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Socialism of Fools

Capitalism and Modern Anti-Semitism

Socialism of Fools by Michele Battini
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Michele Battini targets the critical moment in which anti-Jewish stereotypes morphed into a sophisticated, modern social anti-Semitism. Carefully analyzing obscure texts, Battini recovers the potent, anti-Jewish anticapitalist propaganda that cemented the idea of a Jewish conspiracy in the European mind, despite ample evidence to challenge it. The Jewish conspiracy myth proved to be a significant political event in Europe, powered by anti-Semitic language and imagery that turned reality on its head. Battini’s investigation is crucial to understanding the atrocities that characterized the Jewish experience in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and continue to threaten the welfare of Jews today.

Beginning in the eighteenth century, counter-Enlightenment intellectuals and intransigent Catholic writers singled out Jews for conspiring to exploit self-sustaining markets and the liberal state. With the old enemies of Christianity now assimilating into society, these opinion makers warned, Jews could draw on their vast financial resources to plot in secret against the state.

Toussenel and Proudhon spread these ideas among socialist and labor movements in the nineteenth century, and their conspiracy theories only intensified during the Long Depression of the 1870s. Anti-Jewish anticapitalism then migrated to Western Europe: in the Habsburg Empire with the Christian Social Party; in Germany with the Anti-Semitic Leagues; and in France with the nationalist movements. It also landed in Italy, where Revolutionary Syndicalists made anti-Jewish anticapitalism the basis of an alliance with the nationalists, laying the foundation for Mussolini’s ideology. Battini’s unique timeline sheds light on the origins of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as well, the infamous document that leaked” Jewish plans to take over of the world. Anti-Jewish anticapitalist propaganda informed the creation of that pamphlet, and its inversion of reality nurtured a perverse relationship to historical and judicial truth still with us today.
Columbia University Press; Read online
Title: Socialism of Fools
Author: Michele Battini
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