My preliminary responses to the Alt-Right symposium on anti-Semitism and the far right
29 at Alternative Right
Eugene Girin posted a symposium
in which three well known paleoconservatives addressed the question, “Is the Far Right Anti-Semitic?” I didn’t read it myself, but a friend read the entire article aloud to me last evening. Today I sent the following e-mail to a list of some VFR readers. It was not initially intended for public posting; I just wanted to let some people know about the Alt-Right article and my preliminary thoughts about it. Below you will see why I decided to post it.
Eugene Girin at Alternative Right interviews three figures of the “traditional right” in a supposed attempt to find common ground between the “traditional right” and Jews. In fact, all Girin manages to do is bring out the fact that these “traditional rightists” are anti-Semites. So what reconciliation is possible? How can Girin not realize that he is promoting the very anti-Semitism he claims to be concerned about?
The symposium shows again how the paleocons are stuck forever in the same dead slogans and the same obsession with the neocons. But they go beyond that. They all say now that it’s the Jews themselves that are the problem. Jews are the source of all political/cultural evil in the world.
The anti-Jewish statements made by Taki and by Paul Gottfried (the anti-Semites’ favorite Jew) are, disgustingly, what you would expect. What is utterly shocking and appalling is Serge Trifkovic’s statement. He has never been visibly anti-Semitic. But in his contribution to the symposium, he engages in a demonization of the Jewish people that goes beyond Kevin MacDonald, if that is possible. He portrays the Jews as quite simply the cause of everything bad. He describes the Jewish people as coextensive with the principle of evil and the various harms caused by leftism. The Jews are the enemy, period.
In the last part of his interview, Trifkovic returns to an old theme of his, that the Jewish problem can be happily resolved because the Jews will ultimately realize that their self-interest and survival are connected with the survival of the Western nations, which will lead them to give up their destructive and anti-national leftism. I have made that argument myself. But given the way Trifkovic talks about the Jews prior to that—as the enemy, period—his notion of a Jewish-Gentile reconciliation comes across as hollow and unbelievable.
[end of e-mail.]
This evening I received the following from Dennis Mangan:
You probably didn’t realize that I’m still on your mailing list, but rather than post this on my blog I thought I’d tell you where I disagree with your critique. While Taki does seem to admit frankly that he’s anti-Semitic, I don’t see that at all coming from Trifkovic or Gottfried. Your critique of them is, in my opinion, long on denunciation and short on criticism. For example, you state “the way Trifkovic talks about the Jews prior to that—as the enemy, period—”; yet he does not do so. I’ve had this argument with others: mentioning some fact or set of facts does not require one to mention all facts. That Trifkovic laid out a series of facts—as he sees them—doesn’t mean that that is everything he has to say about Jews, nor does it preclude positive Jewish contributions. The subject of the forum was anti-Semitism and the right, not everything that’s ever happened between Jews and Christians throughout the ages.
You write that for the paleocons, “Jews are the source of all political/cultural evil in the world.” Yet nowhere do any of them say anything like that. Not even Taki.
Rather than calling them anti-Semites, I’d much rather hear what exactly are your points of disagreement.
I replied to Mangan:
Yes, I was not aware that you were still on that list, which is a smaller list, not the larger VFR mailing list to which I occasionally send articles. Normally I would not reply to you at all. But since you have written to me in a reasonable tone, and since it was already my intention, when I write a more fully worked-out article on this issue (not the brief summary I sent today), to address some of the points you have raised, I will reply to you. What I am about to say is not a response to your point that the three paleocons in the symposium do not see the Jews as the enemy. Rather, I will deal with two questions which you have indirectly raised and which implicitly underlie your main point: (1) why paleocons in general do not see themselves as anti-Semitic; and (2) why they see the term anti-Semitism as false and illegitimate in itself, and therefore as not applying properly to anyone.
You and your confrères don’t see yourselves as anti-Semites because of the following reasoning process, which in most cases is probably implicit rather than explicit:
1. Anti-Semitism connotes something evil.
From which it follows that a more “scientific” description of your group—meaning, in Eric Voegelin’s sense of the word “scientific,” a description that takes into account your group’s own understanding of itself rather than your critics’ understanding of you—is as follows: “People who truthfully regard the Jewish people as the enemy of Western man and as the primary or sole source of the leftist evil that has undone the West.”
2. Anti-Semitism means seeing the Jews as the enemy, whether of one’s group of humanity as a whole.
3. But in reality Jews ARE the enemy.
4. Therefore it is not evil to see the Jews as the enemy; it is simply the truth.
5. Therefore anti-Semitism is a false concept. There is no such thing as anti-Semitism, meaning a wicked and irrational hatred of and opposition to the Jewish people as such.
(In passing I would add that in the same way, Muslims can be objectively described as “People who are commanded by their god to see the Jews as the enemy of mankind.”)
Now, as I have pointed out before, not all members of your group have that precise belief about the Jews. Some members of your group don’t even regard themselves as being anti-Jewish. But the belief that the Jews are the enemy is the ruling principle of your group, as shown by the fact that no one in your group can seriously challenge that belief and continue to be seen as a member of the group. In your group, disagreement on various issues is allowed; criticism of particular anti-Jewish arguments is allowed; but serious condemnation of anti-Semitism or anti-Jewishness as such is not allowed. That position is thus sacred within your group, in the same way that the belief in non-discrimination against nonwhites and non-Westerners is sacred for liberals and cannot be questioned.
With Girin’s symposium at Alt-Right in which three representative “traditional” rightists speak about anti-Semitism, the paleocons have now articulated themselves as a group whose central belief is that the Jews are the enemy.
Prior to the last few months, I had never thought or said that the paleocons are anti-Jewish as such. I began to do so in my April 21 article, “The Paleocon anti-Semitic Complex.” The Girin interviews have confirmed my insight in spades.
I will at a later point write an analysis of the Alt-Right symposium in which I support my position that the paleocons regard the Jews as the enemy.
[end of my reply to Mangan]
Note: I have not been feeling well lately and am not up to writing the full length article on this subject that is needed. I hope to be able to do so in the near future.
