NOTE: This article is not about the effects of the Jewish diaspora upon other nations presently or historically, rather it is an exploration of the state of large-scale rootlessness through the example of the (former) Hebrew nation.
The Jewish people has been completely cut off from nature and imprisoned within city walls for two thousand years. We have been accustomed to every form of life, except a life of labor — of labor done at our behalf and for its own sake. It will require the greatest effort of will for such a people to become normal again. We lack the principal ingredient for national life. We lack the habit of labor… for it is labor which binds a people to its soil and to its national culture, which in its turn is an outgrowth of the people’s toil and the people’s labor. ~ A.D. Gordon
In ancient China, the earliest mentions of the four categories date back to the Zhou dynasty — a landowner, serf, artisanal and mercantile caste were recorded to exist. Although merely descriptive and largely for official purposes, these designations and the social weight (or stigma) they bore gives us knowledge of where the priorities of the ancient Chinese lay; priorities which, although not necessarily explicitly stated within the traditions of other societies, hold much validity across the board. The Shi, as knightly, scholarly gentry were the most respectable occupation, and had the greatest stake in society, materially speaking. Alternately, the Shang, or mercantile class, were looked down upon and viewed with mistrust due to their low investment in rooted society, parasitic nature, and lack of genuine creation. An artisan who created new goods or peasant tending to his fields were viewed as the moral superiors of the merchant or moneylender who created nothing, despite the latter often living far more lavishly.
When a nation is distorted from a fixed entity into a diasporic mist, she becomes gnarled and deformed in shape. Over generations, a people’s martial or exertionary inclinations can atrophy much like an idle tendon. This “weakening” can be noted in several dispersed peoples, but there is no example more conspicuous than the multi-thousand year drift of the wandering, rootless Jew — diaspora incarnate.
In their original Shami environment, the Hebrews not only had a strong mercantile instinct like their Phoenician cousins, but also favoured scholars and priestly aristocrats over warrior elites. After diaspora, these tendencies became increasingly exacerbated by mellah lifestyles, twisting and contorting the ancient, once-rooted Hebraic into the “top-heavy” modern Jewish. Not only have Jews become a nation of Shang and Gong in regards to their host cultures, but they have become culturally parasitic as well. What, today, is considered to be “authentically Jewish”? Yiddisch is a language assembled primarily from European components. “Traditional” Ashkenazi Hassidic dress is merely repurposed European garb from another era.
We are a parasitic people. We have no roots in the soil; there is no ground beneath our feet. And we are parasites not only in an economic sense but in spirit, in thought, in poetry, in literature, and in our virtues, our ideals, our higher human aspirations. Every alien movement sweeps us along; every wind in the world carries us. We in ourselves are almost nonexistent, so of course we are nothing in the eyes of other people’s either. ~ A.D. Gordon
Contrary to the bleak cultural re-purposing occurring in northern Europe, the Jews of Al-Andalus and the Ottoman Empire were experiencing significant cultural revitalisation, with uniquely Hebrew styles of poetry, dress and music coming into emergence within the Afro-Asiatic, “Magian” contexts of these civilisations. Towards the end of the Ottoman empire, artists sought to define an even clearer “Hebrew revival” style within Ottoman Palestine exemplified by the Bezalel school, which was abruptly truncated by the ugly eastward current of avant-garde and abstract art blowing in from the West, and never quite recovered. To this day, despite many Jews having been taken out of the galut, the galut often has yet to be taken out of them. Instead of looking back to their own Hebrew past for guidance and inspiration, they crawl to still define themselves by Western, diasporic terms — whether in the context of culture, aesthetics or outlook.
Within Israeli society, there have been many attempts to “negate the diaspora,” however, none of the requisite radicalisms have made significant headway. The early Zionist concept of the “New Jew” was a step in the correct direction in its emphasis of labour and masculinity, however the focus should have been upon the Levantine and the Ancient rather than the European and the Modern. This Westernisation contained within the attempted rekindling of the Hebrew spirit not only renders the act inauthentic, but transforms the indigenous Hebrews of the Southern Levant, sons of Yehuda and Yisrael, into neo-colonial settlers agonisingly pinned between East and West, counting down the years until they are righteously cast into into diaspora again.
For an immoral person, the present state of Jewry (from both inside and out) seems perfectly acceptable. But for the moral observer, there is something clearly amiss. Even on a purely aesthetic level, the rot of diaspora is more than evident — physical frailty, undignified mannerisms, lack of self-awareness and rudderless convolution of identity are all commonplace amongst diaspora Jews in the West. So what is a Jew to do? The answer is simple: reach back to what is Hebrew within yourself and seek to strengthen that — there is no need to go full Weininger. A good first step is Aliyah.
If you are not a Jew, Roma Gypsy, Afro-American or any other diaspora people, let me give you my sincere congratulations on inheriting the legacy you have today. Treasure it. My only advice is this: avoid diaspora at all costs; it is ethnic mummification.
Ed Baghdady runs the Babylonian Hebrew YouTube channel, and is a frequent partner-in-crime of Adam T.C. Wallace.