Friday, November 11, 2005

The Jewish Century

http://www.vdare.com/misc/051105_macdonald_stalin.htm

At vdare.com, 5 November 2005, Kevin MacDonald, Professor of Psychology at California State University-Long Beach, wrote an article entitled “Stalin’s Willing Executioners”?

The article looks at Yuri Slezkine’s book The Jewish Century, which received rapturous reviews.
The Jewish Century describes the Jewish rise 'to elite status in all areas of Soviet society—culture, the universities, professional occupations, the media, and government.'

The book also describes 'Jewish economic and cultural pre-eminence in Europe (and America)'.

Slezkine is a Russian immigrant of partially Jewish extraction. Arriving in America in 1983, he is now a professor at U.C. Berkeley.

MacDonald looks at Slezkines's comparison of the Jews with the Chinese. Mac Donald writes:

The Overseas Chinese ... are indeed highly intelligent and entrepreneurial, like the Jews. But I would argue the aggressiveness of the Jews, compared to the relative political passivity of the Overseas Chinese, invalidates the comparison.

We do not read of Chinese cultural movements dominating the major local universities and media outlets, subjecting the traditional culture of Southeast Asians and anti-Chinese sentiment to radical critique —or of Chinese organizations campaigning for the removal of native cultural and religious symbols from public places...

Slezkine obscures the plain fact that Jewish history in the period he discusses constitutes a spectacularly, arguably uniquely, successful case of what I have described as an ethnocentric group competitive strategy in action...

Slezkine ... understates the power of ethnocentrism and group competitiveness as unifying factors in Jewish history.

This competitiveness was of course notorious in Eastern Europe before the 1917 revolution. Slezkine ignores, or at least does not spell out, the extent to which Jews were willing agents of exploitative elites in traditional societies, not only in Europe, but in the Muslim world as well. Forming alliances with exploitative elites is arguably the most reliably recurrent theme observable in Jewish economic behavior over the ages.

Indeed, Slezkine shows that this pattern effectively continued in Russia after the Revolution: Jews became part of a new exploitative elite...

A major contribution of Slezkine’s book is to document that Communism was, indeed, “good for the Jews.” After the Revolution, there was active elimination of any remnants of the older order and their descendants...

Beyond the issue of demonstrating that the Jews benefited from the Revolution lies the more important question of their role in implementing it. Having achieved power and elite status, did their traditional hostility to the leaders of the old regime, and to the peasantry, contribute to the peculiarly ghastly character of the early Soviet era?

On this question, Slezkine’s contribution is decisive...

Jews were prominent among the Bolsheviks, and once the Revolution was underway, the vast majority of Russian Jews became sympathizers and active participants.

Jews were particularly visible in the cities and as leaders in the army and in the revolutionary councils and committees. For example, there were 23 Jews among 62 Bolsheviks in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee elected at the Second Congress of Soviets in October, 1917. Jews were leaders of the movement and to a great extent they were its public face.

Their presence was particularly notable at the top levels of the Cheka and OGPU (two successive acronyms for the secret police). Here Slezkine provides statistics on Jewish overrepresentation in these organizations, especially in supervisory roles, and quotes historian Leonard Shapiro’s comment that “anyone who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Cheka stood a very good chance of finding himself confronted with and possibly shot by a Jewish investigator.”

During the 1930s, Slezkine reports, the secret police, now known as the NKVD, “was one of the most Jewish of all Soviet institutions”, with 42 of the 111 top officials being Jewish. At this time 12 of the 20 NKVD directorates were headed by ethnic Jews, including those in charge of State Security, Police, Labor Camps, and Resettlement (deportation).

The Gulag was headed by ethnic Jews from its beginning in 1930 until the end of 1938, a period that encompasses the worst excesses of the Great Terror.

They were, in Slezkine’s remarkable phrase, “Stalin’s willing executioners”.

Slezkine appears to take a certain pride in the drama of the role of the Jews in Russia during these years. Thus he says they were “among the most exuberant crusaders against ‘bourgeois’ habits during the Great Transformation; the most disciplined advocates of socialist realism during the ‘Great Retreat’ (from revolutionary internationalism); and the most passionate prophets of faith, hope, and combat during the Great Patriotic War against the Nazis”.

