About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread


Post 0

Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 6:22pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Just a datum: Here in America, other non-Christian groups, such as Buddhists, Hidus, Sikhs etc. outperform the largely Christian majority to about the same extent as Jews. The last time I looked, members of at least one non-Christian culture (unfortunately I now forget which one) were actually making more money on the average than Jews. But anyway, the incomes of non-Christians were in a tight cluster, way above the average. It may well be that it is just that the Christians are handicapped by internalizing self-sacrifice and self-repression - and envy (and therefore sometimes hate) those who are not so handicapped. And looking at Russia in the 20th century, Marxism was maiming the spirit just as Christianity had - in the Russian version, Marxism was just Christianity with "History" where Jesus used to be.

The phenomenon of Jews paying lip service to the "ideal of self-sacrifice" while exercising their minds and emotions - their SELVES - to the fullest, may be just the heritage of having been, for so long, the only non-Christian minority in Christendom. If you want to be as successful as Jews are, do as we do, not as some of us say.



Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 1

Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 6:22pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Alec, thanks for the thought-provoking discussion. 

It is ironic, but I was just telling a very dear friend of mine about the first time I came face-to-face with the bigotry that is anti-Semitism.  Growing up, I had (and have) many Jewish friends, and had even taken the first U.S. high school course ever offered on the Holocaust by the great Ira Zornberg at my high school (John Dewey High School, in Brooklyn).  Zornberg went on to author articles about Holocaust curriculum in later years, and Dewey opened up the first Center for the Study of the Holocaust when I was in my senior year at the school.   (I actually mention Zornberg's enormous impact on me in my first Full Context interview; Zornberg was also the faculty advisor of the social studies newspaper at John Dewey, Gadfly, of which I eventually became editor-in-chief.)

In any event, I'll never forget how I got into a discussion with a friend of my family---because I'd taken that high school class.  This guy, who almost never talked about politics or history, suddenly started going off about the "Jews":  "Oh, come on... you don't round up these people for no reason.  Hitler had the right idea:  you need to ghettoize them and get rid of them. They're just no good:  they own the banks, they own the businesses, they screw their workers, and then, they are a bunch of commies and socialists---they get you coming and going."

I thought I was hearing a recitation of Mein Kampf.   I simply lost it...  among the things I said to him was:   "Do you know what you're saying?  Do you realize the millions of people who were slaughtered?  Men, women, and children."

"So"... he said to me.  "Kids grow up! You gotta get rid of them before they mature."

He was serious

I had studied the Holocaust in school, but I had never heard such naked Nazi racism in all my life, so up-close and personal.  It has stayed with me for nearly 30 years.




Post 2

Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 7:00pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Greetings.

For a long time, I have admired rational, industrious Jews for precisely those qualities that the anti-Semites used to smear them. I have respected their perseverance, financial success, and less reserved pursuit of self-interest than many purveyors of other major faiths. This is only a general statistical trend, of course, and does not transfer into a collective admiration for Jews or Judaism. They are individuals, just like all people, and should be evaluated individually.

The reason for their statistical success may be the fact that their religion revolves less around self-sacrifice than Christianity or Islam. Judaism does not contain some of the most altruistic and mystical portions of the New Testament, such as the teachings of Jesus about "the meek inheriting the Earth" or the Book of Revelation. Moreover, it lacks the socialistic inclinations of St. Paul, who, in his letters, condemned money as the root of all evil. 

One could reasonably presume that most people who profess a certain religion genuinely follow its core precepts, considering them a good and honest way to live. The fact that honest Jews have fewer altruistic or mystical doctrines to embrace than do honest Christians and, especially, honest Muslims, means that they will encounter fewer obstacles toward individual prosperity in this world.

Of course, individual variations are always present. Lazy or atrociously-minded Jews are found often, just as are industrious Christians and Muslims who can live on excellent terms with a secular world. The fallacy common to both anti-Semitism and Zionism is that these doctrines are fundamentally collectivistic. They seek to enshrine a statistical trend as a filosofical principle, no matter which evaluation they would later make of that principle.

I am
G. Stolyarov II
Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917




Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 3

Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 8:26pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I definitely think the individualistic aspects of Judaism are a major reason why Jews tend to be successful all over the world. And I think the two major contradictory defects in the theology (from my very limited knowledge of it) are:

1. The principle of "social justice."
2. The inherent racist element (ie, that one must be born a Jew to be a Jew)

These--especially the first--may go a ways in explaining the legacy of socialist Jewish intellectuals, and voting habits.

