McGill Students, Marxism, Jews and BDS

 

What a perfect trifecta of provocations this morning! I must apologize in advance for this blog because my thoughts are ungenerous. Extremely un-PC. They have been prompted by a report of the expulsion of a Jewish student from a student governing board. The Post article explains:

Students at the bi-annual General Assembly of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) voted to remove a Jewish student, Noah Lew, from the society’s board of directors. Lew later wrote on Facebook that he had been targeted for his Jewish identity. Before the vote, Lew and two other directors were publicly accused of corruption by a student political group for their affiliation with Jewish political organizations such as the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC).

The actions of the students are discriminatory in the worst sense of the word, anti-Jewish, and wrongly motivated, to say the least. Entirely typical of left-wing thought and behaviour. How did we get to this? I offer some observations as an eye witness to events long ago .

When I went to McGill some 45 years ago, almost the entirety of the student Left was Jewish, and for various reasons not clear to me the Faculty of Arts was about 80% Jewish. I attended classes where the three, four or five goyim would sit together among the 25-35 Jews. That was just the way it was then. It did me no harm, and in a large measure being in an ethnic and religious minority constituted an important education in itself.

What blew my mind – if a I may use a term from that time – was that the political coloration of about a quarter of those Jews (maybe as much as a half)  was some flavour of Marxism. Marxist, Marxizing, Marxian, Marxoid thought was esteemed as historically correct. Franz Fanon was then all the rage. RD Laing. Herbert Marcuse. Norman O. Brown. The intellectual atmosphere was soaked in Leftist assumptions, methods, and political fashions. That toxic stew has since evolved into the anti-Israeli movement called Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) which roils the student politics of McGill, York and many other Canadian centres of higher education.

I am making claims that may need to be teased out.

1) Forty years ago, student Leftism was very largely a Jewish phenomenon. That is provocative but accurate description of the SDS and its allied organizations. Jews so preponderated in left-wing politics that when non-Jews wanted their own party (quite contrary to scientific materialist doctrines) they formed a “Maoist” group. The Maoists were composed principally of rich kids from Third-World countries: India, Argentina, and the like, plus a few police infiltrators from Saskatchewan. Thus, the Marxist orthodox and the Maoists splitters could shout slogans at each other, decry the others’ heresies, apparently oblivious to the fact that a group composed entirely of Jews and another group entirely non-Jewish (atheists from Sikh, Roman Catholic and other backgrounds), had formed different political clubs. Their political religion had split on lines of religion and ethnicity, forces whose reality and legitimacy were inadmissable to them.

2) Forty years ago, the Marxists were siding with the working class of Quebec, so that its targets were the WASP administration and the English minority in Quebec, and its supposed allies were the French-Canadian working class. The BDS movement of its time dealt with South Africa, not Israel.

3) Today, Jews are victims of that same leftism. After the fall of the Soviet Union, leftism did not die, on the contrary it went from strength to strength. Once Leftism dissociated itself from any sort of intellectual discipline – and Marxism was an intellectual discipline even though its doctrines were murderous in consequence and fatuous in content – Leftism was free to become  what it now is: anti-white, anti-male, anti-Christian, anti-civilization, anti-economic progress, antinomian. And especially anti-Jewish. When in doubt, blame the Jews. When not in doubt, blame the Jews.

I have had very cautious conversations with people who were at McGill back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The politically correct denied absolutely that the Left at McGill was, at the time, a largely Jewish phenomenon, the Maoists excepted. With those honest enough to recall what was then evident to their eyes, the conversations have been more productive, in the sense that much of what made McGill such a drag in those days was the joyless tone favoured by the spoiled-kid Marxist rabble from middle class Jewish homes, where clearly the apples had not fallen far from parental trees. Dinner tables where a civil conversation had never occurred, where ideas were not for play or exploration, but for bludgeoning, where absolutism was the prevailing mental style: these  Marxists had come from parents who had taught them how to feel and think; they had not sprung like Athena from the brow of Zeus.

Did they get their Marxism from their grandparents in eastern Europe? Were we getting the blow-back from Tsarist repression three or four generations later? Because, for a certainty, the Jewish Marxists I encountered seemed still to be living in a shtetl of their own mind, expecting any day the Cossacks to come and suppress them with whips, and they seemed oblivious to the liberal political culture of Anglo-Montreal and North America in which they then lived. When you cannot tell a liberal state from a fascist one, you are ideologically blind. And they could not discern the difference between freedom and repression. Too much Marcuse, with his ideas of “repressive tolerance”.

There is an ignoble part of me that says to the Marxist Jews of that time: you brought this on yourselves. You spent years and years creating and fostering a culture of leftist opposition to the true, the beautiful and the good, to British constitutional thought and civilized political discourse, to a reasonable, sane and balanced appreciation of politics, to a non-hysterical approach to political division, to an adaptive accommodation to social change, to a spirit of inquiry and compromise, to the possibility of reasoned political discourse that admits the legitimacy of other points of view.  The Marxist Jews of my time were the instigators of Marxist phenomena like political correctness – the notion that politic thought is capable of being right or wrong like an arithmetical sum. They instigated thought crime trials, repressions, schisms,  self-repressions, and mounting hysteria about political divisions. Now that the Left has abandoned Marxism, but retained its oppositional spirit, the Jews find themselves the targets of forces that their Leftist co-religionists abetted and exemplified back in the Soviet era.

You have sowed the wind, and are reaping the whirlwind. I am bold enough to think that some of the Marxists still alive might grudgingly admit the truth of this.

How does it feel to be on your own, with no direction from home, like a rolling stone?

As I said, my thoughts this morning are neither noble nor forgiving. I hold those Jewish Marxists in that time responsible for much evil that has come, is here now, and is yet to come. That the evil is happening now to Jews, however undeserving, provides the unseemly frisson of schadenfreude.

Barry Thompson

This is interesting stuff. I have a friend who did his PhD on New York intellectuals in the cold war. The general picture is that the CPUSA was 95% Jewish in New York, and they loved having wasps l like Dwight Macdonald to shove into the spotlight. The politics of the party were treacherous and were almost entirely Jewish. Back in the 20ies, the recent Bolshevik revolution had inspired a lot of Jews, whose roots went back to Lithuania and Russia. The trade union guys, like Cannon and Foster, had problems, and the CPUSA was a straightforward agent of Stalinoid Russia at the time.

After the war when it became decidedly uncool to be a Red, almost all of a young generation poured, instead, into universities, journalism, etc. A lot of them dropped politics and became doctors, and professors, and so on, but at one time, during Eisenhower times, many of the ones who we think of as the writers in the intellectual magazines in the 60ies were almost all old left party members getting money from the CIA, one way or another. The CIA’s theory was that if they filled the intellectual publications with leftist debates, the market for radicalism would be used up, and more radical debates wouldn’t have room to grow.

I also had a history professor — a real Marxist in the Jewish New York sense — who told us how the Communist Party was like Tammany Hall for Jews — and others too. But in certain quarters of New York City, if you had a problem with welfare or similar things, you’d get better results by going to the Party than by going to the city administration. So communism and the communist party was a big thing in the immigrant Jewish communities.

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