Sometimes his juxtapositions between his descriptions of Jewish involvement in the horror of the early Soviet period and the life styles of the Jewish elite seem deliberately jarring. Lev Kopelev, a Jewish writer who witnessed and rationalized the Ukrainian famine in which millions died horrible deaths of starvation and disease as an “historical necessity” is quoted saying “You mustn’t give in to debilitating pity. We are the agents of historical necessity. We are fulfilling our revolutionary duty.”

On the next page, Slezkine describes the life of the largely Jewish elite in Moscow and Leningrad where they attended the theater, sent their children to the best schools, had peasant women (whose families were often the victims of mass murder) for nannies, spent weekends at pleasant dachas and vacationed at the Black Sea.

Again, Slezkine discusses the heavily Jewish NKVD and the Jewish leadership of the Great Terror of the 1930s. Then, he writes that in 1937 the prototypical Jewish State official “probably would have been living in elite housing in downtown Moscow . . . with access to special stores, a house in the country (dacha), and a live-in peasant nanny or maid”. He writes long and lovingly detailed sketches of life at the dachas of the elite—the “open verandas overlooking small gardens enclosed by picket fences…”

The reader is left on his own to recall the horrors of the Ukrainian famine, the liquidation of the Kulaks, and the Gulag.

Slezkine attempts to dodge the issue of the degree to which the horrors perpetrated by the early Soviet state were rooted in the traditional attitudes of the Jews who in fact played such an extensive role in their orchestration. He argues that the Jewish Communists were Communists, not Jews.

This does not survive factual analysis...

After World War II, in a process which remains somewhat obscure, the Russian majority began taking back their country. One method was “massive affirmative action” aimed at giving greater representation to underrepresented ethnic groups. Jews became targets of suspicion because of their ethnic status. They were barred from some elite institutions, and had their opportunities for advancement limited. Overt anti-Semitism was encouraged by the more covert official variety apparent in the limits on Jewish advancement.

Under these circumstances, Slezkine says that Jews became “in many ways, the core of the antiregime intelligentsia”. Applications to leave the USSR increased dramatically after Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967 which, as in the United States and Eastern Europe, resulted in an upsurge of Jewish identification and ethnic pride. The floodgates were eventually opened by Gorbachev in the late 1980s. By 1994, 1.2 million Soviet Jews had emigrated—43% of the total. By 2002, there were only 230,000 Jews remaining in the Russian Federation, 0.16% of the population.

Nevertheless these remaining Jews remain overrepresented among the elite. Six of the seven oligarchs who emerged in control of the Soviet economy and media in the period of de-nationalization of the 1990s were Jews...


Slezkine’s main point is that the most important factor for understanding the history of the 20th century is the rise of the Jews in the West and the Middle East, and their rise and decline in Russia. I think he is absolutely right about this.

If there is any lesson to be learned, it is that Jews not only became an elite in all these areas, they became a hostile elite—hostile to the traditional people and cultures of all three areas they came to dominate.

So far, the greatest human tragedies have occurred in the Soviet Union. But the presence of Israel in the Middle East is creating obvious dangers there. And alienation remains a potent motive for the disproportionate Jewish involvement in the transformation of the U.S. into a non-European society through non-traditional immigration.

Given this record of Jews as a very successful but hostile elite, it is possible that the continued demographic and cultural dominance of Western European peoples will not be retained, either in Europe or the United States, without a decline in Jewish influence.

But the lesson of the Soviet Union (as also Spain from the 15th–17th centuries) is that Jewish influence does wane as well as wax. Unlike the attitudes of the utopian ideologies of the 20th century, there is no end to history.

Kevin MacDonald is Professor of Psychology at California State University-Long Beach. This article is adapted from a longer review [pdf] published in the Fall 2005 issue of The Occidental Quarterly.

[Also by Kevin MacDonald: Thinking about Neoconservatism; Was the 1924 Immigration Cut-off “Racist”?; Immigration And The Unmentionable Question Of Ethnic Interests]


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