In the last week’s postings, readings and discussion, there was a strong focus on how elements of history can be used to justify certain actions. This week, in the book A Specter Haunting Europe, we instead get a chance to see how myths develop in real time, with the concept of overarching Judeo-Bolshevism during the early 20th century.
In brief, the article deals with how the concept of Judeo-Bolshevism evolved based on both real world events and the actions of individuals and groups to promote the concept. It addresses the tactics and approaches used, often by right-wing groups, to propagate the concept that the various left-wing revolutionary groups and governments at the time were being led by Jewish persons, both men and women. The main method described is by ‘unmasking’ revolutionaries’ personal histories and displaying their Jewish origins, though not always accurately.
At its heart, the author notes, there is a kernel of truth to the allegations, that there was a number of high-ranking revolutionaries that came from Jewish backgrounds. But the author also demonstrates that much of the overarching concerns for Judeo-Bolshevism stemmed from deep fears over Jewish religion and culture, and that Bolshevism was simply the latest iteration of Jewish influence.
It is particularly pertinent to view Judeo-Bolshevism’s deconstruction in terms of what some modern persons have coined as Islamofascism. The terminology is highly problematic, conflating Islam and Fascism in a way not dissimilar to Judeo-Bolshevism. As the far right in Europe continues to grow more bold in its attempts to paint Muslims and Arabs in general as anti-democratic and dangerous, the term is beginning to become more reminiscent of things seen before.
Also of note is trying to understand the various methods in which the Jewish populations of Europe tried to combat this myth, and which were effective. From trying to justify the actions of Jewish Bolsheviks , to suggesting that they are traitors to both Judaism and country, the Jewish communities of Europe often took a variety of approaches in trying to handles the mythologizing.
Towards the end of ensuring marginalized groups are not demonized further by the extreme actions a few, it is imperative to understand which strategies worked and which did not when trying to ensure the public that not all Jews were involved in a Bolshevik conspiracy. Applying these results to the Islamofascist scare tactics used by far right members in modernity, we can hope to better prevent unfounded hatred spreading across Europe.