Nationalist Internationalism, or Internationalist Nationalism?

By Absalom Sink

(Note, this piece was posted nearly a week late, thus any references to “this week” actually pertain to the week ending on Saturday, September 20)

As David Motadel points out in his New York Times opinion piece from July 3, 2019, there is an apparent paradox at play in the international cooperation between the far-right, ultranationalist parties of Europe. In the EU Parliament, a broad assortment of far-right Eurosceptic nationalist parties—including France’s National Rally, Italy’s Lega Nord, Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland—has coalesced into a more-or-less united bloc. Motadel quickly moves to the obvious question: “Why are nationalists so eager to embrace an ethos of international cooperation?” These are, after all, the people who frame international politics as a zero-sum game, in which a nation only wins through another nation’s loss. Why would a French nationalist ally with a German nationalist?

Of course, as a number of this week’s readings make clear, far-right nationalists have a long of forging international bonds. In his opinion piece, Motadel quotes George Orwell as pointing out in 1937 that “fascism is now an international movement, which means not only that the Fascist nations can combine for purposes of loot, but that they are groping, perhaps only half-consciously as yet, towards a world system.” In particular, arch-nationalists are able to coalesce into international alliances when confronted with a common foe. For Germany and Japan in 1935—with the addition of Italy and Spain in 1937, and a handful of other nations in 1941—the common enemy was the Comintern. For today’s European far-right, the primary adversary is the European Union itself, upon which they project a plethora of grievances, both shared and local: the EU’s supposed ‘softness’ on immigration from the Middle East, the supposed influence of international Jewish finance, fiscal austerity, liberalism, etc.

As Motadel makes clear in another of this week’s readings, “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire,” this particular form of internationalism can make for some strange ideological bedfellows. The piece highlights the Third Reich’s support during World War II of anti-colonial and anti-imperial movements throughout the British and French colonial empires, which presents another strange, apparent paradox: a regime founded on the claimed racial superiority of white Northern Europeans, helping to foment revolutions by colonized populations against other white Northern European states. In reality, the Nazis were drawing on a still-older playbook, reviving a tactic used during WWI of supporting colonial revolts against their colonizers. The Reich’s support for the Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose or the Palestinian Amin Al-Husayni did not spring from ideological alignment—although Al-Husayni was an ardent cheerleader for the Nazis’ antisemitism—but rather from cynical expediency.

Paul Hanebrink’s A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism highlights a second feature of nationalist internationalism: the need for a central myth. The particular myth on which Hanebrink focuses reveals the internal inconsistency of far-right mythologizing, the incongruous idea that Jews simultaneously control world finance, and are responsible for the Bolshevik system which sought to overthrow financial capitalism. It’s a tension that has never been adequately resolved, and yet the twin conspiracies of Judeo-Bolshevism and a shadowy, world-dominating cabal of Jewish financiers that provided a cornerstone for the Nazi political structure are still held up—contradictions and all—by the Third Reich’s ideological descendants. Far-right groups need an ‘other’ on which to hang their grievances, and the Judeo-Bolshevik myth “offered its users a way to interpret the multiple dislocations caused by economic modernization, democratization, and cultural pluralism”

We see these two factors today in the coalition of Europe’s far right: the “pragmatic” necessity of banding together against a common enemy, and the reliance on myth to create that enemy. These days, it’s less about Judeo-Bolshevism—though that remains a common refrain—and more about alternative myths, like the so-called “great replacement theory.” The song the EU’s Eurosceptic bloc is singing isn’t a new one after all. It’s just a variation on a theme.

Works Cited:

Hanebrink, Paul. A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2018.

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire.” In American Historical Review 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.

Motadel, David. “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism – But They Depend on It.” New York Times, July 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/the-surprising-history-of-nationalistinternationalism.html

Do We Need Fascists?

