The Socialist Response to Antisemitism in Imperial Germany by Lars Fischer

By Lars Fischer

In Imperial Germany (1871-1918), such a lot Socialists felt that the antisemites had some degree yet took concerns too a ways. actually, Social Democratic objections to the antisemitic stream usually didn't hinge on its anti-Jewish orientation in any respect. even if they did, the Socialists' arguments mostly stated common anti-Jewish stereotypes instead of wondering them. by way of targeting the numerous notions that antisemites and anti-antisemites actually shared, and through introducing various new assets, this booklet offers an intensive reinterpretation of the Socialist reaction to antisemitism in Imperial Germany.

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Yet this line of argument disregards the fact that few of his peers wrote as extensively on any issue as did Mehring on this one (or others, for that matter), nor did he criticise other phenomena with any less contempt. This issue is worth exploring in a little more detail. 14 15 16 18 19 ‘Von der sozialdemokratischen Presse,’ in Grenzboten 51, 17 (21 April 1892): 180–182, here 180. Franz Mehring, ‘Der Fall Marx,’ in NZ 10-I, 16 (6 January 1892): 481–485, here 483. Hereafter Mehring, ‘Fall Marx’.

Yet at the same time it is hard to imagine a historical phenomenon on which Jewry itself was less capable of making an impact. Against this background the desire to put Jewish agency back into the history of antisemitism is an understandable one and often the willingness to concede a kernel of truth to antisemitic projections is presumably born of this very intention. Indeed, the readers of this book may well find themselves feeling increasingly frustrated by the radical disjunction between Jewish realities and anti-Jewish stereotypes.

The assumption offering the second ostensible safety net was this: antisemitism could only take hold among specific strata of society. Which sections of society would take to antisemitism could again be defined in socio-economic terms. Those whose livelihoods and economic activities were becoming increasingly incompatible with the emerging fully fledged capitalist economy responded with a cryptic form of anti-capitalist protest in the form of antisemitism. Yet, once their form of economic existence had been rendered entirely obsolete, these strata would also disappear altogether, just as the Jews would.

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