Jews as ‘Collateral Damage’ in the Fall of the British Empire: Part Two
The 13th Chancellor
Hitler’s Organic Links with British & Wider European Culture
by Gwydion M Williams
- The Uncomfortable Closeness of Adolph Hitler
- Fantasy-Genocide in the Modern Mainstream
- Hitler’s Misjudgements
- Karl Lueger – The Road Not Taken
- Mussolini – Our Jews and Other Jews
- Who Do You Blame?
- ‘Our Jews’ as Other Jews?
- The Protocols of Zion – a Plagiarism of ‘Joly the Miserable’
- From Russia With Hate
- Antisemitism in the London Times
- Joly’s Metamorphosis
- The Shaping of Hitler
- Who was ‘Joly the Miserable’?
- Hitler’s Private Views
- Appendix: Was Hitler Really 13th?
Hitler and Nazism were aberration within European culture, not Germany in particular.
Britain had set the tone since 1759. Continued to do so after 1919, when the USA went back to living its own life indifferent to Old Europe.
There were any number of ways in which a British government could have contained Hitler without a World War. They acted as they did, mainly from selfish power-political calculations.
Calculations that included broad indifference to the fate of German Jews. And the likely fate of millions of Jews in Poland when Poland was put on the front line with minimal support.
With indifference to the fate of vast numbers of Jews in the Soviet Union, certain to suffer if Hitler’s warlike dreams were successfully turned eastward.
You would expect to find British guilt about all this. It is almost impossible to avoid stumbling across evidence, if you read what was written at the time.
Up until 1938 and Hitler’s demand to annex ethnic-German portions of the British-created state of Czechoslovakia, the dominant British centre-right liked Hitler. The Daily Mail – then as now a major voice of public opinion – was very favourable.
There should be British guilt about the selfish power-political calculations of elected British governments. Instead, people pretend that it was poor little Britain terrified by a gigantic Nazi beast. But even in 1939, Germany was on paper weaker than the alliance of the British Empire and French Empire. Both were world-spanning racist dominions with democracy only for their core white territories.
Fascism was invented in Italy. It included a lady who’s been called ‘the Jewish mother of Fascism’. She maybe helped invent the socialist / nationalist hybrid that Mussolini popularised and led.
Italian Fascism was not overtly hostile to Jews – though Mussolini as a left-wing socialist had toyed with notions of a World Jewish Conspiracy, at a time when socialist racism wasn’t that uncommon. He may never have wholly dropped the idea, but in his rise some Jews helped him. ‘Jews for Mussolini’ included many useful and wealthy local dignitaries.
The Spanish Civil War helped make a genuine Italian-German partnership. Never a man of strong principles, Mussolini then turned against Italy’s Jews. It might not have happened without the Spanish war, with the British Empire and less directly the USA covertly helping the militarist right
The notion of a World Jewish Conspiracy goes back to a handful of reactionary Roman Catholics in the Napoleonic Wars. The original claim was of conspiratorial Freemasons – an obscure and long-extinct secret society called the Illuminati was only added later. Extremists who took the notion of Satan quite literally then added Jews, and it flourished as a fringe belief. Was hardly likely to flourish in the Great War, in which those Jews not ruled by the antisemitic Russian Tsar normally identified with their own nation-state. In which Jews were in opposite trenches in that grand slaughter. But it was spread thereafter by White Russians fleeing the Bolsheviks. Communism did indeed have many people of Jewish origin among the leaders and in the newly created Third International.
The left could also be antisemitic, though Bolshevism did a much better job in stifling all forms of racism than most people now like to admit.
Kerensky in flight from the October Revolution noticed a fresh slogan saying ‘Down with the Yid Kerensky, long live comrade Trotsky!
Kerensky was not Jewish: there were no Jews in the Provisional Government. Most radical Jews in the Tsarist Empire preferred some form of Marxism or Anarchism to the Kerensky’s Russian-nationalist Social-Revolutionaries. And most Bolsheviks of whatever origin used pen-names that were obviously not real names. ‘Trotsky’ was an exception: Lev Bronstein probably took it from one of his jailors. He had also used the pen name Pero (‘feather’ or ‘pen’ in Russian), which was wonderfully suitable for this gifted but inherently lightweight man. But Trotsky was the name he chose to be knows by. It made him seem the only Slav in a cosmopolitical crowd.
A belief that non-radical Jews were enemies and that non-Jewish radicals were secret Jews was a Russian aberration at the time, though White Russian refugees spread it. But it fitted wider notions of racism and race wars. This gets called Darwinism, but had developed well before Darwin published his view of Biological History. Was held by many who rejected the purely scientific aspects of Darwinism.
Aberrations within European culture got a lot worse between the two World Wars, because the First World War had been so savage and prolonged.
Prolonged because Britain wanted Germany smashed, while Germany had been willing to end the war without redrawing borders from 1915.
Savage because the British Empire used its dominant Navy to starve Germany into submission. Went on starving it after the Armistice, to force it to accept the grossly unfair Versailles Peace.
This gets covered up by all sorts of bizarre accusations about German intentions.
The Kaiser in 1914 had no wish to conquer Britain. He admired British values.
At no stage did Hitler desire to conquer Britain. He only considered ‘Operation Sealion’ after the Fall of France, to end the war after Britain under Churchill refused to accept defeat. He had earlier let most of the British Army escape at Dunkirk.
Hitler repeatedly said he wanted to British Empire to carry on: only not as Germany’s enemy. Though he frequently lied, most historians believe that on that particular matter he spoke truth.
The First World War was planned by a dominant clique within the British ruling class. It involved teaming up with a Tsarist Empire that was encouraging pogroms in the hope of driving all Jews out of its territories – mostly Jewish before they became possessions of the Tsar. It would have been bad for Jews in much of Continental Europe, had the war gone as planned. It was vastly worse as it actually worked out, even before Hitler.
The promise of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was a disaster inflicted on the world’s highly diverse communities of Jews. It encouraged a belief that they didn’t really belong in lands where they had lived for centuries.
The British Empire also stopped Jews getting to Palestine when they most needed it, deporting refugees from Hitler.
Before 1914, Jews had been advancing within a cosmopolitan and peaceful Europe. Apart from Tsarist Russia, Ireland, and the USA, Jews split on national lines in World War One.
After the fall of the Tsar, Jews were further split on class and ideological lines. Many radicals were of Jewish origin, but mostly in the two factions of the Mensheviks. (One opposed to the Tsar’s war; the other supporting it.) All Mensheviks opposed the Bolshevik Revolution.
Zinoviev and Kamenev, the most notably Jews among the Old Bolsheviks, opposed the Bolshevik Revolution when it was still just a proposal. Trotsky in 1917 had only just been let into the party. He was always viewed with suspicion by the core of the party; a rival and critic from many years back.
Most Jews in the former Tsarist Empire were small traders or peasants. Most supported the centre-right Constitutional Democrats (‘Cadets’). This put them to the right of most Russians: the Cadets were the main non-socialist party, but got only 4.8% in the Russian Constituent Assembly election of 1917.
(41.0% voted for the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and 23.5% for the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were already in power, and initially ruled in coalition with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries.)
That Jews were individuals with diverse beliefs and interests was well understood by Europe’s ruling classes, apart from the pig-ignorant and ineffective ruling class that got overthrown in Russia 1917. But World War One summoned up new forces with dangerous new attitudes.
The Soviet Union wanted Jews to dissolve themselves into the new global human identity that they were creating. Some Jews indeed wished for just this, but rather more resisted.
There was much worse trouble when the Russian identity began reasserting itself when the Soviet Union’s global program faltered.
Newly free Poland strongly asserted its ancient Christian, Roman Catholic and Slavonic identity. Vast numbers of Jews on its territory did not fit, though Poles would accept those ready to dissolve themselves into this restored Polish identity.
In Germany, Jews flourished within the Weimar Republic. But Weimar itself was a disaster. It is no good having a political system matching the abstractions of liberal politics, if real human people do not flourish within it.
Even before the Great Slump, Weimar had been failing. Former fringe movements suddenly became significant, with most consolidating themselves as the Nazi Party. Not that Nazism was ever solidly anti-Semitic: some Nazis including Goring would have accepted Jews in a lesser but secure role. But Hitler was in the grip of a long-established set of False Beliefs that led him to totally misread the larger issues of politics.
Hitler in particular misread Britain. This is said in Manuel Sarkisyanz’s Hitler’s English Inspirers, which gives extensive details of all of the British thinking that was very much in tune with Nazism. Also how much Nazis drew inspiration from this.
Most of this connection has been hushed up in Britain’s official memories of this period. Guilt is shoved onto only Sir Oswald Mosely’s British Union of Fascists, and sometimes also the pathetic Edward the Eighth. It is only the Corbynite Left that insists on reminding everyone that the Daily Mail was for many years pro-Hitler. Of course the Daily Mail managed a flip in ideas when the war started that would not have been out of place in Orwell’s 1984. Much of the Centre-Right flipped likewise.
I can add a few more examples. Popular thrillers influence far more people than books about history or social values. One notable was Dennis Wheatley, now almost forgotten but “one of the world’s best-selling authors from the 1930s through the 1960s”. Not that he was anti-Jewish: his ‘Duke de Richleau’ series has a patriotic British Jew as a leading character. But his attitude to non-whites was deeply racist. And a thriller called They Used Dark Forces treats Nazism and Hermann Goering in ways that would be unacceptable nowadays.
As a teenager, I read quite a lot of Dennis Wheatley, freely available then from the local Public Library. Likewise Edgar Wallace’s ‘Sanders of the River’ books, which I enjoyed despite recognising the gross racism of his versions of Africans and their British-colonial rulers. These books were also used for a film that had African-American singer and actor Paul Robeson playing an African chief. He disowned it after discovering that the film had reproduced the racist attitudes of the books, contrary to what he had been led to believe.
I’ve not read anything by Edgar Wallace except the Saunders books. But when looking him up, I was surprised to find another of his books as the basis of a TV detective series called The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder, which ran from 1969 to 1971. Set probably in the 1920s, it stars a small mild-seeming civil servant working for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who catches dangerous criminals through sheer cunning and without ever fighting anyone. You can get it on DVD, and I would recommend it. How far it differs from the book, I have no idea. Regardless, these were not marginal or untalented characters.
I am a dedicated reader of Science Fiction. I know of books with even worse attitudes than those of Wheatley and Wallace. Yet almost all are still in print from mainstream publishers.
When I was defending Ken Livingstone against accusations arising from his accurate account of Nazi willingness to work with Zionists early on, I listed some of the Anglo offences once viewed as normal. I now give a much fuller version.
Genocide and ideas of ‘race cleansing’ were once widespread in Britain and the USA. And Science Fiction from that era is full of it.
John Wyndham’s SF novels get called ‘Cosy Catastrophes’: Hardly anyone mentions the ‘Cosy Genocide’ in several of them. I was disgusted by the ending of The Chrysalids, which follows a group of persecuted telepaths born among normal humans. Other telepaths with superior technology rescue them: splendid. But they also casually slaughter the pursuing ‘normals’. And they plan in the long run to exterminate every last one of them.
Wyndham had nothing against Jews. In The Midwich Cuckoos, the suicide-bomber hero who wipes out the New Humans and saves ‘normals’ is called Zellaby, which sounds Jewish. He was a typical British racist of the era: Jews were an eccentric minority within the White Master Race. Sometimes disliked, particularly in the USA, but with their status always accepted. Jewish villains were bad individuals, not typical of Jews in general. Anglo race-hatred applied elsewhere.
Olaf Stapleton’s Star Maker had a sympathy for fascism that you’d not find acceptable nowadays. And in Odd John, superior humans hypnotise an island population into committing suicide so as to have their island without disturbance. They also contemplate exterminating all the world’s ‘normals’. Decide against it after concluding that it would ruin their ‘spiritual development’.
Worse again is The Marching Morons by Cyril Kornbluth. Written in 1951, it follows Burroughs and others in approving of superior humans exterminating inferiors. This happens because uncontrolled breeding has reduced most of the world’s population to the level of morons. A man revived from suspended animation from our time copies Nazi tactics by persuading the ‘morons’ they will be resettled, in this case on Venus.
Weirdly, Kornbluth himself was of Polish-Jewish descent. But it was highly popular, winning an award in 1965.
A 2006 film called Ideocracy uses the same idea, but is a comedy and has no extermination. Attitudes have softened but are still around.
The fear that the less intelligent were breeding faster is anyway nonsense. But nonsense that some clever and influential people believed.
Darwinism? I’d sooner call it ‘Vrilism’, a nasty little word for an unpleasant doctrine. Existing bad attitudes strongly connected to Imperialism and slave-ownership, as I detailed in Problems 29. These coloured the standard understanding of historic biology and natural selection. But you also find non-Darwinian Vrilists, some with ideas that biologists would see as laughably silly.
One such was Baron Lytton. He is best remembered for The Last Days Of Pompeii, but in 1871 he wrote an SF work called The Coming Race. People living in a lost world underground, have superior powers, including a type of energy called vril. Though non-competitive and utopian, they are also ready to exterminate any lesser peoples who get in their way. This will eventually include all of the surface-dwellers. The ultimate Liberal-Imperialists, in fact.
Science fiction and fantasy lets authors imagine whole worlds. What they imagine tells you a lot about their prejudices. Vrilist ideas are found in Wells, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Jack London, John Wyndham and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as more recent writers mostly known to SF fans.
Conan Doyle’s The Lost World culminates in a showdown between modern humans and ape-people, together with a celebration of past victories that modern humans are assumed to have won. Like most genocide-fantasies, it is part of the racism that had been growing from the mid-19th century and was not fully rejected by Anglo culture until the late 1960s. It is seldom anti-Jewish, but you find instances: Conan Doyle compares the defeated ape-people to the Jews in their Babylonian captivity.
Edgar Rice Boroughs was also a racist, and I would class him as a Vrilist. He often includes stereotyped Jewish villains in his stories, but I don’t remember anything by him that is hostile to Jews as such. Nor does he particularly advocates the removal of inferior peoples or regards race conflict as inevitable, though notions of racial superiority are routine in his Tarzan and in his novels set on an imaginary Mars.
Burroughs’ mediocre Venus series includes a parody of the Nazis. He was at odds with them over his gross misrepresentation in one of his Tarzan books of the achievements of General Lettow-Vorbeck in East Africa.
This same series has another Venusian culture who have applied the ‘race purification’; improving a superior race by killing off its own criminal or substandard elements. These are seen as admirable. Of course ‘race purification’ was an older idea than Nazism. It was held by many who were against Nazism and would often class Jews as part of the superior breeds to be preserved.
Jack London was a racist socialist, a category that only vanished in the 1930s when radicalism became polarised between Bolshevism and Nazism. A highly racist essay called The Yellow Peril has a deservedly bad reputation. Surprisingly less known is the same theme reworked as a short story called The Unparalleled Invasion. This has an expansionist China is attacked with germ warfare and all Chinese exterminated.
London’s was never very consistent. Before Adam also has genocide among pre-humans, but he unexpectedly tells it from the viewpoint of one of the sub-humans whose genetic heritage somehow sneaked through. Some of his short stories show a real sympathy with Mexicans, Aboriginal Canadians and Chinese migrants as victims of White oppression and ignorance.
London overdosed or suicided in November 1916. He missed the start of the Russian Revolution, where he might have joined either the Bolsheviks or the Anarchists. Or he might have found Mussolini a kindred spirit. Might have created an Anglo fascism that was more than a shallow copy of what other nations were doing. That task was beyond Oswald Mosley. Winston Churchill never saw as sensible in actual British politics.
Myself, I hope London would have been pulled in the Soviet direction and made Anglo Leninism more popular and stronger than it ever actually was.
H G Wells was indeed pulled in the Soviet direction. Before 1917 he was a Vrilist, though not really a racist. You see this in his War Of The Worlds. His 1921 short story The Grisly Folk has an encounter between humans and Neanderthals that results in immediate violence.
Wells could be foolish, but he could also write Star Begotten, a gentle story from 1937 in which some sort of benevolent influence from Mars is causing a better sort of human to be born. Sometimes he protests at the waste and futility of war. The World Set Free, published just ahead of the 1914 war, brilliantly anticipates the horrors of trench warfare. It then expands into a limited nuclear war that brings people to their senses.
Sadly, Wells was massively wrong at the one moment when he might have done a great deal of good. Britain soon realised that the war it had merrily entered in 1914 would be long and terrible if it was fought to the finish. Wells’s Mr Britling Sees It Through was propaganda for a fight to the finish. It appealed to US opinion when the USA was still neutral.
Wells was caught up in the English-nationalist hysteria of the time. He did his bit to see the war through to an utterly destructive conclusion that left the victors almost as badly off as the vanquished. He then caught a dose of religion, made a fool of himself by proclaiming his own creed and then bounced back with other works of mixed significance.
In the USA, E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith was a much cruder writer who put similar ideas in a far more blatant form. His Skylark series has several cases of ‘race cleansing’; improving a superior race by removing the dross and ‘criminal elements’. Its climax is the extermination of an entire galaxy of chlorine-breathing creatures, though only because their intention is aggressive. He takes a broadly white-racist view, and like Burroughs, content that ‘lesser breeds’ shall have their suitably lesser place if they behave themselves.
In his Lensman series a superior breed of human emerges but takes a kindly view of the older sort. Some enemy planets are destroyed, but as acts of war. It has some major villains who by their names sound Jewish, though various villains come from all over. Others with Jewish names are minor victims treated quite sympathetically. You could call this a fair reflection of his times, were it not for the absence of any significant Jews on the side of virtue.
Genocide—indeed specicide—is found in James Blish’s A Case Of Conscience. Aliens on another planet are found living kindly and virtuous lives without benefit of religion. The protagonist, who is both a scientist and a Catholic priest, decides that this example of godless virtue is morally subversive and must be diabolical in origin. This is the end point of the original short story: it was later expanded into a book, in which the planet is blown up and the subversively virtuous aliens wiped out. This sort of Roman Catholicism is rare among ordinary believers, but typical of the lunacy and malice that is rampant among the hierarchy and among intellectuals who get impressed by them.
Frank Herbert – ‘Dreamer of Dune’ – included religion in his imagined future, but excluded both Christianity and functional democracy. A small surviving sect of Jews pop up for no apparent reason in the last book he finished, maybe to show that he had nothing against them. Mysticism, elitism, commerce and drugs are the dominant themes. Plus a concern for nature and ecology, but a ‘green consciousness’ which admired savagery and desolate wildernesses. Herbert has no trace of Tolkien’s admiration for the small, gentle and benevolent side of life.
Herbert was also loosely associated with the 1980s Republican/Libertarian trend. As indeed was Robert E. Heinlein, but Heinlein also absorbed some leftist ideas and was mostly not a Vrilist. The whole thing fed into 1960s culture—Heinlein’s been blamed for an apparent influence on mass murderer Charles Manson, though I’d say he was probably innocent on that count.
Sarkisyanz in his book explains that Hitler didn’t understand Britain anything like as well as he thought he did. I agree. Hitler failed to work out what the British ruling class would let him get away with.
I have always believed the official story that it was the take-over of the Czech half of Czechoslovakia that caused the break. But it might have been some other reason: alarm at Germany’s growing strength at a time when the British economy was being throttled in defence of Sound Finances.
It would definitely have been wiser for Britain and France to have told Poland that they would get a guarantee only if they handed over the ethnic-German city of Danzig. Why this didn’t happen is unclear. But Hitler up until his demands on Czechoslovakia had plenty of friends among the British Ruling Class. It was his job to work out what the rules were, even if he found those rules foolish.
Note also that it was very much what the ruling class wanted. All adult male Britons had a vote from 1918. So did women over 30, equalised in 1928. But a majority voted for the ruling class. Trusted the ruling Liberal and Tory parties from the 1880s, when a British male majority got the vote.
