Reflections on Hilaire Belloc’s “The Jews” (1922), by Andrew Joyce
Of all the fallacies that one confronts when engaging with the theme of relations between Jews and Europeans, one of the most easily disproven is the idea that antagonism towards Jews is constantly changing. In the ‘mainstream’ reading of the history of European-Jewish interactions, the friction that exists between Jews and other elements of the society is argued to be linked solely to a Christianity-induced communal psychosis on the part of Europeans. This psychosis is said to undergo almost ceaseless metamorphoses.
The idea is so deep-rooted among organized Jewry that, even today, we are forced to listen to endless bleating about the emergence of a “new anti-Semitism”? This redundant cry resounds almost weekly even though, to the informed observer, it is clear that there isn’t, and has never been, any real change in the essence of the friction between Jews and Europeans. The ‘Jewish Problem,’ if one wishes to employ that archaic terminology, is seemingly as timeless and unchanging as the Jews themselves.
In my examination of Robert Wistrich’s Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred, I pointed to that author’s typically contorted argument that a “virus” existed in Europe, in which “pagan, pre-Christian anti-Semitism grafted on to the stem of medieval Christian stereotypes of the Jew which then passed over into the post-Christian rationalist anti-Judaism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.” Needless to say Wistrich’s phantasm, and similar poorly-fabricated ‘theories,’ are prejudiced at a very early stage by the employment of that fundamentally meaningless term: ‘anti-Semitism.’ By its very nature the term places the Jew or the ‘Semitism’ immediately in the passive position, thereby avoiding confrontation with the true essence of the problem — that there is a mutual friction between two essentially different entities, with divergent group interests and goals.
Concurrent with such prejudices, in mainstream ‘histories’ one finds a wholesale condemnation of many historical writers and their work on the subject of ‘the Jews.’ The gravest sin of these authors was their emphasis on the causes and nature of the inter-ethnic friction, rather than on the ‘martyr-ology’ which today passes for Jewish ‘history.’ Too much analysis, and not enough sympathy. The efforts of these authors were intended to point out the differences, transgressions, and secrecy which together combined to ensure a periodic, and often chaotic, resurgence of Gentile exasperation. I am thinking in particular of specific works produced by Voltaire, Wagner, Bauer, and von Treitschke.
Today, much of the basic meaning of these writings is lost amidst the jargon and squabble of obviously-biased scholars. However, one striking and enduring feature of these works is the uniformity of their argument that, specific provocations aside, the ‘Jewish Problem’ was unchanging. None of these authors operated on the assumption or pretence, made fashionable by western Liberalism, that Jews as a group did not exist. These authors defied an age in which the wisdom was passed down from above that nationality and citizenship was a purely voluntary affair. They dared to insist that ‘the Jew remains a Jew,’ and it is this element that gives such writings a timeless quality and a defiant relevance. The majority of these writings have passed through the centuries unscathed, even their anecdotes finding resonance and familiarity in the present. In this essay I want to share some reflections on one of the lesser-known of these important authors whom ‘history’ would rather we forget. Although now largely forgotten, Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953) was a poet and author of some eminence during his lifetime, and his notable 1922 work, The Jews, remains one of the most lucid, relevant, and balanced examinations of the nature of Jewish-Gentile relations available to us today.
A Brief Biographical Summary
Hilaire Belloc was born at La Celle St Cloud, near Paris, the younger child of Louis Belloc and his wife, Elizabeth Rayner Parkes, daughter of a successful English lawyer. Louis Belloc was French (although with Irish blood from his maternal grandfather); his father was a well-known portrait painter. Hilaire Belloc was born just before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war and a few weeks later the family retreated to England, having taken the last train out of Paris. When the Bellocs returned to the family home after the war they found that it had been ransacked and pillaged. The fortunes of the family declined further when, aged only two years, Hilaire’s father died. Elizabeth and her two children moved to London, later settling in Sussex, where the family lived a life of genteel poverty.
After he left school, Belloc’s energy and restlessness made it hard for him to settle to a career. In succession he attempted to train for the French navy, to become a farmer, and then a draughtsman. In 1892 Belloc undertook military service in the French army as an artilleryman — a necessity if he wished to retain French nationality. It was a highly formative experience, which gave him a lifelong interest in military matters. It also made him aware that he was by now more of an Englishman than a Frenchman. A few years later he decided to become a British subject.
After he returned from France, Belloc was admitted to Balliol College, Oxford, with the financial support of his sister and her fiancé. Belloc excelled and quickly became a star performer in debates at the Oxford Union. He graduated in modern history with first class honors in 1895. After graduation, he applied for a prize fellowship at All Souls College, which would have given him a financially secure niche in Oxford, but his assertive and argumentative demeanor had already made him enemies in the small world of the university. For a while Belloc remained at Oxford, making money by tutoring while unsuccessfully applying for academic posts. He was also launching himself as a writer, and it was in this early phase of his career that, beginning with The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts in 1896, he started to produce the comic and satirical verse which for many readers is his best-known work. He soon began making a living by the labors of his pen, and as a man of immense energy, versatile talents, and wide reading, he worked in many genres.
Belloc eventually reconciled himself to the fact that he would never get a college fellowship in Oxford. In 1899 the family moved to London. Belloc’s literary career was by now gaining momentum, and he began producing a stream of books and articles. He had a sharp, penetrating, dogmatic intelligence, and there were few subjects on which he did not have strong opinions. Belloc soon acquired public literary fame. Most famously, he became known as a polemical apologist for the Roman Catholic Church, which he regarded as the only source of sanity and order in the world. Although Roman Catholicism was central to Belloc’s life and his writings, his beliefs and attitudes were often out of step with the spirit of the Church. His religion was a disciplined matter of the will and the intelligence, but his subjective stance to the world was essentially pessimistic and strikes one as more pagan than Christian.
