Editor’s Note: This interview was recently conducted by e-mail between Aedon Cassiel and Gilad Atzmon. Atzmon’s latest book, Being in Time: A Post-Political Manifesto, is being released tomorrow (May 24).
In your work, who do you consider yourself to be speaking to? If you don’t have a specific audience in mind, then my question is: if only one group of people could hear your message, who would you choose, and what would you have them do about it?
This is important to me. I do not intend to speak to people of any specific persuasion. I am not an activist and have zero interest in political involvement. I am engaged in an intellectual search. Jews fascinate me – their troubled history, their survival strategies, their overrepresentation in media, politics, banking, the Manhattan Project, the list of the one hundred worst landlords in New York City, academia, and their dominance in political lobbying. I am trying to identify the cultural roots at the core of all that. In short, I am interested in the metaphysics that forms the Jew rather than the Jew himself. I am after culture and ideology.
The final third of Being in Time focuses on the idea of “controlled opposition” – specifically, on the idea that Jews tend to both lead and manage criticism of Jews, even of criticism promulgated by other Jews, which has the effect of pushing non-Jews out of the sphere of the debate. Are your efforts another form of attempting to create a controlled opposition? Why or why not?
Thanks for raising this crucial point. If Jewish survival strategy is as sophisticated as I try to suggest, then you and others must take extra caution with Jewish ideologists and ideologies. And yes, I suppose this applies to me, too. My work must be subject to criticism, including the criticism the book itself applies, and hopefully it will stand the test of reflexivity.
What do you mean when you say that Jews “are certainly not a race, nor even an ethnicity”? What do you understand these two terms to mean? Is it that Jews consist of too many different unrelated groups to be fairly considered as a single collective, or do you mean to suggest that race and ethnicity are meaningless categories in general?
Despite the fact that many Jews insist that they belong to one race and share one father, it is more likely that Jews have not formed a single continuum as far as ancestry, genetics, or biology are concerned. However, it is clear to me that despite the fact that Jews do not form a racial continuum, their politics are always, and I really mean always, racially oriented.
You ask whether I believe that race and ethnicity are meaningless categories in general? Not at all. However, I am not an evolutionary scientist or an anthropologist, and the study of race or ethnicity isn’t my domain. I dig into some philosophical questions having to do with Jewish identification.
You discuss at length the sociological implications of extensive cognitive partitioning in Jewish society over time, and as a historical cause of this phenomena you talk about the practice of selective breeding in Jewish rabbinical culture. In fact, this is one of the key points to which your work repeatedly comes back. Yet, you seem to want to shy away from claiming that genetic influences are part of the explanation behind why these patterns persist. How could the cognitive partitioning in Jewish society involve genealogy without involving genes? It seems odd to specifically identify breeding patterns as being responsible for this development, and yet – as you seem to – deny that heredity is the method of transmission. What, then, do you think is the mechanism behind this phenomena’s historical persistence?
I have no doubt, as I state in Being in Time, that the European Jewish rabbinical meritocratic system can be understood as a eugenic project. I would be delighted to find out that an evolutionary scientist has decided to look into my theoretical model and produce a scientific study that would verify or refute my theoretical assumptions. Kevin MacDonald has produced the most important work on this topic to date, and the gross animosity he is subject to suggests that he is an Athenian truth-teller – a critical philosophical mind.
You prefer to talk about “ability” as a general term rather than using IQ as a specific instance or measurement of ability. What theories do you have about what is at the core of the superior average “ability” of Jews?
In my work I do not provide facts or statistics. I am raising issues and you, the reader, my listener, are the facts. I produce an interpretation or analysis of a given situation, a set of problems in our current reality, and it is down to you to examine it, play with the ideas, and eventually make a judgment.
I am troubled by IQ measurement without regard to scientific debate over how to measure IQ. “Ability” can be judged by a person’s achievements or merits. John Coltrane achieved more than any other saxophonist. I do not need to see his IQ results. Would Donald Trump score a higher result than Hillary Clinton on an IQ test? I doubt it somehow. Yet he was certainly more “able” to win the election. The reason I refer to ability is because for me, the crucial insight made by Richard Herrnstein and The Bell Curve was that they discerned that America was heading towards a cognitive partitioning. Herrnstein was an academic genius with significant ability. The Bell Curve could have saved the American people, but the book was effectually burned by the favorite “Left” icons: people like Noam Chomsky, academic fraudster Stephen J. Gould, and others. I allow myself to argue that Gould, Chomsky, and those others who trashed The Bell Curve bear direct responsibility for the dystopia in which we live. For me, the issues of the validity of IQ measurement and comparisons between races were side matters. The Bell Curve’s prophetic warnings about cognitive partitioning addressed a topic that has become the core of the oppressive reality in which we live.
Would you say that it’s rational for Jews of higher “ability” to want to keep their society focused towards increased cognitive partitioning?
I find it hard to verify whether it is the result of any conscious decision. What I argue in Being in Time is slightly different. I contend that since America and the West have evolved into cognitively divided environments, and since (Ashkenazi) Jews are accustomed to these conditions, it is hardly surprising that the Jewish Ashkenazi elite is prominent.
In the book, you frequently express a wish to see a return to manufacturing. I agree that this has to be a part of the picture, but presumably you wouldn’t advocate sending academics out to work in factories and fields, for example. So in your view, what precisely would the full dissolution of cognitive partitioning entail, in practical terms? What would we have to do, and how long would it take, and what would the main difficulties be?
