Capitalism and the Jews
By Arnold Kling
That is the title of Jerry Z. Muller’s new book. Muller is an outstanding intellectual historian, whose earlier book The Mind and the Market is a classic. His latest book is much shorter, and I read it straight through. Some excerpts:p. 49:
[Georg] Simmel suggested that the limited-liability corporation was a model for many characteristic forms of association under advanced capitalism, in which individuals cooperate with a limited portion of their lives for common but limited purposes. Compared to the precapitalist past, in which individuals lived most of their lives in a single, circumscribed community, modern life was based upon looser, more temporary associations
The problem for Keynes was deferred gratification, what he called “purposiveness,” …being “more concerned with the remote future results of our actions than with their own quality or their immediate effects on our own environment.” …Keynes identified this deferred gratification with the quest for immortality, with usury, and with the Jews.
it was people like his Bloomsbury companions who were the seeds of a more cultivated future…though there was no discernable link between Keynes’s formal economic theory and his anti-Jewish prejudices.
Except that I see a link. It strikes me as no mere coincidence that Keynes rebelled against “purposiveness” (deferred gratification) and at the same time built his theory of economic slumps as an excess of savings.
By , Jews, who constituted about 4 percent of the inhabitants of Berlin, paid 30 percent of the municipal taxes
Large established corporations had long discriminated against promotion of Jews into their executive ranks. And Jews, in turn, had avoided bureaucratic corporations where promotion often depended on the evaluation of superiors whose judgment might be tinged with anti-Jewish prejudice. It was a symbolic turning point, therefore, when the venerable Dupont Corporation appointed a Jew, Irving Shapiro, as its president in 1973…But in general, Jews continue to prefer self-employment, whether as owners of manufacturing a retailing firms, or as professionals.
In chapter 4, Muller discourses on Ernest Gellner’s theory of the emergence of the nation-state. Modern economies require communication, which requires a common language, which leads to ethnic homogeneity and a state-run education system. p. 206:
modern, industrial societies…depend on the possibility of training individuals for a variety of jobs…most people need to become literate, and require education outside the family to be fit for work. This requires standardized, universal education, and it gives a new authority to those empowered to provide educational credentials. “At the base of the modern social order stands not the executioner but the professor…The monopoly of legitimate education is now more important, more central than is the monopoly of legitimate violence.”
Chew on that one for a while.