Monday, March 21, 2005
A Jew, yesterday. Read on for an unusually serious posting..
The New Anti-Semitism
Just recently, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused Europeans of harbouring a latent, even resurgent anti-Semitism. The argument as to whether Sharon was right, whether Europe is suffering from a fresh outbreak of this moral virus, has raged away ever since. Interestingly enough, however, there is evidence that Sharon was barking up the wrong tree: the place Sharon should be looking for the root cause of any ‘new anti-Semitism’ is, quite possibly, in the laboratories and seminar-halls of America, rather than the salons and pubs of Europe.
For the evidence of this, we have to go back a year or two, to ex-Malaysian PM Mahathir Muhammad’s now notorious speech to the Organisation of Islamic Countries on October 16, 2003. In this valedictory address, Dr Mahathir made, as is now well known, several extraordinary remarks about ‘the Jews’. Some of these remarks were plainly absurd: ‘the Jews invented democracy’; others were downright repellent: ‘the Jews rule the world by proxy’, ‘Jews need to be fought with brain and brawn’, Jews are ‘arrogant’, etc.
However, some of the less-noted remarks - ‘Jews invented socialism, communism and human rights as a means to get themselves accepted’ - merit further scrutiny. This is because, unlikely as it may seem, they indicate that Mahathir Muhammad has been keeping up with the latest American thinking on Jewish history from the controversial field of evolutionary psychology.
Dr Mahathir’s offensive remarks are, in particular, spookily echoic of the ideas of the US academic Kevin MacDonald. Just one indication of the central importance of MacDonald’s theories to the thinking of ‘new anti-Semites’ like Dr Mahathir came with an article by one Shahanaaz Habib in Malaysia’s pro-government newspaper The Star, on October 21st 2003. It aggressively cited Kevin MacDonald in support of the Malaysian PM’s anti-Jewish tirade.
So who is Kevin MacDonald, and what does he believe? A fifty-something Psychology professor at California State University (Long Beach), over the past ten years MacDonald has published a trilogy of works dedicated to proving that over the centuries Jews have, deliberately or no, utilised a potent ‘group evolutionary strategy’ to preserve and promote the Jewish people.
According to MacDonald and his neo-Darwinian followers, this strategy is enacted in two ways. Firstly, and principally, there is eugenics (i.e. the breeding of bright Jewish kids). Secondly, and more controversially, there is politics. In the eyes of MacDonald, Jews throughout history have tried to alter or undermine potentially hostile societies through political agitation - that is to say, by devising and/or evangelising revolutionary political philosophies. These philosophies include socialism, communism, and multiculturalism; as well as, very recently, neo-conservatism.
The first book in MacDonald’s trilogy, A People That Shall Dwell Alone, published obscurely in 1994, concentrated mainly on the eugenics. It sought to prove that Jewish laws were designed from the beginning to preserve the Jewish gene pool from the ‘pollution’ of gentile blood, and to enrich the intellectual potential of that same Jewish gene pool. In the book, MacDonald adduced a wealth of evidence to support his thoughts. He noted the rabbinical disapproval of Solomon’s foreign wives to show how Jewish authorities have always abjured outbreeding. He quoted the Talmud to prove the positive Jewish attitude to learning: ‘a man should sell all he possesses in order to marry the daughter of a scholar’.
In conclusion, MacDonald asserted the outcome of these propensities: he gave bald and unabashed figures for the predominance of Jews in American politics, media and academe; he reiterated the well-known fact that Jewish IQs are now, on average, 15 points higher than average white IQs - and 20 to 30 points higher than the average IQs of other races.
Controversial stuff. Yet the book was in some places quite politely received: famed psychologist Hans Eysenck, for one, gave the book a warm review. Perhaps encouraged by this, MacDonald then went on to publish Separation and its Discontents (1998). In this book, MacDonald broadened his theory by analysing the entire history of anti-Semitism - from an evolutionary perspective. MacDonald’s most controversial thesis here was that some anti-Semitism can be seen as a vile yet understandable reaction by host societies to the Darwinian competition afforded by clever, unassimilated Jews - Jews who are not averse to racialist practises of their own. Most notoriously, MacDonald argued that Nazi eugenic laws actually mirrored Jewish marriage laws in their regard for the ‘purity of the race’.
