Jewish Intelligence and Genius–Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize is universally accepted as the absolute pinnacle of human achievement; the award has no comparison in terms of its prestige or the prodigious qualifying criteria that is required to win the award. The Nobel prize is the world’s highest obtainable accolade, it is the ‘ne plus ultra’ of intellectual accomplishment. While perusing the biographies and memoirs of Jewish Nobel prize winners, one is not only struck by their extraordinary intelligence, conceivably three or four standard deviations from the mean, but their range of additional interests, talents and aptitudes. The motivation that remains in the background of this admiring collective study, a prosopography of sorts, is not merely self-congratulatory or a means of boosting Jewish national spirit or morale, although I do mean to do that as well, but rather to analytically and coldly assess if such conspicuous talent, and ‘species creating’ genius, might yet be forthcoming from the Jewish people in the next generation or two and which can thereby be turned to the immense benefit of Israel and Zionism 2.0. Much of what is being proposed for Zionism 2.0 depends on the outcome to this important question.
The Jewish share of the Nobel awards is one of the most stupendous and surprising ‘natural wonders’ in human history. Statistically it borders on an impossibility–the odds are less than 1 in 10 trillion by some calculations. Many serious and inquisitive people have spent a long ‘night’ pondering this mystery of mysteries. To briefly re-encapsulate this roll call of achievement, the Jewish share of Nobel Prizes in Chemistry is 19%; the figure in Physiology and Medicine is 26%; in Economics it is a staggering 41% of the world total; in Literature Jewish winners account for 13% of the world total, and 25% in the “Queen of Science” Physics -the supreme and pen ultimate domain of human thought that lays bare the underlying laws of the Universe.
By these extraordinary figures, about a quarter of the world’s highest intellectual production, the acme of human accomplishment, is attributable to the Jewish people. This is simply fantastic considering that Jews represent about 0.2% of the world population, less than sixteen million of the world’s almost eight billion individuals. The Jewish people have, of course, tragically and within living memory, experienced one of the most catastrophic genocidal losses in the history of mankind; this terrible loss makes the roster of Jewish Nobel prize achievement all the more unbelievable. The Holocaust led to the loss of at least six million Jewish individuals, about a third of Jewry’s pre-World War Two population. Not only were six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, but millions of other Jewish people had their lives shattered. Many people have speculated that the demographic effects of the Holocaust, with its near total destruction of one million five hundred thousand Jewish Children, would be profound. The children constitute almost the entire generation of European Jewish children born between the years of 1930 and 1945.
It was widely assumed that the demographic destruction of an entire generation of children, itself unprecedented in world history, would result in a collapse of Jewish performance in all fields, due simply to the sheer fall off in numbers. This remarkably appears not to be the case (so far at least) with the relative proportion of Jewish Nobel prize winners actually increasing to 32% in the first quarter of the 21st century (i.e. 2000-2023). This compares to 14% of the total winners in the first half of the 20th century, and approximately 25% of the total in the 2nd half of the twentieth century.
It should be noted that anti-Jewish prejudice may have strongly favored lower figures in the early 20th century with many pre-eminent scientists passed over. Most egregiously, Einstein did not receive a Nobel Prize for either his Special Theory of Relativity or his General Theory of Relativity, theories that have revolutionized all of Physics and our entire understanding of the physical Universe. (Einstein did receive a Nobel but for his explanation of the Photoelectric Effect–which applies more to Quantum Mechanics than his main body of work). Likewise Professor Lise Meitner, who Einstein called Germany’s Madame Curie, did not win an award for working out the physics of nuclear fission (a word she coined) with her nephew Otto Robert Frisch–one of the pivotal events in 20th century physics. Likewise Rosalind Franklin, who provided the crucial and determinative X-ray crystallographic image of the DNA molecule (Photograph 51), was also not awarded the Nobel prize with Watson and Crick, despite the award being granted to her laboratory partner Maurice Wilkins. John von Neumann was also overlooked despite his staggering and unmatched contributions. The list could be continued, but the point is well taken I believe.
