Translation of the antisemitic section of Bakunin's "Letter to Comrades of the Jura Federation"

Mikhail Bakunin.
Mikhail Bakunin.

This is one of the most antisemitic statements by Bakunin, written in 1872 in French, at the start of the text: "Aux Compagnons de la Fédération des Sections internationales de Jura". Another set of extracts from this text were previously posted here, but it didn't include the beginning of the text, which contains the antisemitic passages.
Let me know if something's wrong with this text or translation, because I don't claim to guarantee no mistakes on my part.

Submitted by Al Raven on April 28, 2021

libcom note: needless to say, the writing which follows is completely abhorrent, not to mention full of complete fabrications, racist conspiracy theories, falsehoods, etc. It is reproduced for historical reference only. Similarly, many other historical revolutionaries like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels also held abhorrent and racist views.

To the Companions of the Federation of International Sections of Jura

February-March 1872

Brothers and friends!

As you know, for more than two years, since the last Congress of the International held in Basle in September 1869, I have become the object of the most foolish and odious calumnies of the Socialist press in Germany, as well as in the organ of the Geneva Federation. the organ of the Geneva Federation, "L'Egalité", a paper which, after having been the serious representative of a serious socialism, fell into the hands of a little Russian Jew, a shameless liar and schemer if ever there was one.

It was a kind of unrestrained conspiracy, and to tell the truth, a dirty conspiracy of German and Russian Jews against me.

What did I do to deserve this honour? I ask myself this question to this day, and I confess that I would be I would be very embarrassed to answer this question. You who know me know that I have never done anything but devote myself completely, and without any ulterior motive of ambition, interest or or personal vanity, all my abilities and strengths, to the triumph of ideas and of a cause which we hold sacred. It was my right, as well as my duty.

I never attacked anyone personally. But I have energetically fought against ideas which I consider and false; and among these ideas, the one that I still repel today with all the passion, both instinctive and reflective, of which I am capable, is that unfortunate idea of of authority and political power which our opponents, no doubt sincerely convinced, but in my opinion very wrongheaded, try to transplant into the programme and the organisation of the International.

This is my crime, a crime of which I am not the initiator, as they have been kind enough to say, but an accomplice with you. This, then, is the crime of us all. And if our adversaries had contented themselves with attacking us in our anarchic ideas, we would certainly have nothing to reproach them. It would have been their right, as it is ours to defend and propagate our ideas.

Unfortunately for the International and for themselves, they were unwilling, unable, to resign themselves to this moderation which was imposed on them as much by the care of their own dignity and by justice, as by the supreme interest of our great Association, from which they expect, just as much as we do, the final deliverance of the proletariat. The sphere of ideas has seemed to them too impersonal, too pure; and as the proverb says: chase the natural, it comes back at a gallop. They needed mud. The mud, which, as we know, is the main ingredient of the Jewish-German polemic.

The Jews today form a real power in Germany. For a long time now, they have been sovereign masters in the banking business. But in the last thirty years or so, they have also succeeded in a kind of monopoly in literature - there is hardly a newspaper in Germany that does not have its own Jewish editor, and Journalism and Banking join hands, rendering each other valuable services.

It is a very interesting race, the race of the Jews! a forced emigration. And it was in the midst# |4 of this emigration that the cult of Jerusalem, the symbol of national unity, was formed and deepened in the hearts of the Jews, Nothing so unites as misfortune.

Dispersed and scattered throughout Asia, enslaved, despised, oppressed, but always intelligent, they formed more than ever a nation: the international nation of Asia and part of Africa. Torn from the land Jehovah had given them and no longer able to devote themselves to agriculture, they must seek another outlet for their passionate [intercalated: and] restless activity. This outlet could be none other than Trade; and thus the Jews became the trading people par excellence. In all countries they found their countrymen, victims like themselves of foreign oppression, despised, persecuted like themselves, and like themselves animated by a natural and deep-seated hatred against the conquering nations. This explains how in the long run there must have been formed among all the Jewish tribes scattered over Asia and Africa, among the Jews of all , a vast trading association, of mutual help and assistance, and of joint exploitation of all foreign nations; a people of parasites living on the sweat and blood of their conquerors.

