Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chapter 18 - Alfred And The Jews: Part I - Introduction

Korzybski: A Biography (Free Online Edition)
Copyright © 2014 (2011) by Bruce I. Kodish 
All rights reserved. Copyright material may be quoted verbatim without need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder, provided that attribution is clearly given and that the material quoted is reasonably brief in extent.

Alfred had reached a view of human potential, fertile in its implications and applications, that could appeal to humanists and scientists, the religious and non-religious. He felt awe-inspired by the vista, like an urban dweller who for the first time has visited a place with a night sky not obscured by city lights. And yet, while ‘looking up at the stars’ he had fallen into an ‘open pit’. Soon after he and Mira arrived in New York City in the fall of 1920, he was openly expressing the meanest antisemitism.

His enmeshment in what has been called “the longest hatred”, as evidenced in a letter he wrote to Cassius Keyser soon after meeting him, seems never to have become known to more than a few people. If he had continued along the pathological path of Jew-hatred, it seems unlikely he would have been able to continue his work and develop it as he did over the remainder of his life. Happily, by the spring of 1921, he had left it behind and even flipped over into a kind of philosemitism, a respect for Jews and Jewish culture, which seems rather marked. His self-examination and subsequent turning away from antisemitism is documented in the records of archived notebooks from the fall and winter of 1920–21, and in later letters, published writings, and public documents.

Alfred certainly had many opportunities to pick up the prejudices against Jews common during the time he was growing up in Poland—a time of increasing conflict between ethnic Poles and Polish Jews. Once he came to the United States, his contact with antisemitic people in the U.S. Army and the State Department, who believed in a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy, may have reinforced such attitudes. His connection with Social Credit advocates, some of whom believed in a conspiracy of Jewish bankers against the public, could have provided a further boost to his prejudices. And his personal contact with and misevaluation of the character of Boris Brasol—proponent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion—could have given even more weight to Alfred’s misevaluations about Jews.

You may download a pdf of all of the book's reference notes (including a note on primary source material and abbreviations used) from the link labeled Notes on the Contents page. The pdf of the Bibliography, linked on the Contents page contains full information on referenced books and articles. 

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