Wednesday, October 24, 2007


"You will take possession by military force, of the printing establishments of the New York World and Journal of Commerce... and prohibit any further publication thereof... you are therefore commanded forthwith to arrest and imprison... the editors, proprietors and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers"

Order from Abraham Lincoln to General John Dix, May 18, 1864.

By John Ray, M.A.; Ph.D.(2010 update)

I am about as pro-American as it is reasonable for any non-American to be. If you want to know why read here. All friendships have areas of disagreement however so let me say here that it always saddens me to note the respect that most Americans still give to Abraham Lincoln.

Although Lincoln is arguably America's most famous Republican President (though the Republican party was known as the National Union Party at that juncture), I see Lincoln's "idealism" as akin to the "idealism" of the 20th. Century Left (both of the Fascist and Communist varieties) -- with mass slaughter as the result in both cases. 600,000 young men or thereabouts died in the American Civil War.

And if a civil war was necessary to free the slaves, can someone explain to me how the British abolished slavery 30 years BEFORE Lincoln did and managed to do so without killing ANYONE? And Chile freed its black slaves in 1823; Mexico abolished slavery in 1829, and Peru in 1854 -- all long before Lincoln's emancipation declaration of 1863. Can the Southerners have been such evil boneheads that they would not have followed suit in time without the need for a war?

But there is absolutely no doubt that Lincoln knew how to talk the talk. It is hard not to be persuaded by him when one reads his speeches. He knew how to appeal to conservative values in particular. I recently read his second State of the Union address and one sentence in it spoke persuasively to the conservative in me across all the gulf of time since it was uttered:

In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve.

Just that one sentence almost persuaded me that the war was a reasonable and noble one. I had to remind myself that this was also the man who introduced conscription and accelerated the process of taking land from the Indians. No "freedom" for the conscripts or the Indians, it appears! The typical inconsistency of the political "idealist". And, perhaps even more inconsistently, Lincoln in the same address also made clear that he favoured persuading any freed slaves to emigrate rather than have them remain in the USA.

Like all political "idealists" (Hitler was a great preacher of "peace", for instance), it was Lincoln's deeds rather than his words which revealed what he really was. Note the following summary of how he dealt with dissent -- surely one of the the strongest differentiators between the Fascist and the democrat:

"In 1862, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus on his own authority as a way of dealing with the Peace Democrats, better known as copperheads. The copperheads were advocating letting the Confederacy go its own way, rather than going to war. They actively interfered with enlistments in the Union army. Many copperheads were congressmen and other elected officials. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton decreed that anyone "engaged, by act, speech, or writing, in discouraging volunteer enlistments, or in any way giving aid and comfort to the enemy, or in any other disloyal practice against the United States" was subject to arrest and trial "before a military commission." Some 13,000 people were arrested and held without charges as a result of Lincoln and Stanton's edicts, and they were prosecuted by military tribunals instead of civil courts.....

One famous arrest was that of a former Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham, who opposed the emancipation of Negroes and argued that the war was needless. Vallandigham spoke out against the draft law without going so far as to encourage young men to disobey it. His hyperbolic speeches may sound familiar to today's Americans. "The men in power are attempting to establish a despotism in this country, more cruel and more oppressive than ever existed before," cried Vallandigham. He predicted a bleak future for the nation: "I see nothing before us but universal political and social revolution, anarchy and bloodshed, compared with which the Reign of Terror in France was a merciful visitation." For these and other statements, Vallandigham was arrested, locked in military barracks, held incommunicado without charges, and brought before eight army officers who put him on trial for making disloyal speeches against the government."

So what the hell went on with Lincoln and his supporters in the North? The essential background to know is that slavery was already waning when the war began in 1861 (importation of slaves was abolished in 1808) and that the North could have slowly BOUGHT the freedom of the slaves for a fraction of what the war cost. Lincoln proposed exactly that in his second State of the Union address but by that time the dastardly Southerners had fired on Fort Sumter etc. and it was all far too late.

The most charitable explananation I can give for the folly of the war is that what went on was simply the impatience that we know so well from the "revolutionary" idealists of the Left. Such idealists want their brave new world NOW. They are not prepared to wait decades for it to be achieved by slow and peaceful evolution -- as the liberation of the slaves certainly would have been achieved in time.

But what a terrible price America paid for that impatience! And that was not the first time that Yankee impatience with slow constitutional development and change cost them dearly. Their revolutionary war against Britain shed much blood too. By contrast, Australia became independent of Britain without a single drop of blood being spilt! Australians just had to wait longer, that is all.

And to add insult to injury, Lincoln, in his famous "Gettysburg address", justified the war not by referring to the liberation of the slaves but by saying that it was fought in defence of government "by the people" -- when he had just DENIED self-government to the South! I concede that Lincoln may have managed to believe the idealistic nonsense that he uttered at that time but it was nonetheless just as much doubletalk as anything the Communists or Fascists ever said. But the Communists and Fascists lost out eventually and Lincoln won so the Communists and Fascists are now (rightly) a laughing stock and Lincoln is accepted as a great man.

But to me the horror of those 600,000 unnecessary deaths on his hands makes Lincoln little better than Lenin or Hitler.

And note again: I am not an American Southerner speaking out of some sort of inherited Confederate sympathies. I have no American connections at all. So I speak entirely as a disinterested (though not uninterested) observer.

So why would I as an Australian think that I have anything new, original or useful to say on a subject that has already spawned innumerable books and articles? And the very title of this article will of course seem like a colossal absurdity to almost every American outside the South (and indeed to some in the South).

What I say is in fact fairly mainstream among American Libertarians (See e.g. here) but I just want to make one simple additional point. I have nothing to add to what they tell us about Lincoln at all. My one small contribution is to note that those things that they tell us about Lincoln are in fact very reminiscent of 20th century Fascism. And I come to that conclusion as someone whose main historical specialization is in fact 20th century Fascism. See my three major articles on that here and here and here. It is sometimes said that when you have got a hammer, everything looks like a nail so, to switch the metaphor, I could be seeing Fascism under every bed. I think in fact, however, that the connection I make has originality only insofar as 20th century Fascism is still to this day widely misunderstood and misrepresented. It is an obvious connection when you understand what Fascism really was. Most people equate Fascism with racism so the fact that Lincoln seems in some sense to have been an anti-racist definitely blurs the picture.

So let us at this point get straight a few facts about Lincoln and his war -- from an article by the editor of America's "Patriot Post" (A Tennessean):

"The Founding Fathers established the Constitutional Union as a voluntary agreement among the several states, subordinate to The Declaration of Independence, which never mentions the nation as a singular entity, but instead repeatedly references the states as sovereign bodies, unanimously asserting their independence. The states, in ratifying the Constitution, established the federal government as their agent -- not the other way around. At Virginia's ratification convention, for example, the delegates affirmed "that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to injury or oppression." Were this not true, the federal government would not have been established as federal, but instead a national, unitary and unlimited authority. Notably, and in large measure as a consequence of the War between the States, the "federal" government has grown to become an all-but unitary and unlimited authority.

Our Founders upheld the individual sovereignty of the states, even though the wisdom of secessionist movements was a source of great tension and debate from the day the Constitution was ratified. Tellingly, Hamilton, the greatest proponent of centralization among the Founders, noted in Federalist No. 81 that waging war against the states "would be altogether forced and unwarranted." At the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton argued, "Can any reasonable man be well disposed toward a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself?"

Yet Lincoln threatened the use of force to maintain the Union in his First Inaugural Address, saying, "In [preserving the Union] there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority." Lincoln may have preserved the Union geographically (at great cost to the Constitution), but politically and philosophically, the concept of a voluntary union was shredded by sword, rifle and cannon.

In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln employed lofty rhetoric to conceal the truth of our nation's most costly war -- a war that resulted in the deaths of some 600,000 Americans and the severe disabling of over 400,000 more. He claimed to be fighting so that "this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." In fact, Lincoln was ensuring just the opposite by waging an appallingly bloody war while ignoring calls for negotiated peace. It was the "rebels" who were intent on self-government, and it was Lincoln who rejected their right to that end, despite our Founders' clear admonition to the contrary in the Declaration....

The second of Lincoln's two most oft-noted achievements was ending the abomination of slavery. It has come to be understood that this calamitous war was the necessary cost of ridding our nation of slavery, yet no other nation at the time required war to do so. In fact, the cost of the war itself would have more than paid for compensatory emancipation, giving each slave 40 acres and a mule -- all without bloodshed....

Little reported and lightly regarded in our history books is the way Lincoln abused and discarded the individual rights of Northern citizens. Tens of thousands of citizens were imprisoned (most without trial) for political opposition, or "treason," and their property confiscated. Habeas corpus and, in effect, the entire Bill of Rights were suspended. In fact, the Declaration of Independence details remarkably similar abuses by King George to those committed by Lincoln.

More here

That is actually a pretty good record for a Fascist but I am sure that most readers will still see the title I have put on this article as absurd. Lincoln was a Holy Joe, not a Fascist. He was a great idealist.

That objection however shows an unawareness of the fact that Hitler and Mussolini were great speechifiers in their day too. Lincoln could undoubtedly talk the talk for his day but so can most Fascists. Hitler was literally loved by many Germans and it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who called Mussolini "that admirable Italian gentleman". The talk used will vary with the times but the appearance of being wise and idealistic is a common trait of Fascists. I give details in my articles on Hitler and Mussolini (here and here) that show how very popular and impressive both men were in their day.

But when all the talk is done, Lincoln was as warmongering a power centralizer and denier of civil rights as any later Fascist. And there were of course in his day no limits on how long a President could stay in office. Who knows how long he would have stayed in power had he not been shot?

And the rhetorical triumphs of Lincoln in fact leave Goebbels for dead. His famous Gettysburg address would have to be one of the most mendacious political speeches of all time but it is still revered today. In good fascist style, he asserted that he was doing exactly what he was not. He said he was defending self-government when that was exactly what he had waded through blood to deny to the South. The idealism still resonates but the ideals are lightyears from what Lincoln actually did. I am sure Goebbels was green with envy at such a successful "big lie".

And as far as racism goes, Lincoln was certainly not as racist as Hitler but he was perhaps slightly more racist than Mussolini. Mussolini basically did not care about race (which is why there were prominent Jewish Fascists) and did not at all concern himself with banishing or wiping out whole populations. Lincoln, however, DID favour sending blacks back to Africa but had not got around to doing anything much about it at the time of his death.

So it is only his fine talk that separates Lincoln from the Fascists of the 20th century. His deeds make him one of them.



Most of the objections to the above account seem to stem from a lack of knowledge of 20th century Fascism. Let us look at some of them.

1). It may be argued that Lincoln just sent his political opponents to jail. He did not send them to extermination camps. In that Lincoln was certainly more lenient than Hitler but he was arguably harsher than Mussolini. Musso had no extermination camps and he did send some people to jail or to island exile but the commonest Fascist punishment for enemies was in fact just a forced dose of castor oil. While undoubtedly unpleasant, this was a lot less limiting than being sent to jail.

2). It may be argued that Lincoln was no more punitive to war-opponents than were some of his Democrat successors -- such as Woodrow Wilson in World War I. That is true but the Aryan-loving Woody was also a proto-Fascist. See here. And the attitude of FDR to Mussolini and Italian Fascism has already been mentioned

3). It may be argued that the 20th century Fascists were socialists and that Lincoln was not. It is true that, unlike Hitler and Mussolini, Lincoln was not a socialist in the sense of being an advocate and practitioner of a welfare State but the times were simply not ripe for that. Socialism in that sense had not been invented at that stage. The beginning of State welfarism is usually traced to Bismarck, whose first welfarist laws were passed in 1883 -- Lincoln died in 1865. But the core idea of socialism is to use the power of the state to benefit some disfavoured group and that was also Lincoln's claim.

4.) Lincoln came to power through constitutional means rather than via a revolution or coup. True. But the same was true of Hitler and Mussolini. Hitler in fact fought more elections than Lincoln did. For details, see here and here. Once Hitler and Musso came to power, they showed little respect for democratic and constitutional restraints but, as we have seen, the same was true of Lincoln.

5). Lincoln could not have been a Fascist because Fascism had not even been invented by then. This is a very superficial objection. The term "Fascism" was invented by Mussolini but some would argue that the ultimate Fascist State was reached long ago in ancient Sparta. Be that as it may, the inventor of Fascism (in all but name) in modern history was undoubtedly Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) -- with his police State for dissenters, glorified leadership position, military aggression, massive bloodshed, "progressive" doctrines etc. Before Mussolini, the political pattern now called Fascism was in fact called (particularly by Marx & Engels) "Bonapartism" -- though that owed as much to Napoleon III (1808-1873) as to Napoleon I. And one notes with some amusement that Trotsky fingered (quite rightly) both the Fascist and Soviet regimes as "Bonapartist".

Addendum: And the war did not in fact help blacks much

Peaceful means (e.g. buyouts) would have yielded a better result sooner

We have been told endlessly that the U.S. Civil War was a good war, fought to free the slaves. About 110,100 Union soldiers were killed in action, and another 224,580 died from war-related diseases. An estimated 275,175 Union soldiers were wounded. In 1879, it was believed that the Union had spent $6.1 billion on the war - and that was real money back then. Yet to a significant degree, as far as the former black slaves were concerned, the South was triumphant. We have here one of the most astonishing reminders about how wars backfire.

Not long after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Abraham Lincoln's hand-picked successor, Andrew Johnson, helped ex-Confederates reestablish white supremacy in the Southern states. These ex-Confederates understood that the war wasn't really over in 1865. They enacted Black Codes to restrict the freedom of blacks and restore slavery in everything but name. To be sure, Radical Republicans in Congress asserted themselves and passed the Civil War Amendments, officially abolishing slavery, assuring equal rights for former slaves, and guaranteeing the right to vote. But these amendments soon became dead letters. Embittered ex-Confederates formed the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, and other terrorist organizations that conducted brutal "Negro hunts." The influence of Radical Republicans declined after a few years as their leaders died or became preoccupied with other issues. Then the party of Lincoln made a deal to resolve the contested presidential election of 1876: they would have federal troops withdrawn from the last three Southern states that were occupied after the Civil War, enabling Democrats to gain complete political control of the South, and in exchange Democrats would permit the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, to become the 19th U.S. president. The civil rights of blacks were subverted for almost another century.