The largest losses of talent are those that can never be measured or understood. We can never know what we have lost. I am referring here to the countless future scientists, creators, and savants who were murdered during the Holocaust and who would have otherwise certainly made enormous intellectual contributions in the 2nd half of the 20th century, and whose children and grandchildren would have been alive in our own times to contribute their share as well. A staggering one third of the Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust. This is a stark fact that will never be fully assimilated or appreciated. The actual losses given the disproportionate loss of all of the children has resulted in a much larger ‘effective’ loss of population and human potential than even these gruesome numbers would suggest. The damage of the Holocaust on the world’s pool of ability and talent is probably visible as George Gilder has suggested on the level of our species, Homo Sapiens, and it may indeed leave a permanent irreparable scar which will remain with us for as long as we continue to exist.
Jewish Intelligence and Genius—Other Awards and Accolades
Other prestigious awards and accolades recognizing the highest attainment yield figures not too different from the results of the Nobel prize. Twenty three (23%) of Japans’ exceedingly prestigious Kyoto Award are of Jewish ancestry as are 38% of the recipients of the US National Medal of Science, considered by some to be the most prestigious scientific award in the world. Jewish people constitute about 26% of the elected members of the British Royal Society since 1901; a society that has no peer in terms of its thoroughgoing and selective criteria. One could cite for better measure and balance other prestigious awards some of which bear significant relevance with regard to the informational/computer science world; these include the ACM Kurt Godel Prize (41%), the A.M. Turing Award (30%), the John von Neumann Award (39%), the Donald Knuth Prize in the Foundations of Computer Science (48%), the IEEE C.E. Shannon Award in Information Theory (33%). Jews have won about 30% of the Fields medal, often referred to as the “Nobel” prize of mathematics. Edward Witten is the only physicist to have ever won the Fields medal, and he might yet win the Nobel Prize for String Theory.
Jewish Intelligence and Genius—Chess and Bridge
In almost every area of high cognitive activity, Jews represent a significant proportion of the entire world figure, often hovering around a participation rate of 25%. Chess and Bridge are probably the best examples of a very high cognitive activity that requires a large set of mental faculties. With respect to chess, seven of the thirteen world champions between 1851 and 1986 have been Jewish ( Steinitz, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Spassky, Fischer and Kasparov). Outstanding achievement in Bridge also seems to be the case from a cursory perusal of a list of world champions over the last one hundred years.
Jewish Intelligence and Genius–Cultural Production & Hollywood
In the area of cultural production, Jewish creative activity is simply stupefying. As is generally known, Jewish entrepreneurs essentially ‘invented’ Hollywood, including: the star system and the production, distribution and promotional framework of the entire movie industry. Jewish inventors and technical innovators also directed, built or adopted much of the underlying technical apparatus; the patent art vis-a-vis the making of films is of astounding breath and complexity and much of it, some say a third or more is attributable to Jewish inventors. Jewish pioneers essentially worked out the incredible difficulties of creating a new cultural medium, a medium that has utterly reshaped the entire world. If Jews had simply had no prior history and had not engaged in any other pursuits, just the attainments in this domain alone would buy significant ‘purchase’ on the world and would guarantee Jewish people recognition and permanence wherever they may live and for all time. It is by such accomplishments that nations are made and their survival is guaranteed. Nations, in contradistinction to empires, arise by accomplishments and achievements not by conquest, order or fiat.
I think it is instructive to briefly reprise the pivotal and instrumental role that Jewish pioneers, entrepreneurs and creators have played in creating modern media and the great “dream factory” of Hollywood- the whole massive narrative and mythology spinning machine of the 20th and 21st century. Zionism 2.0 is predicated on the idea that we can pivot, some share of this creative talent and capacity towards our projects and plans. If only a fraction of this talent can be captured it will be sufficient for our purposes. Hollywood is, again, another astonishing and entirely ‘unlikely’ story.
In brief: all of the major studio’s were created by Jews as most people generally realize and understand. These studio’s include:, Paramount (Adolph Zukor), Fox (William Fox), Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (Louis B. Mayer), Warner Brothers ( Jack Warner & Brothers), RKO (David Sarnoff), Universal (Carl Laemmle), and Columbia (Harry and Jack Cohn). In addition, all three of the major US Television networks were developed, pioneered and controlled by their Jewish founders. ABC/Disney–(Leonard Goldenson), CBS (William S. Paley), and NBC (David Sarnoff). These pioneers essentially invented the medium of television, a medium which has driven a technical and industrial consumer electronics revolution; a revolution which encompasses a trillion dollar ecosystem of hardware and content producers. David Sarnoff also developed from scratch the RCA laboratory into one of the world’s pre-eminent industrial centers for R&D. Sarnoff had earlier pioneered and almost single-handedly developed the US radio network system and spearheaded the mass manufacturing and marketing of the home radio set.