The conquests of Alexander the Great and the final destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, in the reign of his father, the Emperor Vespasian, and the transportation <[ill.]> of more than a million Jewish slaves to Italy, necessarily spread them over Europe, and ended by imprinting upon them altogether that character of exploitative and narrowly national internationality which distinguishes them to this day. The cruel persecutions of which they were the victims, during the whole of the Middle Ages and in all countries, in the name of a God of justice and love, the only and very worthy son of their Jehovah, completed the determination of their tendency# |5 eminently hostile to the Christian populations of Europe. And as always and more than ever, they responded to stupid, cruel and iniquitous <[ill.]> oppression with relentless <[ill.]> exploitation.
With the Catholic Church and the Popes, [intercalated: shared the honour of having first guessed the omnipotence of money, and they centupled that power by creating that of credit. The first bills of exchange and bank notes were, as is well known, issued by Jews in Italy, and thanks to their relations with the Jews of all other countries, they soon spread throughout Europe. By the creation of credit the Jews gave a soul to international trade, which began to develop already from the twelfth century, and from the first they made themselves the almost exclusive masters of this soul.

With credit came, or rather developed, usury, that ever-bleeding wound of the noble owners first, and later of the agricultural population, to a frightening extent. In Western Europe there are still many countries where the peasants, whether owners or not, are literally devoured by the Jews; but it is especially in Eastern Europe, in the Slavonic and Hungarian countries of Austria, in the Grand Duchy of Posen in Prussia, in all Poland, Lithuania and White Russia inclusive, in Moldavia and Wallachia, that Jewish usury exercises its most ruthless and excessive depredations. So in all these countries the people hate the Jews. They hate them to the extent that every popular revolution is accompanied by a massacre of Jews: a natural consequence, but one which is in no way conducive to making the Jews supporters of the popular and social revolution.

It must therefore be said that the Jews in all our Eastern countries are essentially conservative. Since civilisation, as it exists everywhere today, means the learned exploitation of the labour of the masses of the people for the benefit of the privileged minorities, the Jews are unbridled supporters of Civilisation. And the great buraucratic and centralised States being both the consequence and the condition, and as the crowning achievement of this necessary exploitation of this tremendous exploitation, they are supporters anyway of the State. They naturally abhor the unleashing of the popular masses, and are not anarchists at all.

One thing also worthy of note is that in all the countries of Eastern Europe the Jews have adopted German as their national language; so that our Kosaks imagine very seriously that the Germans themselves are nothing but baptised Jews. The Jews thus became, as it were, the representatives and pioneers of German civilisation, of German order, discipline and state in these more or less barbaric countries of Eastern Europe: a valuable and powerful instrument which Mr. Bismark will certainly not disdain. When in 1848 the extremes, the noble landowner on the one hand and the working peasant on the other, the Jews obligatory intermediaries, exploiting, in a different way no doubt, both; and in the more civilised countries form a separate stratum which tends to be confused today more or less with the [intercalated: native] bourgeoisie, never with the people.

Even this mixture with the bourgeoisie of the country of their birth is rather apparent than real. At bottom the Jews of every country are really friends only with the Jews of all countries, regardless of all the differences which may exist between their social positions, their degrees of education, their political opinions and their religious cults. It is no longer the superstitious worship of Jehovah that constitutes the Jew today; a baptized Jew is no less a Jew. There are Catholic, Protestant, pantheistic and atheistic Jews, reactionary, liberal, even [inserted: Jews] democrats and [inserted: Jews] socialists. Above all they are Jews, and this establishes between all the individuals of this singular race, across all the religious, political and social oppositions [inserted: which separate them,] an indissoluble mutual union and solidarity. - It is a powerful chain, at once broadly cosmopolitan and narrowly national, in the sense of race, which links the kings of the Bank, the Rothschilds, or the most scientifically elevated intelligences, with the ignorant and superstitious Jews of Lithuania, Hungary, Rumenia, Africa and Asia. I do not think there is a Jew in the world today who does not flinch with hope and pride when he hears the sacred name of the Rothschilds.

