Bakunin's antisemitism

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on August 25, 2016

so its well known that Bakunin was antisemetic, and this is a quote on Wikipedia used to illustrate this
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Bakunin#Antisemitism

This whole Jewish world, comprising a single exploiting sect, a kind of blood sucking people, a kind of organic destructive collective parasite, going beyond not only the frontiers of states, but of political opinion, this world is now, at least for the most part, at the disposal of Marx on the one hand, and of Rothschild on the other... This may seem strange. What can there be in common between socialism and a leading bank? The point is that authoritarian socialism, Marxist communism, demands a strong centralisation of the state. And where there is centralisation of the state, there must necessarily be a central bank, and where such a bank exists, the parasitic Jewish nation, speculating with the Labour of the people, will be found.

and this quote is often use by marxists to claim that Bakunin's opposition to the state was based on anti-Semitism, and therefore anarchism is based on antisemitism, while anarchists typically acknowledge Bakunin's anti-Semitism, but claim it was actually in opposition to the majority of his politics.

The references for this quote on Wikipedia are slightly odd, i cant actual find a source for Bakunin's quote in them, which is strange, and leads me to the question: is this actually a quote from Bakunin and if so where is it from? and if its not not what are actual antisemetic quotes from Bakunin? I feel that anarchists are typically vary dismissive of Bakunins antisemitism, dispite the fact that we are not bakninists and we could do with more clearly acknowledging his flaws and putting a bit less emphasis on him

freemind

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.
In the initial stages of Anarchist and Socialist thought a prevailing notion was that all Jews were involved with money.As the ideologies matured this misunderstanding was modified and the pin striped suit cigar smoking curve nosed stereotype was consigned to the rubbish bin of history.
As some revolutionaries were antisemitic some were misogynists and homophobes etc but they were victims of their times and their lack of foresight.Ideologies mature and evolve with time so it was inevitable that some reactionary attitudes would reside in comrades until they were able to confront and purge themselves of them.

Auld-bod

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I pretty well agree with freemind #2, though in the last paragraph I’d substitute the word ‘product’ for ‘victim’. The victims of the time were the Jews, etc., who bore persecution for being themselves.

It seems strange to me, that some ‘intellectuals’ prefer the symmetry of their theoretical explorations, rather than assimilating the evidence before their eyes. Did Bakunin never meet a working class Jewish cobbler, tailor, etc.?

potrokin

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Proudhon was also anti-semitic aswell as sexist and I have heard that Bakunin was rather misogynistic, though I've not seen any evidence for that, I can believe it though considering the times we are talking about..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Joseph_Proudhon

Stewart Edwards, the editor of the Selected Writings Of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, remarks: "Proudhon's diaries (Carnets, ed. P. Haubtmann, Marcel Rivière, Paris 1960 to date) reveal that he had almost paranoid feelings of hatred against the Jews, common in Europe at the time. In 1847 he considered publishing an article against the Jewish race, which he said he "hated". The proposed article would have "called for the expulsion of the Jews from France... The Jew is the enemy of the human race. This race must be sent back to Asia, or exterminated. H. Heine, A. Weil, and others are simply secret spies. Rothschild, Crémieux, Marx, Fould, evil choleric, envious, bitter men etc., etc., who hate us" (Carnets, vol. 2, p. 337: No VI, 178). [59]

His diary entry dated 26 December 1847 states: 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.[59]

In an introduction to Proudhon's works Iain McKay, author of 'An Anarchist FAQ' (AK Press, 2007),[60][61] cautions readers: "This is not to say that Proudhon was without flaws, for he had many."

He was not consistently libertarian in his ideas, tactics and language. His personal bigotries are disgusting and few modern anarchists would tolerate them – Namely, racism and sexism. He made some bad decisions and occasionally ranted in his private notebooks (where the worst of his anti-Semitism was expressed). While he did place his defence of the patriarchal family at the core of his ideas, they are in direct contradiction to his own libertarian and egalitarian ideas. In terms of racism, he sometimes reflected the less-than-enlightened assumptions and prejudices of the nineteenth century. While this does appear in his public work, such outbursts are both rare and asides (usually an extremely infrequent passing anti-Semitic remark or caricature). In short, "racism was never the basis of Proudhon's political thinking" (Gemie, 200-1) and "anti-Semitism formed no part of Proudhon's revolutionary programme." (Robert Graham, "Introduction", General Idea of the Revolution, xxxvi) To quote Proudhon: "There will no longer be nationality, no longer fatherland, in the political sense of the words: they will mean only places of birth. Man, of whatever race or colour he may be, is an inhabitant of the universe; citizenship is everywhere an acquired right." (General Idea of the Revolution, 283)
— Iain McKay, "Property Is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology. AK Press UK – Edinburgh, 2011" p. 36

