Notes on Nazi Anti-Semitism
Notes on Nazi Anti-Semitism
By Serve the People and End Imperialism
“National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.
Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism.
In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.” J. Stalin, January 12, 1931
Anti-Semitism was a major pillar of Nazi ideology in Hitler Germany. This short article explores the bourgeois functionality of Nazi Anti-Semitism from a Leading Light perspective.
Jews and Communism
The number one target for the Nazi Party and its bourgeois and petty bourgeois support base was Marxism, the revolutionary philosophy of the international proletariat. The Nazis targeted the Jews because they blamed them for communism and other left-wing trends. The Nazis pointed out that Comrade Marx was Jewish, and that Jews were overrepresented in the Central European and East European left. The latter Jews were specially persecuted minorities and tended to embrace radical socialist politics upon leaving their traditional communities to join the ranks of the proletariat. Secular Yiddish culture, moreover, was decidedly progressive in its socialist leanings. Jewish Trotskyist and member of the Belgian Resistance during WWII, Abram Leon attempted to demonstrate how different relations of production in feudal Europe managed to assimilate and integrate the Jewish Diaspora at very high levels at different times, such that many people of Jewish origin gradually lost their distinctiveness as Jews. The diasporic Jews, however, nonetheless tended to constitute what Leon calls a ‘people-class’ insofar as their primary economic role historically was as merchants, traders and moneylenders, mainly due to Christian restrictions placed on Jews taking other forms of work. This economic position put them at odds with the feudal aristocracy and with the feudal peasantry, both of whom resented having to turn to the Jews when in dire financial straits. Since feudal wealth is principally created by serfage, the economic role of the Jews as traders and merchants tended to place them at the margins of that society. The relatively absolute marginalization and exclusion of Jewish people in feudal Europe tended to convince detractors of their separateness as a ‘race’ (although this word itself was not often used and, in any case, did not have today’s significance). As there grew an indigenous class of merchants and traders after the crusades and the rise of capitalism in Europe, many Jews found themselves less and less assimilated. On the other hand, many Jews found themselves becoming an integrated part of the growing industrial proletariat in Western Europe. However, the decadent anti-semitic governments of Eastern Europe forced unassimilated Jews there to migrate west and become part of a large reserve proletariat, readily scapegoated by conservative demagogues.
The Nazi conspiracy theorists liked to imagine that Communism was a Jewish plot, even though the majority of Communists were not Jews and a great many Jews were not Communists. The Nazis drew on the ultra-reactionary mythology of “White” (that is, Russian Tsarist) émigrés to Germany, sent packing – along with their copies of the hateful forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – by the Russian Revolutionaries. For these bourgeois nationalist reactionaries, it was inconceivable that the immortal Russian proletariat could hate them for their avarice and ideology, and for their bloodthirsty imperialist zeal. They pretended that it was only a small group of Jews that could account for the world-historical upheavals of the October Revolution. They hoped to draw on the shameful tradition of popular anti-Semitism amongst sections of the Russian people to discredit Bolshevism in the minds of the fighting Russian labor movement. In this, they were singularly unsuccessful in “backward” Russia, but had much more fertile ground for their malicious fantasies in “advanced” Germany.
Jews and Capitalism
Jews were blamed by the Nazi bourgeoisie of Germany for all the evils of capitalist “plutocracy”, for the “Versailles Diktat” and its onerous reparations clauses, and the inflationary policies which Nazis pretended were its consequence. (1) Jews were associated with the predominance of “predatory” finance capital as opposed to “productive” industrial capital, by would-be imperialist Germany, up to its eyes in American debt. Jewish Bolshevism and international Jewish “usury” were said by the Nazis to be united on a global scale. Nowadays, crackpot White Nationalists like Alex Jones, representing a parasitic bourgeois aristocracy feeding off Third World labour whilst being squeezed by high finance, also connect communism to the dominance of big banks, even going so far as to maintain that Communism and fascism alike are the construct of a shadowy all-powerful financial cabal. Only the names of the dramatis personae have changed: the phantasmic dread of losing bourgeois privilege is the same for White nationalists in Nazi Germany and America alike.
