by Jonas E. Alexis
Corey Robin of Brooklyn College and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center wrote last January that “The biggest challenges to today’s public intellectual are imagination and will.” Incorrect. The biggest challenge to today’s public intellectuals is that they need to stop being fools.
Today’s intellectuals think they can live an intellectual life without morality or practical reason or even without any interest in pursuing the truth. That is the central issue that Robin fails to address. Marquis de Sade for example did not lack “imagination and will.” His wicked imagination allowed him to turn practical reason upside down. This led to immoral acts in both the political and sexual realms, which played a central role during the French Revolution.
Many intellectuals, like the late philosopher Richard Rorty, build their entire career on deconstructing morality and metaphysical truth and forcing eager students to accept self-defeating philosophies. For Rorty, “there is no standard, not even a divine one, against which the decisions of a free speech can be measured.”
The simple fact is that Rorty himself did not seriously believe this nonsense precisely because he explicitly declared that he had to mold students into his own “provinciality,” which obviously indicates that he believed in some kind of standard. Rorty and others continue to show that Augustine was right all along, that those who deny metaphysical truth will end up copying it in a promiscuous and “perverse way.” In that sense, Augustine argues, those people end up proving that metaphysical truth exists and that no one can hide from Logos.
We have seen this over and over in the last few centuries. And today’s intellectuals continue to believe the lie that morality or practical reason has little to do with the way things really are. It is like building a house without any foundation whatsoever. Some, like Aldous Huxley, rejected morality for ideological reasons. As he put it decades ago,
“For myself, as for no doubt, most of my contemporaries, the essence of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation…We objected to the morality because it interferes with our sexual freedom.”
Huxley here was more honest than people like Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell, but the ultimate reason for rejecting morality has always revolved around upholding some kind of wicked ideology.
So, the modern fool and de Sade have something in common: de Sade wanted nothing to do with the moral order, and the modern fool is actually following the same path. The modern fool wants to fulfill his appetite or passion, which he does not want to submit under practical reason.
There is something else about the modern fool. He wants to go for the gusto—be it sexual, political, or even diabolical. He wants to fool around as much as he can and sometimes drags others into the same rabbit hole. Moreover, he wants to distort the intellectual life, which Plato defines as the way things are, and replace it with falsehood. This is precisely what we find in Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s The Devil That Never Dies.
One needn’t be an intellectual or historian to understand Goldhagen’s thesis in that book because it has been propounded ad absurdum in other books which purport to be truthful and scholarly.
Within the first four pages, Goldhagen tells his readers that anti-Semitism is literally everywhere in the world. No exaggeration here.
“It long predates the Western idea of liberty becoming widespread, which was not until the modern period,” he writes. “Among intergroup prejudices, anti-Semitism’s longevity is unparalleled.”
Goldhagen perversely posits without a scintilla of serious argument that people like William Shakespeare, Johann Sebastian Bach, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot, among others, were all anti-Semites!
Moreover, Goldhagen incoherently postulates that statements like “Jews control the media,” “Jews corrupt art and culture,” “Jews seek to destroy nations,” “Jews are behind communism,” “Jews run the Soviet Union,” “Jews are a race apart,” “Jews caused the Iraq War,” etc., are all anti-Semitic sentiments.
This is intellectually embarrassing, given the fact that Goldhagen is a professor at Harvard, commonly known as one of the major academic centers in the world. I honestly sympathize with young people who have paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to get a decent education, only to realize that some of their heroes like Shakespeare and Dickens were ipso facto anti-Semites because Goldhagen tells them so.
Obviously, Goldhagen has no interest in pursuing the truth and teaching it to his students, which is part of his job. Instead of doing what he was paid to do, he has chosen to propound one silly argument after another.
Were Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir, Uri Avnery, Norman Finkelstein, Brother Nathanael Kapner, our former friend and colleague the late Roi Tov, Mortimer Adler, David Moss, John J. Mearsheimer, etc., behind the Soviet Union? Did they cause the Iraq War? Why can’t Goldhagen listen to the arguments and respond to them in a civilized manner? Why does he have to pervert and invert and subvert the issues and then attack the perversion he created? Why the straw man?
When historians say that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, do they mean to say that every single Japanese who has ever lived actually bombed Pearl Harbor? When they say that the Soviet Union was the bloodiest regime in recent memory, does that include the peasants? Does that include Alexander Solzhenitsyn? When people say that America invaded Iraq in 2003, does that include every single American? This is not differential equations or calculus, and a Harvard professor shouldn’t find it too difficult to understand.
Obviously, Goldhagen understands that basic concept. But since he is an ideologue, his entire project turns out to be a hoax and has no basis in reality. In fact, Goldhagen, like Alan Dershowitz, is a complete fraud.
A few years ago, a Jewish scholar by the name of Ruth Bettina Birn challenged Goldhagen in the Cambridge Historical Journal. Goldhagen, instead of responding to the critique in a scholarly and responsible manner,
“enlisted a high-powered London law firm to sue Birn and Cambridge University Press for ‘many serious libels.’ Demanding an apology, a retraction, and a promise from Birn that she not repeat her criticisms, Goldhagen’s lawyers then threatened that ‘the generation of any publicity on your part as a result of this letter would amount to a further aggravation of damages.”