Incredibly, in the name of reconciliation, Union veterans and Confederate veterans gathered at Memorial Day ceremonies to mourn the dead - without discussing any of the war issues. Those were laid to rest. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson - the first Southerner elected president since the Civil War - gave a speech at Gettysburg, Pa., marking the 50th anniversary of Lincoln's famous address there. Despite all the wartime sacrifices, Wilson declared that the Civil War was "a quarrel forgotten."

Moreover, Wilson betrayed his campaign assurances to the black community and segregated federal government offices that hadn't previously been segregated. He defended segregation in a series of letters to New York Post editor Oswald Garrison Villard, the grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Wilson claimed that segregation would eliminate "the discontent and uneasiness which had prevailed in many of the departments." Wilson added that segregation would make blacks "less likely to be discriminated against."

The South was victorious ideologically. Its view of the Civil War was the prevailing view in the North for a century. Columbia University Professor William A. Dunning, a founder of the American Historical Association and its president in 1913, was perhaps the most influential promoter of the Southern view. He portrayed Radical Republicans as villains. He helped popularize the term "Carpetbagger," meaning Northerners who went South to seek public office after the Civil War. Dunning defended segregation by claiming that blacks were incapable of self-government. A star of the so-called "Dunning School" of post-Civil War historical writing was Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, who finished his teaching career at Yale. He defended slaveholders against charges that they were brutal, and he claimed they did much to civilize the slaves. Dunning School historians dominated American textbooks well into the 1950s and even the 1960s.

So, the Civil War was supposed to be quick and easy, and obviously it wasn't. The Union's military victories gave the losers an uncontrollable lust for revenge, and they renewed their oppression of blacks at the earliest opportunity. Nobody could be counted on to protect the blacks. The Civil War was no shortcut to civil rights. After the war, Northerners didn't want to remember why they had fought, or at least the part about freeing the slaves.

We ought to know by now that the killing and destruction of wars tend to intensify hatreds, and they're bound to play out, often in hideous ways that can be impossible even for a militarily superior power to control.

The history of emancipation in the Western Hemisphere made clear that war wasn't the only way or the best way to free the slaves. Although slavery had been around for thousands of years, abolitionists launched epic movements generating political support that doomed slavery in only about a century and a quarter. Slave rebellions reminded everybody that slaveholding was a risky business. There were private and governmental efforts to buy the freedom of slaves, reducing the number of slaves, reducing the amount of slaveholding territory, and reducing the political clout of slaveholders. Underground railroads further undermined slavery, and the runaways brought with them fresh horror stories for antislavery campaigns. A peaceful, persistent campaign involving a combination of strategies was the key to abolishing slavery. This was also the key to the campaign Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony launched to secure equal rights for women, the campaign that Mohandas Gandhi launched for Indian independence, and the campaign that Martin Luther King launched for civil rights in America.


The economic motives behind Lincoln's war

I expressed some puzzlement above about Lincoln's motives for his war. The article below helps clarify that

The truth of the matter is that the Civil War was absolutely not fought over slavery. To understand how this is so, there are two pieces of evidence to consider. The first is the situation of high protective tariffs. In this pre-16th Amendment America, the federal government was funded solely through user fees, land sales, and tariffs. The southern economy, being largely agricultural, was highly dependent upon importing manufactured goods. This situation was something that all 13 original colonies shared, but as the new Republic developed, and the Industrial Revolution took off, the North, being less suited to agriculture, became a manufacturing powerhouse. The South then had a choice to make in importing its needed goods: continue to purchase goods from the British and French predominantly (as they had done since the colonial days) or purchase from the new northern manufacturers.

In order to strongly coerce the South into doing business with the North exclusively, the federal government erected very high protective tariffs and limitations against imports. What this did was make it too expensive for the South to import goods from England or France, even if those goods were preferable, and created a monopoly in which the northern manufacturers received the majority of the South’s business. This situation is evidenced by the Nullification Crisis of 1832, in which South Carolina nullified the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832, with their near 50% average duty. The stalemate forced the hand of the federal government to lower the average rate to between 15 and 20% with the Tariff of 1833. This dispute was temporarily quieted, but not for long.

The Morill Tariff passed into law March 1861 was the final straw on the back of the South. Economist Thomas J. DiLorezo writes in a article that the Morill Tariff increased the average tax rate from around 15% to 37.5%, while also greatly expanding the imports subject to it. The South rightly perceived that the forced tariff at the hands of the federal government, dominated by northern interests, was a tyranny upon their right to free trade.

When SC seceded from the Union, followed by ten other states, the federal government had a very grave problem on its hands. Without the forced market of the South, the federal government’s tax revenues would plummet. The federal government was entirely dependent upon the tariff that was paid exclusively by southern imports. The federal government had two options: force the South to stay in the Union, and thereby keep the tax revenue, or watch the South freely trade with other nations, and eventually run out of money. The choice was clear for Abraham Lincoln. The Union was to be preserved above all costs.

Lincoln’s own words prove that for him, this was never about human rights, but about preservation of the Union. In his infamous August 1862 letter to NY Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln betrayed his true intentions for waging war:
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.

Further evidence of this is seen in the Joint Resolution on the War issued by Congress in 1861. “Resolved: . . . That this war is not being prosecuted upon our part in any spirit of oppression[...], nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states, but to[...] preserve the Union”.

The federal government was not interested in freeing the slaves. They were only interested in keeping the South attached to the North and the tariff revenue that union provided. Let the true historical record show that the Civil War was not fought over slavery.

Secondly, as mentioned above, Lincoln was not motivated out of the concern for human rights in deciding what course to take. Even with his famed Emancipation Proclamation, the notion of him being a “Second Moses” is greatly exaggerated. If one looks at the Emancipation closely, you’ll discover a problem: “[...]all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free [...]”.

The document is clear that the states “in rebellion” would have their slaves freed. However, if you were a slave in Delaware, Kentucky, Marlyand, or Missouri, slave-holding states that did not secede from the Union, you were not emancipated at all. In fact, for the first time in US history, slavery was actually officially recognized on the federal level. The Emancipation Proclamation drew the lines of slavery inclusively around the slaves in the border states, through an executive order. Great Emancipator? Hardly.

The last point to be addressed will show how Lincoln wrote the blueprint for the excess in government and tyranny that has become hallmarks of the American political system, and of the presidency in general. So much of the angst in our country today is over the intrusion of the federal government into our personal lives. We are touched by government everyday in more ways than we can imagine. In no particular order, I will just list off some of the actions of President Lincoln that put us on the slippery slope to where we are today.

1. Violation of Article 4 Section 4 that compelled the federal government to protect the states from invasion. Here the federal government was the invasion force.

2. Arrest and detainment without trial of the Maryland Legislature to prevent a vote on secession.

3. Conversely, supporting the secession of WV from VA, and recognizing the reorganized government of Virginia as legitimate despite the fact that it was not popularly elected.

4. Suspension of habeus corpus. Imprisonment and detainment of thousands of dissidents, including newspaper editors and even Congressman Clement Vallandigham of Ohio.

5. Established the first direct income tax in 1862.

Much of what Lincoln did during the course of the Civil War was repeated and expanded in later years. As historian James G. Randall notes in his book Constitutional Problems under Lincoln, “it would not be easy to state what Lincoln conceived to be the limit of his powers.” Perhaps a more appropriate moniker for Lincoln would be the “Great Tyrant”.

The federal government greatly increased its powers over the states and the citizens as a direct result of the war. Where the South was devastated by its effects, the federal government emerged stronger and more haughty than ever. As a condition of allowing the states back into the Union (that they created in the first place) the state constitutions of the former Confederacy were forced to be rewritten, in order to specifically outlaw secession (proof that secession was not illegal in 1861). The federal government had waged a war to gain power, control, and revenue, and it made sure that this power gained would be permanent.

The veneration of corrupt men as demigods in the secular, civil religion of American history is not only inaccurate, but it is nefarious and shameful. The point of this article isn’t to be provocative, or to just flame-throw. I am not anti-American, or pro-slavery, or anything else one might try to read into my words. I am, however, very deeply interested in truth. Truth will only be achieved by erasing mythos out of American history. Literature has plenty of fictional heroes, the stuff of legend. An American history textbook should have no such characters.



Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Nutrasweet haters

On my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog recently, I made some comments about what I regarded as very poorly substantiated criticisms of aspartame (NutraSweet). I gather together below the original post plus the discussion that ensued

The campaign against Nutrasweet (aspartame)

Coming as I do from a big sugar-producing area (Far North Queensland), I always read carefully the little sachets that one gets with one's coffee in coffee lounges. I make sure that I am putting real sugar in my coffee and not some substitute junk. So I should be in sympathy with the campaign against aspartame, right? Wrong! As far as I can see, the campaign is founded on little more than the usual self-glorifying belief that if something is popular it must be bad.

There is a list here of 13 recent anti-aspartame studies and, unless I have missed something, there is not one study of the type that would be decisive: A double-blind study in humans. There are plenty of in vitro ("test tube") and in vivo (rats and mice) studies but that's about it.

And even some of the studies listed there admit that some of the potentially bad byproducts of aspartame metabolism can be broken down rapidly by other food components or metabolites. So showing that rats on a rat diet cannot handle aspartame well tells us nothing about humans. What is needed are studies of humans on a human diet as it seems probable that the human metabolism CAN safely break down aspartame. One has to look at the bottom line, not intermediate processes in isolation.

Since a double blind study in humans should not pose any great difficulty, I think it is the absence of such a study which is most telling.

The attention-seeking studies have however had an effect. There are now various bans on aspartame, particularly in Europe and the UK. Seeing how crazy such places also are about "obesity", it is strange indeed that something which could help combat obesity is restricted on such flimsy grounds. It reinforces the impression that the attack on obesity is insincere too. It adds to the evidence that the anti-obesity campaign is really an expression of middle-class contempt for the working class, who are indeed fatter on the whole: Good old class-prejudice again. The more things change ....

The amusing thing is that all the food and health rhetoric goes right over the heads of most working class people. They very wisely just don't listen. They just eat what they like and damn the consequences. I do too. But my father was, after all, a lumberjack. Heh!


Aspartame revisited

It looks like I poked a beehive when I criticized the anti-aspartame campaign yesterday. I got several accusatory emails, including one from the chief anti-aspartame evangelist herself, Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum. I have never heard of a D.Hum before. Maybe you get them out of cornflakes packets. I reproduce below part of my correspondence with the D.Hum one:

I initially reiterated my point about the lack of human double-blind studies. She replied:

Dr. Walton's study was double blind. Who do you work for?

I was rather amused by the implicit suggestion of bad faith so I replied:

I work for BIG PHARMA, of course. No honest person could question your beliefs, could they? You can see more about my evil affiliations here:

With the lack of any sense of humour that one expects of fanatics, she did not apparently detect the sarcasm at all. She replied:

I figured as much. I'm not surprised. If you had read Dr. Walton's report you would have seen the link and the fact that it was double blind. Here is the link.

And what a link it is! She had to go all the way back to 1993 to find something and then it concerned ill-effects among a non-random sample of 13 clinical depressives who were fed doses of aspartame seven times a day in pill form, rather than in food.

Quite aside from the ridiculous "sampling", the fact that they got the stuff in pill form quite vitiates the study. Aspartame is supplied IN FOOD and unless you study it in food, you are pissing into the wind. As I have previously pointed out, the potentially bad metabolites of it have been shown to be susceptible to breaking down by other food components or their metabolites so it is the actual bottom line after that happens that we have to look at, not intermediary processes in isolation. And NOBODY seems to have shown any adverse effects from normal use of aspartame in a double-blind study.

I am sure the anti-aspartame evangelists will be sticking pins into a voodoo doll of me by now.


More amusing correspondence from the Aspartame (Nutrasweet) foes

Further to my post of yesterday, I received or had copied to me the following:

We are not in any way associated with Betty Martini whose rants embarrass us all. She is what one of my colleagues called "a self-appointed general"

There is a list on Yahoo, The Aspartame Victim's Support Group that at all times, for the last 10 years has had 1,000 people who list and share their experiences with aspartame.

I replied:

Testimonials are the stock in trade of the quack. They are of no worth in determining cause. Give me double blind studies.

Then the following was copied to me:

Mary... do you know what he's talking about...

A more sophisticated person replied, also copying to me:

He's saying all you're giving him are 'anecdotal' accounts - not double blind human tests with a large number of subjects made up of a 'control' group and an 'aspartame' group. Walton's was too small by scientific standards.

You get mired down in debating this guy, it could go on forever and you won't win because he is there to prove his predetermined point and to make you look bad. Like Martini, he will out-argue you and drag you down. We don't have to prove anything to this character. Those who believe will survive. Those who don't won't. Don't waste valuable time arguing with him. He isn't worth it.

These are obviously sincere people who have themselves had bad experiences that they attribute to aspartame -- but they are badly lacking in scientific understanding. The fact that some academic researchers will hop onto any bandwagon that will give them publications is a serious disservice to them.

Because of their lack of scientific background, they fail to understand that I am asking only for normal scientific caution and so interpret my comments as evilly motivated in some way. I noted at the beginning that I myself do not use ANY artificial sweeteners that I know of so my personal inclination would be to agree with them. I just ask for a conventional standard of proof before I do so.


The aspartame saga continues

I have received the following article from Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Director, McGill University Office for Science and Society. It originally appeared in The Montreal Gazette

We are up to our ears in scientific publications. Over 9000 peer-reviewed journals bombard us with thousands of new research findings every day. They deal with all aspects of science, ranging from highly theoretical quantum mechanical calculations to studies of what goes into our mouths or comes out of our nose. It's a real challenge for our brain to make sense of this tsunami of information! For most of us, the studies that arouse the greatest interest are the ones that have a potential impact on our daily lives, especially on our health. There's certainly no lack of these. Virtually every day we hear of some study that urges us to eat more of a certain food or avoid another. There are studies that warn us about risks of specific chemicals in our environment and others that offer hope for the treatment of disease. To confuse matters, and people, studies are often at odds with each other!

There are several points to remember in the face of this publication onslaught. Science aims for a consensus opinion arrived at by examining all the available information. Rarely are single studies compelling enough to cause a major shift in thinking. Results that are reproduced by different researchers merit more attention. Negative studies are less likely to be reported than positive ones, leading to "publication bias," and research that is funded by vested interests can raise questions about reliability. Keep in mind also that not all peer-reviewed journals are equally demanding in the quality of papers they accept for publication, and that scientists are not immune to human foibles.

