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Kevin MacDonald's Response with Comments by Nathan Cofnas

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YOU MUST DOWNLOAD THE FILE TO VIEW THE COMMENTS - A rejoinder to Kevin MacDonald's comments on Nathan Cofnas (2018) "Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy: A Critical Analysis of Kevin MacDonald's Theory," Human Nature.
1 Kevin MacDonald ( is Professor Emeritus of psychology at
California State UniversityLong Beach.
2 For example, cultural group selection is a commonly held view of members of the Cultural
Evolution Society. My theorizing going back to the early 1980s has always emphasized cultural
factors, particularly social controls and ideology in regulating behavior, beginning with work on
the maintenance of monogamy in European culture (e.g, here). This progressed to a discussion of
the Spartans as exhibiting what I later termed a group evolutionary strategy (in Chapter 8 of Social
and Personality Development: An Evolutionary Synthesis (New York: Plenum, 1988). I then
decided to do a similar treatment of Judaism and began research on it in 1991.
3 Cofnas makes the following claim:
The strategy employed 18 years agodeclaring his work to be anti-Semitic and/or to
not reach the threshold to warrant scholarly attentionhad the doubly unfortunate effect
of intimidating scholars with a legitimate interest in the topic of Jewish evolution and
behavior, and creating a perception among some laypeopleeven if it was falsethat
MacDonald was being persecuted by the academic community.
Kevin MacDonald's Response with Comments by
Nathan Cofnas
Hold your cursor over the highlighted text to see my replies. If the reply is too long
to display, click the highlighted text.
After 20 years of silence from academics, Nathan Cofnas has written a
comprehensive critical review of The Culture of Critique in an academic venue.
I have been waiting for this to happen and was beginning to think it never would.
Academics want their work to be taken seriously, and honest academics value the
rough and tumble of academic debate. But what I got was silence, or comments like
that of Steven Pinker, who is listed in the Acknowledgements section of Cofnass
review, saying that it was below the threshold of academic interestand that he
hadnt read it.
My book was incendiary, and I knew that. What had begun as a theoretical idea
on how human groups could become vehicles of natural selection (rank heresy at
the time and still controversial but increasingly respectable2) had turned into a life-
changing project. As a result of the silence, my response was to continue to
expand on my ideas and to keep them out there so people could judge
for themselves. I would have much preferred to be a respectable academic with a
solid reputation, attending conferences and writing only academic papers and
books. But respectability was impossible, so I decided to continue writing in this
area outside the academic realm.
Thus I became something of an activist intellectualfollowing in the
footsteps, one might say, of the many Jewish intellectuals discussed in my work, but
completely outside the academic system. Hounded out of the Human
Behavior and Evolution Society and ostracized at my university,3 I decided to
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
push the envelope. I started by writing a few blogs on my website related to my
three books on Judaism and other topics related to evolutionary psychology.
Then, in 2008, I started The Occidental Observer where I could get other writers
involved. A few years later, I took over editing The Occidental Quarterly and am
proud to have published a great many academic-quality articles over the years,
many by Ph.Ds. Sadly most of the writers for both TOO and TOQ have had to
remain anonymous because of the reign of terror at universities (and in the private
sector) against anyone who dissents from the status quo on race and ethnicity.
A major reason for my activism was because of the reading I had done in
writing the trilogy, particularly CofC. A People that Shall Dwell Alone was about
how Judaism operated in traditional societies, and Separation and Its Discontents
was essentially about anti-Semitism in traditional societies. This is water over the
dam, one might say, however one might analyze causes of anti-Semitism in times
past. But that changed in reading about the role of Jewish activism on the left
over the past century. Misguided intellectual movements like psychoanalysis may
be successfully rebutted and eventually fall by the waysideas psychoanalysis
has. Disastrous political ventures such as Communism may eventually self-
destruct after wreaking untold horror and dysgenic mass murder. However, the
effects of immigration policy are of immediate and critical concern for the entire
West. As I noted at the outset of Chapter 7 of CofC:
Immigration policy is a paradigmatic example of conflicts of interest
between ethnic groups because immigration policy determines the future
demographic composition of the nation. Ethnic groups unable to influence
immigration policy in their own interests will eventually be displaced by
groups able to accomplish this goal. Immigration policy is thus of
fundamental interest to an evolutionist.
In other words, I began to see myself as having a dog in this fight. What was
happening was, from an evolutionary perspective, a disaster for the White people
of the West. Ethnic displacement is like reducing an extended family or other
In fact, I was being persecuted by the academic community by any ordinary meaning of the
term. Following the Shulevitz controversy mentioned by Cofnas, I was on a panel devoted to my
work at the 2000 meetings of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. It was quite raucous,
with a lot of very vocal opposition to my work, followed by cold shoulders from other officers
and other prominent members of the society (I held the office of Secretary at the time). I never
felt welcome thereafter. And although I was blackballed at least once at a prestigious academic
journal, I did manage to continue to publish my work on personality, developmental psychology,
evolutionary theory of culture, and the evolution of intelligence in reputable, even prominent
academic venues. More painful were events at my university beginning in 200607 following a
visit by Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, later joined by a representative of the
Anti-Defamation League. This began a process of ostracism and intense hostility from many
CSULB faculty, expressed on faculty email listservs maintained by the university, as well as
condemnatory resolutions by academic departments and the Academic Senate.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
lineagea drastic loss of fitness, as Frank Salter has shown,
and really no
different from displacement on one species or subspecies by another in the natural
world. This is natural selection in action (although one hesitates to call a
consciously engineered process natural), as the gene frequencies, genetic
combinations and bio-cultures characteristic of other peoples increase relative to
those of the indigenous people of Western European countries as well as their
descendants in North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
So I was highly motivated to continue my work, even outside the academic
setting. And, as Cofnas notes, the books became influentialparticularly CofC.
I think a lot of that was because of my newfound activism aimed at building an
audience and continuing to expand on the trilogy, but also because there hadnt
been any noteworthy critiques of it. The lack of credible criticism created
something of an anomaly: What is now called the Alt Righta movement that is
vilified by all sectors of the establishment, from left to rightwas embracing an
academic book on Jewish activism published by a mainstream academic
publisher that had never received a proper hearing in the academic world. One
would think that the academic establishment would come down hard on such a
book, bringing all its prestige and media access to eradicate this heresy. But
nothing. So, it continued to fester and gain popularity.
Whatever one thinks of this reply, I welcome the opportunity to respond.
Frankly, a reasoned exchange is long overdue.
* * *
My procedure here is to respond to each of Cofnas’s substantive points in the
same order as they appear in his review. I do not respond to the ad hominem
attacks. Nevertheless, there are several general points to be made.
1. Much of Cofnas’s critique depends on the claim that I conceive of the
Jewish community as monolithic. As a result, he repeatedly brings up
examples of Jews who dissent from various intellectual and political views
that are common among Jews or those participating in the Jewish
movements I discuss (e.g., Jewish critics of Israel, Jewish critics of the
left). On the contrary and as will be apparent below, I see the Jewish
community as having important diversity of viewpoint. However, the
purpose of my book is to study movements that have been influential and
to determine the Jewish role in these movements. This is entirely
compatible with dissent by some Jews.
As a result, although the theory is falsifiable (e.g., by showing that these
movements were not in any interesting sense Jewish or that they didn’t
really have any power or influence), it cannot be falsified by providing
individual counterexamples.
Frank K Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Kinship in an Age of Mass
Migration (London: Routledge, 2006).
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2. Cofnas in several places characterizes my view as stating that the fact that
some non-Jews have participated in Jewish movements implies Jewish
manipulation, Machiavellianism, or that they have been blindly
indoctrinated (e.g., Margaret Mead as a puppet of Franz Boas). These
are misrepresentations. My view is that non-Jews who participate in
Jewish movements may have a variety of motivations, ranging from
sincere belief (perhaps motivated by their own, independently derived
hostility to the cultural norms being attacked by the movement) to naked
self-interest (non-Jews who see career opportunities by participating). A
good example of the latter not discussed in CofC is the neoconservative
infrastructure composed of well-funded think tanks and lobbying groups,
with multiple opportunities for access to careers, not only in these think
tanks and lobbying groups, but in government, the media, and universities
(here, pp. 1112). But even when participating in such a movement has
material rewards, there is no implication that the non-Jews involved don’t
sincerely hold their beliefs.
3. In general, Jewish support for any particular idea or cause will be sensitive
to each generation's perceived interests given changing circumstances.
Cofnas has a static, ahistorical conception of Jewish interests, assuming,
e.g., that supporting Zionism is essential to Jewish group interests and self-
identity since the origins of political Zionism or perhaps since the origins
of the Diaspora (the traditional Jewish phrase: Next year in Jerusalem).
On the contrary, as discussed in several places here, Jewish support for
causes like Zionism, radical leftism, or particular governments have a
history—a beginning, a middle, and often an end. If it’s one thing that has
characterized Jews throughout their history, it’s that they have been what
evolutionary biologist Richard Alexander termed flexible strategizers.
There is no reason to suppose that will not continue in the future.
* * *
1. Cofnas claims that if he is successful in refuting CofC, he would have in
effect refuted the first two books as well (here and here). This is incorrect. In fact,
the three books are quite separate theoretically and discuss entirely different data
sets. A People That Shall Dwell Alone develops a theory of Judaism in traditional
societies based on the idea that humans are able to create experiments in living
that can, e.g., erect barriers between themselves and the surrounding society,
structure mating opportunities in a eugenic manner, and structure relationships
Richard Alexander, Darwinism and Human Affairs (Seattle: University of Washington Press,
1979; as applied to Jewish groups, see here, p. 5 and Chapter 1 of A People That Shall Dwell
Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
within the Jewish community and between Jews and non-Jews. CofC could be
completely misguided but all the claims made in A People That Shall Dwell Alone
The same may be said about Separation and Its Discontents whose value
depends on the adequacy of the theoretical framework (social identity theory
which, although mentioned in CofC, is hardly essential to that work and certainly
not disputed by Cofnas) and the accuracy of my use of the historical sources.
Again, CofC could be completely misguided while Separation and Its
Discontents was entirely valid.
2. Cofnas proposes a default hypothesis of Jewish involvement in
twentieth-century liberal movements, namely: Because of Jewish intelligence
and geographyparticularly intelligenceJews are likely to be
overrepresented in any intellectual movement or activity that is not overtly anti-
Semitic. I accept the idea of high average Ashkenazi IQ, especially verbal IQ,
although I defer to Richard Lynns research on the mean; my critique of
Cochran and Harpending is here. I therefore expect Jews to be overrepresented
in intellectual movements, and we could leave it at that. However, there is
nothing wrong with attempting something more ambitious, such as exploring
how these intellectuals perceived their actions (motivation) and exploring the
dynamics of the movements by asking questions like whether ethnic networking
was important (as it has been throughout Jewish history) and whether any
generalizations could be made about the leaders of these movements (the guru
phenomenon) and how they dealt with dissent. I agree that in general and for
obvious reasons, Jews wont be attracted to theories that cast Jews in a bad light;
indeed, a major point regarding Jewish motivation for the theories discussed is to
oppose anti-Semitism. Moreover, as mentioned below, Jews have been
underrepresented in some theories and cultural trends that do not cast Jews in a
bad light or at least do not necessarily do soe.g., populism, paleoconservatism,
and promotion of European national cultures.
This is the general framework (from the Preface to the paperback edition of
Culture of Critique, 2002):
(1.) Find influential movements dominated by Jews, with no implication
that all or most Jews are involved in these movements and no restrictions
on what the movements are. For example, I touch on Jewish neo-
conservatism which is a departure in some ways from the other movements
I discuss [later expanded into a chapter-length essay using the same
framework as CofC]. In general, relatively few Jews were involved in most
of these movements and significant numbers of Jews may have been
unaware of their existence. Even Jewish leftist radicalismsurely the most
widespread and influential Jewish sub-culture of the twentieth century
may have been a minority movement within Jewish communities in the
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
United States and other Western societies for most periods. As a result,
when I criticize these movements I am not necessarily criticizing most
Jews. Nevertheless, these movements were influential and they were
Jewishly motivated.
