A Critique of the Critique

I’ve been asked a number of times about my thoughts on the paper produced by someone calling himself Nathan Cofans, examining Kevin McDonald’s theories on Jewish exceptionalism. I had skimmed it prior to last week’s epistle to the anti-Semites and gave a good read the other day, with the idea of treating it as a serious set of arguments. Going back and re-reading it, I kept thinking that it was not produced with the goal of expanding the stock of human knowledge or with the goal of shedding light on McDonald’s claims.

Instead, I kept getting the image of the abbot, marshaling his monks to craft the latest defense of the faith and the realm. I was never a big Moldbug fan, but he picked a good word when describing the prevailing orthodoxy as a “cathedral.” It’s not so much that it is an accurate label, but that it conjures the right sort of image. The people in charge of us, have a set of beliefs that serve as a secular religion, justifying their actions and their position. They respond to challenges the same way the Church responded to heretics.

The two people behind this orchestrated campaign to denounce the heretic McDonald and his followers, are a member of the clerisy and a novice. Jonathan Anomaly is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona. His novice, Nathan Cofnas, is a graduate student at Oxford. They have collaborated on this article at Quillette, which is mostly a way to promote this long critique of Kevin McDonald’s book, The Culture of Critique, which has become the textbook of modern anti-Semites.

The reason for describing Anomaly and Cofnas this way is for accuracy. If you work in the academy, you must defend the orthodoxy. In the West, particularly America, universities are theological centers, more like madrassas than places for open debate. If an academic starts talking frankly about observable reality, especially when it comes to the human sciences, they are either committing career suicide, headed for retirement or having a breakdown. Honesty gets even the best scholars hurled into the void.

Cofnas is working his fingers bloody promoting his paper on social media, even getting into slap fights with defenders of McDonald. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is clearly an elaborate effort to counter-signal the alt-right. He has written for legacy-right outfits like The Weekly Standard and National Review, so it is safe to assume he is hostile to modern right-wing movements. Again, there is nothing wrong with it, but it means we should not treat his paper as anything other than polemic on behalf of his team.

Now, I’ve already said I am a skeptic of Kevin McDonald’s theory of group evolutionary strategy. It could be brilliant, but it could be nonsense too. In the human sciences, it is a good idea to be cautious of bespoke theories that define one very narrow set of observations. A million years ago, John Derbyshire hit the nail on the head when he wrote that “There is a whiff of teleology about this whole business.” It’s intelligent design, except the Jews themselves were the designers. That strikes me as implausible.

With all the caveats, qualifications and disclaimers done, what about the Cofnas paper?

The first thing worth noticing is under the second section, titled “Jewish High IQ and Geography” where he posits an alternative theory for Jewish achievement. He points out that the concentration of Jews in urban areas may be the missing piece of the puzzle, with regards to the over-representation in intellectual endeavors. This is not a new idea, but it is something McDonald ignored in his argument. The error Cofnas makes is in declaring it the “default hypothesis” as if it is manifestly obvious or accepted science.

This is the sort of intellectual base stealing that McDonald would point to as an example of Jewish cultural habits. It also strikes me as signalling. The point of doing it early in the paper is to let the people in charge know who is on the side of light in this thing. This is one of the central themes of neo-reaction. Debate is not an argument about facts and reason, for the purpose of discovering truths. Instead, it is about defending the dominant orthodoxy, which supports and legitimizes the people currently in power – The Cathedral.

The other thing that struck me is that Cofnas falls down the same hole we see all the time in modern political debate. He defines Right and Left as a debate over hustling commas around the tax code. That means a “right-wing” movement like libertarianism is the flip side of some left-wing movement like Marxism. It’s also how you end up with Adolph on the same side as Von Mises. The conventional political scale is not a reflection of intellectual reality, but a rejection of it in favor of defending the current liberal order.

A point that cannot be made enough is that America has been dominated by the Yankee ruling elite since Gettysburg. As a result, our politics have operated entirely within the sphere of Progressive orthodoxy. After World War II, this extended across the West as the American empire imposed its cultural norms onto the provincial ruling elites in the territories. In America, Progressives have had a long lovers quarrel with themselves, in the form of spats between conservatives and liberals, Democrats versus Republicans.