When it comes to health-related issues, the fundamental question raised by any new study is whether it is persuasive enough to change any recommendations that are currently in effect. Recently an Italian study on aspartame, the most widely used artificial sweetener in the world, aroused a great deal of interest. This isn't surprising, given the title of the paper: "Lifespan Exposure to Low Doses of Aspartame Beginning During Prenatal Life Increases Cancer Effects in Rats." If such a common product increases our risk of cancer, changes in recommendations about its use would certainly be warranted. But what does this rat study mean for humans?

The current "Acceptable Daily Intake" (ADI) for aspartame in North America is 50 milligrams per kilogram body weight, while in Europe it is 40 mg/kg. Based on numerous laboratory, animal and human studies, adverse effects below these levels are unlikely. Using the lower European value, the ADI for an average adult weighing sixty kilograms is then 2400 mgs, which is the amount of aspartame found in roughly four liters of diet drink. Average consumption of course is way below this, but unfortunately there are people who drink abusive amounts. Perhaps they will re-evaluate their habit after hearing about what researchers at the European Ramazzini Foundation found.

Dr. Morando Soffritti and colleagues fed pregnant rats aspartame-laced food, and then did the same to their offspring throughout their natural lives. The rats were then autopsied and all signs of cancer recorded. One group of rats was fed aspartame at a dose of 100 mg per kilogram of bodyweight, another group at 20 mg/kg, and a third group, given no aspartame, served as a control.

Soffritti was following up on similar research he had published in 2005 which had concluded that aspartame was a carcinogen. That study was criticized by a group of toxicologists assembled by the European Union as having poor methodology and coming to an unwarranted conclusion. Soffritti was understandably angered by the criticism and undoubtedly vowed to "show them." And apparently he has. The current results do show that animals fed at 100 mg/kg per day developed more tumours than those fed no aspartame. This is the amount of aspartame found in ten liters of diet drink. However, when it comes to the 20 mg/kg dose, the incidence of tumours found was essentially the same as in the rats given no aspartame. Based on these results, Soffritti and colleagues correctly conclude that their study showed aspartame to be a carcinogen, and that the effect is dose related.

What do we make of this? It is surprising that a carcinogenic effect was found, given that a large number of other studies have failed to find a link between aspartame and cancer. But the important finding here is the dose-response relationship. As the dose is decreased, so is the risk of tumour formation. At the equivalent of two liters of diet drink a day, the percent of animals bearing tumours is the same as in the control group. So, are these results convincing enough to alter the Acceptable Daily Intake? Before taking such an action, at the very least, we need to see if the experiment can be reproduced by another lab.

The Ramazzini Foundation study [by Soffritti] comes on the heels of a paper recently published in the Annals of Oncology, in which researchers from Italy and France examined the potential association between the risk of cancer and the consumption of artificial sweeteners. They evaluated the rates of consumption of saccharin, aspartame, and other sweeteners in approximately 7,000 individuals with various types of cancers and compared these with a similar number of people who did not have the disease. No link between artificial sweeteners and cancers of the esophagus, colon, rectum, larynx, breast, ovaries, prostate, kidney or mouth was found. And this was a human, not a rat study. Let's remember also that the amount of aspartame found in a couple of diet drinks and artificially sweetened yogurts is way less than the 20 mg/kg per day dose that was shown to cause no increase in tumours in the Ramazzini study. In any case, there is no reason for anyone to be consuming more artificially sweetened products than these.

For now, there seems to be no reason to change recommendations about consuming moderate amounts of aspartame, but rest assured that it won't be long before some new study comes along that either accuses or exonerates aspartame of some nutritional crime. Many scientists will be ready to evaluate that study and change their views if warranted (myself included). That's the way of science.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Solomon, Greenberg and Pyszczynski on

"Worldview Defense"

By John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- September, 2007

I have had a cursory look at the "Worldview Defense" research and found much to amuse in it. I don't rule out there being some useful kernel of truth in it but to firm that up one way or another I would have to do a detailed critique of at least some of the papers basic to it -- which is not an inviting prospect. I have decided therefore simply to gather together below my blog posts on the subject


A critique of research by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski

That old Leftist, John B. Judis, has an article in The New Republic that summarizes a stream of psychological research into fear of death that goes by the name of "worldview defense". The idea is that if you are reminded of your own mortality, you become more conservative.

In one way, that is all fair enough. The old saying "A conservative is a liberal who was mugged last night" embodies a similar idea and represents a claim that conservatives often make: That they are more realistic and that Leftists are dreamers who need to be brought down to earth. Being vividly reminded of your own forthcoming death (which is what the psychological experiments concerned do) should invoke a similar burst of realism and disable dreamy views of life.

So an interpretations of the findings congenial to conservatives is more than possible. Judis and those he quotes, however, strain to find a more elaborate interpretation that is some way derisory of conservatives. But in doing so Judis falls into a trap common among psychologists and other Leftists: He lives in such a self-protective Leftist bubble that he basically just does not know what conservatism is or what conservatives think. For decades now, psychologists have been devising questionnaires that allegedly "measure" conservatism but which in fact give no prediction of vote at all! The ludicrous Bob Altemeyer is the most recent example of that. The highpoint of such ignorance, however, would have to be the 2003 "Berkeley" study which classified various Communist leaders as conservatives. That Communists and conservatives have radically different views about the world had apparently not penetrated the ivory towers of UCB!

So we have the following remarkable comment from Judis: Also central to worldview defense is the protection of tradition against social experimentation, of community values against individual prerogatives". And you thought it was conservatives who stood for individual liberties! Not so, according to Judis. Conservatives stand for "community values". So Hillary Clinton, with her quotation of an old African saying that "It takes a village to raise a child" must be a conservative!

So I don't think we really need to say much more about such profound ignorance. As this stuff falls squarely within my own field of professional exspertise, however, I will make one more comment: Answers to questions that are obtained from young college students (which is mainly what Judis is referring to) often tell you very little about the real world. The very first piece of psychological research that I ever did was based on responses from students and I found a most gratifying correlation of .808 between the two variables concerned. Being a born skeptic, however, I then did something that psychologists almost never do: I repeated the research among a group much more representative of the general population. And I found NO correlation between my two variables on that group.

And so it seems also to be with the research by Pyszczynski and friends that Judis quotes. Using student responses, Pyszczynski et al. found a correlation between awareness of death and what they (in their confused way) define as conservatism but I carried out long ago a piece of research into much the same question. I looked at the correlation between attitude to death and conservatism among a general population sample. And I used a measure of conservatism that DID closely reflect the political divisions of the day. So what did I find? I found that there was NO correlation between attititude to death and conservatism whatsoever. Nor was there any connection between anxiety generally and conservatism. So the Pyszczynski/Judis claims fail a more rigorous test. What they think happens, does NOT happen in the real world.

And I carried out that piece of research in collaboration with the head of our local Sociology department -- an impeccably mainstream Jewish Leftist. So the ad hominem attacks that one expects from Leftists would be more than usually implausible in this case.



I referred recently to the Solomon, Greenberg & Pyszczynski research summarized by Judis. The interpretation of the research findings concerned was highly speculative and unparsimonious in that the effect of priming people to think about death was somehow magnified into telling us something about "worldview defense". The point of the theoretical extravaganza was of course to portray conservatives in a bad light. I suggested a more straightforward interpretation of the findings which was rather supportive of a conservative view of the world.

In the end, however, I concluded that the research concerned really told us nothing at all about anything because it was not based on any kind of representative sampling. Solomon, Greenberg & Pyszczynski obviously disagree with me on that, however, so I have found another study based on their kind of "sampling" that should interest them. A study by Shariff & Norenzayan also looked at the effect of "priming" people's perceptions. Where the Solomon, Greenberg & Pyszczynski research showed that priming people to think about death caused them to become more conservative, however, the Shariff et al. research showed that priming people to think about God caused them to become more altruistic and kinder towards others! It tends to show that Christians are nicer people, in other words. I wonder what Pyszczynski and friends think about that? One thing they CANNOT consistently do is dismiss the finding on the grounds of unrepresentative sampling!


An amusing response from Pyszczynski

Who says that conservatism is produced by a fear of death

Pyszczynski did respond promptly to the criticism of his research that I posted yesterday. After the burst of personal abuse that one expects from Leftists he did have two actual points to make:

He said that the "priming" experiment that he does has now been repeated worldwide to a total of about 350 times and always gives a similar outcome. He seems to think that doing unrepresentative sampling 350 times is in some way as good as doing one really representative sample. No logic there at all, of course. So I replied simply that doing a silly thing 350 times does not make it right.

His second point concerned the "God" research that I mentioned. He commented quite reasonably that the outcome you get would depend on the concept of God involved. That the usual Christian concept of God as a God of Love might have been behind the finding I mentioned -- that thinking about God makes you more altruistic -- he did not address, however. He preferred abstract argument to research results. But it is consistent with his argument that the usual Christian view of God makes Christians better people. How embarrassing for him!

But as in the story by Conan Doyle ("Silver Blaze") about the dog that did not bark, the most interesting thing was what Pyszczynski did NOT mention. His theory claims that worrying about death is behind a lot of conservatism. But my research in a general population sample has shown that conservatives worry about death and worry in general no more than do others. So his theory is disconfirmed at the bottom line. No matter what groups of tame students do when confronted by Pyszczynski's little experiment, the conclusion from those experiments does NOT generalize to the population at large. So he is talking about something of no real-world significance. He had no reply to that whatever. I guess he didn't reply because he couldn't!

He also did not reply to my point that he was overinterpreting his data. In science the most parsimonious (simplest) explanation for a finding is always preferred and I offered an explanation for his basic finding that was a lot simpler than the fanciful edifice he has erected. I guess he couldn't reply to that either! He has devoted decades of work to his little theory, however, so I don't expect that mere evidence and logic will cause him to drop or even modify it. Jim Sidanius had the grace to go into a major backdown when I confronted him with evidence and logic about his "Social Dominance Orientation" theory but there is no sign of that from Pyszczynski -- at least so far.



Further to my post of yesterday, I reproduce below the latest email from Prof. Pyszczynski. As far as I can see the first and fourth sentences contradict one-another!

We have NEVER claimed that conservatives have any more fear of death than anyone. That would be completely at odds with terror management theory or the research that has been done to test hypotheses derived from it. This is something anyone who has read our work would know. The point is that conservative ideology is a type of worldview that people use to protect themselves against a fear of death that is a natural consequence of wanting to live and knowing that you must die. Just as liberal ideology is. Just as science and religion are. When people are reminded of death, they cling more to the aspects of their worldviews that protect them from this fear. Conservatives and liberals do it -- but birds and educated fleas do not. There is some evidence that conservative ideology might be especially useful in providing protection but the jury is out as to whether that is inherent in conservative ideology or particular to the particulars of today's culture.

The only sense I can make out of it is a claim that people become more extreme in their views (whatever those views may be) when they think about death. That is a fairly humdrum proposal but does not correspond to how other researchers see the Pyszczynski work. Note this quote about the Pyszczynski work, for instance:

"Terror management research has typically found that people respond harshly toward offending others when reminded of their mortality".

Clearly, Pyszczynski has been claiming that death anxiety moves you towards a SPECIFIC view, not simply a more extreme view. And among Leftist psychologists, punitiveness has long been held to be a feature of conservatism -- which is why I have previously written on that subject (I found that impunitive people are the oddballs!).

At any event, Pyszczynski has clearly repudiated the summary of his work by Judis -- which is rather fun. I am a bit disappointed that he didn't deflate under attack as rapidly as Gilbert Harman but Harman is a genuinely acute thinker.


"Truthers" and worldview defense

I had a bit of a laugh above about the "worldview defense" research of Pyszczynski and friends. I could see no good evidence for his claim that conservative views arise out of a need to defend a worldview.

The evidence Prof. P. offers for his claims concerns attitudes. What students say about their views is the foundation of his theory. I replied by pointing out (among other things) that proper general population survey research into conservative attitudes does not reveal the correlations to be expected from Prof. P.'s theory.

There is however abroad these days one very strange set of attitudes: The attitudes of the "truthers" -- people who believe that the dumb but strangely clever George Bush conspired with the neocons, the Jews and various others to blow up the twin towers on 9/11. Apparently the twin towers were deliberately detonated by GWB rather than being knocked out by bin Laden's henchmen flying hijacked airliners. Some of the claims of the truthers have a superficial plausibility but all have often been debunked (e.g. here).

The interesting thing about truther theory is that, for all its vast implausibility, it is widely believed. According to a general population poll carried out by Zogby 42.6% of Democrat voters believe some version of it versus 19.2% of Republican voters. Nearly half of Left-leaning voters say they believe in a total absurdity!

So why do they do that? A simple answer: It is BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome). Bush is so hated by many on the Left that they cannot accept any evidence that might support his policies. Their worldview requires that Bush be (as they often say) akin to Hitler and the embodiment of all evil. That he might have had reasonable grounds for his overthrow of two aggressive Islamic regimes (in Afghansistan and Iraq) just cannot be accepted. Rather than accept that it is preferable to believe a total absurdity.

So if that is not worldview defense I would like to know what would be. It is worldview defense carried to the extent of an extreme mental pathology. So, as I have often previously remarked, Leftists are great projectors -- they attribute to others things that are really true of themselves. So to find out what is true of them, just listen to what they say about conservatives. Prof. P. was so alive to the phenomenon of worldview defense precisely because it fills the heads of many of his fellow Leftists -- and maybe even his own head.


More data on those "death-fearing" conservatives

I have received the following report from a reader. It gives us some more of that pesky general population data -- the sort of data that almost all psychologists avoid like the plague. Students are SO much better at giving responses that accord with Leftist stereotypes:

Reading John Ray's September 4, 2007 critique of the Pyszczynski et al. claim that fear of death is behind conservatism, I couldn't help but analyze data from the NORC General Social Survey, one of the most respected databases of U.S. public opinion in existence, to further explore the matter. In fact, the GSS data completely support Dr. Ray's conclusion that there are no meaningful differences whatsoever in how liberals and conservatives view death. Again, the received "wisdom" concerning the psychology of conservatism espoused by Pyszczynski and academic social science in general, is shown to be speculative and fails to survive even moderate scrutiny.