(2.) Determine whether the Jewish participants in those movements
identified as Jews and thought of their involvement in the movement as
advancing specific Jewish interests. Involvement may be unconscious or
involve self-deception, but for the most part it was quite easy and
straightforward to find evidence for these propositions. If I thought that
self-deception was important (as in the case of many Jewish radicals), I
provided evidence that in fact they did identify as Jews and were deeply
concerned about Jewish issues despite surface appearances to the contrary.
(3.) Try to gauge the influence of these movements on gentile society.
Keep in mind that the influence of an intellectual or political movement
dominated by Jews is independent of the percentage of the Jewish
community that is involved in the movement or supports the movement.
[For example, Zionism is a Jewish movement that, until the establishment
of Israel, was not a majority view within the Jewish community. It was
nevertheless influential (e.g., obtaining the Balfour Declaration, pressuring
President Truman to recognize Israel).]
(4.) Try to show how non-Jews responded to these movementsfor
example, were they a source of anti-Semitism?
Several of the movements I discuss have been very influential in the
social sciences. However, I do not argue that there are no Jews who do good
social science, and in fact [in Chapter 2] I provide a list of prominent Jewish
social scientists who in my opinion do not meet the conditions outlined
under (2) above.
This framework will be useful in the ensuing discussion. In any case, a default
position is just that. Simplifying theory certainly has its advantages, but quite
often much more can be said. Of course, the burden is on me to show that a more
complex theory gives a deeper explanation of what we see.
3. Cofnas claims that I havent provided evidence that Jews involved in
particular intellectual movements have often gone out of their way to recruit non-
Jews as visible leaders of the movement. I will discuss this as it arises in his
detailed comments on Boas where I also mention Freud, and leftist radicalism.
However, this phenomenon goes far beyond the intellectual and political
movements discussed in CofC. In Chapter 6 of Separation and Its Discontents
(pp. 193196) I discuss several historical examples, beginning with the New
Christians during the period of the Inquisition in fifteenth-century Spain. Jewish
organizations had an active role in establishing and maintaining gentile-
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
dominated organizations opposed to anti-Semitism in Germany in the period
from 1870 to 1933 and in supplying materials without any indication of their
source to anti-fascist candidates in the U.K. in the 1930s. In the U.S., I cite
historian Howard Sachar for his discussion of non-Jewish front committees at
which Jews would prove exceptionally adept in future years. including areas
such as opposition to Czarist Russia, support for liberal immigration policies,
removing Christianity from the public square, and socialist and communist
movements (the latter of which is expanded on in Chapter 3 of CofC). In the same
vein, I also cite research indicating that in the ancient world there was an entire
apologetic literature written by Jews masquerading as gentiles.
As I note in Separation and Its Discontents, such a strategy makes excellent
psychological sense:
From an evolutionary perspective the intent is to make the Jewish cause
appear to be in the interests of others as well. When goals are cast in ethnic
or national terms, they are not likely to appeal to those outside the group.
Indeed, such obviously self-interested goals would be likely to alert
outsiders to conflicts of interest between ingroup and outgroup. On the
other hand, a standard finding in social psychology is that people are more
likely to respond positively when goals are advocated by similar others, or
when the goal is cast as being in the interests of all rather than in the
interests of an outgroup, as predicted by social identity theory and genetic
similarity theory (see Chapter 1).
4. Cofnas claims that I cherry-pick examples and ignore examples that do not
fit my theory, pointing to examples like Noam Chomsky and Karl Marx.
However, as noted above, there is no implication that all Jews (or all famous
Jews) fit into a particular mold. There was in fact strong opposition to Zionism
within the Jewish community during the early decades of the twentieth century
motivated by fears, based firmly in Jewish history, that Zionism among Diaspora
Jews would be seen as disloyalty by their fellow citizens (see the sections titled
Zionism as a Risky Strategy and Zionist Extremism Becomes Mainstream in
Zionism and the Internal Dynamics of Judaism, 220228). Chomskys position
has been outside the Jewish mainstream, although quite recently segments of
liberal Jews have actively opposed central features of Zionism as it exists in Israel
today (e.g., Philip Weiss (editor of Mondoweiss), Jewish Voice for Peace, J
Like Chomsky, these Jews tend to be on the left, generally perceiving a
conflict between contemporary leftist ideals of multicultural harmony (which
they support) and the reality of Israels oppression of the Palestinians. Support
for Israel is definitely slipping on the left. For example, the 2018 AIPAC
convention had a host of prominent politiciansas usual, but with a greater than
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
usual emphasis on Democratic politicianspresumably an attempt to shore up
support for Israel within the Democratic Party (see Philip Weiss, Schumer and
Dems Outdo Trump at AIPACTheres No Peace Because Palestinians Dont
Believe in Torah”). Nevertheless, opposition to Israel within the party is
growing, with more voices than ever willing to reject the AIPAC line. Opposition
to Israel has also become quite important in the UK Labour Party (often vilified
as anti-Semitism)
It's also worth noting that although there has always been a substantial
consensus on Israel since its establishment by American Jews, the Israel Lobby
has maintained this consensus partly by policing the Jewish community by
punishing dissenters (see here, here, here)a very traditional mechanism of
control within the Jewish community discussed in Chapter 7 of A People That
Shall Dwell Alone. Nevertheless, dissent is growing within the Jewish
But the important question, as always, is not counting headseven prominent
ones like Chomskybut in determining where the influence lies, and at this
writing there is no indication for a diminishing influence of the Israel Lobby and
major Jewish donors on American political elites. These donors collectively
contribute vastly out of proportion to their numbers and many of them are well-
known to be strong supporters of Israel. In the U.S., donors like Haim Saban (a
one-note person whose one note is Israel) and Sheldon Adelson, prominent
donors to the Democrat and Republican parties respectively, come to mind as
primarily motivated to support pro-Israel policies. But they are not alone. On a
list of the top 50 donors to 527s and super-PACs, eight of the 36 Republican
bigs were Jewish, and of the 14 Democrats, only one was not Jewish. The
Democrats are basically funded by Jews, and Jewish donations to the GOP are
too large to be ignored by politicians seeking higher office. President Trumps
largest donor was Sheldon Adelson (at least $25 million), who has long
prioritized Israel in his political calculations. Adelson is reputed to have
influenced the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and has recently offered
to fund the move. Philip Weiss suggests that Adelsons money is behind the
recent appointment of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.
Regarding Marx, I have a brief discussion of the perception that Marx was an
anti-Semite at the beginning of Chapter 3 whose topic is whether acceptance of
radical, universalist ideologies and participation in radical, universalist
movements are compatible with Jewish identification. As I note there, whatever
Marxs views, they are not important for understanding Jewish participation on
the left over the time span covered in the book (~19001970), and in general the
point of that chapter is that Jewish leftists tended to have strong Jewish
identifications and were quite concerned about anti-Semitism (perhaps not the
case with Marx). These leftists were not in any sense anti-Semites.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that John Murray Cuddihy, whose The Ordeal
of Civility is cited repeatedly in CofC, provides what one might term a deep
Jewish structure to Marx’s work.
For example:
The final triumph of Marxism is Marx's refusal to give a remedial and
apologetic reading of the economic behavior of the Jews, describing it with
unembarrassed bluntness, only to turn around and made this crude
Judentum the very stuff (Unterbau) of the bourgeois civilization of the
goyim. It is a failure of understanding that seeds in Marx's conviction
that stripped of his sublimations and refinements a Gentile is as avaricious
as a Jewan offense only to Jews. Christianity, Marx writes, overcame
real Judaism only in appearance. It was too refined, too spiritual, to
eliminate the crudeness of practical need except by elevating it into the
blue. Christianity is the sublime thought of Judaism, and Judaism is the
vulgar practical application of Christianity.
Like theodicies, the sociodicies of the Diaspora giants cope with the
problem of pain, suffering, and evil. Each bestows meaning, and thus
solves the tsuris of Galut, the status-loss of Emancipation, the
humiliations of assimilation (imitation), the embarrassment of being
defined as primitive. If, as E. M. Forster said, Coarseness
reveals; vulgarity conceals, Freud, Marx, and Lévi-Strauss struggle to
redefine Ostjude: He becomeslike Rousseau's natural manan
instrument of critique of the Jewish (and Gentile) parvenu. He may be a
primitive and crude; he is not hypocritical (Freud's ethnic of honesty).
When Jewry was physically peripheral to Europe, locked into its
shtetlach in the pale, this provincial assertion of moral superiority, of moral
purism, was that of a spatial outsider, a geographical provincial. With
Emancipation into Europe, the axis of this moralism shifted from a
horizontal to a vertical plane, splitting into the toplofty mission to the
Gentiles of Reform Judaism on the one hand and, on the other, into Marx's
underclass of society and Freud's underside of personality. In each case,
proletariat and id were invested with a subversively pure moral critique of
the hypocritical, if superior, civilization of the West.
John Murray Cuddihy, The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss, and the Jewish
Struggle with Modernity (New York: Basic Books, 1974). I corresponded with Cuddihy toward
the end of his life. He was very happy to see that I had found his work useful, which I interpreted
as suggesting that he felt that his book had been ignored and hadn’t received the attention it
deserved. Perhaps the fact that he had written a brilliant book on post-Emancipation Jewry only
to see it essentially ignored by later scholars had a role in my decision to continue to promote my
work outside an academic setting.
Ibid., 160161.
Ibid., 184.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
To learn the nature of the civilization of the West we must the
great unassimilated, implacable Jews of the West, to a Marx, to a Freud, to
a Lévi-Strauss, to a Harry Wolfson, to those who exhibit a principled and
stubborn resistance to the whole Western thing. These proud pariahs
experience Western civilization as an incognito or secularized form of
Christianity, and they therefore openly resist it as such.
Again, nothing really hinges on whether Marx identified as a Jew or saw
himself as advancing Jewish interests. However, I agree with Cuddihy’s
assessment, and conclude that Marx’s writing does suggest at least an implicit
congruence with the main themes of CofC.
Regarding Soros, he was not mentioned for two reasons: during the mid-1990s
when the book was written, he had not become the iconic funder of the left that
he is today. Moreover, Soross actions are consistent with those of many Jewish
activists on the left these days: strong support for immigration and
multiculturalism throughout the Diaspora and critical of Israel (see above). I have
never read anything on Soross Jewish identification and how he sees his actions
in light of being Jewish but would be interested in doing so. Whatever one finds
on this, it would not impact the material on Jewish intellectual and political
movementsparticularly the Jewish role in altering US immigration policy and
promoting multiculturalism, and certainly including the other movements
discussed in CofC. Again, I never assume Jews are monolithic on any issue.
Cofnas: Just as problematically, in a number of cases MacDonald fails to
report that Jews whom he identifies as ethnic activists took stands against Israel
and other Jewish interests (again, defining Jewish interests in MacDonalds
terms as ethnic self-preservation).
Again, support for Israel is not synonymous with how Jews see their ethnic
interests at any particular time, and there has likely never been a time when it
was unanimous. Jewish support for a Jewish ethnostate was a minority view
among Jews prior to the end of World War II, and today Jewish support for
Israel in the Diaspora is decliningparticularly noticeable among liberal/left
Jews. There may be many reasons for this, ranging from lofty idealism to
concern that Israeli policies will be disastrous for Israel and Jewish interests in
the long run.
