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Were the Middle Ages “Progressive”?

Posted by Jew from Jersey
15 July 2003

  • He will rob you and enslave you and murder you and give you a plausible reason for doing so. He always has a reason, even though his reasons may cancel one another out by a series of contradictions. This does not matter at all, since he does not need the truth, nor justice, nor mercy, least of all God: all he needs is ‘to be a right-thinking man’.
  • - Thomas Merton The New Man

Among other peculiarities of Europe, throughout most of its history, when a town was plagued by a calamity, the citizens could be expected to respond in the usual way. They would kill the local Jews. There were no UN, Amnesty International, NGOs, Red Cross, NATO, whatever. Such things simply hadn’t been thought of. Furthermore, the only voice of moral authority in those times, the clergy, were far from opposed to such behavior. In fact, they often instigated it. They also provided a vast body of theory to morally and philosophically justify it. Such a state of affairs continued for a millennium or so and was considered normal.

But thanks God, in America in the 21st century, such extreme cases of magical thinking and dehumanization of one’s neighbors are largely a thing of the past and can be counted on to raise the sharp disapproval of most. There remains really only one community who still consistently endorses this form of demonization and irrationality. Luckily, they reside mainly in isolated backwoods. These pitiable individuals are known by many names, but perhaps the most appropriate and less open to confusion is one most of them probably use to describe themselves: “progressives.” The intellectual backwaters where they conduct most of their vicious activities are still known, for historical reasons, as “universities,” even though this word originally referred to places of higher learning and a free exchange of ideas.

Like other esoteric cults, progressives are characterized by a religion that requires its practitioners to simultaneously believe in contradictory principles. This religion is sometimes known as “Post-Modernism,” “Cultural Relativism,” “Deconstructionism,” etc. It also has a ladies’ auxiliary known as “Radical Feminism,” a blackface version known as “Critical Race Theory,” and other splinter offshoots. For purposes of clarity we might refer to all of these simply as “progressivism.” All forms of progressivism share one basic principle: the absence of objective truth. This doesn’t mean that everything is equally true. It just means that truth can not be arrived at by objective means. Rather, truth is an inherent property of the group that is denied to all others.

The progressive Truth is above all a moral truth, which is one of the reasons for its appeal. Since there is no objectivity, reality is perceived to be a series of “social constructions” or “narratives,” corresponding to the interests of one group or another. This means that any facts that seem to contradict the progressive Truth can be ascribed to the “constructions” of hostile factions. Even if such facts are widely affirmed by the public, this can not be due to the independent experiences and observations of large numbers of people, but can only be due to the influence of powerful interest groups. In the progressive construction of reality, inconvenient facts don’t exist, and more suitable facts do. Since the progressive Truth is, by definition, morally superior to all other truths, it follows that the progressive construction of reality that affirms it is preferable to all other constructions of reality. This is how facts are determined in a philosophical system that doesn’t allow them to be determined independently.

Just as reality may not be determined impartially, reason too is simply a property of the group. There is no objective reason. Contradictions that serve the group and its truth are reasonable, while any other reason is not reasonable. Thus it is possible to remain “non-judgmental” while condemning all those who disagree with you, on the grounds that they are “judgmental.” It is possible to insist that all cultures should be equally valued, while idealizing some and vilifying others. It is possible to deconstruct all literary and political texts, reducing them to the prejudices and ulterior motives of their authors, except for the works of the deconstructionist authors, which contain no prejudices or ulterior motives worth speaking of.

But if all facts are malleable and all reason may be circular, what sense does it make to talk about morality? If morality is relative, then anything is as good as anything else. Yet moral superiority in the absolute sense is the cornerstone of progressive self-justification. So morality can‘t be relative, it just doesn’t concern facts or even common sense, but only group affiliation. Like reality itself, morality can’t be determined impartially.

But if morality is a property of the group and reality is the projection of political influence, what can it possibly mean to advocate policies intended to “make the world a better place”? This can not mean “the world” in the objective sense or “a better place” in the (impartially determined) moral sense. To progressives, the world is only real as defined by political “constructions” and the only morality is defined by group affiliation. Under these conditions, “making the world a better place” reduces to increasing the political power of group members.