- end of initial entry -
Mark Jaws, who was on the original mailing list for my e-mail, writes:
I am glad you took down the Alt-Right thread on anti-Semitism. I read what those gentlemen wrote and I was not offended by it, although there were some mistakes made by all three. My take is that Jews are a very unique people with a unique claim and a unique history. There is nothing intrinsically evil about Jews, but because of history, history, and more history many Jews living in the West are indeed on the surface appear to be hard-wired against the historic ethno-culture which built America. And, it is indisputable that Jews are overwhelmingly represented in the Ruling Class, by their sheer brain power. We cannot escape that unpleasant unreality.
As long as these alleged anti-Semites acknowledge the reality that not all Jews are like that and that Jews can be as pro-white, or pro-Christian, or pro-American as John Wayne or as Lawrence Auster than I don’t care what they say about the Jewish Left. I will correct them when necessary—but I do not wish to alienate these people. Lord knows, we have too few among our numbers already.
I disagree. They are opposed to the Jews as such, as I will show later. Anti-Semites always include double language in their writings which gives them deniability. It doesn’t fool me.
EK, who was also on the mailing list, writes:
Those Jews who have strayed from their Torah have adopted the foreign gods socialism/liberalism and what have you and are outcasts amongst their own. As such they desperately seek to be adopted or loved by their neighbors. The secular Israeli leaders are in the same boat. That is why they are so confused as to who their enemies are.They have to choose either one or the other.
I think about you daily and pray that you continue your good work for many years to come
Kilroy M. writes from Australia:
What mediocrity. When you mentioned this was a “symposium,” I was expecting several in depth essays, fully referenced, from a variety of sources. What I see however is just pitiful. I had high hopes for Alt Right but have given up on reading it altogether. I also had a great deal of respect for people such as James Kalb, but I must confess that his presence there has decisively taken away a deal of that respect. These people are idiots; a wasteful distraction. Also, as I indicated in a private exchange with you some time ago, I don’t conflate the neo-pagan / black-metal / closeted-homosexual wankery (sorry, I really don’t know how else to describe it) with paleoconservatism and its deep intellectual tradition. Putting them together because they have an anti-Semitic current is an error. The traditional Catholic flavour of the present paleocon establishment, if you could call it that, puts them too much at odds to lump them together as some homogeneous “rightist” block.
Apart from the anti-Semitism, what bothered me most about the symposium was the way the three symposiasts kept self-importantly referring to themselves as “traditionalists.” As though there were some long, honored tradition of American conservatives who are neurotically obsessed with the evil of Israel and with how neoconservatives have personally harmed them, and who see the Jewish people as the primary enemy of the West.
When you mentioned this was a “symposium”, I was expecting several in depth essays, fully referenced, from a variety of sources.
A symposium does not consist of in depth scholarly essays, fully referenced to a variety of sources. It consists of the considered personal views of the symposiasts.
To those who disagree with my view that the symposium is anti-Semitic, I would say that they are not seeing the three contributions as a totality, whether individually or together. Take Trifkovic. Someone said that Trifkovic is going after the secular Jewish left, such as the Frankfurt School, not Jews as such, and therefore he’s not saying that Jews as such are the enemy. In fact, Trifkovic also attacks Talmudic Judaism for its racialism, and he connects this criticism with the racialism of the state of Israel. A critic of Jews who treats Talmudic Judaism, the Frankfurt School, and the state of Israel as a single entity that is waging a war of “escalating ferocity” on the West, is a person who is treating the Jewish people as The Enemy.
If Trifkovic had written his contribution with more care and more qualifications, he might have saved himself from the appearance of anti-Semitism. However, my feeling about his essay, with its sweeping portrayal of the Jews as the enemy, is that he is expressing something within himself which he has long held back. His sloppy outpouring is as revealing of his inner thoughts as Mel Gibson’s drunken rant in the back of a police car that all wars have been caused by the Jews.
Brandon F. writes:
I’d like to read more about your analysis of Jews being on the forefront of “destructive and anti-national leftism.”
I agree with what you say about the anti-Semitism of some of the so called paleocons but I think it is necessary to treat the amazingly high Jewish influence in the cultural rot that has taken place in the West in the last hundred years or so with the same kind of power and critical dissection you treat these Jew-haters with.
I have treated this issue repeatedly and at length for years. Go to the “VFR articles arranged by topic” on the sidebar and look for articles under Jews and anti-Semitism.
There are many entries, but in particular see these:
Why Jews Welcome Moslems [Why many Jews fear white American gentiles more than they fear Muslims. FrontPage Magazine, 2004]
The anti-Semites and me; and my solution to the Jewish problem [About Majority rights, which says my real purpose is to undermine whites for the sake of Jews.; Entry includes my solution to the Jewish problem:
Is my criticism of Jewish attitudes the same as Kevin MacDonald’s?
Thanks very much.
Bill Carpenter writes:
When I saw your note about the Girin interviews, I was hoping that Mr. Trifkovic’s position would be more like yours, i.e., criticizing “organized” American Judaism for its knee-jerk anti-American, anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-Western activism and ideology. I hoped, because of my admiration for Mr. Trifkovic and the great value of his efforts to awaken the Western world to the true nature of Islam, that his criticism of Jews would be grounded in facts such as that some 70+ percent of American Jews voted for Barack Obama for President, and thus sided with the liberal-left against the Constitution and the American people. I was disappointed. Although the argument that Jews are distinctive and follow their own interests is consistent with your position, which also involves the argument that American WASPs have abdicated their leadership and have permitted liberal Jews to undermine historic American culture, the notion that it is Jews who are destoying the historic West is preposterous. Last time I looked, the leading lights of Enlightenment rationalism were Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Leibnitz, Hume, Voltaire, Diderot, Kant, Rousseau, Bentham, etc., who are not particularly Jewish in their orientation or ethnicity. The anti-religious strain of Enlightenment thought that flowered in the French revolution is not of Jewish origin, nor is revolutionary socialism. These have always had non-Jewish American and English proponents and sympathizers, as has Enlightenment anti-nationalism. Jews, if anything, are Johnny-come-latelies to Enlightenment irreligion, universalism, and Jacobinism. Thus, Mr. Trifkovic is simply wrong to attribute Western self-destruction to the Jews. I would recommend to him the Voegelinian analysis of the West’s deviation from its orientation to the divine as a more cogent diagnosis of the West’s present state.
