The Jewish Century by Yuri Slezkine treats of Jewish history, their meteoric rise to power during the Industrial Revolution, and the role of Jewishness in defining the 20th century–thus the book title.
The book is striking, in that Slezkine–a renowned Jewish academic and winner of the National Jewish Book Award–discloses usually reserved truths about Jewish identity and interests. This meant I largely concurred with the book’s factual findings; the key differences only arose from Slezkine being for a diametrically opposing camp and set of values.
The modern era is Jewish
The Modern Age is the Jewish Age, and the twentieth century, in particular, is the Jewish Century. Modernization is about everyone becoming urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. It is about learning how to cultivate people and symbols, not fields or herds. It is about pursuing wealth for the sake of learning, learning for the sake of wealth, and both wealth and learning for their own sake. It is about transforming peasants and princes into merchants and priests, replacing inherited privilege with acquired prestige, and dismantling social estates for the benefit of individuals, nuclear families, and book-reading tribes (nations). Modernization, in other words, is about everyone becoming Jewish.
Some peasants and princes have done better than others, but no one is better at being Jewish than the Jews themselves (my emphasis).
To live as Jews have done since time immemorial, modern society now requires of most people and is the standard benchmark for success. Because of this, the modern era is necessarily one in which Jews dominate: professionally, financially, culturally.
The essence of Jewishness
According to Slezkine, Jews stand alongside–but are first among–other groups such as the Armenians, overseas Chinese, and the Indians of East Africa in carving out a place as service nomads. Jews have always dominated the service sector: working as craftsmen, sorcerers, performers, jewellers, merchants, financiers, bankers, doctors, scientists, lawyers, journalists, and writers.
All of these groups were nonprimary producers specializing in the delivery of goods and services to the surrounding agricultural or pastoral populations. Their principal resource base was human, not natural, and their expertise was in “foreign” affairs. They were the descendants–or predecessors–of Hermes (Mercury), the god of all those who did not herd animals, till the soil, or live by the sword; the patron of rule breakers, border crossers, and go-betweens; the protector of people who lived by their wit, craft, and art.
Slezkine accordingly describes Jews (along with the above mentioned groups) as ‘Mercurians’: those who specialise in the cultivation of people. This type is set against ‘Apollonians’: people that live by cultivating land through physical labour; who are more strongly tied to their place of birth, culture, and God.
This contrast is borne out by the historically temporary character of Jewish dwellings:
A Jewish house in Ukraine did not resemble the peasant hut next door, not because it was Jewish in architecture (there was no such thing) but because it was never painted, mended, or decorated. It did not belong to the landscape; it was a dry husk that contained the real treasure–the children of Israel and their memory. All nomads defined themselves in genealogical terms; most “service nomads” persisted in doing so in the midst of dominant agrarian societies that sacralized space. These were people wedded to time, not land; people seen as both homeless and historic, rootless and “ancient.”
The root of Jewish restlessness
Slezkine is alive to the basic indictment that underrides the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit by E. Michael Jones, and of countless other critics of Jewish behaviour. That is, the Jewish predicament can be explained by their rejection of our Lord and their responsibility for His death, epitomized in the cry of “His blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25).
Slezkine expands on this idea, noting that for other nomads including the Malinke, the Waata of East Africa, and the Gypsies–group nomadism has been understood as the product of divine opprobrium.
Mercurian life was universally seen–by the service nomads themselves, as well as by their hosts–as divine punishment for an original transgression… Before the rise of secularism and industrialism, everyone in agrarian societies seems to have agreed that service nomadism meant homelessness, and that homelessness was a curse (my emphasis).
By way of universal agreement, the above only serves to reinforce Christian truth in its claims about the Jewish predicament.
Another common host stereotype of the Mercurians is that they are devious, acquisitive, greedy, crafty, pushy, and crude. This, too, is a statement of fact.
The chosen people
Economic success, and indeed the very nature of the Mercurians’ economic pursuits, are associated with another common and essentially accurate perception of their culture: “They think they are better than everybody, they are so clever.” And of course they do, and they are. It is better to be chosen than not chosen, whatever the price one has to pay. “Blessed art thou, O Lord, King of the Universe, who hast not made me a Gentile,” says the Jewish prayer (my emphasis).
In the eyes of the Jew, worldly successes are to be pursued at any cost. Truly, underscoring the words of our Lord to those Jews who claimed Abraham as their Father: “You are of your father the devil: and the desires of your father you will do” (John 8:44).
