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Is anti-Semitism inevitable?

Discussion in 'World History' started by Mouthwash, May 31, 2016.

  1. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    You've lost me. Group identity is inherently cultural because it's a cultural meme, but group identities can be based on whatever ingenious humans can dream up. Probably the most recently-arisen sort of group identity is consumer-based - we consume video games, so we're "gamers."

    Religion has been tied to identity in the West as well.
    But once again, nation is something different. Nation is a product of the French revolution, it literally means "birth" in French, and I'd argue it was at least partially a product of the declining influence of the concept of Christendom.

    Like FP said arguing something is compatible with nationalism is very different from arguing it is nationalist.

    Bingo. Of course, it's somewhat more complicated than that and I think it'd be a mistake to suggest that most people living in, say, pre-Roman Gaul didn't have a basic awareness of commonalities with the people of neighboring tribes. But the tribe was by far the most important identifier.
     
  2. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    You said: "It does, because Islam explicitly rejects the premise of nationalism as FP set it out there. Islam is (and was always intended to be) a transnational phenomenon, a universalist faith that would appeal to people of any cultural background."

    I said in response: "No, it appears that way because you're defining group identity as being cultural. Islam provided a new definition for it: the group is defined by belief. Islam didn't remove ethnic identity so much as replace it with a broader one."

    How is this in the slightest way unclear? We're talking about identity that ASSERTS THE COMMON CAUSE/DUTY OF ALL ITS MEMBERS. I don't really care whether you label it nationalism or ethnicity or religion. It's a simple concept that you can't seem to wrap your head around.

    Good thing I didn't say "religion has been tied to nationalism." I said "religion has been tied to identity." Nationalism is a subset of identity, hence Irish nationalism falls under the classification.

    Which is also very different from arguing that something has a nationalist undercurrent event if it is not explicitly nationalist, as I did for Islam. As you would no doubt be aware if you had availed yourself to actually read my posts.
     
  3. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I reiterate: the view that there is one spiritual community which anyone can join by submitting to God is antithetical to the view that the world is divided into nations (aka nationalism).

    And my point is that noting religion is tied to identity still doesn't bridge the gap to nationalism.
     
  4. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    And in practice, it acts as an ethnicity, since no religion has yet conquered the world.

    It can and does, hence my point about the Irish. How is this confusing? I just don't see it.
     
  5. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    It's more accurate to view Islam as an affinity group that takes over functions of an ethnicity, yet is fundamentally opposed to it.

    Roman Catholicism is much more malleable to Fascism than Islam, with the formers' deference to episcopal structures and the particularism that flows from it. This particularism goes with fascism like milk and cookies. Arab attempts at Fascism are Secularist and only profess loyalty to Islam in as far necessitated by political and cultural realities (for example: Assad's Syria).

    Islam arguably has more similarities with Marxism, in that both seek to destroy national identities while at the same time offering an alternate identity (Proletarianism/Islam) that subsumes many of the functions of a national identity.

    In short, Islam overrides ethnicities, Christianity becomes embedded in ethnicities.
     
  6. daft

    daft The fargone

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    Anti-Semitism is a wrong term/definition, proper should be Anti-Jewish, Arabs (and other) people are Semites as well, however, Anti-Semitism has nothing to do with them.

    Reasons for Anti-Semitism (Jewish)?

    What about the killing of Jesus Christ? What nationals demanded he be crucified? even though he never killed, stole, even hurt anyone, on the contrary, he healed people.

    Jews were behind the killings of thousands of Christians, women and children, in despicable ways during the existence of Roman Empire, they persecuted Christians in Judea, saint Paul was Jewish and ordered great many Christians put to death before he saw the light and turned Christian himself.

    They were very big on Slave Trade, Khazaria was a Jewish state, excelling in the human trafficking to a great extent, mainly people from the Slavic-Rus' lands, and the fair haired Scandinavians.

    Jewish were tolerated in the Christian countries for the most part, and spread all over Europe quickly, excellent merchants/businessmen, they gradually took over non Jewish owned businesses one by one, working as a team to uproot the native store owners and take over themselves.

    My grandfather told me how all stores and shops in the small town he was from, in what is today Ukraine, were Jewish owned, with one exception, the butcher store that sold Pork only products, they let him keep his shop.
     
  7. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    "Anti-Semitism" was a term used by nineteenth century race theorists to distinguish their racial anti-Jewish sentiments from older, religiously-based anti-Jewish sentiment. Like much of nineteenth century race theorists, they thought that borrowing language from linguistics gave their crackpot theories a veneer of scientific respectability. Today, "anti-Semitism" is the accepted term for anti-Jewish racism, and its literal meaning is accepted as a quirk of its historical origin.

    The only people who make an issue of the literal meaning of "anti-Semitism" these days are anti-Semites who, in an ironic twist of history, think that distancing themselves from the term "anti-Semitism" somehow makes their hostility towards Jewish people somehow more respectable.

