and the Jewish taboo
By HENRY GALLAGHER FIELDS
American libertarians were once freedom-loving, truth-loving iconoclasts who took pleasure in spurning the shibboleths of Establishment pundits and intellectuals. No dogma was deemed too sacred to be safe from their skepticism, and every alleged truth was subject to examination by free minds reveling in free inquiry. They were totally outside the mainstream, and they relished that position: one thinks of giants such as Frank Chodorov, Albert J. Nock, Murray N. Rothbard, and Roy A. Childs, Jr., standing lonely but unafraid.
But libertarians today, with some honorable exceptions, are a changed breed. They shy away from the ever-multiplying taboo issues, if they do not actually celebrate the reigning intellectual orthodoxy. Libertarian principles are noticeable chiefly by their absence.
To illustrate the decline, let's look at a new star in the libertarian literary firmament: Ilana Mercer. A self-styled "wandering Jew," Miss Mercer was born in South Africa, the daughter of an anti-apartheid rabbi who fled to Israel, where she grew up. Having lived in Canada for a time, Miss Mercer is now ensconced in the United States, where she has moved to the fore among what passes as the libertarian punditry. Meanwhile, the punditocracy (a useful neologism) that accords respectful recognition to Miss Mercer carefully ignores everything that The Last Ditch produces, as our esteemed chief Mr. Strakon has noted. (Since TLD articles do attract fan support and links from conservatives, liberals, lefties, American Indians, Arabs, inhabitants of "Old Europe," Eastern Europeans, Africans, Turks, and so on, it would not seem that all of our writings are meritless, especially considering what passes for informative prose in the libertarian mainstream.)
It can't be denied that Miss Mercer has taken a few good positions that manage to elude many libertarians. Significantly, she has stood against the American imperial war on Iraq, unlike lunatic Randroids who want to nuke the Arabs. (You may acquit the Official Objectivists on a technicality if you're so inclined, since they refuse to recognize themselves as libertarians.) But despite her antiwar sentiments, Miss Mercer has more than a soft spot for her homeland, by which I do not mean South Africa.
At some point during her peregrinations she conjured up the fantasy that libertarians "loathe" Israel and that she must leap to the defense of that perpetually victimized state. To illustrate the existence of a vast libertarian anti-Israeli groundswell, Miss Mercer manages to come up with a grand total of three individual examples Sheldon Richman, Justin Raimondo, and Stephen P. Halbrook. The Halbrook article she cites comes from 1981, and Halbrook happens to be a Canadian, which inconvenient tidbits underscore the fact that anti-Israel feeling is hardly burgeoning among American libertarians. While Miss Mercer probably could have added to her census of sinners by pointing out a few anti-Zionist libertarian souls from the West Bank and Gaza, the bulk of American libertarians would require megadose testosterone injections before ever daring to mentally entertain, much less discuss publicly, such a taboo idea.
Miss Mercer's adoring assessment of the Jewish state doesn't gibe too well with the cardinal tenets of the libertarian canon. She holds to a historical view that Jews deserve the land of Israel, and she doesn't see much wrong with Israel's expropriating Palestinian private property and expelling Palestinian people, crimes that are still being committed, by the way. Presumably, in her mind the "collective rights" of the Jewish people trump individual rights, a position that harks back to the days a hundred years ago when "libertarian" often referred to communists of a somewhat unorthodox kidney. In any case, the notion is alien to modern libertarianism insofar as that body of thought proceeds from individualist premises.
While referring to the former white-ruled South Africa as fascistic, Miss Mercer insists that the Jewish state should be free to resist contamination by the multiculturalist contagion that an influx of Palestinians would bring. She lauds Ariel Sharon's new Israeli "security" wall (which would rightly be called an incarceration wall), finding nothing wrong with the fact that it is being built on Palestinian property, restricts the Palestinians to economically non-viable areas, and leaves more than half of the West Bank and all the water resources in Israeli hands! To Miss Mercer, the fact that all Palestinians hate Israel because of what it has done to them only demonstrates their innate savagery. Apparently we are to believe that rational, freedom-loving Palestinians, if such chimeras could exist, would joyously accept their Israeli overlords and give thanks to Uncle Ariel for letting them pace back and forth in the postage-stamp areas still left to them and sip a cup of dirty water when that precious commodity became available. Rothbard, whom Miss Mercer identifies as one of her philosophical mentors, saw the Revolutionary War as one of the few justified wars fought by the American people; but the oppression of the American colonists by the British Empire was nugatory compared to the suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel for more than half a century.
