Summaries and Reviews of Kevin MacDonald's Books on Judaism

  1. A People that Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy: Summary, Reviews, Ordering information
  2. Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism: Summary, Reviews, Ordering information
  3. The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements: Summary, Reviews, Ordering information

George Michael, a political scientist at the University of Virginia-Wise, has written an academic article summarizing my writing on Judaism. It also reviews some of the criticisms leveled at my work, and contains an interview with me.

Michael, G. (2006). Professor Kevin MacDonald's Critique of Judaism: Legitimate Scholarship or the Intellectualization of Anti-Semitism? Journal of Church and State, 48(4), 778806.

Dialog between Joey Kurtzman of and John Derbyshire of National Review Online:

Is Kevin MacDonald Right? | Wrestling with Derbyshire's Law | There is No Cabal | Be Nice, or We'll Crush You | The Jewish Media Goliath | A Black and a Chinaman Walk Into a Bar... | A Break from Hooray-for-us Historiography | War-Winning, Disease-Curing, And Life-Improving |


I. Summary of A People that Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy, with Diaspora Peoples. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2002. Originally published in 1994 by Praeger Publishers.

Chapter 1 develops the basic theoretical perspective of the book, including especially the idea of a group evolutionary strategy. Group evolutionary strategies are proposed to be theoretically unconstrained on a variety of dimensions, and the remaining chapters flesh out the specific characteristics of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy. Group strategies are viewed as experiments in living which can be developed and maintained by purely cultural processes, although a later chapter discusses how variation in evolved systems may predispose individuals to form cohesive, genetically exclusive groups. Of critical importance are within-group social controls and their rationalizing ideology which 1.) effectively limit exogamy; 2.) enforce cultural segregation; 3.) promote within-group charity and economic cooperation; and 4.) structure mating opportunities within the group in a manner which ensures that there will be eugenic and environmental pressures directed at developing phenotypes (especially intelligence, resource acquisition ability, high investment parenting, group allegiance) ideally suited to fulfilling certain ecological niches within human societies or necessary for maintaining group commitment and cohesion.

Chapter 2 discusses the evidence from modern studies on population genetic differences between Jews and gentiles. This material is relevant to the hypothesis that Judaism represents a group strategy which is fairly (but not completely) closed to penetration from gentile gene pools. The data indicate that Jews have remained genetically distinct from the groups they have lived among despite having lived among them for centuries. In addition, Jewish populations in very diverse areas have significantly more genetic commonality than is the case between Jews and the gentile populations they have lived among for centuries. This is illustrated in the following figure from Kobyliansky and Micle (1982):

Kobyliansky, E., S. Micle, M. Goldschmidt-Nathan, B. Arensburg, & H. Nathan (1982). Jewish populations of the world: Genetic likeness and differences. Annals of Human Biology 9:1-34.
Here is a recent New York Times article on Jewish population genetics. The article is based on a study of genetic distance between Jewish and non-Jewish groups titled, "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes," by M. F. Hammer, et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 9, 2000.

This page includes a figure from the Hammer et al. article showing genetic distances between various Jewish and non-Jewish populations.

Chapter 3 discusses some preliminary issues which are important for the general theory that Judaism constitutes an example of a religion that can be viewed as a group evolutionary strategy. There is a pronounced tendency toward idealizing endogamy and condemning exogamy apparent in the writings of the Tanakh. The importance of consanguineous marriages and extended kinship relationships is also very apparent in these writings, especially for understanding the activities of the patriarchs. It is shown that much of the ideology of Judaism as an evolutionary strategy for maintaining genetic and cultural segregation in a Diaspora context is apparent in the writings of Priestly stratum of the Tanakh. There is scholarly agreement that this material was written by Israelite priests during the period of the Babylonian exile. It is proposed, therefore, that Judaism as an experiment in living dates from this period (6th-5th centuries B.C.).

Chapter 4 discusses those aspects of Jewish religious ideology and practice that have facilitated the genetic and cultural separation of Jews and gentiles, and is thus relevant to the hypothesis that Judaism is a self-chosen, genetically fairly closed evolutionary strategy. Of the hundreds of human groups in the ancient world, Judaism was the only one that avoided the powerful tendencies toward cultural and genetic assimilation characteristic of Western societies. Judaism as a group strategy depends on the development of social controls reinforcing group identity and preventing high levels of genetic admixture from surrounding groups. This genetic separation has been facilitated by a variety of cultural practices: religious practices and beliefs, language and mannerisms, physical appearance, customs, occupations, and living in physically separated areas which were administered by Jews according to Jewish civil and criminal law. All of these practices date from very early stages of the diaspora. This chapter surveys these ideologies and behaviors, particularly their role in severely limiting the numbers of gentile converts to Judaism and preventing intermarriage between Jews and gentiles.

Chapter 5 reviews evidence for resource and reproductive competition between Jews and gentiles, as well as for the proposition that anti-Semitism has been strongest among those gentile groups most in competition with Jews. Evidence is reviewed indicating that Jews were commonly utilized as an intermediary group between a ruling elite (and especially alien elites) and the native population. In these situations the elite gentile group actively encouraged and profited from Jewish economic interests to the detriment of other sectors of the native population. After summarizing data on this type of relationship in widely dispersed parts of the world and widely separated points in time, separate sections are then devoted to Jewish/gentile resource and reproductive competition in a wide range of economic activities in Spain prior to the Inquisition, in early modern Poland, and in Europe and America following Jewish Emancipation.

Chapter 6 discusses data indicating the importance of kin- based cooperation and altruism within Judaism, its role in resource competition with gentiles, and its importance in maintaining cohesion within the Jewish community. Data are presented indicating that Jewish economic activities have often been characterized by a high degree of nepotism and within-group charity which is central to conceptualizing Judaism as an evolutionary strategy. Group rather than individual interests have been of primary importance throughout Jewish history, so that, e.g., there were sanctions on individual Jews to ensure that the total resource flow into the group was maximized rather than allow individual Jews to maximize their resource acquisition.

Further, it is shown that within-group charity and altruism have been facilitated by strong social controls within traditional Jewish communities which enforced a high level of within-group altruism. Traditional Jewish communities were also characterized by strong social controls against Jews who cooperated with gentiles against Jewish interests or who patronized gentile businesses or aided gentiles in economic activities. Finally, data are discussed indicating that there were limits on within-group altruism among Jews. Although altruism toward poor Jews was an important aspect of Judaism, there was also discrimination against poorer Jews, especially in times of economic and demographic crises. There was also discrimination between different Jewish groups as recipients of altruistic behavior as a function of genetic distance.

Chapter 7 discusses hypotheses related to the issue of whether Judaism constitutes an ecologically specialized evolutionary strategy. The following five propositions are of interest: (1) Judaism can be characterized in ecological terms as a high investment reproductive strategy which facilitates resource competition by Jews with the gentiles; (2) Success in mastering the vast and complex Jewish religious writings was strongly associated with prestige within the community and was ultimately linked rather directly to control of resources and reproductive success; (3) Jewish religious and social practices fostered the development of high investment patterns of child rearing necessary for successful resource competition and a role in society above that of primary producer; (4) Judaism has been characterized by assortative mating, and cultural and natural selection for intelligence and other traits related to obtaining resources within stratified human societies; Data are reviewed indicating that Jewish populations have a higher average intelligence than their gentile counterparts, as well as a number of other demographic markers indicating that Jews as a group engage in high investment parenting. (5) Jewish groups have been characterized by a set of practices aimed at socializing individuals into identifying strongly with the group and excluding individuals (and their relatives) who depart from group goals'the latter practices ultimately having a eugenic affect on psychological mechanisms predisposing people to forming cohesive, collectivist groups.

Finally, Chapter 8 discusses the origins of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy. As indicated above, part of the argument in Chapter 1 is that evolutionary group strategies need not be viewed as determined by ecological contingencies or evolutionary theory. Group strategies are viewed as experiments in living which can be developed and maintained by purely cultural processes. Chapter 8 modifies this perspective by suggesting that a threefold combination of historically contingent factors facilitated the development of Judaism as an evolutionary strategy: 1.) a strong predisposition to ethnocentrism characteristic of Middle Eastern cultures generally; It is argued that this predisposition is genetically influenced, but that the tendency toward ethnocentrism has been exacerbated as a result of selective effects resulting from Jewish cultural practices; 2.) unique historical experiences (including especially the sojourn in Egypt recounted in the Biblical books of Genesis and Exodus) which showed that a diaspora strategy could be successful; and 3.) the unique early organization of the Israelite tribes which resulted in a powerful class of priests and Levites whose status depended on their genealogy and whose own individual interests were intimately bound up with the fate of the entire group. These individuals benefited most from the group strategy which ultimately evolved into historical Judaism.

