Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Left and Right and Antisemitism

In the wake of the USHMM shooting, and following on the heels of Jonah Goldberg's completely idiotic Liberal Fascism, there's been an attempt on the right to politicize the shooting by claiming the shooter was a Leftist. Many commenters have rightly expressed indignation at the stupidity of such arguments, including Leonard Zeskind in the interview on WNYC I linked to Friday.

Unfortunately, this is framed around Goldberg, which is to say that the debate is kind of beside the point in a discussion of antisemitism. Left and right are adequate for describing older variants of antisemitism, but a major political function of antisemitism is to organize coalitions during reorganization of the Left/Right divide. The USHMM shooter was a member of the far right, but in saying so, we're also saying that he's holding on to political arguments that aren't very relevant today. His kind of antisemitism is probably the most lethal to me today, but not tomorrow.

Here's Zeskind in an interview with Hatewatch:
More, the concepts of left and right have lost a lot of their explanatory power. Who’s on the left, who’s on the right, in Russia and Eastern Europe today? I can’t tell.
Also, from the same interview, and this is meaningful because people often mistake all revolutionary tendencies for Left revolutions:
Here’s the trick about spotting the transformation into a white revolutionary movement: The piece that makes them the most revolutionary is anti-Semitism, because it creates for them a ruling class. The invention of a fake ruling class transformed a reform-oriented conservative movement into a revolutionary movement. Jared Taylor [editor of the white nationalist journal American Renaissance], for example, does not embrace the anti-Semitic theories that William Pierce [late leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance] did. Taylor apparently worked in international finance at one point, and he doesn’t see himself as separate from that, despite the people railing at the banks and the Federal Reserve. It would be a mistake to call vanguardists and mainstreamers factions; they’re ideological tendencies, and they can both exist within a single organization.


ModernityBlog said...


Thanks for pointing me to these things, I would have missed them without your pointers.

Matt said...

Good, sometimes I worry everyone has already seen this stuff.