The million-dollar question is this: is Goldhagen a serious scholar, as people like Michael Shermer would want us to believe? The answer is no. In fact, there are certain things that Goldhagen will never bring to your attention.
Goldhagen never confronts Jewish writers and scholars and academics like Nathan Abrams, Jack Gottlieb, Joel Stein, Neal Gabler, etc. Those people come up with brazenly provocative titles such as “Who runs Hollywood? C’mon,” An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish: How Yiddish Songs and Synagogue Melodies Influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood, Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical, Berlin Metropolis: Jews and the New Culture, 1890-1918, Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities, Rock ‘N’ Roll Jews, Hollywood’s Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema, Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen, The New Jew in Film: Exploring Jewishness and Judaism in Contemporary Cinema, Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture, Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition,, etc.
I can assure you that those scholarly works have been in the marketplace of ideas for decades, and they are published by major university presses. Not a single person has ever accused their authors of anti-Semitism. So, why is Goldhagen pouring his vitriol on the ignorant Goyim when in fact Jewish scholars are bragging about how they have conquered the twentieth century?
How about Yuri Slezkine’s interesting title, The Jewish Century, published by Princeton University Press, or Benjamin Ginsberg’s The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (University of Chicago Press), or even Murray Friedman’s The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy (Cambridge University Press)? Or how about the Jewish Daily Forward coming out with titles such as “We Need To Out Bernie Sanders as a Jew — for His Own Good”? Can Goldhagen explain those issues for us in a rational fashion?
Of course not. Again, he is an ideologue. As Daniel J. Flynn himself argues, “When ideology is your guide, you’re bound to get lost. Ideology deludes, inspires dishonesty, and breeds fanaticism. Facts, experience, and logic are much better at leading you to truth. Truth, however, is not everyone’s intended destination.”
This brings us to an important point here. People like Goldhagen keep saying that the Goyim are too obsessed with “The Devil That Never Dies,” but Goldhagen and others will never address the actual facts. What are we talking about?
In his book, The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism, Joshua Trachtenberg, who served in the American rabbinate for more than two decades, laments throughout that society and indeed the Church conspired to make the Jews the culprits. Not only that, “society conspired to make the Jew a usurer—and usury exposed him to the cupidity of feudal overlords and to the embittered hatred of the people.”
This was not true then and it still does not hold up to rigorous scrutiny in our modern time. Society never “conspired to make the Jew a usurer.” If there is one book to blame, it will be the Talmud. In fact, that is exactly what Heinrich Graetz himself said. This was one of the main issues in Poland during the 1600s. During that time, scholarship for the Jews was primarily drawn from two main currents: the Talmud and rabbinical literature. Graetz tells us:
“The study of the Talmud in Poland, established by Shachna, Solomon Lurya, and Moses Isserles, reached a pitch attained at no previous time, nor in any other country. The demand for copies of the Talmud was so great that in less than twenty years three editions had to be printed, no doubt in thousands of copies…
“The cultivation of a single faculty, that of hairsplitting judgment, at the cost of the rest, narrowed the imagination, hence not a single literary product appeared in Poland deserving the name of poetry. All the productions of the Polish school bore the Talmudic stamps, as the school regarded everything from the Talmudical point of view.
“The disciples of this school looked down almost with contempt on Scripture and its simple grandeur, or rather it did not exist for them…They knew something of the Bible from the extracts read in the synagogues, and those occasionally quoted in the Talmud…
“A love of twisting, distorting, ingenious quibbling, and a foregone antipathy to what did not lie within their field of vision, constituted the character of the Polish Jews. Pride in their knowledge of the Talmud and a spirit of dogmatism attached even to the best rabbis, and undermined their moral sense…
“Integrity and right-mindedness they had lost as completely as simplicity and the sense of truth. The vulgar acquired the quibbling method of the schools and employed it to outwit the less cunning.
“They found pleasure and a sort of triumphant delight in deception and cheating against members of their own race; cunning could not well be employed, because they were sharp-witted; but the non-Jewish world with which they came into contact experienced to its disadvantage the superiority of the Talmudical spirit of the Polish Jews.”
This energized an anti-Jewish spirit among the Poles, for they knew that they were being cheated. This quickly led to violence among the Gentiles, who in 1638 “slew 200 Jews, and destroyed several synagogues.”
Ten years later, Jews clung to the book of Zohar for the Messianic revolution, and this again caused “bloody retribution,” during which both innocent and guilty Jews were slain. Because of this, both Jews and gentiles died by the thousands in the same year.
Within the next three years, anti-Jewish resistance led again to a bloody war that took the lives of thousands of Jews and caused many others to move to places like the Netherlands, Bohemia, Austria, Italy, and Hungary.
