Is this anti-semitism?

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That's Isreal, not Judaism

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:37 (12 years ago) Permalink

Is a state intolerant for forbidding someone to open his business, or restricting his hours of busines by law on the Sabbath no matter what his religion?

Pete (Pete), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:37 (12 years ago) Permalink

in·tol·er·ant    ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (n-tlr-nt)
adj.

Not tolerant, especially:
a. Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.
b. Opposed to the inclusion or participation of those different from oneself, especially those of a different racial, ethnic, or social background.
c. Unable or unwilling to endure or support: intolerant of interruptions; a community intolerant of crime.


I'd say a) is pretty different to b)

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:38 (12 years ago) Permalink

That's Isreal, not Judaism
-- run it off (davebeec...), January 27th, 2004 1:37 PM.


because people conflate judaism with the state of isreal?
-- Stringent Stepper (stringen...), January 27th, 2004 1:30 PM.

there you go mate

Stringent Stepper (Stringent), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:39 (12 years ago) Permalink

the State may well be intolerant if it restricted business hours for citizens who don't share the law of the Sabbath, but the religion isn't intolerant because the state does this.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:40 (12 years ago) Permalink

So, if the problem is the conflation of the state and the religion, does that mean it is racist to say that Judaism is intolerant instead of saying that Isreal is intolerant?

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:41 (12 years ago) Permalink

not racist, I mean anti-semitic...

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:41 (12 years ago) Permalink

Huzzah, The UK is intolerant (no shock there....)

Pete (Pete), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:42 (12 years ago) Permalink

Well, a lot of places in London settled by Jews had Sunday trading by dint of being closed on Saturday for Sabbath: see Brick Lane/Whitechapel, Golders Green/Hampstead.

suzy (suzy), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:44 (12 years ago) Permalink

the religion isn't intolerant because the state does this

I don't know enough about the tenets of Judaism to go into it, but by analogy -- it *is* intolerant if it sanctions the law, surely?

Judaism != Jews, maybe, run it off? It's clumsy, but race and religion are not the same. So it isn't racist to criticize a faith? I doin't know.

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:46 (12 years ago) Permalink

Religious Law is not intolerant of those who break religious law.

Surely religious las IS intolerant of people who break it. I'm guessing there must be punishments for transgression, even if it's just an evil look during church - and that kind of emotional punishment can be extremely effective/painful, especially in close-knit communities and ones where the people have a God's good will yo lose.



Laws are not opinions, so flouting the law is not a differing opinion either.
If you are a Jew, you do not drive etc on the Sabbath. This is a ritual by which you live a religious life. It is the code by which you get closer to god. That is not intolerant. Judaism would be intolerant if it forbid non-Jews to drive etc on the Sabbath.

-- run it off (davebeec...), January 27th, 2004.

Laws are opinions, they're (usually(should be!)) the opinion of the majority as to how individuals should behave.

Also, not being allowed to drive on a Sunday (or Saturday) IS intolerant: intolerant toward Jews. I think most religions are least tolerant of their own.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:52 (12 years ago) Permalink

Laws are opinions, they're (usually(should be!)) the opinion of the majority as to how individuals should behave.

That's a bit of a shallow view of jurisprudence.

Ricardo (RickyT), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:55 (12 years ago) Permalink

jurisprudence = ideological screen for repressive state apparatus

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

how could a religion as old as the hills sanction a state as young as Isreal? Still less the acts of the leaders of such a state.

The ideological screen idea is itself an ideological screen.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:34 (12 years ago) Permalink

Ideologies don't screen. They are productive not obstructive. Eagleton at one point uses the example of the phrase "the Prince of Wales is a nice chap". This is ideological because it produces a certain effect (support for the Royals as people) not because it hides the real social relations (Royals are social leeches, or etc). The fact that it makes no mention of politics, economics, and so on does not mean that it is a screen any more than a black and white photo can be said to be a screen against colour.

As such, juridprudence is not an ideological screen; it is ideological. That doesn't mean it is no different from other ideas or opinions. Opinions that are ratified and authorised are not opinions in the same way as opinions that are not.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:41 (12 years ago) Permalink

Sorry -- it was just my little joke. Nonetheless, I think it's interestingly provocative to call laws 'opinions'.

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:46 (12 years ago) Permalink

yes, I agree.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:02 (12 years ago) Permalink

Hey, we Jews are barely tolerant of each other, let alone the rest of you.

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:12 (12 years ago) Permalink

Enough with the kvetching!

suzy (suzy), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:41 (12 years ago) Permalink

kvetching - one of my favourites. A friend calls her young baby a kvetch box

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:47 (12 years ago) Permalink

Every time you moan you have to put a coin in the kvetch box.

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:55 (12 years ago) Permalink

[all babies are young, aren't they... doh!]

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:59 (12 years ago) Permalink

Laws are opinions, they're (usually(should be!)) the opinion of the majority as to how individuals should behave.
That's a bit of a shallow view of jurisprudence.

-- Ricardo (boyofbadger...), January 27th, 2004.

Jurisprudence is the philosophy of law isn't it? Isn't what I've said what that all boils down too?

Where _is_ the depth?
It's simple isn't it?

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Can you explain how it all boils down to opinion?

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:01 (12 years ago) Permalink

Hey, we Jews are barely tolerant of each other, let alone the rest of you.
-- Chuck Tatum (sappy_papp...), January 27th, 2004.

See! Told you!

And more kvetchup please!

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:01 (12 years ago) Permalink

Laws (attempt to) make people behave in the ways other people _think_ they should behave.

How humans should behave is a matter of opinion. Different religions, for example, havie differing opinions.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:02 (12 years ago) Permalink

Sorry -- it was just my little joke. Nonetheless, I think it's interestingly provocative to call laws 'opinions'.
-- Enrique (miltonpinsk...), January 27th, 2004.