In the early 20th century Mussolini became a master of narrative construction as he sought to reform Italy. However, Mussolini did not rise to power simply owed to factors outside his own control but, with the aid of narratives. Narratives that conjured fear the hearts and minds of the Italian people and painted an image that required their response. Fascism as a movement utilized the trope of a sick patient (as many veterans of war at the time once were) to argue that Italian nation had been taken by disease. As Ruth Ben-Ghiat wrote in her 2004 book Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945, Alfredo Rocco, and other nationalist thinkers such as Scipio Sighele and Enrico Corradini argued a need for “order and collective discipline at home” given the “ ‘congenital Italian illness’ of excessive individualism that had supposedly hindered Italy’s progress as an imperial force” (Ben-Ghiat 2004, 18). Mussolini continued these tropes calling Italy “unhealthy”, “sick”, “infected” and calling for “necessary hygienic action”.

Ultimately, Mussolini rose to power as the great healer that would bandage the Italian nation and pull the state from the brink of death. However, in the lead up to and the duration of Mussolini’s fascist administration there were great measures enacted to ensure that the Italian people would continue to choose the Mussolini regime as the surgical hand by which they would be rid of ‘infection’. The ‘infection’ of individualism and a troubled nation that Italians were told that they had.

This gave credence to policies enacted from 1925-1929, as Ben-Ghiat wrote, to effectively create a police state in Italy, autonomous organization such as the mafia were made to organize in line with the objectives of the nation-state. Fascist Italy made and re-made organizations and the histories that went along with them to ensure one collective narrative was shared among the Italian people. This narrative was indoctrinated by the national fascist organization known as Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND), State controlled media, and intellectuals such as Luigi Pirandello whose careers benefited from the intervention of the Fascist regime. In the case of Pirandello, Ben-Ghiat pointed out that he was recommended to the Italian Academy for his support to the nation.

The very people those being intellectuals, thinkers and artists who work to critically analyze the business of those in positions of power accepted that the “world of ideas ran on a strictly parallel course with that of the dictatorship” (Ben-Ghiat 2004, 23) and not in opposition to it. The work of intellectuals within the system were Mussolini declared it “permissible to advance objective judgments on art, prose, poetry, and theater without the threat of a veto due to an irregular party card” (quoted in Ben-Ghiat 2004, 23) kept the surgical hand of Mussolini steady.

The Italian nation ultimately needed a fascist solely because the Italian people were told they needed one. The push for intellectuals and policy makers to speak with the same breath put Italy, in the eyes of the Fascist regime, in a “privileged position” over other states. But the limits of Fascism was tested from within as the old men and ideas were faced with modernity in a Fascist sphere.

Fascism’s Relationship with Internationalism: Paradoxical or a Means to an End?

By Julia Aguiar
In interrogating the question posed this week in the syllabus, the readings provided rich in further characterizing the ambivalence posited. In her analysis of Italian fascism, Ben-Ghiat grapples with Italian fascism’s relationship to modernity, intellectualism, and its struggle to deploy the arts. I found that Ben-Ghiat makes clear the paradoxical nature of fascism’s relationship to internationalism. Motadel characterizes fascism’s relationship to internationalism in a different way, underscoring the way that anticolonial internationalism was used by Nazi Germany’s fascist regime to weaken the sovereignty of adversaries’ empires. However, paradoxes are nonetheless revealed in Motadel’s articles. Above all, these readings make clear that fascism’s relationship to internationalism is constantly under flux and dependent on specific context.

Ben-Ghiat writes about the debate over how to best create a distinct “fascist art” which sought to be free of international influence while inviting the admiration and respect of the international world which would in turn legitimize its regime. This was especially true in the struggle against Americanization in Italy, and in the case of the Novecento movement, a desire to create an acutely Italian style of art which looked to the past so as to create historical continuity and remind the world of Italy’s long cultural traditions. The larger implications of Mussolini using art and culture as a tool of Italy’s fascist regime was that it gave the illusion that fascism cared about art and culture, encouraged artistic expression, and was a “regime of liberty”. However, this was far from the truth as can be seen through the regime’s heavy practices of censorship, violence, and surveillance. Italy’s fascist desire to create a purest Italian form of art and culture that was further legitimized by the attention of the international community while refusing to participate in an international exchange or dialogue of art is one of the ways that Ben-Ghiat makes clear fascism’s paradoxical relationship with internationalism.

