Rothschilds: A Family Portrait by Frederic Morton

Today, there is a growing conspiracy theory that the Rothschild’s are the richest people in the world and run all the banks and by fault, all the countries in the world.  In my opinion, this is nothing but a drudging up of the old anti-Semitic propaganda encapsulated by the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion published in 1903 which was a purported plan for Jewish global conquest.  It is hard for me to believe that the Rothschilds would have allowed the Holocaust.  If they ran the show, the Muslims would have all been wiped out by now.  More likely, those who have always held power, the European and American industrial elite and bankers, still run the show, and the idea that the Rothschilds run the show is a wonderful scapegoat for all the evil and conflict they sow for profit.  If history tells us anything, those truly in power remain blameless and always find scapegoats. 

 The story of the Rothschild is not so much about an industrious banker who made it rich by industry innovations or hard work alone but rather a financier who worked hard but also lucked out by finding work for Prince William of Hesse, a German principality.  Prince William happened to possess one of the largest fortunes in Europe at the time, some of which was raised by loaning out Hessian mercenaries who helped enforce law and then fought against the US colonies.  The reason that Mayer Rothschild got his foot in the door was simply his ability to work under the radar and behind the scenes as opposed to the big banks.  Here comes the critical element to the story.  Rothschild was a Jew, and as such, suffered tremendous discrimination and danger in Europe.  The Jewish culture adapted by working in the shadows, underground, and often by skirting laws deftly and becoming highly resourceful in order to simply survive.  These skillsets made the Rothschilds indispensable court assets, especially when Napoleon took over and the Prince needed someone to manage his wealth in secret.  So it was almost meant to be that the Europeans who had oppressed and discriminated against the Jews would ultimately use them for the cunning and resourcefulness they developed as a result of said oppression and discrimination.  Even to this day, the Rothschild are weary of being too public and open.  So people naturally interpret this as being shady, sly, and underhanded.  What evil or crime could they be up to for being so secretive and discreet?  Well, protecting your privacy does not equal criminality or immorality.  The Rothschilds are only doing what their culture taught them to do in order to survive.  They’re working behind the scenes, being resourceful, and keeping secrets.  If you are a shady government or ruler, you quickly realize what an asset a Jew can be to both hide your criminal behavior or as a scapegoat when things go bad. 

 One of the strengths of the Jews beside the ability to skirt the law, hide, evade, resourcefulness, and work underground was their networks throughout Europe.  Since no European country wanted them in great numbers, they learned to spread themselves thin, but this in turn, created a vast social and commercial network.  You can almost think of Jews as mitochondria, a symbiotic organism that is subsumed by a nation that becomes a great source of energy and fuel.  Their oppression, persecution, rejection, and discrimination has made them lean, resourceful, thrifty, and diligent, and this in turn is then utilized by the very state that oppresses them, to make the state more efficient.  I’m not saying it’s a good thing for the state to oppress a certain group of people to make them better, of course, but it’s a fascinating concept.  Likewise, the Japanese occupied Korea and sort of created a natural selection process by which the most industrious, ingenious, resourceful, and cunning Koreans survived while everyone else starved or died in Japanese prison camps.  Once liberated, the remaining selected Koreans then turned their Third World country into a First World power over a few decades.  Of course, there is always a price to pay.  Many oppressed cultures not only have the most industrious, ingenious, and resourceful people, but they also tend to retain a large portion who are abnormally destructive, self-destructive, and violent because of the persistent oppression and frustrations.

 The Rothschilds were also brilliant.  Imagine some payday loan dude goes to Wall Street with his sons, and in a few decades, they become the richest financiers of Wall Street.  It takes talent, but also that Jewish trait of caginess.  It’s funny to note that in thesaurus.com the synonyms for cunning are Machiavellian, foxy, streetwise, and crafty.  I try to avoid the term cunning because of its negative connotations.  For instance, the Rothschilds needed to move 500K British pounds-worth of gold from London to the Duke of Wellington and his army fighting in Portugal.  How do you do that with the Napoleonic French empire cutting off trade throughout Europe?  The Rothschilds were sheer geniuses.  Convince the French that the British were afraid of wealth flowing out of England, so the Rothschilds would help smuggle out 500K British pounds-worth of gold right to Paris!  They were converted into Spanish bills and the bills were then secreted to Wellington! 

