CHAPTER ONE: Oscar Levy: A Nietzschean Vision
... it was the Jews who started the slave revolt in morals; a revolt with two millennia of history behind it, which we have lost sight of today simply because it has triumphed so completely ... Let us face facts: the people have triumphed or the slaves, the mob, the herd, whatever you wish to call them -- and if the Jews brought it about, then no nation ever had a more universal mission on this earth.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, 1887, I: vii, ix
Surely it is not every one who is chosen to combat a religion or a morality of two thousand years' standing, first within and then without himself.
-- Oscar Levy, 'Editorial Note' to The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Vol. I, 1909, p. ix.
A book on Nietzsche, race and eugenics in Britain has no choice but to begin with Oscar Levy.  The editor of the first complete English edition of Nietzsche's Collected Works (1909-1913), he was a Jew and a German (both withholding and juxtaposing the two will be seen to be important) who in 1894 abandoned his father's banking business in Wiesbaden for the life of the mind, settling in London as a physician. Levy not only drove forward the reception of Nietzsche in Britain in the face of widespread indifference (though on the basis of the earlier efforts of others), but also wrote much and contributed more to the intellectual development of a whole 'school' of thinkers, centred mainly around A. R. Orage and the avant-garde weekly journal, the New Age.  His diagnoses of civilisation, penetrating and controversial, not only landed him in trouble with the authorities in the wake of the anti-alien backlash of the post-First World War period, but are still worthy of consideration for their early insights into the coming European cataclysm. Although many of his claims, stemming as they do from his belief in the need to overthrow decadent Judeo-Christian values and replace them with an aristocratic conception of society, are inimical to today's mainstream beliefs, they are consistent, compelling, and not easily dismissed. That they also led Levy into the arms of some of Britain's most eccentric extremists, notably George Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, is only one of the conundra that I hope to address in this analysis of one of the most talented, committed and 'untimely' of British intellectuals.
Shortly after arriving in London, where he set up a doctor's practice, Levy had a 'moment of realization' during one of his trips to the British Museum, a moment described in his autobiography as follows:
I have the sudden thought that Monotheism etc. may not be 'Progress' after all, as I had been taught in school and life under the (unconscious) influence of Hegel. My Damascus: 'But then the Jews were wrong!?' The Chosen People not chosen for Beauty like the Greeks? Only for Morality, and what a Morality: the curses J.C.! I have never recovered from my 'Damascus', and today at the age of 75, I hold it even with more fervour than 50 years ago. 
Once the influence of Nietzsche -- who was recommended to him by an unknown female patient -- is added to this self-description, one has a complete picture of the themes that would haunt Levy throughout his life: the role of religious ideas in history; the relationship of Judaism, Christianity and western civilisation; and the need for beauty and nobility in the realm of morality -- all seen through Nietzschean lenses.
The history of Nietzsche's reception in England has already been written, so I will not reiterate it here.  Suffice it to say that when Levy stated -- as he often did -- that to interest the English in Nietzsche was an uphill struggle, he was hardly exaggerating. Suffice it also to say that Levy eventually succeeded because, apart from practical considerations such as finance (which was taken care of by his father's money), he took the task on with a fervour that was nothing short of religious. In the editor's note to the first volume of the Collected Works, Levy wrote that 'this Cause is a somewhat holy one to the Editor himself'; in the introduction to the same volume, he spoke of Nietzsche's works in the same way a missionary talks of the 'Good News'; and in his 1932 introduction to the Everyman edition of Thus Spake Zarathustra, Levy wrote of his earlier 'conversion' to Nietzscheanism.  Furthermore, he succeeded in a way that would have delighted Nietzsche himself, confirming his claim that his notoriety would come from being misunderstood: the outbreak of war in 1914, and the general identification of Nietzsche with German militarism and barbarism, despite Levy's valiant efforts to disprove the connection, probably did more for Nietzsche's (and Levy's) reputation in England than any essays by Havelock Ellis, lectures by Anthony Ludovici, or articles and letters to the press by Levy himself could ever hope to achieve. Levy, though he headed the Nietzsche movement in Britain, was atypical of it, in that he followed Nietzsche to the letter, especially concerning the role of the Jews in western history.
What was it then that Levy found so irresistible in Nietzsche? A good answer may be found in Levy's first book, The Revival of Aristocracy (1906). Although this book postdates Levy's discovery of Nietzsche, and although he later claimed to be somewhat embarrassed by it, the book adumbrates all the matters that were to preoccupy Levy all his life. Like so many cultural critics and scientists of the fin-de-siecle, Levy was drawn to the theory of degeneration, arguing that philanthropy, extended to the benefit of 'the feeble, commonplace, pitiable, unsound, and helpless' to the exclusion of the 'best', had led to the point at which, by the late nineteenth century, 'only a harmless flock of sheep was left surviving, mutually innocuous and useless'.  Levy believed that a way out of this dangerous situation could be found in the teachings of Nietzsche: 'man might be regenerated; conceivably might a new shepherd be found for this straying herd. of waifs; an aristocracy might be established to counterbalance that equalized and contemptible rudis indigestaque moles'.  No doubt it was because of this note of optimism that Levy later distanced himself from this book, but his diagnosis of society remained unchanged.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the person who took most notice of The Revival of Aristocracy was A. R. Orage, the editor of the New Age. Orage was wide-ranging, and published writers of all political views. He had himself advocated an aristocratic understanding of Nietzsche's 'Ubermensch'.  On reading Levy's book, he contacted Levy asking for twenty-five copies to sell through the pages of the New Age. Since this was a supposedly socialist paper, Levy's Nietzschean colleagues Ludovici and G.T. Wrench objected, but he persuaded them otherwise, and soon both were themselves regular contributors. Ludovici in fact made his name as an art critic in Orage's journal, with his bi-weekly column in the years 1913-1914. Later on, Levy had this to say about the New Age:
It was, on the whole, not a Socialist but a reactionary paper (which is the same). So reactionary, that most of its contributors were Medievalists -- or of that Christian Secularisti, such as Shaw . . . They lived in the past, to which they were frightened back by threatening chaos. They wished to put the clock back, as Chesterton once said, but they had not the Chesterton courage to confess it. 