5. Cofnas: Many twentieth-century Jews ostensibly abandoned their Jewish
identity and sought to assimilate. MacDonald points out that these Jews often
did not support gentile nationalist movementswhich he acknowledges were
anti-Semiticand he argues that this is evidence that these Jews were insincere
in their desire to assimilate and were actually engaging in Jewish crypsis (his
Ibid., 231; emphasis in original.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Cofnas gives no examples of this, either from CofC or my other writing,
although in a later passage he claims that I attribute crypsis to the Frankfurt
School luminaries (discussed below). As a result, I cant rebut it. However, in
2016 I wrote an article on how Jews should be treated if they express interest in
aiding the Alt Right (see section titled Jews and the Alt Right in The Alt
Right and the Jews), and I have several Jewish writers who write for The
Occidental Observer (e.g., Dr. Marcus Alethia: As an American (first) and Jew
(second) who supports Trump and Trumpism, the European New Right, and
anyone concerned with the long-term impacts of mass immigration, I want to see
more Jews, particularly younger, Generation Z Jews move to our ideological
side. I am more than happy to welcome such individuals.
6 Cofnas claims that I misrepresent sources but defers examples. I will
discuss these as they come up in his specific comments.
7. Cofnas claims that my theory cant be falsified because no evidence is
ever provided that is acknowledged to count against the theory. Cofnas asserts
this because he does not really grasp what I am saying. Again, there are different
groups of Jews. He brings up affirmative action which I discuss briefly in
Chapter 8. However, the point I am making in Chapter 8 that in a multicultural
society, there will be disagreements on issues like affirmative action because
different ethnic groups have different talents and abilities. In general in CofC I
attempted to describe different factions regarded as influential and attempted to
understand if Jewish influence is important in particular areas. But in the case
of affirmative action, I have never done an examination of the relative
importance of different strands of Jewish activism and voting have been in the
affirmative action debate and so dont care to comment. The individual Jews
and even Jewish organizations that I list there as opposing affirmative action
may or may not be representative of the Jewish community as a whole.
Similarly, in the lead up to the Iraq war, there was considerable (I think decisive:
here, here, here) influence from neoconservatives and Jewish organization like
AIPAC, but polls indicated most Jews opposed the war.
As noted above, what would count against what I am arguing is to show that
I am wrong about specific claimsthat, e.g., there is no interesting sense in
which psychoanalysis was a Jewish movement, or that Jews and the organized
Jewish community (not all Jews) were not at all decisive in influencing U.S.
immigration policy, or I am mistaken about the internal dynamics of these
movements (e.g., the treatment of dissenters, the guru phenomenon). Cofnas
doesn’t even begin to address any of these issues. The theses of CofC are
eminently falsifiable.
Is the theory presented in CofC predictive? Predictive power is considered the
gold standard of scientific theories. However, consider the difficulties of
developing a predictive theory of Jewish group behavior in the post-
Enlightenment West, i.e., after the lapse of strong community controls on the
behavior of individual Jews typical of traditional societies. Within the Jewish
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
group there is wide variation in Jewish identity, ranging from highly committed
activists to Jews who are uninvolved for personal reasons (e.g., psychiatric issues
or bad experiences with the Jewish community) or perhaps they have family ties
to non-Jews because of intermarriage or they are lower on ethnocentrism. The
activist edge of the Jewish community tends to be the most strongly identified
and will be the main force charting the direction of the community as a whole,
and there is often more or less of a consensus among the organized Jewish
community on particular issues like immigration or Israel, despite there being
some strongly identified Jews who dissent from this consensus (e.g., Stephen
Steinlight on immigration [here, pp. ivvi) or Philip Weiss on Zionism).
But even assuming a well-reasoned consensus among the activists as to what
is in the interests of Jews, this consensus could change if conditions change.
Activists might evaluate the effects of Muslim immigration as harming Jewish
interests in the long run, as Steinlight does, and the consensus of Diaspora Jews
on Israel may change for a number of reasons (e.g., they may see their position
in the Diaspora West as endangered because Israeli behavior has become
indefensible and has lost support from non-Jews). Such a change in activist
consensus would likely be gradual, just as the decline in Jewish support for the
USSR was gradual. Non-Jewish elites may begin to see that their business
interests are compromised because of successful pressure by the Boycott,
Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or Muslims may begin to exert real power
in the West, as seems to be happening in the U.K.
Moreover, the consensus may not be entirely rational. It’s clear that many
activist Jews in the Diaspora (but by no means all) will support Israel no matter
what, while at the same time Israel has become increasingly dominated by
extreme ethnonationalists bent on extending current policy of dispossessing the
Palestinians (see, e.g., here, p. 4950; here). A prediction of what Diaspora Jews
will do if these trends continue to accelerate would be a bit like predicting the
weather in Los Angeles on a specific day in 2030. I am content to regard CofC as
a descriptive historical account of some important examples of Jewish group
behavior embedded within an evolutionary framework and leave it at that.
8. Cofnas claims that I have ignored centuries of non-Jewish radicalism. Not
true. What I call an indigenous culture of critique has been a major concern
of mine for years (see also here, here, and here) and will be a central part of a
book on Western peoples (an interest of mine that long pre-dated my interest in
Judaism; e.g., here, here) that I hope to finish this year. My view is that because
Western peoples are more individualistic (and therefore less ethnocentric), they
are more prone to such views, but that in the early twentieth century a
Darwinian-based movement became dominant in the social sciences and had
influenced U.S. immigration policy. Darwinism was essentially destroyed by
the Jewish-dominated movements discussed in CofC only to be resurrected in
pale form with the publication of E.O. Wilsons Sociobiology. Nevertheless,
Darwinism remains a very minor influence in the social sciences and humanities
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
as a whole. My argument for this is presented in my review of Eric Kaufmanns
The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America and especially in my exchange with the
Cofnas: MacDonald sees Boas as having been a strongly identified Jew who
pursued (and distorted) science with the goal of preventing anti-Semitism.
Exactly, but I provide evidence for these claims. This is the first paragraph of
the chapter:
Several writers have commented on the radical changes that occurred in
the goals and methods of the social sciences consequent to the entry of Jews
to these fields (Liebman 1973, 213; see also Degler 1991; Hollinger 1996;
Horowitz 1993, 75; Rothman & Lichter 1982). Degler (1991, 188ff) notes
that the shift away from Darwinism as the fundamental paradigm of the
social sciences resulted from an ideological shift rather than from the
emergence of any new empirical data. He also notes that Jewish
intellectuals have been instrumental in the decline of Darwinism and other
biological perspectives in American social science since the 1930s (p. 200).
The opposition of Jewish intellectuals to Darwinism has long been noticed
(Lenz 1931, 674; see also comments of John Maynard Smith in Lewin
[1992, 43]).
Does Cofnas refute these claims? These are all reputable sources, the
majority Jews. Note Degler in particular: Boas influence upon American social
scientists in matters of race can hardly be exaggerated. In the following
paragraph I cite Irving Horowitz on similar trends in sociology:
The advent of Jewish intellectuals in the preWorld War II period resulted
in a level of politicization unknown to sociologys founding fathers. It is
not only that the names of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim replaced those of
Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, but also that the sense of America as
a consensual experience gave way to a sense of America as a series of
conflicting definitions (Horowitz 1993, 75). In the postWorld War II
period, sociology became populated by Jews to such a degree that jokes
abounded: one did not need the synagogue, the minyan [i.e., the minimum
number of Jews required for a communal religious service] was to be found
in sociology departments; or, one did not need a sociology of Jewish life,
since the two had become synonymous (Horowitz 1993, 77).
What is critical is the Jewish role in the shift away from Darwinism which had
been the dominant paradigm. The long-range effects of this shift have been of
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
incalculable importance for the history of the West. A prime example is that the
demise of Darwinism was of critical importance in intellectual arguments over
immigration. For example, the American Jewish Congress cited Boas in its
statement to Congress, and Boasians Ashley Montagu and Margaret Mead
testified before Congressional committees, supporting racial egalitarianism. By
1965 Senator Jacob Javits (Cong. Rec., 111, 1965, 24469) could confidently
announce to the Senate during the debate on the immigration bill that both the
dictates of our consciences as well as the precepts of sociologists tell us that
immigration, as it exists in the national origins quota system, is wrong and
without any basis in reason or fact for we know better than to say that one man is
better than another because of the color of his skin’” (see Chapter 7). Doing away
with the national origins quota system meant that immigration in the future would
not be biased toward Europe. The ethnic status quo envisioned by the 1924
immigration restriction law rapidly became a distant memory.
The demise of a Darwinian paradigm was also critical to my reply to Eric
Kaufmann noted above:
My view is that the eclipse of Darwinism left the ethnic defense of Anglo-
America to religious and popular movements, and that these were unable
to dominate elite intellectual discourse, the academic world, or the media.
This left a huge opening for the triumph of the New York Intellectuals and
other anti-WASP movements of the left.
If Darwinism had won the war for the intellectual high ground, the New
York Intellectuals and the Frankfurt Schools implicit ideological message
that WASPs had a moral imperative to give up hegemony would have been
a non-starter. Thats why I (along with scholars like George
Stocking and Carl Degler) emphasize Boashis triumph in academic
anthropology sealed the fate of Darwinism.
Cofnas complains that my chapter as a whole suggest[s] that Boasians were
the first to romanticize primitive cultures as idyllic and not subject to the ills
of Western civilization. In reality, by Boass time this had been a major theme
among many gentile intellectuals for more than 150 years. But from the above,
its obvious that this is irrelevant. The point is that the Darwinian paradigm had
been eradicated from the social sciences. No Darwinian would romanticize non-
Western societies, and indeed, in Chapter 2 I note that a result of the triumph of
the Boasians was that
when Harry Turney-High published his volume Primitive Warfare in 1949
documenting the universality of warfare and its oftentimes awesome
savagery, the book was completely ignored by the anthropological
professionanother example of the exclusionary tactics used against
dissenters among the Boasians and characteristic of the other intellectual
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
movements reviewed in this volume as well. Turney-Highs massive data
on non-Western peoples conflicted with the image of them favored by a
highly politicized profession whose members simply excluded these data
entirely from intellectual discourse. The result was a pacified past
(Keeley 1996, 163ff) and an attitude of self-reproach (p. 179) in which
the behavior of primitive peoples was bowdlerized while the behavior of
European peoples was not only excoriated as uniquely evil but also as
responsible for all extant examples of warfare among primitive peoples.
From this perspective, it is only the fundamental inadequacy of European
culture that prevents an idyllic world free from between-group conflict.
I am well aware that there is a long history of romanticizing non-Western
peoples. However, such views had lost out to the Darwinians, only to be
resurrected by an intellectual movement dominated by strongly identified Jews
with a sense of pursuing Jewish interests:
As [Gelya] Frank (1997, 731) points out, The preponderance of Jewish
intellectuals in the early years of Boasian anthropology and the Jewish
identities of anthropologists in subsequent generations has been
downplayed in standard histories of the discipline. Jewish identifications
and the pursuit of perceived Jewish interests, particularly in advocating an
ideology of cultural pluralism as a model for Western societies, has been
the invisible subject of American anthropologyinvisible because the
ethnic identifications and ethnic interests of its advocates have been
masked by a language of science in which such identifications and interests
were publicly illegitimate.
Cofnas does not dispute my evidence that Boas was a strongly identified Jew
who saw his work as combatting anti-Semitism and that he was motivate by his
hatred for the Prussian aristocracy.
Regarding Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, the first point to make is that
whatever their motivations, they do not cast doubt on the basic thesis of the
chapterthat the shift away from Darwinism was fundamentally a project of
Boas and his disciples. None of the intellectual movements reviewed in CofC
was composed exclusively of Jews, and I discuss the issue of the motivation of
non-Jews who were involved in these movements in several places, essentially
proposing three compatible reasons: identification with a group that sees itself
as oppressed, evolutionarily influenced social learning mechanisms in which
prominent individuals are looked up to and admired, and the material rewards
available to those who sign on to the movement (see Chapter 1).
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
I have expanded on these ideas in an article Why are Professors Liberals
in which I use the work of Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse as a framework for
understanding the characteristics of successful intellectual movements.
(1) those involved in the movement had a complaint (anti-Semitism,
cultural exclusion); (2) they were able to form cohesive, effective networks;
(3) they had access to the most prestigious academic institutions.
