• Jewish immigrants in 20th century English academic life

Jewish Immigrants in 20th Century English Academic Life. Contrasted with the USA

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Most of this extracted from Perry Anderson, Components of the National Culture, from Student Power, Edited by A Cockburn & R Blackburn, a 1969 Penguin paperback.
v. 6 May 2016 11:51

[Anderson's essay begins with a long passage on the Victorian British intelligentsia and politicians, dominated, he thinks, by a small number of families, supposedly in a tranquil 'provincial' country - 'a panorama emptied of profound intellectual upheaval or incendiary social conflict'. Anderson lists 'intellectuals', all, or virtually all, Jews, though of course the word 'Jew' is never mentioned. The influence of Jews on Britain's finances and war effort isn't mentioned either - part of the motive force behind the empire, wars, the US civil war, is completely missing. There's no discussion of the Jewish coup which devastated Russia. Science frauds, such as nuclear and biological issues, of course aren't mentioned. Nor are trade unions and 'Communist' (Jewish) influences.
    There's a much-promoted idea that the 1960s were influenced heavily by the Vietnam War. However, the issue was used mainly by Jews in their own perceived interests: there's nothing in this book on war profiteers in the USA, war crimes and international law, paper money and Jews and inflation, the use of US troops to make money for Jews. The two editors must be counted as 'useful idiots', front men paid and published by Jews.
    The lists Anderson presents are of interest as a parallel to the names of influential Jews in the USA over the same period, discussed for example by Kevin MacDonald. Anderson thinks they are 'white'—not meaning white Russian, but Jews anxious to move from continental Europe. Many names are omitted—a few examples at random of these are A J Ayer, Jonathan Miller, Rosenthal (an opera writer), John Berger (art critic), Nikolaus Pevsner (architecture historian). Anderson does not examine financial motives of academics; there's a British attitude (see for example Galsworthy) that most professors and writers were not well rewarded.

The ideological climate of this world has been vividly recalled by a latter-day admirer. Harrod's biography of Keynes opens with this memorable evocation:
If Cambridge combined a deep-rooted traditionalism with a lively progressiveness, so too did England. She was in the strongly upward trend of her material development; her overseas trade and investment were still expanding; the great pioneers of social reform were already making headway in educating public opinion. On the basis of her hardly won, but now solidly established, prosperity, the position of the British Empire seemed unshakeable. Reforms would be within a framework of stable and unquestioned social values. There was ample elbow-room for experiment without danger that the main fabric of our economic well-being would be destroyed. It is true that only a minority enjoyed the full fruits of this well-being; but the consciences of the leaders of thought were not unmindful of the hardships of the poor. There was great confidence that, in due course, by careful management, their condition would be improved out of recognition. The stream of progress would not cease to flow. While the reformers were most earnestly bent on their purposes, they held that there were certain strict rules and conventions which must not be violated; secure and stable though the position seemed, there was a strong sense that danger beset any changes.
... Such was the solid, normal world of the English intelligentsia before 1914.

The White Emigration
    Occupation, civil war and revolution were the continuous experience of continental Europe for the next three decades. ... not a single major social and political structure survived intact. Only two countries on the whole land-mass were left untouched, the small states of Sweden and Switzerland. Elsewhere, violent change swept every society in Europe ... The disintegration of the Romanov, Hohenzollern and Habsburg Empires, the rise of Fascism, the Second World War, and victory of Communism in Eastern Europe followed each other uninterruptedly. There was revolution in Russia, counter-revolution in Germany, Austria and Italy, occupation in France and civil war in Spain. ... England, meanwhile, suffered neither invasion nor revolution. No fundamental institutional change supervened from the turn of the century to the era of the Cold War. Geographical isolation and historical petrification appeared to render English society immutable. Despite two wars, its stability and security were never seriously ruffled. This history is so natural to most Englishmen, that they never registered how praeternatural it has seemed abroad.