To clarify, laws themselves aren't exactly opinions, but what they attempt to enshrine as 'right' and 'wrong' ARE opinions.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:05 (12 years ago) Permalink

I might break the law even though I agree with it generally, but I may also break the law because I have a different opinion as to what is 'rihgt' and what is 'wrong'.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:06 (12 years ago) Permalink

who are these other people? Don't the laws apply to the people who write them? (Seriously)

If laws are backed by the state (and, after all, that's what makes them laws, rather than guidelines or codes or something else) then they are not just opinions, they are sanctified, ordered, institutionalied, backed up by the criminal justice system etc. I'm not saying power and hierarchy and stuff aren't involved -- of course they are -- but laws don't get to be laws without going through a socially sanctioned process.

The case of breaking the law because you have a different opinion (civil disobedience etc) does not mean that the law is treated as opinion it means that laws are seen as arbitrary and changeble, so that collective action can bring about social changes that force laws to change.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:07 (12 years ago) Permalink

Yes they do apply to those that write them (or they're supposed to).

Yes, they are socially sanctioned, they are the combined opinions of a lot of people.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:09 (12 years ago) Permalink

By 'opinion' here I mean 'what some people' think is right.

Also, I'm not saying the law is _treated as_ an opinion, I'm saying it _is_ an opinion.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:11 (12 years ago) Permalink

From dictionary.com

o·pin·ion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (-pnyn)
n.

A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof: “The world is not run by thought, nor by imagination, but by opinion” (Elizabeth Drew).

A judgment based on special knowledge and given by an expert: a medical opinion.

A judgment or estimation of the merit of a person or thing: has a low opinion of braggarts.

The prevailing view: public opinion.

Law. A formal statement by a court or other adjudicative body of the legal reasons and principles for the conclusions of the court.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:12 (12 years ago) Permalink

So for example, the law that says "kill someone, go to jail", implies that killing is wrong.

And "Killing is wrong" is "A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof".


(The last clause of that definition is a coincidence, and not what I was aiming at really, 'opinion' seems to be fairly slight homonym.)

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:15 (12 years ago) Permalink

I believe killing is wrong, but I'll admit that it's just a belief.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:16 (12 years ago) Permalink

law is not an opinion except in an abstract sense. Even if an opinion is converted into law through the established procedure it is not an opinion. At least it's not an opinion anymore.

That's all I'm saying.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:16 (12 years ago) Permalink

How can 'killing is wrong' be just a belief? Do you mean it's only wrong for you and people who agree with you? What about people who don't agree with you, such as, let me think, ah yes, murderers?

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:18 (12 years ago) Permalink

Our rabbi would curtail his sermon whenever Spurs played home, which was a great act of altruism and tolerance.

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:24 (12 years ago) Permalink

About 40.5% said Jews in their country had “a particular relationship with money”

So what if a culture is associated with professions like banking and so on? My Parsee ancestors held a similar position in India. Big deal.


That is not nearly as harmless an accusation as you may think. The belief that Jews are obsessed with money is one of the foundations to anti-semitism.

Also "playing the victim" in regards to the Holocaust has that vomit-inducing ring of Holocaust denial.

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:25 (12 years ago) Permalink

Why did people stop writing books of the bible, anyway? There should totally be one tracing the decline of Spurs that culminates in them being cast of the garden of 'big clubs'.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:26 (12 years ago) Permalink

So what if a culture is associated with professions like banking and so on? My Parsee ancestors held a similar position in India. Big deal.


That is not nearly as harmless an accusation as you may think. The belief that Jews are obsessed with money is one of the foundations to anti-semitism.

I think N made his point well, actually, in that within the matrix of (especially central and eastern) European culture, the link between Jews and banking/trade was made into an ideological justification for anti-semitism, and was therefore more harmful than in other contexts. Stereotyping according to race/culture is a touchy area, but the association, or the making of associations, is/are not in themselves bad.

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:30 (12 years ago) Permalink

Sorry for crossposting with a serious post.

bnw - I know that about the money thing. But the question didn't ask 'are Jews intrinsically obsessed with money?'. I know that a good number of the people who answered yes to the question are probably horribly anti-semitic, but I resent the implication that they all have to be. 'Vomit inducing rings' are what all these questions work with, but I prefer my anti-racism to be less 'you must mean that really', in character.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:31 (12 years ago) Permalink

"mentality and lifestyle" different from, and this is the important part, "OTHER CITIZENS." Reminds me of that Bojeffries Saga story where the cops burst in to see a slavering werewolf standing on the table in a restaurant, say "well, it's obvious what our job is here," grab the one black guy in the restaurant, beat him up and drag him away, as one of the other patrons says to his companion "I'm not racism, but they ent the same as us, are they?"

Douglas (Douglas), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:32 (12 years ago) Permalink

I know that a good number of the people who answered yes to the question are probably horribly anti-semitic, but I resent the implication that they all have to be.

My problem with it is how reasonable and academic it makes anti-semitism sound. It allows people to hold onto their suspicions about Jews, and not have to consider themselves anti-semites.

Really, what's the point of the association between jews and money if not anti-semitism? Have you heard this made in a positive light?

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:45 (12 years ago) Permalink

No, but I've heard it said in a neutral light, by Enrique four posts up.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:46 (12 years ago) Permalink

This thread made it past 60 posts without anyone mentioning the link to the article doesn't work?

Stuart (Stuart), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:52 (12 years ago) Permalink

Another thing is Jews are what.. like 3% of the population? That makes an 18% anti-semitism rate scary enough.

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:52 (12 years ago) Permalink

bnw - I completely agree with that (though I don't understand what the 3% has to do with it)

Stuart - oops! I pasted all the text anyway but the link is here

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:55 (12 years ago) Permalink

I found it too just now. I didn't realize you'd posted the whole piece. I'm looking for the original survey but not having much luck so far.

Stuart (Stuart), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:56 (12 years ago) Permalink

More at good ol' Al Jazeera - including the delightful headline: Jews urged to stop playing Holocaust victim

It also makes note of this, which I hadn't heard about: One in seven Britons says Holocaust is exaggerated.

Stuart (Stuart), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 19:09 (12 years ago) Permalink

This stuff scares me a lot. Because, unless I just had my eyes closed as a young man, it seems that anti-Semitism has really grown just in the last five years. Since 9/11, really.

paulhw (paulhw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 20:31 (12 years ago) Permalink

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/01/26/israel-derangement-syndrome-envelops-the-far-left-six-examples/

Anti-Israel sentiment at that most progressive of colleges, Oberlin, is bleeding into anti-Semitism (or maybe anti-Israel sentiment is simply providing a cover for latent anti-Semitism). Professor William Jacobson has the details here, but even if you don’t read the whole post, read the end of it, where he quotes a lengthy Facebook post from a recent alumna about anti-Semitic incidents she experienced or witnessed as a left-wing, but pro-Israel Jewish student there. I won’t endorse the claim that every one of these incidents was anti-Semitic, as such, but, assuming they are all true, they paint a very disturbing picture. I was particularly struck by her claim that multiple times she heard Oberlin students dismiss the Holocaust as “white on white violence.”

not once but multiple times? jfc.

Mordy, Thursday, 28 January 2016 14:48 (1 week ago) Permalink

this is excellent:
https://libcom.org/library/antisemitism-modern-critique-capitalism

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:20 (1 week ago) Permalink

In Marx’s Jewish Question (1964) and the writings of the Frankfurt School, the category ‘Jew’ is a social metaphor that focuses anti-capitalist resentment from the standpoint of capitalism – an anti-capitalist capitalism. In contrast, however, to Anderson’s affirmative categorization, Marx and the Frankfurt School approached the ‘Jewish Question’ through the lens of the critique of the fetishism of bourgeois relations of production. Expanding on Marx’s critical question, ‘why does this content [human social relations] assume that form [the form of capital]’ (cf. Marx, 1962, p. 95), it asks why does the bourgeois critique of capitalism assume the form of antisemitism? In contrast, the affirmative use of the category ‘Jew’ rationalizes antisemitism as a manifestation of the hatred of capitalism, and through its rationalization, is complicit in the ‘rumour about Jews’. Such complicity partakes in the paradigmatic fascist gesture of an anti-capitalism that seeks a capitalism without capitalism.

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:22 (1 week ago) Permalink

written 24 years ago: http://www.amazon.com/The-Socialism-Fools-Anti-Semitism-Left/dp/0935933050

wizzz! (amateurist), Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:26 (1 week ago) Permalink

acc to postone modern antisemitism on the left has its roots in soviet antisemitism so i know it has been around for a while but the most interesting thing for me is that is written by michael lerner who i wouldn't have expected to write such a polemic from other things i've read + know about him (i mean i'm pleasantly surprised, at least based on reading the summary).

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:43 (1 week ago) Permalink

one of the best things on the topic that i think i linked up to above is the steve cohen book bc he makes a critique i know v well from orthodox jewish upbringing but in the language of left-wing politics which is the often explicit call from the left for jews to assimilate and end the jewish problem. i was thinking about this recently when i was discussing the question of jews and privilege w/ someone and he mentioned that part of that privilege is that jews can pass (i think djp may have made this suggestion once as well on another thread) which i take on as legitimate. but i also notice that it implicitly calls for assimilation as the solution to the jewish question. "well you can always take off your kipa and then no one will know" (which isn't 100% true either since jewish variety often encompasses non-white bodies - even among ashkenazim)

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:50 (1 week ago) Permalink

But the propaganda offensive continued with radio broadcasts from Ger- many and Italy and leaflets distributed by intelligence units in the armed forces and from diplomatic posts in Tunisia and Morocco. Between January 1 and February 18, in Tunis and Tangier alone, German intelligence agents and diplo- mats distributed approximately 400,000 Arabic-language leaflets and pam- phlets.2 Among these was “Facts,” 25,000 copies of which were divided equally between Tunis and Tangier. The pamphlet warned that the fate of Arabs in Palestine could be a harbinger of things to come in North Africa.

"The North Africans know that a large number of the Jews who live in Tunisia, Al- geria, and Morocco have acquired foreign citizenship, and they know the effects of this on the Arab-Jewish relationship. . . . [T]he North Africans understand that the Jews living in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco do not cultivate land, do not repair the roads, do not build houses, and pursue Jewish vocations. They special- ize in deception and grabbing money. So what will be the fate of North Africa if this situation continues? Will the Jews become the friends of the kings while the Arabs become servants? Something like this already happened in Palestine. . . . Will the children of the Jews go to school while the children of the Arabs are removed [so they can] polish shoes and pick up cigarette butts? Something re- sembling this happened in Palestine. Will Muslim girls become servants in the houses of Jews? That really happened in Palestine under the auspices of the English.3"

“Who Are the Arabs’ Real Allies?” (5,000 copies distributed in Tunis, 4,000 in Tangier) asserted that the English and the Americans were “attacking Islam in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco by means of their missionaries. Have you seen the Germans do something like this?” The English had interfered in the affairs of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq and opposed nationalist movements and killed their leaders.“Have you heard of the Germans trying something like this? And you’ve heard that the English and the Americans think about establishing an ethnic nation for the Jews in North Africa on the model of Palestine. Could you imagine the Germans doing something like this?” The English and Ameri- cans defended “the old system of colonialism,” but the Germans and their allies “call for a new system, a system of cooperation. So then who are the true allies of the Arabs?”4

