YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

February 13, 2018

Shylock and antisemitism

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 5:50 pm
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I have a new insight on antisemitism (https://clarespark.com/2013/05/11/index-to-blogs-on-antisemitism-2/) that also illuminates what passes for liberalism today: If you read THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, the contrast between the evil Shylock and the “rational” Christians is drawn out. What Shylock stands for is legality and contract (i.e., the honoring of civil obligations, like most of today’s conservatives standing up for lawn and order and supporting Israel).

The Christians (Antonio, Bassanio and Portia) are all about mercy and forgiveness, looking backwards to Judaism that stressed compassion (love/mercy/not holding grudges) and forgiveness, but foreshadowing the Christian appropriation of Judaism in the forms of Christian Socialism and social democracy. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/10/07/christian-socialism-as-precursor-to-orwell/; https://clarespark.com/2011/07/16/disraelis-contribution-to-social-democracy/)

Shakespeare’s play regarding Shylock is starkly controversial, but the contrast Shakespeare suggested and that (Christian) Shakespeare scholar David Bevington drew out for me between liberals and conservatives is rarely drawn.

Have we not gotten beyond late medieval England?


April 5, 2014

Standing up to bullying social democrats




I have been reading Peter Weiler’s biography of Ernest Bevin, a leading social democrat in early 20th century Britain, and it is a lucid guide to what social democrats (i.e., the moderate men) are and how they came to power. Weiler also explains populist antisemitism, which may be intrinsic to the social democratic world view. For labor reformer Bevin, socialism was all about controlling Shylock (p.74). (SD will be my shorthand for social democrats.)

The SD world view is this: they are not militants of the labor movement: their goal is not a worker’s state. Rather, they aimed for better wages, working conditions, and life chances for the once growing industrial working class. For the SDs, this would be accomplished through trade unionism and state power that would regulate capitalism, especially the financial sector. Professor Weiler calls this strategy corporatism or labourism. I call it proto-fascism. Many scholars refer to Italian Fascism as the “corporative state” or the “ethical state,” For the corporative state mediated between employers and workers, imposing harmony through state power. Many scholars compare the New Deal to the Mussolini solution to class warfare.

ENTER THE JEWS. As Weiler tells it, Bevin saw industrialists as natural allies to workers, whereas the money men were managing affairs in their own interests alone, cutting down profits for industrialists. Lowered profits meant that workers would have to take it on the chin, lowering wages so that fat cat financiers could maintain their outrageous life styles, while workers languished, unprotected and unloved. “Money” and heartlessness were ever associated with a fictional un-Christian animal called “the Jews.” Some major social theorists blamed “the Protestant spirit” for capitalism (e.g. Max Weber, C. Wright Mills), Protestantism being tinged with Hebraism and a particular love for the Old Testament. (See https://clarespark.com/2012/10/07/christian-socialism-as-precursor-to-orwell/.)

J. A. Hobson, a journalist, was read by “progressive” Brits and Americans alike (including Bevin), and it was he who was most aggressive in spreading the word that “the international Jew” not only was a cabal of money men, it controlled all newspapers and the media. (The Nation magazine in 1919 cited Hobson’s work: see https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/. Also https://clarespark.com/2009/09/18/bad-sex-in-the-new-york-times/.) The widely circulated Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a hot item in the Arab world today) made the further claim that the cabal would urge their readers to rise up and overthrow their nationalist masters, so that “the Jews” could move in, attack religion, and thus control the world, as was their inheritance as the Chosen People. Reform Jews ran away from this stereotype and many are ready to cave into a “binational state” in Israel as a way of pacifying their SD rulers and the Muslim world.

What does this have to do with standing up to bullying social democrats? As long as our intellectuals look to the state or any other bureaucracy or tribal entity to enforce “social justice” we are doomed to an eternity of authoritarian rule. Human rights do not encompass the rights of the corporative state (a.k.a. the welfare state) to substitute for individual choice and individual responsibility. Human rights are about standing up to illegitimate authority, wherever it may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of our consciousness. This task is not as easy as it sounds. (For part two of this essay see https://clarespark.com/2014/04/06/standing-up-to-bullying-social-democrats-2/.) midwest-map

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