American Jews are mostly so-called liberals. That is bad for American society. American Jews are predominantly anti-Christian. That is also bad for American society. But liberalism would be the dominant ideology of American society even if no Jews had ever set foot on American soil. Liberalism is a response to industrialization and the creation of mass society, as is Communism, as is Naziism. Even in the early 20th century, it was recognized that liberalism had mutated from promoting liberty above all else to promoting “harmony.” The WASP ProgressIves gave that trend a highly effective political expression. Even earlier, we can read in Jeffrey Hummel’s account of the aftermath of the Civil War how the Radical Republicans, when they took control of southern state governments, promoted social revolution and massive government spending, intervention, and debt, just like the Democrats of today. It is a gross distortion to put Jews at the center of it.
Liberal Jews, like liberal Christians, use the good reputation of their abandoned religion to promote their adopted religion, which is liberalism. Conservative Jews, like conservative Christians, could probably spend more time taking to task the abusers of their traditional creed. If anything, the majority of Jews deserve more criticism for not being good enough Jews than for being Jews, just as with the majority of Christians are not good enough Christians. The anti-Semites should spend more time in mainstream American churches—they would quickly be disabused of the idea that anti-white, anti-American, anti-Western ideology is a Jewish creation.
Mr. Girin, who used to publish at VDare, once published a memorable statement by a Hasidic rabbi, I think given to his congregation at a Hannukah gathering: “God rules the world, not the United Nations.” A traditionalist conservative has to like that.
George Washington and John Adams were very sympathetic to the American Jews of their era. It is doubtful that those were the Jacobin, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish Jews that are visible today.
One of Mr. Trifkovic’s strengths is bringing to the fore the Eastern Christian experience of Islam. Possibly we are seeing in his remarks an Eastern Christian antagonism to Jews, akin to the judgment of the early Western church that Jews were justly punished by God for their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. I hope Mr. Trifkovic will recognize that Jews have not led or caused the self-destruction of the West, but at most have participated in it energetically with their fellow Westerners.
Thank you for capturing what was also my reaction. I would have thought that Trifkovic would have had a nuanced and balanced account of the Jewish problem. Instead, he said that Jews qua Jews are waging a relentless and ever-escalating war against the West. I cannot overstate the shock and horror I experienced as I read his article. It was as though he had gone in one step from being the Trifkovic I was familiar with to a Trifkovic who is indistinguishable from any number of whacked-out anti-Semites, with the exception of his call for Jewish / Gentile reconciliation, which, given his nuance free portrayal of the Jews as the Enemy of the West, was totally contradictory and unconvincing. It was as though he had changed the diagnosis half of his argument, turning it into an anti-Semitic argument, and didn’t realize that as a result of that change, the prognosis half of his argument (that Jews will come to see the need for supporting the West against the non-West and Islam) was no longer believable. If the Jews are as aggressive and hostile toward the West as Trifkovic says, they are not going to join with Western Christians no matter what.
I also believe that Eugene Girin is in deep delusion not to realize that his symposium, which was aimed at finding a basis for cooperation between Jews and paleocons, has achieved the exact opposite, by releasing an explicit paleocon anti-Semitism never seen before, and further, because he considers the three paleocons to be representative of the paleocon movement, he has made such anti-Semitism seem the defining feature of paleoconservatism.
John McNeil writes:
I’d thought I’d share with you my thoughts on the Symposium and some recent developments at AltRight.
I understand that you interpret the Symposium as a symphony of anti-Semitism. Fair enough. Taki freely admits his anti-Semitism and utters the most vile smears against the Jews. Any ounce of respect I may have had for him is forever gone.
However, I ask that you look at Trifkovic’s contribution from another perspective. You have noted that Trifkovic has never demonstrated any indication of anti-Semitism in the past. Is Trifkovic falling under the influence of MacDonald, Duke, and Linder? I personally do not think so; a while back he published a bold pro-Israel article on AltRight, much to the outrage of AltRight’s anti-Semitic readers. I don’t think Trifkovic has had any recent conversion; rather I think he’s trying to throw a bone to the many anti-Semites that make up the paleocon/white nationalist community. His concessions to them are as follows:
- Jews are unique, with a special religion that makes them stand out amongst gentile whites. This lead to a sense of “otherness” which inevitably leads to division. This is not a damning insult to Jews, but rather acknowledging the reality of group differences.—“since the late 1800’s the Jews have had a disproportionate impact on a host of intellectual trends and political movements which have fundamentally altered the civilization of Europe and its overseas offspring in a manner deeply detrimental to the family, nation, culture, racial solidarity, social coherence, tradition, morality and faith.” This is controversial, and yet by saying since the late 1800’s, rather than since time itself, Trifkovic is not aligning himself with biological reductionist anti-Semitism. Nor is he blaming all Jews, rather he is acknowledging that many people of Jewish background were involved with early leftist/radical movements. It would have been better if he made himself more clear, but I think I see what he is trying to say.—“Only one group and one nation-state remain exempt from the dictates of pluralism and diversity, and from the condemnation (heading towards criminalization) of any form of group solidarity based on blood, culture and faith.” Jews have accomplished what many on the Euro Far-Right dream of: an ethnostate. While I disagree with the premise of Jews being immune from the forces of multiculturalism (Israel is regularly demonized, and no doubt the persecution will increase), it can be argued that the Jews were given a green light on something that we on the Far Right desire, and that’s what leads to a sense of unfairness.
[LA replies: Trifkovic’s arguments are pathetic, and your desperate, laborious efforts to make him seem ok are not up to the usual admirable standard of your writings. First, Israel came into existence for one particular purpose: to provide a historically persecuted people, a people one third of whom had just been dispossessed and mass murdered, with a homeland of their own where they could live in safety. So of course Israel is not like other, multiethnic countries—for intrinsic and necessary reasons. The paleocons’ endless moronic whining about the “double standard” is beyond pathetic and is really just a front for their anti-Semitism. By denouncing Israel’s Jewishness, they are pretending that the reason that Israel came into existence, to provide a safe place for the Jewish people, is illegitimate, which means that they are denying the reality of the Nazi Holocaust. As I’ve said a million times, if the paleocons were sincere and principled about the “double standard” of which they whine, they would be calling for our country to maintain and restore its historic ethnic identity, rather than endlessly demonizing Israel for having an ethnic identity. The fact that they demonize Israel for having an ethnic identity proves beyond a doubt that they do not believe in the ethno nationalism they say they believe in. What they believe in is destroying Israel. As I’ve also said many times, the paleocons hate the things they hate—namely the Jews and Israel—more than they love the things they pretend to love—namely ethnonationalism.