Nevertheless, while racism was not overtly part of his political philosophy, Proudhon did express sexist beliefs. He held patriarchal views on women’s nature and their proper role in the family and society at large. In his Carnets (Notebooks), unpublished until the 1960s, Proudhon maintained that a woman’s choice was to be “courtesan or housekeeper...” To a woman, a man is “a father, a chief, a master: above all, a master.” His justification for patriarchy is men’s greater physical strength. And he recommended that men use this greater strength to keep women in their place. “A woman does not at all hate being used with violence, indeed even being violated.” In her study of Gustave Courbet, who painted the portrait of Proudhon and his children (1865) – art historian Linda Nochlin points out that alongside his early articulations of anarchism Proudhon also wrote and published "the most consistent anti-feminist tract of its time, or perhaps, any other," La Pornocratie ou les femmes dans les temps modernes, which "raises all the main issues about woman's position is society and her sexuality with a paranoid intensity unmatched in any other text." (Nochlin, Courbet. Thames & Hudson, 2007. p. 220, note 34)

Proudhon's defenses of patriarchy did not go unchallenged in his lifetime; Joseph Déjacque attacked Proudhon's anti-feminism as a contradiction of anarchist principles. Déjacque directed Proudhon "either to 'speak out against man's exploitation of woman' or 'do not describe yourself as an anarchist.'" (Jesse Cohn "Anarchism and gender" in: The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest. Immanuel Ness (Ed.), 2009)

Serge Forward

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

potrokin

I have heard that Bakunin was rather misogynistic, though I've not seen any evidence for that

From my reading the opposite is true and Bakunin was possibly the least misogynistic of all your old-time beardy revolutionaries at the time and for many years after. Proudhon, on the other hand, was misogynistic and supposed to be pretty unpleasant in other areas too.

freemind

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Proudhon was easily the most malevolent inconsistent bigot to exist within Anarchist thought.I find him and his Mutualist standpoint more redolent of neocapitalist/psuedoI libertarianism than Anarchism.A nasty bastard that Bakunin claimed was "the master of us all" Well no one is perfect

Gulai Polye

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Take what you can use and discard the rest

Like if someone says anarchism is good and then he also says the jews are evil, then take the part where he said anarchism is good and discard the part where he said jews are evil.

You dont have to take the whole package

Khawaga

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, it's not as easy as that...

Serge Forward

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Aye, it's hard to do with Proudhon, who had so many despicable personal and ideological characteristics that makes it very difficult to extract the diamonds from the dogshit. With Bakunin, a declassé aristocrat from what then was possibly the most anti-Semitic country on the planet, the fact that so many of his ideas were brilliant in spite of all this means it's easier to separate off some of his more unpleasant comments without being an apologist for his prejudices. The same goes for Marx and Engels - some of their comments about Ferdinand Lassalle were appalling.

Gulai Polye

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

Well, it's not as easy as that...

Well if you have faith in authority...

Proudhon and Bakunin didnt so they probably expected others to have the same independent mind. B and P always expected their readers to have a critical mind and not be blind followers.

In the end one can say its what you do that counts and not what you say or think. And i havent heard about P. or B. doing anything bad to someone just becuase they were a jew?

Gulai Polye

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For those who are interested in the subject can read more here:
http://reasoninrevolt5.blogspot.dk/2012/10/anti-semitism-and-anarchism.html

In conclusion, Proudhon, Bakunin as well as Marx were products of their social enviroment and their ideas reflected this. Their anti-Semitic views should be given context and not used as Ad hominem attacks against their ideas as revolutionaries.

Gulai Polye

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Germany
§ 130 Incitement to hatred
In Germany, Volksverhetzung ("incitement of the people")[29][30] is a concept in German criminal law that bans incitement to hatred against segments of the population.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial#Germany

I wonder if it would be illegal in Germany to quote some of the text written by anarchists due to § 130?

freemind

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Words do count as that's how you propagate your view and explain your actions!They have to be consistent or your a hypocrite,flawed or false.