In 1906 Belloc entered politics as a Member of Parliament on the radical wing of the Liberal Party. It was an unsatisfactory and disillusioning experience. Belloc was never at ease with the practice and assumptions of the British parliamentary system and turned sharply against it after he left the House of Commons in 1910. He was later outraged by the Marconi scandal of 1913, in which several Jewish members of the Liberal government were accused of improper trading in the shares of the Marconi Company. Belloc gradually came to the belief that true democracy was feasible only in small communities such as the Greek city state, and that in large modern societies it inevitably degenerated into an unaccountable oligarchy. He had originally described himself as a republican and supported the ideals of the French Revolution; he now shifted towards a belief in absolute monarchy, or, in effect, dictatorship, as he expounded in The House of Commons and Monarchy (1920).
In 1912 Belloc published a critique of modern society, The Servile State, in which he attacks both capitalism and socialism. His argument was that modern civilization combines notional political freedom with economic slavery, since most people in the modern period possess little or no ‘rooted’ property, and such property is essential for both freedom and well-being. Belloc believed that a rooted life, close to nature, was humanly superior to the massification produced by modern civilization. His ideal was a society of peasant proprietors or craftsmen, negotiating with each other by free contract, where property is widely distributed and not concentrated in a few hands. Two books from the 1920s developed further some of his basic political ideas. The first, Europe and the Faith (1920) sets out his personal reading of European history. The other work is The Jews (1922), an analysis of which will form the main body of this essay.
In his final years Belloc was a public figure with many friends and admirers, though he was lonely, and increasingly wearied by the need to continually write books for money. His despair at personal and national tragedy deepened during the Second World War when his son Peter died on active service in the Royal Marines. After a stroke in 1942 his health declined and he became senile within a few years. He struggled defiantly to retain independence until his death in 1953. Many of Belloc’s numerous books are now forgotten, though Amazon very recently reissued a few, including The Jews, under their cut-price Forgotten Books imprint.
The Jews (1922)
One of my first impressions of The Jews was how closely it seemed to fit the psychological, and even physical, attributes ascribed to its author by some of his earliest biographers. C. Creighton Mandell describes a forceful, rapid, orderly and energetic man whose vigor “appears, in his person, in the massive breadth of his shoulders and the solidity of his neck.” Like its author, The Jews is a compact, powerful, and solidly-built treatise on “the relation between the Jews and the nations around them (vii)”. The book is characterized by its directness and its urgency. This is not a work of prose or literature. It is a work of argument and action. There are few words wasted. Each chapter arrives like a hammer blow against convention.
Belloc begins by outlining in simple language the thesis of his book: the need to address the problem of reducing or accommodating the strain produced by the presence of an alien body, in this case the “small but intense” Jewish population (12), within European culture and society. Belloc writes: “The alien body sets up strains, or to change the metaphor, produces a friction, which is evil both to itself and to the organism which it inhabits (4).” The author then outlines the only two ways whereby the easing of these strains can be achieved. “The first is by the elimination of what is alien. The second is by its segregation. There is no other way (4).” Belloc states that elimination can take three forms: destruction, expulsion or absorption. Segregation can take two forms: a hostile form which takes no account of the needs of that which is segregated, and an alternative form which considers the good of both parties and may be better described by the term “recognition.” Belloc’s book is intended to advocate for the ‘recognition’ solution.
Solution by way of destruction is condemned as “abominable in morals” and “futile in practice (5).” Belloc briefly lists historical instances where angry popular masses have vented violent frustration upon Jews, arguing that this has led to “a dreadful inheritance of hatred upon the one side and of shame upon the other (5).” Expulsion is no better a solution because, although theoretically sustainable, it is weak in practice and “only one degree less odious than the first (6).” It would involve “a mass of individual injustice” and it would be “almost impossible to dissociate it from violence and ill deeds of all kinds (6).” Expulsion is also something that can never be complete. Belloc points out that expulsion has only ever been attempted “at moments and in places where the strength of the Jews has declined; and this invariably means their corresponding strength in some other quarter (6).” Absorption, while vastly gentler than the other means of elimination, is declared impossible. Belloc writes that “there have been generations and even centuries where every opportunity for absorption existed; yet that absorption has never taken place (9).” The body of Jewry “as a whole has remained separate, differentiated, with a strong identity of its own under all conditions and in all places (10).”
Hostile segregation is little more than static expulsion. This is contrasted with the more amicable form of segregation which may be by mutual arrangement: “a recognition, with mutual advantage, of a reality which is unavoidable by other party (10).” Societal recognition would involve a scenario wherein “the Jews on their side shall openly recognize their wholly separate nationality and we on ours shall equally recognize that separate nationality, treat it without reserve as an alien thing, and respect it as a province of society outside our own (5).” Belloc powerfully concludes his opening chapter by arguing that:
If the Jewish nation comes to express its own pride and patriotism openly, and equally openly to admit the necessary limitations imposed by that expression; if we on our side frankly accept the presence of this nation as a thing utterly different from ourselves but with just as good a right to existence as we have; if we renounce our pretences in the matter; if we talk of and recognize the Jewish people freely and without fear as a separate body; if upon both sides the realities of the situation are admitted, with the consequent and necessary definitions which those realities imply, we shall have peace (11).
Belloc argues that opposition to a solution to the problem among Gentiles is for the most part rooted in three falsehoods, which are based on flawed western Liberal conceptions of nationality and citizenship (12):
Denial of the existence of the problem.
Defining the problem in false terms — e.g., proclaiming it as a religious matter rather than as a national/racial one.