For decades, the GSS has asked respondents about their political orientations under the variable name POLVIEWS and whether they believe in life after death under the variable name POSTLIFE. I recoded the variable POLVIEWS into the following categories:

* Extremely liberal/Liberal =1,
* Slightly Liberal = 2,
* Moderate/Middle of the Road = 3,
* Slightly Conservative = 4, and
* and Conservative/Extremely Conservative = 5.

POSTLIFE was recoded into the following categories:

* Believe in life after death =1,
* Unsure = 2, and
* Don=t believe in life after death = 3.


Conservatives were much more likely than liberals to believe in life after death, with approximately 80% of conservatives/extreme conservatives reporting that they believe in life after death and only 66% of liberals/extremely liberals reporting the same. (All percentages are rounded upwards.) While a person's belief in life after death is not necessarily predictive of whether he fears death, the results are suggestive and weaken Pyszczynski's paradigm. The Pyszczynski et al theories would seem to imply that belief in life after death is a cognitive defensive mechanism but a sizable proportion of individuals with liberal orientations clearly exhibit the same phenomenon, so it is as least not a peculiarly conservative defence mechanism. And in any event, the number of people who absolutely reject the possibility of an afterlife is very small, only about 9% in this database.

To further explore whether conservatives might harbor more fear than liberals regarding death, I analyzed how respondents answered an additional set of questions asked between 1983-1987. Each respondent who reported a belief in life after death was asked a further series of questions, prefaced as follows:

Of course, no one knows exactly what life after death would be like, but here are some ideas people have had. How likely do you feel each possibility is? Very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not likely at all?

Among the various alternatives were the following descriptions of an afterlife: (1) A life of peace and tranquility (POSTLF1) and (2) A life like the one here on earth, only better (POSTLF3). There was very little meaningful difference between liberals and conservatives regarding their views on the matter. With respect to the first variable, POSTLF1, eighty-five percent of liberals/extreme liberals thought it somewhat or very likely that an afterlife would be a life of peace and tranquility, while an even greater 95% of conservatives/extreme conservatives held similarly positive views of life after death. Regarding the second variable, POSTLF3, 57% of liberals/extreme liberals thought it somewhat or very likely that an afterlife would be better than life on earth, and 59% of conservatives/extreme conservatives reported it somewhat or very likely that an afterlife would be better than life on earth. Again, all percentages are rounded.

Insofar as there is a discernable difference between liberals and conservatives in how they view death, if anything conservatives might appear to face the prospect with less fear and anxiety than those who lean leftward politically. Note that similar results are obtained when comparing respondents who are slightly liberal versus those who are slightly conservative.

If in fact conservatives have a more positive view of existence after death than that held by liberals, perhaps it explains why they seem to be at least as happy and as satisfied with life as liberals. The GSS asks respondents, "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days: Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?" (HAPPY). Eighty-eight percent of liberals/extreme liberals reported being very happy or pretty happy, and approximately 90% of conservatives/extreme conservatives reported being very happy or pretty happy. Again, the same trend is found when comparing slightly liberal respondents with slightly conservative respondents.

And on the prospects of future generations, conservatives appear to be at least as optimistic, if not more so, than liberals. The GSS asks respondents whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: "It's hardly fair to bring a child into the world with the way things look for the future." Forty percent (40%) of liberals/extreme liberals and 34% of slightly liberal respondents agreed with the statement, while 36% of conservatives/extreme conservatives and 33% of slightly conservative respondents agreed with the statement.

These findings represent yet another piece of evidence that conservatives suffer from no greater existential anxiety or dread than do liberals. The claims of a relationship between psychological maladjustment and social/political conservatism, posited by classical authoritarianism theory, are simply inaccurate.


Friday, August 17, 2007


Southern Hemisphere is the bottom line

Spencer and Christy have updated their tools to calculate the tropospheric temperatures between 1979 and the present era from their and NASA's satellite data to a new version 6.0 beta (readme file). The three graphs above show the global average, the Northern Hemisphere, and the Southern Hemisphere. This upgrade is also discussed by Steve McIntyre. If you look at the third graph, you see that there was no warming on the Southern Hemisphere in the last 25 years even though the "global warming theory" and the corresponding models are predicting even faster rise of the tropospheric temperatures than for the surface temperatures. The decadal trend is quantitatively around 0.05 degrees which is noise whose sign can change almost instantly.

Normally, I would think that one should conclude that according to the observations, there is no discernible recent warming on the Southern Hemisphere, and an experimental refutation of a far-reaching hypothesis by a whole hemisphere is a good enough reason to avoid the adjective "global" for the observed warming. Of course, the proponents of the "global warming theory" will use a different logic. The troposphere of the Southern Hemisphere is bribed by the evil oil corporations, and even if it were not, the data from the Southern Hemisphere can't diminish the perfect consensus of all the hemispheres of our blue planet: the debate is over. All the hemispheres of our planet decide equally about the catastrophic global warming, especially the Northern Hemisphere that shows that the warming is truly global and truly cataclysmic. Be worried, be very worried.

James Hansen, one of the fathers of the "global warming theory", has a new paper. When Hansen writes a paper, the media immediately publish hundreds of articles. The present temperatures are warmest in 12,000 or one million years, depending on the source. However, when you open their paper, you see that it looks like one of these jokes propagating through the blogosphere and the authors are kind of comedians.

First of all, most of the paper is dedicated to not-too-substantiated arguments with Michael Crichton. Michael Crichton stated in "State of Fear" as well as the U.S. Congress that Hansen's predictions from a 1988 testimony were wrong by 300 percent: a calculation based on a particular choice of time period and scenarios. Hansen then proposed three scenarios - "A,B,C" - how the temperatures would rise. "A" is a catastrophe in which no action is taken and the emissions continue to rise. "B" involves a peaceful limit in which emissions stabilize around 2000 and the warming is smaller. "C" is the scenario assuming drastic cuts of CO2 emissions.

The result as we know it in 2006? The reality essentially followed the temperatures of the scenario "C" even though the CO2 emissions continued to rise just like in the scenario "A". More details are summarized by Willis E who discusses the content of the figure 2 of the new Hansen paper. Isn't it enough to admit that Hansen was just wrong? If it is not enough, what kind of wrong prediction does he have to make in order for us to know that he has made an error? I just can't understand it.

The new paper contains even crazier assertions - e.g. the present temperature is probably the maximum temperature in the last 12,000 or one million years. This is probably based on the graph 5 on the bottom of page 5 (or 14291) and this graph's data is taken from a completely different paper written by very different authors: Hansen's only role is to hype and politicize their numbers. You see in that graph that since 1870, the oceans' surface temperature was more or less constant and the previous temperature probably can't be trusted, especially not the relative vertical shift of the graph in comparison with the current temperatures.

Even more amusingly, the paper is filled with a lot of completely off-topic comments that indicate that Hansen et al. are unable to focus on rational thinking. When I was reading one of the last sentences, I started to laugh loudly. Hansen et al. criticize the "engineering fixes" of the global climate recently discussed by Paul J. Crutzen, the 1995 Nobel prize winner for chemistry, and Ralph Cicerone, the current president of the National Academy of Sciences. Hansen says that these fixes are "dangerous" because they could diminish the efforts to reduce the CO2 emissions.

That's very funny because this is, indeed, exactly the purpose of these papers - to propose more efficient methods than the most stupid method you can imagine for the hypothetical case that we would ever need to regulate the global climate. The papers are indeed intended to diminish the role of the most uncultivated proposals how to fight with the hypothetical "climate change". As Hansen explains, that's exactly his problem with those papers.

It is very clear that the paper was only written in order to misinterpret another paper, draw media attention (which is guaranteed with Hansen), and make a purely political statement about the programs that are beginning to supersede the naive carbon dioxide cuts - political statements that have nothing do with science - in a scientific journal. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick's comments on the paper are here. Hansen's reasoning is not too unsimilar to the reasoning of Quantoken.

Incidentally, Crutzen's proposed technology involves artificial volcanos. A major natural volcano eruption can cause 0.2-0.5 degrees of cooling over 2-3 years. Using the favorite technologies of Hansen and Gore - namely stifling the civilization - such a cooling would cost tens of trillions of dollars or many thousands of Virgin corporations. Al Gore would have to fly roughly millions of times to give his prayers for impressionable billionaires - because not all of them would decide in the same way as Branson - and these flights would probably overcompensate the cooling effect anyway.

When we note that there is a far greater human presence in the Northern hemisphere, a point that could be made is that the results discussed above point to the Northern hemisphere being one big "heat island" -- i.e. the temperature rise is a heat artifact, a direct result of human heat generation, not an effect of CO2 emissions

The above article was included in a post that went up on Greenie Watch on Oct 1, 2006 and was reproduced from a post by Lubos Motl. It is reproduced here as a separate file for convenience.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Was Churchill an antisemite and a Fascist?

By John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)

Churchill was a much more complex character than people generally realize and, as I have pointed out before (See also below), he was a centrist conservative like GWB and Disraeli rather than an unqualified supporter of laissez faire.  This complexity has led to a number of hostile re-evaluations of him both from libertarians and from the Left.  Two of the libertarian evaluations are here and here.  A very common accusation that one often hears is that Churchill was an antisemite and a Fascist.  Below are some of the quotes that are sometimes given in support of that claim.  The first is from the Illustrated Sunday Herald - 8th February 1920:

“The part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistic Jews ... is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from Jewish leaders ... The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in (Hungary and Germany, especially Bavaria).

Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing. The fact that in many cases Jewish interests and Jewish places of worship are excepted by the Bolsheviks from their universal hostility has tended more and more to associate the Jewish race in Russia with the villainies which are now being perpetrated”.

The most important thing to note about this quote is its date.  Like Ronald Reagan and many others, Churchill moved from Left to Right during his lifetime and the above quote was uttered while he was a member of a LIBERAL government led by Lloyd George.  And below is part of what Lloyd George said about Hitler at a much later date (Daily Express, 17.9.1936):

“I have now seen the famous German leader and also something of the great change he has effected. “Whatever one may think of his methods - and they are certainly not those of a parliamentary country, there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvelous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook…

It is not the Germany of the first decade that followed the war - broken, dejected and bowed down with a sense of apprehension and impotence. It is now full of hope and confidence, and of a renewed sense of determination to lead its own life without interference from any influence outside its own frontiers.

There is for the first time since the war a general sense of security. The people are more cheerful. There is a greater sense of general gaiety of spirit throughout the land. It is a happier Germany. I saw it everywhere, and Englishmen I met during my trip and who knew Germany well were very impressed with the change.

One man has accomplished this miracle. He is a born leader of men. A magnetic and dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose, as resolute will and a dauntless heart.”

An admiration that Churchill echoed:

“While all those formidable transformations were occurring in Europe, Corporal Hitler was fighting his long, wearing battle for the German heart. The story of that struggle cannot be read without admiration for the courage, the perseverance, and the vital force which enabled him to challenge, defy, conciliate, or overcome, all the authorities or resistance’s which barred his path. He, and the ever increasing legions who worked with him, certainly showed at this time, in their patriotic ardour and love of country, that there was nothing that they would not dare, no sacrifice of life, limb or liberty that they would not make themselves or inflict upon their opponents.”

And speaking in Rome on 20 January, 1927, Churchill praised Mussolini:

“I could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing and by his calm, detached poise in spite of so many burdens and dangers. Secondly, anyone could see that he thought of nothing but the lasting good, as he understood it, of the Italian people, and that no lesser interest was of the slightest consequence to him. If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. I will, however, say a word on an international aspect of fascism. Externally, your movement has rendered service to the whole world. The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or a working class leader has been that of being undermined by someone more extreme than he. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the masses of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilised society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism.”

And I don’t suppose I need to remind people that FDR also praised Mussolini—referring to him as “that admirable Italian gentleman” and adopting part of Mussolini’s ideas for his “New Deal”

In summary, then, Churchill’s comments about the Jews (and Jews WERE prominent among the Bolsheviks) belong to his most Leftist period and his admiration of the achievements of Hitler and Mussolini were widely shared in the interwar period and were very much what one would have expected of ANY centrist politician (Left or Right) at the time.

Dan Mandel goes into these matters in much more depth.

In case it goes offline, I also reproduce below my post about Churchill's conservatism:

Winston Churchill: The original “compassionate conservative”

Perhaps I have missed it but I have not seen any comparisons between GWB and Winston Churchill. Yet their policies and views are strikingly similar.  Note the following speech by Churchill to the Conservative Party Conference, on 5 October 1946 (From The Sinews of Peace, ed. Randolph S. Churchill, London, 1948, p. 213-215).  I have highlighted a few points in red:-

“It certainly would be an error of the first order for us to plunge out into a programme of promises and bribes in the hopes of winning the public favour. But if you say to me: `What account are we to give of the policy of the Conservative Party? What are we to say of our theme and our cause and of the faith that is in us?’ That is a question to which immediate answer can always be given.

Our main objectives are: To uphold the Christian Religion and resist all attacks upon it. To defend our Monarchical and Parliamentary Constitution. To provide adequate security against external aggression and safety for our seaborne trade. To uphold law and order, and impartial justice administered by courts free from interference or pressure on the part of the executive. To regain a sound finance and strict supervision of national income and expenditure. To defend and develop our empire trade, without which Great Britain would perish. To promote all measures to improve the health and social conditions of the people. To support as a general rule free enterprise and initiative against State trading and nationalisation of industries.

To this I will add some further conceptions. We oppose the establishment of a Socialist State, controlling the means of production, distribution and exchange. We are asked, ‘What is your alternative?’ Our Conservative aim is to build a property-owning democracy, both independent and interdependent. In this I include profit-sharing schemes in suitable industries and intimate consultation between employers and wage-earners. In fact we seek so far as possible to make the status of the wage-earner that of a partner rather than of an irresponsible employee. It is in the interest of the wage-earner to have many other alternatives open to him than service under one all-powerful employer called the State. He will be in a better position to bargain collectively and production will be more abundant; there will be more for all and more freedom for all when the wage-earner is able, in the large majority of cases, to choose and change his work, and to deal with a private employer who, like himself, is dependent upon his personal thrift, ingenuity and good-housekeeping.  In this way alone can the traditional virtues of the British character be preserved. We do not wish the people of this ancient island reduced to a mass of State-directed proletariats, thrown hither and thither, housed here and there, by an aristocracy of privileged officials or privileged party, sectarian or Trade Union bosses. We are opposed to the tyranny and victimisation of the closed shop. Our ideal is the consenting union of million, of free, independent families and homes to gain their livelihood and to serve true British glory and world peace.