Excerpts from Reviews of A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy

Laurence D. Loeb, Department of Anthropology, University of Utah; "Review Essay: Jewish Origins and Continuity," Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review, 19(1-2), 36-38, 1997. "Kevin MacDonald is an evolutionary biologist using the Jewish people as a test case to examine certain critical theorems of that approach.... MacDonald's success was due to his cautious, careful assembling of evidence.... Some readers will no doubt be disturbed by the sociobiologically derived jargon. Once acclimated to the style, however, the reader will be richly rewarded with a tour-de-force, sifting of a wide range of Jewish scholarship.... Make no mistake. This volume from a barely visible publisher and unlikely to be reviewed in Judaic or social science circles, is a watershed contribution to the understanding of Judaism and Jewish life. I found the data and reasoning compelling despite my general rejection of evolutionary anthropology in explaining complex societies. While I did find myself questioning and confronting many assertions and uses of evidence, this is [a] most worthwhile reading experience."

Hans Eysenck, Personality and Individual Differences, 19(1), p. 121, 1995. "This is in fact a potentially very important contribution to the literature on eugenics, and on reproductive strategy. Taking the Jews as his example, MacDonald carefully traces their history in relation to the explicit theory that they have always followed certain practices that amounted to a definite eugenic policy as far as intelligence (mainly verbal intelligence) is concerned. He uses this development to explain the undoubted high intelligence to be found in modern Ashkenazi Jews, and the truly remarkable successes they have scored'Nobel prizes, chess world championships, and much, much more.... MacDonald lays much stress on the r/K reproductive strategies of the Jews, insisting that they pursued a K-type strategy (few offspring, long parental investment), and attempts to explain the Jewish personality along these lines. This, too, is a fascinating endeavour, particularly as this Jewish personality seems to have changed considerably over time'the Masada warriors giving way to the Talmudic scribes.... On the whole this is an entertaining and intriguing account of a thousand-year-old experience involving millions of people, lacking of course the methodological refinements that would be expected in a small-scale experiment in modern times, but contributing nevertheless a possible test of eugenic principles and r/K reproductive strategy. I hope it will be widely read and pondered; it is a creative effort to write history along biological lines, the sort of thing C. D. Darlington pioneered in his Evolution of Man and Society. Psychology could do with more such serious attempts to look at the development of psychological differences between groups in an original and creative manner."

John Hartung, Ethology and Sociobiology, 16, pp. 335-342, 1995. "MacDonald argues that the worldwide, age-old phenomenon of anti-Semitism is not a disease state vectored by myths, but is instead what should be expected given the nature of human intergroup competition and the competitive attributes of Judaism.... "
Hartung's review emphasizes a central theme of my book'that between-group competition is central to understanding historical Judaism. However, he also develops his ideas on the linkages among the history of Judaism as a competitive group, the Holocaust as a reaction to Judaism, and the roles that Christian perceptions of Judaism and the moral capital created by the Holocaust play in legitimizing Israel in its current struggle with the Palestinians and other Arab populations. Hartung's review was considered anti-Semitic by some and resulted in charges of censorship when the publisher, Elsevier, refused to publish
an addendum to the review written by Hartung and intended to calm the passions raised by his review. The main public forum for this controversy was HBES-L, the internet discussion group of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. The events surrounding Hartung's review were recounted in an article entitled "Publisher Draws Censorship Charge" by Constance Holden in Science 273, p. 177, July 12, 1996. These events were also the subject of an article entitled "Unnatural Selection" by Daniel Zalewski in Lingua Franca, pp. 10-12, November, 1996.

Paul Gottfried, Rothbard Rockwell Report, 10-12, February, 1996. "Though MacDonald ... presents his Jewish subjects as an illustration of genetic strategizing, clearly he is courting controversy by his examples and his method of inquiry. Judaism, as seen by MacDonald, is a body of dietary and social prohibitions aimed at and maintaining Jewish genetic and cultural unity. MacDonald documents this assertion in exhaustive detail.... There is a shocking and brutal honesty shown by MacDonald in approaching his subject."

Harmon Holcomb, Human Ethology Bulletin, 11(2), 14-17, June, 1996. "MacDonald has shown how the detailed patterns of Jewish history provide evidence for a host of evolutionary hypotheses about group strategies that apply to other groups as well. The theoretical pluralism and evidential meticulousness of this volume makes it a case study that repays careful reading."

Richard Lynn, Mankind Quarterly, 37(2), pp. 217-228, 1996. "MacDonald is to be congratulated on a brilliant attempt to develop a scientific theory of Judaism rooted in contemporary evolutionary theory."

Roger D. Masters, Politics and Life Sciences, 15, 355-358, 1996. "Kevin MacDonald is a bold and ambitious scholar. He has already shown the ability to bridge the gaps between disciplines, as in his thoughtful interpretations of theories of personality in social psychology, neurochemistry, and behavior genetics (MacDonald, 1988; [Social and Personality Development: An Evolutionary Synthesis; New York: Plenum] ). This book goes further, undertaking one of the most controversial issues possible: using evolutionary theory to analyze and explain Judaism and its social practices as 'adaptive' strategies."

Timothy Crippen, European Sociobiological Society Newsletter No. 45, pp. 9-14, Sept., 1997. "The book is provocative in at least two senses. First, MacDonald's thesis and supporting evidence are thought-provoking. He carefully mines the rich literature on Jewish history, and he conveys his understanding of these materials with considerable skill. Among the valuable features of the book are MacDonald's extensive coverage of the literature on Jewish customs, laws, demographic patterns, and political struggles; his documentation of patterns of genetic and cultural separatism characteristic of many Jewish communities in relation to various 'host societies'; and his discussion of periodic episodes of virulent anti-Semitism that have influenced the development of 'mainstream Jewish Diaspora Culture'.... In short, MacDonald synthesizes a sizable literature on the history of Judaism and conveys his appreciation of that history with compassion and sympathy. The accomplishment is impressive." (Crippen went on to disagree with aspects of the theoretical basis of the book. I replied to his review in an article entitled "Misconceptions of Judaism," European Sociobiological Society Newsletter #46 [December], 1996, 3-5.)

Louis R. Andrews, pinc: politically incorrect, 1(1), January, 1997. "Overall, MacDonald shows how the power of ethnocentrism and resource competition between virtually non-assimilating groups in the same geographic area has occurred over millennia, yet allowing the minimal interactions necessary for survival and mutual growth. Anti-Semitism is a naturally expected and powerful phenomenon, yet the strength of Jewish ethnocentrism has prevailed until recently. Because of the advent of liberal anti-ethnocentrism, the long-range future for both Judaism and anti-Semitism seems poor. It remains to be seen if one (in any recognizable form) can exist without the other."

pinc: politically incorrect is an online journal. Andrews' entire review may be accessed by clicking on the following link: 

Stephen J. Sniegoski, The Last Ditch, Whole No. 19, December 19, 1997. "Whatever its limitations, MacDonald's extremely ambitious work provides much food for thought. Moreover, MacDonald has done far more than produce an intellectual tour de force. Since he moves deep into non-P.C. territory, MacDonald must be credited with displaying a great deal of courage in a less-and-less-free society. Let's hope that much more can be heard from him." has several reviews of the hardback and the paperback editions.

II. Summary of Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism. Bloomington, IN: 1stbooks Library, 2004. First published by Praeger, 1998; 325 pages.

The 1stbook Library paperback edition includes a new preface that summarizes recent research on psychological mechanisms of ethnic conflict. It also contains a reply to one of my critics, Paul Rubin. My reply to Rubin deals with several conceptual issues important for understanding the history of anti-Jewish attitudes.

The following is from the Preface.

This book builds upon my previous work, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (MacDonald 1994; hereafter PTSDA). While PTSDA focused on developing a theory of Judaism within an evolutionary framework, the present volume focuses on the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. Judaism and anti-Semitism fairly cry out for an evolutionary interpretation. Anti-Semitism has been a very robust tendency over a very long period of human history and in a wide range of societies with different forms of government, different economic systems, and different dominant religious ideologies. Many anti-Semitic episodes, such as the Iberian inquisitions and the Nazi Holocaust, have been characterized by extraordinary intra-societal violence. Moreover, anti-Semitism has sometimes been characterized by a very overt, self-conscious racialism'a phenomenon that immediately suggests the relevance of evolutionary theory.

A principle concern of this work is therefore an evolutionary analysis of ethnic conflict in general. There is at present an incredible urgency for coming to a scientific understanding of ethnic conflict. As I write this, "ethnic cleansing" and the creation of ethnostates have torn apart Yugoslavia, and there are deep-rooted ethnic conflicts in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Opposition to liberal asylum laws has given rise to violence in Germany, and, closer to home, Los Angeles was recently shaken by large-scale urban violence in which ethnic conflict was a prominent feature.

The basic thesis of this book can be summarized by the proposition that Judaism must be conceptualized as a group strategy characterized by cultural and genetic segregation from gentile societies combined with resource competition and conflicts of interest with segments of gentile societies. This cultural and genetic separatism combined with resource competition and other conflicts of interest tend to result in division and hatred within the society.

Nevertheless, as Leslie White (1966, 3) wrote many years ago in his discussion of the Boasian school of anthropology as a politically inspired cult, "One who follows procedures such as these incurs the risk of being accused of indulging in non-scholarly, personal attacks upon whom he discusses. Such a charge is, in fact, expectable and completely in keeping with the thesis of this essay. We wish to state that no personal attacks are intended."