    And, looking at the content of the rest of your post...
     
  8. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Jesus was executed by the Romans, not the Jews. The story in Matthew 27:15-26 of the crowd shouting for Jesus' death is a fiction, devised to "blame" the Jews for Jesus' death at a time when Christian communities such as Matthew's were in strong tension with non-Christian Jewish communities. Instead of saying that this story explains why Christians were ill-disposed towards Jews, you should be asking why Christians hated Jews so much that they invented such obviously fake accusations against them. (There's no way on earth that the Romans would have released dangerous prisoners at Passover, and even if they had, there's no way a brutal prefect like Pilate would have made any effort to prevent the death of Jesus or appealed to the crowd in such a way.)

    This is utterly false. There is no evidence that St Paul was responsible for anyone's death at all, let alone a "great many Christians". Acts 8:3 states that he imprisoned many of them. Paul himself in Gal 1:13 states only that he persecuted the church and tried to destroy it. Besides which the notion that Christians later hated Jews because one of their own greatest saints had once persecuted Christians is inherently absurd.

    There were some Jewish elements to anti-Christian persecutions later in the Roman empire. For example, the mob that attacked Polycarp of Smyrna contained Jews. We also hear of Jewish mobs in Alexandria, alongside the pagan mobs and Christian mobs, all of which were capable of lynching unpopular members of the other factions. However, unlike the pagans and (later) the Christians, the Jews had no official authority to persecute anyone. It's ridiculous to accuse them of killing "thousands of Christians" in the Roman empire. Your post is bordering on antisemitism itself.
     
  9. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    'Bordering?' Heh heh. Now if you just glance down to the second half of his post.

    (It's the internet, you gotta develop thick skin.)
     
  10. Vectors

    Vectors Chieftain

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    Well, calling someone an antisemite could be construed as flaming and thus violating the ToS and Plotinus couldn't do that.
     
  11. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    This comment is not unjustified, though usually, antisemitism flows forth from another fallacy that tends to make people think they are great simply by believing in it. Daft is quite obviously a Christian fanatic (and as you pointed out, with a very wanting knowledge of Christianity too) and his antisemitism is merely a consequence of that problem. If we were discussing people of Indian descent, I wouldn't be surprised he would drop a comment saying Hindus are Satan-worshippers, or something like that.
     
  12. MilesGregarius

    MilesGregarius Half-baked Renegade

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    Ain't that always the case...
     
  13. tetley

    tetley Head tea leaf

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    It's always hard or impossible to have an open discussion in the middle of a minefield. This thread is one such minefield.
     
  14. HannibalBarka

    HannibalBarka We are Free

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    I think that has more to do with the societal structure of the people who embraced the faith. Indo-European are three pillars societies with the warrior, the priest and the farmer. so literacy is supposed to be the "priest" job. Judaism and Islam have been embraced by Semetic societies mostly (at least for a very long period) and therefore literacy is the duty of all (men ;-) ) as there are no "Priest" cast. That and the fact that Christianity is not connected to one language (JC spoke arameen but was Jews so linked to Hebrew, Greek was the language of the elite and Latin the language of the State who "promoted" the Faith, so Christianity was really linked to 4 languages) when the link between Judaism and Hebrew and Islam and Arabic is very strong.
     
  15. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Does that actually hold up in practice? I mean, the Greeks and Romans were largely responsible for the propagation of Christianity in Europe, but neither had a distinct priestly or warrior class, just a land-owning nobility that monopolised positions of religious and military leadership, and also expected literacy from their nobility. At the same time, the Israelites certainly had distinct priesthood, which was limited to certain specific noble lineages, and a quick bit of googling suggests that literacy rates in pre-diaspora Israel might not have exceeded 3%. It doesn't seem at all likely that an observer in the first century would identify the existence of a uniquely literate priestly caste as the key distinguishing feature between Hellenistic and Roman society on the one hand and Israelite society on the other.

    I think the second point you make is probably a stronger explanation, that Christianity began with a sacred text in two languages and an elite which spoke another two languages is probably more substantial, compared to both Judaism and Islam which have a single sacred language and an elite which initially spoke that language. It's always going to be easier to develop a shared literary culture when everyone can agree on a single language.

    An other difference might be an apparent preference in Hellenistic and Roman religious culture for rites over texts as the center of religious culture, which seems to persist in Christian Europe until the Reformation, where Judaism and Islam have both emphasised sacred texts for a lot longer. (That said, it's my impression that the Torah only gained its really central role in Judaism with the destruction of the Temple. On the other hand, most Israelites would very rarely have anything to do with the Temple, so perhaps the Torah was always the centre of religious culture for them? In Islam, at any rate, the centrality of a sacred text seems central from the begging: the claim that the Quran represents a verbatim record of divine revelation underpins the whole religion, and even though it took a generation for the sacred text to be compiled and codified, that's really very quick for a pre-modern religion.)
     
