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  Does anyone have evidence that "left-wing anti-Semitism" is actually a thing?
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Author Topic: Does anyone have evidence that "left-wing anti-Semitism" is actually a thing?  (Read 1193 times)
RoboWop
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« Reply #25 on: July 10, 2019, 07:16:45 pm »

Left-wingers can clearly engage in anti-semitism and have been going back to Marx (despite his Jewish heritage) himself. Whether or not and where there exists a particularly left-wing anti-semitism is worth actual debate.

My take is that it clearly exists within movements and individuals, but it's more like that anti-semitism influenced that individual's left-wing politics than vice versa. That is, they became left-wing because they hate Jews; they didn't hate Jews because they are left-wing.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2019, 02:06:12 pm »

Obviously the OP is not arguing in anything remotely resembling good faith, but to carry on the theme of this being a thing for rather a long time, one need only to consider that Richard Wagner wrote Das Judenthum in der Musik just two years after fighting on the barricades at Dresden for the Socialist revolution. In a British context we might wish to observe the career of Ben Tillett (1860-1943), a pivotal figure in the development of the trade union movement and, as it happens, a lifelong and really quite virulent antisemite.
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Ray Goldfield
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« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2019, 09:08:21 pm »

I'd argue that the source of virtually all antisemitism isn't left-wing or right-wing philosophy, but populism.
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« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2019, 10:37:50 am »

Perhaps a more interesting question: do people here consider Karl Marx's "On the Jewish
Question" an Anti-Semitic work? I've seen people argue both ways.
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dead0man
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« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2019, 01:00:40 pm »

Perhaps a more interesting question: do people here consider Karl Marx's "On the Jewish
Question" an Anti-Semitic work? I've seen people argue both ways.
I don't know if you're listening to the Revolutions Podcast (everybody should be), but they recently had a long bit on this subject.  They are in the prelude to the Russian Revolution and are currently running through the Marx vs Bakunin* stuff, they like everybody else that wasn't Jewish (and many that were) were certainly anti-Semites, if only in words (which should be enough).



*and I had never heard of this guy before
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PR
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« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2019, 07:03:08 pm »

Perhaps a more interesting question: do people here consider Karl Marx's "On the Jewish
Question" an Anti-Semitic work? I've seen people argue both ways.

At the very least there’s some Daddy issues going on in that one...
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darklordoftech
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« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2019, 08:11:40 pm »

I'd argue that the source of virtually all antisemitism isn't left-wing or right-wing philosophy, but populism.
Were Kings who wanted to force everyone to attend a certain Church “populist”?
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Ray Goldfield
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« Reply #32 on: July 13, 2019, 01:53:09 pm »

I'd argue that the source of virtually all antisemitism isn't left-wing or right-wing philosophy, but populism.
Were Kings who wanted to force everyone to attend a certain Church “populist”?

I'm clearly talking modern era, not deep-historic, but even much of the antisemitism during the Medieval/Renaissance period was populist, yes. Every time a crisis emerged like a plague or a famine that could take down a royal family, blaming it on the Jews was an effective way to harness populist rage.

Established religions were antisemitic in function, of course, but it was more about consolidating power than targeting Jews specifically.
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Vittorio
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« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2019, 02:28:32 pm »
« Edited: July 19, 2019, 03:17:44 pm by Vittorio »

Left-wingers can clearly engage in anti-semitism and have been going back to Marx (despite his Jewish heritage) himself.

If this is based on his On The Jewish Question, you need to re-read that. It isn't anti-Semitic.

Now, his calling Lassalle a "Jewish n-r", on the other hand...

