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Signifying the Jew: antisemitic workers and Jewish stereotypes during World War II

No Social Science without Critical Theory

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1483-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-538-3

Publication date: 28 July 2008


Faith in working-class revolution and the inevitability of socialism all but evaporated in the wake of the First World War when nationalism and patriotism triumphed over the principles of international solidarity and, as Perry Anderson put it, “The unity and reality of the Second International, cherished by Engels, was destroyed in a week” ([1976]1979, p. 14).1 The notion of revolutionary inevitability seems embarrassingly naïve today (to the point that, now, discussions of radicalism are much more likely to focus on intellectuals rather than labor movements)2 but prewar optimism was, in many ways, justified and, in fact, the idea of inevitability was shared across the political spectrum and not merely a symptom of the left. Dreading the rise of “plebian radicalism” Rudolf Sohm, for example, wrote that “The people is [sic] already aware of its powers. Already it has recognized itself as the real nation. The battalions of the workers are about to form, that they may thrust from its throne the bourgeoisie, the monarch of the present. More and more clearly are shown the signs of a movement, the aim of which is to destroy the entire social order, the State, the Church, the family….” (Smith, 1998, p. 38).


Worrell, M.P. (2008), "Signifying the Jew: antisemitic workers and Jewish stereotypes during World War II", Dahms, H.F. (Ed.) No Social Science without Critical Theory (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 25), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 193-231.



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