“The Jews” by Hilaire Belloc: The Position in the World As a Whole

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Editor’s note: The following comprises the ninth chapter of The Jews, by Hilaire Belloc (published 1922).

(Continued from Chapter 8: Bolshevism)


The danger of the Jewish nation in the world today may be summed up in this phrase:—

“The Jews are obtaining control and we will not be controlled by them.”

That is the simplest formula, and the one which would be immediately subscribed to by the whole mass of those outside the Jewish community who are alive to the question at all. Being the simplest form of the truth, it needs, when applied to a highly complex situation, detailed modification.

This modification proceeds from three sources:—

First, the extent of the Jewish control and the extent of the resentment against that control vary very largely from one community to another.

Secondly, the civic tradition of each community in its treatment of the Jewish question also differs from that of every other, though these various traditions fall into certain fairly well-defined groups.

Thirdly, the position is modified according to the presence, in varying degrees of strength in different communities, of certain international forces even more powerful than the Jews themselves. The four principal of the international forces are:—

(1) The Catholic Church;

(2) Islam;

(3) The forces of international Capitalism; and

(4) The international reaction against it of the industrial proletariat.

We must in the first line of this inquiry make an important premise. The fact from which we proceed, namely, the uneasy feeling that the Jews are getting control and the determination not to tolerate that control, will be denied by the Jews themselves. It is denied sincerely—I have entered upon too many discussions with them and heard too many of their protestations to doubt that; and if the denial were valid, not only the particular survey I propose in this chapter, but the whole of the argument of this book, would fail. For if there is a Jewish question today, and if it is present in the acute form in which we all know it to be present, it is not due merely to the contrast and friction between the Jews and their hosts, but especially to this feeling of domination.

But the Jewish belief in this matter is not valid, sincerely as it is held. To the great majority of Jews it will, of course, seem common-sense. What has the unfortunate poor Jew in the slums of our great cities to do with controlling the modern world? How in his eyes can the phrase have any meaning at all? If you pass from him to the comparatively small Jewish middle class, you would hear a denial almost equally vigorous. The Jewish scientist will tell you that he is concerned with his researches and laughs at the idea of interfering with his neighbours; the Jewish historian that he is concerned with his documents, that nothing is further from his thoughts than interfering with people outside his trade; the little Jewish shopkeeper will tell you that he is in active competition with his non-Jewish neighbours and by no means always successful in that competition; the Jewish lawyer will tell you that he is concerned with the system of law in which he happens to be immersed—the Napoleonic Code, the English Common Law or what not—and that any idea of his personally wanting to control the vast non-Jewish majority among whom he lives is moonshine: and so it is.

The great Jewish banker, though he is fully aware of his power, would tell you that in his daily business he comes up against forces to which he is subject, and has competitors who are at the best neutral, and more commonly hostile, to Israel; and even the man who is today more powerful—if that be possible—than the Jewish banker, I mean the Jewish monopolist, and especially the Jewish monopolist in metal, though he would be extremely annoyed to have the extent of his control exposed, will feel that it is due to his superior abilities and in no way designed for mastery.

All these individual replies are true; but if you make of them a composite and general reply, if you put it as a reply of all Israel to all the world outside, crying, “I have no desire for supremacy; I never act in such a fashion that my domination can be felt or shall increase; the motive is not present, even subconsciously, among my people”—then that general reply would be false.

In point of fact the Jew has collectively a power today, in the white world, altogether excessive. It is not only an excessive power, it is inevitably a corporate power and, therefore, a semi-organized power. It is not only excessive and in the main organized, it was, until the recent reaction began, a rapidly increasing power—and most people believe it to be still increasing. To that the whole world outside the Jewish community will testify.

The criterion by which we may judge whether any form of power is irritant to those whom it affects is not the testimony of those who exercise the power, but the testimony of those over whom it is exercised. There never was a tyranny in the world, not even one of those personal tyrannies (which have been so much more highly organized and so much more direct than this power of the Jews), there never has been a despotism in history, which would not tell you that it was accidental, or necessary, or, in any case, innocent of any motive of oppression. And history universally replies: “To judge that, you must ask those who felt the pressure; not those who exercised it.”

