in writing. We all know the insane type which loves to break convention merely because it is a convention, and we shall certainly have to be on our guard against this sort of person in the near future, as this particular convention begins to break down. But without encouraging such eccentricities there is ample room for an increasing ease in the recognition of what after all we know to be reality, a reality which requires open discussion for the good of us all. The danger is lest even this merely conventional obstacle should by too long a resistance dam up forces which tend to break it down and therefore lest, when it is pulled down, we should admit the other extreme of licence, with its opportunity for insult and damage. That is what has happened in the case of other much more reasonable Victorian conventions, and we must not have it happen in the case of the convention which for so long forbade us to admit that a Jew was a Jew or to take any open interest, when he was present, in the things which he himself thinks the most interesting of all.
And if anyone shall answer that convention is necessary, lest on its decline open hostility should follow, I can only say that this is to despair of any equitable solution at all. But my whole thesis in this book is that such a solution need not yet be despaired of.
There is one more thing to be said in this matter of the old taboo. However long it may linger in the small educated class, it has gone for ever among the populace, and it is the popular instinct we shall have mainly to deal with in the difficult times ahead of us.
The populace in this country talks upon Jewish matters with a frankness which would astonish the drawing-rooms, and has so talked upon them for a generation past—ever since the great novel influx of poor Jews began to pour into our towns. It not only talks thus openly to and of Jews upon its own level, but it is thoroughly alive to the presence and power of Jews in government. Those who think that a continuance of the convention can put off the necessity for a solution would be disillusioned if they would spend a few days east of Aldgate, and mix with their fellow-citizens there.
Allied to this obstacle of convention is the very real obstacle of charity.
Now we are here dealing not with a positive charity but with a negative one and with a form of charity uncommonly like slackness.
The man who honestly thinks that any allusion to Jewish races in contemporary art, history or letters in the presence of a Jew is offensive and therefore to be avoided, from goodness of heart, and who also practises the same virtue where any other foreigner is concerned is rare indeed. There are such men, for men of exceptional goodness coupled with exceptional stupidity are to be found. But the excuse of charity as it is generally put forward is not wholly ingenuous. Where it is ingenuous our reply to-day must be that even at the risk of occasional ill-ease, the danger of offence must be risked; for unless we risk it there is increasing peril of a much greater offence against justice. For whatever reason open discussion is burked, even for the reason of charity, we only put off the evil day, and charity so used may be compared to the charity which refuses to take action in any other critical problem of increasing gravity. The charity which hesitates to control the supplies of a spendthrift, or to wage a defensive war in a just cause, or to defend an oppressed man at the risk of quarrelling with his oppressor, is a charity misdirected.
But, as I have said, with much the greater part of men who plead this motive the plea is, if they would only examine their own consciences, found to be false. And the test of its falsity will be apparent when the convention slackens. When it is no longer conventional to avoid all mention of Jews, how many will remain silent merely from the love of their fellow-men? One might go further and say that when the convention has gone, any need for this kind of charity will go with it. There is an exception, of course, in the case of the man whose dislike of Jews is so violent that he fears himself if he gives any rein to his tongue. That mania is exceptional; but where it is found certainly its victim will do well to keep silence. If a man cannot mention the Hebrew alphabet without a sneer, or the economics of Ricardo without betraying his ill feeling for Ricardo’s lineage, then certainly he had better hold his tongue when Jews are there. So, too, a Frenchman who raves against the English had far better not discuss the British Constitution or the genius of Newton in any society where an Englishman may be present.
There remains the chief obstacle—that of fear.
There is no doubt that the strongest force still restraining an expression of hostility to the Jew is fear.
In a sense, of course, there is a “fear” of breaking convention—but that is fear only in metaphor. I mean not this, but the very real dread of consequences: the feeling that an expression of hostility to Jewish power may bring definite evils on the individual guilty of it, and a panic lest those evils should fall upon him. How strong this feeling is, anyone can testify who has explored, as I have, this most insistent of modern political ills; and doubtless the greater part of my non-Jewish readers will recall examples to the point.
It is a fear of two consequences, social and economic, and even of both combined. Men dread lest hostility to the Jew Domination should bring them into the grip of some unknown but suspected world-wide power—some would call it a conspiracy—which can destroy the individual who shall be so rash as to challenge it. Some perhaps have gone to the length—the insane length—of reading the word “destroy” in its literal sense and of fearing for their lives. Such an illusion is laughable. But very many more are affected by the reasonable conception that they will have against them, if they provoke it, an intelligent, combined action which they cannot meet because there is no organization upon their side: because it is international; because there is behind it a great intensity of feeling; because through finance it controls the political machines of all the nations, because it is all-powerful in the Press—and so forth.
They dread, I say, the social consequences. They also (and that with more definition and more sense) dread the economic consequences. They recognize (they also exaggerate) the grip of the Jew over finance. They conceive that if they speak they will be dragged down, their enterprises ruined, their credit dissolved. And that is the most powerful instrument which can be brought to bear. When supernatural motives disappear the strongest motive remaining after appetite is avarice; and avarice is more universal than appetite and more continuous. Nor is it only avarice which is at work here, but also the respectable desire for security. There are to-day innumerable men who would express publicly on Jews what they continually express in private, but who conceal their feelings for fear that their salaries may be lost or their modest enterprises wrecked, their investments lowered, and their position ruined. Above them are a lesser number, equally convinced that their large fortunes would be in peril were they so to act.
The characteristic of all this feeling is two-fold. In the first place, as would seem to be the case with convention, though in a much greater degree, it dams up and enormously increases the latent force of anger against Jewish power both real and imaginary. It is like the piling up of a head of water when a river valley is obstructed, or like the introducing of resistance into an electric current. The suppression of resentment, though that suppression is the act of the men who themselves feel the resentment and not directly of their opponents, is a fierce irritant and accounts for the high pressure at which attack escapes when once it is loosened.
I speak only of hostility and of attack, for it is in these least rational examples that the strength of the thing is to be found. But it applies also to mere discussion. There is hardly anyone to-day who does not desire to discuss as an urgent political problem the present position, the present power, the present disabilities, the present claims of Israel. But for one that will openly discuss these things there are ten who, in varying degrees, forbid themselves so plain a freedom of speech in dread of what consequences might follow. It has, like all panic, a ridiculous element. It is informed by the most absurd illusions; it suffers from grotesque imaginings and phantasms. In some this dread of the Jewish power has very plainly passed the line which divides the stable from the unstable mind and even the sane from the insane. But it is none the less a formidable element in our problem. This obstacle, much more than that of convention, bears a character of rigidity. It works for a certain time, then it breaks down and releases a flood.