On another note, in response to Adam Reed, I do not think that religious affiliation is the best way to explain income differences in America. Race and culture are more appropriate. Much of those with the poorest incomes fall in the Hispanic and black racial categories, both of which are Christian. If you compare the avg. income of Scandinavians with that of Hispanic/blacks, you will see a much larger gap than that which exists between Christians and non-Christians. And both those groups are "Christian."

In a global context, Judeo-Christian people are much more successful than non-Christian people, the exceptions being the denizens of the Asian Tigers and Japan, whose cultures preach self-sacrafice to a greater extent.

In the global context there is a huge difference between the success of Jews and mere non-Christians, which is why the emphasis must fall upon the former and not the latter.

Finally, I think it's intellectually sloppy to say that Marxism is tantamount to Christianity, with "Jesus" being replaced by "History". Even if you only claim that for the Russian version, it still seems that Objectivists apply this characterization to Christianity universally. This is too simplistic and ignores too many glaring discrepancies. Such as the more liberty-oriented voting habits of evangelical Christians in America.

If we continue to pair Marxism and Religion and leave it at that, we will never be able to know or understand why it is that more religious people in America tend to vote more capitalistically (on the whole).    




Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 4

Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 10:56pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Alex, you wrote:

"I think the two major contradictory defects in the theology (from my very limited knowledge of it) are:

1. The principle of "social justice."
2. The inherent racist element (ie, that one must be born a Jew to be a Jew)"

I agree with your point that Jewish intellectuals tend to be socialistic, but not for the reasons you cite. I'm not clear on how you find the principle of "social justice" specifically in Jewish theology. Would you explain? And your second point is mistaken; although Jews do not seek converts, they do accept them; and after a course of study with a rabbi, a person not born Jewish may convert and thereafter be recognized as a Jew.

My own sense of at least one cause of the problem of Jewish intellectuals is the Jewish experience of persecution over so many centuries and in so many countries. I think that has tended to create a sympathy for the underdog, even an identification with the underdog, that is easily translated into one form of liberalism or another.

Barbara





Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 5

Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 11:10pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

G. Stolyarov II wrote:

"The fallacy common to both anti-Semitism and Zionism is that these doctrines are fundamentally collectivistic."

I don't understand why you say that Zionism is collectivistic.It simply was a movement for the establishment of a Jewish state, based on the conviction that only thus would Jews be safe from religious or racial persecution; in a word, safe from another Holocaust. That is simply a statement of fact.

If, for instance, Objectivists were threatened with imminent extermination, I don't doubt that it would be suggested that they find a place -- a homeland -- where they would be able to protect themselves. I certainly would suggest it. Would you consider that to be collectivistic?

Barbara



Post 6

Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 7:49amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Greetings.

Ms. Branden, I would not consider the desire to found a state where all Jews would be safe and admitted to be collectivistic. To the extent that the Zionists advocated this and embodied it in Israel, I support them, as I support the right of Israel to exist in the status quo, against the incursions of Yasser Arafat's terroristic militia and suicide bombers. However, a country can do this without enshrining Judaism as a state-sponsored religion. In certain parts of Israel, orthodox Jewish parties have taken hold enough to ban all non-kosher foods. (It is also quite rare to find a butcher's shop in Israel where pork can be legally sold.)

There is a difference between saying, "We wish to create a safe haven for men of a certain religion" and "We wish to create a safe have exclusively for men of a certain religion." A government does not and cannot own the entirety of a country. Private property rights, not state edicts, should determine what types of practices are deemed normal and tolerable on any given piece of property. This means that, in order to be a truly individualistic state, Israel must embrace the free practice of any non-coercive religion or non-religion, which would all be deemed equal under the law.

I am
G. Stolyarov II
Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917





Sanction: 1, No Sanction: 0
Post 7

Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 1:54amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ms. Branden:

You know a great deal more about Judaism than I do. My cognizance of the principle of social justice comes from a brief high school lesson, which outlined four principles, among them self-responsibility--two other indivualistic ones--and social justice. It could be wrong--is there anyone here who has some authority on the subject who could confirm or disconfirm?

As for the collectivism of Zionism, I have read references to that in passing in a number of places. From the brief mentions I've read here and there, Zionism as an ancient "ism" is more than just the belief in the establishment of a Jewish state; there is a utopian-socialist element to what kind of state that should be. (This is as opposed to the word's current popular meaning, as denoting mere support for a Jewish state in general.)

