Chronicles Vol. 24 No. 9 September 200


On The Culture of Critique

I thank Paul Gottfried for a generally accurate and positive review of my book, The Culture of Critique ("A Race Apart," Opinions, June). Nevertheless, there are a few issues that bear discussion, the most important of which is the role of Jewish organizations and intellectuals with strong Jewish identifications as agents of change in the cultural transformations that have occurred in Western societies over the past 50 years. In general, Jewish intellectual and political movements were a necessary condition for these changes, not a sufficient condition, as Gottfried suggests. In the case of U.S. immigration policy, there simply were no other pressure groups pushing for liberalized immigration during the period under consideration (up to 1965). Moreover, I do not assume that these movements are part of a monolithic Jewish "conspiracy"; my argument is that these movements were dominated by individuals who identified themselves as Jews and who viewed their intellectual and political activities as advancing specific Jewish interests, especially the eradication of antisemitism.

Gotffried attributes the sea change in immigration to "a general cultural change that beset Western societies and was pushed by the managerial state." I agree that multiethnic immigration resulted from a general cultural shift, but we still must develop theories for the origin of this shift, and Jewish intellectual and political movements were a necessary condition. Fundamental to this transformation was the decline of ethnic consciousness among European peoples. It is fascinating to contrast the immigration debates of the 1920's with those of the 50's and 60's. The restrictionists of the 20's unabashedly asserted the right of Europeanderived peoples, who colonized and created the political and economic culture of the country, to maintain it as their possession.

By the 1950's (and certainly by the 60's), it was impossible to make such assertions without being deemed not only a racist but an intellectual Neanderthal. Such assertions conflicted with the Basin wisdom that genetic differences between peoples were trivial and irrelevant; they conflicted with the Marxist belief that all peoples were equal and that nationalism and assertions of ethnic interests were reactionary; they were deemed a sure sign of psychopathology within the frameworks of psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School; and they would have been regarded, as the babbles of country bumpkins by the New York intellectuals who spouted variants of all these ideologies from prestigious academic and media institutions. There may, indeed, have been other forces that relegated such a mindset to the political and intellectual fringe--Gotffried mentions liberal Protestantism and the managerial state--but it is difficult to understand the effectiveness of either of these influences in the absence of the Jewish movements I describe. The rise of a de-ethnicized gentile managerial elite--exemplified by Bill Clinton--that rejects traditional cultural institutions and is interwoven with a critical mass of ethnically conscious Jews is an important fact of our current political life. The rise of such an elite is hardly an inevitable consequence of modernization or any other force I am aware of. Such de-ethnicized managerial elites are unique to European and European-derived societies; they are not found elsewhere in the world, including highly developed nations such as Japan and Israel and the undeveloped nations of Africa.

There is little doubt that there is something about European cultures that makes them susceptible to the movements I discuss. I think there is real value in Gotffried's suggestion that Protestant culture--particularly its emphasis on social guilt-provides a uniquely fertile ground for the movements I discuss. But it is noteworthy that the cultural shifts under consideration have also occurred in traditionally Catholic countries, such as France and Italy, where Protestantism has not been a factor.

There are a few other minor issues I might quarrel with. Gotffried claims that intermarriage occurred frequently in pre-Rabbinic Judaism and that my views on Jewish rejection of exogamy are inappropriate generalizations from restrictions on the Kohanim (i.e., the priestly caste). It is true that Solomon and other Israelite kings had children by foreign concubines. However, the offspring of these relationships had a separate status within Israelite society, below the pure Israelite stock, even into Rabbinic times--a phenomenon that attests to the importance of bloodlines throughout Jewish history. While the marriage practices of the Kohanim are indeed stricter than those of other Jews, there is no question that marriage into the Jewish gene pool was very infrequent until quite recently, and modern population genetic studies show very little genetic admixture between Jews and surrounding populations. These data are described in my book A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (1994). Current rates of intermarriage may be a highly questionable indicator of the long-term prospects of Jewish continuity as an endogamous ethnic group. First, Judaism may well end up retaining its ethnic coherence even in the face of high levels of intermarriage if, as appears to be the case, a high percentage of the children and grandchildren of intermarriage eventually leave Judaism either because they become completely assimilated or because they feel unwelcome in the Jewish community. Secondly, despite the current high rates of intermarriage, there is clearly a core of highly committed individuals in all the major sects of Judaism for whom genetic or cultural assimilation is anathema. Intense commitment to ethnocentrism and endogamy continues to be characteristic of the increasingly numerous, prolific, and influential Jewish Orthodox and fundamentalist movements, and conversion and intermarriage remain controversial even within the most liberal sectors of the Jewish community. Finally, Gottfried rejects my theory that the high levels of IQ found among Ashkenazi Jews and some historical Sephardic populations indicate a higher genetic potential of intelligence among these Jewish groups. While it is true that some Jewish populations have undistinguished lQs, it seems very likely that, whatever cultural pushes there have been for IQ within Jewish groups, there is also a strong genetic component. Current research suggests a maximum variation of ten IQ points through environmental manipulations such as adoption. Gottfried is correct in noting that different groups have waxed and waned in importance throughout history, but Jewish groups have repeatedly assumed a very high degree of social and economic importance, from the late Roman Empire to 15th-century Spain and 19th- and 20th-century Europe.