The rise of the Labour Party didn’t end this. The so-called National Government won two General Elections. Decisively in 1931, when it could seem like a genuine coalition: they got 55% of the votes and 470 seats. Less clearly in 1935, when it was clearly Toryism with a few extras, but they still got 47.8% and 386 seats out of 615. And this happened even though a majority of the British public thought that the elected government of the Spanish Republic should be allowed to buy arms to fight the military rebels. Even though Britons later thought an alliance with the Soviet Union was a good idea, and the government kept stalling.
At no time until 1945 was the British ruling class out of control. And since many of their views were close to Hitler’s, the whole falling-out is surprising.
Hitler blamed the Jews for Britain and France thwarting his plans to take Danzig and then perhaps stage a joint invasion of the Soviet Union with Poland as an ally. This was ridiculous – Jewish influence was not remotely strong enough. Few Jews were fond of Poland, which wanted its Jews to convert or depart. But Hitler’s belief stemmed from a general belief in a Jewish World Conspiracy of the sort outlined in the Protocols of Zion.
(Also in Henry Ford’s popular book The International Jew. The role of the USA’s most famous industrialist in promoting Nazism is embarrassing and gets downplayed, yet the raw facts are undeniable.)
Hitler followed a path that led to both war with the British Empire and the planned extermination of those he viewed as dangerous to the welfare of the German Race. These included:
- educated non-Jewish Poles.
- itinerants loosely classified as Gypsies.
- all homosexuals.
- anyone of whatever origin or sexuality who had some inherited disease, or was hopelessly insane.
But Jews were the main target. The guilt of those who knew is clear enough. All of this is part of the standard version, and entirely correct.
Mostly evaded and much more significant is the question of whether he would have followed this path had the rulers of the British Empire not made a number of dangerous decisions. Pushed Hitler further than he originally intended to go.
The murderous computer HAL-9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey excuses himself by saying ‘I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently’. This happens after he kills most of the ship’s crew and the last survivor is coming to kill him.
The British ruling class in 1945 likewise tried to explain away their errors.
HAL-9000 says ‘I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal’. The British ruling class did hope that all might be forgiven. Hoped to win with Churchill fronting for them, but their vote slumped. Labour under Clement Attlee got a clear majority in 1945.
Tragically, the Tories recovered in 1950 and 1951, helped by Labour being too polite about redrawing the boundaries. The Tories won more seats in 1951, even though Labour got more votes; 13,948,385 to 13,717,851.
The old-style Tories made a last grand blunder in the Suez Crisis. Standard British Empire racism continued whatever the government, as told in the recent film A United Kingdom. But Tories accepted the Welfare State. Had they done then what today’s Thatcherites think they should have done, they would have slid into oblivion.
Back in 1933, Hitler came to power as the 13th Chancellor of the decaying Weimar Republic. President Hindenburg appointed him. Hindenburg until his death in 1934 had the power to dismiss him. Weimar perhaps vanished a few months before that, but not instantly.
Hitler until 1941 was much less distant from the British and European Centre-Right than people now like to pretend. British culture as a whole was not anti-Jewish – many admired Jews as a superior people and heroes of Christianity’s Old Testament. But the general notion of a struggle between peoples and the desirability of getting rid of inferior populations was part of the British ruling class world-view. Also strong among the less privileged classes that administered a British Empire in which all non-whites were classed as inferior.
In Problems 29, Britain’s Exterminating Sea Empire, I showed how the British Empire favoured mass extermination of inconvenient non-Europeans. I showed how similar values dominated the United States. And that Britain as the last and greatest of the world’s Sea Empires did not seek either to federate with Continental Europe or to conquer it. This made major wars probable.
Here, I will set out why it is false to think of Hitler and the Nazis as natural-born exterminators. It was the logic of Hitler’s beliefs, but not all Nazis shared them. Goering wanted Jews out of cultural and politics, but would have preferred to tolerate them in economic life. He had grounds for this: a rich Jew had been his mother’s lover and his younger brother was almost certainly a half-Jewish half-brother. Hitler still officially recognised Goering as his designated successor till almost the end, when Goering tried to take over to end a lost war.
Notions of Hitler inflexibly set on war and genocide are simply not true.
Previous antisemitic politicians had been contained and controlled. This gets ignored in assessing Jewish leaders who tried compromising in the face of Hitler’s overwhelming power. Historians mostly apply a double standard: excusing Anglo leaders who let Hitler’s power grow when it seemed a smart power-political move. Condemning those in Hitler’s power who tried to save something. But on the basis of past history, there was no reason to expect things to go so far.
The antisemitism of Karl Lueger didn’t get any Jews killed. His time as Major of Vienna could indeed be seen as a golden age for all Viennese, Jews included. He pushed out of mainstream politics an alternative antisemitic leader who was much more like Hitler. Whose claimed the title Fuehrer, ‘leader’ in a primitive and anti-democratic sense.
“Lueger did not create Viennese anti-Semitism. When he was coming to prominence it formed the most vibrant element in the opposition to the Liberals… What Lueger did was to reduce the racist anti-Semitism of others to a more manageable phenomenon: a mainly economic anti-Semitism. By taking the anti-Semites in tow, and constantly emphasising his opposition to Jewish big business and propaganda rather than to Jews as such. Lueger brought his Viennese round to a more enlightened approach to the issue of these immigrants who were changing a time-honoured way of life.”
This is from a valuable and neglected book: Karl Lueger And The Twilight Of Imperial Vienna. He accepted the changes made by capitalist industry, but insisted that the state and local government had a duty to expand to take care of those whose self-sufficient way of life was being undermined.
Classical Liberals chose to understand ‘freedom’ in a very narrow sense. A sense that ‘coincidentally’ favoured the selfish interests of a new rich class that scorned traditional values. But unlike the socialists, Lueger’s party accepted that capitalism might last indefinitely. They simply wanted to protect small property. To have at least some of the new wealth spent on useful social projects.
You can denounce people with foolish ideas as ignorant and irrational. This gets you praised by the liberal media, but fails to solve the problem. Alternatively you can reason with them, accepting the complaint but say the wrong people get blamed. That popular anger fails to single out the rich and powerful as the main cause, which of course suits the rich and powerful very nicely. This was the socialist approach, but it often failed.
A third way is to sound like the ignorant and irrational, but steer them to something more productive. That’s what Lueger did; gradually healing the hatreds caused by drastic change.
“Lueger was not anti-Semitic in a religious or racial sense: what he opposed was Manchester Liberalism / free market capitalism, the rampant progress of which left a trail of social desolation in its wake. The Jews of Austria were heavily committed to this mode of production… European Jews ‘established themselves as an exclusively commercial class when they entered a country less developed economically than themselves’… He differed from the Socialists who, though opposing Capitalism in the name of millenarian progress, still welcomed the disruption of small-scale production which it brought…
“The Liberals in general, and the Jews in particular, held the commanding heights of public life: Political, Economic and Ideological. All the major newspapers were in Jewish hands – and they were vicious in attacking the new movement that was trying to form itself. The extracts compiled in this book describe very well the efforts, led by Christians, to establish an alternative philosophy to that of Manchester Liberalism on the one side and millenarian Socialism on the other. The election of Lueger as Lord Mayor represented the coming of age of this philosophy – one which engendered durable Christian Democratic developments around Europe into modern times.”
After 1945, a mix of Christian Democracy and Moderate Socialism won the Cold War. The New Right thought itself clever in discarding their methods after the Soviet collapse. Are baffled when the world goes in exactly the opposite direction to the way they tried to push it.
The liberal-left are no less baffled. Say that immigration is good for the society as a whole. Ignore the little detail that as actually managed since the 1960s, it has benefited the rich and middling at the expense of the home-grown poor.
Those who demand tolerance for immigrants mostly object to paying more taxes to ensure that the poorer sections of the indigenous population don’t suffer from immigrants accepting lower wages.
If you want a Cosmopolitical world, pay for it.
If you won’t pay, don’t be amazed if racism grows.
Which is not to say that the various prejudices are sensible, or even much connected with real facts. Most anti-Jewish feelings are ignorant. Often apply to people who had been living in the same place for centuries.
Luger made the rich pay the price for successful modernisation, and it worked. But how far did he share the prejudices of his voters? He certainly made a big thing of the Jewishness of rich liberals:
“Writers hostile to Lueger have presented very little evidence from his own mouth of anti-Semitism. We have therefore sought out the strongest, or worst, anti-Semitic speech we could find. This was delivered in 1890 at the early stage in his career… It is apparently a response to a Liberal assault on Christian politics on account of the historic Christian attitude to the Jews, and Lueger is intent on showing that he will not be intimidated on the issue. All writers, even the most hostile, agree that, once he got hold of the levers of political power and could begin to enact social reforms, the anti-Semitism diminished.
“The case against Lueger is strongest with relation to this speech. But, even here, it is clear that his views were not racist… The ‘scientific’ racism, inaugurated by the Darwinists, was part of the liberal capitalist progress from which Lueger dissented.”
The whole speech is given. Here is a sample:
“‘It is not hatred of the individual, not hatred of the poor, small Jews. No, gentlemen, we hate nothing but oppressive large capital which is to be found in the hands of the Jews.
“‘Herr Professor Zucker thinks the story of Jewish world-domination is a fable. Unfortunately it is not fable. Go to France and you will agree with me that the Jews have induced the people in power to send French soldiers to Tonking… Does he not believe it is a sign of Jewish domination that the Nordbahn [railway] question was sorted out the way it was?’”
Tonking is one name for the northern portion of Vietnam. Taking it was part of a general French push into South-east Asia and towards China. Particular Jews may well have wanted it, but French Imperialism was old and not particularly Jewish.
It might be that French Jews suffered less prejudice against as part of a white colonial elite. This was definitely the case in the British Empire, with many Jews in South Africa. Surprisingly, it was also an enclave for covert gays and lesbians.
The Dreyfus affair began in 1894. It may have convinced Lueger that Jewish influence in France was less than he’d thought.
I am also puzzled why Dreyfus was ever a suspect. The original evidence was a letter by an officer offering to sell military secrets to the Germans. It happens: hard-up officers needing to keep up the lifestyle of a privileged group. But Dreyfus had a rich father.
A rich man can be a traitor, obviously, but hardly a paid traitor. Collecting payments is obviously a very big risk.
Oddly, this irrationality is seldom mentioned. The Wiki entry lacks it. A book called The Jew Accused mentions it, but it is lost in a sea of other arguments. Part of the broad liberal approach of denouncing the prejudiced rather than trying to get inside their heads and seek to improve them.
France gave legal equality to Jews in 1791; 1858 for in Britain. They broke with rules defined by the Latin-Christian church as part of a general push to apply Enlightenment ideas. Homosexuality was legalised the same year; 1967 in Britain. These changes were never reversed. They were part of a consensus between radicals and progressive aristocrats that still held in 1791.
All variants of Enlightener would exploit non-whites, even if not specifically racist. John Locke was a major investor in the English slave-trade. Many of the USA’s Founding Fathers owned slaves. But mainstream British racism classed the Jews as useful and gifted. So did the US mainstream, until large numbers of Russian and East European Jews started arriving from the 1880s.
Attitudes were worse elsewhere. But far from hopeless;
“A lot is made of the fact that Hitler praised Mayor Lueger, but a careful reading of what he said shows that the was in ideological disagreement with him, and thought his movement was doomed because it was not based on scientific racism…
“Hitler himself admired the man and his achievements, rather than his philosophy. Writing in Mein Kampf (in the late 1920s) he criticised him and his movement as follows:
“‘The anti-Semitism of the Christian-socialists was based on religious instead of racial principles…
“‘This kind of anti-Semitism did not upset the Jews very much, simply because it had a purely religious foundation… a few drops of baptismal water… [and] the Jew could still carry on his business safely and at the same time retain his Jewish nationality…
“‘The movement failed to awaken a belief that here was a problem of vital importance for the whole of humanity and on the solution of which the destiny of the whole Gentile world depended…’
“It is customary to bundle all sorts of social problems under the title of anti-Semitism, whereas, if the intention were to sort out the mess, they would have to be analysed into their constituent parts. The problem with the ‘Viennese Jews’ was certainly not culture: they embraced Viennese culture and thrived in it. It was economic, in the sense that they gave a very visible shape to multi-national capital. Other East European Jews would not have fallen into this category, certainly in the first instance.”
“Lueger had particular objections to certain nationalities – not because of their racial characteristics, but because of the political stance of their leaders within an Empire which he yearned to see as an association of equals within a general German-language framework. Thus he said ‘I like the Hungarian Jews even less than the Hungarians, but I’m not an enemy of the Viennese Jews; they’re not in the least all that bad, and we couldn’t do without them. My Viennese constantly feel like taking a rest, and the Jews are the only ones who always feel like working.’”
“But for the First World War, anti-Semitism would probably have faded out as an issue. It is a mistake to take the popularity of Nazi racism in the 1930s to be of a piece with the anti-Semitism which was endemic in a mild form in every country in Europe, Britain included, around 1900. The earlier anti-Semitism peaked with the Dreyfus affair in France and was in decline from the rehabilitation of Dreyfus to the outbreak of the War. The initial effect of the War was a further erosion of the ground of anti-Semitism. The Jews in the various state behaved as citizens of those States – as Austrians, Germans, French and British – and went to war against each other. The anti-Semitism of the generation between the Wars had its origins in the collapse of the Russian state in 1917 under pressure of the War, and the adoption of the Balfour Declaration by the British Government in 1917 with the purpose of enlisting international Jewish support for the Jewish war effort…
“The pogrom of Jews in Russia following the collapse of the Tsarist State greatly exceeded the earlier pogroms conducted by the Tsarist State…
“‘The anti-Jewish sentiment came to the fore in the Ukrainian village at the time when the Soviet government took the helm… The Soviet government brought for the first time into the village the Jewish official as a representative of the state power… The Jew whom he was accustomed to look down upon and treat with contempt, suddenly stood before him as possessor of power, demanding respect… The peasant became suspicious of the entire Jewish population…
“‘A force which for the first time in our revolutionary epoch made use of Jewish massacres as a political weapon, against the Soviet enemy, is represented by the later leaders and political heads of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. They took the same bloody course as was followed later by the Russian reaction of the Denikin regime and the volunteer army’
“The author estimates that a couple of hundred thousand Jews were killed in that vast pogrom. The reason it has been forgotten is, probably, that it formed part of the defence of ‘Western’ civilisation against Bolshevism.”
The Ukrainian People’s Republic was a short-lived state that sought independence in 1918.  Its non-Bolshevik supporters would have settle for autonomy under Kerensky. It did not claim Crimea, separate until Khrushchev added it in 1954.
Denikin was a leading general among Russia’s Whites. Opposition to the Bolsheviks was initially broad-front, but was soon taken over by officers from the former Tsar’s army. Almost all right-wing, land-owners and antisemitic.
Lueger died in 1910. His legacy suffered after 1914, but was not lost:
“Following the defeat and destruction of the Nazi State, Christian democratic parties came to power in Austria, Germany and Italy and set the pattern of European development in the second half of the 20th century. The Christian democracy of post-1945 Austria … was a direct continuity of Lueger’s Christian Social movement. The Christian Democratic Parties of Italy and Germany were essentially new creations.”
“To what extend Lueger was himself inwardly anti-Semitic is still a matter of dispute. During his early years in Parliament, he had delivered strongly anti-Semitic speeches, and it is difficult to agree with Hanna Arendt’s judgement that this anti-Semitism was purely demagogic electioneering of no political consequences…
“Jewish authors even today claim that Lueger’s period as Mayor of Vienna has been something of a golden age for the Jews.”
“Lueger’s antisemitism, though influential, was essentially opportunistic—‘I decide who’s a Yid’, he once famously said, when criticized for dining with influential Jews in Vienna”
When Hitler was made Chancellor, it was reasonable to hope that power would tame him. Mussolini had been occasionally antisemitic, yet accepted Italian Jews up until 1938.
Mentioning such facts can get you accused of minimising Nazi guilt or Hitler’s guilt. I have no such intention. The popular version even understates the matter, blaming him for only six million deaths. That’s the standard figure for Jews killed, based originally on the SS’s own estimates.
Supposing no world war if Hitler had been content with Sudeten German autonomy within Czechoslovakia, he bears responsibility for far more deaths than that.
Including non-Jews, at least nine million and perhaps 12 million humans were murdered.
His war also killed about seven million non-Jewish Germans.
Overall, Hitler caused 50 million death.
That excludes 20 million more killed in the Sino-Japanese War. Hitler encouraged it by ending German military aid and advice to the Kuomintang. Advice that had helped destroy the Chinese Communist areas in South China.
Nothing forced Hitler to make demands on Czechoslovakia that strained the previously benevolent attitude of most of the British centre-right. He let Tyrolian Germans taken by Italy remain Italian. Effectively accepted the Polish Corridor through majority-German territory with the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1934, though he had left the issue of Danzig hanging. Compromise was possible.
Had Hitler stopped after his union with Austria, his reputation today might be no worse than General Franco’s. Franco’s suppression of the Spanish Republic included far more avoidable killings than Hitler had killed before 1939.
But Hitler also chose to push on. This makes him guilty, even if events then got out of his control
I’m not downgrading Hitler’s guilt. But I insist on mentioning facts with the awkward implication that British government choices pushed Hitler in ways that were far from inevitable.
Before World War One, Hitler-like alternatives to Lueger always existed:
“In German-speaking Austria, another version of radical antisemitism was provided by Georg Ritter von Schoenerer, the son of a railway engineer who had been given a title of nobility by the Habsburg Emperor as a reward for his services to the state…
“[In contrast to Lueger], Schoenerer’s [antisemitism] was visceral and unyielding. He proclaimed antisemitism, indeed, ‘the greatest achievement of the century’. As time went on, his ideas became even more extreme. Describing himself as a pagan, Schoenerer spearheaded an anti-Catholic movement under the slogan ‘away from Rome’, and coined the pseudo-medieval greeting ‘hail!’—Heil!—using it in Parliament, to the general outrage of the deputies, in 1902, when he ended a speech by declaring his allegiance to the German rather than the Austrian royal family – ‘Up with and hail to the Hohenzollerns!’ Schoenerer’s followers called him ‘the Leader’ (Feuhrer), another term which his movement probably introduced into the political vocabulary of the far right.”
“Schoenerer’s approach became the model for German national Burschenschaften student fraternities and numerous associations in Cisleithanian Austria. In turn, Jewish activists like Theodor Herzl began to adopt the idea of Zionism. Schoenerer’s authoritarianism, popular solidarism, nationalism, pan-Germanism, anti-Slavism, and anti-Catholicism appealed to many Viennese, mostly working-class…
“Schoenerer was addressed by his supporters as the ‘Führer’ and himself and his followers also used the ‘Heil’ greeting, two things Hitler and the Nazis later adopted…
“In 1888, he was temporarily imprisoned for ransacking a Jewish-owned newspaper office and assaulting its employees for reporting the imminent death of the admired German emperor Wilhelm I prematurely. This action increased Schoenerer’s popularity and helped members of his party get elected to the Austrian Parliament. Nevertheless the prison sentence also resulted not only in the loss of his status as an noble, but also of his mandate in parliament. Schoenerer was not re-elected to the Imperial Council until 1897, while rivals like the Vienna mayor Karl Lueger and his Christian Social Party had taken the chance to get ahead…
“Schoenerer became even more powerful in 1901, when 21 members of his party gained seats in the Parliament. His career crumbled rapidly thereafter, however, due to his forceful views and personality. His party suffered as well, and had virtually disintegrated by 1907. But his views and philosophy, not to mention his great skill as an agitator, would go on to influence Hitler and the Nazi Party as a whole.”