The cause of anti-Semitism
Regarding the historic relationship between Mercurians and Apollonians who shared a territory,
For much of human history, they have lived next to each other in mutual scorn and suspicion–not because of ignorant superstition but because they have had the chance to get to know each other (my emphasis).
Jewish overrepresentation in Communism
In Poland, “ethnic” Jews composed the majority of the original Communist leadership (7 out of about 10). In the 1930s, they made up from 22 to 26 percent of the overall Party membership, 51 percent of the Communist youth organisation (1930), approximately 65 percent of all Warsaw Communists (1937), 75 percent of the Party’s propaganda apparatus, 90 percent of MOPR (The International Relief Organization for Revolutionaries), and most of the members of the Central Committee.
Jews were *not* uniquely attracted to communist revolution in the 1920’s and 30’s because of anti-Semitism or their marginal position in society. Rather, it was because
The “Jews have this supreme quality: to be restless, not to fit into realities of the time; to struggle to escape; to consider every status quo and every idea a stifling prison.”… As Freud put it, “to profess belief in a new theory called for a certain degree of readiness to accept a position of solitary opposition–a position with which no one is more familiar than a Jew” (my emphasis).
By the early 20th century, Jewish business interests were ascendant in Russia, and while
There was no Jewish master plan, of course, but there was, in the Russian Empire and beyond, a network of people with similar backgrounds and similar challenges who could, under certain circumstances, count on mutual acknowledgement and cooperation… The Poliakovs were related to each other as well as to the Varshavskys and the Hirshes. The Gintsburgs were related to the Hirsches, Warburgs, Rothschilds, Fulds, the Budapest Herzfelds, the Odessa Ashkenazis, and the Kiev sugar king Lazar Izrailevich Brodsky.
We have all heard the term “conspiracy theorist” applied to those who promote challenging ideas. Yet as Slezkine observes, ‘master plans’ are not always necessary for powerful people to collaborate and work towards shared interests.
Jews and revolutionary ideas in the Russian Empire
The Jews did not start the revolutionary movement, did not inaugurate student messianism, and had very little to do with the conceptual formulation of “Russian Socialism” (from Herzen to Mikhailovsky), but when they did join the ranks, they did so with tremendous intensity and in ever growing numbers. No history of Russian radicalism is conceivable without the story of the Jewish children’s “open revolt against their parents” (my emphasis).
To entirely blame the Jews for the revolutionary sentiment which culminated in the Russian Revolution, would be an oversimplification. At the same time, the Jewish role was indispensable.
Jewish atrocities and the Russian Revolution
Specifically, and very publicly, Jewish names (and some transparent Jewish pseudonyms) were associated with two of the most dramatic and symbolically significant acts of the Red Terror. Early in the civil war, in June 1918, Lenin ordered the killing of Nicholas II and his family… It was meant to be a secret operation, but after the Whites reoccupied Ekaterinburg, they ordered an official investigation, the results of which, including the Jewish identities of the main perpetrators, were published in Berlin in 1925 (and eventually confirmed).
At the end of the civil war, in late 1920-early 1921, Bela Kun (the chairman of the Crimean Revolutionary Committee) and R. S. Zemliachaka (Rozaliia Zalkind, the head of the Crimean Party Committee and the daughter of a well-off Kiev merchant) presided over the massacre of thousands of refugees and prisoners of war who had stayed behind after the evacuation of the White Army. For her part in the operation, Zemliachka received the highest Soviet decoration: the Order of the Red Banner. She was the first woman to be thus honored.
Essentially, the Russian Revolution represented a hostile takeover by an alien group opposed to the historic Russian nation, culture, and faith.
The Jewish role in the early Soviet Union
As Lenin put it, “The fact that there were many Jewish intelligentsia members in the Russian cities was of great importance to the revolution. They put an end to the general sabotage that we were confronted with after the October Revolution… The Jewish elements were mobilized… and thus saved the revolution at a difficult time. It was only thanks to this pool of a rational and literate labour force that we succeeded in taking over the state apparatus.”
The Soviet state urgently needed new professionals, as well as officials. Jews–especially young Jews from the former Pale–answered the call. In 1939 in Leningrad, Jews made up 69.4 percent of all dentists; 58.6 percent of all pharmacists; 45 percent of all defense lawyers; 38.6 percent of all doctors; 34.7 percent of all legal consultants; 31.3 percent of all writers, journalists, and editors; 24.6 percent of all musicians; 18.5 percent of all librarians; 18.4 percent of all scientists and university professors; 11.7 percent of all artists; and 11.6 percent of all actors and directors. In Moscow, the numbers were very similar.
