The Sacred Chain, A History of the Jews, by Norman F. Cantor

 

Norman Cantor’s The Sacred Chain (1994) is a highly entertaining and informative book, of the kind I would like to bring to the attention of friends, Jewish and otherwise.

It covers Judaism from its mythological origins to the present day. Cantor dismisses the books of the Pantateuch as largely or entirely mythological: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Moses, the flight from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan, and so forth.

“But until the glorious day dawns of archaeological verification of the line of Abraham, we have to stipulate that all of the Jewish history of the first millennium BCE and some of it for a century or two after that, as told in the Bible, is one of the great masterpieces of imaginative fiction or artfully contrived historical myths of all time. From empirical evidence, it did not happen.” – page 5

I may agree, but every religion needs its mythology, indeed, every religion is founded in mythology. Look at Christianity. Look at Islam, look at Judaism. They are all stories. The issue of myth is not whether it is factual, but whether it is true. Some people conflate factuality for truth, whereas truth is the yardstick by which the significance of facts is appraised and evaluated. Hence Lord of the Rings is true, as a story of right and wrong, good against evil,  but is not yet considered factual. At least not until the rise of a new civilization, when the King causes the Ring trilogy to be declared to be historical truth, and archaeologists engage in digs to find the lost continent of Numenor.

I digress.

In dealing with the 19th and 20th centuries, Cantor writes with disarming honesty of the divisions of the Jewish people into what he calls the black, the red and the white. [at page 275]  The blacks: followers of traditional Talmudic Judaism, the orthodox, the black-coated rabbinate and their congregations “who developed no evident policy of responding to modernity’s challenge”; the reds: Emma Goldman, Leon Trotsky, Bernie Sanders, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and all the communists and fellow travelers too numerous to mention. The whites: the capitalists, the followers of David Ricardo, the fully integrated dwellers of leafy suburbs from Berlin to San Francisco, the upper middle class professionals, the psychiatrists, the well-being gurus.

On the reds, Cantor observes:

“In retrospect, Jewish communism looks weird, and perhaps pointless, but at the time there was an unquestioning compulsion of many thousands of morally committed, energetic Jews to devote their lives to it and sacrifice their well-being and that of their families for it” – page 281

I find refreshing Cantor’s straightforward treatment of the massive involvement of Jews with Communism. What was this peculiar attraction for them? He essays two explanations:

  • a vestigial memory of biblical prophetic utterances on social justice,  coupled with Judaism’s intrinsic rationality, its elevation of the deity to such a transcendent position, putting the burden for society upon humanity itself that, when coupled with unresolved Oedipal conflicts with parents of the same sex, lead some to project outward from there to rebel and try to punish and overthrow patriarchal and matriarchal institutions of authority in society; – pp 276-277
  • “the inability of modernity and its institutional forms to absorb sufficiently brilliant and active younger Jews seeking a suitable role for themselves in secular society” – p 277

 

“Empirical data support the contention of French and German anti-Semites in the 1920s and 1930s that Jews were both capitalists and communists, and thus doubly anathema to the reactionary racist ands religious movements that funneled onto Judaeo-phobic fascism.

“The German cartoonists of the 1920s who depicted Jews as both bloated capitalists swallowing European civilization and nefarious red terrorists plotting to blow up Western civilization were not engaging in absolute fantasy, even though Jewish apologists then and historians now like to make that accusation and try to forget the whole thing.

But we cannot forget it”. – p 275

Nor can I. My first experience of being a racial minority was McGill University in the late 1960s. 80% of the arts faculty was Jewish, at least. The Marxist Leninists of the more orthodox Russian-oriented persuasion were entirely Jewish, while the Maoists were almost exclusively the children of priviligentsia of the Third World, such as Sikhs and Latin American millionaire’s kids. For a movement that based its entire analysis on the divisions of social class, it was startling – and wholly unremarked – how the divisions between the Marxists were entirely racial or ethnic, if you prefer.

