Modern Jewish Antipathy to Paganism

Throughout the Middle-Ages, European Christianity had a deep-seated antipathy for Heathenism. This is clearly evidenced by the heresy laws, the “witch” burnings and even the wars fought against it by the imperial standard bearers such as Charlemagne. This was often taken to the extreme, with Oliver Cromwell’s puritans even going so far as to outlaw Christmas because of its Pagan connotations. Yet as the religious zeal expired in the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans and, specifically the Germanic world, began to embrace cultural and ethical outlooks that were increasingly Pagan. That’s not to say that they discarded Christianity; rather, they remained nominally Christian whilst behaving in a more Pagan manner. They grew conscious of the divinity of the natural world, began to celebrate more of the Old Festivals with traditionally non-Christian symbolism, and perused science and the arts in ways that were restrained under Christian absolutism. Much of the great philosophical schools of continental Europe derive their core principles from a Pagan understanding of the world, whilst the Pagan spirit was beautifully expressed by the great Germanic composers of the 18th century. Christianity lapsed in its efforts to enforce a more ecclesiastical approach to life, instead ceding territory to the rebirth of the Pagan spirit.

Given the increasingly liberal zeitgeist in which we find our world today, one would be forgiven for assuming that this trend would have continued. However, a great pushback occurred against this resurgence in Heathen spirit immediately after the Second World War, with secularised Christianity being increasingly disseminated as the standard foundations for Western civilisation. This pushback came not from the upper echelons of the Christian Church, not the Vatican nor the broader Christian populous of any given nation; instead, we’ve seen this pushback come in its strongest form from specifically Jewish elements of academic and spiritual life, both in Europe and the United States of America. After noticing this trend, further research clearly demonstrates an unnatural aversion to Heathenism amongst Jewish community leaders, and the suggestion that Christianity – or its secularised form – should be the antidote to Europe’s Pagan spirit.

If one mistakes this debate for being solely a matter of which God(s) we pray to, then this attitude appears rather confusing. Surely our preference for Woden over Jesus, or Dharma over repentance is of no consequence to the Jewish community? This becomes all the more bemusing when we consider that most Jews in positions of cultural, spiritual or political authority in the West have a predilection for liberal tendencies. Liberalism, as we understand it in the West, appears antithetical to the perception we have of traditional Christian outlooks, as the latter has often displayed itself to be ambivalent to progressiveness. Furthermore, the sub-division of groups into multiple sub-groups of varying religious beliefs is an inherently liberal view, something that we tend to assume is favoured by the liberal Jewish internationalists. Taking all this into account, it becomes difficult to reconcile this with the assertion that Western Jews are strongly opposed to Paganism and anti-Christian cultural suppositions.

The debate between Christianity and Paganism, from a Jewish perspective, is more complex than the names we have for our deities. It’s not a matter of religious variants, but of two competing Weltanschauung with all the accompanying perspectives on morality and ethics, that even have varying economic and geopolitical implications. Christianity, whether spiritual or secularised, is the ideology of compassion for ‘the other’, moral universalism, internationalism, capitalism and cosmopolitanism. Paganism, taken in its 19th and early 20th century romantic revivalist format, is the ideology of ruralism, nationalism, in-group preference, moral relativism, socialism and the Wille zur Macht. Of course, Jews are not a monolith, and much of this won’t apply to Israeli Jews who value much of the aforementioned Pagan characteristics, but it’s fairly straightforward to discern the elements of the Pagan worldview that are a threat to liberal Western Jews. For the latter, often being ‘the other’ in European nations, is extremely wary of nationalism, in-group preference and ruralism, as these ideologies exclude them. Instead they feel more comfortable in an internationalist environment, a cosmopolitan setting fuelled by global capitalism that is home to everyone and no-one simultaneously.

This has been identified as a troublesome trait of Germanic Europeans from the early 20th century. In his 1925 book Practisher Idealismus (Practical Idealism), Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi defined German Christians as ‘more Pagan’ than Chinese Pagans, decrying their ‘inbred tendencies’ (by this he means the emphasis placed on preserving a unique ethnic group) and pushing Christianity as the ideology of internationalism and cosmopolitan ‘socialism’. He goes a step further and credits Judaism for bringing Christian spirituality and morality to Europe: ‘as far as Europe is Christian, it is Jewish. As far as Europe is morally, it is Jewish’. He then refers to Nietzschean philosophy as being representative of Pagan morality – negatively, of course. Kalergi supposes that, in order for ‘the man of the future’ to fully realise his potential, he must become properly Christian and, therefore, Jewish. This is an early example of opposition to the Pagan worldview emanating from a Jewish perspective.

