Myth of Jewish Menace - Lucien Wolf

The Demonology of the 'Morning Post'

The prodigious essay on "The Cause of World Unrest" which the Morning Post has lately published in seventeen articles and some sixty columns of printed matter[1] is a document on which the student of political thought in England will dwell sadly. Over a century ago, in world circumstances of startling similarity and almost from the same party standpoint, Burke gave us, in his "Causes of the Present Discontents," his "Reflections," and his "Regicide Peace" a large and stately piece of political philosophy. To-day the leading organ of Conservative opinion in this country can only expound a sort of political demonology, borrowed partly from the obscurantists of Bourbon Clericalism and partly from the fanatics of Hohenzollern Anti-Semitism. It would be merciful to pass by this strange effort in silence, but unfortunately there is reason to believe that, with all its grotesqueness, it is calculated to work a good deal of mischief. Credulous and vicious people are still abundant, and they are not confined to the crowd. Mr. Winston Churchill has darkly hinted that he reads the signs of the times much in the same way as the Morning Post, and a curious story is current that the translation of the Russian forgery on which the theory of that journal mainly rests was actually made in the Intelligence Department of the War Office. Then there are Mr. Chesterton and Mr. Belloc and quite a conventicle of smaller fry who have been vainly preaching the same apocalypse for years. The Morning Post may bring them recruits, and that assuredly is not desirable.

The theory of the Morning Post may be briefly stated. Its fundamental contention is that all political unrest is artificial. It is a product of the Hidden Hand which is now revealed to us as a "Formidable Sect" encompassing the world. This sect has been at its present work for at least a hundred and fifty years. The French Revolution was contrived by it, as well as all the subordinate revolutions down to our own time. Trade Unionism, Socialism, Syndicalism, Bolshevism, Sinn Fein, Indian Nationalism, and their analogues in every part of the globe are outward and visible signs of its sinister activity. That there are social grievances and even evils at the root of this unrest is not denied, but they are as artificial as the unrest itself. They have all been deliberately brought about by the Hidden Hand in order to stir up revolt against the Throne and Altar. The way in which it has been done is a little complicated. Behind the restless and seditious movements which we all know there is a secret revolutionary organisation in the shape of Freemasonry. But this is only intermediate, for Freemasonry itself, through some obscure transaction between the Templars and the Old Man of the Mountain, was created by the "Formidable Sect," and is wholly, though perhaps unconsciously, under its control. Freemasonry had a specially "activist" wing in the Illuminati—also an invention of the Formidablists—which was chiefly responsible for the French Revolution.

Now, what is this "Formidable Sect"? It is no other than the Jews. Those ancient enemies of the human race appear to have been even more daring and dynamic in evil-doing than even Torquemada supposed. Throughout their world-wide Dispersion they have secretly preserved their old political organisation, and they have used it—and are still using it—with deadly persistency to overturn the established Christian order of things and to found in its place a universal Jewish dominion under the sceptre of a Sovereign of the House of David. The Jews are, in short, the "cause of the world unrest."

There is nothing new in this theory except the claim of its authors to have produced documentary proof of its final development—that is, of its Jewish aspect. Qua international conspiracy, it was invented over a century ago, as it has been resurrected to-day, to explain the unfamiliar international character of the prevailing unrest. The clergy and the nobility of the ancien regime were as little capable as the Morning Post to-day of understanding the natural causes of this phenomenon. And yet they were by no means obscure. The French Revolution, as Burke pointed out, was not a mere uprising against local oppression, but a "revolution of doctrine and theoretic dogma"[2] which was bound to find echoes beyond the French frontiers. In this respect it resembled the Reformation, and also that other "armed doctrine" which we know as Bolshevism. Nevertheless it puzzled the Bourbon apologists, and, confusing cause and effect, they became convinced that they were in the presence of an international conspiracy.

