Benrubi's Views

by Giovanni Papini [Gog, 1934]; transcribed by Outis

28 June

[Biographical note: "Journalist, polemical critic, poet, and novelist, whose avant-garde polemics made him one of the most controversial Italian literary figures in the early and mid-20th century. Papini advocated breaking with tradition and defering to the new generation, but after World War II he lost his influence as an opinion leader. His ideological development was full of paradoxes: he was first an anti-nationalist, then a staunch nationalist; first an agnostic, but then turned to Roman Catholicism. He wrote both a life of Christ and a history of the Devil. Papini published over eighty books on philosophy, theory and literary criticism, as well as novels and short stories. . . . While the Jews in Italy's popular literature of the 1930s lost any potentially positive traits, Papini developed a vision of the world Jewish conspiracy. In 1935 he was appointed as a professor at the University of Bologna. From 1938 he published the magazine La Rinascita. After WW II Papini founded with Silvano Gianelli and Adolfo Oxilia the avant-garde Catholic review L'Ultima. Papini's reputation as an iconoclast faded during his last years. His later works included IL DIAVOLO (1953), which showed his strong Catholic commitment. Papini died rather suddenly in 1956."]


I had the following advertisement inserted in several newspapers:

"Wanted: A secretary who is a polyglot, a philosopher, unmarried, patient, and nomadic. Inquire until July twentieth at Hotel Mon Repos, at ten P.M."

As I have recently been suffering from insomnia, I figured that I might as well pass part of the night examining candidates. Out of sixty-three applicants, forty-seven were Jews, and I have chosen a Jew - a candidate who impressed me as being the most intelligent of them all.

Dr. Benrubi possesses all the qualities I advertised for and several others I had not even thought of. A young man of small stature, round-shouldered, with hollow cheeks and deep-set eyes, hair already sprinkled with gray, and a complexion like the green slime of a marsh. He was born in Poland, completed his early studies in Riga, took his degree in philosophy at Jena, that in modern philology in Paris, and has taught in Barcelona and Zurich. He looks very poor and his expression is that of a dog which though anticipating a beating is nevertheless conscious of its own importance. In the course of our conversation I asked Benrubi how it is that Jews, who are usually so very intelligent, are at the same time so timid.

"Timid? You probably refer to that form of courage which is physical, material, and animal. As to regards of spiritual courage the Jews are not only courageous but actually daring. They have never been heroes in the barbaric sense, not even, I believe, in the time of David -- but they were the first people to grasp the fact that the true valor of man consists in exercising his mind rather than in slaughtering men of his own species. Moreover, after they were dispersed, the Jews remained without a country, a government, or an army; they were mere groups of frightened individuals surrounded by multitudes who hated them. How could they be expected to develop the heroism of Crusaders or of captains of fortune?"

"To escape annihilation they were forced to invent their own means of defense. Of these they possess two-money and intelligence. Jews do not love money. More than half of their literature, from the Prophets down, is devoted to glorifying the poor. But men are destroyed by iron and bought with gold. Unable as they were to make use of iron, the Jews protected themselves to the best of their ability with gold - that most beautiful, most noble of metals. Florins became their halberds, ducats their swords, sovereigns their arquebuses, and dollars their machine guns. Such weapons were not always efficacious, but from century to century they became ever more powerful, thanks to the way civilization shaped itself. The Jew, who became a capitalist in self-defense, now finds himself, owing to Europe's moral and mystical decadence, one of the Earth's masters, and this against his own tendencies and purpose. In the beginning they forced him to become rich; then they proclaimed aloud riches count more than anything else, so, his enemies themselves having willed it, the poor man of the Bible and the recluse of the ghetto is become the dominator of rich and poor alike."

"Those things which in the beginning were instruments of defense in time became instruments of vengeance. In my way of thinking, intelligence is more powerful than gold. How could the Jew, downtrodden and spat upon, wreak vengeance upon his enemies? By lowering, shaming, exposing, and disestablishing the ideals of the goyim; by destroying those values upon which Christianity pretends to subsist. In fact, if you examine the question carefully you will see that Jewish intelligence has done nothing else for over a century except undermine and besmirch your most sacred beliefs, the columns that support the edifice of your thought. Ever since the Jews have been free to write without restriction, all your spiritual props have been in danger of collapse."

"German romanticism had created idealism and reinstated Catholicism, when along comes a little Jew from Düsseldorf - Heine by name - who devotes his merry and scathing genius to ridiculing romanticists, idealists, and Catholics.

"Men had always held that politics, morals, religions, and the arts were superior manifestations of the spirit, having no connection with purse or stomach, when suddenly there appeared a Jew from Treves, a certain Marx, who undertook to prove that all these idealistic matters have their origin in the loam and compost of a base economy."

"All men once regarded the genius as a divine being and the criminal as a monster, but presently there appeared upon the scene a Veronese Jew called Lombroso [left], who proved beyond a doubt that the genius is a half-crazed epileptic and that criminals are but ancestors of our own who have survived, that is to say, our cousins in the blood."