Conceding truths by accompanying this with contradictory statements e.g. admitting that the Jew is international but arguing that one can be a patriot and at the same time international.
The second chapter consists of a breakdown of these forms of denial. In the first instance we see those who earnestly hold the conviction “that no Jewish problem exists (18).” Here one finds an ignorant mind beholden to the post-Enlightenment dogma that a Jew is “a full member of whatever society he happened to inhabit during whatever space of time he happened to sojourn there in his wanderings across the earth (18).” Since there is no Jewish nation, so the thinking goes, there can be no friction between it and the society in which it dwells. We are all simply individuals. Without friction between groups, there is no problem.
Aside from that seen in simple minds, denial also takes more deliberate and insidious forms. In one piercingly insightful paragraph, Belloc points out the hypocrisy of Western governments who castigated Poles and Romanians for entertaining the idea that Jews were a separate nation and lectured them on ‘minority’ rights, while at the same time proceeding “to erect a brand-new highly-distinct Jewish state in Palestine, with the threat behind it of ruthlessly suppressing a majorityby the use of Western arms (19).”
The illogical and contradictory nature of denial enabled “the position that there is no Jewish nation when the admission of it may inconvenience the Jew, but very much of a Jewish nation when it can advantage him (19).” Of course, Jews were more than keen to support and encourage the non-ethnocentric view of nationality held by Europeans, because it granted them entry to European societies on very weak terms. These weak terms, which ask next to nothing of Jews, were based on the equally weak principles that all men are equal and that the nation is merely a construct. To Jews, citizenship was a path to the security and special treatment which, Belloc argues, ‘the Jew’ feels “to be his due.”
Without it he feels handicapped. He is, in his own view, only saved from the disadvantage of a latent hostility when he is thus protected, and he is therefore convinced that the world owes him this singular privilege of full citizenship in any community where he happens for the moment to be, while at the same time retaining full citizenship of his own nation. … What the Jew wanted was not the proud privilege of being called an Englishman, a Frenchman, an Italian, or a Dutchman. To this he was completely indifferent. What the Jew wanted was not the feeling that he was just like the others — that would have been odious to him — what he wanted was security.(26).
Belloc raises an interesting point: the incessant search of Jews for security remains a stark but often overlooked reality in the present. The rise of the National Socialists, and the wave of pent-up exasperation which swept through Europe during World War Two, revealed to Jews the weakness of citizenship, in and of itself, to maintain the fiction of equality and to offer the deep level of security they crave. Confronted with a mass expression of European ethnocentrism, the Jew could find no appropriate mask. Not one of religion, for the guise of ‘Christian’ no longer offered protection and the opportunity of crypsis. The state now comprised a citizenry of racial brothers rather than ‘fellow citizens’ of the Jews. For the first time in the long game of musical chairs they had played since arriving in Europe, the music had stopped playing — and the Jews were left without a chair.
From the rubble of World War II, a new world was to be fashioned. No longer was citizenship for the Jews enough — now Jewish security was to be sought by regulating non-Jews and imposing limits on the exercise of their citizenship. Since World War II this has taken the form of everything from engineering the demographic profile of Western nations, to ‘hate speech’ laws and lobbying for gun control. One of the crucial functions of The Occidental Observer has been to catalog instances where, under the guise of equal citizenship and other Western liberal fads, Jewish organizations have been moving towards achieving immunity from criticism, and water-tight levels of Jewish security, in the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, France and many other nations. Thus a process which began following the Enlightenment with Jewish admission to citizenship, has slowly evolved to the gradual diminution of the citizenship of non-Jews and the ascendance of Jews to privileged protected status throughout the West.
The parallel with the position of Jews under feudalism is astonishing. Rather than ensuring the equality of everyone under the law, Western Liberalism’s non-ethnocentric citizenship has simply acted as the conduit for the transfer of power within society.
Further, I would argue that no amount of repressive legislation would satisfy these Jewish organizations or make them feel truly safe. The craving they feel is so deep-rooted it seems more like an unquenchable thirst. The slow chipping away of our freedoms suggest that the continued indulgence of this thirst by our own elites will only be to our detriment in the long run.
But, of course, the problem is not simply one of our own making, and Belloc has much to say on the Jews themselves.
After discussing denial among non-Jews on the issue of the “Jewish problem,” Belloc moves in the third chapter to his thoughts on how that problem had manifested in his lifetime. He describes Jewry as a “political organism” which, like any independent organism, seeks after its own interests. The author writes (44):
It is objected of the Jew in finance, in industry, in commerce — where he is ubiquitous and powerful out of all proportion to his numbers — that he seeks, and has already reached, dominion. It is objected that he acts everywhere against the interests of his hosts; that these are being interfered with, guided, run against their will; that a power is present which acts either with indifference to what we love or in active opposition to what we love. Notably it is said to be indifferent to, or in active opposition against our national feelings, our religious traditions, and the general cultural and morals of Christendom which we have inherited and desire to preserve: that power is Israel.
Although these objections had, for the most part, merely simmered under the surface of Western liberal convention, Belloc argues that the Bolshevik revolution shocked Europeans. The leading role of Jews in the Russian catastrophe “struck both at the benevolent who would near no harm of the Jews, and those who had hitherto shielded or obeyed them as identified only with the interest of large Capital (45).” Although liberal convention on the Jews officially held the field, the Bolshevik menace “compelled attention. Bolshevism stated the Jewish problem with a violence and an insistence such that it could no longer be denied either by the blindest fanatic or the most resolute liar (46).”