Motadel considers fascism’s relationship to internationalism by looking to Nazi Germany’s support of anticolonialism during the interwar and WWII periods. He contends that the anticolonial network that operated in Berlin and was supported by Nazi Germany very much relied on internationalism. In assisting nations in their anticolonial work, Nazi Germany was able to further fulfill its fascist goals. However, inherent in this practice is a profound paradox. As Motadel writes, Nazi Germany was at once working to free the oppressed while committing genocide against Jewish and other marginalized people. Put another way, Nazi Germany had a complicated relationship with race in the way that it was willing to overlook the race of some groups if it was to its benefit while waging a war that was based so fundamentally on race. In this way, it is clear that Nazi Germany used internationalism as a means to an end. In his New York Times article, Motadel acknowledges the contradictory nature of “nationalist internationalism” in analyzing the contemporary alliance of Europe’s leading far-right nationalists groups. 

In further considering fascism’s ambivalent relationship to internationalism in a paradoxical sense and as an aid to fascism’s goals, I do not think one can be chosen over the other nor should it be given that fascism is ambiguous in nature. Instead, maybe we can see internationalism as a paradoxical tool of fascism.

Works Cited:

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. “Conquest and  Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945, (University of California Press, 2004), pp. 17-45, pp. 123-70.

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.

Motadel, David. “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism but they Depend on it,” The New York Times.com. The New York Times, July 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/the-surprising-history-of-nationalist-internationalism.html

Christine Collins: Who Holds the Brush? Considering the Impacts of State-Controlled Cultural Production on National Identity

Propaganda comes in many forms. National calls of “Deutschland über alles” and “Make America Great Again” blatantly send messages that go beyond gathering a country together, but rather mobilizing to defeat all those who may challenge a region’s supremacy. While taking a more nuanced tone, state-controlled cultural policy and cultural production similarly impact citizen values and international outlook. 

In 1938, a campaign of cultural reclamation known as bonifica della cultura was launched in Italy with the purpose of promoting Italian values by banning outside influences. The Propaganda Service Directorate bolstered their staff with photographers, filmmakers, artists and architects whose goal was to put greater state control in Italian cultural life. At the same time, the Press Directorate hired writers, critics, and journalists to censor their colleagues. The result, according to Ben-Ghiat, was the “efficient policing of cultural production” that gave state access to the otherwise non-political areas of creative life. 

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was established in 1936 to combat the growing influence of America media, as US based networks began to expand north. Although under non-fascist rule, the Government of Canada’s motives for creating a state-run media strike a similar cord to that of Mussolini’s Italy: protect the state from outside influencers that do not fit the characteristics of our national identity. But who decides what is or is not Canadian? 

While Canada may not use the same strategies of continental cultural domination as the Axis alliance in the early 20thcentury, can state-run media have similar impacts on influencing national values and ideas? 

Spanning from sea to sea to sea, I think most Canadians agree there is a need for a publicly funded media agency to connect those who may otherwise be isolated. But at what cost? Are Canadians willing to sacrifice foreign coverage by private sector organizations in order to make room for the CBC? 

Beyond media, Ben-Ghiat acknowledges that democracies and dictatorships alike are interested in promoting their national heritage. In modern day Canada, this takes the form of various grants and prizes in Canadian art, literature, and even academic research that shed light on our history or answer questions deemed important by a selection committee. On the surface, these public foundations work to highlight a collective history and promote Canadian identity. However, former Italian Academy official Carlo Formichi considers the result rather dangerous, deemed “artistic nationalism that goes hand in hand with political nationalism, and is certainly no less consequential.” 

If we can agree the purpose of art is to stimulate feelings, thoughts and discussion beyond aesthetic appeal, can we argue the Government of Canada chooses to support those artists that serve their broader political goals? At what point does a state-run media cross the line into state propaganda? 

Was There a Fascist Culture in Italy ?