The Great Terror
The Great Terror from 1937-38 disproportionately affected Soviet Jews. This was not because they were specifically persecuted for being Jewish (as after World War Two); rather, the Great Terror targeted long-time loyalists of Marxism and the Russian Revolution, of which, Jews were a leading constituent part.
As Nikolai Ezhov, who presided over Bukharin’s execution, later stated on the eve of his own,
“During the 25 years of my party work I have fought honorably against enemies and have exterminated them… I purged 14,000 Chekists. But my great guilt lies in the fact that I purged so few of them… All around me were enemies of the people, my enemies… Tell Stalin that I shall die with his name on my lips.”
The revolution had finally gotten around to eating its own children–or rather, its own parents…
According to Hope Ulanovskaia, who had recently returned from the United States,
Once, when after yet another arrest, I asked: “What is going on? Why? What for?” your father [i.e., her husband, an agent of the Main Intelligence Directorate] replied calmly: “Why are you so upset? When I told you how the White officers were being shot in the Crimea, you weren’t upset, were you? When the bourgeoisie and the kulaks were being exterminated, you used to justify it, didn’t you? But now that it’s our turn, you ask: How, why? This is the way it’s been from the very beginning.” I reasoned with him: “I understand that it’s terrible when people are killed, but before we always knew that it was for the sake of the revolution. Now nobody is explaining anything!” And so we started looking into our own past, trying to determine when it had all started (my emphasis)…
Few professional groups within Soviet society had as high a mortality rate or as little understanding of the nature of their work as the secret police (my emphasis).
What goes around comes around: whether justice is dispensed in this world or the next.
Sigmund Freud and the modern world
He (Freud) put together what Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin called a “microcosmos of communism”; he provided the language, the theodicy, and the prescription for the new world. As Phillip Rieff put it in his The Triumph of the Therapeutic, “who, without Freud, would so well know how to live with no higher purpose than that of a durable sense of well-being? Freud has systematized our unbelief; his is the most inspiring anti-creed yet offered a post-religious culture (my emphasis).
Freudianism has so permeated the post-Christian West, that to many Freud’s ideas are seen to be the natural and non-ideological approach to things.
The Holocaust and Jewish Power
In reference to the re-emergence of Jewish ethnic identity following World War Two, Slezkine writes,
American Jews discovered their Jewishness at the same time and for essentially the same reasons as their Soviet cousins. The Nazi mass murder (not yet conceptualized as the Holocaust), the Soviet purges, and the formation of Israel were all important factors (debated and remembered as such), but it was the spectacular Jewish success in the Soviet Union and the United States that provided the context and the impetus for the new allegiances (my emphasis).
The Holocaust, continues Slezkine, from the 1970’s became the “central episode in Jewish and world history,” with the international recognition of Israel relying on “the Holocaust’s transcendence of history.” Moreover,
In a world without God, evil and victimhood are the only absolutes. The rise of the Holocaust as a transcendental concept has led to the emergence of the Jews as the Chosen People for the new age (my emphasis).
In modern times, the Holocaust has come to be seen as the greatest of all evils. By this, the Holocaust (and its stated precursor, anti-Semitism) has usurped the loathsome, odious position once reserved for mortal sin. It is difficult to understate just how much psychological warfare waged by means of the ‘Holocaust’ empowers Jewish people, while disempowering its long-standing rivals–the Catholic Church and the European people.
Slezkine expresses views on Jewish history, which, if expressed from a critical or right-wing perspective, would be cause for excommunicating someone from respectable society. This presents a blatant contradiction between the rights modern society affords to Jews, and the rights afforded to dissident Gentiles.
Fairness, however, is beside the point; The Jewish Century is refreshing in having an adversary state things as they truly are.
Ultimately, there are only two groups who grasp the true historical, political, cultural, and spiritual influences shaping modern society: our globalist adversaries (such as but not limited to elite Jews) and right-wing reactionaries. All other groups–mainstream conservatives, run-of-the-mill progressives, apolitical normies–are either deceived or do not wish to understand the modern world as it actually exists. The Jewish Century unequivocally affirms this conclusion, along with the factual basis for many reactionary concerns.