good text on the history of the "Anti-Germans"

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georgestapleton's picture
georgestapleton
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Apr 4 2012 13:35

Ok I have a question....

I generally find the Postone explanation of the holocaust pretty persuasive. I don't think it 'explains' the holocaust. I think Angelus Novus is right that to do that you need to look at the "genealogy of specific racialist discourses, disciplinary practices, the persistence of the Ancien Régime in Europe, and the contingent balance of class forces between 1914-32". But I think in understanding the nature of anti-semitism as a specific racialist discourse and how that enabled the rationality of the concentration camps I think Postone is pretty interesting and insightful.

Now the question....

But one problem I have with postone is that while his theorisation of antisemitism and the holocaust is interesting I don't think it works for the Porajmos - the Roma genocide. I was wondering if anyone had any incites on this or could let me know what is said in Germany on this question. I assume it has been discussed.

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Apr 4 2012 13:36

I'm sorry, it still sounds like "Deutschland über alles" to me.

edit: in relation to lettersjournal posts, not GeorgeS.

Angelus Novus
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Apr 4 2012 14:31
georgestapleton wrote:
I generally find the Postone explanation of the holocaust pretty persuasive. I don't think it 'explains' the holocaust. I think Angelus Novus is right that to do that you need to look at the "genealogy of specific racialist discourses, disciplinary practices, the persistence of the Ancien Régime in Europe, and the contingent balance of class forces between 1914-32". But I think in understanding the nature of anti-semitism as a specific racialist discourse and how that enabled the rationality of the concentration camps I think Postone is pretty interesting and insightful.

Yeah, I think as one component in a broader theoretical arsenal to understand anti-Semitism, Postone is alright. However one problem I have with Postone is that, I guess like a lot of humanities professors, he works a lot with analogy and is just a bit too cloudy.

Like he doesn't really demonstrate any kind of causality between the commodity form and the Antisemitism of the Nazis. Instead he draws analogies: "Marx analyzes the commodity as the unity of the abstract and the concrete. Nazi ideology distinguishes between a "good" concrete productive sphere and a "bad" abstract monetary sphere", etc. I won't deny this sort of thing can yield some insights for further investigation, but I think it needs to be supplemented by rigorous historical work, like the works of Hannah Arendt or Enzo Traverso.

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But one problem I have with postone is that while his theorisation of antisemitism and the holocaust is interesting I don't think it works for the Porajmos - the Roma genocide. I was wondering if anyone had any incites on this or could let me know what is said in Germany on this question. I assume it has been discussed.

Well you know I like to poke fun at the Nürnberg Exit/Krisis school, but Roswitha Scholz has actually done some stuff on "Antiziganismus" ("Zigeuner" = "gypsy" in German) that might be worth looking into. I haven't investigated this stuff too deeply, but it seems to be that Anti-Roma sentiment is like a mirror image of Antisemitism: Roma represent the sensual, corporeal, "lazy", underclass side of the abstract/concrete dichotomy, the complete rejection of the values of "honest labor", a repressed wish for frivolity and leisure, while at the same time paralleling the cosmopolitanism and parasitism of Jews in Antisemitic ideology.

Lettersjournal: lot's of stuff in your post, I think most of it is wrong, but worth replying to, no time now, get back atcha later.

lettersjournal
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Apr 4 2012 15:26
Felix Frost wrote:
I'm getting confused here. How does anti-Americanism function in the opposite way as 'Anti-Germanism'?

I think Angelus captured the AG problem pretty well in the formulation "Germany as being simultaneously the apotheosis and nadir of modern civilization". The Anti-American formulation sets the apotheosis of modern civilization elsewhere; it functions primarily to affirm the perspective of America's national enemies (ie. siding with Vietnam or Russia or Al Qaeda or whatever). 'Anti-Germanism' doesn't do this; one of its most immediate functions is to attack the anti-imperialist position. It affirms Israel. The Anti-American position rejects Israel.

So, why is anti-Americanism anti-imperialist, while anti-Germanism is anti-anti-imperialist? Why does Anti-Germanism 'affirm' (at least some of) the philosophic and cultural tradition of Germany, while the anti-American position rejects the philosophic and cultural tradition of America? It's curious.

For those who argue that modern philosophy did not reach its highpoint in Germany, I'm curious what you coinsider the highpoint of modern philosophy. British analytic philosophy?

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Apr 4 2012 16:36

Define highpoint in relation to philosophy.

I find some modern philosophy interesting (mostly French post-structuralist stuff), other stuff I'm like, meh... I also know plenty of comrades who find the particular stuff I find interesting leaves them completely cold (if not downright infuriated grin ). But yeah, if you've discovered some scientific process that can demonstrate that Kant, Hegel and that nazi cunt Heidegger are objectively the apotheosis of philosophical history, then feel free to share. Don't be too surprised if you get mocked though...

