Regression to the mean is a well-known statistical pattern. In almost every sample, over time and further sampling, results will get closer and closer to the sample’s mean. Think about a family where one generation suddenly displays a few very tall individuals. You may think this is a sign of change – from henceforth the Johnsons shall be a family of giants! But typically further generations will simply converge back to the typical height for the family (nutrition aside).
Another example: 100 monkeys take a multiple-choice physics test. The average is 50%, but some naturally score higher while others score lower. You take the 10 highest scorers and let them take the test again – that group’s mean will be the same as the mean of the wider group. Their one-time higher score was just a fluke.
Naturally, there’s no magic or mystery here. Systems regress to their mean because the mean is inherent in one way or another to the nature of the system itself. Very Aristotelian. The height of family members is inherent to their genes, and thus over time that family will produce similar vertical results. The test score of monkeys, presumably completely ignorant of physics, is inherent in their random way of filling out the test.
People too regress to a mean. This is why barring external shocks or traumatic events, people do not change much. Your cheap friend will remain cheap, perhaps not on his wedding night, but definitely before and after; your bubbly friend will remain bubbly, not when her mother passes away, but she will bounce back; and so forth.
Sadly, the law of regression to the mean applies to groups as well, and to nations in particular. In this case, it is mostly cultural (probably also genetic) – a vector-space of infinite complexity defining the group’s allowed operations and general rules. Think about it as cultural genetics – habits, forms of thinking, ways of speaking, and ways of judging and acting that through imitation and osmosis become ingrained in who we are. Such a cultural framework pushes our decisions and choices in specific and guided directions.
People, naturally, are very surprising creatures and feature much variability. But over large numbers, one does begin to notice obvious patterns. Have you ever had a Dutch boss? Try avoiding it. But should you have a Dutch boss, you will quickly discover that the laid-back image of legalized pot and the Red Lights district is completely superficial. Instead, a national character of overbearing exactness will be revealed to you. You will understand very quickly why the trains in Rotterdam do indeed leave on time.
We Jews, especially Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazi), also have a national mean. Sadly, it is Bolshevism. Or if you will, the ancient father of Bolshevism – fanaticism.
In the words of Winston Churchill:
“There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews. It is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders. Thus Tchitcherin, a pure Russian, is eclipsed by his nominal subordinate Litvinoff, and the influence of Russians like Bukharin or Lunacharski cannot be compared with the power of Trotsky, or of Zinovieff, the Dictator of the Red Citadel (Petrograd), or of Krassin or Radek – all Jews. In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing. And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extraordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses. The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.”Winston Churchill, Zionism Vs. Bolshevism
As Churchill hints by singling out atheistic Jews, one way to control the national tendency towards Bolshevism is to follow the infinite rites and thanksgivings of the Jewish faith. Doing so leaves very little time and mental capacity for radicalism.
Another way developed in the late 19th century, also pointed out by Churchill though not quoted above, was supposed to be Zionism. And for a while, it did seem like Zionism had been a good distraction from the crazed restlessness of the likes of Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg. Instead of agitating for a socialist revolution, Zionism exhorted, be a farmer-soldier in the ancestral homeland of Israel!
But alas, the sediment of the national mean lies heavy, and regression to it is almost unavoidable.
Zionism and Bolshevism
Reviewing Zionism closely, something like the two faces of Janus is revealed. Every act and every major event have a schizophrenic twin of Bolshevism and zealotry. The examples are endless, here are a few:
A main vehicle for the revival of the New Jew, there developed the Kibbutz movement. The kibbutzim were small agricultural settlements, the first of which, Degania, was founded in 1910. They were an effective and energetic vector of Jewish pioneering activities. Through an emphasis on farming and defense, they enabled much land claiming and produced an impressive type of bronzed-faced farmer-soldiers. But the Kibbutzim were also… socialist communes! Each had a “work organizer” telling you how to employ yourself; private property was non-existent; children were raised in communal dormitories; all meals were taken communally; and special passes and privileges had to be earned for things like a trip to the nearest city.
Now, the harsh conditions in what was then commonly known as Palestine had perhaps justified a form of intense little communes. The physical conditions of the sun-scorched land, coupled with an increasingly restive and marauding Arab population, had perhaps precluded an individualistic homesteading akin to the settlement of the American West.