Now those who feel the pressure in the matter we are now examining are unanimous. They differ in the degree of their resentment from those to whom the thing is so intolerable that they are already in active revolt against it, to those who feel it merely as a distant though an approaching discomfort. But everybody feels it in some degree. It is a universal sensation running throughout the nerves of the modern world and it is growing too fast in degree and extent to be ignored.

I have already quoted the effect upon those hundreds of educated men taken into the temporary Civil service during the late war, when they found, holding the locked gate of one monopoly after another, the international Jew. His control of finance needs no discussion. If the individual banker or financier is not aware of it, the most of those who are affected are acutely aware of it. Men exaggerate in giving it a sort of conscious personality, but they certainly do not exaggerate when they point to its effects. The Jew must remember, what it may be difficult for him to accept and what is certainly true, that not only is his domination very bitterly resented but that his presence in any position of control whatsoever is odious to the race among which he moves. Everybody feels that about any form of alien control, much more do they feel it about that form which they instinctively know to be most alien of all. Every one has noticed this control exercised in the form of keeping silence upon what it was to the disadvantage of Israel to have known; in the form of the advertising of what it was to the advantage of Israel to have advertised; in the form of the giving and withholding of credit; in the form of attack in the Press against nations with whom Israel had a quarrel and the defence in the Press of those (they have now almost disappeared) upon whom Israel, in the immediate past, relied for defence. And everybody has discovered—what is not unjust, indeed, what is inevitable, but what is none the less a source of exasperation—the solidarity of the Jewish race where the interests of any member of it were concerned.[1]

But if the thing were felt everywhere as acutely and as consciously as it is felt in special groups today—as it is felt, for instance, in one particular section of English opinion already represented in the Press, is felt in a wider section of French opinion, and in a still wider section of Polish opinion—then the matter would be simple. We could then say that an issue of the clearest kind had arisen, and forbid a small alien minority to decide the destinies of those among whom it lives and of whom it is not. The answer would be obvious, and the only difficulty would be how the Jewish control might be lessened without grievous injustice to innocent individuals.

But the thing is not so felt. It is modified, as I have said, by the varying degrees of intensity in which it is recognized and by the other international forces which come into play.

If we consider the varying political traditions and the varying international forces, if we examine the world’s national groups, we shall find something like this: In the vast body of Russia a position most paradoxical. For years the Jew was everywhere openly attacked and hated in those parts of the Russian Empire where he was allowed to live in large numbers. These were nowhere within Russia proper but upon the western outskirts of that empire, within what was once the old Polish kingdom and largely within what is now the restored Republic of Poland. But the Russian traditional antagonism to the Jew changed in a few weeks of chaos to something not opposite but novel and different. The Russian allowed a prodigious revolution to be made by the Jews, he accepted the loot of that revolution which the Jew secured to him; he has submitted wholly in the towns, partly in the country, to a tyranny exercised by Jews ever since that complete reversal of his national history, now four years old.

The external political power of what was once the Russian Empire has disappeared. The Jews have killed it. But the great mass of Russian humanity remains strongly affected by this curious change. Where popular instinct works untrammelled the old and violent passionate antagonism between the Russian and the Jew survives. You see it in the hotch potch of the Ukraine, the inhabitants of which, in spite of all theories, are of Russian race and tradition, and the central town of which is the sacred region of Russia as a member of Christendom. There, for all the Jewish Committees with large towns under their complete control, there have been repeated revolts. But in the greater part of European Russia at least, and in much of what was once the Asiatic Empire, the Jews hold what is left of the Executive government.

So far as we can judge from the very imperfect accounts which reach us (for nowhere is the weapon of secrecy more ruthlessly used), the mass of the Russians, that is, the peasantry, are in two minds. To the action of the Jewish despotism in the town they are indifferent, but to his early attempts against themselves they were bitterly opposed. They have suffered at his hands and they thought him a tyrant. But the Jew seems to have dropped this interference and the Russian soil to have settled down as a peasant proprietary. On the other hand, it was a revolution guided by those same Jewish Committees which secured the peasant in the possession of his land. The Russian peasant has always regarded the land as his own. He had, I understand, regarded that odd, pedantic measure, “The Liberation of the Serfs,” as only another name for the robbing him of his land; and when the organization of Russian society dissolved in the strain of war, he poured over the great estates and took back what he thought was his own.

