I find it charming when I read or hear of current Alt Right writers who tell us that they came to the Jewish Question “three years ago” or that “Five years ago I was a flaming liberal,” which implies that they had no idea there was a Jewish Question.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m pleased when anyone at any time finally realizes there is a Jewish Question. I believe it is the central issue of our times and I welcome all the company we can get.
In contrast, I discovered the Jewish Question on my own before I had even graduated from college in the mid-1980s. For me, it was simply a process of observation. While for over two decades after that I fought conventional wisdom on the topic and had to struggle mightily to realize that most Jewish writers had little interest in the “truth” regarding real Jews and their behavior, I gradually grasped some hard-earned insights into the situation, which I routinely try to share here on TOO and in the print journal TOQ.
Today I aim to praise one of the four modern American scholars who have had a major influence on my thinking when it comes to Jews. These men are Albert Lindemann (Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews ), John Murray Cuddihy (The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle With Modernity), our own Kevin MacDonald, and Catholic firebrand E. Michael Jones.
Today’s column discusses E. Michael Jones and his vast writing on Jews. I’ve written about Jones at least twice for the Occidental crowd, first here on TOO in late 2008 and after that in a book review in The Occidental Quarterly. The book in question was his magisterial The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History, a book which absolutely should be on serious people’s shelves along with CofC.
To introduce possible new TOO readers to Dr. Jones, I’ll crib from my intro to the 2008 TOO entry:
Anyone who has followed the writing career of Catholic iconoclast E. Michael Jones will likely agree that his writings on Jews over the last half decade have been little short of incendiary. Thus the Internet site Fringe Watch claims that Jones “represents one of the foremost proponents of ‘religious’ anti-Semitism in Catholic circles.”
Jones’ major vehicle for airing his views on Jews is his magazine Culture Wars, which in recent years has run cover stories such as “Judaizing: Then and Now,” “The Converso Problem: Then and Now,” “Shylock Comes to Notre Dame,” and “Too Many Yarmulkes: Abortion and the Ethnic Double Standard.” He then packaged these arguments in a monumental book called The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History (2008).
The ADL also gives Jones a rousing endorsement, writing on their site that
Michael Jones is an anti-Semitic Catholic writer who promotes the view that Jews are dedicated to propagating and perpetrating attacks on the Catholic Church and moral standards, social stability, and political order throughout the world. He portrays the Jewish religion as inherently treacherous and belligerent towards Christianity. He describes Jews as “outlaws and subversives [who use] religion as a cover for social revolution,” and claims that Judaism possesses “a particularly malignant spirit.” . . .
He also blames Jews for Bolshevism, Freemasonry, and an alleged contemporary “Jewish takeover of American culture.” Jones reaches for tenuous connections to paint “the Jews” as inherently wicked and prone to colluding openly or secretly to threaten other populations around them.
Jones, however, makes an extremely impressive case for his assertions — in his lectures, in his Culture Wars articles and most certainly in The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit. So, as usual, I’ll dismiss the ADL’s claims as wrong.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jones went to work in the art world, where he found a plethora of Jewish art dealers. After earning a Ph.D., he was hired as a tenure-track professor at St. Mary’s College, a women’s university associated with Notre Dame. After a year of supporting the Church’s official position on abortion, Jones was let go from his job.
This threw Jones into a career of independent publishing, which has resulted in Fidelity Magazine in the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. After fifteen years, this magazine became the current Culture Wars magazine, which appears monthly, both electronically and in print. Independent publishing seems well suited for Jones, for he has written prodigiously over the years, in his magazine and also in numerous books about American culture, descriptions of which can be found on the Culture Wars site or on Amazon.com.
I have found Jones to be a welcome maverick when it comes to discussing key issues in American life. In fact, his tendency toward controversy — along with linking surprising areas of culture — reminds me a lot of writer Camille Paglia. Because Paglia does not touch on Jewish issues, however, Jones’ work, in my view, rises far above hers since Jewish power and behavior are the 800-pound gorilla in the life of America. There are ample reasons to avoid this topic, of course, for Jews and Jewish groups have a terrifying array of ways to punish those who notice Jews in the wrong way, but Jones, backed by his deep faith, is fearless in this regard, for which we should all be thankful.