No personal or ethnic attacks are intended here, either. Nevertheless, the charge that this is an anti-Semitic book is, to use White's phrase, expectable and completely in keeping with the thesis of this essay. A major theme of this volume, found especially in Chapters 6 and 7, is that intellectual defenses of Judaism and of Jewish theories of anti-Semitism have throughout its history played a critical role in maintaining Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy. Parts of the book are an extended discourse on the role of Jewish self-interest, deception, and self-deception in the areas of Jewish historiography, Jewish personal identity, and Jewish conceptualizations of their ingroup and its relations with outgroups. This is therefore first and foremost a book that confidently predicts its own irrelevance to those about whom it is written.


Chapter 1 presents a theory of anti-Semitism based on an evolutionary interpretation of social identity theory'a major approach to group conflict in contemporary social psychology. A major conclusion of PTSDA was that in traditional societies, and continuing well into the modern period, Jews have appeared as a highly visible and impermeable group that has segregated itself from the larger society. Moreover, there has often been resource competition and other conflicts of interest between Jews and gentiles. Social identity theory predicts that such conditions will lead to group conflict as well as to a number of psychological processes in which both Jews and gentiles develop negative stereotypes of the other group. These stereotypes need not be based on accurate information, and they typically result in positive evaluations of the ingroup and negative evaluations of the outgroup.

Chapter 2 describes the ideology and practice of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has been a very common phenomenon in many societies over prolonged periods of history. Anti-Semitism was widespread in the ancient world, and there is evidence that the priestly redactors of the Tanakh anticipated that anti-Semitism would be a chronic problem in the diaspora. Several theoretically important recurring themes of anti-Semitic writings are explored, including Jewish clannishness and cultural separatism, economic and cultural domination of gentiles, and the issue of loyalty to the other groups in the society.

Chapters 3-5 focus on three critical examples of Western anti-Semitic movements: the development of institutionalized anti-Semitism in the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the Iberian inquisitions, and the phenomenon of National Socialist anti-Semitism in the period 1933-1945 in Germany. The common denominator of these movements is that they involved a powerful sense of gentile group cohesion in opposition to Judaism, and it is argued that each of these movements may be profitably analyzed as a reaction to the presence of Judaism as a highly successful group evolutionary strategy. It is argued on theoretical and empirical grounds that powerful group strategies tend to beget opposing group strategies that in many ways provide a mirror image of the group which they combat.

Chapter 6 discusses various Jewish strategies for limiting anti-Semitism during different historical eras. Jewish groups have developed a highly flexible array of strategies in order to minimize the effects of anti-Semitism. Here I emphasize the strategies of crypsis during periods of persecution and community controls emanating from within the Jewish community proscribing Jewish behavior likely to lead to anti-Semitism. I also describe attempts to obtain favorable policies toward Jews by influencing the political process via lobbying and by payments to, personal relationships with, and performing indispensable services for gentile political leaders or elites. I also discuss various image-management strategies, including recruiting gentiles to support Jewish causes as well as controlling the public image of Judaism via censorship of defamatory materials and the dissemination of scholarly material supporting Jewish interests.

Chapter 7 discusses the long history of rationalizations of Judaism, particularly in the areas of historiography, religious apologia, and the development of Jewish theories of Judaism. Examples are provided indicating that Jewish religious and secular ideologies are highly malleable and are thus able to serve immediate needs for developing a positive conceptualization of the Jewish ingroup. These ideologies function to promote group allegiance among Jews as well as to present a positive image of Judaism to gentiles.

Many of the rationalizations of Judaism mentioned in Chapter 7 appear to involve deception and/or self-deception, and these themes are continued in Chapter 8. Jewish self-deception touches on a variety of issues, including personal identity, the causes and extent of anti-Semitism, the characteristics of Jews (e.g., economic success), and the role of Jews in the political and cultural process in traditional and contemporary societies. I argue that Jews, and especially those who strongly identify as Jews, would be relatively prone to self-deception by ignoring or rationalizing negative information about themselves and their ingroup.

Finally, the concluding chapter discusses whether Judaism has ceased to be an evolutionary strategy because of the current levels of intermarriage among some groups of diaspora Jews. Briefly, I argue that reports of the demise of Judaism'the "ever-dying people"'are greatly exaggerated.

Reviews of SEPARATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism

Stephen K. Sanderson, Human Ethology Bulletin 13(4), 20-23, 1998. "I am certainly no expert on anti-Semitism, but my knowledge of the evolutionary biology of ethnicity and of the evidence presented by MacDonald suggests to me that a great deal of what he says rings true. Perhaps the most crucial things that have to be explained are that Jews have evoked anti-Semitic reactions almost everywhere they have gone, and that the nature of these reactions has been remarkably similar in diverse times and places. Theoretically, what intrigues me most about MacDonald's work on Judaism is his suggestion that not only the Jews, but Near Eastern peoples in general, have been biologically predisposed to be higher than average on collectivist and ethnocentric personality traits.... [Sanderson has reservations about my theoretical discussion of cultural group selection, but] this criticism of MacDonald should not be allowed to detract too much from what really is a remarkable, and remarkably courageous effort. MacDonald's books on Judaism have been an exceptional intellectual experience for me, and I eagerly look forward to reading his third book on Judaism."

Aurelío José Figueredo, Politics and Life Sciences, 18, 136-138, 1999. The question of [MacDonald's] anti-Semitism is not an easy one to answer because it may be framed to refer to the author's intent which is not easy to determine. Having heard MacDonald hold forth on this subject on various occasions, my subjective impression is that his expressed affective response to Judaism is one of almost glowing admiration. Other than that, I cannot read minds. Objectively speaking, I can only judge whether the content of the book is inherently anti-Semitic, and my understanding of this theory is that it is not. MacDonald is very careful not to accuse Judaism of any particularly heinous or unusually pernicious practices in interethnic competition. He credits Jewish people with exactly the same instincts for survival and reproduction as the rest of the human race. The only reason he expects a strong negative response to Judaism on the part of rival ethnic groups is the relative success of that strategy in achieving what are otherwise universal human aspirations.

What might offend some of his readers is the matter-of-fact description of anti-Semitism as a set of evolved countermeasures to this otherwise highly successful strategy. There is no more a tone of moral outrage here than in his treatment of the competitive strategies (not all of them pleasant) historically associated with Judaism itself. MacDonald's tone is equally calm and descriptive throughout . He genuinely appears to be trying to figure out why people do the things they do to each other, for good or ill, and proceeds as if emotionalism might get in the way....

[MacDonald] does not see Judaism as a monolithic entity, but instead as a collection of diverse adaptive strategies that are often at odds with each other. MacDonald recognizes that individuals may adhere or not to group norms based on self-interest, and posits a specific psychological mechanism for making this computation in both Jews and non-Jews. Thus, for Judaism to work as a group strategy, it must recruit the cooperation of individuals by manipulating this monitoring mechanism such that the interests of each group member are sufficiently confluent with those of the group.

In summary, although this book raises many troubling issues for both Jews and Gentiles, it is definitely worth reading because it is important for all of us to take a good hard look at ourselves. It is not pleasant to have one's elaborate self-serving self-deceptions closely scrutinized, especially by others, but it is arguably necessary to our continued coexistence and survival on this planet.

Richard Lynn, Patterns of Prejudice (London), 33, 90-91, 1999. "MacDonald's book represents a major paradigm shift in the application of psychological theory to the understanding of antisemitism.... [MacDonald's thesis] is essentially that ethnocentrism is a fundamental component of the human psyche, and one that has become biologically programmed because it has conferred survival advantages during the course of human evolution. He presents a persuasive case for a new understanding not only of antisemitism but of the wider problems of ethnic and racial conflict."

Christopher Badcock: Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 200, 2000."The author argues that powerful group strategies tend to generate opposing ones that in many respects are their mirror images. Chapter 6 discusses Jewish responses to anti-Semitism, and Chapter 7 deals with reactive aspects of Jewish culture to anti-Jewish rhetoric. Here MacDonald is perhaps at his most interesting, particularly when discussing deception and self-deception as evolutionary strategies for groups.... Whatever one may think of this undertaking, there seems no doubting that the evolutionary paradigm is building on its successes in biology and rapidly becoming the basis of normal discourse in the humanities and the social sciences. Whether it will succeed in giving better insights into topics like anti-Semitism than its predecessors remains to be seen, but the trend seems unstoppable, and where MacDonald has boldly gone, many more are likely to follow."

Robert Pois: Separation and Its Discontents has been reviewed by Robert Pois, a historian at the University of Colorado, on the internet journal IDEA: A Journal of Social Issues.

Pois's rather negative review and my reply may be accessed by clicking on the following links:

Pois's Review:

My response: 

Kevin Hannan: Slavic and East European Journal, 46, 163-165, 2003. "This book is easily accessible for those interested in ethnicity and ethnic conflict, and provactive in many respects. In his discussion of Slavic-Jewish relations, MacDonald raises issues that should be debated further, from the perspectives of both historical research and evolutionary psychology."

Louis R. Andrews: Another online review is by Louis R. Andrews in the online journal pinc: politically incorrect. This very thorough and positive review may be seen in its entirety by clicking this link: 

The following are excerpts from Andrews' review:
Understanding a difficult problem is a good (and often necessary) first step toward a solution. Unfortunately, in this as with so many critical issues, there are powerful forces on all sides that see political and social advantages in blame and name-calling. If widely read, Separation and Its Discontents could provide a framework for such understanding.