At any rate, take something like Bordiga's Auschwitz, or The Great Alibi. This is a lengthy excerpt, but it proves a point:

Quote
Even when our bourgeois and reformists recognize that imperialist wars are due to conflicts of interest they remain far from an understanding of capitalism. We see this in their lack of understanding of the meaning of destruction. For them the goal of war is victory, and the destruction of enemy men and installations are only means for achieving this goal. To such an extent that there are innocents who foresee wars made by means of sleeping pills. We have demonstrated that, on the contrary, destruction is the principal goal of war. The imperialist rivalries that are the immediate cause of wars are themselves nothing but the consequence of ever increasing over-production. Capitalist production is in fact forced to grow because of the fall in the profit level, and crises are born of the need to ceaselessly expand production along with the impossibility of selling goods. War is the capitalist solution to the crisis. The massive destruction of installations, of the means of production and of goods allows production to start up again, and the massive destruction of men cures the periodic “over-population” which goes hand in hand with over-production. One must be a petit bourgeois crackpot to believe that imperialist conflicts could be settled by a game of belote or around a round table, and that this enormous destruction and the deaths of tens of millions of men are only due to the stubbornness of some, the wickedness of others, and the cupidity of yet others still.

In 1844 Marx already attacked bourgeois economists for considering cupidity innate instead of explaining it, and showed why the greedy were forced to be greedy. Marxism also has demonstrated the causes of “over-population” since 1844. “The demand for men necessarily regulates the production of men, alike any other merchandise. If the supply is greater than the demand a portion of the workers fall into beggary or dies of hunger,” Marx wrote. Engels wrote: “There is only over-population where there is an excess of productive forces in general, and [we have seen] that private property has made man a merchandise whose production and destruction depend only on demand, and that competition has slaughtered and every day slaughters in this way millions of men.”[2] The last imperialist war, far from proving Marxism wrong and justifying its “renewal,” confirmed the correctness of its explanations.

It was necessary to recall these points before dealing with the extermination of the Jews. This occurred, in fact, not at a random moment, but in the middle of a crisis and an imperialist war. It is thus from within this gigantic enterprise of destruction that it must be explained. With this in mind the problem is clarified. We no longer have to explain the “destructive nihilism” of the Nazis, but rather why the destruction was in part concentrated on the Jews. On this point as well Nazis and anti-fascists are in agreement: it was racism, the hatred of Jews, a “passion,” free and ferocious that caused the death of the Jews. But we Marxists know that there are no free social passions, that nothing is more determined than these great movements of collective hatred. We will see that the study of the anti-Semitism of the imperialist era only illustrates this truth.

It is not by chance that we say “anti-Semitism of the imperialist era,” for if the idealists of all stripes, from Nazis to “Jewish” theoreticians consider that the hatred of the Jew is the same in all times and places, we know that this is not so. The anti-Semitism of the current period is totally different from that of the feudal period.[3] We can’t go into the history of the Jews in depth here, which Marxism has completely explained. We know why feudal society maintained Jews as such. We know that if the strong bourgeoisies, those that were able to make their political revolutions early (England, the United States, France) have almost completely assimilated their Jews, the weak bourgeoisies were not able to do so. We won’t explain here the survival of the “Jews,” but rather the anti-Semitism of the imperialist period. And it won’t be difficult to explain if, instead of examining the nature of Jews or anti-Semites, we consider their place in society.
Due to their earlier history, the Jews find themselves essentially in the middle and petit bourgeoisie. But that class is condemned by the irresistible advance of the concentration of capital. It is this that explains that it is the source of anti-Semitism, which, as Engels said, “is nothing but a reaction of feudal social strata doomed to disappear, against modern society, which is essentially composed of capitalists and wage earners. It thus only serves reactionary objectives under a false veil of socialism.”

Germany between the wars demonstrates this situation at a particularly acute phase. Shaken by the war, the revolutionary advance of 1918-28, ever threatened by the struggle of the proletariat, German capitalism was deeply affected by the worldwide post-war crisis. While the stronger victorious bourgeoisies (the US, Great Britain, France) were relatively untouched and easily overcame the crisis of “re-adaptation to peacetime economy,” German capitalism fell into complete stagnation. And it was perhaps the petit and medium bourgeoisies who suffered the most, as in all crises that lead to the proletarianization of the middle classes and the increased concentration of capital through the elimination of a portion of small and medium-sized enterprises. But here the situation was such that the ruined, bankrupt, seized, liquidated petit bourgeois couldn’t even fall into the proletariat, which was itself seriously affected by unemployment (seven million unemployed at the worst of the crisis): they fell directly into a state of beggary, condemned to starve to death as soon as their reserves were exhausted. It was in reaction to this terrible threat that the petit bourgeoisie invented anti-Semitism. Not so much, as the metaphysicians say, to explain the misfortunes that struck them as to attempt to save themselves by concentrating it on one group. The petit bourgeoisie reacted by sacrificing one of its parts to the horrible economic pressure, to the threat of diffuse destruction that rendered uncertain the existence of each of its members, hoping in this way to save and ensure the existence of the others. Anti-Semitism comes no more from a “Machiavellian plan” that it does from “wicked ideas.” It directly results from economic constraints. The hatred of the Jews, far from being the a priori reason for their destruction was only the expression of this desire to limit and concentrate destruction on them.
 