Before beginning discussion of Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict between Labor and Usury (2014), I would ask readers to click on the links above for my previous writing on Jones and read them in private as background to discussion of the current book. While The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit (JRS) is an indispensable tool in understanding what is happening in the epic battle between Jews and others, Barren Metal acts more as a footnote to the former, as odd as this may sound. I say odd because JRS weighs in at exactly 1200 pages while Barren Metal reaches an astonishing 1456 pages.
The subtitle contains the word capitalism because it is as pertinent now as it has been for the last several hundred years (and more). Many of us sense that all is not well when it comes to the confusing topic of economic structures — and the sense that many people are getting cheated to greater or lesser degrees thanks to the way capitalism is being applied. Also, as we see from the subtitle of the book, usury is central to the problems in capitalism because usury is the fulcrum on which capitalism turns (in Jones’ opinion).
Notice that Jones does not include the word ‘Jews’ in the title of the book. I suppose that is fair because much of the book deals with non-Jewish Europeans who played critical roles in their respective economies at various times in history. Still, there is no escaping the fact that Jews are central to the argument of the book, particularly from Chapter 64, “Napoleon Emancipates the Jews,” onward. From there the pronounced Jewish role crescendos to the point that, were the book divided in two and the second book to begin with Chapter 64, the sub-title would have to change to “Jews, Capitalism, and Usury.”
In the second decade of the 21st century, would anyone be surprised by such a title?
Another reason the lack of the word “Jews” in the title should not mislead readers is obvious: JRS was all about Jews. Further, any reader of his monthly magazine Culture Wars will know full well that Jones addresses Jews and Jewish behavior constantly, honestly, intelligently, morally, insistently, humorously, caustically, and, finally, religiously (in both senses of the word). In short, the writings (and podcasting) of Dr. Jones are now inseparable from Jews.
Here’s the message I took away from Barren Metal: “Banking is magic that works” (p. 128). I think that’s a fascinating insight, phrased in a sublime way. It really speaks to where we are today in the world, with central banks — including the Federal Reserve — exercising so much power over most of the globe. And if you’re wondering what Jews have to do with banking and usury, Barren Metal is the book for you.
A competing phrase for summing up Barren Metal could be “Capitalism is state-sponsored usury.” This is hardly a new idea, since German writer Werner Sombart explored the concept in depth in Jews and Modern Capitalism (1911). Jones describes Sombart’s idea thus: “capitalism is the philosophical and political sanctification of usury. Because money-lending, according to Sombart, is ‘one of the most important roots of capitalism,’ capitalism ‘derived its most important characteristics from money-lending’” (20).
Having looked at many instances of usury in the Western world, Jones argues that “usury … is the fundamental economic fact in the liberal state, and all political arrangements must deal with the unbridgeable chasm it creates. The creditor, who is on the positive side of usury, will prosper; the debtor who is on the negative side of the usurious equation, will sink into unrepayable debt and penury” (909).
This problem was one of the greatest reasons for the rise of modern anti-Semitism in Europe over a century ago, which Jones unpacks. For instance, he points to Wilhelm Marr, “the patriarch of anti-Semitism” (interestingly, three of his four wives were Jewesses), whose racial animus toward Jews may have masked an economic cause, which was usury. Marr wrote:
The burning question of our day in our Parliaments . . . is usury. . . . The political correctness of our Judified society helps it to sail by the reef which is the usury question, and as a result, poor folk from every class become the victims of the Usurers and their corrupt German assistants, who are only too happy to earn 20 to 30 percent per month off of the misery of the poor. . . . In the meantime the cancer of usury continues to eat away at the social fabric, and the animosity against the Jews grows by the hour . . . so that an explosion can no longer be avoided. (1165)
In the chapter “Andrew Jackson and the Monster Bank,” Jones argues that “Jackson’s repeated use of the word ‘monster’ is the key which unlocks the door to understanding his stake in this fight. A monster is something unnatural. Usury is monstrous because it is contra naturam. The bank war of the 1830s arose because neither Andrew Jackson nor his opponent Nicholas Biddle could articulate the real issue which had plagued the American System from its inception in the mind of Alexander Hamilton, namely, usury” (930).