Second, It is not true that Israel is “free from condemnation,” since it is by far the most condemned country on earth—another tiny fact the paleocons and now Trifkovic have missed.
Third, lots of countries in the world have ethnic bases and are not condemned for them. Trif’s statement to the contrary is sheerest idiocy. He hasn’t noticed that Saudi Arabia is an ethnically Arab country? He hasn’t noticed that China is an ethically Chinese country, and that the Chinese behave in a highly ethnocentric way wherever they settle in their world wide diaspora? He hasn’t noticed that Japan is an ethnically Japanese country? I don’t believe that such a gross error by Trifkovic can be explained by some prudent design on his part to reach out to the more mild anti-Semites; in my view it can only be explained as the impulsive outpouring of an anti-Israelism that he has concealed up to now.]
These three points: that Jews are a different people, Jews played a role in leftist developments, and that Jewish devotion to Israel and opposition to white ethnonationalism is hypocritical, are the most common talking points of the anti-Semites that have some kernel of truth mixed in with bigotry. I believe that Trifkovic acknowledges these things, but then moves on to make the case of why he believes that Jewish/White gentile interests don’t have to be at odds. Trifkovic’s bones is an attempt at getting the more mild anti-Semites not to see him as an apologist for the Jews, but rather as someone who’s looking out for white interests, and sees friendly relations with the Jews as serving white interests. No warm emotion there, but sometimes a more practical case needs to be made.
I’ve been trying to do the same thing (getting paleocons/WNs to see Jews as allies rather than adversaries), and yet I haven’t tried throwing bones. Rather I have tried making the case for a philo-Semitism that does not have to be compromising. My attempts have largely been unsuccessful, and yet because of my staunch WN views, I am rarely accused of being a ZOG. This allows me to continue setting an example of philo-Semitism mixed with genuine pro-white ideology. I believe Trifkovic has been trying to do the same thing, and yet he feels that the three concessions he made in the symposium was the hook for the Jewish bashing commentators to hear him out. A chance to make them listen to reason.
And I believe Richard Spencer is turning towards this strategy. From the beginning of his website he has sought to include Jewish (ethnic and/or religious) writers, such as you, Gottfried, Girin, Ilana Mercer, etc. His latest article is interesting.
Again, it’s nothing lovey-dovey. It’s cold hard analysis. Spencer makes similar concessions on the Jews. And yet his premise boils down to trying to get the WN/paleocon world to drop the animosity and understand the reality: Jews as a collective people are not our foes, and there is room for mutual cooperation. To me this is heads and shoulders above the biological reductionism of the MacDonaldoids or the exterminationist ideology of Linder. Is it as powerful as Nick Griffin’s repudiation of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories? No. But it’s progress. And I think it would be wise for us to encourage this, and help build momentum in a positive direction.
My two cents anyway.
(As an aside, the anti-Semite brigade is already accusing Richard Spencer of being the next William F Buckley. And Trifkovic isn’t receiving much love from them either. But perhaps it’s a way to reach out to the more mild anti-Semites. At best, Spencer will realize that in order for his vision to mature, he’ll need to move beyond the anti-Semites, and cut ties with them. The paleocon/WN community needs new blood, and I think finally exorcising the demon of anti-Semitism will help in making that possible.)
I am not interested in the efforts of anti-Semites to conjure up an anti-Semitism one shade less pathological than the standard anti-Semitism. The whole thing is rotten and sick inside and out. The only solution for them is to give up their pathological anti-Semitism, and exchange it for a rational approach to the Jewish problem, including rational criticism of the Jews.
Kilroy M. writes:
“A symposium does not consist of in depth scholarly essays, fully referenced to a variety of sources. It consists of the considered personal views of the symposiasts.”
Be that as it may, a “symposium” connotes a somewhat more profound treatment of a subject matter than what we have exhibited on Alt Right. [LA replies: Fair enough.] But what I never understood about these people is that they attack another group for exhibiting the very characteristics that they claim European peoples should manifest: ethnic and cultural solidarity. Their anti-Semitism is built on the foundations of envy. [LA replies: I don’t agree. I think it’s build on the foundation of hatred of Jews. A part of that hatred would seem to be based, not in envy exactly, but in resentment at Jewish accomplishments and smarts—accomplishments and smarts which become unbearable when combined with Jewish distinctiveness. That in my view is the true nature of the “Jewish problem”—the combination of Jews’ enduring distinctiveness with their above average abilities, which results in disproportionate influence by a group that in a profound sense remains “other.” The solution to that, as I have stated many times, is for the majority group to act like the majority group, like the leaders of society, not like whining losers, and to insist that as long as individual Jews see themselves as a different people, as the representatives of immigrants, as the representatives of “diversity,” as the tribunes for the outsiders, as the champions of the unassimilable, as a people challenging the nation’s culture rather than being part of it, then such Jews should not be accepted in positions of mainstream cultural and political leadership, but rather should be seen as an unassimilated minority. Jews who express their own identity in terms of otherness do not have the right to be seen as leaders and representatives of the national culture. Prior to the 1960s, Jews had to respect and conform themselves to the American Anglo-Saxon majority culture, at least in the public sphere, if they wanted to be fully accepted in that culture. The return to that rational and civilized pre-1960 standard is the way to solve the Jewish problem, or at least to manage it acceptably, since the Jewish problem—which I define as the combination of the Jews’ persistent differentness with their disproportionate accomplishments—will always exist. But, to repeat, such a return to better standards requires that the white Gentile majority begin acting like the majority again, like the leaders, like the parents of America, not like whining adolescents. What is leadership? It is articulating good and rational standards, and then standing behind them and enforcing them. The anti-Jewish paleocons are no more capable of exercising intellectual and moral leadership than a black street thug is capable of arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.] If their activities were focused on reinvigorating European cultural confidence, instead of denigrating Jews for doing what any sane people who want to increase their influence and strength would and should do, would you then agree they could well call themselves Traditionalists? [LA replies: Yes.]