However, the Bolshevik shock was only part of a gradual change in the Jewish interaction with Europe. Belloc describes early modern Jewish settlement in the West as involving very small numbers of Jews in a given location. These Jews belonged to classes which kept them out of direct competition with the poor of the large towns. They were absent from the countryside. They refrained from interference in politics or in the press. It was relatively easy to admit such a collection of non-descript characters to equal citizenship. But changes were afoot. Religion declined and with it some of the last barriers to certain professions and avenues to power. This small number of Jews now entered the liberal professions, but still in numbers too small to dominate or influence. Conflicts were minimal. But with time, even this small group acquired influence vastly out of proportion to its numbers. Between 1830 and 1870,
the weight and position of the Jew in Western Civilization increased out of all knowledge and yet without shock, and almost without attracting attention. They entered the Parliaments everywhere, the English Peerage as well, and the Universities in very large numbers. A Jew became Prime Minister of Great Britain, another a principal leader of the Italian insurrection; another led the opposition to Napoleon III. They were present in increasing numbers in the chief institutions of every country. (47)
Within the same period, the Papal States were broken up, and the Pope confined to the Vatican. “Within a few years Rome was to see a Jewish Mayor who supported with all his might the unchristianizing of the city and especially of its educational system (48).” Jews like Paul Reuter began to take the lead in international news transmission and became owners, editors, and journalists of many European newspapers.
The perennial friction between Jews and non-Jews had increased to intolerable levels. The first writings on the increasing friction — what would today be called “hate speech” — emerged in Germany and France in the 1870s. In 1879 the famous and respected German historian Heinrich von Treitschke complained publicly about “the unjust influence of the Jews in the press,” but was shouted down as an anti-Semite. Belloc states that men like von Treitschke had their writings denounced as “the extravagancies of fanatics (49).” But, argues Belloc, “fanatics” like von Treitschke frustrated their opponents “by the quotation of an immense quantity of facts which could not but remain in the mind (49).” The object of many of these early writers was to expose “crypto-Judaism,” and the conscious secrecy which lay behind Jewish networking in Europe’s corridors of power.
Such work was necessary given the increasing number of international Jewish financial scandals. These included a war between the British and the Boers in South Africa in 1899 — a conflict Belloc argues was “openly and undeniably provoked and promoted by Jewish interests (50).” Jewish politicians in France and Britain were also exposed by brave writers as participating in large-scale fraud in conjunction with their cousins in finance:
The Panama scandals in the French Parliament had already fed the movement in France. The later Parliamentary scandals in England, Marconi and the rest, afforded so astonishing a parallel to Panama that the similarity was of universal comment [see also “Free to Cheat: ‘Jewish Emancipation’ and the Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood“] They might have passed as isolated things a generation before. They were now connected, often unjustly, with the uneasy sense of a general financial conspiracy. They were, at any rate, connected with an atmosphere essentially Jewish in character. (51)
Then, on top of the rise to power of those Jews already settled in the West, the great Eastern reservoir of the Jewish race was opened up in the 1880s, and the borders of the Western states were pried open with fabricated tales of pogroms and persecution. By the time Westerners became attuned to the fact that those “ignorant Slavs” might have had good reason to resent the “poor innocent victims” now calling for revolution on the streets of New York and London, their mouths had been muzzled. Belloc writes that “The Jews were in every place of advantage: they taught in the Universities of all Europe; they were everywhere in the Press; everywhere in finance. They were continually to be found in the highest places of Government and in the chanceries of Christendom they had acquired a dominant power which none could question (53).” Following this was the Russian catastrophe, which was motivated by the Jewish communists’ “sincere hatred of national feeling, save, of course, where the Jewish nation was concerned (59).” Such was the “Present Phase of the Problem” when Belloc penned his work, and with this he concludes his third chapter.
Having discussed the immediate context of his own times, Belloc moves in his fourth chapter to an examination of the more timeless qualities of conflict: “The General Causes of Friction.” I found this to be one of the better chapters in the book. Here Belloc is careful to point out that the “Jewish Problem” is more than the contemporary context he described in the previous chapter: “The friction between the Jews and the nations among which they are dispersed is far older, far more profound, far more universal (69).” It is a force which has been “permanently at work everywhere and at all times (71).” The causes of this friction, argues Belloc, are both “general” and “special.” The general cause is summed up “in the truth that the whole texture of the Jewish nation, their corporate tradition, their social mind, is at issue with the people among whom they live (71).” The special causes are “the use of secrecy by the Jews as a method of action and the open expression of superiority over his neighbors which the Jew cannot help but feeling but is wrong to emphasize (71).”
Belloc argues that the different ‘texture’ of the Jewish nation from our own is self-evident. He takes three common charges levelled against the Jews — cowardice, avarice and treason — and argues that these have the opposite qualities but with a “special national timbre.” Thus among the Jews you will find “innumerable instances of the highest courage, the greatest generosity and the most devoted loyalty: but courage, generosity and loyalty of a Jewish kind, directed to Jewish ends, and stamped with a highly distinctive Jewish mark (73).” It is upon the non-Jew to realize that the Jew will be courageous on behalf of his own people, that he will be generous toward his own people, and that he will be loyal to his own people. His defects to us, are his virtues to his own. Belloc writes that “there is no race which has produced so few traitors. It is not treason in the Jew to be international. It is not treason in the Jew to work now for one interest among those who are not of his people, now for another. He can only be charged with treason when he acts against the interests of Israel, and there is no nation nor ever has been one in which the national solidarity was greater or national weakness in the shape of traitors less (78).”
Thus, to use an example from the present, Jonathan Pollard is a loyal Jewish hero who has attracted unceasing support from global Jewry since his arrest by the US government for “treason.” Belloc urges us to see that such cases are to be expected. Pollard, as a Jew, did not commit treason. He was in fact very loyal — to his own people. Our crime is in adopting a dog and expecting it not to bark. In permitting loyal Jews, such as Pollard, to positions of power and influence in our society, it is we who harbor the greater amount of traitors, and it is we who commit treason daily by ceding power, influence, and money to a foreign nation.
