Felix Morrow

How Shall We Fight Anti-Semitism

Jew-Baiters Are the Spawn of Capitalism

(December 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 55, 24 December 1938, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.


Breaking with orthodox Judaism and its yearning for Jerusalem, the assimilationists had declared: “We live already in our promised land, here in this (German, English, French, American) fatherland which we love as fervently as do our fellow-countrymen of other faiths. This government is our government, we are its loyal citizens.” None held to this so fervently as the German Jews; and nevertheless their Reform Temples are smoking ruins. So, too, the populous Jewish cemeteries of Palestine the victims of civil war, mutely testify to the hopeless Utopianism of the Zionist dream.

What now?

Two Immediate Tasks

Immediate measures are not merely vitally necessary, but constitute the acid test distinguishing the serious fighters against anti-Semitism from the hypocritical word-mongers. “Enough Pious Tears: Admit the Refugees!” Around this demand, the Socialist Workers Party is organizing a campaign to render immediate aid to the victims of Nazi persecution. In cooperation with the American Fund for Political Prisoners and Refugees and other organizations, we are enlisting every honest believer in the right of asylum in a national campaign to demand from the forthcoming session of Congress the lifting of all quota and financial restrictions upon immigration, so that the victims of Nazi persecution may enter America. The distinguished name of John Dewey heads the list of those really sincere democrats who have joined with us in this demand. Only the granting of this demand can make possible the survival of hundreds of thousands of German Jews.

Likewise, in the fight against organized anti-Semitism right here in America, our comrades have taken the initiative: organizing Union Defense Guards to smash the fascist gangster-bands.

In combating the Silver Shirts in Minnesota, the Minneapolis trade union movement is teaching the workers that anti-Semites are enemies of organized labor and that the fascist gangs must be fought not merely by words but by the physical power of the Union Defense Guards. Another inspiring example has been that of the Youngstown trade unionists who recently drove the Silver Shirts away from meeting halls in the Mahoning Valley. Minneapolis and Youngstown have shown how fascists shall be fought, and we are proud of our association with these pioneers in the American labor movement.

These immediate tasks deserve the support of every antifascist, Jew or Gentile, But these immediate steps must be integrated into a general program to fight anti-Semitism.

That program involves the utter eradication of anti-Semitism from the earth.

“But you can never eradicate it. It has always existed. It always will exist.” Thus the defeatists.

The Roots Of Anti-Semitism

The answer to the defeatists may be put in the form of an analogy. There are germs which exist everywhere, are breathed in by everyone. But they flourish and infect the human organism only under certain specific conditions. What is important, then, is not the mere existence of these germs, but the conditions under which they break out into disease. What is important, what really makes all the difference, is the condition under which anti-Semitism ceases to be dormant and becomes an organized assault upon the very existence of the Jewish people.

Czarist Russia exemplifies the condition under which anti-Semitism is virulent. Why did the court circles and financiers encourage the Black Hundreds, the pogromchiks? Why the Kishineff massacre of 1907? At the time, not only Jewry but liberal and labor spokesmen everywhere understood just why: the decaying, tottering system of Czarism systematically attempted to turn the peasant’s hatred of his oppressors – Czar and landlord – away from the oppressors and to a fancied oppressor: the Jews. The more the Czarist regime decayed, the more systematically and deliberately did it turn to using anti-Semitism as an instrument to preserve the rotting regime.

Today anti-Semitism is used for exactly the same purpose by decaying capitalism. As anti-Semitism was an index to the decay of the Czarist regime, so today anti-Semitism is an index to the decay of the capitalist states. The outcry against the Kishineff Massacre of 1907 was raised throughout the world, and not least in Germany: the German equivalents of the Myron Taylors then enunciated their wordy sympathy for the persecuted: they could afford then to be liberals on this question. But the decline of German capitalism, its absolute desperation in attempting to survive, has brought yesterday’s enlightened German capitalists to the point where they welcome and encourage the Nazis in shifting the hatred of the peasants and backward workers from their real oppressors, i.e., these selfsame capitalists, to their fancied oppressors, the Jews.

Fritz Thyssen, the German steelmaster who persuaded the big capitalists to back Hitler, was in his time at least as much a liberal as Myron Taylor, the American steelmaster. What happened in Germany will happen in England, in France, in America as, one after another, these capitalist regimes reach the stage of decline which Germany reached in 1933. The “liberal” capitalists, at the end of their rope, will turn to the fascist gangsters for support. Only the overthrow of these capitalist regimes, only the smashing of the fascist bands by the working class and its allies and the establishment of Workers’ Republics in these countries will save the Jews from the fate of German Jewry. Already the paper of Pemier Daladier, L’Ere Nouvelle, proposes the restriction of the number of Jews in French government services!

Yesterday’s “democrats” in Czechoslovakia today bar Jewish membership in the single party in which all the “democratic” parties have been merged! Who does not know that the upper strata of American and English society are already rife with anti-Semitism? Look at what is happening in France, mother of Continental European democracy. The French capitalists and their government enviously point to Germany, where workers cannot strike, work sixty hours or more for coolie wages, get no unemployment insurance or sick benefits, etc. The French bosses are saying publicly we cannot compete with Germany unless our production costs are the same, i.e., unless French labor works under the same conditions as in Germany. Of course, the French bosses would like to have what their competitors in Germany have, without using a Hitler: it would be nicer to have it that way. But the French workers have no intention of submitting to slavery. Therefore? Therefore the French bosses are getting ready to smash the labor unions by fascist methods. And that means, as part of the arsenal of Fascism, anti-Semitism.

Capitalism Lives by Race-Hatred

To insure their continued power, the capitalists must systematically cultivate racial and national hatreds. White supremacy is cultivated as a doctrine in British and French Africa and South ern America as a way of keeping the Negroes in subjection and separating them from their natural allies, the white workers The Hindu is pitted against the Moslem in India. The big corporations – Ford, “Little Steel,” etc. – deliberately foster antagonisms among the various races which labor side by side in the mills; As capitalism declines, this weapon becomes ever more necessary to the perpetuation of capitalism. That is why anti-Semitism grows: because the capitalists make it grow.

Alone, the Jewish people cannot hope to prevail capitalism’s need of anti-Semitism. The salvation of the Jews depends upon the victory of the labor movement. Where a strong labor movement still exists, there the Jews still have rights. Where the labor movement has gone under, there the Jews have gone under. The way to save the labor movement is also the way to save the Jews.

Last updated on 11 September 2014