467. The cauldron (IX)
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
A point made by Hannah Arendt in her The Origins of Totalitarianism is that people suffer the greatest attacks and persecutions when they fall from power; this is somewhat counterintuitive, especially for Arendt, who, as a Marxist, expected attacks to cease once someone had relinquished power—specifically a class. To attack a class or person out of power makes no sense, although it makes a little more sense if you say that man tends to attack men with no power—and even more sense if you factor in Nietzsche, factor in man’s inherent resentment and desire to hurt those he perceives to have hurt him; even if “the hurt” was only to his pride that they had more power than him, and not an actual injury.
Hence Arendt observes that Jews were never more persecuted than when they lost their actual power. Before the French Revolution, the Jews enjoyed special privileges as a nation within a nation—indeed, the aristocrats were themselves a nation within a nation; and so was the Church. Everyone had particular functions other people could not do, and also everyone, except, perhaps, the king, had a handicap in some way. The Jews, in particular the “court Jews”, handled financial affairs for the aristocrats and the kings—their international family networks facilitated this; although they were not particularly liked, they had their own status and, so far as it went, dignity.
After the various liberal revolutions—revolutions that were tied up with the idea of “the nation” (as opposed to nations) and “the people”—the Jews lost their special privileges, as did the aristocrats and the Church. It was at this moment, when the Jews were weaker than ever—no longer had the ear of the king—that anti-Semitism really started; particularly, the Jews were suspect for a failure to be absorbed into “the people” and “the nation”; and republicans and democrats chastised the Jews because they saw in them the memory of the old aristocracies, and they resented the Jews for their old privileges and power—and, as Nietzsche predicted, they avenged themselves on them; although this is not technically rational.
The Jews clearly “still thought they were special” and needed to learn, just as the aristocrats and the Church needed to learn, to adapt to a mass secular middle-class society that worshipped social respectability, science, “the nation”, and, on the Continent, the state. Hence democracy and republicanism cause anti-Semitism, cause a window for demagogues to stir up the mob—as often happened in Vienna—against the Jews; and there was not much they could do about it now, as they had lost what power they had.
Online, you sometimes see a picture from some dinner party—probably ten or twenty years ago—that shows a Rothschild poking Prince Charles; the message, somewhat outdated: “Look at those aristocrats, they’re run by the Jews still.” Sometimes, as with David Icke and Alex Jones, this story is retailed in a veiled form—lizards are swapped for Jews. The point is always that we need more democracy, more republicanism to “finish the job”—and this is partly why the supporters of the Enlightenment, generally favourable to the French Revolution, were wildly anti-Semitic.
What should we learn from this? White people, broadly defined, are being reduced to minorities in their ancient homelands and are, further, instructed to give up power in favour of “oppressed” people: if we continue this process we will end up like the Jews, because when we have no power that will be the moment people will revenge themselves on us—from contempt. It is often said, for example, as a conservative propaganda point, that it was grand that the West abolished slavery. This is as if to say to people: “You are so weak you had to be freed as a gift, you couldn’t free yourselves.” This fact merely causes people to detest you; they are still in debt to the master. Hence weakness is always a mistake—cowards wait for it.