That is why the first expressions of hostility in our time were so exaggerated and ill-proportioned. That is why so many of them were plainly mad. This very character of exaggeration, this very wildness in proportion, rendered those against whom the attack was delivered more contemptuous of it than they should have been.
The forerunners of the present movement—I mean, of the movement hostile to Israel—were not calculated to excite the respect of their opponent or even to carry with them the men on their own side. They lacked that “common” sense which is the first quality of leadership. For the power of leadership implies a soul in common with those who are led. The enthusiast can lead permanently, but the extravagant man never for long.
I say that these first attacks were on that account despised: they were unduly despised by those whom they menaced.
There lay in reserve behind all the exaggeration and wildness a great bulk of very different opinion; the opinion of men normal in their appreciation of values and of proportion, not given to “seeing things,” fully in touch with reality; men who know that they have hitherto only been silent through the action of fear, who despise themselves on that account and who are the more ready to act. For the sense of fear not only degrades but angers: at least in our race. The European who admits to himself that he has restrained an instinct not from religion, nor from a general sense of right, but from cowardice, is always angry with himself and awaits the moment when he can take his own revenge upon his own past and clear himself of reproach in his own eyes.
Herein lies the peril to Israel of such a state of affairs. But with that I am not here concerned. I am only concerned with its effect upon ourselves. So long as we degrade ourselves, so long as we humiliate ourselves by our own cowardice, so long as we shirk all reasonable discussion, let alone all expression of hostility because we dread the consequences at the hands of our opponents, so long there are present in rising intensity two evil things: first, the postponement of the right solution; secondly, the turning of a reasoned policy into mere hatred with all the consequences that flow from such evil emotion.
The longer we maintain whatever remains of that barrier to free speech (happily it is already crumbling) the longer do we produce the two fatal results of postponing justice and of creating enmity. The destruction of that barrier, the ridding of ourselves of fear in the matter, is, as is always the case in the exercising of this unmanly thing, a matter for individual effort. As the proverb goes, “Some one must bell the cat,” which is another way of saying that if each man waits upon his neighbour, things will only grow worse and worse.
It is for each in his place, before it is too late, to approach the Jewish problem and to discuss it openly; to preface that discussion by a frank interest and a general expression upon all those things in the minority which directly concern its relations with the majority; to deal with the Jewish nation exactly as one would with any other.
It used to be a dictum in those who pleaded a lifetime ago for the open criticism of Scripture, that “the Bible should be approached like any other book.”I beg leave to introduce an anecdote. An undergraduate once said to Dr. Jowett, the Master of Balliol, “I take up the Gospels and treat them as an ordinary book.” The Master answered: “Did you not find them a very extraordinary book?” So it will prove, I think, with the fascination of Israel. The result is not of good augury to my present argument and I rather dread the parallel; but since the phrase is well known I will use it as a model. It is time, I say, to be rid of treating the Jewish nation as something closed, mysterious and secret. Let us treat it “like any other nation.” It is no wonder if men, moved by nothing but a blind hatred, feel some hesitation upon the consequence of that hatred. But I am convinced that if we on our side get rid of this absurd modern fear, take the Jew in his right proportions, rid our mind of exaggeration in his regard—especially of the conception of some inhuman ability capable of conducting a plot of diabolical ingenuity and magnitude—we shall be met from the other side.
The Jews are not the only force which is international nor the only international force the dread of which has disturbed men’s judgments. They are not the only international force which has some degree of organization and cohesion. If you desire to vent your active dislike of the Scotch or of the Irish you must be prepared for a certain amount of Scotch or Irish hostility. You will come across something of an organization and suffer accordingly; but if you cherish the conception of a vast subterranean force, Scotch or Irish, watching you with a malignant power and capable of your destruction, you are, I think, out of the real world.
If you desire to vent your active dislike of the Catholic Church you will find ubiquitous opposition. But if you conclude from this that you are at grips with a monster then you are out of touch with reality.
So it is, surely, with this dread of the Jewish power, which has sullied so many men’s minds, postponed the right discussion of the problem and nourished ill-ease everywhere. If we simply act as though that dread were despicable like any other dread, and turned to perfectly open discussion of the whole affair, even to an open expression of hostility where hostility is deserved, we shall be the better for it. In any case it is our duty to ourselves as well as to the State to get rid of fear in the business, for until we are rid of it no advance towards a solution can be made.
Where positive causes have been found for an evil it is obvious that the cure of that evil consists in the removal of the causes, in so far as they can be removed.
In the particular case of the friction between the Jewish community and their hosts the causes of that friction are the foolish and dangerous habit of secrecy and the irritating expression of superiority. The causes the Jew can remove if he will. The matter is in his own hands: we can do nothing: he can do everything.
But beyond this negative duty which is incumbent upon the Jews if they would achieve a peaceful issue of the perils which menace their future, there is a positive action also incumbent upon them. They must foster, they must even propose, institutions which will the better mark them off from a society not their own and restore to them the dignity of a nation. I shall in the last chapter of this book contend that the policy leading to a solution must repose not upon direct laws of our own imagining, not upon reactions which will almost certainly prove oppressive, and almost certainly be evaded, but upon a general spirit recognizing the separate nationality of the Jews. But though this is true of every Christian Western State in which they find themselves, it is not true of their own nation. They on their side may well come forward with propositions which they have the capacity for making, because they will know how to frame them (as we cannot) after a fashion consistent with their own dignity and their own tradition. There is a beginning of such things already present in the Jewish schools, the Jewish guardians and the considerable separate organization which the Jews have openly set up for their community in this country. These beginnings have but to be extended.
Those who are openly hostile to Jews will say that any proposals coming from their side will conceal a trap. “This people” (they say) “will always suggest things which will seem innocent enough and apparently do no more than define their position plainly for the future; but we shall find ourselves caught in an obligation and the Jews more our masters than ever. They will,” say these objectors, “remain as they are to-day, and while they claim every privilege as a separate community, they will also insist upon the full citizenship which is incompatible with this attitude. We shall find that, whatever institutions we ask them to frame, those institutions will work not only in their favour but also heavily against us.”