I've moved on to Jeffrey Herf's "Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World"

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 01:20 (1 week ago) Permalink

the often explicit call from the left for jews to assimilate and end the jewish problem. i was thinking about this recently when i was discussing the question of jews and privilege w/ someone and he mentioned that part of that privilege is that jews can pass (i think djp may have made this suggestion once as well on another thread) which i take on as legitimate. but i also notice that it implicitly calls for assimilation as the solution to the jewish question. "well you can always take off your kipa and then no one will know" (which isn't 100% true either since jewish variety often encompasses non-white bodies - even among ashkenazim)

Lots to unpack here. I'd like to hear what you mean by "the often explicit call from the left for jews to assimilate and end the jewish problem" -- if you mean that the left tends to idealize a kind of "judaism of 1965 philip roth" that foregrounds culture, food, linguistic idiosyncracy and suppresses religious observance, traditional sex roles, insularity, then yes, I think that's true -- I think 1965 philip roth is deeply ambivalent about jewish insularity and longs for assimilation in the sense of "I can go to Ohio State and feel like I belong there" but I don't think there's even a HINT of a wish for a future where there's no such thing as a jew because we've all melted into the blond bloodline.

What I think is true is that liberal Jews are uncomfortable encouraging our kids to marry other Jews, because prohibition against intermarriage has an ugly smell in just about every other American context. I'm comfortable with my discomfort about this! I'm going to do it and I'm going to maintain my discomfort about it, I think it's a discomfort worth having.

part of that privilege is that jews can pass (i think djp may have made this suggestion once as well on another thread) which i take on as legitimate. but i also notice that it implicitly calls for assimilation as the solution to the jewish question.

Guess I don't see that. What's true is that it's less true that a Satmar dude carries privilege than it is that I do. But I feel like the people saying "we don't have privilege, we're not really white, we're Jews" are typically not Satmar dudes, they're people who look like me, and who pass without any effort, indeed who pass without even really wanting to. But I mean, to the Satmar dude, somebody like me, who's married to a Jew, who belongs to a shul, who has kids in Talmud Torah, but who doesn't keep kosher or wear a kipa, is assimilated almost to the point of annihilation. If they see an America where most Jews look and act like me as one where the "Jewish question" has been tragically resolved by assimilation, I can't stop them, but this is my parents' and my grandparents' Judaism, it's what I care about preserving, what can I do but live it and raise my kids in it?

Guayaquil (eephus!), Saturday, 30 January 2016 03:52 (1 week ago) Permalink

In terms of the left's call upon jews to assimilate Cohen's chapter The Left's Advice to Jews—Assimilate and Stop Being Jewish is more comprehensive than I'll be here (and I found it very interesting) but ultimately there's a very strong tradition in Left that goes back to Marx that sees Jewishness as something to emancipate the Jews from - this is present in 18th century France as well (Clermont-Tonnerre who i feel certain we've discussed here before). here the argument is being made from the left itself (see his critique of this as an obliteration of cultural/peoplehood rights) but this argument is actually a dominant narrative in the orthodox community (or at least the orthodox communities to which i have belonged). you can understand why as they see the entire process of liberalism to be dangerous to their group conception (cynically u could say bc it opens a door for ppl to leave the community, but also there is a legitimate concern about hegemonic alternative cultures that is present as far back as the Maccabi narrative). there are many stories i have heard w/ variations about rabbis saying that they prefer the difficult life under the Czar than the liberation of France bc one is only dangerous to your body but the other can destroy your soul (this was also a big discourse in Europe pre-WW2 regarding the goldene medina). If your Jewish context is as part of this liberalizing movement from yr pov it might not feel as pressing and it sounds like in your case you have two values that are in total collision - this imperative to maintain peoplehood (however you understand that to be constituted) and these values of assimilation/intermarriage that are the hegemonic cultural force. I do feel like these are complicated questions and on some level I feel like talking across a divide bc with the religious component the tensions in values are immediately reconciled on the side of Jewish continuity and on the non-religious side I think it is probably more difficult to answer some of these questions.

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 04:16 (1 week ago) Permalink

there's a couple typos there ("ultimately there's a very strong tradition in the* Left" "I feel like I'm talking from* across a divide") and I'm sorry I should have put more paragraph breaks in there.

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 04:18 (1 week ago) Permalink

(I should add none of which is to suggest that you can't be Jewish and non-religious, or be Jewish and non-religious and secularized and have such a strong Jewish identity that you pass on your values of Jewish peoplehood to your children and their children. Just that I think it complicates things and forces you to ask why in a way that being religious or more traditional maybe does not. Sorry if anything I said here was offensive, I'm trying to articulate some thoughts that I know are provocative in a careful way.)

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 04:27 (1 week ago) Permalink

OK I understand better -- for one thing I understand now that by the left you mean the literal LEFT as in Marxist, not the "left" in the US-political-sense of "liberal Democrats."

it sounds like in your case you have two values that are in total collision - this imperative to maintain peoplehood (however you understand that to be constituted) and these values of assimilation/intermarriage that are the hegemonic cultural force.

I can only say that it doesn't feel as violent as having two values that are in total collision, it feels totally natural in normal in the way that all complicated things about life do. Maybe because I would never say that I have "assimilation/intermarriage" as a value; more accurate to say it's a kind of double negative, having "not having anti-assimilation / restricted marriage as a value" as a value! And yes, that does conflict with having Jewish continuity as a value. But that just seems baked in to the Judaism I grew up with, I wouldn't have it any other way. (It is also part of 1965 Philip Roth obv.)

