Antisemitism – a theory of its cause
by Richard Conricus
The expression antisemitism appeared for the first time in 1882 in Europe. It was probably invented to be used instead of the blatant expression anti-Jewness, which in itself is based on a religious conviction that Jews were wrong and that Christians, and later Muslims – who six hundred years later presented their version of Monotheism – were right. Anti-Judaism has however a longer history, dating back to pre-Christian Greece and Rome, and was primarily of ethnic nature. Later expressions of racial, political, social and economic antisemitism are well known and I will only briefly deal with this phenomenon.
During three centuries (300–600 C.E.), a new pattern of institutionalized discrimination against Jews became present: Jews were forbidden to marry Christians (399 C.E.), were prohibited from holding positions in government (439 C.E.) and were prevented from appearing as witnesses against Christians in court (531 C.E.). As Jews were officially being ostracized, certain bizarre fantasies about Jews arose in Northern Europe that foreshadowed the antisemitism of the 20thcentury. It was alleged that Jews had horns and tails and engaged in ritual murder of Christians.
In 1095, Pope Urban II made a general appeal to the Christians of Europe to take up the cross and sword and liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims, beginning what was to be known as the Crusades. The religious fervor that drove men, and later even children, on the Crusades was to have direct consequences for Jews. The Crusader army, which more closely resembled a mob, swept through Jewish communities, looting, raping and massacring Jews as they went along. Thus the pogrom—the organized massacre of a targeted group of people—was born.
The continuing expressions of anti-Judaism are well known, and I will instead concentrate on – in my opinion – the fundamental reason for antisemitism, namely the idea of chosenness. This idea emerged very late in the history of mankind, at around 1000 B.C.E., and was written down in its canonized form as late as around 700 B.C.E.
I would like to state that proclaiming chosenness is in conflict with the human brain’s evolutionary constitution.
In the emerging civilizations 6000 years ago between Eufrates and Tigris, peaceful nomadism with equality within the group was replaced with martial settled life, which made people behave differently. Man partly inherited morality, weighted lightly among those who achieved better hierarchical positions whether it was due to material wealth, social position or successful war.
Gone was the hitherto 100.000 years of loosely-knit groups of 20-25 people to a maximum of 200 headed villagers respectully worshiping nature, and with the elaborate and well-functioning law of Jante. The term Jante refers to a mentality that de-emphasizes individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers. In a Jante community people socialized under constant talking, dancing, singing, and devoted only about three hours a day for work. In contrast, the new community turned into a hierarchical management, where the accumulation of wealth became the fashion and inequality between citizens was cemented.
Thus, successful men became the role model – we have now entered an era where women were subdued and even demonized. Which did not prevent opposition, even from a local king: King Urukagina in the capital Girshu of the city-state Lagash around 2350 B.C.E. (Mesopotamia in present Iraq) who averred in the world´s oldest reform text that he would protect society´s poor, widows and orphans. He reacted to the power advantage of the strong, and he wanted to create a fairer society that defended the weaker citizens.
The pantheon of those days city-states were very diversified, and each city had its own god and high priest(ess). No one was superior to the other, which however did not prevent competition between the followers in marketing his/her god as the best one, as told in the story of goddess Inana and how she received the primal creative universal energy, “Me”, from the wisdom god Enki. The high priestess Enheduana of the Nanna moon temple, who lived during the dawn of patriarchy, therefore considered Inana to be the supreme god.
However, an atmosphere of compromises was the rule as laid out in the following ancient Sumerian text about the position of different gods:
“My father is just as good as your father: Inana, let us talk it over! My mother is just as good as your mother: Ninegala, let us discuss it together!
In such an environment it was probably impossible to try to implement the idea that an individual god or inhabitants of a certain city would have been chosen among others.
We do not know how successful king Urukagina was during his lifetime to implement his protection plan for the poor, widows and orphans, but around 100 years later a new phenomenon emerged on the stage of civilisation, when raw physical power was idealized and even attributed god-like power. This happened when the semite Naram-Sin, around 2200 B.C.E., proclaimed himself being a god. He thus initiated the biggest paradigm shift in human relations: god on earth. One potent ruler, who paved the way of the idea of one omnipotent ruler in heaven.
Unlike his grandfather Sargon the Great, who submitted to the will of the gods, Naram-Sin broke of almost all that had hitherto been considered sacred. From being the recipient of the will of gods, Naram-Sin instead proclaimed himself to be divine, and from him divine decrees were spoken. In one move, people’s perception of the pantheon and its relation to man was changed! This is perhaps not so surprising given that the “Me” hierarchically positioned priests(esses) higher than the gods. What it definitely meant was that man then could declare ideas as if they were of divine origin and therefore should be obeyed by the congregation: a marketing ploy that ever since conquered most of Homo sapiens’ domains around the world.
Monotheism, based on the idea of one God and one ethnic chosen group to spread the divine decrees, was to be born a millennium later.
Monotheism was obviously in the beginning considered to be a good idea, based on the fact that it took hold among the pagan worshippers, but the idea should later on be proven disastrous, as the human brain’s evolutionary constitution is destined to object the idea that only one perception is the right one. Thus, anti-Judaism and later antisemitism surfaced from the depth of envy, urge, superstition and misunderstandings.
Finally a note on brainwashing, which I think explains another dimension of antisemitism: A first step is to isolate a person or group of people and control what information they receive. Their former beliefs need to be challenged by creating uncertainty. New messages need to be repeated endlessly. And the whole thing needs to be done in a pressured, emotional environment. Thus individuals, ethnic groups and whole nations can be controlled and turned into puppets of rulers or religious establishments, and make ordinary people believe in almost anything.