For the strange Jewish conception of Communism, a million miles removed from our European racial instincts and our high civilized traditions, the Russian peasant could have nothing but a bewildered contempt. None the less he was conscious that the Jewish revolution had permitted him, if not to take the land (he did that himself), at least to hold it; and the revolution is indistinguishable from the Jewish control of the towns.

Within the towns, again (our information is most imperfect and I can only piece together what eye-witnesses have told me), although the Jew is, of course, individually hated, yet his control does stand for certain things which the mass of the people still support. He organized the resentment of the poor against the rich. He erected before their eyes the pleasing spectacle of a social revenge. He carried out, fairly consistently, his Communist programme, one aspect at least of which is practical enough; for the man that works with his hands finds that he is as well, or better, fed out of the meagre common stock, than those who were once his masters.

In general I think it true to say that the Jewish control over Christians, if, in a way, stronger in what was once the Russian Empire than anywhere else, is also there least resented. I do not say it would not be resented if it were to excite action again against the peasants, but we cannot forget that the peasants were eager to fight for the new Russian regime because they identified it with their new property in land. The situation is absurd enough. Men in hundreds of thousands willing to fight for Communist masters because by so doing they believe they can secure themselves in an absolute form of property! But that is what the “red” army was.

In that belt of nations, vague in boundary, which used to constitute the Marches of the East and which now stand between what was once the Russian Empire and the Germanies, the position would seem to be this.

There are in these countries everywhere a very large proportion of Jews. The largest by far are in Lithuania and Galicia, where, of whole towns, from a third to a half and sometimes up to two-thirds, of the population are Jewish. Very large also is the proportion within the admitted frontiers of modern Poland; very large in Roumania, and considerable in Hungary.

In all these countries the Jewish problem is something quite different from what it is farther West. The Jews are in these countries admittedly a separate nation. Even as I write I hear the complaint, sounding strange in our Western ears, proffered by the Polish Jews who have been appealing to the West against what they claim to be the oppressive practice of writing them down as Poles! In Roumania for two generations it has been the fixed principle of the State, now latent, now overt, but always acted upon in social practice, that the Jew is not a Roumanian at all and cannot be one. Of course he cannot be one really, any more than he can be an Englishman, or a Frenchman, or an Irishman. (Fancy a Jew an Irishman!) But I mean, not even one by fiction or by convention. In Poland the greater part of these people have a different language and all of them have a different social custom and a different life from the world around them. In Hungary, where the numerical pressure of the Jew is less, there is, of course, a most lively memory of the attempted revolution under Cohen in 1918, the massacres of Hungarians, the setting up of an ephemeral Bolshevism and the necessity of its suppression. In Bohemia the pressure is far less and in the Balkan States south of the Danube and the Drave. It is only present as a pressure of numbers in the group of States which lie between the Baltic and the Black Sea South and North and between the Russian people and the German people East and West.

When we come to Occidental Europe, in which must be included, though it is hardly a true part of it, Germany beyond the Elbe; when we come to the Scandinavian countries, to France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Low Countries, the problem changes. The numerical proportion of Jews sinks enormously. Fairly large in one or two Dutch towns, it is almost insignificant in Scandinavia, and though we have had into the great English towns and to some extent into the northern French towns (particularly Paris) a considerable recent influx of Jews, yet the total number of these people in the West remains far, far smaller than the great masses of the East of Europe. The same is still more true of Italy, and, in spite of the absorption of a great deal of Jewish blood in the past, of Spain.

But while the numerical proportion of Jews in these western countries is much smaller, and while therefore the peril of Jewish domination is very different in form from what it is farther East, it is clearly marked. It is exercised primarily through finance; next through the sceptical Universities, the anonymous Press and the corrupt Parliaments, and, lastly, in a more general form, by the presence of institutions which greatly favour the rise of the Jew in competition with his hosts; each favours international knowledge; each favours anonymity; each still favours the old Liberal nonsense which called itself “toleration” and was really an indifference to that most fundamental of all social motives—religion—save, of course, where an exception is made to permit attack upon the Catholic Church.

