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The original trilogy, released between 1994–1998.
|Author||Kevin B. MacDonald|
|Publisher||1st Books Library
Washington Summit Publisher
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
|Part of a series on|
Part of Jewish history
|History · Timeline · Resources|
The Culture of Critique series is a series of books by Kevin B. MacDonald on the motivations behind Jewish conspiracies and culture, the causes of antisemitism, and Jewish control or influence in government policy and political movements. The civil rights organizations Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League consider the series to be anti-semitic in nature.
The first three books constitute what is known as MacDonald's "trilogy." This trilogy he describes Judaism as a "group evolutionary strategy" to enhance the ability of Jews to out-compete non-Jews for resources. He argues that Judaism fosters in Jews a series of marked genetic traits, including above-average verbal intelligence and a strong tendency toward collectivist behavior. MacDonald also notes a negative shift in tone from the first book to the third, and attributes it to having learned more, read more, and "changed greatly" in that time. Macdonald's trilogy has been described as significant for "its potential to forge a standardized anti-Semitic critique in the far right."
MacDonald describes Judaism as having (or constituting) a "group evolutionary strategy" aimed to limit exogamy, enforce cultural segregation, promote in-group charity and economic cooperation, and regulate in-group marriage and births to achieve high levels of intelligence, resource acquisition ability, parenting care, and group allegiance. He examines evidence from Jewish history, culture, and genetics in support of his thesis, arguing that Judaism is based on a strong and possibly genetically based predisposition to ethnocentrism characteristic of Middle Eastern cultures generally but exacerbated as a result of selective effects resulting from Jewish cultural practices. He analyses the use of the complex and extensive Jewish scriptures and the high prestige of Rabbinic learning as eugenic mechanisms for promoting Jewish verbal intelligence and dexterity.
Building on his work in A People that Shall Dwell Alone, MacDonald examines antisemitism as a test case for an evolutionary analysis of ethnic conflict in general, applying social identity theory to three critical periods of institutionalized antisemitism: the Roman Empire in the fourth century; the Iberian inquisitions from the fourteenth century; and German Nazism in the period 1933-45. He argues that antisemitism can be analysed as a consequence of resource competition between groups in which each group is rationally pursuing its own interests, rather than as a manifestation of irrational malice by non-Jewish out-groups, and concludes that Jews, particularly strongly identified Jews, will be relatively prone to self-deception by ignoring or rationalizing negative information about themselves and their in-group. Finally, he discusses whether Judaism has ceased to be an evolutionary strategy because of the current levels of intermarriage among some groups of diaspora Jews, arguing that it has not ceased to be so and that it continues to flourish.
MacDonald examines Boasian anthropology, political radicalism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, and The New York Intellectuals, arguing that Jews dominated these intellectual movements and that a strong sense of Jewish identity was characteristic of the great majority of the individuals in these movements.
He argues that these individuals were pursuing an ethnic agenda in establishing and participating in them, yet he stresses that the Jewish community does not constitute a unified movement and that only a small and elite minority of that community participated in these movements.
Nevertheless, he alleges Jewish efforts to shape United States immigration policy in opposition to the interests of the peoples of non-Jewish European descent, particularly the peoples of Northern and Western Europe. He concludes the book by claiming that intellectual movements he examines are movements that are either Jewish by nature or Jewish-controlled, and that these movements are associated with the deaths of millions of people: "In the 20th century many millions of people have been killed in the attempt to establish Marxist societies based on the ideal of complete economic and social leveling, and many more millions of people have been killed as a result of the failure of Jewish assimilation into European societies ... the result has been a widening gulf between the cultural successes of Jews and Gentiles and a disaster for society as a whole."
