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November 1, 1998 -- Vol.3, no.4

See also:
Reply to Robert Pois by Kevin MacDonald

Kevin MacDonald: Separation and its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism
by Robert Pois

MacDonald, Kevin, SEPARATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS: TOWARD AN EVOLUTIONARY THEORY of ANTI-SEMITISM, Westport, Ct., Greenwood Publishing Group. Praeger, 1998. Pp. v.-325, $65.00.

In this work, Professor Kevin MacDonald is concerned with describing how a persistent anti-Semitism, which goes back to Classical times, has developed, adopting itself to an equally persistent and, as this Professor of Psychology, rostered at the University of California, Long Beach presents it, obdurate Jewish presence. Apparently, he is involved in the obverse approach taken in his earlier (1994) work, A PEOPLE THAT SHALL DWELL ALONE: JUDAISM as a GROUP EVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY. I say "apparently," because, not having read MacDonald's previous book concerning Jews, I can only intuit the relationship between this book and the earlier one. Due to the fact, though, that the author often refers to themes raised in the 1994 work, it does appear that this latest book picks up on themes raised in the earlier one (referred to in the text as PTSDA).

MacDonald's basic concern is to show how Jews, exclusivist to the point of being racist, clannish, and endogamous, always have stood out, albeit in isolation, as an irritant throughout history. Furthermore, isolated though they may been, they were, and are not, "marginalized" at all, much less passive victims (here, it is crucial to note that MacDonald picks up on some themes raised in A.S. Lindemann's 1997 work, ESAU'S TEARS: MODERN ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE RISE OF THE JEWS. Rather, due mainly to endogamous practices which, in the end, provided for a program of "eugenics" (p. 9), a self-consciously isolated group was able to maintain a "gene pool" which, combined with Jewish child-rearing practices, provided progeny of higher intelligence than that of the peoples in whose midst they have resided. In this regard, and in other contexts as well, MacDonald makes much use of the term "group evolutionary strategy," and, it seems, he views Judaism not so much as a religion, but as "strategies," not only for self-preservation, but for advancement.

Varieties of anti-Semitism, as the author sees it, should not be seen as represent?ing aggressive attitudes towards Jews. Rather, in whatever form it has emerged, anti-Semitism always has been a defensive strategy, in response to perceived threats posed by a group - in Christian times to be sure, stigmatized as guilty of deicide - which was able do attain domination in whatever areas they chose to exert themselves. "Jews," MacDonald tells us, "are highly adept at achieving their goals..." (p. 9). This, the author maintains, is due to that high intelligence, mentioned earlier, which has allowed them to become important, if not at times dominant, in finance, the economy in general, and as socioeconomic "middle-men." At the same time, this endogamous, clannish folk, one quite adept--as beings of higher intelligence presumably are -- at seeing that others do almost all physical work, has maintained a basic attitude of contempt for goyim throughout history, an attitude which, MacDonald says, has been and is repressed only for "strategic" reasons.

For MacDonald, indeed, as well as for certain varieties of Jews, e.g. Zionists, Jews will always be Jews and as such will be concerned with self-preservation no matter what form it takes. This can involve, at such a time as the Spanish Inquisition, denying their Judaism altogether. In a words, Jews can practice Orthodoxy, reject Orthodoxy in the name of reform, be Zionist or anti-Zionist, espouse varieties of "universalism," such as Marxism, declare themselves to be anti-Marxist; it really doesn't matter. Informed by a well-nigh-phylogenetic drive for self-preservation, Jews, even if seemingly divided amongst themselves, will always, at base, be concerned with effective "strategies," ones which, indeed, often have gone well beyond those assuring simple self-preservation. Thus, again, anti-Semitism, in whatever "evolved" form it has taken, must be seen as responding to Jewish exclusivity (informed, of course, by the sense of being "chosen"), and success, something which, as many non-Jews have seen it, has been gained in large measure through the labor of others.

As indicated earlier, Professor MacDonald does not ignore the role of religion, i.e. the Jews as repudiators of Christ, as being of some importance in the development of anti-Semitism. Of greater importance for him, though, was and is the clash over "resources," material, and at times human, between a collectivist, endogamous group, possessed of greater intelligence due to eugenic selection, and less intelligent, but somehow, one gets the feeling, harder working majorities. Have such majorities ever succeeded, through evolved anti-Semitic strategies, in defending themselves against this insular, racially self-assured, and often deceptive people?