But nonetheless, the glorious, pioneering face of Janus was coupled with a face of much Bolshevik nastiness. Woe to those not “liked” by the community – they would be denounced as “parasites” or “bourgeoisie sympathizers” and often made to leave. The movement itself had split and splintered several times, always with much venom and hate. The first schism was a split into the “Unionized Kibbutzim” and the “National Kibbutzim,” and then one of the two had split again into something union or unionized or cooperated, whatever.
That actually caused several single Kibbutzim, meaning several single communities, to split in the middle along ideological lines. Most famously Ein Harod, if you care. Old camaraderie was replaced by brothers standing spear against spear, hating each other and excluding each other’s children from social activities.
Not easily does the zealotry of Eastern Europe pass!
And then there was the Histadrut (founded in 1920). It was a national labor union that had gradually taken over most of Israel’s industries. Important perhaps in coordinating settlement and colonization activities, it also excelled at excluding those who were not members. Pity the tradesman, the teacher, or the clerk who was not a member!
Initially, prior to the state’s establishment, this was a non-governmental organization. With the state’s re-birth in 1948, it had fused itself into the many nationalized industries of young Israel, conferring sweet benefits upon its members while excluding non-members from enjoying a much-desired easy life in a low-productivity state monopoly.
The scope of this piece is too limited, but there were countless other such cases: The Altalena Affair in which Ben Gurion ordered Labor-affiliated Jews to drown a ship carrying arms in the service of non-Labor-affiliated Jews, killing a few in the process; Ben Gurion’s tendency to grant immigration certificates only to Jews affiliated with his own socialist youth movement; the various semi-Stalinist youth movements and political parties, etc., etc.,
I remember echoes of this spirit of Bolshevism from my own rural youth. In a neighboring semi-communal farming town, some members dared leave the bankrupt common union! Their wish was to carve out their own farms and become independent ranchers Texas-style (Walker, Texas Ranger was a rather popular show back then). Alas, communal unions are not to be easily left. Neighbors turned against neighbors, leavers were denounced as “parasites” and “deserters,” and children were barred from using the shared swimming pool.
More purges, more denunciations.
A Dark Fire Now Rekindled
Fast forward to today. With the Zionist project complete (the state is there), there is no longer a glorious project of national revival to suppress the frenzied flames of Israeli Bolshevism. A dark flame never extinguished is now again ablaze.
As previously reported, Israel is now in the midst of a fascinating power struggle over judiciary reform. Supporters wish to curtail the hyper-activism of the liberal judiciary while detractors, direct heirs to Israel’s mostly semi-socialist founders, wish for the reform to die on the vine.
I personally find the arguments against reform to be silly to the point of not passing the bar of a high school civics class. This does raise serious issues concerning the state of general education in Israel. But more astonishingly, the rhetoric of the anti-reform camp is off the charts, along the same familiar contours of the old dark flame.
A former chief of the general staff (the one who fudged the war in Lebanon in 2006) has recently called members of the pro-reform camp… “parasites.” What is it with that word? It keeps coming back. A former combat pilot has called to “take up arms” against the pro-reform camp. Daily newspapers, Pravda style, now abstain from using the term “reform” and instead use the rather on-the-nose “the Plan to Destroy the Judiciary.”
One of Israel’s six state-funded universities now promises its students the ability to re-take their exams should they be otherwise engaged in protesting against “dictatorship.” More universities are sure to follow.
Fortified deep within Israel’s establishment, the Left is bombarding the news with absurd letters and petitions all bearing the same hysterical tone: “500 Economists Warn against Reform!” “300 Environmentalists Predict Damage due to Reform!” “Israeli Scientists Warn against Reform!” “Beauticians Worry about Reform’s Effect on Complexion!” It all has more than a whiff of Lysenkoism. Who needs John Adams and James Madison if we have Israel’s “experts?”
At protests in the streets and shout-matches on TV, the Left’s rhetoric is that of delusional justice warriors fighting against the old enemies of Soviet Russia – “fascists” and “dictators.” Here’s a bit more.
I suppose this sounds sadly familiar to Americans, evoking the way by which progressives denounce conservatives as racists and deplorables. But the calls to arms coupled with the zoological accusations of parasitism do go, I think, beyond America’s fever pitch into something more repugnant and unwholesome.
Most disappointingly, it seems that the New Jew, that calm and confident farmer-soldier once even glorified by me, is very much gone. The screeching wraith of Rosa Luxemburg now hovers blasphemously above all.
P.S. Barring Orthodoxy, much mental resilience and self-awareness are required to conquer the dark fire of fanaticism. But it is possible.
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