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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Karl Jaspers, the Axial Age, and a Common History for Humanity

by Ricardo Duchesne

The Philosophers of the "Axial Age": Socrates, Confucius, Buddha and Zarathustra
The Philosophers of the "Axial Age": Socrates, Confucius, Buddha and Zarathustra


From the nineteenth century through the 1960s and 70s, World History books did recognize the varying accomplishments of all civilizations in the world, but most authors and teachers took for granted the fact that Europeans deserved more attention particularly in view of their irrefutable influence on the rest of the world after their discovery of the Americas, development of modern science and global spread of modern technology.

But this Western-oriented teaching was increasingly rejected by historians who felt that all the peoples of the earth deserved equal attention. A major difficulty confronted this feeling: how can a new history of all humans — "universal" in this respect — be constructed in light of the clear pre-eminence of Europeans in so many fields?

It soon became apparent that the key was to do away with the idea of progress, which had become almost synonymous with the achievements of the West. The political climate was just right, the West was at the center of everything that seemed wrong in the world and in opposition to everything that aspired to be good: the threat of nuclear destruction, the prolonged Vietnam War, the rise of pan-Arabic and pan African identities, the "liberation movements" in Latin America, the Black civil rights riots, the women's movement.

More than anything, the affluent West was at the center of a world capitalist system wherein the rest of the world seemed to be systematically "underdeveloped" at the expense of the very "progression" of the West. Millions of students were being taught that the capitalist West, in the words of Karl Marx, had progressed to become master of the world "dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt".

The idea of Western progress was eventually replaced with the idea of "world history connected". Students would now have to learn that all humans irrespective of cultural and historical differences were alike as homo sapiens, as members of the same planet, and as migratory creatures who had made history in unison. The aim was hardly that Europeans were creatively involved in the creation of Chinese, Mesopotamian, or Mayan civilization; it was that they were morally and economically responsible for the "underdevelopment" of civilizations that were once more developed than the Germanic Barbarians of the Dark Ages — while insisting simultaneously that non-Europeans were the ultimate originators or co-participators of every great epoch in Europe's history.

But before this great fabrication was imposed on unsuspecting white students, a preparatory, though by no means identical, idea had been articulated by a German named Karl Jaspers: the notion that the major civilizations of the Old World experienced, more or less at the same time, a "spiritual process" characterized by a common set of religious, psychological, and philosophical inquiries about what it means to be "specifically human". The argument was that humanity, at this point in history, together, came to pose universal questions about the meaning of life with similar answers.

The Goal of Jasper's Axial Age



Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History


Jaspers, a highly respected philosopher, argued in The Origin and Goal of History (1953), published in 1949 in German, a few years after the end of WWII, that Western culture was not uniquely gifted with ideas that bespoke of mankind generally and the course of history universally; other major civilizations, too, had espoused outlooks about humanity together with moral precepts with universal content.