By this time MacDonald was at last starting to get some attention - often hostile. This attention continues today. In particular, some scientists have taken issue with the idea of the ‘group evolutionary strategy’, the idea that a group - a family, a race, the Jews - can act with the same Darwinian motivations for reproductive fitness as a single organism. Timothy Crippen, a rival US professor, thinks the idea is ‘without analytical utility’. Others have asserted that MacDonald’s supposedly
scientific books are ‘largely devoid of hard science’.
But it was MacDonald’s third book, The Culture of Critique (latest edition: 2002), that was to become the most celebrated and demonised; this is the book that appears to have been recently sitting on the Malaysian ex-Premier’s bedside table, this is the book that should be giving Ariel Sharon real concern. The idea in this simultaneously energetic and objectionable book was to deconstruct the major trends of 20th Century thought (socialism, communism, Freudian psychology, multiculturalism, inter alia) by seeing them as a product of a conscious or subconscious Jewish strategy to alter or destroy intrinsically anti-Semitic societies. MacDonald revealed how a strikingly large proportion of early communists, in the West as well as Russia, were Jewish. He showed how much early social anthropology - which MacDonald sees as culturally relativist, and therefore inimical to the self-respect of Western cultures - was propounded by Jewish thinkers: like Claude Levi-Strauss and Frank Boas.
Breathlessly, MacDonald even showed how many of the fiercest proponents of ‘multiculturalism’ were and are Jewish - MacDonald’s thesis is that post-Holocaust Jews felt the need to dilute the whiteness and Christian-ness of America so US Jews would never again face a large and potentially hostile single-race majority. Hence Lyndon Johnson’s landmark Immigration Act of 1965, sponsored by Jewish congressman Emmanuel Cellar. It ended ‘discrimination’ against Eastern European Jewish immigration, and for the first time allowed mass non-white immigration into the US.
Finally, and to cap it all off, Macdonald has turned his attention to Jewish ‘neo-conservatism’. In one essay last month he pointed out the predominance of Jews like Perle and Wolfowitz in America’s post-9/11, overtly pro-Israel weltanschauung. Of course he is not alone in noting this Jewish element: a British MP got severely criticised for doing the same a few months ago; there have been others. But the difference with MacDonald was that, where the others have seen a deliberate ‘Jewish conspiracy’ to take over America’s foreign policy, MacDonald and his followers see that same ‘group evolutionary strategy’. And, crucially, this strategy can often be subconscious: i.e. people like Wolfowitz may well think they are acting in the best interests of America, however, according to MacDonald, they are ‘self-deceived’: without realising it they are pursuing the Darwinian self-interest of the Jewish people.
The possible objections to these books - to this whole line of thinking - are, naturally, huge and multiple. Why shouldn’t Jews strive for social equality through Leftist philosophy, or indeed global democracy via neo-conservatism? Just because such proselytising may benefit them in eradicating anti-Semitism is logically irrelevant (and anyway it doesn’t always work: Soviet Russia, for instance, turned out as anti-Semitic as its Tsarist precursor).
Another objection is that the scientific analyses of MacDonald and his followers appear to wilfully ignore the Jewish contributions to Western society. Einstein, Mahler, Disraeli: are these guys part of a ‘group evolutionary strategy’ to do down their host societies? Most stark of all is the fact that nearly fifty percent of Jews in the West now out-marry: so much for those ‘rigorous’ Jewish laws on outbreeding, a vital part of MacDonald’s argument.
In this light, it would be easy to dismiss MacDonald’s theories as being merely another example of the age-old anti-Semitism Kevin MacDonald himself purports to dissect. But that might just be a bit too glib. The fact is a lot of evolutionary psychologists are respectful of MacDonald’s science, even if they find the man naive, or his motivations distasteful. David Sloan Wilson, evolutionary biologist at Binghampton New York University, considers MacDonald to be ‘right but injudicious’; Herb Gintis, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts (and himself Jewish) said last month: ‘Kevin MacDonald’s views are easy to hate... but I’m not sure they are wrong’.
And then of course there’s Doctor Mahathir Muhammad. If views like MacDonald’s are starting to gain credence with the intellectual elites of places like Malaysia - as it seems they are - for that reason alone they merit a serious and objective response by all of us. Not just Ariel Sharon.
Posted by sean at 10:23 pm