Bakunin's antisemitism

45 posts / 0 new
Last post
radicalgraffiti
Offline
Joined: 4-11-07
Aug 31 2016 14:26
Battlescarred wrote:
Radical Graffiti: "there was loads of anarchists in the 19th century, I dont remember hearing of Joseph Déjacque before, why are two of the most reactionary people to ever call themselves anarchists given prominence but not one of the first people to promote anarchist communism?" I've written about Dejacque to some extent here: https://libcom.org/history/prehistory-idea-part-two
thanks, i've been meaning to read that for ages, guess i better get started
Anarcho
Offline
Joined: 22-10-06
Sep 3 2016 11:38
It is fair to say that both Proudhon and Bakunin made anti-Semitic remarks, usually in passing. In terms of Proudhon (who is generally dismissed without actually reading his works), these comments are actually few and far between in his voluminous output. Indeed, you could read most of his major works and not come across any. As for the infamous "expulsion" comment, that is from his personal notebooks and were completely unknown until they were published after WWII. It should be noted that this was never repeated -- either publicly or privately. At his best, Proudhon could come out with comments like: Quote:
There will no longer be nationality, no longer fatherland, in the political sense of the words: they will mean only places of birth. Whatever a man’s race or colour, he is really a native of the universe; he has citizen’s rights everywhere. (General Idea of the Revolution)
As for Bakunin (who seems to be praised significantly more than Proudhon in spite of him repeating his ideas on many, many subjects -- probably because, as noted, Proudhon is dismissed without reading him), his anti-Semitic remarks are more significant in terms of number compared to output that Proudhon. But, again, they are generally made in passing -- Leier is right to note how few they are. For example, the anti-Semitic passages in Statism and Anarchy are a handful and completely irrelevant to the arguments being made. As for Draper, he was a charlatan -- more than happy to dismiss or downplay the racism of Marx and Engels while exaggerating that of Proudhon and Bakunin. Not a serious scholar, more a cheer-leader for Marxism -- and so unreliable when it comes to anarchism (to understate the matter). As for Marx and Engels, both made racist comments -- because, like Proudhon and Bakunin, they were products of their time. Engels, for example, argued for the ethnic cleansing of various Slav nations in the 1848-9 period ("non-historic peoples" and all that). According to Marx, the Jews had put themselves “at the head of the counter-revolution” and so the revolution had “to throw them back into their ghetto.” (just imagine if Bakunin had written that -- we would expect every Marxist writing about anarchism to quote it, but strangely Marxists don't consider this that important). Anyway, I discuss all this here (including Marx and Engels from 1848/9): Proudhon: Neither Washington nor Richmond In terms of sexism, Proudhon was a sexist prat. Bakunin, on the other hand, was a firm advocate of equality between sexes and wrote quite a bit on the subject. Ultimately, they -- Marx, Engels, Proudhon and Bakunin -- were products of their time and said stuff which was just wrong and often reflected the prejudices of the time. As Kropotkin noted in Ethics as regards Proudhon's work Justice in the Revolution and in the Church, "the three volumes... also contain two essays on woman, with which most modern writers will, of course, not agree". Which sums it up -- they were wrong on certain subjects, let us note that and move on. Ultimately, revolutionary politics should not be -- as some marxists seem to think -- a popularity contest. So what is some dead white guy with a beard was less bigoted than another? The question is whether these remarks reflect a core aspect of their ideas -- and they do not. And whether they are in contradiction with their core ideas -- and they are.
Arthur Cravan
Offline
Joined: 14-06-16
Sep 3 2016 17:37
For the source for the quote, see http://www.connexions.org/RedMenace/Docs/RM4-BakuninonMarxRothschild.htm which says it is to be found in Michael Bakunin, 1871, Personliche Beziehungen zu Marx. In: Gesammelte Werke. Band 3. Berlin 1924. P. 204-216. And also gives a slightly different translation.