The theory was first propounded by a Superior of the Seminary of Eudists at Caen in 1790,[3] but it was afterwards vastly developed by the Abbe Barruel in his "Memoires sur le Jacobinisme," by Robison of Edinburgh in his "Proofs of a Conspiracy," and by the Chevalier de Malet in his tedious "Recherches Historiques." Their conclusion was that there was a triple conspiracy of Philosophers, Freemasons, and Illuminati, who formed an actual sect aiming deliberately and methodically at the overthrow of the established religions and governments throughout Europe. It is noteworthy that their researches failed to discern any Jewish element in this conspiracy, though in minuteness of investigation and in the gluttony of their credulity they were by no means inferior to the Morning Post, while they had the advantage over that journal of being in close touch with the facts. The theory had a short shrift, though the industry of its authors certainly did much to throw light on the organisation and activities of the secret societies. So far as the Freemasons and Illuminati were concerned, it was easily demolished by the Earl of Moira, who at a meeting of the Grand Lodge of England in 1800 showed convincingly that it was a mare's nest.[4] As for the Philosophers, no one ever took the charge against them seriously. For half a century scarcely anything more was heard of this aspect of the "Formidable Sect," though meanwhile the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 took place. The non-suit of Barruel was chose jugee.

It was revived in the sixties under the influence of the religious passions kindled by the war for Italian unity. The struggle for Jewish emancipation had triumphed all over Western Europe, largely as a consequence of the Revolutions of 1848, and the new citizens thus enfranchised had everywhere cast in their lot with the Liberal parties. This was swiftly and angrily noted by the Ultramontane polemists, and the old bogey of a "Formidable Sect" began to haunt them in a revised and enlarged form. In the new conspiracy there was no longer any talk of Philosophers and Illuminati. Their place was taken by Jews and Protestants. The "Formidable Sect" thus became a triple alliance of Freemasons, Jews, and Protestants, which was said to be directed by the "Grand Master Palmerston," and supported by the whole British people, not only as Protestants, but as descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. The chief protagonist of this stupendous hallucination was M. Gougenot des Mousseaux, who in 1869 embodied it in a volume entitled "Le Juif, le Judaisme, et la Judaisation des Peuples Chretiens." From his own admissions, however, it appears that he was largely indebted to German Catholic inspiration. Once again the theory failed to find support, and Gougenot's book, like the books of Barruel and Robison, became relegated to the literature of forgotten crazes.

Later on attempts to revive it were made by M. de Saint-Andre, the Abbe Chabauty, M. Drumont, M. Martin, and M. Copin-Albancelli, in the full flood of the Anti-Semitic agitation which had been imported into France from Germany. The only notable addition made to the theory by these writers was the hypothesis of a secret Jewish Government, transported from Jerusalem into the Diaspora, which, throughout the ages, has never ceased to command the allegiance of an imaginary international Jewry, to keep it disloyal to all other Governments, and to direct it in an insidious campaign against the established order of Christian Society. Since 1909 the agitation has become retransferred to the headquarters of Clerical Anti-Semitism in Vienna and Munich, and the most recent works on the subject—with which the Morning Post appears to have mainly worked, although for obvious reasons it does not acknowledge them—are Wichtl's "Weltfreimaurerei, Weltrevolution, Weltrepublik," Meister's "Judas Schuldbuch," and Rosenberg's "Die Spur des Juden im Wandel der Zeiten," all published in 1919. All this literature, while expounding exactly the same theory of a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy as the Morning Post, is as violently anti-English as it is anti-Masonic and anti-Jewish. A great deal of it is published under the auspices of the Deutschland's Erneuerung Committee, of which Mr. Houston Chamberlain is a leading spirit.