Edward O. Wilson, in his new book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge notes how far removed much of sociology is from the natural sciences. He writes that most sociologists are "fearful of biology and determined to avoid it. Even psychology is treated gingerly." Wilson argues that four factors (parsimony, generality, consilience, and predictiveness) are key to a good theory in any field. By these measures MacDonald has not only developed a good theory, but one to which non-biophobic sociologists should lend a willing ear.

Given the volatility of most discussions of ingroup-outgroup relations, it is important to note that Professor MacDonald nevertheless maintains a generally emotionally uninvolved and at times even clinically detached approach. Still, professional Jews, Christians, and Anti-Semites (i.e., those with a strong emotional involvement in their specific group identities) will all find much here with which to take offense.

Like the first volume, this book is well footnoted and indexed, and MacDonald provides many references (primarily from Jewish sources) on each page. The bibliography alone is over thirty pages. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in gentile/Jewish relations or merely issues of persistent group conflict and social/evolutionary theory.

Malcolm James Ree: Personnel Psychology 53, 253-255, 2000. This review consists of a good summary of the main ideas but concludes with some qualms about my methodology.
"This is a book for the intellect, not for practical applications. The author is Professor of Psychology at the California State University, Long Beach and this is the second book in a trilogy about Judaism as investigated by evolutionary psychological theory. The first was published by Praeger in 1994 and was entitled A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy. Most of us in the pluralistic western world find it odd to think about religion as an evolutionary strategy. Perhaps the issue is that we tend to think of a strategy as being deliberate and always under our voluntary control. The voluntary model of strategy is persistent, but it is neither mandatory nor necessarily complete. Right now, you probably have a nonvoluntary evolutionary strategy at work. It might be in genes for specific proteins that extend or shorten your life, or it may be a habit or set of habits that influence your ability to produce and nurture offspring or the offsprings of your offsprings. In this nonvoluntary model, the genetic component of diabetes has evolutionary impact, as does your habit of avoiding or engaging in risky behavior. Once past the limited voluntary notion of strategy, Separation and Its Discontents can be understood as an investigation into the causes of anti-Semitism and responses to anti-Semitism....

My previous experience with evolutionary psychology analysis has been limited to a couple books and discussions with a few faculty members (now mostly former faculty members) at the University of Texas. In reading MacDonald I must give pause to consider his work and evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology supported by quantitative data seems easier for me to accept than that supported by qualitative data. Some quantitative data, particularly about DNA, are available. Sans quantitative data, MacDonald earnestly tries to test hypotheses by presenting quotes from texts both old and new and from mostly European experiences. I find myself questioning this type of qualitative analysis.

In this book, there are numerous references to rabbinical writings and the writing of now prominent churchmen. What I find troubling is the potential for biased sampling. What survived can be evaluated. What was destroyed or lost cannot. Consider a future evolutionary psychologist trying to study anti-Semitism in the second half of 20th-century America. Now imagine that he only comes across the Henry Ford publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or only comes across President Ford's upbraiding of an Army General for anti-Semitic remarks. If our investigator only comes across one of these, the story told will be the one that survived. Now imagine that by accident or on purpose, the preponderance of remaining evidence is contrary to the actual situation. How then shall we know how to credit qualitative evidence, especially in studying the past? Despite this, I look forward to the third book in the trilogy, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements.

Riveting Rescue of Ethnic Conflict Analysis from Taboo, Bias
The following review is on; posted November 11, 1998:
Reviewed by Anthony Hilton (, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Hilton is a semi-retired professor of psychology at Concordia University in Montréal.
In the red corner is Daniel Goldhagen, on a winning streak with his book, Hitler's Willing Executioners, which rules out several conceivable 'causes' of the European massacre of Jews, before finally deciding that the real culprit was a totally, 100% fantasized delusion, shared by most Germans, that a relatively minuscule group of Jews constituted a danger.

In the blue corner, is Kevin MacDonald's Separation and Its Discontents (SAID), his second volume on Judaism as an 'evolutionary group strategy', this one documenting the idea that while humans everywhere are prone to ethnocentric, exaggerated fantasy, along with that exaggeration there is often, nevertheless, a much more prosaic 'cause' of massacres, namely an intense competition for resources. SAID examines historical evidence, often from Jewish historians, from the standpoint of the (Darwinian) biological and social evolution of ethnic group strategies and of 'social identity theory', the currently influential articulation of the linkages between cognitive processes such as group categorization and social motivational processes. It will be a valuable companion to other books on numerically small ethnies who have survived in the diaspora (e.g., Hutterites). (Do some attract less hostility than others?)

This is an academic book, but accessible enough for readers of, say, The Economist or The Atlantic. MacDonald's work is an 'emperor-has-no-clothes' challenge to much conventional wisdom about anti-Semitism. Competition for resources is easily not thought of as a cause of anti-Semitism given that Jewish economic activities are considered by so many (especially Jews) as perfectly normal, productive, and non-violent , so what's the big deal? Even if Jews have been especially competent at these activities, they are surely not unique in undertaking them. This overlooks : (1) the distinction drawn by Frank Forman between 'legitimate' vs. 'illegitimate' competition as well as the frequent ruthlessness and emotionality of ordinary economic competition illustrated by biker gangs killing each other off over the drug trade; (2) monopolies: when a 'company' becomes monopolistic (e.g., Microsoft), no one is surprised by anti-monopoly laws, but for monopolistic ethnies, there are no analogous regulatory bodies; (3) the existence of non-exploitive, non-zero-sum commerce as when, say, a traditional Chinese merchant willingly renegotiates a contract if the trading partner does not derive 'equal' benefit. The evidence in SAID is that from Roman Empire times through post-Emancipation Europe, Jewish economic activities, often perceived as exploitative, typically were introduced into contexts of otherwise relatively non-exploitative commerce within gentile groups, and were then followed by 'reactive' anti-Semitism (not the reverse).

MacDonald concludes that the National Socialism of (Nazi) Germany was not only a reaction to but a 'mirror image' of what Jews were doing. The similarities, he says, lie in the common focus on genetic purity (and endogamy), eugenic practices, cooperation within the cohesive ingroup, and hostility to and denigration of outgroups (seen in the original Hebrew versions of Jewish religious texts [see Israel Shahak's (1994) Jewish History, Jewish Religion; John Hartung's (1995) 'Love thy neighbor'(Skeptic Magazine, 3{November}:86-99)]. But where in the mirrored images of Jewish activities does one find the massacre of six million gentiles? Nowhere, of course, circa Weimar Germany. But think of the Biblical Joshua's still celebrated genocide of the Canaanites, and the ongoing and frequently murderous actions taken by Jews in Israel against Palestinian Arabs (e.g., Deir Yassin; Baruch Goldstein), approved of by surprising percentages of Israeli Jews. And does not the Israeli theft of Arab land 'mirror' the Nazi theft of Jewish wealth, placed in Swiss banks? MacDonald doesn't remotely suggest that European Jews DESERVED to die for their group strategy but rather tries to UNDERSTAND what happened. The relentlessness of the documentation of what anti-Semites were angry about for many centuries may suggest to Jewish readers that he is trying to stir up anger at Jews all over again. But consider recent newspaper reports of a few Chinese controlling over 4/5ths of the Indonesian economy: our greater understanding surely doesn't make us feel that those Chinese merit death. Furthermore, MacDonald is interested in all 'group strategies' and their consequences, whether Gypsy, English, or whatever.

Darwinists have a capacity for facing unpleasant truths which is sometimes misinterpreted as personal approval for whatever disaster some group has suffered. Darwinists are also determined truth seekers, and deception and self-deception are common themes in evolutionary psychology; hence the descriptions in SAID of efforts to portray one's group as altruistic rather than competitive. Nevertheless, a book about tornados invites queries on storm shelters. However objective they strive to be, social scientists often have a personal interest in reducing ethnic conflict if not threats to their own group. How then can groups respond to cohesive groups of Jews, Gypsies, Hutterites, or Chinese many of which from now on will have a global reach? Should they mimic their strategies ('mirror image') or try to get them to back off their ultra-group-mindedness and assimilate into surrounding societies? SAID does contrast the apparently non-genocidal strategies (basically boycotts) of some Muslim ethnies with that of the Nazis. But the latter had been petrified by the Bolshevik massacres of millions in Russia (which Germans perceived, controversially, as an ethnic conflict between communist Jews and Russian peasants!) Of interest here is the evolutionary psychology literature on reciprocity with its variations on the theme of 'tit-for-tat' by which initial cooperation with another group would be replaced by 'non-cooperation' if rebuffed. But SAID is not really an advice book; it is simply a scientific examination of a particular ethnic group's strategies and their sequellae. Some readers, their view of history possibly turned upside down, may be pinching themselves. Historical evidence, even the 'reluctant testimony' of Jewish historians, is notoriously difficult to assess, especially for non-historians. But if there are historical errors in SAID, critics can be expected to home in on them soon. Meanwhile for anyone genuinely concerned about (any) inter-ethnic hostility, SAID is a must-read. Thanks to Praeger for its courage in publishing it!