I doubt it. The special Jewish institutions already at work have no such effect. On the contrary, they already relieve the strain. One of those institutions, for instance, is the Jewish press: the newspapers specially devoted to Jewish interests and acting as spokesmen for Jewish ideas. They are not always as polite as they might be. I have had myself at times to lodge a complaint against the way in which they have treated sincere efforts for the settlement of our difficulties and an honest attempt at finding a way out. They have left a handle to their enemies sometimes by too insistent or, as those enemies would call it, too arrogant a claim, and they do write now and then as though we, the vast majority, had no rights and the only thing worth considering was the advancement of their own people.
But, after all, it would be absurd to expect anything else. A small minority vigorously fighting its own hand must exaggerate its claim; an organism defending itself against very heavy pressure from without cannot but appear aggressive, and I shall always maintain that the presence of an openly Jewish institution speaking for Jewish interests, no matter how insistently, is an excellent thing. It presents a healthy contrast with the converse attempt to present Jewish arguments under the cover of neutrality, and to spread Jewish ideas anonymously through what are very far from being neutral agents.
If I be asked what institutions I have in mind I can only repeat that it is for the Jews themselves to make the first proposal, but I suggest an extension of the system, which is already present in embryo, whereby disputes between Jews shall be arbitrated before a Jewish tribunal. Not only its extension but its confirmation at the request of the Jews themselves, might be a good thing. It would also not be a bad thing if—some time hence when things were ripe for the change—disputes between Jews and non-Jews could be tried in Courts where the special character of such disputes, the distinctive difference between them and disputes between the fellow-citizens of the country in which they live, should come before tribunals of a mixed character. To attempt this to-day would, of course, be a very new departure in procedure, indeed a revolutionary one; and there is no prospect of it for a long while; but with the growing number among us, and the growing influence, of Jews it will, I think, when it does come at last, be of advantage to both parties. It would be fatal if it were imposed upon them. It would not be accepted. It would not work. But if it were suggested by the Jewish community spontaneously, and started and developed by them, it would succeed. And it would add a great deal to the relief already experienced for the functioning of the other institutions I have mentioned.
There is little more to be said under this head. Apart from the duty of open dealing and this specific policy of fostering separate institutions we have no claim to press.
All the main part of the mutual Duty is on our side. Therefore have I given it the space it seems to deserve and confined to no more than these few lines correlative suggestions for those who, after all, are not responsible to us for their actions and may properly resent the airing of our views on the domestic details of their alien organization.
Before approaching my conclusion it may be well to review certain subsidiary theories which I have not hitherto touched in my discussion, because they stand apart from its argument.
There is a whole group of historical and other theories upon the position of the Jews which either imply that there is no problem, or if there is one that it cannot be solved, or even that if there is a problem it is of a sort that does not need solution, because that solution would be of no practical value.
There come in the first place those theories upon the international position of the Jews which are frankly non-rational, and which vary from those which may be defended with some show of reason from the history of the past, to those which are wholly imaginary. None of these, even though some one of them should be true, can find much place here because none lends itself to discussion.
Thus there is the conception of a curse; the conception that Israel must, until its conversion, suffer a perpetual pilgrimage and perpetual hostility. It is a statement bound up with that other popular prophecy that in the last days Israel will be reconciled with the Universal Church. Those who have these ideas at the back of their minds (they are more numerous than modern thought would like to admit), at heart despair of any solution, and would not attempt to urge it with any hope of success. They say, “The thing is fated and must continue.” But even they, I think, must admit that just as philosophy admits a paradox of determination and free will, so political effort must admit a paradox of foreseen failures and our duty, in spite of them, to aim at a political good.
Whether it be indeed true or not, that reconciliation is impossible and that in the long run the quarrel must drag itself out, it is certainly profoundly immoral to look on at the spectacle with no attempt to ameliorate its evils.
There is again the theory (which I mention in passing and leave to its adherents) that the British and the Jews are in some way mysteriously allied by Providence, so that any solution which does not give the fullest satisfaction to Israel (no matter at what cost to poor Japhet) is treason. These people mystically regard Britain as the handmaid of Jewry, and there is a section of them who further regard their fellow-countrymen as the ten lost tribes. I have in my library some specimens of their literature.
There is an opposite and, to me, detestable theory (but I must mention it because it exists), that the antagonism hitherto found perpetually, whether latent or active, between this people and the world about them is the use of the one as a necessary and divine oppressor of the other. To those who hold such a theory I can only reply that two can play at that game, and it certainly absolves those whom they would oppress from any obligation whatever of seeking a solution on their side. If a man thinks he can do harm to Israel wantonly, without suffering the reproaches of his own conscience, he is in error; and I confess that were I free (as I am not in a book of discussion and argument) to indulge in mere affirmation I should be inclined to say that those who set out with this remarkable object in view will catch a Tartar.
There is the opposite theory that a special and Divine protection is still exercised, not only for the preservation of the Jews but for judgment upon their enemies. That theory, I think, lies at the back of many a Jewish action in history and of much Jewish policy to-day. Non-rational, religious in origin, it is, I fancy, to very many of the race which has suffered so much, a consolation and a support.
Now all these non-rational theories (I use the word without any bad connotation: the non-rational—what is often inaccurately called the mystical—attitude towards any problem may well be more practical than the rational approach to it) I leave on one side as improper to rational discussion.
I have heard it maintained, again, by both parties to this debate, that the presence of an alien force, migratory, intense, full of tradition, experience and cohesion, was essential to the height and the activity of our own civilization.
These are not content to discover individual instances of Jewish excellence in the mass around them, or to extend the renown of individual Jewish genius. They are rather concerned with the general proposition that some such flux is necessary to the full action of a high and diverse culture. They tell us that but for the Jew the civilization of Europe would have grown torpid, would have settled into a fixed groove, incapable of change and of creative progress. The Jew, by this theory, is regarded as a sort of activating principle, who, whether as an irritant at the worst, or an inspiration at the best, keeps all our European life agog, and is necessary to its continuous business. These also incline to see the Jew at the origin of every great movement in European thought. They see him indirectly producing the vast transformation of the Roman Empire from a pagan, not indeed to a Jew but to a Christian, that is (in their eyes) to an Oriental mood. They see the Jew at the root of the great revolutionary philosophy which springs from the eleventh century and reaches its culmination in the great scholastics of the thirteenth. They insist upon the name of Averroës (Ibn Roshd), the philosopher of the twelfth century, the Kadi of Cordova: the exponent of Aristotle, the expositor—whom the Jews preserved: upon the great Moses ben Maimon, our Maimonides. These also put Nicolas de Lyra at the root of the Reformation: “Si Lyra non lyrasset Luther non saltasset.” But I may remind them that the Jewish character of this man is at least doubtful, that he was of the religious Orders of Christendom.
