A Lesson in Whitewashing: The Anti-Semitism of A.K. Chesterton’s The New Unhappy Lords
By Will Banyan Copyright © 14 July 2012 (updated 18 February 2015)
Author’s note: First published in 2012 on the Martin Frost website, Mr Baron did write me a heated response, but that served mainly to defend his criticisms of Israel and Jewish power, rather than to acknowledge he had misrepresented A.K. Chesterton’s views in disputing Macklin’s charge that Chesterton’s book was “anti-Semitic”. Note also that as Mr Baron no longer writes for Digital Journal – his tale of woe can be found here – I have updated this essay to put his work for Digital Journal in the past tense. Mr Baron now has a blog.
Up until March 2014, Alexander Baron was a prolific contributor to Digital Journal, writing on all manner of topics, but with a particular focus on music, crime and conspiracies. His efforts on the last topic are obviously noteworthy as he seems to share Robin Ramsay’s impatience with those conspiracy theorists that play fast and loose with the facts, or indeed make the most outrageous claims with little or no evidence. In doing so Baron gives the impression of being eminently reasonable, even intractable in his devotion to evidence over the attractions of ideology, and gratifyingly intolerant of those buffoonish flimflammers David Icke and Alex Jones. Indeed, many of Baron’s missives on Icke have much to commend as he has lambasted the oracle of the Isle of Wight for his embrace of censorship, purveying “nonsense” on 9/11, and for promoting “implausible” stories about the House of Rothschild supposedly “bankrolling Hitler.”
But, to abuse a much-abused cliché, appearances can be deceiving. A visit to Alexander Baron’s other website gives a different and more complete sense of his rather complex and controversial views on political and historical events of some note than can be detected from his Digital Journal pieces alone. Discerning readers would notice something of a gulf between the reasonable Alexander Baron who writes for the Digital Journal and the more controversial Alexander Baron, the Holocaust-denying opponent of “organised Jewry”, whose works grace www.infotextmanuscripts.org. But in his lengthy op-ed piece in Digital Journal defending A.K. Chesterton (1896-1973) author of The New Unhappy Lords: An Exposure of Power Politics (1965), an early and uniquely British take on the New World Order conspiracy, Baron appears to bridge that gap between his two selves. The object of Baron’s ire is the article “Transatlantic Connections and Conspiracies: A.K. Chesterton and The New Unhappy Lords” by Graham Macklin, from the Journal of Contemporary History (April 2012).
Baron’s complaint is that Macklin, an Honorary Fellow at the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/Non-Jewish relations at the University of Southampton, has composed a “thinly veiled smear” of Chesterton. In Baron’s view, Macklin has unfairly and inaccurately written off Chesterton’s The New Unhappy Lords as “merely an update of the notorious Protocols of Zion.” Baron disputes Macklin’s assessment claiming that Chesterton had “long seen the folly of anti-Semitism, as his track record demonstrates clearly”, and cites his authorship of The Tragedy of Anti-Semitism (1948), his expulsion of Colin Jordan from the League of Empire Loyalists, and his exposure of the “anti-Semitic fabrications of Eustace Mullins” as evidence of this. Taken together, Baron argues that “Macklin’s claim that… Chesterton’s study of power elites was ‘an elegantly written anti-Semitic tirade’ exposing an attempt to create ‘a “One World” Jewish superstate’ is therefore revealed as facile nonsense.”
Baron would have us believe that The New Unhappy Lords was no more than an unusually prescient “study of power elites”; and that for going to the trouble of revealing the existence of these “self-styled elites”, Chesterton has been maliciously smeared as an “anti-Semite”. But a closer look, however, at both Macklin’s article and Chesterton’s magnum opus suggests that while the Protocols of the Elders of Zion link is tenuous, the charge of anti-Semitism is well-founded and the book is of little value to New World Order researchers.