Wherever they went, however, they took the study of the Talmud with them, bearing the same attitudes towards Gentiles. “Far from giving up their own method in a foreign country, they demanded that all the world should be regulated by them, and they gained their point.”
In the seventeenth century, capitalism fell into the hands of the Jews. French historian Fernand Braudel called this “the ‘age’ of great Jewish merchants,” during which they were involved in “lucrative areas of commerce” such as piracy
“in which these Jewish merchants specialized. Questions of morality did not apply…Jewish merchants were the brains behind the brawn—financing, advising, and sometimes leading the Caribbean’s emerging fighting force: a ragtag crew of misfits of every nation that coalesced as the dreaded pirates of the Spanish Main.”
Eventually in the 1660s, “the pirate capital acquired a reputation as the world’s ‘wickedest city.’”
The prevailing premise that anti-Semitism has absolutely nothing to do with Jewish revolutionary acts is not only historically false but sociologically untenable and irresponsible. When Jewish revolutionaries promote subversive activity, other innocent Jews suffer. The rise of the Rothschilds proved to be a precursor of this larger historical trend. In our day, George Soros again proves this point. We have seen how he moved from one subversive activity to another.
Soros supported Black Lives Matter, a completely wicked and intellectually irresponsible movement that has created chaos and racial divide in America, with at least $3 million. Even Bill Clinton has recently gotten tired of this movement and has told its apologists that they have supported thugs and murderers.
Soros was also responsible for creating havoc in Ukraine. Russia kicked him out of the region. China kicked him of their territory. Now we are told that he is one of the people behind the Panama Papers. Obviously, he is mad and sad because no serious country will allow him to get in.
If Goldhagen cannot take time to reflect on these issues if he cannot go after people like Soros and others and tell them to act on the basis of practical reason, why should he lecture us about what he does not like? Who does this man think he is fooling?
-  Corey Robin, “How Intellectuals Create a Public,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2016.
-  Richard Rorty, Achieving Our Country (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 16.
-  Richard Rorty, “Universality and Truth,” Robert B. Brandon, ed., Rorty and His Critics (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2001), 21-23.
-  Augustine, Confessions (New York: Penguin1961), 50.
-  See E. Michael Jones, Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2012).
-  Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means: An Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods Employed for their Realization (London: Chatoo & Windus, 1989), 273.
-  Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault should be classic examples.
-  See for example Walter Laqueur, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism (New York: Touchtone, 2003); Phyllis Goldstein, A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism (Brookline, MA: Facing History and Ourselves, 2012); Léon Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitism: From the Time of Christ to the Court Jews (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003); R. Michael, A History of Catholic Antisemitism: The Dark Side of the Church (New York: Palgrave, 2008); William Nicholls, Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate (Lanham: Rowmaan & Littlefield Publishers, 1993); James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews (New York: Mariner Books, 2001). I have addressed the contents of some of those books in the forthcoming book entitled, Zionism vs. the West, which is scheduled to be released this year.
-  Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Anti-Semitism (New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2013), 3-4
-  Ibid., 4.
-  Ibid., 5.
-  We will discuss this issue next month.
-  See Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005 and 2008).
-  Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (New York: Verso, 2000), 65.
-  Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman, Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 253.
-  Joel Stein, “Who runs Hollywood? C’mon,” LA Times, December 19, 2008.
-  Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Anchor Books, 1988 and 1989).
-  Jack Gottlieb, Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish: How Yiddish Songs and Synagogue Melodies Influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood (New York: State University of New York, 2004).
-  Andrea Most, Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004).
-  Emily D. Bilski, Berlin Metropolis: Jews and the New Culture, 1890-1918 (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999).
-  Norman Kleeblatt, ed., Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996).
-  Michael Billig, Rock ‘N’ Roll Jews (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2001).
-  Murray Pomerance and Daniel Bernardi, eds., Hollywood’s Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013).
-  Henry Bial, Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen (Ann Harbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005).
-  Nathan Abrams, The New Jew in Film: Exploring Jewishness and Judaism in Contemporary Cinema (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012).
-  Josh Lambert, Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2014).
-  Marni Davis, Jews and Booze: Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition (New York: New York University Press, 2012).
-  Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
-  Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).
-  Murray Friedman, The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
-  Valerie Lieber, “We Need To Out Bernie Sanders as a Jew — for His Own Good,” Jewish Daily Forward, February 20, 2016.
-  Daniel J. Flynn, Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas (New York: Crown Forum, 2004), 1.
-  Joshua Tractenberg, The Devil and the Jews: The Medieval Conception of the Jew and Its Relation to Modern Anti-Semitism (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1943), 189.
-  For a study on this, see E. Michael Jones, Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict Between Labor and Usury (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2014).
-  See David Bakan, Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition (New York: Dover, 2004), 92-93
-  Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews, 5:4-6.
-  Ibid., 5:6-7.
-  Ibid., 5:17.
-  Ed Kritzler, Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 5.
-  Ibid., 5-6.
-  Ibid., 10.
-  “US government, Soros funded Panama Papers to attack Putin – WikiLeaks,” Russia Today, April 6, 2016.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.