Saturday, December 17, 2005

Anti-Semitism & The Revolutionary Right

The revolutionary white right in North America is built on two beliefs: that white people form an objective biological group superior to all others, and that as a collectivity whites are in a state of perpetual competition with all others. The Hobbesian vision of nature, in which all are at war with all, is brought to a different level where “races,” not individuals, vie in permanent and total conflict.

These “facts” do not sit well with a third dogma held by the revolutionary white right, namely that whites are an oppressed and exploited group, who have gotten the raw end of the deal and suffer from “reverse discrimination” in almost all aspects of American life. This third tenet, the myth of the oppressed white man, was largely underdeveloped a hundred years ago. The U.S. power structure had a far more ambiguous relationship to groups like the Klan back then, and fascism – which is a radical and revolutionary movement from the right – had yet to enter the game. Whites not only benefited from the structural oppression of Blacks, but they had no compunction in admitting this and insisting that this was the way things were supposed to be.

Things have changed over the past century, and today the myth of the oppressed white man is one of the white right’s favourite sales pitches.

All of which sits uneasily together. After all, if whites are superior to other races, how did these others manage to get the upper hand? If nobody disputes that whites used to be in charge, how did these superior rulers lose their grip? It all kind of goes against that “survival of the fittest” bs they’re so into…

Under neo-colonialism the less powerful whites lose some of the privileges they were previously guaranteed. The class interests of a growing number of white people diverge more and more from those of the ruling class. The revolutionary right, not the left, is the most dynamic force organizing amongst downwardly-mobile whites. As the ruling class and the racist right move further apart, the question as to how the supposedly superior white man could be losing more and more ground becomes more and more pressing.

There is a need for a worthy opponent in the conscious racist’s mental universe. An ideology based on ethnic pedigree needs a racial villain. A white racist ideology, in a white supremacist society where the far right remains oppositional, and has a downwardly mobile class perspective, needs an elusive opponent, one who can wear a disguise and hide their origins.

Enter the Jews.

Reading their literature, it becomes clear that in the eyes of North American fascists, Jews are enemy #1. This did not use to be the case – prior to the 1970s Blacks were the racist right’s chief enemy. With the triumph of neo-colonialism as a world strategy of the ruling class, and the subsequent formal decolonization of two thirds of the planet, anti-Semitism came to the fore. This process saw the rise of clearly oppositional phenomena like the bonehead movement amongst white working class youth and the nazification of the racist right, officially acknowledged by the Klan as the dawn of a new era (the so-called “Fifth Era” of the KKK).

Today the grandchildren of European immigrants who may themselves have been the targets of nativist hostility can be found within the ranks of the revolutionary white right, and are just as eager to identify with the myth of the oppressed white man as their WASP comrades. These whites identify Jews as the bad pseudo-white guys, the ones responsible for the new harsher realities of the neo-colonial age, the loss of yesterday’s white pride and the fall from white grace.

Unlike anti-Catholic, anti-Irish, anti-Slavic and other racisms which used to be trumpeted by the far right, but which have melted away as these groups have been integrated into the mainstream of white America, anti-Semitism within the far right has increased as Jews have become more closely integrated into white America. To use the concept i put forward in my previous post on ideological racism: as popular anti-Semitism has decreased and any structural anti-Semitism has disappeared, ideological anti-Semitism has become more and more important within the ranks of the revolutionary right-wing.

In the world of the revolutionary right, Jews are not just another ethnic group. As spelled out by Hitler in a very different context, Jews are an evil master race to rival the good “Aryan” master race. They are literally the anti-Aryans. Actually gentile bad guys ranging from Mikail Gorbachev to Queen Elizabeth to Bill Gates are “outed” as being Jewish. Even Adolf Hitler has been accused of being Jewish by Christian Identity stalwart Jack Mohr, which of course got Mohr accused of being Jewish by other Identity groups, for as the Christian Separatist Church Society puts it: “it is common knowledge among Christians that the straight nosed Jew is the first one to call the hook nosed Jews the real Jews in an attempt to conceal his own identity.”

