Review article: Antisemitism in the anarchist tradition

Spring 2018

Three important books have recently picked up on the topic of antisemitism in the anarchist movement past and present. One of them is Frédéric Krier’s Socialism for the Petty Bourgeois: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon – Precursor of the Third Reich. Published in 2009, the book is a rich resource for everyone interested in the French thinker, the reception of his thought by the far right and the ignorance of the latter by his usual adherents, the anarchists. Though the first part of the title alludes to Karl Marx’s critique of Proudhon’s defence of private property, Krier’s historical study must not be mistaken for a rehashing of socialist rivalry. Instead of summa- rising the book’s many interesting theses in detail – for instance, that Proudhon was a nineteenth century version of the Christian gnostic Marcion – I will focus on one of its core claims: the pervasiveness of anti-Jewish sentiment in Proudhon’s thought. The book first unfolds a detailed account of ‘Proudhon’s reception in the “Third Reich”’ (pp16-178), and second, a scrutiny of ‘Anti-Theism, Judaism and Christianity’ in Proudhon’s own thought (pp179-282). The third section is a genealogical search for the ‘missing link’ (pp283-390) between Proudhon’s approach to economic questions and National Socialist ideology – specifically, the link between the French thinker’s highly moralising critique of ‘interest’ and the Nazi party’s antisemitic call for the ‘breaking of interest slavery’ as laid out in its twenty-five- point Program of 1920. 

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Anarchist Studies Volume 26 No 1