Any survey of progressive causes reveals a callous disregard for truth and reason in the impartially determined sense, but a consistency in seeking to accumulate political power under the banner of Truth and Reason as defined by group affiliation. It doesn’t matter if these policies actually lead to the opposite results of what they claim. The more power the group accumulates, the more influential are its “narratives” by which facts are magically redefined. A world where the group is more powerful is “a better place” by definition. In this way, for example, it is claimed that lower standards in education will produce higher results. Preferential hiring policies will lead to harmony between the races. Banning the operation of modern factories in poor countries will improve the economic conditions of the people living there. It makes sense to advocate peace in the face of those who have just declared war on you, etc.

To outsiders, these contradictions are presented as a superior moral achievement, a sort of intellectual emperor’s news clothes: “Can’t you believe in a contradiction for the sake of the poor oppressed minorities?” You will occasionally see honest people with pained looks on their faces, trying to defend these self-defeating conundrums, suppressing their own intelligence in the hopes of obtaining some sense of moral salvation. Why do they do this? One might equally well ask why hard-working peasants and townspeople in the middle ages paid good money to clergymen to pray for their souls, or why members of some voodoo-based religious groups fear for their health when they hear that the witch-doctor has cast a spell on them.

There are no pained expressions, however, on the faces of the initiated. For them, it is the belief in contradictions that liberates them from being mere unwashed mortals and elevates them into the inner sanctum of the progressive mind. This has a parallel with many esoteric religious cults of the past. Marxists believed that every element in the universe contains its own opposite. Some messianic Jewish and Christian cults believed that that which is prohibited by the scriptures (murder, adultery, incest, etc.) is permitted or even incumbent on them. The belief in contradictions also gives the initiated power over the common man. It is the supreme test of submission to the will of the group that nullifies the individual’s independence of thought. In the novel 1984, Winston Smith observes that “Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4.” “No,” he is told, “sometimes, for the purposes of the party, it is necessary that it equal five.”

And like so many other social groups bonded by irrationality, hatred, and thought control, progressives don’t particularly like Jews. Anti-Semitism as such is neither a tenet of the progressive faith nor a progressive policy objective. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly ubiquitous in both the structure and content of progressive discourse. The anti-Semitism of the progressive horde preserves certain elements of the medieval-religious, Nazi-racial, and Soviet-socialist anti-Semitisms of the past. But as a whole it differs from each of them and perhaps deserves a name of its own: “progressive anti-Semitism.”

Structurally, every crude anti-Semitic stereotype and conspiracy theory has resurfaced in progressive discourse. These include: the parasitic middleman, the soulless businessman who worships money as a god, the plotter of world domination, the brainwashing media mogul, the ritual slaughterer of the innocent. Many of these symbols have been wholly or partially dejudaized, but the portraits are recognizable. Much of the new pseudo-religion of environmentalism is a dejudaized version of “the Jews are poisoning the wells.” And what is C. Wright Mills’s The Power Elite but a secularized, footnoted, referenced Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

But these petty paranoias pale in comparison to the anti-globalization campaign, a sort of greatest hits of all the conspiracy theories the world has ever known. Again we are treated to the greedy fat man, ready to carve up the world with a knife and fork, or the slimy octopus, stretching its tentacles around the earth in a stranglehold. All of these, aside from the “WTO” and “IMF” monikers that have replaced the old six-pointed star, are accurate replicas of both Nazi and Soviet anti-Semitic propaganda. Many of these images figure prominently in anti-globalist educational materials, but they also represent the total complexity of anti-globalist arguments quite well. Beyond the structural similarity, they reflect the same willful, hate-fueled simplifications about the world. After all, was Goebbels’ only travesty in saying that the bloodsuckers who control the world happened to be Jewish? Indeed, the rallying of Neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist groups to the anti-globalist movement does not seem to be a cause for reflection in progressive circles. Lenin once remarked that anti-Semitism was the Socialism of fools. It seems that Anti-Globalism represents true progress over Socialism, it is the anti-Semitism of sophisticates.

Progressive manipulation of minority issues and surrogate spokesmanship for the minorities themselves is also lopsided in a telltale direction. While the progressive industry toils night and day to manufacture ever more oppressed minority groups whose suffering demands unlimited redress, even to the point of overriding democracy and the rule of law, Jews just never seem to come due even a brief mention. While Jews have indeed done OK for themselves, even without the benefit of the sycophantic posturing of progressives, do they really merit no suffrage compared to certified grade A oppressed minorities such as bisexuals and the “differently abled”?