Describing the evolution of his thinking over the course of his writing the trilogy, MacDonald says in his preface to the paperback edition of The Culture of Critique:
With introduction by the late Samuel T. Francis, Understanding Jewish Influence outlines what MacDonald claims are the "background traits" of Jewish influence. MacDonald describes these roots as consisting of:
Slate magazine carried an article by Judith Shulevitz, then Art and Entertainment editor of the Culturebox, entitled "Evolutionary Psychology's Anti-Semite," which was followed up by several letters continuing the discussion, and an extended rebuttal by MacDonald. According to Shulevitz, MacDonald's arguments are prescriptive: "Toward the end of the third book, MacDonald lays out his solution for restoring what he calls 'parity' between the Jews and other ethnic groups: systematic discrimination against Jews in college admission and employment and heavy taxation of Jews 'to counter the Jewish advantage in the possession of wealth'". MacDonald replied that in the actual passage from The Culture of Critique quoted by Shulevitz, he was speaking hypothetically of the consequences of competition between ethnic groups of differing abilities.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an institute that monitors neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, has said of MacDonald that "he put the anti-Semitism under the guise of scholarly work... Kevin MacDonald’s work is nothing but gussied-up anti-Semitism. At base it says that Jews are out to get us through their agenda ... His work is bandied about by just about every neo-Nazi group in America."
The Anti-Defamation League has included MacDonald in its list of American extremists, Extremism in America, and written a report on MacDonald's views and ties. According to the ADL, MacDonald's views on Jews mimic those of anti-Semites from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Academic Jaff Schatz has accused MacDonald of misrepresenting and misusing his work. David Lieberman, a Holocaust researcher at Brandeis University, has published a paper alleging that MacDonald has distorted evidence and chosen evidence selectively for rhetorical purposes.
John Tooby, past president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society and a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, insists that MacDonald is not an evolutionary psychologist, and that he advocates models incorporating "group-selection theory", a generally discredited view of natural selection.
In a letter to Slate Magazine, Harvard University psychology professor Steven Pinker maintained that he has not read MacDonald's books because his theses were unable to pass the threshold of attention-worthiness:
MacDonald's ideas, as presented in summaries that would serve as a basis for further examination, do not pass that threshold, for many reasons: 1. By stating that Jews promulgate scientific hypotheses because they are Jewish, he is engaging in ad hominem argumentation that is outside the bounds of normal scientific discourse and an obvious waste of time to engage. MacDonald has already announced that I will reject his ideas because I am Jewish, so what's the point of replying to them? 2. MacDonald's main axioms - group selection of behavioral adaptations, and behaviorally relevant genetic cohesiveness of ethnic groups -- are opposed by powerful bodies of data and theory, which Tooby, Cosmides, and many other evolutionary psychologists have written about in detail. Of course any assumption can be questioned, but there are no signs that MacDonald has taken on the burden of proof of showing that the majority view is wrong. 3. MacDonald's various theses, even if worthy of scientifically debate individually, collectively add up to a consistently invidious portrayal of Jews, couched in value-laden, disparaging language. It is impossible to avoid the impression that this is not an ordinary scientific hypothesis. 4. The argument, as presented in the summaries, fail two basic tests of scientific credibility: a control group (in this case, other minority ethnic groups), and a comparison with alternative hypotheses (such as Thomas Sowell's convincing analysis of "middlemen minorities" such as the Jews, presented in his magisterial study of migration, race, conquest, and culture).
Reviewing MacDonald's A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy in The Jewish Quarterly Review, Sander Gilman, professor of the Liberal Arts and Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago describes MacDonalds arguments about a Jewish group evolutionary strategy as "bizarre". According to Gilman, "MacDonald recasts all of the hoary old myths about Jewish psychological difference and its presumed link to Jewish superior intelligence in contemporary sociobiological garb". Gilman also charges that "MacDonald manipulates his sources rather shamelessly", including Gilman’s own work. Gilman concludes that MacDonald's book "is the most recent chapter in the continued myth-building concerning Jewish superior intelligence and achievement. It is, like the numerous earlier works, of interest in how positive images turn into the means by which Jewish difference is stressed and Jewish acculturation is shown to be pathological".
Reviewing Macdonald’s A People That Shall Dwell Alone in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Eugen Schoenfeld, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Georgia State University, noted that "the book is controversial, not only because of its theoretical approach, but also, and perhaps primarily, because of sloppy scholarship". Schoenfeld writes that Macdonald "selects historical incidents that can be used to support his thesis and conveniently omits others that challenge his thesis." Schoenfeld points to what he sees as Macdonald"s "unfamiliarity with both the sociological frame of reference and historical knowledge", and as an example, notes that Macdonald's comparison of Jewish collectivism during the biblical period with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English individualism "indicates a total ignorance of the impact of industrialization on Western societies".