The Second World War, as we know, was an event of seismic proportions for European Jewry, as well as a turning point in the ideological machinations of their cultural spokespeople. As Europe lay in ruins, and as European Jewry mourned their persecuted brethren, an ideological post-mortem was conducted by certain members of their academia. A notion that had already caught on in America’s Christian community and, thanks to Mr Churchill, amongst much of the British bourgeoisie, was that the Second World War represented a battle between Christian civilisation (The Allies) and the Pagan spirit of Europe (Germany). The Pagan nature of the Third Reich, it was alleged, was responsible for the barbaric nature of the Second World War, and Germany’s departure from Christianity was to blame for its alleged crimes against minority groups. One Jewish writer wrote in the aftermath of this war that ‘neopaganism nearly conquered Europe’, and decries the communitarianism and ethnocentrism of Pagan societies, for ‘the individual exists only as an organ of the collective state or race’. The essay draws heavily on the religious philosophy of Jewish writer Franz Rosenzweig, who described Pagan ethnocentrism as the ‘fragile and futile attempt to preserve their physical continuity through blood and soil’.

That Christianity was a useful weapon against antisemitism is not a particularly original viewpoint. Sigmund Freud identified this issue, writing:

‘We must not forget that all the peoples who now excel in the practice of antisemitism became Christians only in relatively recent times, sometimes forced to it by bloody compulsion. One might say they are all ‘badly christened’; under the thin veneer of Christianity they have remained what their ancestors were, barbarically polytheistic. They have not yet overcome their grudge against the new religion which was forced on them, and they have projected it on to the source from which Christianity came to them.’

This theme, whereby Jewish intellectuals conflate Paganism and Nazism, is recurring. David P. Goldman wrote that ‘horror is the norm in the God-haunted Pagan world’, suggesting that the ‘horrors of the Third Reich’ were simply a manifestation of the NSDAP’s spiritual beliefs. The implication is, of course, that the Nazis were Pagans who unleashed the innate barbarity of the European soul that had been so neatly ‘suppressed by Christianity’. In his book Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, Jewish-American writer Eric Kurlander attempts to demonstrate that the terror of Hitler’s Germany was as a result of its divergence from Christianity and embracement of ‘occultism’. He refers extensively to the Schutzstaffel’s interest in the historical persecution of Pagan “witches”, implying that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler persecuted Jews and Catholics out of revenge for this persecution of the ‘guarantors of German faith’.

In the United States in particular, with an evangelical Christian and philosemitic audience, this academic theory holds great sway. In the documentary series Nazis: A Warning From History, a sixth of the programming is dedicated to Hitler’s alleged occult beliefs – this is strangely omitted from the series adapted for a European audience. But the broad implication is that ‘occult’ (Pagan) beliefs and practises fuelled the un-Christian “horrors” of the Third Reich. This is a theory used to more broadly admonish the völkische Bewegung (folkish movement) of the late 19th century, with its focus on ethnocentrism, Nietzschean ethics and Wagnerian artistic folklore. Given this movement’s propensity for antisemitism and ethnic nationalism, it’s hardly surprising that it’s met with hostility from the Jewish communities of the Occident. Their animosity is even more greatly understood when one considers that the National Socialist movement grew out of the Folkish movement, and leading proponents of the latter, such as Alfred Rosenberg and Richard Walther Darré, were amongst the senior officials of the NSDAP in the 1930s.

This evaluation of Paganism from a Jewish perspective was not restricted to post-war analysis. In a 1999 essay for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, Manfred Gerstenfeld wrote extensively Paganism and its implications for modern Jewry. Despite this not having a particular aversion to nationalism – he devoted just one bland sentence to the Völkische Bewegung – Gerstenfeld felt compelled to equate Paganism with Hitler and Nazis multiple times. Most notably, he sought to remind readers that returning to nature was dangerous because ‘the first environmental protection laws anywhere in the world were made by the Nazis’. He also decried the Pagan desire to ‘live in harmony with nature’, stating that ‘no nation in the twentieth century has lived as much in harmony with nature as Hitler’s Germany’. Special care was made to remind the reader that, under the doctrine of Natural Law, ‘the Jews, the people who introduced moral laws into society, were to be wiped off the earth’. Presumably these moral laws referred to here are Christian laws.