The Prism of the Protocols
Baron complains that Macklin’s treatment of Chesterton is “facile”, yet he easily manages the same feat in his treatment of Macklin’s article. Baron spends the first three paragraphs of his piece attempting to smear Macklin by focusing on his academic position at the Parkes Institute. Baron points out that “social scientists have never allowed fact to get in the way of ideology”, a paradigm which the Parkes Institute apparently “promotes slavishly” and which causes Baron to caution the reader not to expect much of value from “one of its affiliates.” Yet for all his mirth Baron gives Macklin’s apparently unfair treatment of The New Unhappy Lords a very quick overview, quoting just two phrases from one sentence in the article. But this hardly does justice to Macklin’s paper and it is arguably a mistake on Baron’s part given the obvious weakness of Macklin’s case that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were a strong influence on Chesterton’s book.
Macklin’s key argument, which Baron fails to address adequately, is not that Chesterton was presenting an “update of the notorious Protocols of Zion”—though Macklin does make that exact charge in an earlier article in the Intelligence and National Security (December 2010, p.838) that examined Chesterton’s links with the security services of apartheid-era South Africa—but that The New Unhappy Lords was an “attempt to articulate, albeit through the anti-Semitic prism of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the rise to globalism of American power and the commensurate decline of British imperial prowess” (p.273). Chesterton’s analysis, observed Macklin, was an “elegantly written anti-Semitic tirade” (p.273), one that “had its roots in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion…” (p.275). But readers relying on Baron’s article would not realise that Macklin based his judgement on a reading of Chesterton’s personal papers, in particular two letters from 1973 where he described the Protocols as a “masterly analysis of the weaknesses of Gentile society”, while conceding there were problems with their authenticity (p.275). And in his Intelligence and National Security article (p.838), Macklin quotes an article by Chesterton in his journal Candour (July 1959) which both acknowledged the problems with the authenticity of the Protocols, but also hailed its “masterly analysis” and informed readers that “we knew well enough who the World Governors are to be, it is all written in the Protocols” (emphasis added).
Macklin claims The New Unhappy Lords “resonated with [The Protocols] principal argument that the course of world events was ‘deliberately contrived’ by ‘hidden hands’ to the further of its nefarious ends” (p.276). For Baron this is heretical given both the esteem with which he holds Chesterton and his strong view that, in addition to being a “piece of dross” and “anti-Semitic lunacy”, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are used by, among others, “Organised Jewry” to
…discredit their opponents – real and imagined – to smear anti-statist researchers and campaigners as conspiracy cranks. In particular: anti-Zionists, Holocaust Revisionists, intelligent conspiracy theorists and, most important of all, financial reformers.
The pamphlet this quote is drawn from is devoted to proving that the Protocols have evolved into a device used “organised Jewry” to discredit its opponents. It is therefore perplexing that instead of demonstrating the weakness of Macklin’s argument that the Protocols were a major influence on Chesterton’s thinking about the role of Jews in the world government conspiracy; Baron takes the far less credible route of trying to deny Chesterton’s anti-Semitism. Yet, Macklin’s argument outlining the alleged parallels between Chesterton’s book and the Protocols are poorly argued. For one, despite his access to Chesterton’s papers, Macklin seems able to produce remarkably few references to the Protocols. Indeed, Macklin concedes Chesterton’s “ambivalence” towards the Protocols, because of his well-founded concerns over their authenticity, and the fact that The New Unhappy Lords makes “no specific reference” to them (p.276). Though easily able to demonstrate with some damaging quotes that Chesterton saw some merit in the general themes of the Protocols, Macklin cannot prove that he deliberately set out with The New Unhappy Lords to produce a factual sequel to that forgery. Nor does Macklin spend much time examining the other sources of Chesterton’s anti-Semitism. The Protocols may be a key text, in the anti-Semitic canon, but it is not the only one, and anti-Jewish sentiments and conspiracy theories pre-date it.
Yet, instead of pursuing that argument, Baron makes the remarkable charge that Chesterton had “long seen the folly of anti-Semitism” and implies that Macklin has ignored a range of important evidence demonstrating that Chesterton had a more enlightened view of the Jews. This included Chesterton’s public rejection of Eustace Mullins’ work for its anti-Semitism through his “This Man is Dangerous” article in Candour magazine in September 1970. Macklin does mention Chesterton’s critique of Mullins, though he points out, contrary to Baron’s misleading account, that Chesterton took issue with Mullins not for being anti-Semitic but for promoting the wrong sort of anti-Semitism. Macklin quotes Chesterton’s views on Mullins’ New History of the Jews, which he denigrated for being full of “monumental errors”, “obvious fakes”, “falsehoods” and “old canards” (p.275). According to Macklin’s analysis, the problem Chesterton had with Mullins’ was that he was promoting an anti-Semitic ideology based on falsehoods and other easily disproved claims. That, Macklin argues, is what made Mullins so “dangerous” in Chesterton’s eyes (p.275).