These also will certainly and with some reason ascribe to Jewish influence the great economic revolution of the seventeenth century, which has been followed by so vast an extension of wealth and of population, though hardly of human happiness.
Now for all this there is certainly something to be said as an aspect of historical truth. How far it may be extended to cover, as its exponents would make it cover, the whole historical field, may be debated, but I would ask my readers to consider what change we should have seen in the development of Europe if by some magical instrument Jewish influence had been upon some one date removed. It is a theory fascinating, in a way applicable, and arresting. It is, at any rate, not nonsense.
It is particularly true that something in the continuous exercise of analysis by the Jewish intelligence perpetually moves European intelligence to action—The great disputations of the Early Middle Ages were, largely, either directly disputations with Jews or disputations provoked by the intellectual attitude of the Jew; and the Jew, in the famous name of Spinoza, stands at the origin of that merely natural, that Lucretian interpretation of the world which continued through Descartes to its great expansion in the present day. You find that element in economics as you do in philosophy, in political science as you do in economics; and, talking of economics, it must not be forgotten that the greatest name at the foundation of modern economic science is the name of a Jew, Ricardo, while the most prominent name in the development of its most prominent direct application is also a Jewish name—the name of Karl Marx.
It is not without significance that any one of these names recalls, side by side with its Jewish origin, an aloofness from the general community of the Jews. That community, I think it is fair to say, abandoned Spinoza; Ricardo and, I believe, Karl Marx were alien to the national religion, and the latter married out of his people and exercised his enormous influence extraneously to the blood from which his family sprang. For though it is true that the direction, the staffof Communism is Jewish, yet its convinced adherents are in the mass of our blood.
And in that connection I am reminded of another theory or fact attaching to the history of Israel, which is that the intellectual independence of the Jew has been as marked throughout the ages as his solidarity. There are many, I know, of that nation who regard such exceptions as vagaries and almost condemn them as traitors; yet they are no small asset to the reputation of their people and their names, however much they may be repudiated by their compatriots, shed lustre upon the whole body from which they sprang. These include (let it be remembered) not only the “sceptical” philosophers, not only the materialists, but also those extraordinary exceptions who have lent the vigour, the tenacity and the lustre of the Jewish intellect to the service of the Catholic Church. I make bold to say that in no one of the Faith has there been more devotion than in those who, like Ratisbonne (and he was but one among many), have put such qualities at the service of what they have discovered to be alone divine. A cynic might add St. Paul, but, for that matter, the whole origin of the Church was intermixed with the intense individual efforts of such men.
In this connection also every wise man will admit that there is no greater error than to exaggerate the consciousness of Jewish action whether the error proceed from those who admire or who detest it. To hear their modern opponents talk one might imagine that the Jewish people formed a small club of which every member knew every other while each worked in the unison of a disciplined body. That aberration I have dealt with more than once upon former pages. The truth is that no nation on earth presents so many surprising exceptions to its general action as does this nation, and that no nation on earth, when it moves in one general direction, as it often does, is actuated by a common motive less conscious. We who stand outside the Jewish body may mark its cohesion, and will mark it, I hope, to its honour; but its own members complain rather of its lack of cohesion. I have heard them complain—I know not how often—of the way in which the wealthier Jews left their society for that of an alien body, sneered at the general body of Israel, and remained indifferent to the common cry of the race. It is this unconsciousness in action, this frequent replacement of motive by instinct which accounts for what all observers have noticed, especially in times of persecution. I mean the bewilderment of the oppressed at the action of their oppressors.
I remember once listening to a most eloquent speech delivered in the course of a debate in which, with that long recollection which is characteristic of his people, an Israelite passionately declaimed the gratitude of that people to St. Bernard who saved their remnant upon the Rhine from the popular fury. I remember also how another in a debate (for I have attended many such up and down the country and have heard from as many aspects as possible what the Jewish attitude towards us is) stated simply, in reply to my description of the Jewish financial position in this country after the Conquest: “Your cathedral and your abbeys and even your castles were built with our money.” The phrase was significant of the way in which what the English community of the time regarded as a tolerated abuse, those fortunes which they never thought of as Jewish at all, but as moneys temporarily unjustly wrung from the people at large, were regarded in contemporary Jewry as private property legitimately acquired, held in full possession.
I could wish in this connection that some learned Jew would produce a History of Europe from the point of view of his people: a short textbook, I mean, intended for our consumption; to show us ourselves from a standpoint very different from our own. It may be that such a book exists. I am certain it would be more useful than those indirect attacks (for they are attacks) upon the Christian tradition which pretend to a spirit of impartiality but are none the less hostile to that tradition in every line. I would much rather read the story of Europe as it was seen by a practising Jewish scholar than a so-called impartial and agnostic account which grotesquely represents the Church as something external to the body of Europe and even inimical to it.
In this connection also we should have (what now we lack), and that is a conspectus of the Jewish action over Christendom and Islam combined. We are aware of the tolerance, or rather favour, displayed to their Jewish subjects by the Mohammedans of Spain. It was neither universal nor continuous. What we do not sufficiently hear, what we have to piece together from chance allusions, is the connection between the Moorish Jews, before and during the Reconquista, and their fellows to the north.
Before I leave these cursory and sporadic notes on what I have called the “theories” upon our problem, I should mention one which would unhappily seem to have acquired widespread support to-day and which is surely the least satisfactory of all—even less satisfactory than the now dying fiction which pretended that the Jewish nation was not present in our midst, but consisted only of a mass of individuals already absorbed by their alien surroundings. I mean the theory that it is possible to continue in a sort of simmering atmosphere of partial repression, with the Jew treated as something alien and hostile, yet his presence unceasingly tolerated. That would seem to be the imperfect conclusion implied, if not stated, in a hundred modern pamphlets and discussions, the authors of which repudiate the name of Anti-Semite though they sympathize apparently with action even less logical than the politics of the Anti-Semite. There is no such equilibrium possible, even if its establishment were as moral as it is in fact immoral. If a frank solution be not found, nothing firm can be established. All we shall be establishing will be a violent and successive fluctuation. It is impossible to maintain an attitude permanently hostile to one’s neighbour, yet count on that hostility remaining permanently repressed. You fall inevitably along the slope of such a tendency into those excesses which it should be our whole object to condemn, to foresee and to prevent.