Belloc moves on to a survey of Jewish traits which again are similar to our own but differ in quality or direction. Thus “his tenacity, which all know and all in a sense admire and which is far superior to our own, is also a narrower tenacity, or at any rate a tenacity of a different kind. He will follow one end where we will follow many. His wonderful loyalty to all family relations we know: but we do not appreciate it because it is outside our own circle. Even his intellectual gifts, which are less affected by this matter of timbre, have something alien to us in them. They are undeniable but we feel them to be used for other ends than ours (80).”
I found this last sentence quite haunting. Bear in mind that Belloc was writing prior to the rise of Jewish intellectual movements, and that ‘Jewish timbre’ was not so clearly evident in academia during his lifetime.
In a further example of the unchanging nature of the friction between Jews and non-Jews, and the observations of difference at the core of that friction, Belloc precedes scholars like Kevin MacDonald in identifying psychological intensity as a background trait of Jewish ethnocentrism and activism. In addition to a marked single-mindedness, Belloc describes “a certain intensity of action which is very noticeable and which again is a cause of friction between himself and those about him. Hear a Jew speaking upon the revolutionary platform, and note the high voltage at which the current is working. … He is not eloquent in our fashion; but he is at any rate astonishingly effective in his own (82).”
This intensity, argues Belloc, is most often employed in “a corporate capacity for hiding or for advertising at will: a power of ‘pushing’ whatever the whole race desires advanced, or of suppressing what the whole race desires to suppress (82).” Such corporate action “will always remain a permanent irritant in its effect upon those to whom it is applied.”
Belloc uses the example of the nausea which is eventually felt following the incessant Jewish propaganda about “the talents of some particular Jew [see, e.g., my series on the promotion of Spinoza, “Pariah to Messiah: The Engineered Apotheosis of Baruch Spinoza”], or the scientific discovery of another, or the misfortunes of another (83).” And conversely, when men discover “that some important matter has been suppressed, some bad scandal in the State or some trick in commerce, because Jewry desired it to be suppressed,” they will not suffer the operation as quietly the second time as they did they first.
A final significant cause of friction is also related to the intensity of the Jewish corporate capacity — the strong tendency toward monopoly (94). Belloc contends that “the Jew is international, tenacious and determined upon reaching the very end of his task. He is not satisfied in any trade until that trade is, as far as possible, under his complete control, and he has for the extension of that control the support of his brethren throughout the world (94).”
The increase of Jewish monopolies in various public, political and financial spheres is dangerous for everyone, including Jews. Belloc closes his fourth chapter by prophetically anticipating the rise of a dictatorial mode of government and the backlash against the Jews:
To put an end to this state of affairs is impossible so long as parliamentary government, with its profound corruption, endures. The only force capable of dealing with the plutocratic evil of an alien monopoly upon this scale is a king; but a king we have not among the modern nations. But the parliamentary system will not last forever. It is already in active dissolution among ourselves, and badly hit elsewhere. The king may not be so far off as people think him to be. At any rate, in one way or another the thing will cease, and will probably cease in violence. (96)
The fifth chapter concerns the “special” causes of friction. These are the Jewish reliance upon secrecy, and the Jewish expression of superiority. Belloc states that the centuries-old Jewish habit of secrecy has now almost become an instinct. This is expressed in “secret societies, a language kept as far as possible secret, the use of false names in order to hide secret movements, and secret relations between various parts of the Jewish body (99).” Such behavior should be deplored because it “feeds and intensifies the antagonism already excited by racial contrast (100).” In particular, the author singles out the Jewish habit of denying the influence of his nationality upon his thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Belloc writes:
If a man tells me that he hates the English, and in reply I say, ‘That’s because you are an Irishman,’ he does not fly at my throat. He takes it as a matter of course that the history of the English government in Ireland excuses his expression. So far from being insulted at being called an Irishman he would be insulted if you said he was not an Irishman. And so it is with many another nationality which has suffered oppression and persecution. I can find no rational basis for a contrary policy in the case of the Jews (106).
But the Jews do, of course, pursue a different line of thought altogether. Accuse of Jew of bearing a grudge against Europeans for past conflict, and you will quickly find yourself accused of being a “rabid anti-Semite” or some such nonsense. Your crime has been to pierce the veil of secrecy thrown over Jewish nationality. His membership of the Jewish nation is a matter of private pride, and only the mask of outward patriotism to the goy State is permitted to be up for discussion. Thus, during World War II, New York Jews were protesting as democracy-loving Americans against the Jewish policies of National Socialist Germany. People like Charles Lindbergh, who dared to rip off the mask and describe the situation plainly, were monitored and attacked by the distinctly Hebraic Anti-Defamation League.
Although he concedes that a great deal more could be written on the subject of Jewish secrecy, Belloc moves on to a discussion of expressions of Jewish superiority. He writes that “the Jew individually feels himself superior to his non-Jewish contemporary and neighbour of whatever race; the Jew feels his nation immeasurably superior to any other human community (108).” This fixed idea of superiority, linked to the concept of Jews as “a light unto the nations,” often creates friction.