I believe that the structure of society will change radically. I do not think that society needs millions of unemployed Gender Studies graduates. For society to be functional, production and agriculture must be reinstated. Higher education must be free for those who are qualified. A functional society must decide what are its primary needs, e.g., how many new doctors are needed, how many engineers, philosophers, feminist scholars, or saxophonists? Academia should be set to provide this education for free and at the highest possible level. This would mean planning. This also suggests that academia wouldn’t continue to operate as a self-serving industry. And yes, if industry, manufacturing, and production are starting to roll, we may find some very intelligent people involved. I do not see this as a negative development. Quite the opposite; society will once again be diverse for real. Isn’t that what the progressives have been promising us for decades?
How extensive do you think the historical influence of identity politics would have been in an American society that never invited Jews in?
Good question, but unfortunately I have no answer. However, I would mention that identity politics operates as a cosmopolitan, revolutionary ideology. In other words, you do not need to be present in a place to spread the ideology.
Would American society have freed the slaves, or given women the vote as quickly, without the influence of Jews? Would feminism have become as radical and divisive?
We have to be careful here. We have to differentiate between political acts that unite us as humans and those which break us up into tribes. The abolition of slavery was an American political project that was partially motivated by ethical reasoning. The same applies to women’s rights. However, radical feminism and lesbian separatism are as separatist as Jewish identity politics (Zionism as well as “anti”). They are biologically-oriented identitarian thoughts that are set to maintain a fragmented, sectarian social environment.
Without identity politics, would black-white relations hold as much tension as they do today? And if Jews both helped press the legitimate form of early identity politics to achieve their aims faster, and held on by the skin of their teeth as identity politics outlived its purpose and became toxic, how can we even begin to analyze the net impact of these two diverging phenomena?
I guess that this is exactly what I attempt to do in Being in Time: I try to dissect the corrosive factors that broke us into sectors.
Your analysis seems to be that Jews have been a leading force in promoting identity politics as a conscious or subconscious means to divide and fracture society in order to normalize the sense of homelessness throughout society that they feel, to ensure that no one else is allowed to have any stronger sense of “belonging” than they do. If the root behind the effort to promote this kind of division is the Jewish sense of homelessness, then why isn’t giving Jews a home – to take away that underlying feeling of homelessness – not a viable answer to the situation?
I actually believe that allocating a national homeland for the Jews was a great idea. I argue that early Zionism was a consistent and coherent movement that was highly effective in its ability to diagnose the Jewish problem and cultural symptoms. Yet, the failure of Zionism suggests that planet Earth may not be a suitable place for such a homeland. Zionism has proven that, despite its initial promise to turn the Jews into “people like all other people,” the Israelis didn’t manage to develop an empathic notion of otherness. Their treatment of the Palestinians proves this point beyond doubt. Israel also fails to love its neighbors. In fact, along with its dedicated Jewish lobbies (AIPAC, CRIFF, CFI, etc.), it relentlessly pushes for global conflicts (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, etc.). Let me make it as clear as I can, though I am accused by some Zionists of reopening the “Jewish question”: I fully acknowledge that I do not have a solution for the problems above, nor am I going to try to solve these problems.
Let’s talk about how intentional you think these Jewish tendencies towards fomenting division are. For instance, Tim Wise is an anti-racist activist who travels around lecturing about giving up white privilege, and challenging everyone else to give up their privileges as he has given up his own. Wise never openly identifies as a Jew, and he speaks about himself as if he were of white European origins. Is it meaningful to talk about someone like Tim Wise, who is of Jewish descent but identifies himself neither religiously nor politically as a Jew or as Jewish?
In The Wandering Who?, I restricted my analysis to those who identify themselves primarily as Jews. This was a relatively easy task, and it helped to clarify that the Zionist and the so-called “anti” are one. In Being in Time, I extended my scope. I am, once again, talking about the Athens/Jerusalem dichotomy. Jerusalemites always know what is kosher and who is treif (basket of deplorables). Progressives behave as a bunch of Jerusalemites who subscribe to secular chosenism. They attribute to themselves a special sense of superiority and at the same time look down on the so-called “reactionary.” Tim Wise and other prog-preachers should self-reflect. He should ask himself why he thinks in racial categories. He should wonder why he subscribes to binary thinking that resembles the Jew/Goy, Kosher/Treif. Can he love his “white” neighbor? While Jerusalem is a form of obedience, Athens is a task, it is a hard job. It involves constant dynamic conceptual shifting intellectually, mentally, spiritually, and ethically.
Do you think someone like Tim Wise is either consciously aware of, or consciously intending, to create the divisive outcomes caused by his style of identity politics? To what extent is any of this conscious?
I really do not know. My role as a philosopher is to refine the questions rather than dictating answers. I certainly believe that these are the kind of questions that Wise should ask himself and that others are entitled to ask of him. In fact, these are the kind of questions each of us ought to ponder.
This question isn’t as focused inside your main line of argument as my others are, but it crossed my mind as I was reading. Is there any reason why Jewish influence over divisive forms of feminism, for example, would be as significant as it was, and yet Jews have not – or to my knowledge, they haven’t yet – co-opted the so-called men’s rights movement, or men’s rights activism? Why would involvement in feminism serve Jewish interests, but not involvement in MRA ideologies?
Great question. Otto Weininger insisted that the Jewish man was actually a woman. Maybe this is the answer to your question. Maybe the reason I decided to stop being a Jew was because I didn’t want to be a woman. I probably have to look into that for a while.
Brother, you can’t imagine how much I enjoyed addressing your insightful questions. Peace.