An interesting point about these examples is that, not only do Jewish intellectuals propose Christianity (or its secularised ethics) as the remedy for this Pagan barbarism, they also credit themselves with bringing Christianity to Europe in the first place. This is a problematic claim when one considers that many Christian European states expelled the Jews for un-Christian practises during the Middle-Ages, although that’s not to say that Christian ethics aren’t a primordially Jewish conception. However, notwithstanding ancient history, there is a clear Jewish antipathy towards Paganism in the context of modern History. Jewish intellectuals in the Occident greatly fear a return to ethnocentrism and Pagan ethics in Europe, and they more often than not propose Christianity as its antidote. That more Europeans have not returned to their spiritual roots is perhaps a symptom of the influence Western liberal Jews have over academic theory in the West, for it is certainly not as a result of enthusiastic piety and the inspiration teachings of Jesus Christ.

References:

Pagan Horrors, David P. Goldman: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2018/02/pagan-horror

Neo-paganism in the Public Square and its Relevence to Judaism, Manfred Gerstenfeld: http://www.jcpa.org/jpsr/gersten-s99.htm

Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, Eric Kurlander (2017)

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Poland 1939: Allied Silence Over Soviet Invasion

The Second World War is the most well-documented conflict in human history and we all know how it began. Germany, in a flagrant act of military aggression, invaded Poland on 1st September 1939 under a trumped-up casus belli, thus triggering Great Britain’s guarantee of assisted defence to the Eastern European nation. After the British and French ultimatum was rejected by the German government, a state of war existed from 3rd September. Yet this is not the complete story. As we now know, a secret protocol of the so-called Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact (German-Soviet non-aggression treaty), signed on 23rd August 1939, stipulated that the USSR would also undertake an invasion of Poland and annex the Eastern section of the country. On 17th September the Red Army invaded Eastern Poland, without so much as a formal declaration of war. Military operations lasted until mid-October, with Eastern Poland and its people fully annexed by the USSR thereafter. The Red Army’s campaign was an identical replica of the German’s just two weeks prior; over 200,000 prisoners of war were taken; political and cultural leaders were arrested; high profile members of the intelligentsia were shot en masse in summary executions. During the course of the Second World War, the Soviet forces in Poland practised their preferred method of ideological engineering: population dumping. Hundreds of thousands of Polish civilians were deported East to Siberia, never to return, whilst the NKVD (the KGB’s predecessor) held mock elections and terrorised the population into accepting Bolshevik rule.

The purpose of describing such events is to demonstrate, as can clearly be seen, that the Soviet invasion of Poland bore striking resemblance to that of the Germans. Indeed, both bore the hallmarks of expansionist invasion because that’s precisely what they were. This begs the question: why did the British and French governments declare war on Germany for violating Polish sovereignty, but not the USSR? Furthermore, why did the allies mount no defence of the Baltic states when they, too, fell victim to Soviet aggression in 1940? Historians often appear loathed to even ask such questions, let alone speculate on their answers.

The answer, perhaps, lies amongst events that occurred in the years leading up to the advent of war. In March 1938, German forces entered Austria in what the victorious allies deemed to be the regime’s first act of aggression – notwithstanding the fact that Austrian forces simultaneously entered Germany to demonstrate good faith and reciprocity. The most worrisome protests, from the German point of view, in actual fact came from Italy in the run up to the annexation. In the past, Mussolini’s government had supported the territorial integrity of the Austrian state, mostly due to concerns over South Tyrol, a German territory gifted to the Italians at Versailles. Under the pre-Anschluss status quo, Austria posed no threat to Italy over said territory. Indeed, Hitler’s government was genuinely concerned that Italy might respond militarily over the Anschluss. The Western Powers – Britain and France – voiced only the mildest and half-hearted of objections. The Austrian state had signalled its desire to join Germany in the aftermath of World War One and the breakup of the Habsburg Empire, yet this petition was denied by the victorious allies – this is a potential reason why, under the principles of self-determination, the Allies were quiet over the 1938 annexation of Austria. The relevance of this will be demonstrable when we later come to address to Polish question.