This is why the paper amounts to nothing more than a laundry list of picked nits and mindless hairsplitting. This scene kept coming to mind. Cofnas is a young person trying to please his masters, so he is going to great lengths to prove he has studied the material, by offering up an exhausting list of granular criticism. That’s probably a good career move, one that anyone familiar with the Imperial Examination System would appreciate. Fans of McDonald, however, will see this as confirmation of their beliefs about Jews.

Does Cofnas “debunk” McDonald, as he claims?

Not in the least, as far as I can see. That’s mostly because he never bothers to take on McDonald’s central thesis. Instead, he nibbles around at tertiary arguments in an elaborate effort to counter-signal. That’s most likely the point of the exercise, so he probably achieved what he set out to achieve. He is a young defender of the faith and will be given a post on the walls, lending his credentials to de rigueur arguments at legacy publications like National Review and The Weekly Standard. The Cathedral has another guard.

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nil
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nil

“Examination of MacDonald’s argument suggests that he relies on systematically misrepresented sources and cherry-picked facts. ” There is not much substance to Cofnas’s paper, but this is actually true, and it’s why I ultimately came to distrust MacDonald despite initially buying into his theory. MacDonald makes a lot of claims he completely fails to back up. For instance, one of the core planks of his argument is the claim that Jews are “hyper collectivist” and extremely authoritarian. But he never actually supports this with any real data. There’s been plenty of research on Jewish culture which shows that A)it’s highly… Read more »

Kodos
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Kodos

The whole “IQ explains the over-representation” thing (yes he mentions geography, but he adds that he thinks IQ is the primary factor) is hard for me to believe, and it isn’t just goy jealousy on my part. Last week there was a long bloodsports stream that talked about this for a while. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXsgq5zZ6hA At the 24:00 mark the guy claims that even though Jews are only 2% of the population, that the right hand side of the bell curve being skewed by 15 points for Jews means you would expect tons and tons of super-smart Jews. He tries to dismiss… Read more »

Member

Look at all those high IQ boys at Nasa in the sixties and seventies. I know a lot credit from the German contributuion but a heck of a lot of super bright good ole boys did much too.

Jews may have come late to the party with their theoretical smarts but it was and still not dominated by them in applied and enginneered science. Being a dimmer bulb myself I can’t be sure.

TomA
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TomA

Imagine that it’s February 1945 and you’ve just been dumped on the beach at Iwo Jima. The Pacific Ocean is behind you and murderous machine gun fire is at your front. You can’t stay on the beach because of the mortar fire, you’re desperately thirsty, and running is damn near impossible with a heavy pack on your back.

In this kind of environment, of what value is someone like Cofnas or Anomaly? Do people like this ever have any value?

Sim1776
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Sim1776

That’s why there’s PIOs, clerks, and staff positions. r/K theory explains a lot of this type behavior and why we seem to be inundated with the soyboys and nancies. Check out anonymous conservative’s blog; I’m not sure if he originated the concept but the argument does have strong merits.

Curle
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Curle

“ .. . ever have any value?” Depends. Did they cause you to be there in the first place? If America needs a ruling caste I suppose we could do worse. I don’t really accept that we need a ruling caste but to the commenter who imagines gentiles are smarter on average than Jews spend some time asking your Jewish and gentile co-workers if they think knowing the background of those who feed their heads with ideas each and every day in the media is important. I’ll bet the Jews all assume it is vital and the Gentiles will have… Read more »

Member

Yes, the only people who contribute anything to human society are GI grunts who go to war to defend …. um…. at the orders of …um.

dad29
Guest

America has been dominated by the Yankee ruling elite since Gettysburg. As a result, our politics have operated entirely within the sphere of Progressive orthodoxy.

Which is to say Episcopalian/Congregationalist/Methodist orthodoxy.