The latest place I read this was in P.J. O'Rourke's new book, "Peace Kills," in which he says in his chapter about Israel, "True, Zionism has a utopian socialist aspect that is thoroughly nutty as far as I'm concerned."

To be sure, this is all anecdotal evidence. I have not read any Jewish text myself, nor spoken to any Rabbi.    




Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 8

Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 10:10pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
The Hebrew term "Tzdakah", often translated as "social justice" in non-Jewish languages, actually just means justice - a shorthand for "deal with every man as he deserves", and "judge and stand ready for judgement." Since Judaism has no concept of "charity" ("caritas") in the Christian sense, there is a tendency to translate the Hebrew in a way that will appeal to Christians as similar to caritas. To get a sense of what tzdakah means in Jewish ethics, consider the following from Maimonides:

"What are the best ways to do tzdakah to a poor person?

The best is to create a job for him by investing in a business, so that he will be able to support himself by working.

The second-best is to teach him a skill, so that he will be qualified to compete for an already existing job." etc.

Note that tzdakah, unlike caritas, does not ever imply that there is anything good about giving undeserved support to someone who is poor because he is not willing to work, not willing to learn a skill, or anything similar.

In modern times, there have been Kantian and other collectivist interpretations of Jewish ethics, and general assimilation into the prevalent culture. In Central Europe, where most Israeli and American Jews came from, the prevalent culture was heavily socialist, and Jews from Central Europe brought their assimilated socialism with them. The counterweight to this tendency is that Jewish culture encourages intellectual independence, so that in formerly socialist cultures Jews are usually the first to discard socialism. But on the other hand, intellectual independence does drive one to greater consistency, so a Jew who has not yet discarded socialism will tend to be a declared socialist, and not a wishy-washy middle-of-the-road "leftist liberal." On yet another hand, this also means that Jews become libertarians and not moderate conservatives, atheists rather than agnostics, etc.



Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 9

Monday, July 19, 2004 - 3:49amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

G.Stolyarov wrote "In certain parts of Israel, orthodox Jewish parties have taken hold enough to ban all non-kosher foods. (It is also quite rare to find a butcher's shop in Israel where pork can be legally sold.)"

While this was the case, it certainly was wrong -- as are all state-sponsored religious edicts. In fact, most Israelis are not religious at all, but have been somewhat trapped by the orthodox who established their power in Israel's early days. And by the way, the ban on non-kosher food was, I believe, lifted several years ago.

You also wrote: "There is a difference between saying, 'We wish to create a safe haven for men of a certain religion' and 'We wish to create a safe have exclusively for men of a certain religion.'. . . This means that, in order to be a truly individualistic state, Israel must embrace the free practice of any non-coercive religion or non-religion, which would all be deemed equal under the law."

Israel has never outlawed other religions. Many Arab and Christians live in Israel, and are free to practice their religions and to become Israeli citizens. (And if Israelis are somewhat wary of Arabs and other Muslims, it is hardly surprising.)

I know that Israel is often accused of being racist -- as it is accused of just about every other sin known to man. But please notice -- and ask yourself how many other nations would have done an equivalent -- that Israel air-lifted several hundred (I believe it was several hundred) black Ethiopian Jews out of their country and into Israel when they were being threatened. They were given immediate citizenship.



Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 10

Monday, July 19, 2004 - 4:02amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Alex wrote: " From the brief mentions I've read here and there, Zionism as an ancient "ism" is more than just the belief in the establishment of a Jewish state; there is a utopian-socialist element to what kind of state that should be."

Here is a definition of Zionism from a dictionary of Jewish history:

"Zionism, the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. Jews of all persuasions, left and right, religious and secular, joined to form the Zionist movement and worked together toward these goals. Disagreements led to rifts, but ultimately, the common goal of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland was attained."

As for Zionism being an "ancient ism," the term was coined in 1890.

Barbara



Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 11

Monday, July 19, 2004 - 4:05amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Adam Reed wrote:

"The Hebrew term "Tzdakah", often translated as "social justice" in non-Jewish languages, actually just means justice - a shorthand for "deal with every man as he deserves", and "judge and stand ready for judgement." Since Judaism has no concept of "charity" ("caritas") in the Christian sense, there is a tendency to translate the Hebrew in a way that will appeal to Christians as similar to caritas."

Fascinating! Thanks for posting it.

(Are you the Adam Reed who formerly posted on Noodlefood?)

Barbara



Post 12

Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:36amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Maybe an element of collectivism in Zionism can explain the prevalence of the kibbutz.