It will be readily seen that CofC provides evidence in support of all three of
these criteria for the movements I discuss. Moreover, a thesis of Why Are
Professors Liberals is that shortly after the Jewish ascendancy in academia in
the 1960s other groups with grievances against American culture were recruited
to form various departments composed mainly of activists against their
particular complaint (women’s and gender studies, ethnic studies). Similarly,
outside academia Jewish groups have made a major project of making alliances
with non-White groups to advance their interests in multicultural America.
However, not everyone need have a complaint. In Chapter 2 I cite Carl
Degler on Boasian Alfred Kroeber: In contrast to the ideological and political
basis of Boass motivation, Kroebers militant environmentalism and defense of
the culture concept was entirely theoretical and professional (Degler 1991, 90).
Despite Cofnas’s claims, there is evidence that Boas recruited gentiles into
his movement out of concern that his Jewishness would make his science appear
partisan and thus compromised,’” citing John M. Efrons Defenders of the Race:
Jewish Doctors and Race Science in Fin-de-Siècle Europe.
The same can be
said of Freud (in the words of one scholar To put it very crudely, Freud needed
a goy [(Chapter 4, 114]) and many on the radical left (who often felt out of place
in what was essentially a Jewish milieu; Chapter 3, 7172).
So we may assume that Boas was quite happy to have Mead as the face of his
movement. Both Mead and Benedict were sexual non-conformists (and lovers)
and may well have been motivated mainly by their perception of American
sexual mores as oppressive or by their perception that in general American
society discriminated against women. Mead was also very ambitious and may
well have seen Boas as someone who could promote her careeras indeed he
did. I quote Benedict as saying we should study other cultures in order to pass
judgment on the dominant traits of our own civilization”— quite possibly a plea
for tolerance for homosexuality.
In any case, I never claim that Mead and Benedict were Boass puppets. I
do claim that Mead did shoddy, even dishonest work, citing several sources,
Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse, Why are professors liberal? Theory and Society 4 (2012):
John M. Efron, Defenders of the Race: Jewish Doctors and Race Science in Fin-de-Siècle
Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 180.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
and that the Samoan society that emerges from these other sources is far more
compatible with evolutionary perspectives on sexuality.
Cofnas moves on to my discussion of the role of Jews in creating a taboo on
research on race differences: MacDonald ignores the fact that influential
gentiles have been well represented among environmentalists studying race
differences in intelligence, and Jews have been clearly overrepresented among
prominent hereditarians. This distorts the view presented in Chapter 2. As a
developmental psychologist and a theorist of culture from an evolutionary
perspective, I have always accepted the importance of environmental influence,
and I noted that there are prominent Jews among hereditarians and non-Jews
who are critics of hereditarian positions. I acknowledge
the very important contributions of these [Jewish] developmental
psychobiologists and their emphasis on the role of the environment in
behavioral developmenta tradition that remains influential within
developmental psychology in the writings of several theorists, including
Alan Fogel, Richard Lerner, Arnold Sameroff, and Esther Thelen.
Moreover, it must be recognized that several Jews have been important
contributors to evolutionary thinking as it applies to humans as well as
human behavioral genetics, including Daniel G. Freedman, Richard
Herrnstein, Seymour Itzkoff [the editor of the Praeger series that included
my trilogy], Irwin Silverman, Nancy Segal, Lionel Tiger, and Glenn
Weisfeld. Of course, non-Jews have been counted among the critics of
evolutionary-biological thinking. Nevertheless, the entire episode
[surrounding the critique of Konrad Lorenz and ethology] clearly indicates
that there are often important human interests that involve Jewish identity
and that influence scientific debate. The suggestion here is that one
consequence of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy has been to skew
these debates in a manner that has impeded progress in the biological and
social sciences. (p. 38)
Notice that I included Richard Herrnstein in this list. Cofnas writes: Instead
of accepting that Herrnstein is an example that does not support his thesis,
MacDonald spins the facts by implying that Herrnstein supported the theory of
race differences in intelligence because it would promote his ethnic interests.
Two points: I wrote that Herrnstein was “an important contributor to
human behavior genetics. And as I have said repeatedly, I am not claiming all
Jews engaged in science identify strongly as Jews, or are on the same page as
all other Jewish scientists, or seek to advance Jewish interests, or that all Jews
are motivated by their Jewish identity in the same way. In the preface to the
paperback edition I did indeed cite Alan Ryan to suggest that Herrnstein may
have had a Jewish motivation, but notice how tentatively I phrase it:
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
In the case of one of those I mention, Richard J. Herrnstein, Alan Ryan
(1994, 11) writes, Herrnstein essentially wants the world in which clever
Jewish kids or their equivalent make their way out of their humble
backgrounds and end up running Goldman Sachs or the Harvard physics
department. This is a stance that is typical, I suppose, of neo-conservatism,
a Jewish movement I discuss in several places, and it is the sort of thing
that, if true, would suggest that Herrnstein did perceive the issues discussed
in The Bell Curve as affecting Jewish interests in a way that Charles
Murray, his co-author, did not.
I am not making a strong claim here. I certainly do not take Ryans comment
as showing what Herrnsteins motives wereonly that if true, they would suggest
that. Herrnsteins case would require much more evidence to be included as an
example suitable for CofC. Moreover, nothing rides on Herrnsteins motives for
doing what I regard as excellent research. In Chapter 2 he is listed as a prominent
Jewish social scientist who does not fit the framework of CofC, and I am happy
to leave it at that.
Regarding Cofnass list of prominent hereditarians, I accept that Jews have
been prominent among hereditarians. The question is whether the actions of those
who opposed hereditarian perspectives were the result of specifically Jewish
identification and motivation and how effective they were in combatting
hereditarianism. Nothing Cofnas says vitiates my claim that Stephen Jay Gould,
Leon Kamin, Richard Lewontin, Richard Lerner, and Steven Rose (reinforced by
academic activists like Jerry Hirsch’s protégé Barry Mehler who has been an
effective force in combatting “academic racism”) were very influential. Chapter
2 has a long section on Goulds Jewish identification, as well as his scientific
malfeasance and even outright fraud. Goulds vast influence is beyond question,
not only in academia (where his books have often been used in courses) but also
in the popular arena as a result of his 300 essays in Natural History. In addition
to numerous academic honors and awards, he was named a Living Legend by the
U.S. Library of Congress in 2000.
The thesis of Chapter 4:
The thesis of this chapter is that it is impossible to understand
psychoanalysis as a science, or more properly as a political movement,
without taking into account the role of Judaism. Sigmund Freud is a prime
example of a Jewish social scientist whose writings were influenced by his
Jewish identity and his negative attributions regarding gentile culture as the
source of anti-Semitism.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Is Cofnas successful in refuting this thesis? Note that he does not challenge
the basic thesis of the chapter that psychoanalysis was a Jewish movement (a
common view among scholars), nor does he quarrel with the assertion that Freud
had a strong Jewish identity and sense of pursuing Jewish interests by subverting
gentile culture. Obviously, psychoanalysis was very influential.
Regarding the lists of prominent intellectuals influenced by psychoanalysis
compiled by Kadushin and Torrey, Cofnas does not dispute that they were
influenced by psychoanalysis (my point for bringing it up), but he claims that
most of these people were not pursuing Jewish interests as defined by Cofnas:
five of these intellectuals are, by MacDonalds criteria, unambiguously anti-
Israel and therefore opposed to Jewish interests. Again, support for Israel is
not synonymous with how individual Jews perceive Jewish interests or whether
or not Jewish interests are even relevant to their writing (see above), and this
was certainly not the case prior to the establishment of Israel (see above).
Cofnas seems to think that I suppose that all Jews influenced by
psychoanalysis are political radicals (virtually none of them [the Jews on the
list of prominent intellectuals] comes close to conforming to MacDonalds
paradigm of a Jewish radical. However, when I speak of psychoanalysis as
generally linked to the left, I am not referring necessarily to the radical left. Even
neoconservatism, with its roots on the Trotskyist left, has fundamentally acted to
combat paleoconservatism and to move the American conservative movement to
the left on key issues like immigration (see Neoconservatism as Jewish
Movement). For example, I cite Samuel Francis: There are countless stories of
how neoconservatives have succeeded in entering conservative institutions,
forcing out or demoting traditional conservatives, and changing the positions and
philosophy of such institutions in neoconservative directions.
Moreover, some neocons have been influenced by psychoanalysis. Cofnas
emphasizes Saul Bellow and Alan Bloom, whom I discuss in the previously
referenced article (see especially the quote from Francis and material on neocon
attitudes toward immigration). Indeed, its interesting that there is an excellent fit
between Bloom (and Leo Strauss) and the framework of CofC:
As depicted by Bellow [in his novel Ravelstein], Bloom emerges as the
quintessential guru, surrounded by disciplesa father who attempts not
only to direct his disciples careers but their personal lives as well.
disciples are described as clones who dressed as he did, smoked the same
Marlboros; they were heading toward the Promised Land of the intellect
toward which Ravelstein, their Moses and their Socrates, led them.
be cut off from his informants in Washington and Paris, from his students,
the people he had trained, the band of brothers, the initiates, the happy few
Bellow 2000, 27.
Bellow 2000, 56.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
made him extremely uncomfortable.
Bloom in turn is depicted as a
disciple of the Strauss character, Felix Davarr: Ravelstein talked so
much about him that in the end I was obliged to read some of his books. It
had to be done if I was to understand what [Ravelstein] was all about.
Blooms Ravelstein is depicted as very self-consciously Jewish. ... there
is the acute consciousness of who is a Jew and who isnt; all of Ravelsteins
close friends are Jews. There is an intense interest in whether non-Jews
dislike Jews or have connections to fascism. And there is a fixation on the
Holocaust and when it will happen again: They kill more than half of the
European Jews. There’s no telling which corner it will come from
Ravelstein thought of Jews as displacing WASPs: He liked to
think of living in one of the tony flat buildings formerly occupied by the
exclusively WASP faculty.
So yes, neocons may have a psychoanalytic background (like Bellow and
Bloom) and also be strongly identified Jews who are motivated by anti-WASP
animus (for further examples of the latter, see my review of Jacob Heilbrunns
They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons). Moreover, the fact that
Bellow and Bloom turned out to be neocons does not vitiate the data presented in
Chapters 4 and 5 indicating that psychoanalysis was in general a creature (and
tool) of the left. Trust me. I was in Madison during the 1960s (see Memories of
Madison and Chapter 3 of CofC, note 13).
Cofnas: It is ironic that MacDonald casts Robert Silvers as a part of a
nefarious Jewish Freudian movement given that NYRB published Frederick
Crews takedown of Freud and the psychoanalytic movement. Im not sure
what got into Silvers to publish Crews, but note should also be made of Crews
later comment that this was entirely anomalous and does not detract from the
general influence of the NYRB in promoting psychoanalysis:
Publication in the NYRB, as Crews notes, is almost like pet owners who
had negligently or maliciously consigned their parakeet to the mercies of
an ever-lurking cat (Crews et al. 1995, 288). The implication is that
publications like the NYRB and the other journals associated with the New
York Intellectuals have been instrumental in propagating psychoanalytic
and similar doctrines as scientifically and intellectually reputable for
Bellow 2000, 103.
Bellow 2000, 101.
Bellow 2000, 174.
Bellow 2000, 61.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Cofnas claims that an incident in which Freud criticized the Jewish role in a
1929 confrontation between Jews and Arabs at the Western Wall in then-
Palestine undermines MacDonalds caricature of Freud as a monomaniacal
activist dedicated to excusing Jewish behavior and pathologizing anti-
Semitism. But it certainly doesnt undermine the basic thesis of the chapter
that Freud had a strong Jewish identity and sense of Jewish interests in
promoting psychoanalysis. Cofnas acknowledges that Freud had a Jewish
identity, if only because was continually reminded of it by anti-Semites. But
it would seem to be much deeper than that:
In a 1931 letter he described himself as a fanatical Jew, and on another
occasion he wrote that he found the attraction of Judaism and of Jews so
irresistible, many dark emotional powers, all the mightier the less they let
themselves be grasped in words, as well as the clear consciousness of inner
identity, the secrecy of the same mental construction (in Gay 1988, 601).
