The Nature of Anti-Semitism {was Revolutionary Marxist Holocaust Denial?}

LeoCasey at LeoCasey at
Mon Jul 3 22:03:23 MDT 1995

In a message dated 95-07-03 22:39:32 EDT, Justin writes:
>I try to eschew abusive polemics, but Leo, this is pathetic.

You could have fooled me. Next time before you jump, try reading. I mean not
just a sympathetic, or open minded reading, but to bring things down to that
notion of the "material" you love so much, try reading my actual words on the
screen. As in...

I say...
>Rather, every group which find its way into the concentration camps >and the
ovens were forms of social and cultural difference that a >modern state in
its most virulent authoritarian form wanted to >eliminate. What the Jehovah
Witness and the gay man, the >Communist and Hasidic Jew, the gypsy and the
disabled person all >had in common...

And then you say...
>The various groups mentooneda s marked for extermination >pointedly do not
include, in Leo's listing, tarde unionist, Communist, >socialists...

Let me restrict myself to one more illustration, so as not to bore the list
to death. I made the point, against notions of anti-Semitism that were at
least implicitly ahistorical and essentialist, with a direct line of
continuity from the birth of Christianity to the Nazis, that there was an
important, radical break in the nature of anti-Semitism at the dawn of the
modern era. In your hands, this becomes...
>"Once upon a time there was history, but now there isn't any."
Am I wrong to understand this statement as an attempt to translate my account
of the modern break into the view that there is no history of anti-semitism,
racism, heterosexism, etc. after the start of the modern era? I don't see any
other way to read it, and I must say that this is such an absurd and bizarre
rendition of what I said, much less of what someone could reasonably impute
to my analysis, that I have to wonder what it was in what I did say that set
this off. (I have too much respect for your contributions to think that it
was a willful misrepresentation.)

So what is it that got your dander flying --
1. Is it that it is possible to give an historical account and a
non-essentialist explanation of non-class forms of oppression and their
relation to genocide and state authoritarianism while self-avowed orthodox
Marxists on the list find themselves reduced to using metaphors of 'satanism'
 to explain the same phenomena?
2. Or is it that my account of the Nazi state and the Holocaust places front
and center phenomena such as anti-Semitism when you are anxious to highlight
the class struggle traditionally understood?
3. Or is it that I refuse those comfortable distinctions between the
Stalinist and Nazi states, and find the distinctions you offer between the
two to be distinctions without differences? After pointing out the
relationship of the Stalinist state and its mass murder to national
minorities (from the Tartars to the Estonains and including the Jews, for
those who have forgotten the infamous 'Doctors Plot') and making such a
rhetorically heavy point regarding the political victims of the Holocaust,
 what exactly does it mean to claim that...
>Stalin terror was politiacl in a way taht Nazi terror was only ina
 >subordinate way?
Is this essential difference then nothing more than adding up the relative
proportions of vicitms who were political?
Could it not be that Arendt was right, and that the very power of the terror
of the Stalinist state lay in its often arbitrary and indiscriminate
character? After all, what percentage of the millions of dead are going to be
consumed when Stalin turns on the revolutionary leadership of the Bolsheviks?
On the other parties of the Left?

I won't use the same invective you did, but I can't sign off without
Really Justin, let's address the real issues.

Your favorite radical democrat, mired in the indigency of post-modernism
(whatever that is), Leo.

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