Under influence of this sort, both sincere and hypocritical, both generous and mean, the Jew acquired in all the larger communities, and especially in France, Italy, Germany and England, a power out of all proportion to his numbers, and I may add, without, I hope, offending any Jewish reader, out of proportion to his abilities; certainly out of proportion to any right of his to interfere in our affairs. It was a Jew who produced the divorce laws in France, the Jew who nourished anti-clericalism everywhere in that country and also in Italy; the Jew who called in the forces of Occidental nations to protect his compatriots in the East, and the Jew whose spirit has so largely permeated the Universities and the Press.

Ireland is an exception. In Ireland the Jew (outside the little industrial corner in the north-east) is nobody. And here it must be remarked that the migrations of the Jew which give him numbers here for a time and afterwards numbers elsewhere, in places where previously he had not been known; which give him influence here for a time, and sees it followed by the decline of that influence, do not seem to obey any law which we can trace, and are certainly not the product of any conscious action. It is one of the strangest phenomena in history, this odd, spasmodic flood movement of the Jewish race. Is it concerned with commerce? That is one element undoubtedly; that is what explains the exploitation of England by Jews after the Conquest, of Spain in the later Middle Ages, of the Valley of the Rhine; but then, why not other commercial centres as an attraction? Venice was not one, though the Jew was well tolerated there; nor was Paris after the early Middle Ages, and while some of the Dutch towns formed such centres of attraction the Belgian towns did not.

Was it asylum? That would account, of course, for the great influx of Jews into mediaeval Poland, but then why not into eighteenth century England? Why not until very late in the nineteenth century? England, which gave the Jews a more complete civic position than he could find anywhere else in the world, was not invaded by them. Why these very recent influxes into the United States, which has for now a century and a half been perfectly open by its Constitution, and was by all its civic tradition an ideal asylum for the Jews? Until quite recent times the Jew was hardly known there, and to this day he is not known outside a few great cities.

No. There would seem to be no law, or at least no discoverable law, for this mysterious movement, the ebb and flow of Israel—but that is a digression. To return to the national situations.

If we leave the Old World and turn to the United States, we find a novel condition of affairs still in process of development and very puzzling to the foreign observer. I do not pretend to analyse it completely in a few lines, nor even accurately, for I am dependent upon the observation of others, and the United States are so utterly different from us that we have difficulty in following their contemporary history; but something of this sort would seem to be passing there.

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In the United States the Jews were present, till the last few years, in numbers even smaller in proportion to the population than their numbers in France, England and Italy, far smaller than their numbers in what was formerly the German Empire. In the agricultural part of America, which is still, I believe, one half of the population, the Jew was almost unknown. You find him here and there, as a lawyer or a storekeeper, but that world was not familiar with him any more than our English country-sides are familiar with him today. With the growth of the great industrial towns, of course, the Jew came, but he was still no “feature in the landscape.” There was a certain social prejudice against him among the wealthier classes in the East, and—this is very important—the truth was always told about him. There was in America no convention—the Jew was always recognized as a Jew and there was never any of the nonsense we had over here of pretending that he was something else.

Of that phenomenon of which the history of Europe is full, which is so marked in the eastern counties today and which is beginning to rise in the West, there is nothing traceable in the early and middle nineteenth century, nor even till the close of it, in the United States.

Then came the change. It is a change which has taken place in the lifetime of men much younger than myself. It is a change, I am told, most marked since I last visited the United States more than twenty years ago. A regular and organized Jewish emigration began to pour in, especially from the Baltic. It flooded New York, where it now forms probably a third of the population; it created Ghettos in most of the large Northern industrial towns, and all the phenomena we associate in Europe with these movements began to show themselves. There was the growth of the financial monopoly and of monopolies in particular trades. There was the clamour for toleration in the form of “neutralizing” religious teaching in schools; there was the appearance of the Jewish revolutionary and of the Jewish critic in every tradition of Christian life. The Jews went also—as they usually do—to the heart of things, and the Executive was attacked. The last and apparently the most unpopular of the presidents, Mr. Wilson, seems to have been wholly in their hands. Anonymity in the Press came, of course. A very marked example of it is a journal called The New Republic, which, though it has but a small proportion of Jewish writers upon it, and though its capital is (I believe) not Jewish, is yet to all intents and purposes the organ of the Jewish intellectuals, always joins in the boycott of any news unfavourable to European Jews, always joins in the clamour for anything favourable to them, and in general adheres to the Jewish side, like the Humanité in Paris, or, let us say, The New Statesman in England.

