Why Do Europeans Hate Jews? Who Cares?

Spengler hits his usual note about the dullness of European civilization, post-nationalism: the tribes of Europe had their folly baked into the cake of their culture during the dark ages. In his view, Isidore of Seville and Gregory of Tours are the “Bialistock and Bloom” of Europe, inflating these upjumped Germanics with the desire to be the elect of God, which they cannot be. Anti-Semitism and World War One ensue.

Whatever the merits of this position, I find myself wondering why any Jew gives a damn. Europe has not been a welcoming place for Jews: in the 1877 years between one set of Europeans smashing the Second Temple and another set anxiously permitting Zionism to happen, Europe was a kind of Babylon for Jews, a place of silence punctuated by violence.

Can any Englishman alive today recall which King it was who expelled the Jews from his realm? Or how long it was before they were allowed back in? Europe tolerated the Jews when they felt like it, and scapegoated them when their blood was up. The Third Reich merely applied insdustrial techniques and bureaucratic focus to an existing undercurrent of hate. It’s always been there, and always will be.

Thus, I cannot imagine anyone in the Knesset noticing what the Europeans do. Israel has learned not to rely on the goodwill of gentiles. So long as they have their army and the strategic heights of Palestine, they will do what they must, and the rest of the world can go hang.

Because in 1000 years, there will not be an England, or a France, or a Germany, or an Italy. There probably won’t be a United States of America. But there will still be Jews.

Did World War 1 Cause the Collapse of European Values? Or was it the Other Way Around?

A provacative reversal of conventional wisdom, discussed by John O’Sullivan in a long-but-worthwhile article at National Review.

Kimball raises the question of whether cultural, psychological, artistic, and social movements were, not the consequences of the Great War, but instead among its causes. Without going overboard on this — since the upsetting of Europe’s balance of power by Bismarck’s creation of the German Empire in 1871 and then by Kaiser Wilhelm’s bid for world power outside Europe were plainly important non-cultural causes of 1914 — Kimball makes a persuasive case that 1914 emerged in part from the explosion of radical cultural modernism that was symbolized especially by the riots of enthusiasm and rejection that greeted Diaghilev’s 1913 production of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring ballet.

The earliest signs of this cultural revolution appeared in the late 1880s, but they gathered force and speed in the decade leading to the Great War with the Futurist movement in Italy, vitalism in French philosophy, Vorticism in Britain, Freud and Freudianism in Vienna, the emergence of Picasso and James Joyce, the huge enthusiasm that greeted Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes throughout Western Europe, and much else. Though these are very different phenomena — some self-consciously primitivist, others self-consciously complex and obscure — they all share a common sensibility: a rejection of the traditions, restraints, values, and standards that characterized the Victorian age in favor of spontaneity, instinct, and the breaking of barriers. “We want no part of the past,” said Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, whose “Futurist Manifesto” was inspired in 1909 by a night of reckless driving that ended with the car in a ditch and the poet calling ecstatically for the triumph of speed and machinery and the closing of museums.

This rebelliousness did not long confine itself to aesthetics. It soon manifested itself in a more general rejection of restraints and standards in morality, law, politics, business, and other aspects of life that had previously been regarded as distinct from the cultural realm. And though this sensibility and its accompanying movement spread throughout Europe, it found its most receptive audience in the cultural, bureaucratic, and even military classes of the new German Empire, which, since its foundation in 1871, had shown extraordinary progress both in industrial power and in technical innovation.

I like this thesis because War is something that is willed by people. This is true even of World War I, which often gets treated as some kind of odd political weather event. The ecstatic joy that could be found among people when the war broke out speaks to a yearning to destroy and to seek dominion. Certainly the German military that eagerly destroyed Belgian cathedrals had very little conservatism in it. The trouble with treating nothing as sacred, is that nothing becomes sacred.

It also gibes with the thrust of a book I have long admired, The First Total War by David Bell, which argues that the spirit of the French Revolution brought a totalizing spirit to the Napoleonic Wars and subsequent global conflict. The pre-revolutionary abandonment of values led not to justice but tyranny, not brotherhood but blood.


To be fair, it’s entirely possible that the Kaiser simply wasn’t able to fight the war like he wanted…

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