Gulai Polye

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

freemind

Words do count as that's how you propagate your view and explain your actions!They have to be consistent or your a hypocrite,flawed or false.

Yeah but i see a lot of politicians saying stuff like we will lower the taxes, and then when the words have to become actions their will raise the taxes instead and vice versa etc etc..

Auld-bod

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gulai Polye #14

‘freemind wrote:
Words do count as that's how you propagate your view and explain your actions!They have to be consistent or your a hypocrite,flawed or false.

Yeah but i see a lot of politicians saying stuff like we will lower the taxes, and then when the words have to become actions their will raise the taxes instead and vice versa etc etc..’

So you are in fact agreeing with freemind, as most politicians are demonstrably liars and hypocrites. Are you also bracketing Proudhon and Bakunin with them - after all by your account they wrote about the ‘bad Jews’ though never acted upon their beliefs?

Sometimes your posts point in all directions.

Gulai Polye

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Auld-bod

Gulai Polye #14
So you are in fact agreeing with freemind, as most politicians are demonstrably liars and hypocrites. Are you also bracketing Proudhon and Bakunin with them - after all by your account they wrote about the ‘bad Jews’ though never acted upon their beliefs?

I think P and B together with many politicians are making a promise or a desire born out of an unrealistic perception of reality. An unrealistic perception that is easy to carry as long as you are deprived from power. But when you get power, for anarchists in unity with others, you are going to face that reality. People seldom know enough about how things work, but they will gladly make promises, because its "free".

For politicians they get to face the reality that there are no support in the population for the politics they want to enact despite being voted into power.

For anarchists they get to face the reality that solidarity must be strong from all the workers to all the workers no matter anyone's religious background if the old system have to crumble and give away to anarchism and socialism.

Entdinglichung

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gulai Polye

Germany
§ 130 Incitement to hatred
In Germany, Volksverhetzung ("incitement of the people")[29][30] is a concept in German criminal law that bans incitement to hatred against segments of the population.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial#Germany

I wonder if it would be illegal in Germany to quote some of the text written by anarchists due to § 130?

simply to quote it is not banned:

the law requires that said speech be "qualified for disturbing public peace" either by inciting "hatred against parts of the populace" or calling for "acts of violence or despotism against them", or by attacking "the human dignity of others by reviling, maliciously making contemptible or slandering parts of the populace".

the antisemitic letters of Bakunin are included in editions of Bakunin's works in German translation which are freely available

S. Artesian

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gulai Polye

Khawaga

Well, it's not as easy as that...

Well if you have faith in authority...

Proudhon and Bakunin didnt so they probably expected others to have the same independent mind. B and P always expected their readers to have a critical mind and not be blind followers.

In the end one can say its what you do that counts and not what you say or think. And i havent heard about P. or B. doing anything bad to someone just becuase they were a jew?

This whole Jewish world, comprising a single exploiting sect, a kind of blood sucking people, a kind of organic destructive collective parasite, going beyond not only the frontiers of states, but of political opinion, this world is now, at least for the most part, at the disposal of Marx on the one hand, and of Rothschild on the other... This may seem strange. What can there be in common between socialism and a leading bank? The point is that authoritarian socialism, Marxist communism, demands a strong centralisation of the state. And where there is centralisation of the state, there must necessarily be a central bank, and where such a bank exists, the parasitic Jewish nation, speculating with the Labour of the people, will be found

Fuck no, nothing wrong with that. That quote from Bakunin certainly can't be considered as doing anything bad to someone just because he/she is Jewish, right?

What? Hitler said the same thing? Pure coincidence. You know, infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters, and eventually you'd get two of them typing out.......Mein Kampf.

And I just love this:

In conclusion, Proudhon, Bakunin as well as Marx were products of their social enviroment and their ideas reflected this. Their anti-Semitic views should be given context and not used as Ad hominem attacks against their ideas as revolutionaries

Hmmh.......let's try this: "In conclusion, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Calhoun, Clay, etc. etc. were products of their social environment and their ideas reflected this. Their pro-slavery views, and actions, and commercial enterprises should be given context and not used as ad hominem attacks against their ideas as advocates of democracy."