[nothing you have said is even close to offensive btw]

Guayaquil (eephus!), Saturday, 30 January 2016 04:39 (1 week ago) Permalink

Throughout most socialist literature about Jews there is a judgemental attitude which suggests that Jewish people should assimilate in order to avoid anti-semitism. For instance, Lenin quoted Kautsky with approval, in relation to Russian Jews:

"Hostility towards non-native sections of the population can only be eliminated when the non-native sections cease to be alien and blend with the general mass of the population. This is the only possible solution to the Jewish question" (The Position of the Bund in the Party).

The modern Left crudely repeats this. Nigel Ward in an article in Socialist Challenge gave as one explanation for the holocaust the fact that Jews in Western Europe were not "assimilated into the fabric of Western society" (2.10.82). Big Flame took this one step further when it claimed that Jews were attacked as they were "visibly different" (September 1982).

this is the kind of thing to which i'm referring - the idea that jews are responsible for marking themselves as visibly different and could or should simply assimilate and avoid this whole messy antisemitism business.

and yes, i meant the hard left. cohen says something else here i agree strongly with (i'm rereading it myself right now) when he says that lenin assumes that judaism has no anti-oppression elements of its own (and of course you and i know that such things can be found throughout judaism including one of the most formative/influential anti-oppression mythologies in history in the exodus narrative). i consider myself a part of the american "liberal Democrats" - for one America is practically sui generis in terms of acceptance of Jewish religious practice - some amazing combination of the US's insanely high rate of religious practice married to our foundational virtues of freedom of religion. and in liberal American Democrats i find an expression of many of the anti-oppression values i have learnt through being Jewish and my religious education. And it's really not unusual because so many religious Americans are also liberal Democrats. so it is certainly accommodating to groups with alternate sources of liberal values than just Marx.

also, and this is probably looking too directly into the sunlight, the left as is comprised currently is wildly inconsistent on issues of group continuity and who is obligated to marry whom but certainly the parts of the left that are associated with the privilege discourse (and read this however broadly or narrowly as u want i personally have no idea what percentage a given pov is represented on the Left - only that there exists some quantity of very loud people on the left) who say that jews have white privilege because they can pass as non-jews. and it's certainly true for a certain kind of jew and especially for a kind of jew that the left will most often meet - aka an Ashkenazi left-wing non-religious (or non-observant) Jew who is already passing! and even here it is complex as you note plenty of even socialist jews have identified themselves through their affiliations and communities, and the entire construct becomes absurd the moment you remember that a large proportion of Jews spent little to no diaspora time in European countries but instead in the Middle East or Uzbekistan or Ethiopia. and that jewish phrenology for the so-called white ashkenazi jews only recently in a historical sense stopped being a thing. (and let's be honest, in plenty of places it is still definitely a thing.)

one more thing i want to say (this post is already too long) is that jews do have a privilege in the united states. it really is, to my eyes, the goldene medina for the jews that was promised to my great-grandparents suffering in a shtetl near Kiev. for whatever reasons i think it has been an ahistoric welcoming home for Jews and whoever you are - Satmar or secular Jew - you have benefited tremendously from this country imho. and i see other groups and i see that they are clearly not doing as well and my historical memory is not so short that i don't realize how easily it could be me (and i will alway have a nagging question about whether the US could ever turn on the Jews). i know that there's a theory of race in america that is all inclusive - i think this is found in ta-nehisi coates's work - that the whole US only works bc some people are marginalized and punished and kept oppressed and plundered. and i think the story of Jews in America is more complicated than that, but to the extent that black oppression does allow the US to flourish and to the extent that does relate to the conditions for Jews in the US, i do feel that privilege. i just bristle against what seems to me to be an attempt to [literally] whitewash jewishness.

Mordy, Saturday, 30 January 2016 05:00 (1 week ago) Permalink

Mordy (which auto correctly to Lordy, lol), the article "Antisemitism and the (modern) critique of capitalism" you posted was really interesting!

I wanted to ask about two sentences in particular.

"The fetish of blood and soil is itself rooted in the capital fetish where the concrete in the form of use value obtains only in and through the abstract in the form of exchange value."

I think I understand what this "capital fetish" is, but I don't know Marxist terminology very well. Is the idea that one can identify certain means of production as having "use value", that is, producing goods that are usable by hand, like farming equipment, cars, weapons, and the like? Whereas other means of production don't have this use value, for instance banking, where the good produced is more money. Is this the idea?

I've been reading the Oxford Short Introduction to Fascism and the author distinguishes Weberian, anti-modernist accounts of fascism from, for instance, Marxist accounts, by noting that Weberian accounts single out the pre-industrial, feudal ruling class as the source of authority in fascist regimes. This class controls a means of production tied to the land and is mortally threatened by modernism, and fascism was a reaction to undermine modernism and thus to protect their status as a class. I am trying to puzzle over how the article posted here jibes with these accounts, but I think I can see, only dimly for now, how it does.

"Antisemitism urges the mob on to de-humanize, maim and kill the projected Other, suppressing the very possibility and idea of happiness and distinction through participation in the slaughter."

This is a different point. The Jew stands for a person happy without power, who thus threatens the dominant status hierarchy for which power is the goal (and thus happiness). Additionally the Jew, standing outside the mainstream community, has her own identity, in contrast with the Mob; and (I gather) the Mob resents the Jew for this, and thus wants to kill her. I find this point harder to grasp, though again I sense truth here. What does the Mob want? To be happy only through power, yes: but what of individualism vs. collectivity? Does members of the Mob want to be individuals but cannot (for a reason I cannot understand); or do they want to suppress those who are individuals because they threaten the power of the Mob (this doesn't seem right); or is it to do with resentment? I think the latter: but resentment for what end?