 Perhaps the most important paragraph in the book is the following, “They saw neither peace nor war, neither slogans nor manifestoes nor orders of the day, neither death nor glory.  They saw none of the things that blinded the world.  They saw only steppingstones.”  Some might suffer the causal fallacy that the Rothschilds foment war and crisis in order to turn a profit, because they are always around to finance a war or reconstruction after a crisis, but this would be like saying they cause earthquakes and flooding.  Rather, they are simply ambivalent to which side is fighting, and why shouldn’t they be?  Both sides consider them second-class citizens.  You want to blame the Rothschilds, but why not blame each side that is trying to kill one another over their particular land, religion or political ideology?  It’s like blaming banks for lending money to tobacco companies and fast food chains.  Why not blame the consumers who freely choose to poison themselves?  If you are one of these consumers who freely chooses to poison yourself then it might be nice to make yourself a blameless victim by blaming the Jews who lent money to tobacco and fast food companies.

 People often think that inventors make all the money, because they are geniuses.  Most inventors die penniless, because they could never make their inventions turn a profit.  And it is not those who turn inventions into something useful that make all the money either, because their wealth ends when a better invention comes along.  The people who really make a profit are the ones who supply the people making inventions useful.  But the richest of them all are the bankers who lend the money to the inventors, to the people who make the inventions profitable, and to their suppliers.    

 People often wonder why some people are obsessed with wealth and power.  The answer is quite simple.  They experienced extreme poverty or extreme powerlessness.  Jews have historically suffered both.  They have been purposefully excluded from opportunities and looked down upon.  As social creatures we tend to mimic one another, so when you are being abused, oppressed, and looked down upon, you want to abuse, oppress, and look down upon others.  Becoming a millionaire was insufficient for the Mayer Rothschild.  Keep in mind, he grew up in a Jewish ghetto that was gated and closed at night.  Not only did kings and queens look down upon him and his sons but the German butcher and baker down the street.  You can imagine that burning desire in him and his sons to be able to look down upon the German butcher and baker and then ultimately to be able to look down upon kings and queens.  So is ten million enough?  A hundred?  A billion?  No amount is ever enough, but the insecurity has no bounds and is insatiable.  The one thing to keep in mind is that the descendants of the Rothschilds now grow up with staggering wealth and privilege and their name makes everyone around them feel meager and insignificant.  So I doubt they would be as driven as Mayer and his sons to continue dominating the universe.  I would bet that they would be more than happy just living normal lives as poets, painters, art collectors, etc.  This is often what happens to the children of the rich.  The only exception is when the parent creates an oppressive and abusive environment depriving their children of power and privilege which is often the case with English aristocrats who sent their children to cruel and harsh boarding schools.  In a society of have’s and have nots with the margin growing so much each day, with only eight men owning half the wealth of the world, it’s easy to imagine that there are billions of people suffering oppression, poverty, and extreme powerlessness all lining up to be the next ruthless and insatiably greedy power and wealth-monger.  The solution is obviously to treat everyone with equality and dignity, to get rid of hierarchies, to provide everyone with opportunity and access, and this in turn also encourages trusting social relationships which is the most fulfilling things in the world. 

 The story of Mayer Rothschild and his kids is, oddly enough, one of the most incredible stories in history.  Why the story is not told in history books only adds suspicion and fuels conspiracy theories.  It is almost a miraculous story, how a poor Jew in a Jewish ghetto rose from nothing and with his sons helped take down Napoleon’s empire and became one of the wealthiest and powerful families in Europe.  His and his sons’ work has to be considered one of the greatest human feats in history.  His sons, in particular, had to move to new countries; learn their language; learn their customs; learn their political, merchant, and banking systems; and then on top of all that, exploit them.  I firmly believe that our minds are kept back.  Public school clutters our minds with incessant factoid pollution with a few good lessons thrown in to keep up the façade.  I know so many people with cluttered minds.  They don’t know what’s important.  Especially at work, they pay as much attention and focus on the most mundane and trivial things as a multi-million-dollar project.  In school, you’re trained to remember everything equally.  That is the only way possible to get a 100 score on an exam.  This is utterly absurd.  If you wanted to watch and enjoy football, it’s like forcing you to remember the name and number of every player on every team, to remember all their schedules, all their coaching staff, all the scores, and all the historical wins and losses.  Why?  In order to be a fan, a player, or even a coach, all that stuff is not important.  The reason public school clutters your mind is to keep you from thinking for yourself and questioning the system itself.  Without all that clutter, I truly believe that most all kids could become geniuses in whatever field they desire.  The Rothschilds sons never had 12 months of public schooling, four years of college, and then two years to get MBAs.  Yet, they learned a new language, custom, and mastered the political, merchant, and banking systems of their respective nations.  They accomplished this all, because their minds were not cluttered with trivial bullshit.  Meanwhile, you can imagine the impotent minds of their competitors, the other bankers and politicians who had years and years of formal training.  Their minds were so cluttered, they couldn’t understand how these upstarts could run circles around them with ingenious plots and financial strategies.  This is what happens when you declutter your mind.  You become a genius, and modern society does not want geniuses, they want servants.