  16. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    What do you think of Georges Dumézil? Everything you say here sounds like an echo of his.
     
  17. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    I'm not so sure on the 'rites versus text' idea. Obviously, you're right that most people would have experienced early Christianity largely through going to Church, rather than reading the Bible, and learned what it meant to be a Christian by being told it and by seeing religious artwork. On the other hand, those in charge of shaping and getting across that message definitely were trying to base things in texts and were often deeply suspicious of people who followed traditions and rituals which they saw as deviating from the letter of the Scripture. You only need to look at any of the letters written by an early churchman like St Augustine to find them full of Bible versus (often referenced), or look at the trials of people like Arius or Nestorius for heresy to find a huge preoccupation with trying to back up one's own ideas and skewer one's opponents with carefully-chosen Bible quotes. Although the Bible wasn't strictly codified for a good few centuries after Christianity became a major religion, there's general agreement in just about all early Christian writings that arguments should be made with reference to a set of sacred texts, and more-or-less agreement about what at least the most important of those texts are. So you've got the ordinary man in the street learning about Christianity through sermons and the paintings and statues in Church, but you've also got a priest giving those sermons and commissioning those artworks with a view of Christianity shaped by his own reading of the sacred texts and from the passed-down products of other, much more ancient and often much more senior, members of the Church arguing about exactly what those sacred texts mean. In other words, it's not as simple, I don't think, as 'ritual rather than texts' being the driving force of what being a Christian looked like.
     
  18. HannibalBarka

    HannibalBarka We are Free

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    Yep, he and more importantly Emmanuel Todd who wrote many books about the influence of social systems on religion, politics, etc. He basically suggest that a religion, or a "philosophy" or a political system, would have more chance to fit into some societies than others because they are more adapted to to social structures of said societies. He also suggest that the same religion will be transformed in different ways to adapt to different social structure. Iran, an indo-european society, the only one in the Muslim world, adapted Islam to its social organization and developed a Clergy because it "needed" a "priest cast" for example.
     
  19. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    Tend to agree with that. Eastern Christians are more closely in agreement with Arab Muslims and Westernised Muslims are more closely aligned with European Christians and atheists, in terms of lifestyle and political ideology.

    Iran is not the only Indo-European society with Islam as its major religion, Bosnians, Pomaks, Albanians, Kurds and Hamshenis being Indo-European Muslims, to name a couple of examples. Conversely, Shi'a Twelver Islam is also common in Syria and Azerbaijan, respectively Semitic and Turkic. Iran does have a prominent Islamic clergy which directly influences politics, though it doesn't explain why it was the only one out of several.

    Such theories fail to take into account the changability of cultures as well: Most Western societies descend from Indo-European tribes, yet the priestly caste did not survive secularisation, unless you want to consider academics as "secular priests". Likewise, a militarised nobility also has pretty much fallen apart. The "Indo-European" caste system actually has many peers outside Indo-European speaking peoples: Pre-Meiji restoration Japan had a very rigid caste system though through the Meiji Restoration, the Samurai were rapidly transformed into large scale owners of corporate equity. Israel "perfected" the Ottoman millet system into something that resembles the Vedic caste system. Neither Japan, the Ottoman Empire or Israel are Indo-European, although they all have absorbed significant Indo-European influence.
     
  20. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    I don't think so, because remember that the Temple priests only worked in the Temple for part of the year and spent the rest of their time back home, outside Jerusalem. So wherever people lived, there were Temple priests around. Even if they didn't visit the actual Temple personally, the Temple had a presence everywhere.

    I think you're mostly right here (although neither Arius nor Nestorius was ever strictly "on trial" for anything), but what period does "early Christianity" exactly refer to? Arius was early fourth century, Augustine was late fourth century, Nestorius was fifth century, and things changed hugely even during that time, let alone compared to what came before or after. You mention "paintings and statues in church" but these were of minimal importance in this general period (particularly statues, which I think barely existed as Christian artefacts at that time). What holds for one time period doesn't necessarily hold for another.

    At the same time, don't assume that the Bible was only in the hands of priests etc. Think of Tertullian - earlier than any of the other people mentioned here, and a layman and convert as an adult at that. His writings are full of biblical references. All of these people and others would have memorised large chunks of the Bible (Chrysostom memorised the whole thing over a period of three years), which is why so many of the patristic biblical references are inaccurate. Pre-Constantinian Christians usually attended instructional groups every day - like those run by Clement of Alexandria - and I'm sure they would have learned a lot of biblical passages at those.

    Plus of course the "rites versus texts" dichotomy is a post-Reformation one in itself and doesn't reflect how ancient people would have thought of these things. Justin Martyr (earlier still than anyone mentioned so far) talks about how at the Christians' ceremonies they would read what he calls "the memoirs of the apostles". So what would become New Testament texts were occupying a place within the liturgy from an early stage.
     

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