In the theories of the revolutionary right, Jews emerge as a plasticene ethnic group. Disquieting evidence that racist theories do not hold water – i.e. a white power structure NOT looking after the white masses, a society where power is in the hands of an absolute minority of super-rich white people who are not oppressed, an absolute majority of white people who remain indifferent or hostile to the revolutionary racists’ agenda – all of this is explained away by use of the Jewish trump card. The white power structure and super-rich are transformed into a Jewish ruling class which is screwing the white masses, using “straight nosed Jews” to lead astray even those who have recognized their enemy in the “hook nosed Jew.”

There have been other equally flexible and reality-defying devices used by the far right. Specifically, theories surrounding the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Jesuits, and more recently the Reptilian/Draconian extra-terrestrials, also known as the “greys,” all seem ludicrous unless you actually accept the premise that they are true, at which point they become both irrefutable and essential to understanding everything in human history and contemporary events. These conspiracy theories are all shaped by the questions of their day, for like true plasticene they fill whatever mold they are pushed into. Coming out of a specific intellectual tradition, that of European reaction and then fascism, they build upon each other, and their different aspects are interchangeable. This explains how certain members of the Patriot movement could “abandon” anti-Semitism (which previously explained everything) while keeping their entire worldview intact: the name they gave to their plasticene changed from “Jews” to “Illuminati” or “Bilderbergers,” but the plasticene remained the same.

These conspiracy theories answer questions that the rational parts of far right ideology cannot, and as such their logic and details can only be explained by these shortcomings, not by surveying any historical evidence or using normal means of logical deduction. That’s why conspiracy theories, while amusing (who didn’t like the X-Files?), are such an unsound basis for any coherent or rational analysis.

As a plasticene ethnic group, there are no limits to how useful “the Jews” can be to those who adopt anti-Semitism as an ideological device. In a country like Poland, with a Jewish population of only 10,000 in 1990, anti-Semitism remains a key element to far right groups. Even in Japan, with a Jewish population of 600 and no significant historical Jewish presence or history of anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories about Jews have been adopted by many fascist and far right groups. As one J.P. Sartre put it many years ago, “If the Jew did not exit, the Anti-Semite would invent him.”

Given these precedents, it seems likely that anti-Semitism will continue regardless of any historical events unrelated to the far right itself. Even the complete extermination of every last Jew would not staunch this wound, for the belief in “Jewish conspiracies” would still make at least as much sense as current UFO conspiracies, which obviously bear no relationship to the actual population of Martians!

Likewise, it is ludicrous to suggest that any resolution to the problem of Zionist crimes being committed in Palestine would cause the far right to reject anti-Semitism. Like, since when was the far right so opposed to colonialism and the oppression of Arabs? While the fascists may oppose Israel, they do so despite Zionist atrocities, which if anything approximate those which the fascists dream of inflicting on “their own” subject peoples. Indeed, principled left opposition to Israel is based largely on the same values which lead us to reject fascist solutions; and non-Jewish fascist support for Israel – extremely rare as it may be – is predicated on this approval of ethnic slaughter.

I might even go so far as to say that the revolutionary white right pretends to be pro-Palestinian because Jews are overwhelmingly pro-Zionist today, but were Jews to overwhelmingly reject Zionism the radical right would most likely start holding “Solidarity with Israel” marches!

What do you think?

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  1. Yes, for sure, you've got it.


  2. fascism doesnt rise only from the right. and moreover, many neo-nazi types are far too libertarian to subscribe to fascism, at least in the economic sense.

  3. my impression is also that much of the white nationalists hold a view akin to sepratism or segregation and which does not as much wish to dominate, but which seeks racial segregation and purity and racial autonomy in the nationalist sense.

    seems complicated at the very least.