Fuck that bullshit, and bullshit it is. Marx, Proudhon, and Bakunin were critical of the dominant ideologies, and relations of their time. If they didn't exercise their critical facilities when it can to the dominant ideology of anti-semitism, it's not a result of their "social environment." It's a failure to think critically.

jesuithitsquad

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yup-- they certainly weren't "victims."

factvalue

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bakunin biographer Mark Leier said the following in a Black Flag (no. 229) interview :

Bakunin's anti-Semitism has been greatly misunderstood. At virtually every talk I've given on Bakunin, I'm asked about it. Where it exists, it is repellent, but it takes up about 5 pages of the thousands of pages he wrote, was written in the heat of his battles with Marx, where Bakunin was slandered viciously, and needs to be understood in the context of the 19th century.

EDIT: Leier's is a much better book than Wheen's bullshit biography of Marx btw.

AndrewF

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

Noa Rodman

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It is quoted in Draper's vol.4 of Theory of revolution, giving references. It seems these Bakunin documents only surfaced decades after his death, obviously his fans were trying to cover it up.

AndrewF

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Whats the reference Draper gives, that could very easily close the question as once you post it we can find that text and confirm its presence.

I'm asking you to be specific because It's quoted all over the place, as far back as 1923 but I've not yet found the actual Bakunin piece and the one place I found an attempt to cite it doesn't actually contain it. That's alongside with the fact that none of the other references actual reference a specific Bakunin text is pretty suspicious.

At this stage I suspect this is an error or a smear made at some point that has grown through circular repetition into something that seems to have a huge amount of evidence except for an accurate link to something he wrote. But as above once you post the Draper reference my suspicion will be disproved, providing it leads us to an actual Bakunin text.

factvalue

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's in the footnotes to his 'Special Note B (to chapter six): Bakunin and the International: A "Libertarian Fable."'

Draper writes that it's in the Archives Bakounine:

'66. Bakunin: Lettre aux Int. de Bologne, in Archives Bakounine, 1.2:109 (for the extract and more), also 110, 111, 115f.'

radicalgraffiti

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

freemind

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.

i haven't read much by bakunin, i will try to read that
S. Artesian

Hmmh.......let's try this: "In conclusion, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Calhoun, Clay, etc. etc. were products of their social environment and their ideas reflected this. Their pro-slavery views, and actions, and commercial enterprises should be given context and not used as ad hominem attacks against their ideas as advocates of democracy."

Fuck that bullshit, and bullshit it is. Marx, Proudhon, and Bakunin were critical of the dominant ideologies, and relations of their time. If they didn't exercise their critical facilities when it can to the dominant ideology of anti-semitism, it's not a result of their "social environment." It's a failure to think critically.

i preaty much agree with this, especially in light of things like this

potrokin

Proudhon's defenses of patriarchy did not go unchallenged in his lifetime; Joseph Déjacque attacked Proudhon's anti-feminism as a contradiction of anarchist principles. Déjacque directed Proudhon "either to 'speak out against man's exploitation of woman' or 'do not describe yourself as an anarchist.'" (Jesse Cohn "Anarchism and gender" in: The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest. Immanuel Ness (Ed.), 2009)

and the claims that bakunins fans covered up his anti Semitism, i mean you dont hide stuff if you think its fine

yes Joseph Déjacque is talking about about misogyny not anti Semitism but it shows how bigotry was not universally accepted

why is it that anarchists have attempted to produce a marxist style procession of faces?

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 cant help thinking the focus on proudhon and bakunin is because it advances the narrative that anarchism is "Great Idea" developed by a series of "Great Thinkers"

Khawaga

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Good post radicalgraffiti. The procession of faces comment is spot on.

Battlescarred

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The anarchist Rudolf De Jong in his THe Anarchist Debate on Anti-Semitism wrote:
"Nettlau, writing about the anti-Semitism of Bakunin (introduction to the German edition, Werke III), thought that if his hero had lived longer and had seen the Jewish socialist movement, he might have written in a different way on the Jews. Silberner is not convinced by this remark, and neither.am I.

It was also said, trying to excuse Bakunin, that we must consider the time and the personal history of Bakunin, son of a great landowner who made a career in the Russian army. Butnot anti-Semitic at Alexander Herzen nor Peter Lavrov, contemporary with Bakunin, Russian revolutionaries also born into the aristocracy and high society are not anti-Semitic . On the contrary: "Why speak of Jewish races? "Herzen wrote in a letter to Bakunin, after receiving the manuscript written against Moses Hess (one finds the letter in their correspondence).