Jaspers believed that this ability was "empirically" made possible by the occurrence of a fundamental "spiritual" change between 800 and 200 BC, which gave "rise to a common frame of historical self-comprehension for all peoples — for the West, for Asia, and for all men on earth, without regard to particular articles of faith". Believing that these spiritual changes occurred simultaneously across the world, Jaspers called it the "Axial Period". It is worth quoting in full Jasper's identification of the main protagonists of this period:
The most extraordinary events are concentrated in this period. Confucius and Lao-tse were living in China, all the schools of Chinese philosophy came into being, including those of Mo-ti, Chuang-tse, Lieh-tsu and a host of others; India produced the Upanishads and Buddha and, like China, ran the whole gamut of philosophical possibilities down to skepticism, to materialism , sophism and nihilism; in Iran Zarathustra taught a challenging view of the world as a struggle between good and evil; in Palestine the prophets made their appearance, from Elijah, by way of Isaiah and Jeremiah to Deutero-Isaiah; Greece witnessed the appearance of Homer, of the Philosophers — Parmenides, Heraclitus and Plato — of the tragedians, Thucydides and Archimedes. Everything implied by these names developed during these few centuries almost simultaneously in China, India, and the West, without any one of these regions knowing of the others.1
Jaspers used certain amorphous philosophical phrases to bring out what was novel spiritually about this Axial age: "man becomes conscious of Being as a whole...He asks radical questions...By consciously recognizing the limits he sets himself the highest goals. He experiences absoluteness in the face of self hood".2 But in some instances he offered more concrete sentences: "hitherto unconsciously accepted ideas, customs and conditions were subjected to examination, questioned and liquidated".3 Essentially, in this Axial Age, the age of myths came to "an end".
The Greek, Indian and Chinese philosophers were unmythical in their decisive insights, as were the prophets [of the Bible] in their ideas of God.4
A number of religious figures, philosophers and prophets came to rely more on their own judgments, visions, and reasoning powers: logos was set "against mythos".5 Humans were now willing to rely on their rationality to make sense of the cosmos, to draw a clearer contrast between the inner world of consciousness, reflection, and the outer of accepted norms and beliefs, subject and object, spirit and matter. Combined with this spiritual awakening, came the idea of a transcendental One God as the basis of a new ethics against unreal demons and as the locus for thinking what was morally right for all.

It is not that the philosophical outlooks of these civilizations were identical, but that they exhibited similar breakthroughs in posing universal questions about the "human condition", what is the ultimate source of all things? what is our relation to the universe? what is the Good? what are human beings? Prior cultures were more particularized, tribal, polytheistic, and devoid of self-awareness regarding the universal characteristics of human existence. From the Axial Age onward, "world history receives the only structure and unity that has endured — at least until our own time".6

The central aim of Jasper's book was to drive home the notion that the different faiths and races of the world were once running along "parallel lines" of spiritual development, and that we should draw on this "common" spiritual source to avoid the calamity of another World War. The fact that these civilizations had reached a common spiritual point of development, without any direct influences between them, was likely, in his view, the "manifestation of some profound common element, the one primal source of humanity".7 We humans have much in common despite our differences.

German Guilt requires a Common History


This notion of an Axial Age, with which Jaspers came to be identified, and which has been accepted by many established world historians, historical sociologists and philosophers, is also a claim he felt in a personal way (as a German) in the aftermath of the Second World War. According to Jaspers, after the end of the Axial Age around 200 BC, the major civilizations had ceased to follow "parallel movements close to each other" and instead began to "diverge" and "finally became deeply estranged from one another".8 The Nazi experience was, in his estimation, an extreme case of divergence.

It should be noted, in this vein, that Jaspers, whose wife was Jewish, was the author of a much discussed book, The Question of German Guilt, in which he extended culpability to Germany as a whole, to every German even those who were not members of the Nazi party. A passage from this book, cited upfront in a BBC documentary, The Nazis — A Warning from History, reads:
That which has happened is a warning. To forget it is guilt. It must be continually remembered. It was possible for this to happen, and it remains possible for it to happen again at any minute. Only in knowledge can it be prevented.
The intention behind the idea of an Axial Age was to induce in humans an awareness of themselves as beings with a profound spiritual unity, nurturing a sense of "human solidarity". But this was only the beginning of what was soon to become a culture-wide effort on the part of Western elites to do away with any notion of Western uniqueness by framing its history as part of a "common" historical narrative of interacting and mutually evolving civilizations. It was also the beginning of an effort to instill on European natives the belief that they were citizens of propositional nations, and since these propositions could be held in common by all humans, they were citizens of the world and the inhabitants of the world were potential citizens of their nations. Germanness, in the words of Jürgen Habermas, would "no longer be based on ethnicity, but founded on citizenship". Habermas, a keen admirer of Jaspers, would be one of countless others embracing this civic/cosmopolitan notion of citizenship.