But the novel presence in the United States of this phenomenon with which in the west of Europe we have now been familiar for a long time, provides a more direct and a very different kind of reaction from what it has among us. This reaction against Jewish powers was not (to use a Stock Exchange metaphor) “sticky.” There was no hesitation; there were no uneasy patches of silence. The Jewish question was discussed from the moment it was first felt and to-day it is discussed beyond all others. Of political topics I have found it the first in the conversation of the Americans who have visited Europe since the War and with whom I have discussed the affairs of their country. It ranges, as that reaction always does, from the wildest Anti-Semitism to strong and open defence of the Jewish position, not only by Jews but by the very small minority of their admirers outside the Jewish community, especially among the wealthy. The characteristic of the whole thing in the United States is that it is only just beginning. It is capable of becoming one of those sudden growths of which the past history of the Republic has made us familiar, and indeed it is too early yet to judge, even on the largest lines, what forms it may not take. It is enough to say that there is behind the reaction against the Jew in that country a growing intensity of feeling with which we, as yet, in Western Europe, for all the advance we have made in the matter, are unfamiliar. If a test be required, contrast the silence about the Jews in ’96, during Bryan’s great attack upon the gold standard, with the work of Mr. Ford and all that he stands for to-day!

The rest of the world is either of Islam or heathen. In the heathen world, so far, the Jew has little place. He has a strong grip on India, of course, but only through the British Raj, not through the native population; and in China, except as a quasi-European merchant, he has no power at all; neither has he over the strong and organized nationality of Japan.

Such are the degrees, very roughly, of the problem; such the differences of its quality in the various national groups to-day. Of these the two most interesting states of the problem by far, because they are changing with the greatest rapidity, are found in France, in England and in the United States.

I have said that the second modifying condition was the difference of civic traditions of the various nations. Here again you have a differentiation from East to West. But within it a differentiation, ultimately due to religion, from North to South. In Russia there was never any tradition of keeping silence upon the Jew, or of respecting the Jew at all. He was, until the recent revolution, the national enemy, and there was the end of it. Similarly in Poland, Roumania and the vaguer populations of their borders, and even in the old Hungary, the Jew was talked of openly as belonging to a separate nationality and, on the whole, a hostile one.

But as one got west another spirit emerged, another tradition. It was “the thing” to treat the Jew as a citizen. This fashion was weaker in the Germanies than in the Low Countries, France, or England; it was everywhere present west of the Elbe.

It was a tradition flowing from two sources: the commercial and protestant England of the seventeenth century, the sceptical France of the eighteenth. The Jew (according to this spirit) merited special protection and special respect. He must be protected and respected even in his passion for secrecy; so that at last the mere mention of his existence in the cultivated and directing classes of the west became something of an oddity.

From this spirit proceeded the Liberal fiction or convention which I dealt with in the second chapter of this book. It was clinched, it was given permanent form, by the enthusiasm and severe doctrine of the French Republicans, which arose at a moment when Israel was regarded as a religion and its national quality was forgotten. Since all religion was thought to be dying, since, further, an enthusiasm had arisen against almost any religion which exercised civic power (notably the Catholic Church), this Jewish religion, formerly regarded as inimical to the State, or at any rate separate from it, was naturally accorded a special privilege. That strange system arose, the death of which we are now watching after its brief life of somewhat more than a century, whereby the Jew was permitted to wear the mask of nationalities other than his own, and to function everywhere as though he were a citizen, not of Israel, but of the nation in which he chanced to find himself.

Against this attitude arose at last the powerful plea of nationalism. In England, as we shall see in the next chapter, this plea was less strong than elsewhere, because the interests of international Jewish finance and of British commerce were for so long nearly identical. In Italy, where the Jew was naturally closely connected with the nationalist movement on account of its antagonism to the Papacy, national feeling clashed little with the anomaly of the Jew. But in France, especially after the defeat of 1870, the contrast became stronger and stronger, just as it is strengthening to-day in Germany after the defeat of 1918.

It was that clash between the “city” of Israel and the other “cities” in which we Europeans function, to which allusion has been made on a former page. It would be very convenient, no doubt, to the “City” of Israel if all other “cities” disappeared and left an open field for Jewish operations. But they do not propose to disappear; and though our devotion to them may seem inexplicable to the Jew, he must accept it as a permanent force; for the patriotism of the European will not weaken.

