The Resurgence of Right-wing Antisemitic Conspiracism Endangers all Justice Movements

Days after the synagogue shooting outside of San Diego, I wrote in Religion Dispatches about the antisemitic ideology that helped motivate the shooter. Conspiracy theories about George Soros, ‘globalists’ and ‘cultural Marxists’ are on the rise in today’s far-right movements, imagining Jews as the hidden engineers of white dispossession, the arch-enemies of white nationalism. Progressives need to understand this resurgence of antisemitism in order to show up for Jews, protect all our movements from attack and stamp out the steady rise of white nationalism in America.

“We’ve seen this before. Throughout the 20th century, insurgent far-right movements deployed conspiracy theories about shadowy socialists, cosmopolitan financiers, and covert culture-manipulators in order to win support for their authoritarian agendas. Most of the time, these theories were overtly anti-Semitic, with Nazi Germany and its obsession with “Judeo-Bolshevism” serving as the starkest example of the consequences of these theories—for Jews and for the world.

Today, it is can no longer be doubted that from San Diego and Pittsburgh to Charlottesville, Virginia, and the pages of Breitbart, anti-Semitism is resurgent in the Trump era. But how it operates—and why it’s on the rise—can be unmasked. What role do these conspiracy theories play in right-wing ideology? How are they related to discourses and policies that target other marginalized groups? How do they endanger Jews—and harm other justice movements?…

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories substitute an imagined revolt against illusory oppressors for a clear analysis of who really profits from societal structures of exploitation. While other racist tropes tend to “punch down” at an allegedly inferior target group, anti-Semitic conspiracism “punches up” at a target it imagines as inordinately powerful, seemingly standing above or behind social movements and political forces, pulling the strings.

In a world of dizzying social and political change, these conspiracy theories furnish a meta-explanation—for confused and alienated individuals such as Earnest and Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers, but also for right-wing media figures, politicians and other influential players—of how the world got this way and for who is responsible. In Europe and the United States, virtually any conspiracy narrative acts as an antisemitic dog whistle (or fog horn), even when Jews are not directly named.

This is why anti-Semitism is so dangerous, not only for Jews but for all movements for social change; because it’s such a powerful tool in the right-wing ideological arsenal, providing a scaffolding for sweeping attacks against progressive movements and perhaps sending some of the most vulnerable, who might otherwise benefit from those movements, down the dead end of conspiracism.”

One thought on “The Resurgence of Right-wing Antisemitic Conspiracism Endangers all Justice Movements”

  1. I enjoyed your description of “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere” in your article in Jewish Currents.
    One thing left out is the official anti-semitism of Islam and Christianity. Both religions have sacred text that requires the adherents to abhor and convert the Jews. Both religions have a history of oppressing Jews down to utter poverty, with some exceptions. If you haven’t explored the concept of “Dhimmi” you will find it enlightening.

    I’m guessing you don’t really believe in God. It is common among atheists and agnostics to underestimate the significance of religion in world history and politics.

    My own opinion is that the Islamic states and cultures are reactionary and deeply conservative, especially on social issues. The puzzle is how they managed to insinuate Islamic anti-semitism into the western Left. I suspect the answer is the trillions of dollars of oil revenues. Some of that has been used to influence world opinion. We know they have been “Donating” to western think tanks and universities, setting up their own version of “Middle Eastern Studies”. Lenin said that the capitalist will sell you the rope you use to hang him. I think Islam has perfected that idea.

    Chodesh Tov,
    Ricky (@BigRicky)


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