This, then, is the very dubious raw material of the theory hashed up by the Morning Post as a serious contribution to the grave political preoccupations of British statesmanship at this moment. It will be noted that in the forms so far reviewed it is confessedly a theory, resting at the best on evidence of a highly conjectural and circumstantial character. The novelty in its latest presentation is that an effort is made to bolster it up with what is claimed to be direct evidence. This takes the form of a document entitled "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," which was opportunely published in an anonymous pamphlet a few months ago by Messrs. Eyre and Spottiswoode. These protocols are alleged to be the minutes of certain meetings of the Secret Directory of the Jewish people held in Paris towards the end of the last century, and they pretend to record avowals by the "Elders" of the very conspiracy set forth hypothetically by MM. Gougenot des Mousseaux and Copin-Albancelli. The joy of the Morning Post at the discovery of this evidence is not difficult to understand. Its theory threatened to collapse under the weight of its inherent grotesqueness, and here, in the nick of time, was documentary proof, complete and apparently irrefutable. "In this book," says the Post triumphantly, "for the first time we find an open declaration of the terrible conspiracy of the 'Formidable Sect.'"[5]

Unhappily for the Morning Post, this document is a forgery, and one which has already been used for even more disreputable purposes than the bolstering up of the malicious hypothesis in support of which it is cited. The story of this forgery will be told presently.[6] For the moment I content myself with noting that it is a forgery, and proceed to examine briefly the main historical propositions which it is invoked to corroborate and co-ordinate. This is necessary not because they are in themselves worth taking seriously, but because they are held to react on the forged protocols and to supply presumptive evidence of their genuineness.

I take the propositions in the logical order of the argument they are put forward to illustrate:—


This proposition, borrowed, for the most part, from the wild conjectures of Copin-Albancelli, has a queer flavour of the anti-Catholic bogey which was at one time so fiercely exploited by Hot-gospellers, and in which even Mr. Gladstone believed as late as 1874—the Pope standing for the Prince of the Captivity and the Syllabus for the Protocols of Nilus. What, however, is very remarkable is that the protagonists of this fantastic calumny are, for the most part, Roman Catholics who have themselves suffered from it in a form much more difficult to grapple with. The short answer to it in the case of the Jews is that it is an invention, and that not only is there no trace of it in the history of the Dispersion, but that, on the contrary, the Jews, even as a Church, and still more in their secular relations, have suffered more from the want of international organisation and uniformity than any other Church or religious community. The Princes of the Captivity, for example, were confined to the Babylonian Exile, and were little more than the local Presbyters omnium Judaeorum Angliae of Angevin England or the Presidents of the Jewish Consistory of modern France. The allegation that the final aim of this Secret Government is the establishment of a universal Jewish dominion under a Prince of the House of David is a curious muddle of eschatology and politics. With much better reason the early Anabaptists said virtually the same thing of the Roman Catholic Church, and, indeed, on the Morning Post plan of campaign, it might be retorted on all the great Churches. With the Jews it has no more to do with practical politics than the analogous hopes of pious Christendom. The Morning Post, however, does not stand alone in its error. A curious variant of it is found in recent German Antisemitica. The World Unrest is there pictured as due to a conspiracy of Jewry and the British Empire, based on the Anglo-Israelitish theory that the British people are the Lost Tribes and the Royal House of Windsor the authentic seed of David. Accordingly, Britons and Jews together are accused of having plotted the late war in order to fulfil the Messianic prophecies in the person of King George.[7] Les grands esprits se rencontrent!


It follows that if there is no "Secret Government of the Jewish Nation," such a Government cannot well be "the occult power which works behind Freemasonry."[8] The Morning Post, however, is very careful to hedge on this, as on many other points. Its alternative theory is that Freemasonry is Judaical because it is descended from the Templars, who received their Jewish traditions from the Assassins.[9] The only foundation for the suggestion that the Assassins could act as intermediaries between the Jews and the Templars is, on the one hand, that they were Ishmaelites, and consequently "first cousins" to the Jews, and, on the other, a much disputed hypothesis of Von Hammer, that certain Templars were initiated into the mysteries of the Assassins.[10] The truth is that the Assassins were not Ishmaelites, except in the figurative sense that all Mohammedans claim to be descended from Ishmael, and even if they were, they had no contact with Jews, and their tenets bear no trace of Jewish influence. Consequently, whatever else the Templars may have learnt from them, they certainly did not learn Judaism. The nearest approach to a tradition of Hebrew influence on Templarism is found in a very dubious legend of Swedish Masonry which alleges that certain Templars of Jerusalem received the secrets of the Essenes from seven Syrian Christians whom they rescued from the Saracens.[11] But if this story were true, the secrets thus taught would assuredly have been more Christian than Jewish. To anyone, however, who knows anything of mediaeval history, and the relations of Moslems and Jews at this period, the whole of this conjecture is the crudest buffoonery. No section of the Crusaders dealt with the Jews except by way of massacre. Moreover, had there been the slightest ground for believing that the Templars had Judaised it would have been seized upon as the most damning of all crimes alleged against them when the Order was suppressed. But throughout the comprehensive indictment, which ranges from the Gnostic heresy to gross licentiousness, there is no hint of the deadly sin of Judaism.


