Two from Contested Terrain

16Jul09

Antisemitism and the (modern) critique of capitalism

By Werner Bonefeld

The Nazi ideologue Rosenberg (1938) formulated the modern essence of antisemitism succinctly when he portrayed it as an attack on Communism, Bolshevism, and Jewish capitalism, a capitalism not of productive labour and industry, but of parasites – money and finance, speculators and bankers.

There is of course a difference between the antisemitism that culminated in Auschwitz and the antisemitism of the post-1945 world. However, whether antisemitism persists because or despite of Auschwitz is, ultimately, an idle question. The notions ‘despite’ and ‘because’ give credence to Auschwitz as a factory of death that is assumed to have destroyed antisemitism. Furthermore, and connected, antisemitism is viewed as a phenomenon of the past, that merely casts its shadow on the present but has itself no real existence. In this way, overt expressions of antisemitism are deemed ugly merely as pathological aberrations of an otherwise civilized world. In this context the critique of antisemitism is either belittled as an expression of ‘European guilt’ or rejected as an expression of bad faith: a camouflage for insulating Israel from criticism (Keaney, 2007).

The paper argues that modern antisemitism is the ‘rumour about Jews’ as personification of hated forms of capitalism. I will first look at some contemporary expressions of antisemitism, and theses IV and V explore Adono’s and Horkeimer’s (1989) and Postone’s (1986) understanding of Nazi antisemitism.

Continue reading here…

Bombs good, Mossad baaad!

According to this report from Spiegel Online, a little mini-controversy has erupted between Renate Künast, chairwoman of the parliamentary fraction of the German Greens and former minister of Consumer Protection, Food, and Agriculture under the Red-Green government, and the Stop the Bomb campaign, which advocates the termination of all German and Austrian business relationships with Iran as a means of pressuring the Iranian government to abandon its nuclear program and which is supported by such luminaries as Elfriede Jelinek, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.

According to campaign activist “Thomas H.”, who was attempting to collect signatures in front of an entrance to the Bundestag, Künast, who also heads the party’s electoral list going into the 2009 federal elections, refused to give her signature, saying “Your organization isn’t Kosher” and then, while stepping into her limousine, “you are in fact an organization of the Mossad!”

Künast vigorously denies the allegation, which was reported by the Jerusalem Post.

According to the Spiegel Online article, the question of whether or not to support the campaign is hotly contested within the party itself. According to Green Party parliamentarian Omid Nouripour, who opposes the campaign, “the alliance does not exclude the option of a military first strike. That has nothing to do with Green politics, and for that reason we can’t lend our signatures.”

So let me get this straight: a political party which was directly responsible for leading the first German war since WWII has suddenly rediscovered its pacifism?

Postscript: The SPON article also contains this delightful blast from the past from Green “left” fig leaf Hans-Christian Ströbele: “The Iraqi missle attacks [on Israel, during the 1990 Persian Gulf War — translator’s note] are the logical, almost compelling consequence of Israel’s policies.”

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