BestGuest
Guest
BestGuest

Yeah, right. That was how Curley was elected and reelected from prison. That’s how the Kennedys/Bulgers/etc. took over the Lands they could never have founded. And still they keep running to countries founded by British and Dutch Protestants.

Member

We’ll I’m not sure yet.
It is called the Jewish Question not Answer.

greyenlightenment
Guest

A point that cannot be made enough is that America has been dominated by the Yankee ruling elite since Gettysburg.

we should be so lucky. It was up until around 20 years ago. now it’s dominated by techno-globalist elites

Member

Read some evolutionary biology. Teleology runs rampant everywhere. A species encounters some difficulty which is overcome by a set of fortuitous random mutations explained by essentially saying that it had to happen. No predictive ability is gained, and only retrospective explanatory power is conferred.

This is at base no better than Aristotelian teleology.

Might as well say that mimickry in butterflies is intelligent design and the butterflies are the designers.

It is a poor analogy that works best as an inside joke.

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

Had to? No, it’s contingent and opportunistic. It worked because it worked, not because it had to. Someone whose mind sees the Hand at work would see things that way. Nothing wrong with that, either. In humans, a belief system is the guiding hand. An internal framework- a social model- provides guidelines. It surely looks like an external source; it may even be a sense engendered by by external stimuli such as gods or devils. Both could be true; measurement can reveal the extent. Now, if I believe my ancestors were chosen by the gods to survive, to win, even… Read more »

Member

I said read some evolutionary biology. “Evolution does this. Evolution does that.” The language is the same, and saying that the results are the action of properties inherent in the matter involved is the same language of teleology wrapped up in deterministic biochemistry and physiology.

Fire desires to go up. Evolution selects for higher complexity.

Contingency? No. Think about the elusive primordial soup. Miracles are necessary here, too. Stuff just HAD to happen. Maybe even space alien shit. Just HAD to.

LineInTheSand
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LineInTheSand

Cofnas’s arguments attack some of the details of MacDonald’s thesis but leave the main criticisms of Jewish power in white countries unanswered. That is, Cofnas’s arguments seem designed to counter MacDonald’s claims of Jewish nepotism, but Jewish nepotism is not the main criticism against Jewish power in white countries. The main criticisms are that Jewish power is used to promote open borders and cultural degeneracy and that is constant over time. The issue of nepotism is relatively unimportant compared to those criticisms. A few clarifications: I’m not saying that there aren’t whites that promote open borders or cultural degeneracy. I… Read more »

Jim from Boston
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Jim from Boston

This extensive research report on Ashkenazi intelligence is enlightening:

http://web.mit.edu/fustflum/documents/papers/AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf

It’s interesting that while their IQ during the Diaspora was increasing about 1 point per generation, their motor skills were deteriorating.

Member

A lot of the (((Jewish))) criticism is juvenile nonsense, but you have to consider that (((The Jews))) are vastly over-represented among the ‘bad guys’ both past and present, relative to their numbers. Where there is smoke there is usually fire.

Whiskey
Guest

What evidence? If anything under represented. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Khomeini, Saddam, Atilla, Ghenghis Khan, Nero, Caligula, Mohammed, not a Jew among them. Where is the Jewish influence in the Roman, Byzantine, Hellenistic, Persian, Babylon ian, Egyptian, Russian, Charlemagne empires.

McDonald is an idiot like Louis Farrakhan whom he resembles. He’s Farrakhan in White face.

At best Jews are minor players and a sidehow in World History. They mostly don’t matter outside Hollywood and comic books.

LineInTheSand
Guest
LineInTheSand

Let’s start with one example. Why did the Sierra Club go from discouraging third world immigration to discouraging criticism of open borders?