It seems that the ultimate criterion for victim-certification is not based on the particulars of your victimization, but on your willingness to submit all avenues of redress and strategic planning to progressive parties. You must be made a mascot of. You can be a militant mascot, just as long as you act out the progressive pageant of militant mascotdom, and the more self-defeating your militancy, the better. Any victim who misbehaves by showing too much fortitude, or who places their own real needs above the symbolic needs of the progressives, may have their victimhood revoked. Victimhood, just like truth, can’t be determined impartially. Victimhood is not a condition that can be independently determined to apply to an individual or group. Rather, victimhood is a property that is assigned by the group in accordance with “narratives” that are conducive to its political truth. This is necessary so that the Truth is protected from hostile “narratives” i.e., realities, that threaten it.

This is why progressives had so much trouble expressing even the simplest forms of sympathy for the Americans killed in the September 11th attacks, let alone realizing why it is desirable to make the organizers of the attacks accountable and to take steps that such attacks are not possible again. Even more problematic than progressive admiration for the attackers was the fact that by current progressive victimhood allocations, Americans were not defined to be victims. This meant Americans could not be victims, regardless of facts, which are merely “socially constructed.”

Finally, and not at all surprisingly, we have the vilification of the state of Israel, its nationals, and effectively all Jews who do not make a point of denouncing it on a regular basis, which is to say most Jews. No, of course anti-Zionism isn’t the same as anti-Semitism, but it’s sure a darn good excuse for it. If anti-globalism is anti-Semitism with the Jewish stars cosmetically removed, anti-Zionism is not even that. You can leave the stars on, and it goes without saying that the fangs on the hook-nosed goblins can still drip blood, etc. All you need to do is remember to specify, if you are ever asked, that you are merely referring to Israeli government policy. No American country club has yet announced: “Positively no Jews admitted, but only because we are protesting Israeli government policy,” but this has already happened in France.

By definition, Jews can never be victims. But just as victimhood is a group property assigned by fiat, so is villainhood. As long as Israel fails to unconditionally concede to all demands made on it by all parties and to instantaneously right every wrong of the last hundred years at its own expense, often to the very real benefit of its enemies, it remains in a state of existential culpability. This means that it has only itself to blame for any attack, however sadistic and however politically pointless, made on it by anyone at anytime. It also precludes the right to self-defense, since if you are evil by definition, even a defensive act is aggression. Subsequently, your assailants, however fanatical and however truly reactionary in every other sense, qualify as freedom fighters on the grounds that they oppose aggression. Any attempt to make such assailants accountable is of course doubly offensive, it is not only persecution, but the persecution of freedom fighters.

Just as official victimhood status absolves any wrongdoing on the part of any individual member of the official victim group, so Israeli original sin implicates Israelis personally as well as Jews in other countries who support Israel to some extent or other. The views or considerations of these individuals matter little. As long as the great iniquity remains in effect, Jews are not granted a national affinity of the type routinely accorded to other groups, since this would be an identity based on injustice. They are not entitled to comfort each other in time of grief, since that would be comfort for cruelty, or to qualify their introspection with a will to survive, because that would be the survival of oppression. Until cosmic justice is implemented wholesale, the only acceptable national identity for Jews is to oppose evil Israel, or else forfeit their status as normal human beings.

Such positions are held to be only anti-Zionism and not anti-Semitism because of the promise that as soon as Israel becomes more perfect than Utopia, Jews will promptly have their humanity restored to them. Until then, they are asked to commit what must look to many of them like mass suicide for the sake of social justice and human rights. It might be interesting to conduct a poll among Jews asking which cause they prefer dying for: avenging the death of Christ, preserving Aryan racial purity, or “making the world a better place.”

It may still be too early to see, but the day can’t be too far off when the evil incarnate that is Israel and international Jewish support for it is linked to some of the plethora of other conspiracy theories circulating in the progressive world. Perhaps an early warning sign of this trend is the tendency of UN and NGO-oriented “Human Rights” conferences to focus more and more exclusively on Israel as the crux of all human rights violations. The readiness of progressives to blame Israelis for the September 11 attacks in the United States may already constitute a spreading of this tendency to other issues. It is only a few particularly pro-Arab progressives who have gone so far as to suggest that Israelis themselves carried out the attacks (a theory with wide circulation in the Arab world). Many progressives, however, insist that the attacks were a natural result of Israeli policies. This despite the fact that the attackers themselves seem to assign no weight at all to Israeli policies, or even much to the Arab-Israeli conflict in general. This is not even to mention the problem of moral equivalence or the question of choice on the part of the attackers. Time will tell if this the-Jews-did-it reflex will spread to additional issues or not.