The Jew will write of our religion, taking for granted that it is folly, and will marvel that we are offended. He will appear in our national affairs, not only giving advice, but attempting to direct policy, and will be puzzled to discover that his indifference to national feeling is annoying. He will postulate the Jewish temperament as something which, if different from ours, must, whether we like it or not, be thrust upon us. He acts in all these things as everyone acts instinctively in the presence of those whom they take for granted to be inferiors. (113)
This superiority also connects with Jewish contempt for the masses of non-Jews, particularly the rural folk. Belloc writes that it is an overwhelming and incontrovertible truth that the bulk of Jewry makes no effort to get in touch with the race in the midst of which he may be living. He is content to remain separate from it, and deludes himself into the belief that he cannot help but remain separate from it. “He associates with the elite, with those who direct, with those who have some sort of special function (114).” But to him it seems, at best, a waste of time to attempt communion with the rest.
Jewish resentment is increased when his sense of superiority is forced to contend with the European’s own sense of superiority. He loathes this as insolence. (One is reminded of the hatred of Franz Boas toward the idea that Europeans were the pinnacle of humanity, a major motivation for his theory of cultural relativism; here, p. 24.) He feels his position and his security threatened. He attempts to gain a more solid position by extending his power, but succeeds only in provoking stronger assertions of superiority by the European, indignant at having to fight for mastery on his own soil. Friction escalates, and sometimes violence ensues.
Belloc concludes the chapter by urging the restraint of the sense of superiority by both parties, and the adoption of more natural and truthful societal positions — that of host and guest — with impermeable boundaries. Only by doing so can we avoid “falling back into the old circle of submission, consequent anger accompanied by shame and violence, and these followed by remorse (119).”
As Belloc moves into the second half of his book, I personally feel that the work becomes weaker. His characteristic style remains powerful, but it is in the second half of the book that Belloc’s attempt to come across as balanced goes too far. The sixth chapter examines “The Causes of Friction upon Our Side.” Here Belloc neglects to concede that the great mass of Europeans has never urged the Jews to settle among them, that they have never held them captive, and certainly never sought out conflict with them. As Martin Luther once so insightfully pointed out:
Now behold what a nice, thick, fat lie it is when they complain about being captives among us. … [W]e do not know to this day which Devil brought them into our country. We did not fetch them from Jerusalem! On top of that, no-one is holding them now. Land and highways are open to them; they may move to their country whenever they wish to do so.
This is a fundamental issue in the history of Jewish-European relations that Belloc fails to recognize. Purposeful or not, the presence of a powerful but separate foreign, political entity exerting influence to its own ends in the elite strata of a given society amounts to one thing and one thing only: colonialism. In such a scenario, one would be hard-pressed to find fault with the colonized. Jews have remained in European society out of choice and with purpose and goals; not out of captivity. There are no passive partners. We are not locked into a fateful and unceasing struggle with all exits blocked. But instead Belloc strains to keep a balance which loses touch with the reality of the situation. He argues that “it is certain that we play a part ourselves in this quarrel between us and the Jews (124).” While certain actions on our part may escalate tensions, I would argue you that no fully accurate assessment of the situation can be made without having as a foundation an acknowledgement of the scenario I have just outlined.
This aside, Belloc has some insightful comments on how the European peoples deal with Jews. He argues that only two types of people show perfect honesty in their dealings with Jews: “the completely ignorant dupe who can hardly tell a Jew when he sees one and who accepts as a reality the old fiction of there being no difference except a different of religion,” and “the person called an ‘anti-Semite’ (126).” Both these types are rare, says Belloc. The majority of men “are grossly disingenuous in all their dealings with the Jews (127).” In this camp Belloc would place the likes of John Derbyshire, who on the one hand concedes and shows awareness that Jews as a group hold incredible levels of influence and power within his own profession, but who levels heavy criticism against those who dare to speak explicitly on the subject. Belloc describes such activity as “the great fault of our side which corresponds to the fault of secrecy upon theirs (127).”
Both types inhibit the ultimate goal of achieving openness and honesty. Jews, of course, are aware of the disingenuous nature of much of the contact they have with non-Jews. Afraid that at any second that hidden awareness may be made explicit, his infamous sense of insecurity grows and he becomes ever more paranoid. His paranoia breeds further friction. Only with the dupe and the so-called “anti-Semite” do Jews think “At least I know where I am.” For this reason, Belloc argues, “in their heart of hearts the Jews are grateful to both (126).”
This may well be the case, but I’m not holding my breath for a thank you card from Abe Foxman. Belloc also astutely recognizes that the great vice of disingenuous dealings with the Jews is “particularly rife among the wealthy and middle classes,” being far less common among the working class and the poor (131).
Falsehood also extends to the historical record of the Jews among us. Belloc writes that “we throw the story of these relations, which are among the half-dozen leading factors in history, right into the background even when we do mention it (131).” The vast and omnipresent nature of this subject “is deliberately suppressed (132).”
There took place in Cyprus and in the Libyan cities under Hadrian a Jewish movement against the surrounding non-Jewish society far exceeding in violence the late wreckage of Russia, which to-day fills all our thoughts. The massacres were wholesale and so were the reprisals. The Jews killed a quarter of a million of the people of Cyprus alone, and the Roman authorities answered with a repression which was a pitiless war. One might pile up instances indefinitely. The point is, that the average educated man has never been allowed to hear of them (132).
These epoch-defining events, unless they can be adapted in some fashion to clearly show the Jew as victim, are relegated to mere footnotes or insignificant details in the vast catalogues of our history. The same falsehood then extends into our contemporary record in the media reports, produced by knowing non-Jews, which insist on describing Jonathan Pollard as an American, or which portray the activities of the ADL or SPLC as in any way consistent with “American” values.
Belloc pours scorn on this falsehood not only because it “corrodes the souls of those who indulge in it (134),” but also because it “produces in the Jew a false sense of security and a completely distorted phantasm of the way in which he is really received in our society (134).” The more this falsehood is pursued, “the more the surprise which follows upon its discovery and the more legitimate the bitterness and hatred which that surprise occasions in those of whom we are the hosts (134).”