Thanks to Orage, Levy found an audience, however small, for his views. Most importantly, he had found the most suitable outlet for airing his views on Nietzsche, from which base he could gather around him others committed to the Nietzsche cause.
The most important of these was Anthony Ludovici. Having been Rodin's private secretary for a year in 1906 and having then spent a year in Germany studying Nietzsche, to (some of) whose ideas he subsequently devoted himself, Ludovici was an ideal candidate for involvement with the Nietzsche movement. He quickly became Levy's protege, 'one of the best disciples', was the main translator for the Collected Works, and gained some literary fame as a lecturer and publisher on Nietzsche.  The two men were, at first, inseparable, being nicknamed 'The Lion and the Jackal' by the other readers in the British Library. Levy even paid for Ludovici to accompany him on a tour of Germany ('where AML enchants my sister'), Italy, Greece, Turkey and Palestine. Ludovici returned the favour by basing Dr. Melhado -- one of the main protagonists of his first novel Mansel Fellowes (1918) -- on Levy.  Later on, when Ludovici became involved with the proto-fascist group the English Mistery, wrote articles in the English Review praising the Third Reich, turned to antisemitism, and even travelled to Nuremberg to attend a rally, the relationship between the two men took a turn for the worse.  But with typical tolerance of his friends and disregard for women, Levy could never bring himself to break completely with Ludovici, and he blamed their differences less on Ludovici's political mistakes than on Ludovici's wife Elsie Buckley who, Levy believed, was aggrieved that she had earlier been spurned by him. According to Levy, after their marriage, 'Seven offensive letters followed from London, Ludo reproaching me for "coming from a decadent stock" etc., and apparently "leading him astray". I very much suspect, that it was all her game.' 
Levy's influence on Ludovici was enormous, and in the years of their close collaboration they shared a common interpretation of Nietzsche. This interpretation, popular among British Nietzscheans, saw Nietzsche as the herald of a 'transvaluation of values', in which the effete 'slave morality' of western civilisation would be replaced by a pagan, aristocratic, manly set of values. The emasculated condition of society was summed up in several pithy sentences by Levy in his introductions to the eighteenth and last volume of Nietzsche's Collected Works and to Gobineau's The Renaissance. Today, he wrote, we are faced with 'millions of slaves, many of whom are beyond any care and help, many whose propagation even threatens our society with an ignoble death from suffocation by its own refuse'. How did this come about? The answer lay in the type of values which had been propagated for the last two thousand years: ' ... our moral values, the values of Democracy, Socialism, Liberalism, Christianity, lead to the survival of a type of man who has no right to survive, or who ought only to survive on an inferior plane'. 
The important difference that developed between Ludovici and Levy was on the response to this shared diagnosis. Where Levy stressed the role of moral ideas, Ludovici -- like other Nietzsche scholars such as Maximilian Mugge or Paul Carus -- gradually came to place more and more emphasis on breeding and race, on 'the impossibility of securing the preservation of the nation's identity (which includes its character, culture and institutions), except by preserving its ethnic type'.  Levy was by no means immune to the latter theme. Indeed, while he excoriated Houston Stewart Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899) for its vulgar, declasse antisemitism, which made the mish-mash of German peoples into the proud bearers of a pure Aryan heritage, Levy celebrated Gobineau as the discoverer of the all-importance of race. This meant, quite clearly for Levy, a 'refutation of the democratic idea that by means of an improvement in environment a healthy and noble person could be produced out of a rotten stock'.  Levy often also cited Disraeli in order to defend his claim (indeed his admiration for Disraeli led him to translate Tancred and Contarini Fleming into German ). But Levy's notion of 'stock' was not a racialised one, as it was for Ludovici and Mugge, who argued for the necessity of racial homogeneity. Rather, for Levy 'stock' meant above all 'breeding' of the sense of class position; a biological aristocracy.  Thus although Levy praised 'that young and promising Eugenic Party', he also noted that 'the successful "breeding" of men can only be brought about by religious or philosophic faith', and that therefore one needed Nietzsche more than Galton.  And hence he felt able to laud Gobineau in rather expansive terms:
Gobineau's [unlike Chamberlain's] was an honest Antisemitism, it was, like Nietzsche's, an historical Antisemitism: it had nothing whatever to do with modern Antisemitism, that movement born from fear, envy, and impotence . . . [i]t is an upright, a genuine, a gentlemanly Antisemitism, it is the Antisemitism of the aristocrat, who sees his very blood threatened by revolutionary religions. Both Nietzsche's and Gobineau's Antisemitism, therefore, included of course Christianity. 
The mention of Christianity in this context is revealing. As a Jew, Levy felt more obliged to take the position on breeding that he did than he otherwise might have done, although he never had any qualms about publicly advertising his delight in 'Christian baiting'.  His aristocratic vision led him to stress class above race, but there is a certain tension involved in his doing so. When he discusses that obsession of the British degeneration theorists, the disintegration of Empire, he contradicts his invocation of Disraeli's and Gobineau's dictum that 'all is race', arguing that 'It was intermarriage with the non-race, with the people, that led to the ruin of Rome: it was the mixture of different classes much more than the mixtures of different races that produced that decadent and servile chaos of the later Roman Empire'. 
The racial element that remained, however, is what lends to Levy's thesis its frisson. For although the power of the Roman Empire had not simply undergone racial degeneration, but had 'been 'sapped' by an uncongenial and poisonous code of values',  this poisonous code had been propounded by the Jews. On the one hand, then, Levy shies away from arguments that proceed from the belief that modern Europe can only be rescued from degeneration by the creation of racial homogeneity through eugenic measures, arguing instead for a kind of pre-nationalist aristocratic vision of a pan-European ruling caste;  on the other hand he accepts Nietzsche's claim, primarily expounded in the Genealogy of Morals, that the people who have led Europe to the moral abyss which has sought equality at the expense of health, vigour and achievement are the Jews.
Like Nietzsche, Levy was consistent in this claim, seeing Christianity as the child of Judaism, and its more successful continuer of the slave morality in ethics. This is the reason why Levy attacked Chamberlain so fiercely, but lionised Gobineau: since the Germans claimed to be Christians, a religion which historically neglected the body in favour of the spirit, their claim for racial superiority was disingenuous: 'What cannot and must not be tolerated is the confusion of these two contradictory values Race and Christianity.'  While Levy was not alone in this period in arguing for an aristocratic revivalism,  his arguments are more original than most because they do one thing that the others do not: they explain European civilisation through a consistent methodological insistence on the history of moral ideas as the driving force of history. His argument runs something like this: modern European society is degenerating because it is bound to an effete moral value system; these effete values derive from Judaism, from that Judaism which developed when the 'early white Semites mixed their blood with lower races and thus degenerated';  this Jewish ethic was taken a step further by Christianity, which is a 'Super-Semitism'; Luther, the Reformation and Puritanism took Europe even further away from its manly origins; modern revolutionary movements such as led the French and Russian revolutions, though they believe themselves to be atheist, are in fact continuing to further the causes of Judeo-Christianity by their insistence on a utopian vision of equality and their contempt for the 'strong'; the archetypal example of this barbarism masquerading as civilised values is Germany; only an aristocratic revival -- based on the attitude of the ancient Jews -- which scorns Christianity, the weak and feeble can save Europe from terminal decline.
This theory may have been sweeping, but in the first half of 1914, when the atmosphere was already darkening, it helped Levy make prescient claims about the fate of Europe. On the subject of individual liberty, he noted that
What in reality such liberty may lead to, the history of Germany with its two centuries of barbarism after the proclamation of liberty [by Luther] will teach us; a barbarism, by the way, which is only half painted over, and which no commercial success of modern Germany will ever hide from the eyes of the more cultured observers of Europe. 
And in correspondence with George Chatterton-Hill, who wrote from Freiburg that he had 'never known a nation so brutally chauvinistic', Levy agreed:
There is no doubt about the hopeless state of culture in modern Germany -- a state, all the more serious, as it is not felt by the Germans themselves, who, even when questioned about it only shrug their shoulders and say 'Wir leben eben in einer Uebergangszeit'. If further pressed, where the 'Uebergang' leads to, they are silent, or order another glass of beer, beer being their anodyne against a bad conscience and a muddled mind. 
This attack on the Germans was of course closely bound up with his own background. But in the event, he was proved correct, at least insofar as the outbreak of war confirmed his pessimistic assessment of the times. On the subject of the war, Levy was equally thoughtful. Although never having any inclination to become a naturalised Briton since, from his Nietzschean perspective, nationality was irrelevant, during the war he was at pains to stress how far removed he was from the 'German temperament'. Even though he reluctantly returned with his wife Frieda and daughter Maud to Germany, in January 1915, on Frieda's bidding (she could not stand the anti-German atmosphere in England), they soon moved on again to Switzerland. Throughout the rest of the war, Orage took the brave decision, in terms of popular opinion, to continue publishing Levy's articles. These became increasingly devoted to defending Nietzsche's reputation from the charge of being the muse of German militarism. 
Thus Levy began to define himself using British political terminology: 'I, as a Tory, object to Germany's democracy and her democratic materialism and romanticism, which cultivate no virtues whatsoever and only lead to uncleanliness in thought and action.'  But neither this self-definition, nor Levy's remarkable plea to the readers of the New Age on behalf of Germans who were being interned as enemy aliens in Britain,  prevented Levy from continuing to appropriate Nietzsche's position of the 'good European' as the position from which to criticise the whole European system. 'It is idle,' he wrote, 'to think that this war will end wars: it will, on the contrary, only start a new Napoleonic Era of Wars. The gamble for the mastership of Europe has begun and it will not end until that mastership has been reached and Europe has become one and united.'  In his little book of War Aphorisms (1917), Levy warned: 'If we do not re-educate ourselves in the matter of Christianity, then in a few decades the bloody religious dance of the national dervishes will begin again.' But in a sign that he had lost some of the optimism of pre-war days, he ended the book with the claim that 'the new, united Europe will be aristocratic or it will not be at all'. 
This loss of optimism is confirmed in a series of articles which Levy produced for the New Age. Under the title 'The German and the European', Levy penned five imaginary conversations between the eponymous characters. The European attempts to convince the German that Christianity is the ultimate cause of the war, and that the unification of Europe under a ruling caste drawn from all nations is necessary, while the German sees only the immediate political causes, and retreats from the force of the European's arguments -- which he initially accepts -- into appeals to Christianity and nationalism, and a vindication of Germany's actions in the face of her isolation by the other great powers. They part unreconciled. 
By the end of the war, Levy seemed to have lost any hope that the regeneration of Europe might be forthcoming. In another series of articles for the New Age, he made more dark predictions for the future. Asserting once again that "Down with the strong, long live the weak!" is the secret watchword of every Christian and every democrat', Levy went on to claim that this weakening did not make men less ready to go to war. On the contrary: 'by weakening men we do not turn their thoughts towards peace, we make them quarrelsome and vindictive ... Only the strong and healthy can remain at peace, provided they desire to do so; the weak and sickly, still more the impotent, cannot do so in any case, whether they want to or not.'  Hence the conclusion in 1919, which he headed 'A Reflection for Optimists', that 'A war arising from mystic and moral motives cannot be ended by the application of social and economic nostrums. This does not mean that our diplomats will not conclude a peace; it only means that the peace they make cannot possibly be a lasting one.'  Levy's writings after 1918, as before 1914, sought to explain in what these 'mystic and moral motives' consisted. For Levy the explanation was straightforward, and in this straightforwardness lies the explanation's strength and its weakness.
On returning to London in April 1920 -- an act which required some cunning manoeuvring around the Home Office, and gaining an entry visa from the Foreign Office -- Levy found himself rather isolated, and the mood of the city changed. Even many of his earlier friends spurned him, as they could obviously not be seen to be acquainted with an 'enemy alien'. As a result, he moved to a hotel in Margate, where he could work undisturbed. In the move, however, he 'forgot' to mention his change of address to Bow Street police, a legal requirement for aliens. The hotel owner thoughtfully reported his presence to Margate police for him. 
It was perhaps his lack of friends that made Levy's acquaintance with George Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers all the more explicable. But there is no need for psychological guesswork. Both men clearly shared to a remarkable degree their understanding of the world around them. This understanding was to drive Pitt-Rivers into the arms of Nazism, while Levy remained committed to his aristocratic international; but it was the same understanding nevertheless.
The two men met at the offices of the New Age, and exchanged ideas over lunch. Not only did Pitt-Rivers believe that the chief causes of the 'contemporary disasters' were spiritual, but more importantly he believed that 'The spirit which led this world into disaster and will continue to do so, unless stopped in time, is the spirit of your own race ... the Semitic spirit'.  When Pitt-Rivers went on to explain to Levy that 'only the Jews can deliver us from the Jews', by which he meant that the comparative racial purity of the Jews could yet be a source of strength in overcoming the problem which they themselves had spawned, Levy was convinced. He had himself earlier declared, in a classic expression of 'honest antisemitism', that
The world still needs Israel, for the world has fallen a prey to democracy and needs the example of a people which has always acted contrary to democracy, which has always upheld the principle of race. The world still needs Israel, for terrible wars, of which the present one is only the beginning, are in store for it; and the world needs a race of good Europeans who stand above national bigotry and national hypocrisy, national mysticism and national blackguardism. 
Undertaking the unlikely task of pre-emptively defending him from charges of antisemitism, Levy agreed to write a preface for Pitt-Rivers's pamphlet, The World Significance of the Russian Revolution (1920).
This remarkable piece of writing is easy to dismiss simply as Jewish self-hatred. Yet although Levy was certainly so deeply immersed in the current beliefs about Jews and Judaism that he accepted too readily many of the prevailing stereotypes,  there was nevertheless a good reason for his approach. His Nietzschean critique of civilisation took as its starting point an attack on a value system supposedly introduced by the Jews, and continued by Christianity in both its religious and post-religious (modern, revolutionary) manifestations.
Beginning with a sweeping claim that chimes in exactly with what Pitt-Rivers had already said to him over lunch, Levy wrote:
There is scarcely an event in modern Europe that cannot be traced back to the Jews ... all latter-day ideas and movements have originally sprung from a Jewish source, for the simple reason, that the Semitic idea has finally conquered and entirely subdued this only apparently irreligious universe of ours. It has conquered it through Christianity, which of course, as Disraeli pointed out long ago, is nothing but 'Judaism for the people'. 
He then goes on, summarising Pitt-Rivers's argument, to assert that this history-of-ideas approach means that the author of the pamphlet can in no way be regarded as a vulgar antisemite. Since Levy believes that a certain type of antisemitism 'does the Jews more justice than any blind philo-semitism ... that merely sentimental "Let-them-all-come-Liberalism", which is nothing but the Semitic Ideology over again' (pp. viii-ix), he has no qualms about naming himself an antisemite: 'If you are an anti-Semite, I, the Semite, am an anti-Semite too, and a much more fervent one than even you are ... We have erred, my friend, we have most grievously erred' (p. x).
In what, then, have the Jews erred? Levy accepts all of Pitt-Rivers's allegations: the Jews, whether consciously or not, have been the principal agents of economic and political misery in the world, through their dealings in international finance and their actions in promoting democracy and revolution; Bolshevism, as the bearer of an originally Jewish ideal of equality for the masses, was successful because it was opposed only by democracy, itself a product of the same forces. This argument, however, leads Levy into the realms of conspiracy theory, where he sounds more like Nesta Webster the modern English originator of such theories -- or Lady Birdwood -- her latter-day successor  -- than Nietzsche. Seeing nothing but the play of ideas in history, he asserts that 'There is a direct line from Savonarola to Luther, and from Luther to Robespierre, and from Robespierre to Lenin' (p. iii). Thus Bolshevism 'is a religion and a faith' (p. iv).
What is shocking in this piece is not merely Levy's summary of the effects of the Jewish morality in history:
We who have posed as the saviours of the world, we, who have even boasted of having given it 'the' Saviour, we are to-day nothing else but the world's seducers, its destroyers, its incendiaries, its executioners ... We who have promised to lead you to a new Heaven, we have finally succeeded in landing you in to a new Hell. (pp. x-xi)
Levy also argues, and here his claims become more interesting, that the Jews, under the teachings of Nietzsche, can reverse the situation begun by their ancestors two thousand years before:
Yes, there is hope, my friend, for we are still here, our last word is not yet spoken, our last deed is not yet done, our last revolution is not yet made. This last Revolution, the Revolution that will crown our revolutionary work, will be the revolution against the revolutionaries ... It will pass a judgment upon our ancient faith, and it will lay the foundation to a new religion. (p. xii)
The Jews, the underminers of western civilisation, are the only people able to rescue that civilisation from further deterioration. Self-hatred is yet self-aggrandisement.
The article caused something of a minor storm. Antisemites applauded - the same vulgar antisemites Levy believed himself to be combating - and Jewish groups were understandably horrified. Pitt-Rivers may have been charming, but he was nevertheless among the small number of truly committed extremists in Britain. Taken in by his superficial scholarship, Levy made the mistake of believing Pitt-Rivers to be truly interested in saving civilisation by, through criticising them, saving the Jews. 
Here Levy's exceptionalism regarding the Jews becomes clear. Many Jewish commentators applauded Nietzsche's philosemitism, but omitted to mention his attack on the Jewish origin of the slave morality.  Some, such as the German scholars Maximilian Stein, Leo Berg and Auguste Steinberg, did not omit the awkward aspects of Nietzsche's thought, but left them 'muted or explained away'.  Levy, however, accepted and vociferously propounded them all.
Hence positive reviews of Levy's preface coming from the far right, including one from Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent,  were decidedly not to Levy's liking. In contrast to the Jewish thinkers, they applauded the first half of Levy's argument, but failed to mention the second. As Levy later complained in My Battle for Nietzsche in England (the manuscript of which he sent to Pitt-Rivers for correction in 1926), they 'omitted to give my complaints about English Puritanism and its connection with capitalism, democracy and plutocracy ... [They] likewise skipped my remark about the inner and profound similarity of the Scotch, Jewish, American and English financiers.' And that, Levy protested, was essential to note if one was to understand 'the comprehensive anti-Semitic tendency of my preface, that was the anti-Jewish as well as the anti-Christian view point of my introduction'.  Levy's views on the Jews, though they may appear bizarre, were in fact consistent with Nietzsche's. Yet in the history of Nietzsche-reception in Britain, few thinkers -- whether of left or right, Jewish or not -- were willing to follow Nietzsche to the letter in his harsh assessment of the Jewish origins of modern western civilisation. As one scholar puts it, 'while many laid the axe to Jewish roots, Nietzsche sought to cut the fruit off the tree. Nietzsche did not seek to cut off the Jews, but rather to value their ancient roots and integrate their modern descendants into a new society'.  Levy likewise cut himself off from the mainstream of early twentieth-century political thought by insisting on the validity of the whole of Nietzsche's Zivilisationskritik. He may have shared some ideas with the social Darwinists, some with the eugenicists, the aristocratic revivalists, the antisemites, the Zionists and the Jewish philosophers, but Levy's exceptionalism lies in the fact that none of them could follow him consistently, for all of them would have found their ideas contradicted by doing so.
The only journal accurately to report what Levy wrote was Plain English, the vehemently antisemitic hate-sheet run by Lord Alfred Douglas, in his post-Oscar Wilde reincarnation as Catholic antisemite. Yet even he dismissed Levy's claims about the relationship of Christianity to Judaism as a 'trick' because the consequence of accepting the argument would necessarily have to be the de-Christianisation of Europe. Levy wrote to the paper, which he praised as 'the only review which takes questions of religion seriously', setting out in detail his position. Again stating the inextricable link between Christianity and Judaism, Levy argued that his antisemitism
includes, and very much so ... the Christians. No Christian has a right to be an anti-Semite, for he is himself a Semite, nay a Super-Semite. No Christian must accuse Jews of revolutionary tendencies, for he is himself the follower of a God with revolutionary tendencies. No Christian must condemn Jews for their socialism and Bolshevism for these Jews are simply good Christians, and those who accuse them are knowingly or unknowingly repudiating their own God.
In the following issue, Douglas dismissed Levy's piece as 'mere Jewish raving'. 
The publicity surrounding this piece provided the opportunity wanted by the Home Office to deal with Levy who, as the major promoter of Nietzsche (and hence of German militarism) in England, was already viewed with some suspicion. In the wake of the passing of the 1919 Aliens Act, Levy became a victim of official British xenophobia. He was deported in October 1921.
Levy's case became something of a cause celebre. The press devoted considerable attention to it, most of it admonishing the government for its determination to 'make an example' out of Levy, citing its shameless rejection of his contribution to British cultural life over the previous twenty years as, as one commentator put it, 'a curious reflection on the civilisation which went to war in the cause of "liberation"'.  More chilling undertones can be detected in Hilaire Belloc's contribution. Belloc maintained that Levy's expulsion was an outrage because of his unusual honesty: 'he had never hidden his true nationality nor changed his name, nor used any of those subterfuges which, even when excusable, are dangerous and contemptible in so many of his compatriots'.  And the antisemitic newspaper The Hidden Hand or Jewry Uber Alles lauded Levy as 'the most courageous and honest Jew living', applauded him for not having 'changed his name to Levin, or Lawson, or Livingstone, or Lawrence, or Lincoln, or any other of the aliases affected by weaker brethren of his name', and blamed the Home Secretary's decision to deport him on the secret machinations of the Learned Elders of Zion, of whom 'Mr. Shortt is merely the tool'. 
Levy himself discussed his expulsion publicly only in 1932, in his introduction to the Everyman edition of Thus Spake Zarathustra. He treats the subject lightly, yet it is clear that being forced to leave England had pained him greatly. He explains the reasons why he did not apply for naturalisation: 'I had only the battle "Culture against Barbarism" at heart; I was not interested in the fight "Nation against Nation", knowing very well that, whatever its results, it would only lead to more Barbarism.'  Despite his protests against the decision, he was informed that only those Germans 'who were" of definite benefit to British trade" were allowed to remain -- alas! I was only the importer of a few new but very odd and doubtful ideas!' (p. 60). Yet he ends on a note of defiance, revelling in his literary achievements: 'Now the British Government could drive out the body of his apostle, but never the spirit which he had brought to these shores and far beyond these shores' (p. 61).
A year later, on the receipt of a Nansen passport for stateless people, Levy divided his time between Wiesbaden and the south of France. In 1924 he travelled to Italy to meet Mussolini, and he finally left Germany for good just before Hitler took power in 1933. He left France for England in 1938, on his daughter's persuasion, returned to France, and then, being in England when the war broke out in 1939, he remained there until his death in 1946.
After 1921, Levy's ideas developed in response to the rise of fascism. After visiting Mussolini, he penned a panegyric which is naive to the extent that it is uncritically celebratory. Levy saw in Italian fascism the only serious attempt thus far to combat Bolshevism -- which, being descended from Christianity, Levy saw as the greater threat -- on its own terms, that is, spiritual ones. Since 'behind all modern political movements there are spiritual forces', only ideas, he believed, could fight ideas; fascism fitted the bill perfectly. Convinced by Mussolini that fascism was motivated by great spiritual forces, Levy concluded: Fascism is not only an antidote, but likewise a remedy against Bolshevism. For Bolshevism is not so much a revolutionary as it is a reactionary creed. Bolshevism wishes to put the clock back to the old principles of the French Revolution: it even stands up most shamelessly for liberty, Equality and Fraternity. These ideas, however, have decayed, nay, have become idols which are as good as dead: it is for the new fascistic movement to bury them altogether and to enthrone in their place other ideas and living aspirations for the guidance and progress of mankind. 
What was it in his Nietzschean arsenal that persuaded Levy to support fascism? The literature on the subject of the links between Nietzsche's thought and fascism is large, and needs no introduction here.  Most of it deals with Nazism, and Levy's original response to that ideology will be dealt with shortly. But in the early 1920s, when many Italian Jews were joining the Fascist party, fascism was not primarily an antisemitic movement. On 26 May 1934 Mussolini declared himself to be a student of Nietzsche. And in the immediate aftermath of the March on Rome, it is hardly surprising that Levy felt drawn to Mussolini. For all the attempts to prove that the fascists, especially the Nazis, distorted Nietzsche, on a simplistic level the affiliations between Nietzsche and fascism are obvious and were behind Levy's initial enthusiasm: the language of strength, vitality and scorn for the weak, the idea of the Superman and the fascist 'new man', and race-regeneration. Levy also mistakenly believed that fascism was compatible with Nietzsche's aristocratic radicalism, and was therefore disappointed by its rabble-rousing.
Levy soon recanted when he realised what a terrible miscalculation he had made. As he wrote in his autobiography, recalling the time he met Pitt-Rivers on the boat over from Dieppe, the latter returning from a trip to Czechoslovakia to support the Sudeten Germans, 'It is easy to go wrong nowadays for an intellectual.'  He never gave up, however, his search for a suitable refutation to communism.
But Levy did not go wrong for the same reasons as most intellectuals. He shared with the fascists a hatred of Bolshevism, but genuinely believed that his interpretation was ultimately to the benefit of the Jews. Besides, he soon corrected himself once Nazism made explicit a link between fascism and antisemitism which was only latent in the case of Italian fascism in 1924.  An article published in the Review of Nations in 1927 confirms this claim. Once again, Levy reiterated his idiosyncratic belief that 'all our modern values -- be they Jewish, Christian or Mohammedan, nay, be they nationalistic, socialistic or Bolshevistic values -- are in the end rooted in and traceable back to the Spirit of Israel'.  But this argument, though it indicts the Jews tout court, does not rest with the Jews.
Take the following, for example: 'Out of this utterly false soil, out of defeated Israel, out of an acre where all the natural values were turned upside-down, grew Christianity, and it even accentuated the sickness of Israel, and out-Jewed the Jewish attitude to life.' Or this: 'The Jews have had it all their own way throughout the centuries ... [and in the nineteenth century) Christianity was now secularized and rebaptized "Democracy".'  There is little here to distinguish Levy, for all his tolerance, erudition and knowledge of life in Europe, from the rantings of Mein Kampf. The similarity, however, should not deceive us. Levy's claims show that the interwar period was even more complex and vibrant than already thought. Politics and philosophy were not simply divided into left and right, polarised between fascists and communists, with an increasingly beleaguered centre. Even in Britain, where the National Government held the vote of the middle classes together, the play of ideas was complex enough to allow for ideas to be voiced which are not easily slotted into the normal political pigeon-holes. In Levy's case, one can detect ideas which had the potential to fuel fascism, but which need not have done so. There were other varieties of conservative revivalism, including Levy's revolutionary aristocratic Nietzscheanism, which have been overshadowed by the catastrophic achievements of fascism and Nazism. And it is because of these 'achievements' that it is difficult to separate those who merely sounded like fascists from those who were fascists. Only by historicising the reception of Nietzsche is it possible to see why Nietzsche was not a fascist, but also why his exegetes were at first drawn to the rhetoric and style of fascism.
Fortunately, with Levy the task of differentiation is made simple by virtue of his post-1933 writings. Once Hitler rook power, Levy realised that any positive aspects he had seen in Mussolini's fascism were chimeras. Fascism was nothing but the next step towards barbarism. In other words, Levy incorporated it into the continuum of history that he had been outlining since the turn of the century, making Nazism the latest descendant of the 'Spirit of Israel'. Levy's achievements as a seer must therefore be seen as part of a package which structurally binds the ideational forces behind Nazism to those behind Judaism. Levy continued to espouse a consistent Nietzscheanism, meaning that Nazi antisemitism was unacceptable to him. By contrast, the foremost Nazi proponent of Nietzsche's thought, Heinrich Hartle, followed Nietzsche in blaming the Jews for the ills of contemporary civilisation, went further than most of Levy's critics and accepted that Christianity was a decadent version of Judaism, but drew back from Nietzsche's philosemitism. Indeed he argued that although Nietzsche explicitly 'distanced himself from the National Socialist solution of the Jewish question', the 'background' of his moral philosophy made him the 'arch enemy of Judaism [Urfeind des Judischen]'.  But if Levy attacked Nazi antisemitism, he continued to see Nazism in terms of his Nietzschean Zivilisationskritik.
Levy set out his approach to Nazism in a letter to the New English Weekly, the successor to the New Age, on 16 November 1933. Here he wrote that the explanation for the 'medieval depths' which the Germans were now plumbing was
that the modern Germans are less a civilized than a religious people. Their religion comes, strange to say, right out of the Old Testament. The Chosen Race Idea, which is at the root of the German mentality, springs from the soil of Israel. Israel likewise produced, long before Hitler and Gobbels, its 'Ahnenprufer' (ancestor examiners) in the historical figures of Ezra and Nehemia. They forbade all intercourse with foreign women and even had already existing marriages nullified (Ezra ch. 10). They, too, were all for purity of Race, for pride of Race, for power of Race. The Germans, following in their footsteps, do not know how reactionary they are and how akin, spiritually, to those, whom they detest. Neither do the Jews suspect that it is their own message that now turns against them and that there is only an outward difference between the shield of David and the Swastika of Hitler. This Hitlerism is nothing but a Jewish Heresy ... 
When Levy later insisted that 'The quarrel between the Nazis and the Jews is one between two hostile brethren',  he did so in the full knowledge that most people would ilnd such claims rather exercising, to say the least, as they still do. But from his position of Nietzschean impermeability, Levy felt perfectly entitled to make such proclamations. This sense of justification was also why Levy saw fit to quote at length his remarks from his 1913 introduction to Gobineau's The Renaissance in his 1932 introduction to Zarathustra. He did so to emphasise, as he was never shy of doing, his early appraisal of the situation in Europe. And he was praised for doing so; one newspaper noted that 'Dr. Levy has let the passages he wrote on Gobineau in 1913 stand as he first wrote them, and they make fascinating reading, for they forecast exactly the consequences of the Germans' belief in Teutonic superiority, their race-worship and anti-Semitism.' 
In the late 1930s Levy allowed himself some more prophecies, in response to a growing body of literature (just as in 1914) blaming Nietzsche for the Nazis (much of it, of course, emanating from Nazi sources; even Der Sturmer cited Levy in October 1935). In a letter to the Jewish Chronicle in 1938 he wrote
If we are 'academic' enough to leave this weapon [Le. Nietzsche] to our enemies, not only we but the whole world will one day mourn in the manner of our ancestors: in sackcloth and ashes ... The Nazis (who are no fools, don't let us under-estimate them!) have recognized this, and if we allow them to fight under the Nietzsche flag the 'practical effects' will be even more 'tragic' than cavalier-critics imagine. 
This message he preached not only in the English-language press all over the world but, under the pseudonym Defensor Fidei, in a regular column for the Paris-based emigre journal Neues Tagebuch. 
So although Levy warned against the dangers of Nazism, he mitigated the strength of his message in the eyes of mainstream opinion by connecting Nazism to the same 'Semitic spirit' he had been combating all his life, and which the Nazis believed themselves -- erroneously -- to be overturning. He did not help his case by adding that not only were the Jews the source of the ideas which the Nazis used to justify persecuting them, but that the Jews should be glad of Nazi antisemitism, because it could help them see their position more clearly. In a letter to a South African newspaper, for example, he wrote that the Jews' best response to this new antisemitism would be 'less ambition and more tradition, that is to say, more attention to their ancient duty of leadership in morality and religion'.  Just as the Ahlwardts and the Stockers deserved his sincerest thanks because they had, Levy says, driven him out of Germany, allowing him 'to find my "soul"', so 'The German Jews, in the same way, ought to be more grateful to Hitler: he got them out of the unlucky country'.  It had to be the Jews who save Europe because it was they who created the problem in the first place. Even the most radical 'solutions' put forward by gentiles were destined to fail: 'Distrusted all over the earth, the Jews should, above all, see to free the people from the Jewish-Christian values, for which they themselves are responsible -- a business, for which Hitler is not strong enough being himself infected by the Jewish virus.' 
It was this theory of history based on the connection between the Jews and the course of western civilisation that Levy sought to clarify in his last book. The Idiocy of Idealism (1940) had originally been suggested to him by Norman Douglas.  Douglas, a good friend of Levy's, was another writer who, based on his experience of eastern civilisations, held the contemporary west in contempt. In a book dedicated to Levy, Douglas argued that western civilisation had been poisoned by an ethic which originated in the Bible: 'we can hardly congratulate ourselves, as white men, on being at the mercy of theories which were elaborated ages ago to suit the convenience of tawny Israelites'. He argued for the naturalness of castes, and especially of the theories of Manu: 'caste-feeling underlies every form of refinement; it is a man's best prophylactic against that mass feeling which would make a cypher of him'. And he pleaded for an end to the excessive breeding of 'those legions of paupers, insane or diseased persons, who, insured or subsidized by the State, are lowering our standard of fitness as irrevocably as night follows day'.  Levy's theory of history sat easily with Douglas's views. Behind it is the belief that religious forces are the motor of history: ' ... this age is more religious than it thinks. It is even so religious that it is unconscious of its religiosity.'  And the religious ideas to which civilisation is especially indebted are those of the Jews:
the Jews are the creators of our values and, if something goes entirely wrong with our civilization, then those values must be held responsible or at least need a close investigation. The Jews are thus responsible for most of our modern troubles, even for their own enemies, the Nazis and their so-called neo-pagan movement. (p. 66)
Interestingly, and in contrast to his erstwhile colleagues Pitt-Rivers and Ludovici, as well as just about all the theorists of race and eugenics in Britain, Levy sees the beginnings of decadence and the slave morality in the ancient Jews' desire to create a pure race. Citing the example of King David, who took Bath-Sheba as his concubine, dismissing her being married as an irrelevance, Levy argues that 'the kings of "merry Israel" -- the period of Israel's glory -- did not care for pure race. No healthy man does: his mind and senses turn towards the fine women of all races. He feels that he himself conveys race: that he is able to impress his blood and spirit upon his descendants' (p. 26). Only with the introduction of monogamy with a woman of the same origin did decadence set in.
Levy's belief that a strong race is a caste of aristocrats, the best elements drawn from all groups, comes from Nietzsche, who recommended that the Junkers should marry a 'Jewish mare' in order to inject a little intelligence into their stocks. This is why Levy, thinking no doubt of his own marriage to a woman of solid Prussian bourgeois origin, says that 'Cross-breeds between Jews and European Gentiles ought to be encouraged -- those between Germans and Jews especially!  The Germans who have not recognised that crossbreeds are the source of a vigorous race are the Germans who belong to the 'depressed classes: to those who have come to the front with the Nazi government' (p. 29). In them are visible all the ills of civilisation introduced by the ancient Jews:
With them, that Puritanism, which is characteristic of all Nazis, Marxists, and Fascists, became again apparent: the instinct of a poor and plebeian crowd which must be careful of its inadequate outfit in the matter of sex and spirit and thus naturally shrinks from contact with the foreigner, just as the peasant shrinks from contact even with the next village. (p. 29)
But the ancient Jews' isolation did, according to Levy, eventually produce 'a separate race' (p. 30), and the other nations imitated them out of fear that the Jews' inbreeding was making them a potential danger (p. 31). So, the
noble blood of any healthy nation behaves like the Kings David and Solomon, the poorer blood of enfeebled classes listens to the priests and prophets of Israel. Thus the Germany of the defeat bears the hall-mark of Israel in "defeat and thus the new Chosen Race turned upon the older one and applied its methods of intolerance, fanaticism, and pessimism upon its teachers and originators. (p. 30)
From the decadence of ancient Israel to the rise of Christianity, especially the success of 'Nazi-Christ' with 'the masses' (p. 119), to the Reformation, Calvinism, Cromwell, Rousseau, Robespierre, modern German nationalism, 'which is the modern equivalent for what was once called "religion'" (p. 115), to the Russian Revolution, 'a direct legacy of our late and lamented deity' (p. 34), and 'the Sansculottes of the Third Reich' (p. 136) -- through all this Levy sees the Jewish morality at work. No wonder, with their morality turned so fully against them, that 'the Jews do not rejoice in their victory' (p. 136).
No wonder, also, that the book attracted considerable attention. One important critic (the writer of the blurb for the book) was George Bernard Shaw, who had come to Levy's defence during the deportation debacle in 1921. He was not far from the mark when he wrote the following:
The Idiocy of Idealism, which ought to be called 'The Natural History of Dictators and Saviours; should be read just at present. The fact that what Herr Hitler believes to be a German triumph of Anti-Semitism is really a complete and disastrous conquest of the German mind by the mentality of Jewry may be as dangerous to us as it has proved to the Jews themselves. The demonstration of this by a well-known and entirely tactless Nietzschean Jew makes a very readable book of just the right length.
Unsurprisingly, Levy made himself unpopular. He had attacked the Jews, he had attacked the Christians; he attacked the communists, he attacked the fascists. In a grand gesture of Nietzschean solitude, Levy isolated himself from all the major political philosophies of his age, including mainstream Nietzscheanism, in favour of an aristocratic vision of society from which he never wavered. His all-encompassing vision led him to see earlier than most the dangers of Nazism, but it prevented him from dealing more soberly with the place of the Jews in European history. If it is legitimate to be impressed by Levy's early recognition of the storm that was brewing in Germany, his explanation of it is still shocking and, ultimately, too sweeping to be correct.
Even so, the argument propounded by Levy, or at least a version of it suitable to contemporary sensibilities, is still sometimes put forward as an explanation of Nazism:
Is it not conceivable that one of the forces behind National Socialism was and is a dim resentment and a 'fearful envy' of the chosenness of the Jews, driving it to put Aryans in the Jews' place to the point even of willing the total annihilation of the Reich when the Nazis realized that their hopes of completing the Endlosung were coming to an end with the approaching end of the war? 
Although this does not go so far as to call Nazism a 'Jewish virus', the thrust of the argument is the same as Levy's.
Yet if this connection does impress us, precisely because of its grand sweep, it obscures too much in the intervening history to be credible. That is to say, the jump from biblical times to the 1930s with only 'race' and the 'slave morality' as the underlying historische Ideen is rather hard to swallow.  Just as for Ranke, the 'historical idea' of the nation's unchanging essence provided some sort of anchor in the flux of time, so for Levy the great upheavals of the last two thousand years, from the birth of Christ, the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Reformation, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the rise of Nazism, are all explicable by the unchanging notion of the slave morality. And all the fault of the Jews!
What rescues Levy, making him more than just a curiosity for antiquarians of the history of ideas, is his clear-sightedness in the face of Nazism, his predictions from very early on that Europe was heading for catastrophe. From his Nietzschean quiver, the arrows of anti-fascism, anti-nationalism and internationalism have stood the test of time. But we must not forget the other side; unlike many contemporary Nietzsche scholars, we must resist the temptation to turn Levy into an advocate of post-nationalist liberalism.  Levy's insights into Europe were part and parcel of a general critique which demanded an aristocratic concept of society, the belief that Judaism was responsible for all the ills of society, and a naive methodology in the history of ideas which sees Nazism as fundamentally 'Jewish'. The only difference between the conclusions of an Oscar Levy and those of a George Pitt-Rivers is that where the latter opted for Nazism as the solution, the former saw it as part of the problem.
Levy's connections between events do border sometimes on conspiracy theory, especially when he asserts the influence of biblical Judaism throughout the centuries, thereby attributing all of the modem world's ills to the Jews. But other, more highly regarded thinkers made similar claims.  Besides, this same assertion also provided Levy with the tools necessary to see that Europe was sliding to war in 1914 and in 1939. Outspoken in 1913 because of his predictions, outspoken today because of the foundations which helped him make them, Levy was one of the most unusual thinkers of the first half of the twentieth century, yet also one who illustrates the early twentieth-century obsession with race with great clarity. In the next chapter we will look at his erstwhile colleague, Anthony Ludovici, a man no less devoted to his Nietzschean cause.