I do not know the theoretical literature being drawn upon here so these things may be clearer to others.

droit au butt (Euler), Sunday, 31 January 2016 16:39 (1 week ago) Permalink

So use value is the practical value that the commodity has to you - food that feeds you, home that shelters you, fabric that clothes you. Exchange value is an abstract valuation of the item - what it is worth on the open market where it can be exchanged for other commodities. While use value is connected to "the physical properties of the commodity," "the exchange relation of commodities is characterized precisely by its abstraction from their use-values." This means that the value of the item comes from this exchange equivalence which is represented by money. For Marx money really obscures the true equivalence which is labor time: "As exchange-values, all commodities are merely definite quantities of congealed labour-time."

So antisemitism is really a type of equality project because it seeks to replace this abstract exploitation of labor with the concrete "blood and soil" of the volk. Based on the idea that Capitalism is the accumulation/exploitation of surplus labor (and this is Marx' primary "alienation" of the laborer from the goods he produces), this abstract exchange value becomes entirely projected onto the Jew who becomes a scapegoat for all of the alienating that Capitalism has been doing. The Jew is abstract, the German is "concrete immediacy."

This is the dichotomy Sombart (antisemitic German economist) sets out in The Jews and Modern Capitalism. There's an excellent explication of his ideology in Jeffrey Herf's Reactionary Modernism: Technology, culture, and politics in Weimar and the Third Reich that nakh recommended to me on Friday. He sought to reconcile the conflict between this fascist vision of the German people with the valuable production technology produces, without having to deal with the exploitations and excesses of Capitalism which he projected onto the Jews. This way antisemitism becomes a way of enjoying Capitalism without Capitalism. Herf writes:

Two points stand out. First, the circulation sphere is said to have already achieved predominance over industry and agriculture. Second, this victory is the product of a particular type of person, the merchant, who, [German historian Oswald] Spengler complains, is parasitic and unproductive. We are dealing here with documents of reification. Social processes, in this case, circulation, are said to emanate from individual types, here the merchant. "Anticapitalism" or "anti-money thinking" legitimates nationalist, and subsequently racial, programs that seek to do away with the individuals who are the bearers of capitalism, that is, "capitalist man" or "the Jew." Marx, in his analysis of commodity fetishism, argued that in capitalism the social relations between human beings appeared to be social relations between things. Spengler takes this process of reification one step further: The social aspect of relations between human beings disappears and they appear instead as emanations of different human souls. Then the revolt against abstraction takes on sinister, that is, racial, proportions. But in its German form this revolt was by no means necessarily an effort to stifle or hinder technological advances.

Sombart attempts to historicize this role of the Jews by recourse to "the Jews' social and historical experience in Europe, the nature of Judaism as a religion, and a special Jewish psychology that fostered an 'objective inclination' for capitalism." Subsequently all technology is either productive/useful German technology or Capitalism/exploitive Jewish technology. Horkheimer and Adorno in The Dialectic of Enlightenment assets that the Jew was useful for this bc of the transition from competitive to monopoly capitalism. As power shifted to corporations, the economic power of the Jews stayed in Finance. Herf: "As the circulation sphere declined in power and influence, the attacks on it as the source of Germany's problems grew... The truth was that this was an ideological mystification obscuring the realities of exploitation in the labor process. Attacks on the merchant, middleman, and banker and 'socially necessary pretenses' directed at the circulation sphere to obscure the real source of exploitation."

Herf prefers a second explanation for antisemitism - that it emerges from anticivilizational impulses but I mention this one here bc it relates to I think a broader idea about antisemitism which is the use of the Jew by the ruling class as a proxy for revolutionary violence against elite power. I wrote a bit about this here and I think it has to do with why Jewish victimization is so difficult to detect and Jewish power is always in assumption - that it's by design as a defense mechanism. David Schraub points out that the very nature of antisemitism v traditional racism is that the former is a conspiracy about hidden power as opposed to bigotry based on inferiority. Jews aren't hated for being inferior but for being superior - crafty, deceptive, cunning, etc.

It's clear how the second quote fits into this - that the mob is urged to kill the Jew in order to maintain the elite structure. I'm less sure about this idea that Adorno is saying that "the Jews as such may be like, their image, as that of the defeated people, has the features to which totalitarian domination must be completely hostile: happiness without power, wages without work, a home without frontiers, religion without myth. These characteristics are hated by the rulers because the ruled secretly long to possess them." I understand generally speaking this mechanic by which the absence of the things for which the ruled long (and which inflicts them under conditions of capitalism) must be addressed and is therefore projected onto the Jew. I'm not 100% sure about how the Jews, as a defeated people, have these features. That said, Adorno continues: "The rulers are only safe as long as the people they rule turn their longed-for goals into hated forms of evil. This they manage to do by pathological projection, since even hatred leads to unification with the object - in destruction. This is the negative aspect of reconciliation. Reconciliation is the highest notion of Judaism, and expectation is its whole meaning. The anti-Semites try to realize their negative absolute by their own power, and change the world into the hell which they always thought it was." Which maybe speaks to what exactly the thing is that the Jews possess and that the ruled desire and that's "reconciliation" by which I understand to mean the idea of reconciling God's creations with their creator as dramatized on Yom Kippur. But this is just speculation, I'm not 100% sure.

Mordy, Sunday, 31 January 2016 17:29 (1 week ago) Permalink

The Jew is abstract, the German is "concrete immediacy."

do you know an earlier (pref earliest) reference to this dichotomy? I'm guessing 19th century, in the wake of romanticism. obv by the 20th century it's common coin, but I'm interested in a paper trail.

you find that talk in mathematics by the way, where some German mathematicians brand Jewish mathematicians as the algebraists, abstract and calculating, as opposed to the intuitive and grounded German mathematicians, natural geometers. this will have real world consequences by the 1930s of course. by the way there are also at the time French mathematicians who say that German mathematicians are abstract and calculating while French mathematicians are the intuitive true geometers.

I understand generally speaking this mechanic by which the absence of the things for which the ruled long (and which inflicts them under conditions of capitalism) must be addressed and is therefore projected onto the Jew.

