Liberal Democracy, Anti-Semitism And The Holocaust Report (Assessment)
Wistrich gives us the reasons why the Nazi party in Germany made Jews the target of their collective rage. It was believed that the Jews were especially inclined toward communism and indeed many of the communist leaders were Jewish in origin. Hitler believed that Marxism was a tool employed by the Jews in a plan to impose their domination upon the whole world1.
While it is true that Karl Marx was ethnically Jewish, and many Marxist and communist leaders, such as Trotsky were also Jewish, there does not exist any evidence to suggest that they were also inclined toward Judaism as a religion. On the contrary Communists were inclined to hate all religion, regarding it as a tool employed by the upper class in order to perpetuate their rule over the lower classes2.
The Nazis held the Jews responsible for Germany’s defeat in the First World War. They charged Jews with war profiteering and political and moral corruption.
Hitler rejected parliamentary democracy as a system of rule because it allowed minorities, such as the Jews, to have disproportionate influence in running the affairs of the country3. The Nazis and other populist political movements in Germany believed that the Jews had undue influence in the country through their prominent positions in the media and the financial system4.
Lewis takes a look at Anti-Semitism throughout the ages. He points out that in the medieval period, European attacks on Jews were based on Christian theology; Jews were accused of Deicide and were targeted by the Christian communities in which they lived, as enemies of Jesus Christ.
During the renaissance, the role of Christianity in society was considerably reduced; this however did not mean an end to the hostility against Jews. Anti-Semitic rhetoric in the post-renaissance period focused on Jewish ethnic and racial differences with the non-Jewish population5.
According to Hobbes, the state of nature is that of constant warfare and strife among different entities. Being a product of nature, Humans are subject to the same impulses and motivations which drive animals to make war upon one another.
Accord to Hobbes peace and order among Humans can only be established by Human governments within the confines of collective entities or nations. This order is imposed through coercion and through limits placed on the freedom of action of individuals. Also a shared set of norms and values is a necessity for establishing peace.6
According to Hobbes, at the level of different nations there cannot be permanent peace; nations can only be perpetual conflict with one another though the intensity of the conflict may be reduced. This is because at the international level there exists no supreme force that may coerce nations into adopting a certain standard of behavior. Different nations have different norms and hold different sets of values7.
According to this theory, it is simple to understand why the Jews faced hostility wherever they reside. It is the very fact that Jews thought of themselves as a separate nation with a separate agenda and different set of collective interests, and held on to a different set of norms and moral values than the non-Jewish communities in which they resided, which repeatedly made them the target of collective hatred.
Different prevailing ideological currents of the times made the rhetoric applied different; however the underlying conflict always remained the same.
I believe that it is quite possible for two or more ethnic communities to live peacefully in a single nation. This however is only possible if the two ethnic groups regard think of themselves, primarily as members of the same nation.
In situations where two or more ethnic communities living together in a country consider each other to be members of different nations, there is bound to be conflict between them. A laissez faire liberal democratic system is inadequate in preventing concentration of power within a minority of the population, which is why we need to have restrictions on influence peddling and the creation of media monopolies etc.
Hitler, Adolf. “Nation and Race.” In The Holocaust: A Reader, edited by S. Gigliotti and B. Lang, 68-81. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
Lewis, Bernard. “Anti-Semites.” In The Holocaust: A Reader, edited by S. Gigliotti and B. Lang, 17-41. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
MacIntyre, A. A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century. New York, NY: Routledge, 1998.
McLellan, David. Marx Before Marxism. London: Macmillan, 1980.
Wistrich, Robert S. “From Weimar to Hitler.” In The Holocaust: A Reader, edited by S. Gigliotti and B. Lang, 44-67. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
1 Wistrich, Robert S. “From Weimar to Hitler.” In The Holocaust: A Reader, edited by S. Gigliotti and B. Lang, 44-67. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
2 McLellan, David. Marx Before Marxism. London: Macmillan, 1980.
4 Hitler, Adolf. “Nation and Race.” In The Holocaust: A Reader, edited by S. Gigliotti and B. Lang, 68-81. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
5 Lewis, Bernard. “Anti-Semites.” In The Holocaust: A Reader, edited by S. Gigliotti and B. Lang, 17-41. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
6 MacIntyre, A. A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century. New York, NY: Routledge, 1998.
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