Lueger blocked such developments. He might have managed more, had Emperor Franz Joseph died in 1900 at age 70 rather than lasting till 1916:
“Lueger was a man very much after the heart of Archduke Franz Ferdinand… The heir to the throne sided in public unambiguously with [Lueger’s] Christian Social Party… the Archduke could not imagine a better Prime Minister for Austria if and when he succeeded to the throne. Lueger’s Greater Austria policy also won the support of the lower middle class of Imperial Vienna, who rightly hoped for material advance as a consequence of a re-organisation of the monarchy which would again see Vienna as the sole Capital of the Hapsburg monarchy.”
The Kingdom of Hungary in 1914 included Slovakia and a big chunk of today’s Romania. Its monarchs were the Archdukes of Austria, but it gained status in 1867, when the state officially became Austria-Hungary.
Franz Ferdinand and Karl Lueger wanted to raise the status of the various Slavonic people. This might have ended any possibility of the mixed Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim Serb population in Bosnia joining an enlarged Serbia: a major reason why Serbian extremists killed Franz Ferdinand.
Austria-Hungary had sound reasons to demand that the Serbian Secret Service be investigated: the rejected demand that caused the war. Serbia’s government had come to power after the murder in 1903 of the King and Queen of a rival dynasty on good terms with Austria-Hungary.
The assassination of Franz Ferdinand sparked World War One. But if it had ended quickly and without the dismembering of Austria-Hungary, then perhaps no Hitler.
The final Emperor tried liberalisation, though you can’t prove he would have done this without a war
“In 1917, [Emperor] Charles secretly entered into peace negotiations with France… However, the Allies insisted on Austrian recognition of Italian claims to territory and Charles refused, so no progress was made…
“The Austro-Hungarian Empire was wracked by inner turmoil in the final years of the war, with much tension between ethnic groups. As part of his Fourteen Points, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson demanded that the Empire allow for autonomy and self-determination of its peoples. In response, Charles agreed to … allow for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. However, the ethnic groups fought for full autonomy as separate nations, as they were now determined to become independent from Vienna at the earliest possible moment.”
The Fourteen Points were also less idealistic than most people think. They promised access to the sea for both Poland and Serbia, overriding the loudly-proclaimed principle of self-determination. And France would get Alsace and Loraine, no matter what the people living there wanted.
Lueger as Prime Minister to Emperor Franz Ferdinand might have made something better:
“In consultation with Franz Ferdinand who had taken him into his confidence, Lueger for a time even considered the idea of amending the constitution to provide for a triple monarchy, with a third state, ‘Southern Slavia’, joining the existing states of Austria and Hungary… In every school of the empire German would be taught and learned as a compulsory subject alongside the people’s native language…
“Lueger later became a supporter of the idea of Greater Austria, i.e. the creation of a federal state … encompassing a number of constitutionally autonomous national states. The Magyars [Hungarians] bitterly opposed this proposal, not least as they would have enfranchised the oppressed minorities in the Hungarian half of the Empire.”
In ‘Greater Austria’, the various overlapping nationalities might have coexisted. With German control removed, it was predictable that the other nationalities would start fighting each other. As had happened during the Revolution of 1848.
Something similar happened after the First Balkan War, in which a Balkan League of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro defeated the Ottoman Empire. There was a Second Balkan War, with Serbia and Greece taking ethnically mixed territory from Bulgaria. Montenegro, the Ottoman Empire and Romania took advantage to enforce their own claims.
Austria-Hungary included a nominal Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, created in 1868 by merging the kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia, with the Hapsburg monarch as King. Its lacked the separate political life that Hungary gained.
Bosnia was separate. It had been occupied and administered by Austria-Hungary from 1878, in a grand carve-up following a Turkish defeat by Russia. (The British Empire got Cyprus in the same deal.) Bosnia had a Serb majority: whether they wanted to join Serbia was never established. But Bosnian Serbs assassinated Franz Ferdinand.
In 1918, Croatia-Slavonia merged with Bosnia to form a short-lived a ‘State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs’ that then was persuaded to join Serbia as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. All of these territories had mixed populations: some sort of federation was wise. But perhaps Serbia and Serbs used to Austro-Hungarian rule should have stayed separate.
Croats and Serbs were mostly at odds within Yugoslavia, with a Croat-dominated government seeking to work with Nazi Germany and Serbs overthrowing it and getting conquered. A Nazi-created Croat state practiced genocide. Croats after the Yugoslav break-up chose to honour its memory.
Mussolini had a complex view of Jews. In his early days as a left-wing socialist, he believed stories about a Jewish World Conspiracy. Yet he worked with Italy’s small well-integrated Jewish community. It supported the unification of Italy and was liberated by it. Well-educated and urban, Jews were present in most brands of Italian politics, including Fascism.
“Mussolini’s policy toward the Jews was opportunistic, while his personal view of them, although unsystematic, was not unbiased. As early as 1908 … Mussolini the socialist adopted Nietzsche’s view that Christianity, as a ‘re-evaluation of all values,’ was the spiritual revenge by which the Jews in Ereẓ Israel overcame their secular enemies, the Romans. In June 1919, reflecting the line of the extreme right-wing ‘fasci’ he had created shortly before, Mussolini attacked world Jewry … defining it as ‘the accomplices, the soul of both Bolshevism and of capitalism.’ However, he reversed this stand in October 1924, saying that ‘Bolshevism is not, as is believed, a Jewish phenomenon,’ and further claiming that ‘Italy does not know antisemitism and we believe that it will never know it.’ At the same time he excluded Zionism, declaring that ‘the new Zion [nuova Sionne] of the Italian Jews is found here, in our beloved land, that many of them heroically defended with their blood.’ By its very nature, Mussolini’s opportunistic manoeuvring delayed a systematic anti-Jewish policy, to a greater extent than did the presence of Jews in the ranks of Fascism from its earliest phases. From 1922, when he acceded to power, to 1938, when he branded them as racially impure, Mussolini endeavoured to use the Jews as an instrument of policy, especially on the international level, in conformity with his distorted view of Judaism as an ‘international, occult body.’ At the same time, he permitted a parallel undercurrent of antisemitism … which he repudiated or encouraged in turn, whenever he saw a chance of blackmailing the Western democracies. As a rule, antisemitism was deemed counterproductive as a propaganda tool, as well as on the official level. In November 1923, Mussolini declared to Angelo Sacerdoti, chief rabbi of Rome, that ‘the Italian government and Italian Fascism have never intended to follow nor are following an antisemitic policy.’ Concerning mixed marriage, however, Mussolini’s views were strictly Catholic. In 1929, the year of the Concordat with the Vatican, he forbade his daughter Edda’s projected marriage with a Jew as ‘a real and proper scandal.’
“His attitude to Zionism was similarly ambivalent. To Chaim Weizmann he said, shortly after his accession, ‘You know, we could build your state en toute pièce.’ In February 1928, he personally approved and encouraged the creation of the Italy-Palestine Committee, but rebuked the Italian Zionists in November of the same year (probably in deference to the Vatican, with whom he was about to sign the concordat) charging them with disloyalty to Italy: ‘We therefore ask the Italian Jews: are you a religion or a nation?’ … Subsequently he resumed his pro-Zionist policy, purely from expansionist motives, and maintained it until after the conquest of Ethiopia. As long as Mussolini kept an open window on the Western world, he was eager to present an image of Italian Fascism as ‘Latin’ and unprejudiced, in contrast with ‘savage and barbarous’ National Socialism. Antisemitism remained a ‘German vice’ and Hitler ‘a fanatical idiot.’ Racialism was ‘the Aryan fallacy’ (Aug. 4, 1934).
“Mussolini soon reversed his position. From 1936, to all intents and purposes, he dissociated himself from the Western world and drew near to his derided disciple and future master. He blamed ‘international Jewry’ for the sanctions which castigated Italy for its Ethiopian adventure and marked the end of his rapprochement with the Western democracies. As a result, the Italian Jews had become expendable and could finally be treated in conformity with Fascist latent intolerance toward ‘alien groups.’ Undoubtedly, Mussolini also sought to please his new German ally, but the Italian Jews were not sacrificed merely for the sake of Hitler’s ‘brutal friendship.’ In search of a formula which would bind his own irresolute hands, create an unbridgeable gap between non-Jews and Jews in Italy, and enable him to be rid of all the latter in one stroke, Mussolini resorted to racialism which he now saw as politically profitable. The Dichiarazione della Razza of July 1938, introducing racial measures in Italy, was largely compiled and edited by himself and due entirely to his initiative; there is no evidence whatsoever that he was subjected at any moment to pressure by Hitler. His acceptance of the racial vice, deliberate and cynical, was rejected by the Italian people in their great numbers. The extent to which he was personally willing to cooperate in the physical destruction of Jews is shown by events occurring during World War ii. In August 1942 the Germans asked the Italians to hand over to the German-Croatian authorities the Jews who had gone into hiding in Dalmatia, in the Italian occupation zone, and a memorandum on the subject, indicating the terrible fate in store for the Jews, was submitted to Mussolini. He scrawled in the margin: ‘nulla osta’ (‘no objection’).” Encyclopaedia Judaica.
1936 was the start of the massive Italian and German intervention in the Spanish Civil War, which the British government managed to have ‘no knowledge of’. Some MP should have been bold enough to call Prime Minister Chamberlain a barefaced liar when he said that. Repeated it outside of the House of Commons to challenge Chamberlain to sue for libel. No Prime Minister could have failed to know that the Italian Army and German airforce was there. (So too was the International Brigade, but no regular Soviet troops.)
The British government was functionally pro-Franco while pretending to be neutral. It had to pretend, because most Britons believed that a duly elected government had a right to rule. And it was a radical but non-socialist government before the attempted coup. Its survival might not have solved Spain’s problems, but would probably have prevented World War Two. Discouraged a union of Germany and Italy as the Axis. Fascist Italy wasn’t so different from Britain’s National Government, or France when the French Right ruled.
Disaster for Italy’s Jews was not an obvious consequence of the Nazi / Italian Fascist alliance, though you could sensibly argue that a neutral Italy would have been best for both Germany and Italy. Still, defeat in Spain might have made Hitler more cautious thereafter.
Without doubt, Italian Jewish suffering was a consequence of pro-Franco policies. A book called Jews in Italy under Fascist and Nazi Rule gives the entire story:
“Eight out of every ten Italian Jews survived the war … the third highest survival rate after Denmark and Bulgaria.”
This ignores Albania, which ended up with more Jews than before the war: a partial refuge under Italian rule. But from 1938 there was discrimination:
“During the years 1938-43, prior to the loss of Italian sovereignty, Fascist Italy waged a debilitating campaign against its Jewish population… Decreed the immediate and permanent removal of all textbooks by Jewish authors from the Italian classroom…
“Italian citizenship granted to Jews after 1919 was henceforth revolved … and all foreign Jews – with the exception of those over sixty-five years of age or those married to Italian citizens – were ordered to leave the country within four months.”
Milder than the Nazi system, but fitting a much wider pattern of blaming Jews for whatever went wrong. They were few but influential:
“On the eve of the racial laws in 1938, the Italian Jewish population of approximately 46,500 had been highly integrated into the general society, was overwhelmingly urban, and, on the whole, was solidly middle class… 43.3 percent of Italian Jews worked in trade … 8.8% in the liberal professions… In contrast, about half the general population in 1936 was employed in agriculture, 8.2% in trade… 0.6 percent in the liberal professions.”
This was a natural concentration in urban niches of people who valued education. Who often no longer felt strongly Jewish:
“In an effort to circumvent the anti-Semitic decrees, it is estimated that [about 5000] Italian Jews formally left the Jewish community in the years 1938-41, either through conversion or officially removing their names from the registry books of the Union of Italian Israelite Communities.”
Elsewhere, including occupied Poland, descent and supposed race were the rule. [Unlike independent Poland, which had accepted converts. In Italy after the Nazi alliance,] conversion did no good. Still, it reversed of decades of progress:
“Italy went from being one of the most backward countries in Europe, with its Jews confined to ghettoes until 1870, to one of the most enlightened, in which Jews were able to aspire to the highest levels of society, including the office of prime minister, a tradition continued by Mussolini during his first sixteen years in power until his about-face in 1938. Italy was a virtually unique case in Europe, a country where Jews were often Fascists and where Fascists often helped to save Jews.”
“In Italy, the struggle for the creation of a united modern Italian state and the struggle for emancipation of Italian Jews were virtually synonymous… Naturally, Jews dedicated themselves to the cause of Italian unification with particular enthusiasm. Eight of the famous 1,000 soldiers that Giuseppe Garibaldi sailed off with to liberate Sicily from Bourbon domination were Jewish…
“Unlike most other European Jews who spoke a separate language – Yiddish or Ladino – Italian Jews spoke the local dialect of the city they lived in.”
“Although not a biological racist, Mussolini was a great believer in national traits and made sweeping generalisations about the Jews as a people (unusually intelligent, drawn to money, tendentially subversive and democratic). But he had similar stereotypical ideas about almost everyone – the Russians, the French, the English, and so on. With an alternating mix of resentment and admiration, Mussolini frequently used the terms ‘Jewish finance,’ ‘Jewish international’ or ‘the international plutocracy’ to refer to a vaguely defined cabal of Jewish interests. Because he believed more in the idea of nation than in race, he regarded the Italian Jews as Italian; he was suspicious, however, of Zionism because of its connections to the ‘Jewish international’…
“And yet Mussolini’s remarks about the ‘Jewish international’ notwithstanding, Mussolini had warm relations with Jews at various levels. His first cabinet included Aldo Finzi, an early Jewish supporter who became undersecretary of the interior. His mistress and official biographer in that period, Margherita Sarfatti, was also Jewish.”
Aldo Finzi was one of 37 Jewish deputies elected to parliament for the Fascist Party in 1921. He naturally opposed anti-Jewish measures from 1938. Became part of the Resistance when Mussolini was deposed. Was captured by the SS and executed along with 334 others in the Ardeatine massacre as a reprisal for a Partisan attack.
You might wonder how Mussolini could have taken power with just 37 deputies in a parliament of 535. That was as Mussolini’s original core party, the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento. Its main strength was street-fighters and rural tough-guys. He expanded it as a wider National Fascist Party that won overwhelmingly in the 1924 election, making him much more definitely a dictator.
In 1921, there were 35 (including Mussolini) elected as part of the ‘National Blocs’, plus two elected independently. This National Bloc was an alliance with three other parties that had supported Italy taking part in World War One:
- The Italian Liberal Party, shunted out of power in 1925. (Re-founded in 1943; a minor party that was dissolved in 1994.)
- The Italian Nationalist Association; an older right-wing nationalist party. It merged into Mussolini’s Fascists in 1923, as did many others with a similar outlook.
- The Italian Social Democratic Party: genuinely liberal-left and part of Mussolini’s first government.
This National Bloc got 105 deputies. The Liberals had 43 in their own right; the Social-Democrats 29. Given Italy’s fragmented politics, that was enough.
Fascism was also a way of healing the chasms in Italian society. Italy’s more militant socialist were part of a wave of strikes and land take-overs just after the war. Like most populist movements that lack a coherent leadership, this provoked a successful authoritarian response. Most left-wingers opposed the war, but there were plenty of returned soldiers outraged by this.
The militant socialists split, with some forming a Communist Party more openly part of a global revolutionary project centred on Moscow.
Multi-party elections, previously a game among the elite, were not likely to survive an outbreak of functional democracy. It had to end with new politics. Fascism was autocratic rule with elements of the socialism that ordinary people wanted. It filled the gap, and drew on strong nationalist feeling that challenged lingering local loyalties.
Jews in Italy had always acted as individuals, going many different ways:
“Statistically, the number of Jews who opposed Fascism from the beginning was greater than the rest of the Italian population.”
Likewise Jews who supported Fascism and were part of it. But Mussolini as a socialist had been suspicious of Jews, which was common at the time:
“Mussolini had been a good anti-Semite … when he was a young socialist. He continued to be an anti-Semite, and more openly, when he left the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) in 1914 at the age of thirty-one. There are few archival documents, but the articles he wrote … are interspersed with frequent anti-Semitic utterances.”
‘Antisemitism’ covers a wide range of different beliefs, even when it is not being used as a smear for those who criticise Israel for doing things that everyone would condemn if anyone else did them. Antisemitism is not always blind hostility. Mussolini believed in a Jewish conspiracy, or perhaps he used it as a line of patter that his audience would like. But he would also accept individual Jews as friends and as not part of it.
Left-wing antisemitism was common before 1917, as was White Racism. Leninism squeezed out a lot of it out of socialism. Nazism caused a much clearer rejection.
Jews in Italy says (page 37) that George Sorel influenced Mussolini, and was an antisemite. The Wikipedia supports this. I found no antisemitism in what I’ve read of Sorel, but I can believe it was there. Back in the 1980s, I wrote of Sorel the Ambiguous. Noted his links with the three major movements that emerged after 1918: Global Leninism, Fascism and Moderate Socialism.
Of course critics may add foolish anti-Jewish remarks to a broadly correct account of financial or business scandals in which a major player is Jewish. But not with the grand zero-assets ‘Ponzi’ fraud run for years by Bernard Madoff, since most of the victims were Jewish. They included a major Jewish charity called the Lappin Foundation that tried to persuade young Jews not to assimilate and ran a ‘Jewish Youth to Israel’ scheme.
Many people noted that Madoff’s reported profits could not be made honestly. They supposed that he had ‘inside information’ that he was generously sharing with them. Assumes he was looking after his own:, and I’m not aware of a single ethnic or religious group that doesn’t do that.
Madoff was a sociopath – lacking the vital human gift of sympathy, though whether sociopaths become criminal is a matter of circumstances. Our culture from the 1980s encourages sociopathy among those already inclined to it.
Hedge Funds, which include a lot of Jews, generally distrusted and avoided Madoff. Only a few brave souls tried to warn the wider public. Of course ‘day traders’ etc. are the ‘stupid money’ that lets the ‘smart money’ make gigantic profits.
In a dangerous world, minorities easily get blamed for things they had nothing to do with:
“Mussolini … on June 4, 1919, published his famous piece (‘The Accomplices,’ ‘I complici’) against Jewish Bolshevik leaders whom he claimed had been financed by Jewish American bankers.”
A ‘capitalist’ is anyone operating on a large scale within a capitalist system; which they may dislike and/or regard as unfair. Jews driven out of the Tsarist Empire and grown rich in the USA might favour a socialist take-over of Russia, though probably not the USA. Might see ‘land to the peasants’ as an excellent revenge on anti-Jewish landowners. Or it might have been personal: relatives killed or raped in pogroms, so look to whoever is most likely to take revenge.
A successful business person might see the Bolsheviks as the most serious force among those who’d accept Jews as ordinary citizens.
There are also a few business people with committed left-wing views, and rather more who were leftists once. So perhaps a few Jewish bankers briefly bankrolled the Bolsheviks. Or perhaps it is yet another ignorant right-wing fantasy. Someone should look into it: it would be low on my own list of possible projects.
Wherever it happened, the breakdown of the old order was fatal to all moderate forces. Hard Left or Hard Right became the real alternatives.
Some people thought with hindsight that it had been a bad idea to get rid of Germany’s Kaiser: Hitler was a replacement focus of right-wing and personal loyalty.
It would have been smart to have replaced the worse-than-useless Nicholas II with a relative who might prevented each of the different elements of the population of a multi-ethnic empire from going off in some distinct and incompatible direction. That’s to say, the moderate February Revolution made the decisive error. An error that would have ended with a Hard-Right semi-Fascist dictatorship had the Bolsheviks proved less tough.
In actual history, the anti-Bolshevik Whites were dominated by military officers who were mostly right-wing extremists. Who became propagators of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’.