The result for me was to begin to insist that race and nation and biology – loose concepts, I admit – were far more important than they were held out to be. I think that the importance of the biological is obvious and would be readily or grudgingly agreed to by most people.  The second was my growing conviction that the great secret of modern life was that, while everyone talked social class, structures of oppression and sociological claptrap, most acted as if the biological domain was both real and consequential. Just look at assortative mating among the intelligent. The importance of the biological is exactly the heresy that Herrenstein and Murray, the writers of The Bell Curve,  espoused.

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Readers will observe that I have quoted from only a very few pages of The Sacred Chain. Cantor’s book covers vastly more than this review. It is as honest, fair-minded and well-written as one could hope for. Cantor praises and blames Christianity, Judaism and Islam equitably, as he does the secular humanists of more recent times.

My reflections are conditioned by one of the greatest traumas – if that is not too dramatic a word – of my clash with the Marxists and would-be Bolsheviks of university days. There is much, much more to this clever and engaging book than the 20th century Jewish attraction to communism. My reliance on the truth of the rest of the book is reinforced  by the truth of what he has to say about that strange attraction of so many Jews for Marxism. Like the influence of biology, it is one of those things which has been noticed but not often spoken of honestly.

Hugs, handshakes across the aisle mark passage of bill banning conversion therapy

Blair Atholl comments:

“A bill that prevents people from voluntarily seeking counseling – even from priests. Meanwhile, say once at nine years old that you wish you were a girl and the state will happily cut your dick off. Fuck the CPC and their morally degenerate leaders.”

-from a life long conservative

And this is Dalwhinnie talking: the guy who increasingly seems to be talking a language I agree with is Mad Max Bernier. Kind of like the slow growth of mindshare held by Ronnie Reagan before his Presidency. Though Max will never be Prime Minister of Canada absent a cultural revolution.

 

 

The empty-headed rule

Observe the uncluttered brows on the portraits below.

There are days, and this is one of them, I feel we are very close to something awful, like actual revolution. Then I think, no, that’s what we have the Deep State for: to prevent all change in current power arrangements.

 

Tsar Nicholas II in 1917

 

 

President Joe Biden in 2021

 

 

Why you don’t get to vote on the woke revolution

From Zero Hedge:

In fairness, broad swaths of the culture always operate and evolve outside of politics. The world of ideas and entertainment – the books we read, movies we watch, groups we join – must never be subject to electoral will. But the woke revolution feels different. First, it is an explicitly political ideology that is, at bottom, about power. Second, it is remarkably ambitious: It seeks a wholesale transformation of America’s past, present and future. Third, while some of its ideas resonate with plenty of people, it is a top-down movement that seeks to impose aien ways of thinking and being on everyone – hence the rise of cancel culture and other illiberal mechanisms to silence and punish those who fail to conform.

One of the great paradoxes of the social justice movement is that even as it claims to fight inequality, it is itself a reflection of the growing inequality in America: both of wealth and culture. Like most revolutions, it is not led by the downtrodden but by the elites. It is not the person of color on the streets but the swells at the top (most of them white) who are imposing the new order.

Although it might seem that the woke revolution erupted in 2020 with George Floyd’s murder, or with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, its intellectual framework – which includes critical race theory, postmodernism, anti-colonialism, black power and queer/gender studies – emerged at America’s universities in the 1960s and 1970s. Heavily influenced by Marxism, leftist scholars suffered a crisis of confidence after communism was discredited 30 years ago as the Soviet Union collapsed. In response, activist academics essentially repackaged their old ideas. They still saw politics as a zero-sum battle between oppressors and the oppressed, with themselves in the moral vanguard, but they replaced the concept of class with new identity markers: racial and sexual identity. The struggle was no longer between capitalists and the proletariat, but privileged “cisgendered heteronormative” whites versus the rest of humanity.

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Communism is alive and well, it has just dropped the nonsense of Marxism which was its only link to reality, however wrong it was. – Dalwhinnie

The coming clash of civilizations

From Russia Today

By Artyom Lukin, an associate professor of international relations at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia. Follow him on Twitter @ArtyomLukin

Instead of Bolshevik radicalism, Putin’s preference seems to be the old Tsarist model: No plans to build an overseas empire, just a vast continental autocratic power relying on nuclear weapons, ‘healthy conservatism’, and ‘time-tested tradition’. Putin’s system is utterly opposed to revolution. His rumored spiritual confidant, the Russian Orthodox Church’s Metropolitan Tikhon, has been incessantly warning about the dangers inherent in uprisings and upheaval. The Russian leader himself openly detests instability as a fundamental evil, having said, “Russia’s political system is evolving steadily so as to prevent any revolutions. We have reached our limit on revolutions.” Putin’s words often sound as if they were coming straight from conservative leading light Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’.