On another occasion he wrote of strange secret longings related to his
Jewish identity (in Gay 1988, 601). … Gay (1988, 601) interprets Freud as
having the belief that his identity as a Jew was the result of his phylogenetic
heritage [shaped in a LaMarckian manner by Jewish history]. … Freud and
his colleagues felt a sense of racial kinship with their Jewish colleagues
and a racial strangeness to others (Klein 1981, 142; see also Gilman 1993,
Freuds hostility to Western culture is legendary as is his sense that
psychoanalysis would end anti-Semitism and subvert the sexual mores of his
day. For example:
[Freud] was proud of his enemiesthe persecuting Roman Catholic
Church, the hypocritical bourgeoisie, the obtuse psychiatric establishment,
the materialistic Americansso proud, indeed, that they grew in his mind
into potent specters far more malevolent and far less divided than they were
in reality. He likened himself to Hannibal, to Ahasuerus, to Joseph, to
Moses, all men with historic missions, potent adversaries, and difficult
fates. (Gay 1988, 604)
[Freud] wrote of his messianic hope to achieve the integration of Jews and
anti-Semites on the soil of [psychoanalysis] (in Gay 1988, 231), a quote
clearly indicating that psychoanalysis was viewed by its founder as a
mechanism for ending anti-Semitism.
[Freud] was convinced that it was in the very nature of psychoanalytic
doctrine to appear shocking and subversive. Peter Gay labels Freud’s
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
work generally as subversive (1987, 140), his sexual ideology in
particular as deeply subversive for his time (p. 148), and he describes his
Totem and Taboo as containing subversive conjectures (p. 327) in its
analysis of culture.
In conjunction with the other material in the chapter, I dont need any more
evidence to show that Freud fits the mold of Jewish intellectuals involved in the
movements I review in CofC. I also note that at least by 1930 Freud also became
strongly sympathetic with Zionism, indicating that his acknowledgement of a
role for Jews in perhaps provoking the 1929 incident does not preclude a general
attachment to Zionism as an aspect of his Jewish identity. Like many Zionists
today, he may have thought that Jewish confrontations with the Arabs motivated
by the unrealistic fanaticism of our people were not a good strategy for Jews to
pursueexactly the argument that John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt make in
The Israel Lobby as well as many Jewish critics of Israel who would call
themselves Zionists but who advocate peace and accommodation with the
Palestinians. Obviously battling Arabs in the streets of Jerusalem was far from
the only strategy Zionists used; Freud may well have thought other options would
be more productive.
MacDonald emphasizes the double standard in which gentile behavior
inferred from high scores on the F-scale or the Ethnocentrism Scales is
viewed as an indication of psychopathology, whereas precisely the same
behavior is central to Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy
(1988a:168). But nowhere does he present evidence that Adorno et al.
approved of this behavior in Jews, which is what would be necessary for
them to have a double standard. MacDonald just assumes that they
approve of this behavior because they were Jewish.
I do not assume they approve this behavior simply because they were Jewish.
The first part of the chapter goes into detail on the strong Jewish identifications
of the principle figures, and it is noteworthy that the group’s most influential
work, The Authoritarian Personality, was funded and published by the American
Jewish Committee which is dedicated to advancing Jewish interests. Regarding
Jewish identity, Max Horkheimer (1947, 161) stated that the goal of philosophy
must to be vindicate Jewish history: The anonymous martyrs of the
concentration camps are the symbols of humanity that is striving to be born. The
task of philosophy is to translate what they have done into language that will be
heard, even though their finite voices have been silenced by tyranny. Adorno:
much of Adornos later work may be viewed as a reaction to the Holocaust, as
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
typified by his famous comment that to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric
(Adorno 1967, 34) and his question whether after Auschwitz you can go on
livingespecially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights
should have been killed (Adorno 1973, 363). Tar (1977, 158) notes that the point
of the former comment is that no study of sociology could be possible without
reflecting on Auschwitz and without concerning oneself with preventing new
Its reasonable to assume on the basis of this that Jewish identity, Jewish
commitment, and the importance of Jewish continuity were much on the mind of
Frankfurt School luminariesethnocentrism by any other name. Cofnas seems
to think that I cant make my argument without explicit statements by Frankfurt
School authors to the effect that Jewish ethnocentrism is perfectly fine but the
ethnocentrism of non-Jews is a pathology. But why would they do that? There
are really two possibilities here: they realized it was a double standard but didnt
want to publicize that for the obvious reason that they would be seen as
hypocrites. Or they were deceiving themselves by simply focusing on White
ethnocentrism as pathological while blocking out any thought about how this
presents an intellectual inconsistencyi.e., self-deception.
The latter is a real possibility. I wrote a chapter on self-deception in Separation
and Its Discontents, noting ethnocentric people are particularly prone to self-
deception on issues related to their ethnic group. This material has since been
expanded and updated by Andrew Joyce for his forthcoming volume, Talmud and
Taboo (earlier online version here). The reason why I think self-deception is a
real possibility is Horkheimer and Adornos (1944/1990) Dialectic of
Enlightenment (discussed here, 160ff). The theory of anti-Semitism presented
there is so obviously bizarre, so obviously propaganda, so completely outside of
any scientific sensibility of the need to find supporting data, and so completely
devoid of any attempt at doing historical research on the causes of anti-Jewish
attitudes that its hard to believe anyone could conceive of it without an element
of self-deception. Within this theory, the continuation and acceptance of Jewish
particularism becomes a precondition for the development of a utopian society of
the future”—a society free of anti-Jewish attitudes because the pathology of anti-
Semitism has been eradicated. In a psychoanalytic tour de force, the pathology
of anti-Semitism is conceived as resulting from the suppression of nature
resulting in projections of various kinds (e.g., The forbidden action which is
converted into aggression [against Jews] is generally homosexual in nature.
Through fear of castration, obedience to the father is taken to the extreme of an
anticipation of castration in conscious emotional approximation to the nature of
a small girl, and actual hatred to the father is suppressed.)
Thus the behavior of Jews is completely irrelevant to anti-Semitism. Judaism
would continue as it always had, as a group apart, while non-Jews would
overcome anti-Jewish attitudes by emulating the supposed Jewish embrace of the
natural: Happiness without power, wages without work, a home without
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
frontiers, religion without myth. These characteristics are hated by the rulers
because the ruled secretly long to possess them. The rulers are only safe as long
as the people they rule turn their longed-for goals into hated forms of evil.
Of course, deception is also a possibility. Take your pick. But whatever your
choice, I think its safe to say that the Frankfurt School did indeed have a double
standard on ethnocentrism, implicitly if not explicitly. While the above makes
clear that Judaism would continue after the utopian society is achieved, the same
cannot be said for the group identifications of non-Jews. Thus, in Horkheimers
essay on German Jews (see Horkheimer 1974), the true enemy of the Jews is
gentile collectivities of any kind, and especially nationalism.
Confas then provides two examples of my alleged misrepresentation of
sources. Because of the length my comments on this, I have placed them in an
Cofnas goes on to claim that there is no positive evidence for my claim that
the Frankfurt School members were engaging in “‘crypsis’—members of the
Frankfurt School conceal[ed] their Jewish identities . . . [and] engage[d] in
massive self-deception. And he complains about my claim that Jewish
intellectual movements typically [occur] in an atmosphere of Jewish crypsis or
semi-crypsis in the sense that the Jewish political agenda [is] not an aspect of
the theory and the theories themselves [have] no overt Jewish content He then
brings up Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse as counter-examples because both
were critical of Israel.
I dont see how anything Cofnas writes rebuts my claim that explicit Jewish
identities and political interests are not an aspect of the theories I discussthat
the theories have no overt Jewish content. Was the Frankfurt School ideology
that gentile ethnocentrism was the result of disturbed parent-child relations
somehow specifically Jewish, e.g., explicitly linked to Jewish religious writings
or traditional Jewish ethics? Was Freud’s Oedipal complex an explicitly Jewish
proposal, applying, say, only to Jewish families?
I have already discussed the self-deception issue with regard to the Frankfurt
School, as well as the point that support for Israel is not synonymous with
having a strong sense of Jewish identity or sense of Jewish interests. Jews are
not monolithic, and both Fromm and Marcuse grew up at a time when Zionism
was not a majority view in the Jewish community for the very Jewish reason
that it was thought to be dangerous because of accusations of disloyalty. Today
many strongly identified Jews who are basically sympathetic to Zionism believe
that Israeli actions are reckless and evil, and there is even an Haredi Jewish
group, Neturei Karta, that is utterly opposed to Zionism for (Jewish) religious
reasons. Do they therefore reject a Jewish identity and a sense of Jewish
interests? Different Jews have different ideas of what Jewish interests are.
The important thing, as always, is to see where the power and influence lie
at any particular time. Obviously, the views of Fromm, Marcuse (and Neturei
Karta) have little influence at this time.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Also, regarding Fromm, in Chapter 4 I cite evidence that he had a very
strong Jewish identity (Marcus & Tar 1986, 348350; Wiggershaus 1994, 52ff)
and [like the radicals discussed in Chapter 3] he very self-consciously attempted
to use psychoanalysis to further a radical political agenda.
Finally, nothing that Cofnas writes, even if correct, vitiates the devastating
conclusions I make about The Authoritarian Personality (p. 185ff). Taken as a
whole, the book indeed created an upside-down world, enabled by psychoanalysis
(Psychoanalysis essentially allowed the authors to make up any story they
wanted). It was a world in which adaptive behavior in non-Jews was presented
as pathological and disturbed parent-child relations were seen as a good thing
because they led to rebellious children who would reject their parents culture. I
stand by my conclusion that it is a theory that attempts to alter gentile culture in
a manner that benefits Judaism by portraying gentile group loyalties (including
nationalism, Christian religious affiliation, close family relationships, high-
investment parenting, and concern with social and material success) as indicators
of psychiatric disorder.
Beginning in the 1950s Jewish organizations were very active in promoting
the Frankfurt School view that “negative attitudes toward groups were … not …
the result of competing group interests but rather the result of individual
psychopathology (Svonkin 1997, 75). … While gentile ethnocentrism was
viewed as a public health problem, the [American Jewish Congress, which funded
much of this activism] fought against Jewish assimilation” (p. 259).
In many ways, Jewish activism in the political arena on the left (that is, apart
from purely intellectual movements) is the most important arena of Jewish
influence, with huge ramifications in a wide range of countries, certainly
including the United States and other Western societies, but also the Soviet Union
and Eastern Europe. The Jewish role in Bolshevism is particularly important, and
I have added to the material in Chapter 3 in the Preface to the Paperback Edition
and in my review of Yuri Slezkines The Jewish Century, focusing particularly
on the immense consequences of Jewish radicalism in the twentieth century, a
topic that was not emphasized in CofC with its focus on Jewish identity. This
material gives further support to the thesis of Chapter 3 that in general Jews on
the left retained their Jewish identity, sense of pursuing Jewish interests, and their
central role on the left during the twentieth century.
Cofnas begins by complaining about my treatment of Karl Marx (see above
for further comments on Marx suggesting that he did indeed fit the mold of the
type of intellectual reviewed discussed in CofC).
In any case, in Chapter 3 I
I admit the citation to Jacob Katz is screwed up and am investigating. I greatly admire
Katz as a historian and suspect I cited the wrong book. This sort of thing happens to everyone.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Whatever Marxs views on the subject [of Jewish identification and group
continuity], a critical question in the following is whether acceptance of
radical, universalist ideologies and participation in radical, universalist
movements are compatible with Jewish identification.
