by Martin Vianney
It was once said of Michael Jones that he was too radical to be a conservative and too conservative to be a radical. There is one word that always describes the man and his writing. Controversial. Jones, however, would say that a different word describes his writing. Catholic. And he would doubtless add that if one writes in the modern age as a Catholic one is necessarily controversial.
However, even by these standards Michael Jones’ latest book, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its Impact on World History, is his most controversial and ambitious book to date. At 1,200 pages this tour of history which shines a theological light on conflicts between Catholics, Protestants, Jews and revolutionaries through the ages is intended to provide a key to understanding the present age.
I discussed the book with Dr Jones and tried to find out the thesis of the book and explore some of the difficult theological and political issues it brings up.
1. What made you decide to write this book?
Reading Daniel Goldhagen’s attack on Pius XII. Suddenly, I realized that all of the talk about a new era of Catholic/Jewish relations following Vatican II was a decidedly one-way street. Virtually every celebration of Nostra Aetate’s various anniversaries was characterized by Catholics apologizing for everything from St. John’s Gospel to the Holocaust and Jews renewing their attacks on the Church as the font of all anti-Semitism with renewed chutzpah.
2. Were you surprised by the size of the undertaking?
The surprise came when I realized that the book was 1,200 pages long, in spite of a rather rigorous paring down during the editing process.
3. What do you mean by Jewish?
A Jew is now a rejecter of Christ and thereby to some extent a rejecter of Logos, which is the Greek word for the rational order of the universe. Insofar as they rejected Christ, the Jews rejected Logos, and in rejecting Logos, they rejected the order of the universe, including its moral or political order. As a result, they became revolutionaries, a decision they solemnly ratified when they chose Barabbas over Christ.
4. But even your book allows that there is some racial element. After all, many rejecters of Christ/Logos are not Jews. And the Jews are seen in the New Testament as a distinct people who will perdure until the End Times when there is a prophecy of conversion. So surely a Jew is not a rejecter of Christ/Logos simpliciter?
A Jew is an ethnic Jew who has rejected Christ. An ethnic Jew who has accepted Christ is not a Jew. Ethnicity is the necessary but not sufficient condition for being a Jew. The sufficient condition is rejection of Christ. This was ratified by the Israeli Supreme Court when they denied Oswald Rufeisen citizenship because he had been baptized a Catholic. From a more religious perspective I note in the book the words of Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner: “While not all Jews practice Judaism [it is] the iron-clad consensus among contemporary Jews, Jews who practice Christianity cease to be part of the ethnic Jewish community, while those who practice Buddhism remain within.”
5. What relation, then, does Judaism have with the religion of the Old Testament? What place do the Temple, the Torah and the Talmud have in Judaism?
Judaism is not the religion of the Old Testament. Catholicism is the religion of the Old Testament. Anything that claims to be the religion of the Old Testament must have a Temple, a priesthood, and sacrifice. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, Judaism had none of these things, but the Church had all of them. The Temple was Christ, who explicitly stated that he was its replacement. The Church also had the priesthood, which celebrated the new sacrifice, which was the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass.
Judaism as we know it is a religion that was created by Jochanan ben Zacchai after the destruction of the Temple. It was, as Jews have to admit, not the Old Testament religion, because the Jews at that point had no Temple to perform the sacrifices which were needed to fulfil their covenant. As a result, the Jewish religion became a debating society or school, which met at synagogues. The codification of those debates became known as the Talmud, which got written down between the third and seventh centuries AD. The Talmud is a systematic distortion of the Torah—“Whatever the Torah forbids, the Talmud permits”—whose purpose is to keep the Jewish people away from Logos and in bondage to Jewish leaders.
6. What do you mean by Revolutionary?
Any attempt to overthrow the state or the cultural order of a particular people and replace it with one or other version of Messianic politics which promises us all heaven on earth but ends up delivering something quite different.
