(Michelle Klein-Hass) writes:

>Peter, if you could post "A Dialogue between Machiavelli and Napoleon III
>in Hell" it would be really great...that is, if it's already in digital
>form. I have not seen it and would be interested.

Sorry, I don't have a copy: I'm not sure that it's ever been
translated from the original French. However, here's the best
information I have on the history of "The Protocols". This will clear
up my memory-error about the name of the original and details the
evolution of the text through a series of different versions produced
for different reasons.

[This is from the Time-Life book of "Manias and Delusions" in the
"Library of Curious and Interesting Facts" series, highly

Unhappy with the authoritarian regime of France's emperor Napoleon
III, Paris lawyer Maurice Joly wrote a satire in which two posthumous
voices discussed despots. Niccolo di Bernardo Machiavelli, the
kingmaking philosopher of the Italian Renaissance, advanced the case
for political expediency and sly statesmanship; Charles-Louis de
Secondat, baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu, France's clear-thinking
libertarian philosopher, argued the liberal line. "Dialogue aux Enfers
entre Montesquieu and Machiavelli" (Dialogue in Hell between
Montesquieu and Machiavelli) was published in Geneva in 1864, then in
Brussels -- and was subsequently confiscated as soon as it trickled
into France. Joly was given fifteen months in prison for his thinly
veiled criticism, and his life thereafter was a sucession of failures
that he finally found intolerable. In 1879, he killed himself, not
knowing that he had inadvertantly acheived a kind of immortality after
all. His creation would be revived and widely read, but in a monstrous
form. Although it said nothing about races and religions, it would be
used to fashion an instrument of insane prejudice, nightmarish
persecution, and the murder of millions: the forgery known as "The
Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion".

Puportedly the confidential minutes of a secret Jewish conclave held
in Basel, Switzerland, late in the nineteenth century, the slim
pamphlet first appeared in a St. Petersburg newspaper, "Znamya"
(Banner), in 1903. The editor, Pavolachi A. Krushevan, was a notorious
anti-Semite who later helped organize the so-called Union of the
Russian People -- familiarly, the Black Hundreds -- that terrorized
Jews and liberals during the crumbling reign of Czar Nicholas II.

"The Protocols" was advanced by Krushevan and others like him as the
deliberations of a powerful cabal of Jewish elders pondering a secret,
diabolical effort to rule the world. Through conspiratorial networks,
the document claimed, Zionists were shifting power into the hands of
plutocrats, all of them Jews. Using political liberalism as a weapon
to weaken authoritarian rule, they intended to discredit traditional
governments, destroy non-Jewish private property, and subvert
non-Jewish religions and values. According to "The Protocols", they
already secretly controlled education, banking, politics and the
press. In another century, the document boasted, their rule would be
complete. Judaism would be the sole world religion and a Jewish king
would reign over the planet, using police and doses of social welfare
to keep the Gentile masses under control.

The bogus plot could not have found a more receptive audience. Still
locked in medieval religious beliefs, Russians at the turn of the
century had begun to feel the psychic stresses of revolutionary change
-- and the need to fix blame for the rising wave of political unrest
and reversals of fortune. A conspiracy of Zionist Jews, especially one
that had almost divine powers of manipulation, seemed to explain
everything that was wrong with a suddenly terrifying world.

To one mystically inclined czarist civil servant in particular, "The
Protocols" came as revealed wisdom. Given a copy of the full text,
Sergey Nilus incorporated it into the third edition of his religious
tract, "The Great in the Small", published in 1905 -- the year of
Russia's humiliating surrender to the Japanese and of the first,
failed revolution in Russia. Nilus transformed the crude broadside
into a handsomely published work, and -- more to the point -- put "The
Protocols" into the hands of Czar Nicholas II, a noted anti-Semite
himself. The message was clear: The forces of liberation and
revolution that disturbed his world were not merely the expressions of
a downtrodden people but part of a Jewish plot to take over the
world. The fact that Zionists had actually conducted an international
meeting in Basel in 1897 added credence to the slander. "Our year
1905," noted Nicholas, "has gone as though managed by the Elders." As
the spurious tract shored up the self-serving delusions of the czar,
it struck to the very core of Nilus' own spirit. A visiting Frenchman
described Nilus reading to him form "The Protocols" one night in the
lay quarters of the monastery at Optina Putsyn. "He read for a long
time," the visitor recalled. "I felt a sort of fear. It was nearly
midnight. The gaze, the voice, the reflexlike gestures -- everything
about Nilus gave me the idea that we were walking on the edge of an
abyss and that at any moment his reason might disintegrate into

So strong was Nilus' belief that he ignored the real possibility that
the document was fake. "Let us admit that the Protocols are spurious,"
he told a visitor. "But can't God use them to unmask the iniquity that
is being prepared?" Accordingly, he reprinted them in the 1911, 1912
and 1917 editions of his popular book. There, but for the 1917 Russian
Revolution, the matter might have stopped.