Freedom of enterprise and freedom of service are not possible without elaborate systems of safeguards against failure, accident or misfortune. We do not seek to pull down improvidently all structures of society, but to erect balustrades upon the stairway of life, which will prevent helpless or foolish people from falling into the abyss. Both the Conservative and Liberal Parties have made notable contributions to secure minimum standards of life and labour. I too have borne my part in this. It is 38 years ago since I introduced the first Unemployment Insurance scheme, and 22 years ago since, as Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, I shaped and carried the Widows’ Pensions and reduction of the Old Age Pensions from 70 to 65 - We are now moving forward into another vast scheme of national insurance which arose, even in the stress of war, from a Parliament with a great Conservative majority. It is an essential principle of Conservative, Unionist, and Tory policy - call it what you will - to defend the general public against abuses by monopolies and against restraints on trade and enterprise, whether these evils come from private corporations, from the mischievous plans of doctrinaire Governments, or from the incompetence and arbitrariness of departments of State. Finally, we declare ourselves the unsleeping opponents of all class, all official or all party privilege, which denies the genius of our island race, whose sparks fly upwards unceasingly from the whole people, its rightful career reward and pre-eminence alike in peace and war.”


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The paper below is circulated on the Internet only. I have submitted it to quite a few academic journals but all the editors have found it too risky for them to publish. Although the theory put forward is one that various Jewish scholars favour, it is still a bit politically incorrect to have a Gentile saying it!
The paper may be used, reproduced or circulated in any way anyone wishes without charge, let or hindrance from the author as long as it is reproduced in full and not altered in any way. For any other usage of the paper permission is required from the author. The paper may however be freely quoted and cited as long as appropriate acknowledgment of authorship is made. The version of the paper below is the update of June, 2012 but the first version of the paper was submitted in 1974.
John Ray (



J.J. Ray

University of New South Wales, Australia


Although all types of antisemitism are overgeneralizations, it is important to note that there is more than one type and source of antisemitism and that not all types are equally pernicious. It is the extreme examples of antisemitism that are dangerous and they are most safely seen as sui generis (requiring study in their own right). Contrary to the popular impression, extreme antisemitism has been in recent centuries mostly Leftist but this paper is primarily concerned with non-extreme antisemitism -- widespread but not usually important low-level grumbling about Jews. Social psychology textbooks now describe everyday racism as normal and at times rational. This suggests that some antisemitism too could be rational in at least some cases. Jewish authors such as H.F. Stein and C.Y. Glock have argued to that effect in recent years. To help examine this possibility, some case studies of ordinary Australians are presented which tend to suggest that such people's dislike for Jews is ultimately traceable to a significant subset of Jews acting out the central Jewish belief that they are a chosen and hence superior people. It is suggested that such beliefs lead to a tribal morality which sours business interactions between Jew and Gentile. This in turn suggests that the only relatively safe future for Jews over the long term may be either assimilation or migration to Israel. Another alternative may however be the one adopted by the Parsees of India. Various criticisms of these conclusions are considered.


Ever since the Pharaohs, Jews have been persecuted. To be a Jew is to be at serious risk of adverse discrimination and persecution. It is arguably the single feature that unites Jews of all eras. Religion once had that role but most Jews today seem to be atheists or something not far short of that.

To academics like me such a unifying feature cries out for a unifying explanation. Explaining the complexity of reality in terms of much simpler underlying processes is what academics do. But academic caution also requires one to note that things which seem the same on the surface may often not be at all the same underneath and it is my contention that EXTREME examples of antisemitism are sui generis -- i.e. they have to be understood in their own terms and in their own context. For instance, the "final solution" of England's King Edward I in 1290 cannot safely be seen as similarly-motivated to a certain later "final solution". I think, however, that there is nonetheless one generalization about extreme antisemitism in the last couple of centuries that has some explanatory power and I will initially say a few words about that:

The most extreme example of antisemitism in recent times was of course the thinking and deeds of the avowedly socialist Adolf Hitler. Leftist propaganda has convinced many that he was not a true socialist because he violently disagreed with the Marxist notion of class war. But most Leftists in the last 200 years have not agreed with the goal of class war. They want reform that falls somewhere short of that. So Hitler was in fact a fairly normal Leftist in that regard. There are probably few readers here, however, who are ready to unlearn the propaganda they have been fed about Hitler being a Rightist so I refer such doubters to a really thorough exposition of the matter here

And who wrote this?

"Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew -- not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Jewry, would be the self-emancipation of our time.... We recognize in Jewry, therefore, a general present-time-oriented anti-social element, an element which through historical development -- to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed -- has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily dissolve itself. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Jewry".

Most people would identify those words as the words of Hitler but they are in fact the words of that great hater, Karl Marx. So I think that does lead us towards one useful generalization about extreme antisemitism in the last 200 years or so: It is characteristically Leftist. By Hitler's time, antisemitism in particular, as well as racism in general, already had a long history on the Left. August Bebel was the founder of Germany's Social Democratic party (mainstream Leftists) and his best-known saying is that antisemitism is der Sozialismus des bloeden Mannes (usually translated as "the socialism of fools") -- which implicitly recognized the antisemitism then prevalent on the Left. And Lenin himself alluded to the same phenomenon in saying that "it is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people" but "the capitalists of all countries." For more on the socialist roots of antisemitism see Tyler Cowen's detailed survey here.

And when we contrast the socialist Hitler with people who really were conservative, the difference in treatment of Jews could hardly be more stark. In the clearly more racist 19th century to which Hitler belonged intellectually (He was born in 1889), the British Conservative Party made a flamboyant Jew -- Disraeli -- a most honoured and influential Prime Minister. Could that be a greater contrast with the gas ovens he could have expected under Hitler? And it was of course Conservative party member and eventual leader Winston Churchill who was Hitler's most unrelenting opponent.

And Leftist antisemitism was only briefly interrupted by the aftermath of Hitler's defeat and horror at the holocaust. The most virulent expressions of non-Muslim antisemitism are now once again emanating from the Left -- sometimes but not always in the form of "anti-Zionism" (Translation: Hatred of Israel). If Hitler were alive today, his attitude to Jews would make him once again a fairly mainstream Leftist. He would certainly get on well with America's famous Grinning Peanut (See here and here for details of Peanut's addled thinking).

And it is no mystery why Leftists should be antisemitic. Hatred of success and prominence in others -- envy -- is the major driving force behind Leftism and Jews do have the perhaps unfortunate attribute of tending to be prominently successful in all sorts of ways. And the remarkable exceptionalism of modern-day Israel would make it hated by the Left whether it was populated by Jews or Calathumpians. But it IS mainly populated by Jews so extreme antisemitism gets a new lease of life.

I will not go on to discuss further the characteristically Leftist nature of extreme antisemitism as we have seen it in the last couple of centuries because I think that the two links I have given above do a pretty thorough job of that. And there is what will probably be a surprising comparison between Hitler and American Leftists of his day here.

Before I leave the topic, however, I think I should quote a summary (originally published in the Leftist magazine "Dissent") of where Leftists at the beginning of the 21st century stood with regard to Israel:
"If one is not at least a serious doubter of the legitimacy of the state of Israel (never mind the policies of its government) and if one does not dismiss everything American as a priori vile and reactionary, one runs the risk of being excluded from the entity called "the left." There has not been a common issue since the Spanish Civil War that has united the left so clearly as has anti-Zionism and its twin, anti-Americanism. The left divided, and divides, over Serbia, over Chechnya, over Darfur, even over the war in Iraq. There are virtually no divisions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and over the essence of the United States.

And guess from what era the quote below comes. It is is from a prominent American Democrat -- at one time a candidate for the Democrat Presidential nomination.

When we asked him what made him so sure the *** administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

It sounds fresh out of the 1930s with its reference to "New York money people" (rich Jews) but it was in fact a public comment by retired General Wesley Clarke in the year 2007 -- commenting on the supposedly Jew-run Bush administration. As the French say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

{And, to pre-empt a Leftist wriggle-out, I should note that Clarke was at the time no fringe figure or ill-educated "redneck". He was in his youth a Rhodes scholar and was later Supreme Commander of NATO. He had for some time been much fawned-over by Democrats. And the comments by Democrat supporters published along with his words above were generally supportive. As an Israeli put it: "I read your posting on Clark's comments to the Huffington Post (or Puffington Host) and the comments of the "progressive" and "enlightened" anti-Semites cheering on Clark's anti-Semitic diatribe and was blown away.}

There are many more examples of the truly insane antisemitism emanating from the early 21st century Western Left here -- in an article by Alvin H. Rosenfeld for the American Jewish Committee.

I now want to move on to my main focus in this article: a look at a much lesser-known type of antisemitism -- antisemitism of a low level "grumbling" sort -- antisemitism that is not at all extreme but which is nonetheless widespread among many modern Western populations.


I want to make clear at the outset that what I discuss below is a particular type of antisemitism in a particular type of context. What I say is most unlikely to account for ALL types of antisemitism or all contexts. But the type and the context are common ones: "Incidental" antisemitism in a context where Jews are a small minority. I am NOT talking about the sort of people who believe in Jewish conspiracy theories or those who have "studied" Jews. I have a whole separate article devoted to such people. This is, in other words, one of two companion articles.

Also: I do mention it below but I think I should attempt a pre-emptive strike here at popular conceptions of stereotyping. Crazily enough, stereotyping is often stereotyped. People think they know what goes on in stereotyping -- but they don't. As you might expect, there is a very large academic literature in which psychologists have researched what exactly goes on in stereotyping and they find that it is the OPPOSITE of how it is popularly conceived. It is popularly conceived as being rigid and imprisoning and as somehow dictating what people will see and think. It isn't. The truth is that human beings form generalizations very quickly and on the basis of most limited evidence but they also CHANGE their generalizations equally readily and again on the basis of a few impressions rather than waiting for ALL the evidence to be in. Stereotypes are in fact highly flexible and contain what Allport long ago described as a "kernel of truth". They ARE based on (very limited) experience. There are summaries of the academic literature on the subject, complete with full citation details, here and here.

And the generalizations that I discuss below ARE stereotypes -- but in the reality-based sense I have just described: Generalizations based on very limited experience. Such generalizations are however common and need to be addressed. So this article is in fact another contribution to the literature on stereotyping: I look at how one particular stereotype is formed in one particular population type in one particular context.


It is perhaps encouraging that research into racially and ethnically denominated antagonisms ("racism" for short) seems to be one field where knowledge and understanding among psychologists has undergone steady development and, hopefully, progress. Throughout the 50's, 60's and even later the most common view of racism among psychologists seems to have been the one propagated by Adorno et al (1950) -- i.e that racism was an attribute of sick deviants only and that it was possible to "educate" people out of it. How much things have changed! Now it is a textbook view that ethnocentrism and stereotyping are "universal ineradicable psychological processes" (Brown, 1986. See also Tajfel & Fraser, 1978) and reviews of research into racism now hardly mention the Adorno et al claims (e.g. Tajfel, 1982; Brewer & Kramer, 1985; Messick & Mackie, 1988). Even in 1974 my claim (Ray, 1974, Ch. 46) that racism on some occasions can be in some senses "rational" (have some basis in reality) was something of a voice in the wilderness. Now social scientists generally and sociologists in particular (including sociologists of many different orientations) are quite ready to agree (e.g. Banton, 1983; Moreh, 1988; Wellman, 1977; Brown, 1985; Hechter, 1986; McClendon, 1984) and some go so far as to make the somewhat startling claim that all racism is rational (e.g. Hechter, 1986). Hechter is, however, referring to active racial discrimination rather than mere sentiment so it is perhaps arguable that some rational self- interest has to be mobilized before attitude will be transformed into action.

In the early 1970's I wrote two papers that were essentially field reports of studies I had made among various Australian Neo-Nazi groups. These were published (Ray, 1972 & 1973) in Jewish journals. I also wrote a companion paper that described antisemitism among ordinary citizens in the community. The conclusions of the paper were, however, that antisemitism can on some occasions be rational (have some basis in reality). This, however, seemed to breach a fundamental taboo and meant that the paper did not find a publisher. In fact, the editors of one allegedly academic journal (Ethnic & Racial Studies) completely stopped corresponding with me, presumably because of my reprehensible conclusions. Now that racism generally is widely acknowledged by psychologists as not necessarily irrational or psychopathological, however, it seems that the time might be ripe to extend the same analysis to antisemitism in particular. Below, therefore, are presented the previously unmentionable observations.

Before getting to that point, however, it should be noted that the conclusions I come to are novel only in that they come from a Gentile. Similar conclusions are old stuff among Jewish intellectuals, most notable of whom is perhaps the widely influentual and ethnically Jewish philosopher, Karl Popper (Hacohen, 2000, pp. 304-307).

And they continue to be well-known in Jewish circles. For instance, in his bitter commentary on the controversy in Germany over the performance of the Fassbinder play Der Muell, die Stadt und die Tod, Broder (1986) concludes that antisemitism is an ineradicable human folly that Jews will always have to live with and which is therefore best overt rather than covert (a view also more recently supported by Eugene Volokh). In particular, he concludes that hidden antisemitism is still pervasive in Germany and he clearly views this as the worst sort of antisemitism.

This subsidiary conclusion is rather controversial, however. While the reasoning behind the conclusion is clear enough ("Better the devil you know...."), might it not be said that the era before the Second World War represented a test of where open antisemitism led? At any event, Broder's subsidiary conclusion does seem worth examination and it so happens that the data I gathered in Australia in the late 60's and early 70's do make an examination of it possible. This is because antisemitism still does seem to be fairly openly acknowledged in Australia (Yes, Australia, not Austria). Beswick & Hills (1972) found that among a random sample of Australians 47% agreed with the statement that, "One trouble with Jewish businessmen is that they stick together and prevent other people from having a fair chance in competition". Naturally, racism is generally regarded as socially undesirable in Australia at the present time so we must regard this 47% as the lower bound of antisemitism in Australia. In a secret ballot, the level would certainly be much higher. At any event, there are a lot of overt antisemitic beliefs in Australia. Broder would be pleased.