Richard Machalek, Department of Sociology, University of Wyoming, European Sociobiological Newsletter, #53, September 2000.
[I]t is worth devoting a bit of attention to some of the ideological perils and pitfalls associated with explanations that try to explain how the traits and behaviors of victims can contribute to their own victimization, an issue that is by no means unique to the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. As MacDonald sees it, Judaism as a "group evolutionary strategy" has bestowed rich somatic and reproductive benefits on Jewish populations while, simultaneously, earning them opprobrium, hostility, and persecution. To some critics, MacDonald's analysis will appear to be a classic example of "blaming the victim," an expression popularized by William Ryan's book (1976) by the same title. To "blame the victim," of course, is to misattribute the causes of a victim's human-inflicted suffering to the victim him/herself rather than to pin the blame on the perpetrator of the crime, "where it belongs." MacDonald himself is keenly aware of his vulnerability to this sort of criticism, and, in fact, he attempts to defend himself in the preface (p. viii) by disavowing that he is launching either "personal or ethnic attacks" in his book.

The charge of "blaming the victim," however, suggests a related idea that has a fairly old pedigree in contemporary criminology: the idea of a "victim precipitated crime" (von Hentig 1948, Wolfgang 1958). The notion of a victim precipitated crime was developed to explain certain types of homicide wherein the victim behaved in manner so as to elicit an assault by his/her murderer. Often, the murder is a product of retaliation. No "blame" is assigned in this type of explanation. Rather, a sequence of behaviors and counter-behaviors that result in a homicide is identified. Such crimes are not uncommon, and criminologists estimate that from 25% to 50% of homicides in the U.S. may be of this variety.

The notion of victim precipitated crime could be interpreted by critics as simply another form of "victim blaming." However, this does not give criminologists license to ignore the empirical possibility that the traits or behaviors of victims themselves may, in certain circumstances, contribute to the causation of the very crimes from which they suffer. Another example of this dynamic has been identified by the evolutionary scientists Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer in their recent book A Natural History of Rape (1999). Thornhill and Palmer explain that a woman's risk of being raped is influenced by a constellation of factors that determine her "attractiveness' (pp. 179-183), and they argue that it is a disservice to potential rape victims to pretend that attributes and behaviors of a woman are not potential causal contributors to her victimization. It is clear that Thornhill and Palmer are interested in identifying causes of rape so that policies for preventing this crime, including educational programs, can be inaugurated to reduce the incidence of this horrendous crime. Yet, they have already been accused of "blaming the victim."
MacDonald's explanatory approach, like that of Thornhill and Palmer, makes him vulnerable to the charge that he is "blaming the victim," a possibility to which we must remain ever vigilant. Yet, although many of his critics will dismiss his explanation as but another example of victim blaming, the logic of his analysis of anti-Semitism, however fraught with dangerous ideological, political and moral pitfalls, deserves serious and careful consideration. One does not condone rape by identifying traits and behaviors that can place a woman at risk of victimization. If one identifies traits and behaviors that put the members of any separatist group at risk of harm inflicted by another group, does one thereby condone ethnic prejudice, discrimination, and persecution?

The entire review may be found at: 

Although not a review, Paul Rubin, an academic economist, published negative comments on some of the ideas contained in Separation and Its Discontents:
Rubin, P. (2000). Does ethnic conflict pay? Politics and the Life Sciences 19, 59-68.
I have replied to these comments at length in the preface to the paperback edition of Separation and Its Discontents (1stbooks Library, 2004). My reply to Rubin deals with several conceptual issues important for understanding the history of anti-Jewish attitudes. has quite a few  reviews of the hardback and the paperback editions.

III. Summary of The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements.Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. ISBN: 0-275-96113-3; Paperback version: Bloomington, IN: 1stbooks Library, 2002.

This is the Preface to the paperback edition: 


The following is from the Preface to the original hardcover edition:
This book is the third and final volume developing an evolutionary perspective on Judaism. Ethnic conflict is a recurrent theme throughout the first two volumes, and that theme again takes center stage in this work. However, whereas in the previous works ethnic conflict consisted mainly of recounting the oftentimes bloody dynamics of Jewish-gentile conflict over the broad expanse of historical time, the focus here is on the world of ideas and ideologies. The emphasis shifts to a single century and to several very influential intellectual and political movements that have been spearheaded by people who strongly identified as Jews and who viewed their involvement in these movements as serving Jewish interests. Particular attention will be paid to the Boasian school of anthropology, psychoanalysis, leftist political ideology and behavior, the New York Intellectuals, and the Frankfurt School of Social Research. In addition, I describe Jewish efforts to shape United States Immigration policy in opposition to the interests of the peoples of non-Jewish European descent, particularly the peoples of Northern and Western Europe. An important thesis is that all of these movements may be seen as attempts to alter Western societies in a manner which would neutralize or end anti-Semitism and provide for Jewish group continuity either in an overt or in a semi-cryptic manner. At a theoretical level, these movements are viewed as the outcome of the fact that Jews and gentiles have different interests in the construction of culture and in various public policy issues (e.g., immigration policy).

Jewish influence on immigration policy is therefore an important topic of CofC. This is the chapter on immigration from the book: 

My views on this topic are corroborated by the following from Hugh Davis Graham's Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002; pp. 5657):

In attempting to gauge Jewish influence in various areas, it is easy to suppose that I am viewing Judaism in a monolithic manner. This definitely not the case. In each case that I discuss, the procedure is as follows:

(1.) Find influential movements dominated by Jews, with no implication that all or most Jews are involved in these movements and no restrictions on what the movements were (e.g., I touch on Jewish neo-Conservatism which is a departure in some ways from the other movements I discuss). In general, relatively few Jews were involved in these movements and significant numbers of Jews may have been unaware of their existence. Even Jewish leftist radicalism was probably a minority movement within Jewish communities in the United States and other Western societies for most periods. As a result, when I criticize these movements I am not criticizing most Jews. Nevertheless, these movements were influential and they were Jewishly motivated.

(2.) Determine whether the Jewish participants in those movements identified as Jews AND thought of their involvement in the movement as advancing specific Jewish interests. Involvement may be unconscious or involve self-deception, but for the most part it was quite easy and straightforward to find evidence for these propositions. If I thought that self-deception was important (as in the case of many Jewish radicals), I found evidence that in fact they did identify as Jews and were deeply concerned about Jewish issues despite surface appearances to the contrary.

(3.) Try to gauge the influence of these movements on gentile society. Keep in mind that the influence of an intellectual or political movement dominated by Jews is independent of the percentage of the Jewish community that is involved in the movement or supports the movement.

(4.) Try to show how non-Jews responded to these movements; e.g., were they a source of anti-Semitism?

Regarding point (2.) above, as I wrote in Chapter 1 of The Culture of Critique:

Since the Enlightenment, Judaism has never been a unified, monolithic movement, and there has clearly been a great deal of disagreement among Jews as to how to protect themselves and attain their interests during this period. The movements discussed in this volume (Boasian anthropology, political radicalism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School of Social Research, and the New York Intellectuals) were advanced by relatively few individuals whose views may not have been known or understood by the majority of the Jewish community. The argument is that Jews dominated these intellectual movements, that a strong sense of Jewish identity was characteristic of the great majority of these individuals, and that these individuals were pursuing a Jewish agenda in establishing and participating in these movements.... There is no implication that Judaism constitutes a unified movement or that all segments of the Jewish community participated in these movements. Jews may constitute a predominant or necessary element in radical political movements or movements in the social sciences, and Jewish identification may be highly compatible with or even facilitate these movements without most Jews being involved in these movements. As a result, the question of the overall effects of Jewish influences on gentile culture is independent of the question of whether most or all Jews supported the movements to alter gentile culture.

This distinction is important because on the one hand anti-Semites have often implicitly or explicitly assumed that Jewish involvement in radical political movements was part of an overarching Jewish strategy that also included wealthy Jewish capitalists, as well as Jewish involvement in the media, the academy, and other areas of public life. On the other hand, Jews attempting to defuse the anti-Semitism resulting from the fact that Jews have played a predominant role in many radical political movements have often pointed to the fact that only a minority of Jews are involved and that gentiles are also involved in the movements. Thus, for example, the standard response of the American Jewish Committee in the 1930s and 1940s to the predominance of Jews in radical political movements was to emphasize that most Jews were not radicals. Nevertheless, during this same period the AJCommittee undertook efforts to combat radicalism in the Jewish community (e.g., Cohen 1972). The AJCommittee was implicitly recognizing that statements that only a minority of Jews are radicals may indeed have been true but were irrelevant to whether (1) Jewish identification is compatible with or facilitates involvement in radical political movements, (2) Jews constitute a predominant or necessary element in radical political movements, or (3) influences on gentile society resulting from Jewish predominance in radical movements (or the other Jewish intellectual movements reviewed in this volume) may be conceptualized as a consequence of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.