Jewish Intelligence and Genius–Capitalism and Finance
The prohibition against lending money at interest originates in Exodus within the Books of Moses. The injunction was extended from the Pentateuch to all of the Abrahamic people, and became a governing article in Christianity and Islam. Many historians have commented on a subtext of danger and fear and social chaos that attaches to the Biblical injunction on money lending. The ban on money lending has very ancient origins and it points to the dangers that unrestricted lending and borrowing can pose to the social fabric. Lending money appears to have created some kind of existential threat and danger as Lydian electrum (gold and silver alloy) coinage and the monetary revolution it engendered spread throughout the Mediterranean basin and the near east upending and reorganizing societies in 700 or 800BC. The reasons for this arise, I believe, from the difficulty of lending money.
Money lending and banking requires extraordinary cognitive, intellectual, social and linguistic skills. Money lending entails: weighting and balancing complex imponderables, calculating risk, assessing collateral, determining trustworthiness, understanding the nexus of payments, creating ledgers and records, safeguarding and transporting coinage and bullion, and further understanding trade routes and market cycles. There are, of course many other difficulties, including: the constant risks of violence, theft, fraud, and deception, and a reliance on a host of honest interlocutors, including: Judges and Courts, Bailiffs and Sheriffs to protect one’s interest and enforce collateral. Many of these institutions did not exist fully formed in the ancient or even in the early Middle Ages. The cognitive requirements to simply function in this ‘space’ are formidable. To successfully maintain one’s capital and to increase it over long periods of time is one of the most extraordinary of human accomplishments. And it has been very much a Jewish accomplishment and achievement. It’s not that the Christian churches delegated and allowed the Jews to function as lenders and bankers, it is more plausible that no other Nation had the necessary skill sets, or cognitive ability to perform the complicated functions over extended periods of time.
The vastly learned Fernand Braudel is one of the few Historians to have a true grasp of the full scale and the monumentally important role that Jews have played in the emergence of European Capitalism. Braudel in his magisterial historical study, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, concluded that Capitalism did not happen anywhere else other than Europe in that no other nation played (or was capable of playing) the financial/ banking role that Jews played in Europe. Very few rivals have ever challenged Jewish predominance in the field of international finance. The displacement or destruction of Jewish financial and mercantile networks typically led to a disaster for all concerned. Braudal describes the Florentine takeover of the role of English Jewry in the English medieval economy, prior to and paving the way for the Jewish expulsion from England in 1290, as probably the most spectacular economic ‘take-over’ in the history of World finance. This takeover, the displacement and expulsion of English Jewry, required the entire combined wealth of the richest Florentine and non-Jewish banking families, including: the storied Bardi, Frescobaldi, and Perruzi banking dynasties along with hypothecating the collective wealth of the Riccardi, the banking Society of Lucca. This bold takeover would help them little, however, with Edward III defaulting on his loans just fifty years later in 1340/45, on what proved to be unreliable tax revenue and other collateral, plunging all of the great Florentine banks as well of the Society of Lucca into bankruptcy and contributing to the massive economic collapse of the 14th century which in turn created famine-like conditions across all of Europe; the Black Plague arrived shortly thereafter in 1347 as the final coup-de-grace.
Reprising the Jewish involvement in money, and money lending and banking and world finance is relevant to the plans of Zionism 2.0 and our ‘proposal’ to make Israel and Tel Aviv specifically, the world leading centre, par none, for venture capital finance and one of the major nodes of global commerce. Incipient developments in this direction are already visible. Jewish people have a special talent, cognitively based I believe, for the complexities of finance and particularly venture finance. The financial complexities and difficulties of supporting the next generation of technology, will exceed all past requirements. Jewish talent and ability will need to be leveraged and developed to support core Zionist 2.0 projects. What has happened in the past is important to understanding what can happen in the future. Jewish fortunes were often, as in the English case, or in France a century later in 1394, or Spain in 1492, or Portugal in 1496, entirely destroyed, requiring communities to literally begin “all over again” from nothing. We need to look at our possibilities with the same fortitude and perseverance of our Jewish economic forebears.