Two present-day Jewish social scientists who present much the same view that I do are H.F. Stein and C.Y. Glock. See Stein (1977, 1978 & 1984), Quinley & Glock (1979) and Glock, Wuthnow, Piliavin & Spencer (1975). Glock worked under the auspices of the anti-defamation league of B'nai B'rith and what he found was that antisemitism was highest where Jews were most visible: No Jews, no antisemitism. Since prejudice must have an object, this is not perhaps an intrinsically surprising finding and similar findings have in fact been reported for non-Jewish minorities (e.g. Fossett & Kiecolt, 1989; Mitchell, 1968) but it does raise the possibility that a significant subset of Jews in some way cause, stimulate or at least collaborate with prejudice. Glock himself deals with this deduction by in essence resorting to the old "jealousy" explanation: Many Jews tend to be successful in various ways and success always invites envy. This would appear to be essentially a version of the popular "economic rivalry" explanation for racism (Banton, 1983; Hechter, 1986; Fossett & Kiecolt, 1989) but the empirically very limited explanatory power of such theories should be noted (Studlar, 1979).

Stein, by contrast, is more innovative. In his various works he puts forward the theory (cf. Volkan, 1985 & 1988) that Jews NEED persecution for their survival. He posits that the quite unprecedentedly long time that Jews have survived as a distinct ethnic group needs an extraordinary explanation and that the best explanation is that they survived not in spite of but because of the persecution that they have always unconsciously invited. Persecution leads to ingroup cohesion just as external threat encourages unity among citizens of nation-states. As it is a common modern observation that the State of Israel holds together today only because of the Arab threat (See Eisenstadt, 1986, for an account of just some of the tensions within modern-day Israeli society) Stein's hypothesis has considerable contemporary context to recommend it. Although Stein's version of the hypothesis is extreme, could there not be something characteristic or at least common in Jewish behaviour which at least enables or collaborates with prejudice? Jews do tend to have a distinctive culture which is proudly maintained in one way or another by at least a substantial minority of them and many writers (e.g. Park, 1950; Manheim, 1960; Rokeach, 1960; Byrne, Clore & Smeaton, 1986; Walker & Campbell, 1982) maintain that people with different values, beliefs and attitudes will tend to be disliked -- so we could entertain a "culture clash" explanation of antisemitism even if we do not wish to accept Stein's psychoanalytic musings. Some examination of how Jews are generally perceived does therefore seem needed.

Before proceeding any further, however, I should perhaps enter the caveat that I personally find utterly ludicrous any idea that there is such a thing as a "typical" Jew. As far as I can see, from Biblical times to the present day, Jews must be the most fractious (i.e. furiously divided among themselves) people in all of history. Unity is definitely not one of their attributes as a people so any idea of a "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" could hardly be more laughable. If such a conspiracy were ever attempted, there would immediately be a whole heap of other Jews furiously denouncing it! I see much truth in the saying that where there are two Jews there will be at least three points of view! Nonetheless the idea that some things are "typically" Jewish is widespread and needs to be examined. That such views might have originated from observations of a significant subset of Jews and then been overgeneralized to all Jews is not an inherently unreasonable proposition. And I might say at this point that for my purposes I find the definition of "Jew" contained in Israel's "Law of the Return" adequate. In summary: "A Jew is someone who sees himself as a Jew".


I attempted to fill the need for an account of how Jews are perceived in the population at large by making use of case studies or "participant observation". Adorno et al (1950) and Stein (1977 & 1978) both used case studies for their purposes so the methodology obviously has its attractions. Its open-ended character is probably the chief of these. Many writers have highlighted the shortcomings of the laboratory- or survey-based methods that psychologists and sociologists generally use (e.g. Bruyn, 1966; Campbell, 1976) and have exhorted us to make more use of alternative sources of data so the data to be presented below would seem to deserve at least some examination.

The cases I describe below are simply all the people I personally met over a period of about seven years whom I heard making low-level antisemitic utterances. I also encountered some less casual antisemitic utterances but I have described those commenters elsewhere.

I have long been interested in the study of antisemitism, as my early articles on Neo-Nazism (Ray, 1972 & 1973) attest. Whenever therefore I happened to hear any antisemitic utterance, I took some interest in it and endeavoured to find out more about the person concerned and how they felt about Jews. Being in most ways a fairly conventional-seeming WASP Australian, I may have been in a better position to draw out people on the topic than a Jewish social scientist might have been.

Although the cases therefore are not deliberately selected in any way, they may of course have been influenced by the fact that they are drawn from people met in the course of my own social and business life. Academics probably tend to mix with people not too dissimilar from themselves so any one circle of acquaintances can hardly hope to be in any sense representative. There is also of course the difficulty that not every antisemitic utterance is encountered in circumstances where one can follow it up with a detailed discussion of the sentiments behind it. The cases described are, in other words, only those where I could assure myself that the antisemitism was seriously meant and where I could find out how the person justified it. I must also enter the caveat that for none of the people described was their antisemitism an important thing or even something that they often thought about. If it had not been for my interest in antisemitism, they would probably in fact never have been "picked up" as antisemites. This "low-level" antisemitism is, however, the form that antisemitism generally seems to take in Australia today: People may have a general dislike or suspicion of Jews but this does not imply any desire to persecute or oppress them. This may be a reservoir of sentiment with frightening political potential in certain circumstances but as it stands at the moment it is simply a dislike of Jewry much as one might dislike people who drive flashy cars or part their hair in the middle.

And I hope I do not need to stress at this point that, like much else in psychological studies of attitudes, predicting antisemitic behaviour from antisemitic attitudes would be extremely perilous. The attitude/behaviour gap has been well-known in studies of racism at least since the work of La Piere (1934) and has been amply confirmed since (See e.g. Crosby, Bromley & Saxe, 1980; Rule, Haley, & McCormack, 1971 and Stephan, 1985). Perhaps the most spectacular "gap" of that type however is the example of one Richard Milhous Nixon. President Nixon was much prone to antisemitic slurs in private but was exemplary, if not philosemitic, in his actual treatment of Jews. And I hope that no lover of Israel will ever forget Nixon's ferocious defence of Israel in its hour of greatest need. So any assumption of evil in the people I describe below could well be the reverse of the truth if it is deeds rather than words that count.


The first case I wish to describe is in fact one I have described in a previous study (Ray, 1973). I will call him "E.S.". It will be worthwhile to repeat the description: E. is a very successful businessman of a quite entrepreneurial kind with an attractive wife and three equally attractive children. He was at the time in his early 40's and although of Australian Irish descent, was brought up an atheist. A Communist in his earlier days, he is now politically very much to the Right. He has a formidably well-informed and catholic devotion to classical music. He is a great lover and exponent of Australian working-class traditions and language, perhaps largely because he worked in a highly unionized blue-collar occupation in his younger days. Nazism to him is utterly contemptible and 'sick'. For all that his dislike of Jews is probably rivalled only by his dislike of Aborigines (Australian blacks). Jews to him are 'scabs' -- people who take what they can get with no accompanying sense of obligation or duty to the others who make their opportunities possible. Aborigines he condemns for what he sees as their whining disinclination to work and their tendency to "lower the standards" of their community. Both offend against the universal Australian working-class credo of being "fair dinkum" and allowing a "fair go". He sees both as grasping -- the one by deceit and untrustworthiness and the other by indolent whining. In standard literary English we might say that E. dislikes insincerity and failures of consideration for others. He can relate many vivid anecdotes to show that his "prejudice" is not prejudice at all -- i.e. he condemns after and because he has become to know those of whom he speaks. His profusely exemplified philippics against Jewish and Aboriginal moral defalcations are worthy in fact of an independent literary record. Coming as he does from the "outback" (Australia's sparsely populated and semi-desert inland where many Aborigines still live in a quite primitive state), I have seen him use his first-hand knowledge of Aborigines to devastating effect in informal debates with urban Left-leaning intellectuals. Here then is a racially critical man whose attitudes it is hard not to respect -- whether or not we agree with them. Let it be clear, however, that his ideology of everyone deserving a "fair go" would make him a resolute and formidable opponent to anyone who proposed or practiced any oppression of others on the basis of their race or creed. I hope I have made it intelligible that he would oppose his daughter marrying a Jew but would oppose Belsen and Auschwitz much more.

Similar in many ways was U.Q. U. is a short, stocky, grey-haired businessman and company director with a large house in one of Sydney's "better" suburbs. He is the sort of person whom one would imagine would often be called (ironies aside) "a real Christian". He is characterized by a grandfatherly sort of gentleness and kindness that make him the soul of generosity, consideration and humanity. He did in fact have a definitely Protestant upbringing in an Australian country town. I know personally of instances where he has sacrificed immediate monetary gain simply for the sake of having satisfied customers. He would definitely rather have a reasonable return on his money and the feeling that he had served his customers well than a big return and customer animosity. He was, for all that, a prosperous and successful businessman. His humane business policies he would justify as being in fact good business. He could see that accepting less than what he could get for what he had to sell gave him a stability of customer demand that more rapacious policies would militate against. He felt in fact that he was in the long term no worse off than someone who went all out for a "fast buck" -- and in addition he had the reward of other people's liking and esteem. Given, however, that his business was, like so many today, one where a typical purchase was large so repeat custom would be the exception rather than the rule, the loss or gain entailed by having or not having repeat custom must have been fairly marginal. Certainly he could quite plausibly have acted rapaciously -- with the rationale that you will not see them again so soak them while you have them. It should by now be very apparent that one thing U. would be very contemptuous of was precisely such rapacity. It became apparent also that he had seen enough to conclude that such behaviour was more to be expected of Jewish businessmen than of others. Speaking to me in condemnation of a person whom both of us knew to be engaged in an enterprise that would result in considerable financial gain if certain customers could be "conned", U. said: "But he's not an Australian, is he? That's what makes the difference." There was no ambiguity concerning what ethnic origin this particular "non-Australian" might be presumed to have. U, then, would not explicitly or in blanket terms condemn Jews -- he was far too forbearing a man to do that -- and the suggestion of persecuting them he would receive with horror, but for all that the direction his expectations lay as far as Jews were concerned was quite clear. Being the sort of man he was, it is hard not to credit his judgment with some accuracy. It certainly cannot be dismissed as mere self-justifying prejudice.

Next is O.I. O. was an attractive, Australian-born divorcee of wholly Irish ancestry. She had one child and was at the time in her late 20's. Of obviously high intelligence, she supported herself in some style entirely out of the proceeds of various speculative business deals which represented both her occupation and principal hobby. She completed a couple of years at University but was not interested enough to complete a degree. She was raised as a Catholic but is now an agnostic and sent her daughter to a prestigious Church of England private school. She could to a degree be described as moving "in Society". She has one or two friends who are Jewish and would if formally asked say all the right things about how absurd prejudice is and how people must be treated as individuals. Nonetheless, among familiars it is quite commonplace for her to say such things as: (speaking of her daughter's school, where she is a committee member) "We tried to keep them out but eventually we had to let some of the little Jewesses in." I have, by the way, every reason to believe that the "we" was far from being a royal plural. Her dislike of Jews seems to be justified by her in terms of their separatism and their being in general " not very good types". It should be said that she is herself rather self-centred and aggressive -- compassion is certainly not her strong point. Nazism is not exactly abhorrent to her -- rather foolish and irrelevant. Her attitude towards Jews is certainly one of the least important things to her in life.

Another person in this category was M.K. M. is a Hungarian by birth but migrated to Australia after the second world war. He was at the time about 30 and single. He speaks faultless English and in his social life associates somewhat with students and others of a conventionally Leftist outlook. He is a rather entrepreneurial importer by occupation and has in the past clashed with the officers of Australian customs to the point of having a warrant out against him. His dislike of Jews is quite strong and he will defend it even to his radical friends in terms of his own actual experience of their rapacity and dishonesty in business. Since his business lies in a traditionally Jewish field, he should have had some experience on which to base his judgment. He will not even concede that Jews have to be taken individually. He has found them "all the same".

As was suggested above, even among Leftists antisemitism is far from a remote possibility. Q.N. was a divorcee of about 30 and an active worker for one of Australia's Leftist political parties. A tall, blonde and very attractive woman of Catholic nominal background, Q. worked in a responsible position with a firm in the heart of Sydney's financial district. Her attitude towards Jews is an obviously well thought-out one. She greatly dislikes Hungarian Jews in particular: "Even their own people (other Jews?) don't like them". Her complaint is that in their business dealings they are completely untrustworthy and know no honour. For money they would sacrifice every human and social value. So deleterious has been their influence on the standards of the business community that she is in favour of deporting the lot of them. To her Leftist friends she says: "When I was at University I thought as you do but now I know differently. I have to deal with these people every day." Whatever her own attitude to Jews, however, she would regard Nazism as the epitome of everything she opposed.

Another young woman who would see herself as radical and "progressive" was M.E. M. was in her late twenties, had a pleasant personality, was of presentable appearance and happily married. She was of Protestant nominal background and worked as a teacher. Her recipe for solving any financial crisis is: "I will have to go out and kill a fat Jew". Since she was a very gentle-natured and caring person, this was, of course, not a literal proposal. It was, in fact intended as facetious. For all that, she did have a definite dislike of Jews -- based on their presumed personal characteristics of being money-hungry, insincere etc. I gathered that the attitude, as well as the formula quoted is something she inherited from her family but it is nonetheless strongly held by her, and she will defend it as realistic even to horrified Leftist friends.

Perhaps a final person in this category is X.H. X works in a semi-professional field where he has ample contact with Jews. He was in his mid-twenties and unmarried. He is Australian-born and of nominal Protestant background. He is very sociable and good-humoured and is well-liked among his large circle of "mates" (male friends). His dislike of Jews is as something automatic. There is no apology for it or expectation that his friends will disagree with him. It is based again on his seeing Jews as generally untrustworthy and always ready to "take you down". As the very epitome of a young, beer-drinking Australian who is nonetheless keenly intelligent and successful in a necessarily creative occupation, his impressions are hard to dismiss.

All the impressions given so far were written up in the early 70's very much as given above. I present them in such a way to show that, being written before the Stein/Glock work, they represent an independent confirmation of it. From later experience, however, examples such as those given above could readily be multiplied. I can, for instance, think of two young men with higher degrees in Humanities fields whom I have heard express general dislike of Jews on much the same grounds as repeatedly emerged in the cases quoted above.

None of the people described above were saints by any means but they all seemed to be people of normal goodwill and it is their normality and sanity which is the central datum of this article. There were also some antisemitic people I met who seemed unusually ill-willed but they all fitted into one of the categories described in my article on more serious antisemites -- which see.


Perhaps the first impression one gains from what is reported above is that Broder seems to be right. Antisemitism seems to be fairly open in Australia and is also far from virulent or even important there. Whether the second is a consequence of the first, however, remains debatable.