Hannah Arendt


An interesting figure drawn to the idea of a common historical experience, in the early days after WWII, was Hannah Arendt, a student of Jaspers. She obtained a copy of The Origin and Goal of History as she was completing her widely acclaimed book, The Origins of Totalitarianism. It is quite revealing that Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's traces, in a short essay titled Hannah Arendt's Jewish Identity, the roots of Arendt's cosmopolitanism to the role of the Jews of Palestine as one of the Axial Age peoples. Together with Jaspers, Arendt came to share
the project of thinking about what kind of history was needed for facing the events of the war and the Holocaust and for considering how the world might be after the war. They agreed that the needed history should not be national or for a national purpose, but for humankind.
Arendt agreed with Jaspers, Young-Bruehl writes, that the way for Westerners to overcome "the ill effects of their own prejudices and technological progress, which had made the worldwide war possible", was to open up to the world and think in a "cosmopolitan way about the future of humanity". In light of her Jewish identity, as one of the Axial peoples victimized by German and European prejudices, Arendt further developed the arguments of Jaspers by invoking the cosmopolitanism exhibited by the Jews in the Axial Age both as an "antidote to tribalist Jewish thinking" and to European ethno-nationalism. Young-Bruehl continues:
It is Arendt's Jewish identity — not just the identity she asserted in defending herself as a Jew when attacked as one, but more deeply her connection to the Axial Age prophetic tradition — that made her the cosmopolitan she was.
But what kind of history writing does cosmopolitan thinking require given that civilizations, according to Jasper, diverged in their cultural development after the Axial Age? For Arendt this was besides the point, she was not a historian preoccupied with the actual documentation and diverging histories of civilizations and nations. Her goal was to create a new state of mind among Europeans in the way they viewed themselves in relation to the world. She thus called upon Europeans to
  1. "enlarge" their minds and include the experience and views of other cultures in their thinking;
  2. to overcome their Eurocentric prejudices and encompass the entire world in their historical reflections;
  3. to develop a sense of the "human condition" and learn how to talk about what is "common to all mankind";
  4. to learn how they are culturally shaped both by their particular conditions and the conditions and experiences shared by all humans on the planet.

The "Special Quality" of the West — Rejected



Movie poster of "Hannah Arendt"


This call by Arendt would coalesce with similar arguments about the "inventions of nations", the "social construction of races", and the idea that we are all primordially alike as Homo Sapiens. Jaspers, at least in his book The Origin and Goal of History, did not go this far, but in fact retracted, in later chapters, from the general statements he made in the introduction about the Axial Age being a common spiritual experience across the planet, acknowledging the obvious:
it was not a universal occurrence...There were the great peoples of the ancient civilizations, who lived before and even concurrently with the [Axial] breakthrough, but had no part in it.9
He further noted that the Egyptian and Babylonian peoples "remained what they had been earlier...destitute of that quality of reflection which transformed mankind", even though they interacted with the Axial cultures.10 As it is, Jaspers admitted that after the Axial Age the respective civilizations traversed very different spiritual pathways, which begs the question as to why they would cease to exhibit "parallel developments" despite increasing interaction. Perhaps even more important was his recognition that there was a "specific quality" to the West in the way it exhibited "far more dramatic fresh starts",11 whereas
in Asia, on the other hand, a constant situation persists; it modifies its manifestations, it founders in catastrophes and re-establishes itself on the one and only basis as that which is constantly the same.12
In the end Jaspers could not avoid the ultimate historical question about why the West followed such a diametrically different path:
if science and technology were created in the West, we are faced with the question: Why did this happen in the West and not in the other two great cultural zones?13
The answer he offered was essentially the same as Hegel's heavily Eurocentric perspective about the unique pre-occupation of Europeans with freedom and reason. He actually delimited the veracity of the Axial thesis with the observation that only the ancient Greeks came to know "political liberty", in contrast to the "universal despotism" of the East; and that "in contrast to the East, Greek rationality contain[ed] a strain of consistency that laid the foundations of mathematics and perfected formal logic".14