Mussolini himself was never very consistent in his beliefs, apart from wanting to be boss. A Jewish woman called Margherita Sarfatti was Mussolini’s biographer as well as one of his mistresses. Her father was a friend to the man who became Pope Pius X. She has been called ‘the Jewish Mother of Fascism’: the actual inventor of the surprising and novel combination of right-wing and left-wing ideas that Mussolini as a gifted populist then led to power:
“Everyone in Italy wanted to forget the ‘Duce’s other woman’: the Fascists, because she was Jewish; their opponents, because she was Fascist; and the family, because she became an embarrassing historical burden. As a result, Margherita Sarfatti’s story slipped out of the public awareness, and along with it her central role in Italian fascism and the Duce’s life.
“Today, more than 60 years after the Fascist dictator was executed, Sarfatti’s descendants prefer to view her as an intellectual and a patron of the arts, who worked to distanced Italy from the Nazi danger and was forced to flee to Argentina when Benito Mussolini implemented the race laws. They did not hear from her about the 20 years in which she shared Mussolini’s doctrine and bed. Or about the 1,272 letters he wrote her in those years, and which disappeared”.
She left Italy in 1938, going to Argentina and Uruguay and working as a journalist. Returned in 1947 and once again became an influential force in Italian art. She died in 1961.
Someone who reads Italian could try looking out what Mussolini and Sarfatti were saying when the idea of Fascism gradually emerged. There must be a lot of untranslated material. English, for better or worse, is the global language that every educated person now learns. Their way of talking to the rest of the world.
Early Fascism was ambiguous about women. As it matured and gained power, it tried to confine them to traditional roles:
“Margherita Sarfatti… her being a woman complicated things. In January 1922, when she had in fact a post of some importance, as the editor of the cultural review Gerarchia (of which Mussolini was the editor in chief), her name did not appear.”
“The Fascist movement’s exaltation of the roles of the Fascist wife and mother inevitably led to polemics against the modernist tendencies of the more advanced societies, especially in the United States. An article titles ‘Feminism and the Italian Woman’, contrasted three pictures … The Communist Jewess Rosa Luxemburg, who led the bloody Spartacist movement in Germany,’ ‘a quaint group of girl scouts in the United States’, and a happy Italian mother.”
Rosa Luxemburg disapproved of the Spartacist uprising, though it involved many of her followers. As I said in Problems 29, she liked the idea of revolution but not the reality.
Girl Scouts are called Gird Guides in Britain. The entire Scouts movement had right-wing overtones, but too few for actual fascists. Britain had a left alternative worth mentioning:
“Whilst sharing many of the same historical roots as the Scouting movement, Woodcraft Folk’s direct antecedent was the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, an organisation led by ex-Scout Commissioner for Woodcraft and Camping John Hargrave, who had broken with what he considered to be the Scouts’ militaristic approach in the years immediately after the First World War. Woodcraft Folk was established by Leslie Paul in 1925 after the south London co-operative groups challenged Hargrave’s authoritarian tendencies over his refusal to recognise a local group called “The Brockley Thing” and broke away from the Kindred. In its early days it was very similar to the Kibbo Kift, with a strong pagan and anti-capitalist emphasis, but gradually developed its own distinct ethos.”
It was the left and in particular Global Leninism that demanded an important role for women. Mostly not equal in practice; but before the West’s massive ‘Cultural Metamorphosis’ in the 1960s, Global Leninism did the ‘heavy lifting’. One of many topics that mainstream Western media will evade for the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution.
(7th November by the Gregorian Calendar, now the global standard. October 25th in the older Julian Calendar. Which lost a day every four centuries, and was one of many foolish things that Tsarist Russia hung onto.)
Mussolini kept his Fascist movement diverse. Let antisemites operate, but kept them marginal:
“Mussolini acted in foreign policy as he had in domestic policy and refused to lend support to political anti-Semitism.”
He probably wanted assimilation. But this shifted with a Manifesto of Racist Scientists, published in 1938. This said:
“‘Even the Arab occupation of Sicily left nothing behind but the memory of a few names. For that matter, the process of assimilation was always exceedingly rapid in Italy. The Jews represent the only population which has never assimilated in Italy because it is made up of racial elements which are not European, differing absolutely from the elements that make up the Italians.’”
Jews were the only population in Western Europe that successfully avoided conversion to Christianity, a West Asian creed whose founders were all Jewish. Whose early heroes included Saint Augustine of Hippo, a North African.
Europe’s pagans had long ago been supressed. Muslims either converted or left, as in Spain. But unlike Spain, Italian Jews were seen as useful and tolerated in ghettos. Unable to intermarry while they kept their religion, of course. This might have occurred to the ‘Racist Scientists’: but right-wingers seldom think clearly about anything beyond their direct experience.
Life became tough for Italian Jews after 1938. Worse when Italy’s right-wing government made a botched attempt to switch sides when being invaded by Western forces in 1943.
Showing the same incoherence that had allowed Mussolini to dominate them in the first place, the new government didn’t shoot him out of hand. Instead they locked him up in a nicely isolated fortress that was supposed to be secret. The Germans rescued him in a spectacular raid for which SS captain Otto Skorzeny deservedly became famous. This gave them a plausible leader for the puppet ‘Italian Social Republic’ (Salo). Mussolini restore lines of personal loyalty that no other right-wing Italian was likely to have managed.
Most Italian troops were arrested, or occasionally killed, when the post-Mussolini government switched sides. But with Mussolini free again, some joined him:
“Some soldiers escaped the camps by accepting offers to collaborate with the Germans… serve in the armies of the Nazi-controlled Salo Republic or serving in the German Wehrmacht or the SS. The majority of soldiers and officers refused such offers, which meant and even harsher regime of forced labour and starvation rations. Overall, the death rate for Italian captives was one in ten. Those who survived returned home emaciated, tubercular, and traumatized.”
Because of racist laws from 1938, no Jews would have been serving. Only in Finland was there the oddity of Jews in an army that was an ally of Hitler for much of the war. Finland switched in good time, after showing that it was still strong. Got themselves a passable peace and prospered as neutrals in the Cold War. Post-Mussolini Italy botched it:
“After the armistice with the Allies, some 650,000 members of the Italian armed forces who refused to side with the occupying Germans were interned in concentration and labour camps. Of these, around 50,000 died while imprisoned or while under transportation. A further 29,000 died in armed struggles against the Germans while resisting capture immediately following the armistice.”
The Wikipedia says 492,400 deaths from all causes for the entire war. That’s 1.06% of the population: light for a country that saw fighting on its own territory. Czechoslovakia, which in 1938 had surrendered after being abandoned with the Munich Agreement, lost at least 2.33%. The Soviet Union 13%. Poland 17%.
The British Navy food blockade contributed. Europe starved. It would have been a war crime if the judges had been impartial, rather than appointed by the victors.
But while British policy created the shortage, there was also very strong discrimination in who got what. For Jews and others that the Nazis wanted dead, there was the deliberate intention of killing off everyone in the long run. Active murder as well as deaths encouraged by starvation rations, even for those doing vital war work.
The shocking ‘living skeletons’ seen in the liberated Concentration Camps resulted from a planned policy. That and the inbuilt efficiency of the human body in metabolising muscle tissue and anything else that could be abandoned to avoid immediate death. While everyone was hungry, the inequality was clear.
For Italy, softness towards Mussolini by those who overthrew him cost many Italian lives, including 13,000 troops who died supporting the Nazis and about 50,000 in the Resistance. And many Italian Jews:
“In the search for Jews, the armed forces and the police of the Italian Social Republic had an advantage over the Germans, because they knew the territory and could easily count on a network of informers. And in fact, Mussolini’s Republic carried out most of the arrests. It was up to the Nazis to capture the others and to deport all of them to the death camps.”
This was normal for Nazi allies and puppets, but not universal. Bulgaria saved most of its own Jews, while cooperating with the collection of Jews in foreign countries. France saved most Jews who were French citizens by handing over Jewish refugees. Non-cooperation might have saved more Jews but fewer French Jews, which was perhaps the logic.
There were also states that shared Nazi prejudices.
“The extremely nationalist Independent State of Croatia, set up by the Ustashi movement under the protection of the occupation forces, zealously emulated the Nazi persecution of Jews.”
It also massacred Serbs and Gypsies: Serbs had previously been a majority in Bosnia. Memories of this contributed to the Bosnian War.
The independent Croatia that was established from 1991 looked back to pro-Nazi Croatia and denied its crimes. Did much the same as the current pro-Western government in Ukraine is doing.
“Croats, with Nazi support, killed thousands of Serbs (along with Jews and Gypsies) in concentration camps in World War II. Ethnic hatred has thus long been present in the former Yugoslavia, but from 1945 to 1980 it was held in check by the charisma and iron hand on Josip Broz Tito, himself part Croat, part Slovene… Drawing other boundaries that left millions of Serbs living outside of the (then) state of Serbia…
“In Croatia the first free post-World War II elections produced a landslide victory for demagogue Franjo Tudjman’s nationalist Croatian Democratic Union party – a party basically defined by its hatred of both the ethnic Serbs living in Croatia and their cousins in Serbia…
“Meanwhile, 1990 democratic elections in Serbia swept Slobodan Milosevic to power on a similar wave of ethnonationalist euphoria.”
“While no politician has based his or her entire campaign on Holocaust denial, a number have used it when it was in their interest to do so. Croatian president Franjo Tudjman wrote of the ‘biased testimonies and exaggerated data’ used to estimate the number of Holocaust victims. And in his book Wastelands – Historical Truth, he always places the word Holocaust in quotation marks. Tudjman has good historical reasons for doing so: Croatia was an ardent Nazi ally, and the vast majority of Croatian Jews and non-Jews were murdered by their fellow Croatians, not by Germans. Tudjman obviously believed that one way for his country to win public sympathy is to diminish the importance of the Holocaust.”
Italy had had nothing like so bad a record:
“The 32,307 Jews who remained in central and northern Italy were at the mercy of … the Nazi extermination policy… An estimated 23,778 were saved because of the good relationship they had with their non-Jewish neighbours.”
The Catholic Church had been able to make peace with the anti-clerical Italian State after Mussolini took over. The relationship was always complex:
“[Pope] Pacelli’s refusal to issue Pius XI’s [anti-racist & anti-Nazi] encyclical was consistent with his modus operandi. Pius XII considered it unwise to denounce the Axis regime’s racist policies publicly, providing them with the pretext to dismantle the concordats endangering the institutional Church. Furthermore, if issued as written, the encyclical would have antagonised not only Italy and Germany, but the United States, whose racial and segregationist policies were likewise morally indefensible. ‘The theory and practice of [racism,] which makes a distinction between the higher and lower races, ignores the bond of unity,’ the 1938 document warned… These passages would have greatly trouble Americans as well as Italian and German Catholics, as well as angered and aroused the United States government, whose military forces and many of its institutions remained legally segregated.”
The Soviet Union in those days was the main power officially opposed to racism and segregation. The USA segregated its armed forces. France allowed small numbers of non-whites to join the elite: it made no effort to create general racial equality, and did not want it.
The Papacy did protect Italian Jews:
“Pius XII knew that Jews were hiding in Church institutions, although he probably knew few of the details. He and his closest advisors did not prevent the rescue effort, although some members of the Curia opposed it rather strongly and did try to interfere.”
It’s controversial, but his policy saved large numbers of Italian Jews. Coming out against Nazism might have shortened the war and saved other lives, but also perhaps not. Saving Jewish lives was never an Allied priority. There was a disgraceful failure to bomb the railway lines leading to the Auschwitz death camp.
Direct opposition to an existing government would also have been a breach with normal papal policies.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion reads much more plausibly than most Far-Right nonsense. That’s because most of it began as something very different: a left-wing criticism of Emperor Napoleon 3rd.
Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, had a career resembling Mussolini’s. He began as a left-winger and became a defender of the privileges of the rich. He did also make some useful reforms that the rich found tolerable. Won wide popular support and used it to scrap a constitution that liberals viewed as wonderful, but which had produced lousy government. Gained unlimited power with majority popular approval. Had a grand enthusiasm for war, but was hopeless at actual warfare
(This would also match Hitler, excluding the left-wing origins, and it has been suggested he was briefly a supporter of the Bavarian Soviet Republic of 1918-19. His military success was down to the efficient military machine he inherited. He helped defeat himself by a stubborn belief in aggression and no retreats. This was briefly successful in the winter of 1941 / 1942, but was otherwise disastrous.)
The Protocols fed the vanity of a failing ruling class and a bewildered lower-middle-class, by denying the deep economic causes of their failure. This was the direct opposite of people like Karl Lueger, who understood capitalism’s destructiveness and found moderate solutions.
Warrant for Genocide by Norman Cohn tells the story in the context of European history:
“From the time of the first crusade onwards Jews were presented as children of the Devil, agents employed by Satan for the express purpose of combating Christianity and harming Christians. It was in the twelfth century that they were first accused of murdering Christian children, of torturing the consecrated wafer, and of poisoning the wells. It is true that popes and bishops frequently and emphatically condemned these fabrications; but the lower clergy continued to propagate them, and in the end they came to be generally believed.”
That was a period of rapid change and social stress. In Europe’s Dark Ages, your cultural values were not at risk. The main peril was armed raiders. Since Jews didn’t do that, no one much worried about them.
Latin-Christian Europe rode out the crisis. Converted the Scandinavians and Hungarians (Magyars), whose raids had been much feared. But once society was secure from overt enemies, harmless-seeming market forces began subverting it in ways that were hard for most people to grasp. The economic development of the 11th century destabilised the existing social order.
Mediaeval Europe stabilised itself. Passed through terrible Wars of Religion: Catholics against Protestants with Jews marginal. Achieved harmony after the relaxation caused by the spread of Enlightenment ideas. But when ideological liberalism developed out of the Enlightenment, this led to a belief that there was no need to look after those hurt by the changes. Which in turn led to some bizarre notions as to the cause.
Or that’s how I see it. The book says:
“The myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy is in fact a particularly degraded and distorted expression of the new social tensions which arose when, within the French Revolution and the coming of the nineteenth century, Europe entered a period of exceptionally rapid and deep-going change…
“The slow-moving, conservative life of the countryside was increasingly challenged by an urban civilisation which was dynamic, restless, given to innovation… But all over Continental Europe there were large numbers of people who abominated all these things…
“Jews remained an identifiable and … an exclusive community; and this meant that they retained something of the mysterious quality which they had possessed in earlier centuries… They came to be seen as symbolic of the modern world by those who most detested that world… In politics Jews naturally tended to side with the liberal and democratic forces which alone could guarantee and increase their liberties. Being still denied access to many traditional occupations, they were encouraged to pioneer new ways of making a living; and in doing so, a few became extremely rich… In industry and commerce, politics and journalism, Jews became identified with everything that was most wholeheartedly modern. As a result, by about 1870 it was possible to see in ‘the Jews’ the supreme incarnation of modernity.”
Which was ignorant and self-defeating. Jews were passengers on someone else’s train. The great engine of modernisation was an outgrowth of the Latin-Christian world view. Jews rose in the ranks, but were never that important anywhere. Marginal in socialism before the second quarter of the 19th century. Marginal in science before the second half of the 19th century.
Most right-wingers can’t accept that trouble in the familiar world is due the ordinary forces within that world.
Anyone who thinks about traffic jams has to accept that they are largely caused by normal people following normal desires in a way that overloads the system. There was even an advertising slogan:
You are not caught in traffic: you are traffic.
But for wider matters, it is easy to imagine some alien hidden conspiracy with bizarre aims:
“In its modern form the myth of a Jewish world-conspiracy can be traced back to a French Jesuit, the Abbe Barruel…
“Barruel himself never noticed any Masonic influence at work while the revolution was in progress. The idea was presented to him some years later, in London, by the Scottish mathematician John Robison…
“Though [Barruel] was more than willing to blame the revolution on the Freemasons, he scarcely mentioned the Jews – understandably enough, since no Jew played any significant part either in the revolution itself or in the philosophical revolution that preceded it. Others , however, were less inhibited.”
Many of the revolutionaries were Masons, but Masonry did not functional as an organised force. The lurch into factional killings among radicals might have been avoided if some strong leadership within Masonry had taken power in a period of incoherent social flux, as the Bolsheviks did in Russia. But Masons were a social club with fancy rituals. No one would obey its hierarchy on matters outside of the club, any more than they’d take orders from their local Golf Club or Amateur Dramatics Society, or even a Football Supporters Club.
I encountered John Robison doing research for my book Adam Smith: Wealth Without Nations. (Completely neglected since its publication in 2000, though it’s the only serious left-wing study of Smith available in English.) So I knew the background better than most.
Robison was part of a remarkable set of Scottish thinkers centred on Adam Smith, David Hume, James Hutton, and Joseph Black.
I’ve found economists uniformly ignorant of the importance of Hutton and Black in British thought. Academic economics is on the ‘arts’ side of a British curriculum that splits ‘arts’ and ‘science’ early on. Likewise others who’ve never studied science. So I will explain who they were.
Hutton was the first Briton to insist that the rocks showed an enormously old Earth, made by familiar forces working over millions of years. This subverted Christianity far more than Darwin’s later theories, which depended on Hutton’s insights.
Black made several scientific breakthroughs, most relevantly his discovery of Latent Heat. The first useful steam engine, the Newcomen Engine, was more properly an Atmospheric Engine. Steam drove air out of a cylinder: then the steam to condense to water, moving a lever to produce a pumping action. Watt saw that this ate up heat, and it would be much better to have a separate condenser to turn the steam back to water. (Engine using high-pressure steam only became practical later on.)
Economists mostly ignore science, even though most important developments within Industrial Capitalism stem from it. Hertz produced and detected radio waves to confirm that light was an electromagnetic wave, as suggested by James Clerk Maxwell’s mathematics of electricity & magnetism. Other invisible electromagnetic waves should exist. Hertz found them, but it took Marconi to realise that they were useful, passing round or through objects that blocked light.
Radio might have remained unknown without Maxwell and Hertz working on ideas and experiments that they found interesting, without thought of practical gain.
More recently, an esoteric investigation into the possibility of ‘holes’ in a field of electrons clarified the puzzling behaviour of semiconductors. This led on to the invention of the transistor, a replacement for electronic valves that was fairly easy to miniaturise. Hence the vast array of cheap electronic devices we now have.
All of the economist I’ve come across are ignorant of such connections. They pick up bits of maths instead. They don’t realise that maths is merely a collection of specialised languages. Languages that allow you to write nonsense rather more readily than anything useful.
In common speech I can write ‘the snowy vistas of the looming mountains of East Anglia’. It is a valid sentence, but unrelated to the dull flatness of the actual East Anglia. Likewise useful maths is either impressively self-consistent, or makes surprisingly accurate predictions.
(The Feynman diagram is an example: wonderful for accurate calculations but for a long time questionable as an abstract idea. Perhaps not always true, which is the case for Maxwell’s Equations and Newtonian Gravitation.)
Back to Robison, linked to Smith’s circle. He influenced James Watt with a failed scheme for steam-powered cars that probably fed into the thinking for his later improved steam engine. But when Robison spoke of Masonic conspiracies, his friends felt he had lost his reason. Yet his nonsense was sadly influential, even though Robison ignored Jews:
“In the eighteenth century the Freemasons were on the whole hostile to the Jews (and so, incidentally, were the Bavarian Illuminati)… At no time have Jews, or persons of Jewish descent, played a disproportionate part in Freemasonry.”
