Antisemitism is integral to the European Left's anti-capitalist paranoia

“Auschwitz … meant that six million Jews were killed and thrown on the waste-heap of Europe, for what they were considered: money-Jews.” - Ulrike Meinhof, co-founder of left-wing terror group Red Army Faction


In 1843, Karl Marx, ancestrally Jewish but embarrassed of his ethnic and religious heritage, authored an essay titled “On the Jewish Question,” wherein he asserted that commercialism was the triumph of Judaism and that usury was the “object of the Jew’s worship.” Eighty years later, a man named Adolf Hitler transformed a small socialist group called the German Workers’ Party into the National Socialist Workers’ Party, and announced: “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system.” 


As we all know, the economically left-wing Hitler blamed Jews for Germany's economic woes and spewed hate-mongering propaganda that unfairly blamed Jews for Germany’s economic depression. Between 1937 and 1939, Jews increasingly were forced from Germany’s economic life. The Nazis either seized Jewish businesses and properties, or else they forced Jews to sell them at knock-down prices. The ‘cleansing’ of private property inevitably led to the ethnic cleansing of the Holocaust. 


Fast forward to 2017 and the intellectual air is thick with talk about combating capitalism, from philosophic paeans to Maoism in France to the British Labour Party's call for the seizure of property, which is part and parcel of the antisemitic class warfare politics that is increasingly prevalent in England. The self-appointed intellectuals of the Left, along with their apocalyptic-revolutionary brigands who roam the streets of London, may believe that they offer a critique of the capitalist system, but their critique is curiously banal, even reactionary, because it is intimately tied to hatred of Jews and Judaism, which is a classic antisemitic trope.


The antisemitism of the anti-capitalists is not simply incidental to their critique, it is essential. For the revolutionaries, Jews are the agents of capitalism, austerity, technology, individualism and the nation-state, all of the things loathed by the Left. And so the discomforting of British and European Jews as a prelude to the extermination of the Jewish homeland is the logic of the Left's distrust of capitalist democracy.


When in 1979, the Workers Revolutionary Party accused the British state of selling out the Palestinian Arabs to “Zionist money power," it seemed like nothing more than the obsessive rantings of a tiny bunch of nutjobs on the antisemitic Far Left. Worryingly, this kind of talk is now common parlance in the Labour Party, which may well take control of the country if the Conservatives’ grip on power continues to weaken. If the June 8th election result was bad for Conservatives, it was even more disastrous for Anglo-Jewry who will be hit hard by any incoming Labour administration led by Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Seamus Milne. 


True, the Jews may no longer be a less tolerated 'outside' group; instead they are now the ‘enemy within,’ conspiring to destroy the Left's utopian dreams of a universal order that excludes the not only private property but also the particularism of Judaism. Hence, the formation of the anti-capitalist, anti-Semitic coalition of Islamists, revolutionaries and reactionaries, who blame the Jews for just about everything. As in the 1930s, Jews are once again portrayed as an alien force that preys on gentiles through the capitalist system.


A case in point is Grenfell Tower tragedy in Kensington. Organisers of the annual Al-Quds Day parade in central London blamed the fire on "Zionists." Speaking through a loudspeaker at the front of the demonstration, a man said, "This demonstration calls on justice for Grenfell. Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party. Free, Free, Palestine!"


The absurd proposition that the inferno is the fault of Jews not only recalls not the rhetorical extravagances of Nazi and Soviet propagandists, it is redolent of an age-old English antisemitism that has never really gone away. The Grenfell accusation calls to mind J. A. Hobson (1858-1940), a left-wing polemicist and supporter of the Independent Labour Party, who blamed the Boer War on South African Jews, referring to them as “a small group international financiers” who were “devoid of social morality.” 


Part of the problem is that the Left has an infantile philosophy that views the world in crude binary terms: Israeli/Palestinian; rich/poor; fair/unfair; the West/Islam; war/peace; strong/weak. Israelis are seen as rich and powerful (despite the poverty of many Jews in Israel), while the Palestinians are viewed as poor, defenceless Muslims (which overlooks the fact that many Gazans are millionaires). This type of thinking, far from being progressive, is curiously blinkered and reactionary. It leads to situations where the Left finds itself speaking out in support of the diabolical regime in Tehran for the simple reason that the Supreme Leader has styled himself as a symbol of resistance against Zionism.


I used the word 'Zionism' rather than 'Israel' in the last sentence because (sadly) it has become the placeholder for all the world's irrational hatreds. The word ‘Zionism’ appears to have replaced the old term Weltjudentum or 'world Judaism,' propagated by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger (much beloved by left-wing European intellectuals) went on to argue that Western modernity is the product of 'world Judaism.' For Heidegger, antisemitism coincided with a strong resentment of American and English culture, which he saw as drivers of Machenschaft, usually translated as "machination" or "manipulative domination". This overlaps with the canard that Jews are conspiring to dominate the world through capitalism.


All of which brings me back to the opening quotation by Ulrike Meinhof, the notorious left-wing German terrorist of the 1970s, who described the six million victims of the Holocaust as “money-Jews.” She opined: “Finance capital and the banks, the hard core of the system of imperialism and capitalism had turned the hatred of men against money and exploitation, and against the Jews.” This kind of critique was the bread and butter of Meinhof's ideological cousins in the USSR, who had been conflating Zionism and capitalism since the 1950s. In the words of historian Paul Johnson, the Soviets “assembled materials from virtually every archaeological layer of anti-Semitic history, from classical antiquity to Hitlerism.” 


Since the collapse of Communism, left-wing groups such as Stop the War, BDS and the Palestinian/International Solidarity Movement continue the Marxist legacy of intellectually-acceptable anti-Semitism and thuggish violence. Books, articles and websites about Jewish lobbyists, Zionists and financiers continue to proliferate. Perhaps this explains why anti-Israel activists inside the BDS movement are so keen to disrupt Jewish businesses in Israel but also in the diaspora: Any company that has even the remotest connection with the Jewish state is seen as a permissible target because Jews are never just Jews, they are (in the words of Ms Meinhof) “money Jews.”


Europe is in bad shape and Britain is on the verge of something very nasty indeed. Anglo-Jews, whether they be in the urban heartlands of Manchester, London and Leeds, or the gentrified areas of south-west England, need to wake up and stop giving Labour a free pass at the voting booth, because only Jews on the very far left of the political spectrum - i.e. those who are immune from the ‘money Jews’ accusation - will be safe from the storm of anti-capitalist and antisemitic political violence that is brewing.