In the United States this Liberal tradition or convention, this conception that the Jew must be treated as a full citizen, was far stronger even than it was in the West of Europe. It was in the very soul of the Constitution, and, what is more important, in the very soul of the people. For such a spirit was nourished not only in doctrine but in practice by the appearance, in vast quantities, of immigrants from many different countries, all of whom were absorbed in and merged by the American spirit. If ever there was a field in which the false conception that a Jew could be a Jew and at the same time the full citizen of another nation, that field was the United States of America. Yet it is there that the problem is now reaching its most acute form; and the reason is that side by side with this strong civic tradition there goes a complete freedom of speech and a very active public opinion. The reality became too much for theory and the Jew was recognized as something apart. He will never fall into the background again.

There remain to be considered the international forces which modify this general truth that the quarrel with the Jew is a quarrel with his increasing control over our affairs.

Those international forces are Religion—Islam and the Catholic Church—the force of Modern Capitalism, and the Reaction against that force of the Industrial Proletariat, the Reaction summed up in the term Socialism. All four are international.

The position of the Jew in Islam can be simply defined. In Islam he is treated with less method and therefore with less continued oppression than in Christendom, but always and permanently as something base and inferior, save in a few rare moments when he has the favour of particular rulers or is necessary to some special society, or is admired in a moment of intellectual brilliance.

Normally the Jew in Islam is an outcast. I know very well that the game is played of pretending that Islam is in some way kinder to him than we are. It is but a game: the playing of one party against another—of Islam against Christendom—by Israel, which is of neither. In Islam his superior position in Christendom is equally famed. History is too strong for such pretences. All the history of Islam, all the social spirit of Islam, to which there are countless witnesses to-day, give the same verdict about the general treatment of the Jew in that society.

So it was in independent Islam. But Islam, politically controlled today by the Western Christian powers, is another matter. Under that unstable state of affairs (no one can say how long it will last; the conflict between Islam and Christendom seems eternal and the rise and fall of that tide is indefinitely successive) the problem takes on quite another shape. France and England appear in Islam as the artificial supporters of the Jew.

Until quite lately it was the French who bore the worst odium of this in the eyes of the Mohammedans. Under the French the Jews in North Africa were often given a special, a superior position, which was an insult to every Mohammedan and which is still an insult to him. It is the weakest point of the French regime. In Algeria the Ghetto Jew may vote. The Arab may not. Even in Morocco, where things have been done more wisely than in Algiers, the difficulty is felt. How are you to treat a Jew differently in Morocco from the way in which he is treated in France? He is common to the two countries. If you treat him as if he were French, and therefore a member of the governing power, what of the pride of those lords of the Atlas and of Fez?

In the vastly larger field of Mohammedan control exercised by Britain, which, directly and indirectly, is ten times that of France, there was until lately less of this friction; but the tables have been turned, and today it is Britain which stands to the Mohammedan as the thruster-in of the Jew. It began with the support of Jewish finance in Egypt; it went on with the extended control over Indian commerce by Jews; it continued in the control of Indian currency by Jews. It has ended in the grotesque appointment to the Indian Viceroyalty and the extraordinary experiment of Palestine.

Today, at the moment in which I write, there is no doubt on the matter whatsoever: From Rabat on the Atlantic to the Bay of Bengal, the Western Powers are regarded as the agents of a Jewish intrusion which is intolerable to Islam. And whereas the chief blame lay, until quite a few years ago, upon the French, today it lies upon the British Government.

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The rôle of the Catholic Church in the debate between the Jews and Christendom is the most discussed, the worst understood, of any point connected with the general problem. But it is capable of simple definition. Wherever the Catholic Church is powerful, and in proportion as it is powerful, the traditional principles of the civilization of which it is the soul and guardian will always be upheld. One of these principles is the sharp distinction between the Jew and ourselves. The Rationalist would say that this distinction was racial, and that it only found religious expression on account of its racial reality. His opponent would say that the origin of the quarrel was mainly religious; that it was a difference in religious tradition which formed the contrast between the Jew and Christendom. The former can cite as evidence the violent original contrast between the Roman Empire and the Jew, the latter the truth that religion, philosophy, is the formative force in every human society.