Putin’s Russia has its ideals mainly in the past. That’s a major reason why the ideology of modern Russia appeals to many right-wing conservatives in Europe and North America who see Russia as the last major state that adheres to the values of what used to be European Christian civilization. Putin’s Russia has another advantage. Among the competing ideologies, it is the most appealing aesthetically. This may be because for Putin’s state, order is prioritised over justice. Justice, especially the unlimited justice of the ‘woke’, is often messy and even ugly. Order, especially a hierarchical one, has a powerful beauty. Think of the aesthetics of The Lord of the Rings or Dune. Similar to Hollywood epics exploiting medieval narratives, much of the appeal of ‘the Putin universe’ may be drawing upon the themes of power, masculinity, hierarchy, and miracle.

Another attraction of the Russian system is that, despite being somewhat imperfect in terms of political and civil rights, it probably boasts one of the highest levels of private freedom in the world. The state in Russia is generally reluctant to intervene in the private lives of its subjects, if only because it lacks the capacity to do so – and apparently does not seek this capacity, outside of the most recent Covid-19 measures, which have been opposed and overhauled in equal measure.

The Russian model does have one major drawback. It is ill-suited to deliver economic and technological development.  For a decade now, Russia’s economy has been stagnating and it is unlikely to take off any time soon. However, the lack of economic dynamism might be a systemic feature Putin is perfectly aware of, accepting it as a reasonable price for political and social tranquility. To achieve breakthroughs in development, you need to be willing to conduct massive societal-scale experiments, sometimes bordering on revolution. For all the differences in their ideological credos, the West and the CCP-led China share the taste for experimenting with their future. It is an irony lost on few that the new facial recognition system being developed in China to provide security in public places is called Sky Net, echoing the dystopian AI that haunts the world of The Terminator films.

Humanity can now choose between the West’s wokeism, Russia’s neo-feudal conservatism, and China’s slightly dystopian digital socialism. It is far from a wide selection on the menu, but it’s good to have a choice anyway.

Rittenhouse acquitted

 

From CBC news, which fails to mention the criminal pasts of the people shot by Rittenhouse:

“Huber was then killed after hitting Rittenhouse in the head or neck with a skateboard, and Grosskreutz was shot after pointing a gun of his own at Rittenhouse.

“After the verdict, Huber’s parents, Karen Bloom and John Huber, said the outcome “sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.”

I thought that was what the Black Lives Matter and Antifa did. Apparently only they are entitled to show up in any town, incite violence, and create the danger that justifies shooting. Defenders of order are criminals if they do the same.

 

On the subject of money, entrepreneurs, invention, innovation

Jordan Peterson interviews a Brazilian-Lebanese-American economist of the Austrian School, Saifedean Ammous. Very good on the conception of what money is. Highly recommended value for your  investment in time.

  • Peterson at 28:15 on  the astonishing series of assumptions that lie behind the view that we can fix “global warming”. The fatal conceit that lies behind the idea that we can solve it – “fatal conceit” being a term that Hayek coined.
  • There follows a fascinating discussion of what kind of people entrepreneurs are: open to innovation and ideas (at 39:00).
  • The free market conception of money versus the statist conception of money. (at 42:00) Money is a product of the market, not the state.
  • Ammous says that Bitcoin is by definition the hardest currency, meaning least amenable to inflation.
  • The incentive of governments is to print money, which is enormously profitable to them.
  • Peterson: I am always more afraid of the solutions to climate change than I am to climate change. “The solutions terrify me.”
  • You cannot think long term about the planet when your wealth is continuously eroded by inflation. (at 58:00)

Ammous is the author of “The Bitcoin Standard”.   Fiat money is devaluing at 7% per year, meaning it loses about half its value in ten years. And what interest rates are you getting at the bank?