No. of Recommendations: 1
Or am I completely wrong?

Rereading Jean-Paul Sartre's essay Portrait of the Antisemite.

Enjoyable if at times silly and over the top, e.g...."The antisemite misunderstands the principle of the diverse forms of modern property....These are abstractions, things of reason which ally themselves to the abstract intelligence of the Jew." Explainable, I suppose, by the date of publication (1946) and Sartre's recent experience with the war and partisans and all that.

Anyway, if you find Sartre's main thesis and definition of the antisemite psychology mostly convincing (I do) than, I think, you have to conclude Bush, Sharon and many of the neocons (make what you will of that word), judged by their words, are by that definition antisemites.

Sartre, of course, first writes of the typical antisemitic opinion which he briefly details. But he says antisemitism is a passion and not just an intellectual failure but a psychological failure, the opinion not separable from the antisemite. He says,

"It becomes obvious that no external factor can induce antisemitism in the antisemite. It is an attitude totally and freely self-chosen, a global attitude which is adopted not only in regard to Jews but in regard to men in general, to history and society; it is a passion and at the same time a concept of the world".

So no surprise that the atheist existentialist says that it is a passion totally and freely chosen but it's also obvious where Sartre is headed. And then Sartre goes on to describe, he says, that psychology and that concept of the world.

The Jew must be free but

"....the freedom in question is carefully limited: the Jew is free to do evil, not good. He has only so much free will as is neccesary to bear the full responsibility of the crimes he commits, but not enough to be able to reform. Strange freedom, which instead of proceeding and constituting the essence, remains entirely subordinate to it, and which is but an irrational quality of it and yet remains freedom".

Says Sartre. But that's what it comes down to really. He writes,

"Thus, antisemitism is primarily Manicheanism; it explains the course of the world by the struggles between the principles of Good and Evil. There is no concievable truce between these two principles: one of them of neccesity must triumph and the other be destroyed."

That sounds familiar. And Sartre goes on,

" But above all, this naive dualism is eminently reassuring to the antisemite himself: if it is only a matter of getting rid of Evil, it means that Good is already assumed There is no reason to seek it in anguish, to invent it, to debate it patiently when one has found it, to prove it in action, to verify it's consequences and finally to saddle oneself with the respoinsibilities of the moral choice thus made. It is not by chance that the great antisemitic uprisings hide a kind of optimism: the antisemite has decided about evil so as to not have to decide about the good. The more absorbed I become in combating Evil, the less I am tempted to question the Good..."

After taking a brief psychoanalytic sidetrip through the sexual attraction connected with sadism that he thinks is part of the fascination and curiosity of evil (one can't help but think of the pictures) that lies behind the antisemitic psychology Sartre concludes.

"We can now understand him. He is a man who is afraid. Not of the Jews of course, but of himself, of his conscience, his freedom, of his instincts, of his responsibilities, of solitude, of change of society and the world; of everything except the Jews. He is a coward who does not want to admit of of his cowardice to himself; a murderer who represses and censures his penchant for murder without being able to restrain it and who nevertheless does not dare to kill except in effigy or in the anonymity of the mob; a malcontent who dares not revolt for fear of the consequences of his rebellion. By adhering to antisemitism he is not only adopting an opinion, he is choosing himself as a person. He is choosing the permanence and impenatrability of rock, the total irresponsibility of the warrior who obeys his leaders--and he has no leader. He chooses to acquire nothing, to deserve nothing but that everything be given him as his birthright--and he is not noble. He chooses finally, that good be ready-made, not in question, out of reach; he dare not look at it for fear of being forced to contest it and seek another form of it. The Jew is only a pretext: elsewhere it will be the Negro, the yellow race; the Jew's existence simply allows the antisemite to nip his anxieties in the bud by persuading himself that his place has always been cut out in the world, that it was waiting for him and that by virtue of tradition he has the right to occupy it. Antisemitism, in a word, is fear of man's fate. The antisemite is the man who wants to be pitiless stone, furious torrent, devastating lightning; in short, everything but a man."

Seems very familiar.

Jean-Paul Sartre, 1946.

Not saying one would want a hapless Hamlet in charge, of course. I just mean the psychology of this kind of thing:

An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror
by DAVID FRUM (Author), RICHARD PERLE (Author)


Two of your beter known (and typical) neocons setting out some pretty large, Manichean-type tasks but, apparently, providing some kind of prescription. Thank goodness.

No choice, anguish, despair or dread there, for sure. At least that I can see.

And the atheist Sartre might as well have called it Portrait of the Believer and pretty much ends up exactly where he intended to go. Despite all the talk of relentless choice. And the whole thing does seem a bit strange just having come off what was widely seen as that type of conflict where Good must completely eradicate Evil, once and for all. And there can be few things more existential than Israel itself.

But it still seems strange that the events of 9/11 and the response to it have been swept up in all this apocalyptic talk, from day one, because, I think, of a kind of cultural narccicism (a form of degeneracy) that a couple generations ago couldn't have imagined.

Think back to the history of the world or even or own history. The trouble and the gaping wound of the Civil War and how Lincoln dealt with that. No books on how to end Evil for all time, although it's true it was Americans battling Americans, for the most part, and that makes a difference I suppose.
Print the post  

Announcements

What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.