Post 13

Monday, July 19, 2004 - 4:47pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Barbara,

Yes, I am the same - and I do still post on Diana's site when I have a comment of interest.

Note on Zionism: After my parents escaped from Communist Poland in 1955 (I was 9 years old) Israel was the only country where we could live without a threat of deportation back to Poland. We lived there for 2 years before my father received a job offer and a visa for France. So I am a Zionist in the sense that I know, from personal experience, exactly how necessary Israel is for survival of people - including my parents and me - who were and are persecuted for adhering to Jewish cultural values of achievement, independence and justice.

At the same time, when we lived in Israel we were very uncomfortable with religious coercion. Most Israelis (about 60%) are atheists, but state enforcement of religious behaviors is generally accepted in the name of "national unity." Social and political collectivism are pervasive; in recent years Israel has become less socialist, but anti-Arab cultural racism has increased. Paradoxically, Israel is a very difficult place to live for people who adhere to Jewish cultural values of intellectual independence and individual justice. So I'm a very individualistic Zionist: I appreciate the value of Israel as a refuge in emergencies, but I wouldn't live there as long as I can live a better (and even closer to Jewish cultural values) individual life somewhere else.



Post 14

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 2:30pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Greetings.

I did not know that the kosher laws had been repealed. Thank you for that information, Ms. Branden. It is also true that Israel has not outlawed other religions, but certain orthodox Jewish parties within it are all too happy to place restrictions on what practitioners of other religions (or more moderate Jews) would wish to do. What Mr. Reed has written merely affirms this: the majority of Israelis and Jews are good, productive, rational individuals, but a minority of religious fundamentalists and socialists seeks to suppress them, and has not succeeded fully, but has obtained certain partial gains. One can only hope that these blows to liberty are reversed in time. There is only one way that Israel can serve as a bastion against religious fundamentalism in the Middle East, and that is to frame the struggle not in terms of "our faith versus their faith," but "our toleration versus their bigotry," and "our liberty versus their repression."
 
This means that Israelis must cease calling Israel "the God-given land of the Jewish people," but rather "the land of the individuals who own it by Right, be they Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, or of any other convictions."

It is good to have a place where people are guaranteed automatic protection from persecution. But a secular state does this much better than a state based on religion or socialism. Within any filosofy (be it Judaism or Objectivism!!) there is a vast divergence in the particular choices adherents to that filosofy make. If an orthodox party ever dictates which choices are tolerable and which are not, it becomes ever more difficult for even the practitioners of that party's essential principles to continue living genuinely, honestly, and consistently, if they consider the principles at odds with the orthodoxy (which they most often are).

I am
G. Stolyarov II
Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917Atlas Count 917 
Eden against the Colossus
The Prologue: http://www.geocities.com/rationalargumentator/eac_prologue.html

Chapter I: Protector's Summons: http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/eac_chapter1.html

Order Eden against the Colossus at http://www.lulu.com/content/63699.




Post 15

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 6:31pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Barbara Branden wrote:
"And by the way, the ban on non-kosher food was, I believe, lifted several years ago."

There was never a ban on *eating* non-kosher food in Israel, in private or in public. Unlike Moslem countries, Israel never had a kosher police. One could always walk the street eating bread during Passover - it was not illegal.  The ban was on selling non-kosher food or raising it. Non-kosher food was always imported to Israel in limited quantities ostensibly for non-Jewish tourists, but anybody who was willing to pay could buy such food in the few licensed stores that sold it. It was not illegal. There were always few licensed hog farms that provided pork ostensibly for hotels that catered to non-Jewish tourists, but anybody could drive to such a farm and buy pork directly from the farmer. As a matter of fact, the ban on selling pork in regular stores was repealed only a couple of months ago, and there is still an ongoing pubic debate about it.

-- Michelle





Post 16

Friday, July 23, 2004 - 6:10amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
G. Stolyarov II wrote:

This means that Israelis must cease calling Israel "the God-given land of the Jewish people," but rather "the land of the individuals who own it by Right, be they Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, or of any other convictions."

Only the Orthodox minority calls Israel "the God given land of the Jewish people." The secular majority calls it "the land of the individuals, mostly Jews, who own it by right."

As it happened, only Jews wanted to settle in that part of the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The majority can determine the character of a country, inclduing which language is the official language, which holidays are the official holidays, etc. I rather have Hanuka off than Christmas, but living in the U.S. I accept that the Christian majority can determine which holiday I have off.

-- Michelle




Post to this thread
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.