Jews, Christians, and barbarians: how the West was formed

Jeff in England asks why it took the development of “white” culture to establish the West as opposed to what he calls the “non-white” Judaic and early Christian culture, and I reply.

Jeff writes:

I think we agree that Kevin MacDonald is a Nazi thug. [LA replies: I would agree that MacDonald promotes a thoroughgoing, unrelenting demonology of the Jews that can have no other logical outcome than their extermination. So I think it’s not unfair to describe MacDonald as Nazi-like. Certainly his writings have become the main fuel and inspiration of today’s serious anti-Semites. ]

[Note to anti-Semites: this is not an invitation to get into a discussion about MacDonald.]

But his writing about the Jews is worth reading…. The Culture of Critique and A People That Dwell Alone. He does make some valid and even insightful points.

The problem is that he essentially sees Jews as a negative force for humanity and of course as a danger to white civilisation. I see them as a positive force for humanity.

Ironically, the white West (what remains of it) is built on the values and teachings of this Semitic non-white people of whom Jesus was a member.


Why did it take the development of “white” culture (and here we could argue who was white in Europe during the period Christianity and the West took hold) to establish the West as opposed to the “non-white” Judaic (and early Christian) culture (in other words the Jews themselves and early non-European Christians). [LA replies: I understand that “white” is given different definitions in different context, and here you seem to be using it for Germanic and Northern European peoples as distinct from southern European and Semitic peoples.]

This “lack” of progress to a “Western civilisation” would suggest that the ancient pagan Romans and Greeks (whom we are considering to be white for the moment) played a very strong role in this development of the West. [LA replies: this paragraph seems to contradict the previous paragraph, but I’ll let that pass.]

Now the question is, could Judaism and/or Christianity (and Jews and Christians) on their own develop a Western style civilisation? If not, why not?

Or did they need certain pagan teachings and related philosophies?

Or can it be better explained by race? That there was something in “white” people that enabled them to incorporate the essence of Judaic-Christianity and transform it into modern Western civilisation?

Or do we already consider ancient pre-Christian Rome or even Greece as Western civilisation?

Your opinions please.

LA replies:

I’ve addressed these issues before, but it will be worthwhile to summarize them again. Western culture is an amalgam. Following Toynbee, I do not consider the Greco-Roman civilization to be “the West,” but rather the parent civilization of the West. The West came into being in the Dark Ages or the Early Middle Ages, the 500 year period following the end of the Western Roman empire, with the German and Celtic barbarians adopting Catholicism and elements of the culture of the vanished classical Mediterranean world and combining them with their barbarian cultures. In this joining of the Germanic-Celtic-Barbarian and the Christian-Classical, a new culture was born. Following Henry Bamford Parkes (The Divine Order), I see the highest and most characteristic expression of this new culture in the illuminated manuscripts of the Irish monks, The Book of Kells and The Lindisfarne Gospels. In an unpublished essay on the nature of the West, I trace the career of a distinctive Western expression, from the belt buckles and ornaments of the Germanic tribesmen, to the Lindisfarne Gospels of the Early Middle Ages, to the Gothic cathedrals of the High Middle Ages, to the Art Deco skyscrapers of the 20th century.

Another typical example of this blending is the process by which the Germanic tribes developed into Christian Germanic kingdoms: the Merovingians (started by Clovis, the first German Catholic king in Europe), the Carolingians, and the Christian kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. A key book is Bede’s History of the English Church. Just as the Germanic tribes on the continent had destroyed the Roman empire, the Germanic Anglo-Saxons had destroyed the earlier Roman-Christian-Celtic culture of Britain. Before Christianity was brought to England, there was a bunch of Anglo-Saxon pagan kingdoms. Then the Pope sent the monk Augustine (not Augustine of Hippo) to England in 597 to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Catholicism. Through the Anglo-Saxon peoples becoming Christian, the English nation (that’s Bede’s phrase) came into existence.

Now the question is could Judaism and/or Christianity (and Jews and Christians) on their own develop a Western style civilisation? If not, why not?

No, since by definition the West consists of the blending of the Germanic barbarian cultures with the Classic-Christian-Hebraic civilization into something new and unique.

Or can it be better explained by race? That there was something in “white” people that enabled them to incorporate the essence of Judaic-Christianity and transform it into modern Western civilisation?

