Monday, April 19, 2010

What little I might know about Anti-Semitism

A lady of my acquaintance asks about someone she knows who is a professional lout, it seems, and is thus an anti-Semite.What is it that makes people become anti-Semites? This is a topic I will address in time to come, and then fully and as deeply as I can. or now, a few thoughts as I might badly and simply reduce very clear and profound thoughts from others.

I'm no expert in anti-Semitism, by which I mean I've never delved into it as a formal study. Let me toss out some random ideas based on what little I know empirically and anecdotally, and perhaps we can go from there into something better over time.

From the near beginning I think we can identify Jewish anti-Semitism, as it were, as one of the more virulent strains of such. Look to the Old Testament for examples of Jewish betrayal of Jews, from, for example, Isaac's family turning on him, David turning on Uriah, the divided Kingdom of Israel itself, and so on. Worse, we can see, if memory serves, and keeping in mind I'm no scholar of such things, the Book of John, in which "The Jews" are despised and hated as a thing abominable. There, I believe, we find the earliest form of Christian anti-Semitism full-blown. That (Jewish) Christians hate Jews for not being Christians. What does this lead to?

Rene Girard who discusses "scapegoats," a universal form of expiating collective guilt. His thesis is that Jesus is at last the God who turns the scapegoat around and halts the practice. Look: James. g. Frazer spends much good ink on describing the near universality of vegetable kings, those who live, blossom, and die for the collective good; and they are often, if not always, sacrificed to the chthonic, i.e. they are killed to ensure their blood fertilizes the Earth for the coming growing seasons. The dead god is resurrected in the flesh of the next crop. The cycle is time, rather than the linear time we live in now. Nothing can change without catastrophe, a lapse into chaos and the primordial rage of unhappy gods Man is at the mercy of. Man's only control over the temper of the gods is to expiate Man's sins by giving to the chthonic gods all the sins of the collective, hence the scapegoat. He is piled high with honours and status, making him worthy of sacrifice to the gods, and his death is seen as a benefit to the masses. Over and over and over; all sacrifice given to keep the order stable and passive. Such is the limit of control of Man over the gods. Such control offers man a safety in an otherwise frightening universe. When time is cycle after cycle of anticipated anger from the gods, one must find a scapegoat to sacrifice. Such a sacrifice must be both worthy of sacrifice and also expendable to the masses.

Jews, being the fount of Christianity, are the patrimony of our time; Judaism being that which we use and live as our own, without our having made it ourselves. Jews came first, and without them, where would the rest of it be? It would not be at all. We might still be pagans and cyclically oriented savages. But, thanks to the Jews, our fathers, we are linear. Do not be surprised to see that the lingering resentment of the Jews as founders of our line are hated for the constant reminder that we didn't create this line ourselves. They came first and are the foundation upon which Christianity is built. Christians are indebted, permanently, and to a group of people they turn to to sacrifice to the angry gods. Now, please wait.

Two themes run universally through our common humanness: resentment and fear.

Resentment is always a part of our experience of living in that we are out of control of our lives without others, both those with us and those around us. We did not come into a new world of our own making and design. Others came before us, leaving us what we have. We have, for example, language. We cannot, as so lengthily put by Wittgenstein, our own private language. we see clearly, in Fichte's efforts, the collective nature of the authenticity of language vis a vis the individual, and with some care, we can see the resentments therein, both a puritanical originist resentment and a "secondist" resentment of, for example Danes. The puritan first are resentful of the impurity of the secondist, and so forth, as we can see in many instances of living. who is original and "authentic," and who is secondary and "alien"?

If we see a Christian base, or a Jesus-centred "ground" of social and cultural existence; and further, if we, like Fichte and others,see culture as organic, "rooted in the soil" of traditional lands, which is to say that man today is connected to man of previous times in one place like the landscape's bounty, then his resentment is co-mingled with the organic language he did not create, cannot be a part of the communal experience without, and cannot change. His resentment must fester; and then his resentment might turn toward those who are within the culture inauthentically, they being his outlet for hostility and resentment against his fear and powerlessness.

Man, seeing himself in time and place as inauthentic, without the boundaries of place and language and people, is not a self: Man is limited and defined by who and what he is not; and he is therefore who he is by what he can connect to what he is not, e.g. language and soil. Man, if we may use the obvious German example, is German because his life springs from the German land from which is forefathers sprang; German due to his speaking the language of his German forebearers, those who had lives previous to him in the place he is now, giving him his identity, his knowledge of others as not him-- but akin. Man, German, for example, is authentic because he is directly related to his collective Germanness through place and language; but he is not other for the same reason; thus he is part of a whole, subsuming himself t the great that gives him his selfness. And being given, as we know, is a punishment that leads to resentment. Being "first" in Germanness is thus an authentic identity. Jews, regardless of their ability to speak and be known to Germans, are not "first" in Germanness but are interlopers in the authentic German ground of being. they are obvious scapegoats for the resentful German. The Jew, living and acting" Germanness in his life, is an affront to German authenticity, much so for the Christian, and moreso for the neo-pagan German nationalist.