Jews and Nazi Settler Colonialism
Jews were targeted and annihilated through a failed process of German imperialist colonisation of the USSR. Plans for a “Final Solution” of the “Jewish problem” only came about as Germany began to fail in its attempts to createlebensraum in the Red East. In his history of the Jewish Holocaust, Final Solution: Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews, Gotz Aly understands the genocide as the working out of a process of imperialist conquest reversed by the shattering defeats suffered by the Nazis at the hands of the glorious Red Army. Briefly, ethnic German settlers were moved to the Nazi-occupied parts of the USSR. In order to make room for them, Poles and other nationalities were deported further east. In turn, Jews were first deported, then ghettoised, and then killed to make room for the Poles, etc. The whole “relocation” scheme went down in flames as the Soviet Union seized back its occupied land, ensuring that there were crises in food provision and so on for the Jewish prisoners of the Nazis.
The theory of German racial superiority and Jewish racial inferiority permitted the complete enslavement of the eastern Jews, the latter forming a distinct and sizable population in the areas of the USSR which the Nazis sought to colonise, and the playing off of one “minority” against another. Thus was established a hierarchy of races, the Nazis giving no rights to the Jews, a few rights to Poles, some to Ukrainians and much more to ethnic Germans.
Jews, Racism and Nazi Social-Fascism
In Nazi Germany, the charismatic authority of the Fuhrer was said to derive from his standing as the leading representative of the “Aryan” race. (The term “Aryan” is, in fact, a purely linguistic category). Without question, German national chauvinism was based on a strong inter-bourgeois class alliance. Nazism came to power through ade facto alliance between all those classes in Germany with a vested material interest in capitalism and imperialism, namely, the haute bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie, labor aristocracy and small-holding peasantry.
The expansionist Nazis could not appeal to common nationhood to advance their militarist bourgeois agenda, preferring the rhetoric of “racial solidarity” instead. This was so because, firstly, members of different nations such as Austria, and ethnic Germans in other national territories were said to be members of the “Aryan” race, regardless of what distinct national and cultural traditions they had. Secondly, a great many German citizens had to be deprived of equal citizenship in order for the German fascist state to consolidate its special police powers. Jews provided a handy scapegoat upon which to pin the failings of German capitalism, an object of displacement by which bourgeois German national consciousness could purge itself of its ambivalence.
In fact, the German state as such was originally founded in the 1870s not, as in France, through revolutionary liberal principles of citizenship and nationhood, but through a stress on the racial and biological commonality of descent of the German “people.” The German Imperial state as such had its origins in a Junker-dominated authoritarian power structure uniting the various semi-feudal principalities of the country and overcoming state rivalries so as to ensure the hegemony of industrial capitalism. It was widely believed by the German imperial ruling class that democracy would only lead to the fragmentation of the new (the Second) German Reich. Moreover, when the German state was created, monopoly capitalism was already very much in the ascendant. Since monopoly capitalism necessarily entails imperialism and aggressive war, the idea of national sovereignty and legal equality between nations was abhorrent to the nascent German imperialists.
All imperialism which is based on the conquest and subjugation of peoples who are to be completely subject within the state’s jurisdiction, will tend towards emphasising a racist viewpoint. In so far as a neo-colonial set-up is precluded within a particular imperialist conjuncture (usually when direct colonialism as opposed to “free trade” is the preferred imperialist modus operandi), racism will serve as a legal and cultural instrument to maintain the hegemony of the oppressor nation.
Sham socialists like Friedrich List and Adolph Wagner were eager to incorporate the militant German working class into a state capitalist system. Since bourgeois thinkers like these tended to assume that the concept of nationhood would imply giving the working class equal rights and thereby full control of the nation and the state, the concept of German racial superiority and the commonality of purpose of different classes was emphasised in its stead. (2) Further mitigating the extension of anti-racist ideology, the growth of liberalism in Germany was historically connected to the wars of liberation against French rule. Napoleonic control had brought legal rights to German Jews; the fight against Napoleon became a fight against all of his reforms. As such, paradoxically, even liberalism was tainted in Germany with anti-Semitism. Not coincidentally, all of the great poets and philosophers of modern Germany with the notable exceptions of Goethe and Schelling, were out and out anti-Semites. (3)
Anti-Semitism failed to strike a real chord in the wider working class, however. The organised socialist movement remained almost completely immune from anti-Semitism before the Nazi rise to power. Nonetheless, the upward social mobility of the German “working class” in Nazi Germany and anti-Semitic racism directed against Eastern European workers and slave labourers were strongly correlated in the early years of World War II. The artisanal character of ‘indigenous’ as opposed to ‘foreign’ labour, was central to the chauvinism of the ascendant German labour movement, which often emphasised the superior qualities of ‘traditional’ German Deutsche qualitatsarbeit.