But whichever theory you adopt, the fact is there. The Catholic Church is the conservator of an age-long European tradition, and that tradition will never compromise with the fiction that a Jew can be other than a Jew. Wherever the Catholic Church has power, and in proportion to its power, the Jewish problem will be recognized to the full.

On the other hand, there never has been and never will be, or can be, admission by Catholic morals of warfare against the Jew. Those morals are plain. That doctrine has been defined over and over again and acted upon throughout history. If indirect hostilities are opened against the majority by a minority in its midst, they may be repressed and punished. Still more important, insincere and pretended conversion, used as a cloak, may be repressed and punished. But though a community has the right to determine its own life, and (if it think it possible) even to eliminate (with justice, not with cruelty, violence or injustice in any form) an alien, a hostile minority; yet that minority has its own right to live, if not there, then elsewhere. It has its right—once it is rooted and traditional—to its own convictions, to its own tradition. If you allow it to live among you, you must allow it to live its own life save where that life threatens yours. The Catholic Church will always maintain reality, including the reality of that sharp distinction between the Jew and his hosts.

The opponent of the Catholic Church will tend, other things being equal, to support the Jew, because, under that distinction, the Jew may find himself ill at ease. The whole Protestant tradition of the North was for more than 300 years favourable to the Jew, partly indeed on account of its reliance upon the Jewish Scriptures, its absorption in the inspired Jewish folk-lore, but more because the alliance with the Jew was an alliance against the Catholic Church. Strong traces of that spirit still remain. What has warred against it has been the sheer necessity in every country, Catholic or Protestant, Liberal or anti-Liberal, to preserve society against what each began to feel as a disruptive and an alien domination.

There remain the two novel forces—Modern Capitalism, and, protesting against it, its victim, the Modern Industrial Proletariat.

A few years ago anyone would have said that the opposition to the Jew was an opposition to capitalism alone; the Jew was the representative of capitalism, and Jewish finance was the particular aspect of Jewish power in which that power was universally hated. But we have seen all that change. To-day the strongest force against the Jew is on the other side. It is mainly aroused, not by the fear of capitalist forces, but by the fear of revolutionary forces.

I make bold to say that when the feeling against the Jew comes to the point of action, the Jew will necessarily, and in self-defence, fall back upon the leadership of the proletariat against industrial capitalism. He will—he must, from mere instinct, quite apart from calculation—use the line of cleavage which divides a society hostile to him. He will rely on the line of cleavage driven by the vast modern quarrel between the few possessors in the modern industrial world and their victims, the exploited millions.

So put, the opportunity of the Jew, if he be driven to extremities to raise an army in his defence, seems a great opportunity enough. It would seem easy for him to deflect all animosity against himself into animosity against the rich—safeguarding, of course (as he has done in Russia), the Jewish rich. But we must remember three formidable conditions which weaken that opportunity.

The first condition is this: The industrial millions are still quite a small minority and will probably in the future be an even smaller minority of the civilized white world. The war dealt them a heavy blow. The fact that the industrial proletariat is a town population, and therefore less and less productive, is another cause of weakness; their decline in health another. The fact that industrial capitalism depends upon the machine being kept going, and that its serfs are less and less willing to keep the machine going, is another.

Secondly, the area (and that is important) occupied by industrial capitalism is but a very small area of the surface of the civilized world.

Thirdly, the revolt of the Industrial Proletariat, if the Jews provoke it, will be short-lived. Either it will be defeated, or after destroying its masters it will, under Jewish leadership, destroy its own powers of production, as in Russia.

When the fury is exhausted, in a very short time the Jewish problem will reappear.

The proletarian battle may rage intensely, but it will be far from universal, and will not be sufficient, I think, to distract mankind from that other cross-problem of Jew and non-Jew, to which his attention is being more and more steadily directed.


[1] Except, of course, an outlawed member. The case of Dr. Levy turned out of this country by his compatriots in the Government for having written unfavourably of the Moscow Jews will be fresh in every one’s memory.

(Continue to Chapter 10: The Present Relation Between the English State and the Jews)

Raised in a home filled with books on Western civilization, P.G. Mantel became a lover of history at an early age. An amateur writer of verse, he makes himself useful as an editor for Men of the West.

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“The Jews” by Hilaire Belloc: The Present Relation Between the English State and the Jews

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