Here are more special qualities mentioned by Jaspers about the West: "Tragedy is known only to the West." While other Axial cultures spoke of mankind in general, in the West this universal ambition regarding the place of man in the cosmos and the good life did not "coagulate into a dogmatic fixity".15 "The West gives the exception room to move." In the West "human nature reaches a height that is certainly not shared by all and to which...hardly anyone ascends." "...the perpetual disquiet of the West, its continual dissatisfaction, its inability to be content with any sort of fulfillment".16

This is the language of Spengler's Faustian Soul. Some in the New Right don't like this perpetual restlessness about the West and would prefer to see the West become one more boring traditional culture. But this cannot be, for "in contrast to the uniformity and relative freedom from tension of all Oriental empires":
the West is typified by resoluteness that takes things to extremes, elucidates them down to the last detail, places them before the either-or, and so brings awareness of the underlying principles and sets up battle-fronts in the inmost recesses of the mind.17
None of these substantial qualifications would matter in the end. The inquiries Jaspers started would mushroom way beyond his expectations leading to the complete abolition of the teaching of Western Civ courses and the imposition of World Multicultural History. The Axial Age Jaspers had limited to the period 800-200 BC would come to be extended to the entire course of human history! A. G. Frank and Kenneth Pomeranz would announce in their best sellers ReOrient (1998) and The Great Divergence (2000) that the cultural and economic trajectories of Europe and Asia were "surprisingly similar" up until a sudden "accidental" divergence occurred around 1750/1830. Humans are all the same, have always been connected through migrations, race mixing, trade, and cultural borrowings. We have always been part of one big family. Europeans who talk about their uniqueness and complain about mass immigration and the incredible gifts of Islamic culture to the West are ignoramuses in need of replacement.

Yet, there never was an Axial Age: the PreSocratics were dramatically different in their inquiries, and far more universal in their reasoning, than the prophets of the Old Testament, the major schools of Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism in China, and the Hindu religions of India. As far as I know, no one has explained this seemingly paradoxical combination of extreme Western uniqueness and extreme universalism. I hope to address this topic in a future essay.




[1] Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History, 1953: 2
[2] Ibid. 2
[3] Ibid. 2
[4] Ibid. 3
[5] Ibid. 3
[6] Ibid. 8
[7] Ibid. 12
[8] Ibid. 12
[9] Ibid. 51
[10] Ibid. 52
[11] Ibid. 54
[12] Ibid. 53
[13] Ibid. 61-2
[14] Ibid. 63
[15] Ibid. 64
[16] Ibid. 64
[17] Ibid. 65

13 comments:

  1. toborovic@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. So we have Jaspers, who's wife was Jewish, and Hannah Arendt, who was herself Jewish, meeting in Basel, Switzerland after the war trying to craft a globalist, universalist vision of mankind because they had seen what German nationalism had done to the Jews. To do this they both had to throw out Jewish nationalism as well.

    Just to be clear what was involved, the Hannah Arendt Center says that in The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), "The cosmopolitan tradition that was established for the Jews by their Axial Age prophets (Jesus?) is continually invoked as an antidote to tribalist Jewish thinking (the Torah?), parochial and governed by mythic notions about the Jews as a chosen people, an exceptional people, transcendentally oriented rather than in and of this world and its interrelated peoples."

    In other words, just three years after the creation of the State of Israel by Zionists who fervently believed in "tribalist Jewish thinking," we have a cosmopolitan Jewish writer (who got out of Germany in 1933) who argues the case that all nationalism is wrong and that we're all in this boat together. Well, she would, wouldn't she?

    I realize this is not the main point Professor Duchesne is making, but it's one I made on the mailing list some time ago and got jumped on for my trouble. I said there is, and remains, a civil war in the Jewish community between the cosmopolitans (such as Arendt) and the Zionists (such as, say, David Ben-Gurion). The one side believes Jewish culture can best be preserved by demolishing the nation-state, the other believes the only real security for Jews is in the creation of a nation of their own. Multiculturalism, the propaganda for the former, has made European nationalism collateral damage.