You cannot continue, as so many modern men seem, from their conversation, to wish, with political equality on the one side and a living spirit of enmity upon the other. You cannot get peace by giving a mere legal definition to the status of a minority, which is also necessarily your neighbour, and refusing a social action consonant with the legal definition. If you try to do that you are trying to do two things, one of which will destroy the other. No one can doubt which will be victorious in a conflict between a living sentient motive and a mere definition in public law.
One attitude towards the question which I have heard fairly often in the mouths of Jews and seen in their writings is something like this: “Our affairs have nothing to do with people outside our nation. This discussion of what you call ‘the Jewish problem’ is an impertinence upon your part. There is a Jewish problem indeed, but it is a domestic problem, and we request you (with some asperity) to mind your own business.”
If this attitude were sound, the search for what I have called a solution, though it might satisfy the intelligence, would be a breach of civic morals. In the same way it would be a breach of civic morals for me to work out a solution for the quarrel between Mr. Jones and his mother-in-law, neither of whom I have ever met and with whom I have no relations, and then to press this solution upon the contending parties. But the flaw in this attitude is that the problem is essentially one involving two parties, the Jews and the non-Jews. The problem we are attempting to solve is a problem expressed in terms of both. Some would even say that there is hardly a domestic question within the Jewish nation which does not have its reaction upon society outside it, and which it is not the business of that society outside to inquire into. That would be pressing things rather far. But the main problem is intimately concerned with both parties and as much with the one as with the other. It is true, indeed, that the consequences of a false solution, or of shirking the solution altogether, would be more acute for the Jew than for us; but we should both suffer, and even on our side the suffering would be grievous.
Even if there were no question of suffering in the ordinary sense of the term, there would still be the question of justice. The Jews who resent a statement of the problem and an attempt at solving it are not doing their own people any good and are at the same time denying us the right of putting our own affairs in order, which denial is, of course, intolerable: for the position of the Jews in our great States and in Islamic society is something which those States and that society have to determine. They cannot leave it in the air. To some conclusion they must come, and soon, and on the nature of that conclusion depends their peace.
Two theories, proceeding from very different states of mind, the opposite each of the other, but each exclusive of any solution, spring from the root idea that there is something inexorably malignant in the relations between the Jew and his surroundings. In the one form this takes the shape of affirming that the unfortunate Jew is invariably ill-treated by his wicked hosts and always will be so ill-treated. In the other it takes the form of saying that the wicked Jew will always be conspiring and trying to hurt his good, kind hosts and always will be so conspiring. In either case it is no good trying to find a solution, for it is affirmed that the quarrel is in the nature of things. People will say to one, “Why attempt to change something which cannot be changed? Why talk of your material as something other than what it is? Cats will always quarrel with dogs, and if you want to avoid a quarrel the only thing to do is to keep the dogs and cats of your household apart.”
It is precisely because I do not believe either form of this idea to be true that I have sought for a solution. I do not believe either form of doctrine to be true because the evidence is against it. That evidence is to my hand and can be examined by my own unaided powers, as it can be examined by any other person in our modern society. I cannot recollect one single case in all the hundreds of Jews I have come across—not one in the score whom I can count as intimates—who showed any sign of this malignant hatred. I have heard many outbursts of exasperation which, when we think of the past, are natural enough; but of some persistent and evil desire to hurt those among whom they live, some instinctive desire unconnected with past suffering, and acting as a sort of instinct, I have seen no trace. If such were to be discovered in some exceptional Jew out of a large acquaintance I should conclude that it might be true of a small minority, but common sense and common experience are sufficient to show that it does not affect the mass.
Of the causes of friction, even of acute friction, which I have enumerated in former pages, there is the habit of secrecy, there is the mutual contempt, arising in each from a sense of superiority over the other; there is the quarrel between what is national and what is international, between what is of us and what is alien. There are, in a word, plenty of elements suggesting accidental antagonism, but of intrinsic antagonism there is no evidence—there is no evidence, I mean, that the Jews would still desire to destroy a society in which they found themselves at their ease.
And, if we examine ourselves, we shall be equally convinced that there is no corresponding desire upon our side to do a wrong to the Jew. We also are exasperated by the memory of insult in moments of quarrel, of international action opposing our national interests and of friction between what is native and what is alien; but that is a very different thing from permanent and necessary antagonism. I know very well what is called “modern thought” gives to the unconscious part of man a large place and reduces, as much as it can, the field of reason. I cannot agree with it. It seems to me that man is essentially rational; and his political relations can be arranged consonantly with his conscious morals and his conscious logic.
At any rate, if they cannot, there is an end of all statesmanship and of all useful political action even in details.
Next, there are the two converse attitudes towards the question which certainly are affecting, the one an increasing audience upon our side and the other perhaps an interested though but secret audience upon the other; I mean those two converse theories whereby, on the one side, there is the Messianic idea of the Jew ultimately controlling the world, on the other an extreme dread of that idea and a belief that it is being actively pursued to the destruction of our institutions and religion.
I can understand that, with the traditions of his race behind him and with the tone of their sacred writings in his ears, a Jew should lean in some degree to such a conception, or at any rate that some Jews should lean towards it. Certainly in face of the ridiculously exaggerated power of the Jews in recent times (it is now declining, for secrecy was of its essence and it has now been brought into the arena of open discussion) it was natural that men should fall into the exaggeration of panic. They saw the Jew, a tiny fraction of most communities, not more than a twentieth of any community, exercising a power quite out of proportion to his numbers or, indeed, to his ability; and they saw that power directed towards ends which were Jewish ends and therefore hostile or indifferent to the rest of mankind. But my reason for rejecting not only exaggerations of this idea but its fundamental implication is that it seems to me practically impossible. It connotes abilities upon the Jewish side, a continuous will upon the Jewish side, both of which are obviously absent. And you have only to look at history to see that long before things come to anything like a struggle for supremacy it is the Jew who suffers most from the suspicion of holding such a design, not we. Indeed, that is one of the important elements in the dangerous situation which has been created to-day.