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Apr 4 2012 19:38
Angelus Novus wrote:
Well you know I like to poke fun at the Nürnberg Exit/Krisis school, but Roswitha Scholz has actually done some stuff on "Antiziganismus" ("Zigeuner" = "gypsy" in German) that might be worth looking into. I haven't investigated this stuff too deeply, but it seems to be that Anti-Roma sentiment is like a mirror image of Antisemitism: Roma represent the sensual, corporeal, "lazy", underclass side of the abstract/concrete dichotomy, the complete rejection of the values of "honest labor", a repressed wish for frivolity and leisure, while at the same time paralleling the cosmopolitanism and parasitism of Jews in Antisemitic ideology.

Lettersjournal: lot's of stuff in your post, I think most of it is wrong, but worth replying to, no time now, get back atcha later.

But I can't read german!!

I thought the argument might be something like that.

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Apr 4 2012 22:38
lettersjournal wrote:
Felix Frost wrote:
I'm getting confused here. How does anti-Americanism function in the opposite way as 'Anti-Germanism'?

I think Angelus captured the AG problem pretty well in the formulation "Germany as being simultaneously the apotheosis and nadir of modern civilization". The Anti-American formulation sets the apotheosis of modern civilization elsewhere; it functions primarily to affirm the perspective of America's national enemies (ie. siding with Vietnam or Russia or Al Qaeda or whatever). 'Anti-Germanism' doesn't do this; one of its most immediate functions is to attack the anti-imperialist position. It affirms Israel. The Anti-American position rejects Israel.

So, why is anti-Americanism anti-imperialist, while anti-Germanism is anti-anti-imperialist? Why does Anti-Germanism 'affirm' (at least some of) the philosophic and cultural tradition of Germany, while the anti-American position rejects the philosophic and cultural tradition of America? It's curious.

I honestly don't see the big difference between anti-imperialists and anti-anti-imperialists. Sure, they are rooting for different teams, but I don't see much difference in the mindset. If you are convinced that American imperialism is the biggest danger in today's world, it might make sense to ally yourself with Hamas, Hisbollah or any tinpot dictator that stands up to the US. If you think the overreaching danger is anti-semitism, then supporting US imperialism against the islamists might make equal sense.

Besides, the majority of the left in Germany are still anti-imperialists, and the Anti-Germans is a pretty marginal phenomenon. There are also plenty of old American leftists who has turned into pro-imperialists. The only marginally curious part of the Anti-German phenomena is how they continue to claim to be communists while embracing their new neo-conservative agenda. I suppose this might have something to do with having read too much German philosophy...

lettersjournal wrote:
For those who argue that modern philosophy did not reach its highpoint in Germany, I'm curious what you coinsider the highpoint of modern philosophy. British analytic philosophy?

I'll go with Russian Nihilism of the 1860's black bloc

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Apr 5 2012 12:33
lettersjournal wrote:
I do understand Marx (and I believe he understood himself) to be in the tradition of German Idealism, even if his work overcomes or explores German Idealism. [...] I would still argue Marx was a Hegelian in the same way that Nietzsche was a Christian.

This is nonsense. Since socialism and the labor movement arose in response to the depredations of capitalism, then arguably every socialist is also a "capitalist".

You're basically pointing out the trivial fact that thinkers often formulate their thoughts in response to other thinkers.

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The specificity of the history of European Jewry means the Shoah has to be understood as a specific event that cannot be understood in the general terms of genocide.

Well every act of genocide is a specific event. What makes the Holocaust particularly horrible is the calculating, methodical way it was carried out, and the sheer single-minded pursuit of its goals. Theories of Anti-semitism can help us to understand why the Jews in particular were singled out by the Nazis.

But the Nazis weren't space invaders who simply tore the fabric of reality apart. Their ascendancy has specific historical factors. Ironically, by taking the perspective of the Holocaust being an act of radical evil, you're actually positioning yourself on the side of Holocaust relativists in contemporary German civil society, and right-wing luminaries like our new President Joachim Gauck.

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The question leads to more interesting places than the questions posed by value-form theory or communization or whatever other questions have been asked by contemporary Marxists.

You say this, but you don't specify what those questions might be.

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The Anti-German position or constellation of positions is a profoundly pessimistic one that follows, rather than leads to, from pessimism. The AGs felt the possibility of communist revolution had disappeared and that all mass collective movements point towards barbarism.