Member

Exhibit A: the Neocons

Critic
Guest
Critic

@Whiskey – Who knew the truth would come out in the comments section of an obscure blog! That’s why my eyes are peeled at all times. I’ll be sure to tell Solshenitsyn’s ghost how wrong he was, and I’m writing a note-to-self so I won’t forget… “Jews minor players, of no real significance in anything significant. No Jewish influence in soviet or american empires (I was confused about this, but you’ve helped so much this morning!). Neocons probably don’t exist, but if they do, they are mostly white hicks from West Virginia. They write boring magazine editorials that no one… Read more »

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

Wierd. Every example by Whiskey has malign influence working in the background, even the Mongols.
Whiskey, ever hear of slave merchants, tax farmers, or court advisors?

james+wilson
Guest
james+wilson

Jews didn’t trade the yarmulke for the philosopher’s hat until circa 1800. That is why Marx and a few thousand of his closest friends got a late start, but they made up for lost time. Next millions of Jews flooded out of the Pale ready to man the Bolshie barricades. They are very significant, though not nearly so clever as they once were because the work became too easy.

Curle
Guest
Curle

The many radical attempted coups, upheavals and revolutionary activities throughout Europe after WW1 were hardly minor and Jewish group interest and resentment were a necessary ingredient to those that succeeded. Without Jewish group resentment no Soviet Union, no mass murder and no famine and likely no massive German reaction. They were not followers but leaders and their role, though not exclusive, did determine the horrible outcome. This cannot be hand waved away.

Rabbi High Comma
Guest
Rabbi High Comma

El Al reservations: 1-800-223-6700. Keep it handy.

You can't say that!
Guest
You can't say that!

Thank God Sarah Silverman isn’t reproducing.

chedolf
Guest
chedolf

Z: “A point that cannot be made enough is that America has been dominated by the Yankee ruling elite since Gettysburg.” Sailer: “[W[ho in the 21st Century determines the direction in which the public’s witch-burning passions are pointed? There are religions older and, at least as religions, more successful than Calvinism. “… Moldbug’s theory that America is a Protestant-dominated country was a commonplace not that many decades ago. I have an old set of Encyclopedia Britannicas that are filled with an amazing number of entries on American ministers and Protestant theologians whom nobody has mentioned in the New York Times… Read more »

Issac
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Issac

Much as I have my own critiques of Kevin Macdonald and his work, I agree that Cofnas didn’t even attempt to hit the mark. Andrew Joyce completely embarrassed him in front of any honest reader.

Bluntly speaking, I think the political diaspora is playing a fool’s game trying to paper over their past. Now that the left is clearly poised to leave them in the dust, they are going to be forced by necessity to exhibit some contrition and reflection for their ongoing misbehavior.

Glen Filthie
Guest
Glen Filthie

The JQ is and isn’t a problem for me. It is intellectually dishonest and unsporting to sit on the fence about such things. We need to dispense with ignorant bigotry AND political correctness. It is not correct for us to look at joos and conclude that since they haven’t caused any problems for us personally, that they are therefore not a problem. They obviously ARE a problem for some of our fellow travellers on the dissident right; the question we need to resolve is: Are their gripes valid? Hey – I like hating as much as the next guy! But… Read more »

Severian
Guest

I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the next few years. Academics are ideologically enstupidated beyond belief, but the administrators and money boys know what’s up; they know the university-as-madrassa model must end, if only because the customers will start demanding it (if Damore’s suit against Google goes anywhere, deep-pockets universities are the next obvious target). So they’ll co-opt a few “conservatives” like this Cofnas kid — you know, the reasonable ones that you can stand to be in the same room with, because he agrees with you 99% (and the 1% doesn’t matter, as it’s… Read more »

You can't say that!
Guest
You can't say that!

Just a fact… You won’t find many jew cinematographers, cartographers, or mechanical engineers. They always hire out for that type of IQ. Jews are obsessed with abstractions because they simply can’t see what’s really in front of them.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Man, if you think Cofnas and Anomaly are “preserving an orthodoxy” in the academy, you are even more out of touch than I’d have already thought by the content of your piece. These guys have risked it all repeatedly by publishing remarkably controversial stuff.