"At the close of the nineteenth century the Europe of Tolstoi, Ibsen, Nietzsche, and Verlaine, was laboring under the delusion that it formed one of the great epochs in the history of humanity, but there arose a Jew from Budapest whose name was Max Nordau [below] [NB: Nordau was an early, vigorous supporter of Zionism], who amused himself with demonstrating that your much-lauded poets are all degenerates and that your civilization rests on a foundation of lies. [Primarily in his famous work of slander, Degeneration.]

"Every man is convinced that he is both a normal and a moral being, but here is a Jew from Freiberg in Moravia, a certain Sigmund Freud, who discovers that even in the most virtuous and distinguished of gentlemen there lies hidden a pervert, an incestuous being, a potential assassin.

"Since the days of the Courts of Love and of the dolce stil nuovo we have always regarded a woman as an idol, a 'vessel of perfection'; but Weininger, a Viennese Jew, must have his say to demonstrate both scientifically and dialectically that woman is an ignoble and infinitely repugnant being, a very well of impurity and inferiority. [In his work Sex and Character, upon completion of which truly talmudic gloss on Schopenhauer, the scientifically and dialectically redoubtable author shot himself.]

"The intellectuals, the philosophers, and others have always held that intelligence alone could lead to truth - intelligence, that crowning glory of man - but a Parisian Jew stood forth, Bergson by name, who by means of subtle and clever analyses robbed intellect of its primacy and demolished the age-old edifice of Platonism, arriving finally at the conclusion that conceptualistic thought is incapable of grasping reality. [See his Creative Evolution.]"

"The majority hold that religions are the work of an admirable cooperation between God and the highest attributes in man, but here is a Jew from St. Germain-en-Laye, Salomon Reinach, who does his best to prove that they are merely the remains of the ancient taboos of savage tribes, systems of inhibitions supporting ideological superstructures of various kinds."

"Men believed they were living peacefully in a solid universe reposing on foundations of a time and space that were separable and absolute, when up comes Einstein, a Jew from Ulm, to establish the fact that time and space are one and the same, that neither absolute space nor time exist, that everything rests on perpetual relativity, and that the out-of-date edifice of which modern science has been so proud must go to the board."

"Scientific rationalism was convinced that it had conquered thought and supplied the key to reality, but Meyerson, a Jew from Lublin, has banished this illusion. Rational laws, he says, never fit reality exactly; there will always remain a refractory and irreducible residuum [-like Jews, perhaps? Ed.] that defies the pretended triumph of reason."

"But I might continue my list forever. I will not speak of politics and how the dictator Bismarck had the Jew Lassalle for an opponent, of how Gladstone was outdone by the Jew Disraeli, of how Cavour had for his right-hand man the Jew Atom, Clémenceau the Jew Mandel, and Lenin the Jew Trotsky."

"Please observe that I have cited no obscure or second-rate names. Intellectual Europe of today is for the most part under the influence or, if you prefer to put it that way, the spell cast by the great Jews I have named. Although born in different regions and having pursued different branches of research, they one and all, Germans, Frenchmen, Italians and Poles, poets and mathematicians, anthropologists and philosophers, have one common characteristic, one common purpose - to cast doubt upon recognized truths, to debase what is lofty, to besmirch what appears pure, to shake what seems stable, to cast stones at what is held in respect."

"This century-old practice of administering dissolvent poisons is the great Hebrew vengeance upon the Greek, the Latin, and the Christian worlds. The Greeks despised us, the Romans decimated and scattered us, the Christians have tortured and robbed us, and we, being too weak to defend ourselves by the sword, have carried out offensive operations of a persistent and corrosive nature against the pillars that support the civilization of Plato's Athens and that of the Rome of emperors and popes. And our vengeance has already compassed much. As capitalists we dominate the money markets, as thinkers we dominate the intellectual world, carrying on the work of disintegrating the old faiths, both sacred and profane, undermining revealed religion and laic creeds. The two extremes most to be feared are united in the Jew - in the kingdom of matter he is a despot, in that of the spirit he is an anarchist. You others are our servants financially and our victims intellectually. The race accused of having killed a God was determined to kill the idols of intellect, and of sentiment as well, and that race has forced you to your knees before the greatest idol of all, the only that is left - MONEY. Our humiliation, which stretched from Babylon to Barcochba and continued in the ghettos until the days of the French Revolution, is being avenged at last. The pariah among nations may now give voice to a hymn in celebration of a twofold victory!"

Little Benrubi had been growing more and more excited as he talked. His eyes shone brightly in their deep sockets and his fleshless hands sawed the air, his voice, while faint at first, they now became piercing. Suddenly realizing that he had gone too far, he stopped abruptly and a long silence ensued. At last, in a low and timid voice, Dr. Benrubi again addressed me.

"Would you kindly advance me a thousand francs on my salary?" he asked. "I need a new suit and I must pay off a few small debts. . ." When I had given him the check, he looked at me with an expression he sought to make insinuating, and said: "Do not take the paradoxes I have uttered too literally. Jews are like that - they are far too fond of talking, and once start, they go on and on. . .always offending someone by the end. If I have offended you in any way I hope you will pardon me."


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