Another interesting feature of the above cases is that they were all gathered (between 1968 and approx. 1973) in Sydney -- a city with a substantial Jewish business community. This is in some contrast with Brisbane -- another large Australian city I have spent many years in but where Jews seem very few and far between. Brisbane did have neo-Nazis but not any low-level general population antisemitism that I could detect. The only person from Brisbane that I could have included above was in fact an American now living in Australia who himself traces his antisemitism to business experiences with Jews in America (He is, incidentally, a notable Brisbane welfare worker, admired for helping blacks and homosexuals). The present observations are, then, very much consistent with the observations by Glock et al (1975): Antisemitism is highest where Jews are most present.

What the "cases" above actually say about their attitudes is also consistent with the Stein/Glock observations. Australian low-level antisemites assert consistently that it is actual experience with Jews that has made them antisemitic. Are we then to take seriously what these people say? Is actual association with people who define themselves as Jews aversive for many non-Jews? If so, why? I submit that we ignore what these generally young people say at our peril. As I have been at pains to point out, the claims they make are not the isolated claims of eccentrics. They are mainstream views. I believe therefore that we should accept that a significant subset of Jews do often behave in ways which are offensive to such people. We must enquire, therefore, just how this comes about.

The obvious first response is to say that Jews generally maintain a different culture and people will dislike anyone who is different. There probably is some truth in that. The psychological literature is replete with studies showing that those most attractive to us are those who are most like us in beliefs, attitudes, values, dress etc. (e.g. Rokeach, 1960; Byrne, Clore & Smeaton, 1986; Walker & Campbell, 1982). Trivial though it may seem, even strange hats can alienate. That is far from the end of the story, however. Why, for instance, are not redheads generally disliked? They are certainly a small minority and their difference is an obvious one. There have even been suggestions that they are characteristically more intelligent and more emotional. Yet the idea of a Pogrom against redheads is merely amusing. We must conclude, then, that it is not difference per se which is disliked but rather certain types of difference. What we have to ascertain is why some types of difference (such as being Jewish) are disliked while other types are not.

One of the reasons why people do not dislike redheads is that few other characteristics can in fact reliably be associated with red hair. As should be evident, a considerable diversity of people have no such difficulty with Jews. Can this be explained away by invoking the "stereotyping" formula? Do people come to their contacts with Jews with a stereotype in their heads into which Jews are fitted willy nilly? Note that if there were only such stereotypes involved, we should expect precisely the opposite generalization to that which was in fact found. If the stereotype were just that and not a true description, then people not having actual contact with Jews should hold with greatest assurance to the stereotype while those who did have most contact with Jews should see it often enough contradicted to lose faith in it. The reverse seems to be true. In fact what I observed was that people seem to start off with (given the terrible events of recent history) a sympathetic attitude towards Jews which is reversed as they actually come to know Jews. Among people who do not know Jews, there is no "stereotype". The "stereotype" is postjudice, not prejudice: It only emerges as the fruit of experience with Jews.


Although the above observations have concerned people for whom their antisemitic views are completely incidental, it would seem that in some cases, similar processes CAN lead on to really serious antisemitism.

And in fact a reading of any biography of Wilhelm Marr -- who in 1879 invented the term "antisemitism" (Antisemitismus) and published a very popular and influential antisemitic tract ("Der Sieg des Judenthums ueber das Germanenthum" -- "The victory of Jewry over the Germanic peoples") will show that he had exceptionally close and frequent contact with Jews -- even marrying one. And as Lindemann (2000, p. 188) says of 19th century antisemites generally: ""an astonishing number of them had at some point in their lives not only extensive contact with Jews but also remarkably positive experiences with them -- close friends, respected teachers, even lovers and spouses!" So what I observed has much historical precedent.

Indeed, according to the extensive account of the matter given in "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") much the same is true of Hitler himself. Mein Kampf is unreliable as objective history but there can be little doubt that it is good psychological history -- i.e. it records Hitler's own history as he saw it. And what he says is that in Linz -- where he grew up -- there were few Jews and he saw them at that time as no different from other Germans. So when he moved to Vienna he was horrified at the antisemitism of much of the Viennese press. As he says:

"For the Jew was still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation".

Long before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, however, Hitler despised the destructive and divisive side of Marxism and when he found that practically every preacher of Marxism that he encountered in Vienna was a Jew, he began to see Jews as bent on the destruction of the German people he loved. In other words, for him too, it was experience of Jews that led to his dislike of them. And he describes his conversion to antisemitism as "a great spiritual upheaval" -- i.e. he abandoned his previous "cosmopolitan" (tolerant) views only with great reluctance.

The conventional account of the origins of Hitler's animosity towards Jews is that his rejection from the Vienna Art Academy (in which Jews were prominent) embittered him. But that is not remotely what he says in Mein Kampf. He does not even mention the word "Jew" in connection with the Academy. He says that the Rector rejected him from the painting school because his main talent and interest was in architecture -- a judgement with which Hitler himself emphatically agreed!

An obvious question that arises from the historical cases I have just mentioned is why observations of Jews in those cases led on to really serious antisemitism when the normal effect is incidental antisemitism.

As I intimated initially, I think such cases have to be treated as sui generis and I do not know enough about Marr and others to comment with any certainty. The case of Hitler, however, is clear-cut. As any reader of Mein Kampf should know, Hitler was a fervent German nationalist (like Engels and other Leftists before him) and the great love affair of his life was a love-affair with the German people (Volk) as he saw them. But in the aftermath of WWI, Germans were furiously divided among themselves and apparently on the verge of class-war. That grieved Hitler deeply and to salvage his romantic view of his Volk he had to attribute the divisions among Germans to outside forces deceiving them rather than as something intrinsic to Germans themselves. And since the active preachers of class war at the time were often Jews, the scapegoat was obvious. So it was Hitler's nationalist passion that transformed him into an active antisemite. It must be noted, however, that nationalism and patriotism are normally NOT related to racism (Ray & Furnham, 1984). Hitler's case was sui generis.

{Since it is still considered authoritative in certain circles to trace ideas to Marxian origins, I might note in passing that the non-necessary connection between nationalism and antisemitism can be seen in the writings of Marx and Engels themselves. Marx was the furious antisemite -- which Engels more or less went along with -- and Engels was the fervent German nationalist -- which Marx more or less went along with. It took Hitler to combine both orientations with great enthusiasm. Those less familiar with Marxian writings should find a browse through the archives here to offer good confirmation for the summary I have suggested.}


It must be noted again that psychological research has now made the view of stereotypes as being rigid and mentally imprisoning quite obsolete (Brown, 1986; McCauley, Stitt & Segal, 1980). Stereotypes are now known to be as fluid as they were once thought rigid. Stereotypes are, in other words, highly responsive to new information about their target. See also Bayton & McAlister (1966) and Stein, Hardyck & Smith (1965) and summaries here and here. At this point, then, it seems we must do something that has probably been rather resisted in the past. We must look at the characteristics not only of those doing the discriminating but also at the characteristics of those discriminated against. What is there in many self-defined Jews that might generally offend today?

I would like to suggest that the explanation might be found (cf. Stephenson, 1940) in what one might call Semitism (or, as Stein calls it: "Anti-Gentilism") -- the well-known rejection of "Goyim" (Gentiles) by some Jews themselves. In fact, if we go by Brown's (1965) "codability" theory, Semitism is much more important to Jews than antisemitism is to Gentiles. English does not have a single word for "Jewish female", let alone a contemptuous one, but the Yiddish term "shicksa" (meaning roughly "Gentile bitch" and synonymous with "prostitute" in German) is well-known. In explaining antisemitism a very humble reference source (Pears Cyclopaedia, 1971) puts it all rather well: "Jews tend to form a closed society and incur the suspicions attached to all closed societies within which social contacts are largely limited to members; marriage outside the group is forbidden or strongly disapproved of and the preservation, among the orthodox, of cultural and religious barriers tends to isolate them from their fellow citizens. Discrimination, hateful as it is, does not come from one side only and it is such barriers as these that help to maintain an old and cruel folly".

It seems then that the offence some Jews give may stem from what Sumner (1906) long ago described and which is only too familiar to anthropologists: The tendency to have different standards for the in-and the out-groups. In such a "tribal morality" ingroup members tend to be treated in highly ethical ways but outsiders are "fair game". Many Jews would seem to see themselves as part of such a "tribe". To swindle an unperson is no crime at all and if one is challenged in the matter, a wealth of justifications and rationalizations is available under the general formula: "Look what they did to us" or Shylock's "If we are wronged, shall we not revenge?" Such behaviour can even be pious: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". It matters not that the individual upon whom the revenge is wreaked has done nothing wrong; where groupthink exists, the individual Jew need find little moral difficulty in justifying exploitation of Gentiles. The sad point is that even a member of the most primitive tribe could justify murdering members of other tribes in a similar way.

Such a tribal morality among a significant subset of Jews, then, very well explains the constant refrain from my informants about the dishonesty and untrustworthiness that they encountered when dealing with individual Jews. Those who live by a tribal morality, however, would seem to overlook the enmity they must arouse among the "unpersons" among whom they move and whom they treat less ethically than they might. Even an unperson knows the difference between good treatment and bad. And even unpersons can fire bullets and wield bayonets.

What is proposed here, then, is that the very "We" feeling that is prized by many Jewish community leaders is the thing that most endangers that community. Hitler showed what the effects of having the enmity of those among whom you live can be. The price of earning the enmity of your neighbors can be a terrible one indeed to pay. Is any pride or any temporary material gain worth it?

The last thing that should matter is to whom we trace the blame for this state of affairs. Persecution breeds "We" feeling and the Catholic Church persecuted Jewry for over a millennium, but then institutional Jewry had brought about the slaying of the Catholics' God. What a towering insult and injury that must have seemed! Not to slay a father, not to slay a King, but to slay a God! To me as an atheist of course the Catholic (and early Protestant) abhorrence of Jewry seems hopeless superstition and ignorance. But then so does the common Jewish view (shared by 70% of Israelis in 2012) that they are a chosen people. It is easy for a Jew to think of his own people as guiltless. When we realize that the Catholic and even the Nazi also think of themselves as guiltless it becomes apparent how pointless the ascription of guilt is. If instead it is the future towards which we are oriented, we may well live to see that future. A tribal morality is something that the future cannot justify and something that threatens the future of those that adhere to it today.

The sympathy that has gone out to Jewry after the Hitlerian horror became fully known could well lull Jews into a false sense of security. One could be tempted to identify all antisemitism with Nazism and give it no heed. To do so would be to squander a dearly bought breathing-space. The sympathy will one day run out as memory fades and public criticisms of Jews will then no longer be suppressed. It takes no wisdom at all to know what will follow then.

I am not, of course, suggesting that Jews themselves are unaware of the importance of developing goodwill and all sorts of ties with non-Jews. It is even my impression that Jews are unusually philanthropic once they have made their money. I am suggesting in fact that it is mainly in or perhaps only in business dealings that the tribal morality often emerges. It is only in the ultimately vital (survival-related) field of economics that the crunch comes. As I once heard H.N. say: "Socially they're lovely but in business......!". Certainly it has been my strong impression that it is mainly people who have had business dealings with Jews who dislike them. This for many will simply be contact as the customer of a Jew but even here a certain contempt by a Jew for his customers may be and is perceived. This is most usually where the Jew is in a limited competition position. A shopkeeper in competition with others cannot afford to be contemptuous but a landlord where housing is scarce may well be so able.

Let me elaborate a little on how many Jews may generally come to offend. Cut-throat though it may be, I think that there are nonetheless many ways in which business in our society works under ethical restraints. This is, of course, simply a matter of long-term self-interest. If a man's word is as good as his bond, it does obviate the need for bonds -- with all their attendant rigidities and inconveniences. The way one can (at least in Australia) simply ring up his stockbroker and order a purchase of shares is surely an instance of this. The transaction is one requiring trust and the broker is taking a risk. Given the moment to moment movement of the market, however, the advantage of preserving this trust and its attendant convenience are obvious. Verbal agreements are as convenient and advantageous as they are legally difficult to enforce. I gather from Q.N. that their ability to breach verbal agreements and even deny that they had been made is one of the things which makes Jews particularly offensive and indeed makes impossible the conclusion of such agreements. By saying that they "lower the standards" of the business community, she is referring precisely to the general lack of trust that the activity of some Jews engenders. Since not being able to trust the people with whom one works and deals must be singularly unpleasant, the cause of the situation quite reasonably must attract opprobrium. To me it seems obvious that not all Jews can be like this but I can also see that one of the things that keeps people behaving ethically towards others they have to do with is the need for the goodwill of those others. Indeed, there is no doubt that monetary advantage will frequently be sacrificed to the maintenance of goodwill. If a Jew sees himself as being apart from the "Goyim" he deals with and as being "chosen" and demonstrably better than they are, if he also looks for his social rewards and support to others than his "Goy" business associates, then this need for goodwill may indeed be lacking as a constraint on unethical behaviour. For a large monetary advantage he may be willing to sacrifice goodwill. This is made even more likely by the possibility that Jews seek security in money. In many ways this is an adaptive and realistic thing for a persecuted people to do and it may have served well in the past -- particularly where, for religious reasons, goodwill was simply unavailable. It does explain the contemptuous epithet "money-hungry" so frequently applied to Jews in Australia. Ultimately, however, the only security is the goodwill of one's fellows. Money did not help Hitler's millions of victims. Any outlook that has us think of others as not our fellows is personally dangerous.

This is not of course to deny that superiority and inferiority or similarity and difference do exist. In fact it is to assert that Australian Jews do appear to be economically more successful than others and I personally think that they are the intellectual elite of the human race. Nor am I necessarily saying that economically successful people everywhere should hide their success or deny it. What I am saying is that we are at risk unless we see our success and our values as merely our own. If I, raised as a Presbyterian, am successful and honest, it does not mean that all Presbyterians are successful and honest --any more than it means that Catholics must necessarily be unsuccessful and dishonest. The advantage of treating each man on his individual merits, then, is that it means that resentments can only ever have small targets. My success will be resented by those who do not share it but I as an individual am not worth getting heated about. If however I am known for my identity as a Jew the target may become not me but Jewry -- and that is (and often has been) a target big enough to get heated about.