That large and greatly increasing body of men who so fear Jewish domination, and are vigorously reacting against the Jews under the influence of that fear, are much more likely to end with injustice to the Jew than with subservience to him. It is from this atmosphere that the great misfortunes of the past have arisen. It is of the essence of any solution that this mood should be exorcised upon the one side as upon the other.
There is another theory which I have read of in more than one learned Jewish treatise and which has been repeated (after Jewish authors themselves had launched it) by many non-Jewish societies and historians, to the effect that the very survival of the Jews, their very existence as a separate community, was due to conditions common in the past, now disappeared, and that therefore the present difficulties can safely be left to time.
This is, of course, to make the general assertion that the Jewish race can be absorbed, and that absorption is the solution. That conclusion I summarily rejected in the earlier pages of this book on the historical ground that it has had the most favourable circumstances for success and yet has always failed. But in the particular case stated it has an argument of its own and one needing very special examination: it is this:—
Those who defend this theory tell us that however favourable the opportunities for absorption were in the past they are nothing to the opportunities of the present and the future, and that therefore the argument from history fails. In the past (they tell us) the Jews were exclusive and even made of their exclusiveness a religion. They on their side mixed as little as possible with the world around them and we on our side maintained that exclusion by an equal insistence upon the difference between ourselves and them. We had in those days, it is maintained, a religion based upon the Incarnation and therefore abhorrent to the Jew; that religion is dead or dying, and with it the tendency to exclusion from outside has disappeared; while on the Jewish side there is also a great weakening of the old religious bond, less of the old Messianic dogma, and on both sides the enormous melting-potI borrow the metaphor from Mr. Zangwill, who applied it to New York particularly. I apply it to the whole modern industrial world. that makes for absorption with an intensity and rapidity quite unknown in the past. It was one thing to absorb the Jew when it took a month to go as an ordinary traveller from London to Rome, it is another thing when it takes three days. It was one thing to absorb the Jew when in the greater part of cases there was a bar to the mixing of the races, based upon the nerves of religion, it is quite another thing to absorb the Jew when those most powerful of emotional forces have disappeared—and so forth.
Now the reasons which bring me to reject this theory are two-fold.
In the first place, I think it exaggerates the contrast between the past and the present. In the second place, I know that in the actual world before me and precisely under those conditions where the fusion, the action of the “melting-pot,” ought to be most complete, the most violent reaction against absorption is to be observed.
As to the contrast between the past and the present, I think it is based upon an imperfect apprehension of what our past has been. It comes of that “telescoping up” of history to which I alluded in another connection in my second chapter.
The long story of our race between the Roman occupation of Judæa and the modern local and ephemeral industrial phase of the great modern towns is not divided into two chapters, the strange past and the comprehensible present. It is much of a muchness. The constant developments which astonish us to-day in physical science, for instance, are not more remarkable than the vast new developments in architecture and philosophy which marked the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The disturbance of thought which may be called “modern scepticism” is not anything like so important a spiritual change as that tremendous revolution which we call the conversion of the Roman Empire. The area of scepticism is not larger to-day than it has been in many special periods of the past. The feeling of strong religious emotion which forbids this or that action is still present among us, sometimes attached to its older objects, sometimes (as in the craze for prohibition) to some novel object. The indifference which you will find to the particular religious barrier between Jew and non-Jew is not peculiar to our times. It has come and gone in the past; after a wave of such indifference you have had a wave of the most acute reaction, and I think you are observing a wave of such reaction to-day.
Nor do I see how the rapidity of mere physical communications affects the matter, nor even how the volume of emigration affects the matter. You can get a million Jews from Lithuania to New York—a distance of 5,000 miles—in less time than you could get a million Jews from the Valley of the Rhine into Poland some centuries ago; but the million Jews seem to remain Jews just the same under modern conditions as they did in the past. Indeed, the toleration of Jews, the friendly reception of them, and therefore the opportunities for their absorption were indefinitely greater in mediaeval Poland than they are in modern America. It seems to me that the whole of this part of the argument is based upon that prevalent view of history which comes from reading our little modern text-books: and our little modern text-books are very rubbishy. It is a view which comes from that absurd emphasis upon whatever is contemporary. The modern advance of physical science is regarded as having totally changed the world inwardly as well as outwardly. We have only to look at the modern world and to compare it with any two distant, special periods we know, to discover that the difference between any pair of these three is equally striking. In many ways the modern world is much more like the world of the Antonines than it is like the world of Innocent the Great. In many ways the world of Innocent the Great is much more like the Roman Empire than the modern world. In many ways the world of Innocent the Great and our world have more in common than either has with the pagan Roman Empire. The general lesson is, therefore, that our time, with all its remarkable specialities, is but one specimen out of a great number equally individual, and certainly there is nothing in it either of religious scepticism breaking down old religious barriers or of rapidity of communication, or of any other fundamental factor, which specially suggests the absorption of the Jew.
For instance, the Jews mixed much more readily, on a much more equal footing and with far less friction among the Mohammedans at particular periods during the Islamic occupation of Spain than they do even in England to-day. Yet they were not absorbed there, any more than they were absorbed in Poland. They were not absorbed into that older, tolerant, very denationalized pagan Roman world where they so often had full civic rights and where they even manipulated, as they manipulate to-day, the finances of the community.
As for the decay of exclusiveness on their part, I see no sign of it. For this exclusiveness proceeds not so much from a particular observance which may relax at one period and tighten up at another, as from an invariable national tradition which fluctuates in intensity but never sinks so low as to jeopardize the continuance of the people.
If we turn from argument to observation, the falsity of the theory stares us in the face. We have but to take one point, where the metaphor of the “melting-pot” most applies (and to which it was originally applied), the city of New York. What has been the effect of this great influx of Jews into New York, this turning of New York into a city a third Jewish under our eyes and in so short a space of time? As we all know, the effect has been the uprising, in that once indifferent atmosphere, of such a feeling against the Jews as would appal us did we see it in the Old World. It is red hot. It is an intense reaction expressing itself with greater and greater violence every day; and the spirit of that reaction cannot be better expressed than in a phrase which we owe, I think, to Mr. Ford and his famous propaganda against the Jews, through his paper the “Dearborn Independent.” “It is all very well to talk of the melting-pot,” says he, “but so far from the Jews melting in that pot, it looks as though they wanted to melt the pot itself.”