I read your posts on the Alt Right Symposium, and was left a bit confused over where you thought that legitimate criticism of Jewish leftism shades over into irrational anti-Semitism. Your response to Brandon, citing your article, “Is my criticism of Jewish attitudes the same as Kevin MacDonald’s,” cleared it up for me. The distinctions you draw there are just the ones that I have held.
For those of your readers who may not have followed this issue with close attention, it might be helpful to lay down the basic distinctions in current posts, even at the risk of repetition.
My life must be slavery to constant repetition. Do you have any notion of how tiresome it is always to have to say, “As I have said many times before…”?
Roland D. writes:
I’m a paleocon and I’m not anti-Semitic.
Of course, I’m not a Taki or a Paul Gottfriend, I’m just a random nobody—but I’m not in the least anti-Semitic.
I’ve told you before that I believe that the interests of the United States and the State of Israel are not always in alignment—that in fact, they’re often at odds with one another—but this has nothing to do with the fact that Israel is a primarily Jewish nation. I could care less if the population of Israel were primarily composed of Jews, Huguenots, Hare Krishnas, or Rotarians; my concern is with the geopolitics of the situation, nothing more. As a paleocon, my outlook is Palmerstonian in nature—i.e., no permanent allies, only permanent interests.
I also think that the view of Israel as a puppet of the United States (or vice versa, heh) is actively harmful to the security of the Israeli people. Definitely unhelpful, in many quarters.
My view is that the United States should sell Israel whatever she wishes to buy in terms of armaments, but end all subsidies and pretty much leave Israel to her own devices. This is my view for the whole of the Middle East, btw, not just Israel—I want the United States out of the Middle East, *now*.
So, you may wish to reconsider branding all us paleos as anti-Semitic. Many of us are just old-fashioned isolationists, and isolationism does not equal anti-Semitism. Disagreement with some of the policies of the State of Israel does not equal anti-Semitism, either.
Well I’d say your position is analogous to that of a feminist who says that she doesn’t believe that feminism requires complete equality of outcome between woman and men or a war on men and marriage, but that feminism just means that people should treat each other fairly. Problem is, that’s not what feminism actually means. Your personal definition of paleoconservatism is not relevant. What is relevant is what representative, well known paleoconservatives say paleoconservatism is. And that’s what the Alt-Right symposium was about. They make opposition to the Jews qua Jews central to paleoconservatism.
Mark P. writes:
This is a very interesting problem. I’d like to run my take on the matter with you to see what you think.
As you may have gathered from much of my correspondence, I am basically an anti-Leftist. It is probably accurate to say that I despise the Left much more than I love what they seek to re-make or destroy. It is not, of course, that I do not agree with the traditionalist project. I sincerely do. It is just that so much of society is so riddled by the cancer of Leftism that excising some or much of what is good about Western civilization to get rid of the bad seems inevitable. If, for example, property rights need to weakened to undermine Hollywood’s intellectual property, then I am for that. If movement and speech of Left-wing operatives and their various organaizations must be severely restricted and their members segregated, then I am for that. If a “Pinochet-style solution must be applied, then I am for that. I will simply no longer entertain any more liberaltardian nonsense about “slippery-slopes” and “unintended consequences” and other such mystical “parades of horribles” that have reduced much of the Right to bean-counting over taxes and deficits. I want the Left gone … and by any means necessary … and sooner rather than later so that I am young enough to still enjoy the new renaissance.
Now, my position is not remotely anti-Semitic. I do not single out Jews for any sort of special treatment. The Leftist, be he Jew or Gentile, either repents and accepts the New Word … or he gets the Sword. Yet, is this really the case? Wouldn’t an Anti-Leftist position inevitably become interpreted as an anti-Semitic movement? After all, Jews are disproportionately represented in many activities that the Right hates. Would it really be above the Left, especially at the point of rapidly-declining power, to equate anti-Leftism with anti-Semitism as a last ditch effort? Wouldn’t a substantial percentage of Jews adopt this view themselves, just like a substantial portion of them vote Democrat? Are the Paleos merely confronting a problem on the front-end (being ahead of the curve) that even I would have to eventually deal with … but on the backend?
I understand that one needs to stand up for more than that which they despise, but the tradtionalist movement will still need a strong “tear-down” mentality if it is going to defeat the Left. I think you will have to deal with that on the backend as well.
D. from Seattle writes:
I read your brief response to the Alt-Right symposium and then went and read the articles by Taki, Trifkovic and Gottfried. Taki’s was what you’d expect from him—sour, self-righteous tone, cheering for the Palestinians; deja vu. Gottfried is long-winded and sometimes difficult to follow, and has his constant theme of “neocons screwed me out of my professorship” but I didn’t notice anything really anti-Semitic; I would have to read it again carefully to see if I can find something of the kind.
However I am surprised by your characterization of Trifkovic’s article as anti-Semitic; I really don’t see any animus for Jews qua Jews there. He is critical of leftist Jewish disproportionate influence various -isms that have harmed the West, but I thought what he wrote was so descriptive and non-prejudiced that it could have been written by you. Just to make sure, I have searched for a phrase “criticizing Jews” on VFR and scanned the first page of results and thought that what you have written in the past about Jews advancing non-Western positions is pretty much in line with what Trifkovic wrote for the Alt-Right symposium.
I will look forward to further posts on this topic.
I have already addressed your question somewhat in this thread and will address it more fully in a subsequent post. For the moment, I would say, look at the total thrust of Trif’s statement. To my mind, that total thrust is not merely a repetition of rational statements he has made in the past. To me, it is utterly unlike anything he has previously said. However, there is obviously a difference of opinion between us on this, and I’m going to have to go through Trif’s statement line by line to explain to you why I see it the way I see it.
Bill Carpenter writes:
If anything, the majority of Jews deserve more criticism for not being good enough Jews than for being Jews, just as with the majority of Christians are not good enough Christians.