Progressive anti-Semitism does have one noticeable feature that sets it apart from other anti-Semitisms: The Holocaust. Progressives just love the holocaust. They forever hold it up as an example of what will happen if their cries are not heeded. Every Jew murdered in the holocaust is another reason for you to support progressives today. But remember, in the words of progressives themselves, this, like all other “narratives,” is merely a social construction, in this case one that serves the progressive cause. While the Jews at the time of their deaths over half a century ago were supposedly victims of anti-progressive forces, most Jews who have had the audacity to survive until the present day are brutal murderers and evil capitalists. In fact, most Jews killed the in Holocaust were either religious, Zionists, or businessmen, and would have certainly come in for the same treatment at the hands of progressives as their surviving descendants do today. This is indeed the way they were portrayed by progressives before and during WWII, when progressives supported Hitler in his alliance with Stalin and protested both “imperialist” America and Britain entering the war. It was only after the war that the Holocaust was recognized (with the necessary modifications) as a useful “narrative.” For progressives, it seems the only good Jew is literally a dead one.

Another aspect in which progressive anti-Semitism differs from Nazi anti-Semitism and more closely resembles medieval anti-Semitism is the possibility of conversion. The Nazis sought to murder all persons of Jewish lineage, regardless of religion. The medieval clerics, excepting a few extreme cases like the Spanish Inquisition at its worst moments, allowed Jews the option of being “saved” by accepting the faith of the true church. Once converted, their lives were no longer in danger. However, they were still kept distinct from other gentiles and had to renounce and denigrate their former co-religionists continuously, in order to prove that their conversions had not been for convenience’s sake, and that they had not “lapsed.” As a result, a large number of the various blood-libels and anti-Semitic tracts that plagued Jews throughout the middle ages were in fact penned by converts.

Similarly, present-day Jews have the option of joining the ranks of the progressives. They remain similarly distinct from other progressives and must continually prove their sincerity. A gentile progressive may devote his or her efforts to the progressive issues of their choice, and is relatively free to spend less time and effort on other issues. A Jewish convert to progressivism, on the other hand, must devote a certain amount of his or her activities to attacking Israel and condemning other Jews who don’t. As a result, a disproportionate amount of present-day anti-Semitic literature is penned by progressive Jews.

This situation might change, however, were the progressives to attain any real political power. The Bolsheviks also began by offering Jews membership on the condition that they renounce their faith and national aspirations and persuade other Jews to do likewise. Subsequently, many of the original Bolshevik leaders were Jews. After the revolution, though, all Jews were purged from the party leadership and the Soviet state resumed the anti-Semitic propaganda Bolsheviks had originally condemned under the Czars.

So what do progressives really want? They claim to strive for the unity of mankind, and yet they constantly seek to fragment humanity into ever smaller groups and to incite these groups against each other. They claim to support the poor, yet they advocate endless dependency and oppose economic growth. They claim to teach peace, yet they glorify and romanticize tyrants and terrorists. They claim to preach humanism, yet their sermonizing is full of hatred.

A more reliable picture of the world progressives dream of may be found not in what they claim to want, but in their attitude to society at large. They are an esoteric group of highly educated teachers and writers, who preach that ordinary mortals with their “common” sense are incapable of achieving a correct interpretation of the world they live in. They preach that it is only they, the anointed ones, who possess access to the one true path of moral salvation. They preach a renunciation of reason and a severing of allegiances to other religions and to the state. They preach total intellectual and political submission to their own clerical elite. This is more or less the privileged position of the clergy of the middle ages.

Many of the worst features of medieval society: mass poverty, divisive hatred, and malignant superstition, are also the end results of most policies favored by progressives. That is not to say that progressives are specifically interested in bringing about such results. This is simply the natural outcome in any society where an intellectual-religious elite subjugates the majority by denying them free discourse and claiming a monopoly on morality and wisdom. Similar societies have been brought into being in the 20th century in the Soviet Union, and later in revolutionary Iran. As with the medieval clergy and our beloved progressives, anti-Semitism has also flourished in these cases, even where it was not originally a goal.

The historical irony is that it is “progressives” who are hankering for days long gone of clerical rule, a frightened, illiterate populace, and throwing Jews down wells when things go wrong. At the same time, much of the rest of humanity has truly progressed, despite their “progressive” intellectual betters. It is no accident that in America, the most successful, politically stable, and least anti-Semitic country in the world, progressives remain isolated and irrelevant.

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