Milton Friedman’s ‘Capitalism and the Jews’ Revisited
(gilad.co.uk) -- by Gilad Atzmon --
“there are few peoples if any in the world who owe so great a debt to free enterprise and competitive capitalism as the Jews.“
“there are few peoples or any in the world who have done so much to undermine the intellectual foundation of capitalism as the Jews.” (Milton Friedman)
Given the severity and uncertainty of the economic crisis we are all experiencing, I suggest we look once more at the work of Milton Friedman, the leading economist and a staunch advocate of hard capitalism.
During the 1960s -80s Friedman was regarded by many academics, politicians and world leaders as the most important post-World War Two economist. Friedman was chief economic advisor to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Menachem Begin. He also went on record advising the Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.
It is far from surprising to note that more and more commentators have realised in recent years that it was Friedman’s ideology and advocacy of free enterprise, zero governmental intervention and privatisation that has led to the current financial turmoil. It was Milton Friedman’s philosophy that also contributed to the transformation of the West into a service economy.
But Friedman wasn’t just an economist: he was also a devout Zionist and a very proud Jew. Friedman was interested in the role of the Jews in world finance and politics. He also attempted to analyse and understand the attitude of Jews towards wealth. In 1972 Friedman spoke to The Mont Pelerin Society about “Capitalism and the Jews”. In 1978 he repeated the same talk, addressing Jewish students at the Chicago University’s Hillel institute.
I’d suggest that Friedman deserves our immediate attention, since he contributed to the rise of an ideology and school of thought that bears some responsibility for the rearrangement (some might say dismantling ) of the West’s economy...
Friedman, clearly prefers competition. According to him “the market is color blind. No one who goes to the market to buy bread knows or cares whether the wheat was grown by a Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, or atheist; by whites or blacks.”
Friedman’s elaborates further: “Any miller who wishes to express his personal prejudices by buying only from preferred groups is at a competitive disadvantage, since he is keeping himself from buying from the cheapest source. He can express his prejudice, but he will have to do so at his own expense, accepting a lower monetary income than he could otherwise earn.”
“Jews” Friedman continues, “have flourished most in those countries in which competitive capitalism had the greatest scope: Holland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and Britain and the U.S. in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.”...
Yet, Friedman is also genuinely intrigued by Jewish intellectuals’ affinity with anti-Capitalism : “Jews have been a stronghold of anti-capitalist sentiment. From Karl Marx through Leon Trotsky to Herbert Marcuse, a sizable fraction of the revolutionary anti-capitalist literature has been authored by Jews.”
How could that be, Friedman wonders? Why is it that, despite the historical record of the benefits of competitive capitalism to the Jews; despite the intellectual explanation of this phenomenon that is implicit or explicit in much liberal literature from at least Adam Smith onwards, the Jews have been disproportionately anti-capitalist?
Friedman considers some answers –
Rather often we hear from Jews on the left that their affinity to humanitarian issues is driven by their ‘Jewish humanist heritage’. More than once I myself have commented that this is an utter lie. There is no such a Jewish heritage. Driven by tribal precepts, both Judaism and ‘Jewish ideology’ are devoid of universal ethics. If there are some remote patches of humanism in Jewish culture, these are certainly far from being universal.
Friedman, however, offered a further take on the subject: In direct reference to Lawrence Fuchs who argues that the anti-capitalism of the Jews is a “direct reflection of values derived from the Jewish religion and culture,” Friedman wonders – if Jewish culture is, indeed, inherently anti capitalist (as Fuchs suggests) how is it then, that Jews failed to successfully combat Capitalism and free markets throughout their history? Friedman analyses that whilst “Jewish religion and culture date back over two millennia; the Jewish opposition to capitalism and attachment to socialism, is at the most, less than two centuries.”
Being a sharp intellect then, Friedman managed to dismantle Fuchs’s argument. He managed to counter the argument that Jewish culture is inherently socialist or humanist. If Judaism is, indeed, inherently and innately bound to such ethics, how is it that this humanism failed to become dominant throughout Jewish history?...
Friedman seems to dismiss the presumed ‘intellectual honesty’ behind Jewish affiliation with the left and anti capitalism: He tends to argue that the Jewish intellectual inclination towards the left is a direct outcome of some political and historical circumstances, rather than ethical or ideological choice. He explains that, in his view, Jewish affiliation with the left is the product of a particular occurrence in Europe in the nineteenth century.