    If one surveys the landscape of British culture at mid-century, what is the most prominent change that had taken place since 1900? It is so obvious, in effect, that virtually no one has noticed it. The phalanx of national intellectuals ... has been eclipsed. ... foreigners suddenly become omnipresent. The crucial, formative influences in the arc of culture with which we are concerned here are again and again emigres. Their quality and originality vary greatly, but their collective role is indisputable. The following list of maîtres d'ecole gives some idea of the extent of the phenomenon:

Ludwig WittgensteinPhilosophyAustria
Bronislaw Malinowski     AnthropologyPoland
Lewis NamierHistoryPoland
Karl PopperSocial TheoryAustria
Isaiah BerlinPolitical Theory     Russia
Ernst GombrichAestheticsAustria
Hans-Jurgen EysenckPsychologyGermany
Melanie KleinPsychoanalysisAustria
(Isaac DeutscherMarxismPoland)

... at the succeeding [i.e. post-1945 ish] level, the presence of expatriates is marked in economics ... Nicolas Kaldor (Hungary), ... Piero Sraffa (Italy). ... elsewhere - Gellner, Elton, Balogh, Von Hayek, Plamenatz, Lichtheim, Steiner, Wind, Wittkower and others.
    The contrast with the 'intellectual aristocracy' of 1900 is overwhelming. But what is its meaning? ... Britain is not traditionally an immigrants' country, like the USA. Nor was it ever host, in the nineteenth century, to European intellectuals rising to occupy eminent positions in its culture. ..." The wave of emigrants who came to England in this century were by and large fleeing the permanent instability of their own societies - that is, their proneness to violent, fundamental change. ... It is noticeable that there were many Austrians among those who chose Britain. It is perhaps significant that no important Germans did so, with the brief exception of Mannheim who had little impact. The Frankfurt School of Marxists, Marcuse, Adorno, Benjamin, Horkheimer and Fromm went to France and then to the USA. Neumann and Reich ... followed. Lukacs went to Russia. Brecht went to Scandinavia and then to America, followed by Mann. This was a 'Red' emigration, utterly unlike that which arrived here. [Notes by RW: the question of which Jews went to the USSR is not raised. Nor is the 'New School for Social Research' in New York, now 'The New School', which as a result of the G.I. Bill, and what later came to be called 'Holocaust' propaganda, and the huge expansion in what were called universities, was able to give out fake credentials to Jews from Europe, creating thousands of 'professors', and helping to make US education damagingly weak—a tradition showing no signs of reversal. The name 'School' itself is probably borrowed from 'schule', a German or Yiddish hybrid.]
    The intellectuals who settled in Britain were essentially a 'White', counterrevolutionary emigration. Namier, who was most lucid about the world from which he had escaped, expressed his hatred of it most deeply. He saw England as a land built on instinct and custom, free from the ruinous contagion of Europe - general ideas. He proclaimed 'the immense superiority which existing social forms have over human movements and genius, and the poise and rest which there are in a spiritual inheritance, far superior to the thoughts, will or invention of any single generation'.
    Established English culture naturally welcomed these unexpected allies. Every insular reflex and prejudice was powerfully flattered and enlarged in the magnifying mirror they presented to it. ... the unmistakable fact is that the traditional, discrete disciplines, having missed either of the great synthetic revolutions in European social thought, were dying of inanition. The English intelligentsia had lost its impetus. Already by the turn of the century, the expatriate supremacy of James and Conrad, Eliot and Pound - three Americans and a Pole - in the two great national literary forms foreshadowed later and more dramatic dispossessions. The last great products of the English intelligentsia matured before the First World War: Russell, Keynes and Lawrence. Their stature is the measure of the subsequent decline. After them, confidence and originality seeped away. ... Their qualities were, in fact, enormously uneven. Wittgenstein, Namier and Klein were brilliant originators; Malinowski and Gombrich honourable, but limited pioneers; Popper and Berlin fluent ideologues; Eysenck a popular publicist. The very heterogeneity of the individuals underlines the sociological point: no matter what the quantum of talent, any foreign background was an enormous advantage in the British stasis, and might make an intellectual fortune.
    The relationship between the expatriates [Jews] and the secular traditions they encountered was necessarily dialectical. British empiricism and conservatism was on the whole an instinctive, ad hoc affair. It shunned theory even in its rejection of theory. It was a style, not a method. The expatriate impact on this cultural syndrome was paradoxical. In effect, the emigrés for the first time systematized the refusal of system. They codified the slovenly empiricism of the past, and thereby hardened and narrowed it. They also, ultimately, rendered it more vulnerable. The transition from Moore to the early Wittgenstein exemplifies this movement. Wittgenstein's later philosophy reflects an awareness of the antinomy, and an attempt to retreat back to a nonsystematized empiricism, a guileless, unaggregated registration of things as they were, in their diversity. On the political plane proper, Popper's shrill advocacy of 'piecemeal social engineering' lent a somewhat mechanistic note to the consecrated processes of British parliamentarism. Apart from this aspect, however, the tremendous injection of life that emigré intelligence and élan gave a fading British culture is evident. Established British culture rewarded them amply for their services, with the appropriate apotheosis: Sir Lewis Namier, Sir Karl Popper, Sir Isaiah Berlin and (perhaps soon) Sir Ernst Gombrich.
    This was not just a passive acknowledgement of merit. It was an active social pact. Nothing is more striking than the opposite fate of the one great emigré intellectual whom Britain harboured for thirty years, who was a revolutionary. The structural importance of expatriates in bourgeois thought is confirmed by the ... ... Isaac Deutscher, the greatest Marxist historian in the world, .. A much larger figure than his compatriot Namier, .. reviled and ignored by the academic world throughout his life. He never secured the smallest university post. ..'
    Some dates: Klein was born 1882 in Vienna. Malinowski 1884 in Kraków. Namier 1888 near Lvov. Wittgenstein 1889 in Vienna. Popper 1902 in Vienna. Deutscher 1907 near Kraków. Berlin 1909 in Riga. Gombrich 1909 in Vienna. Eysenck 1916 in Berlin. ... 'Adorno spent two years in Oxford working on Husserl, unnoticed, before he went to America. A number of the greatest names in modern art spent a similar brief .. sojourn here before crossing the Atlantic to a more hospitable environment: Mondrian, Gropius, Moholy-Nagy and others. ...