Jewish Intelligence and Genius—Private Banks
It would be very difficult to comprehensively or exhaustively encompass Jewish participation in the private banking field. Prior to the Holocaust and the global depression, it could probably be said that Jewish firms collectively controlled more than 50% of the global bond, equity, commodity and capital markets. At the height of the Rothschilds family’s activities in the 19th century, when haute finance essentially ruled, these figures would be significantly higher. Ostensibly Jewish firms shaped much of the global financial flows and dictated key economic decisions across the entire world. In England one could mention apart from the N. N Rothschild which is still one of the most influential financial firms , such firms as Samuel Montagu, Speyer, Seligman, S Japhet, amongst many others. In France such firms such as Lazard Freres, Louis Dreyfus, and the Pererire brothers of Credit Mobilier fame, a firm that was inordinately involved in developing French industry. In Germany, prior to the Second World War, Jewish Firms were predominant; Jewish bankers played a crucial role in creating all three of Germany’s major joint stock banks, including the so-called D-banks: Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, and Disconto-Gellschaft. Other private banks had broad, extensive and deeply involved roles in shaping German industry, including such world famous banks as Warburg, Rothschild, Mendelsohn, Bischoffheim, Goldsmiths, Sterns, Speyer, and Oppenheim amongst others. German Jewish banking houses played a major role in developing Wall Street and consequently defining much of the contours of the American industrial economy, including such firms as Kuhn Loeb Co , Lazard Freres, Goldman and Sachs, J.W. Seligman, Landenburg, Thalman and Lehman Brothers, amongst so many others.
Over the course of the last one hundred plus years, Jews, despite their tiny numbers, have created hundreds of the world’s largest, most innovative firms and corporations. Many of these corporations remain in business to this day and represent some of the most recognized companies and global brands. It would be impossible to enumerate these firms even in summary. A full description of the Jewish contribution to the world industry would require an encyclopedia size work. No such survey or comprehensive compass has been written and it would take a herculean effort to even approach such a task. Moreover, any serious research effort would be confounded by the expropriation of Jewish enterprises in Europe during the Nazi aryanization period; so much of this sordid period of theft has been deliberately distorted, concealed, obfuscated and effaced. Much of the history would be difficult to reconstruct retrospectively. The destruction of the economic structure of European Jewry has set back and deeply impaired Europe’s economic possibilities. The profound nature of this set back has yet to be fully realized or its implications understood. That will come in time.
Jewish Intelligence and Genius—A survey of the major Industrial countries
Jewish commercial activity has been notable across almost the entire world, excepting very few industries or areas of economic activity. I will summarize in a snapshot fashion an aerial view of the major industrial countries of Germany, France, Italy, England and the United States as it is relevant and instructive to our plans for Zionism 2:0. Significant space should also be set aside for Central and Western Europe, Russia, Asia, Canada, Australia, Argentina and the Far East. (this will be addressed in a future blog).
Jewish economic activity has been distributed across the globe, having a tremendous effect on the livelihood of much of the world’s population; most of the retained wealth and capital, from all of this activity, has however been lost to its original founders and has been diffused throughout the general economy. Wealth is no longer locked up in partnerships and families but separated from its original ‘generator’ by the legal structure of joint stock companies and incorporations. Economically efficient, joint stock corporations are a type of business organization that militates against the conservation of capital within families and diaspora type economic communities. This legal structure results in the diffusion and loss of much of the accumulated wealth. This situation presents an economic instability for the Jewish community. It is an instability that might be resolved within the confines of the Israeli economy and the framework of Zionism 2.0.
The question to ask within the context of this essay, is what would be the effect of concentrating all this economic energy and talent within Israel, where the wealth is not subject to the same factors of fragmentation and diffusion. It is said that Jews no sooner make great fortunes than it is taken from them. My view is that Israel will be a conservator and concentrator of Jewish wealth, and consequently a very significant multiplier effect will prevail. I am of the view, which will be expanded in further blogs, that this wealth effect will have tremendous positive and beneficial consequences for Israel and her industrial and economic possibilities over the coming generations.
(Part 3 of 4 to Follow)