While principled libertarians will find nothing to admire in the Israeli state and much to abhor, it must be acknowledged that Israel is no worse than many of its national counterparts. But American libertarians must take special notice of the crimes of Israel because that state is supported by the American government and because it is immune from criticism, largely thanks to its American backers, who can make things very difficult for those who dare to differ. As Raimondo bluntly put it in his response to Miss Mercer's article:
It isn't Israel we loathe, it's Israel's American amen corner, typified by La Mercer. Why, we just love Israel, and would love it even more if only its leaders and supporters would commit war crimes on their own dime, without American aid and without continually hectoring us for more. Look, nobody really cares about Israel, per se: the problem is the effect that nation's knee-jerk supporters have on the American political process and the way their shrill cries distort and degrade the national debate on U.S. policy in the Middle East.
As many observers both at TLD and elsewhere have pointed out, this whole war on Iraq was spearheaded by Zionist neocons. Now, it strains credulity to believe that Miss Mercer, who has stood against the war, can be unaware of that. Offhand there is only one person of significance I can think of who is honestly oblivious to what has taken place, and it's not Miss Mercer. Her intellectual capacity appears infinitely superior to that of the nincompoopish pawn in the White House.
As is the usual modus operandi for rabid champions of Israel, Miss Mercer resorts to the "anti-Semitic" tar brush to stigmatize those who dare criticize that state, stooping so low as to indirectly smear Richman as a "Holocaust denier" because the Journal of Historical Review also criticizes Israel. By way of this guilt-by-viewpoint approach, Richman could be called a communist because communists also criticize Israel; or for that matter, he could be called an Israeli historian because Israeli historians such as Tom Segev have painted a rather negative picture of Israel's actions toward the Palestinians.
Fearing not, let's touch on that ultimate taboo: questioning the established accounts of the Jewish Holocaust of the 1940s. For Miss Mercer and other votaries of Establishment intellectual orthodoxy, "Holocaust denial" represents a radical evil. The term "Holocaust denier" itself is Establishment-invented and Establishment-approved, and it is not what the actual people so diagnosed would call themselves. Like "racism," "sexism," "homophobism," and other current demon-indictments, the charge of "Holocaust denial" is a grindingly tendentious blunt instrument. It is an un-unpackable intellectual package deal, a contradictory accusation of moral evil and mental disorder. It has about it the whiff of the psychiatric clinic: the Soviet psychiatric clinic, that is. It is designed to stop all debate in its tracks. It is designed to abruptly and definitively curtail thinking.
The Establishment advertises the Holocaust as the greatest evil in human history. The established media cite it incessantly and produce more programs on it every year. Official accounts of the Holocaust receive state support for promotion in schools and various museums. And questioning the story is absolutely verboten. But we may wonder why debate on the Holocaust has become impermissible why people are incarcerated in "free" Western democracies for doubting that mass killings in gas chambers occurred six decades ago why we see an effort to ban Internet sites that deal with the issue. Holocaustians claim that such punishment is necessary to protect truth and stop "hate." But isn't that completely contrary to libertarian concepts of freedom? Isn't it completely contrary to the enterprise of reason and science, which calls for freedom of inquiry and depends on it absolutely? Instead of punishing unbelievers, wouldn't it be better to just bring forth the documentary and physical evidence proving that millions of Jews perished in German death camps?
But then we learn that the documents don't exist, because Hitler communicated by word of mouth. And that the Nazis totally destroyed all the physical evidence of the millions of bodies, the trenches where the bodies were buried, the machinery used in the killing process, and so on. As the Holocaust expert Jan van Pelt pointed out in the Irving/Lipstadt trial, the Nazis even went so far as to painstakingly fill in the holes in the gas-chamber roof at Auschwitz, in the face of the onrushing Red Army.
And yet we still have an enormous number of Jewish Holocaust survivors hundreds of thousands in the United States alone who can attest to the wholesale extermination of the Jewish people. So many lucky survivors, including many who were children in the death camps and had no value as slave laborers. Very many survivors of an industrial death machine, especially considering that other hundreds of thousands who survived must have died peacefully in American nursing homes during the long decades since 1945 ... Well, at this point one may pause for reflection: Could it be that, from the standpoint of those with a vested interest in promoting the Holocaust, there is a definite reason that free discussion must be suppressed?