It sometimes happens that that the workers themselves give themselves over to racism. This happens when, threatened with massive unemployment, they attempt to concentrate it on certain groups: Italians, Poles or other “filthy foreigners,” “dirty Arabs,” “n-rs,” etc. But in the proletariat these impulses only occur at the worst moments of demoralization, and don’t last. As soon as he enters into struggle the proletariat clearly and concretely sees its enemy: it is a homogeneous class with an historical perspective and mission.

On the contrary, the petit bourgeois is a class condemned. At the same time it is also condemned to be unable to understand anything, to be incapable of fighting: it can do nothing but blindly flail about in the vice that crushes it. Racism is not an aberration of the spirit: it is and will be the petit bourgeois reaction to the pressures of big capital. The choice of a “race,” that is of the group upon whom the destruction will be concentrated, obviously depends on the circumstances. In Germany the Jews fulfilled the “required conditions” and were the only ones to fulfill them: they were almost exclusively petit bourgeois, and in this petit bourgeoisie the sole group that was sufficiently identifiable. It was only onto them that the petit bourgeoisie could channel the catastrophe.

It was in fact necessary that identification present no difficulty; they had to be able to precisely define who would be destroyed and who would be spared. From this flows the counting up of baptized grandparents which, in flagrant contradiction with the theories of race and blood, would suffice to demonstrate their incoherence. But logic had nothing to do with it. The democrat who contents himself with demonstrating the absurdity and ignominy of racism, as usual misses the point.1

Harassed by capital, the Germany petit bourgeoisie thus threw the Jews to the wolves in order to lighten its sled and save itself. Not, of course, consciously, but this was the meaning of its hatred of the Jews and the satisfaction it got from the closing and pillaging of Jewish stores. We can say that for its part big capital was happy with the gift: it could liquidate a portion of the petit bourgeoisies with the agreement of the petit bourgeoisie. Even better, it was the petit bourgeoisie itself that saw to this liquidation. But this “personalized” way of presenting capital gives a poor picture of the situation: capitalism knows no more than the petit bourgeoisie what it is doing. It is under the influence of immediate economic constraints and passively follows the path of least resistance.

TL;DR: Bordiga holds, as many Jews will admit to, that, as a consequence of restrictive laws on usury and trade, European Jews in the Middle Ages were forced into certain roles that would become more prominent as capitalism developed, not only in banking but also in law. It's a historical irony that medieval anti-Semitism would produce a disproportionately Jewish financier class, and it's no 'fault' of the Jew's own collectively.

Bordiga ascribes this process as the cause of Nazi populist anti-Semitism, as well as the need for German capital to liquidate as many capital holders as possible during the War. This is not at all an anti-Semitic position, any more than the fact that Jews were disproportionately represented in these sectors is itself anti-Semitic.

But because Bordiga ascribes to Nazi anti-Semitism a more or less concrete (and comprehensible) motive, and not one rooted in the lower classes but in the petit-bourgeois itself, we are told he is an anti-Semite.


1. The existence of the Nero Decree proves the point Bordiga makes here. Once Nazism was incontrovertibly on the way to its final extinction, it wanted to expand the terrors of the Holocaust to encompass the whole of German society - it had to do so, by the economic and sociopolitical logic of the moment. Its "irrational nihilism" with respect to the Holocaust appears entirely rational, and contingent on objective developments in the material sphere, when applied to the entirety of Germany in May 1945 -- which would suggest that the Holocaust itself had comprehensible, material roots also.
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