One might note that Macklin even makes reference to Chesterton’s Candour article – the same article Baron cites as evidence of Chesterton’s more progressive views on the Jews, and as evidence that Macklin’s analysis is little more than “facile nonsense”. Ironically in his footnote to the Candour article, Macklin includes a quote from Mullins complaining of Chesterton’s hypocrisy in seeking his assistance with collecting book royalties soon after the “This Man is Dangerous” article had appeared. The source for that quote is a pamphlet by the same Alexander Baron which included his interview with Mullins.
Ignoring the Obvious
But is Chesterton’s The New Unhappy Lords anti-Semitic? Baron seems to be suggesting that it is no such thing; that it is merely a prescient “study of power elites” and that the criticisms of Chesterton fall into pattern where “anyone who investigates…the banking cartel is an anti-Semite, headcase or other untouchable, and therefore unworthy of belief or even a hearing.” There are chapters in the The New Unhappy Lords on the both the Council on Foreign Relations (Chapter XXII) and the Bilderbergers (Chapter XXIII) that could be seen as pioneering, given their 1960s vintage. Indeed, Macklin credits Chesterton with being “one of the first, though not the first, authors to highlight the Bilderberg Group as one of the principal movers in this global subterranean conspiracy” (p.274). But a close reading of The New Unhappy Lords supports Macklin’s charge that it is an “elegantly written anti-Semitic tirade” (p.273) rather than a brave expose of the power elite. Moreover, with its insistent anti-Semitism, Chesterton presents not an objective study of the power-elite, but a bitter polemic.
It is inconvenient that Baron does not define “anti-Semitism” in his article, as we would have some measure of what ugly sentiments Chesterton had supposedly rejected. Nevertheless we can refer to one article from over a decade ago on Hillary Clinton where Mr Baron opined: “I know anti-Semites exist because I’ve met them, and I don’t mean people who hold bizarre or simply erroneous beliefs about Jews, I mean dedicated Jew-haters.” Whether Baron’s readers were aware of his preferred and rather narrow definition of anti-Semite is doubtful. It is more likely that readers would consider having “bizarre or simply erroneous views about Jews” as part and parcel of the whole Jew-hatred thing. Perhaps more useful is the definition provided back in 2006 by Washington Post columnist Eliot Cohen, in an otherwise risible review of Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer’s much-pilloried paper on the Israel Lobby, where he argued that “anti-Semitism”,
…means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information… (Washington Post, April 5, 2006).
Against Cohen’s criteria The New Unhappy Lords (unlike Walt and Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby) easily passes as an “anti-Semitic” text. Ostensibly about the historical machinations of the New York-based “Money Power”, The New Unhappy Lords takes numerous opportunities to link that “Money Power” to Jewish interests and to explicitly identify the key conspirators as Jews. Thus the Jewish financial firm of Kuhn, Loeb and Co. are pinned as “instigators and financiers of the Bolshevik regime” (p.13); and Winston Churchill is quoted at length expounding on the role of “atheistical Jews” in leading the Russian Revolution (p.16). “Jewish money-lenders” are blamed for the Great Depression: “a wickedness deliberately plotted by the lending houses of the United States and Europe” (p.21).
The six million Jews that were killed by the Nazis are not mentioned, but six million Germans rendered unemployed by the Great Depression are cast as “victims” who fed the “revolt against the Money Power—the revolt of Adolf Hitler” (p.22). Hitler is recast as only wanting war only in the East, while “International Finance” sought war in the West (p.24). We learn that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had “complained of Jewish pressures to force Britain into war”, and that the “Churchill-Israel Moses Sieff group” was integral to this effort (p.25). But “Financial Jewry” in the US did not bring pressure upon Washington to enter the war until the USSR was invaded and the “‘American’ Power Elite” – note that American is put in quotes by Chesterton suggesting it was somehow not American – had an “instant change of heart” (p.26).