In other words, Marxs views are not germane to the topic of the chapter.
Cofnas argues against my comments on Richard Pipes regarding the issue of
Jewish underrepresentation in nationalist movements, even if they are anti-
First, anti-Semitic nationalist movements generally targeted Jews
regardless of their self-identity. Jews who identified as Russian or
Polish would still have been discouraged, if not outright prohibited, from
joining these movements as equal participants. Second, even de-
ethnicized Jews might find it difficult to accept anti-Semitic caricatures of
Jews due simply to their close contact with Jewish family and former
First, earlier in the chapter, I note Pipes claim that Bolsheviks of Jewish
background in the czarist period did not identify as Jews, although they were
perceived by gentiles as acting on behalf of Jewish interests and were subjected
to anti-Semitism. I agreed that, under such circumstances, it would be hard for
such a person not to identify as a Jew on some level. For one thing, as I note, anti-
Semitism tends to increase Jewish identification. Secondly, the views of anti-
Jewish nationalists need not have been caricatures but rather more or less
accurate conceptions of Jewish behavior. Given the vast overrepresentation of
Jews among their enemies, it would have been natural not to trust someone with
a Jewish background who offered to participate in a nationalist movement. In
fact, Jews generally opposed national cultures throughout Eastern Europe during
the period (here, pp. 7376)anti-Jewish or not, and often in leadership
positions: their love of cultural icons transcended national and ethnic boundaries
in an age of popular nationalism. Indeed, Jewish lack of attachment to national
cultures has been a theme of anti-Semitism throughout the centuries, beginning
with the Book of Exodus (here, 6070), and extending to perceptions of European
Jews in the early twentieth century (here, p. 142) and to concern that Jewish
neoconservatives are more loyal to Israel than the United States.
But in any caseand this is the critical point, Jewish overrepresentation in
anti-nationalist movements cannot be explained simply by Jewish IQ, etc.
Cofnas has an incorrect link to his citation of Alan Dershowitz, and repeatedly refers to CofC as
published in 1988 in the body of the article, although he gets it right in the references.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Cofnas claims that For MacDonald, having a strong Jewish identity appears
to be the only reason not to support anti-Semitic movements, citing this
example from Chapter 3:
The [Soviet-German] nonaggression pact provoked a great deal of
rationalization on the part of Jewish CPUSA [Communist Party USA]
members, often involving an attempt to interpret the Soviet Unions
actions as actually benefiting Jewish interestsclearly an indication that
these individuals had not given up their Jewish identities. Others
continued to be members but silently opposed the partys line because of
their Jewish loyalties (1988a:73)
It seems to me that, if the issue is being evaluated in terms of whether or not
it benefits Jewish interests rather than the interests of the country as a whole, this
evident rationalization makes my point. However, the other example cited by
Cofnas is indeed unclear exactly what the motives of the Jewish-Polish
communists were. But this is cherry-picking. If read in the context of the entire
section (pp. 6068), the Jewish identifications of these communists come through
clearly, so it becomes implausible that their concern about the nonaggression pact
was unrelated to their Jewish identity when Jewish identity was so salient in other
areas. The same can be said for Jewish involvement in the Communist Party
USA (CPUSA; see p. 72ff). For example:
In the following years [i.e., after 1925 when there was a mass exodus of
Jews from the party after ethnic sections were abolished], Jewish support
for the CPUSA rose and fell depending on party support for specific Jewish
issues. During the 1930s the CPUSA changed its position and took great
pains to appeal to specific Jewish interests, including a primary focus
against anti-Semitism, supporting Zionism and eventually Israel, and
advocating the importance of maintaining Jewish cultural traditions. As in
Poland during this period, The American radical movement glorified the
development of Jewish life in the Soviet Union. . . . The Soviet Union was
living proof that under socialism the Jewish question could be solved
(Kann 1981, 152153). Communism was thus perceived as good for
Jews. Despite temporary problems caused by the Soviet-German
nonaggression pact of 1939, the result was an end to the CPUSAs isolation
from the [mainstream] Jewish community during World War II and the
immediate postwar years. (p. 73)
Finally, Cofnas makes the following criticism:
In several places, as here, Cofnas cites CofC as having been published in 1988. It was
published in 1998.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
MacDonald leaves out a key fact noted by Schatz (1991:225), which is
that 40% of the victims of the secret police were Jewish. Since the Jewish
population of Poland at the time was miniscule (less than half of 1% of
the population in 1949; see Schatz 1991:208), Jews were extremely
disproportionately likely to be attacked by the security service. These
data are more consistent with the thesis that Jews were simply more likely
to be in positions of powermore likely to be in the position to persecute
others, and more likely to be perceived as rivals by those in power, so
more likely to be persecuted. There is no convincing evidence supporting
the tale of Jews qua Jews victimizing gentiles for revenge on a significant
Unfortunately, Schatz doesnt explain why Jews were targeted by the security
forces. However, in making this claim, Schatz cites an article by Wlodzimierz
Rozenbaum titled The Background of the Anti-Zionist Campaign of 196768 in
Poland (Essays in History 17 (19721973): 7096). I have ordered this item
from the library and will revise this section as needed. However Rozenbaum
covers the same topic with a similarly titled article here. Quite clearly, Jews were
being targeted by the security forces because their Zionist sympathies conflicted
with the foreign policy of the Soviet bloc (disloyalty) but also because the
situation provided an opportunity for Polish leader Wladyslaw Gomulka to purge
Jews from positions of power and thus consolidate his own power:
Israeli victories, even before they were acknowledged in the media, brought
some relief to most Jews in Poland. Many did not hide their happiness,
although they were understandably restrained in demonstrating it.
The pro-Israeli sympathies in Poland were known to the authorities.
Reportedly, even the Soviet leaders were aware of them and this issue was
mentioned during the summit meeting in Moscow. Thus, in the case of
Gomulka, the signing of the anti-Israeli declaration was not just the usual
bow in the Kremlins direction. An anti-Zionist campaign in Poland was
meant to have serious domestic implications. Gomulka was obviously
concerned about the anti-Soviet overtones permeating pro-Israeli
sympathies in Poland. But he also must have seen other very important
political advantages, namely an opportunity to deal openly and decisively
with the Jewish problem which could bring him even greater control over
the party leadership.
Thus the targeting of Jews was done because of (or on the pretext of) their
Zionist sympathies, not because of opposition to communism per se. Indeed, in
general, Jews had been staunch supporters of the regime and were
overrepresented in leadership positions, although less so than in the immediate
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
post-World War II era. Nevertheless, I note that in the 1950s there was a relatively
minor purge in which Jews may have been targeted by the security forces:
Khrushchev himself supported a new policy with his remark that you have
already too many Abramoviches (in Schatz 1991, 272). Even this first
stage in the anti-Jewish purges was accompanied by anti-Semitic incidents
among the public at large, as well as demands that Jewish communists who
had changed their names to lower their profile in the party reveal
themselves. As a result of these changes over half of Polish Jews responded
by emigrating to Israel between 1956 and 1959.
The purge in the 1950s, like similar purges in the USSR during this period,
occurred because Jews were seen as having too much power.
In neither of these purges were Jews being targeted because they were Polish
nationalists who, after all, were by far the most important targets of the regime
throughout the entire period:
When this group [i.e., the generation of Jewish communists] came to
power after the war, they advanced Soviet political, economic, and cultural
interests in Poland while aggressively pursuing specifically Jewish
interests, including the destruction of the nationalist political opposition
whose openly expressed anti-Semitism derived at least partly from the fact
that Jews were perceived as favoring Soviet domination. The purge of
Wladyslaw Gomulkas group shortly after the war resulted in the
promotion of Jews and the complete banning of anti-Semitism. Moreover,
the general opposition between the Jewish-dominated Polish communist
government supported by the Soviets and the nationalist, anti-Semitic
underground helped forge the allegiance of the great majority of the Jewish
population to the communist government while the great majority of non-
Jewish Poles favored the anti-Soviet parties (Schatz 1991, 204205). (65)
If there is one thing Jews have learned, its that no system of government is
guaranteed to be resistant to anti-Jewish attitudes. Similarly, after being a
dominant elite in the Soviet Union beginning with the Bolshevik Revolution and
extending at least well into the 1930s (and really until after World War II), Jewish
power declined, Jews were purged from positions of power, and Jews ultimately
became leaders of the refusenik movement aimed at being able to emigrate from
the USSR.
Moreover, Schatz is quite clear that the criteria for acceptance into the security
forces had to do with Jewish issues:
To begin with, there was the basic fact of the general societys hostility
toward the regime and the latters need for trusted cadres. Old communists,
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
among them the generation [i.e., the core group of Jewish communists
central to the Polish Communist Party since before World War II] had to
be relied on as the core. They were joined by other Jews who were not pre-
war communists, but whom the regime could rely on because of their
sympathies for the new political system and because of their isolation and
exposed position in the wider society. (225)
Thus, because of anti-Jewish attitudes in the wider society (at least partly due
to the perception that Jews were vastly more likely to favor the hated communist
government than Poles and because of their prominent positions in the
government), they were disproportionately likely to be recruited. The same goes
for other positions in the government (see pp. 6768; e.g.: Jews who had severed
formal ties with the Jewish community, or who had changed their names to
Polish-sounding names, or who could pass as Poles because of their physical
appearance or lack of a Jewish accent were favored in promotions).
Finally, Cofnas never comes close to refuting the fundamental thesis of the
chapterthat Jewish radicals retained their Jewish identity and sense of pursuing
Jewish interests.
As noted above, writing the chapter on immigration was a game-changer for
me because the policies inaugurated by the 1965 immigration law and similar
laws throughout the West have resulted in demographic transformations that will
make the Western peoples minorities in lands they have dominated for hundreds,
and in the case of Europe, for thousands of years.
My view that individual influential Jews and Jewish organizations were the
most influential forcea necessary conditionfor the passage of the law has
received support from historians Hugh Davis Graham and Otis Graham who
emphasize the importance of Jewish influence in the executive branch of the
government (I focused on Congress). This is how Hugh Davis
Graham summarized it in his 2002 book Collision Course (pp. 5657):
Most important for the content of immigration reform, the driving force at
the core of the movement, reaching back to the 1920s, were Jewish
organizations long active in opposing racial and ethnic quotas. These
included the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee,
the Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith, and the American Federation
of Jews from Eastern Europe. Jewish members of the Congress, particularly
representatives from New York and Chicago, had maintained steady but
largely ineffective pressure against the national origins quotas since the
1920s. . . . Following the shock of the Holocaust, Jewish leaders had been
especially active in Washington in furthering immigration reform. To the
public, the most visible evidence of the immigration reform drive was
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
played by Jewish legislative leaders, such as Representative Celler and
Senator Jacob Javits of New York. Less visible, but equally important, were
the efforts of key advisers on presidential and agency staffs. These included
senior policy advisers such as Julius Edelson and Harry Rosenfield in the
Truman administration, Maxwell Rabb in the Eisenhower White House,
and presidential aide Myer Feldman, assistant secretary of state Abba
Schwartz, and deputy attorney general Norbert Schlei in the Kennedy-
Johnson administration.
The most important point here is that Cofnas does not dispute the central role
of Jews and Jewish organizations in passage of the immigration law of 1965.
Cofnas begins by complaining about my treatment of John Dewey:
MacDonald argues that Dewey was being manipulated by his less famous,
albeit Jewish, student, Sidney Hook. However, I did mention that Hook was
Deweys student and never said that Dewey was being manipulated, only that
he was being promoted by an intellectual who achieved a great deal of
prominence and influence as a New York Intellectual (I discuss the New York
Intellectuals in Chapter 6, including material on Hooks strong Jewish identity
and sense of pursuing Jewish interests). I have no doubt that Dewey was sincere
in his beliefsbeliefs that were very attractive to the Jewish intellectual
ascendency. The same goes for Cofnass assertion that I claim that Margaret
Mead was a puppet of Boas. As indicated above, I have no doubt that her
beliefs were sincere.