When, later in 1938, the Germans turned their expansionist attention to Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland, the Allies took a somewhat keener interest, yet again signalled their desires too appease Germany’s (rightful) demands to incorporate ethnic German territory into the Reich. The culmination of this was the Munich Agreement, where British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave blessings to Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland on the basis that it would be the Reich’s last territorial ambition in Europe. Then, one could argue, the later invasion of Poland carried more gravity for the Allies as it violated not only the mutual defence guarantee, but also the terms of the Munich Agreement. However, this is another case in which the full story must be laid bare. In March 1939, as the Czech State disintegrated, the German’s completely disregarded the Munich Agreement and occupied Prague, creating the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, a region populated by ethnic Czechs and administered by what was essentially an SS Police State and nominal Gauleiters. The Allies, aside from mild mannered voices of protestation, were nowhere to be seen, and military action was definitively off the agenda in this case. Here, the Germans had occupied a foreign country of no ethnic interest and in direct violation of an Allied treaty. If the Allies cared for the territorial integrity of Eastern Europe, or the post-WWI Wilsonian doctrine of self-determination and democracy, why did they not intervene at this stage?

Now we turn our attentions to the Polish question. It was not secret throughout the formative years of the Third Reich that Germany sought the incorporation of the Free City of Danzig – mandated by the United Nations since Versailles – and the so-called Polish corridor into Germany. These were territories taken from Germany in 1919 and handed to Poland in the case of the “corridor” (West Prussia), and given nominal autonomy in the case of Danzig. The Danzig senate was majority National Socialist since 1932, and the territory of the corridor was predominantly inhabited by ethnic Germans. Thus, the Germans had a much stronger case for the incorporation of these territories into the Reich than they did with, say, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which was predominantly Czech and historically a part of the Habsburg Empire, not Germany from 1871 onwards. Yet, in the midst of the tensions created by the demands, rather than applying the same criteria that they had with Austria and the Sudetenland, the Allies decided to offer a guarantee of territorial integrity to Poland! On the surface, this seems rather a double-standard, but some clarity can be found when honestly analysing Allied strategy.

The guarantee made to Poland was, in reality, nothing to do with any genuine consideration for the territorial sovereignty of the Polish state. The Allies, particularly the British establishment, sought a way to align themselves against Germany, through one avenue or another, irrespective of who the target of Germany’s expansion may have been. That there was no Allied response to the Soviet invasion of Poland proves this case. Bolshevism was a greater threat to Europe than Hitler’s Reich, which only sought to expand to former German territories in the East. Bolshevism sought the entirety of Europe into which it wished to expand its influence, yet the Allies were evidently prepared to overlook its Westward expansion. This also explains why the Allies offered no protest when Stalin’s Red Army took Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They were not at all interested in the sovereignty of these countries – and today, this is why Latvians hold an annual commemoration for the Waffen SS and not the Royal Air Force. Similarly, there were no outpourings of sympathy from the Western Powers when the Red Army raped and murdered their way through Eastern Poland in the Autumn of 1939. As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, the Red Army’s rule in Poland resembled more a military dictatorship, arbitrarily deciding who may live or die on a whim.

Whether or not the Allies actively sought war with Germany has always been a matter of debate. An accurate assessment of the situation demonstrates that the British establishment, for instance, was not a homogenous block of opinion. Nobody within the Westminster annals of power wished to gift Hitler further territorial concessions, aside from a few insignificant voices, but there were those, such as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax, who went to war with a heavy heart. Equally there were those, such as Prime Minister in waiting Winston Churchill, whose jingoistic cries for war can still be heard from the distance of history. The French, on the other hand, weren’t particularly enthusiastic about war. The evidence suggests that they were reluctant to add their name to any war guarantee to Poland, yet they did so as a gesture of good faith to the British and without actually envisaging it being activated. What we can deduce most definitely is that the Western powers saw the Polish guarantee more as an anti-German pact, rather than a pro-Soviet one, evidenced by their lack of response to the Soviet invasion in mid-September 1939.

Imperial Japan: Usury, Banking Reform & The Path To War

imperial-japan

Today, Japan is a world superpower. They are the most powerful democratic state in their region of influence, they have the third largest GDP in the world after the USA and China, and they are one of the most, if not the most technologically advanced societies in the world. However, in terms of industrialisation and empire building, the Japanese arrived relatively late. In 1871, two years after the Boshin Civil war resulted in the restoration of the Emperor’s full power, the Iwakura Mission was dispatched in order to

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British Free Corps (Britishes Freikorps)

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World War 2 is the most studied event in history. From Hitler’s rise to power, to the allied invasion of Northern France, to Churchill’s pipe and slippers, there are so many avenues of investigation to a historian surrounding such fascinating topics. Unfortunately, these grand events such as the D-day landings or the crimes of the Einsatzgruppen on the eastern front often overshadow some more minor, but equally interesting details. Continue reading “British Free Corps (Britishes Freikorps)”