This is a good point. Studying Jewish reactions to the rising tide of inter-ethnic friction in Central Europe at the start of the twentieth century, one is indeed struck by the “profound shock, the utter disbelief, among the Jews.”
Aside from falsehood on our part, Belloc also condemns the “unintelligence of our dealing with the Jews (134).” We stand at a particular disadvantage because “theirdealings with us are always intelligent. They know what they are driving at in those relations, though they often misunderstand the material with which they deal (135).”
This unintelligence manifested in a number of ways in Belloc’s lifetime in the form of inept defenses of the Jews. He particular loathed the masking of Jewish immigration under the title of “the alien question,” or “Russian immigration.” He also castigated authors who, having been scolded for including less than positive Jewish characters in their novels, rushed to put “imaginary Jew heroes in their books.” Using the example of Dickens and the Fagin of Oliver Twist, and later his Riah of Our Mutual Friend, Belloc writes:
He disliked Jews instinctively; when he wrote of a Jew according to his inclination he made him out a criminal. Hearing that he must make amends for this action, he introduced a Jew who is like nothing on earth — a sort of compound of an Arab Sheik and a Family Bible picture from the Old Testament, and the whole embroidered on an utterly non-Jewish — a purely English character (136).
This unintelligence can generally be summed up in the idea that we too readily read ourselves into others, becoming shocked and acting stupidly when we discover otherwise. Rather “we ought to take it for granted that the Jew is nomadic, international, and spread all over the world (137).” We need to become attuned to the reality that “the Jew feels among us, only with far greater intensity, what we feel when we are in a foreign country — a sense of exile, a sense of irritation against alien things, merely because they are alien; a great desire for companionship and for understanding, yet a great indifference to the fate of those among whom he finds himself; an added attachment, no, indeed, to his territorial home, for he has none, but to his nation (138).” The modern reader can accept such a thesis, though obviously with the acknowledgment that a steady loyalty to the Israeli state has now been woven into the mentality of the Diaspora Jew.
With the close of this chapter, the book moves toward progressively shorter sections on ‘The anti-Semite,’ ‘Bolshevism,’ ‘The Position in the World as a Whole,’ ‘Zionism,’ and some concluding remarks. Belloc’s chapter on ‘The anti-Semite’ is particularly weak, based as it is on the assumption that there is in fact a sizeable portion of men who “hate Jews in themselves (147).” Belloc subscribes to the Jewish notion that the motives of those they label ‘anti-Semites’ are not related to a “hatred of concealment, falsehood, hypocrisy, corruption and all the other incidental evils of the false position. These things, indeed, irritate him, but they are not his leading motive. His leading motive is a hatred of the Jewish people (148).”
The bankruptcy of Belloc’s adoption of such weak analysis is nowhere more evident than in the reception of his book, and the manner in which history has recorded him and his works. For, despite what he may have thought, his focus on attempting to achieve an extreme level of balance and a focus on those “evils of the false position,” did not prevent him from being labelled an “anti-Semite” in his own lifetime and in mainstream history since his death. This is perhaps the greatest condemnation of his theories on the “anti-Semite,” and I will offer no further comment on the subject other than to remark that an “anti-Semite” has been, and always will be, anyindividual deemed by Jewry to be in opposition to Jewish interests.
Belloc’s chapter on Bolshevism has been superseded in more recent decades by more insightful works on the Russian catastrophe. It remains, however, a coherent and concise contribution to honest discussion of Jewish involvement in those events. Belloc describes the rise of Bolshevism as “a field in which we can study the evil effect of secrecy, and one in which we can analyse all the various forces which tend to bring Israel into such ceaseless conflict with the society around it (167).” His general theory of the Bolshevik explosion can be summed up in his description of the destruction of old Russian society as “an act of racial revenge (169).”
In his thoughts on “The Position in the World as a Whole,” Belloc points out that “the Jew has collectively a power today, in the white world, altogether excessive. It is not only an excessive power, it is inevitably a corporate power and, therefore, a semi-organized power (191).” This power has been acquired
out of all proportion to his numbers, out of all proportion to his ability; certainly out of proportion to any right of his to interfere in our affairs. It was a Jew who produced the divorce laws in France, the Jew who nourished anti-clericalism in that country and also in Italy; the Jew who called in the forces of Occidental nations to protect his compatriots in the East, and the Jew whose spirit has so largely permeated the Universities and the Press(199).
Belloc observed that the “regular and organized Jewish emigration” to the United States was having an effect. He noted “the growth of the financial monopoly and of monopolies in particular trades (202).” He noted a corresponding “clamour for toleration in the form of ‘neutralizing’ religious teaching in schools; there was the appearance of the Jewish revolutionary and of the Jewish critic in every tradition of Christian life (202).” The United States was ultimately left more prone because here “this Liberal tradition or convention, this conception that the Jew must be treated as a full citizen, was far stronger even than it was in the West of Europe. It was in the very soul of the Constitution, and, what is more important, in the very soul of the people (206).”
In terms of viable opponents to the growth of Jewish power and influence, Belloc posited only the Catholic Church. He argued that “the Catholic Church is the conservator of an age-long European tradition, and that tradition will never compromise with the fiction that a Jew can be other than a Jew. Wherever the Catholic Church has power, and in proportion to its power, the Jewish problem will be recognized to the full. … The Catholic Church will always maintain reality, including the reality of that sharp distinction between the Jew and his hosts (210).”