This wasn't the position of 1990s Anti-Germans, where the opposition to reunification and fighting the nationalist tide was simply a smart piece of radical realpolitik. It didn't arise from some pessimistic worldview borne by sad old intellectuals writing aphorisms about damaged life. It was a practical response to the deferment of class struggle by a nationalist wave encompassing the entire society. The original "Nie wieder Deutschland!" campaigns encompassed a broad spectrum of the DKP, autonomists, Trots, Maoists, and left-Greens.

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Can one not sympathize on some level with those coming from the German experience with fascism who see the possibility of a renewed fascist project and lacking any faith in the power or possibility of the working class to emancipate themselves.. conclude that if nothing else, Jews must possess nuclear weapons.

This is creepy inverted Anti-semitism. The "Magic Jew" plays the same role in Anti-German ideology that the "Magic Negro" plays in Hollywood movies. Like Joachim Bruhn's idiotic assertion that Israeli society cannot be analyzed using the categories of social class.

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They're right though, aren't they?

No, they aren't, and it's a typically narcissistic attitude.

But if you want to talk about the contemporary importance of Germany in the world, then we have to talk about the sovereign debt crisis in the EU, Germany as the lead advocate of austerity, Germany's export-oriented economic strategy, the creation of a low-wage sector during the Hartz reforms, etc.

You know, all that unsexy stuff that has nothing to do with writing melancholy poetry.

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That sort of relativist nonsense makes sense in our world without philosophy or works of real artistic grandeur, but is absurd when applied to the 19th/early 20th century.

This is an amazingly Eurocentric worldview. It reminds me of Mike Davis's quip that while Adorno was lamenting the decline of culture from his perch in Los Angeles, he was completely unaware of LA's vibrant Jump Blues scene. Oh wait, Teddy hated Jazz. It's amazing how that works with the whole "apogee and nadir of cultures" thing. All you have to do is come up with a definition of "apogee" that excludes anything you don't approve of.

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Apr 5 2012 13:36
Felix Frost wrote:
I honestly don't see the big difference between anti-imperialists and anti-anti-imperialists.

There was certainly a shared hostility to the actually existing German working class. For both the imagined ideal type of the "integrated" white German worker, socially conservative with petty nationalist or racist views, was the values they defined themselves against (see also, parents). In the anti-imp case this was expressed as third-worldist solidarity with dark-skinned national liberation movement "revolutionaries" in the colonial and post-colonial areas. The AG just shifted the category of "support for people guaranteed to upset the 'Good German'" over to the Israelis.

Angelus Novus wrote:
a typically narcissistic attitude

That kinda sums up my impression of the whole character of the AG, tbh. Too much narcissism, coke, self-importance and taking a delight in offending, not so much even German society as a whole, but their anti-imp autonomen rivals in an unpleasantly incestuous way.

But maybe I'm being too harsh...

Angelus Novus
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Apr 5 2012 14:10
ocelot wrote:

But maybe I'm being too harsh...

No, spot on. I think the psychoanalytic concept of "perverse enjoyment" applies here. Regurgitating positions of bourgeois society are only contrarian and shocking when done within the tiny biotope of the radical left. That's why a lot of the hardcores have sort of backed themselves into a corner: now that most leftist bookstores won't sell their publications and leftist groups won't invite their "thinkers" to speak on panels, they lack the necessary audience for creating "scandals".

The smarter ones who still want some relevance, like Sebastian Voigt or Samuel Salzborn, have shrewdly given up all pretensions of being any sort of communists, and write standard red-baiting attacks on Die Linke for the enjoyment of Springer tabloids. They don't have any of the murky Hegelian baggage that Lettersjournal finds so fascinating; instead they're just pro-Western neocon cheerleaders for "freeeeedom".

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Apr 5 2012 14:23

It's perhaps comparable to how the Neue Marx-Lektüre seeks to provoke against traditional Marxism, but if you strip down the Grundrisse baggage it's warmed up Bernsteinism.

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Apr 5 2012 14:35
Noa Rodman wrote:
It's perhaps comparable to how the Neue Marx-Lektüre seeks to provoke against traditional Marxism, but if you strip down the Grundrisse baggage it's warmed up Bernsteinism.

LOL. Love the "perhaps". Nice drive-by troll. Please come again.

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Apr 5 2012 14:47
Angelus Novus wrote:
ocelot wrote:

But maybe I'm being too harsh...

No, spot on. I think the psychoanalytic concept of "perverse enjoyment" applies here. Regurgitating positions of bourgeois society are only contrarian and shocking when done within the tiny biotope of the radical left. That's why a lot of the hardcores have sort of backed themselves into a corner: now that most leftist bookstores won't sell their publications and leftist groups won't invite their "thinkers" to speak on panels, they lack the necessary audience for creating "scandals".