I think Mr. Carpenter has the heart of the matter right here. I can think of nothing to add except that we all should remember that we are fallen creatures, and the cause of that fall is arrogance. Modern Liberals whether Jews or not are nothing if not arrogant. One could make the same statement about the Paleocons.
Mark P. writes:
I like what you wrote here:
I don’t agree. I think it’s build on the foundation of hatred of Jews. A part of that hatred would seem to be based, not in envy exactly, but in resentment at Jewish accomplishments and smarts—accomplishments and smarts which become unbearable when combined with Jewish distinctiveness. That in my view is the true nature of the “Jewish problem”—the combination of Jews’ enduring distinctiveness with their above average abilities, which results in disproportionate influence by a group that in a profound sense remains “other.” The solution to that, as I have stated many times, is for the majority group to act like the majority group, like the leaders of society, not like whining losers, and to insist that as long as individual Jews see themselves as a different people, as the representatives of immigrants, as the representatives of “diversity,” as the tribunes for the outsiders, as the champions of the unassimilable, as a people challenging the nation’s culture rather than being part of it, then such Jews should not be accepted in positions of mainstream cultural and political leadership, but rather should be seen as an unassimilated minority. Jews who express their own identity in terms of otherness do not have the right to be seen as leaders and representatives of the national culture. Prior to the 1960s, Jews had to respect and conform themselves to the American Anglo-Saxon majority culture, at least in the public sphere, if they wanted to be fully accepted in that culture. The return to that rational and civilized pre-1960 standard is the way to solve the Jewish problem, or at least to manage it acceptably, since the Jewish problem—which I define as the combination of the Jews’ persistent differentness with their disproportionate accomplishments—will always exist. But, to repeat, such a return to better standards requires that the white Gentile majority begin acting like the majority again, like the leaders, like the parents of America, not like whining adolescents. What is leadership? It is articulating good and rational standards, and then standing behind them and enforcing them. The anti-Jewish paleocons are no more capable of exercising intellectual and moral leadership than a black street thug is capable of arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.]
I think this is right, but herein lies the problem. Such a program as you suggest would still be defined as anti-Semitic, with all of the onsequences. Then what?
Yes, this position would be seen by many as anti-Semitic. The answer is to show that it’s not anti-Semitic, but logical and right. For example, leaders of Jewish organizations who openly declare that Jews are permanent outsiders and that the Jews’ mission in history is to fight for the outsider, not for their country, have placed themselves outside America and have disqualified themselves from representing America. No legislation would be needed for this. Jews who deliberately place themselves outside America simply need to be called and challenged on what they themselves have said about themselves. This type of moral and rhetorical pressure, exerted on Jewish spokesmen, would tranform the dynamic of American society vis a vis Jews. And of course the same type of attitude is needed toward other minority groups as well. For example, blacks who openly place their identity and loyalty in Africa rather than America should be immediately called and challenged on their standing to speak for America. Blacks who engage in race-conscious “brother” talk in front of whites should be instantly told that they can’t do this. Since whites can’t express racial solidarity with whites in public America, neither can blacks. And so on.
What’s needed is intellectual and moral pressure exerted on minorities who have shown that they place themselves outside America or its mainstream rules, yet who still expect to be treated as having moral authority in matters pertaining to mainstream America. What’s required is conservatives articulating correct standards and then standing behind them and enforcing them.
James P. writes:
“Your personal definition of paleoconservatism is not relevant. What is relevant is what representative, well known paleoconservatives say paleoconservatism is. And that’s what the Alt-Right symposium was about.”
I don’t think those three represent anything but themselves. They have not answered the question, “Is the Far Right Anti-Semitic?” Rather, they have answered the question, “Are Taki, Gottfried, and Trifkovic anti-Semitic?” (and answered it in the affirmative). If they are indeed the public, quasi-official face of paleoconservatism, then the movement is in deep trouble, for their opinions are poorly conceived and poorly expressed. This is not a recipe for political success.
Please remember the principle of Voegelinian representation which I regularly employ in cases like this. A nation, a political society, a political party, a social club, a web magazine, tells the world what it is by expressing its own understanding of itself. When a web magazine purporting to represent the paleocon right (or the far right or the alternative right, or whatever term it uses) publishes a symposium the purpose of which is to state what leading and recognized paleocons think about paleoconservatism and anti-Semitism, such an article is presenting itself to the world as representative of paleoconservatism. And therefore it can be taken as representative.
Similarly, when I was writing “The Centrality of Jihad in Islam” at FrontPage in 2004 (I’m having trouble linking it at the moment), I read the Declaration on Human Rights in Islam signed by the Organization of Islamic Conference. The OIC consists of the 57 Muslim majority countries in the world. That Declaration was the way that the Islamic umma, as the Islamic umma, was formally expressing its position. It can be fairly taken as representative of the Islamic view of human rights; The Declaration stated over and over that human rights in Islam must be understood and applied in the light of sharia, meaning that Islam subordinates human rights to sharia. Such a statement is the best indicator of how Islam stands on human rights. It doesn’t matter that individual Muslims, like Zudhi Jasser, that deluded or deceptive moderate Muslim in Arizona, has a different view of Islam. Very simply, Zuhdi Jasser doesn’t count. He is not representative of Islam. He has no authority in Islam. He’s just a guy with his own opinion. By contrast, a formal document signed by the 57 Muslim majority countries is representative of Islam.
While Robert Spencer has never given any indication that he has read Voegelin, he deserves credit for constantly employing the Voegelinian principle of representation in order to understand Islam. He’s always rhetorically demanding of the moderate Muslims, “Show me the recognized Muslim authorities who” (e.g.) “reject the sharia command that apostates must die.” And since there are no such recognized Muslim authorities, Spencer concludes, with unanswerable logic, that Islam does not reject the death of apostates but commands it.
By employing the Voegelinian principle of representation, one can understand what a group or a society is. A group or a society has an essence, and it expresses this essence through representative symbolizations and texts, through statements by its recognized leaders, and so on. The Voegelinian approach helps us escape the nominalistic forest of confusion in which there are a lot of opinions about what a thing is, and everyone is free to think about it what he wants. In that nominalistic forest, Roland has his idea of what paleoconservatism says about the Jews, and it is considered as valid as what a leading paleoconservatism magazine says paleoconservatism says about the Jews. The nominalistic approach precludes the identification of the truth of a thing; the Voegelinian approach makes such identification possible.