This, however, is not the end of the matter. Yet other historical testimonies are alleged—the Temple cultus in Freemasonry, the "Jewish Ritual" of the Order, and the direct activities of Jews in its anti-monarchical and anti-Christian machinations.

(a) The first of these arguments may best be judged by the Morning Post's own witnesses. Whether Freemasonry was or was not derived from the Templars and whether or not the Templars became infected with Jewish ideas transmitted through the Assassins, nothing is more certain than that the founders of Templarism established their Order on the Temple cultus long before they could have known anything of the Assassins, and while they were still impeccable Knights of the Cross. Hence, if the Freemasons took the Temple from them, it was innocent of Jewishness. But Robison—one of the main authorities of the Morning Post—will not even have it that the Freemasons were indebted to the Templars, much less to the Jews. He states that the theory, and even the Temple cultus, were unknown to Freemasonry before 1743, when they were introduced to them for the first time by the Jacobite, Andrew Ramsay.[12]

(b) The so-called "Jewish Ritual" of Masonry is equally a delusion, as the Morning Post could have found out for itself, had it taken the trouble to consult somebody who knows Hebrew and Hebrew literature. The grammatical forms and the transliteration of the limited number of Hebrew words found in the Masonic rituals prove conclusively their non-Jewish origin. The legendary matter, too, has but few traces of Jewish provenance, and is clearly not due to Jewish redaction. If the rituals were Jewish, one might expect to find parallel passages in the Hebrew Prayer-Book and similar literature, but nothing of the kind is discoverable. It is really remarkable that Jews had nothing to do—and indeed, I believe, never have had anything to do—with the composition of the Masonic rituals, seeing that the lodges, in this country, at least, have always been open to them, and at an early date learned Jews were interested in them and possibly joined them; but so it is. The true explanation of the Hebrew elements in Freemasonry, as in Templarism, is that both borrowed from the Old Testament, as a Christian document.

(c) As for the activities of Jews in the anti-monarchical and anti-Christian machinations of Masonry, the answer is that orthodox Masonry has never been anti-monarchical or anti-Christian, and if there have been spurious lodges open to this reproach, and if orthodox lodges have been improperly used for this purpose, they were, at any rate, free of the added reproach of Jewish control or inspiration. The only evidence on this head cited by the Morning Post—or, rather, by Mrs. Webster on its behalf—is that a Jew known by the nickname of Piccolo Tigre issued a scandalously anti-social manifesto to the Piedmontese Alta Vendita in 1822, and that he was abetted by "others of his race."[13] We are not told who these "others" were, nor even what Piccolo Tigre's real name was. If Mrs. Webster does not know his name, how can she know that he was a Jew? The answer is that she got the story from Gougenot des Mousseaux, but even he naively admits that he never knew who Piccolo Tigre was.[14] And yet he is positive he was a Jew. This is typical of all the Morning Post's evidence.