7. But surely there are cultural orders that are largely at odds with Logos. Should not these be overthrown? Moreover, are people like Caiaphas and Annas revolutionaries? Many would regard them rather as reactionaries, fearful of the people’s reception of what they took to be a worldly Messiah.
In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI reminds Catholics that the way of revolution, the way of Spartacus and Simon bar Kokhba, is not the Catholic way. He says this knowing, I'm sure, that Aquinas justifies the overthrow of unjust regimes in some instances. We don't know if Annas and Caiaphas would have joined in the revolution against Rome over 30 years after Christ's death. I think it is reasonable to think that they would.
8. What do you mean by Spirit?
What the Germans call Geist, which is to say what Aristotle and Plato would call “form,” as in “the soul is the form of the body.”
9. Christians today appear to be most at risk of persecution in Islamic countries and places like China. Aren't these places where the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit never took hold?
I disagree. No one has been persecuted more ruthlessly than the Catholics of the United States. We simply lack the vocabulary to describe that persecution. That’s why I have written, in addition to The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit: and its Impact on World History, Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control, and The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing.
10. But in terms of killing and degradation you still need to account for the enormities which continue to be committed in these countries. One is not banned on pain of death from hearing Mass in the US so we cannot dismiss the persecution in other parts of the world, parts not obviously infected with the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit. Bloody persecution has often been more effective in wiping out Christians than ethnic cleansing of a non-lethal kind. Where do states like China and Saudi Arabia fit with regard to the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit?
The Gospel tells us not to fear those who can kill the body. I think the point is that there are worse things in this life than physical persecution. Moral corruption is one of them because it kills the soul. And if one thing characterizes the Catholics of the babyboomer generation it is moral corruption, for which they bear responsibility, but we're talking, nonetheless, about a moral corruption which was foisted on them by their parents' generation, through the media, through the corruption of Catholic education, and all of the insidious means I described in Libido Dominandi.
The last time I looked China was a communist country. Communism is one of the prime examples of the Jewish revolutionary spirit. Saudi Arabia is run by the Wahhabi sect of Islam. I do not deal with the relationship of Islam to Judaism in the book, but in it you'll find a milder form of the rejection of the cross and suffering in favor of a more carnal vision of worldly power and wealth.
11. What do you say to people who view the Islamic world as a greater threat to the world than this Jewish Spirit?
It depends which “people” you mean. I can understand why Serbs, given their history, would view Islam as a greater threat than the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, although they certainly suffered under the imposition of Communism. However, when I hear an American talk about the dangers of “Islamofascism,” I think it’s an infallible sign that I am in the presence of either a propagandist, an intellectual coward or a useful idiot.
12. What do you take the term anti-Semitism to mean?
Anti-Semitism is a form of biological determinism or racism which claims that Jews are prisoners of their DNA. This would manifest itself in the Church, for instance, if someone were to say that a Jewish convert could not be trusted. This ugly attitude has always been repudiated by the Church, which has always maintained that Jewish converts are to be accepted “without calumny.” It came out very clearly in Erasmus’s attack on Pfefferkorn, which I cover in my book. Anti-Semitism is the flip side of Jewish racism, which claims that Jews are superior because of their DNA. This idea is put forth by the Jews who question Jesus in the Gospel of St. John. They claim that they are somehow racially superior to everyone else because they are the “seed of Abraham.” A recent manifestation of this racial outlook was the Charles Murray symposium on Jewish intelligence held at the American Enterprise Institute.
13. But aren’t there forms of anti-Semitism that are not explicitly racial? For example, if someone shows a great propensity to believe the worst of Jews in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, is he not an bigoted anti-Semite (just as someone might be an anti-Catholic who believes all priests are child abusers in spite of the evidence), even if he has no beliefs about inferior DNA?
No, anti-Semitism is a racial concept. Being anti-Jewish is something else. It can be rational, as, for example, in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, where it is a manifestation of the rejection of the rejection of Christ that is obligatory for all Christians, or it can be irrational, but it's fundamentally different from anti-Semitism, which is racial.