shawnpwilbur
Offline
Joined: 11-05-09
Sep 3 2016 19:37
The modern question is obviously whether or not the personal bigotries of "classical" figures colored their anarchist and socialist theory in any significant way. Proudhon's anti-feminism, for example, was based on faulty biological assumptions and his social theory still pursued a kind of equality between men and women (even if the terms of the discussion are clearly a bit nonsensical), so it is not terribly hard to adjust for bad premises and come to much more interesting conclusions. Once you have made that critical adjustment, it is probably the case that his gender politics are more promising than, say, the kind of casual deference to presumably "natural" roles that we find some places in Déjacque. Proudhon's antisemitism plays such a small part in his writing that we're actually left guessing even quite who he meant by "the jews." The few other references in his early notebooks suggest the unfortunate convergence of some speculations on the economic life of nations and the attacks on him by Marx. (The later notebooks, which are about the only manuscript writings not readily available now, might hold some clarifications, but they also might not.) Things are complicated by the fact that even very directly antisemitic works, like Toussenel's Rois de l'époque, did not always clearly define their target. In the case of Toussenel's book, two different editions gave two very different definitions, so even when we have clear references to his work in other authors, we may be left with really large uncertainties about what is being argued. In Malthus et les économistes, Pierre Leroux goes into a long, ultimately not terribly clear explanation of what he does and doesn't mean by the term, but in the end his target seems to be capitalists. Toussenel made the explicit connection between capitalism as "féodalité financière" and "the juifs" as a people or race, but in much of the literature the relation is much fuzzier. In the case of Bakunin, there is probably more antisemitic material than we should be comfortable with, but it almost all appears in the context of his conflicts with Marx, Utin and others whom he felt had seriously wronged and slandered him. And much of it amounts to drafts of the same polemic against Marx and his circle.
jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Sep 4 2016 13:25
AndrewF wrote:
I think that quote may be Proudhon rather than Bakunin as it was the former who wrote about banks and tended towards that sort of virulent Jewish banking conspiracy nonsense. A lot of the uses of the quote are sourced back to Wikipedia but there is one that references it at http://www.therussophile.org/bakunin-on-the-jews.html/ to Mikhail Bakunin, 1907, ‘Oeuvres’, Vol. 5, 5th Edition, P. V. Stock: Paris, pp. 243-244 Which is online at https://openlibrary.org/books/OL22888320M/Oeuvres. I've little or no French but looking over the two referenced pages, 243-244 I don't see anything that looks like that paragraph, i.e. I can't see any mention of Rothschild which wouldn't be translated or political terms like communist or marxist. I wonder if the original use is a confusion made by a single author that has been reproduced over and over? Might be worth somebody with good French having a look at that link.
He's talking about nationalism, no mention of jews. I did a search on the text for jew, jews, rothschild etc (in French) and didn't find anything like the quotation. More importantly. It's no god or masters, if we quote or follow Bakunin Marx or whoever it's not because he is a great man of history or whatever, we agree with things that are logically argued and make sense. So when there is an analysis of society that brings out this idea of capitalism etc we read and accept it. If there's a whole bunch of racism in there too we ignore that as useless, we put a caveat against the person and we check that the racism doesn't influence the explanation/reasoning etc. We're not believers who have to swallow an entire ideology, we are people who have a view of society and what is wrong with it. We're not taking it on faith from some guy with a beard.
shawnpwilbur
Offline
Joined: 11-05-09
Sep 4 2016 19:53
Some version of the paragraph in question appears in two manuscript pieces, both from December 1871: "Lettre aux Internationaux de Bologne. Pièces explicatives et justificatives No. 1" and "Rapports personnels avec Marx. Pièces justificatives No. 2." Here are the two paragraphs, taken from the Collected Works CD-ROM: Quote:
Eh bien - tout ce monde Juif qui forme une seule secte exploitante, une sorte de peuple sangsue, un parasite collectif dévorant et organisé en lui même, non seulement à travers les frontières des Etats, mais à travers même toutes les différences des opinions politiques - ce monde est actuellement, en grande partie du moins, à la disposition de Marx d'un côé et des Rotschil de l'autre. - Je sais que les Rotschild, tout réactionnaires qu'ils sont, qu'ils doivent être, apprécient beaucoup les mérites du Communiste Marx; et qu'à son tour le Communiste Marx se sent invinciblement entrainé, par un attrait instinctif et par une admiration respectueuse, vers le génie financier des Rotschild. La solidarité juive, cette solidarité si puissante qui s'est maintenue à travers toute l'histoire les unit.
and Quote:
Eh bien, tout ce monde juif, formant une secte exploitante, un peuple sangsue, un unique parasite dévorant, <étroit> étroitement et intimement organisé, non seulement à travers les frontières des Etats, mais encore à travers toutes les différences des opinions politiques - ce monde juif est aujourd'hui en grande partie à la disposition de Marx d'un côté, des Rothschild de l'autre. Je suis# |10 sûr que les Rothschild d'un côté apprécient les mérites de Marx, et que Marx de l'autre sent un attrait instinctif et un grand respect pour les Rothschild.
