In The Shade Of Financiers

Some English writers become infamous for anti-Semitism, when what they really are should better be described as anti-plutocrats. Chesterton falls into and perhaps leads this category. They do not necessarily seem to think anything about Jews other than that they are rich, acquisitive and ruthless. Chesterton did not, for example, display the sexual anxieties that so dominated Der Stürmer. If one could collar these writers and point out the great number of equally harmful gentile plutocrats, they might even be convinced. I hope so, anyway.

Another example is Ford Madox Ford, who does seem to have a little more generalised animus than Chesterton, but whom I fancy might be brought to recognise, there in the asphodel meadows, that the men of whom he disapproves are not necessarily Jewish. When, for example, he describes England at the end of the Great War as “taken over by a class of shady financiers”, he does not use the J Word at all. Might this be because he was thinking of “shady financiers” of all backgrounds, or he because he took it for granted that that his readers would understand the phrase as code for Jews? I simply cannot say.

I am left, however, with a question of whether Ford might have seen something that we have subsequently suppressed. Suppose that what Ford reports is true, that around 1918 a new class came to the fore, “shady financiers” insinuating themselves at the expense of the previous ruling caste of the landed gentry who otherwise dominate Parade’s End? It would not take a high proportion of Jews among them to make the post-Holocaust generations unable to talk about this new class, or even to talk about Ford’s contemporaries talking about this. In other words, it would be no good pointing out that many of these “shady financiers” were not in fact Jewish, as the whole subject would remain off-limits. We would thus be missing out on an important aspect of English economic history.

Another question is whether such “shady financiers” were indeed as new to the scene as Ford suggests. They probably weren’t. But even in that case, we should still take note of Englishman of traditional backgrounds and manners thinking that they were. Yes, Ford Madox Ford himself does strike me as to some degree a general-purpose anti-Semite, though Jews are not a major subject of his; but suppose that this view of “shady financiers” were to be shared by those who were not anti-Semitic? In that case, I repeat, we are missing out on important data about what people thought had been the result of the war, and a long way from Germany.

This is perhaps all the more important because we have seen another wave, nay a tsunami, of “shady financiers” – starting with the S&L scandals as a trial run for the Great Bank Robbery of 2007 and onwards. You don’t have to be a radical leftist to have noticed that banks are there to be “bailed out” at the taxpayers’ expense, that telecom companies, regulators and everyone else are losing the battle against cold-calling investment scams, and that the ideal is now a totally atomised workforce, without rights or benefits. The Nigerian 419 swindle could only entrap the crooked, but the next generation is after the naïve pensioner. Jews? Not at all, if we are going to hate any particular groups for this it should be Indians and Britons. But that “shady financiers” are supplanting the old ruling classes, oh yes.

Posted on December 26, 2020 at 10:54 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Hark, I Hear The Canon Roar!

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