14. In your book you refer to your friend the late Rabbi Dresner, a highly moral Jew (and author of Can Families Survive Pagan America and Rachel). Does he not represent a type of Judaism that takes the Torah seriously and is thoroughly Jewish yet not infected with a Revolutionary Spirit?
Yes, I wish Rabbi Dresner were alive today. He was a man who was open to the truth and, incidentally, an admirer of my writing, who would urge the Catholics he knew to support me by subscribing to Culture Wars. On the other hand, he would also write to me and chastise me for talking about Jewish villains. He came to the defense of Leo Pfeffer, who in my opinion was a Jewish villain if ever there was one. So he was torn, as I said in the article I did on him after his death, between Torah and Ethnos. I have no doubt that he was a sincere follower of Torah. But he was also troubled by the fact that virtually every prominent Jew in America—he was particularly annoyed by the cult of Woody Allen—was a proponent of some sort of revolutionary subversion of the moral law. As I said, I wish he were alive today. I would like to know what he would have thought of The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit.
15. You refer to neoconservatism as a Jewish movement, yet the majority of Jews in the US are opposed to it, just as they were to the Iraq war.
We’re talking about successive revolutionary movements here. Most Jews still retain an ancestral allegiance to the Messianic ideologies known as Marxism, socialism, communism—in general—the ideologies of the left that were regnant among American Jews during the middle of the 20th century. Zionism didn’t really catch on among American Jews until the collapse of the Black-Jewish alliance and the 1967 Six-Day Arab Israeli war.
16. Yet you certainly see Neoconservatism as a Jewish Revolutionary movement. Why do you think this and could you tell us what you think Neoconservatism is?
First of all, Irving Kristol, the founding father of neoconservatism, was a Trotskyite during his college years. If you look at the tenets of neoconservatism--perpetual war, the uprooting of social structures, hierarchies, classes - you see that all the major elements of Trotsky's version of messianic politics have been maintained, mutatis mutandis, with the United States instead of the Soviet Union now being the land that is going to liberate the world.
17. You seem to see Protestantism as an inherently Judaizing religion. Can you explain why?
Because when the Catholics who wanted to break with the Church needed an alternative authority that was as authoritative as the Church they invariably turned to the Old Testament. John Milton’s treatise on divorce, in which he appeals to Moses as a greater authority on the issue than Christ, who clearly forbade what Milton wanted to have approved, is a classic instance of what I’m talking about. Judaizing also flowed naturally from the Protestant notion of sola scriptura. If the Bible is our only guide, it’s quite natural that the Old Testament will predominate in any question, because there are more books in the Old Testament, and, from a carnal point of view, they are also a lot more interesting. The Old Testament detached from the New Covenant and the Church becomes a gross distortion of what it is meant to be.
18. Aren't some of the great critics of Judaism Protestants - e.g. Martin Luther and Johannes Andreas Eisenmenger. Why should this be?
I can’t speak for Eisenmenger, but I do know that Luther was extremely pro-Jewish at the beginning of his career, operating under the principle that the enemy of his enemy (in this case, Rome) must be his friend. Luther also felt that once the Jews were exposed to the gospel in its purity (i.e., as preached by Martin Luther), the Jews would convert in droves. When this didn’t happen, Luther (who was nothing if not choleric) turned on the Jews and wrote the violent diatribe against them in the 1540s for which the Lutherans have been apologizing ever since.
19. What is the relation between Freemasonry and the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit?
Freemasonry is another word for what Frances Yates would call “Christian Cabala.” It was the “scientific” reaction to the excesses of the Judaizing Englishmen known as Puritans. But the “science” in question derived, via people like Fludd, Bacon, and John Dee, from the Cabala, which was Jewish magic.
20. Arguably the most important European revolution was the French Revolution (not to mention the English Reformation). Yet in the French Revolution there is no evidence of extensive Jewish involvement. Doesn't this present a problem for your thesis?