Reviewing Macdonald’s Separation and Its Discontents in the American Jewish Society Review in 2000, Zev Garber, Professor of Jewish Studies at Los Angeles Valley College, writes that MacDonald works from the assumption that the dual Torah is the blueprint of the eventual Jewish dominion over the world and that he sees contemporary anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and attacks against Israel as "provoked by Jews themselves. In this scenario, Jews imagine themselves as innocent victims of hatred and violence". Garber concludes that Macdonald's "rambling who-is-who-isn't roundup of Jews responsible for the 'Jewish Problem' borders on the irrational and is conducive to misrepresentation".
John Tooby, the founder of MacDonald's field (evolutionary psychology), criticized MacDonald in an article for Salon.com in 2000. He wrote, "MacDonald's ideas — not just on Jews — violate fundamental principles of the field."
MacDonald has replied to Tooby, Pinker, Schatz, and Lieberman on his website. In May, 2006, MacDonald responded in FrontPage Magazine to charges of anti-Semitism made by FrontPage Magazine editor Jacob Laksin.
Dan Kriegman, founder of the Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Institute of New England produced a 50-page analysis criticizing MacDonald's work as "pseudo-scientific theorizing." He wrote that MacDonald "believes his own nonsense." Kriegman remarked in an email, "MacDonald is not the first person to avoid the narcissistic injury of having his ideas rejected by concluding that there was a conspiracy against him rather than becoming aware of the substandard nature [as evidenced in his trilogy] of his thinking."
A History Professor at MacDonald's university, Don Schwarz called MacDonald's claims about Jewish history "unsupportable." Philosophy Professor Warren Weinstein said that MacDonald's work was not science at all, but "something else, masquerading as science." "It is in the great tradition of Nazi and Stalinist science which clearly and scientifically proved that their respective insanities were objectively true and defensible," he added.
John Hartung, the associate editor of the Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology and an associate professor of anesthesiology at the State University of New York said that MacDonald's The Culture of Critique was "quite disturbing, seriously misinformed about evolutionary genetics, and suffering from a huge blind spot about the nature of Christianity."
In a review in the journal Shofar, reviewer Jefferson A. Singer wrote that he considered the book to be " written out of a deep and destructive hatred for Jews," and questioned the editorial policy of the books' publisher, Praeger, in "bringing a book of such dubious scientific merit to a larger audience and in giving it an air of legitimacy it does not deserve."
MacDonald states on his website that he has been the target of a campaign by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and others to smear his reputation. MacDonald also has taken exception to the generally negative characterization of himself and his ideas on both Wikipedia entries of his name.
John Tooby said 'the fact that MacDonald disagrees with evolutionary psychology's claims and principles does not necessarily make him wrong. It just makes him not an evolutionary psychologist.' MacDonald responded, 'Tooby states that I am not an evolutionary psychologist and that I am a fringe scientist. These are very troubling statements highly reminiscent of typical behavior in political organizations, not scientific ones.' Journalist Steve Sailer stated, "it looks like Tooby has rendered Evolutionary Psychology's claim to be a legitimate branch of science kaput. Tooby appears to believe that it is his personal intellectual property. If so, he should not have given it the generic scientific name 'evolutionary psychology', but instead should have given it a personal or ideologically-descriptive name like 'Toobyism' or 'Politically Correct Darwinism'."
On a personal note, it is overdue that John Tooby and Steven Pinker applied their professional skills seriously to critique MacDonald's work in the appropriate scientific forums. This now seems obligatory as a matter of professional duty given the severity of their attack on a colleague who has refrained from ad hominems throughout this sorry event. Still, it is now too late to reverse the harm done to both MacDonald's and probably HBES's reputation by what can only be judged reckless, unscholarly, and plain uncivil slurs. For these they should apologize....