Friedman offers two explanations for the contemporary Jewish suspicion of capitalism. First, Jewish attachment to Leftist economic views is a byproduct of their gaining the rights of citizenship in Europe, for it was only the political Left that supported and enabled their political emancipation.
Second, anti-capitalist sentiment among Jews also results from their absorption of the anti-Semitic trope that Jews are moneylenders who put their desire to make a profit ahead of a concern for mankind. Jews attach themselves to socialism in order to convince both their anti-Semitic accusers and themselves that they are in fact public-spirited and generous, not selfish and heartless merchants.
As Europe becomes capitalist, usury became normal business practices and some Jews flourish. As well, Muller cites some lucid examples in the case of Hungary as Jews dominated the Communist party, even perpetuate anti-Semitic show trials, while only a small percentage of Jews ever joined the party.
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In the end, he favors the economic theory of nationalism established by Ernest Gellner. Apr 07, Colleen Clark rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Anyone interested in 20th century history. Recommended to Colleen by: A family member who is a college teacher. Shelves: history. A series of 4 long essays - 1. The Jewish Response to Capitalism 3. Radical Anticapitalism: The Jew as Communist 4. Well footnoted with interesting references for further A series of 4 long essays - 1.
Well footnoted with interesting references for further reading. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. And lest anyone wonder - it is NOT an anti-Semitic book in any sense. Sep 24, Brad Madsen rated it really liked it. Muller divides the book into four essay chapters which cover these topics. The first chapter focuses on capitalism while the second focuses on capitalism and communism.
Capitalism and the Jews — Development Research Institute
Chapter three is on the Jews relation to communism and socialism. Finally, chapter four deals with nationalism in the Jewish community. Chapter one, as the title points out, deals with Jewish people and usury. Muller is quick to point out that usury, while the act is well defined in the Bible, to whom it applies too is vague. The different interruptions are between the word brother meaning literal brother as some Jews believed or every person of their religion or people in general as the Christians came to define it. Muller also follows the evolution of usury to being simply an illegal way of lending money, to loaning people money at too high a rate of interest.
Muller points out that people of Judaism value reading, education, and debate as byproducts of their faith. Muller makes the argument that the Jews disposition towards education naturally gave them better chances of finding new forms of trade or ways to improve existing trade. Muller makes a questionable assumption that the demeanor of Jews was a natural aid to the line of work they favored.
Muller stated that people who work in trade or economics should be more open and understanding people, who are culturally meeker. Muller makes the point that many held that belief that Jews only hired other Jews simply because of their religion. Muller argues that Jews hired those who were best suited for the position rather than based on religion.
Due to the disproportioned amount of education possessed by the Jewish community, Muller claims, they held a larger number of these jobs. Muller uses the example of a new Jewish emigrant to America who through hard work and diligence could work his or her way up from a peddler to owning a successful store. This, however, was not the end of the families climb up the social ladder.
Through the parents, sacrifice and thriftiness could give their children the best possible education and push their children in professional careers such as a lawyer or professor. This shows the primary advantage that Jewish people have over others at the time, self sacrifice. Muller claims that the propensity for self sacrifice comes from the Jews understanding of a good life, which was measured through material gains. In the third chapter, Muller discusses the role that Jewish people played in the various communist revolutions that occurred after Muller pointed out that these tended to be the younger Jews who were taken in by the international brotherhood philosophy that was part of communism.
Once again, the over abundance of education possessed by the Jews meant that they were places in high levels of the party and in the other organization such as Cheka. Ultimately this chapter was meant to separate the Jews who took part in the revolution from the rest of them. This chapter also points out the genesis of the new anti-Semitism that rose after World War I. That is since Jews were perceived to be the leaders of these successful and unsuccessful communist revolutions; the rural people would take out their animosity on the local Jewish population believing them to be in league with the communist Jews.
Muller points out that this was not the case, because many Jews did not support or live long in those countries that succumb to communism or socialism such as Russia or Czechoslovakia.
Instead the Jewish population immigrated west to places like England and America. It was pleasantly surprising to see the down play of the formation of Israel and focus on not only Jewish Zionism but also how nationalism of European countries affected the Jewish population that dwelled within.
Muller also points out that the rise of nationalism affected Jews mostly in central and eastern Europe. Many of these countries had been under one unifying flag, but with the end of World War I, many of these countries were given the right of self determination. With the creation of a national identity such as Czechoslovakia being for the Czechs and the Slovaks where did the Jews fit in? The answer according to Muller is that Jews increasingly were viewed as others in the countries where they had lived for centuries. It almost seemed as if they were given a status similar to Gypsies by the sense of nation-lessness that was associated with them.
The solution to this problem was Zionism, where the Jews would be united as a people with a definite home, land, and language which the markers of nationality. Another option was to liberalize themselves and make Judaism a lesser part of who they were, to fit into the countries were they lived. Muller states early in the book that it is for general consumption, while he used a wide array of sources from cultural to economical. However, some of his assumptions seem to rest only on stereotypes and wide held beliefs that many, if not all, people accept.
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That Jews were more suited for business because of their demeanor is an assumption that was simply put forward. The evidence backing his assumption was that people with these skills would be better suited for business and trade. We are to assume that since the Jews were good at business that they possessed those demeanors.
Muller refrained from giving examples of Jews displaying this business demeanor. This may be because the book is meant to be a general look at Jews and capitalism, but it is still a point I wish to make. His focus on Jews not only from the point of view of themselves, but from the point of view from non-Jewish people, is to be commended and is truly the strength of the book. Sep 13, Andy rated it did not like it Shelves: will-not-continue-reading. Zero stars. Not a serious work of history or scholarship.
Rather than interrogating the incoherency of Jewish stereotypes and their historical appearance, Muller decided to begin with a provocation: an apology for Shylock. Not citizen Shylock who is denigrated and asserts his claim to be treated according to a rule of law, but instead the money-lending Shylock, a profiteering Shylock, the one who demands his pound of flesh.
Verisimilitude and greed: in the hands of Mueller, antisemitic motifs ar Zero stars. Verisimilitude and greed: in the hands of Mueller, antisemitic motifs are vindicated as heroic qualities of "the Jews.
The Jewish Chronicle
Sep 03, E rated it it was amazing. Good etiquette advises that discussing religion, money and politics with strangers is not prudent, but, fortunately, professor Jerry Z. Muller ignores this maxim. Instead, this broadly published academician presents four exceptional essays assessing the role of Jews in developing capitalism in terms of complex social, historical and religious structures.
He wrote the series, which covers centuries of history, over the course of 30 years of study. His combined notes and bibliography alone are 29 Good etiquette advises that discussing religion, money and politics with strangers is not prudent, but, fortunately, professor Jerry Z. His combined notes and bibliography alone are 29 pages. Muller tellingly shows the relationships among the political, theological and economic ideas that created some of the best and worst events in modern society.
Aug 18, Lance Cahill rated it it was amazing Shelves: The book is comprised of four separate essays with a tangential relation to each other: namely the experience of Jews in capitalist society and nation-states which have identified membership in largely Christian terms. The book explores the role of stigmatized professions finance and commerce in preserving toleration for ethnic minorities whilst eventually reinforcing stereotypes found in the writings of 18th and 19th century writers.
Highly informative ethnic and intellectual history even if The book is comprised of four separate essays with a tangential relation to each other: namely the experience of Jews in capitalist society and nation-states which have identified membership in largely Christian terms. Highly informative ethnic and intellectual history even if no strong conclusions may be drawn.
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