The French Revolution was a black operation which, as they invariably do, got out of control. The Whigs who came to power in England after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 used the Masonic lodges on the continent to spread Enlightenment propaganda among the Catholic French in order to bring down the House of Bourbon. Voltaire was, as Alexander Pope suspected, a Whig operative and spy. The goal was to bring about the French version of the Glorious Revolution, but when that black operation took on a life of its own and careened out of control, the English were appalled by what they had wrought and declared war on France.
So the French revolution derived from Freemasonry, which was, as I stated above, a form of Cabala. This, of course, rightly leaves the whole question of direct Jewish involvement in the French Revolution out of the picture. But as Daniel Pipes has pointed out, the evidence is there, even if not as he would portray it. When Barruel got the evidence, in the letter from Simonini, he simply suppressed the evidence, even though he received a letter from both the pope and Napoleon’s uncle supporting Simonini’s allegations.
21. You have much to say about Russia but say very little about Stalin's anti-Semitism. Why, according to you, were the Jews persecuted by Stalin's revolutionary movement?
Because every successful revolution leads to a civil war. The Stalin-Trotsky split was inevitable because the victors always quarrel after they win, and the Jew/Goy split in Communism was the ethnic fault-line that no one could ignore.
22. Explain what you mean when you say the Jews rejected Christ/killed Christ. Are you saying that all the Jews in Jerusalem rejected Christ or only some? Are Jews today guilty of deicide? If so, how does this fit in with the idea that all sinners share responsibility for Christ's suffering?
No, obviously not. Many Jews accepted Christ as the Messiah. The situation becomes confusing because of how St. John, for one example, handles the term “Jew.” By the end of his Gospel, it’s clear that Jew no longer has a purely ethnic meaning. A Jew is primarily someone who rejects Christ. The ethnic Jews who did not reject Christ became known as the Church or the New Israel, at which point blood, DNA were not the point. Nostra Aetate says that “not all Jews at the time of Christ” were guilty of calling for his death. Logically, this, of course, means that some Jews at the time of his death were guilty of deicide. Using the definition of the Jew which St. John formulated, we could say that only Jews were responsible for his death. Those Jews also ratified that death when they said “Let his blood be on us and our children.” We are not talking about some occult “blood curse,” as some modern day Jews like to portray it. We are talking about a profound and premeditated form of rejection—murder being the ultimate form of rejection—that has perdured to this day. As long as Jews perdure in rejection they will be in the avant garde (as Marx would call it) of revolutionary ferment. Every Christian who sins participates in the rejection of Christ, but they will never constitute an avant garde like Jews because they cannot pervert their status as God’s chosen people because they never enjoyed that status.
23. But wouldn't what you have said make Pilate a Jew? And might there not have been a mass of Jews in Jerusalem who were merely indifferent to Christ?
Pilate, as a matter of fact, did feel that he was being drawn into a Jewish struggle. That's why he said at one point, "Am I a Jew?" If Pilate felt that way, then the Jews felt the same thing to a much greater degree, to the point where I would say that, at a certain level, no one in Jerusalem at that time was indifferent to Christ. The entire adult Jewish population was either for him or against him. In a sense, all of us have to become one kind of Jew or another, either the kind of Jew who accepted Christ or the kind who rejected him. The United States today is a Jewish country, which is to say a country where the culture is controlled by those Jews who rejected Christ. Any follower of those Jews who accepted Christ is going to be persecuted. As Yuri Slezkine said in his book The Jewish Century, modernity has turned us all into Jews.
24. Is Nostra Aetate a document that preaches error with regard to the Jews?
25. What are your thoughts on the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, and especially on his handling of Catholic-Jewish relations?