If the Freemasons think it worth while, they will, no doubt, reply to the Morning Post through a better-qualified member of the Craft than myself,[15] but, unlike the Jews, they can afford to treat the superstitions with which they are assailed with contempt. It will suffice here to quote what Lord Moira said on the subject in 1800:—

"Certain modern publications have been holding forth to the world the society of Masons as a league against constitutional authorities—an imputation the more secure because the known constitutions of our fellowship make it certain that no answer can be published. It is not to be disputed that in countries where impolitic prohibitions restrict the communication of sentiment, the activity of the human mind may, among other means of baffling the control, have resorted to the artifice of borrowing the denomination of Freemasons, to cover meetings for seditious purposes, just as any other description might be assumed for the same object. But, in the first place, it is the invaluable distinction of this free country that such a just intercourse of opinions exists without restraint as cannot leave to any number of men the desire of forming or frequenting those disguised societies where dangerous dispositions may be imbibed. And, secondly, the profligate doctrines which may have been nurtured in any such self-established assemblies could never have been tolerated for a moment in any lodge meeting under regular authority. We aver, therefore, that not only such laxity of opinion has no sort of connection with the tenets of Masonry, but is diametrically opposite to the injunction which we regard as the foundation-stone of the lodge, namely, Fear God and honour the King."[16]

To this it should be added that Masonic lodges—more or less spurious—have not only been used by Atheists and Revolutionists for their own sinister purposes, but also by their enemies. We learn from Robison that even the Roman Catholic Church at one time tried to capture them—possibly for ends not over-friendly to the Established Church in this country—and that the Jacobites, who can scarcely be called enemies of the Throne and Altar, were extremely active in the Masonic Order during the eighteenth century.[17]


This is a pet theory of Mrs. Webster, and is very largely based on the untenable propositions noticed above. It is, however, also sought to show that the Illuminati and the Martinezists were active artisans of the Revolution, and that they were abetted by Jews. On this the only concrete evidence adduced is that Martinez Pasqualis, who figured prominently in both movements, was "generally reputed to be a Portuguese Jew." As a matter of fact, there were scarcely any Portuguese Jews at the time, and even the distinction between Old and New Christians in Portugal had been recognised as obsolete and abolished by decree in 1768.[18] Pasqualis was probably as little—or as much—a Jew as Pombal or Dom Joseph in the popular anecdote.[19] As for his alleged Jewish abettors, it is noteworthy that neither Barruel nor Robison—both contemporaries of the Revolution—knew anything of them. Barruel, indeed, ignored the theory when it was actually suggested to him, and for good reason. No one knew better than he how ludicrous it was. The Jews in Paris at the time were few and relatively insignificant; they did their duty by the new Government, but were sturdily on the side of moderation, and so far from having had any hand in making the Revolution they were actually the last to benefit by it. They were, in fact, the only class of the population whose disabilities were continued by the new regime, and it was not until September, 1791, that, after many appeals from them and in face of a strong opposition, the National Assembly consented to their emancipation.[20] As for their political opinions, they are sufficiently illustrated by the fact that one of the first acts of the Terror was to arrest forty-six of them as suspect of "delits contre-revolutionnaires"—the charge is itself a vindication—and nine of them were executed.[21] None of these good people were of any political prominence. Indeed, whether for good or evil, not a single Jewish name figures conspicuously in the history of the Revolution. With the subsequent Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 the case was different, but these were essentially bourgeois movements, and the Jewish activity in them was characteristically middle-class and moderate.