 This book is similar to Illiberal Reformers in that it provides you with evidence that the history we learned in school is full of purposeful holes.  In the case of this book, we learn that the Rothschilds played a central role in the transition between aristocratic Europe and industrial Europe.  It was the Rothschilds who brought railroads to mainland Europe and helped spur the industrial revolution.  How is it that this important fact is omitted from history textbooks?  If you were ruler of the world, wouldn’t you want to show the world your benevolence and accomplishments?  As the book notes, while the Rothschilds were one of the most powerful and wealthy families in the early 1800’s, by spurring industrialism in Europe with a better and more international banking system, they spawned industrial giants and powers that would challenge their supremacy.  The one thing these challengers had to their advantage was the Achilles Heel of the Rothschilds.  They were Jews.  Regardless of how powerful and influential the Rothschilds were and are today, it is hard to believe that they triumphed over their Christian hosts, bankers, and industrialists.  There were simply too many of them on their home turf, and the continent-wide anti-Semitism and cleansing of Jews by the Nazis is damning proof that the Rothschilds were relatively powerless against them.  The Rothschilds benefitted from a united Europe through their transcontinental banking system.  They profited more from industrial growth than the petty royal and nationalist wars of Europe.  It is more believable that the nationalists that rose in Europe, spread anti-Semitic hysteria to undermine the Rothschilds and then fomented war to justify their existence and ascent.  What caused both world wars was not a diabolical scheme of the Rothschilds to slaughter six million of their own people and profit from defense spending but rather the insidiousness of nationalistic fervor that spread throughout the world, culminating in the nationalistic orgies of the Olympic games tied closely to the concurrent fervor of eugenics and progressivism. 

 The big question is whether the Rothschild continued their banking monopoly in the late 1800s, and the book indicates a number of reasons to doubt it.  The Rothschilds remained huge players, but the European economies under the Industrial Revolution (which the Rothschilds helped spur) created greater banking competition and wealth.  The Rothschilds were reluctant to capitalize on this and rather fell back on their reliance on kings and queens for major national loans.  The Rothschild family were also diluted by offspring, especially daughters.  The lack of sons in Germany and Italy led to the closing of their banks in those nations leaving England, France, and Austria.  Their offspring also tended to lack interest in empire-building as they were raised with wealth and privilege as opposed to the first five brothers and Mayer.  Their offspring spent their time in the arts and some simply wasted their inheritances.  Anti-Semitism also lingered in Europe and perhaps was intensified by the existence of the Rothschilds with their power and wealth.  Existing elite and new wealth from the Industrial Age often colluded against the Rothschilds purely out of anti-Semitic sentiment.  It is hard to believe that if the Rothschilds were so powerful, they would wind up powerless against competition and ultimately the murder of six million Jews.  All evidence points to the probability that non-Jews of Europe fomented anti-Semitic sentiment to combat the Rothschilds and used them as scapegoats for all the ills of the world.  The Rothschilds did not own all the banks, all the media, all the political parties, nor all the nations.  They were simply outnumbered and outpowered by the anti-Semitic elite but also by progressive governments that levied harsh taxes on everyone, especially to pay for two world wars.  If the Rothschilds had escaped all this unharmed, then why were they forced to sell some of their greatest mansions and estates in England?  This makes no sense.  Unlike public banks, the Rothschild members were taxed upon death.  When Germany invaded Austria, the Austrian arm of the Rothschild empire was seized, and even when Austria was liberated, all the Rothschilds assets were donated to the Austrian government and turned into a pension fund.  It is hard to believe that the Rothschilds owned the world in the 1930’s or 1940’s or any time after that. 

 The criticism I have of this book besides the fact that the author openly states at the beginning that he had the cooperation of the Rothschilds in writing the book is the omission of the Rothschilds work in America as well as the involvement with centralized banking, notably the Federal Reserve in America.  Perhaps the funniest aside is the fact that on their website, one of the headquarters of Rothschild happens to be in my hometown of Reno, Nevada: https://www.rothschild.com/en/north-america/  Little Reno, the littlest home to the biggest financial empire in history.  LOL.  The book spends a considerable time covering miscellaneous family members and their aristocratic pursuits, but if it wanted to put to bed all the conspiracy rumors, it should have delved further into the Rothschilds activities in America as well as its relationship with central banking.  None-the-less, I am convinced that a family empire that was forced to sell so much of its assets and stood by helpless as the Nazis destroyed Europe and killed six million Jews doesn’t sound like rulers of the world to me.  Major players, yes, but rulers of the world, not by a long shot.  The fact that so many people believe they rule the world (and bear most of the blame for wars and conflict) is testament to the convenience of the Jews as the world’s greatest scapegoats not rulers.

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