3g4me
Guest
3g4me

“Instead, I kept getting the image of the abbot, marshaling his monks to craft the latest defense of the faith and the realm. I was never a big Moldbug fan, but he picked a good word . . . it conjures the right sort of image. The people in charge of us . . . respond to challenges the same way the Church responded to heretics.” This is well said. I have never been a Moldbug reader and generally agree with the critics who argue it ought to be the ‘synagogue’ or the ‘sanhedrin’ more accurately than cathedral, but as… Read more »

FleurduLine
Guest
FleurduLine

Cofnas just came out in his paper as a race realist. About as far from a Cathedral position as is possible to find.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Looking back at the “Cathedral” and Galileo, the most persistent form of evil was not persecuting the poor guy, but that the pillars of knowledge simply “assumed to be true”, without objective study or verification, were allowed to stand and dictate the frame of the argument. When the biological reality arguments are denied by the “mainstream”, the critics, too, usually use empty and arbitrary intellectual frames that assume what has not been proven, to be true. Simply because they said so. These assumptions are not only allowed to stand, but to question them is framed as some sort of intellectual… Read more »

Member

Technically, this is actually your critique of the critique of the Critique.

jeb
Guest
jeb

I don’t know…. Cofnas appears to accept high Jewish IQ as an established fact, and as far as I’m concerned that makes him one of us. I don’t even care if he thinks it’s genetic or something else. Once you’ve accepted that some groups can be high IQ — for any reason — it becomes impossible to deny at least the possibility that other groups can be low IQ, and that’s huge. I had an interesting experience talking to a very liberal (in fact excruciatingly stereotypically liberal) friend. We were talking about Jewish achievement, and I carefully brought up the… Read more »

Zeroth Tollrants
Guest
Zeroth Tollrants

No.

jeb
Guest
jeb

???

FleurduLine
Guest
FleurduLine

Yes.

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

I there a short answer to “what is it about Judaism that makes it so interesting to the alt-right and alt-alt-right and dissident-right and so forth?

Member

The short answer, to me at least is this: If you look at prominent people on the political left, and I mean the worst sort on the left, in the media, in entertainment, in academia, in politics, the globalist elite, and historically in the rise of socialism/communism, you see Jewish people in far larger numbers than you would expect to see given their percentage of the general population. Too many to ignore or dismiss. Now that’s no reason to start spouting hysterical conspiracy theories, but there’s something there. The way I see it, the Jews aren’t the problem, the left… Read more »

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

Fair enough. Thanks.

LineInTheSand
Guest
LineInTheSand

Generally speaking, Jews are remarkably capable and ethnocentric. They use their skills to change the country in which they reside to their liking, even when that conflicts with the wishes of their countrymen. They dislike standing out as a minority (and have historic grievances against whites in particular), so they promote open borders and racial grievance. Further, they feel threatened by ethnically homogeneous, traditional cultures so they seek to dissolve them by promoting promiscuity, homosexuality, race mixing, and pornography to the broader populace. When possible, they encourage the organs of state to serve their global ethnic interests, like our military… Read more »

Mr. Frosty
Guest
Mr. Frosty

So, has anyone addressed the idea that Jews are genetically predisposed to sociopathy? What with owning all the pornography studios and turning Hollywood into a rape factory?

What would a “tribe of sociopaths” look like? How would they portray themselves? How would other tribes see them? Would “anti-sociopathism” be justified?

https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-ashkenazi-gene-increases-schizophrenia-1.5294333

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Dammit. Apologies to tpdoc for nattering, and to all for yapping. I did want to thank Tully for a small kick in the ass. Needed that to get off of this. Also a big thanks to Z for his encouragement to adjust and adapt, as we have lost, and must resign ourselves to minority status. We all of us seek to quell evil; I must come to the conclusion that the unique Semitic demographic has been a primary instigator of epic disruption, war, and collapse for thousands of years. They tear up society, then rewrite the story. Thus they never… Read more »

Member

Update, for those interested: Kevin McDonald has posted a “Reply to Nathan Cofnas” on ResearchGate:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323857842_Reply_to_Nathan_Cofnas

Tim Bone
Guest
Tim Bone

Nathan Cofnas is Jewish. Does anyone honestly think that he is going to agree with McDonalds book? Get a grip.