The smarter ones who still want some relevance, like Sebastian Voigt or Samuel Salzborn, have shrewdly given up all pretensions of being any sort of communists, and write standard red-baiting attacks on Die Linke for the enjoyment of Springer tabloids. They don't have any of the murky Hegelian baggage that Lettersjournal finds so fascinating; instead they're just pro-Western neocon cheerleaders for "freeeeedom".

Self importance, nihilism and knee jerk reactions to crude leftisms have nasty results.

Angelus Novus
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Apr 5 2012 14:52
Noa Rodman wrote:
It's perhaps comparable to how the Neue Marx-Lektüre seeks to provoke against traditional Marxism, but if you strip down the Grundrisse baggage it's warmed up Bernsteinism.

Your statements are increasingly incoherent. Bernsteinism was a political position. NML is a research program.

And is it really too much to ask that your trollery at least remain topical?

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Apr 5 2012 15:44

I hope Alexander Roxwell will join and comment on this thread.

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Apr 5 2012 17:40

Noa, how about you go scan some issues of Pod znamenem marksizma? smile

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Apr 5 2012 19:19
Quote:
This is nonsense. Since socialism and the labor movement arose in response to the depredations of capitalism, then arguably every socialist is also a "capitalist".

You're basically pointing out the trivial fact that thinkers often formulate their thoughts in response to other thinkers.

Ridiculous. 1. This fact is anything but 'trivial.' 2. It is absurd to claim Marx is simply 'responding' to Hegel, he was part of the left-hegelian trajectory until at least The German Ideology and never shed some of his Hegelian trappings, most heavily in evidence in Grundrisse.

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Apr 5 2012 21:48
jura wrote:
Noa, how about you go scan some issues of Pod znamenem marksizma? :)

Let's divide the labour. I have some 20 articles on my wish list. You also make a list. Entdinglichung, Angelus, ocelot and others are of course invited as well to signal preferred articles.

Hamburg library has the journal, though it's in microform. Your library's price:

[ wrote:
International interlibrary loan service from the funds of foreign libraries A paper copy of Article 1 to 40 pages € 5.50

That's quite expensive, but I could find a little cheaper way. That still leaves translation, but OCR in Russian would greatly increase the speed.

So you could provide this software tool and I could pay for the articles, and then I'll sent you to Gulag for Bernsteinian mistakes.

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Apr 5 2012 22:05

Noa, I congratulate you on having at least the historical memory to be aware that the original heresy against which orthodox Marxism defined itself was Bernstein's (for all orthodoxy is reaction to the first heresy, heresy is always prior, orthodoxy always reactive). But to persevere to the second decade of the 21st century in the unwavering belief that all subsequent deviation from orthodoxy must, of necessity, be forever an endless return to him, is truly heroic. I salute your singularity, although principally for its absurdity.

Klaus
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Apr 20 2012 11:33
jura wrote:
Thanks. To be more specific, I guess what I'm looking for is a text on their origins and, well, "most notable contributions"

Here is their website: http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/en_index.html

Ruthless Criticism also translated quite a few texts by them: http://www.ruthlesscriticism.com/

Their book on the state is highly recommended:

http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/state/toc.html

They also published quite a bit on finance in the last few years (some of which is translated into English):

http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/fin-cap/fin-cap-I.html
http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/fin-cap/fin-cap-II.html
http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/currency.html

They also wrote a longer text as an introduction to the critique of capitalism based on "surface phenomena" (IIRC):

http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/workandwealth/0-contents.html

Their most recent account of imperialism is here:

http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/wmwp.html

klaus u
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Apr 23 2012 19:20

@ jura: I'm associated with the Berlin branch of GegenStandpunkt. If you have any questions about our political practice, don't hesitate to ask them. But I was never involved with the Marxistische Gruppe (MG) (I'm to young), so my knowledge about the MG is a bit anecdotal.

Klaus U

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Sep 13 2012 03:36

We are interested in a number of trajectories taken within the Left away from earlier positions, whether to the Right or to the "ultra-Left." We are also interested in those who stubbornly maintain the same position within the Left while stubbornly ignoring that historical reality has itself regressed.

For example, the early Karl Korsch (the Korsch of Marxism and Philosophy) is much more interesting to Platypus in terms of the merit of his thought. But his later turn towards council communism, to ultra-Leftism, is still important symptomatically. The same can be said of the young Lukács versus the older, Stalinized Lukács.

We have translated texts not only from Antideutsch groups like the ISF or Café Critique but also by Karl Kautsky, in his book review of Karl Korsch's Marxism and Philosophy. Does that imply that we tacitly "endorse" Kautsky's anti-Leninist tract? Not at all.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 13 2012 10:17

Ross,

it's 2012. Nobody cares about the Anti-Germans anymore, certainly not in Germany. If you're desperate to be at the forefront of a trend, maybe you should look into buying an iPhone 5.