Revolutionary Marxist Holocaust denial?

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Sat Jul 1 20:25:59 MDT 1995

The debate around the question of whether Nasi antisemitism was
essentially economic or has an economic explanation sems a good place to
bring up Jon Elster's point that just because something, asy antisemitism,
has a function, say diuviding the working class or distracting it from its
real enemies, doesn't mean that that function expolains why it occurss or
takes the form it does. The function may bean unintended effect of the
phenomenin in question.

Nazi antisemism is a complex phenomenon. It tapped into, ans in some ways
derives from, long-term Christain Jew-hating that goes back to the middle
ages. Some of this may be partly economic in origin--Jews being seen as
nonproductive immediate exploiters (mucha s with Black anriu-semitism
today--which is real, though of course not genocidal). But as Leo would
rightly emphasize such attitudes trake on a cultural life of their won and
get acrried over even places like Spain where there had been no Jews for
generations. Some of the Nazi attitude derives from cynical exploitation
of such popular attitudes by politicians who only ahted Jews where it was
convienient, like the 19th c mayor of Viennia (where Hitler grew up), Karl
Leuger. "Who is a Jew, I decide," he said. Some of was the fanaticism of
true beluevers who put the Jewish mance first--Hitler seems to have been
one of these, and his personal views are important given his role as
Fuehrer. A great deal of the genociadl impulse, though, may be due to
bureaucratic rationalization, acts carried out by people who themselves
had no strong feelings of prejudice nor any cynical desire to exploit the
prejudices of others. Several death camp commonaddants--Hoees of
Auschwitz, Stangl of Treblinka--seem to have been petty bureaucrats who
just were following orders. Hannah Arendt is good on this.

One the machinety of mass exrermination was set up, it dis take ona  life
of its own hich superceded even military rationality ans impeded the
survival of the Nazi state--how can one understand the use of vast
resources, trains, equipoment, ewtc, being devoted to extermination of the
Jews through 1944-45, when the Nazis were fighting for survival? This had
nothing to do with propping up capitalism.

On the psycho=sexual roots of Nazi antisemitism (with ties to to
antifeminisn and anticommunism), I like Klaus Theweleit's brilliamt book,
Male Fantasies (Minnesota, two vols), a study of the literature of the
proto-Nazi Freikorps just after the war. Even the anticommunism of Nazism
can;t be understood fully rationally, as a capitalist response to the
poewer of the working class.

--JUstin Schwartz

On Sat, 1 Jul 1995, aniello margiotta wrote:

> >Actually, when trying to "get my mind around" the Holocaust, I often ending
> >up falling back on terms like "insane" or even "satanic".  I know this
> >represents a failure of analysis.  But I don't think Jim or Nello have
> >captured it here, either.
> >
> >-- Matt D.
> Nello:
> it's surely difficult and superficial to analize nazism' antisemitism and
> other racist attitudes in few words, and I am far to make it but I think the
> history of Europe is full of periodical persecutions of jews and always it
> has been an political- economical reason ( the expulsion from Spain in 1492
> for exemple) and so we need a political valutation of this phenomena because
> to consider "satanic" nazism don't help us to understand how the
> "democratic" capitalism can use this means when it serve.( the play can
> escape away from the hands of pupper-showmen)
> Nello
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