There is more discussion of the Jews in the 1872 manuscript, "Aux compagnons de la Fédération des sections internationales du Jura." Much the same sentiment appears in the April 1, 1870 letter to Albert Richard. And if you dig around in the translated material on the Bakunin Library site you'll find a couple more passages of a similar sort.
Craftwork's picture
Craftwork
Offline
Joined: 26-12-15
Dec 15 2016 23:47
Proudhon's anti-semitism is absolutely incredible:
December 26, 1847: Jews. Write an article against this race that poisons everything by sticking its nose into everything without ever mixing with any other people. Demand its expulsion from France with the exception of those individuals married to French women. Abolish synagogues and not admit them to any employment. Finally, pursue the abolition of this religion. It’s not without cause that the Christians called them deicide. The Jew is the enemy of humankind. They must be sent back to Asia or be exterminated. By steel or by fire or by expulsion the Jew must disappear.
- from On the Jews, Proudhon, 1847. https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudhon/1847/jews.htm
Noah Fence's picture
Noah Fence
Offline
Joined: 18-12-12
Dec 16 2016 04:29
Craftwork wrote:
Proudhon's anti-semitism is absolutely incredible:
December 26, 1847: Jews. Write an article against this race that poisons everything by sticking its nose into everything without ever mixing with any other people. Demand its expulsion from France with the exception of those individuals married to French women. Abolish synagogues and not admit them to any employment. Finally, pursue the abolition of this religion. It’s not without cause that the Christians called them deicide. The Jew is the enemy of humankind. They must be sent back to Asia or be exterminated. By steel or by fire or by expulsion the Jew must disappear.
- from On the Jews, Proudhon, 1847. https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudhon/1847/jews.htm
Holy shit! Deicide!!! WTF!!! I don't think I've ever heard that allegation levelled at anyone.
acatnamedberkman
Offline
Joined: 8-01-17
Jan 8 2017 13:38
Marx's balancing act with regard to antisemitism was very complicated. He was simultaneously a victim, opponent and perpetrator of it, a classic self-hating Jew. Honestly this is a pretty predictable outcome of his upbringing. For his father, a lawyer and nominal convert to Lutheranism, Jewishness wasn't an identity so much as an irremovable taint and a lurking threat. Under Prussia's antisemitic laws, any hint that his conversion was insincere would be enough to get him disbarred, possibly tried for perjury. Karl grew up in a weird position: to any antisemite he could never be anything other than a Jew, but he lacked the cultural reference points to participate in the subculture starting to emerge of secular Jewish socialists. A lot of the antisemitic comments in his personal correspondence carry a tension between "I can make this possibly off color remark because I'm one of them" and "I really don't want people to think of me as one of them." As for his public comments, saying that Anarcho wrote:
According to Marx, the Jews had put themselves “at the head of the counter-revolution” and so the revolution had “to throw them back into their ghetto.”
is a pretty serious misinterpretation, but the full quote is still quite antisemitic Quote:
And as for the Jews, who since the emancipation of their sect have everywhere put themselves, at least in the person of their eminent representatives, at the head of the counter-revolution — what awaits them? There has been no waiting for victory in order to throw them back into their ghetto. In Bromberg the Government is renewing the old restrictions on freedom of movement and thus robbing the Jews of one of the first of Rights of Man of 17891 the right to move freely from one place to another.
on the surface, he is condemning the reactionary re-institution of oppressive legislation that had been abolished by the revolution.
David in Atlanta
Offline
Joined: 21-04-06
Mar 17 2018 12:01
freemind wrote:
Sam Dolgoff claims there is only one example of Bakunins antisemitism in his classic Bakunin on Anarchism and excused it by claiming he was under extreme provocation by Marx but he's wrong as Statism and Anarchy by Bakunin is laced with antisemitism.
Where? The word "Jew" does not appear and I don't see any of the usual "dog-whistle" references to bankers or that sort of thing. The editors of the major online Marxist archive don't mention it in their introduction.
doug
Offline
Joined: 10-02-12
Mar 17 2018 14:04
Read Statism and Anarchy recently, and freemind is right that antisemitism seems to pop up now and again, specifically when critiquing Marx and Lasalle. It distracts from and undermines good arguments. As the translator says in his introduction: Marshall Shatz (1990), p. xxx wrote:
Equally repellent, though less marked in this work than in some others, is Bakunin's anti-Semitism, which often appeared as a corollary to his anti-Germanism. Again, it is in part a weapon in his war against Marx. Not only was Marx himself Jewish as well as German, but some of those who helped him in his campaign against Bakunin were also Jewish. Bakunin's anti-Semitism, however, long antedated his conflict with Marx. It may be argued that such sentiments, however distateful, do not negate Bakunin's anarchist principles. It may also be argued that those principles are somehow deficient if even one so passionately committed to them was unable to surmount crude ethnic prejudices. The most that can be said for Bakunin is that he was hardly unique in this regard. In France, for example, socialist and anarchist writers and artists frequently employed stereotypical anti-Semitic images of the Jew as capitalist or banker, or simply as a crude synonym for "bourgeois." It should be noted also that Bakunin's consistent (though not uncritical) support and defense of the Poles - in regard to whom so many otherwise liberal Russians had a moral blind spot - was a remarkable example of adherence to principle.