Fascist Italy did not happen overtime. From the need for Mussolini to restore an order that he considered absent to the modern Italy that looked toward the future, many different steps were crossed with a certain hesitation in regard to how fascism should rally a population that was not entirely favourable to support its ideology. Ruth Ben-Ghiat details in the first chapter of Fascist Modernity: Italy (2004) how compromises have been made and how political propaganda used culture and art to disseminate ideas for both the sake of internal unity but also transnationally by comparing to other nations who in the eyes of the fascists captured a darker side of modernity.

The issue for Mussolini was to be able to integrate the intellectuals in his ideology firstly at a national level then at an international scale as his aspiration for expansion grew stronger. The author navigates between these two goals by using references to culture and art in general. Through control of the press and by carefully choosing members for organizations that ensured that individualism was not detrimental to the collectivity, censorship drew a model for fascist art and culture that very much resembled the one that was taking place in Germany in the 1930s and which culminated in 1937 with the “ Degenerate Art” exhibit in Munich. The term “degeneration” was wildly used as well as “non-productive” to describe a society that relied on too much individualism and not enough collective effort. Mussolini in his 1927 Ascension Day speech used medical terms to support his statement on the necessity to regenerate the nation which resembles the Nazi ideology very much without targeting a specific race at that time yet.

But with openness to other countries come comparison and fear of the other. The author dedicates a sub-part of the chapter to the experience that Italian travellers encountered in the USA, Soviet Union or Germany. She greatly highlights the conflict that Italy faced especially with the USA which has always been admired and an important emigration land for many Italians and unfortunately how the mass-consumerist society perverted its culture. In this passage, it is interesting to see how Italians perceived these dystopian countries as a downfall to avoid. The strength of this chapter is to explain how politics played a role in culture and art to disseminate an ideology based on modernity whilst keeping it on a short leash. The distorted ideas about the American society are the proof that Italy was struggling between adopting a new attitude toward modernity and staying conservative with the patriarchal traditions and national identity.

Source:

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (University of California Press, 2004), pp. 17-45.

Internationalism’s Relationship with Fascism

Prior to this week’s readings, I would have not considered the relationship between fascism and internationalism as ambivalent, rather I would have thought that fascism was against internationalism. However, as the articles by Motadel and Ben-Ghiat point out, fascist regimes did create networks centred around fascist ideology and had real interest in having Internationalist aspirations. In “The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt Against Empire”, Motadel showed that Berlin was a significant hub for anticolonial nationalists and had an ideological appeal to fascist (as well as other groups). Ben-Ghait focused on the Italian colonial motivations, specifically in Ethiopia. What I found very interesting in this article was that fascist groups started cultural exchange networks with other fascist groups in Europe, something that I would think would not be so intuitive at first glance. The networks created in both of these cases share two similar traits, the perceived credibility gained from connecting with other fascist groups, especially colonial aspirations (groups claimed that they their colonial aspirations were to bring modernity to the countries they conquered) and as a result of credibility came closer unity in ideological terms.

In order to support these claims of modernity and cultural change, fascist groups have to create an “Other”. The example Ben-Ghait illustrates is the “Aryanization” of Italy, which allowed Italian fascist to change the narrative around the idea Italy did in fact have a strong national identity and that be imposing racial laws, fascists could then blame “internal Others for Italy’s supposed backwardness and subordinate position in the European hierarchy”. By creating the “other”, the Italian fascists were able to unify their own identity domestically, project the claim they bring modernity to the “other” (Ethiopia), and gain credibility internationally through association with similar groups. The Hanebrink article also touches on the points above and more clearly demonstrates the idea of Othering in the interest of delegitimizing these groups for political or ideological gain. In Hanebrink’s article it is clear that while some prominent leaders in revolutions were Jewish, not all Jews were revolutionary or even shared any of the same ideas or views of these leaders. The process of “othering” the Jewish community, leading to the idea of Judeo-Bolshevism, was according to Hanebrink achieved through: “a long history of associating Jews and Judaism with heresy, misrule and social disharmony; well established beliefs in an international Jewish conspiracy, and the figure of the Jewish Bolshevik embodied in secularized form much older fears of Jewish fanaticism”. Once the idea of Judeo-Bolshevism was established, the repercussions were drastic, leading to many Jewish leaders having to distance themselves from revolutionary groups, although even this was typically limited in changing the publics view of them.