The illustrious German statistician, Mr. Kolb, that there are at present about seven millions of Jews, <[ill.]> professing the Jewish religion, in the world. Add to this two or three millions of more or less baptized Jews, and we shall have a nation of ten millions which, though scattered over all the countries of the earth, remains more closely united than are [inserted: most] politically centralized nations. Is this not a formidable power? And this power has been created by more than twenty-five centuries of persecution, The broadest freedom alone will dissolve it; but to achieve this goal will take many centuries more.

The indelible character of the Catholic priest is spoken of.# |9 But far more indelible still is the Jewish type <, non>, not only in respect of its outward appearance, which strikes at first sight, but <[ill.]> also, and perhaps still more, from the point of view of faculties and intellectual and moral tendencies.

Broadly cosmopolitan and nationally narrow at the same time; this is the first feature. Bourgeois and exploitative from head to foot, and instinctively opposed to any real popular emancipation, that is the second. The natural consequence is that he is nevertheless a supporter of bourgeois civilisation, of the bourgeois order, of the domination of the Bank and of the powerful centralisation of States. It is not only out of self-interest, but also out of sincere conviction. Every Jew, however enlightened, retains the traditional cult of authority: it is the heritage of his race, the manifest sign of his Eastern origin.

Very realistic in his daily interests, the Jew is eminently idealistic in his innermost being. inwardly. Whether it is the terrible Jehovah or the golden calf, the scientific and abstract intelligence or the oppressive power of the state, he must worship some abstraction, especially since he is a the oppressive power of the State, he must worship some abstraction, especially as this abstraction abstraction is immediately transformed into a motive or pretext for exploiting the masses, that living flesh eternally sacrificed to the triumph of all religions, all abstractions and all states.

The Jew is therefore authoritarian by position, by tradition and by nature. This is a general law and one which admits of very few exceptions, and these very exceptions, when examined [intercalated: closely] confirm the rule, Revolt [inserted: source of all liberty,] is foreign to the genius of this people He has stigmatized [inserted: and cursed] it once and for all, in the figure of Satan. He has It has indeed sometimes risen up against Jehovah, but to worship the golden calf, the alter Ego, the necessary complement of Jehovah.

In this cult of authority and regulatory discipline, the Jews have been matched in Europe only by the German bourgeoisie. Passionate and convinced slaves, the bourgeois as well as the as well as the German nobleman willingly bow his head before their sovereign and before every public official, military and civil, the ostensible representative of the sovereign's power. The Jews, while paying obligatory homage to all the established powers in the countries where they live prefer to seek their authorities and leaders among the most powerful and intelligent men of their race. of their race. They deify them, adore them, which constitutes for the benefit of these leaders a real power.

The Jewish people, one of the most intelligent races on earth, have never lacked great intelligence. Not to mention the great anonymous persons of whom a few vestiges have come down to us under the names of Jesus Christ and the apostle St. Paul, and who gave a new religion to Europe, to consider [intercalated: only] the more modern times, we meet, in the XVIIth century, the beautiful figure of Spinoza, the last Jew persecuted by his race, and in the eighteenth century, that of Mendelssohn [inserted: the noble] friend of Lessing. Our own century is rich in illustrious Jews. In the first rank are undoubtedly the Rothschilds, the kings of kings, the the arbiters of peace and war in Europe. Next to them shine in the musical world the names of Meyerbeyer, Mendelssohn; in political literature and in poetry, those of Börne and Heyne. Finally in our day, the respectable leader of German radicalism, Jacoby, and [inserted: the eminent] socialist writer, the chief promoter of the International Workingmen's Association, Charles Marx. Few nations have produced so many remarkable men in so short a space of time.