One would think libertarians would have some difficulties with the way the Holocaust is presented and that they would insist on getting to the bottom of the matter. Since the official accounts can't be questioned in the mainstream, small groups such as the Institute for Historical Review are all that exist. Does that mean that everything IHR says is correct? Obviously not. But it is only when the question of the Holocaust can be freely investigated that one can hope to learn the truth about it. Even if one disagrees with the specific historical analyses provided by IHR, it seems hard for a lover of freedom and truth to reject IHR's position that the issue of the Holocaust should be investigated in a spirit of free inquiry and with no governmental impediments or intimidation. In short, let's treat the Holocaust as we would any other issue. This should be a no-brainer for everyone, and for libertarians especially and that very fact is probably why a dispassionate analysis of the issue is absolutely forbidden.
To get back to Miss Mercer, it seems sufficient to describe her simply as a Jewish ethnic nationalist espousing a form of libertarianism that advances her people's interests, as she understands them. Nothing strange about that. Many Jewish leftists and liberals act the exact same way, supporting such things as racial intermarriage, multiculturalism, integration, forced equalization of income, UN supremacy, Third World preferences, and once in a while free speech, but adopting a contrary standard where Jews or Israel are involved. Blood is thicker than ideology. It is the Jewish double standard. One may wish to consult the intrepid Kevin MacDonald for a Darwinian take on the whole phenomenon.
While it may be perfectly understandable for Miss Mercer to espouse her Kosher libertarianism Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the ideological ancestor of the Likud, held some libertarian ideas while at the same time advocating the dispossession of the inhabitants of Palestine it's puzzling, at first blush, to see American gentile libertarians accept her version, much less applaud it. I can't help concluding that American libertarians, instead of sticking to principle, are simply refashioning libertarianism to fit in with what is permissible thinking, given the constricting bounds of our increasingly less-free society. What we find today, pretty much, are P.C. libertarians.
Some P.C. libertarians act out of fear "Hey, I'd lose my job (or wreck my fund-raising) if anyone ever found out I entertained a thought like that." In totalitarian societies, such as the United States and other Western countries have become, perhaps that response, too, is understandable. (I'm being very understanding today.) Few men ever have the courage to be martyrs; few enough even find the true grit to be heroes. If I may be forgiven an historical aside, the scene was a little different in the days when secure middle-class income and respectability weren't immediately at stake. Younger readers may not be aware that in the late '60s and early '70s, when the modern libertarian movement was coming together, libertarians were fairly prominent among those who were skeptical of the established Holocaust story. One figure of note who questioned it (and without being shouted down or slandered by his comrades) was the libertarian historian James J. Martin; but a number of ordinary, obscure libertarians didn't recognize the Holocaust as a sacred cow, either. Those were the days when they were crashing in sleeping bags at crummy apartments and pooling quarters and dimes in order to gas up that rusted VW van: back then, for most feisty young libertarians, "fund-raising" meant something quite different.
In any case, most of today's buttoned-down P.C. libertarians go beyond merely eschewing martyrdom, whether of the career or fund-raising variety. They go beyond eschewing heroism, even. The current climate is scary, to be sure; but, still, it's hardly a heroic, super-manly feat of derring-do to post a little link to an article on the war that doesn't revise the Holocaust but just happens to reside at a site opposed to shouting down Holocaust revisionists. No: the P.C. libertarians seem actually to have internalized society's reigning orthodoxies and taboos. They instinctively know what dogmas to accept without question and what ideas to black out. But, on second thought, even their internalization of orthodoxies and taboos may be understandable, and forgivable, since critical thinking and the pursuit of truth are negative Darwinian survival traits in today's world. Those possessing such traits will ultimately be weeded from the gene pool, and already many are unable to subsist economically at even a semi-decent level of poverty.
Perhaps, then, P.C. libertarianism is a perfectly understandable psychological phenomenon. It allows a man to feel good about being a rebellious champion of freedom while safely conforming to society's enforced dogmas. One is thus free to be an intellectual coward, or a complete non-thinker, and still enjoy self-esteem and brilliant repute as a fearless intellectual.
From the perspective of our rulers, such P.C. libertarians are perfectly harmless and can be left alone. They can even be allowed to flourish, as a false opposition. Today's P.C. libertarians may be nothing like the principled 200-proof libertarian truth-seekers of old. However, adherence to a belief system that is logically incoherent but psychologically comforting is probably all that we can expect of them, as Western civilization sloughs ever deeper into the garbage dump of history.
August 28, 2003
© 2003 WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.
A related article by Nicholas Strakon.
If you found this column to be interesting, please donate something to our cause. You should make your check or m.o. payable in U.S. dollars to WTM Enterprises and send it to:
P.O. Box 224
Roanoke, IN 46783
Thanks for helping to assure a future for TLD!
Notice to visitors who came straight to this document from off site: You are deep in The Last Ditch. You should check out our home page and table of contents.