Rae West notes:
The silence about Jews applies equally to the sciences: in particular nuclear science, where Hungarian Jews seem to have been exceptionally numerous on both sides of the Atlantic.

As regards 'intellectuals' in the don't-mention-Jews sense, it's perhaps worth mentioning H B Acton's 1955 book The Illusion of the Epoch: Marxism-Leninism as a Philosophical Creed. This Acton was 'Professor of Philosophy in the University of London'; his book was published by Cohen & West, a small publisher in (I'd guess) the same tradition as Lawrence & Wishart. It's curious to see Jewish influences (The Marxist Quarterly, Soviet Studies, Moscow's Foreign Languages Publishing House ...) at a time when there was intense nominal hostility to the USSR. The simple fact that there is no analysis of Jews or Judaism anywhere is proof these 'academics' were sidestepping and dodging, evading serious issues. Acton's contents list is:


Acton's 20-page conclusion is a dialogue between Reader and Author (and includes translations attributed to Stalin—a somewhat outmoded 'thinker'). It's amusing to see the way Acton discusses 'Marxists', as though these are some species whose puzzling but presumably self-consistent views perhaps can be elucidated by a philosophy professor. The last passage is: 'Author. Let me be briefer still and say that Marxism is a farrago.' Jews are mentioned nowhere in his text. This of course is something of a parallel to 20th-century USA.

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Edit, HTML, & Upload Rae West 25 July 2012 Acton note 18 June 2013 'New School' 6 May 2016