Anselmo Lorenzo, the early Spanish anarchist wrote in his memoirs: from Wolfgang Eckhardt, The First Socialist Schism (2016), p. 509 wrote:
Bakunin’s resentment of Jews [...] ‘was contradicting our principles, principles that impose fraternity without distinction along race or religion and it had a distastefulness effect on me. I am obliged to tell the truth and I accept this at the cost of the respect and consideration that the memory of Bakunin deserves for many reasons.’ (Lorenzo, El proletariado militante, p. 186).
This kind of crap shouldn't put people off from reading Bakunin - and hopefully more English translations are on the way - because he was a really insightful writer.
meinberg
Offline
Joined: 12-10-11
Mar 17 2018 14:58
acatnamedberkman wrote:
Marx's balancing act with regard to antisemitism was very complicated. He was simultaneously a victim, opponent and perpetrator of it, a classic self-hating Jew. Honestly this is a pretty predictable outcome of his upbringing. For his father, a lawyer and nominal convert to Lutheranism, Jewishness wasn't an identity so much as an irremovable taint and a lurking threat. Under Prussia's antisemitic laws, any hint that his conversion was insincere would be enough to get him disbarred, possibly tried for perjury. Karl grew up in a weird position: to any antisemite he could never be anything other than a Jew, but he lacked the cultural reference points to participate in the subculture starting to emerge of secular Jewish socialists. A lot of the antisemitic comments in his personal correspondence carry a tension between "I can make this possibly off color remark because I'm one of them" and "I really don't want people to think of me as one of them." As for his public comments, saying that Anarcho wrote:
According to Marx, the Jews had put themselves “at the head of the counter-revolution” and so the revolution had “to throw them back into their ghetto.”
is a pretty serious misinterpretation, but the full quote is still quite antisemitic Quote:
And as for the Jews, who since the emancipation of their sect have everywhere put themselves, at least in the person of their eminent representatives, at the head of the counter-revolution — what awaits them? There has been no waiting for victory in order to throw them back into their ghetto. In Bromberg the Government is renewing the old restrictions on freedom of movement and thus robbing the Jews of one of the first of Rights of Man of 17891 the right to move freely from one place to another.
on the surface, he is condemning the reactionary re-institution of oppressive legislation that had been abolished by the revolution.
Now that this thread was resurrected, I have to point out, that Marx may have been an antisemite, but there is nothing antisemitic in this Marx quote, not even if you look behind the "surface" to see the antisemitism of this "self hating Jew". Here are links to Marx full article (in English and German), to understand the context: https://marxists.architexturez.net/archive/marx/works/1848/11/17a.htm http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me06/me06_024.htm Also Anarcho wrote in surprising sectarian bad faith, but I guess revolution, counter-revolution, tomato, tomato…
Anarcho
Offline
Joined: 22-10-06
Mar 24 2018 09:40
acatnamedberkman wrote:
As for his public comments, saying that Anarcho wrote:
According to Marx, the Jews had put themselves “at the head of the counter-revolution” and so the revolution had “to throw them back into their ghetto.”
is a pretty serious misinterpretation, but the full quote is still quite antisemitic
No it is not -- Marx is talking about "the Jews" being counter-revolutionaries and being thrown back into "their ghetto." I should note that Roman Rosdolsky had the same opinion (see "Engels and the 'Nonhistoric' Peoples). Still, at least he was not publically calling for the ethnic cleansing of whole people (mostly Slavs), like Engels was at the time. But, as you say, Marx is still being anti-semitic -- if Bakunin or Proudhon had written those words, Marxists would never tire of quoting them.
freemind
Offline
Joined: 10-10-08
Mar 25 2018 06:41
David in Atlanta! Towards the end of the book Dolgoff mentions his Anti Semitic remark and though I’m paraphrasing I recall The quote consisting of “Marx-on account of being a German and a Jew’ I suggest you re read your reference and in Statism and Anarchy the evidence is sadly numerous.