Similarly, the fact that most Jews prior to the 1930s were not Zionists, at least overtly, surely does not imply that Jewish identification was irrelevant to Zionism, or that Jews did not in fact constitute a predominant influence on Zionism, or that Zionism did not have effects on gentile societies, or that some gentiles did not become ardent Zionists. Political radicalism has been one choice among many available to Jews in the post-Enlightenment world, and there is no implication here that Judaism constitutes a monolithic unified group in the post-Enlightenment world. That Jews have been more likely than gentiles to choose radical political alternatives and that Jews have been a predominant influence in some radical political movements are therefore facts highly relevant to the present project.

That some gentiles were involved in these movements is not surprising either. At a theoretical level, my thinking is based once again on an evolutionary interpretation of social identity theory (see Separation and Its Discontents, Ch. 1). Gentiles may be attracted to the political and intellectual movements that attract Jews and for many of the same reasons, that is, reasons related to social identification and ingroup-outgroup competition. For example, African American intellectuals have often been attracted to leftist intellectual movements and environmentalist explanations of racial group differences in IQ at least partly as a reaction to their perceptions of white animosity and the consequent implications of genetic inferiority. In the same way, I argue that anti-Semitism has been a motivating force for many Jewish intellectuals. Recall the motivating role of self-esteem as a theoretical primitive in social identity theory [See Separation and Its Discontents, Chapter 1]. A great many people who, for whatever reason, feel victimized by a particular sociopolitical system are attracted to movements that criticize the system, blame others for their problems, and generally vindicate their own positive perceptions of themselves and their ingroup as well as their negative perceptions of out-groups. In each of the intellectual and political movements I review, Jewish identification and a concern to combat anti-Semitism were clearly involved....

[In summary, I do] not imply that all strongly identified Jewish social scientists participated in the movements discussed in the following chapters. [I imply] only that Jewish identification and perceived Jewish interests were a powerful motivating force among those who led these movements and among many of their followers. These scientist-activists had very strong Jewish identities. They were very concerned with anti-Semitism and self-consciously developed theories aimed at showing that Jewish behavior was irrelevant to anti-Semitism while at same time (in the case of psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School) showing that gentile ethnocentrism and participation in cohesive anti-Semitic movements were indications of psychopathology.

Moreover, I do not argue that there are no Jews who do good social science, and in fact I provide a list of prominent Jewish social scientists who in my opinion do not meet the conditions outlined under (2) above. If we found that these social scientists identified as Jews and actually had a Jewish agenda in doing social science (definitely not in the case of most of those listed in The Culture of Critique; but possibly true in the case Richard Herrnstein (see below), then they would have been candidates for inclusion in the book. In the case of the people that I cite as contributing to evolutionary/biological perspectives, they are indeed ethnically Jewish, but for most of them I have no idea if they either identity as Jews or if they have a Jewish agenda in pursuing their research, simply because there is no evidence to be found in their work or elsewhere. If someone comes up with evidence that a prominent evolutionary biologist identifies as a Jew and views his work in sociobiology as advancing Jewish agendas, then he should have been in The Culture of Critique as an example of the phenomenon under study rather than as simply a scientist working in the area of evolutionary biology. Interestingly, in the case of one of those I mention, Richard J. Herrnstein, Alan Ryan (1994, 11) states, 'Herrnstein essentially wants the world in which clever Jewish kids or their equivalent make their way out of their humble backgrounds and end up running Goldman Sachs or the Harvard physics department.' This is a stance that is typical, I suppose, of neo-conservatives, a Jewish movement I discuss in several places, and it is the sort of thing that, if true, would suggest that Herrnstein did perceive the issues discussed in The Bell Curve as affecting Jewish interests in a way that Charles Murray did not. (Ryan contrasts Murray's and Herrnstein's world views: 'Murray wants the Midwest in which he grew up'a world in which the local mechanic didn't care two cents whether he was or wasn't brighter than the local math teacher.')

Similarly, twentieth-century theoretical physics does not qualify as a Jewish ideological strategy precisely because it was good science and there are no signs of ethnic involvement in its creation (i.e., Jewish identification and pursuit of Jewish interests were not important to the content of the theories or to the conduct of the intellectual movement). Yet Jews have been heavily overrepresented among the ranks of theoretical physicists. This conclusion remains true even though Einstein, the leading figure among Jewish physicists, was a strongly motivated Zionist (Fölsing 1997, 494-505), opposed assimilation as a contemptible form of 'mimicry' (p. 490), preferred to mix with other Jews whom he referred to as his 'tribal companions' (pp. 489, embraced the uncritical support for the Bolshevik regime in Russia so typical of Jews during the 1920's and 1930's including persistent apology for the Moscow show trials in the 1930's (pp. 644-5), and switched from a high-minded pacifism during World War I when Jewish interests were not at stake to advocating the building of atomic bombs to defend against Hitler. From his teenage years he disliked the Germans and in later life criticized Jewish colleagues for converting to Christianity and acting like Prussians. He especially disliked Prussians, who were the elite ethnic group within the nation. Reviewing his life at age 73, Einstein declared his ethnic affiliation in no uncertain terms: '[M]y relationship with Jewry had become my strongest human tie once I achieved complete clarity about our precarious position among the nations' (in Fölsing 1997; p. 488). Einstein, according to Fölsing had begun developing this clarity from an early age, and his Jewish identity was only disguised by self deception: '[A]s a young man with bourgeois-liberal views and a belief in enlightenment, he had refused to acknowledge this' (in Fölsing 1997; p. 488).

In other words, the issues of the ethnic identification and even ethnic activism on the part of people like Einstein are entirely separate from the issue of whether such people viewed the content of the theories themselves as furthering ethnic interests, and there is no evidence that they did so. The same cannot be said for Freudianism, the New York Intellectuals, the Boasians, and the Frankfurt School in which 'scientific' theories were fashioned and deployed to advance ethnic group interests. This ideological purpose becomes ever clearer when the unscientific nature of these movements is understood, and much of the discussion in The Culture of Critique is focused on critiquing the conduct of these intellectual movements by noting the dishonesty, the lack of empirical rigor, the obvious political and ethnic motivation, the exclusionary stance toward dissenters, the collusion among co-ethnics to dominate intellectual and academic discourse, and the general lack of scientific spirit that pervaded them. In my view, the scientific weakness of these movements is evidence of their group-strategic function.

I certainly do not exempt myself from the scrutiny I have directed toward the intellectual and political movements discussed in The Culture of Critique. From Chapter 1,

No evolutionist should be surprised at the implicit theory in all this, namely, that intellectual activities of all types may at bottom involve ethnic warfare, any more than one should be surprised at the fact that political and religious ideologies typically reflect the interests of those holding them. The truly doubtful proposition for an evolutionist is whether real social science as a disinterested attempt to understand human behavior is at all possible.
One might reasonably suspect that I am exhibiting my own ethnic biases and interests in developing these arguments and this may indeed be the case. I am quite aware that subtle and unconscious biases may color anyone's work and I do not exempt myself from this problem. Issues related to deception and self-deception and issues related to attributional biases in favor of self, relatives, and ingroup should certainly not surprise an evolutionist. In the end, however, all we can do is attempt to avoid these biases as best we can.
Fölsing, A. (1997/1993). Albert Einstein. New York: Penguin.

Ryan, A. (1994). Apocalypse now? (Review of The Bell Curve, by R. J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray.) The New York Review of Books 41(19): 7-11.


"The Marx of the Anti-Semites" by John Derbyshire:
The American Conservative, March 10, 2003

My Reply: 

"Is MacDonald a Scholar?" Frank K. Salter: Human Ethology Bulletin, September, 2000.

Salter's entire review is here: 


Apart from the political sensitivity of the subject, much of the problem facing MacDonald is that his knowledge is often too far ahead of his detractors to allow easy communication; there are not enough shared premises for constructive dialog. Unfortunately the knowledge gap is closing slowly because some of his most hostile critics, including colleagues who make serious ad hominem accusations, have not bothered to read MacDonald's books....

On a personal note, it is overdue that John Tooby and Steven Pinker applied their professional skills seriously to critique MacDonald's work in the appropriate scientific forums. This now seems obligatory as a matter of professional duty given the severity of their attack on a colleague who has refrained from ad hominems throughout this sorry event. Still, it is now too late to reverse the harm done to both MacDonald's and probably HBES's reputation by what can only be judged reckless, unscholarly, and plain uncivil slurs. For these they should apologize....

MacDonald presents his readers with a broad and detailed scholarship that can usually be challenged only through matching his assiduous attention to many specialist literatures. I have made no attempt here to critique his theories beyond noting their mainstream documentation, but some of his most visible opponents have done even less, while adding personal and very public attacks to their criticisms. Unfortunately for those who rebel at his empirical claims, these are mostly not MacDonald's assertions but the expert opinions of leaders in various scholarly and scientific fields. Certainly, whether his theories are ultimately viable or not, MacDonald is a scholar of considerable analytical power and scope....

[F]or me what is most impressive, and this is the achievement of Culture of Critique, MacDonald has shown theoretical and methodological pathways linking the micro-level analysis of human behaviour with the macro-level dynamics of contemporary culture. He has done so on a narrow front, in a monumental case study of social relations affecting one people's struggle to survive and prosper, but that is a big start.