There you have, in New York, if anywhere, an opportunity for the theory of absorption to prove itself. You have present in the field a score of different races, including great masses of a race so utterly different from ours as the negro. You have a certain small proportion of Chinamen and you have of European stocks an indefinite variety—most of them in large numbers. You have not only in local establishments or even only in civic theory, but in actual practice—in enthusiastic practice—a complete equality and a positive pride in the reception of no matter what elements of immigration, in the certitude that all can rapidly be moulded into the American form. Most of these elements were absorbed, and absorbed rapidly; where they were not absorbed there was at least peace between them. Then arrives the Jew and a totally new situation at once appears. A situation of challenge, of provocation, of admitted exclusion, of violent debate and even of clamour: but no sign of absorption. In presence of all the elements that should make for absorption, difference and hatred between Jew and non-Jew is growing in New York with the vitality of a tropical plant.
There is yet another theory which, if it were not widely held and if it had not been advanced by so many Jews themselves, I should leave aside as something comic, something unfit for serious discussion. But it has been advanced and it must be met. It is no less than the theory that there are no such people as the Jews, that the whole thing is illusion.
This monstrous affirmation is based, I need hardly say, upon what is called a “scientific” examination of the affair: for that word “scientific” has come to be associated with every kind of unreason. Men, especially Jewish men, have been found to affirm most solemnly that they had measured skulls, taken sections of hair, catalogued the colours of eyes, established facial angles, analysed blood, and applied I know not how many other tricks, with the result that no Jewish type could be discovered! People who can reason thus do not seem to appreciate the fundamental quarrel between nominalism and realism, or to have heard of the old philosophic joke on the definition of “a thing.”
We know a horse to be a horse, an apple to be an apple, a Chinaman to be a Chinaman, or a Jew to be a Jew by some process on which philosophers can debate, but upon the virtue of which no sane man doubts and upon the right action of which we base all our lives. The chemist may tell me that the chemical analysis of a lump of coal gives the same result as the chemical analysis of a diamond, to which any man capable of using his reason at all will reply that upon a very large number of other lines of analysis, colour, touch, combustibility, hardness and softness, economic value, prevalence (and so on indefinitely), the two are not the same. No analysis is complete, and if we had made no conscious analysis at all, we could still perceive at once that a lump of coal is not a diamond.
It is just the same with these pseudo-scientific attempts to disprove obvious truth. They pullulate and they are all equally ridiculous because they deduce from insufficient data. The existence and differentiation of the Jewish people as a race ethnically and as a nation politically is as much a fact as the existence of coal or diamonds. They are a nation politically because they act as a nation, because their individual members feel and exercise a corporate function. We know them to be a separate race because we can see that they are. When you meet a Jew, whether you are his enemy or his friend, you meet a Jew. He has a certain expression, a certain manner, certain physical characteristics which you may not be able to analyse at the moment you see him, but which give you the impression and the certitude that you are dealing with a particular thing, to wit, the Jewish race. It is true, of course, that the type, like all general types, fades off at the edges, and there will always be cases where you may be in doubt of whether you are dealing with a Jew or with a non-Jew, but there is a marked central type round which the Jewish racial type is built up. That is as certain as that there is a Mongolian type, or a negroid type, and so forth.
I do not take the objection very seriously. I only note it because it has been made, and may crop up in the course of any discussion on this grave political issue.
If it be true that the friction between the Jew and the civilization in which he lives is aggravated by his habit of secrecy and by our disingenuousness, by his expression of a sense of superiority which galls us, and on our side by a lack of charity and of intelligence in dealing with him, it would follow that no solution can be more than approximate: that whatever arrangement be come to the contrast will remain, and with it a certain latent friction, which always accompanies contrast.
But there is between a simmering of that kind and the active boiling of the question to-day (with the threat of its boiling over) all the difference in the world. But even though the solution be imperfect, it might be reasonably stable: we might at least have peace, though not friendship. It further follows from the elements of the problem that the solution lies along the lines of either party modifying whatever in its action is an irritant to the other; whatever, that is, can be modified by the will, and is not mixed up with something ineradicable.
The Jew cannot help feeling superior, but he can help the expression of that superiority—at any rate he can modify such expression. He can certainly, though it be at a great expense of tradition and habit, get rid of that pestilent pseudo-defence of secrecy which poisons all the relations between him and ourselves. We on our side can drop what is the converse of that secrecy, the disingenuousness, the lack of candour, into which we are fallen in our relations with the Jew. That cannot but mean a great breach with our tradition and with habit also, but the advantage is worth the sacrifice. We can (it must be the work of each individual, it cannot be a corporate work) approach the Jew with more respect and yet with more frequency. We can, I think, advance by many degrees from the lack of charity we now show, even if we despair of living in real intimacy with a people so different in their deepest qualities from ourselves.
Personally, I am not sure that such closer intimacy might not be established; I have never found any difficulty in reaching and retaining intimate acquaintance with the Jews of my own circle—but I may have been fortunate. I know that with most of my fellows it is not so, and perhaps the Jew will always remain to the mass of those about him something strange and unapproachable, and I fear, repulsive. But there is no reason, why we should mix with that hesitation in our relations an element of indifference, still less of contempt, still less, again, of cruelty.
I repeat the formula for a solution: it is recognition and respect.
Recognition is here no more than the telling of the truth: there is a Jewish nation. Jews are citizens of that nation; and recognition means not only the telling of this truth on special occasions but the use of it as a regular habit in our relations on both sides.
This statement is, upon any just analysis of the Jewish question, so obvious and so simple, that it needs neither insistence upon it nor development. Its plain statement is sufficient. But there attaches to a solution so determined a much more active and complicated question, upon the uncertainty of which not only this reform but many another has made shipwreck. The question must be answered rightly, because, if we answer it wrongly, the whole scheme fails.
The question is this: Should the social habit, the general method in writing and speaking and in all relations, precede in this case the institutional action, legal changes, constitutional definitions? Or should the legal changes, the new institutions, the constitutional definitions come first?
