In matters pertaining to all aspects of society, socialists like to present themselves as righteous priests of the moral high ground. The record of socialism in practice, however, has shown it has rarely matched the rhetoric of its followers.
Despite claims to promote peace, equality and liberty, socialists have been in the vanguard of violent demonstrations, demonising anyone who disagrees with them and, wherever possible, suppressing human rights. Far from being the advocates of social reform and advanced thinking, socialist governments invariably embrace a conservative statism in which individuals have neither freedom nor peace.
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The equality “enjoyed” by them results from having had their moral and material standards reduced to that of the lowest common social denominator. Socialists invariably confuse equality with sameness.
They also believe the socialist movement sprang from the Enlightenment. This is true, but not in the way they like to imagine. Socialism was a reaction to the Enlightenment, a counter-movement, based on an ideology that scorns rational thinking.
Nevertheless, the Left cling to the term “scientific socialism”, believing it gives a veneer of rationalism to their ideology. It is actually an oxymoron.
The phrase “scientific socialism” was coined in 1840 by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first self-proclaimed anarchist, in his dissertation “Property is Theft”, and was used later by Karl Marx in Das Kapital.
Underlying a socialist veneer of rational thought is a set of prefabricated rules and directives in which science, reason and empirical evidence play no part. It is a pseudoscience that led Karl Popper, the philosopher of science, to write, “Thus scientific socialism is not a social technology, it does not teach the ways and means of constructing social institutions.” (Popper, K. The Open Society and its Enemies, Vol Two: Hegel and Marx. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. 2002, 95)
In the practice of socialism, history and truth are mangled in any way that fits a Marxist mould. Failure to do this would reveal that Marx’s analysis of history and predictions, in respect of the future course of capitalism, were sloppy and selective.
In addition, socialism is riddled with contradictions. One in particular has been its attitude to Jews. On the one hand it recognised them as a down-trodden minority—the type of group that feeds the Left’s predilection for victims; at the same time, it condemned Jews as capitalists who are responsible for creating an impoverished under-class—the all-but vanished proletariat.
Nineteenth-century France was the cradle of socialism. It was there that Pierre Leroux, who coined the term “socialism”, was the first person to describe Jews as “Christ-killers”. He wrote of the Jewish spirit as “the spirit of profit, of lucre, of gain, the spirit of commerce, of speculation, in a word, the bankers’ spirit” (Quoted in Edmund Silberner. ‘Pierre Leroux’s Ideas on the Jewish People.’ Jewish Social Studies Vol. 12, No. 4 (Oct. 1950). Indiana University Press, 367-384).
In his book Les juifs, roi de l’époque: histoire de la feodalite financiere (1845) the left-wing anti-Semite Alphonse Tousenel claimed that the rotten system of capitalism “is personified in the cosmopolitan Jew”. This was a theme Marx had taken up in his 1843 essay “On the Jewish Question” (The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert Tucker, New York: Norton & Company, 1978. p. 26-46) when he wrote, “An organisation of society that would eliminate the pre-conditions of commercialism, would make also the existence of the Jew impossible.”
In a 1947 paper titled “The Jewish Saint-Simonians and Socialist Anti-Semitism in France” (Jewish Social Studies, January 1947), Zosa Szajkowski said that after extensive searching he had been unable to find a single kind word spoken of Jews in the whole of French socialist literature between 1820 and 1920. In the period 1878 to 1885, Germany’s Christian Socialist Party attacked Jews as part of the liberal plague, while in Austria Georg Ritter von Schonerer, whom Hitler admired, led a left-wing movement that attacked Jewish merchants in general and the Rothschilds in particular.
Together with these anti-Semites should be added other eighteenth- and nineteenth-century left-wing intellectuals such as Voltaire, d’Holbach, Diderot, Fichte and Fourier, who comprised a pantheon of socialist Jew haters. If, as claimed by the nineteenth-century German Social Democrat August Bebel, “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools”, then “socialism became the anti-Semitism of intellectuals” (Johnson, P. History of the Jews. Harper & Row, Publishers. New York. 1988, 353).
Notwithstanding socialism’s anti-Semitic history, in the past two centuries many European Jews who lived under abysmal conditions, lacking the most basic human rights, believed socialism offered a panacea. This was especially the case in Russia. Deluded by the socialist lies about pursuing peace, liberty and equality, many Jews flocked to the leftist cause. Their desire to believe these false claims blinded their judgment. Some Jews are still blinded by it. Writing in the Jerusalem Post (20/11/12) Tibor Krausz wrote:
Jews gravitated towards the nascent socialist movement right from the start, seeing in the liberation struggle of the proletariat a long-awaited cure-all for the ills of the world. For many of them, revolutionary socialism provided a temporal blueprint for “repairing the world” in the rabbinic tradition of tikkun olam.
(“Tikkun olam” literally means “healing the world”.)
Many intellectuals joined Lenin’s Bolshevik party, attracted by its promise of utopia. Nevertheless, leading Bolsheviks like Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Kaganovich deserve no sympathy for being Jewish.
In socialist ideology Jews, having been identified as capitalists, were, according to Marx, the primary enemies of the proletariat. Therefore, the need for them to be removed from society was the obvious next step. This is not speculation. It should be borne in mind that not only did Stalin organise purges of Jews in the Soviet Union and was about to begin another when he died, but his German doppelganger and erstwhile partner in crime, Adolf Hitler, was merely putting into practice what socialists, especially National Socialists, had long proposed. Stalin’s organised pogroms of Jews and Hitler’s Final Solution were not historical aberrations; they were socialist ideology in practice.