    We have much, indeed far too much, from the cosmopolitans. There must be nativist, nationalist, racialist writings on the other side if we go out and look for them.

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  3. It's a good explanation as to the birth of Cultural Marxism.

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  4. You never did bother to re-examine your arguments, did you? And now you return to peddle the same fantastic notion of a Jewish civil war, on the basis that a Jewish activist claims to promote cosmopolitanism for all peoples. Taking Jewish institutions for their word? You are new to this aren't you? The Canadian Jewish Counsel states: "we are firm supporters and believers in the need to be able to demonstrate passionately in free and democratic societies." and the same time is a major supporter the Canadian Human Rights Commission which pushes for laws restricting "hate speech". See a pattern here? Or do you think we have a "civil war" within the Canadian Jewish Counsel? Since you're willing to go to the other side to look for racialist writings, I encourage you to do so and educate yourself. Your homework for today: answer the question: "in what way do Menachem Rosensaft's views on nationalism in Israel differ from his views on nationalism among gentile Westerners?" OR read this informative article (http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2014/11/jews-multiculturalism-and-the-war-on-free-speech-a-too-case-file/ ) about Jewish anti-racists working to protect Jewish nationalists in the Promised Land.

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  5. Hannah Arendt is a good example of how paper-thin Jewish 'cosmopolitanism' really is. Even as she claims it to be an "antidote to tribalist Jewish thinking", she takes greater pride in its 'Jewishness', indeed in the proud history of Jewish cosmopolitanism, while obsessing over "Europeans" and their supposed prejudices, calling on them to "enlarge their minds". The obvious inference: Hannah Arendt has a strong Jewish tribal identity which motivates her support for cosmopolitanism in Europe.

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  6. Where to start? OK, with Menachem Rosensaft, Founding Chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Survivors, and a left-wing "peace negotiator" who famously met Yasir Arafat in Stockholm and then, subsequently, expressed his utter disillusionment with Arafat. Just read his mia culpa:

    “We believed him,” Rosensaft wrote in the Washington Post, "when he said
    that he and the PLO were committed to a political solution to the
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believed him when he proclaimed an end
    to terrorism. We were wrong. . . . Of course the Palestinians were
    entitled to self-determination – even independence—but only on terms of
    mutual respect. The Palestinians’ claims of nationhood could not stand
    separate and apart from their acknowledgment that Israelis are entitled
    to precisely the same rights. Arafat and his colleagues gave lip service
    to these lofty sentiments. We believed them. We were wrong."


    In short Rosensaft is a typical delusional, cosmopolitan, and a naive one at that. He's also comfortably living in the United States, some 5,600 miles from the nearest Palestinian rocket. Your other source, the Andrew Joyce article, correctly and thoroughly describes the work of other cosmopolitan Jews living in the West who give lip service and money to Israel but just can't seem to get their buts into airplane seats to move there.

    Meanwhile, if you've been reading the news from Israel, you'll have noticed that the Cabinet has approved the "Jewish Nation-State Bill." This bill subordinates Israeli Democracy to a secondary position, as it defines Israel as first and foremost a Jewish State. Here's Netanyahu:

    "The state of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people.
    There are civil rights for all citizens and we will maintain that. But
    it is first and foremost a Jewish state, the world's only Jewish state".


    So much for multiculturalism in Israel, as I was saying. For "Jewish people" read, Jews. This is the face of Jewish nationalism, and given the general tone of Israeli democracy, it's a pretty fair example of what we would call a European classical liberal democracy. The Jews would like to keep Israel Jewish (note the border fence), and we'd like to keep Canada white. I don't see any conflict in this.

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  7. I'll go with Andrew Fraser's take on Hannah Arendt, namely:
    "Renouncing “all neo-romantic appeals to the volk,” Arendt
    “maintained that one’s ethnic, religious or racial identity was irrelevant to one’s
    identity as a citizen, and that it should never be made the basis of
    membership in a political community”. That doesn't sound
    'paper-thin to me, it sounds like her true belief. If so it makes her a true cosmopolitan Jewess. This is the opposite of a true Zionist, who believes in appeals to racial and volk identity. The reason I keep banging away on this issue is that we need to be able to distinguish our friends from our enemies.

