Slezkine begins his study by comparing Jews to other groups in and Asia and Africa. Throughout he contrasts "Mercurians" and "Apollonians", the former creatures of the mind, the latter earth-bound, agrarian peoples. Jews, supposedly the ultimate Mercurians, are at odds with "the peoples of the earth" a Talmudic phrase among whom they live. This pattern, Slezkine finds, is essentially no different than the pattern of other groups similarly situated, such as the Chinese in Indo-China, for example.
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Slezkine begins his study by comparing Jews to other groups in and Asia and Africa. Throughout he contrasts "Mercurians" and "Apollonians", the former creatures of the mind, the latter earth-bound, agrarian peoples. Jews, supposedly the ultimate Mercurians, are at odds with "the peoples of the earth" a Talmudic phrase among whom they live.
This pattern, Slezkine finds, is essentially no different than the pattern of other groups similarly situated, such as the Chinese in Indo-China, for example. Of course, Slezkine does not discuss the peculiar ethics of the Babylonian Talmud as a possible aggravating factor unique to Jews, but otherwise his analysis is unobjectionable.
Like Professor Kevin MacDonald, Slezkine finds that there is a rational basis for Jewish-non-Jewish tensions, tensions that are remarkably similar to those of other groups. It was only with the great purge of that Jews began to lose some of their influence in the upper levels. But even then, as Slezkine demonstrates, Jews were not, contrary to popular misconception, singled out for persecution. Their share of the victims was lower, on a percentage basis, than that of the other groups targeted, such as Poles or Latvians.
Unlike these groups, who were tainted by foreign loyalties, Jews were not perceived as being inherently disloyal to the Soviet regime. Only in the post-war purges of Zionists and cosmopolitans were Jews targeted as such.
Jews did, however, remain prominent in cultural and professional circles until the very end of the Soviet regime. Jews provided an extremely disproportionate number of the assassins and terrorists of the pre period.
Whenever a tsarist minister or official was blown up, shot, knifed, or splashed with acid, the chances were one in four to one in two that the miscreant was a Jew. Mordecai Bogrov, Gershuni and Vera Finger were other well-known Jewish assassins of the period. As Yuri Slezkine notes, Jews did not just practice communism in Russia; they practiced it in the United States as well. Whenever the Kremlin looked for agents in the United States it first sought out children of Russian Jews.
However, political expediency, then and now, prevented any direct attack on the real problem. Jewish communism in Russia was waning about the same time that Jewish radicalism in the United States was about to accelerate. Several social scientists of the "decade which changed everything" determined that being Jewish was the single most important factor in predicting radical behavior. One cannot read "The Jewish Century" without thinking of the image of Red Auerbach lighting up his cigar as coach of the Boston Celtics.
In scholarly, matter of fact, ever so slightly boastful language, "The Jewish Century" is everything an erudite, closet anti-Semite could ask for. It does not directly raise certain untidy questions, but it certainly implies them. One can only wonder if some day another Yuri Slezkine will write a book arguing in favor of the infamous Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, or even propose an alternative history of World War 2 and related incidents.
The assertion is, of course, metaphorical. Since the dawning of the Modern Age, Mercurians have taken center stage. In fact, Slezkine argues, modernity is all about Apollonians becoming Mercurians — urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. But Slezkine has as much to say about the many faces of modernity — nationalism, socialism, capitalism, and liberalism — as he does about Jewry. A landmark work. An extraordinary book: analytically acute, lyrical, witty, and disturbing all at once.
The Jewish Century
Career[ edit ] Slezkine originally trained as an interpreter in Moscow State University. His first trip outside the Soviet Union was in the late s when he found work as a translator in Mozambique. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences This division is, according to him, recurring in preth century societies. With the exception of the Romani , these " Mercurian peoples" have all enjoyed great socioeconomic success relative to the average among their hosts, and have all, without exception, attracted hostility and resentment. A recurring pattern of the relationship between Apollonians and Mercurian people is that the social representation of each group by the other is symmetrical, for instance Mercurians see Apollonians as brutes while Apollonians see Mercurians as effeminate. Mercurians develop a culture of "purity" and "national myths" to cultivate their separation from the Apollonians, which allows them to provide international services intermediaries, diplomacy or services that are taboo for the local Apollonian culture linked to death, magic, sexuality or banking.
Shelves: history , temp-modern-late , geo-global This is a fascinating work. I have no idea what discipline I would consider it. Instead, they are defined by things like education mental capital that nobody can "own" This is a fascinating work. Instead, they are defined by things like education mental capital that nobody can "own" and trade or the exchanging of property between others , as well as movement. However, with modernity the world has shifted dramatically.
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