Also consistent with Macklin’s analysis, Chesterton explicitly links Jews to the goal of world government. In his coverage of US financier and government official Bernard Baruch, Chesterton labels him as the “leading political figure” of the “financial complex” (p.37). Chesterton coined the mocking term “Baruchistan” to describe Baruch and his allies. But commenting on “Baruchistan’s” goals, Chesterton offered his own theory:
My own belief is that it is beneath velvet gloves, an insupportable tyranny and that it aims at exercising supreme power over the human race through World Government… (p.39).
In a later chapter Chesterton claims that David E. Lillenthal, co-author of the 1946 Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy, and later chair of the US Atomic Energy Commission, had “expressed the belief that the sacred mission of the Jews was to lead mankind into universal brotherhood under World Government…” (p.59; also p.202). In a later chapter Chesterton again erases any doubts that he thinks Jews are not only behind the New World Order conspiracy, but are somehow innately inclined towards that goal, with the following declaration of his belief:
Here, I suggest, is the major Zionist objective –One World. It is a concept that appeals to the idealistic side of the Jewish mentality, but it appeals still more to that side of the Jewish mind which is preoccupied with the drive towards monopoly, above all a monopoly of political power (p.202; emphasis added).
And a couple of pages later Chesterton tentatively offers just a slither of doubt about the Zionist-World Government connection, before swiftly taking it away:
Whether or not One World is the secret final objective of Zionism, World Jewry is the most powerful single force on earth and it follows that all major policies which have been ruthlessly pursued through the last several decades have been ruthlessly pursued through the last several decades must have had the stamp of Jewish approval (p.204; emphasis added).
Of course, Baron argues that Macklin is serving up “facile nonsense” to suggest the Chesterton ever claimed there was a conspiracy to establish a “‘One World’ Jewish superstate.” Readers of The New Unhappy Lords, considering the above, may well come to a different conclusion.
It is of course quite true that Chesterton does not seek to implicate all Jews in the conspiracy. At one point he writes that it would be “manifestly unfair” to describe the plot or plots as the “work of the Jews”, because of the heavy involvement of Gentiles in bringing it to fruition. And he also sternly warns against visiting upon the “mass of Jews opprobrium or worse” in response to the “actions of those” he is about to reveal (p.199). By Baron’s criteria that does not make him a “Jew hater”. But by Cohen’s definition, Chesterton is clearly an anti-Semite given his obvious obsession with accusing Jews of being the “driving force” (p.199) behind the conspiracy. Indeed, Chesterton leaves little doubt that he believed the lead conspirators were all Jews:
It is from New York that the master-manipulators and master-conspirators exercise direct power over Finance Capitalism. Are these master-manipulators and master-conspirators Jewish? Because of the power of the purse afforded by the control of credit and by preponderant participation in America’s most powerful industries and commercial firms, and because of the commercial preponderance in the economies of the so-called free world, the answer is almost certainly “yes” (p.204; emphasis added)
Chesterton offers various platitudes to try to dilute the implications of his claims that the conspiracy is largely a Jewish creation. He assures us, for example, that the “vast majority of Jews…are law-abiding citizens” and that they show themselves to be “well-disposed and kindly toward their neighbours.” But such sentiments are repeatedly undermined by smears directed at all Jews, for instance:
In business [Jewish] codes are not invariably aligned with Gentile codes and their sense of solidarity, which is at once their strength and their weakness, gives them a distinct advantage over their Gentile competitors which is often resented and causes much bitterness (p.199; emphasis added).
Their strong sense of solidarity causes the law-abiding members of the Jewish community, whose outlook is often conservative, if not to defend the subversive elements, at any rate to embark upon rather slippery arguments that Jews are a religious and not a racial group, so that apostates are not to be looked upon as Jewish. Such arguments are specious and deceive only the simple (p.200; emphasis added).
[C]ommon sense…must lead to the conclusion that the policies, directed against the most cherished Gentile values, were incubated by adroit Jewish brains and fulfilled, or carried to the verge of fulfilment by the dynamism of the Jewish spirit (p.204; emphasis added).