In an age of nationalism and a rediscovery of ethnic roots, my plea that people see both themselves and others as individuals rather than as group-members may seem passe and redolent of the sort of liberal idealism that died with the '60s. I may indeed be advocating the impossible and the long rejected. Did not the Jews of Germany travel a long way along the assimilation road? Where did it get them? Nonetheless, if my analysis is correct the safest long-term alternative for Jews to the abandonment of group-identity that I urge may be emigration to Israel -- and the perils the Israelis face are only too well-known.

Some readers by now must be troubled that I seem to be accepting as true what antisemites say. Is that not naive? Is a thing true just because people believe it? Was not the absurd blood-libel believed about Jews for many centuries against all evidence to the contrary (Ben-Sasson, 1974)? In reply I basically must say that what I report is testimony of personal experience rather than hearsay and rumour. The difference seems important. It is certainly important in law. And dismissing my informants as "antisemites" simply prejudges the question of their veracity. When there are so many like them such prejudging and dismissal is quite simply incautious.


I am sure that what I have said above will not be universally persuasive. Most people, many Jews no doubt particularly, have well-entrenched views about the matter already. But there are a few objections that I have not so far dealt with that may be worth addressing.

The first I have in fact already dealt with implicitly but maybe I should be more explicit: Many Jews will refer to their own knowledge of other Jews and note how many philanthropic and generally admirable Jews there are. That is seen as a decisive objection to the stereotype I have discussed. It is not, of course. Even scientists rarely form their views on ALL the evidence (See here if you doubt it) and the man in the street is not even interested in ALL the evidence. He forms his impressions based primarily on his own limited experience and that is the reality we have to deal with and which I have tried to deal with.

A second objection is that Jews who live in predominantly Christian communities see enough variety in the inhabitants of those communities to be very wary of any generalizations about Christians -- so surely it is perverse that members of predominantly Christian communites make adverse judgments of Jews in general.

There are many replies to that. The obvious one is that many Jews DO seem to make adverse judgments of Christians -- as seen in the way a big majority of Jews vote for the Democratic party in the USA -- even though at least since Nixon the best friends of Israel have been Republicans. Why do they do that? Apparently because of the strong religious polariztion of the two parties. The Republicans are these days the Christian party. 2000 years of persecution of Jews by Christans of all sorts has a lot to do with that, of course, but what we see here seems to be a rare example of stereotyping in the popular sense -- i.e. a judgment that is NOT changed in response to changing reality. That should surely give some pause for reflection. If there is anything rigid and pathological in this whole area, the best candidate for it would seem to be the way so many contemporary American Jews reject their contemporary best friends: Evangelical Christians.

Be that as it may, however, the main point is that the way Jews see things in a gentile country need have nothing in common with how gentiles see Jews in a gentile country. Living in a place where Jews are a majority and their diversity can be readily seen should lead to more cautious views about Jews compared to living in a place where Jews are only occasionally encountered. But it is the latter circumstance that is discussed in this article.

And although the adverse stereotypes of Jews that I have discussed are generally unimportant to the people holding them, we have seen in Hitler's Germany how such views can cause the actions of really serious antisemites to be treated with indifference. And given the rising hostility to Israel in particular and Jews in general now emanating from the Left, a resurgence of serious antisemitism is not only a possibility but a fact. Where it will lead only a great optimist would dare to specify.


Perhaps, however, I have so far been too pessimistic. Perhaps there is a safe choice for Jews other than Israel or assimilation. I have for some time been a keen student (Ray, 1982 & 1986) of an ethnic group that does seem to manage to have it both ways: The Parsees of India. Sometimes called "the Jews of India", the Parsees have set an example which does, I believe, give hope.

The Parsees are descendants of Zoroastrian true-believers who fled the Persian empire at the time of its conquest by Muslims. They took refuge in what is now the Indian State of Gujurat and have Gujurati as their native language to this day. Perhaps because of their typically Iranian energy, they have prospered mightily in India. They founded India's steel, nuclear, computer and airline industries and one of their sons (Rajiv Gandhi) even became Prime Minister of India for some time while another (Sam Manekshaw) headed the Indian Army. In spite of India's generally abject poverty the Parsee living standard is more or less at a Western level. Their over-representation among the upper strata of Indian society makes any eminence that Western Jews have achieved seem puny by comparison. If "jealousy" is the reason behind the persecution of Jews, the Parsees should be the most persecuted minority on earth. Yet amid the seething hot-bed of religious, racial, caste and communal hatreds that is India, the Parsees have remained unscathed. They are, in fact, somewhat popular. How do they do it?

The answer is rather simple. The Parsees have always been grateful to the host community that gave them safe refuge from the Muslims. Instead of holding their hosts in contempt, they actually tend to appreciate their hosts (no doubt at least in part because of India's considerable and unusual success in resisting Islam). They certainly make great efforts not to offend their hosts (e.g. they tend to avoid eating beef and pork not because Zoroastrianism forbids it but because one offends Hindus and the other Muslims). This has beneficial results at many levels, not the least of which is the interpersonal level. The level that is most visible, however, is the ultimate level when Parsees are deciding what to do with the fortunes that many of them accumulate. Such fortunes are almost always used for charitable ends. Parsee charitable foundations are in fact legendary. Such foundations usually have as their first duty the succour of any needy Parsees but as the Parsee community is very small (a total of around 90,000 souls and falling) Indians generally are also major beneficiaries. The Parsees, in other words, not only say "thank you" but say it very nicely and very convincingly. There is nothing in Zoroastrianism that tells them that they are superior. They are quite endogamous but this is normal and understood in India. In fact, their endogamy seems Indian rather than Zoroastrian. Zoroastrianism teaches that the help of all men is needed in the fight against evil. A fuller ethnography of the Parsees than the few notes given above is to be found in Kulke (1978)

So it seems to me that Jews might just possibly be able to learn from the Parsees. Few diaspora Jews are now religious so religious justifications for a superior attitude towards others are usually not available. It is true that Jewish and Israeli achievements are great in many fields but that is the work of a few individuals only rather than the work of all Jews. So assuming any superiority from that at the all-important level of individual interactions with others is simply arrogating the achievements of others to oneself. There are lots of foolish Jews too, as there are in any group.

Christians have much to answer for if we take an Irish view of history (i.e. that history never dies) but we have all seen in Northern Ireland where an Irish view of things leads. Additionally, if we take a more contemporary view of things, has not the succour given by Christians to the State of Israel been worthy of gratitude? Do not Christians even go against their own interests (e.g. at the time of the Arab oil embargo) to give that succour? I admit that I am drawing a long bow but if most Jews who live among Christians can come to see something in Christians worthy of gratitude then all their troubles will be over. People like gratitude as much as they dislike condescension. Popularity is obtainable but it must be worked for. If people must view themselves as group-members rather than as individuals then the Parsees have shown the safe way to do so.

What I have said immediately above is in effect advice to Jews but I fully recognize that advice is the world's most oversupplied commodity and is often worthy of no respect. I do however feel obliged to point out where in my view the available evidence leads. What others do with my observations will probably be minutely little but I have done all I can to help.


Unfortunately, however, there is every possibility that the Parsee example I describe above will go unheeded. The defensiveness that the propositions of the present paper engender has already made itself evident. At a time when many published papers seem to go forever unread, the present paper has the distinction that it has twice been attacked in print even before it was published! In the first such instance the Trotskyite Billig (1981) obtained a copy of the unpublished first draft of the paper and was so incensed by it that he plumbed new depths in social scientific debate by implying that I am or was a Nazi. I did of course reply to this outrageous accusation. In Ray (1985) I not only denied it but showed where Billig had got his "information". He was using the published fact (Ray, 1972 & 1973) that I had done participant observation research among neo-Nazis to imply that I myself must be one of them. He seems, however, not to have confronted the fact that he himself has also done apparently rather involved research among neo-Nazis!

My exposition of the extraordinary shallow nature of his reasoning, however, has simply caused Billig (1985) to mount a new and yet more vitriolic personal attack on me and on this paper. That attack surely needs some reply. First, one of Billig's dotty criticisms is that it is in some way suspicious that my research program gave rise to only three publications. I should apologize! Many research programs give rise to no publications whatsoever. It is true that Billig needed a book to record his own observations of British Neo-Nazis while I wrote only journal articles but surely one must accept that journal articles are a perfectly normal and adequate way of reporting research results. Billig may find that I have not given all the detail he would like but that is more characteristic of journal articles than of my specific work.

Billig's next objection to my work is even more pompous. He claims that because I began my research while I was a student, it cannot really have been disinterested research and that I must therefore have had some ulterior motive for it. This is ridiculous for several reasons but let me give at least one: My secondary schooling was interrupted so that I was aged 20 by the time I became an undergraduate. I have however, always been a voracious reader so that before I ever set foot in a University I had already consumed great quantities of pop social science in paperback form (Vance Packard, Margaret Mead, Galbraith, Eysenck etc.). I was therefore even at that time perfectly well aware that sociologists saw participant observation as a powerful and exciting way of finding out about deviant sub-groups in society. When the opportunity arose, therefore, I saw no reason why I should not do some of that kind of research. As Billig rightly observes, however, my work was somewhat unsystematic and lacking in the precautions that a seasoned researcher might have taken. I am not at all ashamed to say that the explanation for this is simply that one cannot learn everything out of paperbacks!

Billig (1985) does however end up conceding that my degree of involvement with Nazis is really "of scant interest". His attachment to ad hominem arguments, however, remains. He goes on to shift his attack to the related accusation that I am antisemitic.

His first point in this new attack is to question my claim that there is a great gulf between Nazism and conservatism (I had noted previously that it was the Conservative Churchill, not the Communist Stalin who refused an alliance with Hitler). Billig does this by quoting my own statement that Nazis sometimes join and are active in conservative political parties. He conveniently overlooks the fact that the Nazis are immediately expelled once the conservatives get wind of what they really are.

Billig, however, also goes on to quote another of my statements to the effect that both Nazis and conservatives are ethnocentric. By this he creates the impression that I think conservatives are racists. This is, however, sleight of hand. While it is true that many social scientists use "ethnocentrism" and "racism" as more or less interchangeable terms, I do not. And Billig knew that: One of the very papers Billig attacks bore the title "Are racists ethnocentric?" (Ray, 1974 Ch. 46). I was using "ethnocentrism" at that time to mean little more than patriotism. There is, of course, now plenty of evidence that both conservatism and patriotism are essentially unrelated to racism among general population samples (e.g. Ray & Furnham, 1984).

Billig then moves on to an attack on me that is based on misleading quotations from the first draft of the present paper. He also quotes the titles of two papers from my book (Ray, 1974) that must sound (and were meant to sound) pretty alarming to most social scientists. I do not, however, here propose to make any attempt to answer these criticisms by Billig in detail. The only real corrective to selective quotations is for people to read the original in full and I believe that my papers must stand or fall on that basis. It is insidious that Billig has largely based his attack on my one paper that has not been publically available but I here remedy that deficit.

I do however wish to answer the underlying criticism that really motivates Billig's cheap shots at my paper ("billig" means "cheap" in German). It is true that the paper does contain criticisms of some Jews. Billig appears to believe that no such criticisms should ever be made. I reject that utterly. No-one is beyond criticism and criticism can be kindly meant as well as maliciously meant. I feel sure that most people reading this paper could not doubt that the criticisms I make are indeed of the constructive rather than the destructive kind. I even attempt the folly of giving helpful advice!

I agree that in view of the tragic events of recent history it could be seen as "insensitive" to speak critically of Jews, but I also believe that such a view is itself clearly racist. I treat Jews like any other ethnic group. I think it not only demeans them to treat them with kid gloves but it runs the risk of creating a fictitious view of reality. The dangers of this can be seen from the Palestinian uprising in Israel. A sort of fictitious image of saintliness has been created around Jews so that when they behave in normal, non-saintly ways there is shock and horror. An unrealistically high standard is set for Israel that is not set for anyone else. That hardly serves Israel well. It is the fruit of not heeding an ancient warning: "He who flatters a man spreads a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5 R.S.V.).

So it seems to me that someone whom you really accept is also someone whom you feel free to speak to frankly. By that criterion, I am one of the few social scientists who do really accept Jews. I wish Jews well and feel that honest criticism is the duty of a friend. As Solomon the wise put it so long ago: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27: 6. R.S.V.). The fact that such a duty can be risky I always accepted and Billig's attack on me is evidence enough of that risk. It was in fact because of that risk that I made only desultory attempts over the years to get versions of the present paper into print in the academic journals. There are some ways in which even a tenured academic (as I was) can run the risk of losing ones job and I had to be cognizant of that risk. So the present paper was "back-burnered" for many years. Now that I am retired from academic employment, however, I am in a position to speak without fear or favour. I can only hope that not all readers of this paper will be as hostile as Billig. I can only hope Solomon was right again when he said: "He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue" (Proverbs 28: 23 R.S.V.).


So at the end of the day, what are my personal thoughts and feelings about Jews in general? A number of responses to that:

1). I DON'T think questions of the above sort are wrong, vain, or simplistic. There is nothing wrong with generalizations as long as we realize that it is is very rare for a generalization to cover all cases. And NO generalization covers all Jews. And basing your judgment of any individual solely on some group that he belongs to falls somewhere between absurd and evil.

2). I think it is absurd to be simply either antisemitic or prosemitic. Like everybody else, Jews have both strengths and weaknesses. And in this article I have not shrunk from talking about what I see as weaknesses. Mature discourse requires cool consideration of both strengths and weaknesses. Given such consideration, however, it is a matter of personal judgment whether, ON BALANCE, one thinks well or ill of Jews. I personally am philosemitic on balance (I am a great supporter of the State of Israel and even put my money where my mouth is by donating to Israeli causes) but I can certainly see that some characteristics often found among Jews might lead others with different values to a more negative conclusion.

3). I think Jews are one of the earth's most politically stupid people. Their talent for siding with their enemies is extraordinary.

4). In other respects, I think Jews are the intellectual cream of the human race and, as such, should be valued as rare treasures. Hitler's depredations were a grievous assault on the human gene pool as a whole. Anything that saves Jews from the haters has my unqualified support.

So does the above make me antisemitic or does it make me a Jew-lover? I have been vigorously accused of both -- but I don't really care. I just try to describe reality as accurately as I can -- in all its messy complexity. Perhaps that is my personal area of weakness and folly. It certainly exposes me to much scorn. I am perhaps fortunate,however, that the scorn concerned troubles me not a bit.


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