Freemasons still exist and can prove their lack of radicalism. The long-extinct Illuminati were better raw material for fantasy:
“The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, ‘enlightened’) is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on 1 May 1776. The society’s goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power…
“Many influential intellectuals and progressive politicians counted themselves as members, including [Duke] Ferdinand of Brunswick… It attracted literary men such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Gottfried Herder and the reigning dukes of Gotha and Weimar…
“Although their hopes of mass recruitment through Freemasonry had been frustrated, the Illuminati continued to recruit well at an individual level. In Bavaria, the succession of Charles Theodore initially led to a liberalisation of attitudes and laws, but the clergy and courtiers, guarding their own power and privilege, persuaded the weak willed monarch to reverse his reforms, and Bavaria’s repression of liberal thought returned. This reversal led to a general resentment of the monarch and the church among the educated classes, which provided a perfect recruiting ground for the Illuminati…
“At all costs, Weishaupt wished to keep the existence of the order secret from the Rosicrucians, who already had a considerable foothold in German Freemasonry. While clearly Protestant, the Rosicrucians were anything but anticlerical, pro-monarchic, and held views clearly conflicting with the Illuminati vision of a rationalist state run by philosophers and scientists. The Rosicrucians were not above promoting their own brand of mysticism with fraudulent seances. A conflict became inevitable as the existence of the Illuminati became more evident…
“In spite of efforts by their superiors to curb loose talk, politically dangerous boasts of power and criticism of monarchy caused the ‘secret’ order’s existence to become common knowledge, along with the names of many important members. The presence of Illuminati in positions of power now led to some public disquiet. There were Illuminati in many civic and state governing bodies. In spite of their small number, there were claims that success in a legal dispute depended on the litigant’s standing with the order. The Illuminati were blamed for several anti-religious publications then appearing in Bavaria. Much of this criticism sprang from vindictiveness and jealousy, but it is clear that many Illuminati court officials gave preferential treatment to their brethren. In Bavaria, the energy of their two members of the Ecclesiastical Council had one of them elected treasurer. Their opposition to Jesuits resulted in the banned order losing key academic and church positions. In Ingolstat, the Jesuit heads of department were replaced by Illuminati.
“Alarmed, Karl Theodor [Elector of Bavaria] and his government banned all secret societies including the Illuminati. A government edict dated 2 March 1785 ‘seems to have been deathblow to the Illuminati in Bavaria’. Weishaupt had fled and documents and internal correspondence, seized in 1786 and 1787, were subsequently published by the government in 1787.”
Marginal in actual history, they then had a grand imagined history among right-wing cranks:
“Between 1797 and 1798, Augustin Barruel’s Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism and John Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy publicised the theory that the Illuminati had survived and represented an ongoing international conspiracy. This included the claim that it was behind the French Revolution. Both books proved to be very popular, spurring reprints and paraphrases by others.”
None of this counted outside of the Far Right before World War One. Except in Tsarist Russia:
“Russia was in outlook still largely a medieval country, where Jews were traditionally exposed to the same kind of religiously motivated hatred as they had had to endure in medieval Europe… Russia was also … the greatest stronghold of opposition to the liberalizing, democratizing tendencies associated with the French Revolution… Russia was also the country which had the largest Jewish population … some 5,000,000 Jews, or about a third of all the Jews in the world, lived in the Pale of Jewish Settlement… embracing much of what is now Poland. They represented about 5 per cent of the total population of the Russian Empire, but a much larger proportion of the population in the areas to which they were restricted.
“These Russian Jews were by no means newcomers, Mostly they were descended from Jews who had been driven out of Germany and France in the later Middle Ages and had settled in Poland; in the Crimea Jews had been settled since Roman times. But compared with the Jews of western Europe, Russian Jews did form a very closed, distinctive, unassimilated minority. They lived separately from the Russians, dressed differently, spoke and wrote Yiddish in preference to Russian. Many were passionately attached to the Jewish religion in its strictest form. They were on the whole miserably poor, but they included enough traders and moneylenders to incur the resentment of their Russian rivals in the towns and sometimes the hatred of the down-trodden Russian peasantry.
“Russian Jews were subject to severe economic, residential, and educational restrictions… Any Jew who claimed to have been converted to Orthodoxy was at once relieved of the disabilities…
“Both Alexander III and his son Nicholas II, the last tsar, where fanatical antisemites… The persecution was carried out partly by administrative measures … and partly by officially sponsored pogroms. These methods were so successful that at some periods Russian Jews were emigrating at the rate of 100,000 a year, mostly to the United States of America.”
Most Jewish settlement was in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including Ukraine. After the fall of the Tsar, a lethal multi-player game began. Ukrainians mostly wanted independence, but Russians lived in mixed areas and some Ukrainians wished to be part of a wider Russia union. Poles were mostly landlords and rulers. Jews were picked on by everyone.
The Bolsheviks tried to transcend national divisions. They reduced antisemitism to an all-time low among Russians and Ukrainians.
Tsar Nicholas was no innocent victim. Though he let capitalism advance, he made foolish political choices. He favoured mysticism and hatred of Jews.
The German Kaiser and the Austro-Hungarian Emperor saw Jews as useful modernisers in a fast-changing world. Correctly saw that Jewish radicals were a small minority: that most Jews would be loyal to a government that did the basic tasks of government without picking on Jews. But in Russia, the Tsar favoured all of the wrong answers.
This should be born in mind by anyone thinking that Russia might have been lovely without those nasty Bolsheviks wrecking everything.
Much as one might like to think peaceful evolution in Tsarist Russia was possible, it seems improbable even without World War One.
As I said in Problems 29, the big problem with lying is that it’s not true. This applies both to personal lying and to the much deadlier matter of an entire ruling elite believing nonsense.
Industrialism created enormous strains. The presence of Jews at some of the stress-points was incidental. But various right-wing fools chose to update the older notion of all Jews being agents of Satan, undermining an harmonious Christian order of life.
Tell them that most radicals were not Jewish and most Jews were not radicals, and they would call you a deluded fool who had not recognised the ‘truths’ they had set out in their own ignorant and mostly dishonest books.
Of all of these trashy and self-harming works, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was the most successful. Succeeded because it included huge chunks of a highly intelligent outline of the weaknesses and hypocrisies of liberalism and modernism. Analysis written against France’s Napoleon 3rd and without reference to Jews.
Had right-wingers [in Russia] understood that most Jews would fit in sensibly if you gave them a sensible place to fit, they might have saved quite a lot of their cherished traditions. Instead, their wild fantasies had lethal consequences:
“The plot [in the Protocols] was first revealed to the pubic when a number of editions were published in Russia, between 1903 and 1907… It was a document originally written down in France [and translated into Russian]…
“The Root of our Troubles and The Enemies of the Human Race are cheap pamphlets meant for mass distribution. Quite different is the edition of the Protocols that appeared as part of a book called The Great in the Small. Antichrist considered as an imminent political possibility, by the mystical writer, Sergey Nilus. The first two edition, published in 1901 and 1903, did not contain the Protocols, but they were inserted in the third edition, published in December 1905… This edition was produced to influence Tsar Nicholas II… It was elegantly printed, it forms part of a mystical work such as the Tsar loved to read; above all it abounds in reference to French events and personalities.”
Even so, it had little influence at the time. But references to supposed Elders of Zion was no accident. Real-world Zionism had appeared earlier, seeking a distinctive homeland for Jews, but preferably their original homeland. It was based partly on a desire not to assimilate. Partly on a fear that assimilation was not going to work, regardless.
Zionism failed to get for itself a useful chunk of a wider world largely ruled by Christian Europeans. Zionist Jews could have been given their own autonomous region in one of the colonies where European settlers were already swamping the native inhabitants. Where the new population was still fairly mobile. Since they were not, a sensible conclusion is that neither Zionists nor Jews in general were particularly influential.
But the Far Right are seldom sensible:
“The translator, in a postscript, warns up sharply against confusing the Elders of Zion with the representatives of the Zionist movement – but that does not prevent the editor from claiming that the Protocols reveal the menace of Zionism ‘which has the task of uniting all the Jews in the whole world in one union – a union which is more closely knit and more dangerous than the Jesuits’…
“The original manuscript of the Protocols was in French, but at the first Zionist congress there was not a single French delegate and the official language was German.”
France was then the leading force for cosmopolitan culture. Well before the French Revolution, its ruling class listened to Voltaire and ceased to take Christianity seriously. Jews fitted in better than in most of Europe.
Including the Protocols in The Great in the Small was perhaps part of an effort to wean the Tsar away from the 1892 Franco-Russian Alliance. That peculiar combination between opposites made sense only as a common front against Germany. With the British Empire privately promising support, it led to World War One
Had the Tsar done the right thing for entirely wrong and foolish reasons, history might have gone better for everyone, and for Jews in particular.
History went otherwise. Russia’s massive defeats gave power to a body of highly realistic Bolshevik politicians whose aim was World Socialism. People who survived by give away chunks of the Tsarist Empire.
The ‘infamous’ Treaty of Brest-Litovsk briefly freed territories that fought for the rest of the 20th century against being ruled by any state dominated by Great-Russians. Most of them carry this feeling down to the present day. Poland and Lithuania were offered national governments created for them by Prussia and Austria-Hungary. Livonia, Estonia, Finland and Ukraine were promised autonomy. All of these made bids for independence that were variously successful down to the 1989-91 Soviet collapse.
All but Finland were and are profoundly anti-Russian: it helped that Finnish independence was conceded early.
Had Brest-Litovsk rather than the Treaty of Versailles defined the 1920s and 1930s, much human suffering might have been avoided.
It is however understandable that Great-Russians resented the loss of non-Russian territories that they had long owned. Regrettable: but almost every other nationality has made the same errors in similar situations. Norway in 1905 had to threaten war before Sweden would let it separate. In the 1860s USA, the North crushing the secessionist South after offering concessions that would have let negro slavery last for as long as the slave-owning states wanted it.
In Russia in 1918, a painful peace could only be made by a party which had International Socialism as its core belief. There were quite a lot of Jews in this party, but less than among the Mensheviks, whose nice objectives had no chance of being realised.
It may also have been Lenin’s worse error, partly shared by Trotsky. Bukharin wanted to defy the more drastic German demands and fight a Revolutionary War. Germany was actually close to collapse, so it might have worked. Another of history’s unknowns.
As things were, the prominence of Jews among the various radicals in Russia led to them being blamed. Much easier than accepting that Russia had chosen a foolish war and lost it through inefficiency.
Anti-Bolshevism came to include vast numbers of absurd beliefs. One popular story was of Lenin and his wife speaking Yiddish to their children – Lenin may have been one-quarter German-Jewish, but definitely had no children. And as I mentioned earlier, Kerensky and his warlike but unsuccessful government were also wrongly believed to be Jewish.
It is sad but unsurprising that the Protocols were wildly popular among White Russians. Talk of a Jewish plot required no self-examination or self-criticism. People who already disliked Jews took to it like ducks to water.
It was sad but unsurprising that others listened, in a world wrecked by a war that the ruling classes had started but would not be held responsible for.
The London Times took the Protocols very seriously in 1920. But repented in 1921 after seeing clear proof that the Protocols included huge chunks of Maurice Joly’s work. This was found by a Russian landowner with English connections. Fleeing the Bolshevik victory, he read Joly and noticed the similarity. And sensibly kept his name secret: he might have been murdered for daring to tell the Far Right such an unwelcome truth. But the original French work was in public libraries. The link was glaring to anyone fluent in both French and Russian, as many of the Russian elite were.
Initially, the weird nonsense of the Protocols was taken seriously by people who should have known better:
“By the end of 1919 even the correspondence columns of The Times [then Britain’s most respected newspaper] were opened to a passionate debate as to whether the horrors through which Russia was passing could or could not be interpreted as acts of Jewish vengeance. It was a question on which the newspaper’s special correspondent in Russia, Robert Wilton, had no doubt at all. Wilton was an Englishman who had been brought up in Russia and who had identified himself completely with the extreme right wing… He declared that the Bolsheviks were simply Jewish agents of the Germans and the revolution nothing more but a Jewish-German invasion of Russia.”
“This campaign [by right-wing Russians fleeing the Bolsheviks] culminated in the publication of an anonymous English translation of the Protocols, with the title The Jewish Peril; this took place in January or February 1920… The book bore the imprint of Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd, and this was in itself a great triumph … the publishers of the Authorised Version of the Bible and of the Prayer Book…
“The Times remained non-committal – but it did note that nobody had yet shown the Protocols to be spurious. Here was a work published in 1905, which foretold in an uncanny way the situation of the world, and particularly of Russia, in 1920…
“The following week The Spectator devoted not only a long review but also an editorial to The Jewish Peril… it had little doubt that the Protocols were genuine document of Jewish origin…
“Both The Times and The Spectator were inclined to acquit the majority of Jews of collaborating with the horrible Elders of Zion… The right-wing newspaper The Morning Post, on the other hand, showed no such restraint… adopted, with passion, the outlook of Russian right-wingers… Wilton [Russian correspondent of The Times] could in imagination conjure up a Soviet monument to Judas Iscariot.”
This is typical of the inability of right-wing minds to understand other types of thinking. Judas Iscariot was a paid traitor, unlikely to be honoured by people who’d spent most of their lives in the Underground. Engels and other Marxists saw the early Christians as kindred spirits. Of course so do many with a great diversity of viewpoints, including the Klu Kluk Klan. But outright hostility to the presumed original creed of Jesus is rare on the left.
Like Lord & Lady Londonderry (discussed in Problems 29), The Morning Post was part of the mainstream centre-right. A major influence, and innovative on matters that had no obvious threat to the interests of the rich and powerful. It was absorbed by the Daily Telegraph in 1937. Back then, it ran a series of articles based on the Protocols. Britain seemed ready to go in the direction that Germany etc. later followed:
“The Spectator was seconded by Blackwood’s Magazine, which insisted that if the country was to be saved from Bolshevism Jews must immediately be excluded from all influence, public or private, on government. A new weekly called Plain English was founded by Lord Alfred Douglas for the express purpose of antisemitic propaganda; it swore to the genuineness of the Protocols and even asserted that, on instructions from Jewish financiers, Winston Churchill had forged a telegram from Admiral Beatty, so as to enable the German fleet to escape after the battle of Jutland.”
Churchill wasn’t even First Lord of the Admiralty during the Battle of Jutland, fought in May-June 1916. He was replaced by Arthur Balfour in May 1915, when Asquith formed a wartime coalition with the Tories (Unionists). Excluded from the government altogether in November 1915. Returned only in 1917 as Minister of Munitions when his old friend Lloyd George became Prime Minister. Typical Far-Right nonsense.
Blackwood’s Magazine was something else: a respected and serious magazine that appeared between 1817 and 1980. And while Eyre & Spottiswoode were merely printers of the Protocols, printers bear responsibility for what they accept.
They also published Norman Cohn’s Warrant for Genocide, perhaps to atone.
Britain however still had a ruling class that kept a grip. Formed a ‘National Government’ without any Far Right elements. But in the aftermath of the Great War, the same rubbish spread in the USA:
“The time was indeed ripe for full editions of the Protocols, and they duly appeared… Henry Ford’s newspaper The Dearborn Independent published a long series of articles which forms an American counterpart to the efforts of The Morning Post; and in November  these too were republished as a book, The International Jew: the world’s foremost problem. The Dearborn Independent had a circulation of some 800,000. As for The International Jew, thanks to a big publicity campaign and the prestige of Ford’s name it made a powerful impact, particularly among the rural population … Half a million copies of the book were put into circulation in the United States. Moreover it was translated into German, Russian, and Spanish; in due course a shortened version of it was to become a stock item in Nazi propaganda. All in all The International Jew probably did more than any other work to make the Protocols world-famous.”
Books about Hitler usually play down the awkward fact that he was only a powerful hard-liner within a much larger movement. Views that reached well into respectable political circles in Britain and the USA. These later fought Hitler for power-political reasons, not because they strongly disagreed with him. They had little concerned for the fate of Jews in Continental Europe.
A book called Hitler as History is typical in talking at length about his attitudes, without once mentioning Henry Ford and others who had spread very similar attitudes in the Anglosphere.
People who moan about ‘politically correct’ attitudes prefer to ignore just how much needed correction. ‘Politically correct’ is often silly and ineffective, but it does address real problems.
People forget how alien Anglo attitudes once were:
“The Protocols are indeed all things to all men. As interpreted here for an American public the world-conspiracy is a matter of Jew-Bolsheviks but certainly not of Freemasons; and the most horrible thing about it is that it undermines puritan morality… ‘in Soviet Russia; there sex knowledge is taught in schools’”.
The Soviet approach was modest compared to the current Anglo norm, though there was initially a limited tolerance of homosexuality. That ended when Stalin made a general consolidation of the regime while carrying through a ruthless industrialisation. (Which let them defeat Hitler and shifted the whole world leftwards.)
Henry Ford, famous moderniser and brilliant engineer, could have been a forerunner of a very different future. But the lack of intellectual solidity was a weakness:
“[The International Jew] is a very strange book indeed; and one of the strangest things about it, considering how recently the United States had been at war with Germany, is that it adopts the German interpretation of the Protocols… The secret government – the Elders of Zion – is supposed to be allied not with Germany but with Britain.”
Henry Ford had been against the war, but his attitudes were all over the place:
“In the end the great industrialist did recant … disclaiming all responsibility for the articles in The Dearborn Independent and for the book they had become. Although he owned both publications, he had no idea what was published in them…
“There is no real doubt that Ford knew perfectly well what he was sponsoring.”
Lots of books appearing in the names of famous people are in fact ghost-written. But can one seriously suppose that the ‘name’ does not pay careful attention to what the ghost writes?
Warrant for Genocide tried to discover how Joly’s original got reworked. Many people have done a lot of digging and discovered what probably happened:
“The Protocols were fabricated some time between 1894 and 1899… The country was undoubtedly France… One of the copies of Joly’s book in the Bibliotheque Nationale bears markings which correspond strikingly with the borrowings in the Protocols. So the job was done in the midst of the Dreyfus affair.”
Perhaps it happened by stages:
- Stage One involved Elie de Cyon, a Russian-French physiologist and a journalist. He perhaps was preparing to re-use Joly as a criticism of a Russian Minister of Finance called Sergey Witte, a liberal who de Cyon disapproved of. It would have appeared as a new work under a false name, but would not have pointed to Jews. De Cyon was a Jewish convert to Christianity.
- Stage Two was a Russian secret agent called Rachkovsky stealing the unfinished manuscript. He worked for Witte, so he rewrote it as a Jewish conspiracy.
In Russian, which has its own alphabet derived from Greek, de Cyon was Ilya Tsion. ‘Tsion’ is also their word for Zion. (The man adjusted his name for different cultures, and is Elias von Cyon for his Wiki entry.)
But wouldn’t de Cyon have recognised his own work? They were most prominent as an addition to the 3rd edition of an existing Russian book. He died in 1912. If it was his originally, he probably never knew of the perversion of his own dishonest rewrite of Joly.
Yet it still seems odd:
“It remains rather puzzling that Witte’s devote servant Rachkovsky should have propagated a document which, even when transformed, is still largely directed against his master’s policy.”
Maybe Rachkovsky believed he had notes from a real Jewish conspiracy. Secret agents can believe any old rubbish, to judge from what’s in Spycatcher and in various ‘insider’ thrillers. Tinker, Tailor, Loony, Fool.
The mysterious forging of the Protocols makes an interesting story. Some film-maker could make an excellent film about it. Or it could be a mini-series, alternating between Joly’s life and the afterlife of his satirical work. There is even a lose connection to Pavlov, originally a pupil of de Cyon. His Wiki entry mentions unspecified student protests over Cyon’s political views.
The mysticism of The Great in the Small that so impressed the Tsar probably includes superstitious rubbish that would embarrass the modern Far-Right.
Another curio: the Tsar’s wife was much less antisemitic than he was. She was also fond of swastikas, at that time an archaic and neutral symbol. (Also called a broken cross, which must have helped its popularity after a Great War waged by powers that almost all claimed to be Christian.)
