Unfathomable but Understandable Anger

Unfathomable but Understandable Anger

We are angry.

Longtime readers know that The Political Forum was founded as an “independent research provider” almost entirely because of differences of opinion with our employers over the issues that matter most at the intersection of politics and markets.  For the better part of a decade, we argued that corruption was a real and serious threat to capital markets, both from within and from outside.  We made the case that apathy to corruption would cause serious problems for governments, for politicians and political systems, and for investors.

In response, the various powers that be at the firms for which we worked mostly told us to watch our mouths, to be less outspoken about the rot at the core of, for example, the Russian state and the Chinese Communist Party.  They told us to hold our tongues at the undue and rapidly growing influence that politicians and public policies were having on market-player behaviors at home and abroad.

And eventually, we had enough.

Here’s the thing, though.  When we were eventually proven right about everything, when, in fact, the type of corruption we’d been warning about caused one of our former employers to collapse suddenly, launching a credit crisis and a significant recession, we didn’t get angry.  We were frustrated, to be sure.  And annoyed.  And a little snarky (or maybe even more than a little).  But we were never angry.  The people who were most profoundly damaged by the corruption were the very people who had explicitly spurned our warnings, giving it all something of a “just deserts” conclusion.  We never explicitly said, “we told you so,” but we sure as heck thought it.

Today, however, we are angry.  As longtime readers undoubtedly know, we have been writing about the rising tide of antisemitism for years.  We have warned about the political Left’s growing indifference to and even acceptance of antisemitism in the name of “racial justice.”  We have warned of the malignancy of the ideological ethos that dominates college campuses and academic discussions of race and oppression.  We have warned that Israel is losing the “narrative war” in the Middle East, in large part because its American allies refuse to challenge the aforementioned ideological ethos.  And perhaps most notably, we have warned that history shows that antisemitism is both a harbinger of and the justification for broader societal and global upheavals.  With respect to this last point, we wrote the following not quite a year ago, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the unofficial start of the Holocaust:

Sometimes, people choose to exploit tragedies, catastrophes, and hard times for their own purposes.  Sometimes, people identify “scapegoats” – usually social, political, or cultural outsiders – whom they can blame for otherwise blameless incidents.  Sometimes people use those incidents as a pretext to commit violence against those outsiders, those scapegoats.

And often times, those outsiders are Jewish….

[A]nti-Semitism represents something completely unique among the prejudices that afflict the Western world.  Hatred of and anger toward Jews is not the same as other forms of bigotry.  In many ways, the history of Western anti-Jewish hatred mirrors the history of Western political chaos and collapse.  Or to put it another way, historically, Jews are not only the perennial scapegoats during periods of social upheaval and displacement, but resurgent anti-Semitism serves as the proverbial canary in the coal mine for the rise of revolutionary movements.

In his classic The Pursuit of the Millennium, the British historian Norman Cohn argues that the Jewish diaspora generally fit comfortably, if tentatively into European society for most of the first thousand years or so A.D., and only became a hated and perpetually persecuted minority with the rise of utopian Millenarianism that accompanied and then outlived the Crusades.  Beginning then and continuing for the next nearly a thousand years, Europeans came to associate Jews with the antichrist and thus to associate hatred and persecution of Jews with preparing the battlespace for the Second Coming.  Many historians, including Hannah Arendt, whom we cite repeatedly in these pages, believed that the anti-Semitism that was such an integral part of the West’s Twentieth-century collapse into totalitarianism was relatively new and, in any case, distinct from medieval anti-Semitism.  Cohn’s history suggests otherwise, connecting the religious eschatology of medieval Europe to the quasi-religious eschatology of post-Enlightenment Europe, thereby connecting it to the persistence of Western anti-Semitism as well.

Whatever the case, resurgent anti-Semitism has, inarguably, played a role, throughout Western history, in the rise of movements that threaten violence against the existing regime and seek to bring order to political and social chaos.

We find it troubling when, for example, Kanye West or Kyrie Irving rant against the Jews or promote anti-Semitic conspiracies.  We don’t believe that they have the intention of hurting our Jewish friends and family, nor do we believe that they have the power to do so.  Yet their anti-Semitism serves as a warning, as a portend of things to come.

Likewise, we find it deeply distressing when Members of Congress – members of a “squad” in Congress, you might say – engage in anti-Jewish stereotypes and language.  Again, we don’t think that they have the power to move legislation that might harm the Jewish community, but then, that’s not really the point.

The point is that rising anti-Semitism is almost always a harbinger of political upheaval that, in time, will wreak havoc on nations, governments, and people, especially on Jewish people.

Part of the reason we’re angry today is that this case is unlike the case we mentioned at the top of the piece in that we were hardly the originators of this warning.  We were merely repeating the things that others far better known and far more insightful had already said.  Many in the “alternative” media had been howling for some time about growing antisemitism, about the resurgent risks to Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere – including New York City, the biggest Jewish city in the world.  We’re angry not because we were ignored about all of this.  We’re angry because they were ignored, dismissed as “neocons” or Zionists.  We’re angry because crime statistics were rejected as irrelevant and because the victims of crimes were blamed for looking different or dressing differently or not wanting to get vaccinated.  We’re angry because none of what is playing out in the Middle East and the West right now was “unpredictable.”  It was, in fact, the opposite.  It was predicted.  But it was predicted largely by Jewish writers, forecasters, and analysts, whom the mainstream media and political class felt they could safely ignore.  The irony here is impenetrably thick.

The other reason we’re angry now is because people are dying – and because many, many more are going to die before all is said and done.  As we noted last week, the moral responsibility for these deaths falls almost entirely on the shoulders of people who are far removed from Israel or Judaism.  And yet, so many of our institutions have been corrupted by bigotry, hatred, and ideology that too is being ignored.

This isn’t a game.  This isn’t the latest cool thing to protest about on the streets of Minneapolis or Philadelphia or Vienna.  This is real and it is serious and it is indicative of a world that is unmoored and increasingly unhinged.  It has become impossible to read the news or social media without seeing new and increasingly horrific information about the attacks perpetrated on October 7 or about the Western reaction to them.

In last year’s piece, we warned that “If we don’t address growing anti-Semitism now, when it is still mostly (but not entirely) rhetorical, then, as times get tougher, it will grow uglier and more substantive.  By the time we realize that it has moved beyond the mostly rhetorical stage, it will be too late, and Jews worldwide will again be imperiled.”

Sometimes, there is no joy whatsoever in being right.

Stephen Soukup
Stephen Soukup
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Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on the financial markets in the United States and abroad.