“Aryanisation” of Jewish property became a powerful stimulant to capital concentration and monopoly under Nazi German rule. Expropriation of Jewish property helped to convince the German Nazi labour aristocratic “working class” that the National Socialist regime was one inclined towards anti-capitalism, nationalisation, and was an anti-Plutocratic state placing an premium on (national) “socialism.” Anti-Semitism was also used by the Nazi regime at opportune moments to distract and divaricate Germans from other socio-economic and international policies. For example, the Aryanisation of Jewish property coincided with a drive to get rid of economically inefficient middle class businesses and administrators more generally, while the German failure to cement a geo-political alliance with imperialist (and “Teutonic”) “Great” Britain was blamed on Jewish influence, as opposed to simple inter-imperialist rivalry.
The anti-Semitism of the German middle classes (university teachers, farmers, civil servants, professionals, white collar workers, artisans, shopkeepers) had an economic basis: it was both competitive and anti-capitalistic. It allowed the German petty bourgeois traders to oppose Jewish middlemen and ignore the troubling (to them) fact that it was the financiers and industrialist monopoly capitalists, in short the entire capitalist system, which controlled their economic existence.
In sum, anti-Semitism was very much connected to a fear of proletarianisation by the German bourgeois classes and a conscious rejection of the party of the Proletariat, the Communist Party. In blaming “capitalist” Jews for their problems, capitalism in general was rescued from public opprobrium.
Leading Light Communism and Anti-Semitism
The Jews in the Zionist entity today are being used as a police prop for American imperialist control of Arab nations. The selfsame viciously anti-Semitic US that set up rigid barriers to immigration by Jewish refugees fleeing German persecution during World War II now poses as some kind of messiah, and its politicians fall all over themselves to endorse the Zionist entity.
Leading Lights are the implacable and deadly enemies of anti-Semitism and Zionism alike. We call on Jews in particular to oppose Zionism as an oppressive, chauvinist ideology perpetrating barbaric crimes against humanity in the name of the Jewish faith. By neglecting to fight Zionism, many Jews today are actively complicit in the imperialist crimes being carried out on behalf of the very same pigs who have hated them for centuries. Monkey Smashes Heaven calls on Jews of conscience to remember the heroism and anti-imperialism of their ancestors who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto against all odds, and who joined in large numbers the Soviet Communist Party to rid the world of this bloody capitalist system. When Jews of conscience reflect upon the immortal sacrifices and progressive cultural traditions of the Jewish people, they must reject completely and by whatever means are ready to hand, the racist and imperialist Zionist entity and fight to end imperialism in Palestine, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and all over the world. They will have as their friend and ally the world’s oppressed majority, who will thank them by smashing Zionism and anti-Semitism forever.
(1) In fact, inflation in Weimar Germany was largely the result of the refusal of the Social-Democratic government to tax the wealthy industrialists and their preference for recouping war losses via loans from the imperialist powers.
(2) English liberals like John Stuart Mill were also deeply vexed by the possibility that the enfranchised working class would vote against the rights of property and thus opposed the extension of “one man, one vote,” supporting a kind of class-based “proportional representation” franchise dispensation instead. Eng£ish parliamentary democracy was, in fact, based on a Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie, but liberals and conservatives alike from the 1870s onwards saw a definite need to incorporate the working class there in a social-imperialist welfare state system. Certainly, “racial” norms had long been inculcated in the lower class English, through that state’s origins in colonialist endeavours.
(3) G.W.F. Hegel’s record in this matter is ambivalent. Even Comrade Marx espoused some obnoxious anti-Semitic prejudices.