Such a tale might include a side-swipe at Ayn Rand, whose Jewish family took refuge among White Russians until their defeat. Hypothetically she knew the unknown finder of the link to Joly, whose life history could be spiced up in the way most film-makers favour. He fought for the anti-Bolshevik side but was presumably a moderate, so he could be a hero for a modern audience.
Such a drama might be popular in the Arab world, where the nonsense of the Protocols gets taken very seriously. Right-wing populism has always been a danger, and certainly was in pre-Bolshevik Russia:
“The Union of the Russian People …the Black Hundreds… One of the freedoms granted by the Tsar’s October manifesto was the freedom of association – and none were quicker to avail themselves of it than the extreme right-wing. On 4 November 1905 the Union of the Russian People was founded in St Petersburg by a doctor … and a politician…
“Proclamations began to appear in towns and villages, of which the following is a fair sample: ‘The efforts to replace the autocracy of the divinely appointed Tsar by a constitution and a parliament are inspired by those bloodsuckers, the Jews, the Armenians and the Poles. All the evil, all the misfortunes of our country comes from the Jews. Down with the traitors, down with the constitution.”
To an outsider, it is bizarre that Russians saw the oppressed Poles as exploiting them. But it may have been a common Russian feeling, going well beyond Black Hundred thugs. I noticed in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov that some incidental Poles are viewed coldly. And Poles were landowners in Ukraine.
Blaming Armenians was not quite so irrational: Christians long before the Russians, they were also a ‘market minority’ wherever openings existed. Those not educated enough to think about processes see a bundle of individual evils caused by wicked outsiders.
Yet those forces were under control while the old political structures lasted:
“Even in the lamentable context of Russian political life, the Black Hundreds were widely regarded as beyond the pale. [Reforming Finance Minister] Witte for one had no doubts:
“‘This party is patriotic to the depths of its soul … but its patriotism is primitive, it is based not on reason and generosity but on passion. Most of its leaders are political upstarts… The bulk of the membership comes from the wild, ignorant masses, its leaders are political villains, it has secret sympathisers in court circles and among nobles with all kinds of titles… And the Tsar dreams of restoring greatness to Russia with the help of this party. Poor Tsar…’
“These people were in fact the true precursors of the Nazis…. The Black Hundreds mark and important stage in the transition from reactionary politics as they were understood in the nineteenth century to the right-wing totalitarianism of the Nazis…
“It was well known that the Black Hundreds employed criminals to carry out assassinations and to lead pogroms, and Black Hundred politicians were not received in decent society – but that did not prevent the organisation from receiving abundant support from church and state… It is estimated that in the single year [sic] the Union of the Russian People received 2,500,0000 roubles in government subsidies. It was granted the right to apply for a free pardon for any member arrested for participating in pogroms. Above all, it enjoyed the full approval of the Tsar, who praised it as a shining example of justice and order and was pleased to wear its badge on his uniform.”
They existed because Russian liberals made the standard liberal error of refusing to look after those who got hurt by the changes they promoted. The organisation dissolved when they had no Tsar, but flowed into the White Russian movement:
“The URP was vehemently opposed to the First Duma, which was dominated by socialists and liberals. It nevertheless organized a campaign and got a handful of deputies elected to the Second Duma. The election of a loyalist majority to the Third Duma thanks to a change in the electoral law caused the Black Hundred movement to begin fracturing. URP Vice President Vladimir Purishkevich, who now accepted the Duma, formed a rival organization due to personal and ideological conflicts with Dubrovin, who still opposed the Duma…
“After 1908 the Black Hundred was mostly active in fighting for right-wing causes in the political arena. Members were key agitators for the anti-Semitic prosecution of the Mendel Beilis case, and Purishkevich gained a final bit of notoriety for the movement when he helped kill Grigory Rasputin, the royal family’s spiritual advisor whom Purishkevich believed to be discrediting the tsar. The Black Hundred lost its raison d’etre when the autocracy was overthrown. Black Hundred branches immediately closed, and some were burnt down. Markov went into hiding and later emigrated to Germany, where he worked with the budding far-right movement there. The Bolsheviks shot Dubrovin after they seized power, while Purishkevich, the only Black Hundred leader to stay politically active in Russia after the February Revolution, died from typhus in 1920 while agitating for the White armies.”
Purishkevich helped kill Rasputin, whose beliefs were another blend of Traditional Russian Lunacy. But to his credit, Rasputin was against the war with Germany.
The Black Hundreds were like the USA’s Klu Kluk Klan in its heyday. They did the dirty work for a ruling class that kept them at arms’ length. Their existence also sets the context for Bolshevik harshness. Dying heroically without compromise wins you more fans, but someone has to do the work of the world.
The murder of the Tsar’s family was tragic, but the man himself did a lot to cause it. He strongly believed that the Protocols were true, writing:
“‘The year 1905 has gone as though managed by the Elders.’ – ‘There can be no doubt as to their authenticity.’ – ‘Everywhere one sees the directing and destroying hand of Judaism.’”
Missing from most studies of the Russian Revolution. Which was not pro-Jewish, though many of Jewish origin backed its grand cosmopolitical and atheist vision:
“The great mass of Russian Jews could not conceivably support the Bolsheviks: they were mostly small shop-keepers and self-employed artisans. As such, though mostly miserably poor, they were from the Leninist point of view class-enemies… During the short period when the free expression of political opinions was possible, they emerged mainly as supporters of the bourgeois reformists Constitutional Democrats… In the 1920s more than a third of the Jewish population was without civil rights, as compared with 5-6 per cent of the non-Jewish population.”
Those were not part of the system of Soviet (councils) because most were not peasants or workers.
“It remains true that Jews, in the sense of persons of Jewish descent, provided a disproportionate part of the leadership (though not the total membership) of the two Marxist parties, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks…
“In Russia Jews were in fact far more numerous in the Menshevik than in the Bolshevik leadership; and these Menshevik leaders were all exiled or imprisoned or executed by the Bolsheviks. As for the Jews among the Bolshevik leaders, they too were almost all shot in the 1930s.”
There were actually many Jews [outside the top leadership] who supported Stalin, both in Russia and in Global Leninism.
Warrant for Genocide also mentions (page 171) the antisemitic role of Eugen Duhring. But not his being the target of Engels’s Anti-Duhring, which omits Duhring’s antisemitism. I could find nothing on this in English. Someone fluent in German should investigate.
Antisemitism was and is a strand within the Scientific Racism that Britain and the USA made fashionable in the 19th century.
Germany was also guilty, but followed the Anglo lead.
Hitler in 1919 had probably read the Protocols and decided that Jews were the main problem. He had definitely read them by 1923. But his intention and later policy was the ‘removal’ of Jews. Unconcerned if many of them died, but a long way short of planned extermination. Yet this followed logically from the world-view that the London Times and Henry Ford had pushed:
“The source of all this is obvious enough, and Hitler had at least the grace to acknowledge it – even though Philip Graves had long since shown the Protocols to be a forgery. ‘The Frankfurter Zeitung [a leading German liberal newspaper] is for ever moaning to the public that they are supposed to be based on a forgery; which is the surest proof that they are genuine. What many Jews do perhaps unconsciously is here consciously exposed. But that is what matters. It is a matter of indifference which Jewish brain produced these revelations. What matters is that they uncover, with really horrifying reliability, the nature and activity of the Jewish people, and expose them in their inner logic and their final aims.’”
Joly’s original was a parody of what liberalism often was in practice. Said nothing about Jews, since the author knew that liberalism had grown out of Europe’s Latin-Christian tradition. That it had no significant Jewish input in its critical early years. But reworked as the Protocols, it was popular by claiming that disorders in Europe’s Latin-Christian and Greek-Slavonic-Christian traditions were due to sinister secretive outsiders.
Such a view is simple stupid. But stupid politics can flourish, particularly on the Far Right.
Stupid politics also mostly wrecks its own aims, good or bad. Fascism overreached itself. It provoked a wider political transformation that borrowed a lot from both Bolshevism and Moderate Socialism.
Liberalism had led a lot of Jews out of their traditional culture, since it would fit them in without demanding sharp breaks. Did not ask that they become Christians, adopting unfamiliar habits that also made no sense.
Liberalism was also destroying Jews as a distinct population, and continues to do so.
The more liberal Jews were often committed to the disappearance of Jews as a distinct people. But then nationalism made a comeback.
World War One boosted nationalism. Then the Great Slump for a time discredited capitalism. From the 1940s to the 1970s, the mainstream line was that the West had something quite different, a Mixed Economy.
Foolishly, the left would not accept this and put vast efforts into convincing people that what they had was still Wicked Old Capitalism. This left them way open to the Thatcher / Reagan line that it was indeed ‘Old Capitalism’, but also Virtuous Old Capitalism that had been damaged by socialist foolishness.
Before the New Right began rewriting history, everyone knew what had caused Hitler:
“When Germany was in the throes of the great slump, Hitler explained this … in precisely the same way as he had explained the German inflation.
“‘It was the Jews, of course, who invented the economic system of constant fluctuation and expansion that we call capitalism – that invention of genius, with its subtle and yet simple self-acting mechanism. Let us make no ,mistake about it – it is an invention of genius, of the devil’s own ingenuity.
“The economic system of our day is the creation of the Jews. It is under their exclusive control. It is their super-state, planted by them above all the states of the world in all their glory. But now we have challenged them, with the system of permanent revolution.”
This is quoted from Hitler Speaks, which is probably not authentic. It does seems a fair summary of Nazi attitudes: accurate about capitalism and wildly mistaken about Jews. Only in the Austro-Hungarian Empire did it have any element of truth, since Jews with their Europe-wide contacts picked up new ideas much faster.
Most Jews act as individuals except when some force pushes them into acting as a Jewish community. To think that they conspire beyond normal business ‘networking’ is like imagining a ‘conspiracy to cause traffic jams’.
Most human problems arise from normal desires clashing in a finite world. That’s why we have traffic rules, for instance. If motor vehicles give up part of their freedom to move as they will, they gain a much greater freedom to actually move.
Even the most dedicated libertarians have not called for the abolition of all road regulations. Anyone can foresee the chaos of ‘freedom’ at road junctions and traffic lights.
Capitalism as self-generating corruption was Marx’s core argument, which infiltrated right-wing thinking. Of course if one did believe in an active conspiracy of supernatural evil, then inventing capitalism would surely merit a ‘Fiend of the Millennium’ award.
Former Leninist Doris Lessing actually does have something like this in her gifted and improbable Canopus in Argos science fiction novels. Except that what she rejects goes much wider than just capitalism. (And Argos is an ancient Greek city: she probably meant the valid but and now-abolished constellation Argo Navis.)
Yet life includes many oddities. A superstitious person might wonder about the curious incident in which the very young child of a Scottish customs official was snatched by gypsies at the age of three and then recovered unharmed. Just the sort of thing you’d do to introduce a changeling: and that child grew up to be Adam Smith, prime inventor of asocial capitalist ideology.
But the superstitious only ever recycle the same dull improbably stories, and have no creativity. If they were creative they would spin out fictions and not confuse them with the real world. Creativity is often needed to account for the things that the superstitious are impressed by.
The most impressive ‘miraculous’ event I know of was the ‘Miracle of the Sun’ at Fatima in Portugal in 1917. The sun appearing to dance or zig-zag in the sky, careen towards the earth, or emit multicolored light and radiant colors. Professor Dawkins [in Unweaving the Rainbow] confidently dismisses on the grounds that sciences says it can’t happen. He misses the point: miracles are supposed to defy reason.
Myself, I have a possible explanation: an air ship with mirrors. Have it sit in front of the sun, invisible to the crowds assembled on the promise of a miracle. Then use a few large mirrors to impress them.
Hill-walkers on sunny days occasionally notice brilliant light in the landscape – a window or car windscreen happening to catch the light. To fake a miracle – clerics have been caught doing this on many occasions – something similar might be done.
Look at another miracle, Knock in Ireland [where a vision of the Virgin Mary and several saints was reported]. The 1879 events are consistent with a hidden ‘Magic Lantern’: “an early type of image projector employing pictures on sheets of glass”. A counter was that a Magic Lantern shown openly would have caused quite as much interest in rural Ireland. But a faker would be targeting a wider and more sceptical public, much harder to fool on their home ground. In rural Knock, local skeptics would be more likely to sell sandwiches and lemonade to the sudden rush of visitors than to spoil the claim.
The same might be true of an airship in rural Portugal. Airships had been flying regularly from the dawn of the 20th century, including in Spain. They must have crossed Portuguese airspace from time to time.
In 1917, with Europe tearing itself apart in the Great War, a ‘Pious Fraud’ would have had extra merits.
Some rich sceptic or anticlerical could test this. Organise a music festival / fair called ‘Believe It Or Not’. Pre-warn of both real mystics and hired magicians posing as such. Mention tests of gullibility. And in great secrecy try a recreation of the Fatima ‘Miracle of the Sun’. Record it all: it might even make a profit.
All of this is loosely relevant to Hitler, who relied a lot on people believing what they want to believe rather than trusting to science.
Warrant for Genocide mentions evidence that Hitler privately held even more extreme views, found in a pamphlet called Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin. In a note the author says “Nazi propaganda kept quiet about the book precisely because it was too revealing.”
“In conversations with his friend Hitler said frankly what he was careful never to say in public – that Christianity itself was part of the Jewish plot. Jesus was of course no Jew but an ‘Aryan’ – but then it was not Jesus but Paul who created Christianity. By extolling pacifism and the egalitarian spirit, Paul deprived the Roman Empire of the hierarchical, military outlook which was its mainstay, and thereby ensured its doom – and all so that the Jews could move one step nearer their goal of world-domination.”
“In Hitler’s mind the war of 1939 was above all the final struggle against Jewry. He declared ‘Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!’”
This last was in a major public speech, much quoted by the foot-soldier in the later genocide.
It was not the general fascist view. The 1930s saw many right-wing authoritarian governments. Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany are better seen as extremes within this broader movement.
Where Jews had not been integrated into the local nationalism – as they had been in Italy – the local nationalism would be antisemitic. But Nazism was an extreme in this, and Hitler on the extreme wing of Nazism:
“In 1934 an enterprising American sociologist … advertised for life-histories by members of the [Nazi] party… Six hundred members voluntarily sent in their autobiographies. The astonishing fact is that 60 per cent of these Nazis never mentioned antisemitism at all. Some even expressly dissociated themselves from this aspect of party policy.”
“Whereas for the fanatics antisemitism was a deadly serious matter, most people [in 1935] regarded antisemitic propaganda as so much talk, which was quite unrelated to Jews they knew personally, and would in any case not lead to serious persecution.”
“[Talk of exterminating the Jews] would have been mere rhetoric if it had not been for the war, which by 1941 placed the majority of European Jews in Hitler’s power and gave him vast and remote spaces in which to carry out the extermination….
“Already before the war hundreds of German Jews were killed in the concentration camps; but the number of political prisoners who perished was far greater. It was the war that opened up the possibility of destroying the Jewish population of Europe.”
This simplifies what happened. Nazi persecution had driven out about half of German Jews by 1939. It is generally agreed that Hitler hadn’t planned to conquer Poland: his target if anywhere was the Soviet Union. But when he decided to attack Poland after Britain and France stopped him from getting a settlement of the Danzig issue, he then chose to wholly abolish it.
Hitler in late 1939 could have offered a peace that restored Poland but gave him the majority-German Polish Corridor as well as Danzig. That was not his choice.
Hitler’s plan between 1939 and 1941, in as far as he had one, was to drive the Poles out of whatever had been ruled by Germany or Austria before 1914. (Taken at the end of the 18th century when Poland was partitioned). Poles including Polish Jews were to be pushed into the portion of Poland that had gone to the Tsar. The Soviet Union took back territory defined as non-Polish by the Western Allies in 1921, when they drew the Curzon Line.
A widely-praised book called The Origins of the Final Solution explains that there were massacres and deportations, but most initial hostility was to non-Jewish Poles. And considers that the notion of deporting Jews to Madagascar was serious. Poland itself had asked whether that lightly-populated island could become a Jewish homeland. France after the German occupation signed over the island to Germany: but the continuing war made it impossible to send anyone there.
A high death-rate would have been likely, had the plan been implemented. But almost certainly far less than actually died.
The British Empire fighting on after the Fall of France was not for the benefit of Jews. Almost certainly it caused more Jewish deaths than any other plausible option. Refusing terms was about keeping British world hegemony, perhaps in partnership with the USA.
Later and of necessity it become a world that was to be carved up between the British Empire, the USA and the Soviet Union. Since the Soviet Union drove the Nazis out of Poland etc. this became their share in the planned division of the post-war world.
People misread 1940 decisions in the light of later history – the loss of the Indian subcontinent in the late 1940s and then by stages the rest of the Empire. The Empire was only doomed from 1942, when they lost the famous stronghold of Singapore to a much smaller Japanese army. Most Tories were slow to accept this. It was Labour, unexpectedly victorious in the 1945 General Election, that decided in principle that India must be free.
(Practice was another matter. Had Jinnah been told well in advance how small the planned Pakistan was to be – that the British idea was to split the existing provinces of British India rather than make Pakistan from those with a Muslim majority – he might have chosen otherwise.)
To return to World War Two. When Hitler attempted his long-cherished dream of attacking the Soviet Union, it mattered that he still had a war to fight. He did not want to conquer Britain, nor to strip Britain of its Empire. But he mysteriously failed to communicate the possibility of such a moderate peace to ordinary Britons, many of whom might have taken it. Here again, his fantasy of Britain as the puppet of World Zionism may have got in the way of realistic politics.
The planned conquest of the Soviet Union also led to the idea of shipping Europe’s Jews to Siberia, along with the Slavonic population of Ukraine, which was to be resettled with Germans. This would have met Hitler’s threat or prediction of a Europe free of Jews. And I can’t see it was an impossibility.
One could write interesting fictions about a world in which the Nazis won a limited victory and a Jewish Madagascar and / or Jewish Siberia actually happened. It would need good direct knowledge of the relevant regions and of typical East European Jews: both of which I lack. I put it here for anyone to pick up.
A forced migration would have involved very heavy death rates, obviously. And The Origins of the Final Solution explains how preparations for mass extermination were made at the same time. Killing Jews within occupied Poland was easier than controlling them amidst rebellious Poles, or shipping them vast distances.
The Nazis had also found that mass shootings were inefficient and rather too obvious. Most German killers would tidily bury the bodies, but non-German recruits were often messier. It was anyway noticed by ordinary Germans that something had happened.
Mass deportation was kept as a cover story, but was by stages discarded as the actual policy.
The famous Wannsee Conference in January 1942 brought all relevant factions of Nazi Germany’s complex and often feuding administrations into line on this.
Significantly, Wannsee happened when it had become clear that the Soviet Union could fight back. That victory there was no longer certain. Accepting a rump Soviet state east of the Urals was not an absurdity: Nazis would not have wished to strengthen it with several million European Jews, many of them skilled.
Hitler by then had also chosen to declare war on the USA after Pearl Harbour, ignoring the chance that the US Congress would have limited Roosevelt to a war against Japan. He antagonised those in the USA who had been to various degrees sympathetic: far more than is now generally realised. I’d suppose that by then, Hitler was convinced it was a simple fight between him and the World Jewish Conspiracy.
“As Germany’s chances of winning the war diminished, the drive to exterminate the Jews took on a quality of fury and desperation – as though the Nazi leaders were resolved that this victory at least, the most essential of all, should not slip through their fingers.”
They also hoped to the very end to make a Separate Peace and survive. Would have wished as few Jews as possible to survive to return to their former homes.
Yet all of this was the work of extremist elements within the Nazi state, empowered by Hitler, who must have broadly known what was going on. His personal choices mattered. Most historians agree that Goering was one of many who didn’t want the war to start when it did, reckoning that Germany was not yet ready. And it is questionable if he knew that anti-Jewish policies had shifted from deportation to extermination. Yet Hitler had designated Goering as his successor if Hitler died or were assassinated.