In a contemporary context, Motadel argues that internationalism and todays nationalist groups are not necessarily incompatible. This is due to internationalism as a concept presuming the existence and prominence of the nation state; nation states that can share a ‘common’ struggle that nationalists can rally around and, in some cases, work with other similar groups across borders. I think that internationalism can to some extent have a relation to nationalist and fascist practices and ideologies.

Fascism: the Potemkin Village of Ideologies

by psjoberg

To describe fascism as an ideology, as so many often do, is a fallacy. In fact, as Ruth Ben-Ghiat identifies in her book Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945, fascism is a pragmatically driven, ideologically incoherent movement, utilized primarily as a method or a tool for the acquisition of power. To conceptualize fascism in this way is significant, because it explains the diversity of behaviours exhibited by fascist regimes.

The innate disunity and ideological disorientation of all fascist movements, as is particularly evident in Italy under Mussolini and in Germany under Hitler, is precisely the reason for their ultimate failure. However, fascism’s resulting adaptability is precisely the attribute which enabled these movements to gain such rapid and zealous support.

As Ben-Ghiat identifies in her text, Mussolini found no problem proclaiming himself that he “didn’t intend to clarify his movement’s ideological identity,” and this approach proved fruitful as the Italian Fascist regime frequently contradicted itself during its twenty-year period of power: Mussolini initially sought to establish his fascism through creative autonomy of Italian intellectuals, but his regime latently sponsored pro-fascist intellectuals by showing them favouritism through grants and scholarships; the Italian fascists seemed at first to advocate for a “culture of concreteness” (which involved the demonization of ‘decorativism’ and decadence) but later criticized communism for privileging uniformity over creativity and thus turning human beings into “automatic puppets”; and Italian fascists held the desire to brand themselves as a youth movement, but then reacted to images of life in America by advocating for models of modernity that might maintain patriarchal traditions and strong family identities.

In addition to its strategic adaptability, Italian fascism also seemed to possess a sort of ignorance of its own disorientation. Evidence of this can be seen in the way in which Mussolini, feeling insecure about his alliance with Nazi Germany, attempted to establish more of a leadership role for Italy within the fascist world by, ironically, replicating Nazi practices such as the Goose Step and Aryanization.

Fascism, thus, is evidently a tool for political manipulation than any sort of coherent ideology. Once this term is understood in such a way, it is somewhat easier to comprehend the tendency of fascist movements to utilize historical anti-Semitic sensitivities in Europe to further their own political aspirations. As Paul Hanebrink describes in his article, “A Spectre Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism,” fascists used identity-based manipulation to tie historical anti-Semitic paranoia with contemporary anti-Bolshevik paranoia to unite masses of supporters against a common scapegoat.

Therefore, fascism’s ideological incoherence allowed it to adapt to different developments in order to reach its goals. However, this ideological incoherence also likely played a major role in all fascist movements’ ultimate failure. As mentioned in Ben-Ghiat’s text, the fascist movement of the 1920s and 1930s was a revolution manqué: every had a fascist label on it, but it all lacked true ideological substance beyond shared racist and xenophobic sentiments.

Sources:

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (University of California Press, 2004), pp. 17-45 and pp. 123-170.

Paul Hanebrink, A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism (Harvard University Press, 2018), pp. 1-10, 11-45.

Wrestling with a Myth

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.

Fascism and Internationalism

By Arianna Axe-Paterson

Nationalism is generally a term discussed in association with Fascism. Fascists tend to care about the prosperity and political unity of their own country and that countries people. Internationalism on the other hand is not something that I myself would directly associate with fascism. Internationalism implies that there is some kind of cooperation, more than likely political, between more than one country.  Though Ruth Ben-Ghait and David Motadel have allowed me to rethink the relationship between racism and Internationalism.  That Internationalism in relation to Fascism is calculated.