If Jews are "first" in monotheism and Christians are "inauthentic," then why no puritan resentment on the part of the Jews toward the Christians in the same way the Germans are resentful of Jewish firstness? Possibly, and I am no expert, the covenant of the Jews is a burden rather than a blessing from God. It is a hardship given to a people who have no reason of themselves for such. The Jews didn't choose themselves to be who they are in the relationship with God. It is a terrible gift, one that doesn't create a pride but a humility that destroys any feeling of superiority. and imagine how that must make others feel toward the Jews.

If the Germans, and I use them only as a convenient example, are "authentic" in their firstness in the land and language, purer than, for example, the wandering Danes and Dutch who have been cut off from the authenticity of the language and land, then what of the Jews who have come from elsewhere and settled in Germanness? That Jews are referred to as "weeds" is inescapable.

How does one reconcile ones feelings of resentment in the face of others having what one desires for oneself? What do one do when, for example, one has a language given to oneself that one cannot be oneself without? One might, if nothing else comes to give meaning to the self, e.g. transcendental and catholic Christianity, resolve to find a purity of self that gives one essential authenticity, i.e one might turn to ones Ethnicity. One might say that one is entitled to (x) due to ones innate belonging to the collective that legitimately had and should have. If one might not in practice have (x), then one might at least collectively have (x) in that ones master might have (x) through which one might share vicariously, as is the case of the Clan Chief system of Scotland, or perhaps more accessibly, that movie stars might have for us so we can imagine. But if the movie star is not-us, is Other, then one might become more resentful than ever.

Let me turn next to fear.

[For further discussion of the burden of the covenant, c.f., I think, to Martin Buber.]

In the universe prior to Modernity the mass was at the mercy of the angry gods. Man was a passive victim of the gods' wrath, and all one could do is propitiate the anger, at best, b saddling the most likely scape-goat with the sins of the collective, sending it into the wilderness to die and take the collective sins with it to perdition.

To laud the scape-goat is to create in the mind a vision of the good made necessarily bad and deserving of perdition. The gods want some great thing sacrificed, but once the sacrifice is made, the guilt of having killed a good thing has to turn to guilt. Thus, one can see resentment against the scape-goat as cause of guilt. Thus, what was revered in its time has been made into something now evil and deserving of death. the act of sacrifice is seen as a good and moral act, saving the authentic from evil carried in the collective by the scapegoat, now gone. But given the nature of Man and time, the sins of the collective build again, necessitating the renewal of the sacrifice. Bring out more Jews.

Girard, as I know second-hand for the most part, says that Jesus is the first to become a reverse scapegoat, and the final one for man. Look at it this way: if man sacrifices to the angry gods, Jesus says he will be the goat, or in this case, the paschal lamb. God says he will offer himself to man as the needed scapegoat so there need be no more sacrifice of scapegoats, the final act being one of generosity of God to man. A rather large act, in my opinion. those whose resentments are as large can look to Jesus as the final sacrifice, and can find resolution in the death of a resurrected Jesus, a vegetable god who will come again without further need for sacrifice, it being guaranteed by God. Man can stop sacrificing others and accept that the last is over.

But Man is often in his own mind so much smarter than God. Man is so often demiurge, or gnostic seer. I'll come to that and fear when I return.

In philosophy, the use of the word phenomenon differs from other uses in that it refers to perceived events. Phenomena may be perceived through a person's senses or with their mind.

The term came into its modern philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant, who contrasted it with noumenon (for which he used the term "Ding an sich", or "thing-in-itself") or Absolute. Kant was heavily influenced by Leibniz in this part of his philosophy. Phenomenon and noumenon serve as interrelated technical terms in Kant's philosophy. Noumena, in contrast to phenomena, are not directly accessible to observation. Nowadays, "phenomena" are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances'. (Wikipedia: Noumena)

There is the phenomenal Earth and World, i.e. the physical place and the built environment of man as he knows it, roughly the objective as known to the mind and experience as thing in itself. There is also the nuomenal Earth as not experienced by man, objectivity that might have nothing genuine to do with our Earth and world. There is a reality that we can try to know through our experience of the world of senses and the world of reality we can try to know through Reason. There is beyond that, the Is as is. For Jews and Christians, reality is knowable by guarantee of God. A bit off-topic but relevant in the sense of leading to a clearer conclusion, and nothing better springing to mind, allow me to quote a bit of Pope Ben.

“SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?

God promises a coherent world knowable to man through Reason. I haven't given the best example from Christianity for that argument, but for now I hope it does the job.

And to conclude:

Islam contradicts that thesis by stating that Allah can and does change the constants of the Rational as his will decides it. "Allah is not constrained," as they say. Thus, the world is unknowable to the Muslim; and thus he must live in fear, having no control over his life by rules of Reason or Faith. Fr the Muslim there is no coherence in either the phenomenal nor the noumenal. (Imagine then what the world is for the atheist.)

In some ways, for the atheist life is far better in light of the unknowableness of the telos; man can become the demiurge of the telos itself by Will. Where there is no God, man is god. Where there is no order or reason, man can make it so by Will of himself.Where there is fear in a frightening universe, man can make it knowable and make it right according to man, man as demiurge, as creator of the universe. man as demiurge no longer must live in fear of the unknowable universe, he can simply reknow it according to how he would desire it to be, and to be right. He need not resent the First Principal or Prime Mover, that being replaced by the Big Bang, and man thereafter being the Prime Mover of Man.

Unfortunately for Man-God, the world never quite conforms to his demiurges, as it were. Man as gnostic, i.e. he who knows the Pleroma, the beyond the beyond, who can see the whole as perfect Man-Creation of his own self, can "see" the perfection of his own vision, but something always makes it not happen as it should. Man-Creator must have a scapegoat, this being the case, someone to lade with the sins of Man so that perfection may be manifest. If his attempts, which he sees as the work of God, ie. himself, are perfect, and if perfection is corrupted, then their must be some evil force in the universe that corrupts, i.e. takes away the good. The scapegoat, if it is rid of, will allow the good to emerge, emanate from Man as demiurge rather than as "descend" from the Titanic Transcendent. Gnostic man can emanatise the eschathon himself, he having replaced the Transcendent, i.e having become God, a Voegelin says. thus, one has control over the universe, and one is not in a state of fear of the gods.

So, where is the eschathon? Why, since the Gnostic knows all, sees all, and is in his mind perfect, the Heaven on Earth he promises? It is wrecked by the Manichean forces of evil such as Sarah Palin and other stupid people like me and you. We are evil. That is why the eschathon is not emanatised. And who are we, generally? Not just stupid masses, we are stupid masses manipulated by the cosmic Manichean evil of-- The Jooos!

That is a hasty nutshell of my own making, is my best at this hour on anti-Semitism and Gnostic hatred of the people, ie. the demos.


Pastorius said...

I love Girard. It seems to me he hit the nail on the head, in the way few Philosophers ever have.

But, what do I know?

Anyway, I believe the idea that there is a Germaness which sprouts out of soil, and that that sprouting gives Germans an authenticity, is a flawed idea. In fact, it is not only flawed it is an IDEA.

Therefore, it is an ideology.

It is a competing ideology to that of the Jews, which says that we are born of the Word.

Ideologies are made up of Words.

There is one accurate ideology, and a bunch of inaccurate ones. The innacurate ideologies are, I agree, born out of resentment at a perceived lack of authenticity.

Attempting to find one's authenticity in soil, rather than Word, is always going to lead to more strife.

These are my thoughts. Maybe I can add more later.

Dag said...

I look forward to your further comments. I like Girard very much too.

Pastorius said...

I don't know as much about him as you do. I've only read ABOUT him. I have not read his work itself.

Dag said...

Girard has a blog, much like we have blogs, and he's not only brilliant, he's fun to read. My source for most about Girard is Truepeers at Covenant Zone and 'Peers at our weekly meetings. I'm a lucky guy to have such contact with the world of ideas at this level and frequency.

Dag said...

This never-ending book I' writing, A Genealogy of Left Dhimmi Fascism, is now at the last chapter, seven, in which I hope to clarify the influence of thinkers on our time, particularly Plato, and then Romantics, such as Shelly. But in the whole of the work to date we find much from romantics such as von Herder and Fichte, both of whom are essential thinkers in terms of multi-culturalism and cultural relativism, founding fathers of what became "Blood and Soil" mysticism. Blot und boden lead to a number of significant themes in our day, to national chauvinism, anti-Semitism, and ecology. Girard is a good leader into clearer understandings of some of that, even if, according to me, he doesn't have any ultimate answers. Hence, I write "A" genealogy, one among an infinite number of possible genealogies. I don't know, and I feel certain that no one knows, ultimately. But it's great fun to read some great thinkers at work, like Girard.