Cofnass treatment of my comments on Dewey ignores my citations of David
Hollinger, perhaps the premier historian of U.S. intellectual history. Hollinger
(1996, 4) notes the transformation of the ethnoreligious demography of
American academic life by Jews, and specifically with respect to Dewey:
If lapsed Congregationalists like Dewey did not need immigrants to
inspire them to press against the boundaries of even the most liberal of
Protestant sensibilities, Deweys kind were resoundingly encouraged in
that direction by the Jewish intellectuals they encountered in urban
academic and literary communities (Hollinger 1996, 24).
While Jews promoted people like Dewey whose views resonated with theirs,
they worked to destroy the reputations of intellectuals whose views they
disapproved. In particular, Jewish intellectuals were successful in opposing the
work of populist intellectuals and artists (discussed in Chapter 5 and in my review
of Eric Kaufmann mentioned above). Andrew Joyce and Brenton Sanderson have
made major contributions in this area, with essays on Jewish attempts to destroy
the reputations of T. S. Eliot, Robinson Jeffers, Ezra Pound, and Richard Wagner.
On the other hand, Jewish intellectual activism has been central in promoting the
work not only of the intellectuals reviewed in CofC, but also the reputation of
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Baruch Spinoza who is now being promoted by Jewish academic activists as the
philosopher without whom the Enlightenment never would have happened.
Regarding Cofnas’s comments on Madison Grant, he was indeed a Nordicist
advocating for people like himselfan attitude that is certainly not foreign to
Jews. However, to claim that Jews were effectively promoting, not
undermining, white unity (his emphasis) is a stretch to say the least. Even
during the 1920s and before (e.g., unanimous opposition in the Jewish press to
the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; see p. 283), Jews promoted immigration
from all of humanity.
In 1920 the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution
urging that the Nation . . . keep the gates of our beloved Republic open . .
. to the oppressed and distressed of all mankind in conformity with its
historic role as a haven of refuge for all men and women who pledge
allegiance to its laws (in The American Hebrew, Oct. 1, 1920, 594). The
American Hebrew (Feb. 17, 1922, 373), a publication founded in 1867, to
represent the German-Jewish establishment of the period, reiterated its
long-standing policy that it has always stood for the admission of worthy
immigrants of all classes, irrespective of nationality. And in his testimony
at the 1924 hearings before the House Committee on Immigration and
Naturalization, the AJCommittees Louis Marshall stated that the bill
echoed the sentiments of the Ku Klux Klan; he characterized it as inspired
by the racialist theories of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. At a time when
the population of the United States was over 100 million, Marshall stated,
[W]e have room in this country for ten times the population we have; he
advocated admission of all of the peoples of the world without quota limit,
excluding only those who were mentally, morally and physically unfit,
who are enemies of organized government, and who are apt to become
public charges. Similarly, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, representing the
AJCongress and a variety of other Jewish organizations at the House
Hearings, asserted the right of every man outside of America to be
considered fairly and equitably and without discrimination.
Far from promoting White unity, Jewish activists were promoting making
Whites a small minority in a country that they had established and dominated for
150 years.
Cofnas claims that I am incorrect in attributing hypocrisy to American Jews
because they support immigration and diversity in the U.S. but not Israel in
Chapter 8. However, I never mention hypocrisy in that chapter but am only
interested in describing the disparities in policies advocated by Jews in the two
countries. This is the quotation (from Chapter 8) that Cofnas is disputing
(including additional material in order to clarify the context):
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Notice that American Jews have had no interest in proposing that
immigration to Israel should be similarly multiethnic, or that Israel should
have an immigration policy that would threaten the hegemony of Jews. I
rather doubt that Oscar Handlin (1952, 7) would extend his statement
advocating immigration from all ethnic groups into the United States by
affirming the principle that all men, being brothers, are equally capable of
being Israelis. I also doubt that the Synagogue Council of America would
characterize Israeli immigration law as a gratuitous affront to the peoples
of many regions of the world (PCIN 1953, 117). Indeed, the ethnic conflict
within Israel indicates a failure to develop a universalist Western culture.
I go on to discuss the disparities (not hypocrisy) between attitudes toward
immigration of American Jews versus Israeli Jews. The simplest explanation of
this disparity is that in general Jewish perceptions of their interests differ
dramatically depending on whether they are a solid majority of a country or a
small minority. Whats good for the Jews depends on contexthardly surprising.
Regarding immigration to Israel, Cofnas writes:
the claim that immigration to Israel is restricted to Jewseven nominal
Jewswas and is false. Since 1970, Israel will give automatic citizenship
to anyone with one Jewish grandparent and their non-Jewish spouse and
children (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2013). Hundreds of
thousands of gentiles were granted Israeli citizenship because of this
policy (Felter 2009). (An exact estimate is difficult to give since Israelis
with no Jewish ancestors, or only a distant one, may identify as Jewish in
Jewish immigrants to Israel must establish their Jewish roots which typically
involves documentation of family history. Recently there was a rabbinic ruling
that Ashkenazi Jews could use DNA to prove that they are Jews, a particular
problem for Jews who emigrated from the former Soviet Union. Imagine a U.S.
law that allowed only people of who could establish a European family history
and their spouses and children to immigrate to the U.S. and allowed the use of
genetic testing to confirm European ancestry. I may be going out on a limb here,
but Im thinking every Jewish organization in America would be up in arms.
Realize also that historically, marriage in Israel has been controlled by the
Orthodox rabbinate. A 2013 law liberalized marriage somewhat, but there is still
an Orthodox monopoly on marriage and divorce in Israel, and converts still
suffer some disabilities, mainly because non-Orthodox conversions are not
Some Israeli supporters of marriage liberalization remained skeptical
despite the passage of the law.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
The law wont help more than 300,000 immigrants who are defined [under
Israeli law] as without religion. It also wont help Reform and
Conservative converts who are recognized as Jews by the state, but not by
the rabbinate, noted Rabbi Uri Regev, a Reform rabbi and director of
Hiddush, a group advocating an end to the Orthodox monopoly in Israels
state rabbinate.
Regarding Alan Dershowitzs advocacy of Ethiopian migration to Israel:
again, different Jews see Jewish interests differently. Some Jewish advocates
for Ethiopian migration may see refusal to admit Ethiopians as indicating Israeli
policy is racist and that it would destroy the idea that Judaism is simply a matter
of religious beliefboth of which would tend to give Israel a poor image in the
West which is a vital pillar of support for Israel. As I have repeatedly noted
here, one has to look at where the power is and pay close attention to divisions
within the Jewish community Moreover, using Cofnass estimates, Ethiopian
Jews constitute only a little over 2% of the population and thus may not be seen
as a serious threat to the demographic status quo. And its worth pointing out
that Ethiopian Jews have not been welcomed by many Israelis and remain on
the fringes of Israeli society. A BBC report from 2015: when they arrived in
Israel, these distinctive people faced appalling discrimination, racism and a lack
of empathy for their hardships in Ethiopia and during their journey to Israel. …
Many in the religious establishment even dared to question their Judaism; see
also here and here).
Finally, I acknowledge very high intermarriage rates for Jews in the U.S. and
that my projections of the Jewish demographic future in America, made 20 years
ago on the basis of my reading, are not holding up. However, this should be
placed in context. These trends do not signal the death knell of ethnic Judaism.
First, a major goal of Zionism during the early decades of the twentieth century
was to prevent intermarriage and assimilation (here, p. 157), and in large measure
that has succeeded in Israel. Secondly, to my knowledge, the leadership of the
American Jewish community remains ethnically Jewish. Third, intermarriage and
conversion have benefits for the Jewish community (e.g., here), including the
advantages of marrying into prominent non-Jewish families, such as the families
of presidents Trump and Clintona centuries-old phenomenon. Some authors
have suggested that relatively high rates of intermarriage, low fertility, and the
various levels of Jewish identification in the modern Western societies are highly
functional for Judaism because they serve as a bridge to the surrounding culture
because of family ties with non-Jews.
Finally, there remains a highly fertile core
of Conservative and Orthodox Jews who reject intermarriage.
For example, Lieberman, S., & M. Weinfeld (1978). Demographic trends and Jewish
survival. Midstream 24 (November): 919.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Cofnas: After arguing so strenuously that liberal movements were designed
to advance a Jewish group evolutionary strategy, he acknowledges that Jews are
also in the vanguard in the fight against those same movements. As noted
above in discussion of the history of Jews under communism, no political
system is guaranteed to serve Jewish interests, and I have written about the
concern within the organized Jewish community over the immigration of groups
that may not resonate with Jewish issues, particularly Muslims. As always, the
Jewish community will respond to problems as they arise. In the case of Poland
and the Soviet Union, that meant large-scale emigration, and Jewish emigration
from France and other European countries because of Muslim anti-Semitism is
already a reality.
Cofnas notes that several Jews are prominent in evolutionary psychology and
as critics of liberal social science. This in no way invalidates anything in
CofC. As noted above, there have always been Jews who do good work in the
social sciences. However, I should say that I disagree with Pinkers orthodox
version of evolutionary psychology (massive modularity) in favor of
emphasizing how modular and non-modular mechanisms work together to
create human culture. And for obvious reasons I have a particular complaint
because of his anti-scientific approach to my workin part responsible for my
spending the last 20 years in the intellectual wilderness. Nevertheless, Pinker
has moved the scientific and popular reception of behavior genetics of
evolutionary perspectives forward (see., e. g., his withering criticism in The
Blank Slate of three pf the figures discussed in Chapter 2 of CofC: Gould,
Lewontin and Rose). And, for all I know, he is pursuing a tactical strategy of
gradualism by supporting ideas that are still regarded with extreme hostility in
large swaths of academia and the media in the hopes that things will eventually
change, although his recent work, Enlightenment Now is not encouraging in that
The rest of Cofnass conclusion is simply name-calling. No need to respond.
Perhaps the most important message here is that the successful Jewish attack
on Darwinism by the Jewish intellectual movements discussed in CoC was a
pivotal moment in intellectual history, with ramifications still being felt in
psychology, anthropology, sociology, criminology, gender studies, political
science, and political activism on the left generallyincluding, in particular,
immigration policy. Anti-Darwinism is really the intellectual force field that
protects the whole leftist-postmodern-multiculturalist worldview and gives it a
veneer of scientific credibility because it is promulgated from the most
prestigious academic and media sourcesa key to the success of all the
movements discussed in CofC (see especially Chapter 6).
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
With vanishingly few exceptions, every single person in evolutionary
psychology and behavior genetics has suffered personal and career costs because
of this assault on Darwinism. To the academics reading this, when was the last
time your psychology department advertised for a specialist in behavior genetics?
When was the last time your gender or ethnic studies departments advertised for
specialists in evolutionary approaches to race or sex differences? This has had the
effect of limiting job opportunities for those who aspire to careers in these fields,
and it prevents talented faculty fortunate to have a position from moving to more
prestigious institutions.
Fundamentally, this dominant zeitgeist of the left denies the biological reality
of race and sex differences and the heritability of important mental traits like IQ.
I vividly recall a conversation during the 1990s with J. Philippe Rushton, who
produced ground-breaking theories and research on race differences, life history
theory as applied to humans, and the importance of genetic similarity for
friendship, mate choice, and other examples of human assortment.
He asked:
Why do we (i.e., the academic establishment) know so much less about race and
race differences now than we did in the 1920s? Why has research and theorizing
in this area become taboo to the point that careers are ruined, and many academics
engage in self-censorship to preserve their jobs, their career prospects, and their
social life? CofC and my subsequent writing (e.g., here) are an attempt to answer
At this time there is enormous interest centering around free speech at
universities. Cofnas mentions Jonathan Haidt, whom I admire as a leader in
combatting the pall of leftist, anti-Darwinian orthodoxy reigning at universities
today. Haidt describes tribal moral communities in academia, particularly
social psychology. Like dissenters from the movements discussed in CofC,
opponents of the reigning orthodoxy are seen as moral reprobates (not simply
intellectually mistaken). In these tribal moral communities, research that
contravenes the values of the community is held to higher standards by insisting
on hyper-purism that settles for nothing less than absolute certainty and
absolutely correct methodology, epistemology, and ontology (CofC, Chapter 2,
p. 45).
