This book builds upon my previous work, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as
a Group Evolutionary Strategy (MacDonald 1994/2002; 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.
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
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 read as a sort of 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.
MacDonald, K. B. (1994/2002). A People that Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary
Strategy. Westport, CT: Praeger. Paperback edition published in 2002 by iUniverse (Lincoln, NE) (www.iuniverse.com).
White, L. (1966). The social organization of
ethnological theory. Rice University Studies:
Monographs in Cultural Anthropology 52(4):1–66.