Many Nazis found the anti-Jewish policies too harsh. A survey in 1938 checked reaction to Kristallnacht among Party members. 63% were against, 32% neutral and only 2% approved. Another survey in 1942 found harder attitudes, perhaps caused by propaganda saying the Jews had caused the war. Only 26% worried about Jews. 69% were indifferent. 5% hostile.
By then, party membership had been diluted. In some professions you were required to join. Regardless, only a minority who knew of the mass killings, unlike deportations which were public policy. But Western leaders still resisted letting in any large number of Jews. Failed to bomb the railway lines leading to Auschwitz, despite reliable reports from the Polish underground about the mass extermination.
Warrant for Genocide says that “by 1942 most people at least suspected that something dreadful was happening to the deported Jews”, but offers no evidence. It was part of Allies propaganda that mass killings were happening. But from various books about the war, I’ve learned that many on the Allies side disbelieved. It was well known that German atrocities had been wildly exaggerated in the previous war.
The big trouble with lying is that it is not true. Another defect is that when you tell shocking or unpleasant truths, earlier lying makes people less willing to believe.
Only a small force, not all German, did the mass killings:
“The extermination itself was organised and in the main carried out by the professionals of the SD and the SS. They consisted mostly of volunteers… At the higher levels there were plenty of criminal opportunists… Among the camp guards … preferred a comfortable and privileged existence to the dangers and hardships of the front; and there were also some true sadists, hungry for the chance to beat and torture.”
Warrant for Genocide concludes with examples of what the Protocols took from Dialogue aux enters entre Machiavel et Montesquieu by Maurice Joly.
“All men aim at domination, and there is none who would not be an oppressor if he only could; all or almost all are ready to sacrifice the rights of others to their own interests. Who restrains among themselves he beasts of prey we call men? In the beginnings of society, it was brute, unbridled force; later it was law, that is to say force still, but regulated by certain forms… Everywhere might appears before right. Political freedom is only a relative idea.”
But being the probable creation of the Tsar’s security services, the Elders of Zion see the fading ruling class as nice people who must be subverted:
“Under our auspices the population exterminated the aristocracy which had supported and guarded the people for its own benefit… Having destroyed the privileges of the aristocracy, the people fall under the yoke of cunning profiteers and upstarts.”
The book used for the Protocols is nowadays available in English, along with a short account of the man’s life:
“Bibliographic information on Joly is sketchy at best… His father was French … and his mother was Italian. Joly was not of Jewish descent as was later asserted by Nazi apologists.”
Translator John S. Waggoner asks why a French liberal republican mocked things close to his own beliefs:
“Joly’s moralism, which was later to degenerate into misanthropy, was evident at an early age. He was known for his sharp tongue and biting wit that had for its target many of his closest associates. As an adolescent, he was a habitual truant, having run away from his boarding school no less than five times. He was described as fitting the classical mould of a rebel…
“Joly’s first book … was described as caustic and totally lacking in any indulgence for human foibles… While he was a prolific writer, his articles were seen as ‘philosophical and severe.’ They did not suit the literary tastes of his time and were not often accepted by Parisian journals.”
“After the fall of the Empire in 1870, he sought a government position… He failed in this and joined the radical resistance … after vehemently having denounced the terms of armistice with Germany and joined the radical resistance under Louis August Blanqui and Louis Charles Delacruze [Delescluze]… Though he states that he was a revolutionary during the Resistance, he is emphatic in affirming that his motives were patriotic and denying he had any communist sympathies.” 
Waggoner does not mention the hideous massacre of supporters of the Paris Commune. Is unclear what Joly’s role was. Seems unaware that the Communards included very few who were communist in the post-1918 sense of the term. Only a minority were supporters of the First International, where Marx was the leading influence, but many different views existed. Explicitly Marxist parties came later and mostly called themselves Socialist or Social-Democrat. The communist label only started applying to Hard Leftism when Lenin decided to make a sharp break with Moderate Socialism. Chose to revive an old label from the 1848 Communist Manifesto.
I don’t know where Joly would have fitted. Perhaps he did not fit in anywhere:
“For a while, the new [Third] Republic seemed more congenial to Joly. In 1878, during the political crisis … Joly publicly attacked [leading republican] Grevy who was the candidate for the presidency against General MacMahon. He had posters plastered all over Paris that said of his former associate that ‘he had done all the evil one man could do to another without killing him’. He was attacked in return. He brought suit against certain journalists charging defamation. Representing his own case in court, he also used the occasion to assail his political enemies, then important figures in the Republic. He died the same year, by suicide. Near the revolver was found the manuscript of his novel, les Affames, published two years earlier.”
I can understand why 1870s France depressed him. It is disorientating for an ambitious man to find that old associates are suddenly powerful and successful, and that he is not.
Joly’s reaction was unreasonably negative.
The unimpressive Grevy maybe saved the Republic, which might otherwise have reverted to another monarchy, which MacMahon would have preferred. Most of the French peasantry voted for this, but they were split three ways:
- Legitimists supporting the original dynasty.
- Orleanists supporting the dynasty that the 2nd Republic and then Louis Napoleon had displaced.
- Bonapartists regretting the fall of Louis Napoleon.
In the 1871 elections, Republicans got 150 seats out of 675, and only 38 were Radicals. Orleanists got 214, Legitimists 182, Bonapartists 20. Negotiations began to restore the Orelean dynasty: a sensible option for anyone not seeking radical reform. But there were complications, including a wish to keep the Tricolour. And the Legitimists were obstructive.
Republicans then won a clear majority in 1876.
I’d see Joly as a man disappointed by actual history. I’m also far from sure he’d have liked the left-wing, democratic and increasingly socialist trend that actually won out. He made clever criticisms of the autocratic but functional liberalism that Napoleon III had run, which allowed multi-party elections and tolerated some press criticism.
Like Victor Hugo, Joly did not consider that the alternatives might be worse.
To me, the biggest oddity is that Joly puts Montesquieu in hell. He and Machiavelli should live in different parts of the afterlife, since Joly saw Machiavelli as evil. Perhaps he had despaired of life in general.
In itself, Dialogue in Hell was unimportant. But reworked, it could become a clever critique of liberalism as such. The Second Empire’s manipulation of a public opinion where a majority were nostalgic for monarchy could be made to seem like liberalism as a whole being a fake for something else. It could feed into Nazism and other right-wing creeds, and continues to do so:
“The influence of the Protocols did not end with the fall of the Third Reich. It has found a new lease on life among the enemies of Israel in the Middle East. An updated version, tailored to the politics of the region, is today making new converts to its teaching. It is also back in vogue in Russia among the many far-right groups that have mushroomed in the troubled times of post-Communism”.
Joly was no propagandist: he unwisely lets Machiavelli justify himself:
“Machiavelli: For fifteen years I served my county [Florence], which was a republic. I conspired for its independence and defended it staunchly against Louis XII, the Spanish, Julius II, and Borgia himself, who, but for me, would have snuffed it out.”
“I am not the founder of the doctrine whose paternity is attributed to me. It is grounded in the human heart. Machiavellianism preceded Machiavelli…
“Who in your time has rendered me more brilliant homage that Frederick II? [Frederick the Great.] To gain popular favour, he took pen in hand to refute me. While in politics, he rigorously applied my doctrines.”
Joly may have come to half believe what he intended to ridicule. And been further depressed by a lack of improvement after Napoleon III. I suspect he could not see things in evolutionary terms – a gradual improvement of the human race, as Marianne Evans puts it in Middlemarch. Joly saw the problems and has Machiavelli express them. He could not move beyond this.
“Machiavelli: In certain regions of Europe, there are people incapable of moderation in the exercise of liberty. Prolonged liberty is transformed into license. Civil or social war follows. The state perishes… In such situations, people prefer despotism to anarchy. Are they wrong?”
People ruled autocratically lack internal restraints on what they can do. It was once part of normal politics to accept that functional liberty had to develop gradually out of a system of Good Government that was initially autocratic. Most successful multi-party democracies were multi-party first, and had monarchs who were only very gradually got reduced to figureheads. The USA was created by people for whom the British hybrid of Parliament and Monarch was the Natural Order: they then gave themselves an elected Presidential monarch.
In the massive Western ‘Cultural Metamorphosis’ of the 1960s, this understanding got lost. True, it could be abused by right-wingers. But that was abuse of something that was basically true.
Sadly, the dominant thinking had an unrealistic notion that you could dump a complex political system on a raw population and it would work. Complexities were rejected, often with a misquotation from Benjamin Franklin: ‘If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.’
Franklin’s real words were much shrewder and more qualified:
‘Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety’.
Which types of freedom are ‘essential Liberty’? This confusion exists in all forms of liberalism. Usually it is handled by a mental sleight of hand – ‘anything I don’t like, isn’t freedom’. You can then fit your noble ideas to squalid reality, without any need to think clearly.
Franklin also talked about people who give up some liberty that they already enjoy. This begs the question of how you handle people who never had Liberty of Franklin’s sort in the first place. That qualification is also omitted in a majority of the popular misquotations. This makes for excellent rhetoric and lousy politics.
Lousy politics is exactly what we’ve had from the post-1960s liberal-left, and from the New Right. Their intention to remake the world in the West’s image has gone steadily backwards since they gained greater freedom of action after the Soviet collapse. They destroyed Saddam Hussein, the most functional Westerniser the Iraqis were likely to get. Arguments that Saddam provided necessary security and allowed large areas of liberty were to them sheer wickedness. Their later failures baffles them.
Likewise the growth of popular authoritarianism in Russia, and Illiberal Democracy in Poland and Hungary.
It would have helped had those nations been strongly reminded that their pre-Soviet governments were much closer to the Nazis than they now like to think.
Though very different from the modern New Right, Joly also brushes aside historic evolution. Ignores the slow and painful reworking of a ‘human nature’ that seems fixed and unchanging only if you lack a knowledge of history or of foreign culture. To him there is only a single ‘people’ who present an unchanging problem:
“Machiavelli: I answer that the people, left alone, only know how to destroy themselves. They are incapable of knowing how to administer, judge, and make war. I tell you that the brilliance of Greece shone only during the eclipse of liberty, that without the despotism of the Roman aristocracy, and later, the despotism of the emperors, the brilliant civilisation of Europe would never have developed.”
Which is a half-truth. Most worthwhile Greek culture was produced when Athens was an uneasy democracy. The best Roman culture happened in the transition from Late Republic to Early Empire. But Joly’s best answer is:
“Montesquieu: A few years of anarchy are often much less deadly than several years of stultifying despotism.
“You admire great men. I admire only great institutions. For people to be happy, I believe that they have less need of men of genius than of men of integrity.
“But, if you wish, I concede that some violent enterprises that you defend could have been advantageous for certain states. These acts might be justified in ancient societies where slavery and the belief in fate prevailed… If you could say in your time that despotism was a necessary evil, you could not say so today. ”
Montesquieu probably did think of the limited freedoms of his day as an ‘end of history’ that people should be content with. For us today – though perhaps not for Joly – it was just a stage in the very incomplete transition that Europe was going through.
The working class had rebelled and been brutally crushed during the Second Republic. The peasantry were also discontent. Napoleon III reconciled the rival classes. Removing him caused another much more drastic rising by the working class: the Paris Commune.
Montesquieu would probably not have wanted anything like modern democracy:
“The properly constituted regime, a happy compromise of aristocracy, democracy, and monarchy, simultaneously partake of these three forms of government through a balance of powers which seems to be the masterpiece of the human mind.”
Or an oligarchy with an elected Chief Executive that can gradually democratise, like the USA.
Most successful multi-party states have a once-dominant monarchy that was later reduced to limited power. Britain, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, now joined by Spain. Japan with its sacred Emperor. One might add Thailand, or maybe not. Cambodia never entirely worked.
The alternative offered by Joly is a personal autocracy as a permanent human condition:
“Machiavelli: I think the Caesarism of the late [Roman] Empire answers fairly well to what I would want for the well-being of modern societies. I have been told that such vast apparatuses already exist in more than one country in Europe, and thanks to them, these countries can live in peace, like China, Japan and India. It’s only vulgar prejudice that makes us look down on these oriental civilisations whose institutions one learns to appreciate more every day. The Chinese, for example, are very good businessmen and their lives are very well regulated.”
China came apart in 1912 by trying to leap directly to competitive politics. Got a restored Communist Party autocracy from 1949, with Mao’s several attempts to put the general population more directly in charge not really working.
India is opting for popular autocracy and an intolerant version of Hinduism under Mr Modi: yet another Illiberal Democracy.
The New Right are baffled that their policies produce such ends. They naturally blame anything except their own understanding of the world.
I don’t suppose they will ever see why their ‘End of History’ wasn’t. Hopefully it will be the end of them.
Voting is no panacea. Functional governments can manipulate it:
“Machiavelli: I have turned the popular vote into an instrument of my power and it will become the very foundation of my government. I will expand suffrage by abolishing the poll tax and class-based qualifications. With this simple step, the groundwork of absolutism is laid.
“Montesquieu: Yes… Debase the vote, and cancel out the more enlightened voices with the weight of numbers that are turned into blind power subject to your will.”
As I said, nothing like modern democracy. In most of Europe it was a late achievement. Not before the 1880s for Britain. Never for the non-white British colonies.
The European Enlightenment began as a fan-club for Enlightened Despots. Voltaire extended this to the British political system as it existed in the 18th century, with a parliament of oligarchs and limited religious tolerance. A small number of Parliamentary Constituencies let all male householders vote, but a majority of seats were controlled by a couple of hundred rich families. These mostly had at least one member in the House of Lords.
Montesquieu as imagined by Joly – and probably Joly himself – wanted the elite to rule and not the entire people. Which was indeed a doomed cause.
He also subverts his own arguments by indicating that tyrants are not that bad:
“Machiavelli: I lived near to the time of Duke of Valentinois [Cesare Borgia] whose historic reputation for terror was well deserved. He did have his ruthless moments. However, I assure you that once the necessity for executions had passed, he was rather a good-natured fellow. The same could be said of almost all absolute monarchs. Deep down, they are filled with goodwill, especially towards the disadvantaged.”
It is only with popular voting that the Centre-Right try to encourage ill-will towards the disadvantaged, and set one section of the poor against another. Sadly, this is a normal part of party-political games. That is why the actual will of the people is sometimes best met by a popular dictator. Saddam Hussein was from the Sunni Arab minority, but had supporters in all communities.
Joly draws no coherent conclusion. He ends on a despairing note
“Montesquieu: Eternal God, what have you permitted!”
Historical Materialists can be less pessimistic. Even if the general human-friendly design of the universe were the work of some higher intelligence, there is no reason to think that such a being would try to cram us into a particular social order, or fiddle ineffectively with our lives. (Or have strong feelings about our sex lives despite making some people homosexual, bisexual or otherwise unorthodox.)
In our own lives, we should say ‘what’s God got to do with it?’
We should stick to improving how we humans treat each other. A lot has been done, and more can be done.
Dialogue in Hell as translated continued with a long commentary by the translator, which is worth quoting:
“The influence of Saint-Simonianism [early socialism] on Napoleon III was more commonly noted among contemporaries … than among later historians…
“Albert Guerard repeats the more common view of the Second Empire – a ‘gilded age’ of pleasure seeking and profiteering that witnessed ‘the triumph of materialism in all its forms.’ However, he sees ‘another aspect to the period’…
“According to Guerard, ‘without being formally associated with the Saint-Simonian school, he was animated by its spirit… the first duty of government is to promote the welfare, material and moral, of the most numerous and poorest class.’ Furthermore, ‘it is significant that a number of Saint-Simonians … without abjuring the messianic hopes of their youth, became prominent business leaders under the Second Empire’”.
That is one outcome of social tensions: someone who helps the poor without challenging the ruling class. It was done much better by Christian Democracy, which grew out of Lueger’s politics in Vienna.
Joly was incoherent because he had no such vision:
“Montesquieu is devastated by the arguments of Machiavelli… Certain perplexing questions arise. If Joly’s sympathies lie with Montesquieu, why would he seem so utterly to refute his position?”
I’d see it as a cry of pain by someone whose politics had failed. France with its mass of small property-owners had not made a basis for functional democracy:
“In Marx’s analysis … although the peasants share certain interests, they find no organised expression. The poor quality of communications and social intercourse than marks life in the countryside requires that their interests be represented. They cannot assert those interests in their own name. Napoleon III appears as that representative but also as a ‘lord and master’ whose authoritarian rule will protect the peasants against other classes… In the cities, the threat from revolutionary elements likewise drives the bourgeoisie to the strong government of Louis [Napoleon].”
He then explains how Joly’s work was abused:
“Scholars have traced the Protocols forgery mainly to two literary works. By far, however, the Dialogue in Hell was the most prominent and substantive source. The forger’s plagiarism was extensive as whole passages were copied directly from the Dialogue. ‘In all, over 160 passages in the Protocols, totalling two-fifths of the entire text, are clearly based on Joly’…
“The other source for the Protocols was found in a novel written four years after the Dialogue entitled To Sedan (1868). That work contains … a secret congregation of world rabbis in Prague… In the presence of Satan, the rabbis, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, relate their success since their last meeting in furthering their secret plan for world domination…
“The novel was written under the pseudonym Sir John Retcliffe, actually a Prussian clerk and rabid anti-Semite named Herman Godsche.”
A world-conspiracy run by Satan is less absurd than a great diversity of individuals working in great secrecy for a secret common goal without guidance from Supernatural Evil. Even supposing that the author believed this.
Goedsche was definitely dishonest:
“Some of his works are critical of British colonialism. He was openly antisemitic and, although adopting an English pseudonym, he was a Prussian chauvinist who held a profound aversion against Britain and everything British. His political views on the ‘perfidious Albion’ are clearly expressed in his novels.
“Goedsche worked as a postal employee, but in reality he was an agent provocateur for the Prussian secret police. He forged letters which were used as evidence to frame democratic leaders. In 1849 he was caught after forging evidence in the prosecution of political reformer Benedict Waldeck and had to leave the postal service.”
Warrant For Genocide mentions a work called Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin: A Dialogue Between Adolf Hitler and Me by Deitrich Eckart. It says things that Hitler kept out of his speeches and also Mein Kampf. Translations can be found on the internet.
Eckart was a German journalist, playwright, poet, politician, and morphine addict. Also a key influence on Adolf Hitler in the early years of the Nazi Party:
“In 1925, Eckart’s unfinished essay Der Bolschewismus von Moses bis Lenin: Zwiegespräch zwischen Hitler und mir … was published posthumously, although it has been shown that the dialogues were an invention; the essay was written by Eckart alone.”
If Hitler had been doing a kindness to a crazy old friend, there was no need include Hitler’s own name. But in 1925 the Nazis were marginal, declining from 907,300 votes (3%) in December 1924 to 810,000 (2.6%) in 1928. Hitler stayed out of the 1925 Presidential Election, in which Ludendorff as the Far Right’s champion got a humiliating 1.1% in the first round. (Hindenburg as a more conventional right-winger only stepped in for the second round and defeated a Centrist.) So Hitler maybe dared let some of his true beliefs be expressed.
So what was Hitler in 1925 happy to present as a write-up of his own work?
“‘My dear fellow,’ he [pseudo-Hitler] replied to me, ‘we can read in Strabo that already in his time, shortly after the birth of Christ, there was hardly a place to be found on the whole earth which was not then dominated by the Jews; dominated, he writes, not merely inhabited…”
Strabo was a Greek who didn’t like Jews. He never said they had vast power. They had been conquered by Rome. The short-lived kingdom created by the Maccabees was taken over: diced and divided at the whim of the Roman Senate. Rebellions were continuous, and were crushed with standard Roman brutality
“The influence of the Jews with Augustus was so great that they completely intimidated Pontius Pilate, who, as deputy of the Roman Emperor, was certainly not a nobody. Thus he said, ‘For God’s sake, away with this sordid Jewish affair!’ as he reached for the washbasin and condemned Christ, whom he considered guiltless, to death (John 19:12).”
