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The Jewish Century

The Modern Age is the Jewish Age, and the twentieth century, in
particular, is the Jewish Century. Modernization is about everyone
becoming urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate,
physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. It is about learning how to
cultivate people and symbols, not fields or herds. It is about pursuing
wealth for the sake of learning, learning for the sake of wealth, and both
wealth and learning for their own sake. It is about transforming peasants
and princes into merchants and priests, replacing inherited privilege with
acquired prestige, and dismantling social estates for the benefit of
individuals, nuclear families, and book-reading tribes (nations).
Modernization, in other words, is about everyone becoming Jewish.
Some peasants and princes have done better than others, but no one is
better at being Jewish than the Jews themselves. In the age of capital,
they are the most creative entrepreneurs; in the age of alienation, they are
the most experienced exiles; and in the age of expertise, they are the most
proficient professionals. Some of the oldest Jewish specialties—
commerce, law, medicine, textual interpretation, and cultural mediation—
have become the most fundamental (and the most Jewish) of all modern
pursuits. It is by being exemplary ancients that the Jews have become
model moderns.
The principal religion of the Modern Age is nationalism, a faith that
represents the new society as the old community and allows newly
urbanized princes and peasants to feel at home abroad. Every state must
be a tribe; every tribe must have a state. Every land is promised, every
language Adamic, every capital Jerusalem, and every people chosen (and
ancient). The Age of Nationalism, in other words, is about every nation
becoming Jewish.
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