Ben-Ghait discusses how Mussolini efforts were to counteract the excessive individualism of Italians. Unity of political thought and ideology of Italians. The government in fascist Italy did this through the recruitment of intellectuals to study and go to other countries to see the weaknesses of their ideologies. An example being the freedom that women had in Russia. Or they would invite people into Italy to convince other intellectuals to join the Fascist movement. The promotion of the unity of other nation was not done with the intent that Internationalism would suggest, it was still for the benefit of Italy. To prove to the world the benefit of Fascism in Italy.

Motadel’s academic article focuses more on Nazi Germany. it discusses the rise in Anti-Colonial Nationalism in Germany during the Second World War. He points out that when Germany’s attempts at colonization failed they were in a position to call for the anti-colonization, which in turn aided them when looking for allies in the war. When the hope for an alliance with Britain failed, they could use Anti-colonization nationalist to mobilize with them against the countries that colonized them. This act of internationalism was done for the benefit of Nazi Germany during the war.

What is evident in both of these articles is that the fascist relationship with Internationalism was calculated and is utilized in a way that is very nationalist. Both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany promoted the idea of Internationalism for the success of their counties. It was a calculated decision because it would benefit the unity of ideology in each country. It was never about the unity of political ideology in other countries but about strengthening their own. Motadel’s New York Times article he says that “these alliances can be fragile and full of frictions,” while these calculated choices could be beneficial they can also show how damaging the conquest of internationalism within Fascism can be.

Works Cited

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. “Conquest and  Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945, (University of California Press, 2004), pp. 17-45.

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.

Motadel, David. “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism but they Depend on it,” The New York Times.com. The New York Times, July 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/the-surprising-history-of-nationalist-internationalism.html

Jewish Bolshevik? By Dimitrios Monette

While evaluating the Hannebrink reading I found myself struck by the intense and heavy amount of near comical ignorance and hypocritical nature of anti-Jewish speech and teachings. The Jews as a distinct religious people have found themselves constantly trod upon across the globe and of course in Europe as a whole. While we of course correlate the connection between antisemitism with the holocaust of the Nazi regime in the later 30’s and 40’s, it is intriguing to look just slightly farther back to view a world still so locked into what one might normally consider medieval beliefs of the Jewish peoples. Is it not hypocritical for a Christian like future Pope Pius to call the Bolshevik radicals leading the revolution that gripped the post war German city of Munich Jewish radicals? Are not they (and myself-included as a Greek orthodox believers) Jews of a different sect? It is interesting to note that while we might associate anti-Jewish sentiment with fascism of Nazism, which it should rightly be, it has also existed up right until before and likely after the rise of the Nazi regime during the second world war. The entire argument that the radical revolutionaries of the soviet ideology are inherently Jewish is a flawed one from the outset due to more traditional Jewish hatred propaganda and assumptions of the past, that being specifically the stereotype that Jews covet and crave large sums of money. While this might actually have some merit in the fact that Jews found themselves forced into the positions of bankers and lenders of money due to established Christian laws banning them from all other trades and work in Europe, this in itself destroys and notion that the Jews as a whole might be driven to lead a Bolshevik revolution. Why would the upper middle class wish to abolish their rights to individual property for the masses?  It is notable that some Jews did indeed embrace bolshevism, the key word being some “Some Jews embraced bolshevism in particular places at particular times… Poland, for example, 20-40 percent of the… Communist party in the 1920’s were individuals of Jewish origin. But only about 7 percent of Polish Jews voted for the Communist Party…”(21). I would argue this is due to the Jews being constantly viewed as an outside group, unwanted people and marginal. As a result, some Jews of course would pursue the embrace of am ideology so all encompassing as Communism, but so did many Catholics and Protestants alike. Ultimately the hatred and distrust of communism and its inherent ability to snake under the underbelly of great empires like that of Tsarist Russia and the city of Munich drove fear into the average people of europe, and looking to put a face to their attacker chose one they already disliked and found distaste in, the european jew. It is noted that “For centuries the paranoid belief that Jews performed bizarre religious rituals with fanatical and inhuman zeal resurfaced periodically…. Reinforcing religiously inspired connections to the idea that Jews were evil…”(30). It is simply easier to blame the bad guy you know, then to search for the true face of a supposed evil.