From the Author
Summary of Separation and Its Discontents
This book was published in January, 1998. The following is a summary of this book. Chapter 1 presents a theory of anti-Semitism based on an evolutionary interpretation of social identity theorya major approach to group conflict in contemporary social psychology. A major conclusion of my book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy, was that in traditional societies, and continuing well into the modern period, Jews have appeared as a highly visible and impermeable group that has segregated itself from the larger society. Moreover, there has often been resource competition and other conflicts of interest between Jews and gentiles. Social identity theory predicts that such conditions will lead to group conflict as well as to a number of psychological processes in which both Jews and gentiles develop negative stereotypes of the other group. Chapter 2 describes the ideology and practice of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has been a very common phenomenon in many societies over prolonged periods of history. Anti-Semitism was widespread in the ancient world, and there is evidence that the priestly redactors of the Tanakh anticipated that anti-Semitism would be a chronic problem in the diaspora. Several theoretically important themes of anti-Semitic writings are explored, including Jewish clannishness and cultural separatism, economic and cultural domination of gentiles, and the issue of loyalty to the other groups in the society. Chapters 35 focus on three critical examples of Western anti-Semitic movements: the development of institutionalized anti-Semitism in the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the Iberian inquisitions, and the phenomenon of National Socialist anti-Semitism in the period 19331945 in Germany. The common denominator of these movements is that they involved a powerful sense of gentile group cohesion in opposition to Judaism, and it is argued that each of these movements may be profitably analyzed as a reaction to the presence of Judaism as a highly successful group evolutionary strategy. It is argued on theoretical and empirical grounds that powerful group strategies tend to beget opposing group strategies that in many ways provide a mirror image of the group which they combat. Chapters 67 discuss various Jewish strategies for limiting anti-Semitism during different historical eras. Jewish groups have developed a highly flexible array of strategies in order to minimize the effects of anti-Semitism. Here I emphasize the strategies of crypsis during periods of persecution, community controls emanating from within the Jewish community proscribing Jewish behavior likely to lead to anti-Semitism, and the manipulation of gentile attitudes toward Jews (particularly in the area of historiography, religious apologia, and the development of Jewish theories of Judaism). Chapter 7 discusses a great many rationalizations of Judaism that would appear to be prime examples of deception and/or self-deception. Chapter 8 continues these themes. Jewish self-deception touches on a variety of issues, including personal identity, the causes and extent of anti-Semitism, the characteristics of Jews (e.g., economic success), and the role of Jews in the political and cultural process in traditional and contemporary societies. I argue that Jews, and especially those who strongly identify as Jews, would be relatively prone to self-deception by ignoring or rationalizing negative information about themselves and their ingroup. Finally, the concluding chapter discusses whether Judaism has ceased to be an evolutionary strategy because of the current levels of intermarriage among some groups of diaspora Jews. Briefly, I argue that reports of the demise of Judaismthe "ever-dying people"are greatly exaggerated. Much of this and the previous volume is preparatory to a final book in this series, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. That book will provide a theoretical analysis and a review of data on the phenomenon of the widespread tendency among certain highly influential Jewish-dominated intellectual movements to develop radical critiques of gentile culture that are compatible with the continuity of Jewish identification. These movements have the common feature of attempting to combat anti-Semitism by advocating social categorization processes in which the Jew/gentile distinction is minimized in importance; also, there is a tendency to develop theories of anti-Semitism in which ethnic differences and resource competition are of minimal importance. In some cases, these movements appear to be attempts to develop a fundamental restructuring of the intellectual basis of gentile society in ways conducive to the continued existence of Judaism. Particular attention will be paid to Boasian anthropology, psychoanalysis, leftist political ideology and behavior, the Frankfurt School of Social Research, and attempts to alter the ethnic composition of the United States by influencing immigration policy.
About the Author
KEVIN MACDONALD is Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach.