Food for thought from Kevin
MacDonald’s Diaspora Peoples:
Powerful and competitive middleman minority groups in developing countries suppress nascent middle class traders, entrepreneurs, and artisans. We have seen that the development of these classes was suppressed in Thailand and Indonesia by the Overseas Chinese.
Similarly, in Poland when Jews won the economic competition in early modern Poland, the result was that the vast majority of Poles had been reduced to the status of agricultural laborer supervised by Jewish estate managers in an economy where virtually all of the trade, manufacturing, and artisanry were controlled by Jews (see chapter 5).
On the other hand, in most of Western Europe Jews were expelled in the Middle Ages. As a result, when modernization occurred, it was accomplished with an indigenous middle class. Indeed, the Puritans are a prototypical middle class group. I have noted that the Puritans derived mainly from tradesmen and craftsmen, and they were intelligent and very concerned with education.
If, as in Poland, Jews had won the economic competition in most of these professions, there would have not have been a non-Jewish middle class in England. Whatever one might suppose would have been the fortunes and character of England with predominantly Jewish artisans, merchants, and manufacturers, it seems reasonable to suppose that the Christian taxpayers of England made a good investment in their own future when they agreed to pay King Edward I a massive tax of £116,346 in return for expelling 2000 Jews in 1290.
This suggests that an important contrast between Eastern and Western Europe was that exploitative economic systems involving the collaboration between Jews and non-Jewish elites continued far longer in Eastern Europe. In Western Europe popular hostility toward money lending was an important factor in the expulsion of Jews, and eventually the rulers acquiesced to popular and ecclesiastical pressure to end this practice.
In England, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, and Bohemia there was a pattern: Jews were expelled because of the ruinous effects of money lending but then allowed to return because the nobility’s desire to increase revenue. Although in some cases the proximate cause of the expulsion involved other issues, in all cases expulsion was accompanied by seething popular discontent.