Racism and Anti-Semitism—Part I
Anti-Semitism is growing around the world, according to this US State Department report, at such an alarming rate, that many see in it's growth, similarities to the anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe immediate before the Second World War. The report indicates a slight decrease in anti-Semitism in only one country, Australia, but that is contradicted by some Australians. The report did not include the US, where, according to one Anti-Defamation League report, anti-Semitism is in on the increase, but according to another it is decreasing. Nevertheless, it is safe to say, that anti-semitism is certainly more visible in the US today than in the recent past.
The growth of anti-Semitism is not only a threat to the Jews, it is a threat to Western Civilization itself. The nature and severity of that threat cannot be overestimated, but also cannot be appreciated without understanding the true nature of anti-Semitism, why it is, and why it is on the increase today.
What Is This?
Anti-Semitism is much more complex than is supposed. It is not all of one piece, and in some ways, is very confusing. In my research, I discovered that many Jewish intellectuals and leaders are themselves confused about the nature of anti-Semitism and bewildered by some aspects of it—for example, some Jews are themselves anti-Semitic.
There is additional confusion in the forms anti-Semitism takes such as anti-Zionism and the virulent anti-Israel form. Anti-Semitism has long historic roots, and was at its most extreme immediately preceding and during World War Two in central Europe, before there was a State of Israel. Zionism also has a long history, and has taken many forms, even a socialist one, and to some extent is still socialistic. Its modern form dates from 1917 and the Balfour Declaration. Anti-Zionism is not, however, necessarily anti-Semitic, because many Jews are anti-Zionists.
The modern rise of anti-Semitism, in all its forms is alarming for two reasons. One is because it signals a rise in irrationality and hatred that is always indicative of a societies collapse, in this case, Western civilization itself. The other is a fact that few, if any, have ever identified, the similarity in the nature of the hatred directed at Jews and that directed at the United States and the common aspect of Jews and the US which is the root of that hatred.
Finally, there is a question of whether there is a solution, either a cure for and a way of effectively eliminating the evil effects of anti-Semitism. There is, but it is not a solution most will like or has ever been clearly identified. The solution is not social, not political, and not economic—it is philosophical. It's been done before, the application of philosophy, and it worked. It was called the founding of the United States of America. This series of articles on anti-Semitism will conclude with the explanation of that philosophical solution to anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is a form of racism. To understand the nature of anti-Semitism, it is necessary to first understand the nature of racism itself. It is the essential nature of racism, not any specific manifestation of it that must be identified.
Racism, in its very broadest sense, is a kind of irrationality based on the belief that individuals, particularly those aspects of individuals related to their moral, physical, spiritual, or intellectual superiority or inferiority can be inferred from their membership in some collective or group, frequently an ethnic group, but it can be any group.
"Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man's life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them, "with some physical, psychologocal, or genetic determinism. [Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, "Racism."]
In any discussion of racism, only half of it's nature is usually recognized, the half that has to do with the identification of others. The undiscussed half is equally irrational and equally harmful. Ayn Rand is one of the few philosophers who identified both aspects of this terrible mistake.
"It is hard to say which is the more outrageous injustice: the claim of Southern racists that a Negro genius should be treated as an inferior because his race has 'produced' some brutes—or the claim of a German brute to the status of a superior because his race has 'produced' Goethe, Schiller and Brahms.
"These are not two different claims, of course, but two applications of the same basic premise. The question of whether one alleges the superiority or the inferiority of any given race is irrelevant; racism has only one psychological root: the racist's sense of his own inferiority." [The Virtue of Selfishness, "Racism."]
Two Sides of Racism
Rand identified the two aspects of racism. Without recognizing both aspects, racism cannot be fully understood. To make the differences and relationship between them clear, I have labeled them autoracism and exoracism.
Autoracismis self-identification with a nationality, race, culture, class, or religion (an organized form, not its theology). It takes many forms including clanism, tribalism, statism, nationalism, and even some forms of "patriotism" [my country right or wrong] for example.
Exoracism is the identification of others with a nationality, race, culture, class, religion (an organized form, not theology). It takes many forms including irrational descrimination, prejudice, hatred, persecution, and even genocide.
Autoracism always includes some degree of exoracism—one does not identify with some "group" unless he believes being a member of it gives him some kind of superiority or advantage (morally, physically, spiritually, or intellectually), which means, all who are not members of that group are in some way inferior or disadvantaged, a fact never lost on those who are not members of that group.
Exoracism always includes some autoracism because one does not despise other groups unless he considers them inferior or disadvantaged in some way (morally, physically, spiritually, or intellectually), which gives the individual a sense of superiority because he's not a member of the inferior group, a fact never lost on those who are identified as members of that group.
When racism is addressed, it is almost always exoracism that is referred to, and even while being vilified for what it is, autoracism, without which there could be no exoracism, is often lauded. Both, however are racism, and neither can exist without the other.
Since it is autoracism that is not usually recognized as racism, I want to emphasize in what respect one's identification with a culture or religion is autoracism.
No one develops, entirely, their own culture. Our language, our dress, our manners and tastes are usually adopted from the cuture in which we are born and grow up. A religion is only a kind of intellectual belief, a "philosophy," or part of one's philosophy. One who speaks English, dresses in typical American fashion, enjoys American music and literature, and worships at a Baptist church is not an autoracist for practicing or believing any of those things.
