Friday, October 11, 2013
My friend Ralph Miliband and "genteel" anti-semitism in Britain
One can notice in the great T.S. Eliot's poems a certain would be English anti-semitism. Eliot was, despite his music, a Midwestern arriviste, seeking association with English royalism and, in "Gerontion," it is strong in the alliterative:
"My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London."
See here and here.
Anti-Jewish ideology is often a visceral thing in England (and in the American Mid-west, inter alia).
In 1965-66, I studied political sociology at the London School of Economics with Ralph Miliband. Miliband wrote Parliamentary Socialism, an analysis of how leftists come to power in democratic elections, and under pressures of governing a capitalist system with an already set and large bureaucracy, give up their leftism. It is as insightful about the Labor Party (and even prescient, sadly, about his sons, Ed and David, though Ed would do better than the austerity hawking and racist David Cameron) as it might be today in America on the failures, as measured by the decency of his campaigns, of Barack Obama. Be it noted, however, that Obama looks good in many respects, and so does Obamacare, the Heritage foundation proposal for extended health care coverage, taken up by Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, compared to the pseudo-"Republican" party and its analogous racism toward "the other," "a Kenyan anti-colonialist, Muslim, Communist, National Socialist, Socialist in the White House who lacks a birth certificate...".
Turn the coin and it is of you I speak...
The Daily Mail, edited and written for by two assimilating Jews, has defamed Miliband, given his prominent sons, for being a "Bolshevik." Ralph fought for Britain against the Nazis (did these "patriots"?). He also fought for changes to secure a common good for working people in Britain against the rapacious politics of the .0001% (we are now seeing what these policies mean in America where a default will mean the mudslide of the rest of the former middle class into poverty).
He analyzed the State in Capitalist Society, something that looks, given current control of the government by a handful of ultra-rich, grasping people and the desire to ravage social security or wrest even food stamps from poor children, prescient. Anti-Jewish ideology was also intimately linked, by Hitler and his fellow anti-semites, with anti-radical ideology. The aim was initially to block reform and ultimately to refashion the world (see here, here, here, here and here on Martin Heidegger). It is the purest and oldest of poisons...
Though the arrivistes who said these anti-semitic lines are of Jewish origin, what they spew is the pure stuff...
A Jew Not Quite English Enough
By ROGER COHEN
Published: October 7, 2013
LONDON — A 16-year-old Jew of working-class Polish descent flees Nazi-occupied Belgium at the last minute and, arriving in May 1940, finds refuge in Britain. He joins the Royal Navy and serves for three years, fighting to defeat Hitler and save stranded relatives, several of whom die in the Holocaust.
See the photograph here.
Damon Winter/The New York Times
A lifelong socialist — he had joined a socialist-Zionist youth group in Belgium before fleeing with his father — this young man goes on to a distinguished career as a writer and teacher, including a spell as a professor at Brandeis University [Ralph's long career was at the London School of Economics]. But he remains based in North London, deeply immersed in British left-wing circles and intellectual debate.
This is Ralph (born Adolphe) Miliband, the late father of David Miliband, Britain’s former foreign secretary, and of Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party. He is also, for that voice of the British conservative heartland, The Daily Mail, “The Man Who Hated Britain.”
The headline stood atop a recent piece that portrayed Ralph Miliband as a disloyal socialist. He is accused of “availing himself” of a good British education while criticizing the nationalism he encountered on arrival. He helped his father in “rescuing furniture from bombed houses in the Blitz.” He stood reverently at the grave of Karl Marx in north London. He denounced the Falklands War, even while — The Mail insinuates — scheming to avoid death duties on the family house in fashionable Primrose Hill, and suffered from a “giant-sized social chip on his shoulder” that explained his criticism of British institutions.
Sound familiar? The rootless Jewish Bolshevik who profits from others’ losses, shows no loyalty to the society in which he prospers, and devises clever two-faced financial maneuvers that demonstrate his essential hypocrisy: All this could of course have been borrowed from the Nazi propaganda Ralph Miliband fled as a young man.
No matter, for The Daily Mail, that the young Jewish immigrant put his life on the line for Britain. Jews also served Germany with distinction as officers during World War I, but their military decorations, displayed with pride in their Berlin living rooms, did not prove they were loyal Germans (even if they loved nothing more than Germany) and could not save them.
Ed Miliband reacted with fury to The Daily Mail’s slurs on his father. “I loved him and he loved Britain,” he wrote in a response published by the paper even as it defended in an editorial its attack on the man whose grave in Highgate Cemetery “lies 12 yards from the remains of Karl Marx.”
Miliband said of his father: “Like most refugees, the security of our country was really important to him. And like some refugees, he owed his life to it. So my Dad loved Britain, he served Britain, and he taught both David and me to do the same.”
The Labour leader steered clear of the evident Jewish stereotyping oozing from every insinuation in The Mail piece, which was written by a Jew, Geoffrey Levy, and defended most publicly by another Jew, The Mail’s deputy editor, Jon Steafel. For Levy and Steafel, in what the historian Lewis Namier characterized as the land of the “trembling Israelites,” Miliband was somehow not quite English enough. He was the Jewish communist outsider masquerading as an Englishman.
John Mann, a Labour member of Parliament and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, clarified the issue in a tweet. He called the attack on Ralph Miliband a “classical age-old anti-Semitic smear about disloyal Jews.”
Dressed up as a defense of British values — when in fact it was a demonstration of bigotry in a land of overriding tolerance — that is precisely what The Mail article was: a smear laden with stereotypes of the scheming Jew. The fact that it has scarcely been debated as such demonstrates the existence of a problem rather than its absence.
In his book “Anglomania,” Ian Buruma writes about his grandparents, German Jewish immigrants who became British, felt British, loved Britain — and yet. He writes: “Instead of using the word ‘Jew’ in public we would say ‘forty-five.’ The origin of this odd phrase is unknown. When Bernard was refused a senior position in a famous hospital in 1938, he wrote to Win: ‘It is the old, old story — (45).”’
This is indeed an old, old story. Keep quiet, use code, ignore the occasional comments about “pushiness” or “flashiness” or “stinginess” or “Jewish behavior” (whatever that might be) or a comment about a Jewish woman’s “great conk of a nose.” This, after all, is no more than genteel prejudice, harmless enough, unlike the Continental brand that Ralph Miliband fled.
In The Mail article, a letter of Miliband’s is quoted: “Respectability, good taste, don’t rock the boat, there will always be an England, foreigners, Jews, natives etc. are all right in their place and their place is outside.”
The worst of the piece is that it reflects the attitudes that could give Miliband these feelings at a time when Britain is a far more open society than the one he first encountered.
David Miliband tweeted that his father loved Britain. He now lives in New York, city of full-throated Jewishness.