I saw an online conversation where one party said, “Surely, you accept there are good Jewish people—you can’t just blanket condemn them?” His interlocutor said, “Yes—of course there are good Jewish people. It’s just that on balance, on average…”. The same question can be applied to multiple issues—Muslims, Christians, blacks, and so on.
It’s part of the social dance, because few people want to seem so uncooperative that they will not cooperate, on principle, with anyone except their own group—it makes them look narrow-minded, and narrow-mindedness is associated with stupidity (because the most ethnocentric people are also the least intelligent, at least among Westerners).
So people pose this question to make the other person look bad—to make them look stupid. “He can’t even say there are some good Muslims—he’s a fanatic, an extremist, an idiot.” On the other hand, if he concedes the point then his rhetorical force has been blunted—well, if some are okay we can admit a few into our nation, right? And the compromise opens the floodgates—because one side has no intention for there to be admission standards.
I’d like to flip the question another way: whether individual Jews, or Muslims, or Europeans are “good” is not the case in point for our purposes. What the two people were really talking about was politics—and politics isn’t about moral goodness, it’s about interests.
The question in point is really, “Do Jews have different interests to me?”, “Do Muslims have different interests to me?”, “Do Europeans have different interests to me?”.
Look, I’m sure there are Jews, Muslims, blacks, and so on who look after the elderly or rescue puppies from drains—I’m sure there are Marxists and neo-Nazis who do “good” things as commonly understood (although there is no consensus as regards what a “good” act is, in fact—although there are some common very broad agreements, even between different human groups; though, as ever, the salient differences in moral codes are small—just like small differences in the genetic code divide chimps from man).
It’s not the point, though. Politics is about interests—not moral goodness. The fact that people conflate the two reflects the way in which the West has degenerated. For example, take the current Israel-Hamas War—who is “good” in this war? There’s a lot of propaganda about dead babies on both sides, but in the end the reason there’s a war is that there’s a conflict of interests over who should occupy that land. That is the cause of the conflict—that is the crux of the matter.
When the Israelis arrived and dispossessed the Palestinians of their lands they interrupted their interests—they destroyed their wealth, deprived them of their livelihoods (their farms), and so also, in Darwinian terms, damaged their reproductive capacity. Hence: war—war to defend our interests.
You don’t need to think about “good or bad” if someone stands on your foot on a bus. You say, “Hey, get off my foot!” and if they’ve done it as a malicious act you push back—because it is natural to defend your interests.
Notably, the Christian ethic tells you not to defend your interests (turn the other cheek)—as do “woke” ideas (“Oh, if it’s a black man who did it I guess I better not say anything because he’s been oppressed historically and I’m adding to the legacy of…”). Marxism acts in a similar way—you might dismiss the person who stands on your foot as a fellow “worker” but take umbrage at a relatively innocuous act by a “bourgeois”.
However, it’s notable that all these positions require you to think about it and interpose some wider framework on the natural reaction.
We can use the Kantian formula to work out what the world would be like if everyone turned the other cheek, if it were the general rule to turn the cheek against aggression: people who aggressed without provocation (aka bullies) would not be countered, because the general rule would be “do not resist evil”—hence the world would be dominated by malicious bullies, if the Christians had their way.
This question “do you recognise these people as individuals judged by their moral qualities?” is the European problem par excellence. It’s Europeans who see people primarily as individuals who are to be evaluated in accord with their actions and it’s Europeans who think it’s low-status and, basically, “unEuropean” to generalise.
Now, Europeans aren’t completely like that—but we’re more like that than other races, so it’s our particular weakness to worry about “generalisation” (Europeans like Martin Luther King because his comment about “qualities of their character, not colour of their skin” seems so European—it preens our narcissism, “He’s just like us”).
Now, this individualism is our strength too, because it allows us to make novel discoveries because we break group consensus more often than other groups—but in decadent conditions it can lead to an inability to defend Europeans as a group.
Further, moralisation is a symptom of a feminised society—“But am I good person?”. A narcissistic question, at root: look, I don’t know if you’re a “good person”—take it up with God.
There’s no agreed standard as to what is “good” or “bad”, just some broad common agreements—indeed, people worry about “am I good person?” because religion has collapsed and there is no real arbiter for moral standards anymore, so people can’t park this issue and so worry about it instead.
The whole “goodness” question puts everything in subjective terms, in effect—and it also sets up a premise where we judge people “as individuals” (but what if they’re not reciprocating, what if they act as a group regardless of how we treat them?). Interests, on the other hand, are objective—so we see one position is atomised, narcissistic, and feminine; and the other is individual, objective, and masculine.
A similar situation exists with statements such as “you hate the Jews”—you can tell this comes from a feminine attitude because if you tell women the truth about women they’ll say, “Well, if you hate women so much, why do you have anything to do with us?”. To the narcissist the truth is hateful—although it is not “hate” in the strict sense, which it is sensible not to cultivate (not least because it obscures your true interests).
“Hatred” here really means “refusal to acquiesce to all my demands, which happen to be against your interests”.
Ultimately, “bad person” in this context really means “does not accord with dominant beliefs about ‘goodness’”—which include, as it happens, “don’t generalise”. Well, you know, “Don’t generalise about people who generalise about people, man—only bad people do that.”
In extreme decadence, extreme luxury, people become confused as to what their interests are because everything happens at so many removes from them—they live at so many removes from direct conflicts, deal with things through negotiation, and engage in status-signalling to such a degree that they’re “nice people” because everything works through advanced cooperation.
This, in the end, leads to delusion—because you’re more worried about “appearing good” than what your interests are (virtue = effectiveness; to defend your interests is virtuous).
Your average Palestinian or Israeli probably can’t elaborate why there is a conflict exactly because for them it’s always like someone just stood on your foot (burned your baby)—hence it’s almost a pre-rational reaction to push back. But if they thought about it, they’d say “it’s a conflict of interests”—and when people fight they do terrible things to defend their interests because it goes with the territory.
Decadent people who live in protected luxury might say, “But it’s not good!”; and yet that’s because there’s no one stood on their foot. Look, if someone came to your suburb and murdered half your family and burned down 1/4 of the houses you’d want the army to do something to protect your interests, right?
It’s not a difficult question in those circumstances as to what “your interests” are, is it? They’re trying to murder me—for Christ’s sake, do something! (which is roughly what many Israelis were saying on October 7th).
And what the army would do would be symmetrical, if not worse, so as to deter such future behaviour—which is in their interests as soldiers who seek to win a war, in fact. Where is “good and bad” here? “Good and bad” are luxuries for people whose interests are safe (or appear to be)—these are like “cream”, questions you can ask after your basic interests are protected.
Here’s another point: let’s say GB News, a premier right-wing news outlet, is owned by Jews (which it is) and it tells right-wing British people it’s in their interests to wage war against Hamas and “Muslim extremists”—and yet, really, it’s not.
There’s no British interest in that area today, Britain being a post-imperial power—to back Israel is all cost for us and no benefit, brings us into conflict with the Muslim world for no benefit. So if I say a Jewish financial interest in the media misleads British people as to their true interests am I a “bad person”, or am I just a man who looks after his interests?