Kevin Hannan, Nationalities Papers, 28(4) (November 2000), 741-742.
[MacDonald's] iconoclastic evaluation of psychoanalysis, Marxism, multiculturalism, and certain schools of thought in the social sciences will not generate great enthusiasm for his work in academe, yet this book is well written and has much to offer the reader interested in ethnicity and ethnic conflict.

A Race Apart. Paul Gottfried:Chronicles,June 2000, 27-29:

Kevin MacDonald's study of the Jewish people in sociobiological perspective will not likely help his career, for reasons having nothing to do with the author's scholarship or his accumulation of pertinent evidence. While treating his subjects respectfully, attributing to Ashkenazic Jews a mean I.Q. one standard deviation higher than that of white gentiles, he commits the indiscretion of describing Jewish behavioral characteristics noted as well by anti-Semites: for example, an aggressive demeanor toward the core cultures of host peoples in combination with the practice of ritually and socially prescribed separation from gentiles, which he ascribes to a form of collective consciousness that may be inborn as well as culturally acquired. MacDonald presents this consciousness as endemic to a group that has worked strenuously to preserve its genotypal identity....
Click here for more of the review and two rounds of exchange between Gottfried and me: 

The Jewish Question Once Again. Hugh Perry: The Occidental Quarterly: Volume I, Number 2
Published by Praeger of Westport, Connecticut, MacDonald's books, A People that Shall Dwell Alone (1994), Separation and Its Discontents (1998) and The Culture of Critique (1998) bring a high degree of intellectual sophistication and scholarship to the Jewish question. The author launches no emotional jihads. In fact, until the end of the last volume there is little hint of where he feels the data he has amassed should lead the reader.

Essentially, MacDonald believes that Judaism is a 'group evolutionary strategy.' It has emphasized several qualities such as 'separation, altruism and community control' that have enabled Jews to endure throughout the centuries when other ancient peoples have long since disappeared. In addition, MacDonald sees Jewry as having 'emphasized eugenic practices and cultural practices that foster a specific set of phenotypic traits (especially intelligence, high' investment parenting and allegiance to the group) that are advantageous in stratified human societies. By specializing in these traits, Jews have been able to compete successfully with gentile members of many societies for positions in which literacy and intelligence are important.' As time has gone by 'Jews have become specialized for occupational niches at the upper levels of the human energy pyramid.' They are the 'consumers of energy produced by lower -- status gentile members of society, laboring in the areas of primary production.'

However, MacDonald's thesis goes much further. It is not simply a case of the Jews doing better than gentiles in certain basic skills and thereby enabling themselves to the fruits of their labor. The Jews also pursue a policy of criticizing gentile social assumptions and stability and seek to undermine the group homogeneity of gentile societies. 'To a considerable extent,' MacDonald writes, 'the fons et origo of the social policies and cultural shifts that have resulted in the dangerous situation now rapidly developing in the United States has been the Jewish dominated intellectual and political movements...' The Jewish strategy has gone so far that today it is 'questionable' whether in the immediate future 'Western individualist societies are able to defend the legitimate interests of the European-derived peoples.'

MacDonald ably demonstrates the prominent role that Jews have played in those intellectual movements of the twentieth century that have effectively destroyed Western gentile cultures' self perception. This critique has been launched on two fronts. Through Freudianism, Marxism, and the Old and New Lefts it has made war against the religious, moral, aesthetic, and behavioral norms of gentile groups. Second, in their role as originators and popularizers of the Boasian view of anthropology and the Frankfort School of Social Research, Jews have sought to discredit all gentile group allegiances as either illusory (Franz Boas) or mentally deranged (Frankfort School). To a large extent many of the conclusions of all the above critiques form the ruling ideology of contemporary America and Europe....

In MacDonald's description of Judaic influences the picture is of conflict between Jews and non-Jews. Missing is the simple fact that for many gentiles there is no such conflict and has not been one for centuries. As just quoted, Oliver maintained that the decline of the white world is to be found in 'its own fatuity and degeneracy.'

The entire review can be found at: 
Click on:
The Occidental Quarterly: Volume I, Number 2

Review by Dwight D. Murphy, a retired law professor formerly at the University of Wichita.

This is one of the more important books of our time, and deserves to be studied seriously by every student of modern life and by everyone who cares about whether Western civilization continues its slide into oblivion.
Kevin MacDonald, professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, examines honestly, dispassionately and courageously the role that ethnically-conscious Jews have played during the past century in the many movements that have made up what I and others have called "the alienation of the intellectual" (against the mainstream of Western society).  MacDonald doesn't speak of "alienation," but instead of a "culture of critique," which is the same thing.

So great has that Jewish involvement been that it constitutes a fact of major significance in understanding the alienation and its power.  In Chapter 11 of my book Understanding the Modern Predicament, I examined several causes of the alienation.  The discussion there is certainly incomplete without adding the details of MacDonald's study.  The role of Jews in cultural alienation should be added as a major, and often central, ingredient.
 At the same time, it is important to notice that MacDonald is giving a conscientious rendering of only one part of a much larger phenomenon.  His book in itself shows no awareness that the "intelligentsia" has been alienated against the "bourgeoisie" for thousands of years -- for many centuries on behalf of aristocratic values and then, beginning in the early eighteenth century, on behalf of whatever allies it could recruit in an ideological war against the man of industry and commerce, and indeed against the entire way of life of an "individualist" society.  What MacDonald says informs us that a great many Jews, pursuing ethnically-conscious aims, have been part of that more recent phase of the alienation (although he speaks only to the twentieth century and does not include the eighteenth and nineteenth).  But, we must add: so have a great many non-Jews.  The alienation, and the ideological seeking of allies seriatum in all disaffected or unassimilated groups, has been a much larger movement than one of "evolutionary strategy on the part of Jews."  It has encompassed the entire Left and the anti-bourgeois Right, including fascism and Nazism and their progenitors, and has claimed many fathers, gentile and Jew alike.  (See Benda's famous The Treason of the Intellectuals, where he tells of the flaming anti-bourgeois thinking of the nineteenth century in Europe.)
The entire review can be seen at: 

Review by "Stanley Hornbeck" appearing in American Renaissance as archived on the American Renaissance website. This review is a good example of the reception my books have received from pro-European ethnic activists. 

Another such review, by Ian Buckley, in Spearhead, a UK publication: 

Review by Texas Dissident on Original Dissent:

This is a review in Polish:  ; and a review in Slovakian:

This is a Danish translation of a review by Henry Makow: Here is Makow's review, in English: has quite a few reviews of both the hardcover and paperback editions. Barnes & Noble has a some of the paperback edition..

On the positive side, from, is the following unsigned review:

Reviewer: A reader from Suwanee, GA United States:
MacDonald's work is an indispensable rosetta stone for understanding five of the key intellectual and political movements of the 20th century: communism, Boasian anthropology, psychoanalysis, Critical Theory and radical immigration reform. One cannot easily dismiss MacDonald's conclusion that the leaders of the last century's most socially destructive movements were people with a deep sense of their Jewish identity because so much of his evidence is furnished by Jewish thinkers and participants of the very movements under discussion. The quotations are deftly woven into the well-reasoned central thesis of the work, namely, that the movements, intrinsically hostile to European gentile culture, were developed and then energetically advanced by charismatic, secular Jewish authoritarian figures and their followers as an ethnic advancement strategy. Men such as Franz Boas, Sigmund Freud, T.W. Adorno and others founded universalistic sounding ideological systems based on the thinnest veneer of science for the purpose of radically transforming gentile culture. The great Jewish minds were more than willing to sacrifice objectivity, science and the search for universal knowledge in the name of identifying and removing what they believed to be the root causes of anti-Semitism.

The criticisms of Western culture advanced by Freud and the Frankfurt School emphasized that the West was dangerously neurotic because of sexual repression, extant authoritarian social structures such as the two parent family, Christianity and, more generally, anything which might provide European gentiles with a sense of ethnic consciousness and identity (e.g., nationalism in whatever form). As MacDonald notes, the very institutions and cultural practices attacked as being pathogenic and the root causes of anti-Semitism were widely practiced by the Jews themselves. By redefining strong traditional gentile practices as pathogenic, the Jews were able to give themselves a decisive advantage in the struggle to advance to the highest social positions. At the same time, they preserved Judaism as a distinct and unassimilated group in pursuit of its own advancement. From communism to the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, these predominantly Jewish movements have insisted that gentiles make radical and even suicidal social reforms in response to their interminable critiques. At the same time, Judaism has avoided practicing what it preaches. Can anyone imagine a white European professor at a prestigious private university traveling around telling other whites that they should only marry and breed with other whites? That professor would be stripped of tenure and bounced out in a gale of denunciations by his school. Yet this is precisely what Deborah Lipstadt, professor of Jewish studies at Emory, has done for years. She along with a number of Jews has argued against intermarrying with gentiles in order to keep Judaism pure. Does she mean racially pure? (MacDonald provides a juicy quote from a 19th Reform rabbi who argued that Judaism must be kept "racially" pure. The Likud Party incorporated the word "purification" into their party's position on the Arab problem.)