Yes, MacDonald says, there have been occasions, and these have involved both recognizing the collectivist nature of the Jews, and providing equally collectivist and unified responses to them. Among others, the author cites the anti-Semitic response, which emerged during the late Medieval period, one in which a rising European Christian middle class saw the seemingly perennially successful Jew as a concrete threat regarding control over "resources." What happened then was the formation of a unified Christian "collective" determined to eradicate pernicious Jewish influences. Thus, at the time, MacDonald tells us, there were "two mirage collectivist groups" (p. 119). A presence perceived of as noxious was effectively challenged and, in several contexts, the result was expulsion.

Another example to deal effectively with Jewish economic dominance, exclusiveness, and deception was provided by Spain in the mid-15th Century. In the previous century, there had been major efforts to forcibly convert Jews to Christianity. Some Jews chose not to flee or die, but, indeed, converted. Angered Spaniards discovered, though, that the so-called "New Christians" often practiced Judaism in secret, and that they continued traditional Jewish endogamous practices. At the same time, they had succeeded in holding on to their predominant economic roles.

The response to this was the imposition, in the mid-15th century, of the limpieza [1] laws (pp. 122). Now, devotion to Christianity would be equated with the "purity" of blood, a clear recognition on the parts of church and state that, in dealing with a cunning, resourceful, and, when necessary, self-masking people, baptism alone could not assure that at least large numbers of them would not remain the same. Thus the Inquisition, at least in part, resulted from an effort to "purify" Spain, if necessary by expulsion; necessary in dealing with Jewish deception with regards to true conversion. There really was no other way in which to deal with Jewish "crypsis," grounded in racialist attitudes, then to respond with a racism reflecting the needs and will of the majority. What MacDonald sees as Spanish racism, then, was not really aggressive. Rather, it was a mirror-image response to the Jewish variety--one which had always provided that demographic and psychological sustenance necessary to sustain Jewish interests. Spanish racialist anti-Semitism represented a new stage in the evolu?tion of general anti-Semitism. The Spanish episode, one in which Jewish "crypsis" is of particular interest for MacDonald, and he will return to it in several different contexts.

For Professor MacDonald, it is plain that the most successful resistance offered to exclusivist, collectivist Judaism was offered by kinds of unified, collectivist responses, at times, necessarily authoritarian. The most effective stage(s) in "evolutionary" anti-Semitism see the emergence of "mirror-imaging," i.e., when states, institutions, or best, when populations in general assume a "collectivist," perhaps necessarily authoritarian posture, in order to combat a collectivist Jewish entity which, throughout history, never has changed essentially. What the author sees as central "Western tendencies," --"universalism," and "individualism"--tendencies which Jews often have used for their own purposes, often have inhibited effective collectivist, if necessary, authoritarian responses (p. 133).

As MacDonald sees it, the most effective "mirror-imaging" response to Jewish racialist collectivism was posed by National Socialist Germany. In its rejection of the kinds of "universalism" and "individualism" characteristic of Western Christian societies, and, most crucially, its emphasis upon racial purity and group cohesiveness, which made it the most developed "mirror-image" of Judaism, it represented the most thorough-going variant of "evolutionary anti-Semitism." "There is," MacDonald tells us, "an eerie sense in which National Socialist ideology was a mirror image of traditional Jewish ideology" (p. 161). Now, there had emerged a truly effective response, in the name of a collectivist, egalitarian--to be sure, authoritarian--folk community to Jewish racial collectivism. Here, it is crucial to point out that the author does not deny the Holocaust. Quite simply, it appears that it is not all that important for him. What is of importance was the Nazi example--a collectivist, authoritarian, but somewhat egalitarian folk community, headed by a leader who really did understand what Jews were about, had been able to pose an effective challenge to Jewish racialism.

As far as the post-World War II Western world is concerned, Professor MacDonald is a pessimist. Particularly in the United States, with its emphasis upon universalism, individualism, and pluralism, it has been and will continue to be "difficult or impossible to develop unified, cohesive groups of gentiles united in their opposition to Judaism" (p. 276). This is particularly the case since, throughout the Western world in general, ethnic politics is becoming of ever greater importance. Since, as MacDonald sees it, only homogeneous, collectivist societies have offered effective resistance to Judaism, there will remain a fundamental and non-resolvable friction between Judaism and prototypical Western political and social structure..." (Ibid.) It would seem that one would not be pressing the logic of MacDonald's argument to suppose that, in the end, the National Socialist solution was the only one.