I don't quite get this mechanic. if the ruled long for these things (e.g. happiness without power), then why don't they just take them? move to the sticks, marry a wife, catch rainbow trout. I also don't understand your phrase "which inflicts them under conditions of capitalism").

and how does that jibe with

Adorno continues: "The rulers are only safe as long as the people they rule turn their longed-for goals into hated forms of evil.

"only safe"? why can't everyone be happy without power? I guess then the rulers wouldn't be the rulers? but then the rules don't want happiness without power, they want power!

anyway sorry for taking so long to reply, these things are deep & I need time to reflect

droit au butt (Euler), Tuesday, 9 February 2016 05:33 (Yesterday) Permalink

there are also at the time French mathematicians who say that German mathematicians are abstract and calculating while French mathematicians are the intuitive true geometers.

Which is funny given that it was the French who dragged geometry into the world of the ultra-algebraic and abstract once and for all in the 60s! But maybe they didn't see Grothendieck as "truly French."

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 9 February 2016 05:38 (Yesterday) Permalink

yeah these French passages are from the late 19th century. & the role/status of Jewish mathematicians in France has been / continues to be profound, Grothendieck, Schwartz, and many others. in this way it's not so different from the USA.

droit au butt (Euler), Tuesday, 9 February 2016 05:44 (Yesterday) Permalink

I want to think more about your questions Euler, especially since I don't have a good intellectual history of the jews/germans dichotomy for you. When I was studying Grimm Fairy Tales I remember some scholars (Maria Tater most notably iirc) traced certain tropes in latter German + then Nazi antisemitism back to oral storytelling traditions and we've definitely talked about fairy tales like "The Jew in the Brambles" before on ILX. But I'm not sure that there an obvious antecedent for specifically this idea of abstract v. concrete. That said - there is an element even there of the Jew as rootless cosmopolitan which does fit into the broader curves of the dialectic (rootlessness being its own sort of abstraction v. the concrete man of the land).

I don't quite get this mechanic. if the ruled long for these things (e.g. happiness without power), then why don't they just take them? move to the sticks, marry a wife, catch rainbow trout. I also don't understand your phrase "which inflicts them under conditions of capitalism").

If I understand your question here you are asking why people don't just opt out of Capitalism by going off the grid? That's really its own discussion (I'm inclined to say that going off the grid is not a relevant decision for most people's lives) but I want to emphasize that this vision of the Jew who has what the proletariat wants is not true in reality - the Jew is not somehow liberated from Capitalism. It's just the image of the Jew - the rootless Jew who is not tied down, who maybe could go off the grid (or could emigrate), also the Jew who owns fluid capital (both bc this has some truth in reality like Adorno was quoted above regarding how "power shifted to corporations, the economic power of the Jews stayed in Finance," and because it fits the symbolic image of the Jew). The infliction of capitalism are all these elements that Marx had noted - the alienation from one's own surplus labor, the poor conditions of the factory-focused urban economy, fear + uncertainty etc. Someone suffering from this who looks at the antisemitic caricature of the Jew will not blame the Capitalist for the pain in their lives but will instead accuse the Jew who represents a kind of exposed obvious power (by contrast to the *real* hidden power of Capitalism). So these violent reactions to the exploitive system are channeled against the Jews instead thus preserving the true hegemonic forces in German society.

This particular phenomenon (using Jews as a firewall to protect the ruling classes) predates Capitalism and was an effective tool in feudal Europe. It also seems relevant to the Jewish State today which, I think is uncontroversial to say, is often used as a scapegoat in poorly performing Middle Eastern countries. Sometimes this appears as an explicit conspiracy ("The Jews are forcing the Shias and Sunnis to fight") sometimes as just a way of distracting the populace from poor leadership/stewardship through deflection.

Mordy, Tuesday, 9 February 2016 15:10 (Yesterday) Permalink

oh sorry I screwed up (or autocorrect again): I meant, "if the RULERS long for those things..."

droit au butt (Euler), Tuesday, 9 February 2016 15:51 (Yesterday) Permalink

Oh, I don't think it's the rulers who long for them. Adorno writes: "These characteristics are hated by the rulers because the ruled secretly long to possess them." The ruled want to possess these freedoms. The rulers resent them because it makes it harder to keep a lid on the populace.

Mordy, Tuesday, 9 February 2016 15:53 (Yesterday) Permalink

I read some texts on anti-semitism last year but it's only now opening up to me conceptually, so I'm happy to have this space to talk about it.

right now I'm reading the first volume of Richard Evans' trilogy on the third reich. it's a historical rather than philosophical text but it's pointing out to me some of the joints, where distinct ideas come together, in the Nazi mindset, so that I can push on those next. after these I'll read Adam Tooze's The Wages of Destruction, on the Nazi economy. I picked up the Herf book you mentioned above too. obv I am going to have read more Marx, but I really don't know where to start. & Goethe too I think.

re Marx : if I want to understand Marx's idea of "alienation from one's own surplus labor", what should I read? the word "alienation" in Marxist contexts confounds me, because alienation seems like a psychological term, but one's labor is not a psychological thing: so what kind of relation is alienation?

droit au butt (Euler), Tuesday, 9 February 2016 16:02 (Yesterday) Permalink

oh & xp, the passage of Adorno's that you quoted, to which I was responding, is:

"the Jews as such may be like, their image, as that of the defeated people, has the features to which totalitarian domination must be completely hostile: happiness without power, wages without work, a home without frontiers, religion without myth. These characteristics are hated by the rulers because the ruled secretly long to possess them."

right: the RULED long to possess them, my mistake.

then I have a more elementary, maybe trivial, question: why must totalitarian domination be completely hostile to happiness without power?

droit au butt (Euler), Tuesday, 9 February 2016 16:07 (Yesterday) Permalink

If you're interested in reading more about Marxism + antisemitism, Moishe Postone is my favorite on this topic. This is a really great interview with him on some of these topics: http://www.krisis.org/2010/zionism-anti-semitism-and-the-left/ and this paper is relevant as well (and speaks directly to the question of German antisemitism): https://rosswolfe.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/moishe-postone-anti-semitism-and-national-socialism-notes-on-the-german-reaction-to-holocaust.pdf -- the Marxism + antisemitism field is decently sized and there's an entire organization dedicated to its study: http://criticaltheoriesofantisemitism.net -- a lot of the people listed as members are worth looking into imho.

