Auto Added by WPeMatico

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.

___________________

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.

The real (?) Quebec

The Quebec I see bears almost no relationship to both how Quebec’s political class portrays it, nor to the image that English Canada has of it because of the propaganda of the political class. What I see daily is an industrious society growing crops, driving trucks, making cheese and ice cream, fabricating steel snow plows, logging, cutting granite: in short, a busy and productive place. New cars are everywhere. Steel and wood  buildings are being erected in many places to house the massive amounts of farm equipment needed to cultivate huge farms. Empty lots that had been left undeveloped from the 1970s and 80s are being built on. Activity is everywhere. People are working and prosperous.

Yet none of this activity seems to penetrate the consciousness of the political class. You would think, if you read nothing but the tweets of the Heritage Minister, that Quebec’s biggest obsession is controlling the Internet and subsidizing the arts. You might think that Quebec is obsessed with constitutional issues, if you listened to the Premier.

Perhaps the busy rural Quebec I see is the same as the busy rural Ontario or Saskatchewan where I do not live. Maybe this busy-ness reflects the rural-urban divide. It really does not matter. What I see is a systematic misrepresentation of a place, through its media and political class (same thing really) for reasons that make less and less sense. Psychically and economically, Quebec has left its dreary past behind.

 

2020 Contractor Survey: Regional View – Quebec - Wood Business

 

The graph that explains what has happened

 

This is the most important graph you are going to see in the next decade.

Whatever its cause – and historians and economists have much to explain – the gap between rises in productivity and hourly compensation that started in 1973 meant that an increasing proportion of national income has gone to the owners of assets, not the workers. Maybe capital needed to make more money; maybe the workers were making too much: I am unqualified to say. Certainly the Reagan regime did much to restore the profitability of capital.

Yet in that simple graph we can see why Trump found support to deal with a perceived problem. Perceived by whom, you ask? Perceived by the people who do not know or subscribe to the New York Times or the Atlantic magazine. Perceived by the people whose children don’t have jobs and who know people who have died from fentanyl overdoeses, people from towns where the mill has been shuttered for thirty years. Where they used to make things. Not perceived by people who work from desks and computers. No perceieved by people whose jobs have not been affected by COVID.

Nuxon went to China in 1972, thus splitting the Communist world and starting the process whereby jobs left the United States for China and places abroad. I am not asserting a directly causal relationship here between diplomatic recognition of China by the US and the off-shoring of US industry.

Nixon went off the gold standard in 1972, This meant we entered upon the world of fiat currencies, where government declares that money is worth something unrelated to the stock of gold. As many now understand, a consistent undervaluation of one’s currency can suck indistry towards the low cost producer. Is that the cause of US jobs bening leeched out of the United States?

Watch this video and see if you agree. 

Whatever the cause of the growing gap in the rates of productivity and hourly compensation – I wish I knew – its existence engenders a vast retinue of consequences

Mark Blyth

Mark Blyth makes more sense than anyone I have heard about what has happened to our economies, US, Canada, China, and the world. I suppose he is left wing. I could not care less. He makes sense to me. Try him and see. Brexit, inflation, low interest rates, income stagnation, and a great deal more is explained. He is also quite clear (in the Q&A) that Trump is going to win the next election, and he is no fan of the Donald. But he thinks he is some kind of genius at transforming the US and the global economy.