--Kevin MacDonald
Long Beach, CA

Dr. Gotffried Replies: My differences with Kevin MacDonald are ones of emphasis more than of substance. Like him, I recognize the existence of a double standard in the way American and other Jews stress ethnic solidarity for themselves but the moral necessity of multiculturalism for white Christians. This double standard offers the hermeneutic key to the comments of Slate editor Judy Shulevitz (May 2). In response to a complaint that American Jews denounced Bob Jones University for discouraging interracial dating but stubbornly practice tribalism in their own group, Shulevitz contrasted white Christian "racism" to the "ethnic chauvinism" characteristic of blacks and Jews. Because of their "historical burdens," the distaste for outsiders felt by Jews and blacks is excusable and not to be compared to the "reprehensible" objection of a white Southerner contemplating his child's marriage to a black. (Shulevitz's critic happens to be Jewish.) American Christians with mainstream journalistic respectability do not choose to raise embarrassing questions about Jewish claims to ethnic exceptionalism, despite the fact that Jews have risen far in the United States, encountering on the whole less discrimination than most ethnic Catholics.

Where I do disagree with MacDonald is on the importance assigned to Jewish efforts to "deethnicize" Western Christian societies. Although both the Frankfurt School and Boasian anthropologists have pushed for an engineered and misnamed "open" society, as have the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress, such groups do not provide a sufficient or even "necessary" cause for the changes in question. Between the 1920's, when immigration into the United States was restricted, and the watershed immigration act of 1965, there were political and cultural developments that strongly shaped the present attitudes toward diversity as a civil religion. The two most critical of these developments were the consolidation of a managerial state committed to broad social reconstruction and, ultimately, the eradication of national loyalties, and the collapse of WASPdom into its present culture of selfmortification. MacDonald rightly notes that Jewish intellectuals and organizations worked to advance both trends, but that point does not provide a comprehensive explanation of what happened. Vast social engineering occurred in Scandinavia before it reached the United States and unfolded there largely in the absence of Jews. Moreover, as amply demonstrated by Ray Honeyford, Claus Nordbruch, and René Girard, Christian clergy in Europe have tirelessly endorsed the multicultural agenda long identified here with Jews and liberal Protestants. Indeed, the radicalizing function attributed to Jews has been effectively incarnated by different minorities in different places at different times: Huguenots in France, Old Believers in Russia, and Irish Catholics and non-Anglican Protestants in England have all stirred the pot of social discontent because of their sense of marginalization. Today in Canada, ethnic Catholics support the left as enthusiastically and one-sidedly as do the descendants of Eastern European Jews.

MacDonald's insistence that Ashkenazic Jews are naturally more intelligent than other EuropeanAmericans gives me pause. If true, that might justify (certainly from the standpoint of racial nationalists who seem to accept this cognitive disparity) the social subordination of white gentiles to a Jewish master race. In this view, Jewish domination of relatively dullwitted goyim should be hailed as an intellectual step forward, particularly if white gentiles, as measured by IQ tests, are somewhere midway between Jews and American blacks. What is hard to figure out is why racialists assume they have a right to control less intelligent races but that whites should not be subject to cognitively superior Jews. For all I know, MacDonald may be right about the genetic advantages of my ethnic kin in relation to his, but there is another explanation for the observed disparities in achievements. Jews, like Asians, try harder than most WASPs to succeed on standardized tests, as well as in professions. The striking feature is not how well others do, but how totally WASPdom has collapsed. In One Nation Under God (1993), authors Barry A. Kosmin and S.P. Lachman demonstrate that even the highest WASP group achievers, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, now lag behind white Catholics as well as Jews in educational advancement and family income. Until convinced by further evidence, I assume that the reason for this lag is cultural. Protestants who wallow in social guilt and have lost the Puritan virtues are headed for selfdestruction. But they have certainly not been cognitively shortchanged. Nor have the other scions of a rich European civilization, which has been indispensable for the intellectual and artistic enrichment of Jews and other groups. A final point: To my knowledge, there was no social stigma attached to ancient Jewish royalty born of intermarriage, although MacDonald may have other sources of information.

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