[Marxism] What are the origins/ reasons for the emergence ofright-wing Jewish intellectuals in America?

Suresh borhyaenid at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 19 11:55:35 MST 2006

An argument can be made that the emergence of a Jewish
secular, right-wing intelligentsia in the last couple
generations can be linked to the shift towards
neo-liberalism by the bourgeoisie. The crisis of
capital formation and the decline in profit rates in
the late 60’s and 70’s precipitated a shift away from
industrial, productive capital in the imperial core,
to the development of an economy centered around
financial services. The turn also required the growth
of a superstructure, of the development of an
intellectual framework and culture industry which was
ultimately provided in large measure by sections of
the Jewish population.

David Harvey, in his “A Brief History of
Neoliberalism”, discusses the notion of a
reconfiguration of the ruling class in this period. We
can theorize further that this involved the
incorporation of Jewish elites into the existing Anglo
strata. This notion puts such events as the 1975 NYC
fiscal crisis, when the financial sector basically
imposed austerity policies upon the bankrupt city, in
a new light. Thus, we’ve reached the point now where
we have the billionaire CEO of a financial information
corporation actually running the city. Michael
Bloomberg, the ex-Democrat, the ‘centrist’
neo-liberal, embodies the new Jewish elite as much as
do any of the so-called New York Intellectuals.
Perhaps, this is just the bourgeoisie returning to its
roots, back to its pre-capitalist origins when the
banking Medici family ruled Florence and the
mercantile oligarchy controlled Venice. 

Of course, in a broader sense, the question raised is
simply why Jews are disproportionately found in
certain fields. The answer to this can be found in the
juxtaposition of feudal and capitalist histories in
Europe – with the expulsions and walled ghettos of the
late medieval period which fostered an insular culture
of rabbinic Judaism and Talmudic law combined with a
commercial and banking orientation, followed by the
emancipation of Jews with the bourgeois revolution,
the Napoleonic invasions, the abortive revolutions of
1848, the unification of Germany, and so on. Veblen,
in his essay “The Intellectual Pre-Eminence of Jews in
Modern Europe” argued that the sophisticated, yet
anachronistic heritage of the ghetto and shtetl
actually imparted a more skeptical outlook to Jewish
intellectuals in the modern era, since these
traditions were more obviously outmoded than those of
their Protestant Christian counterparts. He wrote:

“The young Jew finds his own heritage of usage and
outlook untenable; but this 
does not mean that he therefore will take over and
inwardly assimilate the 
traditions of usage and outlook which the gentile
world has to offer; or at the 
most he does not uncritically take over all the
intellectual prepossessions that 
are always standing over among the substantial
citizens of the republic of 
learning. The idols of his own tribe have crumbled in
decay and no longer cumber 
the ground, but that release does not induce him to
set up a new line of idols 
borrowed from an alien tribe to do the same
disservice. By consequence he is in 
a peculiar degree exposed to the unmediated facts of
the current situation; and 
in a peculiar degree, therefore, he takes his
orientation from the run of the 
facts as he finds them, rather than from the
traditional interpretation of 
analogous facts in the past. In short, he is a skeptic
by force of circumstances 
over which he has no control

Intellectually he is likely to become an alien;
spiritually he is more than 
likely to remain a Jew; for the heart-strings of
affection and consuetude are 
tied early, and they are not readily retied in after
life. Nor does the animus 
with which the community of safe and sane gentiles is
wont to meet him conduce 
at all to his personal incorporation in that
community, whatever may befall the 
intellectual assets which he brings. Their people need
not become his people nor 
their gods his gods, and indeed the provocation is
forever and irritably present 
all over the place to turn back from following after
them. The most amiable 
share in the gentile community's life that is likely
to fall to his lot is that 
of being interned. One who goes away from home will
come to see many unfamiliar 
things, and to take note of them; but it does not
follow that he will swear by 
all the strange gods whom he meets along the road.”


His conclusion, however, was that the Zionist
enterprise, by creating a national homeland, would
ultimately eliminate this peculiarly Jewish skeptical
and inquiring habit and lead to an intellectual and
moral complacency in its stead. As it turns out, his
prediction has only gradually been confirmed by events
since 1948, in particular since the six-day war
against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. My strong suspicion
is that the profound decline in the arts and
humanities in the last thirty or forty years can be
tied to the political and even spiritual regression of
the Jewish intelligentsia in the West. This
degeneration, ultimately, is a product of the failure
of the socialist revolution and of the Thermidorian
reaction in the Soviet Union, which led finally to the
restoration of capitalist relations. After all, it was
the defeat of the Western proletariat, the atomization
of workers into consumers in the imperialist nations
that allowed the turn towards neo-liberalism to begin

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