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Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism [Kindle Edition]

Kevin MacDonald
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Anti-Semitism has been a very robust tendency over a very long period of human history and in a wide range of societies with different forms of government, different economic systems, and different dominant religious ideologies. Many anti-Semitic episodes, such as the Iberian inquisitions and the Nazi Holocaust, have been characterized by extraordinary intra-societal violence. Moreover, anti-Semitism has sometimes been characterized by very overt, self-conscious ethnic hatred, a phenomenon that immediately suggests the relevance of evolutionary theory.
The basic thesis of this book can be summarized by the proposition that Judaism must be conceptualized as a group strategy characterized by cultural and genetic segregation from the wider society combined with resource competition and conflicts of interest with segments of the wider society. This cultural and genetic separatism combined with resource competition and other conflicts of interest tend to result in division and hatred within the society. In addition to discussing how these findings fit with evolutionary theory and modern psychology, later chapters deal with Jewish strategies to minimize anti-Semitism, Jewish ideologies that rationalize Jewish behavior, and Jewish self-deception.

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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 theory—a 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 3–5 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 1933–1945 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 6–7 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 Judaism—the "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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1373 KB
  • Print Length: 495 pages
  • Publisher: Kevin MacDonald; 3 edition (4 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #725,331 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In the red corner is Daniel Goldhagen, on a winning streak with his book, Hitler1s Willing Executioners, which rules out several conceivable 3causes2 of the European massacre of Jews, before finally deciding that the real culprit was a totally, 100% fantasized delusion, shared by most Germans, that a relatively minuscule group of Jews constituted a danger. In the blue corner, is Kevin MacDonald1s Separation and Its Discontents (SAID), his second volume on Judaism as an 3evolutionary group strategy2, this one documenting the idea that while humans everywhere are prone to ethnocentric, exaggerated fantasy, along with that exaggeration there is often, nevertheless, a much more prosaic 3cause2 of massacres, namely an intense competition for resources. SAID examines historical evidence, often from Jewish historians, from the standpoint of the (Darwinian) biological and social evolution of ethnic group strategies and of 3social identity theory2, the currently influential articulation of the linkages between cognitive processes such as group categorization and social motivational processes. It will be a valuable companion to other books on numerically small ethnies who have survived in the diaspora (e.g., Hutterites). (Do some attract less hostility than others?) This is an academic book, but accessible enough for readers of, say, the Economist or the Atlantic. MacDonald1s work is an 3emperor-has-no-clothes2 , challenge to much conventional wisdom about anti-Semitism. Competition for resources is easily not thought of as a 3cause2 of anti-Semitism given that Jewish economic activities are considered by so many (especially Jews) as perfectly normal, productive, and non-violent , so what1s the big deal? Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New twists from evolutionary perspective 14 April 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the second volume of Macdonald's trilogy on Judaism from the secular perspective of 'evolutionary psychology'. The real page turner is the third volume, The Culture of Critique (1998), but the first two volumes give the theoretical groundwork and, being related, are best read in order.

Macdonald interprets 'anti-semitism' as fundamentally a social-psychological reaction against Judaism's creation of a successful, exclusive ethnic 'in-group'. This contrasts with Sartre's Anti-Semite and Jew (1946) which takes the 'anti-semite' as starting point. Macdonald reasserts the more obvious reactive theory, explaining exaggerated anti-semitic claims as 'adaptive', rather than as 'hallucinatory' or as symptoms of gentile dim-wittedness.

In three historical chapters, based almost entirely on modern American secondary texts, he first attributes the theological and legal anti-judaism of the post-Constantine church to reproductive competition with Jews; before attempting interpretations of the Spanish Inquisition and German National Socialism from similar secular causes. He concludes with speculations on the future of Jewish 'strategies', especially in America.

Macdonald does not see competition between groups as mutually beneficial in economic terms (e.g. as specialisation). In the 2004 introduction, he defends this, but not beyond the possibility of reply. (A 40% interest rate on loan for seed-corn that yields 100% in a year might be economically sustainable, for example.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First published 1998. The paperback is 2004 with a new preface, largely about an essay by P Rubin's (2000), Does Ethnic Conflict Pay?

This book is specifically supposed to be 'Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism'. I give it four stars for what appears to be its boldness, though in fact it has considerable limitations, which I'll indicate--

[1] The index is bare - the word 'Zionism' for example is followed by about fifty page references, without any detail whatever. The readers is expected presumably to comb through all these in search of his/her interest.

There is much interesting material inside: each chapter is followed by its own endnotes, and there's a bibliography. As an example of navigational difficulty, consider the Russo-Japanese War: this is not indexed (nor is Japan), but the bibliography on examination refers to a piece in a yearbook dated 1983 by A J Sherman. The index entry to this name then points to page 106, an endnote, on Jacob Schiff financing the Japanese against Russia in the early 20th century. (This is sometimes regarded as the Orient starting to become powerful). Annoying. This for instance I couldn't find if the Armenian genocide allegedly by crypto-Jewish 'Turks' is in the book.

[2] Internal evidence suggests the book was written as standalone chapters; so when MacDonald found an interesting point, it would be added as a note. Topics include the Construction of Judaism, and Self-Deception as an Aspect of Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy. 'The Culture of Critique' is similar, with its chapters on Freud, anthropology, the Frankfurt School and Jewish secret roles in forcing immigration on Europe, Canada and Australia.
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