John McNeil replies to LA:
I am not being desperate; I am trying to understand Trifkovic, who is a man who has never expressed any anti-Semitic beliefs, and has taken positions in opposition to anti-Semitism. I just don’t see how a staunch Israel defender and someone who has endured the verbal slings and arrows of the anti-Semites could all of a sudden become an anti-Semite. This is what leads me to think that Trifkovic has an ulterior motive as far as expressing his opinions to the AltRight readers.
“I am not interested in the efforts of anti-Semites to conjure up an anti-Semitism one shade less pathological than the standard anti-Semitism. The whole thing is rotten and sick inside and out. The only solution for them is to give up their pathological anti-Semitism, and exchange it for a rational approach to the Jewish problem, including rational criticism of the Jews.”
Fair enough. I personally see this as a victory. When Hunter Wallace clashed with Alex Linder, he saw himself facing the logical endpoint of anti-Semitism: extermination. He found that disgusting, and it made him rethink many of his anti-Semitic beliefs. He still clings to some of them; anti-Semitism is a virus that is hard to purge. And yet he has softened, taken flak for it, and may move even further in our direction. I saw a recent article on OD condemning Holocaust Denial. Is this Geert Wilders? No, but I think we should see the possibilities. [LA replies: I personally am completely uninterested in dialogues among different degrees of anti-Semites; if you want to follow and encourage such dialogues, fine. I have complimented you for your efforts. But it is not what VFR is about.]
Anti-Semitism is irrational, and it needs to be replaced by more rational thinking. But how does one purge it? I think my fundamental disagreement with you is that one cannot switch from MacDonald to Wilders overnight; they need conditioning. Someone who believes that the Jews are sworn enemies and Israel is an evil abomination holds onto to irrational beliefs and cannot be reasoned with. But there are those that don’t cling to such extreme beliefs; a spectrum, or shades of anti-Semitism, as you noted. I believe there’s a point where you can reach out to a certain number, and gradually get them to let go of their anti-Semitism. I think this is why Jared Taylor is so insistent on including Jews in his conferences; this exposes people with anti-Semitic beliefs to meet Jews that challenge their stereotypical misconceptions about Jews. Some, like David Duke who attended the infamous 2006 conference, will never see the light, but others may very well rethink some of their positions. I think Richard Spencer’s article and the Symposium are attempts at doing this as well; trying to get paleocons/WNs to not see Jews as enemies is a first step towards conditioning people to let go of their irrational beliefs. [LA replies: again, if moderately pathological anti-Semites want to try to persuade extremely pathological anti-Semites to change their way of thinking, fine, let them do it. But VFR is not about having dialogues with anti-Semites or encouraging dialogues among anti-Semites.]
Now I ask you. You’re firm in your opposition to any attempt at gradually reducing anti-Semitism. You want a 180 degree conversion. How does one accomplish that? What is your vision? How do we build an effective movement when many who would normally agree with us on many things are under the influence of anti-Semitism? [LA replies: I don’t believe as a general rule that anything positive can come out of anti-Semitism, or that a sane politics can evolve out of anti-Semitism. Yes, I am aware of exceptions, such as Nick Griffin, and I gave serious attention over the years to his transformation of the BNP and gave him credit for it. But he didn’t do that because of me. I could have had nothing to do with such a process and would not have been able to help it along. I am aware that there are people, such as yourself, who feel that such efforts are worthwhile. And I say again, fine, do it, if you have such a calling. But it is not my calling. My calling is to remain completely removed from anti-Semites. ] What is a better than strategy than trying to divide the anti-Semitism and pull the more mild half into our orbit?
Leonard K. writes:
I am surprized that in your discussion about the Altright “simposium,” you did not object to Israel being called ethno-centric. It is not.
As a favor, please don’t tell me that you’re “surprised” because I didn’t make a point you would have expected me to make. Just tell us what the point is that YOU think should have been made. Please understand how tiresome it gets for me, being regarded by readers as though I were the ultimate Answerman of the universe, and therefore the norm is that I answer every possible point in every circumstance and every discussion, and therefore it’s “surprising” if I don’t answer every single possible point in every discussion. Can you see what a burden that is to place on me?
On top of which, Leonard, instead of your telling us in what sense it is not true that Israel is ethno centric, all you did was send us to a 500 word long section of a Wikipediea article, where WE have to figure out what you meant by that.
In other words, you found fault with me for not countering the point that Israel is ethnocentric, while you yourself also failed to counter that point. You could have summarized in a couple of sentences in what sense Israel is not ethno centric, but you didn’t bother. Indeed, now that I have read the 500 word long Wiki section that you linked, I still don’t know what you meant. Do you mean that Israel is not ethnocentric because it has non-Jewish migrant workers? Or do you mean something else? I don’t know.
So how about being a little more proactive here and not just complaining about the things that I didn’t say? How about saying yourself the thing you thought that I should say?
Demographically, Israel is 75 percent Jewish, 20 percent Arabic, and five percent everything else. Israeli Arabs are not migrant workers, but citizens of Israel, and Arabic is the second official language of Israel, after Hebrew. That’s why I don’t see how it is more “ethno-centric” than most of the countries in the world.
Thank you. Now I know what you meant.
The other side will of course reply that although 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Arabs, Israel is still officially a Jewish state.
Robert B. from Minnesota writes:
Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well—I myself began the Summer with three weeks of Mexican swine flu and am now healing from cracking a couple of ribs on my backside.
It’s interesting that you should post the Alternative right nonsense—just Saturday while surfing, I read an essay by Pat Buchanan on Arizona and the government making war on its own people, clicked the link at the bottom to take me to buchanan.org and low and behold, his website was one anti-Israel screed after another—it shocked me, it truly did. Came to find out that Pat Buchanan does not now, nor ever has, owned the website that uses his name and promotes his writings—someone else does. That being said, I think it’s a shame Buchanan has chosen the “blame Israel” mentality, a shame because otherwise, he writes well on the dangers of the left and the peril our nation is in.
What I have noticed over the last five years or so is, that as the left ratchets up its anti-Israel (and now anti-Jew) rhetoric, the Far right is also doing so—makes one wonder, does it not? Does the Far right think it’s okay now that the left is doing so? Not sure, but as bashing Israel went mainstream on the left, its rabid types began their anti-Jew rhetoric as well. Now that the left is openly anti-Jew, the Far right is increasingly anti-Jew. The movement on the left began in Europe and so did the movement on the right in this sense—just witness Cameron’s statement along with all those who agree with him on the site you linked to the other day. And notice how they prefer the Arabs over the Jews? That’s why I call it “anti-Jew” instead of anti- Semitism.
As a child growing up, I never heard any anti-Jewish comments. My dad’s parents and my dad and brother, etc. attended the most elite school in the Midwest—St. Paul Academy and Summit School. SPA always admitted Jewish boys and girls—so long as they could pay the tuition. My grandfather and grandmother had Jewish friends—none other than Arthur Rothstein spent three months with them on their farm during the Great Depression, and the photos he took are in the Congressional Library—including pictures of my dad and his brother. My dad’s best friend is Jewish and he had more than a few. So, for me, to hear anti-Jewish comments for first time, it was shocking (my father explained it as ignorance on the part of lowly born people) and dismaying. The truth is, is that the anti-Jewish comments were made by little Irish Catholic school children. They were picking on some of the only Jewish children in the little neighborhood in which I lived as a child.
The most consistently left leaning people I have ever known are Irish Catholics. Of course that pertains to my little world, but at least 80 percent of those I have known (St. Paul has a large Irish population here that intermarries) were not only liberals, but also very anti-American in their sentiments. They all also seem to work for the government—a connection? I began to have contact with the Irish kids around the age of 12, or so. They seemed foreign to me, in a way. Very different culturally. They hate everything English, and America was/is an Englishmen’s construct. The point being, should I blame America’s pending downfall on the Irish? They outnumber the Jews. Maybe I should blame the Poles, since they came from the Eastern, Communist leaning portion of Europe? Or maybe the French—it all started with their Revolution, after all. Perhaps the Swiss—since they gave birth to Rousseau, and he, in turn, gave birth to the French Revolution. Marx, after all, depended heavily on both. The fact is that while the seeds of Western destruction were being sown in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Jews, for the most part, were living apart in ghettos. They did, indeed (as one of your other readers pointed out) come very late to the party. It’s entirely possible that the Jews who migrated here in the 20th century just wanted to get along with all of the other radicals then in NYC. After all, they were there before the Eastern European Jews, they were there in the 1870s. The historic American Jewish community was not of the radical bent—remember, the Treasurer of the Confederacy was none other then Judah P. Benjamin.
Lastly, your point about middle class people disliking/distrusting smart people is true, in general. The average person is seemingly hateful toward smart people. They resent their ability to learn that which they cannot and they resent their attendant success. But mostly, they resent the seeming ease with which they accomplish that which for them is difficult. Some research I did on this in years past points to it being an ancient trait. There were even notes by Romans that certain tribes East of the Danube would deliberately kill those who were too smart. These would be mostly Slavic types the Romans were referring to but also those that made up modern day Hungary and Romania.
Similarly, I was raised in a Jewish family in which there were never any anti-Gentile things said.
John McNeil replies to LA:
Very well, I will back off and let you continue your strategy/principled stance. My approach may very well be doomed anyway, but I’m tired of encountering anti-Semitism every time I want to talk about racial matters. I want to go on the offensive, diminish it. Perhaps it’s youthful naivety/impatience.
I was not telling you to back off your approach; I admire you for your efforts. I was only saying that it’s not my approach.
You raised the question of Voegelinian representation in the context of the often hostile attitudes of paleocons towards Jews.
Setting aside the paleos, I wonder whether the idea of Voegelinian representation might also apply to leftism among Jews. For example, if most Jews believe strongly in leftist ideas, and if they think that this is integral to their Jewish identity, i.e., they represent themselves and their views as constituting what it means to be a Jew, then it might not be unrealistic to hold that leftism is a Jewish characteristic, notwithstanding some prominent exceptions.
I am not asserting the foregoing to be true, just raising the question of when it is proper to attribute characteristics to a group. What are your thoughts?
I’ve addressed this issue in reference to the Jewish community several times. Thus in a March 2009 entry, “National coalition of Jewish organizations demands end of immigration law enforcement,” I wrote:
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) has a project called Progress by Pesach:
Progress by Pesach is the national Jewish campaign to encourage the new administration and Congress to choose humanitarian immigration reform over the failed policy of exclusively relying on raids and enforcement tactics as a means of controlling immigration. Here are just a few of the many national Jewish organizations endorsing the project: the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism. (The full list is below.)
Passover is a time when we celebrate our freedom from bondage and remember when we were strangers in a strange land. Connecting our history to the struggles of immigrants today is the inspiration behind Progress by Pesach. [Emphasis added.]
Thus a galaxy of national Jewish organizations supports this campaign to end workplace raids and other immigration enforcement, all under the rubric that “we [Jews] were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
What they are explicitly saying, as a national Jewish coalition, is that as Jews, they are required by their Jewish tradition to seek to undermine American law and sovereignty and allow America to be invaded by a mass immigration of illegal aliens.
I have said before that when Jews declare that as Jews they are required to strive for open borders, when as Jews they demand U.S. national suicide, that allows critics to criticize Jews as Jews, and not just as generic “liberals.” This is the strongest case of that nature I’ve ever seen.
What I laid out in that entry and elsewhere is not anti-Semitism. It is not bigotry against Jews. It is not treating Jews as the enemy. It is saying that major parts of the Jewish community are pursuing a wrong and immoral and unacceptable course of conduct, that the nation does not accept that conduct, and that the group must stop that conduct.
My position is rational, moral, responsible, and non-anti-Semitic. And it has never been tried. If it were, the attitude of the Jewish community would change overnight. They would realize that they are no longer free to Judaize American national ideals and policies, but must adjust themselves to America. Which was the way it was before the Sixties.
And of course I recommend the same national stance toward other minority groups who take unacceptable stands, such as Hispanics, who as a group (at their official and elite level) have been demanding that the country open its borders.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 31, 2010 10:34 PM | Send