Clearly race—the race and the race-based cultures of the German and Celtic tribesmen—is an intrinsic aspect of the formation of the West. But the culture the Barbarians adopted and combined with their own was the culture-religion of the Christian-Hebraic-Classical world. The classical civilization in the West had ceased to exist. All that was left of it was contained in the Catholic Church. Then, through the Germanic peoples adopting Catholicism, this vanished civilization was in a sense reborn. This death of a civilization followed by its rebirth in a new form was a unique event in history and explains the unique “multi-layered” character of the West. Thus, for example, you had descendants of German barbarians practicing a religious liturgy that went back to the Hebrews and the Torah, a religion that began with a Jew, then was spread through the Gentile classical world by a Jewish Christian, ultimately taking the form of the Catholic Church, the liturgy of which is based in part on the ancient Jewish liturgy including both sacrifice and prayer, and which then became the state religion of the Romans! After the western Roman state had ceased to exist, all that was left of it was its state religion. This religion needed to attach itself to a state for its protection. The result was the alliance between the Church and the Carolingians and ultimately the crowning of Charlemagne as emperor in the West, replacing both the eastern Roman Empire and the vanished western Roman empire as the “state” of the state church. So, again, the West consists of Hebrew, Christian, Greek, Roman, Germanic and Celtic elements.

But I realize I haven’t quite answered your question, why couldn’t Judaism and/or Christianity on their own develop a Western style civilisation?

As is well known, the Jews as Jews could never have founded the West, because, for one thing, they were a highly particularist people whose laws and customs kept them apart from other peoples. Thus the importance of Peter’s dream, recounted in Acts, in which God tells him that all kinds of food are good, leading the Christians to drop the Jewish dietary laws, or at least not to demand that Gentile Christian converts follow Jewish dietary laws. Thus Paul’s mission to the Gentiles, ultimately approved by the Jewish Christian leaders, which took the Christian religion beyond the Jews and spread it through the Greco-Roman world, making it a universal (Catholic) religion.

So if you’re asking whether the Jews could have founded Western culture, the question is funny, because the exclusively Jewish elements of what became the West had already been transcended and incorporated in the Christian religion hundreds of years before the end of the western Roman empire and the beginnings of the new Western culture in the Dark Ages.

Nor could Roman Christians have founded the West. The Germans brought new qualities and institutions that were central to what became the West, for example, the Germanic kingship, which ultimately evolved into the Western state. Also, the Germans were less hierarchical than the Romans and the Christian Romans. They had the tradition of the king surrounded by his nobles as first among equals, an institution that ultimately evolved into Western democracy. Also, the peculiar dynamism and drive toward transcendence that characterizes the West is largely a characteristic of the Germanic and Celtic cultures, or rather of their blending with Christianity. Clear expressions of this peculiar dynamism are the Lindisfarne Gospels and Gothic architecture, neither of which could have been remotely conceived by the Jews or the Roman Christians.

- end of initial entry -

George L. writes:

I know you said you do not want to discuss MacDonald because I assume you get an avalanche of NeoNazi spam whenever you bring him up. But I think you should be made aware of something important about MacDonald’s research techniques in Culture of Critique.

A friend recently emailed me some links he found on a post at From the looks of the links, it appears that there is a considerable amount of evidence MacDonald distorted much of what his scholarly sources say.

For instance, an overly wordy essay called “Jews Race Empire” discusses how MacDonald uses psychological research to “prove” Jews are “hyperethnocentric.” In fact, those same references clearly show Jews score lower on characteristics associated with ethnocentrism than other groups. The “Jews Race Empire” article was written by Dr. David Lieberman in 2005 and I do not believe MacDonald has ever responded to it.

MacDonald also appears to use a variety of distortions in his analysis of Eastern European Communist revolutions.

The links below only deal with parts of MacDonald’s book, but the distortions appear to be widespread enough that nobody should take anything MacDonald says at face value in Culture of Critique without checking his own sources to see whether MacDonald isn’t distorting what they say. e&msg=Op7hEjLz4P7WVImwLsBcYg =&msg=C7elCpf5lP033ARNbvHjfg&user=&pw=

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 30, 2008 10:21 AM | Send

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