jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Fri Apr 28 20:57:32 MDT 1995
Bebel did indeed write on anti-semitism--I have found a piece called
Anti-Semitism and Social Democracy in German Essayts on Socialism in the
19th Century, F. Mecklenburg and M. Stassen, eds., The German Library,
Continuum 1990, pp. 264-268. The epigram does not appear to occur in this
On Fri, 28 Apr 1995, Tom Condit wrote:
> A couple of the recent topics on this list have merged in my mind
> in a rather disjointed way.
> Back to August Bebel, and anti-semitism as "the socialism of
> fools." I haven't been able to find any exact quote on this, but
> I'm more than ever convinced that it was Bebel. This isn't only
> because I've always heard it attributed it to him, but because of
> one of Bebel's particular roles in the 19th century German
> socialist movement.
> There existed in the German Social Democracy a faction or wing
> commonly known as the "South Germans" because of their
> geographical base and the milieu in which they functioned. They
> were the most reformist wing of the party, the one most concerned
> with recruiting peasants and shopkeepers as well as workers (this
> having to do with the weakness of the working class in areas such
> as Bavaria), and the one most inclined to blur the differences
> between the socialist movement and the various strands of
> populism, including anti-semitism. They were most receptive in
> the late 1890s to Edouard Bernstein's "revisionism", because it
> corresponded to their practice.
> The length and ferocity of Friedreich Engels' book ~Anti-Duhring~
> (and its general lack of resonance among anyone other than the
> immediate audience it was aimed at) is partly related to the fact
> that Eugen Duhring was very popular among these "South Germans"
> and in fact aspired to become the intellectual leader of both the
> socialists and the anti-semites.
> August Bebel was the national leader of the SPD who paid the most
> attention to the "South German" question as a living one. He
> pressed the party to adopt an agrarian program which addressed
> the real everyday concerns of the peasants, rather than its
> existing set of homilies about how all agrarian problems could be
> solved "after the revolution" as it were. He was the most
> uncompromising foe of Duhring and Bernstein. I'd conclude from
> this that he would be the most likely to have written on anti-
> The other thread which this touches in my mind is the question of
> anarchism and violence. Our anarchist comrades are quite correct
> to defend themselves from charges that they are advocates of
> indiscriminate violence like the right wing militias, that they
> want to create "chaos" as opposed to building an alternative to
> authoritarian "order". In fact, George Woodcock wrote an
> excellent little booklet in the 1940s called "Anarchy or Chaos?"
> in which he maintains that genuine social order can *only* be
> created by the abolition of the church, the state and capitalism.
> At the same time, anarchists have a tendency to be a little too,
> shall we say, libertarian not only in who they admit to their
> church but who they accept as having the gift of prophecy. One
> of the principle supporters of the "South Germans" was one Johann
> Most, who denounced Engels and Bebel as "splitting the movement"
> with their attacks on Duhring and the anti-semites. Most, as
> many unitedstatesians know, later became a famous anarchist
> leader in Chicago, advocating bombing and terrorism as necessary
> tools in "building the movement", and providing much fodder for
> the capitalist press in its generalized attacks on the left.
> Many anarchists today will still quote his mad ravings as if they
> were connected to the type of movement they want to build.
> I'm not sure if there's any ringing conclusion to be drawn from
> this, but it seems to me to indicate one of the dangers which
> flows from not staying focussed on the necessity of mass
> organization for social change, and certainly the anarchists are
> particularly prone to this because of the fear of many of them
> that organization implies "authority".
> Tom Condit
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