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  8. I'm sorry Mr Hilliard but would care to elaborate on how the quote you produed amounts to cosmopolitanism? In it he writes essentially that Israeli Jews' ethnic interests must be respected by the Palestinians before any negotiations can take place. Sounds pretty nationalist to me. Or take a look at this article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/menachem-rosensaft/israels-jewish-essence-is_b_995736.html ) he wrote on Huffington Post title "Israel's Jewish Essence Is Non-Negotiable". Seems pretty decisive. Now, and to complete your assignment, Rosensaft's opinion on White nationalism or Western nativism for the same publication: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/menachem-rosensaft/peter-brimelow_b_1338565.html . Seems like pretty standard cosmopolitan fare. The ball's in your court, Mr Hilliard. I really don't see how you could reconcile the all too frequent cases like this with your notion of a Jewish civil war. Different approaches, same goal: strengthen the Jewish position by weakening that of others.

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  9. I've noticed that in your attempts to prove your thesis of a Jewish "civil war" you never even seem to consider what I'm trying to tell you, which is essentially that Jews use cosmopolitan rhetoric opportunistically, driven by tribalist feeling, and not by principle. You simply take a quote from a Jew and assume that it can be taken at face value. Therein lies the problem for so many Westerners. Anyone who has taken any serious investigation of Jewish political behavior, cosmopolitan or otherwise, can point to countless examples of Jewish activists proclaiming things that they do not mean on any deep level, e.g. the example above. It is much like the doublethink described by Orwell. You proclaim, even to yourself, that which you know isn't true, so long as it is advantageous to do so. Hannah Arendt clearly has a strong sense of Jewish identity, which isn't changed by any number of refutations of (European) volkish romanticism.

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  10. Jews who "can't seem to get their butts into airplane seats to move there." were the ones who financed the Zionist project and made it possible, providing settlers with money, legal exemptions, weapons, international interventions, and everything without which the formation of the state of Israel would have been impossible. Today those apparently, according to your own special definition 'cosmpolitan Jews' use their influential positions in finance, politics and media to keep Israel supplied with U.S. grants, near-immunity from criticism, and military support. Without these 'comfortably Western' Jews, your beloved Zionist project would not have come to fruition.
    The point I wanted you to notice in the article was that supposedly anti-racist Jews, with their hands in the far-left Labour Party, were all too eager to defend from criticism extreme-nationalist Jews operating in Palestine (Irgun). Your 'Jewish civil war' theory would have instead predicted a mass denunciation of the Zionist project altogether by comfortably diasporan Jews. Instead they stuck together, as Jews, regardless of political position, tend to do.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jews who "can't seem to get their butts into airplane seats to move there." were the ones who financed the Zionist project and made it possible, providing settlers with money, legal exemptions, weapons, international interventions, and everything without which the formation of the state of Israel would have been impossible. Today those apparently, according to your own special definition 'cosmpolitan Jews' use their influential positions in finance, politics and media to keep Israel supplied with U.S. grants, near-immunity from criticism, and military support. Without these 'comfortably Western' Jews, your beloved Zionist project would not have come to fruition.

    The point I wanted you to notice in the article was that supposedly anti-racist Jews, with their hands in the far-left Labour Party, were all too eager to defend from criticism extreme-nationalist Jews operating in Palestine (Irgun). Your 'Jewish civil war' theory would have instead predicted a mass denunciation of the Zionist project altogether by comfortably diasporan Jews. Instead they stuck together, as Jews, regardless of political position, tend to do.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm surprised you can't see what the dynamics are regarding the two schools of Jewish thought. The one school, that I've called the cosmopolitans, think they can live in other countries if they promote human rights, constitutionalism and international agreements. The other group, which I've called the nationalists or Zionists, think words on paper are useless in the face of mob violence and only a country can save them.