Seemingly confident that Chesterton is no “Jew hater”, Baron suggests that one day “all mankind – white, black, Asian, Gentile and Jew” will see The New Unhappy Lords as prophetic and there will be recognition that we all owe Chesterton “an enormous debt”. Yet it is difficult to see how that might be possible for a book replete with ugly racist sentiments scattered throughout to be truly embraced by these disparate ethnic and racial groups.
For example, not content with ignoring the mass-murder of Jews by the Nazis, and promoting vulgar Jewish stereotypes, Chesterton sees fit to praise English King Edward I, arguing he should be “honoured by every Englishman” for his decision in 1290 to “expel the Jews from England” (p.65). Later Chesterton laments that had the “Gentile nations stood firm” in the defence of their traditions and values, “instead of cravenly capitulating, the Jews would have remained where they ought to be—a small sect living contentedly and at peace with their neighbours, exercising neither national nor international power and entertaining no inordinate ambitions” (p.205; emphasis added).
Chesterton also rages against the end of British colonial rule in Africa and the various indignities heaped upon those holdouts of colonial white privilege, Rhodesia and South Africa. Citing the case of newly independent Zambia, Chesterton claims:
Here, as throughout the rest of Black Africa, there is systemically applied the only political art which the African can master—the art of relentless intimidation which often enough does not stop short of murder (p.96; emphasis added).
According to Chesterton, South Africa had left the Commonwealth because of the “insufferably insolent attitude adopted by dusky politicos and parvenus of ‘newly emergent nations’ such as Ghana and Nigeria” (p.123). The failure of the Africans to properly prostrate themselves before their European betters is a sore point for the writer of The New Unhappy Lords with his alleged message of freedom for all of mankind. He expresses frustration with the South African government, with its policy of “separate development”, or apartheid, for letting the “Bantustans”, the so-called African homelands, be “elevated to nationhood” (p.124). Chesterton makes clear his preference for the powers over the police, military, foreign policy and the economy to be “kept in firm White hands” (p.125, 126). He also warns against “Bantus” from participating in Parliament as legislating required “highly developed skills far beyond the reach of the African mind” (p.126).
Chesterton was also generous in his praise for the non-whites in the Western world, taking issue with the “intractable colour problem in the United States” and the “large coloured population in the Cape” (p.158). But above all he was incensed by the “creation of a colour problem” in the Britain, a “White nation” (p.155). Though alarmed by the threats to White rule over black Africans, Chesterton was plainly angered by the “coloured invasion” of Britain (p.156). According to Chesterton, the “flooding” of Britain with a “sea of coloured immigrants” was an act of “downright criminality”, though he suspected it was part of a “conspiratorial plan” to secure the “mongrelisation of mankind” (pp.158-59).
It is possible that Mr Baron does not share all of the late A.K. Chesterton’s undisguised prejudices against Jews, Africans and coloured people as some of his Digital Journal pieces seem to suggest. If so, it makes it difficult to explain why Baron would be so keen to present an account that elides Chesterton’s hostile views on those same people. The New Unhappy Lords has some marginal value as an expose of the “power elite”, through its chapters on the CFR and the Bilderbergers. But, as we have seen, these are embedded in an extended rant about a malevolent, predominantly Jewish, New York-based “Money Power”, which Chesterton accuses of manipulating Britain and the US into a war against Nazi Germany, undermining the British Empire, plotting to end “White rule” in Africa, and fomenting the “coloured invasion” of Britain. Far from being a humble “study of power elites”, as Baron suggests, The New Unhappy Lords is an ugly propaganda screed that purports to reveal the secret plans by a Jewish elite to rule the world. But in truth it does little more than reveal Chesterton’s various prejudices towards Jews and non-whites; prejudices that are not absent from the complete collection of Mr Baron’s works.
And that would seem to be reason why Baron—once described by the Stephen Roth Institute in the late 1990s as a “so-called libertarian, and prolific writer of anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial publications”, and more recently as an “extremist” by The Jewish Chronicle—goes to such lengths to promote this risible book and seek to venerate and rehabilitate its late author. Mr Baron may bristle at such a suggestion, but by plainly whitewashing Chesterton’s The New Unhappy Lords, there are few if any palatable explanations for his actions.