Moreover, as noted in Chapter 6, all of the movements discussed in CofC were
essentially morally based critiques of the West, its people and its culturestribal
moral communities by any other name. This is also a theme of John Murray
Cuddihys masterpiece:
It is here [i.e., the Jewish moral critique of the hypocrisy of Western
society], I think, that we have a far-reaching convergence of the role of the
J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective, 1st ed. (New
Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1994); J. Philippe Rushton, Ethnic nationalism, evolutionary
psychology and Genetic Similarity, Nations and Nationalism 11, no. 4 (2005), 489507.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Jewish intelligentsia for 150 years within the European system and the
modernizing elite of many of the new nations: the moral passions become
the ruling passions, become special pleaders. Lionel Trilling once wrote
that the moral passions are even more willful and imperious and impatient
than the self-seeking passions. It is Susan Sontag who notes that the
Jews pinned their hopes for integrating into modern societies on promoting
the moral sense.
This morally based critique is based on a pre-existing firm foundation
stemming from developments in European cultures that greatly accelerated
during the eighteenth century. However, the morality that is now being preached
and coercively enforced as a result of the triumph of the Jewish intellectual
movements reviewed in CofC is a morality of altruism for the people of the West
that will, if continued, lead to the destruction of European peoples and their
cultures. It is a vision of culture as motivated by an altruistic, guilt-suffused moral
sense that was never envisioned by Enlightenment intellectuals or their
descendants in the West until the triumph of these movements.
On the surface, Cofnas appeared to engage my work, but he didn’t really grasp
the key arguments or how CofC fit into the framework of the other books in the
trilogy or my other writing on evolution and culture. One suspects he had a
foregone conclusion about its valuewhat psychologists term motivated
cognition (which, as I attempt to demonstrate, was characteristic of the Jewish
intellectuals I review in CofC). Like the hyper-purists discussed in several places
in CofC, he was looking for ways to condemn research he didn’t like for deeper
reasons. He understood perfectly well that a positive review would never be
published. And he was deeply troubled by CofCs increasing acceptance outside
academia and by the possible political ramifications of that acceptance. He was
quite aware that the silent treatment that had surrounded the book for 20 years
had failed.
So now we are back at square 1. I welcome further comment and promise to
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Cofnas provides a specific example of me misrepresenting sources based on
this passage:
R. Nevitt Sanford (Chapter VI) finds that affiliation with various Christian
religious sects is associated with ethnocentrism, and that individuals who
have rebelled against their parents and adopted another religion or no
religion are lower on ethnocentrism. These relationships are explained as
due to the fact that acceptance of a Christian religion is associated with
conformity, conventionalism, authoritarian submission, determination by
external pressures, thinking in ingroup-outgroup terms and the like vs.
nonconformity, independence, internalization of values, and so forth (p.
First, lets look at the relevant passage from The Authoritarian Personality. It
is certainly true that Sanford is saying that, as I summarized it, that individuals
who have rebelled against their parents and adopted another religion or no
religion are lower on ethnocentrism. The first part of that sentence could be
fleshed out to reflect some more specific findings discussed by Sanford, although
note that he too has a similar general statement at the beginning of his Discussion
section: Belonging to or identifying oneself with a religious body in America
today certainly does not mean that one thereby takes over the traditional Christian
values of tolerance, brotherhood, and equality. On the contrary, it appears that
these values are more firmly held by people who do not affiliate with any
religious group.
More specifically, however, people in minor Protestant sects (too few to
properly analyze separately) and Unitarians were found to be low on E (the
Ethnocentrism scale), and for the major denominations there is a great deal of
variation among individuals centering around a mean in the middle of E hardly
indicative of a general pattern of extreme ethnocentrism, as Sanford notes.
Nevertheless, Sanford does not dismiss the idea that being a member of a major
denomination per se is problematic:
It may be argued, however, that this conventional approach to religion
expresses enough identification with the status quo, submission to external
authority, and readiness to emphasize moralistically the differences
between those who belong and those who do not, to differentiate, in terms
of E score, members of the large denominations from the nonreligious and
from the members of those minor groups which actually stand for trends of
an opposite character.
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
Despite this claim that even being in a large denomination gives one enough
of a sense of being in an ingroup to produce higher scores on E, Sanford looks at
mothers religion in an effort to get more powerful findings. Subjects who deviate
from mothers religion are more likely to be lower on E. Religion for them is
interpreted as self-chosen, whereas those who accept their mothers religion tend
to be higher on E and on the Anti-Semitism Scale. Concerning these results as a
whole, one might say that whereas religious affiliation goes with higher scores
on the scales, this is less likely to be the case if the religion is ones own, that is
to say, if it has been accepted independently of or in revolt against the main carrier
of religious influence in the family … [whereas] where there are signs that the
acceptance of religion has been determined primarily by conventional or external
considerations, E score tends to go up. This was found to be particularly true of
In other words, Sanford is proposing that the real issue is whether the religion
is self-chosen as indicated by being different from the mothers. Even among the
major denominations, there may be wide variation in the extent to which subjects
adopt their religion by individual choice, thus accounting for the wide variation
in E scores:
But among the members of the major denominations there are many
subjects whose religion would appear to be genuine, in the sense that it
was arrived at more or less independently of external pressure and takes the
form of internalized values. These subjects, it seems, tend to score low,
often very low, on ethnocentrism.
In the following quotation, Sanford effectively glosses self-chosen as
reflecting the variation in the qualities emphasized throughout The Authoritarian
Personality; this quote includes the part that I quoted from in CofC (the part that
I quoted is in italics):
When the problem is approached from this point of view the psychological
factors which appear as most important are much the same as those which
came to the fore in the preceding chapters: conformity, conventionalism,
authoritarian submission, determination by external pressures, thinking in
ingroup-outgroup terms, and the like vs. nonconformity, independence,
internalization of values, and so forth.
So, did my quote misrepresent Sanford? Heres Cofnas:
MacDonald cites Sanford out of context and totally misrepresents his
conclusion. First, when Sanford refers to conformity, conventionalism,
authoritarian submission . . ., he is not characterizing Christian belief.
He says that to understand the relation between religion and
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
ethnocentrism, we must consider what psychological factors play a role
in the individuals acceptance or rejection, such as conformity,
conventionalism, authoritarian submission. He is not talking specifically
about Christianity, and he says explicitly that these factors do not play a
role in genuine Christianity. He clearly distinguishes between nominal
Christians who adopt the religion of their parents or of the majority simply
because they tend to submit to authority, and those whose religion would
appear to be genuine, in the sense that it was arrived at more or less
independently of external pressure and takes the form of internalized
values (Adorno et al. 1950:220). Sanford says that the latterthe
genuine Christians—”tend to score low, often very low, on
First, I wrote that affiliation with various Christian religious sects is linked
with ethnocentrism (emphasis added). I am not claiming anything about all
Christian religious sects, and therefore I am not claiming that, according to
Sanford, Christian beliefs per se are the problem. Secondly, as noted, Sanford
does make general statements linking Christianity with ethnocentrism: (1) the
statement linking affiliation with large Christian denominations with
ethnocentrism noted abovetheir means, after all, are considerably higher than
the Unitarians and the minor Protestant sects; and (2) the statement at the
beginning of the Discussion section, also noted above: Belonging to or
identifying oneself with a religious body in America today certainly does not
mean that one thereby takes over the traditional Christian values of tolerance,
brotherhood, and equality. On the contrary, it appears that these values are more
firmly held by people who do not affiliate with any religious group (p. 219).
This last statement is particularly interesting because it appears in the general
summary of the chapterthe take-home message, if you will. One wonders why
Sanford would make such statements if he didnt want to convey the idea that
Christian religious affiliation per se was problematic (although, again, I never
claimed that Sanford was claiming that Christian belief per se was the problem:
I wrote various Christian religious sects, not all Christian religious sects). Its
also noteworthy that in my comments on Chapter II of The Authoritarian
Personalityalso written by Sanford, the strongly identified Irishman and anti-
Semite Mack is diagnosed as pathological because of his strong sense of being in
an ingroup (pp, 169170). Given that Judaism is all about having a strong sense
of ingroup, I have to suppose that Sanford (who was not Jewish) was willfully
ignoring some obvious realities given that he was writing for a project funded by
the American Jewish Committee. Without a strong sense of being an ingroup,
Judaism would have died out long ago.
In the contested passage, I essentially cut to the chase: I did not recount
Sanfords discussion of how he ends up concluding that whether the subject
accepted mothers religion is the most important variable, or his suggestion that
Reply to Nathan Cofnas
low E scorers among the major denominations may have self-chosen their
religion for other reasons. Instead, I went directly from claiming that Sanford had
claimed that affiliation with various Christian religious sects is associated with
ethnocentrism, and that individuals who have rebelled against their parents and
adopted another religion or no religion are lower on ethnocentrism to Sanfords
conclusion that variation in E was linked to those traits emphasized by the book
as a whole: conformity, conventionalism, authoritarian submission,
determination by external pressures, thinking in ingroup-outgroup terms, and the
like vs. nonconformity, independence, internalization of values, and so forth.
Clearly, I did emphasize the basic points: that Sanford concluded that rebellion
against parents was important, and I implied that Christian religious belief per se
was not the problem.
So I really dont see where I misrepresented anything.
Cofnas continues:
Second, Sanford characterizes traditional Christianity in a positive, not a
negative, way. He refers to Christian humanism which works against
prejudice (Adorno et al. 1950:215). He writes that in America today,
the traditional Christian values of tolerance, brotherhood, and equality
appear to be more firmly held by people who do not affiliate with any
religious group, though genuine Christians low in ethnocentrism
probably predominate in [certain] Protestant denominations (Adorno et
al. 1950:21920). Thus Sanford identifies the values promoted by the
Frankfurt School with Christianity, not Judaism.
Again, I never claimed that Sanford claimed that Christian beliefs per se were
the problem. Otherwise, why would the mean E scores for Unitarians and
members of minor Protestant sects be so low, and why would so many members
of the major denominations be low on E? But Sanford is clearly saying that
despite these traditional Christian values and an ideal of Christian humanism,
Christians in 1940s America did not in general have these values. Clearly, he is
indicting Christianity as it actually existed, although he certainly recognizes that
there are exceptions.
Finally, whether one believes that I misrepresented Sanfords chapter, it does
nothing to alter my general comments on the Frankfurt School.
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In a trilogy of books, Kevin MacDonald argues that Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy.” According to his theory, Jews are genetically and culturally adapted to advance their own group interests at the expense of gentiles. Several influential twentieth-century liberal intellectual and political movements were designed by Jews to promote separatism and group continuity among themselves while undermining gentile society. According to Cofnas [Human Nature, 29, 134–156, 2018], MacDonald’s argument is based on “misrepresented sources and cherry-picked facts.” Cofnas proposed the “default hypothesis” to explain Jewish overrepresentation among the leaders of liberal intellectual and political movements: Because of their relatively high IQ and concentration in influential urban areas, Jews are overrepresented in all (non-overtly anti-Semitic) cognitively demanding activities. Dutton [Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2018] objects to Cofnas, claiming that, “from the perspective of evolutionary psychology,” MacDonald’s theory is more “plausible” than the default hypothesis because “people tend to act in their ethnic interests” and Jews are particularly high in ethnocentrism. Contra Dutton, it is argued here that there is no evidence to support the general notion that people tend to act in their ethnic interests. The evidence suggests, if anything, that Jews are not particularly ethnocentric. There are no theoretical principles or established empirical findings of evolutionary psychology that make MacDonald’s theory “plausible.”
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