    As recently as July an American writer in the Jerusalem Post, Rachel Hallote, wrote a piece saying Zionism is more important than ever because of rising anti-Jewish demonstrations in Europe and America. A sampling:

    In the past week, pro-Palestinian rallies have been held in major
    American and European cities – Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris and
    London. In each case, these rallies have morphed into anti-Jewish mobs,
    where slogans such as “Jews back to Birkenau,” and “drop dead you
    Zionazi whores,” and other anti-Semitic catchphrases are shouted.

    Pro-Israel
    American citizens who have encountered these rallies have been in
    physical danger. Police have had to intervene, and American Jews have
    reported being afraid of bodily harm in their own cities. For anyone
    who thought it couldn’t happen here, it already has.

    This feeling of insecurity reminds me of why Zionism was born in the first place, over a hundred years ago.


    This view, that it's no longer safe to be a Jew in Europe or America is entirely at odds with the view of the cosmopolitans who by their very inaction, feel it IS safe to be in Europe and America. That may be changing in Europe. Jews are now leaving France for Israel in record numbers because of anti-Jewish incidents coming from France's large Muslim population. With Muslim immigration proceeding apace in America, we will begin to see more anti-Jewish incidents there as well. One case:

    Newly minted Israeli citizen Laurie Levy told The Washington Post
    she could not be happier with her newfound home in Israel after leaving
    France in 2013. She said that for the first time, she feels safe
    wearing her Star of David around her neck. “Life is beautiful here. You
    work. You go to the beach. You see your friends. You’re not afraid. The
    irony is that I am more concerned about them than they are about me,”
    she said.


    Frankly, I don't expect you to agree with me because you have married a different viewpoint, however other readers will surely see there's a big difference between staying put and emigrating out of fear for one's personal safety.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mr Hilliard, it truly saddens me that you've become so hard-headed on this issue. Faced with evidence that Jews who use cosmopolitan rhetoric to tear down European (and Muslim) gentile nationalism are the VERY SAME people who support and secure the existence of Jewish ethnic state, you present me with an article about Jews feeling threatened by mobs protesting Zionist actions in Palestine. And you're telling me that I'm married to a viewpoint?


    You know, your thinking process is quite remarkable on this issue. One the one hand, generations of breathtaking and dedicated political and financial support from Jews in the diaspora, without which Israel would not even exist, let alone enjoy the position of power it does today, amounts to nothing more than a superficial token of loyalty, and yet if a Jewish activist proclaims (in highly sterile academic terms I should add) that she believes in cosmopolitan values for all peoples, this is golden proof that she has renounced her Jewish tribal identity, and overrides countless centuries of Jews pushing their interests under the guise of universalism. Seems like quite a feat of mental gymnastics by anyone's standard.


    I submit to you Mr. Hilliard, that you are not thinking rationally on this subject. You might do well to consider this. I'm sorry if this comes off as condescending, as I really do believe that you mean well, and I don't want to make myself out as an antagonist here, But I'm afraid that your misguided philo-Semitism will only make our young movement vulnerable to co-option by more established forces.


    If it makes any difference, I too, when I was first entering European advocacy, went through a period when I thought that Jews could be our allies. Like you, I thought that Jews had been unjustly targeted by Western nationalists, and I believed in all of their (in retrospect impossibly one-sided) victim narratives. Like you, I thought it was ridiculous that Jews as a community could be accused of being simultaneously preachers of cosmopolitan values and of being clannish and ethnocentric. Experience, and research, taught me otherwise. That's why I encourage to go search for Jewish nationalist writings and navigate the maze of Jewish political activism yourself. Your comments indicate to me that you know little of Jewish politics or history, and I think you would indeed benefit from further research. But for the time being, as a favor to me, please stop peddling your badly-informed philo-Semitism here, it does none of us any good.

    ReplyDelete

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