What characterises the situation of these modern illustrations who honour our century is that far from being persecuted and crucified by their race, as their great predecessors, the Spinozas, the Jesus Christs, the apostles St. Paul, once were, they are on the contrary deeply respected, adored and glorified by it. And that with full justice, for they are powerful intelligences and do honour to their race.

But, beside these great minds, there is the small fry: an innumerable crowd of little Jews, bankers, usurers, industrialists, merchants, literati, journalists, politicians, socialists and speculators always. These resell in retail what the others produce in bulk, and live, like poor Lazarus, on the remains of the sumptuous table of their masters, of whom they are always the very humble and very adulatory subjects: a nervous and restless lot, driven by need on the one hand, and on the other by that ever restless activity, by that passion for transactions and by that instinct for speculation, as well as by that petty and vain ambition, which form the distinguishing traits of the race. It is they who have seized German Journalism today, and who swarm today like menial scorners in the Party of Socialist Workers' Democracy, to the great detriment of the proletariat of Germany. They are called the Maurice Hesses, the Borkheims, the Liebknechts and so many other more or less unknown names.

They have turned German journalism into an arena of mud. They know no other weapon than mud. Insinuations both cowardly and treacherous, odious and stupid lies, dirty slander - that is what constitutes their daily polemic. It seems that they feed only on rubbish, like some of the insects that run the streets in summer! Don't ask them for justice, honesty, or logic in their ideas. They know only adulation for some and insult for others.

One would think that such unspiritual and cowardly polemics could exert no influence on public opinion. But human nature is so made, that however stupid the evil that is said of a person, the majority of men accept it more readily than the good; and Don Basil, in Beaumarchais' Comedy, said it very well: "Calumniate always, there will always be something left of it," The public, absorbed in its daily cares, and lending to the noise that is made around it only a distracted ear, has neither the time nor the inclination to look into matters and things; and when it is repeated to him in every tone, and always, with that perseverance which characterises vile wickedness, such a one is a rascal, he has sold out, he is a traitor, he ends up believing it, without asking for further proof. This is what makes the strength of these filthy little Jews, and what makes them truly formidable, despite their obvious foolishness.

Individually taken, each of them is miserable, null, impotent. But they are a legion, and what is worse, a very well-disciplined legion, [intercalated: and] only waiting for the sign of master to <[ill. ]> throw [intercalated: all] their drool on the individuals designated to their rage; this always latent rage, this hatred without passion, without anger, but which is never so happy as when it is provided with the opportunity to manifest itself. Insulting and slandering is their life.

Such, my dear friends, is the pack whose persecutions I have had the misfortune to attract. What have I done to <[ill.]> deserve them? I assure you that I do not yet know. I suppose nevertheless that my Russian nationality contributed a lot to it. They are not# |13 [back of previous page] < legitimate country in my opinion - not [intercalated: for the representatives [intercalated: patented] of this science, [intercalated: not for the scholars] professors of Germany, of whom at least 90 out of 100 are the very self-interested hacks and theorists of the Pangermanic despotism. I have a sincere and deep sympathy for the proletariat of Germany, including both the rural and the urban workers, including also that portion of the very small bourgeoisie, which, seeing itself driven more and more into misery by the growing prosperity of industry, commerce and especially of the Bank, finds in itself even enough courage, spirit and heart to frankly embrace the cause of the proletariat.

I deeply respect this proletariat because it is in no way united with this unpleasant thing called the civilisation of Germany. It does not participate in any of its advantages, nor in its crimes, nor in its disgraces, it in it# |15 [back of previous page] it of their bones by the traditional fear, both amorous and superstitious of the authorities? Is not bureaucratic servility and military discipline the highest expression of their public existence? They have the religion of the state, and will gladly bear its [inserted: most] humiliating actions, all its burdens, provided it shows itself to be quite powerful outside, [inserted: i.e. quite threatening to the independence and freedom of neighbouring peoples.



3 years ago

In reply to by

Submitted by syndicalist on April 29, 2021

This is terrible.Offensive. And just shit. Oh, did I say I didn't like the read?

Red Marriott

3 years ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Red Marriott on April 30, 2021

On a similar theme;