Goy Philosopher emails:
I recently discovered your site after listening to an interview you did with Robert Stark. Your take on politics and religion is insightful and honest. I’m a fan! But I have a question. You defend two claims: first, every group (or every group with a strong identity) is entitled to be ethnocentric and pursue its own interests; second, Jews should stop pushing policies for non-Jewish societies that they would never accept for themselves. These claims seem incompatible. After all, if some policy in the US is good for Jews but some opposite policy in Israel is also good for Jews, and Jews are entitled to pursue their interests, they’re entitled to push both of these policies at the same time.
Maybe your view is that each group has the right to be ethnocentric and pursue its own interests, but only when doing so won’t harm others or frustrate their interests? That would make these two claims consistent but it doesn’t fit well with some other things you say. For example, you say that you can ‘see nothing wrong’ with Rabbi Scheerson’s statements about non-Jews: that they are Satanic, that they ‘exist only for the sake of the Jews’ and so on. I take him to be saying, basically, that non-Jews just don’t matter, that they’re worthless in comparison with Jews. Now I find all of that morally repellent; no human being is a mere thing for the use of other human beings. But if there’s really nothing wrong with these claims, as you think, surely there’s also nothing wrong with behavior that would be reasonable if these claims were true. If non-Jews are basically just human garbage, then why should it matter that Jews aren’t honest in their dealings with them? Why should Jews have any obligation to treat them the way that Jews — who are, after all, incomparably superior — are supposed to treat each other? It would be weird to say that Jews are entitled to believe this about others, but not entitled to act on their beliefs.
Here’s another way to press the point. If Jews should be more consistent, what is the measure of consistency? To be consistent with their purely ethnocentric interests might well mean double standards and deceit, whatever is good for the Jews. But you want them to be consistent in a different respect; you want them to demand of non-Jews only what they’d be willing to do themselves. If that’s the right kind of consistency, though, there must be moral standards over and above ethnocentric interests of this group or that group, to which all groups are equally subject. And in that case, a group that merely acts on the basis of its own group interests might not be acting morally. (There might be something wrong with Schneerson’s view after all.) Anyway, I wonder what you think about this.
Right and wrong, good and evil, are primarily religious questions. My primary concerns over the past couple of years of posting are pragmatic. If any group is too extreme in their group interest pursuit without regard to the effect this has on others, that will often not be in their best interests. For instance, Jews have done best in individualist white Protestant countries. I think it is against Jews’ best interests to try to water down white Protestant countries with other groups. So I think Jews pursuit of their group interests is often pragmatically misdirected. I think an instinctive hatred of white Europeans blinds some Jews (such as the ADL, SPLC, SWC variety).
You pose great questions.
“After all, if some policy in the US is good for Jews but some opposite policy in Israel is also good for Jews, and Jews are entitled to pursue their interests, they’re entitled to push both of these policies at the same time.”
Yes, that makes sense, unless the backlash from doing so will outweigh the benefits of doing so.
Groups should pursue their self-interest, but blind 100% pursuit of your group interests without consideration of their effect on others is not in your group interest because other groups inevitably fight back hard.
This also applies to individuals. If you seek your own interests without regard to the effect this has on others, you won’t prosper.
“For example, you say that you can ‘see nothing wrong’ with Rabbi Scheerson’s statements about non-Jews: that they are Satanic, that they ‘exist only for the sake of the Jews’ and so on. I take him to be saying, basically, that non-Jews just don’t matter, that they’re worthless in comparison with Jews.”
That is not the rebbe’s overall view on non-Jews. These are isolated quotes. Every group is going to say some extreme things that outsiders have no value because strongly identifying in-groups see the world primarily in terms of their own groups. That is normal for them. I have been going to Chabad shuls for 20 years. Chabadniks are primarily concerned with Jews, but there is not a strong consistent animus against non-Jews.
Down deep, everybody thinks people who are different from them are subhuman.
For every negative quote about non-Jews you can find in the Jewish tradition, you can find a positive quote about non-Jews. For instance, in the Talmud, Romans are praised for three things, one of them being that they do not do same-sex marriages.
Every group in the world believes it is special, that is somehow marked out by the universe to do great things.
“If Jews should be more consistent, what is the measure of consistency? To be consistent with their purely ethnocentric interests might well mean double standards and deceit, whatever is good for the Jews. But you want them to be consistent in a different respect; you want them to demand of non-Jews only what they’d be willing to do themselves. If that’s the right kind of consistency, though, there must be moral standards over and above ethnocentric interests of this group or that group, to which all groups are equally subject. And in that case, a group that merely acts on the basis of its own group interests might not be acting morally.”
Yes, I believe in God and transcendent morality.
All individuals and group should be conscious of the effect of their actions on others and modulate themselves accordingly.