The general suggestion of the Morning Post that the Jewish Community is, for the most part, composed of dangerous Revolutionists is a little difficult to deal with, because, at the same time, it is admitted that they are not sincere. While preaching their subversive doctrines they are said to be really anti-democratic, and to simulate a zeal for Atheism and Anarchy only in order to bring about the social and political Armageddon out of which their own Davidic Autocracy is to emerge and triumph. Everything, then, hinges on this motive, and it has already been shown that it is nothing more than a millennial hope which has no place in the field of practical politics. The appeal to Karl Marx as the Archetype of the Jewish Revolutionist is, in this connection, particularly unfortunate. In the first place, Marx was not even remotely a Jew by religion, and therefore the Messianic motive is scarcely likely to have weighed with him. He was probably a sincere Revolutionist, and, in that case, he was just as little a Jew, seeing that his philosophy has no relation to any recognised school of Jewish thought. Marx, indeed, was an intellectual product of the essentially Gentile teachings of Hegel and Feuerbach. Perhaps the best test of the Gentilism of his outlook is that, while his Jewish disciples were comparatively few, his Christian converts are numbered in millions. In the second place, if Marx was the chief instrument of a Jewish plot to subvert Christian society, he must have proved something of a disappointment to his secret employers. Among the forces which are making for World Unrest to-day he is a relatively conservative element. The Morning Post itself supplies the proof of this. In its anxiety to convict Marx of adding the sin of Germanism to the criminality of anti-Christian Thuggee—a little difficult to reconcile—it recalls his life-long quarrel with Bakounine, and explains it as exclusively a struggle between Judeo-Germanism and Slavism.[22] There is, however, no reason to believe that it was at bottom anything but a conflict between Socialism and Anarchism—that is, between those who, however revolutionary they may be in a social sense, would still maintain the structure of the State, and those who would destroy it root and branch. Here we see that it is not the Jew Socialist who works to destroy the established political order of things, but the Gentile Anarchist. This point may be still further illustrated by Syndicalism and Bolshevism, which are both far more destructive than Socialism and are both revolts against Marx. It is true that Lenin pretends to be a strict Marxist, but his orthodoxy is vehemently contested by all the leading Marxists in England, France, and Germany, and by the whole body of Russian Mensheviks, among whom are many Jews.[23]

It is impossible, within the restricted scope of this essay, to deal with all the incidental accusations against Jews contained in the Morning Post indictment; but most of them will be found covered by the above classification. The charge of Bolshevism, which is the only conspicuous exception, will be examined in a later chapter.

The upshot of the matter is that the "Formidable Sect" is a German Anti-Semitic and Anglophobe myth, founded in malice and hysteria, built up of garbled history, and synthetised by impudent forgery. How it came to impose itself on the plethoric patriotism of the Morning Post is a mystery which may be worth investigating. Whatever the explanation, it must be counted a triumph for German junkerdom and a consoling token to that eminent traitor Herr Houston Chamberlain that he is not altogether without spiritual affinities in the land of his birth.

[1] Morning Post, July 12-30, 1920.
[2] "Thoughts on French Affairs" (Burke's Works, Vol. III., p. 350).
[3] Gentleman's Magazine, June, 1794.
[4] Infra p. 14.
[5] Morning Post, July 16, 1920.
[6] Infra pp. 19 et seq.
[7] See Wichtl and Meister op. cit. A peculiarly crazy statement of this theory, illustrated by an obscene chart pedigree of Queen Victoria, will be found in Semi-Imperator (Munich, 1919). Cf. Proceedings of the British Israel World Federation Congress, July 5-10, 1920.
[8] Morning Post, July 14, 1920.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Quoted by Frost, "Secret Societies of the European Revolution," Vol. I., p. 6.
[11] Frost, op. cit., pp. 12-13.
[12] Robison: "Proofs of a Conspiracy Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe" (Lond., 1797), pp. 38-39.
[13] Morning Post, July 15, 1920. See also Spectator, June 19 and 26, 1920.
[14] Gougenot des Mousseaux, op. cit., p. 343.
[15] Since this was written a learned and comprehensive reply has been published, demolishing the whole Masonic side of the Morning Post's argument. (See A.W. Waite: "Occult Freemasonry and the Jewish Peril" in the Occult Review, Sept., 1920.)
[16] Oliver: "History of Masonic Persecution," pp. 298-300.
[17] Robison, op. cit., pp. 30, 38-39, 62.
[18] Smith: "Memoirs of Pombal," Vol. II., p. 248.
[19] Ibid., pp. 249-250. As a matter of fact Pasqualis was a Christian born at Grenoble (Waite: Occult Rev., Sept., 1920).
[20] Kahn: Les Juifs a Paris, pp. 64-71.
[21] Ibid., pp. 72-85.
[22] Morning Post, July 16, 1920.
[23] Infra pp. 45-46.