For Jones, this is the crux of the problem.
Once the state admits the liceity of usurious contracts, state-sponsored usury insures that everyone, including the state itself, eventually gets saddled with unrepayable debt. With liquidity gone, the state allows the usurers (and the elected representatives they have put in office) to loot labor to pay off the usury burden. That means layoffs, reduced pay, outsourcing, pension fund looting , and all of the other methods that have created the anger and frustration behind the protests in Zuccotti Park [i.e., Occupy Wall Street]. . . . This looting is, of course, to no avail because no force on earth can keep up with compound interest, which is the heart of usury. (19–20)
Needless to say, such a system is in direct contrast with the Catholic Church’s ban on usury, and much of the first half of Barren Metal discusses this ban and the ongoing attempts in Europe to circumvent or repeal the ban. From the fall of Rome, this Catholic ban on usury was enforced because the Church treated economics “as if God mattered.” According to this doctrine, God gave men faith and reason to pursue success in this life, but as the Middle Ages gave way to succeeding eras, God began to matter less and less, and Jews moved in to fill the void. Jones’ lengthy description of this epic transformation is fascinating, allowing Jones to once again show the incredible breadth of his knowledge.
The flip side of this unhealthy usurious equation is one that abides by the moral law and puts labor above other economic systems, for “there is only one use that will turn credit into wealth, and that is the application of labor.” Human labor, Jones maintains, “is the only thing that can create value out of money, capital, or God’s creation,” an argument that allows Jones to justify the title of the book: Barren Metal. For this reason, Jones refers to Dante’s claim that sodomy and usury were equally evil: sodomites make sterile what should be fertile, while usurers make fertile what should be sterile — gold, money. Lambs may in time reproduce but gold coins should not; labor is required to create wealth. As Jones shows, Jews consistently use their wealth to create more wealth through the labor of others.
The many chapters covering the period between the French Revolution and Bismarck’s consolidation of German states strike me as a superb overview of the role economics played in that era. In particular, the way Jones describes the period’s belief in alchemy was important to me. We may forget that alchemy held a privileged position in Europe far longer than we now believe. Sir Isaac Newton, for one, was an alchemist. In fact, “From the time of Roger Bacon to the Medicis to John Dee . . . to George Soros in the present, alchemy has exerted its unique attraction over the mind of many who are interested in getting out from under the necessity of labor as the road to wealth” (855). Jones’ familiarity with the literature and music of the time beautifully ties together the belief in alchemy and the leading concerns of the day, as seen, for example, in Goethe’s Faust. (Jones is fluent in German and quotes from Faust without providing translations.)
Jones later links the Goethe chapter with one on Wagner, whose Das Rheingold, Jones believes, is Wagner’s “post mortem on the Revolution of 1848.” More than that, however, is Jones belief that Das Rheingold is “the profoundest mediation to date on the metaphysical roots of capitalism.” I read this chapter when it appeared in Culture Wars and I read it twice in Barren Metal, but it is so good that I want to read it again.
In this long chapter, Jones parses The Ring Cycle to argue that “Wagner captures the world’s bewilderment at how the gold standard actually worked by constantly referring to the ring’s magical power” (1069). Repeating a theme about banking as magic, Jones shows how through holding gold, banks can again and again lend out the “money,” which earns interest, while keeping the gold in the bank all along. This was shown in Goetterdaemmerung, where Alberich keeps the gold. “Alberich can get it all back again, just as the Bank of England knows that it can draw all of the gold that went out in loans back from India and America by the simple manipulation of interest rates. Usury, in other words, ensures that the gold will end up back in Alberich’s hands just as inexorably as it ensures that it will end up back in the vaults of the Bank of England” (1071).