Throughout his book, but particularly in Chapter 6, MacDonald deals with Jewish "strategies" concerned with responding to anti-Semitism in its various evolved forms. These seem to "cover the waterfront." Outright denial of Judaism ("crypsis"), Zionism, anti-Zionist assimilationism, adherence to Orthodox usages, appeals to universalism, individualism, and pluralism--all have been and are forms which Jews can and will assume to assure the existence of a group which, "since the Enlightenment remains fundamentally in search of a convincing rationale" (p. 275). This is not a religion; rather, a kind of organism, guided by tropisms necessary for survival and advancement.

For MacDonald, "the Jew" is indeed what Richard Wagner described such an entity as being, "the plastic demon." Moreover, as MacDonald sees it, Jews, while certainly isolated in some ways, never have been "marginalized." Indeed, due to their eugenically determined intelligence, their wealth, at least in the United States, has become extraordinary, their domination in certain fields, such as the film industry, indisputable, and their abilities as wire-pullers, unparalleled. This most racist of all peoples, at least in the Western world (following the somewhat questionable argument of J.L. Rather, who has written on Richard Wagner, Professor MacDonald sees Benjamin Disraeli as the father of modern European racism), will be able to assume a variety of strategies, defending pluralism being a crucial one. All the while, of course, Jews will be advancing their own interests.

It is difficult to respond to one who believes that, first of all, Judaism is nothing but a series of group strategies, and that anti-Semitic "evolutionary" developments have been merely responses to them. For all of his mining, at times, rather selectively, of a number of sources, e.g., the Talmud and Maimonides, MacDonald's grasp of why Jews, or at least large numbers of them, chose to remain at least identifiable as such, sometimes in rather dire circumstances, is rather weak. It is certainly true that, for some, anti-Semitism in general and the Holocaust in particular wax large in Jewish identification (how this is different with regard to the ways in which other despised groups have dealt with respective past experiences is unclear). Also, while it is true that Jews have been successful materially in a number of contexts, most parti?cularly in the United States, the fact remains that history has demonstrated that this has not secured them against quite rapid marginalization (in fact, MacDonald himself has provided examples of this). After all, Jews could prevail in a variety of areas, e.g., in finance and in dominating the liberal presses of Germany and Austria, and be literally helpless in the face of the latest stages of "evolutionary anti-Semitism." In a word, a despised, even if influential, minority group, can be marginalized very quickly.

Professor MacDonald talks of the "self-deception" of Jews regarding the prevalence of anti-Semitism in today's world ("self-deception," of course, being a "strategy" for group cohesiveness). Yet, one does not have to fall back upon a kind of "victimology" to see that, for all of their supposed abilities with regard to deception and wire-pulling, Jews have very legitimate reason to fear anti-Semitism. There may be hints of paranoia, from time to time, but, as that marvelous expression puts it, "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that you're not being followed."

Professor MacDonald seems to have brought to bear wide-ranging knowledge. To put it mildly, though, there are more obvious problems. Mention has been made of Professor MacDonald's selective mining of Talmudic sources. Here, he is hardly setting a precedent. It has been a traditional approach of anti-Semites for some time. Yes, there are nasty anti-heathen (read anti-Christian) comments in the Talmud. But, if Professor MacDonald was really involved in exploring the 63 sections of this compendium of Jewish oral law and folklore, he would have seen that the Gemara, the commentary upon the oral law, Mishnah, was not informed by a systematic theology. Rather, it was, literally, commentary. In a word, it was a panoply of opinions on one or the other religious and social issue. One can find comments which MacDonald would see as representative of the spirit of an exclusivist people. At the same time, there are other opinions. Indeed, there are some which show a remarkable tolerance, and even concern, for non-Jews; quite extraordinary, one would think, in view of the fact that both the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds were put together in conditions of dispersion and exile. Obviously, if one wants to depict the Talmud as being consistently anti-Goy, great selectivity is necessary. Such was revealed in that tradition which informed the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Alfred Rosenberg. The same approach is apparent in Professor MacDonald's consideration of Maimonides. Driven into exile, this best known of formally Jewish philosophers, was quite bitter about his experiences at the hands of "heathens," and this found reflection in several contexts. Yet, Maimonides was consistent in his belief that Jews always had to treat non-Jews honestly and with respect.