To decide rightly is of great moment, for this reason, that a wrong decision may destroy all the effect of goodwill.
In my judgment the wrong decision would be that which would give precedence to legal change, to new definitions, to new institutions, and attempt out of them to build a new spirit. I take it that this reversal of the true order would make all stable peace impossible.
It must be admitted, of course, that changes suggested by the Jews themselves, the development of their own institutions, a voluntary segregation of their community in other fields than those in which they have already effected that segregation, stand in another category. These new and definitely Jewish institutions we should always welcome. But the attempt at framing public regulations, which are to defend the community as a whole against an alien minority, when that minority must live with one permanently and as a regular feature of the life of the community, invariably tends to oppression, if such regulations are made the first steps in a settlement instead of being left, as they should be, to the last. Any separatist legislation should arise naturally out of a long practice and full recognition of the Jews as a separate people and of the accompaniment of that recognition with respect. If the advance is made on our side, the Jew may refuse any such bargain. He may dig his heels in and insist, as many another privileged class has insisted before him, that he will continue to enjoy all that he has ever enjoyed, that he will continue his demand for a dual allegiance, that he will insist on the very fullest recognition as a Jew, and at the same time on what is fatal to such recognition, the fullest recognition as a member of our own community.
If he does that (and there are those who tell us he will certainly do so, and will refuse all reform), then the community will be compelled to legislate in spite of him. It will be perilous for him and for us; it may even be the beginning of grievous trouble for both, but it will be inevitable. It will appear in a mass of legislation all over Europe, which will affect this country with the rest.
The present situation cannot last indefinitely. It is already uncertain even here, in England; it has reached further stages on the road to ruin elsewhere. But if the Jew sees the peril in time, and appreciates the nature of that change, the beginnings of which we have all seen and which is proceeding at so great a pace, then relations can be established out of which (later) formal rules, acceptable to both parties, should proceed. And in that case it would be, I repeat, the gravest of errors to initiate new positive laws and a new status before a foundation had been prepared by the re-establishment of honest relations; and that can only be done by a frank admission of reality, by the open and continual admission everywhere that Israel is a nation apart, is not, and cannot be, of us, and shall not be confounded with ourselves.
There is great temptation to delay, because the acuteness of the problem is not felt here as yet, among the well-to-do, and still more because it differs in different communities. The peril seems still far distant from us, though it may be at the very door of our neighbours. Routine, the inheritance of the immediate past, the false security produced by the conventions of that past, may well tempt those who dislike the effort of a change to shirk that change. But I would ask any intelligent and thoughtful Jew who still thinks he can rely upon the false position of the nineteenth century whether the same forces are there to support him to-day as were present then?
Take a particular example. In Poland and in Roumania the old fiction has been temporarily imposed by force. The Jew, who in both these countries is felt to be more alien than any other foreign European could be, is imposed upon the Government and society of each country by the Western Governments as a full citizen. The strain here is immensely aggravated because it arose not from the nature of society but from the action of outsiders; the English, the French, the American Governments (but particularly the American and the English) have erected in Eastern Europe this unstable, unjust and artificial state of affairs. It cannot last, for it is unreal.
The communities in question may make no laws which recognize the Jew; alternatively, the door is open for oppression: and the moment the hated foreign interference weakens, oppression will come.
Well, when under the pressure of a real social difficulty and a crucial one, the unreal settlement is torn up, by the passing of new laws recognizing the Jew (but harshly, and under no agreement with him) or by actual hostility, does the Jew in his heart of hearts think that he would have the same support from the West now as he would have had thirty years ago? He knows very well he would not.
Thirty years ago you would have got from all the traditional Liberalism of France, from the great bulk of its governing class and the whole of its academic organization, from what was then the solid and still respected body of old Republicans, an immediate answer to the Jewish appeal. In England that answer would have been unanimous and enthusiastic. You would have had torrents of leading articles, great public meetings, Cabinet Ministers speechifying all over the place in the sacred cause of toleration. Every one knows that to-day the appeal of the Eastern Jews, though it might still be supported officially, would be received by the public with indifference. Ten years hence it may be received with derision.
Or take another example. Let us suppose—it is highly probable—that the Zionist experiment breaks down, that Englishmen refuse to have their soldiers’ lives risked in a quarrel which is not their own and refuse to support out of their inordinate taxation a top-heavy colony which gives them no advantage and concerns them not at all. On the breakdown of that experiment, should it come soon, would there still be the support for its re-establishment that you would have had even ten years ago? There certainly would not. Ten years hence it is probable enough that you would get, not indifference to such re-establishment, but the most active hostility. All over the world the stream has turned in the same direction.
Unfortunately the effect of that change has been to excite hatred rather than a desire for a settlement and to move men towards blind action rather than towards a reasoned examination of the difficulty. That is why the thing seems to me urgent, although there are still large areas of Western society in which its urgency is masked and half forgotten.
When I say “urgent” I mean that this my essay, which is to-day still to the point, and the solution recommended in which is still feasible, may very well, within the lifetime of its writer, become old-fashioned out of all recognition. The peaceful settlement here proposed with deliberate vagueness and softness of outline may seem in a few years as out of date, as unreal through the intervening change, as do to-day the old tags about the purity of parliamentary life and the seriousness of party politics.
My solution may appear at the end of this generation as mildly inapplicable to the acute situation then arisen between the Jews and ourselves as appear to-day the old debates on the very tentative demand for Home Rule in the ’80’s. Let us act as soon as possible and settle the thing while there is yet time. For in the swirl and rapids of the modern world, which grow not less as towards a calm, but more intense as towards a cataract, every great debate takes on with every year a stronger form, a nearer approach to conflict; and none more than the immemorial debate, still unconcluded, between Islam and Christendom and the Beni-Israel.
But for my part, I say, “Peace be to Israel.”
 Except, of course, an outlawed member. The case of Dr. Levy turned out of this country by his compatriots in the Government for having written unfavourably of the Moscow Jews will be fresh in every one’s memory.
 I beg leave to introduce an anecdote. An undergraduate once said to Dr. Jowett, the Master of Balliol, “I take up the Gospels and treat them as an ordinary book.” The Master answered: “Did you not find them a very extraordinary book?” So it will prove, I think, with the fascination of Israel.
 I borrow the metaphor from Mr. Zangwill, who applied it to New York particularly. I apply it to the whole modern industrial world.