Peter Kropotkin, also a Russian aristocrat and military officer of the tsar, was free of anti-Jewish prejudice, and he always made an appearance in protests against the pogroms and anti-Semitism.

An observation: when Bakunin speaks of "German Jew", the adjective "German" is as pejorative as the word "Jew"!"

Battlescarred

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Without letting Bakunin off the hook at all, it should be remembered that the letters of Marx and Engels were riddled with anti-Semitic remarks, as well as other misogynist and racist remarks including against Slavs and black people.

2 W

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It does beg the question though what was it about 'those times' that meant some of Europe's leading critical thinkers failed to have a goose at their own prejudices?

It's as though the white bourgeoisie were bougie by choice but all Jewish people were assigned bourgeoisie by birth. Maybe it was Western imperialism mixed in with white chauvinist supremacy that even when calling for freedom of all, these thinkers saw the white man's ideas on freedom for all as the best kind of freedom for all.

Either way I don't think their politics can be divorced from their politics and it's useful for us to ask how did these great minds and their great ideas fail to puncture the skin bags of patriarchy; racism, and anti-semitism. Equally it would be good to look at those whose ideas and thoughts did manage to do it or if any of these minds changed their thinking.

That way hopefully the yoth of t'day, instead of turning round to me in a few years and saying "2W you are a hateful, prejudiced, old fashioned, stuck in the times, wanker." will just call me wanker.

Karetelnik

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Concerning Bakunin's polemic with Moses Hess, mentioned above, Wolfgang Eckhardt's comments are worth a look:

Hess went into even more detail in his peculiar analysis of the events in Basel in a two-part article that appeared as promised in the Parisian newspaper Le Réveil at the beginning of October 1869 under the headline ‘Collectivists and Communists at the Basel Congress’ (‘Les collectivistes et les communistes du congrès de Bâle’). Bakunin heard about Hess’s campaign from the big Parisian newspaper and immediately began writing a response. This grew into the extensive manuscript ‘To the Citizen Editors of the Réveil’, which remained unprinted in his lifetime.

Bakunin began this manuscript with an outburst of anti-Jewish resentments, which strangely enough often appear in connection with his anti-German mentality – beginning with his row with Marx, who in his ‘threefold character as communist, German and Jew’ had always been just as suspicious to him as Hess and other supporters of Marx’s campaign against Bakunin in the International. In fact, the conflict in the International seems to have set off Bakunin’s anti-Jewish resentments, which emerged for the most part between 1869 and 1874 – i.e. during his feud with Marx. This resentment, which can be seen in various polemics and disparaging remarks, runs contrary to the anarchist ideas for which Bakunin became famous. It has thus been argued that Bakunin’s anti-Jewish gaffes should be considered separately from his political arguments. On the other hand, one must ask oneself how such a passionate advocate of freedom and self-determination like Bakunin could cultivate such crude prejudices? One possible explanation is that Bakunin resorted to deep-seated patterns of reasoning in the heat of the argument, which he learned from his family and during his socialisation in the Russian feudal aristocracy. The outbursts might even represent a commonplace anti-Jewish (and ostensibly anti-capitalist) sentiment, which a wide variety of European socialists – from Fourier, Leroux and Blanqui to Marx – shared in the 19th century. In this respect, it would be interesting to study how much the zeitgeist of the 19th century and family and social-psychological influences were responsible for Bakunin’s anti-Jewish clichés, in order to find out whether these statements are compatible with other more coherent positions – for example when he vehemently called for ‘respect for freedom of conscience’, ‘Absolute freedom of conscience and worship’ and ‘Absolute freedom of religious associations’.

See Wolfgang Eckhardt, The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men's Association (Edmonton, 2016), p. 26; http://goo.gl/u6JMMm

Battlescarred

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

radicalgraffiti

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

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

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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:

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

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AndrewF

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

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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:

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

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

5 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

5 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Craftwork

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

5 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

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

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

4 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

freemind

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

4 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

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:

[quote=from Wolfgang Eckhardt, The First Socialist Schism (2016), p. 509]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).[/quote]

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

4 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

acatnamedberkman

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

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

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

4 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

acatnamedberkman

As for his public comments, saying that
Anarcho

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

4 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.