Pilate ruled a minor province. Without the connection to Jesus, he would be a footnote in history. He was also removed for “harshly suppressing a Samaritan uprising”. He was supposed to keep things quiet, and failed. The Gospels almost certainly whitewash him.
Much in the Gospels is unlikely. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment, blasphemous for Jews. Supposedly the Jewish elders condemned Jesus for blasphemy, but couldn’t kill him. They did later have the insulting Saint Stephen stoned to death: a vital event for Saint Paul.
The Romans must have killed Jesus for claiming to be King of the Jews, the label they put on him. Even clear heirs could not inherit without Roman permission.
Reading the Biblical account of the Exodus, Eckart as Hitler makes this of it:
“‘In Egypt the scoundrels’ scheme succeed only about halfway,’ he finished. ‘The Egyptians became masters of the situation at the last moment and sent the ‘mixed multitude’ to the devil, together with the Jews. There must have been a desperate struggle. The slaughter of the firstborn reveals that clearly enough. Just as they have done with us, the Jews had won the great lower stratum of the population for themselves — ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!’ — until one night they sent out the order, ‘Down with the bourgeois! Kill them, the dogs!’ but things didn’t turn out so well as they had expected. That portion of the Egyptian nation that had remained patriotic turned the tables and booted Moses, Cohn, and Levi out of the country, followed by the inhabitants whom they had incited. During this exodus they carried along as much stolen booty as they could manage, the Bible reports with satisfaction. It also reports, in no uncertain terms, that the Egyptians were glad to be rid of them (Exodus 12:35-36; Psalms 105:38).’”
Exodus is indeed a muddle – was Egypt trying to remove the Jews, or refusing to let them go? Or did Moses compete against more orthodox priests?
Myself, I think that everything before the Book of Judges is fictional. Only from Judges do you find material that includes real history. (But always edited for propaganda purposes.)
Regardless, Exodus is not what Eckart makes of it. You see a twisted mind rearranging facts to suit their prejudices:
“‘The murder of seventy-five thousand Persians, in the Book of Esther, no doubt had the same Bolshevist background,’ I answered. ‘The Jews certainly didn’t accomplish that all by themselves.’
“‘No more,’ he confirmed, ‘than the dreadful bloodbath over half the Roman Empire, which took place during the reign of Emperor Trajan. Hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish nobles in Babylonia, in Cyrenaica, in Egypt, and on Cyprus butchered like cattle, most of them after the most abominable torture!”
The Book of Esther is ludicrously improbable. Persians did not allow private warfare. The names of the main characters match those of rival Babylonian and Elamite gods and goddesses. And its shorter version does not even mention the Jewish God: the longer version with religious references is most likely a reworking.
Trajan ruled a generation after the sack of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple. Jews were split between Rome and Persia. Trajan used most of his army to conquer Mesopotamia, including Babylonia. Some Jews took the opportunity for another rebellion, normal within warlike empires.
“He paused with a dark look at the Book of Hate.
“‘And so it goes, through the entire Old Testament,’ he began again. ‘Indeed, I’m telling you nothing new, but we must bring it home to ourselves as often as possible in order to be able to negate the constant hypocritical babble. Really, the Book of Joshua should suffice; such a thing of uninterrupted genocide, of bestial cruelty, of shameless rapacity and cold-blooded cunning — Hell incarnate! And everything in the name of Jehovah, in fact, according to his express wish! When the city of Jericho fell victim to the Jews through the treachery of the harlot Rahab, neither man nor beast, neither young nor old remained among the living; only the harlot was spared. She and her whole, noble family were rewarded with the privilege of living in Israel (Joshua 6:25).”
You’d get bizarre results by judging any people by their oldest legends. Wagner’s Ring Cycle is seen as strong stuff, and a bad influence on Hitler. But Wagner softened and cleaned up the surviving legends. The original has one giant with an unusually gifted horse building a stronghold for the gods. Loki turns himself into a mare and leads it away, and then gives birth to Odin’s eight-legged horse – he is much more bizarre and bisexual than Wagner makes him.
The odd scraps collected by Snorri Sturluson well after official conversion to Christianity include a stray reference to Odin living for a time as a transvestite, though we get no details. Other stories show Odin / Wotan as a brutal trickster, probably originally a God of Death.
Odin / Wotan never fights as a warrior, using his spear just for magic.
Norse myths are a gruesome mess. Everyone goes to a dismal hell called ‘hel’, apart from a few warriors chosen by Odin. Poetry comes from the blood of a primeval poet, mixed with honey to a magic mead by two dwarves. In lesser legends, one adventurer has his eyes gouged out after daring to love an elf-maid. (Tolkien also cleaned up the Norse material he borrowed from.)
The Norse Pagans had a brutal society that Christianity improved, despite the violence lurking in its own scriptures. If you disbelieve me, look up ‘Blood Eagle’; actual practice among the Pagan Norse. But be warned it might give you nightmares.
You’d also get bizarre notions if you supposed that modern Irish behaved in line with the very popular adventures of Cuchulainn.
In real recorded history, all Celts practiced head-hunting. Also a ‘torture of hooks’, and worse I will not put here.
Some of my British ancestors were cannibals. Remains of human victims have been found in Cheddar Gorge from 15,000 years ago. Humans rooted out cannibalism, but retained a notion it might be sacred. As in the Real Presence in the Mass! (Holy Communion for Anglicans etc.)
Weird old legends are mostly just myth and historic detritus. Any noble sentiments can be re-used. Sadly, the brutal parts of Hebrew Scriptures cannot be safely shoved aside. Christianity has been worse that way than Judaism. Legends of Jewish ownership of the Land of Canaan feed Zionism, but do not apply elsewhere. For the more aggressive Christians, the ‘Old Testament’ became a continuing ‘warrant for genocide’.
Eckart’s nonsense flows on into modern history:
“‘In 1871, in Paris, the Jewish defence also ran according to plan. There the communists destroyed whatever they could, but the many places and houses of the Rothschilds remained completely intact.”
As I said earlier, most Communards were not Communists. Most were radicals who respected private property. Marx thought they should have seized the main national bank as a hostage.
“‘In the year 1870… we Germans had the privilege of being a great people. The Jews considered that the time had arrived for replacing the French emperor, who had become undependable, with a pliable president. This also seemed an excellent opportunity to establish the Commune; thus the ‘heroic German people.’ No wonder that right behind our princes and generals a pack of gesticulating Jewish financiers rode into Paris.
“‘The stronghold of European Jewry had its origin in the period between Cromwell and Edward VII,’ I emphasized. ‘Since then, however, the center of Jewish activity seems to have been transferred to America. They have had a good footing there for a long time. Sombart maintains that it was Jewish money which made the first two voyages of Columbus possible.’”
Columbus was finance by Isabella I of Castile. She and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon expelled most Jews from Spain, “and they were not to take with them gold, silver, money, arms, or horses.” Columbus on his first voyage took a recently converted Jew, Luis de Torres, who knew Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. Had they reached China, they would have found Arabic-speaking Muslims traders and even a few Chinese Jews.
Eckart – and presumably also Hitler – failed to take the next logical step of repudiating Jesus. Nietzsche did, though not for antisemitic reasons, using the weird argument that someone who wholly defeats the people you admire by methods you dislike is thereby a contemptable weakling.
European pagans were converted by heroic missionaries ready to die for their faith. Who often did die in various horrible ways.
Being fed to wild beasts was seen by Pagan Romans as the ultimate degradation. They could not cope with people brave enough to accept it rather than perform the almost-meaningless gesture of Emperor-worship.
Robert Graves said that doubting Christians still hang onto the idea of Jesus as someone extraordinary. He wrote an interesting novel called King Jesus, [which has Jesus as a hidden grandson of Herod the Great and] which he later repudiated. So it’s not odd that Eckart preferred the widespread antisemitic belief that Jesus wasn’t actually Jewish:
“‘In Palestine after the Babylonian captivity there was a great lower stratum of non-Jews ruled over by Jewish moneylenders, powerful through their usury. One can read that in the book of Nehemiah. Sombart says that it leaves absolutely nothing to be desired in the way of clarity. The outstanding point is that the real population, composed of oppressed peasants, was of an entirely different race than the Hebrews. Gradually the Jews forced their religion on them. Christ himself growled about that: ‘Woe onto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye encompass sea and land to make one proselyte…’ (Matthew 23:15).To the Jews, Galilee was the land of the Gentiles, whose population ‘sat in darkness,’ as they impudently imagined (Matthew 4:15-16). They said: Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ and ‘Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet’ (John 1:46; 7:52). The Hebrews were so firmly convinced of the non-Jewish ancestry of Christ that they counted him among the especially hated Samaritans (John 7:48). We live and learn! There are many more such examples…
“‘As a Jew, Paul certainly knew that of all the peoples of the world the Jews, first and foremost, needed their souls saved. ‘Go not … to the Gentiles, … But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,’ demanded Christ (Matthew 10:5-6). Paul ignored it. He went to the Greeks and the Romans and brought them his ‘Christianity.’ A ‘Christianity’ with which the Roman Empire became unhinged. ‘All men are equal! Brotherhood! Pacifism! No more privileges!’ And the Jew triumphed.’”
Were Pagan Rome or Pagan Greece adequate? Slave societies with a callous ruling class whose more intelligent members found life empty. They neglected Greek beginnings of science. Plato and Aristotle undermined it using fancy rhetoric.
I also regret that a bizarre Greek offshoot of Judaism was the replacement. Buddhism can and does produce warriors, but is definitely the most peaceful of the major religions. It cuts itself off from the violent legends of Hinduism. (Krishna talks Arjuna into continuing a fratricidal war when he gets tempted by peace.)
Asoka of India sent send Buddhist missionaries as far as Egypt, but with no known result. Oddly, it never got into Persia nor west of Persia. A small Jewish sect in Egypt called the Therapeutae have been claimed as Buddhists, but probably were not.
The Crusades were a sudden aggression by Christian Europe that for a few centuries conquered a small chunk of West Asia full of places treated as hugely significant by the popular teaching of their ‘Old Testament’. Crusading also included massacres of Jews by wandering religious enthusiasts. But naturally Eckart sees it otherwise:
“‘The notorious insanity of the Crusades bled the German people of six million men. Finally the Hohenstaufen, Frederick II, succeeded through mere negotiation, without striking a blow in securing the Holy Land for Christendom. What did the curia do? Full of hatred, they hurled the ban of excommunication on Frederick and refused to recognize his treaty with the sultan, thus neutralizing his great success. It seems that, to those pulling the strings, the incidental bloodletting was more important than the avowed objective of the Crusades.”
Frederick ‘stupor mundi’ was a skeptic and open mocker of Christian values. Wells calls him as an atheist in his Short History of the World. He made a deal with a Muslim sultan who was probably a private skeptic.
That the Papacy disliked it was unsurprising. It was hard to reconcile with the notion the conventional Latin-Christian God controlling history.
Eckart paved the way for Hitler’s more foolish and brutal policies by giving him an ignorantly false view of the wider world. Including exaggerating the death toll in the Soviet Union:
“‘The toll of Russians sacrificed since the beginning of Bolshevik domination is estimated by the authorities at about thirty million,’ I answered. ‘Those who weren’t summarily executed fell to famine and disease. Were they all bourgeois? Only an imbecile could believe that. Who among us then has the most to suffer? The thousands who every day stand for long hours at their various occupations. Capitalists are hardly a majority among them. But that hasn’t dawned on our workers. In their eagerness to be the masters, they let themselves be led about by the nose like children.’”
Even the most dedicated modern anti-Bolsheviks don’t claim such a total by the end of 1923, when Eckart died. It was anyway predictable that Russia would have a Civil War after removing the Tsar, which wasn’t done by Bolsheviks. The biggest death-toll was probably Ukraine, with 14 different governments before the Bolsheviks took over.
Bolshevik ruthlessness stemmed from World War One. None of the governments that started the war were socialist: but most socialists allowed it to happen, contrary to earlier hopes. Mass killings in Russia were begun by White forces, based on a landlord class that had no intention of letting the peasants keep the land they had taken. The White leaders would almost certainly have been as bad or worse than Hitler, had they won out.
Very large death tolls blamed on Stalin are found by blaming him for his successful modernisation of the Soviet Union. And for the dead in the bitter war that defeated Hitler’s invasion. Critics have a fixed belief that some other leader could have had the same success at much lower human cost. Tukhachevsky, possibly – but he was defeated by the Poles in 1921. Those same Poles didn’t last long against Hitler in 1939.
There has not been a single effective Leninist movement that rejected Stalin’s legacy, even if they might criticise him on some points. Or any successful Marxist politics after 1917 that denied that Lenin was a logical continuation of Marx.
The only effective non-Leninist armies on the left have been left-wing nationalists. In the Soviet Union, this was not an option, except in so far as Stalin incorporated such people. When they got control after Stalin’s death, they mismanaged and eventually lost his legacy.
(Another odd coincidence: counting Global Leninism as lasting from 1917 to 1989, when it lost much of Europe, it rose for 36 years till Stalin’s death. Then declined for its remaining 36 years.)
Hitler was something else completely. With his crazy beliefs, Hitler is clearly to blame for tens of millions of deaths in a war he could have avoided. That Goering almost certainly would have avoided had Hitler been assassinated in 1938, say.
But Hitler was merely an extreme within a much wider process. The rising USA and the fading British Empire also bear a large share of guilt.
Hitler was the 13th man to be Chancellor in the Weimar Republic. There were 14 changes of Chancellor in its 14 years of existence, but Wilhelm Marx and Hermann Mueller served twice.
USA historians call Grover Cleveland both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States: he alone served two non-consecutive terms. But making Hitler 13th rather than 15th seems more sensible. It also has overtones that could impress a believer in the supernatural.
(I have no such belief, but a renewed socialism will need all sorts. Many otherwise sensible people need some sort of religion or superstition. Only some atheists can flourish with an entirely materialist Sense of Wonder.)
Saying either 13th or 15th excludes Erbert, Head of Government between the end of the German Empire in November 1918 and the first gathering of the National Assembly in February 1919. He did not use the title of Chancellor, and was elected as the Weimar Republic’s first President.
[The original printed article included a goof by me – in place of Erbert I had Eisner, a very different sort of socialist.]
The Wikipedia’s List of Chancellors of Germany excludes both Erbert and Hitler from their section for Weimar. But Hitler was not an instant dictator. Until the death of Hindenburg in August 1934, he could still have been legally and practicably removed.
Had Hitler respected the Weimar Constitution, he might then have got himself elected President. Instead he used an official decree to merge the offices of Chancellor and President, and got it approved by a referendum. His proper title was Feuhrer und Reichskanzler, Leader and Chancellor.
That was functionally the end of the Weimar Republic, if you don’t count it as ending with Hitler’s earlier Emergency Powers. But he chose to leave the legalities messy. Some royalists hoped that he would restore the monarchy, perhaps for the Kaiser’s son. General Franco chose to be succeeded by a restored monarch, but I doubt Hitler would have done anything similar.
The title Reichskanzler, Chancellor of the Realm, was used from Imperial Germany through Weimar and into the Third Reich. West Germany replaced it with Bundeskanzler, Federal Chancellor. Bismarck had been Bundeskanzler of the North German Confederation from 1867 to 1871, when the German Empire was created. He remained its Chancellor till 1890.
Issue 30, 2nd Quarter 2017. August 2017.
Also available as a PDF, Problems 30 – the 13th Chancellor
For subscriptions to Problems & other publications, see https://www.atholbooks-sales.org
 Athol Books, 2002
 What follows is a reworking of https://gwydionwilliams.com/44-fascism-and-world-war-2/british-and-us-genocide/#_Toc61184876
 See Appendix for details
 Wyllie, James. Goering and Goering.
 Clifford, Angela (Introduction). Karl Lueger And The Twilight Of Imperial Vienna. The Life and Work of a Municipal Socialiser and Precursor of Christian Democracy. Belfast Historical and Educational Society, 2002. Translated by Philip O’Connor. Preface by Mark Langhammer. Page 6
 Karl Lueger, Page 12.
 Karl Lueger, Page 16.
 Karl Lueger’s Speech in Parliament, 1890. Karl Lueger, Pages 106-7.
 The Jew Accused: Three Anti-Semitic Affairs (Dreyfus, Beilis, Frank) 1894-1915, by Albert S. Lindemann. Cambridge University Press 1991. Page 102.
 Karl Lueger, Page 17-18.
 Karl Lueger, Page 19.
 Karl Lueger, Page 20-21.
 https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/past-issues/2015-07-magazine/2015-07-ukraine-illegally-removed-its-elected-president/ and https://gwydionwilliams.com/46-globalisation/ukraine-kievs-five-day-war-machine/.
 Karl Lueger, Page 21.
 Karl Lueger, Page 80.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Ritter_von_Sch%C3%B6nerer. His name should more properly be Schönerer. But past experience has taught me not trust computers to correctly handle diacritical marks.
 Karl Lueger, Pages 93-94.
 Karl Lueger, Page 94.
 Zimmerman, Joshua D (editor). Jews in Italy under Fascist and Nazi Rule. Cambridge University Press 2005. Page 1.
 Jews in Italy, Page 3.
 Jews in Italy, Page 4.
 Jews in Italy, Page 5.
 Jews in Italy, Page 22.
 Jews in Italy, Page 25.
 Jews in Italy, Page 26. Emphasis added.
 Jews in Italy, Page 159.
 Jews in Italy, Page 56.
 Jews in Italy, Page 60.
 Jews in Italy, Page 63.
 Jews in Italy, Page 144.
 Jews in Italy, Page 65.
 Jews in Italy, Page 340.
 Jews in Italy, Page 120.
 Jews in Italy, Page 336.
 Jews in Italy, Page 203.
 Jews in Italy, Page 184.
 World On Fire by Amy Chua. Arrow Books 2004, pages 170-1
.Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory by Deborah Lipstadt. Penguin 1994. Page 7.
 Jews in Italy, Page 209.
 Jews in Italy, Page 279.
 Jews in Italy, Page 299.
 Cohn, Norman. Warrant for genocide: The myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. My edition has its front pages missing, but must be the 1967 Eyre & Spottiswoode edition
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 22.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 23-4
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 25-7
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 29.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 51-2.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 65-7.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 68-9
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 71-2
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 151.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 152-3.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 155.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 158-9.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 159.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 159-160.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 161-2.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 103.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 106
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 106
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 116-7
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 110
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 111-112.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 115
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 121-2.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 122.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 180-1.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 182.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 182-3
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 183
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 183-4.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 190.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 199.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 200 (note)
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 205.
 The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy September 1939-March 1942 by Christopher R. Browning. William Heinemann 2004.
 Warrant for Genocide, Pages 207-8.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 210-11
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 212.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 213.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 275-6.
 Warrant for Genocide, Page 281
 Joly, Maurice. The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu. Humanitarian Despotism and the Conditions of Modern Tyranny. Translated, edited and with commentary by John S. Waggoner. Lexington Books 2003. Page xvii.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page xvii.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page xviii
 Dialogue in Hell, Page xviii
 Dialogue in Hell, Page x.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 8.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 9. Emphasis original.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 10.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 11.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 15.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 20.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 27-8
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 50
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 77
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 149.
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 267
 Dialogue in Hell, Pages 293-4
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 338
 Dialogue in Hell, Page 355. The name is actually Goedsche.
 The Wiki entry includes suggestions it was an invention. But the known references don’t strike me as being invented.