The pope has shown a lack of even-handedness in dealing with Muslims and Jews, symbolized best by his trip to Cologne. The pope went to the synagogue in Cologne, where he was insulted by the rabbi there, but the Muslims had to come to meet with him at the chancery office. The pope wags his finger at the Muslims, but he never chastises the Jews in his meetings with them. I think the Muslims are offended by this double standard. Islamic terrorism did not spring full-blown from the mind of Zeus. Much of it is a function of Israeli behavior in Palestine and American support of those policies. To mention the former without mentioning the latter is a manifestation of the double standard they’re talking about. The classical Catholic position was articulated in the title of Raimondo Martini’s book: Pugio Fidei adversos Mauros et Iudeos, or The Dagger of Faith aimed at Moors and Jews.
26. But did not this same pope bring back and amend the Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of the Jews, thereby showing he was not to be intimidated in these matters?
As to the pope, I think he realized that the Church stood at the brink of the abyss when he ascended to the throne of Peter. If he had not written that prayer, he would have denied the Gospels, and no pope will ever do that. But this doesn’t change the fact that he is not even-handed in dealing with Jews and Muslims.
27. Some people find your language harsh and yet uncritical of Catholic behaviour in the past. Does it worry you that some Jewish readers may be put off by this and become less likely to embrace the Church?
This reminds me of a discussion I had about another book I wrote. The title I chose was “Nigger Hell.” When the publisher felt that that title was offensive, I offered to change it to “Nigger Heck.” The real issue though is that the title was a direct quote taken from Claude McKay’s book Home to Harlem. This is the language that was used at the time, and I felt it was better to use that than capitulate to the sensibilities of the school marms and the commissars.
The same is true of The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit. The shocking part is not so much what I say but what I report other people saying. I have been called an anti-Semite (in Prague, to be specific) for quoting Christ’s statement to the Jews, “Your father is Satan.’” I have been called an anti-Semite for using the phrase “the synagogue of Satan,” as if I had made up the term, when I was citing the Book of Revelation. Similarly, I get blamed when a term like “the vomit of Judaism” appears in my book, when the phrase comes from St. Bernard of Clairvaux. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Nothing I have said is as pointed or as “anti-Semitic” as what the evangelists, church fathers, and even Jesus Christ has said before me. The Jews of Jesus’ time found language like this off-putting, so I’m not surprised that some Jews would feel the same way today. On the other hand, there are always going to be the “true Hebrews” like Nathaniel, a man without guile, who will respond to the truth when they hear it.
28. And what do you say to the criticism that you have a tendency to minimize or underestimate the bad behavior of those claiming to be Catholic, seeing their behavior, at worst, as reactive to Jewish faults? Surely there is much wrong on both sides, with Catholics having less excuse?
Anyone who reads my book will know that this isn’t true. There’s plenty of blame to go around here.
29. What have been the consequences to you in undertaking this controversial work? Knowing what you now know, would you do it all again?
Would Zebedee’s sons have drunk from the cup if they had known what drinking from it entailed? Probably not. That’s why Jesus doesn’t let us peek into a crystal ball before he asks us to do something.
30. What has been your experience of Jewish people throughout your life? Did you ever discuss the ideas in your book with them?
From 1966 until 1979 (with the exception of the three years that I spent in Germany), I spent most of my time hanging around with Jews, primarily in the art world (working for Sam Maitin, the Philadelphia artist, and at the Prints for People art gallery, which involved me in hanging shows at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed synagogue on Old York Road) but in the literary world in Philadelphia as well (through Robert Summers, the playwright, who was my creative writing teacher, poetry readings at the Painted Bride, and graduate school in English and American Literature at Temple University, where Stanley Fish, the “Reader-Response” literary theorist, was one of my teachers). I was also a camp counselor at a summer camp for handicapped children sponsored by the Variety Club, which was a Jewish organization. I have lost contact with just about everyone from that era, but I did discuss the idea of the book with my friend Paul Goldstein in its formative stages.
E. Michael Jones is editor of Culture Wars and author of 11 books including The Angel and the Machine; Degenerate Moderns; Horror: A Biography; The Slaughter of Cities and Libido Dominandi.This interview appears in the September 2008 issue of Culture Wars.