Saturday, May 14, 2016

Survival Lessons from the House of Rothschild

This is not your typical prepper/survivalist article. It presents a very different look at the topic based upon a surprising choice of an historical example - the Rothschild family dynasty. This article sticks to the provable historical record, avoiding speculation and conspiracy theories.

For those unfamiliar, the Rothschilds are a European banking and financial dynasty, founders and owners of of various private banks throughout Europe, owners of the Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Mouton Rothschild wine estates, and one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the world. Other Rothschild businesses include various financial services (in addition to the private banking firms), real estate management, mining, energy, and even farming (beyond just the vineyards). The Rothschilds have an extremely interesting family history, an examination of which offers valuable insights into surviving turbulent times.

Why the House of Rothschild is an excellent example of survival

For well over 200 years, the Rothschild family dynasty has survived, overcoming many challenges despite deep anti-Jewish sentiment, often enforced by law (facing legal discrimination, at times quite severe), as well as the dangers, chaos, and hardships of the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust, and the rise of socialism throughout Europe. Moreover, they survived and thrived despite a major civilization change as the world's center shifted from Europe and Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries to the USA in the 20th century (much as the world's center seems to be shifting from the USA to China and the East, today). 

Most preppers and survivalists today are concerned about surviving similar events - wars, political upheavals, severe economic downturns, demographic and political shifts, the continued rise of socialism and collectivism... Today, Christians are also facing a rising tide of anti-religious sentiment, the loss of Freedom of Religion, legal discrimination, persecution, and even genocide in certain parts of the world. We are concerned for not only ourselves, but for future generations of our families - our children, grandchildren, and so on. An examination of how the Rothschild family so successfully dealt with these issues for generations sheds light on what we might do to ensure our own family's success for generations.

A Very Brief History of the House of Rothschild

The Rothschild family dynasty began in the second half of the 18th century with Mayer Amschel Rothschild. Mayer Rothschild was born into the Judengasse, or "Jew Alley", in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1744. At that time all Jews in the city were required to live in that ghetto, which was locked at night, on Sundays, and on all Christian holidays. Jews were not allowed to own property, were forced to pay special taxes, were required to wear yellow markers on their clothing, and had to step aside whenever a Christian was walking on the same walkway as them. It was unlawful for Jews to pursue most professions.

Banking and money-changing was one of the few professions open to Jews, due to the fact that charging interest was considered "beneath" the status of the good Christians of that time. Thus Mayer Rothschild became a money-changer. He was successful, establishing an international business into which he placed his five sons in five cities in five countries throughout Europe (Germany, Britain, France, Austria, and Italy).

(For a much more complete history, I recommend The Rise of the House of Rothschild, by Count  Egon Caesar Corti, first published in 1928. Its a solid biography/history (no conspiracy theory stuff), crammed with details. Over 400 pages, heavily footnoted, with only a smattering of photos, its an academic read, but fascinating if you into history.) 

Survival Lessons with Examples

1 - Find and Exploit Your Niche - Mayer Rothschild found his perfect niche as a banker & money-changer, and he exploited that niche to its maximum potential. It was a needed profession that most Europeans at that time looked down on because the charging of interest was considered not the "Christian" thing to do.

In today's world, are there professions that are needed, but under-filled because of one reason or another? I know that Jim Rogers has identified farming as one such profession. Others have pointed out that we have a glut of lawyers, bankers, and other professionals today, and not enough skilled tradesmen. 

2- A Family Vision - Loyalty to family (and to their religion), not to a particular country or region, is a Rothschild hallmark. Rothschild family members to this day seem to identify first as Rothschilds, then as Jews, and avoid giving loyalty to any particular country, region, or political system. Never rooting in one place, they have always gone to where there is opportunity. In some ways, they seem to successfully live in this world, without becoming  part of this world (at least in political terms).  

There is a saying today: God, Family, Country. Perhaps the saying should just be God and Family. After all, the notion of Country is f the worldly system, not God's system. Just something to think about...

3- The Value of Knowing People - Mayer Rothschild's success was largely due to his ability to forge connections with Prince William of Hesse (in their case, over a mutual interest in stamp collecting!), and later with other elites throughout Europe. The Rothschild family connections have only grown through the generations and it is these connections that are the true source of their wealth and power.  

Although God and Family are most important, we still need connections with others. Lone wolves don't really do well over the long-term.

4- The Value of a Great Reputation - His reputation and that of his family was always very important to Mayer Rothschild. He insisted that his family always pay their bills on time, and to always be honest and straightforward in all their personal and business dealings. This concern over reputation is encoded into the Rothschild family motto, "Concordia, Integritas, Industria" (Harmony, Integrity, Industry).   

Are you concerned with your reputation and that of your family? What values do you want to pass on to your children and to future generations of your family?

5- The Value of Information - The Rothschild family has always believed in the value of information; to them knowledge is money. They have always used their connections to stay abreast of news and important information that could affect their businesses or provide opportunities.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Rothschild private courier system proved superior to even the British military's courier system. After winning at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington immediately dispatched his official courier to London to bring the news of victory to the government. The official courier arrived in London 24 hours after the Rothschild courier had brought the same news.

What is your knowledge base? How are you staying informed of the news and information you need as you seek to ensure your family's success and survival?

Bonus Lesson: Rothschild Asset Allocation - The Talmud, a book containing commentary on Jewish history, laws, and traditions, gives this bit of asset allocation advice: “Let every man divide his money into three parts, and invest a third in land, a third in business, and let him keep a third in reserve.

The Rothschilds would have been familiar with that bit of Talmudic wisdom, and actually kept a very similar asset allocation for their wealth. Historically, the Rothschild asset allocation, which has been hugely successful for them, is:
  • 1/3 in Financial Securities (the stocks and bonds portion of their allocation)
  • 1/3 in Real Estate (income producing: rental and/or productivity, such as their farms & vineyards)
  • 1/3 in Physical Assets (gold, silver, jewels, artwork, antiques, and other tangible items)
There are many other lessons to learn from the Rothschild family dynasty, including the value of hard work, the value of ambition, the value of avoiding debt, and even the value of art, antiques, and luxuries such as fine wines. I will save those lessons and others for a future essay. 

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