Goy Philosopher replies:
It sounds like you’re saying here that the reason why organized Jewry should change its behavior is purely practical. Pushing immigration in the west and opposing it in Israel (for example) is going to be bad for Jews in the long run, because westerners will eventually wise up and get mad. More generally, you agree that people should have some respect for the interests of other groups because that is itself good for their own group. I think you’re right. But when I read your writings on this topic, or when I listen to your interviews with Robert Stark, it doesn’t sound like your reason for opposing this common Jewish behavior is merely pragmatic. It sounds like there’s also a lot of moral outrage. Understandably! That’s certainly my reaction. And if you think there’s a transcendent moral code, which goes beyond any particular group interests, the behavior of organized Jewry really is morally wrong in this respect. (I’m assuming that the transcendent code at least includes something like the Golden Rule.) So I guess what I’d say here is that, if you really want to make your case on solely pragmatic grounds, your position is coherent, but I suspect that deep down you also want to make another argument that’s not purely pragmatic. Why not make that argument more explicitly? It’s a good argument, and it only strengthens the pragmatic one. In fact, I think that most people (Jewish or not) will be less sympathetic to an argument that’s based only considerations of self-interest or group-interest. People like to feel that what they’re doing is not just good for them and their group but also morally acceptable…
I’ve never read a whole book by [Kevin] MacDonald, but I’m familiar with his ideas. I can’t decide what I think about him. He seems to be well intentioned and he makes a strong case. But I’m skeptical about some aspects. In an ideal world, his ideas would be tackled head on, openly, by pro-Jewish thinkers or neutral third parties who really know about the relevant history, theology, etc. I’m married to a secular Jewish woman, as it happens, so I know that most secular or nominal Jews just don’t know anything much about this stuff except a mix of mythology and isolated factoids. I don’t know enough myself. But I certainly agree that organized Jewry has been inimical to the west for a long time, and very hypocritical. It’s a terrible problem that there can’t be an honest discussion between well intentioned people on both sides. There are real nazis out there, and they frighten me just as much as George Soros; I’m glad that those guys have little power for now.
When you make these points to religious Jews, are there any who just agree? Do any of them ever just say “Yeah, we want to harm the west because we think it’s good for us”? Or do you think they’re generally fooling themselves too?
…Do you think it’s paradoxical for you to take this view as a member of this same strongly identifying in-group? I assume that in believing Orthodox Judaism you believe that it’s really true that Jews are Chosen, special, etc. But if you believe that, is it consistent to also believe that Jews should relate to other groups as if they were just one among many, each having its own interests and an equal right to pursue those interests? Or, in any case, isn’t it strange for you to think that Jews in particular are fooling themselves when they believe that their group is so uniquely important and special? I don’t ask to be combative. Just somewhat puzzled by how you can have both attitudes at once.
Very few groups can see themselves from an objective perspective. Very few people want to take stock of the complete consequences of their group’s behavior.
Almost all members of strongly identifying in-groups are fooling themselves most of the time.
A Jewish friend says:
The 10 Commandments are a prism to measure the morality of any civilization. In other words, you may pursue tribal interests, but do you transgress any of these boundaries internally or externally of your tribe?
The more I study the literature of pre WWII Nazism, the more it looks a little bit like the German gentile version of strong in-group identity that is embodied by various nationalisms including Judaism.
I remember way back, long before I was a right-winger, I made just that observation. And as it happened I was talking to a close (secular) Jewish friend, who seemed to agree; but he said something like, “That’s a very dangerous idea”. It really is weird, though, how strong the parallels are, and how totally blind most Jews (and everyone else) are to the similarities.
God chose the Jews to be the Master Race of mankind. However, He soon realized that this had cruel consequences for the less intelligent goyim of creation, so to protect them from the depredations of the Jews while still providing free will to one and all, he gave the Jews the Torah (both written and oral) by which they might be fenced in. Rest assured that those Jews who today live on the Torah Corral are no threat to the gentle gentiles of the world. It is the secular liberal Jew, with his notions of Marxism, tolerance of the sodomite and the transgendered, creator both of socialism and feminism, who is the mortal enemy of the gentile world. I say this in the hope that when you goyim awake from your deep moral stupor (an increasingly unlikely event) and begin dealing with the Jew problem in your midst, you will leave me alone. I hope this clears everything up.
Surely God knew that rule by Jews would be cruel for others, as would any kind of ‘Master’-‘Slave’ relation between races. If they really are the natural Masters, it’s not clear why the cruelty matters much, or why it wouldn’t be justifiable in light of the divinely ordained nature of the relationship. But if the cruelty matters — or if there’s no better, kinder way for Jews to be Masters — that would cast doubt on God’s choice to make them Masters in the first place. But God doesn’t make mistakes. Unless I’m misunderstanding, you seem to be saying that God chose Jews to rule, but at the same time He chose to lay down rules that would prevent them from ruling. How could that happen, though, given His nature?
When one type of lichen wipes out another type of lichen at a pond, we could decry the lichen holocaust going on, but that’s just how the world works. In nature, you don’t find two subspecies in the same place.