  4. What the fuck does "racial autonomy" mean?!? And - in reality, not in some kind of bonehead la-la land - how do they think this illusory "racial segregation and purity" is going to be enforced, except by dominating (or exterminating) those of us who do not wish to be "purified".
    Now, on a subjective level, i grant that many racists feel their struggle is defensive and is not really about hurting or dominating others... but that's just their fantasy, and the true nature of dystopia is revealed in their struggle, which consists of supporting heightened oppression and exploitation of target "races" in the here and now.
    Remember: from the Boers to the Zionists to the Puritans, many people have perceived themselves as "just wanting to be left alone," but in practice their "isolation" has involved dislocating others, interning them behind barbed wire, sterilizing them, killing heir children, and finally contemplating outright genocide.

  5. Hi Kersplebeb.

    I think we have different takes on the situation in the Middle East, to say the least I do not consider crimes against Arabs in Israel or Palestine to be *Zionist* crimes, but crimes committed by the Israeli state. I certainly don't understand Zionism to be at its core ethnic cleansing, even if modern Israel is indeed a quite racist place and the end result of Al Naqbah was the departure of many Arabs from what would become Israel, meaning that there were acts of ethnic cleansing within it.
    I indeed think that one must support intellectual movements like the post-Zionist minority in Israel, that seeks to re-define Jewish existence in the land of Israel, by secular reasoning, in a world after the Shoa. And in that sense just as Israelis are not irredeemably Zionist (a point I'm sure you agree with) Israel is not irrevocably Zionist (with all its categories).

    On your essay, I'm glad you wrote it. These issues are going to be important for moving a communist movement forward amid the forthcoming reaction. I feel though, that you deal with the subject far too lightly, though perhaps strategically so, by comparing anti-semitism to beliefs in aliens and other conspiracy theories. There is indeed a common thread running through these 'critiques' (one that you actually never zero in on), the desire to eliminate the need to critique and attack existing conditions, to confront the everyday fabric of political life, so that things may stay the same, in a dictatorial manner, with at the least slight modifications to the bourgeois order. There is also the desire to 'uncover the darkness', i.e. for a totalitarian world-view, 'what are those jews in the synagogues up to anyway?','what is my wife up to when I'm gone?', the paranoid mentality. We will see that the net result of post-modernism's attack on truth will be exactly the social conditions that render any atrocity a banality and all paranoias worthy of a hearing. In short, a shift towards new pogroms.

    When I say that you treat the subject too lightly, it is because this ideology has been responsible for centuries of oppression and violence, culminating in a continent-wide holocaust by Europeans who either actively participated or couldn't bother to help the 'back-stabbing Jews'. The same ideology now animates organizations like Hamas, Hizbollah, factions of the Iranian ruling class, the Egyptian right and even parts of the Palestinian Authority. Additionally, anti-semitism is again surging in Europe after (hardly a coincidence) the re-unification of Germany.

    I have some work on anti-semitism and fascism at my blog that may interest you:


  6. Thanks for your comments sphinx. I think we do disagree about some things, but i also think you raise some interesting points - perhaps i'll respond at greater length in a separate posting, but for the moment:

    "Zionist crimes" vs. "Israeli crimes." This is a question that is not specific to Israel, but applies also in other settler states (i.e. the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, etc.) The State in these societies is not the sole source of racist violence, but non-State actors also play an important role in this. For instance, in Israel/Palestine, Baruch Goldstein was not acting on behalf of the government when he murdered 29 Moslems (he shot up a Mosque to celebrate Purim in 1994); the settler movement exists semi-autonomously from the Israeli State; many of the people who provide morally criminal aid and comfort to the Israeli State in North America and Europe have never lived in Israel; some have never even set foot there! So limiting culpability to the Israeli State would be inaccurate.
    As to whether or not Zionism is inherently racist, that's a philosophical question that has been rendered largely moot by the existence of Israel which (like all settler states) is inherently racist. "Zionism without Israel" now only exists in the realm of specualtive fiction. Furthermore, I would point out that even were a Jewish homeland to have been carved out of Germany after World War II (which would have at least seemed more morally fitting) the enterprise of setting up a separate ethnic State would have still been problematic - the vast majority of Jews even after the Holocaust were hostile to the Zionist stategy. But i concede that had Zionism taken the form of reparations from Europe and carving out a Jewish landbase within Europe that it would be a very different phenomenon than it is today. But that didn't happen, so again - this speculation doesn't really produce any useful insights.
    As for making light of anti-Semitism by comparing it to UFO conspiracy theories... i was discussing how these ideas developed and what their appeal is, not their body count. I agree that in terms of bloodiness, anti-Semitism is in a different league from the belief in the Illuminati. But as these beliefs support each other and feed on each other it is not a contest to see which is worst...

    As for your last point, about anti-Semitism in the Moslem world being the historic continuation of European anti-Semitism, I think that is one part of the story but only one part. Any discussion of contemporary anti-Semitism in the Middle East must take into account the role of Israel in the region. The role of a Jewish State (supported by Zionists around the world) in the Middle East has no parallel in European history.

    Let me know what you think!

  7. Kersplebeb, thanks for writing back.

    There is a need to differentiate between Israeli crimes and Zionist crimes, and let me explain why I think so. First, the settler movement does indeed exist quasi-autonomously from the state, as we see today more than 20 new outposts were set up and the IDF has stated that it has no current plans to dismantle them. The settler movement draws from the theological politics of Zionism as well as quite nationalist (and in my opinion reactionary) re-uses of holocaust imagery (exhibit A the disengagement) when it comes under attack. It has been birthed out of two important processes, the state-ification of the Jews in the Middle East following the exodus of 1948, which disables Jews from living in 'Palestinian' territory (even if some of it was historically Jewish before 1948) and also the Zionist right's extreme rejectionism of peace with 'the Arabs', which is politically and theologically fueled and contributes to what we're talking about, racist violence.

    If you are talking about Zionist crimes mainly concerning the settlers, then we have no difference. The destruction of olive orchards has a simple message, 'the land is ours'. Lynching of Arab youths says 'get off our land'. But I think that with 'Zionist crimes' you are also pointing out taken by the state quite independent from the quasi-autonomous settlers, such as house demolitions in Gaza, the separation barrier across the West Bank, the Lebanon incursion etc. These are state actions, undertaken with a variety of motives, some congruent to the frontier, settler ideology, but are not wholly Zionist. For instance, house demolitions in Gaza (ostensibly) to stop the assault on Sderot and other cities by Qassam rockets is based primarily in the logic of security. Consider also the setting of post-withdrawal Israel, which has given up much of the territory biblically 'ordained' to the Jews such as Mt. Sinai etc., describing these actions as 'Zionist' crimes fails to miss the crucial, secular dynamic that is an outcome of a wide array of social critique, action and the desire for co-existence. Your example of Baruch Goldstein proves my point. Baruch Goldstein if anything sets back the cause of Zionism, and shows that its racist detachments operate in contradictory and antagonistic circuits that escape the control of the state. I'm sure he would have eagerly volunteered his racist massacre as 'Zionist' but it cannot be congruent with for example the assasination of a Hamas shiek which is just as often described as a 'Zionist crime' by both the left and right. Making the two congruent is in fact a key ingredient of how the anti-semitic right and left have turned Israel into the 'irredeemable' Zionist state just as Jews in WWII were made 'irredeemable' agents of finance capital, cosmopolitanism and communism.

    This description also smears the minoritarian movement of Zionism which chose (and chooses) exodus in the face of European genocide, one that is no doubt an imperfect, ugly response but understandable given the context.

    I also agree with your last point, though I would point out that there had been anti-Jewish pogroms in Palestine before the state of Israel had been founded, meaning that this resentment was not born in 1948.

    Happy new year.


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