Even when identifying oneself as an American or a Baptist, so long as the identity is only to express the kind of culture one perfers or the nature of their personal beliefs, it is not autoracism. It is when someone's personal identity, "who I am," or "what I live for," one's personal sense of identity, self-worth, or purpose are determined by that identity it becomes autoracism.
If one believes they are a better person because they are an American, that is autoracism. Most of the prisoners in American jails are Americans--they are not better persons for it. Who and what a person is, what kind of person they are, what value they are to themselves or anyone else, is determined by their own choices and actions, not what group they are a member of. If one's estimation of himself is based on what he choose to do, determined by his own personal values, principles, and tastes, even if it is typically American or Baptist, it is rational and objective, and not racism. If one's estimation of himself is based an identification with some group, regardless of what his actual choices and actions are, such as, "I'm an American," or "I'm a Baptist," meaning, " that is the basis of my self-worth," that is autoracism.
Autoracism and Collectivism
To the extent that an individual's self-esteem, value, meaning, and purpose are based on their membership in some group, the individual is a collectivist. At one end of the scale is the individual who regards himself as important or worthy of respect because he is a member of some vaunted group (rather than because of any personal accomplishment); at the other end of the scale is the leftist altruist who finds all his values and purpose in others—he is the total second-hander who sees his only worthiness in "what he contributes to society," finds all his self esteem in the praise and fawning of others, and seeks nothing but, "to be of service to his fellow man," because he otherwise has nothing in himself to value and no purpose of his own. If you've ever wondered about arogance and hubris of the petty beaurocrat and welfare worker type who has never created a thing of value in their lives, except the negative ones of meddling and interferring in other people's lives, it is the ultimate form of racism, the racism of the parasite.
Degrees of Racism
Racism, which is always irrational, includes anything external to an individual's own person that is a basis for any part of his identification, worth, or purpose, or a judgement about another individual's character or value. At one end of the scale are racists like Muslims, who believe they are superior (autoracism) to all other men (exoracism) or the white supremicists who, not only believe they are superior to all others, but do not even regard others as truly human. At the other end of the scale are those in Rand's classic examples of autoracism:
"The respectable family that supports worthless relatives or covers up their crimes in order to "protect the family name" (as if the moral stature of one man could be damaged by the actions of another)—the bum who boasts that his great-grandfather was an empire-builder, or the small-town spinster who boasts that her maternal great-uncle was a state senator and her third cousin gave a concert at Carnegie Hall' (as if the achievements of one man could rub off on the mediocrity of another)." [The Virtue of Selfishness, "Racism".] Included in this small-time racism are all those who believe they are "better" because they belong to some organization, club, or group.
I do not mean to imply that anyone who belongs to an organization is a racist. Many people belong to organizations because they find them useful to their interests, whether those interests are merely social, or part of their buisness methods. To the extent that anyone implicity or explicitly derives a sense of self-worth, importance, or value as an individual because of their association with any group, that is racism.
Almost all people are autoracists to some degree. Though it is irrational, and all irrationality is harmful, the harm is mostly to the individuals themselves, and, at least in this country, does not often devolve into overt exoracism. Autoracism, all by itself, is never a threat or danger to others.
The only people in this world who are neither autoracists or exoracists are independent individualists, and there are very few of those. There will always be racism, and even where it is only autoracism of individuals finding their identity and value in some group or collective, exoracism, even the most violent and vicious kind, is unfortuantely seldom far away.
The mere identification of groups or classes of people is not racism. Neither is an observation about some attribute or characteristic which is true of a group or class of people racism. It is sometime necessary to identify one's race (as medical background, for example) or one's place of birth (if acquiring a passport, for example). The identification of a fact is not racism, it is only when such a fact, or supposed fact, is used as the basis for judging one's own or another's value that the identification becomes racism.
The identification of autoracism in others is sometimes mistaken for exoracism. It is not racism, however, to judge others based on their own avowed autoracism. That is, when someone identifies themselves as a member of a certain group meaning they embrace the group's culture and values, it is not racism to attribute to those individuals the very values and culture they claim. It is not racism, for example, to say a member of Aryan Nation is anti-Semitic. Nor is it racism to say a Muslim is revolted by dogs and pigs. These are both factual statements—the first leads directly to the judgement that an individual member of Aryan Nation embraces irrational hate; the second leads to a judgement depending on one's own feeling about animals, but such judgements are based on facts and would not be racism, even if mistaken.
Meaning of Racism
There has always been racism and no doubt always will be. It has not always taken those extreme forms that lead to such horrors as the lynchings of blacks in the American South, or the worse horrors of the holocaust. Those manifestations of racism never spring up suddenly, however, and it is never racism, all by itself, that makes them possible. Preceding them there must be a conditioning of society which develops slowly and is accompanied by a political climate that makes such manifestations possible.
The growth of racism today is evidence that the very kinds of change in society that preceded the worst of racist horrors in history are now occurring. The remaining parts of this article will be devoted to the alarming growth of anti-Semitism and why it is a signal of the demise of Western civilization itself.
The emphasis on anti-Semitism is because the people it is directed at have a unique relationship to Western Civlization, one that has never been properly identified. Of all the people in the world, why is it the Jews who have garnered such vicious irrational hatred? That cannot be known without understanding some very important things about the Jews, their history, and their place in all those societies in which they have prospered and often been persecuted. I'll begin looking at that in the next article.