In considering more recent problems, Professor MacDonald declares that, as part of an overall Jewish "strategy," designed to promote Jewish interests and power--particularly as regards liberalization of American emigration policy--Jews exaggerated the Russian pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If such events, including the well-known Kishinev massacre of 1903, really were not all that deadly, one wonders what impelled tens of thousands of people to leave their homes for points elsewhere. Or why, for that matter, Jews in the United States, some of them quite recently arrive, would have been sensitized to emigration issues in the first place. Professor MacDonald asserts that pogroms, such as that of Kishinev, were not engendered by official Imperial Russian policy. Rather, they were spontaneous outbreaks on the parts of a population oppressed by Jewish economic exploitation. While there is some truth in this, the fact remains that the Russian government did not exactly discourage such events. Here, the baleful influence of the ferociously anti-Semitic Konstantin Pobedonotsov, Procurator of the Holy Synod, was crucial. Nicholas II's link with the "Union of the Russian People," an anti-Semitic organization whose militant wing was the so-called "Black Hundreds," was known at the time. In any event, even if the Russian government did not foment pogroms, it did nothing to inhibit local police and militia personnel who certainly were complicitous in them. How "evolutionary" Russian anti-Semitism had to become is debatable, but in any case the 650 anti-Jewish measures in place by the 1880s, to say nothing of the existence of the Pale, were sure-fire guards against crypsis.

Professor MacDonald's treatment of some very crucial figures is brief and glib enough to border on caricatures. Here, the very profound, often anguished, concerns of Heinrich Heine, Berthold Auerbach, and Moses Hess must be mentioned. Also, his notion of the significance of the word "chosen" is skewed. From the prophets on, Jewish critics have upbraided their unhappy cohorts for not living up to such a designation and, because of this, being justifiably subject to divine opprobrium. But, perhaps this was due to the emergence of a few "recessive" genes in that awesome pool presumably rendered secure by strict eugenic practices. In any event that "racialism" which developed out of the notion of "chosenness" was not "mirror-imaged" by that of the Nazis or their ideological predecessors who saw Aryanism as not merely providing an example for the rest of humanity, but in a non-transcendent world dominated by racial mysticism, calling for, if not proscribing, domination. Professor MacDonald seems to think that if a people, whatever successes enjoyed by some, nonetheless confronted traumas imposed by persecution, expulsion and exile on a fairly regular basis, learned to live by its wits, it amounted to a kind of cheating. Indeed, it would seem that Jewish interest, at least those acceptable to MacDonald, would best have been served if Jews had remained kind of witless. But then, of course, they wouldn't have been Jews.

None of this, though, really matters. For MacDonald, the Jew was and is the "plastic demon". Jews--the poor bastards--can assume any role or position they want (maybe Otto Weininger would be an exception for him) and still always be guided by a hidden agenda provided by phylogenesis. Moses, Maimonides, the Bal Shem Tov, Mayer Anselm Rothschild, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Benjamin Disraeli, Theodor Herzl, Sigmund Freud (who MacDonald misrepresents with regard to his overall position on Zionism), Lilian Wald, Benjamin ("Bugsy") Siegel, Martin Buber--what does it matter? Particularly for one who, in the end, has a somewhat conventional racist approach, albeit far more sophisticated than average (here, MacDonald's emphasis on chromosomal engineering sets him apart), Jews, after all, the original racists, will have to live with a continuously evolving, and, of course, justifiable, anti-Semitism, this time and forever more, world without end. One gets the feeling that the best way of avoiding another frustration-engendered fling at genocide, would be for Jews to engage in a massive act of self-negation. For one, though, who has taken the time to exhume the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, while recognizing its importance in the ideational world of Adolf Hitler, such an approach quite logically would be the most humane.

Robert A. Pois
Department of History
University of Colorado, Boulder


[1] As MacDonanld explains: Limpieza de sangre: purity of blood. "A major function of the inquisition was to enforce the limpieza statutes and to scrutiinize the genitic ancestry of the individual brought within its purview" p. 122

See also:
Reply to Robert Pois by Kevin MacDonald