As the Red revolt declined into a punishing civil war, however, emigre
czarists -- White Russians -- took copies of the spurious document to
the outside world, using the arguments in "The Protocols" to
demonstrate a link between the Bolsheviks and a Jewsih conspiracy --
and to persuade other countries to aid the disintegrating
autocracy. By chance, when the Russian royal family was murdered at
Ekaterinburg (later Sverdlovsk) on July 17, 1918, the czarina had only
three books with her: volume 1 of Tolstoy's "War and Peace", a Bible
-- and a copy of "The Great in the Small". This, and the wave of
Russian refugees driven westward by the new regime, helped make Nilus'
volume world famous.

As they had in Russia, "The Protocols" found an eager readership in a
Europe shattered by the First World War. In 1920, German and Polish
versions appeared. When a British edition arrived, even the staid
"Times" of London was moved. "Have we been struggling these tragic
years to blow up and extirpate the secret organization of German world
domination," asked an editorial, "only to find beneath it another,
more danderous because more secret?"

Then, in 1921, "Times" reporter Philip Graves was given a small
weathered volume by a man he did not identify, who had obtained the
book from an emigre officer formerly with the Okhrana -- the czarist
secret police. On the back cover was stamped: Joli. It was Maurice
Joly's long-lost dialogue, the armature around which "The Protocols"
had been fabricated. "I did not believe that Sergey Nilus's Protocols
were authentic," wrote Graves. "But I could not have believed, had I
not seen, that the writer who supplied Nilus with his originals was a
careless and shameless plagiarist."

Virtually all of "The Protocols", he revealed, had been lifted from
the Machiavelli role on Joly's satire, then crudely laced with
contemporary references to make the text play in Russia. From various
clues in the purloined text, scholars have concluded that the first
transformation of Jol's booklet may have occurred as early as 1894,
three years before the Zionist congress in Basel, and been intended
less as an anti-Semitic tract that an attack on Sergey Witte, Russia's
popular, progressive minister of finance. This adaptation has been
attributed to a French poitical journalist, Elle de Cyon -- French for
Zion -- who used Joly's Machiavellian arguements to make Witte seem a
tool of Zionist plotters.

In a distinctly Russian gambit, however, de Cyon's version was
evidently stolen by Pyotr Ivanoivich Rachkovsky, the brilliant,
conniving director of the Okhrana's Paris-based foreign branch --
acting on Witte's orders. Rachkovsky, recognizing a bombsheel when he
saw it, appears then to have had someone amplify the anti-Semitic rant
in the document and to have passed it to other hard-line conservatives
back home -- Sergey Nilus among them. Rachkovsky died in 1911,
ignorant of the terrible monster he had let loose in the world. Even
Nilus, who died on the first day of 1930, never knew that his work had
spread around the globe.

Graves' establishing the real provenance of "The Protocols"
discredited the vicious document in Great Britain -- but nowhere
else. The plagiarized lie had acquired a life of its own, nourished by
a growing sense that the turmoil of the times must have a human
agent. "The Protocols" was used by Arab nationalists to fuel
opposition to a Jewish state in Palestine. In the United States, auto
industrialist Henry Ford published them in his virulently anti-Semitic
Dearborn, Michigan newspapaer. (Public pressure finally forced him to
apologize for the paper's policies.) Ironically, Soviet dictator
Joseph Stalin applied "The Protocols" in his own relentless
persecution of the Jews.

Nowhere, however, did "The Protocols" find more favour than in the
propoganda and belief of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, whose delusions
were permeated by the idea of a Jewsih conspiracy. Christianity
itself, Hitler confided to close friends, was part of the fiendish
plot. "I have read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," he once told
an interviewer. "It simply appalled me. The stealthiness of the enemy,
and his ubiquity! I saw at once that we must copy it -- in out own
way, of course." After Hitler took power in 1933, the fraudulent
document became a basic school textbook -- and a founding rationale
for the Nazis' enduring horror, the virtual extermination of the
European Jews. Wherever there have been fears to be played upon since,
"The Protocols" has been trotted out. It was echoed in anti-Zionist
attacks by the late Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev, who hinted
darkly at a world Zionist plot before his army's 1968 invasion of
Czechoslovakia, and it was endorsed by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel
Nasser, the late king Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and a host of other
Middle Eastern leaders. They have been used to fan anti-Semitism in
Japan and Latin America, and they remain a perennial favourite of such
American groups as the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation. Even Russia's
glasnost has helped propogate the lie: in the newly opened society
where they began, "The Protocols" is once again available in printed

Still, to see the real double-thinking madness illuminated by the
forgery, one must go back to Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. "At his
trial in Jerusalem in 1961," wrote historian Norman Cohn of Adolf
Eichmann, the administrator of the Nazi's so-called Final Solution, he
"maintained that Hitler himself was nothing but a pawn and a
marionette in the hands of 'the Satanic international high-finance of
the western world' -- meaning, of course, the mysterious,
undiscoverable and omnipotent Elders of Zion."

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