At first glance, Stalin’s support for the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state in 1948 might seem an absurd inconsistency, particularly in the light of the Soviet Union’s long-standing opposition to Zionism. In fact, it was an example of Stalin’s Machiavellianism. The aim of the Soviet Union’s political and military support of Israel in its War of Independence, in which Czechoslovakia supplied Israel with arms, was predicated on the twin beliefs that Arabs were untrustworthy, and a victorious Israel would help eject British influence from the region. Stalin calculated that the new state would not only fill a vacuum created by the British withdrawal, it would be a bulwark against US interest in the region, and eventually become a Soviet puppet state.
Not for the first time, Stalin’s judgement was faulty. After its victory over Arab invaders in 1948, Israel established close ties wih America, set up a pluralist democracy and developed a market capitalist system. Any hope that it would become a vassal state under Moscow control quickly faded. The new nation-state of Israel confirmed Stalin’s worst fears. Jews were not only capitalists, they preferred democracy. His long-held suspicion in the perfidiousness of Jews proved they were no friend of socialism.
Nevertheless, the re-establishment of the Jewish national homeland has been a gift to socialists that could not have been foreseen. In the post-Second World War period, when it was still not quite nice to be openly anti-Semitic, socialists turned Israel into the proxy target for their hatred of Jews. Every calumny has been levelled at Israel and Zionism, without Jews being mentioned.
Nowhere have socialists been more successful in spreading their anti-Israel message than at the United Nations. In an ABC interview (9 May, 2007) a leading scholar of anti-Semitism, Walter Laqueur, pointed out that while most member states of the United Nations have been guilty of misdeeds, the reason for Israel being singled out is some form of anti-Semitism. Not long ago at a meeting of the UN General Assembly one hour was spent discussing the 40,000 dead in the Syrian civil war. There were few speakers and little interest. But the next five hours were devoted to demonising Israel.
At those many American, European and Australian universities that have been infiltrated by left-wing academics, Israel is constantly singled out for special negative treatment. However, injustices against women and minorities in other parts of the world are rarely mentioned because they add nothing to socialist anti-Jewishness. University intellectuals’ condemnation of Israel as an apartheid state, despite the fact that it is the only country in the region to accept Palestinians as citizens, is as fatuous as socialism itself.
Calls for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel is a regurgitation of the Nazi campaign to prevent Germans from patronising Jewish shops and businesses. Not surprisingly, it is supported by Green leftists, whose politics grew out of German romanticism (see ‘The Roots of Green Politics in German Romanticism’. Quadrant July-August 2012, 46-49).
The failure of the Left to condemn Islamic terrorism aimed at Israel and at Jewish cultural and religious centres throughout the world, and its portrayal of Palestinians as victims of Israel, exemplify the Jew-hatred of socialists. The reality that Palestinians are victims of their own corrupt leaders is never mentioned.
If the Palestinian terrorist aim of destroying Israel becomes reality, another Holocaust will follow, and socialists will applaud from the sidelines. Referring to terrorist attacks on Israel, William Shawcross wrote (Washington Examiner, 7 June 2010) that if their enemies succeed, the Jews “will be on their way back to Auschwitz”.
Socialist anti-Jewish policy also permeates the International Criminal Court, which recently accused Israel of war crimes and announced that it considers Palestine a nation-state. That the ICC does not have the authority to do this was ignored. In a dissenting judgment, Judge Peter Kovaks said there “was no legal basis” for the decision. Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed “deep concern” at the ICC decision and, in an interview with Sky News, Senator James Paterson referred to “anti-Semitism masquerading as concern for human rights”.
Much of the world’s media are under the influence of socialist editors and journalists. The New York Times, Washington Post and Guardian are all solidly left-wing. In Australia, the media, with the exception of News Corporation, display an anti-Israel bigotry. Spearheaded by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, this bias is evident in news reports that deliberately omit references to Israel’s contributions to humanity.
These include “Operation Good Neighbour, under which in 2016 the Israel Defence Force established field hospitals on the border with Syria to treat casualties of the civil war. It also sent in supplies to aid the Syrian civilians. For many years Israel has offered relief missions to countries that have experienced disasters, including Albania, Brazil, Bulgaria, Columbia, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United States.
Where no incidents that reflect poorly on Israel can be found, leftist journalists concoct stories to make Israel appear lacking in humanity. The most recent claimed that Israeli settlers were receiving the COVID-19 vaccine but not Palestinian Arabs. Similar views were expressed in other Left-controlled organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The truth was very different. All Jews and Palestinians who are Israeli citizens were receiving the vaccination. Under the Oslo Accords (1993, 1995), Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel are the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority. The fact that the PA did little to help its own people was blamed on Israel.
Truth has never been a strong point of left-wing journalists when reporting on Israel. Were they to portray the State of Israel favourably, it would cast Jews in a good light. This is anathema to a political movement that uses Jews as the Other, by which it defines itself.
Socialists need scapegoats to unify them. They especially choose people who have risen from adversity and achieved success through hard work and intellect. Hence, they hate the Jewish people, whose success is something socialists can only dream about. Without a mythical enemy on which to vent its pathological hatreds, socialism would collapse.
Online editor’s note: The thumbnail illustration accompanying our homepage blurb for this essay is a detail of a 2014 cartoon by Glen LeLievre that, incredibly, appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and accompanied a Mike Carlton column which became the catalyst for his subsequent departure from the paper. A summary of the affair can be found here, along with the original cartoon and the SMH‘s mealy-mouthed faux apology, not for the cartoon itself, but for “the upset the image had caused”.
Brian Wimborne has been a research editor for the Australian Dictionary of Biography for the last twenty years