Well, here I have to revert to my autistic philosophical personality for a minute. You seem to be saying that since competition between subspecies is natural, therefore we shouldn’t regard it as morally objectionable. But it’s a fallacy to infer that X is morally acceptable from the mere fact that X is ‘natural’, or part of ‘how the world works’. At least, that’s a fallacy if there is a transcendent morality; a transcendent morality transcends any facts about how things happen to be or how things happen to work in nature or society. If someone could prove that child molesters are acting on the basis of some evolved trait that somehow serves the genetic interests of their racial group, that would make no difference to the moral status of child molesters. But maybe I’m reading too much into your comments?
In any case, even if there is no transcendent morality it’s psychologically impossible for normal people to regard the extermination or dispossession of other humans as if it were no different from one kind of lichen displacing another. Most people, even if they’re racially conscious, have some basic fellow-feeling for other humans. We know that they’re special and valuable, not mere things, not lichen. We can’t view the human world from a purely ‘objective’ point of view, just as we can’t view our own racial or cultural group in that way. For that matter, if I were to take up that ‘objective’ point of view on humanity, I would be under great pressure to take a similar view of my in-group. Why not view my whole culture as so much lichen, and care only about myself? But I’m not a psychopath, so I value myself and my group and humanity as a whole and even life as a whole; though of course I don’t value all these things equally.
I want to analyze this comment: “You seem to be saying that since competition between subspecies is natural, therefore we shouldn’t regard it as morally objectionable.”
I’m not sure I am saying that. I am saying the first part. I think I am saying that the second consideration is a different genre. It belongs to a different part of our brain.
Here is how I would compare it. Let’s say you wanted to know about my life. I could go into sharing mode with you. But then let’s say you challenged me to justify my behavior. Then I could no longer be in sharing mode. I would have to shift my thinking into morality mode and justifying mode. Justifying and moralizing shuts down the capacity to share honestly.
First, we have to see clearly how the world works. Subspecies naturally fight each other when they are in competition for scarce resources and survival depends upon wiping out the competitor. For
example, Germany and Japan in the two world wars operated according to the same calculations of self-interest and national survival as every other great power. They weren’t just irrationally evil. (see John J. Mearsheimer’s book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.)
I think I am simply extending foreign policy realism to more of life.
After we agree on how reality works, then we can have that second discussion about morality and transcendent morality and how we can reduce genocide.
So here you seem to be assuming or implying that _since_ they were acting according to self-interest, what they did wasn’t morally wrong. If that’s what you have in mind, I claim that is indeed a fallacy (‘the naturalistic fallacy’). After all, it’s surely a conceptual possibility at least that X is both natural and also evil. Maybe you just mean that, when we’re considering human behavior from a purely descriptive point of view, claims about good and evil are irrelevant. So “they weren’t evil” from that specific point of view, i.e., when we simply try to understand what they were doing and why. And I do agree that we need to first understand how the world works before we get into a moral discussion about what to do, how to live. And maybe these really are different modes. But I’m not sure. I find it hard to describe the world in a meaningful way without regarding it as having morally important features. Moral values (and other kinds of values) seem to be just as objectively real as anything else. Zooming out from moral norms, consider the value of truth. Why do we even care about how things work? In trying to understand and describe the world we presuppose that truth is more valuable than falsity. But if we think that there are no objective values or norms built into the world we’re trying to describe, that presupposition would be just as distorting as any moral conception.
I believe in the God of the Hebrew Bible. I believe Jews are God’s Chosen People (I believe every group is chosen in its own way to play a special role in the world, a la every people has special gifts). I believe the Torah comes from God. I believe left-wing Jews have often been a disaster for the West in terms of politics and culture over the past 200 years while simultaneously other Jews have been a gift (such as scientific innovation). I don’t see inherent contradiction here. Just because Jews are God’s Chosen People does not mean that in every place in every time they are overall a blessing to every other group with whom they compete for scarce resources. With different groups constantly in conflict for scarce resources, Jews in some places and times are sometimes going to be bad news for certain other groups. When Jews took over Canaan 3200 years ago, they were probably bad news for the original inhabitants who were displaced.
Do you agree that every nationalism contains a victimology and the capacity for genocide? For instance, most Israelis would prefer Palestinians to disappear, and for them, there is no number of Arab lives too excessive to kill if the survival of the Jewish state depends upon dropping nuclear bombs on its enemies.
From a natural POV, we can say genocide is inherent in the human condition. We could then discuss which conditions are likely precursors to genocide and we could try to reduce the amount of times genocide happens, and to reduce their severity.
Roissy sees everything from an amoral, biological-reductionist point of view. In a way this is the problem I was initially trying to raise with you. It’s good and necessary to acknowledge the natural realities, but it’s not enough. A purely biological or reductionist POV is irrational and incoherent; it can’t explain why we are even interested in reality rather than seeking comforting lies. So overall I think the influence of Roissy (or whoever he/they may be) is massively negative. It’s wrong to simply point out brutal truths outside of the context of a spiritual-moral vision that can inspire people and help them to live well and be happy. His motivation seems ultimately to be destructive and hateful, as he seems to pretty much acknowledge in all his ugly talk of ‘twisting the shiv’ and so on. I guess I’m Christian enough that I don’t see a fundamental moral difference between _that_ kind of honesty and the immoral dishonesty of the left. Still, he is a great writer with insights despite all of that.