“Beginning with the era of the French revolution, the European political spectrum became divided into a “Left” and a “Right” along an axis that involved the issue of secularism. The Right (conservative, Monarchical, “clerical”) maintained that there must be a place for the church in the public order; the left (democratic, liberal, radical) held that there can be no Church at all . . . .”
It was only natural, then, for the Jews to join the left – in fact Jews could only join the left.
“The axis separating left from right also formed a natural boundary for the pale of Jewish political participation. It was the left, with its new secular concept of citizenship, that had accomplished the Emancipation, and it was only the left that could see a place for the Jews in public life.”
Such a reasoning, then, views Jewish affiliation with the left as a politically opportunistic move instead of a form of ‘moral awakening’.
Such a reading of the ‘Jewish left’ reaffirms my own critical assessment. It also explains why some Jews join the left – they support cosmopolitanism, solidarity, an international working class; and yet, they themselves often seem to prefer to operate within ‘Jews only’ racially orientated cells such as the Bund, Jewish Socialists or even Jews For Boycott of Israeli Goods. Friedman’s reasoning might also explain why so many Jews who had their roots in the so- called ‘left’, ended up preaching moral interventionism and Neo Conservatism.(4)
Friedman argues also, that Jewish affiliation with the left might be better understood as an attempt to disown some anti Semitic stereotypes of the Jew as being “a merchant or moneylender who put commercial interests ahead of human values.”
According to Friedman, the Jewish anti capitalist is there to prove that, far from being money-grabbing, selfish and heartless, Jews are really public spirited, generous, and concerned with ideals rather than material goods. “How better to do so than to attack the market with its reliance on monetary values and impersonal transactions and to glorify the political process, to take as an ideal a state run by well-meaning people for the benefit of their fellow men?”
And yet, in Friedman’s logic then, it is not a ‘moral awakening’ that moves the Jew to the left; it is neither humanism, nor solidarity and nor is it kindness, but, instead, it seems to be a desperate attempt to replace or amend the Jewish image.
Surprisingly enough, I find myself in total agreement with Friedman, though I would phrase it differently. I do differentiate between ‘the leftist who happen to be Jewish’- an innocent category inspired by humanism, and ‘the Jewish leftist- which seems to me to be a contradiction in terms, for the left aims to universally transcends itself beyond ethnicity, religion or race. Clearly ‘Jewish left’ is there to maintain a Jewish tribal ethno-centric identity at the heart of working class philosophy. ‘Jewish left’ is there to primarily serve Jewish interests...MORE...LINK
Chris Moore comments:
The bulk and thrust of diaspora Jewry is indeed driven by fraudulent "humanist" and "universalist" values. The truth is, Jewry has little good will toward the entirety of humanity, but operates in a nearly entirely self-serving manner.
And authoritarian Big Government, far from being universal, is indeed set up to serve particularistic interests -- the particularistic interests of those pulling its strings and using the resources of the entirety of society via taxation and a monopoly on violence to impose its particularistic will upon everyone. Indeed, that's why Jewry "invented" Communism: to steal Christianity's universalist thunder, to order society into an authoritarian, top-down framework that Jewry could control, and to use its domination of Big Government to force the state and citizenry to do Jewry's bidding and pursue its agenda.
Far from being an anti-Semite, Marx, along with his tutor, Jewish Zionist Moses Hess, were the brains behind this satanic leviathan agenda. Jewish Bolsheviks implemented this agenda for many years in the early Soviet Union, and, possibly recognizing their ultimate, self-serving goal of racist, hegemonic domination, Stalin put an end to their scheme out of his own ruthless self-interest via the "anti-semitic" purges.
Hence, Jewry eventually turned to unbridled state-capitalism (neoconservatism/neoliberalism) to pursue its racist drive towards tyrranical domination, nesting within the U.S. government, U.S. think tanks, and U.S. corporations (many state connected) to this very day in order to manipulate America towards backing their desired Zionist (Jewish supremacist) ends, and dominating the Democratic Party and the neoconservative Big Government Right along the way to do so.
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