MacDonald analyzes one of the foundational texts of modern sociology, The Authoritarian Personality, and shows that throughout, the primarily Jewish researchers draw all sorts of conclusions from their subjects without any apparent objective norm. Whenever interviewees express a strong sense of love and admiration for their parents, the researchers conclude that they are hiding repressed feelings of anger and frustration. Conversely, children of broken homes who express ambivalent feelings about their parents are described as "healthy" and "honest". How are these conclusions drawn? The examples provided by MacDonald are informative in that they reveal a total departure from Western culture's insistence on reason and science being the guides in the advancement of knowledge. Even today when the methods and conclusions of these ideologies have been adequately debunked by those working in the social sciences, they still carry authority in the popular mind thanks to the tireless mendacity of such figures as Stephen Jay Gould. Advances in the fields of the social sciences and psychology have been set back by decades by the dogmatic shams concocted by certain Jewish ethnic activists. Even now, whites and blacks alike have cast aside high investment childrearing in a two-parent family (hotbed for gentile neuroses) to pursue lifestyles destructive of individual and communal good in response to the recommends of 20th century patriarchs.

For those who would dismiss MacDonald's thesis, it's interesting to reflect on the current ethnic makeup of the neoconservatives surrounding Bush and who run such influential opinion journals as The Weekly Standard. In launching the recent war of aggression against Iraq, the Bush administration and its coterie of (heavily Jewish) scribblers at National Review and The Weekly Standard defended the indefensible by couching their reasons in universalistic moralisms. Consistent with the pattern of Jewish behavior described by MacDonald, they keep close ties to their own kind, influencing the intellectual and political vision of extreme right wing Likudniks back in Israel (think of Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, et. al.). Likewise, they've systematically redefined America and her relationship to the world (shades of the anti-restrictionists discussed in Chp. 7 all over again) in order to present our republic as an international long run defender of democracy. This anti-historical interpretation conveniently serves the interests of Israel while leaving Americans to shoulder the long term and short term consequences. In the vein of David Frum and Jonah Goldberg, they've slurred and denounced critics of neoconservative policy as anti-Semites regardless of whether it is warranted or not. From the far left to the far right, everyone who has questioned the motives of the recent war has been tried, condemned and sentenced to the loony fringe. Likewise, they have adopted white boys like Wm. Bennett and Fred Barnes to serve as shabbas goyim in their campaign to turn America into a militaristic empire. These behavior patterns are entirely consistent with those covered by MacDonald in his examination of the Big Five Kosher Ideologies in C of C. The times have changed, but the players who are working against the interests and well-being of European-Americans have only grown more powerful. People should recognize that the duel for the soul of the West is an ethnic competition between two groups with very different histories, cultures, and desires.

Review by Caryl Johnston

The Sword in the Mouth
 March 27, 2005
Commentaries on Literature About the Jews(3)

Kevin MacDonald:The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements, Published by Praeger in 1994; reissued by 1st books in 2002.

Kevin MacDonald contends that "intellectual activity in the service of evolutionary goals has been a characteristic of Judaism dating from the ancient world," and the third volume of his trilogy on the Jews argues the case by examining several intellectual movements in which Jews played a dominant role: Anthropology as developed by Franz Boas and his school; Psychoanalysis developed by Sigmund Freud; and the Frankfurt School of Social Research (also known as the Congress for Cultural Freedom) developed by Theodore Adorno, and Max Horkeimer, with Erich Fromm, Hannah Arendt, and others.

Framing these social and intellectual movements is the larger question of the Jewish critique of gentile culture and the enormous investment of Jewish lobbying groups and influence of public opinion to favor large-scale immigration of non-European groups into the USA and other Western societies. Concerning the general "culture of critique," the embrace of Marxism by large numbers of Jews and the over-representation of Jews in Russian Bolshevism is examined. This topic has been more recently taken up by Yuri Slezkine in his recent book, The Jewish Century [Princeton, 2004]

An article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer reminds us that the question of Jewish ethnicity remains of vital importance to many Jews. Describing the adoption by many Jewish couples of Asian infants - mostly girls, and mostly Chinese - the article mentions that, for many Jews, the practice forces them to confront 'what a Jewish kid looks like.' The author of a book on the widepread practice of Asian adoptions remarked that such children may face prejudice within the Jewish community itself -- "We should expect it," he said, "It would be foolish of us not to acknowledge that race is an issue in our culture."

Kevin MacDonald is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of California, Long Beach, and he became interested in Judaism as a "collective evolutionary strategy" that merited study. His first book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy was an evolutionary study of Judaism, and the second, Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism presented an evolutionary theory of anti-Semitism. The third and final volume under review here presents the several 20th century intellectual movements, spearheaded by people who strongly identified themselves as Jews, as another variant of the evolutionary strategy, as many of them, either overtly or covertly, saw these movements as serving Jewish interests. Their intellectual advocacy was couched in a language of moral universalism that disguised moral particularism -- i.e., a way to serve particular interests of Jews. Thus the study of such movements becomes inevitably involved with issues of deception or self-deception.

The Culture of Critique is a portent of what I suspect will become a passionate debate in the next phase of intellectual history -- that of coming to grips with "how the Western world has become Judaized." Knowledge of this fact is certainly nothing new, although any expressions that this development may not be altogether positive are considered de trop. Paul Johnson's History of the Jews, a book entirely favorable to its subject, speaks of this "Judaization" in the realm of finance. Johnson remarks that

"It was the unconscious collective instinct of the Jews to depersonalize finance and to rationalize the general economic process... The Jews could do this because while intensely conservative (as a rule) within their own narrow and isolated world, they had no share in or emotional commitment to society as a whole, and so could watch its old traditions, methods and institutions being demolished without a pang -- could, indeed, play a leading role in the process of destruction. They were thus natural capitalist entrepreneurs." (Italics mine.)
Kevin MacDonald picks up the note, but plays a less complimentary tune. Where Paul Johnson sees anti-Semitism as the perverse habit of Christianity, MacDonald sees it as arising primarily from conflicts of interest and loyalty. He points to the inevitable double standard of Jewish rationalism, when it condemned racial bias in gentile society while overlooking its own. In Weimar Germany anti-Semitism was fueled by the perception that Jews attempted to undermine gentile social cohesion while remaining highly committed to a cohesive group themselves. To acknowledge this social tension is not to jutify the Nazi persecution of the Jews. It is only to begin to take a step towards understanding it.

Leftist ideologies, couched in the language of moral universalism, appealed to Jews because it was a way of minimizing Jew-gentile differences while allowing the Jews to preserve their group identity. Thus radical movements became a form of "crypto-Judaism" -- For "Jews can remain Jews because being a Jew is no longer important." The Jewish dominance of the Left, especially the Old Left, may have been a factor in causing it to be less effective in the recruitment of the gentile working class. In any case, the Left in the USA appears to be a scattered and a spent force, and the Jewish Old Left has metamorphosed - metastatized - into the neoconservative New Right. The spent force of progressivist thought in the US has continued to sink deeper into the mire of atomism that caused it to be rejected by many Americans. Abortion, same sex marriage, and feminism are all destructive of the social bonds of gentile society. "Radical individualism among gentiles," as MacDonald comments, "is an excellent prescription for the continuation of Judaism as a cohesive group." That is because the high-investment parenting and strong group cohesion of Jews are relatively unaffected by such atomizing and disintegrating forces that are tearing America apart. It is no wonder that "white America" pulled back in revulsion, no wonder they voted for George Bush, even against their interests. But "white America" rejected such an atomized leftism only to embrace a fundamentalist and Zionized Christianity. Truly, this was a diabolic exchange!

The Culture of Critique is written in the sober language of social science. But it is perhaps a harbinger of things to come. The Holocaust Cult prevents the open discussion of Jewish ethnocentrism while it memorializes the failed ideology of German racialism. Sooner or later people will demand that these monuments to Hitler be pulled down, and that Jews likewise repudiate the racialist element in their own faith.


A "culture of critique" analysis needs to be done of feminism, that daughter of Marxism -- "recycled class war adjusted for gender," as Henry Makow puts it. In its sheer destructive power, feminism has been more effective in American society even than ideologies of class or race war. Doublethink, deception and double standards have characterized the modern feminist movement ever since Betty Friedan compared the lot of the American housewife to that of a concentration camp victim. I don't know if anyone has ever done a study of the proportion of Jewish women in the feminist movement, especially its leaders. That study might prove to be very revealing. In my view feminism is mainly a masked critique of the patriarchalist and anti-womanist disposition of Judaism. For Jewish women to have criticized it would have been too threatening - and even, with the strong tendency of Jews to close ranks and eschew ethnic self-criticism -- it would have been unthinkable. Hence the critique of the "patriarchy" was displaced to gentile society.

In any case, feminism has led to the 'economization' of womanhood -- that is, to the subjugation of the feminine to impersonal economic forces. This has resulted in a marked decline of mothering and parenting skills and commitments in gentile society, as well as a spiritual loss of womanhood as a potential reservoir of moral influence. American society is no less "male- dominated" than it was in 1950. If anything it is more so, even though many women have achieved high incomes and professional standing. Had those tendencies been allowed to develop naturally, which in the pre-radical feminist age they showed every sign of doing, women might have been less inclined to reject the inner dignity and reticence which so often inspired the moral power of their female forebears.