Here we encounter another of Belloc’s great and unfortunate errors. The Catholic Church was not invulnerable to Jewish influence. Nor, contrary to the opinion of those who wish to make a fetish of the link between the Church and our way of life, has it ever explicitly or implicitly been a protector of European traditions or peoples. The Catholic Church and Christianity in general are concerned solely with the fate of the “faith.” When Christianity came to Scandinavia, did it respect the existing culture? Did it accommodate those perfectly upstanding European folk who declined to kneel before the Nazarene? As I have written previously, it was Europe and Europeans that gave life and success to Christianity and not the other way around. It was we who took it to the four corners of the earth, on routes long since established by the pagan and the heathen. As the heart of Catholicism moves slowly south of the equator, we need only look at the shift of power and demography within Catholicism to see that it has, and always has had, a life distinct from our racial vitality.
Belloc returns to form in his chapter on Zionism, which is prophetic to say the least. With the creation of a Jewish state not yet a reality, he was left to ponder solely theoretical scenarios. He begins by asking “whether the Zionist experiment will tend to increase or to relax the strain created by the presence of the Jew in the midst of the non-Jewish world (231).” Pondering the creation of a Jewish state, Belloc was particularly interested in “the status of the Jew outside this territorial unit, which he had chosen to be much more than a symbol of his national unity — its actual seat and establishment (232).” He correctly predicted that the majority of Jews would continue to live outside such a state because they live “and desire to live the semi-nomadic life, the international life, which has becomes theirs by every tradition, and which one might now almost call instinctive to them (233).”
The new Zion, then, is to be “no more than a fixed rallying point, an established but small territorial nationhood (234).” Faced with the questioning of their political character, diaspora Jews would cling to insisting that he is “to be regarded as the full national in the nation in which he happens to be for a time (234).” In an astonishingly clear prediction of modern Jewry’s relationship with Israel, Belloc argues that “He shall in every respect be regarded, by a legal fiction, as identical with the community in which he happens to be settled for the moment, but at the same time he is to have some special relation with the Jewish State (234).” [Italics in original]. Belloc also heavily doubted that a Jewish state would rely upon its own military strength to ensure its security (241).
The conclusion of the book commences with an account of “Our Duty.” Here Belloc urges non-Jews to rid ourselves of the Liberal conventions and the falsehoods by which the Jewish problem is obscured. The author acknowledges that this is not easy. The greatest obstacle in this respect, he argues, is fear. There is first the European’s fear of breaking convention. He is secondly faced with fear of social and economic consequences. Belloc writes that “Men dread lest hostility to the Jewish Domination should bring them into the grip of some unknown but suspected world-wide power which can destroy the individual who shall be so rash as to challenge it (262).” There are “innumerable men who would express publicly on Jews what they continually express in private, but who conceal their feelings for fear that their salaries may be lost or their modest enterprises wrecked, their investments lowered, and their position ruined (263).” Jews, of course, are aware of this fear, and are adept at manipulating it. I’ve noted precisely this behavior in my recent article on Jewish Hollywood’s show of strength over Gaza.
However, Belloc correctly points out that the “fear strategy” will only work for so long, and that in the longer-term Jews are pursuing a very dangerous course of conduct. Based on a false sense of power and relative security, the use of fear only “dams up and enormously increases the latent force of anger against Jewish power. … It is like the piling up of a head of water when a river valley is obstructed, or like introducing of resistance into an electric current (263).” It is a “fierce irritant and accounts for the high pressure at which attack escapes when once it is loosened (263).”
Essentially, Belloc is questioning the rationality and wisdom of Jews who would seek the oppression of a grumbling peasantry, only to be later expelled en masse by a king; or who would shout down and intimidate a von Treitschke, only to be confronted later by a Hitler. In all cases, this elaborate game of “chicken” is taken too far.
The author argues that Jews too have a duty to perform in ceasing the ethnic conflict. They must end their “foolish and dangerous habit of secrecy and the irritating expression of superiority (271).” They may remain among us, but must form Jewish institutions that openly speak for Jewish interests, with no claims or pretensions to any other interests or values (273). They should permit open scrutiny of their interests if they wish to participate in the national, political and economic life of their host nation. Special courts of mixed character should be established to deal with conflicts and disputes between Jews and non-Jews, and these courts should be founded on acknowledgment of the mutual causes of friction between the two peoples. To ensure the endurance of this state of affairs, these developments should arise from a social movement before they are made law. It should not be imposed from above, but arise from the will of the people.
Are Belloc’s proposals practical? That remains to be seen. But The Jews, his general assessment of the longest ethnic conflict engaged in by the European peoples, is, almost a century after it was written, a prophetic, informative, concise and powerful summary of issues which retain a painful relevance. It deserves more recognition and deeper study. For my part, I have been inspired by Belloc’s work to produce a kind of companion book, which will offer greater detail, and some correctives to the original, in light of the century which has since passed.
 B. Ginsberg, How The Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), p.46.
 A good example of the hostility toward rural folk by Jewish intellectuals can be seen in the New York Intellectuals. The New York Intellectuals associated rural America with nativism, anti-Semitism, nationalism, and fascism as well as with anti-intellectualism and provincialism; the urban was associated antithetically with ethnic and cultural tolerance, with internationalism, and with advanced ideas. . . . The New York Intellectuals simply began with the assumption that the rural—with which they associated much of American tradition and most of the territory beyond New York—had little to contribute to a cosmopolitan culture. . . . By interpreting cultural and political issues through the urban-rural lens, writers could even mask assertions of superiority and expressions of anti-democratic sentiments as the judgments of an objective expertise. (Terry Cooney, The Rise of the New York Intellectuals 1986, 267–268; italics in text)
 Y. M. Bodemann, Jews, Germans, Memory: Reconstructions of Jewish Life in Germany (University of Michigan Press, 1996), p.266.
 See for example R.S. Levy, Antisemitism: An Historical Encyclopaedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Vol. 1 (ABC-CLIO, 2005), p.65.