Re Marx himself and alienation / surplus labor, etc, he discusses estrangement from the self in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm and in The German Ideology. Kostas Axelos divides Marx's alienation into 4 major categories: Economic and Social Alienation, Political Alienation, Human Alienation, and Ideological Alienation. In economic alienation the more productive the worker is, the more he is devalued, Marx writes:

The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity – and this at the same rate at which it produces commodities in general.

This fact expresses merely that the object which labor produces – labor’s product – confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labor is labor which has been embodied in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labor. Labor’s realization is its objectification. Under these economic conditions this realization of labor appears as loss of realization for the workers[18]; objectification as loss of the object and bondage to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation.[19]

So much does the labor’s realization appear as loss of realization that the worker loses realization to the point of starving to death. So much does objectification appear as loss of the object that the worker is robbed of the objects most necessary not only for his life but for his work. Indeed, labor itself becomes an object which he can obtain only with the greatest effort and with the most irregular interruptions. So much does the appropriation of the object appear as estrangement that the more objects the worker produces the less he can possess and the more he falls under the sway of his product, capital.

This is also the answer for why Capitalist domination is completely hostile to happiness without power - because it requires the alienation of the worker from his labour to continue to exist. True liberation requires the end of Capitalism (which is obv unfathomable to the Capitalist).

Mordy, Tuesday, 9 February 2016 16:23 (Yesterday) Permalink

Generally speaking I find this idea that antisemitism is useful for perpetuating hegemonic domination to be compelling, but insufficient. I recommend Nirenberg's 2014 Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition for a broader look at how antisemitism has occurred in various epochs (and it is dense w/ primary texts + v careful analysis). iirc he begins his history with Egyptian antisemitism (which obv historically predates the development of Capitalism by quite a lot) and so his theory of antisemitism is necessarily broader (and then some of these more direct critiques of Capitalism, or of Leftist antisemitism which emerges from Marx's own critiques of Capitalism are a kind of particularized historical version of longer trends + ideological lacunas).

Mordy, Tuesday, 9 February 2016 16:27 (Yesterday) Permalink

From that Postone interview:

On the other hand there were Jews, many of them members of Communist parties, who viewed any expression of Jewish identity as anathema to their own notions of what I would call abstract Enlightenment notions of humanity. For example, Trotsky, in an earlier phase, referred to the Bund as “sea-sick Zionists”. Note that the critique of Zionism here had nothing to do with Palestine or the situation of the Palestinians, since the Bund was focused entirely on autonomy within the Russian empire and rejected Zionism. Rather, Trotsky’s equation of the Bund and Zionism implied a rejection of any form of Jewish communal self-identification. Trotsky, I think, changed his mind later on, but that attitude was fairly typical. Communist organisations tended to be very strongly opposed to Jewish nationalism of any sort, whether cultural nationalism, political nationalism, or Zionism. This is one strand of anti-Zionism. It is not necessarily anti-semitic, but rejects Jewish collective self-identification in the name of abstract universalism. Yet, frequently, this form of anti-Zionism is inconsistent – it is willing to accord national self-determination to most peoples, but not to Jews. It is at this point that what presents itself as abstractly universal becomes ideological. Moreover, the meaning of such abstract universalism itself changes with historical context. After the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel, this abstract universalism serves to veil the history of Jews in Europe. This fulfils a very useful, historically “cleansing” dual function: the violence historically perpetrated by Europeans on Jews is erased; at the same time the horrors of European colonialism now become attributed to the Jews. In this case, the abstract universalism expressed by many anti-Zionists today becomes an ideology of legitimation that helps constitute a form of amnesia regarding the long history of European actions, policies and ideologies toward the Jews, while essentially continuing that history. The Jews have once again become the singular object of European indignation. The solidarity most Jews feel toward other Jews, including in Israel – however understandable following the Holocaust – is now decried. This form of anti-Zionism has become one of the bases for a programme to eradicate actually existing Jewish self-determination. It converges with some forms of Arab nationalism – now coded as singularly progressive.

Mordy, Tuesday, 9 February 2016 16:36 (Yesterday) Permalink

(I want to post so many more excerpts from that Postone interview. If you do read it, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. There's a lot of provocative material regarding the contemporary Left and its failures that should line up in interesting ways w/ German pre-war antisemitism vis-a-vis antisemitism as an emancipatory project.)

Mordy, Tuesday, 9 February 2016 16:52 (Yesterday) Permalink

I will read it but not right away! also the Nirenberg, which was also recommended to me by someone eephus might know (though I won't badger him about it)

droit au butt (Euler), Tuesday, 9 February 2016 17:00 (Yesterday) Permalink

Another relevant Postone article: https://libcom.org/library/anti-semitism-national-socialism-moishe-postone

No functionalist explanation of the Holocaust and no scapegoat theory of anti-Semitism can even begin to explain why, in the last years of the war, when the German forces were being crushed by the Red Army, a significant proportion of vehicles was deflected from logistical support and used to transport Jews to the gas chambers. The specificity of the Holocaust requires a much more determinate mediation in order even to approach its understanding.

Mordy, Tuesday, 9 February 2016 17:10 (Yesterday) Permalink


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